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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Guest Blog: Stephanie Burkhart: Dialogue Dilemmas

Writing dialogue can be fun, but a challenge. Dialogue must do several things well to be effective, so I thought I'd share some tips and ideas on writing romantic dialogue.

#1 – Dialogue should sound authentic, but not reflect real life too closely.

In real life people greet each other with:
"Hello, Bob."
"Hi, Sue. How are you doing?"
"I'm okay. You?"
"I have a little headache."

Dull and boring, huh? Try to strip as much of these exchanges that you can from your dialogue. Get to the heart of the matter by passing over pleasantries. Rule of thumb: Stay away from pointless chit chat.

#2 – Dialogue should move the plot forward, but not be an info dump.

When you use dialogue, reveal a little about your character, but don't go into a monologue that reads like an info dump.
"Lord Varga does not like garlic," said Lazlo.
Amelia arched an eyebrow. "I didn't know. Why?"
"It makes him sick."
"How interesting. Garlic is known for it's healing properties."
Lazlo pursed his lips.

#3 – Should I cuss?

Try not to, but remember there are times when it is necessary. If your characters gets their finger caught in a door, and the pain is immediate, he's going to cuss. Don't, however, liter your character's dialogue with cuss words. It makes your character unromantic and unsympathetic. It's more acceptable to write "he swore" than a cuss word.
"David took the money."
"What did he do with it?"
"I think he blew it on cigarettes."
Sam swore. That was all the money he had.

#4 – Dialogue shows passion.

Ah, pillow talk. Flirting banter. Promises of seduction. All these types of dialogue "show" romance. And don't forget to use dialogue during your love scenes. Let your characters be playful. Show them flirting. Depending on the hero, if he's talkative, then being intimate with the heroine might be a time where he's quiet and more reflective.
"I didn't get a chance to tell you last night so I'll tell you now – I love you."
"Most assuredly."

#5 – Avoid dialect in dialogue.

Why? Quite honestly, most authors can't do it well and readers who don't "get it" might find it a bit stilted.

#6 – You are what you speak.

The words characters say reveal who they are so make them shine. Are they educated? Young? Friendly? What do they value?
"Old lady Jenning's pig ran away again."
"Did you find him?"
"Sure did – down by the river."
"Did you return the pig?"
"I sure did. She said she appreciated my honesty."

#7 – Dialogue shows suspense.

The lack of dialogue or reluctance to talk may heighten the suspense.
"Do you know what she wanted?"
"What was what?"

Question: I'd love to hear your tips for writing dialogue. Feel free to share!

Stephanie Burkhart is a 911 dispatcher for LAPD. She loves coffee, adores chocolate, and is a proud mom of a cub scout and boy scout. She's published with Victory Tales Press, 4RV Publishing, and Desert Breeze Publishing. She loves to walk and is walking in a 5K to support Alzheimer's in September. Her steampunk series, "The Windsor Diaries" is an award winning series. Book 1 is "Victorian Scoundrel."

It's 2011 and compressed natural gas has taken over from the coal producing steam machines of the Victorian Age. Alice Windsor, Princess of York, follows her mischief-making cousin, Edmund of Wales, back to 1851 where Prince Albert is hosting Britain's Great Exhibition.

Alice soon finds herself over her head in trouble. Edmund is determined to help Prince Albert build a dirigible and the prime minister appears intent in preventing her from stopping Edmund. Alice knows it's too early for the massive flying machine to take to the air. Complicating matters is the passionate Grayson Kentfield, Earl of Swinton. Alice can't stop her pulse from pounding when she's near him.

Can Alice give her heart to a man from the past while working to stop Edmund from changing history?

Victorian Scoundrel is print and as an ebook.

Friday, May 30, 2014

New Adult Summer Reads

Written by Suzanne Rock/Ava Conway

If you're anything like me, then when the weather gets warmer you sart thinking about doing more things outside. One of my favorite summer pastimes is sitting out on my deck with a good book. Right about this time of year, I look to fill up my Kindle with some great reads to keep me busy during those lazy days when school is out and the weather is perfect for lounging with a good book.

It's this type of thinking that inspired me and a bunch of other authors to do a large-scale promotional campaign to promote our new and upcoming New Adult releases. We're calling it the "Top Ten" list of New Adult reads for the summer of 2014. On June 2nd, we plan to take to the internet using our blogs and newsletters to help promote our new releases. We're also using a new social media tool called a "thunderclap" and this, my friends, is where you can become a part of the action.

So, what is a THUNDERCLAP?

Basically, you set up a campaign and ask people to join. The campaign can be to promote a contest, a book, a special sale, or anything at all. The lowest amount of people you can have in your campaign is 100, but if your promotion is popular enough, you can have thousands of people signed up to help you with your cause.

After you set up your campaign, its time to promote it through the usual channels on social media. If you meet your goal of “clappers,” or people signed up for your campaign, then on a designated date and time, your campaign will go live. Hundreds of people will tweet your promotional status update at the same time, causing it to rise above the twitter noise and get it trending.

At least, that’s what happens in an ideal world. :) Sometimes you can’t get enough people to join. When that happens, the “thunderclap” fizzles, the campaign is a bust, and you are out of luck. Then again, the service is free, so you really have nothing to lose by giving it a try.

Well, the BASIC service is free. There are add-ons you can pay for to speed things up and streamline the process, but if you just want to try it out–it’s free.

So, here is where you can go to sign up for our THUNDERCLAP. I’d love it if you’d help support us! Some, like mine, are on sale. (Hollow is normally $4.99, but my publisher lowered the price to $1.99 for a limited time.)

Oh, and here is where you can go to learn more about these books.

Thanks in advance for your help!


Price: $2.99

When Jenna Sanders leaves her dead end job and accepts a management position at exclusive spa on the island of Eden, she hopes to put the past behind her and move on with her life. Unfortunately, the past refuses to be buried, and when she discovers that her sexy boss is her former lover, old wounds reopen and shake the walls she has so carefully built around her heart. Caine is offering her everything she’s ever wanted, but can she trust him? As they rekindle their passion in the bedroom, secrets rise up from Eden’s waters and threaten to tear them apart. Only by diving deeper can they move forward, and Jenna must decide if she is willing to risk her heart for a second chance at love.

Buy it from Amazon (Kindle)  Barnes and Noble (Nook), Kobo, Google Play, All Romance Ebooks,  Coffee Time Romance or Smashwords.

Buy it in PRINT from Createspace or Amazon.

Price: $3.99

After months of living with a biker gang in Rio, Manuel recruits a feisty heiress named Reya to help him unite the shifter tribes living in the Amazon jungle and drive the humans from their home. Their passion for freedom turns into lust for each other, and after a hot night of sex, he fantasizes about telling her all of the kinky secrets he learned during his time in Rio. Unfortunately, Manuel could never give the sexy Reya so much power over him, for if she knew his secrets, she could single handedly destroy everything he had worked so hard to gain.

In Manuel, Reya sees an escape from her routine and oppressive lifestyle. She loves to push his buttons, but as she starts to peel back the complex layers of his personality, she starts to change her views about the world—and herself. The more she learns about the sexy off-road motorcyclist, the more intrigued she becomes, and as their connection deepens, she hopes that their fragile relationship won’t fall victim to the deep-rooted prejudice and war that will result from their indiscretions.

Buy from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, All Romance Ebooks, Google Play.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Guest Blog: Donna Michaels: Can Watching TV Help You Write?

It depends on what you watch.

For me, yes. Watching certain shows is a huge help. The key, of course, is good writing. From characterization to plot twists to out-of-the-box thinking, you can find it all on TV. Even reality TV.

Several years ago, I started watching a new show called The Bachelor. Yep, I know, what? lol This got me thinking, what if one of the contestants was undercover to protect the groom? Boom. That translated into a fun, humorous, and slightly suspenseful, romantic contemporary I sold to The Wild Rose Press, which I now have the rights back to and is self published under the title SHE DOES KNOW JACK. Who would’ve thought watching a reality show would get me a NOR Reviewer Top Pick?

Shows like NCIS, Supernatural, and Stargate SG-1 are huge on characterization. Watching them week after week, for years, you see the characters grow, make mistakes, and learn all with humor sprinkled throughout. Wonderful lessons to follow in your writing. I used them while writing HER UNIFORM COWBOY, Book 3 in my cowboy series, and this garnered me, not only a NOR Reviewer Top Pick, but a Crown Heart of Excellence from InD’tale Magazine, plus Kade was voted Best Cowboy in a Book/Reader’s Choice-LRC.

The dialogue in those three shows is strong, too. I find myself watching, waiting for certain characters (Tony DiNozo, Dean Winchester, Jack O’Neal) to open their mouths because you just never know what is going to come out. Priceless. I would’ve given my eye teeth to write Jack O’Neal. He was a stubborn, alpha hero (I’m a sucker for military men), very funny with wonderful chemistry with Dr. Daniel Jackson. Watching them interact, even now on DVD, you can see the dynamics of the relationship between two unlikely friends. Definitely something a writer can carry over into their books. Especially a series. I use buddy/buddy chemistry in my Harland County Series. 

Like in my latest release, Book Four: HER FOREVER COWBOY. The hero, Kevin, is similar to Tony DiNozo, a charismatic lady’s man with a brain like Tim McGee and an aversion to relationships like Leroy Jethro Gibbs. His relationship with his cousin and two childhood friends, however, is strong, like that of Jack and Daniel, and the others from NCIS. Their banter often has me laughing out loud and that is what I want for my readers.

And if you’re looking for the unexpected, then you’ll benefit from watching Sherlock, Sleepy Hollow and Once Upon A Time. Their twist on familiar characters is inspiring. Watching them definitely teaches to think out-side-the-box. Nothing is set in stone. The sky is the limit. So, go on, take a break from writing and watch some TV. You never know, you just might make your characters…more.

BLURB: Book Four/Kevin: Her Forever Cowboy
Buy link will be available here:
Single mother Shayla Ryan is tired of running, and longs to put down roots to create a stable environment for her baby girl and her younger sister. Having grown up with the opposite, she’s determined to raise her daughter right, and Harland County holds a lot of appeal. Too much appeal, in the form of a Casanova cowboy with eye-catching good looks and easy charm. It was time to settle down, create a forever home, and despite the fact the sexy cowboy interferes with her pulse, he’s made it perfectly clear he’s allergic to forever.

If there’s one thing software company vice president, Kevin Dalton loves more than puzzles, it’s women. Size, shape, race doesn’t matter as long as they don’t want a relationship. Been there, done that. He’s not looking to repeat the past, and happy to remain single. Until two beautiful redheads drop him to his knees—one with her cutie-pie smile, the other with her elbow. Too bad the elbow-toting beauty was both hot and puzzling. A killer combination too strong to resist. So he doesn’t, and without realizing it, the redheads slowly rewrite the code around his heart.

But when a danger from the woman’s past shows up and threatens the girls’ future, will he rise to the challenge and fight to keep them in his life? And if he does, can he really be what they need? A forever cowboy?

Donna writes Romaginative Fiction—romance through the H’s—Hot, Humorous & Heartwarming. In eBook and print, her titles range from sweet to hot, short to epic and anything in between. You can find the ratings and length next to the book on her website. Donna lives in Northeast PA where they experience all four seasons, although, she wouldn’t mind hanging onto summer a bit more and winter a bit less. Married to a career military man, she has four children, and an assortment of rescued cats. 

Voted most likely to succeed in high school, Donna took that title to heart and set her sights on a writing career. Winner of eHarlequin’s Round Robin Writer Contest, she turned to the Internet and now has several titles published through The Wild Rose Press, one with Whimsical Publications, and  several self-published novels, including the Amazon Best Selling Harland County Series, with her latest release, Book Four/Kevin: HER FOREVER COWBOY.
Donna’s links:

Monday, May 26, 2014

What's Your Secret?

Almost everyone has a secret, something hidden from the world and most, if not all, of the people around them. Sometimes it’s just a reaction to that person’s own insecurities, a fear or hidden wish that she is afraid to share. Sometimes it’s a perceived flaw: physical, mental or emotional imperfection that she believes is shameful or unattractive. Yet, other times there is a skeleton in her closet. It could be something from her past, either something that she did or someone did to her. Whatever it is, if she has kept a secret for a long time, she is either very ashamed of that blemish on her record or so terrified that the mere thought of someone discovering it, even someone she loves, sets her to the very edge of losing her sanity.

Margaret Palmer has a secret. No, her secret doesn’t have anything to do with Carolina, not directly anyway. The secret is so painful that she has hidden from it herself—for decades. However, when she returns to Climax, Virginia, which holds deeply cherished memories and scars so deep they could wound her forever, she is forced to come face-to-face with the horror of her secret.
Come join me, and her, for the excavation of Margaret’s secret. Don’t expect the answer on page one, for like an onion, you have to peel away the layers. Yet, don’t be fooled by the sometimes light scenes that occur in Coming to Climax. Evil lurks just below the surface of the quiet little town. 

Coming to Climax is only one of the four power-packed novels in Sex, Lies & Murder--$.99. Come on buy it, you know you want to: .

What's your secret?

Bobbye Terry is an Amazon best-selling author, appearing on the 100 most popular contemporary authors list. She writes romantic suspense, contemporary romance and fantasy romance. Additionally, she has penned numerous inspirational nonfiction books.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Interview of Author *lizzie starr

Today I'm pleased to present an interview of romance author *lizzie starr.

Latest Book: Dead Lily Blooms(At Death’s Gates)
Buy Link:

*lizzie always made up games and stories to keep her company. So, a cunning witch lived in Grampa’s weather research station and was only held at bay by waving a certain weed. An ancient road grader morphed into a boat carrying wild adventurers to islands filled with fierce lions and dangerous cannibals, which really looked a lot like sheep. Now, filled with fantasy, love, and romance with a sparkling twist, the stories of her imagination swirl their way into the mundane world. When *lizzie must return to a more routine life, she’s *the Lunch Lady* at a private school. Author and lunch lady~~what a combination!

Q: What is the most important thing you do for your career now, as compared to when you first started writing?
A: Pay attention!

When I was first published by a small epress (back in the days when books on cds or floppy disks were the newest of the newest thing) I really just floated along in a haze. There weren’t that many publishers, nor that may books available. So, my minuscule attempts at promotion weren’t all that...terrible.

But it didn’t take long for the first ebook readers to become extinct, and our ever changing technological world really started changing!

I’m still not that active or successful in the promo department, it’s really the hardest part of the process for me. Now, as an indie author, I HAVE to pay attention to how and why technology is changing the way we read. And an author has to pay close attention to every phase of production and promotion. I need to take what works and what doesn’t into consideration, then figure out why. As I focus on writing as my career, I have to keep an eye on the future and how to find--and keep--my niche among the throngs of talented authors from which a reader has to choose.

Q: Of all your characters, who’s your favorite, and why?
A: As the author of a family saga and continuing series, I’ve enjoyed telling the stories of many characters. I love ‘em all. Even the villains. Sometimes especially those unredeemable villains.

For an ultimate, non-bad guy favorite, though--that’s Nightshade.

Nightshade first appeared as a wildly flamboyant walk-on character, the manager for one of my heroines. Through the course of the Double Keltic Triad series, Nightshade surprised me. Turns out he’s not the over the top queen he claims to be. Nor is he content to remain a background character. He’s got a few, uh, abilities, showing deep, covert ops training. And then...oh wait. Nightshade wouldn’t want me to give up all his secrets.

One day I’ll help Nightshade find his own happily ever after ending. And we’ll both be deliriously happy!

Q: Do you eat comfort food/listen to music when writing?
A: There’s usually some form of chocolate close by when I’m writing. My absolute favorite is plain, foil-wrapped Hershey’s kisses.

And there’s usually some background noise. I’ll admit, sometimes it’s the TV but I’ll block out exactly what’s going on there. I love music when I write. Quite often the music reflects what I’m working on. Like I listen to a wide variety of Celtic music while working on my Keltic books. Well now, that makes sense, doesn’t it?

I have a hero who is a cellist, so when I’m visiting his world we listen to cello in a variety of forms--but cello rock is played most often.

Usually though, I just put on a playlist that’s a jumble of all kinds of music. Sometimes I may have to pause writing to belt out a favorite song, but not if there’s people around! I will proudly say that the type of music doesn’t necessarily affect what I’m writing. I’ve written steamy love scenes to both Gregorian chants and Weird Al.

Q: How do you choose names for your characters?
A: Choosing a character’s name is an essential part of the process for me beginning a story. I find I can’t get into a tale unless I know a character’s name.

Some characters have shown up telling me their name. I have, on occasion, had a name in mind and I just needed the perfect character to own it--like the fey librarian Gowthaman.

Other names are a time consuming process. I have a couple of favorite reference books where I look up names by ethnic background and meaning. The meaning of a name is very, very important to me. I also have a reverse name dictionary where I can look up the meaning and discover names to go with it. That was very important in naming a villain who changed his name throughout the series--different names, but with the same basic meaning.

Q: Give one advice tip to an aspiring author.
A: From one of my favorite movies: “Never give up. Never surrender.” These few words are a guide through any part of the writing and publishing process. There will be times when you want to give up. It happens. Just don’t surrender your dream, your talent, your stories!

Q: If you could give a younger version of yourself advice, what would it be?
A: See above.

I surrendered too many times. While I never totally gave up, had I not given in and wallowed in surrender, there might be more *lizzie starr books already out for your enjoyment. That would make me happy.

Q: What genre would you like to try writing that you haven’t yet tried?
A: Action, thriller. Along the lines Michael Crichton, Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, Dan Brown, Aiden James. I love reading the fast paced, ‘how are they gonna get out of this’ stories. When the author educates me, or makes me think about an issue, that’s even better. I fear I might write myself into a convoluted mess, though.

Q: Have you ever used an incident from your real life into one of your books?
A: I’ve been thinking about this. I can’t say any specific incident, but I know bits and pieces and places show up. Which is not to say a real life happening might not...

Q: Any part of a book that drives you crazy as you write: beginning, middle, or end?
A: I don’t have a consistent book crazy place. Each book is different. Like with many authors, writing the middle can feel like slogging through mud. And sometimes the first draft of an ending makes me roll my gaze to the sky.

It helps if you’re kinda crazy to start out with...

Q: How many stories are swirling around in your head? Do you keep a mental list, a computer file, or a spiral notebook filled with the ideas?
A: I don’t have enough fingers and toes! There’s an infinite dance of possibilities. And I’m always adding more. As to how I keep so many ideas organized...yes to all of the above. Adding random slips of paper that get lost on the desk, by my bed, in my purse. I keep thinking I’m going to get better organized, but...oooh, shiny. A new idea....

Fun Stuff:
Q: What is your favorite holiday and why?
A: I don’t have a favorite holiday. Really. The closest would probably be Christmas, though, because I love giving prezzies. But I don’t need a holiday for that!

Q: What are two things people might be surprised to know about you?
A: I love science. Now, ask me if I’m any good at science.

And because of that, I want to name my next cat Schrödinger. And I will sing soft kitty.

Q: As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A: The Queen of the cartoon characters. Really. Other than that--a mom. That didn’t work out either.

Q: Favorite food.
A: Did I mention chocolate? Oh, and I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today!

Q: Favorite happy memory.
A: Having my grandfather tell me how proud his father (who had been a dreamer and a writer, too) would be of me--and knowing how much of Grampa’s own pride vibrated in that simple statement.

Q: Favorite drink.
A: Plain ol’ water. Followed by diet Pepsi. Or Moscato.

Q: Hot summer days or chilly winter nights?
A: I don’t do well in the heat, so I’ll pick chilly winter nights. Besides, I love to curl up to read under a soft blanket.

Q: What is the top thing on your bucket list?
A: Going for a ride in the TARDIS. Oh, I can’t do that? Okay, then me, in the Highlands, the Highlands of Scotland. (Now I’ve got Brigadoon in my head!)

Q: If you could have a super power, what would it be?
A: I’d be superfast typing woman--so I can finally get all those stories out of my head and make room for more!

Tell us where to find you: website(s), publisher’s page(s), blog(s), Facebook page(s), etc. List them all!

For ages uncounted, Master Death has assisted souls in transition. But what happens when love gets in the way?

Someone wants vampyre Lily dead, and a bargain with Death has been struck. Death sends servant Agaar to bring Lily to him, but the task becomes more complicated than either Death or Agaar anticipated.

Lily wanted him.

Like the pervasive, sensual beat of Latin music blaring from the monstrous speakers, thrumming through the blood stream to draw upon the souls of those surrounding her, awaiting her tale, she wanted him.

More than the rising sweet scent of flowing life, she wanted him.

For this night, he would be her obsession.

Ah, but he was young, not much older than she appeared to humans. The laughter rushing through her mind held a strange, mocking tone. After all this time virtually everyone was younger.

She inhaled, searching for his scent through the crowded bar. There. Young enough still to hold the sweet aroma of youth. Lily sensed within him a compelling wildness; a bit of darkness she’d learned held the strangest of appeal. A wildness she vowed to discover, to unleash. And then tame.

But perhaps she wouldn’t subdue him too much Lily smiled to herself, watched him from the shadows and touched the tip of her tongue to the protruding, sharp points of the teeth that made her what she was.


Saturday, May 24, 2014

This & That for the Merry Month of May

            My turn to blog was rapidly approaching, but I found myself devoid of ideas. Not a good thing for a writer. But there I was, high and dry of topics. Then I read a newsletter that included blog ideas for May. Eureka!
            The article wasn’t quite what I thought. Rather than blog topics, it listed May monthly observances. I picked out the ones I liked, then set about figuring how I could relate them to each other and to writing. So here goes:

            May is Creative Beginnings Month. That certainly relates to writing. We all need a great beginning, a hook that will reel in readers. Isn’t that what it’s all about—hooking the readers?

            May is National Salsa Month. Salsa is spicy and delicious—just like romance novels. A scrumptious opening whets our taste buds for the rest of the story.

            May is Sweet Vidalia Onion Month. Vidalia onions sweeten a salsa recipe. Sweet, tasty Vidalia onions enhance any recipe much as a passionate and sweet love story enhances any romance novel.

            May 27 is Cellophane Tape Day. Cellophane tape holds things together. Good writing, good characterization, and believable conflict will hold any story together, be it sweet or spicy, or a dash of both.

            May 30 is Hug Your Cat Day. I love cats. Most writers own cats. Every day should be Hug Your Cat Day.

            I’ll end on that note as I go off in search of Killer, my sweet black diva of a cat, to give her a big hug.


With summer rapidly approaching, its a time to chill and read lots of books, I am happy to announce that I'm in a limited edition boxed set with two writer friends. We call ourselves 3WriterGals. We write and sometimes drink, not necessarily in that order. Our boxed set of three summer reads is called Sizzling Summer, and it's on sale for 99 cents exclusively at Amazon. That's three full-length novels for 99 cents.

How hot do you like your romance?
A special three-book set 
Lynn Reynolds
Ann Whitaker
Cara Marsi
Love Capri Style by Lynn Reynolds
A sexy, sun-drenched romance set on the island of Capri. Can inept journalist Amanda Jackson get an exclusive on playboy Eric Greyford, or will she wind up as just another item on the gossip pages of his newspaper?
Dog Nanny by Ann Whitaker
A romantic comedy set in the heart of Texas
When vet tech Julie Shields agrees to train two delinquent poodles to save them from becoming doggies of divorce, she doesn't count on having to harness her desire for hunky pilot Nick Worthington.
A Catered Romance by Cara Marsi
There's more than business brewing between two old high school flames.
Stubbornly self-reliant Mary Beth Kendrick needs financial backing to keep her catering business cooking. A looming corporate buyout forces her to accept help from Tom Sackett, the man who broke her heart and left her distrustful of men.

Visit our Facebook page:

 Enjoy the rest of May and the Memorial Day holiday!


Friday, May 23, 2014

Interview of Author Tamara Hughes

Today I'm pleased to present an interview of romance author Tamara Hughes.

Latest Book: Once Upon a Masquerade
Buy Links:

A small town girl with a big imagination, Tamara Hughes had no idea what to do with her life. After graduating from college, she moved to a big city, started a family and a job, and still struggled to find that creative outlet she craved. An avid reader of romance, she gave writing a try and became hooked on the power of exploring characters, envisioning adventures, and creating worlds. She enjoys stories with interesting twists and heroines who have the grit to surmount any obstacle, all without losing the ability to laugh.

Q: Your novel is being made into a TV series/movie. Who’s in your dream cast?
A: I would have to say Henry Cavill and Michelle Trachtenberg.

Q: What’s your writing schedule like? Do you strive for a certain amount of words each day?
A: At this point in time, I don’t worry about word count per day. In the future, I may have to. Right now, I write every weekday, from fairly early morning until lunch, and then into the afternoon until I run out of steam. I do mark down when I start writing and when I finish, and the word counts at each time. (Just to see how productive I am, and if I’m really writing as much as I think I am.)

Q: Of all your characters, who’s your favorite, and why?
A: Spencer Henley from Once Upon a Masquerade is my favorite so far. He’s someone who loves high society life – the gossip, the drama, and the games. All of it amuses him. He’s also a guy willing to laugh at himself, and likes to annoy his best friend, Christopher, whenever he can.

Q: If you could change something about your first book, what would it be?
A: Once Upon a Masquerade was originally much longer. It explored the friction between the upper class and working class. It also developed more secondary characters, and their relationships to the main characters. To fit into the Entangled Scandalous line, it had to be cut, and while I still love the book, I miss the expanded version too.

Q: Do you eat comfort food/listen to music when writing?
A: Oh, you know writers so well. I drink coffee when I write. There’s something about a warm drink that gets the juices flowing. I don’t usually listen to music when writing historicals, but it does come into play when I write my paranormal romances.

Q: How do you choose names for your characters?
A: I cheat. I have a baby names book I like to look at. I also search the Internet (particularly when writing historical novels that require names found during a specific time period). To avoid confusion, I try not to use the same first letter for multiple characters in the same book. Or names that rhyme or are similar in some way.

Q: Give one advice tip to an aspiring author.
A: Join a writers group and/or a critique group. It’s important to have writer friends to bounce ideas off of, to critique each other’s work, and to commiserate when rejections come in.

Q: What genre would you like to try writing that you haven’t yet tried?
A: I’m published in historical romance, and I also write paranormal romance, but I’d love to try young adult. I read a lot of young adult romance, and I have two teens, so I feel like I get the genre. My only stumbling block is that usually a young adult series has the same protagonists in every book, and I’m most interested in new love. So each of my books in a series has a new couple falling in love. Not sure if this would jive.

Q: Any part of a book that drives you crazy as you write: beginning, middle, or end?
A: Love scenes. There’s just so much to them. Between the action, the dialogue, and the emotion, the conflict still needs to be present in some way. These scenes usually take me a while to get them the way I want them.

Q: How many stories are swirling around in your head? Do you keep a mental list, a computer file, or a spiral notebook filled with the ideas?
A: I have computer files with story ideas in them. The problem is that I’m not as organized as I should be, so these files are all over the place. But at least I have them. I really need to write down the idea as it comes to me or it will nag me to death as I try to keep working on my current work-in-progress. When it’s time to start thinking about the next story, I may look at the ideas again, or better, I choose the idea that’s still simmering the hottest in the back of my brain.

Fun Stuff:
Q: What is your favorite holiday and why?
A: Christmas because it’s the one time of year that all of our families get together. Not that we don’t get together other times of the year, but at Christmas it’s always a given.

Q: What are two things people might be surprised to know about you?
A: I am directionally challenged. Really directionally challenged. I get lost all the time.

I met my husband when I was five years old. My parents bought the house his parents built. Then he and his family moved two miles away to a dairy farm. Kind of weird, but true.

Q: As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A: An actress. I used to dream up new scenes to my favorite TV shows and put myself in them.

Q: Favorite food.
A: French fries. My weakness.

Q: Favorite happy memory.
A: Talking and laughing with my husband and our two kids at the kitchen table.

Q: Favorite drink.
A: Dirty martini.

Q: Hot summer days or chilly winter nights?
A: Chilly winter nights. I live in Minnesota, doncha know.

Q: What is the top thing on your bucket list?
A: Visit Great Britain.

Q: If you could have a super power, what would it be?
A: To heal people with a touch. I’d love that.

Tell us where to find you: website(s), publisher’s page(s), blog(s), Facebook page(s), etc. List them all!
Entangled Publishing:
Amazon Author Page:

New York City, 1883
A Prince Charming meets his match...

Self-made shipping magnate, Christopher Black first spies Rebecca Bailey at a masquerade ball and is captivated by her refreshing naiveté and sparkling beauty. She’s a stark contrast to the hollow behavior of the ton and the guile of his former fiancée, but the closer he gets to her secrets, the further she pushes him away.

A Cinderella with a secret…

Rebecca is drawn to the charismatic Christopher from the first, but she cannot risk him discovering that she is really a housemaid impersonating an heiress. Her father's life depends on it.

A Happily Ever After that could never be…

When Christopher’s investigation of the murder of his best friend leads him straight to Rebecca, he fears his ingénue may be a femme fatale in disguise.  Now he must decide if he can trust the woman he's come to love, or if her secrets will be his downfall.

EXCERPT: (Their first kiss)
With a low chuckle, he steadied her, his hands resting at her waist. “You don’t drink much do you?”

“Never before,” she confessed with a small giggle.

He pulled his hands away, and she glanced down as if first realizing he’d touched her. Her face pinkened sweetly, and she raised her gaze, but only got so far as his chest.

Leaning toward him, she studied the lucky coin he wore on a chain about his neck. “What a unique charm,” she breathed, reaching out to touch the ancient metal.

He drank his fill of her delicate cheekbones and striking eyes. “I’m told it’s a rare coin from China, said to ward against evil.”

Her stare rose to his. “Are you superstitious?”

Although he’d never thought so, he wore the amulet everywhere. He shrugged, admitting, “I am a sailor.”

Miss Bailey worried her lip and studied his face. Her attention settling on his mouth, he wondered what she would do next.

He didn’t have long to wait. His lips twitched as her eyelids drooped heavily, and she tilted her head up to his, her look almost dazed. “Are you well? You appear as though you may faint.”

Raising one eyelid, she maintained her silly position, admitting through semi-pursed lips, “I’m enticing you to give me a kiss.”

A laugh rose up, but he held it back. “I see.” What an unusual but most delightful woman. His coin was lucky indeed. “I suppose I am a pirate and I’ve cornered a captivating damsel alone and intoxicated.”

Christopher glanced at the empty doorway, where a large potted plant shielded them from sight, and questioned the sanity of what he longed to do. If caught, her reputation would be sorely compromised. What’s more, she’d been Nathan’s love. Despite the year that had passed, he should honor that relationship. He should, and he would.

He stared down at her upturned face, delicate, alluring. She waited, utterly unconcerned by the open door. He liked that she was so different from the other ladies of the bon ton, different from Adele. Miss Bailey’s free spirit, so open and real, appealed to him like no other. Her pale pink lips tempted him to no end. Her scent, cloves and warm woman, wrapped around him, drawing him in, making his blood pump faster and his mind slow.

Would she taste as good as she smelled? Without thought, he cradled her face in his hands, the silky softness of her hair teasing his fingertips. He lowered his head, sampled her lips, and was lost.

Anything else you’d like to add?
Just thank you so much for having me here. I love meeting new people and talking about books.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Memorial Day and a chance to win a book.

Note: Leave me a comment and you could win your choice of the books listed below

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service. There are many stories as to its actual beginnings, with over two dozen cities and towns laying claim to being the birthplace of Memorial Day. There is also evidence that organized women's groups in the South were decorating graves before the end of the Civil War: a hymn published in 1867, "Kneel Where Our Loves are Sleeping" by Nella L. Sweet carried the dedication "To The Ladies of the South who are Decorating the Graves of the Confederate Dead".
While Waterloo N.Y. was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966, it's difficult to prove conclusively the origins of the day. It is more likely that it had many separate beginnings; each of those towns and every planned or spontaneous gathering of people to honor the war dead in the 1860's tapped into the general human need to honor our dead, each contributed honorably to the growing movement that culminated in Gen Logan giving his official proclamation in 1868. It is not important who was the very first, what is important is that Memorial Day was established. Memorial Day is not about division. It is about reconciliation; it is about coming together to honor those who gave their all.
 Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, and was first observed on 30 May 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. By 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states.
The South refused to acknowledge the day, honoring their dead on separate days until after World War I (when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war). It is now celebrated in almost every State on the last Monday in May (passed by Congress with the National Holiday Act of 1971 to ensure a three day weekend for Federal holidays), though several southern states have an additional separate day for honoring the Confederate war dead: January 19 in Texas, April 26 in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi; May 10 in South Carolina; and June 3 (Jefferson Davis' birthday) in Louisiana and Tennessee.
You all know I’m in love with Texas and, as Willie Nelson sang, My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys. They are also SEALs, members of Delta Force, Force Recon Marines and hot shot pilots. The history of the military in Texas goes as far back at the Texas Revolution and the heroes who dies at the Alamo. I cry every time I see this on a memorial that stands at Alamo Plaza:
The fought from the Texas Revolution through World War II

To the men who dies at The Alamo:
All Texans acclaim both in song and in story
The days of your youth and the days of your glory
And they also remember wherever they go
The men left behind at some far Alamo

Please help me honor all of our military, who give so much so that we can be safe.
And check out my military heroes:
Ride the Mustang
Jungle Inferno
Delicious Danger
F Stop
Feel the Heat
Unconditional Surrender
Lock and Load
Attack Force
Coyote Heat

And check me out here:
Twitter @desireeholt
Pinterest: desiree02holt
Also on LinkedIn and Google+

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