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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Wednesday Spotlight: Caitlyn Hunter

Think Outside the Block

Writer’s block, a simple two word phrase that sends chills up any writer’s spine and is enough to make them pull out multiple strands of hair or bite off all ten fingernails then look at their toes speculatively as they think, “Ah, to be young and limber again.”

Yes, it’s that bad. Even worse is when it hangs around for weeks at a time, eating away at your writing soul with every second that passes.

So, what do writers do when faced with the dreaded writer’s block? There are numerous books, blogs, and articles written about it; some good, some not so good, some merely stating the obvious. Me, I have several tricks that I use and though I hate to admit it, some are good, some are not so good, and some, well, they don’t do much but aggravate the condition.

The first time I suffered from writer’s block, I read a lot of those articles. I figured surely some author somewhere had found the cure. I even tried some of the suggestions but it was all to no avail. The block continued until I finally broke it by doing something I’d never done before; writing a flash fiction story. The idea for the story came to me as I was walking on the beach. My husband and I had just moved to Maine and while we looked for a house we were living in an apartment on Old Orchard Beach.

The flash is about a writer who’s suffering from writer’s block and in order to break through, she builds a snowman on the beach at low tide—yes, it was winter and in the winter in Maine, it even snows on the beach—then she waits for the tide to come in. When it does, the snowman is of course swept out to sea and that breaks the block for her.

In another switch from the usual, I wrote the story in first-person, made the block a tangible creature and told it from its point of view. Plus, I acted out the story, on the beach in the middle of winter with snow falling and the tide just starting to come in. While I stood out there in the cold and snow, I talked to the monster I’d created, telling it exactly what was going to happen to it and what I hoped this somewhat macabre ceremony would accomplish.

When the tide finally came in and the snow creature was washed away, I went back inside and turned on my computer. Miraculously, the block was broken and I could write again.

It worked, but would it work again? I have no idea since we don’t live on the beach anymore. In fact we recently moved back to the south so I rarely see snow these days. But I’ve always remembered that first time and the cure I found writing something completely outside my box, so to speak, and that’s what I try to do every time the dreaded writer’s block rears its ugly head; think outside the block.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tuesday Spotlight: Caitlyn Hunter

I Love a Cliché…

Yes, I know, clichés are taboo for writers but I can’t help it, I love clichés. There’s just something about them that makes me smile. Still, as an author I try to curtail my tendency to use clichés but whenever I’m stuck for the right word or phrase, I just naturally start thinking clichés. As a result, my first drafts are often peppered with those trite, overused phrases that would have an editor slamming it down in disgust. If it made it past the acquisitions manager, that is.

Thank goodness no one but me actually sees any of my first drafts! Except…when I wrote my second book I indulged my love of clichés and I didn’t do much editing before I sent it in to the publisher. The book, Unwilling Angel, is a novella about a best-selling author who dies and goes to heaven only to be told by the Archangels that he has some atoning to do for things he did in life before he will be given his Personal Heaven. He’s made an “Apprentice Angel” and is sent back to earth to help a woman who’s struggling to deal with her husband’s unexpected death. Emma is an elementary school teacher who’s tired of teaching and would love nothing better than to become an author. She’s been working on a YA book ever since her husband died but she’s suffering from writer’s block and is depressed enough that she can’t see any point in going on living if she can’t break the block and finish the book.

Who better to help her than an angel who was a best-selling author in real life? Trouble is, Ted “Mac” McNabb isn’t happy about being “demoted” to a lowly Apprentice Angel and he’s a bit grumpy as a result. Mac also doesn’t like that since he died and went to Heaven he has an unfortunate tendency to pepper his speech with clichés. Being an author, clichés were something he tended to, in his words, avoid like the plague, but now that he’s an angel, those irritating clichés just keep popping out of his mouth.

Of all the books I’ve written, this one is my favorite. The opening scene of the book where Emma sees Mac for the first time actually happened to me when one of my favorite authors died back in 2005. The first scene in the book, it’s nearly identical to what happened to me.

So, who’s up for a little mini-contest? Send an email to caitlynhunter721@aol.com and tell me who the author Mac is based on. One person will win a free e-book copy of Unwilling Angel. A few clues to point you in the right direction:

He wrote under seven different pseudonyms and his real name was Salvatore Lombino.

He’s known for practically inventing the “Police Procedural.”

He has one series that ran an astounding 55 books and another that has thirteen—and that’s not counting all the books he wrote under his other pseudonyms.

One of his pseudonyms was the inspiration for my own and the name I gave my character in Unwilling Angel, Ted McNabb is very similar to his most famous pseudonym.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Monday Spotlight: Caitlyn Hunter

What’s In a Word?

I don’t have any great words of wisdom to pass along to the readers this week and since my latest book, Storm Shadows, was just released a couple of weeks ago I’m pretty much promoted out. Not having a clue what to write about, I rummaged through the “Possible Posts” file on my blog and chose a few of the topics I’d been meaning to write about for a long time.

Today’s topic has to do with why I write what I write—or really, why I don’t write in a certain genre anymore. The first book I ever sold was written as a sensual romantic suspense. Since I’m something of an introvert when the time came to actually try for publication, I decided to submit only to e-publishers. An e-book, I thought, was the perfect path for a loner like me who hates to go out and meet people face to face. They offer an author the opportunity to promote her work from the security of her own home, hidden behind the veil of cyber-space. It sounded like a perfect fit.

The problem came when I started researching e-publishers; most of them wanted erotic romances or erotica. My book was sensual and didn’t qualify but I didn’t let that stop me, I submitted it to five e-book publishers. Surprisingly, I received offers from two publishers but there was a catch; they both wanted me to add more sex scenes and in those scenes I needed to use more explicit language to make the book more erotic. I figured why not and signed with one of them.

I was going to be published! Needless to say I was ecstatic…until my book came up for editing. I had a wonderful editor, but I felt very uncomfortable doing what the publisher wanted me to do. It wasn’t the sex scenes or even the amount of sex; it was the “words” I had to use to convey that “erotic” feel.

Since then, I’ve seen more than a few discussions on-line about what makes an erotic novel…well, erotic. A lot of conclusions are reached, some I agree with, some I don’t, but based on my one-time experience with writing erotic romance, I’ll tell you what it boils down to for me. It’s not the number of sex scenes or even whether the sex takes a front-seat to the romance in the book, it’s the words used during those sex scenes that makes the difference.

Now that I write mainly sensual romance, I tend to stay away from those words. Like the late, great George Carlin and his Seven Dirty Words You Can Never Say on Television, I have a list of words that I’ll never use in a love scene.

No, I’m not going to list them here but if you’ve heard Mr. Carlin’s list, quite a few of his words show up on my list too. And I’m not saying I won’t use the words elsewhere in the story. After all, quite a few of them work great for insults or exclamations or even to express sarcasm or disgust or convey some other feeling, but I’m just not comfortable using them in love scenes.

If you’re an author, you’re often told to “write what you know.” That’s good advice, but I also believe a writer should “write within her personal comfort zone.” And in my case, that means leaving out those particular words or phrases that, for me, take the romance out of a love scene.

There’s another old saying that comes to mind when I think about this; once is never enough but for me, in this case, once was more than enough.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Good Things Come With Small Packages by Sharon McGregor


Laine Meadows handed the brightly wrapped package to her customer.

“I hope your husband enjoys the game,” she said.

“Oh, I know he will,” the elderly lady replied. “It’s so nice to have this gift wrapping service. My old fingers are a bit arthritic and I can’t wrap gifts the way I used to. You’ve done a lovely job.” she said admiringly as she left clutching her parcel.

“Well,” said Laine to her co-worker and friend Jacquie, “I think I’m ready for a long soak in the tub tonight. But, we have made a lot of money for the Humane Society.” They were both regular volunteers at the booth.

Jacquie gave her a funny look.
,br> “What?” asked Laine.

“A girl like you should have something better to do on a Saturday night than soak in a tub.”

Laine groaned. “No more matchmaking, Jacquie. I’m quite content with my life.”

“Content is a boring word,” replied Jacquie. Then she nudged Laine. “Look at that customer approaching at two o’clock. There’s someone that could spice up your life. You can wait on him. I’m going for coffee.” And she grabbed her purse before Laine could protest.

Laine couldn’t argue with Jacquie’s assessment, though. The man approaching her had a broad smile, gentle crinkles that hinted at a lot of laughter and eyes of the deepest blue she’d ever seen.

He handed her a small case with an old-fashioned cameo brooch in it. “Could I wait while you wrap this?” he said. Laine felt a little nervous as he watched her at work, but felt herself warming as he began to chat. She found out he was an animal lover like herself, and with no other customers and Jacquie taking an unusually long break, she found herself opening up in a way she never did with strangers. Somehow, this man made even idle chat about the weather sound interesting.

She handed him the package and said, “That will be four dollars, please.”

“Thank you, Laine,” he said, peering at her nametag. “I’m David by the way.”

He paid her and said “It’s an anniversary gift; I hope she’ll like it.” It looked to Laine to be a little on the old-fashioned side, but she smiled and said, “I’m sure she will.” She was annoyed with herself for the little thump her heart made when he said the word “anniversary.” Of course someone like David would be married.

Then he stopped in mid-turn. “Do you get off for a coffee break?” he asked. “We could have a cup in the Food Court if you have the time.”

Laine was sure her mouth actually fell open at the question, but managed to blurt out a frosty “No, thank you.” To think she had been warming to this man who, one breath after having his wife’s anniversary gift wrapped was asking her out. He gave her a parting look that seemed both rueful and puzzled as he left with his package. He was already lost from view when she spotted the book on the counter that he must have left behind. She remembered he had been holding it along with the brooch.

She looked inside checking for an address or phone number but finding no identifying information, slipped the book into a bag on the lost and found shelf.

The next morning a woman with a pixyish face and a manner to match approached her. “I’m Deanna Pearson. I think my brother David left a book here yesterday while he was having a gift wrapped. I thought I’d pick it up for him.”

She identified the book and Laine handed it to her, glad to be rid of the reminder of some foolish thoughts she had had about its owner. “Laine,” said the woman, checking her ID tag. “You must be the one who shot my brother down in flames.” She laughed. “I must admit that was part of the reason I came to rescue David’s book. He told me about you and I wanted to get a look at someone who resisted my irresistible brother.”

“Considering the circumstances,.” began Laine. Really, was the whole family ethically challenged? “Is it any wonder I declined?”

“The circumstances?” she looked puzzled. Then light dawned. “What an idiot!”

“I beg your pardon?”

“Oh, not you- David. It was the gift. I bet you thought he was a married man hitting on you.”

“He was buying an anniversary gift.”

“For our mother.” The smile faded for a moment. “The brooch was an anniversary gift from David and me to Mom. It’s a sort of family tradition we’ve carried on since our father died.”

Laine couldn’t think of a reply.”Oh” was all she could manage.

“Ta,” said Deanna, her impish grin back in place as she disappeared into a passing crowd of shoppers.

It was afternoon when David appeared suddenly at the gift wrap kiosk. “I’m not really a coward,” he said.

Laine gave him an uncomprehending look.

“I’m not a coward,” he began again, “sending my sister to pick up my book. She was coming here anyway.”

She blushed. “I’m sorry about my reaction yesterday,” she began, not really sure how or if she should apologize for making a reasonable assumption.

“I never thought about how an 'anniversary gift' would sound. Can we start again? How about a cup of coffee if you can take a break? There’s a little restaurant that is a lot quieter than the Food Court.”

She hesitated for a moment until she felt a swift kick aimed by Jacquie at her ankle.

“Are you all right if I go for a break?” she asked, knowing the answer.

“Go,” said Jacquie and as David turned and Laine bent to pick up her purse, Jacquie’s left eyelid came down in an exaggerated wink. “There go those boring words out of your dictionary.”

“Just what I was thinking” said Laine to herself.


About the Author: Sharon McGregor has had stories and articles appear in Lake Country Journal, Fifty Something, Great Mystery and Suspense Magazine, Horizon, and Stories That Lift.

Author Interview: Melina Morel


The Long and the Short of It is pleased to welcome Melina Morel whose latest book Smoulder was recently released. Prey, one of Melina's previous books, won the 2009 New England Chapter of the RWA's Reader's Choice Beanpot Award in the Paranormal division as well as the 2009 Maggie Award in the Paranormal division.

Melina shared with me that sometimes the plot in her stories come first and at others it's the characters. In her first book, Devour, the idea came to Melina about a werewolf on the loose in New York and the characters flowed from that concept. However, Pavel Federov, the hero of Prey had made an appearance in Devour as a minor character.

"The fact that Pavel already worked as an investigator helped start the ball rolling," Melina explained, "and I liked being able to use his Russian background. That gave him an exotic side which Viv the heroine found terribly attractive, and since she and her brother had an antique company which specialized in Russian art and artifacts, it was a plus in his work for her."

Smolder follows up with the werewolf situation in France after the Institut Scientifique launched a major attack.

"What got you interested in writing?" I asked Melina.

"The answer would probably be the same for many other writers – I always loved reading and this goes back to my earliest years when I was a toddler and I hounded my mother to read children’s books to me. She tells me I used to have them memorized and would fill in when she paused. I don’t remember that, but I do know both parents always read to me, and my love of books started there. Wanting to write them was a natural outgrowth of this, I think."

Melina works in a room of her house that could be a bedroom--- if it had a bed.

"It doesn’t, so it’s officially my computer room," she said. "I have my laptop on the pull-out drawer of one of those basic computer tables with space below for various things and a raised surface on top for the printer. There are two cute photos of bear cubs on the wall right above my little work station, which I got years ago from Harpers&Queen magazine, a British publication that happened to feature a great article on poor cubs overseas that were forced to work as abused performing bears in dreary cafes in Asia Minor. A contribution to the animal charity rescuing the baby bears got you the photos. I love them. I contribute to the World Wildlife Fund too and hope that my donations help."

Sometimes while she's working on a book, Melina will hit a wall about what comes next. To counter that, she takes walks and thinks about what she wants to do with the story. Then she comes back to her office and sits down at the computer.

"I think the act of sitting there makes you focus," she told me. "Sometimes it takes a few tries, but usually I manage to get back on track."

One thing that she's discovered difficult about writing her book is putting herself in the skin of an animal—or half-animal.

"We're humans, so our senses aren't as powerful as those of our animal friends," she explained. "I found it a challenge to try to see the world as he might. The animal-human hybrid has lots of possibilities and lots of potential quirks that make him unique."

On more of a personal note, I asked Melina if she has any strange handwriting habits, like dotting all her I's with hearts or something.

"I don’t do anything odd with the I’s but I notice that I write my T’s in different ways," she said. "Very strange. Don’t know where that comes from."

A saying she uses a lot is "what goes around comes around."

The strangest thing she's ever eaten is rabbit.

"And it didn't taste like chicken," she assured me. "It actually reminded me of a pork chop. I was intimidated because someone sprang it on me by surprise."

Melina doesn't have any pets, but she loves watching cats, no matter if it's a tiger on Animal Plant or her neighbor's small cat.

"They have the most beautiful stride," she explained. "They’re feline royalty."

She's a practical sort of lady, so if she could know something about the future she'd love to know if the economy will improve and if people will get working again.

Her favorite pizza? "Classic pizza Margherita with the sauce, the mozzarella and the basil. I love it. Pepperoni isn’t bad either."

Finally, I asked her, "What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?"

"Try to find your own voice. Don’t try to imitate someone else. And be prepared for rejections. Probably lots of them, unless you’re terribly unusual."
You can keep up with Melina on her website, http://www.melinamorel.com.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Friday Spotlight: Karen Wiesner

Karen Wiesner is an accomplished author with 74 books published in the past 12 years, which have been nominated for and/or won 99 awards, and 9 more titles under contract. Karen’s books cover such genres as women’s fiction, romance, mystery/police procedural/cozy, suspense, paranormal, futuristic, gothic, inspirational, thriller, horror and action/adventure. She also writes children’s books, poetry, and writing reference titles such as her bestsellers, First Draft in 30 Days and From First Draft to Finished Novel {A Writer’s Guide to Cohesive Story Building}, available from Writer’s Digest Books. Her previous writing reference titles focused on non-subsidy, royalty-paying electronic publishing, author promotion, and setting up a promotional group like her own, the award-winning Jewels of the Quill, which she founded in 2003. The group publishes two award-winning anthologies together, edited by Karen and others, per year. In addition to her writing, Karen enjoys designing Web sites, graphics, and cover art.

For more information about Karen and her work, visit her Web sites at http://www.karenwiesner.com, http://www.firstdraftin30days.com, http://www.falconsbend.com and http://www.JewelsoftheQuill.com. If you would like to receive Karen’s free e-mail newsletter, Karen’s Quill, and become eligible to win her monthly book giveaways, send a blank e-mail to

KarensQuill-subscribe@yahoogroups.com.


Upcoming releases in my many other series:

Paper Tiger, Book 5 of my Kaleidoscope Series (romantic suspense novella) will be released in HALLOWEEN TREASURES, A Jewels of the Quill Halloween Anthology (September 2010)

http://www.angelfire.com/stars4/kswiesner/fiction8.html

MIND GAMES, Book 11 of the Incognito Series is coming out October 2010 (romantic suspense)

http://www.angelfire.com/stars4/kswiesner/fiction7a.html

My next dame collection, KALEIDOSCOPE SERIES, will be out in December 2010 and will include Perfect Cadence (Book 1), In Cahoots With Cupid (Book 2), Behind Amethyst Eyes (Book 3), Jordana's Chair (Book 4), Paper Tigers (Book 5), plus 2 bonus stories in the series never before published: Cabin Fever (Book 6) and The Longest Night (Book 7) (contemporary romance novella collection)

http://www.angelfire.com/stars4/kswiesner/fiction8.html

DARK APPROACH, the 12th and final book in the Incognito Series, will be out March 2010 (romantic suspense)

http://www.angelfire.com/stars4/kswiesner/fiction7a.html

Moonlight Becomes You, Book 4 of the Woodcutter’s Grim Series will be out March 2011 in TALES FROM THE TREASURE TROVE, Volume VII, A Jewels of the Quill Anthology (paranormal romance novella)

http://www.angelfire.com/stars4/kswiesner/fiction6.html

Wings of Love, Book 1 of the Cowboy Fever Series (contemporary romance novella), will be out September 2011 in CHRISTMAS GEMS, A Jewels of the Quill Christmas Anthology

http://www.angelfire.com/stars4/kswiesner/fiction10.html

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Thursday Spotlight: Karen Wiesner

Tell us about your journey to publication.

I wrote my first book when I was ten years old. My first novel was published in 1998 after countless “good” rejections and after I’d made the monumental (and retrospectively premature) decision to write only for my own pleasure instead of for publication. Since then, I’ve been extremely blessed.

Up until a few years ago, I’d never felt “led” to write Christian stories, but that changed unexpectedly while writing WAYWARD ANGELS, Book 4 of the Wounded Warriors Series. Writing it was an experience unlike any I’ve gone through before. It was like having God sit down with me every morning and guide my figurative pen. When the book was done, I also felt like I hadn’t written it. It almost didn’t feel like my own writing, and I did experience some self-doubts about the story when the book was released. I worried how Christians would react because I’m not in any way conventional, traditional—I don’t fit the molds inspirational publishers insist on. If someone picks up the book and expects everything to be safe and harmless...well, that’s not me. Yet the reception was beyond what I could have ever imagined. This book has a realistic, powerful edge that I never want to lose, and I also recognized that God was leading my hand while I was writing it. While reading it again after it was published, I experienced in an overwhelming way His incredible ability to take a life that seems beyond redemption and turn it into something not only worthwhile but beautiful. Writing inspirational fiction just feels like the right (though certainly not the only) course for me. I hope that the Christian novels I write will glorify God and touch people in such a way that they see His power to change lives. In the last several years, I’ve been writing a lot more inspirational fiction, including:

Family Heirlooms Series (inspirational romances):

http://www.angelfire.com/stars4/kswiesner/fiction9.html

Denim Blues Mysteries Trilogy (romantic inspirational mysteries):

http://www.angelfire.com/stars4/kswiesner/fiction1a.html

WAYWARD ANGELS, Book 4 of the Wounded Warriors Series

WHITE RAINBOW, Book 6 of the Wounded Warriors Series

(both are inspirational women’s fiction):

http://www.angelfire.com/stars4/kswiesner/fiction1a.html

THE BLOODMOON CURSE (inspirational contemporary gothic romantic suspense):

http://www.angelfire.com/stars4/kswiesner/fiction4.html


“A Home for Christmas” (inspirational romance novella):

http://www.angelfire.com/stars4/kswiesner/fiction4.html

I’m also planning to write some other single title inspirational romances in the future, and you can find out more information about them here:

http://www.angelfire.com/stars4/kswiesner/WIP.html

Will I ever stop writing anything but inspirational fiction? At this time, I have to say no, but who knows? I’m open to any direction the Lord moves me in.


How do you find time to connect with God?

I’m a pray-as-I-go-along person. If anything happens that bothers me, worries me, relieves me, thrills me—you name it, past, present and future—I’m talking to Him about it. I also try to read and study the Bible each day. My favorite verses are Romans 12:1-2, which really seem to cover everything in life to me. When I first accepted the Lord, my every question was, “What’s God’s will here? Should I do this? Or this? Or not? What does He want me to do?” It was a constant struggle. I’ve learned that Romans 12:1-2 are the answer to every question every single time. What I do or don’t do beyond that isn’t the point. The point is my submission. God’s will in every circumstance I face is for me to submit myself to Him, and He’ll reveal the answer to me based on my obedience in offering myself to Him. These verses are just such a peace to me after so many years of struggling to know His will.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wednesday Spotlight: Karen Wiesner

What’s coming up in the Denim Blues Mysteries trilogy?

LOVE IS BLIND...AND IT DON'T PAY THE BILLS EITHER

Book 2 of the Denim Blues Mysteries Trilogy
Inspirational Romantic Mystery
by Karen Wiesner
Coming in trade paperback and electronic formats January 2011

from Whiskey Creek Press http://whiskeycreekpress.com/authors/Karen_Wiesner.shtml

Working with local private investigators Den McHart and Sylvia Price, Briar's Point Police Department Detective Orlando Bateman solves a missing person case. Keeya Nilsen, visually impaired from the plane crash that took her parents' lives, comes to him and has a justifiably bad attitude about love, since all the men she's ever loved have cheated on her and robbed her...including the last one, who absconded with her most prized possession—her grandfather's unpublished Blues compositions—when he flew the coop. As together they search for her last boyfriend and her missing legacy, Orlando reminds Keeya of the faith she’d had before the plane crash that changed her life and makes her see love as God intends.

An excerpt of this book will be available soon here:

http://www.angelfire.com/stars4/kswiesner/fiction1a.html



SOULS ON {B}ORING STREET
Book 3 of the Denim Blues Mysteries Trilogy
Inspirational Romantic Mystery
by Karen Wiesner
Coming in trade paperback and electronic formats June 2011
from Whiskey Creek Press http://whiskeycreekpress.com/authors/Karen_Wiesner.shtml


Erin Shanley, a hospice nurse, becomes an amateur sleuth when she realizes some of her patients are being swindled out of their life savings by the new 'psychic' fortuneteller in Briar's Point. Erin's neighbor, Detective Tyler Shaw, whom she went to school with, is someone she's always had a bit of a crush on. But this shy, sweet guy has been burned in love and isn't sure he's the right material for any woman, even someone as amazing as Erin.

Background of RETIRED AND ON THE ROCKS:

Quite a few years ago, my Falcon’s Bend Series writing partner, Chris Spindler, wrote to tell me her German publisher was looking for light-hearted mystery novellas. I’d had this interesting dream just prior to this, and I used small parts of it as the basis of this mystery novella that I wrote fairly quickly. At the time, the story was in first-person point of view (POV)—the hero, Denim McHart. I also had quite a few more ideas for mystery novellas with this character that I thought about pursuing if this first novella did anything. Long story short, the German publisher decided not to go in that direction, so I was sitting there with a finished novella that I loved and the makings of a series revolving around this intriguing hero. Then I heard that an inspirational publisher was looking for romantic mystery novels. I loved the idea of turning this novella into a novel, and I knew I could flesh it out greatly by revising it in third-person POV and including the heroine, Sylvia Price’s viewpoint. What I came up with was better than my expectations, and my ideas for a series with the same hero every time quickly became a trilogy with two of the male characters I’d become intrigued by during the writing of RETIRED AND ON THE ROCKS—Sylvia’s former partner on the Riverbend Police Department, Orlando Bateman, and Orlando’s new partner at the Briar’s Point Police Department, Tyler Shaw.

To make another long story short, the inspirational publisher asked for many, many changes to fit the theme of the line these mystery novels would be fitting into. I admit, I wasn’t crazy about the idea of changing these aspects, but I liked the idea of getting the books published better than I disliked the idea of changing. I made all the changes very quickly, the publisher was very approving and eager to work with me...

Alas, nothing worked out there despite the sheer amount of time I waited around for something to happen. I finally sent the book to my agent to see if she would have any luck placing it elsewhere. She asked for revisions over the course of an extremely frustrating year. At long last, the book was making the rounds...for another year of frustration in which nothing happened.

I was becoming more than a little eager to see something—anything—happen with these books that I’d fallen in love with when RETIRED was just a novella. I decided to pull the book from my agent. The more I thought about it, the more I liked my original novel ideas for RETIRED—and luckily I still had a copy of it in that form. I went to work returning it to the state I’d loved it most before I had so many publishers and agents trying to change it. One of the publishers I submitted it to again wanted to make endless changes that would turn it into what she wanted but not what I loved most. Though that editor was very eager to work with me, I’d been down that road before with this book, so I decided not to change it this time. Instead, I submitted the trilogy (which, at the time, consisted of the first full novel and blurbs for the last two) to my publisher Whiskey Creek Press. In short order, they bought all three books—without any changes beyond normal editing—and suddenly I had to get to work on those last two books.

At this time, LOVE IS BLIND is complete, and I’ll begin outlining SOULS in late Summer 2010. If you’re curious about the titles:

LOVE IS BLIND...AND IT DON'T PAY THE BILLS EITHER is the name of one of the heroine, Keeya Nilsen’s grandfather’s Blues songs. This ties into Keeya’s firm belief that love is blind—and it’s up to Orlando to change her mind!

The title of SOULS ON {B}ORING STREET is based on the fact that the hero, Ty, and heroine, Erin, live on a street called “Oring Street.” Long ago, the kids in the subdivision painted a “B” in front of it—hence the title. But suddenly interesting things are happening on this street, and amateur sleuth Erin is determined to find out what...with a little help from the guy (police detective Ty) she’s had a crush on for years.

I also designed the covers for all three of the books—I’m really proud of these. You can check them out here:

http://www.angelfire.com/stars4/kswiesner/fiction1a.html

and see the back cover of SOULS here:

http://www.angelfire.com/stars4/kswiesner/KarensCoverDesigns10.html

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Tuesday Spotlight: Karen Wiesner

Exclusive excerpt of

RETIRED AND ON THE ROCKS

by Karen Wiesner


© Karen Wiesner



Chapter 2

8:30 a.m.

The building McHart and Price Investigations used was at one time a small wedding dress shop, and had two window displays bracketing the front door. Den had never bothered with them on his own, but Sylvia turned into Martha Stewart after they became partners. She put two giant posters of their latest business advertisement in the windows, along with all the comforts of a waiting room and inviting touches of decoration throughout the office suite. Business had increased once she got done with it. They started to get people in off the street, looking for their particular brand of skills for all kinds of things. If the money was green and the venture legitimate, they considered it worth doing.

At the moment, the windows were patriotically decked out for the Fourth of July around the posters. Outside of that, nothing had changed. Their latest promotional posters featuring the two of them and the slogan “McHart and Price Investigations: You’ve got a problem? We’ll find the solution,” remained on display in the windows. Den’s name still preceded hers in gold lettering on the glass door.

Stepping inside for the first time in a month created a strange heaviness in his chest. A month ago, he’d been so disgusted with himself, he hadn’t looked back when he decided it was his time to retire. Now, being here again, a big part of him felt like he’d come home after being away far too long.

He inhaled the aroma of fresh coffee brewing on the welcome table and the cinnamon spice potpourri Sylvia set out around the office—something he’d complained about more than once. At the moment, even the scents he’d considered a sure-fire way to suffocation rendered him nostalgic.

The front room proved empty, but he knew Sylvia was around. The intoxicating, flowery perfume she wore lingered on the air. His heart tightened in anticipation of seeing her.

He’d met Sylvia five years ago, when she breezed through the door of McHart Investigations, still in her cop uniform, and told him without an ounce of compunction that he was going to show her the ropes of his business. In six months, she’d be his partner, she stated confidently.

Later, he found out she’d just been turned down a second time for the detective position she wanted badly on the Riverbend police force. They’d chosen her partner Orlando Bateman for that opening. Instead of taking it, Bateman had moved to Briar’s Point and took a job with their police force. Den had often wondered what made him do it.

Oh, Sylvia had all the right qualifications for that position. She claimed they’d denied her both times because she was a woman. At first, Den doubted her. Figured she didn’t have any sleuthing skills. But, in under a month of trying to charm her into his arms—dressed in the guise of “showing her the ropes”—he changed his mind. The lady was undeniably sharp as a tack, and she understood human nature as well as she understood the law. When Sylvia Price put two and two together, criminals got caught.

Den figured it went down that way in Riverbend because she was too beautiful for her own good. Her superiors probably decided they didn’t need the inevitable trouble of a honey like that complicating—and outdoing—a mostly male team. Bateman had implied her failure to gain detective status might be more than that, yet she’d never let Den in on exactly what.

Den had made Sylvia his partner in that first month, changed the business name to McHart and Price Investigations, and put Syl’s heart-stopping picture along with his on all the advertisements. Prior to that, he got a fair number of his cases from women. With Syl, he doubled his business in no time, and now they had an equal number of men looking for someone to solve their ails. And they had a near-perfect cases-solved rate. No denying they made a dream team.

Casting a longing glance toward the hall, he wondered where she was. They’d talked more than once about hiring a receptionist, but Sylvia seemed more than capable of handling those duties along with their cases. Like most women, she could juggle a dozen tasks to his two.

The phone at the front desk rang. Sylvia emerged from the back like a shot. She saw him and gave a little “hi-and-hold-on” wave before picking up the phone.

Den couldn’t imagine when she’d looked better to him. He took her in from the top of her shiny head to the sharply pointed toes of her suede, four-inch-heeled boots. The thing that’d always amazed him was she could run as fast as a track star in those endless varieties of spiked heels.

At thirty-something—the closest she’d come to admitting her age—she was in better shape than most twenty-year-olds. She worked out five times a week while he indulged in a long-time habit of watching her exercise. Hey, he could break a sweat just doing that. He’d learned from personal experience that her strength couldn’t be measured by the misleading sleekness of her delicate form.

White corduroy jeans followed her delectable figure. The rounded collar of her top with a matching crocheted overlay—and her requisite gun tucked in a shoulder holster—hugged her curves just as lovingly.

Den remembered suddenly that it’d taken him six months after meeting Sylvia to talk her into his arms—an unprecedented amount of time for him. He learned fast, though, that he was an all-or-nothing guy. Unfortunately, she wasn’t ready for “all” and he wasn’t interested in “something.” The combination led to “nothing.” Occasionally, he couldn’t prevent himself from trying to charm her back into “all”—love, marriage, the whole forever package—but when she started to withdraw the way she inevitably did each time, his eyes strayed in fury. And then she called it off again in a hurry.

They’d been off romantically for over a year now. A long, long year. In his solitude since, he couldn’t stop thinking about the look on her face when he told her he was retiring, that she could take over the business—he didn’t doubt their clients would barely notice his absence. Aggressive gal that she was, Sylvia nevertheless hadn’t looked happy about his self-enforced retirement.

The only thing his mind had the capability of reasoning out at the moment came down to the fact that he must have been crazy risking her life and ever letting her go—not necessarily in that order. Never mind that she’d been more than willing to tag along as well as adamant about letting their romance slide each time. So adamant, he hadn’t had the heart to fight her. Not that I’ll ever give up the chase when it comes to Sylvia. His only excuse for his temporary defeat could be that he took her refusals to confide in him personally. Maybe that’d changed this time.

She hung up, and he felt too immobilized watching her to move or speak. Like usual, Sylvia didn’t hesitate. She came to hug him. Den didn’t let her go when she eased back, her head tilted up to look at him. “How’s your leg, Den?” she asked.

“Lonely, sugar. So lonely.”

Her exotic, heavily-lashed eyes met his straight on. Then one of her eyebrows twitched up in a challenge. “Your injured leg has been lonely?”

He gave in to a grin that seemed to have the opposite affect on her. His charm made her wary instead of bone-weak.

“Hold on, Blue Eyes,” she said softly, drawing back from him in a way he assured himself had to be reluctant. “We’ve got a case.”

Thinking she joked, he chuckled. He limped forward to again close the distance between them she’d created. Surprisingly, she didn’t slip away like a wood sprite the way she usually did.

“Tell me you’ve missed me, too, sweetness.”

She crossed her arms over her chest. “So it’s not just your leg that’s been lonely, lover boy?”

“You’re all I’ve thought about, Syl.” He curled his hand around the curve of her neck, leaning closer until their bodies met.

A knowing smile lifted the corners of her mouth. “I bet. I had the feeling your retirement was premature. All you need is a new mystery to cure what ails you.”

“I know exactly what I need to cure my ails.”

“Hmm,” she murmured doubtfully. She eased back to affectionately pinch his scruffy chin in her fingers. “Why don’t we see about that, my overzealous rogue?”

With that, she sashayed toward his office, which still sported his name on the frosted pane.

Oh yeah, his sweet Syl definitely had her mind running on the same track as his. Time to renew acquaintances and talk about forgiveness and reconciliation. She led him forward by an invisible chain that, at this particular time, he would have submitted to wearing for any reason at all.

Den crowded into his office behind her, made to put his arms around her and then he noticed they weren’t alone. His love-starved brain required a few seconds to fathom the situation while Sylvia had the nerve to introduce their unwanted guest as Naomi Deva.

Sylvia hadn’t called him in here because she missed him, Den realized. She’d taken his retirement as temporary by deciding it was high time he got his uncertain butt back to work.

Nevertheless, he decided to stand on principle. He hustled her back out to the front room without so much as an “Excuse us” to a client he didn’t have the slightest interest in taking on. “You called me for this, darlin’?”

The little wench had enough composure to look annoyed with him. “You and I both know you’ll shrivel up and die before you give up investigating. You’re restless, Den. Why else would you sprint here on an injured leg the way you did if you weren’t ready to come back?”

“You know why,” he muttered, not too happy about how well she pegged him.


Read more of RETIRED AND ON THE ROCKS:

http://www.angelfire.com/stars4/kswiesner/Retiredexcerpt.pdf

Monday, June 21, 2010

Monday Spotlight: Ginger Simpson

Interview with Grace from White Heart, Lakota Spirit:

Today my guest, Grace Cummings, the heroine in White Heart, Lakota Spirit is here to tell us how she survived being held captive by Indians. So, without further ado, let's begin the interview:

Just for clarification, HOST will indicate the interviewer’s questions below:

HOST: It must have been a very traumatic ordeal for you. Can you tell us about it?

GRACE: It was horrid. (She shudders) I still hear my mother's screams in my head. I…

HOST: Do you need a moment to compose yourself?

GRACE: No, I'm fine. (Deep breath) It was 1874. My family had moved around a lot because my father, bless his departed soul, was a restless man. It was hard for a girl my age to make friends, not living in one place for very long, and just when Ma, Kevin and I thought we might settle down, General George Armstrong Custer made an announcement about gold being discovered in the Black Hills of Lakota territory. That's all it took! Pa loaded everything back into our Conestoga and insisted this was his chance to strike it big.
HOST: Why didn't you mother put her foot down?

GRACE: You have to understand that back then, women were expected to know their place. Ma pretty much did as Pa said. Besides, he promised her that when he hit the mother lode, he would buy us a new house; new furniture and we'd never have to move again.

HOST: I can see how that might have sounded pretty enticing.
GRACE: It was. We all had visions of putting down permanent roots, so being out on the plains, cooking over a campfire again and roughing it for a just a little longer was worth it if Pa and my brother, Kevin, found gold.

HOST: Tell us more about your experience, please.

GRACE: Okay. We had made camp at the base of the Black Hills, near a sparse stand of trees. There was a small stream nearby, so water was plentiful. Ma and I slept on a pallet of blankets in the wagon, while Pa and Kev slept in a makeshift tent. We had just finished breakfast one morning and were laughing and talking before Pa and Kev went off to the mine, when I happened to spy some riders on the horizon. It soon became clear from the whooping and hollering that they were being attacked by Indians.

HOST: Oh my goodness, what did you do?

GRACE: Pa immediately yelled for Ma and I to get back in the Conestoga, and he and Kev grabbed their rifles and crawled underneath. I hunkered down behind the tailgate, waiting for Ma, but she never came. I was so scared, hearing the sound of gunfire and those blood-curdling war cries, I covered my ears, but it didn't help. When I got the courage to peek outside, I saw the Indians circling our wagon and Ma running in the opposite direction. I think she was trying to draw them away from me. I didn't realize it at the time, but Pa and Kevin were already dead. They were easy pickings with no real shelter.
HOST: How awful.

GRACE: You have no idea! (Stopping to bite her knuckle, then staring straight ahead). They…they shot my ma down in cold blood right before my eyes.

HOST: Oh you poor thing. What did you do then?

GRACE: (Dabbing at eyes with hanky) I curled myself into a ball and prayed that it was all just a bad dream, and that I'd wake up. When I didn't hear anything for a while, I found the courage to rise to my knees and peer over the tailgate again. I almost had heart failure when I came face-to-face with the ugliest sight I'd ever seen.
HOST: Oh my gosh, I have goose bumps. What was it?

GRACE: It was the person I later learned was Black Crow. His face was painted with bright yellow lightning bolts, and he had a scar that ran from ear-to-ear. He pulled me out of the wagon, barking orders in a strange language, and threw me to the ground. I felt like my heart was going to pound its way right through my chemise. (Holds hand against chest)

HOST: Oh my goodness, what was going through your head?

GRACE: I was certain he was going to kill me, too. I think he might have had it not been for one of his friends. The one, called Little Elk, seemed to step in and calm Black Crow down. Still, it was an awful thing to go through, wondering if you were going to live or die. After Black Crow tethered my arms together and dragged me along behind his horse, like I was nothing more than an animal, I almost wished I had died. I fought to keep up all the way to the Indian village.

HOST: How far was it?

GRACE: (Holding out her wrists). I'm not sure, but you can still see the scars where the rawhide bit into my skin. I didn't have time to get my shoes on, so my feet were pretty raw, too. I'm used to walking beside the wagon every day, but being dragged is quite different. It took forever.

HOST: What happened when you got to the village?

GRACE: I was so tired I could barely stand, but I dared not drop to the ground when it seemed like the whole village stood in a circle around me, staring and laughing. I thought for sure I was about to meet my maker, but something very surprising happened.

HOST: Don't stop now!

GRACE: A beautiful green-eyed woman walked into the midst of things and protected me. She spoke their language and dressed in their clothing, but it was evident from her flaming red hair that she was white. If it hadn't been for her I would never have survived to tell this story, that and the fact that Black Crow's mother didn't like having a white woman share her home. (Grace chuckles)

HOST: What happened?

GRACE: After only one night in her tepee, Black Crow handed me over to Little Elk. He, at least treated me with kindness, allowing Green Eyes to help me bathe and wash my hair. I was still scared, but not nearly as much. Pa always said I was headstrong, and it almost got me into trouble when Little Elk gave me a new name. (Sitting up straighter, squaring shoulders)

HOST: Oh gosh, we're almost out of time and I hate to make you stop. Can you give us a brief summary, and quickly?

GRACE: Although there is so much more to tell, I'll just say that Little Elk played a big role in the decision I made when the white soldiers raided the camp. Unless you want to invite me back for another visit, I guess you'll just have to read the book. (Holds out a copy)
HOST: Is this for me? How nice, and it's autographed. Grace Cummings, thank you so much for spending time with us and sharing your captivating story. I'd like to remind our readers that White Heart, Lakota Spirit by Ginger Simpson is offered at http://www.moongypsypress.com. It’s supposed to be offered in print on Amazon any day now. There's more to story, and if you're like me, you want to know how things turned out. Happy reading!

Monday Spotlight: Karen Wiesner


RETIRED AND ON THE ROCKS
Book 1 of the Denim Blues Mystery Trilogy
Inspirational Romantic Mystery
978-1-60313-781-2 (trade paperback); 978-1-60313-780-5 (electronic)
Available now from Whiskey Creek Press


http://whiskeycreekpress.com/authors/Karen_Wiesner.shtml

Significant discount on paperback!
http://www.angelfire.com/stars4/kswiesner/specialorderform.html


Find out more about this book and trilogy: http://www.angelfire.com/stars4/kswiesner/fiction1a.html

A missing engagement ring leads to murder…

It's been a month since Denim McHart hung up his private investigating career after he ended up with a bullet in his leg. The injury has forced Den to re-evaluate future goals in his career, his love life and his spiritual life. To keep himself busy in early retirement, he's been attempting to restore an antique table and he's officially bored. He can't seem to keep his mind off his investigative partner, the lovely and complicated Sylvia Price whom he's had an on-again, off-again romantic relationship with in the past. When Sylvia calls him out of the blue, he doesn't waste time getting down to their office.

In this past month, Sylvia has been dealing with her own feelings for Den, her overwhelming guilt for the pivotal event that happened years ago and caused her mother to be mentally unstable, coinciding with her inability to forgive herself the way she knows the Lord has forgiven her.

Before the sparks can fly between Den and Sylvia in the direction he has his heart set, she says they've got company. Jilted bride Naomi Deva tells him that her groom--Mayor Thomas Julian--dumped her at the altar. Reluctantly, she admits he'd caught her in a compromising position with the best man only minutes before the ceremony. Naomi also reveals the reason why she's sought them: The local police department hasn't been able to turn up the 6.1 carat diamond engagement ring Thomas gave her...and the groom wants it back. Immediately.

Reviews:

5 Stars! “This is an excellent start to a newest series by author Karen Wiesner. With a mixture of Nick and Nora Charles, throw in a little bit of Perry Mason and you have a page turner that will keep the reader involved in the plot right to the very end.” ~Miss Lynn's Books-N-More http://misslynnsbooks-n-more.blogspot.com/2010/03/retired-and-on-rocks-by-karen-wiesner.html

4 Stars! “I do not read much Christian Romance, but, when I do, Karen Wiesner is one of my absolute favorite authors. This story will clearly show you why. This is the first mystery in a new series. The case involving an expensive ring begins and ends here. It is a stand-alone tale. The private lives of the main characters get equal time. The author does not force religion down the throat of the reader, but the characters' beliefs certainly help each one to deal with personal troubles. I find this jewel to be a fulfilling story of trust and faith. Memorable!” ~Detra Fitch for Huntress Reviews http://www.huntressreviews.com

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Obsidian: The See Through Rock by Olivia Huff


Matthew regretted having to knock on the door of the farm house so late at night but it couldn't be helped. His students would be waiting bright and early for him in the morning, and he couldn't disappoint them. He was an archaeologist, and the class covered the making of tools. Knowing the process would help the small group of aspiring archaeologists recognize artifacts when they were out in the field on a dig.

The hand painted sign by the driveway said Rock Shop. It was obviously some old duffer's backyard hobby. Matthew desperately hoped that he would have a few chunks of obsidian or flint lying around in one of the shacks and sheds on the property.

But it wasn't a crusty old rock hound who answered the door. It was a woman. She clutched a long, soft red robe tighter around her well rounded form, but not before Matthew caught a glimpse of the swell of her breasts over a tight black opaque teddy.

"May I help you?" Her voice was pleasant. Cultured and friendly. She half smiled and waited for his reply.

"I don't like to bother you so late at night but I'm desperate. I'm teaching an early morning class in arrowhead making. Would you happen to have obsidian for sale?"

She stepped out of the house, onto the porch. Matthew could see droplets of moisture on her skin and dampness in her silky blond hair. He detected the scent of lavender soap. Obviously she had just showered and was getting ready for bed. It was doubtful a woman like her would go to bed alone. Again, he felt a pang of guilt at disturbing her evening.

Her smile widened. "As a matter of fact, I do have obsidian. I just made a trade this afternoon with a gentleman who was passing through from California. My algae jasper for his obsidian. I think I got a good deal. Wait here. I'll put on some shoes and go find it for you."

She emerged a minute later wearing red marabou slippers with high heels. He followed her out to her workshop, catching glimpses of her long, bare legs as she strode athletically over the stones in her driveway. He couldn't help but wonder how someone like her got interested in rocks and minerals.

The shelves of her shop were lined with sparkling crystal specimens. "Do you know a lot about crystal healing?" he asked. "Metaphysics?"

Her laughter rang out. "Oh, goodness no! I'm not into that at all. I read geology, though. And I do some illustrations for a mineralogy website."

He had a strange and unexplained desire to tell her how much intelligent women excited him.

He also noticed that the work area housed several sizes of rock saws. "Do you cut your own rocks? Or does your husband help you?"

"There's no husband. I'm a single gal."

Matthew was pleased to hear those words. "How much do you want for that black obsidian?" he asked.

"Does five dollars a pound sound about right? This piece is about two pounds, I think."

"Sounds good to me. Do you have change for a hundred dollar bill?"

She frowned. "No, I'm sorry I don't. But you can take the rock and stop back with the money anytime."

He noticed then that the tie on her robe had loosened. Her black teddy was fairly opaque, but a shadowed triangle was visible at the juncture of her firm thighs. He said, "That's very kind and generous of you. I will take you up on your offer. And I will be back soon."

She smiled. "I know you will", she replied softly. "I have no doubt about that."

About the Author: Olivia Hoff lives on the family farm in northern Minnesota, where she is the proprietor of an old-fashioned rock shop. She writes web articles, confessions, poetry, plays, and short fiction. Her other interests are earth science, history, music, gardening, outdoors, horses, dogs, cats, and arts and crafts. http://www.oliviahoff.com

Author Interview: Jennie Marsland


The Long and the Short of It: LASR is pleased to welcome Jennie Marsland, author of McShannon's Chance, the first book in her Wallace Flats series and her debut.

I asked her to tell us a bit about the book.

McShannon’s Chance is set in the Colorado Territory in 1870. The hero, Trey McShannon, is half-British and half-Cajun, a Georgia boy who fought for the Union in the Civil War. For obvious reasons he couldn’t go home afterwards, so he went West and settled near the fictional frontier town of Wallace Flats. After nearly five years of working on his dream of raising Thoroughbred horses, hard work and loneliness are wearing Trey down, so he sends for a mail-order bride and meets Beth Underhill.

Beth is a watercolor artist, strong-willed and a bit too unconventional for the liking of her proper, affluent Eastern family. Living in Denver with her cousin after the death of the aunt who raised her, she doesn’t want to be sent back East to find a ‘suitable’ husband. Beth is disillusioned with the marriage market and finds Trey’s honest business proposal more appealing.

Trey thinks the war has left him too emotionally burnt out to feel real love. He’s hoping for a wife he can live with, but Beth is a whole lot more than he bargained for. She’s looking for choices and determined to live on her own terms, which include pursuing a reputation as a painter. She shares Trey’s love of Thoroughbreds and isn’t afraid of the hard work his life entails. Her nerve and honesty win his respect and he can’t look at her without wanting her in his arms, but Trey has to overcome his personal demons and learn to trust before he can have the family he longs for.
In McShannon's Chance, the characters definitely came before the plot for Jennie. She told me she actually had a moment of inspiration when Trey's character just popped into her mind out of the blue. She was on a camping trip at the time and couldn't find anything to write on but a piece of paper towel. She filled three sheets of paper towel, which she still has tucked away.

"The plot evolved naturally from Trey’s background and his post-traumatic stress, which of course back then was called cowardice," she explained. "I didn’t even know the story would be a romance when I started writing; I just went with the inspiration. Then I came up for air and said, 'Yikes, I’ve written a novel. Now what do I do?'”

She has recently completed a prequel to McShannon's Chance which will be released this summer. It's called McShannon's Heart and follows Trey's twin sister, Rochelle, when she emigrates with her father to his old home in the Yorkshire Dales just before the outbreak of the Civil War. She gave us an advance look at the cover blurb:

When Rochelle McShannon accompanies her father to his old home in the Yorkshire Dales after her mother’s death, she thinks she’s leaving everything that matters behind her – including the man she expected to marry. When tested by the divided loyalties of the looming Civil War, she can’t choose love over her bond to her family. Chelle wonders if she’s even capable of the kind of love that can overcome bitterness and grief, the kind of love that lasts a lifetime.

Martin Rainnie understands grief. In the months since his wife died in childbirth he hasn’t been able to feel anything else, except anger. He can’t face his baby daughter, and he can’t face himself. Martin wants nothing to do with the blonde, sapphire-eyed newcomer to Mallonby, but Chelle’s family is fostering his little girl. He can’t avoid her, and it doesn’t take her long to unsettle his heart as well as his temper. As baby Greer draws them closer, Martin begins to wonder if he can love again after all – and if he can convince Chelle that she can do the same.
"I enjoyed putting some of my love of folk music into this story," she told me. "Martin is a talented fiddle player who gave up his music when his wife died. He’s a bit of a tough nut to crack, but I love him."

Jennie told me that, growing up, her parents read to her and her brother every night and she picked it up through osmosis even before going to school. Also, one of her grandfathers was a writer, so between nurture and genetics words became the natural outlet for her overactive imagination. She's been writing about thirty-five years, off and on, with long stretches of dry spells, but only actively seeking publication for the last three years.

She told me she's never suffered from severe writer's block, but she does have times when writing doesn't come easily to her. Usually it's because she's not pleased with the way the story is going.

"Then I go back and figure out what's bothering me," she said. "It might be a character that needs more development early on, a plot problem, or back story that needs sorting out. Once I fix it, I find the motivation to move on."

Character development is very important to Jennie.

"The people I’m reading about have to be multi-dimensional, real and sympathetic, and they have to change and grow over the course of the story," she explained. "My biggest turn-off, especially in romance novels, is a hero or heroine I can’t root for because I can’t like them. As for plot, it has to be believable and well researched."

"What books or authors have most influenced your own writing?" I wondered.

"There are so many, but the biggest is probably Lucy Maud Montgomery," she said. "I learned from her very young that everyone has a story and that everyday life is full of small-scale drama. Montgomery’s own writing journey, as described in her journals, taught me about perseverance. I love her sense of humor and her sense of place – and the fact that she was one of the first female authors in North America to sue her unscrupulous publisher and win! The fact that she’s a fellow Maritimer doesn’t hurt either.

"Others…Zane Grey and Louis L’Amour are responsible for my love of Westerns. I grew up reading my father’s collection and had childhood crushes on L’Amour’s Ty Sackett and Grey’s Lassiter. I read Westerns instead of romances as a teenager. Rugged, romantic heroes, spirited heroines, horses, what more could a girl want?"

Finally, I asked Jennie what advice she would give to a new writer just starting out.

"I still am a new writer to the published world," she said, "but here goes. Take every opportunity to learn and hone your craft. Read books in the genre you’re writing and look at them critically. Join a critique group; they’re invaluable. Not only do they help you with the mechanics of writing, they teach you to sort through criticism and pick out what’s most useful. There are good groups online if you can’t find a live one close to you.

"Network. Writing is a solitary pursuit and sometimes a lonely one. It’s great to have other writers to encourage you when you’re down and help you celebrate the highs of the writing life. Only other authors really understand the craziness of being an author.

"Finally, be persistent. Then be more persistent. DON”T GIVE UP."
You can keep up with Jennie on her blog, http://jenniemarsland.blogspot.com,

Friday, June 18, 2010

Friday Spotlight: Karen Wiesner

What are you working on now?


Right now, I’m finishing up the first draft of DARK APPROACH, the 12th and final book in my Incognito Series (coming March 2011 from Whiskey Creek Press).

http://www.angelfire.com/stars4/kswiesner/fiction7a.html

Through most of the summer, I'm working on my third offering for Writer's Digest Books--can't talk about that at the moment, but I hope to announce the sale of it later this year.


What can readers look for from you?

My newest release is WHITE RAINBOW, the final book in the Wounded Warriors Series (inspirational romance)

http://www.angelfire.com/stars4/kswiesner/fiction1.html

Coming in June 2010 is RETIRED AND ON THE ROCKS, the first in the Denim Blues Mysteries trilogy (inspirational romantic mystery)

http://www.angelfire.com/stars4/kswiesner/fiction7a.html

Paper Tiger, Book 5 of my Kaleidoscope Series (romantic suspense novella) will be released in HALLOWEEN TREASURES, A Jewels of the Quill Halloween Anthology (September 2010)

http://www.angelfire.com/stars4/kswiesner/fiction8.html

MIND GAMES, Book 11 of the Incognito Series is coming out October 2010 (romantic suspense)

http://www.angelfire.com/stars4/kswiesner/fiction7a.html

My next dame collection, KALEIDOSCOPE SERIES, will be out in December 2010 and will include Perfect Cadence (Book 1), In Cahoots With Cupid (Book 2), Behind Amethyst Eyes (Book 3), Jordana's Chair (Book 4), Paper Tigers (Book 5), plus 2 bonus stories in the series never before published: Cabin Fever (Book 6) and The Longest Night (Book 7) (contemporary romance novella collection)

http://www.angelfire.com/stars4/kswiesner/fiction8.html

LOVE IS BLIND...AND IT DON'T PAY THE BILLS EITHER, Book 2 of the Denim Blues Mysteries Trilogy, comes out January 2011 (inspirational romantic mystery)

http://www.angelfire.com/stars4/kswiesner/fiction1a.html

DARK APPROACH will be out March 2010 (romantic suspense)

http://www.angelfire.com/stars4/kswiesner/fiction7a.html

Moonlight Becomes You, Book 4 of the Woodcutter’s Grim Series will be out March 2011 in TALES FROM THE TREASURE TROVE, Volume VII, A Jewels of the Quill Anthology (paranormal romance novella)

http://www.angelfire.com/stars4/kswiesner/fiction6.html

SOULS ON BORING STREET, the third and final book in the Denim Blues Mysteries trilogy, will be out June 2011 (inspirational romantic mystery)

http://www.angelfire.com/stars4/kswiesner/fiction1a.html

Wings of Love, Book 1 of the Cowboy Fever Series (contemporary romance), will be out September 2011 in CHRISTMAS GEMS, A Jewels of the Quill Christmas Anthology

http://www.angelfire.com/stars4/kswiesner/fiction10.html

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Thursday Spotlight: Karen Wiesner

Karen Wiesner is an accomplished author with 73 books published in the past 12 years, which have been nominated for and/or won 99 awards, and 10 more titles under contract. Karen’s books cover such genres as women’s fiction, romance, mystery/police procedural/cozy, suspense, paranormal, futuristic, gothic, inspirational, thriller, horror and action/adventure. She also writes children’s books, poetry, and writing reference titles such as her bestsellers, First Draft in 30 Days and From First Draft to Finished Novel {A Writer’s Guide to Cohesive Story Building}, available from Writer’s Digest Books. Her previous writing reference titles focused on non-subsidy, royalty-paying electronic publishing, author promotion, and setting up a promotional group like her own, the award-winning Jewels of the Quill, which she founded in 2003. The group publishes two award-winning anthologies together, edited by Karen and others, per year. In addition to her writing, Karen enjoys designing Web sites, graphics, and cover art.

For more information about Karen and her work, visit her Web sites at http://www.karenwiesner.com, http://www.firstdraftin30days.com, http://www.falconsbend.com and http://www.JewelsoftheQuill.com. If you would like to receive Karen’s free e-mail newsletter, Karen’s Quill, and become eligible to win her monthly book giveaways, send a blank e-mail to

KarensQuill-subscribe@yahoogroups.com.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Wednesday Spotlight: Karen Wiesner

What do you do for fun and relaxation?

I don't need much to kick back and relax: A book, a movie, a nice walk with my family. I enjoy shopping when I have money--online or in stores with my friends and family. My husband and I enjoy paying board games during lunch--to me, that's the perfect "date" during the week. I adore singing in the car on trips or with Rock Band. I also love playing computer games: I'm addicted to Fate, Torchlight, Agatha Christie ones, and Nancy Drew computer games. I also like the search and find type. When I finish writing my scene or two each morning, this is the perfect way to relax in the afternoon.

What do you wear while you write?

Slob-wear. I have to admit, that's one of the best parts of being a writer. I can throw on an old pair of comfortable jeans and a sweatshirt (or shorts and a t-shirt in summer), and I have no need of impressing anyone. On days when I have the house to myself or on weekends, I'll wear sleep-pants and a fleece pajama top.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Tuesday Spotlight: Karen Wiesner

Background of WHITE RAINBOW:

Actually, I need to give you a bit of background on the series first that some readers might not be aware of: The first edition of RELUCTANT HEARTS, Book 1 of the series, was actually published way back in July 2002. WAITING FOR AN ECLIPSE came next in November 2003, followed by MIRROR MIRROR in September 2004, and WAYWARD ANGELS in September 2005. Things were going along fine until that point. My publisher and editor at that time were going through several personal crises, and the series lagged for the next three years. I’d written UNTIL IT'S GONE, Book 5, in the lag and submitted it, but nothing was happening. I began to believe the final two books in the series would never be published. I finally decided to pull the whole series, although the thought of starting all over again for me is akin to ripping something apart just to put it back together again. I can’t imagine much worse for a writer than starting all over again. In any case, I didn’t feel I had any choice in this case. Uncial Press contracted all six books in the series at the end of 2008 (though I hadn’t yet started Book 6 and I’d been away from the series for six long years! I barely remembered what it was I wanted to do with the final story).


After revisions were done on UNTIL IT'S GONE, I got to work on WHITE RAINBOW and completed it fairly quickly before my new editor and I turned to the arduous job of revising Books 1-4. I have to admit, it was very strange, even a little embarrassed, “going back in time” to read these books that suddenly seemed as though they’d been written by another person. I began writing these books when I was a teenager and they still had that angst-ridden flavor to me. I was actually really glad to have a second opportunity to do some serious revision on them—but it was no easy process for any of them. I’m glad I came out of the editing loving Books 1-4 more than I ever had before. They’re tighter, cleaner, and even more emotional to me.

That said, the fact is, Books 1-5 are heavy, heavy on the emotion. It was such a relief to write WHITE RAINBOW, which is about half the size of the previous ones, lighter (though still powerfully emotional, I think), and captures joy for all the characters of the series. I really wanted to end this series on an optimistic note, and this book did that just as I’d hoped.

Jessie Nelson is the heroine in this book, but she was something of a "villain" throughout this series. She wasn't a good sister, friend, wife or mother through the first five books in the series. But I really wanted to redeem her and see her find happiness and reconciliation with those she'd wronged. The heroine, Flint Jackson, is an intense man with as many issues as Jessie has, and therefore the two are a perfect match. They find healing in each other. I admit that I fell in love with the two of them--they're both funny, a little crazy, and adorably unsure of themselves.


When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I wrote my first book when I was ten years old. That was the summer my family was in Oklahoma (for my father’s job), and we discovered this abandoned old trailer with photographs all over the trashed floor. Both my sister (author Linda Derkez) and I got a ton of ideas from looking at these pictures, speculating about who had lived there, what happened that they left all these photos behind. That was the summer I knew I was destined to be a writer. All those daydreams were about to pay off. I started brainstorming romances, thrillers, and mysteries in my head. By the time I was sixteen, I’d written almost a dozen books, short stories, and countless poems. Unofficially, I had my own fan club in high school and had a dozen publishing credits to my name (all poems).


Getting my fiction published was the hard part, and, ironically, I got so tired of the whole rejection thing, I’d just made the decision to quit writing for anyone but myself. I don’t remember whether it was a day or week after I made this decision that I received my first contract. Talk about turning a corner and coming face-to-face with a dream! In any case, my first novel was finished published in June 1998 (I was 32). Twelve years and seventy-three books later, I'm still going strong.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Monday Spotlight: Karen Wiesner

Karen Wiesner’s Award-winning Wounded Warriors Series

Women who have faced pain, loss and heartache.
They know the score and never back down.
Women who aren't afraid to love with all their passion and all their strength,
who risk everything for their own little piece of heaven...

Men who live their lives on the blade's edge. Knights in black armor..
The only thing more dangerous than crossing these men is loving them...


WHITE RAINBOW, Book 6 of the Wounded Warriors Series

by Karen Wiesner
Inspirational Women's Fiction

ISBN: 978-1-60174-092-2 (electronic)
Electronic release available now from Uncial Press
http://www.uncialpress.com/books/whiterai/whiterai.html

ISBN: 978-0-557-24098-2 (trade paperback)
Trade paperback release available from
http://stores.lulu.com/karenwiesner

Find out more:
http://www.angelfire.com/stars4/kswiesner/fiction1.html

Read an excerpt of WHITE RAINBOW:

http://www.uncialpress.com/books/whiterai/whiteraich1.html

Jessie Nelson has been telling herself she doesn't deserve or believe in second chances, especially when it comes to love...until her white rainbow appears in a corporate pirate who conquers her, heart and soul.

WHITE RAINBOW reviews:

5 Hearts and 5 Heart Sweetheart Award Nominee! “Ms. Karen Wiesner quickly became a favorite author of mine. I will admit, however, that this is the best of her books I’ve read. Each time I believe it is the best, but I am amazed at the intricacy written into this story. The poignancy of this book was incredible. The storyline’s main characters were so diligently written it was as if they were living in front of me. I absolutely couldn’t wait to reach the end and then I didn’t want it to end. I highly recommend this book as another major hit for Ms. Wiesner. I cannot say enough how convinced I am that each reader will be thrilled. This offering will make her a “must read” for others as she is for me. My hat’s off to you, Ms. Wiesner. You truly are an inspired author. Thanks for giving of yourself!” ~Brenda Talley for The Romance Studio http://www.theromancestudio.com/reviews/reviews/whiterainbowwiesner.htm

5 Cups! “Karen Wiesner has done it once again with her excellent storytelling, wonderful romance and in-depth characters. She makes the reader ache for each and every one of the players. Ms. Wiesner knows how to pen a story that really snatches the reader. I could feel the agony, the conflict among each of the characters, and the rejoicing afterwards. This compelling story gives an uplifting feeling where one can find a way back to happiness and wash away all hurt.” ~Cherokee for Coffee Time
Romance & More http://www.coffeetimeromance.com



5 Stars! “This book captured my attention from the beginning and held it to the last page. The characters are well developed. The plot is perfection. It is easy to recommend this book.” ~Readers Favorite http://readersfavorite.com/cat-71.htm?review=2644



4 1/2 Stars! "Compelling and moving, it is hard to express the depth of emotion you feel when reading one of Karen Wiesner’s Wounded Warrior Series books. The characters are realistic and flawed. What they go through as they struggle with their lives is so similar to what many of us have experienced in some way in our own lives. A tremendous story from a tremendous author, WHITE RAINBOW , like the others in this series, will stay with you long after the last page is turned.” ~Debby for Single Titles http://singletitles.com/?p=3821



“The author has immaculately presented the story of a couple who has faced extreme adversities while being on a path of self destruction yet found their ways to God, love and triumph over their demons through faith. One feels immense depth of emotions while reading this book. The characters are realistic and flawed. It’s easy to relate oneself with the hardship the characters go through as we all experience difficult times in some way or the other in our respective courses of lives. The author’s flawless storytelling ability and creativity in bringing out the perfect blend of love lost and love found keeps the reader glued until the last page.” ~Preeti Bajra for TCM Reviews http://www.tcm-ca.com/reviews/3567.html

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Switcheroo by Marilyn Puett


“Happy birthday!” Sophie sang into her phone. “How’d you like the one with stars?”

She and Nicolette had been friends since kindergarten and nearly-inseparable confidantes since both being dumped by the same jock in college and recovering with wine, chick flicks and Steve Johnson’s photo in the middle of a dartboard.

“Stars?”

“Okay, so maybe a thong with stars was too much, but you were born on July fourth.” Sophie sank into her overstuffed sofa, a hand-me-down from her mother’s most recent redecorating exercise. “The rest of the stuff is what you wanted though – the pink lacy set you drooled over at Undies Galore.”

“But—”

“Don’t say it, Nic,” Sophie interrupted. “I know you really wanted it and I know it’s been tight since TransTech downsized. But Rob’s gonna love that pink teddy. Just let me know what his reaction is. I mean, you don’t have to get too specific, but, you know, let me know if his eyes light up or he whistles.”

“Sophie—”

“I mean it. That’s what best friends are for. To put a smile on your fiancé’s face.”

“Sophie! I didn’t get lingerie from you!”

“Oh, sh…sugar!” Sophie caught herself in time. She’d been making a concerted effort to clean up her language since her neighbor’s three-year-old son had repeated a four-letter word he’d heard her utter. “They promised it would arrive today.”

“You don’t understand. I received a package, but it was a golf club. There must have been a mix-up.”

Golf club?

“F…fudge,” Sophie muttered. “I gotta go. I’ll explain later.” She disconnected and dropped the phone beside her.

Please, please, please. Don’t let him be home from work yet. Let the box still be at his door.

Sophie jammed her feet into sandals and raced to her front door. She was still mumbling as she yanked it open and slammed face-first into the rock-solid chest of her three-doors-down neighbor Joe Foster.

She staggered back, rubbed her nose and stared as Joe held out both hands, a pink teddy dangling from his left index finger and a matching bra and thong clasped gingerly in the other hand.

“I can explain…” Sophie’s voice faded and she swallowed hard as a blush crept up her neck and invaded her face.

Joe was expecting a package but definitely not the one he’d received. However, seeing the look on his best gal-pal’s face was worth the disappointment over not receiving his new laptop. The blush creeping up her neck even matched the pink on her toes.

She was gorgeous. And, unfortunately, totally oblivious to him.

She breathed deeply and Joe watched her chest rise and fall. And rise and fall.

And good grief, he was going to blow this if he didn’t stop staring at her chest. He’d had a monumental crush on Sophie since they’d met two years before, but she was coming out of a bad relationship and a smart man knew better than to move in on a woman trying to get over another man.

So he concocted a plan he hoped would ultimately win her heart. He asked for her help in transforming himself from a nearsighted geek with unruly hair and a thrown-together wardrobe into a man that women would find attractive.

A woman.

Her.

They’d visited every mall within a hundred-mile radius to fill his closet with designer labels. She’d taken him to a salon for a precision haircut that tamed his unruly hair. The old plastic eyeglass frames were replaced with contacts that made his blue eyes appear even bluer.

Women in his office had taken notice and more than one had dropped hints that they were available. But the one woman he wanted didn’t seem to pay attention except for displaying the occasional nod to confirm that she’d done a good job with him.

However, she wasn’t nodding now.

And there was the matter of her chest.

Joe exhaled slowly and commanded his body to relax.

“I realize I asked for a new look, but don’t you think this is a bit much?” he asked. “And if I remember your color lessons correctly, with my dark hair, shouldn’t I be wearing bold colors and not pale pink?”

“You got the wrong order.”

“Obviously,” he said, glancing first at the sexy lingerie and then at Sophie.

Joe Foster didn’t have a mean-spirited bone in his body, but damn if he wasn’t enjoying the torment he saw on his friend’s face.

“If I got the wrong order, that means you ordered something else for me and these are for you.” He wiggled his hands and the underwear danced on his fingertips.

“Well, yeah,” Sophie answered. “I mean, I ordered something for you, but those aren’t for me. They were supposed to go to a friend.”

“That’s a shame,” Joe said, a wicked grin curling the corners of his mouth. “They’re definitely your color.”

Oh yes, pale pink would unquestionably compliment Sophie’s blonde hair and green eyes.

Joe stared directly into those green eyes and thought, “Let her sweat.”

“So, what was mine?”

“Yours?”

“My order.”

“Ah… it was a putter.”

Joe raised an eyebrow and held his stare. “A putter.”

“To replace your old one that petered out.”

“My putter is not petered out,” he argued. “I like that putter.”

“The shaft is bent and the grip is worn.”

“My shaft is just fine,” he stated loudly.

Sophie winced as her elderly neighbor chose that moment to step outside with her terrier. She stared first at Sophie and then at Joe, who had become decidedly uncomfortable with his hands full of silk and lace.

“Uh… perhaps we should take this inside?” Joe nodded in the direction of Sophie’s apartment.

Sophie stepped through the door and Joe followed.

“Don’t let this one get away, dear,” she heard a frail voice call out just before Joe closed the door. “Any man who will deliver lingerie to your door is a keeper. And he’s a hunk, too.”

A tingle zinged up Sophie’s spine, because she agreed.

About the Author: Marilyn Puett lives in north Alabama and is a member of Heart of Dixie RWA. A founding member of The Writing Playground (www.writingplayground.com and www.writingplayground.blogspot.com ) she keeps order on the swingset when she’s not writing for the confessions and romance magazines or plotting her next novel.

Author Interview: Aliyah Burke


The Long and the Short of It is pleased to welcome Aliyah Burke, whose newest book with Total-E-Bound, The Lieutenant's Ex-Wife, and newest book from Phaze, Landing in Love are due to be released soon. Although a prolific author with twenty-plus books available, Aliyah didn't always want to be a writer. When I asked her what she wanted to be growing up, she told me, "Marine biologist and wildlife veterinarian."

She does most of her writing in her office. I asked her to describe it for us.

"I'm surrounded by bookshelves, stacked three deep and two high, with Thomas Blackshear statues on top of them as well as some more books. More books in piles on the floor since I’ve not gotten around to putting them all away. My desk is more often than not cluttered…I try to keep it clean but…doesn’t always work that way. The walls are covered by photos and cover art. A big purple dog bed by one bookcase."

Aliyah admits that there are some days when the words just don't want to come. When that happens, she takes her dogs for a walk, hit the treadmill, or visit with friends.

"Anything to give my mind a break," she explained, "which is when the words seem to come back."

For her, 98% of the time Aliyah's characters come first—they show up and tell her what they do. Sometimes. Other times, Aliyah said, "they like me to see if I can figure it out, so they can laugh and tell me I'm wrong."

After the characters reveal themselves, her story just seems to fall into place.

That was one of the most surprising things she learned during the writing of her book—the lack of control.

"The characters tell me what's what," she said. "I had been under the impression I could have them do what I want them to. Yeah….that dinna happen."

She also has a hard time coming up with titles to her books.

"I usually try to get at least six ideas I would be okay with and then whittle it down," she told me. "Then I check with some friends and see if the one I picked was the one they say caught their attention the most."

But the very hardest part of writing her books has to be keeping it within the word count for a specific publisher or line.

"I do long stories, so writing shorter ones is always a challenge for me," she explained.

Aliyah considers herself a morning person, because she loves being up early to see the early dawn give way to the day. However, she told me she seems to be up later and later each night. In fact, the night before the interview she told me that at midnight she had been IMing with a friend and writing in her notebook.

On a personal note, I asked Aliyah if she had ever eaten a crayon.

"Yes. But in my defense, my brother told me to do it and I did a lot of stupid things he told me to do," she said.

When Aliyah's not writing, she likes to read and spend time with her husband and their dogs. In fact, she told me she couldn't imagine her life without her dogs.

She hates how she looks in pictures, which is why she doesn't have them taken.

She admits to crying in movies ("I'm a huge sap"), loving thunderstorms ("The lightning as well—such a beautiful sight"), and being able to multitask ("I don't like to do it, but I can.")

She also admits to being a Coke girl, through and through.

Finally, I asked, "What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?"

"Develop a thick skin," she told me. "You can’t please everyone, no matter how much you may want to. And just because you get a rejection doesn’t mean you should hang up the towel, keep at it."
You can keep up with Aliyah on her blog, http://aliyahburke.blogspot.com