Friday, April 29, 2011


Phyllis Humphrey
What We Are Saying...
It is our pleasure to welcome Phyllis Humphrey with her new book. She  has already received three 5-star reviews!
Phyllis was  born in Oak Park, Illinois attended Northwestern University  and is a  member of Mensa. She is author of nine romance novels, a non-fiction book published by John Wiley & Sons, several short stories and many articles in national magazines.

What Phyl Is Saying...

I have had a long-time interest in the tragedy of the Titanic. This was due in part to the fact that my grandfather emigrated to the U.S. from England on board the New York, a ship the Titanic almost collided with on the first day of its fateful voyage. I collected many books over the years and visited a replica of the ship gaining still more information after the  ship’s remains were found in 1985.When not writing, I sing and act in local theatrical productions and recently produced, promoted, directed and acted in the play, THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER. It was nominated for several awards and won four, including Best Director.

What Others Are Saying:
Bobby Whitney of The Book Wenches:
Ms. Humphrey has a comfortable and polished writing style that makes the narrative flow effortlessly, bringing characters, settings and events to three-dimensional life. She draws her story with enough detail to imbue it with historical accuracy and realism, but not so much that it detracts from the story itself.
Cold April contains an element of suspense that begins the moment we realize that the ocean liner carrying the characters to America is the Titanic. Even as the romance between the two main characters plays out, we can’t help but anticipate what we know to be the fate of the ship and its passengers. And when the climax finally occurs, it is very affecting. Ms. Humphrey’s scene of the last moments of the Titanic plunges her readers into the middle of the chaos and the tragedy, taking our breath away. And that means that yes, it made me cry like the ninny I undoubtedly am.
Even if you have read scores of stories set in, on, or around the RMS Titanic, you’ll want to give Cold April a shot. Ms. Humphrey has done an excellent job breathing life into history with this romance, and I am very impressed with her storytelling. Her author bio indicates that she has a long-standing interested in the Titanic, and that interest shines clearly through the pages of this novel.
Professional Review by James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief, Midwest Book Review
The tragedy of the Titanic is not just the loss of life, but the shambles of personal stories lost within it all. "Cold April" tells the story of Elizabeth Shallcross, as she cares for the child of Richard Graham on a trans-Atlantic voyage. During her journey, she has many offers of love, but her journey through life and across the oceans will be seriously threatened by the ocean tragedy history remembers most. "Cold April" is a riveting read of Titanic drama, highly recommended.

Back Cover Blurb

Fresh from three years in America, Englishwoman Elizabeth Shallcross has big plans for her future, and they do not include remaining in England as a lowly governess. She agrees, however, to one last obligation. She must accompany Richard Graham, an American widower, and care for his little girl on a luxurious voyage to America. Their ship? The Titanic. On the fateful trip, two men vie for her attention. But when the ship strikes an iceberg, who will survive?

Chapter 1

Throngs of people crowded the docks at Southampton. Passengers just disembarking from the ship, and visitors who came to welcome them, shared the space with automobiles and even a few horse-drawn vehicles.

Elizabeth Shallcross hurried through the crush, her eyes darting from side to side. Her hat, although not as wide-brimmed as fashionable women wore those days, covered most of her hair and made scanning the crowd a bit of a challenge. Silently, she berated herself for losing contact with Lord and Lady Wheatly at the last moment, but she’d had to go back to retrieve the gift for her parents she’d purchased in New York.

Suddenly, an arm went around her waist from behind and pulled her violently to one side. A scream started in her throat.

“Please don’t be frightened.” A male voice spoke close to her ear. “You were about to be run down by that careless lorry driver.”

Elizabeth whipped her head around to see a four-wheeled cart in the very spot she’d occupied a few moments before. She could have touched the side of it if she wished.

Her heart still pumping wildly from the incident, she looked up at the man who’d rescued her from being trampled. He was tall and broad-shouldered, yet slender, wearing the unmistakable clothes of a gentleman, including hat and gloves.

His gaze swept over her, and he smiled and bowed. “I must apologize for my rather rough treatment, but it seemed necessary if you were to remain standing.”

His accent puzzled her: not quite all English or all American. Having just spent three years in New York, she recognized American accents.

She smiled back at him. “No apology is necessary. On the contrary, it’s I who should thank you for keeping me out of harm’s way.”

He seemed to be in his early thirties and, in her estimation, quite good-looking, especially since he wore no beard or mustache. Thankfully, fewer men those days kept up the practice of sporting facial hair. King George wore a beard, but Mr. Taft, the President of the United States, had only a mustache.

“If I’m not being too bold, may I ask if I may assist you further? You seemed to be searching for someone in this crowd. Perhaps I could find a safer place for you to wait?”

Since he was obviously a gentleman, she had no qualms about telling him the circumstances. “You’re right. I am waiting for someone--Lord and Lady Wheatly--with whom I’ve just returned from America.”

He gave a broad grin. “What a coincidence. I came here today to meet them myself. Are you a relative of the Wheatlys?”

“No.” She decided quickly that explaining her position would be awkward as well as unnecessary and said no more.

“Forgive me.” He touched the brim of his hat. “I should have introduced myself at once. My name is Richard Graham.”

“Elizabeth Shallcross.”

He took her gloved hand in his. “What a delightful coincidence. Since you are a friend of Lady Wheatly, I expect we shall see a great deal of one another in future. I shall look forward to it.”

His smile and the length of time he held her hand in his could mean only one thing. He was flirting with her, obviously wanting to become better acquainted. She’d had admiring glances before and suspected he might, as other men she’d met recently had done, attempt to pursue a closer relationship. His next words confirmed her opinion.

“You say you were with the Wheatlys in America?”

“Yes, I was.”

“I understand the Bennetts are planning a welcome-home party for them. No doubt you will be attending.” Without giving her time to answer, he went on. “If no one is escorting you to the soiree, may I offer my services in that regard?”

Elizabeth felt her cheeks warm. How marvelous it would be to attend such a party, and in Graham’s company at that. However, the acceptance she framed in her mind never became spoken words.

An imposing voice--which she recognized at once as belonging to Lord Wheatly--broke the little tete-a-tete, and Mr. Graham released Elizabeth’s hand.

“Richard, my boy,” Wheatly said to her companion, “how good of you to come to meet us.”

Almost at once, Lady Wheatly appeared behind her husband, both hands occupied holding onto those of her two children. Behind her, a uniformed steward pushed a heavy-duty cart laden with steamer trunks, boxes and leather bags.

Richard Graham bowed again. “Lady Wheatly. Sir. I took the liberty of engaging a large motorcar for your return to London. The rack on top will hold all your luggage. I hope that meets with your approval.”

“Capital,” Wheatly said. “Very thoughtful of you.”

Penelope, who was eight years old, pulled her hand out of her mother’s and rushed to Elizabeth’s side.

“I see you have met the children’s governess,” Lady Wheatly said to Graham. “Elizabeth Shallcross, but we call her Beth. We somehow lost touch with one another leaving the ship, but it seems you have found her for us.”

After taking Penelope’s hand in hers, Beth looked up at Lady Wheatly. “I’m so sorry if I caused you any worry. I returned to my stateroom for the gift I’d purchased for my mother.”

During her explanation, Beth watched the smile fade from Mr. Graham’s face. She knew exactly what he thought. No doubt an aristocrat, he’d presumed her to be one as well. Now he knew she was only an employee of the Wheatlys’. So much for his offer to be her escort to a party. A knot formed in her midriff. In spite of changing times, the class system was obviously still alive and well in twentieth century England.

A half-hearted smile reappeared on Richard Graham’s face. “Yes, Miss Shallcross and I have met.” He paused. “However, I’m not sure if there will be room in the motorcar...”

Beth spoke again. “I won’t need a ride back to town, Mr. Graham. I expect my parents will be meeting me here very soon.”

“Just so,” Lord Wheatly said.

Lady Wheatly leaned toward Beth. “But this is au revoir and not good-bye. You remember we have much to discuss, and I shall expect you to call on us in a day or so. When it is convenient and you’re rested from the crossing.”

“Yes, ma’am.” She dropped her gaze, unwilling to look at the others any longer. Why had she allowed herself to be enticed even for a moment when Richard Graham introduced himself earlier? She should have known nothing would come of it. She supposed her three years in New York were responsible for such optimism. Little, if any, class consciousness existed there.

“Well, let us be on our way,” Lord Wheatly said. “Richard, is the motorcar nearby?”

Mr. Graham stared at the procession of automobiles threading their way through the slowly-diminishing crowd. “I believe I see it now.”

He turned to Beth. “Miss Shallcross, it was a pleasure to meet you.”

She detected no warmth in the smile he gave her then, but she nodded her head for an instant and said nothing.

Both Penelope and Charles, who was six, gave her the polite handshakes she’d taught them to give when greeting or parting from others. She watched them enter the large silver limousine, while the steward arranged the luggage on top of the vehicle. She recognized it, from magazine pictures she’d seen, as a Rolls Royce Silver Cloud. Seemingly almost as large as a railroad passenger car, it provided plenty of room for her, especially if Mr. Graham were to sit in the front seat with the chauffeur.

But he apparently preferred not to include her, and the steward placed her own steamer trunk at her feet. Although she chafed at the slight, her common sense told her she didn’t want Mr. Graham to see where she lived anyway.

She curtsied to Lord and Lady Wheatly, and they, too, climbed into the vehicle. Richard Graham apparently entered from the other side, and she didn’t see him again.

She sighed. Most likely she would never see the man again.

* * *

Phyllis's book can be purchased atAmazon  and Barnes & Noble

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011



What We Are Saying....
It's our great pleasure to welcome LJ Charles to our blog with her new book Life Thread. she is the author of women's fiction and young adult novels. All of her stories combine romance, mystery, and paranormal elements.

If you like the excerpt, leave a comment for a free copy of LJ's book.

What LJ Is Saying....
I wrote my first book when I was eight…on pink construction paper with a purple crayon. It was a romance that involved a princess, and although I remember very few details about the plot, I do remember that it was illustrated and there was music and dancing involved.At about the same time I penned my first story, I discovered Nancy Drew and my love for reading was born. It has only grown over the years, and I am rarely without a huge to-be-read stack, and a book within easy reach.
 Guess I haven’t ever outgrown my early reading adventures with Nancy, Ned, Bess and George.
I live in the frozen north with my husband, whose TBR stack is taller than mine, and two felines who have been known to add entire pages to a manuscript without telling me.

Back Cover BlurbMcKenna Fin is armed, dangerous, and in love for the first time. She'll do anything to earn her humanity... except the one thing the Fate's require.
Stuck in her senior year of high school until she earns her humanity, McKenna Fin is responsible for cutting the lifethread of demons, and protecting teens from being possessed. To celebrate her fiftieth year of apprenticeship to the Fate Atropos, McKenna is given a new responsibility, and possibly a quick way to earn her humanity—severing the lifethread of deserving humans. Her first assignment: Nathan Quinn.
When Nathan becomes a primary demon target and gets sucked into Tartania, McKenna’s duty as a Fated priestess demands she follow. McKenna can rescue him, no problem, but then she’d have to cut his lifethread. And he’s the one and only guy she’s been attracted to since forever.
The demons consider Nathan one of their own and fight to keep him. The time limit on Nathan's life is about to run out, and McKenna has to make the decision: sever his lifethread, or battle demons, defy the Fates, and keep him for her First

Chapter One

“McKenna Fin.” I snapped out the syllables of my name and a shimmer of energy coated the walls of the history classroom. The back of my neck prickled with unsettling intensity, and I couldn’t stop my fingers from rifling the pages of my textbook. Four times the substitute teacher from hell had called me by some other name. Count them. Four. Too many, even for an evil imbecile of a substitute unit. Not only was she unable to cope with a simple seating chart, but…uh-oh, her eyes were taking on the vacant stare that telegraphed “demon” in blossoming shades of red.

Dammit all to Zeus, I’d have to kill her and it was only third period.

No way around it seeing as I’m the Moirai Priestess, connected to the Fate, Atropos. There are three of us roaming the Earth at any given time, each assigned to one of the Fates. My boss just happened to be responsible for cutting lifethreads. Ending human life. Or in my case, ending demon life.

I fingered the glowing blade tucked into a special pocket on my backpack—the kind of blade made of Ouranian magick that didn’t set off metal detectors, or any other detector for that matter. Ripples of energy came alive under my fingertips as I stroked the glassy smooth surface, deftly avoiding the killer edge. I love my blade.

My fingers twitched with urgency. I had to kill it before its eyes turned completely red with demon strength. The thing is, Atropos gets all hinky when I draw attention to myself, and I seriously hate when she calls me in front of the Triad for behavior unbecoming a Moirai Priestess. Not good. It would probably mean another one hundred years being stuck in my senior year of high school. And seriously, the first fifty were more than enough. Immortality sucks. I mean, who can tolerate being seventeen years, eleven months, and twenty-five days old, for like forever. You’d think she could have created me with a birth date that came with voting privileges and didn’t require emancipation papers.

My sigh must have been über loud because Nathan Quinn, the one and only guy at Brighton High worth my time, had his baby greens fixed in my direction. My nerves jumped to attention and a warm glow heated my cheeks, probably noticeable even though I was blessed with naturally dark skin. We’d been eyeing each other all year, but it was way complicated for a priestess to date.

“He’s just fine.” Merritt’s honeyed voice plowed into my head; bless her golden eyes and sun-kissed brown hair. Mer belonged to Lachesis, the Fate who decided human destiny, and who twisted time to accommodate said destinies. My sister priestess was down the hall in biology class, but Moirai Priestesses have telepathic bonds that provides instant communication. Sometimes good, sometimes majorly inconvenient. Right now? A total pain in the butt.

“Not now, Merritt. Seriously bad timing.” I scooted my chair back and jammed the history text in my backpack.

“Do not diss my timing, McK. Not when you need me to adjust time so you can kill that hell spawn pretending to teach history.”

I shot a glance at the demon in question. Shiny orange scales had broken out along evil-pretend-to-be-a-teacher’s arms. Noticeable. But only to me. Thank Zeus and Nyx the vastly inferior human eye couldn’t see demons. Most everyone was nose-to-desk taking a nap, and the few attempting to pay attention had that glazed asleep-sitting-up look. They weren’t processing a thing—thank the Fates—so, they didn’t notice when the sub morphed into demon form. Looked like it had targeted that smallish kid in the front row. Not that it mattered. It was my job to rescue all human kids. An equal opportunity deal.

I balanced my blade, aimed for the base of demon teacher’s throat, and sent the weapon in a smooth, precise arc across the room. One demon lifethread severed. The blade returned to my hand, leaving behind a crumpled, orange scaly body. “Done. Ready for clean up, Mer. At least this one was quick, no hand-to-hand, no battle to the death. You gotta appreciate how easy the young ones are.”

“No prob, sis.” She blinked out of my head to create a blip in time, and I used the pause to sheath my blade, and roll my gaze over that “fine boy.” I mean, time was paused, so why not indulge in a little—

“Hey, you gotta bury that demon and get out of the room.” Merritt again.

“Nah. No one will—”

“Time didn’t pause for the hottie. Get. Out. Of. The. Room.”

She’d called it right. Nathan Quinn wasn’t suspended in time, nor was he ogling the suddenly empty space in the front of the room. He was staring at me, questions blazing in his beyond gorgeous eyes.

I lifted my long, single braid, shouldered my backpack, and then dropped the braid. I hated when strands of hair got caught against the rough canvas fabric. “Shea is gonna be sooooo pissed. She hates when stuff like this happens.”

“Thing is, Shea’s in the middle of a physics test, and—”

The energy around Nathan shimmered. How had I missed that? “Have you looked at this guy, Merritt? Really looked? He’s one of Shea’s creations. Has to be. See the azure blue in his pattern. That’s Shea. Clotho never creates with that color. And the reason he’s all alert-like is because she made a mistake.”

“Huh? What are you—oh, yeah. I see that gray break in the pattern. Could be that’s the good news. If she made a mistake, she won’t go running to the Fates—”

“Y’all are talking ‘bout me like I’m not here.” Shea. Her soft twang unmistakable as she cut in on my conversation with Merritt. “Nathan isn’t a mistake. He’s more an…anomaly.”

“WTF?” Merritt and I did the silent yell in unison.

Shea didn’t say another word. Not. One. Word. I hustled toward Nathan’s desk. This internal conversation among the three of us had gone on long enough, and Merritt definitely should not be holding time that long. For sure we’d have the Fate’s calling us to Ourania. “Give me a minute to get him out of the room before you release time, Mer.”

I bumped along the aisle, my backpack catching on the edges of the desks, pulling the straps tightly into my shoulders. Damn the extra weight of the history book. Ereaders, people. Seriously. I slid my hand under the strap to ease the weight. “Hey, Nathan.” I purred the greeting, hitting every seductive note I could summon.

Not that I had to do much. Each of the Fates provides a gift to her priestess. Mine happens to be magick skin. Atropos created it from pure love energy, so it’s silky soft, caramelly-colored, and tough enough to stop most anything from penetrating the surface. Handy when someone throws a knife at me. Or tries to pound me into mashed potatoes. Not that those things happen often, but when you work for the Fates…

Anyway, my skin comes with a surreal glow, like there’s a low wattage light shining just under the surface. And it’s one of the reasons I never trust a guy when he hits on to me. Was it me, my skin, or the standard overload of teenage testosterone? Not that I’d trade my super skin for a guy.

“Hey there, McKenna,” Nathan said as I approached his desk. Waves of thick black hair dipped over his forehead, a contrast to the deep green of his eyes. Attention catching. Definitely drool-worthy. And he smelled cool with a touch of pepper. Naturally. Not out of a bottle. I inhaled and let the scent settle against my tongue. Kissable.

Except there was a tightness around his mouth, like his skin was stretched too thin. Anger? Fear, maybe? “You wanna talk about the missing substitute unit?” His voice was rich with challenge.

“What’s to talk about? Subs disappear all the time. This one probably got stomach cramps when she couldn’t manage the seating chart.”

Disbelief flashed, turning his eyes more golden than green. “Un-huh. And the fact that everyone in this room is frozen in place except you and me?”

“Shock. It happens to kids when they’re suddenly free from adult supervision. Come on. Let’s lose this place. It’s almost lunchtime, and I have something to show you.” I took his hand and yanked him out of his chair, knowing that as soon as I touched him, my skin would do its thing and muddle his brain. Sort of. There’s something about coming in contact with pure love that makes ordinary humans go all spacey. And it’s the major reason I don’t date. Not ever.

“Nyx and Zeus!” I about screeched which is not my style at all. I’m more the—okay, that’s a lie. I do the occasional screech, and in this case it fit. I wanted to snatch my hand back. No. What I wanted was to never stop touching him. His skin was warm. Some rough areas from playing baseball. Guy skin. Unexpected. A first.

This was so not the time to be distracted. I prayed Shea hadn’t messed Nathan’s birth up enough that he was immune to my touch because that would create a witch of a problem.

She didn’t. Right on cue, his eyes glazed over and he fell into step next to me. I all but shoved him out of the classroom, making a quick stop to touch my blade to the floor underneath the dead demon, creating the perfect-sized hole. Its body dropped in, and then I touched my blade to the surface to cover it up and complete the burial. I try to be tidy.

I headed outside, Nathan in tow, turned him in the direction of the baseball diamond, and let go of his hand. It took maybe thirty seconds before I’d sprinted from the scene and was safely off campus, heading for the local bookstore and coffee shop. What could be better than the combo of a white chocolate latte and books? Well, other than earning the freedom to become human, graduate high school, and end my apprenticeship with Atropos.

Not that I’d be earning my humanity any time soon, because—a shiver rippled along my spine—I hadn’t cut a single human lifethead. Yet. And honestly, I wasn't in any hurry to have Atropos dump that responsibility on me. The very thought stripped my nerve endings raw. Maybe it wouldn’t come to that. With any luck, Atropos would keep me on demon detail until I’d fulfilled my contract with her.

The noise in the bookstore clashed with my need for some quiet time, so I took my latte outside and planted my backside at an out-of-the-way table. Spring scents curled through the air, twisted in the breeze and stole the fragrance of my brew before it hit my nostrils. I’d killed my demon-for-the-day, but kept a wary eye out for any sign of hell spawn. Not that there was a limit. Demonkind has a habit of tossing surprises into the mix, and—

“There’s no telling what they’re gonna hit you with.”

“You know I hate when you finish my thoughts, Merritt. Where are you anyway?”

“Close. Be there in a few. Something bad is coming, McKenna, and it’s giving me the heebs.”

“Yeah. I’m twitchy, and it can’t be that last demon. It was easy. Hey, maybe that’s what’s wrong. The kill was too easy.” The wind caught my hair, blowing loose strands across my face. Time to re-do the braid. Probably I should cut my hair off and go with an ultra short, slayer-friendly do, but it was my best feature, black in the shadows, changing to a rich, dark red in the sunlight. My only comment-worthy feature. The rest of me was plain ordinary Jane. Except for the skin, but that didn’t count because it was a gift from the Fates.

“You’ve had easy kills before.” Mer was back in my head. “Time is like rippling around that Nathan guy, and Shea’s been way too quiet. I’m thinking he’s vulnerable for demon possession because of the glitch in his creation.”

Merritt had a point, and the jeebs were making my skin bumpy. Metaphorically speaking, of course. Nothing could actually change the smooth surface of my outer layer. “Shea Ang.” I gave her a telepathic shout.

She appeared in front of me, a sparkling outline against the clear blue sky. She was the only one of us who could do that—manifest herself wherever. It was her gift from the Fates, like my super skin and Merritt’s ultra fast reflexes.

Shea is all prissy-like with straight silver blonde hair that hits her backside, delicate features and dark blue eyes. When she gets mad they turn purple, and right now they were running at a pale indigo. “What is it, McKenna? Y’all have got work and so do—geezo freak-ing Pete! Behind you.”

I swiveled around, calling my blade to me in mid-pivot. My hair, freed from the braid, whipped across my face blinding me. I caught the thick waves, yanking them away from my eyes a split second before the demon dropped out of the Douglas Fir and landed in front of me. The scent of crushed evergreen needles bit into the air and mingled with the stench of demon. It looked to be early teens, maybe fourteen, with eyes glowing red hot. It lunged, wrapped its arms around my knees and brought me to the ground with a jarring thud. So not graceful. Talons curled from the ends of its fingers, and the pressure of the sharp points against the sensitive area behind my knees sent a flash of pain flickering over my skin. Super skin or not, I still felt stuff.

I grabbed a handful of its silky red curls, twisted them into my fist and jerked its head back. My blade found the sweet spot at the base of its neck, barely needing a push from me to sever the lifethread. I threw the carcass to the side, and wedged myself up between the dead body and the back of the wooden bench. It was creepy, how this demon looked so young. Wrong, even in the sick world of demonkind. They have exactly one year to possess a teen, from the hour of birth on the day of his or her seventeenth birthday until the exact same hour on their eighteenth birthday. Any more of a window and I’d lose more than I saved. But this one couldn’t have been seventeen.

“That’s two in an hour, McK. And it totally ruined your sweater.”

“Huh? My…dammit.” I brushed at the mess. “Grass and coffee. No point in even trying to clean it.”

Shea’s eyes had gone black, the only part of her still visible. “It was too young.”

“It couldn’t be. Demons have rules. You know that.” I did burial duty so Shea would stop staring at the body.

Merritt chose that moment to stroll up next to us and twitched her hips just enough to raise her denim mini skirt to a whisper below indecent. “Don’t corrupt our Shea. She’s the good priestess, completely innocent of destiny and death.”

“Whatever. We have a problem what with that being the second demon I’ve killed this morning. And you’re right, Mer, it has something to do with Nathan. His skin, when I touched him, something wasn’t right. I—”

“It’s me.” Shea shimmered, almost blinked out. “Clotho assigned me to finish Nathan’s creation because ‘something came up,’ and I must have screwed it up somehow.”

“The how of that would be good to know.” I picked up my empty, mangled coffee cup and dumped it in the trash, then stowed my blade and faced my sisters. “Nathan is human. Mostly. Isn’t that right, Shea?”

“I’m not sure.” She twisted her fingers into a knot, and started to fade out again.

“Hey, don’t fade. Do my braid, would you? It needs to be really tight if demons are gonna be dropping out of trees today.” If I kept her busy she wouldn’t disappear and I’d have a better chance of figuring out the details of Nathan’s creation.

Shea went to work on my hair. Merritt planted herself in front of us, demanding attention. “Like McKenna was saying before the demon intruded, we are in a heap of trouble. And it feels like Atropos is gonna call her in…like right now.”

And there I was. Facing Atropos with ugly brown and green stains on my white sweater, hair half braided, and water for knees.

I don’t have a clue how Atropos manifests her corporeal form to anyone else, but to me she’s crazy gorgeous. All that Ouranian love she carries shines through her skin and lights up whatever space she’s in.

But then there’s the part of her that makes my nerves wince. The scary part. First off, pure love isn’t about being nice. At least not for Atropos. And then there’s the bit about the scissors she uses to cut the lifethread, the ones attached to the golden belt holding her classic white gown in place. Those scissors equal instant death, and they’re made from the same magick as my blade. Freaky scary when I’m not the one in control of the weapon.

“McKenna Fin.” My name wafted on the air currents surrounding us, echoed and then faded into eternity.

I laid my blade across my heart and bowed. “Good wishes, Atropos.”

“It is the day of your fiftieth anniversary in service to me. Do you know what that means?” The warm silky notes of her voice swirled around me, mesmerizing in their intensity.

Did I? Had anyone ever told me? Merritt was the oldest of us, and the only thing different about her was—oh. Oh, no. Merritt had humans of her own. Not just demons, but actual living, breathing people who did things. Like graduated from college, and got married, and had kids—people with destinies. My skin lost its luster. I’m positively certain that I turned into a ghost right there in front of Atropos.

“Ah, I see that you are beginning to understand the responsibility that will now rest upon your shoulders. From this day forth, McKenna Fin, you will be asked to cut the lifethreads of the humans who are assigned to your care.”

“Kill people? Not demons?” My heart thumped in my chest like a drummer on diet pills.

“Yes, however we of Ourania do not refer to it as killing in the same sense that humankind does. We are benevolent. All of our work is done within the essence of pure love, and we free souls so they may experience the purity of that love. We are responsible to universal law.”

Goody-goody words. Creepy, and so like nothing that actually happens on Earth. “How do I know—”

“You are blessed with free will, just as all children of the Earth, and of Ourania are. It is your choice how to make the cut, how to wield your blade to best benefit your human responsibility.”

“So if I can choose when—”

“There is a window of time available to you. You must not allow your first human assignment to exist beyond his seventeenth year on Earth.”

Or what? He’d spoil. Like moldy cheese? Atropos lips twitched into a quirk that came alarmingly close to a smile. She couldn’t hear my thoughts. Surely she couldn’t. Only Merritt and Shea could do that. Fear snaked through me and bit down hard. I shoved all snarky thoughts out of my head.

“Do you understand, McKenna Fin?”

“No. Nope, don’t understand. You expect me to go around whacking people like some kind of serial killer? And I have to decide when it’s a good time to do them in? No. That isn’t gonna work for me.” My stomach clenched and I swallowed bile. Do not puke in front of Atropos. Breathe. “I don’t want the whole life and death thing on my conscience. Very uncool, and so not my thing. Now, demons? I get that. No problem there at all. Show me some red eyes and I’ll eliminate the sons of bi…ah, evil. I’ll eliminate that kind of evil lickity split.”

“Yes. The number of demons that cross your path will become more intense as you age and gain experience, and you will be required to protect your human from them until it is time to sever the lifethread. But your responsibility is one of reverence for human life. You would not keep someone in your care from experiencing Ourania, would you?”

The warmth and silk in her voice were gone. Atropos had changed her tone to a rough grumble, and I finally got the whole cliché about Catholic schools and nuns with rulers. Caught between human beliefs and my knowledge of Ourania, I cracked under the guilt.

I looked beyond Atropos, and across the boundary separating us from the crystalline brilliance of Ourania. Peace incarnate. Perfect love. And I caved. “No, I couldn’t do that, but—”

“There must be no doubt when you use the blade, lest that doubt follow the human into eternity.”

Bad. Very, very bad. I tossed my hands up, totally frustrated with her inability to understand. “Don’t you get it? I can’t just go around killing people. It’s against human law.”

This time she did smile. “I believe that if I had spoken those words to you, your response would be ‘Can you get any more lame, Atropos?’ You are not committing murder, but carrying out the wisdom of the universe.”

Caught. Trapped, and I hated it. Claustrophobia of the soul. Who knew? “And if I can’t do it?”

“Then you will never earn the right to become completely human. Your form, as it is, will reside in limbo for all eternity. It is not a fate I would wish on you.”

She got that one right and it sucked big time. Anger zipped along my nerves, and I fought to stomp it down. Later. I could be pissed later when I was safely back on Earth.

More than anything I longed to be human, to live life. Don’t get me wrong, immortality has its props when you’re one of the Fates, or a goddess, or whatever. But it’s a curse when you’re an apprentice. Forever stuck in high school doesn’t cut it. Not in my world. “Okay, got it. No choice on the cutting-the-thread gig, but free will on the how and when—within limits. What’s next?”

“Your first assignment is the human, Nathan Quinn.”

Leave a comment with your name and email address for a chance to win a copy of LJ Charles book.

Lifethread March 2011

Lifethread: Mistake April 2011

Monday, April 25, 2011


If you like this post, please leave a comment when you finish.
by Ruby Johnson

Character is revealed by action when emotional responses are also revealed.

It is important to show whether there is a difference between what the character does and what he thinks. If someone is being kind and smiling, is it because that person is truly kind and happy? Or is he doing something nice in order to get something for himself?

You need to show the character's feelings about what he or she is doing.
Example: I interviewed a woman for a secretarial position in my office. Her name was Judy. Judy had hair that hung below her waist, wore no makeup, and dressed like a flower child in the sixties. Her husband drove her to work in a red truck with a bumper sticker that read "Italian Stallion". I saw her everyday in the office of the Boss from Hell. She was always smiling and pleasant. She had beautiful telephone manners and typed over 120 words a minute. Every Boss's day she always bought a card and got others to contribute for flowers for him. She would always tell him how much she appreciated his help and guidance.

I commented, "I always thought you were happy working there."

She looked me straight in the eye with that smile on her face and said,"It was all put-on."

That got me to thinking about the faces we show outwardly versus the feelings we really have.

For instance, if I write a description of Judy taking the flowers in and arranging them on her boss's desk, unless I reveal how Judy feels writing the card and arranging the flowers, you might think she likes her boss. Knowing that she is disgusted with herself and thinks about the boss being hit by a train on the way to work changes your view of the character.

Character is revealed by self-discovery:
Perhaps your character thinks he is one way but something happens to show him that he is not that way at all. Judy might have thought she was genuinely nice and good to overlook the bad behavior of the boss from hell by buying flowers etc on boss's day. Maybe she catches a glimpse of herself arranging flowers and sees she isn't so nice and caring. In reality, maybe she is trying to lull him into thinking she is no threat so she can really make trouble for him. This self-discovery would indicate something about Judy's personality.

By the way, Judy didn't last long in my office either. She cut off her hair, put on makeup,got new clothes, divorced her "Italian Stallion" husband and ran off to Alabama with a new man.

What do you do to reveal your character?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Scenes of Easter Memories

photo by amanecer
by Ruby Johnson
As a child I associated Easter with spring and as a time of renewal. Our family always attended sun rise service at a lake near our home. The morning  was filled with a moist cold air. This was the first time to wear our white patent leather shoes, spring dresses and  little straw hats. Shivering we would stand for what seemed like hours waiting for the sun to rise.

photo by Thorsten Path

Then it was on to church where we took spring flowers to attach to the cross.

Some Easters were early and we were lucky if we even had a daffodil to take to the church. It was the end of lent.

photo by Thorsten Path

At our house, we never gave up meat on Friday as some of our friends did during lent. We were told to do a good deed for someone.  That would be more Christ like. Well that was much harder to do than giving up meat.

Photo by Thorsten Path
Easter egg hunts were always fun and there was always the coveted prize egg to find.
Of course, the eggs were sometimes cracked from dropping, unlike the plastic eggs  today filled with goodies.And invariably, one egg would be undercooked.
But the fun was in locating the eggs which were really well hidden.

photo by Anne Johnson
This was also the time of birth for calves, chicks, pigs, foals and fillies,and the sprouting of seeds we'd planted. It was indeed a time of renewal  as we watched  plants, trees, and shrubs which shed their leaves in the fall come back with their flowers and sweet scents. It taught us that every form of life is a renewal process and was the greatest lesson as a child on Jesus dying.

I'm not sure I understood what adults meant when they talked about our souls but I distinctly remember thinking as a child at  my granddad's funeral that he was only asleep and maybe he would rise again like Jesus. My granddad died during Easter week.

Do you have Easter memories?
photo by Anne Johnson

Friday, April 22, 2011


What We Are Saying
If you missed Nearly Departed in Deadwood, the debut book in this series, you may want to  purchase and read it first. I promise you won't be disappointed. It is humorus, sad,  romantic, and is a mystery. I could not stop reading it once I started. Ann Charles has a unique voice and a way with words that just charms the socks off you.

Ann Charles
What Others are Saying Nearly Departed in Deadwood has been #1 on the Top Rated Ebook list for both Mysteries and Women Sleuths   and remains in the top 50 books on Amazon.

What Ann is Saying
 Following is the first chapter of Optical Delusions in Deadwood for you. Check it out and see for yourself what mess Violet has herself mixed up in now.

First Chapter- Optical Delusions in Deadwood

Deadwood, South Dakota
Wednesday, August 1st

Some jackass has been talking shit around town about me chitchatting with dead folks.

I didn’t believe in ghosts, or haven’t since I started wearing a training bra, anyway. But a couple of weeks ago, a psychotic serial killer tricked me into being the guest of honor at his macabre tea party with his sister’s ghost and three of his decomposing victims. Since then, my reputation had suffered.

Normally, I’d just shrug off the stares, whispers, and snickers of sidewalk onlookers and fellow Piggly Wiggly shoppers, but I was relatively new in town—and even newer at this real estate agent venture. With two kids to support, big smiles and friendly service were my bread and butter.

Lucky for me, my fellow diners this morning at Bighorn Billy’s were mainly tourists chattering away about what was on their day’s agenda. With the infamous Sturgis Motorcycle Rally right around the corner, the Black Hills were crawling with chromed-out bikes.

I stirred cream and sugar into my steaming coffee, happy as hell to be upstaged by the leather-clad crew for the next couple of weeks. My stomach growled, antsy from the aroma of fried bacon and eggs thick in the air. A glance at the Harley Davidson clock on the wall made it growl again.

My breakfast date was late, and if he didn’t get his ornery old butt here soon, I was going to order without him
A shadow fell over my table. “Excuse me, are you Violet Parker?”

That depended on if the woman standing over me with the owl-eye glasses and squeaky voice was one of my ghoul groupies. Her silver-blue eyes were magnified by lenses thick enough to read War and Peace etched on a grain of rice; her hair a helmet of brown, frizzy curls. My gaze lowered to the gray turtleneck sweater and long wool skirt covering her from neck to toe. Somebody should tell her it was August outside.

I smiled extra wide, always the saleswoman. “That’s me. What can I do for you?”

She seemed harmless enough, but I’d recently learned the hard way that looks could be deceiving. My eyebrows were just starting to fill back in after that lesson.

She pushed her glasses higher up on her nose. “A gentleman from your office told me we could find you here.”

Gentleman? My smile almost slipped. I had only one male coworker at Calamity Jane Realty. He hated my guts for stealing this Realtor job from his nephew and had made it his personal mission to destroy my career before it could even get one wheel off the ground. We’d hit it off like a sledgehammer and old TNT right from the start.

“I’m Millie Carhart,” the woman said. “My mother would like to hire you to sell her house.”

I peeked at the woman cowering behind Millie. With her white hair twirled up into a bun on top of her head and her ample bosom restrained in a faded, red gingham dress, she looked straight out of Little House on the Prairie.

My gaze returned to Millie’s magnified irises. “Is your mother’s place in Deadwood?” I assumed they were local, but with all of the tourists around, it didn’t hurt to double-check.

“No. We live up the hill in Lead.”

Lead was Deadwood’s golden-veined twin. Its history books were filled with mining tales rather than gambling legends.

I had no issues with selling a house in either city. Money was money, something I had very little of, but I wasn’t agreeing to anything until I took a look at the place. Again, past lessons learned; last contracted dwelling burned to the ground—blah, blah, blah. “When’s a good time for me to come take a look at your house?”

“As soon as you can.”

Nice, a motivated seller. Now if I could only find a buyer half as eager. Hell, just find a buyer—period. “How about this afternoon at two?”

“Good.” Millie pulled a piece of paper from one of the folds in her sweater and placed it next to my coffee cup. “Here’s our address. We’ll be waiting for you.”

Before I had a chance to fish one of my cards from my purse, she left, her mother trailing after her. They passed my tardy breakfast date on their way to the door.

“Sorry, I’m late.” Old Man Harvey slid onto the seat across from me, his grizzled beard in desperate need of a trim. “I was putting out a fire all night.”

Another fire? I frowned. “At your ranch?”

His grin was broad, his gold tooth gleaming. “Nah. In an old flame’s bed. I left her smoldering.”

I choked on an involuntary chuckle and sipped my sweetened coffee to wash it down.

I’d met Harvey and his 12-gauge shotgun up-close and personal about a month ago. After we’d straightened out that I was a Realtor interested in helping him sell his ranch and not a banker bent on taking it, we’d tossed back some hard liquor over a listing agreement. He’d confessed he was lonely and then proved it by insisting I include a once-a-week-dinner-on-me clause. Desperate, I’d agreed.

“What’s for breakfast?” Harvey opened his menu. “After all of that bumping and grinding last night, I could eat a herd of elk.”

Grimacing, I set my cup on the table. “Stop. You’re going to kill my appetite.”

He snorted, then buried his nose in the plastic pages. “What did the Carharts want?”

“You know them?” I shouldn’t have been surprised. Harvey had grown up in the Hills. The dirty bird liked to brag about all of the cousins he’d kissed.

“Wanda was a few grades ahead of me in school,” he said.

“They want me to sell their house.”

Harvey squinted at me over the menu. “And?”
“And what? I’m paying them a visit this afternoon.”

He leaned across the table, his forehead puckered. “What are you thinking?”

I blinked. Had I missed the memo? “What do you mean?”

“Are you really going to take them on as clients?”

“Sure.” If their place wasn’t a pit. “Why not?”

He tossed his menu on the table. “Maybe because six months ago in that very house, Millie’s brother bashed her father’s head in with a rolling pin and then blew his own brains out.”

I swallowed wrong, hot coffee searing the back of my tongue. “You’re kidding me.”

“I wish I was.” He crossed his arms. “If you take this job, you might as well plug your nose and hold your breath, because your career is gonna go swirling down the damned crapper.”

* * * * *

Want to read more? Stayed tuned for Buy Links in May 2011.

In the mean time you can purchase
NEARLY DEPARTED IN DEADWOOD EBooks at: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Sony Reader, Smashwords, Diesel eBook Store
 Print Books: Amazon, IndieBound, Barnes & Noble,Adams Bros.

Monday, April 18, 2011


Ann Charles
Please welcome back Ann Charles with an article on marketing and promotion. If you like this post, please leave a comment when you finish reading.

by Ann Charles

I’m not a great plotter. I’m not a great editor, either. I’m so-so at marketing and promotion, and I scrape by as a blogger. So, what am I thinking by trying to write and sell books? Well, as you might have guessed, I’m not exactly known for my brilliant ideas. But two things I am good at are being stubborn and driven (borderline monomaniacal about anything to do with the subject of writing, according to some family members). I’m also not too bad at asking for help when it comes to spreading the word about my books.

I’m sure you have heard of the saying, “It takes a village.” For me, it’s grown to bigger than just a village. It’s becoming a small town, and I’m aiming for a small municipality by year-end. These days, even well-published authors have to help their publishers spread the world about their books, so learning how to enlist a small village of folks to help you sell your book is crucial. But where do you start? How do you motivate others to help you without forking out thousands of dollars to pay for their time?

It’s not easy, it takes a lot of humility, and it takes a bit of people-reading. You have to be willing to ask for help, and then you have to show each person how they can help you. The key is figuring out the individual strengths of those around you, and then convincing them how easy it is to talk about your book.

For example, if your Aunt Sally is someone who finds it easy to chat up a stranger about anything under the sun, she might make a great “Jr. Publicist” who is willing to go out to her local libraries with some of your bookmarks or chapter books to try to convince them to purchase a copy of your book. How about your coworker, Ed, whose sister is a member of a book club? See if Ed will ask his sister to consider your book for their club read, and offer to go visit the book club in person and talk about your story, writing life, etc.

Are you an eBook-only author? Ask your friends to go online and leave reviews of your books wherever it’s available. Give your family tools like bookmarks and magnets and chapter booklets and ask them to take them to their offices, factories, doctor’s offices and share them with their friends and coworkers who read books online or via an e-reader.

When it comes to motivating your village members, kindness and “thank you” go a long way. I also like to give folks fun stuff, like magnets, key chains, signed posters, and other relatively low cost promotional items. Plus, I thank them publicly online (Facebook, blogs, and Twitter) and in workshops and articles. This brings me back to the subject of humility, as in recognizing that you can’t make a book a bestseller on your own, and never forgetting that fact, no matter how many sales you make and awards you win.

We all have strengths, and we spend a lot of time and money on self-help books and workshops to figure out what those strengths are. Instead, why not start figuring out the strengths of those in the village around you? The key to success is selling books. You don’t have to do it all on your own.

If you liked this post, share your thoughts with Ann. Thanks for stopping by.

Ann's book Nearly Departed in Deadwood is available now Here.

Optical Delusions in Deadwood is available online in May 2011 and in print in July 2011.(Come back on Friday for an excerpt).

Contact Ann  at

Friday, April 15, 2011


Anita Clenney
What We Are Saying...
Anita Clenney is back with us sharing her new book Awaken the Highland Warrior. She says this is the book of her heart. You might want to read this book if you like paranormals. You might want to read this book if you like books with vampires, demons, and Scottish Highland Warriors. You might want to read this book if you like romantic adventure with great plots.  Just to get you interested Anita is sharing an excerpt of her book, the first in a trilogy.

What Others Are Saying...

Clenney's Scottish paranormal debut is full of twisty subplots and sexy, romantic fun."..."there's plenty to keep readers looking ahead to the sequels."-- Publishers Weekly

"Scottish warriors, demons, vampires, time travel and two strong main characters are the elements that Clenney seamlessly weaves together to form an intriguing story.".. "she creates a romantic adventure that is hard to resist." -- Romantic Times Magazine

"Clenney’s debut, beginning a new paranormal series, showcases her ability to create an alternative modern world peopled with interesting, exciting, and compelling characters. Civil War historian and treasure seeker Bree Kirkland is shocked when she opens a crypt in her family’s cemetery and an ancient Scottish Highlander jumps out at her."..."Clenney’s series will be a favorite of those who love time travel and Highlanders." -- Booklist

Back Cover Blurb
Awaken The Highland Warrior -- Coming May 2011 from Sourcebooks Casablanca.

He's had centuries to dream of her...

Mis-adventurous historian Bree Kirkland discovers a one hundred fifty year old warrior buried in a crypt behind her house. But Faelan, the warrior, isn’t dead. When this chauvinistic Scottish Warrior awakes, he has no choice but accept the help of this modern-day woman who’s rescued him, but she’s more fearsome than the demon trying to kill him. If he’s not careful, she’ll uncover every secret his clan has bled and died to protect.

Bree’s fingers tightened around the metal disk as she ran through the graveyard, zigzagging past leaning headstones. Her lantern swayed, throwing shadows on the crypt looming before her, its stone walls the color of bones. Thick vines crept over it, sealing in cracks left by time, while gnarled branches from the twisted oak hovered like outstretched arms. Protecting… or threatening?

An owl screeched overhead as she scurried up the crumbling steps, wishing night hadn’t fallen, when shadows twisted into monsters and spirits came out to play. The burial vault lay open near the back of the crypt, waiting. Blood rushed past her ears, a sound like all the angels’ wings beating in unison. She moved closer and peered at the chest inside. It was ornate, made of metal and wood, with green gemstones embedded in each corner. It looked ancient, like it belonged in a museum or a pyramid, or perhaps Solomon’s Temple. The beauty of it struck her again, as it had when she’d first discovered it.

She set the lantern on the edge of the burial vault and studied the markings on the chest. Swirls and shapes like writing shifted in the amber glow. Stretching out a finger, she touched the surface. Warm? She yanked her hand back and hit the lantern. It crashed to the floor, throwing the top of the crypt into darkness. Dropping to her knees, she scrambled for the light. A sound cut through the silence, scraping, like fingernails against stone. She grabbed the lantern, not daring to blink, then remembered the wind outside and the claw-like branches of the old tree.

She placed the lantern securely on the vault cover she’d pushed onto the alcove and unfolded her hand. The metal disk she held was three inches in diameter and appeared to be made from the same metal as the chest, not silver, not gold. One side had deep grooves; the other was etched with symbols. With trembling fingers, she lined up the disk with the matching grooves on top of the chest and pushed. There was a series of clicks as the notched edges retracted.

A voice rushed through her head. What lies within cannot be, until time has passed with the key.

Bree whirled, but she was alone. Only stone walls stood watch, their secrets hidden for centuries. It was sleep deprivation, not ghosts.

She pulled in a slow, steadying breath and tried to turn the disk. Nothing. Again, this time counterclockwise, and it began to move under her hand. She jerked her fingers back. A loud pop sounded and colors flashed… blue, orange, and green, swirling for seconds, and then they were gone. Great, hallucinations to go with the voices in her head.

Her body trembled as she gripped the lid. This was it. All her dreams held on a single pinpoint of time. If this ended up another wild goose chase, she was done. No more treasure hunts, no more mysteries, no more playing Indiana Jones. She’d settle down to a nice, ordinary, boring life. She counted.




She heaved open the chest.

Terror clawed its way to her throat, killing her scream.

The man inhaled one harsh breath and his eyes flew open, locking on Bree. A battle cry worthy of Braveheart echoed off the walls. Bree jumped back as metal flashed and a rush of air kissed her face. Petrified, she watched him crawl out of the burial vault, a wicked-looking dagger in his hand. Her scream tore loose as she turned and fled.

Fingers grazed her shoulder, and she glanced back. The last thing she saw before her feet tangled with the shovel was the dead man reaching for her.

If you liked this excerpt share a comment with Anita . Thanks for stopping by.
Anita's books may be pre-ordered at



Monday, April 11, 2011


Anita Clenney
 We are happy to welcome Anita Clenney to our blog today to talk about writing and her new book coming out next month. Anita says it took three years, eleven months, and twenty-two days before she got "the call" from her agent telling her she not only had sold her first book, but the publisher wanted a three book deal. The first book in the series is being released in May 2011, the second in November 2011, and the third in spring of 2012.

Your book, Awaken the Highland Warrior, will be out in May 2011. Could you share a bit about the story and characters?

I would love to. This really is the book of my heart. The story is about a secret clan of warriors appointed by Michael the Archangel, who protect unsuspecting humans from demons hiding among them, disguised as their neighbors and possible their friends. In Awaken the Highland Warrior, Faelan Connor gets locked in a time vault, an elaborate box that was intended to stop time inside, so that a demon could be imprisoned until Judgment Day. Faelan is betrayed and gets locked in the box instead. Along comes Bree Kirkland, a historian who has inherited her grandmother’s house, complete with graveyard and creepy crypt. She finds a treasure map and a journal that leads to what she believes it hidden treasure, but she finds far more, and suddenly she realizes that the world isn’t quite what is seemed. Neither are the people. With a warrior from the past who believes women are to be cherished and protected, and a modern day woman who doesn’t think twice before running into danger, this couple have an interesting journey. The story has romance, adventure, suspense, drama, and humor. My husband says it appeals to all audiences, and would make a wonderful movie (not holding my breath on that one, although my agent has gotten some film interest). But of course, my hubby is biased.

What inspired you to write about Scottish clans and immortals? Could you discuss the challenge of writing paranormal fiction?

Actually, the setting is modern day but there’s a time travel element since Faelan has been sleeping for 150 years and wakes in another century. The story started from a dream, a really terrifying dream where my son and I were stranded and had to seek help from a nearby castle. Once inside, I realized the handsome, smiling man wasn’t what he appeared, and that my young son and I weren’t only going to be killed, but we were going to be entertainment. The dream bothered me for days, and then the idea was born of having demons hiding in plain sight among humans and a champion warrior who was thought dead. At first I’d planned for him to be buried in a cellar, and then I decided the crypt would be better. The paranormal aspect of the story wasn’t hard to write. It came naturally. The hardest part was making sure the bits from the hero’s past were accurate. It helped that even though he was a highlander, he had spent most of his adult life to this point traveling the world in search of demons. This isn’t a typical highlander book. Yes, there are hot guys with kilts and swords, but this series really focuses on warriors who happen to be highlanders.

What do you do to develop your characters to the point that readers want to cheer them on?

I try to make my characters likeable and interesting. I have an idea of the character in my head, and I do a lot of brainstorming before I write, so I know a bit about the character’s back story, but he or she really becomes clearer to me as the plot moves along. I learn things about them as I go, just as the reader does.

This is a series. Did you find it difficult to plot? Did you outline the entire series before you wrote the first book?

In some ways writing a series is easier, because you already have the characters in place. But the difficult thing about a series, especially with plots as big as I write, is that there are so many pieces that have to match. Foreshadowing can really get tricky from book to book. You need to have an idea about the plot for book two so you can plant the proper foreshadowing in book one. I didn’t outline the series before writing the first book. In fact, when I started the first book, I didn’t know it would be a series, but as the secondary characters emerged, I knew I had to write their stories.

How did you get started in writing?

My husband and I had an agreement that I would stay home with the kids until the youngest started kindergarten. The year before, I had been on an intense reading frenzy, and I thought, I could write a book. The thought took root and I wanted to write a story my way. If I had known how difficult it is to get published, I probably wouldn’t have attempted it, so I’m glad I didn’t, because I love writing. I only wish I had started sooner.

What ignites your passion and galvanizes you to write?

Deadlines. LOL. No, seriously, I love writing. If I pick up a book and start to read, immediately I’ll feel the urge to create. Driving also inspires me. I don’t know what it is about zipping down the road with the trees flashing by (really I don’t go as fast as I’m making it sound) that unleashes the creativity inside me. Also, when I’m trying to sleep at night ideas will start bouncing around my brain. I have a wonderful critique partner who is the greatest at brainstorming. Whenever we get together, we immediately start bouncing ideas off each other. We prefer getting doing our brainstorming at Cracker Barrel. They have the most amazing pancakes.

What do you find most rewarding about your writing career? Most disappointing?

It’s so rewarding to know I’ve written a book that as a reader I would buy. Even before I sold, I still had that sense of accomplishment. Now that I’ve sold, it’s amazing to be part of the whole process; having an agent and an editor, seeing the book come together piece by piece. The cover, the edits, and finally on the shelf. And yes, I admit that I love seeing my name on the cover and feeling it in my hands. The disappointment is in how much time it takes away from other things, family, my house, and how much time it takes to promote. It’s hard to juggle it all.

If you could give writers one small piece of advice, what would it be? What tools are invaluable for new writers?

Advice: Don’t try to fit a mold of how your friend got published or how so and so got published. Each path to success is different. Find yours and stick with it. This isn’t a one size fits all business. There is more than just talent required. It takes luck as well. We all know someone with an incredible manuscript that just doesn’t sell because of bad timing or a myriad of other reasons. Don’t give up, but be flexible. Okay, that was two pieces of advice. I’m big on overkill. Ask my editor.

As far as tools, there are so many. When I first started writing, I was pleasantly surprised to see how helpful authors are with advice and tips. Learn all you can about writing from authors who have made it, but then apply it to your style. Take classes. There are really inexpensive ones out there. Read, read, read. Find books you like and see what the author did right. Books that you don’t like, then identify what the author did wrong. But most of all…write. You can’t sell a book that isn’t written, or at least conceived.

What is something that you often see beginning writers doing wrong?

I think sometimes writers get so caught up in this wonderfully supportive environment with loops and groups that they forget to write. As a beginning writer, if you don’t have a great book written, you’ll certainly never sell one. Don’t get so caught up in learning how to write that you don’t actually write. I’m going to say something that perhaps I shouldn’t. I was at a conference once and was talking to a senior editor of a publishing house. This editor told me to look at the women around me, and then the editor told me that most of them will never sell because they’ve spent all their time and energy attending every conference they can instead of writing. That was eye opening to me, but it resonated because as much as I love conferences and as beneficial as they are, I’ve always known that I could only spread myself so thin. Time management is NOT my forte.


What is a little known fact about yourself?

On the silly side – I’m absolutely insane about diamonds. I think I may be in love with them. And I’ll toss in another one that you may have seen on my website. On occasion, I traveled with a group of Aztec Fire Dancers, organizing performances for them. Wow. I couldn’t stick my foot in that fire for anything. No thank you. Now, sticking a flame under my characters…that I can do.

Diseases. I have Hashimoto’s Thyroid Disease, and also Sarcoidosis of the lungs. Shocker, because I didn’t know anything was wrong with me. Everybody and his brother seems to have thyroid issues, but the Sarc is not as common. Don’t worry, I’m not contagious, don’t even require meds or treatment. Apparently I’ve inhaled something (black mold, I suspect) that my airways didn’t like, and those little fighters in my body that attack infiltrators of the two autoimmune diseases attacked the infiltrators. But they kept on fighting even after the danger was gone, causing inflammation. If you have black mold…don’t clean it with bleach and no mask. Bad, bad idea.

What book are you reading right now?

Don’t Murder Your Mystery by Chris Roerden. A wonderful how to book that would benefit all writers of any genre. I’m writing a cozy mystery series in addition to my secret warrior series.

If you could have a beer, coffee, or tea with a literary luminary living or dead, who would it be and why?

Tea, definitely. Or even better…Diet Coke or Diet Pepsi. Hmmm, I think I would have tea with Diana Gabaldon of the Outlander series. I just discovered her books about a year ago, and I’m just in love with them. She’s a brilliant writer, with an amazing grasp of plot, characters, and setting. I have trouble with setting. I don’t usually have enough, so I truly admire writers who do it well

If you liked this interview, please leave a question or comment for Anita.

Coming on Friday-an excerpt of Awaken The Highland Warrior.

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