Friday, October 20, 2017

In the garden with Lynn Turner

Welcome Lynn Turner

Lynn, do you plot or let the story unfold as you write?

Both. Before I start a story, I have at least the major scenes (conflict/ love scenes/ big emotional moments) in mind, but no clue how I’ll get to them, lol. I’ll have the dots, basically, and the lines connecting the dots unfold as I write.

Do you research your sex scenes?

 I research EVERYTHING. Hahaha. I’m obsessive about it. For sex scenes, I don’t research the mechanics, but I think a lot about the buildup to the moment, where it will happen, the tone (i.e. angsty, funny, cute, intense) and in whose point of view.

How did you come up with the title?

This was one of my favorite parts of the process! I wanted a clever title related to distance, because it’s a long-distance love story. I loved Between You and Me, because it’s a play on the distance aspect, the developing romance, and Finn’s “stunning secret.”

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

NOPE! And it makes me really happy, lol. This might sound preachy (not sorry), but diversity isn’t hard to write, nor is it trendy. It just…IS. There doesn’t NEED to be a message to justify the existence of marginalized people. Just write them! I promise we have more commonalities than differences, and if a writer is nervous about writing someone of another ethnicity, faith, socioeconomic background, orientation, etc... find someone with one or all of those identities and ask allll the questions. It's just research, really, and as writers, we're good at research. 😉 (That prooobably wasn't the point of the question, but my brain is hard-wired for activism. I promise I'm not a drag at parties. Haha.)

What are your current projects?

I’m almost finished with a dance/ ballet/ Broadway romance between a black French prima ballerina and a dancer/playwright/choreographer from the Bronx. It was partially inspired by Misty Copeland’s documentary “A Ballerina’s Tale,” and the enemies-to-lovers romantic comedy movie, “The Cutting Edge.” I’m having SO much fun with it!

Tell us more about you

Who do you see as a hero in your life?

My undergrad academic adviser, who pushed me to complete my STEM degree when I wanted to quit and study creative writing. She said, “You can do ANYTHING with a science degree. You’re already a writer. Nothing will make you more creative than understanding the world and how it works.” Of course, writing isn’t just getting ideas on paper—it’s so much more than that, but I think my adviser was onto something. 😊

You can erase one embarrassing experience from your past. What will it be?

I was a super late bloomer, and by fourteen, “mosquito bites” wouldn’t even describe my boobs. They were like, gnat bites. So, I’d cut the shoulder pads from my grandma’s blazer and stuffed my bra with them. At some point during ninth grade English, one of them slipped out. Thankfully, my mortification was limited to the nice girl sitting next to me, who discreetly picked it up and returned it to me. I still wish I had the flashy thingy Will Smith’s character used in Men in Black to erase people’s memories. Lol.

Are you jealous of other writers?

I don't know if it's jealousy or just a deep admiration for their talent. It can be intimidating sometimes, but I try to single out what I admire about those writers and see how to hone those skills myself. Also, reading works by those authors is a GREAT cure for writer's block.

What makes you laugh?

My kids, my husband…spontaneous, totally-not-meant-to-be-funny things…things that make me uncomfortable (defense mechanism), anything written by Penny Reid...

What is your favorite comfort food?


Where can we find out more about your and your books?

Goodreads -

Title of current release: Between You and Me

To purchase Lynn's current release, click here.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

A Surprising Collaboration

What do you think of the young woman you once were? Do you respect her? Do you like her? Is
there anything she wants to tell you? Anything she wants you to do for her?

Until the last few years, I didn’t give much consideration to my young-adult self because, to be honest, I didn’t much respect her. I discounted her importance in my life.

Why didn’t I respect her? Well… she was young. She didn’t know much. She had some priorities I don’t agree with.

For example: she often confused the desire to be loved with actual love. That confusion got us into some relationships that now seem like a waste of time. She valued other people’s opinions too highly. She didn’t know how to take care of herself, and not taking care of her self meant not taking care of me. I’m kind of mad at her for that. She put everyone else’s needs ahead of her own.

I know what she would say in her defense. She was a teenager—of course teenage girls are all about what others think of them—and then she was the mother of young children. Mothers have to put their kids’ needs first, right? Yes, right, I get that. Also (more of her defense) she and my husband had a business that needed attention 24/7. I should be thanking her (she would say) for her hard work, because it contributed to the financial security that gives me time to write now. Well, yes, but still…
My kids are grown now, and I’m retired—except for this writing thing—so it’s easier for me to define and enforce boundaries than it was for her, but really I don’t think she even knew what boundaries were, and I don’t think she knew she deserved to have some.

Anyway, this young woman from whom I’ve been somewhat estranged, had at least one passion that was so strong she found time to indulge it. She wanted to be a writer. She wrote a few magazine articles that were published; she wrote a sort of Erma-Bombeckish weekly gardening column in the local newspaper; and she drafted three romance novels.

I have to admire her for that. When she drafted those novels, she was living in a one-room cabin with two small bedrooms for the children partitioned off behind the wood stove. (The bedroom she shared with our husband was an open loft above the rest of the cabin.) So she had no privacy, no quiet, and no time to herself. Still, she wrote. She wrote until one day the other demands on her time were just too great. She stashed all her manuscripts in a banana box and put them in the garden shed.

Those three unfinished novels sat in that banana box and were moved to various basements, attics and garages over a period of twenty-five years until a year and a half ago when I decided to dig them out and have a look at them.

I’d just finished work on a non-fiction book, Touching Bellies, Touching Lives (published under my married name, Judy Gabriel), and I missed writing, so I thought I’d see about those unfinished novels. The box was brim full with so many revisions all thrown in randomly, it was hard to see what I had. There were a few 3 ¼-inch disks (for those of you too young to remember, 3 1/4-inch disks were standard back then) at the bottom of the box. I bought a drive for those disks and began trying to sort through my old work.

It was odd to experience my material almost as if it had been written by someone else. I was impressed with Young-Me’s story-telling ability, but still I thought I could probably write better than she could. (Part of my lack of respect for her.) So I put the banana box back in the garage and began writing one of the stories again from scratch.
About thirty pages into the effort I was reminded that crafting a story is hard work. I decided I didn’t want to do that work all over again if I didn’t have to, so I went back to the old manuscript. My book, Escape from Behruz, published by The Wild Rose Press last spring, is the original story, as written by Young-Me, tweaked and in parts rewritten by Now-Me.

What happened while I worked with Young-Me’s writing is that I developed new respect for her. She wrote a beautiful story, one that only she could have envisioned. (Also, she was just back from living, working, and having a baby (!) in the Middle East, which is where the story is set, so the setting was fresh in her mind.) I love the story, and I came to love her for giving it to me. I realized I owed it to her to finish Escape from Behruz. When she packed those pages into that banana box, she was counting on me to do that for her someday.

So I did. I think we worked well together, she and I. When I hold the book in my hands now, I’m proud of what we achieved.

I’ve just finished a sequel, Midwife in Behruz (The Wild Rose Press, Nov. 1, 2017). This second book was written entirely by the woman I am now, but it would never have been conceived were it not for the inspiration I got from the woman I was then. I thank her for that gift.

There were two other novel-length manuscripts in that banana box. One, although it has some merits, doesn’t interest me now. The other one, however, a story set in Mexico, is lovely. So there’s one more manuscript written by Young-Me waiting for my attention.

I’ll have one more collaboration with the young woman who grew up to be me: one more opportunity to know her and grow my respect for her and integrate her better into my life.

Judy Meadows

Escape from Behruz on Sale now for .99 at Amazon, Nook, and Itunes

Monday, October 16, 2017

Review:A Sweeter Spot

A spunky Librarian,  a former foot-ball star with a tween daughter, a status conscious grandmother, and an ex-fiance anyone would drop like a hot potato.
These are the main stars in Donna Simmonetta’s newest release from The Wild Rose Press, A SWEETER SPOT.

Magda “Maggie” Horvath bolts from her NY home and job when she discovers her fiancé is doing the nasty with someone else. In all truth, Maggie’s never real felt she and Pierce were going to get a happily ever after of their own, but her domineering and social status conscious grandmother – who’s also Maggie’s employer – pushed the two into an engagement that was more a merger than a marriage.

So Maggie does the run-away-bride-to-be thing and lands in River’s Bend, Virginia to help her old college chum, Bethanne, who’s laid up on bed rest while pregnant. Beth’s the town librarian and Maggie agrees to run the library until Beth has the baby and in back on her feet. Beth’s husband has a business partner, Jeff ( the ex footballer) who’s more than a little gobsmacked when he meets Maggie. Jeff’s got a tween daughter, Samantha, and he’s always been worried about bringing any new females around his daughter. But when his attraction to Maggie makes him start rethinking that, Jeff makes his move.

Maggie’s ex, Piece the Prick, is not only a cheater, he’s a drug abuser. He needs to marry Maggie to settle some very extensive debts, and her leaving is in no way going to stop that marriage. Armed with a pistol and a serious drug habit, he follows her to River’s Bend.

I hate spoilers, so I won’t tell you what happens, but will Maggie and Jeff have a shot at true love? Will her obnoxious grandmother ever see her for the person she is and not some substitute for Maggie’s own mother? Will Pierce get his comeuppance?
All questions you’ll have to read this delightful book to find out.

I truly enjoyed A SWEETER SPOT. It was the perfect mix of romance, a little suspense, and a
whole lotta emotional growth on everyone’s part – my favorite kind of romance!

Do yourself a favor and get a copy. Then settle onto an old chair, get a cup of tea, and feel the warmth and love that flows through this book.

***I was given an arc of this book for an honest opinion and my humble, honest opinion is that it’s a goodie! 

Peggy Jaeger Writing about strong women, the families who support them, and the men who can't live without them. |

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Review: The Fountain of Youth

Posted with permission from Midwest Book Reviews

MBR Bookwatch: October 2017
James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive, Oregon, WI 53575
Donovan's Bookshelf
It's rare that romance novels include more than surface passions, and even less common that they embrace issues of dementia, moral and ethical questions, medical conundrums, or the struggles of Alzheimer's patients. Mix all these issues with love and you have a strange blend, indeed.
But one of the special features of The Fountain of Youth lies in its ability to deftly weave all these seemingly-disparate threads into a unified, precise, memorable story line, making it a top recommendation for not just romance readers, but anyone interested in issues of aging, changed capabilities, and the impact a small thing (such as quiz book) can have in one's life.
In this case, narrator Robert Glickman is determined to defy a family history of dementia and his seemingly-inevitable decline by using a quiz book to test his facilities so he can do something about any decline before it really takes hold. In the meantime, he also lives life in Youth Fountain Senior Living Facility (termed "The Fountain of Youth" by its residents - an aptly named old folks' home, where he has an apartment), holds an infatuation with a retired therapist, faces a neurotic and mentally declining sister, confronts a possible hiding Nazi, and interacts with a host of characters who each struggle with their own uncertain lives.
The characters who inhabit The Fountain of Youth are somewhat reminiscent to those in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, minus much of the insanity. They are quirky, obstinate, sometimes defiant personalities who have their own perspectives of their pasts, presents and futures; yet are somewhat to fully cognizant of the fact that the Fountain offers anything but youth or longevity - only a relatively safe haven at the end of the long road of life.
As events and lives unfold, the unexpected happens: Robert's gruff, observational voice becomes a compelling chronicler of the process of facing not only imminent mortality, but the decline of one's connections to life itself. What opens as and seems like an observational piece about an increasingly limited world and abilities becomes a special window into the hearts, minds, and ethical issues facing the aging and those around them at the end of life.
Who has power and control over one's life? What happens when circumstance limits, then takes away, not only abilities, but personalities? The psychological depth belays any possible description of The Fountain of Youth as a romance novel. While many a reader may pick up the story for this element, most will be delightfully surprised at the depth offered by the evolving story, the quirky and fun personalities revealed behind the closed doors of an elderly facility, and especially the story's important message about the right to live - and die - on one's own terms.
What begins as a seeming romance or institutional probe becomes something much more: a compelling, engrossing story fueled by the passions, perspectives, and worries of Robert as he seeks to take back power in his world, keep his promises, and exert control over his own destiny and the quandaries life and death poses. It's very highly recommended for audiences seeking depth and insights from fictional stories.

Diane C. Donovan, Senior Reviewer
Donovan's Literary Services

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Traveling in Australia

While flipping through some photos I came upon a file marked “OUR TRAVELS.
It was like a trip down memory lane, and I thought I’d share some with you in the next few weeks. I hope you enjoy them.

Here is the first.

Life on the road is fun. Two people, a caravan, a car, the open road. No worries, no commitments,
As novice caravanners, we had just made the big decision to retire and take to the road. We left Sydney and headed north along the Pacific Highway with a 7.3metre van, setting out on our big adventure; to see Australia with a large van and two small dogs.
Mimi was a 14-year-old miniature poodle. She had been our good mate for ten years, since we rescued her from the pound. The day we brought her home she was frightened, in need of a bath, and had a red and green ball clamped in her mouth. Her “security blanket"
I decided to nurse her on the trip home. She looked at me with trust in her eyes, put her head on my shoulder and cuddled up to me. She won my heart then and was able to wrap me around her little paw from then on. “Saved from death row,” said my friend Maria, “to live a life of luxury.

Lucy was a four year old Maltese-Shizu whom we inherited when she was two and had grown to love equally with Mimi. The two were good pals but Mimi never left any doubt as to who was top dog, a fact reluctantly accepted by Lucy.

On our second day out of Sydney we approached the White Albatross Caravan Park at Nambucca Heads. It had been a fast learning curve; travelling with a large and unfamiliar rig on one of the busiest highways in Australia. Now we looked forward to a few quiet days in this peaceful spot.

The entrance to the caravan park is not well marked. Peter mistook the turn off and went straight onto the fishing area next door; a narrow wharf with sea ahead, fence on the left and a row of cars parked on the right. No room to turn. No option but to reverse 500 metres. Not an easy task with only two days experience at maneuvering this leviathan!
With me, rookie navigator, trying to guide him in a straight line while two dogs barked encouragement from the back seat he finally extricated us from the dead end. When we reached our site and unhitched the van, he mopped his brow. “Well, I guess the locals enjoyed watching that and had a good laugh.”
A little later, Peter was chatting to another vanner, who remarked, “By the way, I must thank you for winning me $10.”
“Really? How come?”
“A group of us were watching from the tavern upstairs when you came in, and took the wrong road. It was obvious you were fairly new to backing a van. There was a lot of banter as to whether you’d be able to back up and turn or not. I bet $10 you’d make it. Thanks for that.”

Well, the only thing dented was Peter’s pride.

After our eventful day we both looked forward to a good night’s sleep. We settled down happily. But. Lucy decided in the wee hours that she needed to go outside.
Peter took her out and, after she had attended to her needs, he was shepherding her back inside when disaster struck. In the next van lived a fox terrier that chose just that moment to also heed the call of nature. He came past to our van, a situation not to be tolerated by Lucy.
With a loud bark, she decided to chase him away. Away they both went. How those dogs could run! We hadn’t nicknamed Lucy ‘the pocket rocket’ for nothing. Through the park those two dogs tore, calls from their masters totally ignored. In and out between the vans. What fun!
Finally two angry and flustered men collared their dogs and shoved them inside. Lucy happily settled down to sleep away the rest of the night, but we heard that foxie barking for the next hour.

I told you life on the road is fun!
A Woman of Spirit
just follow the sun and your own inclinations.

Monday, October 09, 2017


“My avocation was a spark ignited by sugar.”

Remember Candy Dots? Sometimes called buttons, those little rows of rainbow sugar were easily peeled off long white strips of paper. (I always ate the cherry rows first.) Penny candy and nickel chocolate bars were sweet rewards in my childhood. Neighborhood Groceries or “Dimestores” displayed glass canisters of candy that could be scooped into little bags for little cravers deliberating over choices like Atomic Fireballs, Tootsie rolls, Root Beer Barrels, Sugar Babies, Blackjack Gum, and Taffy squares in four flavors. I was lucky to get my fix for a dime…at a little red brick store
about half way (six blocks) between home and school. (Yes, I once walked a mile for a two cent box of candy cigarettes.)

So, as my mouth is now under construction for implants with three dead molars needing replacement, I’m shamed into recall. Did the origin of my porcelain decline begin with a landmark splurge after winning my first writing contest at age ten? A Western Union Telegram (remember them?) notified me of my win. A five dollar prize in the hands of a ten year old with a sweet tooth was dangerous. I blew it on Candy Buttons.

The win propelled a normally shy little redhead to the front of her class for Show and Tell. I like to imagine classmates were more awed by telegram proof of my new literary status than the candy strips I distributed.

Decades later, as I prepare a power point presentation for Book Clubs and organizations interested in the novel journey of a writer with a crammed portfolio and sore gums, I am reminded of those Candy Buttons and what literary lessons I might salvage from that bittersweet splurge:
Everybody loves a winner! True. It is easier to get noticed when you can show you have some credible awards and great reviews. This requires losing enough humility to put yourself out there. I try to do a lot of 21st century Show and Tell now that I’m an award-winning author working on my fourth book.

Marketing means spending to receive! So true. Candy was once a sweet incentive to grow attention. Not so much today. Adult readers in a market with more supply than demand crave discounts, free books, gift certificates or even trendy gadgets to win their attention. Book parties--online and off--feature incentive give-a-ways to promote a book. However, the price of those give-a-ways and necessary ads, as well as review and promo services, can take a bittersweet bite out of royalties. New novelists are like minnows swallowed up by bigger fish with a publisher or a unique platform that attracts schools of followers. I think of “50 Shades of Gray”—and turn 50 shades of green over the 16,000 reviews it garnered and how the book saved a Publishing House. No candy or freebies required?

Creative people need to promote creatively! Right. When a promotion works well, writers are encouraged to repeat the success and always think outside the box. Candy Buttons inspired celebrity a half century ago. Are they still sold—like candy cigarettes and tootsie rolls? I check online and find Minnesota’s largest candy store (a 90 minute drive away) sells new and nostalgic candy. In a historic town closer to home, I find a chocolate shop that also sells Candy Buttons. Five packages for $6.00 inflates the childhood price by about 1000%. Still, it’s a small price to pay for renewed celebrity and more readers. When I present my “Novel Road” power point to Book Clubs and aspiring authors, I’ll have a sweet reminder to give away with bookmark swag. It feels right—a nostalgic treat to promote a taste for my nostalgic brand of fiction.

“Sweet!” My eight-year-old granddaughter approves the idea with a high five and a toothy grin white as chicklets. She loves to read, but actually prefers veggies.

Cj Fosdick still craves chocolate, but gleans sweet rewards from her Romantic Suspense/Time Travel and
novel series that began with “The Accidental Wife.” Follow her on FB, Goodreads,

Friday, October 06, 2017

Sometimes It Is All About The Destination

The day we arrived in Charleston she was underwater, as she often was, after every drenching summer rain. It was disconcerting, dodging the hordes of tourists, umbrellas braced against the downpour, winding our way around knee deep water at every intersection. Charleston, I’d thought, would be a proper setting for my story, rich with history and culture, but looking around at the drenched crowd, now I wasn’t so sure. Scouring the travel logs, it had seemed far more exotic than rural, dusty Ohio (although the two ended up melding seamlessly into not dissimilar small towns).
Charleston, it turned out, had everything I was looking for, and I was hoping for just a little bit of this city to rub off on me, so I could take it home and pour all her little details back into my story. I hadn’t expected the cobblestone streets, or the crushing crowds, the smell of horses mixed with sweat, or how close the stately mansions were to the Battery. Or how close the ocean was to everything. Experiencing this first hand changed everything in the book in subtle ways. In better ways.

I discovered some great new settings for book two; King Street shopping area was trendy and busy and I’d have never thought to include it in a book unless I’d actually walked up and down it. Standing on the Battery at sunrise helped me fine tune my character’s reaction during a confrontation she had on that very site. The wedding cake antebellum mansion, now a B & B on Meeting Street, turned into perfect house for my bad guy, while driving the roads north of the city helped me create a realistic travel timeline for my heroine. The smells, the feel, the taste of the city all were translated, in some small way, back into the book. None of which would have been possible sitting at my desk.
Now the only question is how soon until I can go back?

L. A. McGinnis

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Welcome to Lynn's Lair

Does marketing and promo give anyone else hives? No? Just me? K…

I’m an introvert who extroverts on occasion, so my release day was both exciting and terrifying! Thanks to a unicorn named Lisa Dawn, and the amazing support of my fellow TWRP authors, the terror went from a 20 to about a 7, and the excitement had me downing two bottles of sweet red, half a bottle of mango prosecco (thanks, Trader Joe’s), and an indeterminate number of truffles…and that just covers my consumption until noon. #DontJudge

Now that my baby, Between You and Me, is officially out there in the universe (SQUEEEEEE!!!), I thought it would be fun to share something light with you all: My writerly space!

I don’t have an office (my husband snagged it first, so he can do his Dexter’s Laboratory thing without tiny humans getting into his mustache-twirling world domination plans), so I have a little nook in my bedroom that I dub, Lynn Central.

While I love coffee shops (and bagel shops, and donut shops…stop judging), it’s cheaper and cozier to write at home. I’m usually a nomad with my lap desk, writing in bed, on the couch, or even outside, but with the addition of my shabby-chic chaise, I’ve been using my nook a lot more, dahling.

My little ficus is made of silk, on account of I can’t keep anything green alive, and cats can't eat it. My favorite inspirational quotes (back of photo), and a shadow box containing my debut novel (right side of photo) adorn the walls.

I have lots of sunlight coming in from the back yard, and I can multitask on weekends—writing and keeping an eye on my tiny humans.

Currently, this is where I #AmWriting my new interracial contemporary romance (coming soon), tentatively titled Pas De Deux. It’s an enemies-to-lovers (ish), ballet - to- Broadway romance between a contemporary choreographer/ playwright from the Bronx, and Paris’ newest superstar ballerina.

Where Between You and Me is sweet, this one has a bit more sass. Though the chemistry is there from the beginning, these two will bump heads a lot. Head over to my blog, for the blurb, and a sneak peek at the first two chapters!


Post script - To Cindy Davis (my lovely editor for BYaM who possesses the patience of Job, Jesus, and Moses altogether): If you’re reading this, you’re dope. (Metaphorically, not literally.)

Lynn Turner

Monday, September 18, 2017

Writing from the Heart by Kate Loveday

As writers, we’re urged to write from the heart. If we search the innermost corners of our heart, what might we find? What might any of us find? Writing gives us an excuse to go to the deeper, darker parts of our heart, to dig deep and bring out parts that are buried deep. The parts that are kept hidden from everyday life, the parts we never reveal.

Is there anyone who has never done anything they regret, something they’d rather no-one know about, something to keep hidden? Who hasn’t lost someone dearly loved, and felt pain too sharp and intense to bring out and expose to the daylight?

These deepest parts of our hearts are part of life for all of us. Until you experience them you haven’t truly lived.
As writers we have the opportunity to reveal these hidden parts of our hearts under the pretext of imagination. And it’s the knowledge of life we gain from the secrets lurking in the recesses of both heart and mind that add poignancy to a story. Even the most light hearted tale benefits from a dollop of darkness. Too much sweetness and light is cloying.

Don’t we all love a villain? Don’t we revel in dastardly deeds? In the old-time melodramas the audience were encouraged to cheer the hero and hiss the villain. And they loved it! Don’t we all love a sad story? “It was wonderful – I cried all the way through it!” That used to be the catch-cry for the old sob-story movies. Is today’s reader so much different from those old-time audiences?

It’s the interplay of light and shadow that creates a story. And the blacker the shadow, the more intriguing the story. But that darkness must be real, it must come from the heart, because readers aren’t easily fooled. They can tell the real deal.
Are we all willing to bring out those buried secrets and expose them to the light of day? Or is that perhaps why we love to write - the opportunity to reveal so much of ourselves under the guise of fiction?

How much of YOU is in your writing?

Kate Loveday

Australian author

Wednesday, September 13, 2017


Setting: Regency England 1817
Serena, an artist and widow, has no desire for another husband. When she meets His Grace, Duke of Sutton, attraction sizzles to a scorch. Stolen days and nights ignite forbidden passion. On a first name basis now, Geoffrey asks Serena to be his mistress, but she wants commitment, love and marriage, not an affair with a notorious rake.
Geoffrey realizes Serena might be the one woman who can care for his tortured soul, and maybe release his demons. The magic they shared is shattered when he learns she has been forced into an engagement with another. He vows to save her even at the cost of his own life.
Will Geoffrey’s gallantry prove he truly loves Serena? If he survives, will Serena surrender all to him?

Author: I thought to have His Grace answer the questions from his viewpoint. Here goes.

Author: What is your main fear, my lord?
His Grace: Getting leg shackled by a woman. I feared commitment and what love can do to a man. My interaction with Lady Serena started out as just another notch on my bedpost, but somehow it grew into something profound when I saw the scars inflicted on Serena’s back by her sadistic husband. My heart melted at the sight and I found a need to show her tenderness. I demonstrated to her the gentleness of a man and woman who share a real relationship. In a caring gesture, I gifted her with a puppy, who she named Adonis, after me and the mythical God of Love.

Author: What is the main conflict?
His Grace: She wanted a commitment of marriage. I offered the position of mistress. She refused. I left without saying Goodbye. It was not a manly thing to do.

Author: What has messed up your life?
His Grace: When I arrived in sooty-air defiled London, I found everything a bore. My thoughts were consumed with Serena whom I left behind. I did return and visited her surreptitiously one night at the lakeside manor and it was comfortable. Her maid prepared a warm meal for me. Adonis, the pup I gave her, wagged merrily and tried to bite my shoe as usual. Serena said, “WE missed you.” I wondered how along the way I had acquired a family: woman, a maid and a puppy. Our lovemaking was unbelievable and this time I woke her up before I left.

Author: Did the thought of family scare you?
His Grace: Yes. I returned to London and all I could do with think of her. The concept of a future relationship started to intrigue me. I returned to visit her the next week, but she was gone. I met with her brother and he told me she was engaged to another man and that she only toyed with me to make him jealous enough to propose marriage. He did. She accepted. Her brother approved. They were to be married in three weeks. Her brother informed me she ordered the puppy drowned and my portrait burned because it only reminded her of how foolish she had been.

Author: What was your reaction to this horrendous news?
His Grace: You can imagine how outraged I was. I did not care about the portrait she burned, but to order Adonis killed—how could I have misjudged her? I drank myself into a stupor with a good friend and while I tried to find any woman who might ease the pain of her loss, they all were found lacking. And just when I thought there was no other choice than to forget her, all she said, all she did, and all she represented to me, visitors came to my London townhouse. It was Serena’s maid and the groomsmen who had returned the puppy to me, unharmed, the week before. Her maid handed me a personal letter written hastily by her mistress. Serena advised she was being held prisoner in an armed fortress and that the marriage was forced upon her, without her knowledge or consent. She reaffirmed her love for me and indicated she would throw herself from a parapet into the ocean rather than marry the monster of a man who was to become her husband.
It was then I realized, when I was shown a picture she had drawn of the three of us, as a family, Serena, myself and the pup, that her brother lied to me—about everything. To add to this, the maid brought the portrait she had painted of me, the one that was purportedly burned, and I knew that her brother lied for his own selfish purposes. Serena’s letter ended with the words that she would love me forever, in this world or the next.

Author: Did you have plans to save her?
His Grace: What else could a rake do but reply that Emma, the maid, should return to her mistress and tell her that she would either attend our wedding—or my funeral.
I leave you to come to your own conclusion on how the ending of the novel came about.

Author: For our readers, what is the name of this debut novel?
His Grace: ONCE UPON A DUKE. I think it’s a racy title and I like the double entendre meaning. I also like the way YOU tormented me with longing and desire to obtain the unobtainable.

Answer: You can visit the author’s website where there is an excerpt at and you are invited to leave a comment on the Guest Page. US Wild Rose
Once Upon A Duke
My Divinely Decadent Duke
Thorn, Son of a Duke
The Duke's Magnificent Bastard
One Night With A Duke (Release Date June 2017)
The Blue-Eyed Black-Hearted Duke (Release Date End 2017)
Amazon | Kobo | BN | Apple iBookstore | The Wild Rose Press
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Once in a while
In the middle of ordinary life
LOVE gives us a FAIRY TALE.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Character Profile: Pappy Cantrell

There's been some grumbling in the squad room. Apparently not everyone is pleased with the attention Jefferson Chene has been receiving.  So it seemed only appropriate that another primary character from "Why 319?" get his turn.   Here's your chance to learn about Captain Prescott "Pappy" Cantrell, the man in charge of Squad Six.

Tell us a little about yourself.

 (takes a drag on his ever present cigarette) Ah’m from the deep south of Tennessee.  After my hitch in the army, Ah moved to Michigan. Ah met a girl from Detroit when on leave. So Ah came here and started workin’ as a policeman for the state.  Ain’t never been married.  Ah’m too restless for it.

How did your background get you involved in this novel?  

More than twenty-five years chasin’ crooks mayhap somethin’ to do with it.  Me and my squad close cases. Keeps da Governor happy.

Who came first, you or the author?

(chuckles loudly) Well, he is ol’ as dirt, so probably was him.  Seems to me he was buyin’ drinks one night and we got to talkin’.  He liked hearin’ bout sum of our cases. He’s awright … for a Yankee.

What’s your greatest strength?   And of course, we want to know the opposite, your greatest weakness.  

(another puff on the cigarette) Ah’m good at pickin’ the best cops for my squad. They all different. But they git it done.  And it bothers me to admit, but Ah’m good at politics. Ah know how the systems works.  My biggest weakness?  Southern cookin’ and pretty women. Though not always in that order.

What is it about this mystery that sets it apart from the others?

Damn killings don’t make no sense. Ain’t no connection ‘tween the three girls. There’s more’n 2,000 square miles in them three counties we cover. And the killer leaves that message on the mirror ‘Why 319?’ The hell is that supposed ta mean?  But don’t y’all worry. We gonna find that sumbitch!

Tell us something about your background that may or may not be revealed in the book?

(chuckles) Y'all sure Chene ain’t gonna see this?  Ah read a lot of legal stuff. Court cases, lawsuits, government shit, stuff y’all might find borin’. And Ah won a boxin’ tourney back in the Army. It weren’t pretty, but it was a win. Ah’m also a pretty good dancer, if it’s real music.

Are you the type of person who always seeks out the company of others?

Ah do enjoy bein’ around a pretty woman or two. It’s hard work bein’ in charge of the squad. We works together to close them cases. But when the day’s over, y’all need some distance.

What do you do to relax after a day of fighting crime?

A thick steak, cooked rare, some fine Tennessee whiskey and… (chuckles) well, y’all figger out the rest.

What’s it like working with Jefferson Chene?

(hesitates and exhales a plume of cigarette smoke, watching it drift toward the ceiling) Chene’s awright. He’s stubborn.  But my daddy learned me long ago, y’all do better havin’ good people doin’ the heavy liftin’.  Chene’s smart. He kinda sees around the corners, diggin’ out the answers. He’s awright…for a Yankee.

Which do you prefer, music or television?
Ah don’t even own a television.  Music works just fine.   Like this one.

This blog originally posted on

Monday, September 04, 2017

Interview With a Different Kind of Duchess


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 involved enough to read the next book. 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 You may subscribe to my newsletter at:

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. ♥


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?


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. 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.

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.

Happy reading.

Friday, September 01, 2017

Let's Talk About Villains

You know, those nasty characters who bring conflict to the story with their dastardly deeds. The writer can pluck the worst and best emotions from a reader by creating believable villains. Readers will keep turning the pages to find out if these ne’er-do-wells get what he or she so justly deserves.

I’ve created a list of my Top Ten Villains from books and movies. I’m sure you have some hum-dingers of your own. Please share them!

10.) King Edward Longshanks: In Braveheart, how very villainous of the King to invoke Primae Noctis—the right of the a lord to take any newly married Scottish woman to his bed. The injustice is enough to make him despicable.

9.) Snidely Whiplash from Rocky and Bullwinkle: Snidely holds the mortgage to Nell’s home and threatens to evict her if the mortgage isn’t paid. I could never figure out why he tied her to the train tracks, but we children booed anyhow. Also, Snidely has a villainous sneer and is sneaky. More booing.

8.) The Sheriff of Nottingham: The nemesis of Robin Hood, the Sheriff upholds the law not because it’s the right thing to do but because he wants to curry favor with the King. We’ve all known people like him. My favorite sheriff was played by Alan Rickman in Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves. (1991) Boo. Hiss.

7.) Gordon Gecko in Wall Street: First of all, lovely name. Second, greed isn’t good and if you shuddered when he gave his famous iconic speech, we are of the same generation. The oily hair helped make him a repulsive character.

6.) Fagen, from Charles Dickens’s Oliver Twist: He did take in those street kids and teach them a trade. However, anyone who hurts children is a surefire villain. Unfortunately, we read about people like him too frequently in modern times.

5.) Boyd Crowder, the smooth-talking bad boy in Justified: (On the FX channel.) This character is taken from a book by Elmore Leonard called Fire in the Hole. Boyd is complicated because he’s so darn likeable and has some good traits, (and is a hunk with great hair) but the bad things he does are really bad.

4.) The Grinch created by Dr. Seuss: We laugh at his antics but the message is clear.

3.) Wicked Witch from The Wizard of Oz by Frank Baum: Again a villain who wants to harm children. Her laugh gave me the chills. Bad dreams are made of this.

2.) Inspector Javert: In Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo, no amount of sympathetic backstory makes up for this dude’s obsession with Jean Valjean, the man who stole a loaf of bread to feed his nephew and went to prison for his crime. Even after Valjean served out his prison sentence, Javert won’t give him any peace.

Number 1. Hannibal Lecter from Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris: The devil himself. The Master Villain. Nothing redeemable there. A villain to keep us up at night.

There are so many more villains but these are my favorites! Who are yours?

Sarah Richmond

Sarah Richmond is the author of A Perilous Proposal and its sequel, A Secret Engagement. Two Edwardian mysteries/love stories with plenty of villains, and a heroine and hero working diligently to make sure they don’t win.
Visit the author at

Tuesday, August 29, 2017


The first chapter’s job is to hook your reader. If you can’t get your reader past the first chapter, then it doesn’t make much difference how great the rest of the chapters are.

The chapter one problem I faced with A Splinter In Time was that most of it takes place with the two main characters, Audrey and Leigh, sitting in a cafe booth. How boring is that? Lucky for me, I had watched the director’s commentary of You’ve Got Mail in the CD’s special features menu.

Director Nora Ephron faced a similar problem in the cafe scene when Meg Ryan is waiting to meet - for the first time - a man she has been emailing. Tom Hanks shows up and sits down at her table. Of course, he is the man she has been emailing. He knows this, but she doesn’t. To her, Tom Hanks is the man whose mega bookstore is on the verge of putting her small bookstore out of business. Not only is he the last person she wants to talk to, but she is afraid her date will arrive and Tom Hanks will ruin her much anticipated meeting.

Nora Ephron creates a series of distractions to keep the viewer from becoming bored with the constant back and forth delivery of conversation. Meg Ryan hurls insults at Tom Hanks from the moment he sits down. But he is intent on antagonizing her—payback for her public campaign to make him look like the bad guy. He picks up and twirls a red rose she has lying on a copy of Pride and Prejudice – the agreed signal to her gentleman friend.

The cafe door opens – is it her date? No, two older women walk in. Meg’s relief is obvious. She changes course and pleads with Tom Hanks to leave. Tom gets up, but sits back to back at the table behind her. An over the shoulder conversation continues. He moves back to her table. You see her frustration. The door opens again, is this the date? A man in a magician’s cape walks in – not her date. In the end, of course, she is stood up.

The rose, the two women, Tom’s move from the table, his move back to the table, and the magician, all break up a constant flow of conversation.

Armed with this lesson, I tackled the rewrite of my first chapter. Although the scene was already set in Felony Fred’s cafe, I added a prohibition era decor and a few famous felons to make the scene more visual. A life-sized cardboard cutout of a machine gun welding Bonnie Parker stands guard at the cash register. Audrey glances at the clock above a black and white glossy of Al Capone. Add a snappy exchange between the waitress and Leigh, and the entrance of the antagonist—all break up continuous dialogue.

To read the first chapter of this award winning novel, click the following link, then click “Look inside” just above the book cover.


Linda Shelby
A Splinter In Time - Civil War romance/Time travel

Friday, August 25, 2017

First and Second Natures

A while ago I watched Hitchcock’s film VERTIGO again. The more I watch his movies the more I love Kim Novak, more than other Hitchcock female leads such as Grace Kelly and probably right up there with the extraordinary Tippi Hedren. And the more I marvel at the way Hitchcock movies combines excellence with popular appeal...

Sometimes the director cleverly mined novels of the day when making his movies. I think most people know that THE BIRDS was based on a Daphne duMaurier novella. Fewer would know that he used Winston Graham’s book by that name as the basis of the script of MARNIE. And I bet almost no one knows that VERTIGO is based on a French novel called D’ENTRE LES MORTS (1954), by the highly successful French crime novel duo of Boileau and Narcejac (although the book is still knocking around—I saw a translated copy in a bookstore last week.)

This writing duo thought of themselves as anti-Golden Age crime writers, melding victim and perpetrator to the deliberate frustration of the reader. Their story is set in France during that strange period at the beginning of WW2 called the Phony War. They integrate the strangeness (real/unreal) of the time into their narrative of things and people not being what they seem. It’s an unsettling read. Hitchcock captures the sickly aspect of it in Jimmy Stewart’s romantic obsession, but it
’s Kim Novak’s louche and layered portrayal of Judy/Madeleine that stays with me when I watch VERTIGO nowadays.

Judy and Marnie? Don’t we really want these flawed enigmas to get away? I mean, really get away, not fessing up to Jimmy Stewart or forced into marriage with Sean Connery.

While I was writing AFTER THE WINTER, I had such a clear mental picture of the conniving and secretive “confidential secretary,” Janine Douglas, including every last lovely physical detail. It was only afterwards that I realized I’d based it on the Kim Novak character in VERTIGO, with some Marnie thrown in.

Remember those iconic scenes near the beginning of MARNIE, when we see her systematically disposing of her old identity and dressing for her new part, right down to the Albert’s “custom fit hosiery?” And then, a paragon of sixties fashion, walking away from us at the railway station, carrying her snazzy new suitcase light with embezzled cash? I don’t want to give away the ending of AFTER THE WINTER, so I’ll just leave you with this... What if the movie had ended there?

Anna Dowdall
To Purchase

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The Gentleman Refused to Move! Reported by A. Spectator, International News, THE TATTLER

Reporter: What beautiful aristocratic ward of the Duke of Althorn was seen in the company of Lord Claven, son of the viscount? The chandeliers in the ballroom flickered in waves on the decorated ceiling casting undulating shadows against the walls as he danced her through the French doors and on to the terrace. Out of sight, but not out of hearing, this reporter heard him say, “It’s such a crush in there. I thought you’d appreciate a breath of fresh air.”

Reporter: Through my quizzing glass, I saw the gentleman, and I use the word lightly, place her back against the rock wall, and station himself in front of her, enclosing the woman in a vise-lock embrace. Her murmured, “You are breathtaking in candlelight.”

Reporter: overheard the lady in question protest in a loud voice. “What do you think you’re doing? Do you speak such words to every woman you lure away in the dark?” She pushed him back. Her sardonic laugh was one intended to insult, not inflame his untoward ardor.

“Most likely, it usually entices ladies to explore.”

“That’s probably the most honest admission you’ve made tonight. Don’t come closer. I warn you.”

“Honesty only goes so far, when I want to do so much more. I know you have a fondness for that…bastard.” He hesitated.

“Don’t go there,” she cautioned the lord.

“We all know what Thorn Wick is. He’s had the good fortune to have a high placed aristocrat accept him.”

Her words were loud and clear. “I warn you, Claven. I pack a wicked punch.”

“I know he’s trained you in horsemanship. Perhaps he has trained you in other areas too? Like kissing?”

Reporter: ]I brought my monocle closer to see her face. Her lips moved quickly and apparently in anger.

“I now prefer to return to the ball.” She attempted to move away.

“No,” he said. His voice was gruff to be sure.

“Kindly remove your body from my path.”

Reporter: Horrors, the gentleman refused to move!

“You lured me here, my darling.” Now he pinned her against the wall.

Reporter: I could see that she held her reticule between them.

“You have a vivid imagination.” She attempted to move again. “All right then,” and quicker than quick, she sent her fist to his cheek.

Reporter: Caught unaware, he stumbled to the side, his hand upon his jaw. I then saw her walk by him with a grin.

“Thank you.” The sound of her voice echoed a small triumph. “You can thank Thorn Wick, the duke’s son, for teaching me fisticuffs. Come near me again, and I’ll plaster your face against a wall.”

She then exited in a rush and straightened her gown only to run into Mr. Wick. With a casual attitude, she said, “You did teach me the art of boxing. I merely employed that education to accomplish my purpose.”

And what did he answer? “Indeed it appears you did. I’ll have to discipline him, I see.”

What has our Regency world come to when a lady is not safe with a lord?

Arthur Spectator, Senior reporter, TATTLER NEWSPAPER


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 Argamak Turk horse trainer. Just when he starts to believe in fairy tales, another obstacle looms to thwart his plans: on a dangerous mission to Barbados, Thorn is stunned when secrets are revealed about his mother. Will he exact revenge for the foul deed?

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. But the reality of loving Thorn too much almost destroys her.

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

About the Author

SANDRA MASTERS traded in the Board Rooms of NYC for the Ballrooms of the Regency Era and never looked back.

She wrote her first book at the age of thirteen and since then she’s always traveled with pen and notebook for her writing experiences. It’s been the journey of ten thousand miles with a few steps left to go. She deemed it a pleasure to leave the corporate world behind decades later.

Nothing she expected, but everything she desired. Her business card lists her occupation as Living The Dream.

The Wild Rose Press

Once in a lifetime

In the middle of ordinary life

LOVE gives us a FAIRY TALE.

I used to read fairy tales. Now I write them. Hope you enjoy my work for it is my passion and obsession. Have a great day.

Sandra Masters, unapologetic story teller.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Destination: Everywhere by Lynn Turner

I was born with a serious case of wanderlust, and it only gets worse the more I travel. My debut contemporary romance, Between You and Me, is a long-distance love story, and I was giddy at the opportunity to work multiple settings into the book.

My hero, Finn, lives in a rustic beach house on an island in Puget Sound, and commutes to work in Seattle by ferry. My favorite scene in this setting takes place on the beach, surrounded by the darkness before dawn, the Olympic Mountains, and barking seagulls.

My heroine, Emanuela, lives in an immaculate apartment on the Upper West Side in New York City, and takes the subway to work in the Financial District. My favorite scene in this setting takes place behind the storied Tiffany clock, in a tower above Grand Central Station.

These locales are exciting on their own, and I took plenty advantage; flying my lovebirds back and forth throughout the story, sending them to interesting places, stuffing them with drool-worthy food…but there is something so romantic, and so incredibly sexy, about spiriting them away for a weekend rendezvous someplace where the noise of “real life” is completely shut out.

I knew that New Orleans was that place, because it’s not a destination for sitting by a pool with a book; it’s a place for immersing yourself, for getting lost in its magic. That magic is directly related to the culture, and as an #OwnVoice, it was important to me to weave that richness into the setting.

In this story, the ambiance isn’t limited to the beautiful hanging gardens and ornate balconies of The French Quarter. My New Orleans plunges you into the Back O’ Town, to fill you with authentic cuisine and get you swaying to local jazz legends.

My New Orleans teases you with burlesque, enchants you with Voodoo, and sets sail at night along the Mississippi River, to the soundtrack of the city nicknamed for the crescent moon. My New Orleans humanizes the people most effected by Katrina; the magicians who lend the city their charm.

Before the last page is turned, Finn and Emanuela make their way to an island in the Andaman Sea, to a villa built into a mountain, where the night sky is purple and the hornbill sings them to sleep.

I’ve been to New York, Seattle, and some islands in Puget Sound, but for every other setting, I pored over reviews, articles, and videos, and picked the brains of natives I know. Some people frown upon writing settings with which you’re unfamiliar. But why? I’m not a brilliant biotech entrepreneur, nor a powerful venture capitalist, but I wrote about them anyway. Writing is a limitless medium. If I do my research, I know I can write anything. I can't wait to explore new settings with each new story I write!

Available on Pre-Order At Amazon and other online retailers