Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Why I Write by Kevin V. Symmons

People who know I came from a successful business career often ask me this question.  The easiest way to begin is to answer in the reverse. I do not write to gain fame and riches though I would love to have a New York Times number one best-seller and the royalties and adulation it would bring. I do not write so that I can hobnob with the cool kids or the inside sanctum of the literati. I do not write so I can talk on national TV with Matt Lauer or Oprah... Don't misunderstand me all those things would be great fun and I have no lack of ego so they would admittedly be gratifying. I have had the good fortune to be successful in my pre-writing life so putting words to paper does not feed the kids or pay the mortgage. I don't write to earn a living.

So then—you're asking by now why do you spend thousands of hours brooding over a novel crafting it till you're satisfied it's a piece worthy of sending to your readers?

The answer is patently simple... I love telling stories and (hopefully) the enjoyment they bring. I always have. I am a baby-boomer and grew up on folklore of WWII so I wrote my first short story about PT boats when I was twelve. I was enough of a nerd and a mediocre athlete so I toiled over the school paper while others wore the highly coveted school letter on their jackets.

I had the great good fortune to have emotive, enthusiastic English teachers in high school and at the undergraduate collegiate level who pushed and prodded me to the limit, bless them. Life, the military, and my growing family precluded any idea of seriously pursuing writing as anything other than a pastime or part of my job, but I always joked that someday I would write a great American novel knowing it had been done more than once. 

I had the good fortune to leave my business early and low and behold though it took many false starts, rejections, and the bolstering loyalty of supportive family, friends, and fellow authors, after several years my long dormant dream became a reality when I got what's referred to in publishing as "the call!"

And though I write slowly, I've averaged about a novel a year over the last five. Three have been published, two have been Amazon best-sellers and my debut novel was a finalist in a prestigious awards competition.

So why do I continue? Well... though I haven't had that date on the Today show yet I have achieved some recognition, made so many wonderful writing friends I've lost track, helped to run a respected writing organization, and even taught creative writing at the junior college level.

And though I am not Mary Higgins Clark or John Grisham I have had my share of rewarding "fan" encounters. I could go on, but I hope you get my point. I began this journey because I loved telling my stories and somewhere along the line it seemed that those who read my work liked them, too.

Part of it is ego. Everyone who crafts a story and asks another to read it feels he/she has something worthy of telling. But much of it is simply the enjoyment of discovering that some readers out there have enjoyed our work enough that it gave them pleasure and perhaps a respite from this fast-paced, chaotic, often frustrating world.

Matt and Oprah... eat your hearts out. NY Times book editors I have not thrown in the towel but for now, I'm happy doing what I do. Perhaps we'll have a date sometime in the future...

Enjoy this interesting winter!

Stay safe, warm and dry!

Kevin V. Symmons

Friday, February 20, 2015

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A visit with Jessica Long - From the novel Solo

We’re thrilled to be talking to Jessica (aka Jesse) Long from Kevin V. Symmons, latest novel Solo.  It is a pleasure to have her with us today at Pimp That Character!

Thank you for your interview, Jesse.  Can you tell us your story? Why yes. I was raised in Portland, Maine. My dad died when I was four. My mother found a man she thought was kind but turned out to be anything but. He and my older brother, Ryan, had a confrontation and they fell down a staircase and both died as a result. The one legacy my real father left me was my love for serious music. When I was 10 a kind and talented woman named Pauline Richards heard me sing and become my mentor and vocal coach. Her tutelage and sponsorship helped me gain acceptance at Boston’s New England Conservatory.

Can you tell us about one of your most distinguishable features? My voice… may coach and teachers think that one day I could achieve greatness as a lyric soprano… Oh. I’m sorry! I know that sounded really conceited but… well I just hope they’re right!

What would I love the most about you? Listening to me sing 8 bars of any piece of music!

What would I hate the most about you? My drive! My desire to be the best! Some people call me arrogant but I call it self-assurance. I’ve found that to succeed that you can take no prisoners.

What makes you laugh out loud? My four-year-old daughter Ali. When I’m bummed or down she never fails to bring me back.

What is in your refrigerator right now? Cold spaghetti and half a quart of chocolate chip ice cream.

What is your most treasured possession? The 8-track tape player and collection of Verdi, Puccini and Wagner my dad left me when he died. I’d listen to it endlessly and picture his face when he smiled.

What is your greatest fear? Failure. If I don’t succeed as a vocal performance major at NEC my future will be bleak. I’ll spend my life as a short order cook and waitress.

Do you think the author portrayed you accurately? Yes… damn him. It was like that damn guy Symmons could read my mind… get inside my friggin’ head. It drives me crazy!

Who is your best friend? My mother Alice. I’ve never made many friends my own age. Never had the time or the interest. Second place… Pauline, my teacher and vocal mentor.

To see all of Kevin's books 

Monday, February 16, 2015

19th Century wisdom...

Great inspiration from the 19th century for my novel "Impending Love and War" published by The Wild Rose Press
The historical romance is set in 1860 in the fictional Ohio town of Darrow Falls. Abolitionists Cory Beecher and slave owner Tyler Montgomery should never fall in love, but they do.

“When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hold on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” - Harriet Beecher Stowe

“Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. As a peacemaker a lawyer has a superior opportunity of being a good man. There will still be business enough.” - Abraham Lincoln

“There is no freedom on earth or in any star for those who deny freedom to others.” – Elbert Hubbard, 1859-1915

“Everyone is a moon and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody.” – Mark Twain

Laura Freeman

Friday, February 13, 2015

Are you a snob? I am.

by J. Arlene Culiner

I’m a snob, aren’t you? Of course you are, no matter how fair-minded you believe yourself to be. We’re all human (I’m assuming, perhaps rather snobbishly, that our pets can’t read this article) and at one point or another, we’ve all looked down on someone, judged them to be inferior because of education, or looks, or taste, or behaviour, or speech, or a million other reasons.

Sure, some people really do behave badly, or are less educated, or are just terrible-looking. But how many times have we judged someone’s worth on…well…those pretty flimsy grounds? And how many times have we had to revise our opinion, eat our words, bury those first impressions and discover what the person in front of us — the one with the terrible chartreuse nose, pink eyes, pointy ears and long brownish fangs — is really like. Plenty. If your experience is anything like mine, you might have found yourself enjoying, even really liking, the person you were willing to reject.

So why are we snobs? Because we often feel insecure. Because we like to feel we’re superior. Because we don’t like challenging our own, carefully constructed opinions. Also because we don’t understand — don’t want to understand — another way of life, other values.

Being confronted by a snob is certainly an unpleasant experience, but that’s exactly what happens to Sherry Valentine, the heroine of my new release, A Swan’s Sweet Song. Sherry, a country music star, walks into a radio station, meets Carston Hewlett…and…well, he’s condescending, superior and arrogant. He’s not a bad guy. He’s kind, he’s creative, he’s pretty gorgeous, he’s talented, he’s gentle. But he’s also a highbrow, a well-known intellectual playwright. To him, country music belongs to the world of low-brow entertainment.

The problem is, Sherry and Carston are also very attracted to each other: fascination at first sight, you can call it.

So how does Sherry handle the situation? She does what we should all do when meeting a terrible snob: show our humanity. And when Sherry conveys her passion for music, Carston realizes how silly he’s been. That, even if their lifestyles, their backgrounds, are so very different, they can learn so much from each other.

And, that’s what they do, and they do it beautifully too. But there are also quite a few surprises in store for both of them…

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Riverboats and the Showboat Affair

I’ve always had a fascination with river boats, especially the old-fashioned paddlewheel kind. Think showboats such as regularly cruised the major U.S. rivers between 1830 and the 1870s.
Unfortunately, the first showboats didn’t resemble the Cotton Blossom made famous in stage and movie adaptations of Edna Ferber’s novel of the same name. They were long, flat-roofed barges pushed by a small tugboat. Folks along the river paid in produce as well as money to be transported into another realm by the company of actors and actresses who lived on the boat. A British actor, William Chapman, Sr., birthed the first showboat in Pittsburgh in 1831. During the Civil War, these floating theatres suffered a brief decline but revived again in 1878 to entertain with melodramas and vaudeville acts. In 1926, Edna Ferber’s novel hit the American scene, and the next year Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II adapted it as a stage musical. Three movie versions followed: 1929, 1936, and 1951, the latter possibly being the one most remembered today. Not all of the productions were true to the original story line, but each tugged at the heartstrings of the theatre-going public. Probably the song most associated with the musical Show Boat is “Old Man River”, and Paul Robeson told a story in song in 1936. William Warfield’s outstanding rendition in 1951 still echoes. My first experience with a river boat resembling the Cotton Blossom came in the summer of 1967 when I traveled up the Congo River to do summer school for a group of missionary children. However, the two-night trip reminded me more of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness as I stood at the rail watching the village fires in the distance. Later, my boys enjoyed a short excursion on the Mississippi River on a boat docked in Vicksburg. It doesn’t run anymore. But it was in Branson, Missouri, when I enjoyed a dinner theatre evening on the Branson Belle as it cruised Lake Taneycomo that I thought again of Magnolia, Gaylord Ravenal, Cap’n Andy, and the tragic Julie LaVerne. Thus was born The Showboat Affair (authored as Gwyneth Greer). Jean and Nick remain close to my heart, though in truth they didn’t sail away to the rising strains of Hammerstein’s magnificent music. It was a fun write and, I hope, a fun read.

Judy Nickles/Gwyneth Greer
Vintage Romance/Romantic Suspense/Cozy Mystery
"...a good clean read"

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Courthouse scenes from Impending Love and War

I received a letter from the Summit County Prosecuting Attorney Sherri Bevan Walsh congratulating me on the publication of my first novel. How great is that?

In Impending Love and War the hero, Tyler Montgomery, has to defend Noah St. Paul in the Summit County courthouse to prevent him from going to jail and paying a fine for helping runaway slave, Tess, his wife, and their baby, Adam. Information about the original courthouse, which was in the same location as the present one, was on display while I was covering a criminal case as a reporter for the Hudson Hub-Times. Tonight I'm watching #ToKillaMockingbird by Harper Lee. Greatest courtroom scene with #GregoryPeck. What is yours?

Impending Love and War is published by The Wild Rose Press and can be ordered in print of ebook at

Laura Freeman
Impending Love and War

Monday, February 09, 2015

Star Crossed Lovers Reunite by Doreen Alsen

One of the things I love about reading a book series is to find out what characters from the older books are up to. Whether a series by a single author or a multi-author series, I have to read every book.

My first book with The Wild Rose Press was the first in a series that took place in a sports bar in a fictional college town on the shore of Nahant Bay, just north of Boston. After that book, Mike’s Best Bet, came out in 2010 I had a lot of questions about other characters in “Mike,” some of which were answered in the next two books, What Ian Wants (also 2010) and Charming Dave (2012).
But most people wanted to know if a pair of teenagers in the book, Jeff and Beth, would get a HEA. Of course they would! I didn’t plan on writing Jeff and Beth’s book so soon. I wanted them to grow up a little bit.

The universe didn’t care about what I wanted. The Wild Rose Press put out a call for books in a multiple author series set in the fictional town of Lobster Cove, Maine. It turned out that Jeff and Beth’s story was a perfect fit for Lobster Cove.
See, in Mike’s Best Bet, at the ages of 18 and 16, Jeff got Beth pregnant. Her father went totally ballistic and wanted to have Jeff arrested, so the two teens eloped to Maine, in the middle of a blizzard. The kids got caught and were dragged back to Nahant Bay. Beth’s father packed up his family and Jeff never saw hide or hair of them.

The two spent so many years apart, longing for each other. Eventually, they tried to get on with their lives, but no one brought them the true joy they’d felt that one night in Lobster Cove.
So seeing all the wonderful possibilities of colliding Lobster Cove with Nahant

Bay, I waved my magic wand and SORASed, a.k.a. Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome, and wrote Jeff and Beth’s story set in Lobster Cove ten years after Mike’s Best Bet, had taken place.
The whole time I wrote about Jeff and Beth and Lobster Cove I thought I was writing a secret baby story, the kind of plot with which I’ve long lost patience. However, as the story progressed, I realized I was writing a reunion book, telling about two high school sweethearts finding each other. First love became forever love.

So please enjoy your visit to Lobster Cove and then take a walk in the past, in Addington, Massachusetts on Nahant Bay, just north of Boston, where Beth and Jeff got their start in Mike’s Best Bet, What Ian Wants, Charming Dave. Don’t forget to keep a weather eye out for A Taste of Hope, the fourth in the Addington books, coming up soon from The Wild Rose Press!

Doreen Alsen

Saturday, February 07, 2015

The Groundhog Predicts a Best Seller??

     The groundhog once again noticed his shadow--predicting six more weeks of winter. (When did this not happen? Perhaps in the Great Depression when he was too thin to see his shadow?)  An intuitive writer always notices "signs & omens"--good and bad.  Always the optimist, on Groundhog Day I received word from The Rose Garden that my novel, "THE ACCIDENTAL WIFE" will be released in 6 weeks--(drum roll here)--on March 18, 2015. Perhaps at the trill of the new season's first robin?

       From start to finish, my book has had a remarkable journey beginning life as a short story--The Teacup--which placed in several contests. It took four months to fill The Teacup with 88,000 words and polish it up for submission after a judge suggested the story begged to grow into a novel.
     After meeting Rhonda Penders at a Kansas City Writer’s Conference, TWRP captured my attention. It had been awarded Best Publisher for several straight years--in a poll taken by Preditors and Editors. Rhonda was professional and charming, even suggesting I send her the novel when finished. I did, and once the contract was signed, Allison--my assigned editor--and I began to work on it in mid-October, 2014. Three months later we were at final galley and cover selection stage. The cover artist for my book, Debbie Taylor, also places often among the leading Cover Artists in the annual Preditors and Editors poll.
     For two years prior, I had haunted several writer's conferences all over the U.S.—and one in London--building a case for timing and a publishing method that was the best fit for me. (The scales for Self Published or Traditional were beginning to level off that last year.)
     The Wild Rose Press red-lined most of the "cons" I had on my Pro & Con list for the Publishing models. The process went faster than I expected; no year-long dragging it out. An agent was unnecessary, which should mean better royalties. They have worldwide distribution, uncommon to many smaller presses. They offer weekly chats, author loops, and recommend workshops that every writer can learn from. They are respectful and communicative. As a newbie, I fired off several email questions that were answered by my editor or the staff—same day, often same hour.  Best of all, I was included in decisions and choices--writing blurbs and choosing excerpts, even choosing the final cover, though I was told I was closing in on the "nit picky zone after multiple tweaks."
     I can see why The Wild Rose Press has 800 writers in their Rose Garden, and why they win Best Publisher awards. Maybe...if their model would be imitated, there would be fewer consolidations, chapter elevens, or dissolutions in the publishing world. Less dissolution among authors, as well.
     James Barrie, who wrote Peter Pan, once said God gave us memory so we could have roses in December. Had Barrie been born 100 years later, his fantasies might have found a bed of roses in the WRP garden. Just think--roses all year long! Even the groundhog would revel in that bit of sunshine.

Cj Fosdick,

Newbie at Large

Friday, February 06, 2015

In the Land of Mist and Magic by Mary Gillgannon

I've been fortunate to visit Ireland three times and my latest book, Call Down the Moon, was inspired by a lot of what I saw on those trips. Although the book, a reincarnation/time romance, takes place mostly in contemporary Denver, it begins (and ends) in Ireland. But a far different Ireland than the one that exists today.

Call Down the Moon begins in dark age Ireland. People have lived here several thousand years already, and the land is dotted with tombs and stone monuments from long-forgotten cultures. Some of the ancient beliefs linger, but most tribes have converted to the new faith of Christianity. Years of human habitation has already dramatically altered the land.

But there are still wild places where few people venture. Deep valleys, dark forests, hidden caves.

It's in this timeless realm of trees and rocks and water that my heroine Aisling grows up, among a sect of priestesses, the Nine Sisters, who honor the old ways and preserve the ancient magic. By tradition, they are healers, and that's why Irish prince Connar mac Donal dares to venture into their hidden world. His foster brother Fergus is near death from a hunting injury, and Connar knows the Sisters are his only hope.

When Aisling and her birth sister Siobhan greet Connar and lead him to the Sisters' cave, the connection between Aisling and Connar is immediate and profound. Connar knows he is entering a forbidden, haunted realm, and normally he would be terrified. But Aisling's gentle manner and tranquil beauty reassure him. They reach the cave and the older Sisters begin to work their magic. During the unsettling ceremony, Connar focuses on Aisling and feels the link between them grow stronger, so strong that he will be compelled to defy his father and seek out Aisling again and again.

They are soulmates, their spirits so deeply bound together that Connar believes nothing can part them. And when the conflict between the Sisters and his tribe results in Aisling's death, Connar is desperate enough to do anything to be reunited with her. Even use magic to travel to the future to reclaim his beloved.

The story then switches to 21st century Denver, a distinctly less mystical and, except for the majestic Rocky Mountains on the horizon, less picturesque setting than dark age Ireland. But even in Denver, the magic of that ancient world still lingers, and when Aisling, now Allison, meets Connar, the memories of her long-ago life begin to return to her, sometimes with terrifying clarity.

But you'll have to read the book to find out the rest!

To find out more on Call Down the Moon - Click here

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Luke's #1 Rule

I like to say that Luke's #1 Rule is a mash up of "The Brady Bunch" and "Sex and the City" (if the city was a small town...) because it straddles that zone between motherhood and falling in love. There are pet rabbits and homework and snacks and there is sexual attraction and sexual tension and So there are children in the house and there is sexual chemistry and how does one keep those two things in their own boxes exactly? While it seems obvious that a single mom who is dating seriously and in love will be having sex at some point, the children are also important characters in the book, so it can feel tricky. It isn't, really. It's life.

Parents don't stop having sex because they produce children, although I'm sure the kids would be okay with that and in fact assume it is the case. It's the same for a single mom; she has to be selective and careful and make sure her children are clueless about her extracurricular activities, just like any other parent would be. In my book, I use some well-timed visits with Grandma and to the boys' father and that's pretty much how it worked in life. Because I was, at one time in the distant past, an actual single mom, and I did marry again.

My real-life ex-husband was not an irresponsible addict, like Spence in the book, but just the opposite. We in fact had joint custody. How that worked when the boys were young was week-to-week. So I'd see my boyfriend on weeks the children were with their father until I was sure he was "the one" and then I gradually incorporated him into our lives as a family.

It's a bit like mixing romance and suspense. These people are in fear for their lives but they stop every so often for a passionate embrace. There are writers who work the timing out perfectly and there are writers who don't. I tried to be sensitive to the kid element, making sure the new love intersected in appropriate ways at the right times.

I wanted to write about blending families because it's a tough situation for so many people. Married couples with children will divorce and many of them will become blended families. It's not easy. I did not tell my own story, because I write fiction, not memoir, but I can say from experience that blending family comes with a whole slew of problems. I thought by adding some of issues I didn't personally experience, like alcoholism, drug addiction, job complications, and family relocation, I could shed some light on a romantic problem that isn't often addressed, the problem of a single mom getting another shot at true love.

Why is this a problem? I didn't know it was until I had been remarried for a few years. One day out of the blue, my husband said "You know, I had one rule when I was dating. No single moms." I laughed, because that's exactly what I had been when we married. It took me a while, but finally asked if he'd mind if I used that premise for a novel. I swore I wouldn't tell OUR story. It would be totally different. And it is. Well, except for Dumpster the Amazing Rabbit. He was real.

To learn more on Cynthia's Books
click here