Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Hundred Year Old Desk

My Writing Space
by Gina Rossi

This is my absolute favourite place to write: at home, in an upstairs room of an old farmhouse in The Channel Islands. From here, I can hear the birds in the garden—particularly a vociferous, super-territorial, bossy robin—but not see them, so that means less distraction for me. This is important, what with me actively seeking each tiny nuance of distraction as a vital part of the procrastination process.

I bought this oak roll-top desk when we lived in South Africa way back in the eighties, for the equivalent sum of what is now sixty-five dollars. Horribly expensive back then, but I really wanted it. It’s a great organizer with all those pigeonholes, plus the little drawers. The big drawers on the lower section are deep and long.  Beneath the central drawer, there’s a small brass plate:


Ropemaker St., London, E.C.

This was one of the many office furniture manufacturing companies active in East London between the mid-1800s and mid-1900s, all of which have now sadly disappeared.  This desk has travelled some, with at least two long sea voyages to its name, if that plate is to be believed. How old is it? The dealer I bought it from told me it was “about a hundred years old, from around 1880.” Hmm, sceptic that I am, I cut that in half. I reckon my desk is turning a hundred around about now.

The pile of paper on the left hand side is my to-do pile and on the right is a stack of rough paper. If things get messy, I simply roll down the ‘roll top’, from which the desk takes its name. Above the desk hangs a watercolour of Cape Town Harbour in the 1800s (painted in 1990), by my late father, an amateur watercolourist. The antique box with mother-of-pearl detail contains precious cassettes (yes, those), recordings of the chatter of my four children when they were little. My well-thumbed reference books fill the bookshelves, along with travel, poetry, gardening, history, all sorts of stuff.

The daffodils bring an extra-welcome burst of sunlight into the room.  They’ve flowered early all over the islands, following an exceptionally mild winter.

The desk isn’t tidy. It never is, but it confines me to a defined space. If, needing a change of scene, I work someplace else, like the dining room table, usually I look up after an hour or two and think: “Who ransacked the room?” Somehow, I manage to spread everywhere.

So, I keep going back to my wise old desk, the daffodils, the birdsong, my father’s painting, my own space.

Quite simply, it’s the best place to write.


Thanks so much for stopping by. Please visit me here if you have a spare moment:

Monday, February 22, 2016

A Writer's Musings

Jen Conrad lost her husband last year; this Valentine's Day was a lonely one. She could have paid more attention, could have told him her secret, could have, should have, known where she was financially. But she let him and his law firm handle all the finances. She didn't even know where the checkbook was. By the end of the story, of course, she stands on her own, but not without suffering over her own foolishness and having others take advantage of her.

Stitches, the first book in the Heritage Art Park series, is a moving account of a Jen Conrad, middle-aged woman who has to recreate her own life, but first she has to get past her own privilege and expectations.

It occurs to me there are several lessons here: 1) know where your money is, what you have and what you owe; 2) keep some of your own money separate; 3) get credit in your own name (you'd be surprised how many women rely on credit cards are tied to their husband/father), and 4) be aware of everything that happens in your assets. Get educated.

Today's women have it far better than my generation - beginning to work in the early seventies meant getting my father's approval to get a credit card. When I was married in 1980 I had to have my husband co-sign for a card in my name. Thank God that has changed. But I believe young women today need to heed the call to keep their own counsel.

To read what happened to Jen, go read Stitches!

Kathy Weyer, Author

Sunday, February 21, 2016

A little post-Valentine’s Candy…

I’ve had several readers write to me asking for Chloe’s candy recipes. Now what kind of a professional chocolatier would she be if she divulged all her secrets and recipes?? She was persuaded to give you all one, though, and I’ve listed it below.

You’re welcome, from Chloe!

Caramel Oreo Cookie

***I’m giving you the easy recipe for this one – you don’t have to be a chocolatier to make it. Just know in my shop I make and temper my own caramel and chocolate pieces. Chloe San Valentino

1 bag of Oreo cookies – the REAL kind, not the generic, cheaper kind.

1 bag of baking chocolate ( Baker’s semi-sweet chocolate pieces is the best brand commercially.)

1 package Brach’s caramel pieces

1 bag of white baking chocolate ( again Bakers is the best)


1. line a huge baking sheet with parchment paper because nothing sticks to that.

2. Melt the white chocolate in a double burner under a very low heat until it is smooth, stirring constantly. The color will be slightly dull. Pour it into a decorating bottle or into a pastry bag and add a #1 or # 2 tip to the bag. You want a small round opening to drizzle the chocolate out.

3. At the same time you are melting the white, melt the baking chocolate in a double burner under a very low heat until the chocolate is completely melted and smoothy. Dip each individual Oreo into the chocolate letting the excess drip back into the sauce pot. Place on parchment paper and let cool at least 15 minutes.

4. Once cooled, drizzle the Oreos with white chocolate forming criss-cross, thin lines around the entire cookie. Place on the parchment paper again let cool at least 15 minutes. ( you may have to heat the white chocolate up a little before decorating – just put the bottle into the bottom of the double boiler to let it stay hot, or don’t put the white chocolate into the bottle or pastry bag until you are ready to drizzle. Either way works.

5. When all the cookies are decorated in white chocolate and the outer chocolate coating, melt the caramels using the double boiler method until they are smooth and shiny, stirring constantly. Once again, you can drizzle the cookies, but I use the prong ends of a fork because the caramel will harden by the time you get it in a pastry bag or decorating bottle. Let cool.

6. Eat..Enjoy..Share.

Love, CSV

New release 3 WISHES (A Candy Hearts Romance)

Valentine’s Day is chocolatier Chloe San Valentino’s favorite day of the year. Not only is it the busiest day in her candy shop, Caramelle de Chloe, but it’s also her birthday. Chloe’s got a birthday wish list for the perfect man she pulls out every year: he’d fall in love with her in a heartbeat, he’d be someone who cares about people, and he’d have one blue eye and one green eye, just like her. So far, Chloe’s fantasy man hasn’t materialized, despite the matchmaking efforts of her big, close-knit Italian family. But this year for her 30th birthday, she just might get her three wishes.

Get it here: Amazon // The Wild Rose Press

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

For Those Who Love Horses

I have always been a lover of horses—from birth I think. I always wanted a pony for Christmas, but we didn’t live anywhere I could have an equine friend. Finally, my parents bought a small farm and my first Welsh pony First Fling, a black-and-white paint. Much later in life, I bred, trained and showed the magnificent Andalusian horse (the horse of the bullrings in Spain—either quick or dead). The Andalusian is known for its balance and ability to perform the old battle movements that now are only seen in classical dressage (like the Spanish Riding School). My stallion Bonito was three times National Champion in the conformation class.

I was, at some point, predestined to write a book about horses and the people who love them. I never participated in 3-Day Eventing, a very demanding and dangerous sport, but my friend in Florida was an eventer. If I ran into a problem with the technical information, I called Helen. She’d walk me through the event. I didn’t ramble off into too much detail because I didn’t want to bore the non-horsey reader. The techniques of the half-pass, the shoulder-in, and the canter pirouette are probably not familiar to most people outside horsey circles.

Gambler’s Choice is the name of a jumping class in a horse show. I think that name and the excitement of that race against the clock inspired the book. In this class, each team (horse and rider) that makes a clean round goes on to the next. The fences are raised, and again they must beat the best time of other entries. A sit-on-the-edge-of-your-seat kind of experience.
I named the equine star after the class. Though the book is a romantic suspense, the story is really about two people who love one horse. Becca is willing to pay any amount for Gambler’s Choice. Austen is not going to sell his best friend for any price. Perhaps, a horse person is the only one who’d understand how dramatic this conflict is!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

A terrifying plane accident inspired Blue Angel

I’m sure there are a million things that can inspire an author to write a particular story. Here’s how BLUE ANGEL was born:

I started writing my first draft more than three decades ago. I was newly married to a wonderful man who was an officer on a nuclear submarine, the USS Haddock, stationed in San Diego. I was incredibly impressed with his sense of honor and duty. He loved being out to sea, and he loved helping to protect our nation.

When we were married only a year, he was deployed on a West-Pac (Western Pacific) sea tour. He was gone for six months straight (with brief stops at ports in the Pacific.) Our only communication was through family grams (50 word “telegrams” that could be sent to my husband while his boat was submerged.) Each wife received six family grams during the six-month deployment.

Since I was alone in San Diego, I decided to try my hand at writing a novel. In the local media I’d heard a new romance writer’s group, the Romance Writers of America, was hosting its first convention in town. I was curious. While I didn’t attend that convention, I did sit down at the typewriter and start typing.

My first hero was a submarine officer who had lots of dinner dates with the heroine, a nurse. It didn’t take a professional editor to tell me it wasn’t working, so I started again. This time, I decided my hero would be a Navy pilot who had lost his best friend to a flying accident. Understandably, he develops anxiety about being in the cockpit. That plot twist comes directly from my experience flying.

When I was a 21 year old college student in Boston, I was returning to school after winter break and my plane (a DC-10) overshot the run at snowy Logan Airport and landed in the Boston Harbor. It was a terrifying experience. I was sitting toward the front of the plane, and I watched in horror as the nose of the plane separated from the body and descended into the icy water. Two men, a middle-aged man and his elderly father, had been sitting in the from row and they were never found. I had to walk on the wing, wade through hip-deep water and climb up an icy incline to get back to safety. (It wasn’t easy as I’d been wearing Candies shoes at the time.) While I was unharmed, I never got over the experience. I do fly today, but I never relax and enjoy it.

So, it seemed fitting to me to create a scenario where a fear of flying (and getting over a fear of flying) played a key role in my story. Also, most of BLUE ANGEL takes place in San Diego where I lived during my husband’s Navy sea tour. I loved the city–truly the most fabulous weather in the world–and hope that comes out in my book.

I hope you enjoy Blue Angel.
To Purchase
And On Amazon

Monday, February 15, 2016

A Sprinkling of Candy Hearts!

Sometimes our favorite live-in- every-day Valentine heroes do pay attention!  (Even without a gentle nudge). Early in our marriage, I got a lamp one Valentine's Day. It was a "light bulb" moment for me. The man I married was witty or practical or tired of reading by candlelight!? (We lived on a shoestring budget in a 2 room apt. with pitiful furnishings as newlyweds.)  
It took years of re-training, but eventually he moved up to roses and chocolate, even jewelry on rare occasions.              
There were setbacks.
    When I accidentally flushed my wedding rings down the toilet and cried for days, I made him promise never to buy me expensive jewelry again. I am a klutz. It is painful, even for a self-confessed klutz to own something that can be lost...and can scar you forever by the memory.
     I was happy with a plain gold band to replace my rings. Costume jewelry--when an occasion called for it--almost looked as good as real gems. I wasn't the type to sport dangling earrings or jingling bracelets or chains of gold, anyway. Instead, I collected things like ceramic owls, mugs, souvenir vacation spoons, nutcrackers, stray dogs and cats, rescue horses. All objects larger than anything that would fit in a jewelry box. I was happy to get a "gift" that expanded my collections. Especially 4-legged gifts.
      When I started writing, I quickly learned that writers don't wear uniforms or dress up for a daily meeting with their laptop. Some don't even wear bras when they work, even preferring baggy fleece and slippers!  I'm content with the metamorphosis to hubby's practical sphere. But that doesn't mean I've shedded layers of sentiment to get there. So when I wrote "Hot Stuff" for the new Wild Rose Candy Hearts Line, hubby paid attention to gift possibilities and found conversation heart earrings made to order-- online. My Valentine passed on a new lamp this year and bought me 2 pair: one pink, one white--imprinted with "Hot Stuff." I'll keep them all. (Hubby and the earrings.) I may even wear the earrings to work. My laptop needs a change of scenery. 
     By the way, the heroine in "Hot Stuff" is also a redheaded klutz. Truth in fiction is like a sprinkling of candy hearts, eh!?

 Order  "The Accidental Wife" or "Hot Stuff"
                Cj's Website         Cj's Newsletter          Cj's Books

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Friends to Lovers by Tamela Miles

Of all the writing tropes abounding, there's one that has a special place in my semi-warm little heart: Friends to Lovers.  Think about it for a and sweet, right? There's the thrill as you dive into a new book with this set up - Girl X and Guy Y begin the journey with light, playful banter about their daily life situations and deeper conversations about painful setbacks. All of these small moments serve to bind them closer together until one of them experiences a flash of insight that things are definitely heating up and the question becomes: hit the bedroom sheets and, hopefully, progress to another deeper level or avoid the risk of losing the connection by remaining simply friends?  

If you're familiar with me and my work as an author, you know I'm a paranormal romance/horror lovin' kind of chick. I live and breathe angels, demons, vamps - all of it. Oh, and I have a thing for little black kittens who always seem to bring me the best of luck. What writing paranormal and horror allows me to do is marry intense romance to all things scary.  I've written several stories about Friends to Lovers, against the backdrop of spooky, and I'm happy to share some things I've learned along the way:

Make Sure There's a Real Friendship

Some of the best stories in this trope feature a strong, abiding connection between the hero and heroine. He may see her as a little sister type he needs to protect from any and all  nefarious men. She may see him as a buddy that she would never consider hopping into bed with, even while drunk. A friend who provides comfort, advice, and a listening ear are always welcome in real life so the same rules apply to your book couple. Using a "cookie cutter" type friendship to quickly springboard into sex only rarely works well in fiction.  Show the depth of genuine caring between Girl X and Guy Y before proceeding to the hotness of their attraction.

Make that First Love Scene Pop Off the Screen

If they've been flirting like mad and are each debating whether or not to make that move to lovers, it should be an explosion of passionate fireworks when they do get together physically. Craft each moment of their big event carefully, highlighting the wonder they both feel of finally being together.  Some authors naturally veer to sensual while some stay sweet but, either way, reveal touches of the complex layers of their friendship in the love scenes, whether it's a deeply touching first kiss or a marathon lovemaking scene. Make it clear to your readers that these two characters have been in a drought and are thirsty for each other.

Hope this helps an abundance of authors out there and I wish you all a 5K writing day!

One last thing - Book 1, entitled "Heart of a Hunter", in my short series, Hell On Heels is coming soon from The Wild Rose Press!

Check me out on my Facebook Author Page:

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Ooh La La! by Doreen Alsen

My Candy Hearts Romance novella is my sixth story using characters from my At The End Zone series. A big event ties the books together in all these books, the Addington, Massachusetts Ballet Guild Gala.

  Everyone loves a big party, right? A chance to get all dolled up, eat fancy appetizers, drink champagne, dance with handsome men in tuxedos. There’s no bad in that!

As my End Zone series has come along, with each story the Gala got a little more elaborate. By the time we got to the third Gala, in Charming Dave, it was called the Mirror, Mirror On the Wall Ball. Artists donated artsy mirrors for auction and everyone had to dress up as a fairy tale character. The fourth Gala in A Taste of Hope had fancy tables to auction and a cooking competition for the best restaurant in Addington, called Addington’s Tables.

We check back in with the Addington Ballet Gala in Ooh La La! Simon, my hero is a highly trained dancer and choreographer thirsty for his chance to choreograph full time for a real ballet company. He dreams big! After all, he’s from Texas. At the moment, he an adjunct professor at Addington’s Barrett University, teaching non-major dance classes, which doesn’t pay the bills, not even close. To make ends meet, he dances at Hardbody, an exclusive male exotic revue in Addington.

Veronica Cooke is an accountant and the daughter of one of Addington’s upper-crust families. She teaches accounting at Barrett and has two left feet. Make that three left feet. Look up klutz in the dictionary and her picture is right next to the entry. She runs down Simon in the halls of Barrett and just stole his heart!

Her family is big in the arts and is a huge supporter of the Addington Ballet. She’s happy to snag Simon as her date for the Gala, but there are some obstacles on the way to the ball!
Ooh La La is part of The Wild Rose Press’ Candy Hearts series, out on February 8, 2016! It’s also part of my At The End Zone series. If you’ve read the earlier books, you might recognize some old friends.

At The End Zone books in order:
Mike’s Best Bet
What Ian Wants
Charming Dave
A Taste of Hope
Ooh La La

Lobster Cove books with End Zone characters, in order:
Working My Way Back to You
Worth A Thousand Words (coming soon from TWRP)
Doreen Alsen

Friday, February 05, 2016

And, the Plot Thickens

When I started writing Affliction, I had main characters in mind, the skeleton of a plot and a vague idea of how the book would start and end. The middle was a vast abyss of nothingness. When it comes to plotting, I usually fly by the seat of my pants. I’ve always trusted the process. The act of writing stimulates the creative part of my brain, resulting in forward progress. Sure, once in a while, I’d write myself into a corner and have to backtrack. But, it was usually an easy fix and I considered it a learning experience. Six chapters flew by and then my fingers froze on the keyboard. I was stuck. Here’s what happened next:


1.      I brooded and indulged in a lot of negative self-talk. What the heck’s wrong with you? Yikes! After eight books are you out of juice?

2.      I forced myself to write. As the saying goes, you can’t edit a blank page. When it took me an hour to write two sentences, I knew it wasn’t working. This was followed by . . .

3.      More brooding.

4.      I tried writing in long hand, a technique that sometimes works for me. Not this time.

5.      I comforted myself with junk food which, in turn, led me to . . .

6.      The Solution. Concerned about putting on weight from the aforementioned junk food, I hit the elliptical machine at our local fitness club. Something about the music feeding directly into my brain via ear buds, mindless repetition as I sweated and pedaled, plus the oxygenated blood surging through my body did the trick.


Remember my term, “vague idea of the plot line?” I realized I was a little too vague. I was writing romantic suspense, for Pete’s sake! I had a spunky little heroine named Mel. I had a sexy Harley-Davidson riding ex-Marine named Billy. I had dead bodies, nasty villains, stolen babies and human trafficking. Way too many moving parts for an author flying by the seat of her pants. I needed details. I needed more characters. I needed more plot details. OMG, was I becoming a plotter? Were my pantser days over?


Happily, I was soon back on track after taking some time to answer the obvious questions. Who? What? Why? Where? When? Part plotter, part pantser. It works for me. And, if it happens again, I know how to get through it.

Eat junk food.

Monday, February 01, 2016

Romance Reader Conferences:What You Love Most

Readers, how appealing are major reader conferences to you? Conferences such as RT Convention (RomanticTimes), RWA Conference (Romance Writers of America), and RomCon (RomanceConference)?

For those of you who have never been to one, or don’t know what they are, they are massive conventions where readers can not only have their books signed by the authors, but you get to mingle, party, and become friends with these authors. Most of the time they are a Saturday or Sunday event, sometimes a full weekend, or even a week-long event in large hotels with events going on all day and into the evenings. There are huge giveaways, free swag, great food, and even plenty of chances to meet a bunch of cover models, depending on which one you attend.
Last year was my first RT Convention in Dallas. The year before, was my first ever RWA Conference in San Antonio. I loved both conferences tremendously. It was a huge bonus that I was a published author by then, and could participate in the book signings.
As a brand new published author, though, I was an unknown. Therefore I didn’t sell many novels at either, so the cost of the conference registration alone put me in the red. But bottom line, I’d never had so much fun at an author event ever.
For those who know what they and have been to one, do you think the registration fees or ticket prices are worth it? Do you like to bring in your own books to have them signed, or do you like purchasing brand new books on the spot? Do you attend these events for specific authors, or are you that avid a fan of the genre, and love the opportunity to meet new authors and find new characters to read?
As a fairly new published author, I don’t have the budget to attend all of the events I’d like to in a given year. I normally have to pick 1 major conference a year, and then attend small signings more local to home. I LOVE interacting with readers, making new friends, and of course I always love an excuse to party! Not to mention all of the fabulous books! This year I’ll be attending RT Convention again, this time in Las Vegas in April.
Here are some of the major reader conventions coming up throughout the year. Can you add more that I’ve forgotten? Let me know which ones you’ll be going to!

The Novel Experience Event, Atlanta, GA – April 7-11th, 2016
RT Convention, Las Vegas, NV – April 12-17th, 2016
Book Con, Chicago, IL – May 14th, 2016
Romance Novel Convention (RNC), Las Vegas, NV – June 1-5th, 2016
Fresh Fiction’s Boas & Tiaras, Allen, TX – June 11th, 2016
RWA Conference, San Diego, CA – July 13-16th, 2016
Authors After Dark, Savannah, GA – August 3-7th, 2016
Historical Romance Retreat, Spokane, WA – Sept 22-25th, 2016
RomCon, Denver, CO – Sept 30th-Oct 1st, 2016
InD’Scribe Author & Reader Con, Burbank, CA – October 6-9th, 2016
Fresh Fiction’s Readers & ‘Ritas, Allen, TX – Nov 11-13th, 2016

Susan Sheehey