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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Blue soup, barbecues and writing inspiration with @abbeymacmunn #RB4U #WritingTips

Hello, my name is Abbey MacMunn and I write paranormal/fantasy romance with a dash of chick lit. My debut, TOUCHED, has just been released into the world and I was asked if my main character, Cami Wilson, is anything like me. The answer to that is yes and no.
Cami is a hybrid, the offspring of an immortal mother and mortal father, so obviously no similarities there.
She worries her backside is too big. Well, yes, I can relate to that part!
Also, inspired by my late mum, I decided to make Cami a total whizz in the kitchen, unlike me. There’s a scene in TOUCHED when Cami has fun making pancakes with Joseph, her super-hot immortal guardian. And he can cook too.
Alas, I am not a good cook. I’m a mum of four, I get by, and I haven’t given anyone food poisoning yet!
My kids, love them, constantly remind me of my culinary disasters. While my intentions are good, and there hasn’t been a Bridget Jones’ blue soup incident, there have been plenty more.
Like the Fishless Fish Pie.
I swear I spooned a pound and a half of fish into the white sauce, covered it with mashed potato and popped it into the oven, but when we came to eat it, the fish had mysteriously disappeared. We ended up eating what was basically potato in white sauce. Yum!
Then there was the Lasagne Disaster.
Normally, I’m not too bad with lasagne, but this particular one, I decided to try out my new dried herb set. ‘Give it a bit of extra flavour,’ I thought, or as the top chefs like to say, ‘Elevate something ordinary into something worthy of a Michelin star restaurant.’ Well, needless to say, I over-did the oregano and basil and the thing tasted like a herb garden.
Another meal catastrophe was the Roast Dinner Salmonella Scare.
In my defence, we’d just moved into a new house and I was using an unfamiliar oven. We were hungry, the oven was taking forever to cook anything so I turned up the temperature. I burnt the roast potatoes but the chicken was so undercooked we had to throw it away.
So is there anything I can cook?
I’m happy to say, yes there is! A lemon dessert, a recipe handed down from my mum. It’s so delicious I get asked to make it at family gatherings, and it’s absolutely perfect for a summer barbecue. And the best thing? It’s quick to make and so super easy even I can’t mess it up!
With its biscuit base topped with a mixture of double cream, lemon juice and sweet, condensed milk, it’s fair to say that Lemon Crunch is not the lightest in calories, but it’s summer—we’re all eating healthy salads, right?
If you’d like to give it a go, you can find the recipe on my website,

Thanks for reading,

Abbey MacMunn writes paranormal, fantasy and sci fi romance. She lives in Hampshire, UK with her husband and their four children. She is a proud member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.
When she’s not writing, she likes to watch films and TV shows – anything from rom-coms to superheroes to science fiction movies.

When inquisitive antique dealer Cami Wilson learns she’s the revered offspring of an immortal mother and a mortal father, it’s not just her hybrid status that has her all flustered. The title comes with her very own super-sexy guardian.
Jaded immortal Joseph Carlisle has only one thing on his mind; his sworn duty to protect the hybrid from those who wish her harm. Anything else would be complicated. That is until they meet. 
Chemistry sizzles between them but there’s a problem—the hybrid’s curse. Cami’s touch, skin to skin, proves near fatal to her and all immortals, Joseph included.
But the fated lovers discover her curse is the least of their concerns when a friend’s deadly betrayal threatens to tear them apart forever.

TOUCHED is available now.
And you can find me here. Tirgearr Publishing Website  Twitter   @abbeymacmunn Facebook Pinterest Goodreads

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Matrix Crystal Series Continues

I am so thrilled, Matrix Crystal Christmas, now has a professional cover.

I hired Winterheart designs to make a new cover for my book that chronicles the further adventures of Vach and Maya. They made a wonderful new cover which is much better than the homemade one I had.

 Matrix Crystal Christmas is made up of two short stories (one erotic and one sweet) for the fans of my novel, Matrix Crystal Hunters, who told me that they wanted to know what happened next.

In Crystal Flower Christmas:
Vach and Maya are on a mission to undam the Laonooco River for the drought stricken region. As heartache fractures their marriage, will the gift of a crystal flower mend their relationship or break it beyond repair?

In Crystal Clear Christmas:
Plague has struck the village of Zama and the citizens blame the only human left on Zenevieva, Maya. Will Vach make the ultimate sacrifice to save his wife? 

I have a special announcement to make---Book three in my Matrix Crystal Series is with the editor. I plan on publishing the next book: Matrix Crystal River later this year (2016)

I  had thought I'd end the series there, but then a new story idea came to me and I wrote another manuscript. Its completed and already with the editor.

Here's the professionally made cover from Winterheart design.

 This next book will be about Vach and Maya's son, River. 

It's been twenty-five years and not a word, and now the humans were back. River Namaste is sure it would be a cold day in hell before his family helped them again, until he meets his mom's replacement.
Shy Native American, Winona Miracle, is the geologist for Earth Team Alpha Six. She would love to be on a dig with the famous Maya Namaste, but how to convince her to go? Then there is Maya's hunky son always hovering about. Will it be love or the matrix crystals?  

Coming soon.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Keeping Characters Straight #RB4U by Michele Zurlo

When there are a lot of characters, how do you keep them straight? A peek into Michele Zurlo's brain and writer's notebook.

Have you ever read a novel with a lot of characters and had a hard time keeping them straight? Writers have the same kind of problem, especially when writing a series. The first few books aren’t that hard. We’re focusing in on the main couple, and so is the reader. By the third book, readers want to see cameos from the couples they love. When we’ve spent 100K words with someone, we know them, so keeping them straight isn’t a problem.
It’s the new characters who throw us off. Not only do they have small roles, but they’re usually not integral to the plot. We’re all focused on the main couple. Will they outsmart the villain? Will they get together?

But then those minor characters show up in the next novel—as the main character.
Discerning readers look for inaccuracies, anything that doesn’t follow from previous books. Oblivious ones (like me) will not even remember them. In Re/Defined (DFBI 4), I introduced some minor characters in order to move the plot forward. When Brandy Lockmeyer suspected that the villain was someone in the FBI, she needed outside help, and they had to be people she trusted. Enter Jesse and Frankie—security specialists.

They were minor characters, but they gave me ideas. They forced me to fill in their backstory so that I could write Re/Leased (DFBI 5).

As a teacher, you’d think I would be good with names, but you’d be wrong. I keep calling my 7-year-old cat by the wrong name because he looks like a cat I had growing up. I once went an entire school year calling a girl by the wrong name, even though it was spelled correctly in my electronic attendance program. (In my defense, she never corrected me; I found out 5 years later when a friend of hers told me.)

In my writer’s notebook, I keep lists of names and attributes. The picture I took for this post shows the page I started when I thought up Frankie and Jesse, and you can see (black, and then purple, ink) where I added on when I came up with David and Dean. You can tell from the cross-outs that I change my mind a lot. You can also tell that David’s name was originally Wes. I used that name as a temporary placeholder because naming David and Autumn was a contest I ran when I was writing the story. I am using that page a lot now as I’m brainstorming the first book in the new series, which follows the adventures of the SAFE Security team.

And here I editorialize: Readers shouldn’t need a notebook to keep track of characters. Authors should develop the characters, even the minor ones, enough so that a reader can keep track of them. Using a system like mine (or even one that’s typed up or even written legibly) is a valuable tool that enables authors to plant those small clues that allows readers to identify and differentiate one minor character from another. You never know when someone with a small part is going to get a starring role.

Midwestern Book Lovers Unite:

Monday, July 25, 2016

Guest Blog - Claire Gem #Writingtips @GemWriter

Writing—Beyond the Scope of Your Generation
By Claire Gem

Media. We’re bombarded by it nowadays from all sides, at home and on the go. There are so many more choices now than back in the days when radio, television, newspapers, and magazines were our only links to what was going on in the world around us. Cellphones, tablets, laptops so small they fit in our purse or backpack. Movies have escaped from the theaters and become an “on-demand” commodity. There’s even a television over the gas pump where I fill up my tank.
Choices have become a necessity instead of a luxury. We must make choices, or we risk spending every waking minute of every day engulfed in the relentless onslaught of the media.
I have my own, very individual preferences when it comes to media intake. I’m very limited. Very persnickety. I have been accused (and rightly so) of being an Internet junkie, which is true. But I do not watch television, and rarely sit through a movie. For reading, I haven’t read a newspaper in decades. I prefer audiobooks to paperbacks, paperbacks to eBooks. I hadn’t bought a magazine in years—until a few days ago.
I was standing in line at the grocery store and caught sight of the August issue of Cosmopolitan. When I spotted the cover model, Ashley Graham, I was intrigued and thrilled. It’s about time! I can’t ever remember seeing a plus-size model (she prefers the term “curvy sexylicious”) on the cover of Cosmo. Turns out, Ms. Graham also graced the cover of the 2016 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. Who knew? 
Apparently, the entire world—except me.
My daughter, who is thirty-six, LOVES Cosmo. Not surprising, since the magazine is perfectly suited for her age group. I was a Cosmo subscriber in my twenties and thirties, even a ways into my forties. But I let the subscription slide when I hit the big five-O, when it seemed all the articles, ads, and fashion advice suited a younger, thinner, more “cosmopolitan” woman. Only occasionally do I pick up an issue of  “More” Magazine, geared specifically toward the more “mature” woman.
But truthfully, other than my monthly issue of the Romance Writer’s Report, I hardly ever read a periodical.
What a mistake. I hadn’t realized how BIG a mistake that decision was until I began perusing the articles in my new issue of Cosmo—most of them, still, geared for women in a younger age bracket than me. Why? Because of two very critical factors: 
a. I’m a romance author—a contemporary romance author, and 
b. my heroines are Cosmo age. 
As I flipped through the pages, a startling realization struck me: how on earth can I continue to create authentic, believable, modern heroines if I’m not in touch with who they are? I can’t.
It got me to wondering, which inevitably led me to researching.
RWA has done an outstanding job of surveying and studying the market, dissecting our readership to help us understand our audience. You can see these statistics here. These numbers show that the U.S. romance book audience is mostly 84% female, and aged between 30 and 54 years. But how old, I wondered, is the average romance writer of today? 
My (somewhat limited) research revealed only one outdated blogger survey (2010) that concluded the average age of debut romance authors was forty. A first novel at forty means there are a large percentage of romance writers who are older than that. If anyone knows of a more recent survey on this subject, please speak up in comments! Because I do know one thing: a large percentage of the heroines in contemporary romance novels (other than YA and New Adult) are between twenty-five and thirty-five years of age.
I was a late bloomer in the romance writing industry—fifty-five when I held that first precious publishing contract in hand. My heroine in that book, Phantom Traces, is twenty-eight. During the editing process, I learned I had, in many instances, mistakenly portrayed Abigail Stryker as a twenty-eight year old living in the 1980s. When I did.
What’s the point of all this drabble? As authors, we all know the mantra of read, read, read. If you want to write romance, you need to read it. I do, swallowing anywhere from 5-10 books a month in various formats, including eBooks, paperbacks, and audio. But I realized, while holding that Cosmopolitan magazine in my hands, that reading books alone isn’t enough. I needed a more current, steady diet of what’s going on today. A lifeline to the mindset of the modern woman. Women who are in their twenties and thirties and living in the NOW, not the world I knew when I was their age.
In my current work-in-progress, my heroine is twenty-six years old. She probably buys Cosmopolitan. In fact, I’m now going to add a scene showing her reading the magazine. And in order for me to get it right, get her right, I need to read what she’s reading.
Guess I’d better renew that subscription.

Claire’s latest release, A TAMING SEASON, is the first Love at Lake George Novel. 

Manhattan domestic violence counselor Zoe Anderson is going on the most important vacation of her life.
Before she can move on, help other women, Zoe needs to heal herself. She sets out for picturesque Lake George to claim the treasured family cottage she recently inherited. The place where she found happiness—before.
What she finds is a rundown shack. 
The neighboring resort mogul, Jason Rolland, whisks in to her rescue, insisting Zoe stay at his upscale Lakeview Lodge. The wealthy, handsome playboy figures he’ll seduce her, then convince the her to give up the crumbling eye-sore next door. He’s been trying to buy the cabin—and demolish it—for years: the last reminder of his own tragic childhood. 
What Jason doesn’t figure on is Zoe melting his emotional armor. But with his reputation, can he ever win her heart? Or will their pasts come back to bite them both?

Barnes & Noble: 

Media Links:


Author Bio: 
Claire writes emotional romance. Her heroes are hot, her heroines strong and brave: a combination lighting the spark to fan the flames of your most intense romantic fantasies. Claire's characters are human—they make mistakes, get clumsy sometimes, and they're not too proud to laugh at themselves and each other.

She writes in two genres: romance w/a ghostly twist, and sexy contemporary. Claire's books are like a thrill ride at a theme park. Whether it's spooky-scary, angst-ridden relationships filled with gut-wrenching turmoil, silly chuckle moments, or face-fanning sex, Claire guarantees to take you on an emotionally intense romantic journey.

Buy Links:

A Taming Season: A Love at Lake George Novel
Barnes & Noble:

Hearts Unloched (Winner 2016 New York Book Festival)
Barnes & Noble:

Phantom Traces

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Everything You Wanted To Know About Tequila But Were Afraid To Ask

Today, July 24, is National Tequila Day. Sounds fun, right? Back in the day, I drank my share of tequila, with salt and lemon.  As a nod to my younger days, I thought I’d research the history of tequila.

Tequila is the name for a distilled beverage made from the blue agave plant, primarily in the area surrounding the city of Tequila, 40 miles northwest of Guadalajara. The red volcanic soil in the surrounding region is particularly well-suited to the growing of the blue agave plant. (Wikipedia)

Mezcal wine, tequila’s grandparent, was first produced only a few decades after the Spaniards came to the New World in 1521. Agave played a much larger role than the source of an alcoholic drink. Its leaves were used for a hemp-like fiber to make mats, clothing, rope and paper. It was also the source of the nutrient and vitamin-rich brew, pulque. (Source: Los Cabos Magazine)

The distillation of pulque into something stronger may have originated by the Conquistadors as early as the 1520s. You’re all familiar with Cuervo Tequila. Jose Antonio Cuervo was the first licensed manufacturer of tequila. He received the rights to cultivate a parcel of land from the King of Spain in 1758. Today, Cuervo is the largest manufacturer of tequila in the world. (Source: Los Cabos Magazine)

Mexican laws state that tequila can only be produced in the state of Jalisco and limited municipalities in the states of Guanajuato, Michoacán, Nayarit, and Tamaulipas. Planting, tending, and harvesting the agave plant remains a manual effort, largely unchanged by modern farm machinery and relying on centuries-old know-how.
The men who harvest it, the jimadores [ximaˈðoɾes], have intimate knowledge of how the plants should be cultivated, passed down from generation to generation. (Wikipedia)

"Tequila worm" misconception

A young agave plant
Another interesting error is an urban legend related to a worm. The worm-in-the-bottle myth is old and tired. The truth has been broadcast and expounded for years by the cognoscenti of tequila, in newspapers, magazines and on the internet. Yes, it’s true, some American-bottled brands put one in their bottle to impress the gringos and boost sales, but it was a marketing ploy developed in the 1940s, not a Mexican tradition.

Sometimes however, there is a worm, properly a butterfly caterpillar, in some types of mezcal. You may also get a small bag of worm salt and chile powder tied to a mezcal bottle. There are two types of worms in mezcal: the red, gusano rojo—considered superior because it lives in the root and heart of the maguey—and the less-prized white or gold gusano de oro, which lives on the leaves. The red gusano turns pale in the mezcal, the gold turns ashen-gray. Both larvae are commonly eaten as food and are sold in Zapotec markets.

Yes, you’re supposed to eat the worm in mezcal. Don’t worry: it’s quite well pickled and free of pesticides (they’re often raised just for use in mezcal, cooked and pickled in alcohol for a year). But dispel any idea it has any magical or psychotropic properties, that it’s an aphrodisiac or the key to an "unseen world." It’s merely protein and alcohol—but it’s very rich in imagery. Note: Yuck.
In Mexico, the most traditional way to drink tequila is neat, without lime and salt. Outside Mexico, a single shot of tequila is often served with salt and a slice of lime. This is called tequila cruda and is sometimes referred to as "training wheels", "lick-sip-suck", or "lick-shoot-suck" (referring to the way in which the combination of ingredients is imbibed). The drinkers moisten the back of their hands below the index finger (usually by licking) and pour on the salt. Then the salt is licked off the hand, the tequila is drunk, and the fruit slice is quickly bitten. Groups of drinkers often do this simultaneously. (Wikipedia)
Note: I always thought you used lemon. That’s what we did. We used to drink it this way in groups in a bar, mostly the summer of 1971, at the Jersey Shore.

Now that you know all the important facts about tequila, go out and celebrate National Tequila Day.

While we’re on the subject of celebrating, I’m celebrating the release of Letterbox Love Stories, Volume 1. This anthology of romances from nine authors all over the Globe has stories that span the centuries, something for every reading taste. I’m proud to be in this set. I’ve read all the stories, and they’re fabulous. It’s on sale now for a special introductory price of only 99 cents. Get your copy today!

What if a life-changing letter arrived in today's mail? Now imagine it leads to love and adventure! From the northern British Isles, across the mainland of Europe, and on to Turkey, nine international Award-winning and Multi-published Romance Authors share spellbinding love stories told across time. This collection includes contemporary, historical and futuristic time travel romances touched by magic. And each begins with a letter... 

 Come visit me at:

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Author Linda O'Connor talks about Head Hopping today on #RB4U #Writing #Craft #Romance @lindaoconnor98

The first time I submitted a story to a contest, the judge commented that I head-hopped. I thought it was a compliment – I’m a good listener, I empathize with people, really try to get into their heads and understand them. Ah, well, turns out she wasn’t being complimentary. Head-hopping is switching from one character’s point of view to another within one scene in a story. And it’s a problem? Really? Surely readers are smart enough to know when I switch it up. It seemed pretty clear to me. Haha.

It turns out that (even if readers are smart enough to know) convention dictates that you must write a scene from one character’s point of view. So how do you do that?

The easiest way to think of it is to imagine you have a camera on the character’s head and you’re describing what is seen through the lens. If you can’t see it through the camera, you can’t write it.

I launched my first book with a party, and my brother-in-law, Paul, videoed it for me. There was dancing (of course!). When I was up on the dance floor, I listened to the song, interacted with the other dancers, waved to the crowd of people sitting around inviting them to join us, and I was aware of people watching. The video that Paul took had clips of us dancing, but he also wandered around the room, taking footage of my family and friends that I couldn’t see from the dance floor. At the end of the video, my sister turned the camera on him, so there was a short clip of him, too. If I had described the scene, my view of that moment would have been very different from his (and I have to say – I loved that he captured the moment to include all of my family!).

It’s okay to include the point of view of another character in the story (in fact, it’s encouraged), but there has to be a shift in the scene or some marker or break so that it’s very clear to the reader. The reader, it turns out, will thank you!

Here’s a story told from Mikaela and Sam’s point of views – Perfectly Honest, Book 1 in the Perfectly Series.

You never know where your words will take you . . .

When Mikaela Finn agreed to be Sam’s ‘fiancée’ for a weekend, she probably should have told him that she’s a doctor.

Sam O’Brien, aka ‘Dr. Eye Candy’, is trying to shed his playboy reputation and convince a small town hospital that he’s ready to settle down.  But when his ‘fiancée’ helps deliver a baby in the middle of the meet and greet, it’s a bit of a shock. If he’d known the whole truth, he might have done things a little differently because somehow his ‘fiancée’ ends up stealing his job and his heart. Not exactly the change he wanted.

Lies and deceit – it’s a match made in heaven!

Buy Links

Author Bio
Linda O’Connor started writing a few years ago when she needed a creative outlet other than subtly rearranging the displays at HomeSense. It turns out she loves writing romantic comedies and has a few more stories to tell. When not writing, she’s a physician at an Urgent Care Clinic (well, even when she is writing she’s a physician, and it shows up in her stories :D ). She hangs out at
Laugh every day. Love every minute.

Author Links

Friday, July 22, 2016

He's protecting a real heroine!

Leave a comment for a chance to win
a $10 GC

Yesterday was launch day for Susan Stoker's Special Forces: Project Alpha Kindle World. Seventeen authors bring yu exciting tories of love, sex, danger...this World has got it all.
Here is a taste of my story, PROTECTING MADDIE/
When Maddie Winslow talked a student out of his gun in her classroom, she never figured it would set off a chain of events that put her life in grave danger, and the lives of her parents.
Hiding in WitSec for thirty years, the her parents thought they had beaten the odds—until the image of Maddie, an identical replica of her mother—hits the television airwaves and the people who have been seeking revenge all these years find her. Intent on learning where her mother is hiding, they break into her home and then try to kidnap her. Frightened, she goes to her friend, Zee, who once dated someone in Delta Force. She calls him to explain her friend’s situation, but he’s prepping for a mission and can’t leave the base.
Hunter “Hawkeye” St. John, a Delta Force team member, is on medical leave recuperating in Tampa and chafing for some action. When the he and Maddie meet, the sparks flying between them sizzle the air. But if Hawkeye wants to move forward with Maddie he first has to keep her safe and then eliminate the bad guys.
There wasn’t much traffic at this time of night, especially in the residential sections, and Gretchen LeBeau’s house wasn’t far from his, so, in little less than twenty minutes, he was pulling into her driveway. He took a moment to check his personal weapon, a Glock 9mm like the one he carried on missions, locked and loaded. When he got out of the car, he tucked it at the base of his spine.
He was glad to see all the outside lights were on. No way to get close to the house without being seen. When he got to the front steps, he pulled out his phone and dialed the number Ghost had given him.
He cleared his throat. “Ghost sent me.”
He felt stupid, as if he was playing some kind of game. Couldn’t Ghost have given him something a little more sophisticated?
“And your name?”
“Levi St. John. Hawkeye.”
In a moment, he heard the locks being disengaged and then the door opened. “I’m Gretchen. Come in. And thank you for coming so late. I—we—appreciate it.” She stepped aside to let him into the house.
“Sure.” He punched the End Call button.
She was what he’d call a nice-looking girl, with shiny brown hair cut chin-length, a figure with all the appropriate curves, and warm brown eyes that didn’t look quite so warm at the moment. Not his cup of tea, thank god. Ghost would fry his balls if he made any moves on his cousin.
“I don’t know what my cousin told you,” she began, “but it’s really my friend Maddie who’s having the trouble.”
Hawkeye shifted his gaze to the woman sitting on the couch in the great room and every cell in his body stood up and saluted. Uh-oh and holy shit! Masses of auburn hair tumbled to her shoulders, framing a heart-shaped face that, at the moment, was paler than a ghost. Thick lashes framed eyes of deep gray, an unusual combination with her hair color. When she stood up to shake his hand, he had to drag his gaze away from her luscious body. The skirt and short-sleeved sweater did little to disguise her mouthwatering figure with its full hips and plump breasts.
What he wanted was more than shaking her hand. He was struck with an overwhelming desire to haul her up against his body, thrust his tongue into her mouth, and taste every delicious inch of it while he slid his hands beneath her sweater and palmed her gorgeous breasts.
Hawkeye had to grit his teeth to keep from sporting an instant boner.
He had more discipline than this. Didn’t he? He was supposed to be here helping a woman in danger, not wishing he could strip her naked and take her to bed. And wouldn’t Ghost just roast his balls if he did that.
“Thank you so much for coming out like this.”
The soft voice jarred him back to reality, and he realized Gretchen’s friend was standing there with her hand out, saying something to him in a soft voice like a soothing caress.
“Uh, sure. No problem.” When he took her hand, her palm was like a slide of satin against his.
Get your shit together.

Here is the list of ALL the launch books. Enjoy!
Aaron’s Honor, Lindsay Cross:
Awakening Aubrey, Shauna Allen:
Cowboy D-Force, Elle James:
Finding Ayva, Elle Christensen:
Freeing Falcon, Leigh Carman:
Marking Mariah, Liz Crowe:
No Protection, Gennita Low:
Protecting Beauty, MJ Nightingale:
Protecting Love, Maryann Jordan:
Protecting Maddie, Desiree Holt:
Protecting New York, Lainey Reese:
Protecting Us, Magan Vernon:
Protection Crisis, Rochelle Paige:
Redemption for Avery, Jordan Dane:
Redemption for Misty, Anne Conley:
Rescuing Pandora, Kori David:
Saving Sarah, Kathy Ivan:

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