Saturday, May 28, 2016

THE ACCIDENTAL WIFE-- A GOLDEN QUILL FINALIST!

   Spring is in the air…and in my heart this month. On May 17th I was emailed notice that THE ACCIDENTAL WIFE was named a Finalist in the RWA Golden Quill Awards for Best First Novel. The Chairman wrote: “The judges in our contest are readers who love romance, and they loved your book!”  

     But is it a true romance? Wild Rose Press qualifies a romance as having the HEA (happily-ever-after) ending between hero and heroine after push-pull encounters that tweak the reader to the end. (Think Nicolas Sparks.) Add history and a time-slip and you may find yourself reading historical fiction. Add some biting humor and mystery and you may have a historical fiction with those ADDED elements. Set the novel in the American West (Wyoming), and you may have a Western with all of the above. Twist that HEA ending into hints of sequel, and you have the lst book in a series that shares some—or all—of the characters. 

     With all these sub-genre’s invoked, my first novel may defy category. I’ve seen it dubbed a time travel, historical, spicy romance, mainstream, woman’s fiction, as well as all of the above. The Historical Novel Review Magazine (who generally categorizes all books by their century setting) linked my review with a few others, under a more obscure “Time Slip” category. I loved that other reviewers hailed it as a fresh new genre. I also approved of the mainstream tag, after noting the book’s appeal to many readers regardless of gender or age.

      My personal reading tastes move toward mystery, history, romance and page-turning adventure. One best-selling author who combines all of these in her intelligent and emotionally-draining Outlander novels is Diana Gabaldon—my inspiration. Behold my writing blueprint, posted above my laptop: Read the BEST in your genre and work toward imitating, emulating, equaling and then surpassing! Okay. Diana’s got the lock on long sagas, sexy Scots, British intrigue and detailed medical practices in the eighteenth century, but her story-telling talent AND defiance of category has mesmerized me along with her fans—millions more who are viewing the Outlander series currently on Starz TV. 
   Hey, hope springs eternal. The Accidental Wife has had an auspicious debut so far. The story continues in a sequel that again defies category, bridges time and even an ocean. This girl can’t help it! 

             ***Writing the sequel is a WIP nearly finished and full of surprising twists. 
 

Friday, May 27, 2016

The Lullaby of Broadway

CHINA DOLL, a Jana Lane mystery
by Joe Cosentino

My parents took me to my first Broadway show when I was six years old. I still remember it vividly. The gorgeous historic theatre’s crimson carpeting and seats. The intricate gold molding, and faded but still glorious tapestries of cavorting Greek gods and goddesses on the walls and ceilings. And the spacious box seats, gigantic crystal chandelier, and endless balcony. When the velvet proscenium curtain rose, I was mesmerized by the talented actors onstage wearing gorgeous costumes and performing in front of lifelike sets. They brought this transfixed child into their captivating world and I didn’t want to leave it.

The next morning my sister and I took our parents old clothes and put on a show—literally in a neighbor’s garage. So it was no surprise to anyone when I majored in Theatre in college and became a professional actor working on stage opposite stars like Bruce Willis (A Midsummer Night’s Dream), Nathan Lane (The Roar of the Greasepaint), Rosie O’Donnell (AT&T Industrial), and on film and television opposite stars like Holland Taylor (My Mother Was Never a Kid ABC-TV movie), Charles Keating (NBC’s Another World), David Paymer (Ruffles Potato Chips commercial), and Jason Robards (Commercial Credit Computer commercial). One of my jobs was playing Ross (I mean Ross not Hercule) Poirot in a murder mystery dinner theatre show, therefore combining my love of mysteries and theatre.

So in the next Jana Lane mystery, CHINA DOLL, America’s most famous ex-child star has had a successful comeback, won an Oscar, and has been cast in the starring role of a Broadway thriller, where she is faced with murder on stage and off. It is old home week and nepotism in action as the play is produced and written by the same producer (Stanley Rothman) and author (Katrina Wright) who produced and wrote Jana’s first Broadway play when she was five years old, Sweet Nothings. Jana’s co-star from Sweet Nothings, the aging but still gorgeous and mysterious Savannah Stevens, is co-starring in China Doll, along with Savannah’s incredibly handsome and muscular son, Peter Stevens, in his Broadway debut. Rounding out the cast are Rothman’s granddaughter Bella, Jana’s nephew Brad, and Jana’s youngest son B.J. And the play is directed by Katrina’s new and much younger husband, the studly Tony Cuccioli. Also in the cast are Sally Chen a recent Tony Award winning actress, and Tate Moonglow a transplant from Off-Broadway. Even the local detective is a Broadway musical theatre buff, and Jana’s comical old world agent, Simon Huckby, is back to watch over his favorite client.

Attractions come to the surface between Tony and Sally, Brad and Bella, Tate and Gary (B.J.’s new nanny), and even Jana and Peter.

Art imitates life as members of the production team of China Doll are murdered, personal secrets are revealed, and Jana once again uses the skills she learned as a child star to solve the crime.

I was able to use my knowledge of theatre to create the first read through, blocking rehearsal, rehearsals, and performances for the play within the novel that I call China Doll. Though China Doll is a fictitious play, I was able to place the theatre between the marquees of real shows playing at the time: Hurlyburly starring William Hurt and Christopher Walken and The Rink starring Chita Rivera and Liza Minelli. Since the book takes place in 1984, I included a great deal of history, music, and fashion from my favorite era. Layered hair, parachute pants, shoulder pads, lace gloves, leggings, and scrunchies are all there along with music like Bruce Springstein’s “Cover Me.” New York City is prominently featured in the novel with its luxury hotels, Central Park, Washington Square Park, Little Italy, and of course the theatre district. I was also able to include, the still new AIDS epidemic and the devastation it caused when ignored by our political representatives, as once again Jana sponsors a benefit for AIDS research.

Hurry, take your seat and your program. The curtain is going up on CHINA DOLL, a Jana Lane mystery!

For more about Joe Cosentino: http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com
http://catalog.thewildrosepress.com/all-titles/3830-china-doll.html

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Why My Male Characters Tend To Be Misogynist Pigs by Phil Fragasso


Going Both Ways, like my previous novel Still Counting, features a lead character who personifies every boorish male trait I want to protect my daughter from ever encountering. Patrick Morelli is a 27-year-old underachiever who still lives and acts like an adolescent frat boy. He stares at the slightest hint of cleavage and immediately undresses every woman with his eyes regardless of age, shape, race, or political affiliation. Actually none of those traits matter to him. All he’s concerned about is that she possess a complete set of female parts. You could say he’s a simple man with simple needs, but that’s letting him off far too easily. He’s never had a “girl friend” – i.e., a friend who happened to be female. His only interaction with women, other than his mother and sister, has been in their role as current or potential dating partners. As many women as he’s been with, Patrick doesn’t have a clue about what makes women tick. In fact, he’s pretty clueless about most aspects of life.

 

In Patrick’s defense, he does grow and mature over the course of the story. His every-other-day incarnation as a female (Trish) forces him to see the world from a decidedly different perspective. But in truth, he probably wouldn’t have fully evolved without the guidance and pointed chastisements of his sister Sarah. At the beginning of his alternating male/female embodiment, Patrick seems content to turn Trish into a similarly sex-obsessed “frat girl.” But then Trish has several encounters with Patrick-like boors and the proverbial light bulb goes off in Patrick’s head. He becomes a fully evolved male that both men and women would enjoy hanging around with.

 

So now, in my own defense, I am not condoning misogynist behavior. Instead I try to use it as a springboard to examine the male-female dichotomy. I use exaggerated boorishness because most of us males are not particularly good with subtlety. Male chauvinism is such a prevalent characteristic that we don’t notice or acknowledge it unless it beats us over the head with a two-by-four. It’s almost like we have to experience the Platonic ideal of misogyny to realize we want nothing to do with it.

 

But that’s not really the whole story. Patrick becomes a better person because of the women in his life – Trish, Sarah, and Gigi. I’m not certain that he would have matured so quickly (or at all) on his own – and that gets to the core of why my male characters tend to be sexist pigs. In my heart of hearts, I guess I believe women are superior to men in most of the ways that really matter. I see that in my wife, daughter, and nieces – and it’s my hope that more men will appreciate all the ways women make our lives and the world better.

 

Phil Fragasso

 
Available from The Wild Rose Press and all major online retailers.
 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Interview With a Different Kind of Duchess – Her Grace Cassandra Althorn

Hello Readers and Fans:

Continuing on with our Bonus Materials that never made it into the Novel for various reasons, they still add dimension, and it is my romantic hope it will keep you, the reader, involved until the next book is released. Authors, at least this one, falls in love with all the characters, whether they’re the hero, heroine, villain, or a great secondary addition. Then I move on to the next book, and fickle me, I prepare for a new romantic venture with a different personality.

Today, I’ve chosen to interview Her Grace, Cassandra, who is married to the Duke of Althorn, whom she prefers to address as Gordon, throughout the book.

Enjoy the read. I welcome all comments at sanrdmastersauthor@gmail.com. You may subscribe to my newsletter at: http://authorsandramasters.com.

Sandra Masters, Unapologetic Story Teller

P.S. You might ask why I use the term Unapologetic Story Teller. In some venues, Story Tellers are not considered, for lack of a better word, legitimate authors. I believe in Fairy Tales and Romance, so you may think me of a rebel author with a cause--and that is, I read and write all genres of romance writing. ♥

Simply as an aid, I’ve included the back cover blurb about these marvelous characters.
 
MY DIVINELY DECADENT DUKE, BOOK TWO

BY SANDRA MASTERS

Orphaned and abandoned by family, Lady Cassandra Montgomery yearns for love. Beautiful and innocent, she attracts the attention of a renowned rake, the Duke of Althorn. When her security is threatened, in exchange for his protection, she offers him a proposal for an arranged marriage.

The Duke is at first enraged by the brazen behavior, yet he sees Cassandra as captivating caretaker for his mother, and impossible to resist. He agrees. The arrangement becomes inconvenient because love and sex enter the equation.  After her first taste of desire in his arms, she finds the sensual attraction powerful. Finding herself in a family way, she leaves his home, unsure of his love. Will he consider their child entrapment?

Will the Duke admit his love and use his rakish skills to woo Cassandra back to his bed?

Will she believe her husband truly loves her and return to his waiting arms?
 

What do these pictures represent in the story of My Divinely Decadent Duke? Guess you’ll have to read it to find out.

http://authorsandramasters.com/assets/School_House_Cropped.jpg  http://authorsandramasters.com/assets/Cassandra___s_Tub.jpg  . http://authorsandramasters.com/assets/Runt__Alicia___s_Dog..jpg  http://authorsandramasters.com/assets/Stone_Schoolhouse_where_Cassandra_Teaches2.jpg

http://authorsandramasters.com/assets/Duke_s_Real_Ring.jpg  http://authorsandramasters.com/assets/Dukes_Real_Tattoo.jpg  http://authorsandramasters.com/assets/Stone_Schoolhouse_where_Cassandra_Teaches2.jpg  http://authorsandramasters.com/assets/Cassandra___s_Tiara2.jpg 
 
INTERVIEW
 
Q. Your Grace, when you first met the Duke of Althorn, what did you think of him?
 
A.  I thought he was kind, courageous and wonderful when he came to my rescue in a quiet drawing room of the host at the ball I attended after my fiancé had broken our engagement, an invitation for ridicule by the ton society. The thought of my reputation in tatters at such a rejection, had me shed tears. It was then a handsome gentleman, heretofore unseen, rose from a wingback chair, and offered me a glass of port and his handkerchief. After I sipped the sweet wine in one gulp, and  dabbed at my eyes, I spoke in anger and regret. I still remember my words exactly. “It was rude of you to have eavesdropped on an intimate conversation. Is this my evening to meeting nothing but scoundrels?”
 
Q.  Oh my, when did your opinion change of him?
 
A.  Imagine a young woman, inexperienced in the ways of men, being rescued by an acknowledged rake who felt sorry for her. I didn’t want his pity. Nonetheless, he handled the situation with risqué banter and a smile that could charm a nun. I do believe all his suggestions for scandalous behavior were intended to bolster my injured ego. He escorted me to my brothers. Quite a few tongues wagged at the sight of a supposedly engaged woman on the arm of the Duke of Althorn, renowned rake.
 
Q. When did you meet again?

A.  Two weeks after that disastrous evening, I was on the beach looking through my telescope and he came upon me. We recognized each other immediately. His warm greeting pleased me.

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-RFuCF7FK5Ao/VnrBSv1rtFI/AAAAAAAABmg/t3Q-IeoG080/s320/IMG_0611%2B%25281%2529.jpg

In conversation, I sensed a thread of interest when he asked the reason for my search.  I mentioned I’d visited a gypsy fortune teller who claimed my life would take a momentous turn. She also foretold I’d meet a handsome prince who would come out of the ocean. Oh, I can see the duke’s salacious smile now. “I regret I’m not the prince you seek, although a duke is next in line of the honorific titles. Will I not suffice?” Not expecting such an offer, I changed the subject, but he immediately brought it back again. “If this god did decide to show himself, I would hope he’d be clothed. All the pictures I’ve seen of Neptune have him stark naked with a rather large…trident in his hands. He might shock you.”

He was so naughty…and invitational. A blush colored my cheeks at my answer at the vision he presented, “Now wouldn’t that be the talk of the ton.” I immediately took a last look at the horizon through my telescope and proceeded to fold it. Ever the gentleman, he assisted.
 
Q. How did the romance progress?

A.     And therein lays the conflict for Cassandra. The last thing Gordon wanted was a future wife. He has a past but he is now the respectable, if not scandalous Duke of Althorn, a dukedom he inherited when his father and the elder brother died. As a second son he had no responsibilities, but now he has them all.

So we have the juxtaposition of two people with a dire need: Security and safety for myself, the sister of an Earl, and my ward, Alicia…the duke with a need for a compassionate, able caretaker for his mother. Desperation led me to offer a marriage of convenience to the duke. At first he was outraged at my arrogance and refused, but the latest caretaker had been dismissed for her callous care of his adored mother.

Orphaned at a young age, with two brothers in the university, I had no sense of family. Not that I blamed my brothers, they were young men intent on doing what such lads do.  I spent five summers at finishing school as an instructor, learning how to cook in the kitchens, and in general, I read penny novels. I truly wanted to feel loved. I thought I could have him love me.

    After his disastrous rejection of me, he became much too possessive when he saw me in the arms of another man as we danced at a cotillion. And that started it—all over again.
 
Q. Why did the author indicate you were a unique type of duchess? Aren’t they all the same?

A.     I didn’t quite fit the mold for a duchess because I was happier in the kitchens baking rather than ordering staff around.  I confess I didn’t cook as much as I used to, but when I needed solace or time to think, I baked. My specialty was Humble Pie Crust. The recipe is available on my author’s website. Ours was a marriage of convenience.  The pictures you see below are of myself, and my ward,  Alicia, with Alfie, my brother, the earl’s son.

  http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-uPZwg5LHjkw/VnrBSkC5tqI/AAAAAAAABmk/Y8i7KfIpJEk/s320/IMG_0609.jpg

Q. What would you like us to know about Gordon the man you did fall in love with?

A.     His Grace emanated strong feelings. You see, one could say I had baggage—a ward who was the child of my best friend. At her deathbed, she begged me to raise her little girl. What else could I do, but give her my solemn promise. I would have someone all my own to love and to love me in return. Little did I know how the gossips would twist my good intention and slander me.

That didn’t stop Gordon. He was used to power and having his every wish performed. We had a business arrangement. I expected nothing in return except that he would keep my ward, Alicia, and me safe from a malicious sister-in-law of mine. I had my own quarters, next to his mother and my ward. He was determined to stay as far away from me as he could.

I functioned as the housekeeper, caretaker for his mother, but never as his wife in the beginning. I fell in love with him almost from the start of our “living together” under the same roof. Oh, he was so gallant and would speak of outrageous subjects.

It was my duty to report my activities of the household at 4 o’clock every day. On one weary such day, he offered me a drink. I accepted.  Not used to such alcohol, I passed out.  And thereby hangs a tale.
 
Other questions?
 
Where and why did he get a tattoo, most unusual for an aristocratic second son and most importantly, who inked him? What is the secret he harbors? What other startling revelations will he learn?

And what does Cassandra mean to him? What else has fate planned for the two of them?

.

In a fertile mind, these are the situations which ferment and cause a novel to be written. The cover picture of the duke, with his lion clan tattoo, and Cassandra, his duchess, is in the background.

If you’ve read the interview with Duchess Serena, April’s Newsletter, along with this May interview of Duchess Cassandra, you’ll be able to vote on Facebook in June, as to which duchess you’re likely to favor. The winner will get a free e book of Once Upon A Duke, and My Divinely Decadent Duke. And, if you go to my website and sign up for my newsletter, or have a friend sign up, you’ll be entered into a drawing for a digital version of Book Two of the Duke Series, My Divinely Decadent Duke. It’s on sale at Amazon for $2.99. Book Three, Thorn, Son of a Duke, is a teaser prequel of 15,000 words to Book 4. Some might even call it a cliffhanger, but it sets the background. Happy reading.
 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Neighborhood Known as The Hill by Mary Coley


(Learn about the setting of Mary Coley's soon-to-be-released novel, The Ravine, in this blog post by the author. The Ravine release date is May 27. Order through Wild Rose Press or from Amazon.com at http://tinyurl.com/gvju7df )

I am lucky to live in a beautiful neighborhood, the one I selected as the setting for The Ravine. My forested acre has barely enough treeless area around the house for flowerbeds and walkways. The trees provide privacy from neighbors and the street. My three patios are places of refuge where, regardless of time of day or season of the year, I can find space to enjoy sky, clouds, sun or shade.

This setting seemed perfect for the story in The Ravine. The actual ravine is down my driveway and across the street. It is so easy to imagine the Werling family living in one of the houses along my hilly street, and also to imagine Katy Werling and her friend Emily trudging up and down the asphalt lane to visit each other.

In the first chapter of The Ravine, Katy decides to make that trek back home up the hill at nearly 10 o'clock at night, without alerting her parents that she is coming home instead of going to the lake for the weekend with her best friend Emily.

Truthfully, I've never walked up the hill to my own driveway at 10 o'clock at night. But I have heard the yipping coyotes, barking dogs and hooting owls, as well as the rustling breeze and the sound of scurrying feet through the leaf-strewn understory.

And the bottom of the ravine? Where Katy lies?

I've never been there myself. I can only imagine.

And that’s what I did in The Ravine.

Imagine you are ten years old, and late one night you hear a dog barking and it sounds just like the stray dog you and your family had agreed to adopt several hours earlier. You call its name, and then go to the edge of the ravine to look. The dog barks again, and you start down the barely won path that disappears into the trees. The leaves on the path are slick beneath the plastic soles of your house shoes. You slip, and begin to slide, tumbling down and then off the makeshift trail and into the thicket. Your fall ends on a ledge just above the streambed at the bottom of the ravine. You are in terrible pain. Something is broken.

That’s all I’ll say for now. The Ravine is available on pre-order from The Wild Rose Press and Amazon.com. The worldwide release date is May 27.

(Be sure to read Mary Coley's other blog posts about the Characters in The Ravine, as well as the truth behind the black dogs.)

Mary Coley
www.facebook.com/MaryColeyAuthor
www.marycoley.com

Monday, May 23, 2016

What inspired me to write The Haunting of William Gray?

The Inspiration for The Haunting of William Gray

“I can’t take any more sun,” I confessed to my husband.

He glanced up from the stack of What to Do in South Carolina booklets he’d been perusing. “I know,” he agreed. Having learned enough about me in the twenty-five years of marital bliss—this is my story so I can call it that if I want to—we were celebrating at Garden City, he realized I was as cooked as I could be without medical intervention. “How about a relaxing boat ride to do some shelling?”

I perked up, dropping the ice packs from my cheeks and lips as I reached for the aloe gel. Boats? Shelling? “Perfect.”

He made the reservation, and we left early the next morning, driving to Georgetown. Halfway between Myrtle Beach and Charleston, two of the nation’s top twenty-five vacation locales according to TripAdvisor, it was a place we’d skirted often, but had never actually taken the time to visit. Following a country ham and eggs breakfast at an old-fashioned diner near the town’s center—yes, this came with grits—we still had enough time to tour the Kaminski House before meeting the captain of the half-day touring boat we’d reserved to take us out to the North Island.

Along Winyah Bay, we spotted alligators yawning on the river bank, egrets stalking the more shallow areas near the sand bars, and my favorite—eagles flying overhead, their huge nests built atop poles or in impossibly tall trees. Then we embarked on a two hour stint on Shell Island, gathering conch shells, olive shells, abalone, and a sand dollar—treasures we still possess.

As we sauntered back along the Historic Harbor walkway, we saw the smokestack of the sunken Union ship, USS Harvest Moon. It peeked out ever so slightly, just enough to make us wonder whether it was watching us—like the alligators whose submerged bodies were only identified after seeing their eyes breaking the water’s surface. We ended our day in Georgetown with a sightseeing trolley through the old town, its driver sharing his knowledge of the superstitions, Gullah culture, and ancient lore of the area’s haunted houses.

Returning to the vacation resort, we kept asking ourselves why we’d never visited Georgetown before. Once home, mentioning it to our friends, we discovered nearly everyone thought we meant the enclave in Washington, D.C. I knew right then I wanted to write a novel set amid the Lowcountry’s ancient live oaks, temperamental ocean, converging rivers, haunted houses, and Spanish moss.

In The Haunting of William Gray, South Carolina’s beauty and culture become the backdrop for a brooding hero, spunky heroine, and the apparition who gains strength from her presence in the massive old house occupying a privately owned island in Winyah Bay.

Charleston is simply too close to Georgetown not to visit and include in the novel. It still offers voodoo—more appropriately called hoodoo—dolls in the old marketplace. Popular tours include the area’s haunted houses and hotels, and traditional southern fare highlights menus across the city. Fried green tomatoes, deep-fried crispy chicken, shrimp and grits—William Gray’s favorite—she-crab soup, and peach cobbler, exist beside haute cuisine and international flavors.
It is my hope that readers will not only enjoy the unlikely romance, but will be swept away in the ambiance of Georgetown’s harbor life, superstitions, and the possibility of spirits existing amongst the living in ways both dramatic and subtle.

Renee Johnson is the author of Acquisition, and The Haunting of William Gray. She is currently working on a Young Adult novel, while editing a suspense novel which has international flair–an homage to her love of travel and foreign food. She lives on a farm in North Carolina with her husband, Tony Johnson, and two very spoiled German shepherds named Hansel and Gretel.

Available at The Wild Rose Press and all major online retailers

Sunday, May 22, 2016

When is a series not a series?

If you’ve read any of my posts before, you’ll know that I write novella length books only, and that I attribute this to the fact that I have a short attention span. (Squirrel!)

To write a full length novel? Can’t imagine. To write an entire series? Impossible.

And yet, there is a series buried within my books.

Oz, the hero in my first book, SILVER BLADE, makes several appearances in my current WIP, working title: Gold Star.

In HEART SHIFTER, my hero, Mitch Mingan, is a member of a wolf-pack from Northern Ontario. This same pack is referenced in another WIP, working title: Shifters’ Paradise.

And Lucius, white-haired witch in my recent release LOVE SUPERNATURALLY, makes an appearance in the above mentioned WIP, Gold Star.

It was not my intention to write a series, and I’m not promoting my books that way, but I hope for the people that read my books, that these secondary character appearances will make them say “hey, I remember him.”

Charlotte Copper
https://charlottecopperauthor.com
http://catalog.thewildrosepress.com/all-titles/3822-love-supernaturally.html