Monday, December 26, 2016

Creating a great villain

The Beauty of the Beast
One of paranormal fiction’s special challenges is building supernatural characters that are relatable. Readers are hooked by the fantastic, but the creatures they remember most are rooted in the human.

We all know the rules for our heroes and heroines. As multi-dimensional beings, they must have strengths and weaknesses, even as they cast spells, shapeshift and crave human blood. They need a back story and believable motivations and goals. Some quirkiness adds texture and interest. Would Mercy Thompson be as interesting if Patricia Briggs hadn’t made her a mechanic? We think not.
A deeper challenge is applying those rules to our villains. We’re tempted to cloak them in absolute evil. Randomly bloodthirsty beasts and apocalyptic monsters are fun to create. Giving them reasons for their despicable actions is more difficult.
Let’s say upfront that we consider Patricia Briggs a master of characterization. While she has developed her share of bad-to-bone nasties, we remain most haunted by those that are more complex.
In Blood Bound, Mercy Thompson and the Columbia Basin wolf pack grapple with a vampire who is also a sorcerer and is attached to a demon. This is one seriously wretched villain. He kills with abandon, most notably in a horrific motel murder that an innocent human is blamed for. Make no mistake, readers hate this guy.
But this vampire’s name is Corey. Yes, Corey–like the two young actors from that 1980’s classic, The Lost Boys. Corey conjures visions of the boy next door. When you learn more about him, you find he didn’t ask to become a vicious killer. He did seek the thrill of being a sorcerer, however, which makes him a truly bad vampire. You can’t help but have a little sympathy for Corey even as you root for Mercy to kick his ass.
The river monster in Briggs’ River Marked is equally complicated. The creature’s insatiable appetite is fed by taking over minds and guiding humans willingly to their deaths. Yeah, it’s sick. But you can relate on some level when you find out the legend Native American legend about She Who Watches, the beast who’s always hungry for humans. She’s so powerful and so persuasive, especially when she’s trying to make deals with Mercy.
Some tips for building the perfect beast include:
The unexpected. Vampires have most often been beautiful people, and they’re usually very sexually adept, but again, Briggs comes through with a member of the local vampire seethe who is an older woman with the mind of a child. She’s a virtuoso on the piano but has to be watched constantly because she acts without thought.
The tragic. The villain in Awakening Magic, which features the Connelly witches of New Mourne, is the Woman in White. She’s the ghost of a young woman who had everything she loved taken from her by someone who should have been trusted. As a result, she’s still haunting the small North Georgia town inhabited by the Connelly coven and a variety of other supernatural beings. Because she was grief stricken, she demanded a tribute when the Connellys first came to New Mourne in the 1700s—the life of one of the young witches. This has continued for centuries, but as the story progresses, you begin to understand the Woman in White’s grief, especially when the demon shows up.
The one rule to keep in mind when creating your characters is remembering everyone’s goal is to move the story forward. You have to create three-dimensional, believable characters but only you may know much of their backstory. Sometimes it’s especially easy to get caught up in the story of these peripheral characters—just let them impact the story as necessary. In searching for Corey, Mercy found her own supernatural powers increased. In our book, the young witch, Brenna must fully embrace her magic before she can help her family.
Nora Roberts is superb at dealing with secondary characters. There may be a romance going on with them or a completely different story line, but it will be subtle and all of it will support what’s happening with the two main characters.
Whatever type of fiction you’re writing, world building is at the core. All characters matter and what motivates the villain to do evil matters too. It’s all part of the story.
Neely Powell

Saturday, December 24, 2016


Since 1968 I’ve sent out a dutiful Christmas letter each December that had three major intentions. Touching base with friends and family was always a given, but exercising my writing skill and incorporating a historical timeline were ulterior motives. Each of our children will someday benefit from a Christmas binder of letters that includes a parallel view of the family in changing times, along with some family photos and greeting cards through the years.

     When the nest thinned out, we opted to take Christmas photos of hub and I with one or more of the animals left in our domestic “zoo.” In my Pride and Prejudice phase, we rented costumes and posed as Darcy and Elizabeth with our favorite white Arabian. Another year, we posed in bathing suits on a snow-covered patio, enjoying summer drinks. “Greetings from tropical Minnesota” topped that year’s newsletter.

     Keeping the letter witty, cheerful and held to one or two sides of a single page was often a challenge. Running an impromptu wildlife preserve on our woodsy Minnesota acreage the last few decades, however, provided a wealth of material. (I count four children and even their children among “wildlife” which included horses, deer, turkeys, dogs, cats, rabbits, squirrels, birds, snakes, rodents and even a pygmy goat and a pelican.)

After the holidays, I always regretted time constraints that squelched focus on more than the occasional article or feature for a local paper or magazine. Somewhere deep inside those spurts of creativity the Great American Novel fluttered impatient wings. When I did carve out time in my busy life to freelance—that demanding novel raged and pouted over the put-off. Things began to pop when I joined a few National Writing Associations and began to attend their writer conferences.

     After placing in a short story competition , the judge wrote a letter begging me to continue the story. An agent at a Las Vegas Writers Conference suggested I write a novella first, then pursue the longer novel I finally got around to pitching. I took their collective advice and my debut novel, “The Accidental Wife,” was scooped up by Wild Rose Press and released in 2015 to good reviews and several awards. Confidence surged into motivation. With an empty nest and only one dog left in our menagerie, I had no more excuses!

     I write full time now, churning out ideas once suppressed by time. The vanity license plate on my hot little red car expresses it all. “Novel CJ” is finally in gear. Book Two, “The Accidental Stranger” will be released January 6th in my “Accidental” series. The annual Christmas letter is morphing into a newsletter put out bi-monthly for fans. It is no accident; there is never a time-stamp on creativity or new careers. Never too late to promote delayed dreams! And to think…it all began with one of those much maligned, dutiful Christmas letters.

Cj Fosdick

Friday, December 23, 2016

Moonlight On The Shenandoah

My new release Moonlight On The Shenandoah is a ghost story packed with eerie experiences, adventure, and love. What inspired me to write this book? It tumbled around in my head for years while I wrote other stories, tended to my dying mom, and tended numerous grandchildren.

We live on several acres of land adjoining the Shenandoah National Park and we have a wonderful view of the Shenandoah Valley from our porch and decks where the two forks of the Shenandoah River run through the valley below. There is also a Civil War-era grave on our property that was part of the inspiration for this book. All the "what ifs" came into play in my mind. Along with the wonderful spooky mists that descend upon us in these deciduous wooded mountains and the strong Civil War history in the area, the setting was perfect for a ghost story. I spent hours researching this county just for the love of history. I learned a lot of interesting details, some that made it into my book. The ghost's story began rather different from what it evolved into. Once I got to know my characters, they more or less grabbed the story and ran. I just followed in pursuit of a wonderful tale.

I hope y'all can enjoy this intricate love story that brings together lost souls and unearths old wounds to heal them. Azure and Benjamin find friendship in the company of Jesse, a hundred and fifty-year-old ghost. His death was unexpected and his body never found, two things he wants to set right when he first approaches Azure for help.

Christine Poe

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Tittle, Tattle by Trish Sugarek

The actor ( Eddie Redmayne) and the director (Tom Hooper) treated this film with such elegance. Redmayne, as eddie-1 o-eddie-redmayne-570The Danish Girl, was so delicate in all of his movement; especially with his hands, that I was shocked to learn that he is a straight man with a wife and family.  I want to gush about this story and this film!  Set in Europe, in the 1930’s, when gender identity was considered a mental illness, the Danish Girl tries to resist her gender conflict..... More>>

Friday, December 09, 2016

A Closer Examination of Herald Angels

On the surface, Herald Angels is a romance that has rural Virginia competing with New York City as the heroine struggles with her past, future, and various family issues. Chief among those issues are ones with her sister.

The differences between the two cities are pronounced. Manhattan is famous for its holiday decorations. After visiting during the Christmas season, I knew I would use its décor in a novel one day: the tree in Rockefeller Center, toy soldiers marching across Radio City Music Hall’s marquee, the over-sized bulbs and balls grouped in busy complexes, the window displays along 5th Avenue.

My favorite turned out to be the staircase leading to and from Rockefeller Center where white-wire angels herald the season with trumpets aloft. At its base is a simple bench which seemed to be overlooked by most passersby. From that vantage point, I could see 5th Avenue above, or the enormous tree being reflected in the ice skating rink below.

For a more simple setting I chose rural southwestern Virginia’s small town of Bland. Named for Virginia Statesman Richard Bland—a cousin to Thomas Jefferson—it borders The Jefferson National Forest. There are no stop lights in this small town, which makes the night sky inky dark and perfect for stargazing.

The majority of income in Bland, Virginia is derived from farming, and most holiday decorations are quite simple and lovely in a sparse nature. My favorite of these are the evergreen wreaths with red bows attaching them to cattle gates, weathered barns, front doors on log cabins.

Big, oversized light displays are necessary when the backdrop is dotted with skyscrapers, but would overpower the rolling hills and green meadows dotted with cattle. Though totally different, both towns have their own intrinsic beauty.

The same can be said for people. Some of us are more like New York City—vibrant, active, always on the move. Others might be natured more like Bland—quiet, reserved, peaceful, and happy to stay at home. This doesn’t mean one is right and the other wrong, just that we are all a little different.

While writing this novel, I juxtaposed the relationship of two sisters and that of two cities in much the same way. The real lesson lies in learning not to judge, but to accept each as they are.

Of course, a budding romance is driving the story. At its helm is the conflicted heroine who is also being taught a few lesson in overcoming her tendency to judge by occupation as well. Will she fall in love with a minister? Career choices, family relationships, New York’s homeless population, forgiving others and asking for it in return; complete the backstory.

Whether you prefer simple country celebrations, or flashy and bright Christmas in the city, this is the novel for you. I hope you enjoy it and the holidays!

Renee Canter Johnson

Renee Johnson is the author of Herald Angels, 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.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Writing the story Love in the Shadows by Linda H. Bost

I wrote the story of my dream. I’m not kidding. It literally happened. The entire story Love in the Shadows
Fear swathed me and worry danced in the fringes of my mind at some of the decisions they made. The characters, my friends trooped through my mind at my will or on their own accord over several months. I created my own dreams about them. I was intrigued by their story of loving others unconditionally, being tolerant and acceptant of others. I was moved by their warning about choosing a lifelong mate based upon physical attributes. The story and how it came to me took my breath away.
unfolded before me in a dream. I was transported to another place and time into the lives of living breathing people that I became emotionally involved with. At first, I was an observer, watching the people carry out their daily routines. Then as the emotional attachment grew, I became part of them. I could smell the herbs in the upstairs room and the aroma of mint tea whirling in my nostrils. I heard their conversations. I recognized their voices and I felt their joy, their pain, and anxieties.

Linda H. Bost
Available at the Wild Rose Press
and other online retailers

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

The Diary Writers of My Traveling Man by DeeDee Lane

Writing My Traveling Man got me thinking about times in my life when I kept a diary. As a young girl I was enthralled by the notion of having a small pink covered book, latched by golden clasp, and opened with a miniature skeleton key. Yes, I was enticed but never owned one of these super-secret thought holders. Looking back I’m sure I suspected in my family of six privacy was not a given, I’d most likely lose the key, and what thoughts were so precious I had to record it thus?

 As a college student I took longhand notes and this practice morphed into 6 X 9 ½ inch notebooks where I recorded my thoughts. But my journey as a diarist started in earnest when I began to travel as a young adult. Usually I was on my own and the journal became a place to share with a “friend,” record the daily news, and remember the important events of my trip.

Like many others I read Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way and faithfully wrote my morning pages for a good stretch of time. This daily action inspired me to read Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards so my morning pages became morning drawings.
Because a diary is so central to the story of My Traveling Man I wondered if we ever write our journals with the expectation they may be read by others. In this novella I set out to celebrate the journal writers, diarists, and note takers who traveled the Oregon Trail between 1846 and 1869. Their thoughts and notes provide the everyday person’s mindset of pioneer’s traveling this arduous trail. Additionally, they give us an idea of natural landmarks used to mark the passing of miles. For example, an experienced wagon master believed he must get his train to a certain large rock by the fourth of July to be ahead of winter snows. The rock became known as Independence Rock and you can still see many emigrants’ names carved in it if you travel the trail in Wyoming. Some of the diaries published today are actually packets of letters sent back to family in the east as the pioneer traveled west.
Though I do not believe my diaries should or will become public, I do believe in this note taking communing with self. At this stage my diary is a large notebook, not pink and no key. In it I write small passages but more often tape photos, ticket stubs, love notes from my husband, letters from my friends, or small mementos. I don’t suspect it will be an historical document one day but the action of writing, taping, and remembering gives me pleasure. In this I feel a bond with the diarist of the trail.
DeeDee Lane

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

My dysfunctional Family novel by Dee Gatrell

When I finished writing Sweet Sunset, my husband read it. He decided he knew who my characters really were. I told him no, he
did not. So okay, one gal is an enabler, like one of our daughters. One gal got punched in the eye and was married to a crazy man, but nothing else is like her. My one son always had the habit of picking the wrong women, but now is married. I truly think he had a neon sign that lit up and read, “if you are crazy, I’m sure I’ll love you.” Well at least for a while.

I think when you write a novel people you know sort of pop out of you. Like my mom who had dementia. She was asked to move out of the senior’s apartments. She blew up cans in the microwave, she burned food and she did break handles off ceramic cups. We never did figure that one out.

As for Zack, he’s a total figment of my imagination. My cousin Betty, who is widowed, wants the real him. The gay boy was once a friend of my granddaughter’s. I have no idea what happened to him once he grew up, but I wanted him to be happy.

Life has happy times, and sad times. I like putting humor in my stories and hope they make people laugh. We all need to laugh to keep us going. A friend of mine told me about her mom being upset with her stepmom and told her how evil she was, spilling her soda on the table. And of course, June in the episode of the moms going to lunch, I had to tell the story about her “yankee” neighbors, because the real June was a Southern lady who told us tales like that.

I do hope if you have a chance to read Sweet Sunset you’ll enjoy spending time with Myrtle Sue and her dysfunctional family.

Sweet Sunset
Dee Gatrell

Monday, December 05, 2016

Drawing Inspiration From Real Life

I'm frequently asked where I get my story ideas. In the case of my holiday novella, Love's In The Cards, it was an actual job experience. For a year before I moved to Ohio, I worked for a well-known greeting card company store, which also had a considerable amount of gift merchandise in addition to greeting cards and ornaments. There were two six-foot plastic nutcrackers that we had to maneuver outside each morning from mid-November through Christmas, and bring them in each night. Some of the teenage girls made a game of it, pretending they were dancing with the nutcrackers. We worked hard, but had a lot of fun. My favorite thing to do was to straighten the cards as I watched them dwindle in quantity each day. When I moved to Ohio, I got a job as a merchandiser, going into big and little stores and putting out new card displays for another well-known card company. It wasn't as much fun, but I still got to straighten out cards and make them look pretty again. I quit this job several years ago, but to this day, if I find myself in the card department of a store, I have to straighten out the cards.

And as for the other story line in Love's In The Cards, I had my own Del in my life. Back when we were in kindergarten, we had nap time after lunch, where we laid on towels or blankets for twenty minutes or so. This little boy would always lay at my feet and draw on the soles of my sparkling white shoes with a purple crayon. My mother got so angry every night when I come home with purple crayon on my shoes, and never bought the explanation that it wasn't my fault. I take some consolation in the fact my Del became a high school art teacher, and pride myself on my contribution to his success, but I've never quite forgiven him.

Becky Lower
Love's In The Cards

Available from the Wild Rose Press
and other online retailers

Saturday, December 03, 2016


You'll be hearing a great deal about this new author!

I was given an ARC of Haunting Highland House for an honest opinion and review, and I am so thankful I was because Kathryn Hills' debut novel is definitely a winner.

Set in New England in the present--and 100+ years prior-- this is a story of a love that survives the vestiges of time, war, death, and change.

When Samantha Merrill arrives at Highland House as the new event manager, she feels a tiny sense of familiarity and a little niggle of uncertainty. Has she been here before? Things look familiar, but they...don't and aren't. An orphan raised by two much older adoptive parents, Sam knows nothing of her life before the age of 4. Pretty soon she starts to doubt her sanity when she's confronted with what she thinks is the ghost of Robert Pennington, the original owner of the now historic museum. But he's not a ghost. He's a living, breathing, powerful man. And he wants Samantha; almost-- if not more than-- she wants him.

Sam's life quickly spins out of control, traveling back and forth through time to meet with Robert, his family and friends. When she discovers a terrible event will befall his family, she wrestles with telling him and potentially changing the future, or allowing events to proceed as they already have.

I don't like spoilers so I leave the plot line there, but this book utterly captivated me from page 1 until the very last page. And what a last page!!!!! I'm usually fairly good at knowing how a book ( or TV show!) ends, but Ms Hills' ending totally blew my mind! And in a great, great way.

Mark my words, you 'll be hearing a lot about this wonderful author from now on.
Haunting Highland House gets 5 well deserved stars from me!
submitted by Peggy Jaeger

Available from The Wild Rose Press
and other online retailers

Friday, December 02, 2016

In Defense of "Fluff" by Katherine McDermott

A friend recently shared a devotion with me from Deeper Walk. The October 17, 2016 page was written by a romance author (unnamed) who said, "Many people viewed her scratchings as 'fluff.'" But the author defended her writing by concluding after prayer and Bible study that God is a romantic! When he saw how lonely Adam was he created Eve. "Then the Lord God said: 'It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper as his complement'"(Genesis 2:18).

I would add that God was interested in finding Isaac the "right" girl and indicated that she would be the one who offerred to water his camels which is exactly what Rebecca did. Jacob, later called Israel, was so in love with Rachel that he worked a total of 14 years for her father, who first tricked him into marrying Leah, but later gave him Rachel as well. And what about the patriarch Abraham. His wife Sarah's name meant princess. No one can argue that Song of Solomon is not one of the most romantic and poetic books in the Bible. And Jesus uses the analogy of the groom returning for his beloved bride to describe his second coming.

If you feel called to write Christian romance, do not be ashamed that you are not writing deep theology or delving into erudite explication of Scripture. Write from a basis of knowledge of God's word, experience, and heartfelt emotion.

Katherine McDermott

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Murder He Wrote by Joe Cosentino

I’ve watched every episode of Murder She Wrote, The Hardy Boys, The Nancy Drew Mysteries, Miami Vice, Hart to Hart, Moonlighting, and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. There’s nothing more fun than being faced with a murder, a group of suspects, a puzzle, and a time limit to guess whodunit and why. It sharpens the little gray cells and makes me feel warm and cozy. Add in exotic locations, romance, humor, and snappy dialogue and I’m in heaven.

So the next Jana Lane mystery, RAG DOLL, takes place in 1985 with Miami Vice and Murder She Wrote being all the rage on television. Jana stars in a new television mystery series, The Detective’s Wife, opposite Chris Bove, the hunky detective who got away in Satin Doll. Guest starring on the show is young ingénue Christa Bianca, a rags to riches story who has flooded the press. Life imitates television as Christa’s loved ones are murdered, and Christa and Jana could be next. Once again it’s up to Jana to use her knowledge from her days as America’s most famous child star and save the day before the lights fade to black.

Jana’s amazingly resilient, old world Hollywood, incredibly funny, and loyal agent, Simon Huckby, is back. The other suspects include Jason, the young prop man with a secret; bit players Karen and makeup girl Cindi who have their eyes on Christa’s guest starring role; two couples in supporting roles who have a conflict with Christa and Christa’s husband/manager, the domineering Andrew Bianca; Christa’s calculating agent Stu, and her Uncle Nick, trying to stay in show business on Christa’s coattails.
Christa is a beautiful, talented young woman who escaped her impoverished small town life and embarked on a successful film and television career. As one reviewer wrote, I used my knowledge of show business to devilish ends. Actually, I used my background in each of the Jana Lane novels, since I know the ins and outs on a movie set, television set, and theatre stage. Thankfully nobody was murdered on my shows. I’ve been told the television shooting sequences in RAG DOLL are realistic, exciting, and fun to read. I’m sure that’s because I know my way around a real television set, and I tried hard to incorporate that knowledge into those scenes.

Though Jana and Brian are happily married, you can’t blame Jana for being attracted to handsome, muscular, smart, food-addict Bove, starring opposite her in The Detective’s Wife. After what they’ve gone through together in Satin Doll, they can be totally honest with one another. Their banter is very funny but also warm and precious. Since Jana is not available, their attraction for each other needs to stay at bay, which is quite difficult for both of them at times. I think they put that frustrated energy into solving the case.

Once again as an actor in film, television, and theatre, working opposite stars like Bruce Willis, Nathan Lane, Rosie O’Donnell, Holland Taylor, and Jason Robards; I used my knowledge and experiences to write RAG DOLL. Again as an avid mystery buff myself, RAG DOLL is a page-turning mystery with clever plot twists, engaging characters, romance, and lots of clues leading to a surprising conclusion. Since coming from a funny Italian-American family, humor also plays role in the novel.

So settle back on the sofa, get the remote and popcorn, and turn on the television for the next Jana Lane mystery! BTW, I want to play Simon Huckby in the TV series!

 RAG DOLL, a Jana Lane mystery, published by The Wild Rose Press
by Joe Cosentino

Monday, November 14, 2016

Which Fictional Characters Best Reflect You?

Last month, one of my Facebook friends posted a challenge to come up with four fictional characters that I identified with. It was great fun putting my list together. You should try it. It's a great way to tell your readers more about who you are and what you enjoy reading or watching. I am a brand new cactus rose. Following are the ones I selected as most like me.

Jo March in the novel Little Women--Like Jo, I grew up in a financially challenged home. Jo works outside the home to help support her family. I worked at any job I could get—babysitter, tennis instructor, car hop, waitress, store clerk. Jo and I are both strong and determined; although I am better at controlling anger than she is. She spends some time in New York City. I worked there for twelve years during my thirties and forties. Jo is a writer. I am, too. It wasn't my profession, but I wish it had been.

Jing-mei Woo (June) in The Joy Luck Club—I remember identifying with June throughout the novel, notably when her mother praises her for never taking the best quality crab. I try to respect the needs and wants of others which includes bypassing crab claws for body meat, or taking the smallest piece of cake on the plate. Like June, I was pushed to excel (at school rather than piano). My mother and Suyuan Woo were both critical mothers. Mine was especially critical when it came to socially acceptable behavior and physical appearance. I came to realize this wasn’t because she was mean, but because she wanted the best for me and my sisters. I know she loved me, and I loved her with all my heart.

Mary Richards in “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”--A single woman who, at age 30, moves to Minneapolis after being jilted by her boyfriend of two years. I, a divorced woman of 30, moved to New York City after being cheated on by my husband of seven years. Mary ends up with a career in TV; whereas I worked in the apparel and cosmetics fields. Mary becomes friends with her next door neighbor in the boarding house she lives in. I became friends with one of my roommates in the New York apartment I rented. We are still friends to this day.

Anna from the movie “Frozen”--Although I am the oldest of three sisters rather than the younger of two, Anna is as devoted to her sister Elsa as I am to my sisters Karen and Susan. I am also optimistic and caring like she is and have her never-give-up attitude. I, too, was separated from my sisters for a long time, not because we had grown apart, but because I lived across the country for many years. Now we spend as much time together as we can.

Ginger Dehlinger

Monday, November 07, 2016

Secrets of Sandhill Island

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be - mountains, beach, desert, in the middle of a forest, or the heart of a big city? Many people would say the beach with the constant ebb and flow of the tide, sea birds screeching overhead, and the smell of saltwater.

In Secrets of Sandhill Island, Meg gave up her life in a big city for a tumble-down beach house on the shore that brought her happiness as a child.  It also gave her a chance to hide out from the high society world her father pushed her into.  The only thing in life precious to her besides her son, was her garden. She toiled in the dirt daily bringing forth life where once there was nothing.  She mixed the sandy soil with loamy topsoil and expanded her garden each year bringing forth more plants and beauty. The sound of the waves nourished her soul like the vegetables nourished her body. And she shared the garden’s bounty with her neighbors.

But life was not always so serene for Meg.  Her father, a tyrant who thought nothing of cheating his neighbors to feather his own nest, disapproved of her one true love, Evan.  Then Evan died, leaving her to raise their child alone.

Just as she had settled into her everyday life of growing and selling vegetables, along came Alex. A man with a past that might be the key to her future. He was an artist, fired from the university because of a fake sexual harassment charge, who wanted to paint her beach house. And then he found a new medium for his painting – organic – from her garden.

Set on a tiny tourist island off the coast of Corpus Christi, Sandhill Island has many secrets, and if you stick around long enough you’ll learn who holds the key to unlock them. Just as the secrets are heating up, so is hurricane season in the Gulf of Mexico. Secrets of Sandhill island is a mainstream suspense novel with plenty of twists and turns.
Secrets of Sandhill Island
by Peggy Chambers

Saturday, November 05, 2016

Hello Readers and Fans from Sandra Masters

The Duke's Magnificent Bastard has arrived worldwide as of November 4th, 2016! Get your copy for 1/2 off through Monday November 7th at The Wild Rose Press!

This months newsletter: Q & A with Sandra

Sandra_2014 50 percent pictureA (3) copy


What is the genre of your new story The Duke’s Magnificent Bastard?

Sandra: This novel is a multi-cultural Regency romance story of a seventeen-year-old Anglo-West Indian bastard, Thorn Wick, now acknowledged by his father, The Duke of Althorn, who was never made aware of his birth. Our hero admires the ward of his father from afar, an aristocratic flirtatious English lady, Alicia, who has designs on him until the reality of loving Thorn too much almost destroys her. Throw in our noble Duke, an evil witch doctor, a Barbados tribal chieftain intent on redemption, horse racing for the Regent, amazing “heavenly” Argamak Turkmen horses, a conspiracy to bring down the monarchy, and our plot thickens. Lust, desire, passion all conflict to epic proportions. Honor, truth, and justice test his values. Just when he starts to believe in fairy tales, another obstacle looms to thwart his plans. And then there’s love!

Where did you get the idea for this story?

Sandra: Ever since I can remember, the subject of bastardy fascinated. I read John Jakes eight-book series that spanned generations and centuries and decided I wanted to create a ‘magnificent’ bastard of my own.

How does Thorn react to the stigma?

Sandra: Yanked from the West Indies, the half-breed, is transported to London, England where he is considered illegitimate. Can anyone imagine the emotions that consumed him? Except for the noble duke’s recognition and that of the family who supports him, acceptance though difficult is made easier. Thorn fights against all the odds. He wants to be regarded as an honorable man, like his father.

Prepare to be transported from island life in Barbados to aristocratic England and then back to Barbados where stunning revelations wrack our hero’s world.

What stunning revelations?

Sandra: Without spoiling the story for readers, all I can say is that there is a native uprising against foreign plantation owners, the discovery of the truth about Thorn’s mother’s death, and a flight to save his life as he swims out to a waiting ship bound for England and a bad storm.

Why did you decide to write Regency Romance?

Sandra: I was an only child whose parents both worked. Before and after school, I was alone, and the only reading materials my parents had was the book Heidi and The Encyclopedia Britannica. You can imagine that the Encyclopedia was dry reading. History intrigued me, particularly the historical period of the Regency era. At the age of thirteen, after a brief stint in a convent in New Jersey, I accepted that the life of a novice nun was not my calling. Interestingly, when I arrived there in Morristown, the convent was an old historical mansion with parquet floors and grand staircases, not to mention a soaring ceiling, usually found in Regency mansions.

My first task was to wash the parquet floors, dry them, polish with a special formula, and then shine them. But that was not the reason I left. It had to do with a glass of evaporated milk. No cookie could disguise the taste at the 3:30 afternoon sessions. I pleaded not to be forced to drink the odiferous liquid, but I was to be an example. I drank it, threw up on the Sister’s garment, and then requested I go home to my parents. My reckoning was simple. If I was meant to be a nun most surely the milk would not be a problem. In those days the convents had strict rules, and they did their best to train and teach us, but my heart was elsewhere.

Visions of dukes, duchesses, viscounts, earls, danced in my head. So I kept on writing. I sometimes think that in another life, I was born during the Regency period. I’ve never created a duke I couldn’t love.

Online classes, seminars, conferencing, monthly meetings, networking, etc. over the past five years made me realize I had to study the craft. Decades later, when I decided that to see my name in print was a goal before I left the planet, I broke through the ceiling. My debut novel was Once Upon a Duke, released July 14, 2015. I’ve been on a marvelous journey ever since, with my fourth book in The Duke Series whose release date is November 4, 2016, The Duke’s Magnificent Bastard.

When do you write?

Sandra: Writing to me is not a pastime or a way to make money, it is an obsession. I write ten to twelve hours a day, every day, and then I read in the wee time of a morning, which doesn’t leave too much time to clean the house. The dust puppies will always be there.

About The Duke’s Magnificent Bastard

After three years in England, Thorn Wick, the duke’s bastard son, perfectly flawed, still fights for acceptance in his father’s world as a renowned golden horse trainer. Just when he starts to believe in fairy tales, another obstacle looms to thwart his plans.

Alicia Montgomery, ward of the duke, is in love with Thorn. Strong willed and adventurous, she determines she can convince him to admit his feelings until the reality of loving Thorn too much almost destroyed her.

On a dangerous mission to Barbados at the request of his father, Thorn is stunned when secrets are revealed about his mother. Will Thorn extract revenge for the foul deed?

Can Alicia quell Thorn’s demons and prove to him love can pave the way to their happiness?

Can Thorn relinquish his past because he now has a present and a future? Will he accept the man he has become? Will he return to his father and Alicia and fulfill their destiny?

About the Author

From a humble beginning in Newark, NJ, retired business executive Sandra Masters had a short stay at a convent in Morristown, NJ, to the board rooms of NYC to the ballrooms of the Regency period. Spicy Sensual Seduction with Swagger.


THE DUKE’S MAGNIFICENT BASTARD  is available now at as of November 4th.  If you have any questions, simply email me at: I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

Sandra Masters

Sandra Master's Novels:
Once Upon a Duke, Debut Book

My Divinely Decadent Duke, Book 2
Thorn, Son of a Duke at 99 cents - Prequel Teaser, Book 3 (A must read before you buy book 4.)
The Duke's Magnificent Bastard
Book 4, releases worldwide on November 4, 2016, and reunites many of the characters in Book 2, MY DIVINELY DECADENT DUKE. Stunning events have happened to affect the future of the dynasty.  Consider it a family reunion.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

How much fiction is autobiographical? by Beverly Breton

We all know there's truth in fiction. But don't we want to know specifics? What is autobiographical in this particular story? Read on, and find out!

Under A Halloween Moon
opens up with Annika and her five-year-old daughter Mindy on a windy overcast day at a town Halloween parade that finishes in a town park where families visit over hot chocolate and donuts. TRUE. I took my son to this exact parade when we lived in western Pennsylvania.

Attending the parade is Robin Hood on a horse. TRUE. Where we lived had enough undeveloped areas that a few people still had acres of land, and horses. One of these men dressed up in full Robin Head regalia and rode his white horse in the parade.

Annika, Mindy, and her friend Livvy ooh and ah over a baby costumed as a flower in a terra cotta pot. TRUE. This baby won one of the costume awards at the parade I went to…beyond adorable.

The fiction starts when single mother Annika locks gazes with Livvy’s single father Cameron. He’s an architect, but what's TRUE here is that I have always been attracted to architect’s handwriting. So I’m giving my hero a sexy head start for any notes he’s going to write to the heroine!

I hope you’ll pick up with Cam and Annika and Mindy and Livvy and find out what else is in store for the four of them as a magical Halloween weekend unfolds…

Under A Halloween Moon
Beverly Breton

Friday, October 28, 2016

Living with Ghosts by Heather McCollum

Hello everyone! I write light paranormal romance, both historical romance (The Dragonfly Chronicles) and YA paranormal romance. I love the idea of magic in the world, especially the kind that exists right under our noses where everyday people, too wrapped up in their idea of reality, miss it. I am a relatively average mom of three, ovarian cancer ass-kicker, creative wife (wink, wink), author of romance, and lover of chai lattes. I also totally believe in ghosts, mostly because I lived in a haunted house for five years.

Yes, really!

I’m an only child and my parents divorced when I was nine. My dad moved to Virginia. He loved, and still loves, “fixer uppers” which is why he bought an abandoned house. I first came to see “the mansion” when I was twelve years old. The grass around the two-story, slate-roof house stood to my waist. A sloping wrap-around porch had turned completely gray and loose boards along it could swallow your foot if you weren’t careful. The clapboard paint was peeling but looked like it had once been white. A huge barn sat, its middle sinking like a swayback horse, in the yard. We didn’t go in that first evening because the paperwork hadn’t been signed yet, so I stared at the vacant, dark windows that reminded me of assessing eyes. Yeah, I was spooked, but Dad was so excited about the house and its history that I agreed it was beautiful.
The house had been built in three parts, the oldest being up front, sitting just a few steps from the narrow dirt road winding before it. This part of the house was built before the Civil War. It was the manor house of a small plantation, and unlike many others in the area, it hadn’t been burned to the ground because it was used for a short while as a hospital for the soldiers. My dad gleefully showed me several regimental-looking buttons that he’d unearthed in the basement.

The first time I stepped into the house I stood stunned, staring at the terrible graffiti that had been painted across the walls by vagrants who’d used the empty house for who knows what. Swastikas and profanity yelled back at me from warped, horse-hair plaster walls. While Dad mowed the foot-tall grass with a hand mower, I was supposed to sweep the floor and wash down the walls so we could paint them. The electricity had yet to be turned on in the house. I pushed the broom around in that silent room while the sun set outside. All I could hear was the whir of Dad’s mower as it choked through the grass and the broom bristles scratching the wood floor.

I stilled like a panicked bird as cold enveloped the room. Goosebumps prickled up all over my arms and I felt…anger. No ghostly howls came from the staircase in the hall, no chains shook, no television turned fuzzy (maybe it would have had there been one). But I had the overwhelming feeling that someone or something wanted me to “Get out!”

So I got out, running straight off the porch to my dad and refusing to go back in until he had electricity. Luckily by the time I turned fourteen and moved in with my dad and stepmother, he had electricity and running water and even a room for me. Guess where my bedroom was? In the oldest part of the house of course. We seemed to attract stray dogs, so we had five. One small Benji-looking dog was mine. Since I was an only child, and my dad and stepmother left at 5:30 AM and returned home at 7:00 PM, I was alone most of the time. Just me and my dogs and…

It became pretty apparent that something was going on in the house. All of us would hear footsteps going up the worn wooden stairs that led to the hall just outside my room. We’d hear the unplugged vacuum cleaners rolling on the wood floor at night and find it on the other end of the hall in the morning. The dogs would stare together at a single corner, tipping their heads in unison and whining.
“What? What is it!?” I’d yell, but they never told me. Once I woke up for no apparent reason to see my little dog whining at something in the shadowed corner of my room. Then she jumped up on my bed and dove under the covers. I joined her there until morning.

I had a friend sleep over. I didn’t tell her about the weird sounds in the house because I didn’t want to scare her off. We started hearing the rattling downstairs hours after my parents had gone to bed. I told her to stay put. I walked down the dark stairs into the dining room (yes, also in the oldest part of the house). Silence sat with the moon beams coming through the naked windows, as if waiting for me. Then suddenly all the china in the glass hutch began to vibrate in their little stands. Nothing else moved in the room, but all the china quivered, making a ringing noise. I was literally petrified, couldn’t move until it stopped and I ran back upstairs. Throughout the night I kept hearing it, but never again after that night.

Occasionally doors would open on their own, reminding me that we were sharing our home, but there were no more angry feelings. In fact I began to feel like the ghosts (as we felt there were more than one, not sure why) were looking out for me. Perhaps once they realized we weren’t there to harm the house further, they accepted us.

They certainly didn’t accept one of my boyfriends. Poor Mark. One night we had a fight. I remember him saying “fine, then I’m leaving.” I didn’t want him to go and perhaps the ghosts could see it in my face. As Mark strode to the door of the room (old houses seem to have doors on every room, no open floor plans), the door, which was standing open about three feet, slammed in his face. Well, now!
After that Mark wouldn’t leave my side when he visited. When I had to use the bathroom, he’d stay just outside the door. LOL! One night as he was leaving, very late after my folks were asleep, I stood on the front porch waving. He stopped his car, stared at me with huge eyes and then peeled out of the driveway, his tires spitting gravel. The next day I asked him what the hell he’d been doing as he’d woken my dad.

“Was your dad wearing white and standing on a chair right behind you when I was leaving?”
“Uh, no.”
“That’s why I left. The ghost was watching me leave.”
“And you just left me there?!”
“They like you!” was his defense.

Well, yes, that was true. They did like me. They looked out for me, perhaps even growing attached to me. When I was packing up to go away to college, they were quite unhappy. I had a music box with a porcelain doll holding a miniature bird cage on top of it. For two nights before I left for the University of Maine, starting around 2AM, I would wake up to my music box singing and the doll’s coiffed head tipping and tilting on its gears. Yes, every hour on the hour, those pranksters wound up my music box and I’d have to listen to it until it wound down. I had already learned to sleep with my head under the pillows from years of freaky night noises. Perfect preparation for dorm life.

The first time I came home from college, the electricity just happened to be off only in MY room. I had been away, living with real people with no ghosts around, for months. When I walked into my totally black room, I felt what I can only call a presence or pressure, like someone was in the corner.

“I’m not used to you anymore. I’m sorry, but you’re scaring me,” I said. “I think you should move on or whatever you need to do to leave this house. I’m going back downstairs and when I come back in five minutes, I’d really like it if you were gone.” I threw in a “in the name of Jesus Christ” just in case and left. When I came back up, the pressure seemed to be gone. The next day my dad found the wire that had mysteriously come undone in the wall. After that Dad said he didn’t really hear anything from our ghosts. The footsteps up the stairs to my room had faded away.

Maybe I should hire myself out for exorcisms or something. Since then my dad has sold the house and a lovely family lives there. They have not heard nor seen anything unusual. I’m glad that the ghosts, perhaps of those soldiers (although I sensed a female at times, I mean what guy would bother to vacuum?), moved on to wherever their spirits were supposed to go. I will certainly always remember them. They have influenced me in so many ways, in my writing, my ability to consider the unusual, and my conviction that there are magical things in this world if we are willing to open our eyes and “see” them.
Have you ever experienced something you can’t explain? Do tell : )

Heather McCollum
Romance Wrapped in Magic
A picture of the house as it looks today is at the beginning of my book trailer for my YA paranormal romance, SIREN’S SONG

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Writing A Series by Kate Loveday

When I finished writing my first novel I had no idea to write either historical fiction or a series. However, we had moved to an area on the mid-north coast of New South Wales, an area that figured prominently in the early days of Australian colonization, and I became interested in its history.

This led me to explore the attitudes towards women in the nineteenth century, and I decided that my next book must be about the life of a woman in that era, when women had few rights and were dominated by men. I determined that my character would be a spirited woman who did not take kindly to subjugation. Then I began to look at the attitudes towards women over the years, and decided it would be interesting to do stories of three generations of women – mother, daughter and grand-daughter – spanning the second half of the nineteenth century and up to the end of the flapper era. Would the patronizing attitudes of men towards women have altered? And how would women change? I realized it could not be told in a single book, and decided it would be in a series of three books, one for each generation. So far so good.
What I did not realize was the problems posed to writers of series.

The first book, "A Woman of Spirit", was straightforward. The main character, Kitty, lived her life in the book and when book# one ended, she had a daughter, Joy, who was a baby. Now, I had to continue Kitty’s story in book# two, so I couldn’t just start it when Joy was a grown woman, too much time would have passed.
First problem – how to cover the years as Joy grows from child to young woman, and hold the reader’s interest. Not an easy task. She went to school. She learned to ride and developed a love of horses. Not riveting phases of her life. So book# two," In Search of Love", continued Kitty’s story, and covered Joy’s life from age thirteen to young womanhood, a period when every young woman’s thoughts turn to love and, eventually, to marriage.

Second problem, as time passes there is the continuation of characters, and how they change as they were affected by the changing history of the times. I thought I knew my characters well but when it came to writing scenes I realized there were so many small details to remember, particularly with places and minor characters. How exactly had I described Lady Barron? Craddock? Harry Osborne? Which hotel in Sydney had Kitty stayed in? Minor points perhaps but important.

With a series there is always the question of how much to explain in the second, and subsequent, books in case readers start with that one first. Each book must be able to stand alone as well as being read in sequence, but it’s hard to do that without boring readers of the first book. Finding the balance between these needs is challenging. Each book must have its own plot, its own characters, including some from previous books, and its own changing tensions. But it must still relate to the preceding story, and answer the questions left unanswered at the end of that book, and, if you want readers keen to continue the saga, to have its own problems unresolved at the end.

When I finished "In search of Love", which is due to be published soon, I knew it was time to get on with book# three, but already I could see that the planned trilogy would not be enough if I was to fulfill my original intention.
Now that book# three, "An Ambitious Woman", is finished I am already thinking ahead to book # four. And will that be enough? Only time will tell.

Kate Loveday

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Devour your Romance- Halloween Sale on The Dressmaker's Duke

 Rhys Merrick, Duke of Roydan, is determined to be the antitheses of his depraved father, repressing his desires so severely he is dubbed "the Monk" by Society. But when Olivia Weston turns up demanding payment for gowns ordered by his former mistress, Rhys is totally flummoxed and inexplicably smitten. He pays her to remove her from his house, and mind. But logic be damned, he must have this fiercely independent woman.

Olivia's greatest fear is becoming a kept woman. She has escaped the role of mistress once and vows never to be owned by any man. Rather than make money in the boudoir, she chooses to clothe the women who do. But when a fire nearly kills her friend and business partner, Olivia's world goes up in smoke and she is forced to barter with the lofty duke.

As their lives weave together, Olivia unravels the man underneath the Monk, while Rhys desires to expose the lady hiding behind the dressmaker. Will his raw passion fan a long-buried ember of hope within her? Can this mismatched pair be the perfect fit?

On sale for .99 cents
at all major online retailers including Amazon


She knew he was tall. Any fool could see the man was at least two or more inches over six feet, but from this vantage point—directly beneath him—he was so very tall. She could smell the starch of his shirt mixed with a faint whiff of smoke and possibly brandy. She slid her gaze over the shirt and waistcoat to his cravat—a conservatively tied Oriental—to the firm, slightly cleft chin, moving on to the lips, very swiftly past those, and finally resting on his eyes. Pure molten gold. Yes, exactly like those of the Burmese tiger she had seen at a menagerie in Paris. His bearing was just as predatory.

“It would appear, sir, in order for me to move, as you require, you will have to bestir yourself as well.”

She thought she saw one side of his mouth shift ever so slightly upward into what might have been the merest twitch of a smile. She could not be one hundred percent sure because, to do so, she would have to look at his lips. The duke shifted his weight and made a small bow. Her shoulder brushed the superfine of his midnight blue jacket as she hurriedly squeezed past him.

She strode almost to the mirrors before wheeling around and giving him what she hoped was an accusatory look.

“Well, Your Grace. I hope you are satisfied.”

“Satisfied, Mrs. Weston?” He raised that infernal eyebrow. “Oh no, madam, I am very far from satisfied. However, I am hopeful I will be, in the not so distant future.” Again his gaze raked over her. “Yes, I do live in hope.”