Fear: Is it Keeping You From Fulfilling Your Dreams?

Be Fearless!

It would be fabulous if everyone could embrace this statement and apply it to their daily lives. Some individuals do this without thinking about it, for them, it comes naturally without angst, shortness of breath, or bruising of ego.

Then, there’s me—the epitome of an introvert. I’m the one who has to bolster myself before approaching the drive-up window at the fast-food joint, hyperventilates at the mere thought of speaking publicly, and loses my sh** when I have to mingle in a room full of strangers. And yet, I’ve managed to find a career in personal service, become a published writer, and learned to embrace social media (meh, it’s a work in progress).

Fearlessness quote

Fearlessness is the thing that makes you brave. If you can face your fears, you can accomplish great things, and even those who have already reached that pinnacle can suffer from self-doubt. For example, I know of one author who tattooed a reminder on her arm that she is a writer so that, in those moments of uncertainty, when neck-deep in plot problems, she still knows she can get the job done. Despite having more than thirty bestselling novels, this author still needs to remind herself to be fearless and keep writing. By sharing her anxieties, it has given me hope. She is my hero.

As we’re well into the start of the new year, one of my goals is to blog more, both on my writing site and on my professional esthetics site. Not just to garner success but to interact with people who share the same interests as me. I need to face fear head-on and conquer it. Even if I misstep and make a fool of myself, I am determined to slay this immortal demon!

Meet author Ian Wingrove

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Ian began writing a few years ago and self-published his debut novel, Dead Pool in 2015. The mystery, thriller series is set in a dystopian England in the near future and features private detective Tom Barlow.

The second in the series, Feel.it, came out in March and Ian is looking forward to the prospect of editing and publishing the next two novels in the series.

Born in London, he currently resides in Norwich and enjoys life with an extensive family.

Let’s get to know Ian. 

What’s the first book that made you cry?

 I didn’t learn to read until I was nine, but by age eleven, I was onto Lord of the Rings. It was the moment I realised I was a sucker for tragic romance; when the immortal, Elrond, tells his daughter Arwen about the terrible fate that awaits her if she marries the heroic, but mortal, Aragon. She will have glorious days of love, children and great grand children, but ultimately she will outlast them all and they will become a distant memory as she fades into the shadows. His bleak description of her long years of loneliness and despair is incredibly powerful. She knows he is right and it will be a horrible eternity, but she goes ahead regardless because the love and the joy of children are worth it – however brief it seems to her father.

My favourite film is Cyrano de Bergerac (with Depardieu), which is the greatest tragic romance I’ve come across.

What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

I’ve been around writers my entire adult life because of my brother, David Wingrove, who is a science fiction author. A lot of my early reading material was influenced by him. When I hit fifty and decided to start writing, he gave me invaluable feedback on the early drafts of my first two books.

I have my own local writers group in Norwich and we are always reading out chapters of our work and giving each other feedback. I think that kind of direct communication with a group of writers is essential, but you have to work at building the trust and being prepared to engage in a positive way. What I haven’t yet established is a large network of beta readers who will look at the whole book and whether it works. I think my books could have benefited a lot from that kind of feedback.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

There is a huge back story that I have planned for my main character, Tom Barlow, and the first two books are littered with clues, but no one has picked up on it yet. The third book will start to open up Tom’s story a lot more and in the fourth book, his personal history emerges, which is expansive and strange. That is what worries me. I have written a couple of thrillers which are set in the near future, but the people are relatively straightforward. Do I want to take the reader into a very different world, which has been going on silently behind the scenes in the first two books? It’s a risk.

What was your hardest scene to write?

All the sex scenes. Thankfully, there are none in Dead Poor, but Feel.it is a ‘will they, won’t they’ love story.

I could have skipped over the sex, but one of the main characters, Roxanne, is on a journey of discovery. She can’t feel pain because of a teenage trauma involving her mother’s suicide. That makes her the mega star ‘Queen of Pain’ in the futuristic game show called The Tournament. However, she wants to leave both the game and the stardom behind her, so that she can be herself again – so she can feel again. It is the central theme of her story. A big part of that emotional and physical reconnection is with her own body and for a young woman, sex is inevitably wrapped up with that kind of journey.

I won’t be writing sex scenes again if I can help it. Everyone assures me that they turned out okay and they won’t be winning any bad sex awards, but they took weeks of editing to make them raunchy and intimate, without them being pornographic. I suspect that some readers will find them too much, others will simply enjoy.

What do you owe the real people upon whom you base your characters?

Nothing, because the characters are more than imitations by the time they find their place in the story. Some of the characters are based on people I haven’t seen for thirty years and I doubt that anyone would recognise themselves in the story. Except one I used to play football with, postie Paul from Donnie (Doncaster), but I told him.

Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

It is a detective series and I have drafted four of them. The first two actually cover the same 18 day period, with both books including several of the same main characters. Tom Barlow will walk out of a door in one book and walk into a room in the other book. As with the sex scenes, I won’t write anything like that again.

There are even a couple more thrillers that I have sketched out, ready to be written. What worries me is that I can’t think of anything different to write at the moment. I did a short story for an anthology my writers group are pulling together and it ended up being about the crazy 13th birthday party of the sociopathic Alexandria, one of the other main character in my books. I’ve realised that for me the characters come first and then the story happens. I would have to ‘invent’ a new central character, in order to write a different kind of book.

What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

This is going to sound silly because this book has a Goodreads rating from over 53,500 people and nearly 3,000 actual reviews, but it deserves more. Ursula LeGuin’s “The Dispossessed” is one of the greatest books of the 20th Century. The reason it isn’t rated as highly as some mainstream literature is simply because it is labeled science fiction. People pre-judge and turn away. The Dispossessed has many layers, it’s a great love story and the pages are packed with humanity. I read it eight times before I was thirty. Even the structure of the book reflects the theme of the book, which is about the nature of time and space. It is brilliant. Please give it a go.

How long to write a book?

My problem is finding the time to write (and to promote the finished product) while earning a living, looking after the kids and sharing good times with family and friends. The first two books were mostly written between 5am and 6am, over a three year period. I would think about plot, sections of dialogue and settings, while I cycled to and from work. I would then spend five minutes writing notes on my phone when I arrived and those hastily mis-typed lines would be my starting point (along with coffee) the following morning at 5am.

If you read Feel.it, you will notice that Roxanne, the heroine of the book, also cycles a lot, as it represents freedom and her own head space. This is not a coincidence.

 Catch up with Ian on social media:

Ian Wingrove’s blog

Get the books: Amazon

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Meet suspense author, Sherry Knowlton

 

Today, I welcome author Sherry Knowlton for a visit. This Pennsylvania native has been writing in one form or another since elementary school. Along the way, her creative and technical work has run the gamut from poetry, essays, and short stories to environmental newsletters, policy papers, regulations, and grant proposals. Her debut novel published in 2014 and her third book in the Alexa Williams series launched in April of this year.

Let’s get to know Sherry.

  • Tell us, what literary pilgrimages have you gone on?

I’ve only gone on one deliberate literary pilgrimage. In college, I did a semester-long Independent Studies project on D.H. Lawrence’s novels.  Many years ago, I attended a work conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  Since it was my first visit to the area, I arrived a few days early and drove to nearby Taos to visit the Lawrence Memorial at his Kiowa Ranch. The author’s ashes are interred there, so I wanted to pay him homage.

It was a pretty weird experience.  The Memorial was back a remote, dirt lane, high on a windswept hill.  The place was completely deserted.  Just me, the cold wind, and Lawrence’s ashes somewhere in the small shrine.  Although Lawrence had lived at Kiowa Ranch for several years, most of the books I’d studied – Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Sons and Lovers, Women in Love – were set in the British Isles.  So, his final resting place seemed out of step with much of his work – except for The Plumed Serpent, which is based in Mexico and incorporates Aztec themes.  But, Lawrence’s writing was ahead of his time, much of it vilified in the early 1900’s (and later) as pornography.  He only gained a reputation as an important author after his death. So, maybe it’s fitting that his ashes rest in peace and quiet above the noise and rancor that he experienced during his life.

A myriad of other authors have inspired my love of travel although I wouldn’t call the trips pilgrimages.  Mary Stewart’s novels, like The Moonspinners, sent me sailing in the Cyclades Islands of Greece.  Reading Robert Ruark and Ernest Hemingway whetted my appetite for Africa.  Robert Ludlum’s books made me want to careen through the capitals of Europe. I could go on, but you get the idea.

  • What is the first book that made you cry?

This isn’t a very fair question for someone who cries regularly when reading.  I cry if a beloved character dies.  I cry if the dog dies.  I cry at the perfect romantic moment.  And, don’t get me started on movies.  I’ve seen the old Streisand/Redford movie The Way We Were umpteen times.  Every time it gets to the part where Redford and his friend are sailing and reminiscing about their best year and the Redford character says, “1944, no, 1945” then whispers “1946” – I start sobbing.  Every time.  Heck, I even cry at those heartwarming commercials with the Budweiser Clydesdales and dogs.

With so many fiction-induced tears in my life, I can’t really remember the first book that made me cry.  I know that The Diary of Anne Frank and To Kill a Mockingbird were two early books that affected me deeply.  In my junior high or high school years, I remember my devastation at the end of For Whom the Bell Tolls.  (Spoiler alert.) Robert Jordan’s self-sacrifice made me sob aloud.

In all seriousness, these days I generally avoid novels that scream tearjerker.  There are a glut of novels, often characterized as women’s fiction or literary fiction, which seem engineered to be emotionally manipulative.  I’m not saying that all women’s or literary fiction falls into this bucket.  But, there’s a certain strain of fiction that seems written purely to tug at the heartstrings.  I’d rather read a book that tells a compelling story and develops absorbing characters, so the emotion invoked is more honest.

  • Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

I have three books to date in my Alexa Williams suspense series, Dead of Autumn, Dead of Summer and the latest April release Dead of Spring.  Each book is written as a stand-alone, so a reader can pick it up and enjoy the story even though they might not have read the other books in the series.  However, many of the characters continue in one or more books:  my protagonist, Alexa’s, friends, family, colleagues, and her English mastiff, Scout.  Of course, these are suspense novels with an element of murder mystery, so in each book, a handful of characters don’t make it out alive.

One of the other key connections between my books is that social and environmental issues that are fundamental to the plots.  The latest, Dead of Spring, involves Alexa in the controversial areas of fracking and political corruption.  The themes of my earlier novels include reproductive rights for women and religious fundamentalism (Dead of Autumn) and sex trafficking (Dead of Summer). I believe that plots dealing with real-life current topics speak to readers and engage them in the suspense.

  • How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

Publication of my first book changed my process in two key aspects.  First, it gave me more confidence about my writing.   Second, it gave me a greater understanding of the editing and publishing process. I knew better what to expect when the manuscript left my hands and went to my publisher, Sunbury Press.   So, that meant that I produced my next two manuscripts in a shorter timeframe, primarily because I didn’t do as many draft versions.

Now, that doesn’t mean that I still don’t edit and revise and re-edit.  Plus, I have a group of beta-readers who review and comment on a late draft – and I incorporate much of their feedback.  But, on my first novel, I got caught up in multiple revisions and probably wasted months before I submitted the manuscript to a publisher.  I’ve learned that you have to do your best to revise and refine your work, but at some point, you also have to let it go.  I’m lucky in that I have a wonderful editor who works with me on several rounds of edits prior to publication and always helps me make the final book better.

  • I can relate. It’s so hard to let go of that first one.      What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

As a reporter and, then, editor of my high school newspaper, I began to understand the power that things like word choice, what to include or exclude in a story, etc. could have in shaping student knowledge and opinion.  Back then, journalism was very much Who/What/When/Where/Why and How, but even without any overt opinion or spin, the writer could have enormous impact.  

That lesson was really reinforced for me when a nationally-syndicated war correspondent spoke at our journalism awards banquet.  This was in the mid-point of the Vietnam War.  As this real-life reporter who wrote stories about life and death matters spoke, I realized the influence that his written words could have on the public perception of the war.  What he chose to write about or not write about could end up shaping opinions in a contentious national conversation. I’ve never forgotten that lesson about the power of words – a power that extends into many areas of our lives, well beyond politics and public policy.

  • I love research.   What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

I do a good bit of research before I begin each book, but I usually find that I need to augment the initial research as I write.  To illustrate my process, let me talk about the process for my latest book. Like my other novels, Dead of Spring is primarily a contemporary suspense story, but there’s a parallel historical plot.  The contemporary story deals with fracking and government corruption.  The historical story takes place during the Three Mile Island nuclear crisis in 1979.  I found a lot of written material on the internet, reviewed State regulations, viewed news clips, and more. I talked to experts in law enforcement and in hydraulic fracturing. One of my most useful bits of research came when I visited a landowner in northern Pennsylvania who had leased his land to an energy company for fracking.  He leased in the early days of fracking in Pennsylvania and was unaware of the problems he might encounter.  He shared his experience by showing me his photographs of the process that transformed his property. A beautiful woodland that step by step by step turned into an acre of gravel and machinery.  Pristine drinking water that now requires constant filtering just for showers and bathing. Battles with the energy company about compensation for various problems. I also visited sites where I could view the various steps of the fracking process.   

The preliminary research often takes a month or longer.  If I find I’m missing key information as I write, I’ll often just mark the spot and return to it later after I’ve done the research.  However, if it’s a critical plot point, I need to step away from the writing and research the item immediately.

  • How do you select the names of your characters?

Character names are one of the hardest parts about writing.  Who knew a novel had so many characters?  Often, you even have to name random characters who may only “walk on” for a scene.  I use some favorite names and variations on family names for some of my main characters.  The rest I pull from news articles, people I know or meet, and baby name books for the year of the character’s birth.  Sometimes, I hear a name that strikes me as perfect and I’ll jot it down to use in a future book. Here are just a few of the lessons I’ve learned.

You don’t want to repeat names or use names that sound too similar.  I made this mistake in my first book by naming Alexa’s best friend Melissa and her executive assistant Melinda.  Since these are continuing characters, I’m stuck with the confusion forever – unless I fire Melinda and she’s such a nice woman, I’d hesitate to do that.  Heck, even I find myself confusing the two names when I write.

Don’t give a bad guy the same name as one of your friends or colleagues.  In Dead of Autumn, I gave one of the bad guys the same name as a work colleague.  I was just looking for a biblical name, and used it without thinking of my colleague. But he’ll never let me hear the end of it.

Think about readings.  In Dead of Summer, I asked a Thai friend to help me name a Thai victim of sex trafficking.  Together we picked a name that has real meaning to the arc of the character. But, now, I can never choose a passage containing her name for a public reading, because I can never remember how to pronounce the multisyllabic Thai name without stumbling over it.

  • I think readers are sometimes surprised to learn how immersed authors are with their writing.   What was your hardest scene to write?

In my first novel, Dead of Autumn, the historical subplot is a fictionalized treatment of a historical incident, the Babes in the Woods murders.  Three young sisters were found dead in a Pennsylvania forest during the Depression after traveling from California with their father and an older female cousin.  The last chapter of this Babes in the Woods saga was very difficult for me to write. I was surprised at the amount of emotion I felt as I wrote that final scene with ten-year-old Dewilla Noakes and her father. By the time I got there, I had become so connected to my vision of this young girl, that writing that last scene was a gut-wrenching experience.

  • What is your favorite childhood book? 

The Nancy Drew series.  Sometimes I think I’m writing a grown up version of Nancy Drew although Alexa is stronger and steelier.  And, she doesn’t worry about matching sweater sets.  Plus, she’s not ready to settle for Ned.

 

  • What’s the most difficult part of your artistic process?

Starting the next book.  I’m don’t adhere to the advice that you must write something every day, even if it’s just a few pages.  After a book is finished, I usually need a break. Then, I pull together the thoughts I’ve had about my next book and organize them.  I do research and prepare an outline, although parts of the outline usually evolve as I begin to write.  Then, I’m ready to begin the next book.

But, sometimes the rest of my life intervenes in the writing process.  My husband and I do a lot of extended traveling.  We just came back from six weeks on safari in Africa and India.  Also, I do consulting projects from time to time that are usually time-limited with a hard deadline.  

All of these factors can contribute to delays in getting my next book underway.  I’m struggling with that now.  One good thing.  Once I begin, I usually get caught up in the writing and just plow ahead until I’ve finished the first draft.

  • Do you Google yourself?

You caught me.  Yes, I do.  And, it can be an enlightening process.  Sometimes, I’m checking to see if a promised article or blog post has been published.  Sometimes, I’ve found that I’ve been mentioned in an article or on a blog – and I wasn’t aware of it. Twice, I’ve found that someone pirated my book and was peddling it online; so, I let my publisher know.  

One of the interesting results of searching my name online are the trails to my past life that pop up from time to time.  In the 1990’s I worked for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in a job where, in my official capacity, I issued a lot of communications about the Medicaid program in the state.  A lot of those bulletins and related work from those days are hanging around out there on the internet.  Some of them, I don’t even remember signing.

But, my primary purpose in Googling these days, is to keep current for author-related marketing purposes.

I must confess, I have not read Sherry’s books yet because she’s a new author to me. But, they are definitely on my TBR list now!  

Read about her latest novel: Dead of Spring 

When a beloved state senator plunges to his death at Alexa Williams’ feet in the Capitol Rotunda, the authorities suspect suicide. Although the powerful chair of the Environmental Resources and Energy Committee was at the center of a controversial new bill to expand hydraulic fracturing, he was also rumored to be ill. Shaken, Alexa tries to move past the disturbing incident by concentrating on work. She’s leading a senate commission on sex trafficking. Plus, she’s helping an old college roommate sue a natural gas company for their role in causing her daughter’s rare cancer.

In researching the lawsuit, Alexa becomes embroiled in the high-stakes politics of fracking. As the relationship with her state trooper boyfriend drifts onto the rocks, Alexa is drawn to a charismatic state legislator who’s leading an anti-fracking crusade. Then, the police shock Alexa with the news that she could be in danger; she’s a witness to the senator’s murder, not his suicide.

When Alexa narrowly escapes a sniper’s bullet, she must discover why she’s a target―and who she can trust—before the next shot hits its mark.

With Sherry Knowlton’s trademark mix of feminism, history, romance, and fast-paced thrills, Dead of Springskyrockets from the fracking fields of the Marcellus Shale to the Three Mile Island nuclear disaster of 1979 to the rolling hills of Tuscany to the halls of Pennsylvania state government. In this suspenseful tale of corruption and runaway greed, Alexa Williams proves, once again, that she’s a formidable heroine. The twists and turns keep will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Here’s where you can get the scoop on the Alexa Williams series: 

Amazon     Sunbury     Barnes & Noble     Indie Bound

Forward Motion is Everything

Well, it’s done. My publisher has officially closed their doors. In the ever-changing world of book selling, Samhain and its owner, Crissy Brashear, went out with dignity—doing their best by their authors and employees under difficult circumstances.

But where does this leave me, you ask? With the announcement last year of a slowdown and eventual closure, I’ve had time to prepare. I’ve already begun to re-release STILL LIFE–book 1 in the Randi Lassiter series as an ebook on retail sites with print to follow. Final line edits were recently completed on THE DARK SIDE (book 2) and I’m prepping it now for launch. The hang up is, without a publisher, it’s all on me. And boy, this Indie publishing thing is a heck of a lot of work!

Fans will also be happy to know that I’m also working on the first book in a new suspense series featuring special agent, Becca Howell, with the department of justice (from Still Life) and outlining book 3 in the Randi Lassiter Series. See, forward motion is everything.

For your entertainment, here are the cover and blurb for THE DARK SIDE.

  Enjoy!

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Coming Soon!

 

With the woman who tried to murder her finally behind bars, Randi Lassiter is wondering how much longer she must suffer the effects of the post-traumatic stress disorder that have plagued her for nearly a year. Just as she and her cop boyfriend, Jon Bricksen, settle into the routine of a happy couple, someone in town is murdered and the news threatens to send her down the rabbit hole again.

What Randi needs now is a P. I. case to focus on. When the only distraction available comes waltzing into her office, Randi embraces the opportunity like the lone life preserver on the Titanic. Too bad the client is her ex-husband, Stuart, who is looking for his missing new wife.

Randi’s decision to help the man she has sworn to loathe for all eternity is so out of character that Jon questions not only her judgment, but her mental health as well. When he worries that she has lost her last marble, Randi begins to keep secrets from him. The kind of secrets that could break a relationship.

When Stuart is suddenly arrested for murder, Randi stubbornly stands by her ex-man. As she attempts the impossible by proving him innocent, Jon is doing his best to find him guilty.

Pitted against one another, the couple’s love is tested. Can their relationship survive as a conspiracy of secrets place them in danger?

Click to read an excerpt

Can hanging out with cops improve your writing?

This past August, writers from around the globe descended on Green Bay Wisconsin like cops diving for an open box of donuts. In fact, they came in droves from as far away as Thailand and Germany to meet with law enforcement specialists at The Writers’ Police Academy. Their collective goal? To get the writing right. After all, when it comes to the technical stuff, the goal is to gain a level of authenticity that the reader doesn’t ever have to question. Readers expect a bit realism and accuracy when it comes to the details. They want the story to be believable. And, writers want to deliver it. For instance, the earlier cliche about cops and donuts is far from the truth. These days, law enforcement officials strive to stay in top-notch condition, not only to do their job well but to carry around an addition twenty pounds of gear (vest and duty belt).

The Writers’ Police Academy provided an experience like no other. Where 14054949_10207526999108692_295445966679904031_nelse can a wordsmith learn how to evaluate blood spatter or explore the use of explosives and IED’s. Or field strip and shoot a long gun, study a death scene, and learn the proper time to Mirandize a suspect?

As a debut author who is all about improving my writing, I’ve found the fine points of police procedure, legalese, forensics, and psychopathy are sometimes hard to get right. Research from behind the laptop only goes so far and it’s those little tidbits that make the story dynamic.

Based on what I learned at the academy I’ll admit mistakes were made in my first book. Hopefully, none that the average citizen would note. And yet, my goal will always be to get the minutiae right. Not only is it out of respect for those who do the job but I want fans to experience an adventure that reflects real life. This writer thing I’ve got a passion for is going to last awhile and I owe it to readers to improve where I can.

This event was law enforcement 101 on steroids.

The WPA’s wicked intense schedule is a one-stop shop that provides interactive, hands-on, professional instruction. And, much like Disneyworld, the offerings are so vast that it’s impossible to do everything in a single visit. I’m talking 42 classes offered over a 2-day period-Yikes! With all the group presentations, classes, guest speakers, and networking, my head was spinning by the end (good thing I took notes). The jam-packed days continued into the night with drone demos, traffic stops, and arrest protocol. I was particularly impressed with how patient and determined instructors were to ensure we left with a clear understanding of each subject. No question went unanswered.

Police procedure and crime scene investigation expert, author and consultant, Lee Lofland (of the Graveyard Shift Blog), is the driving force behind the academy. He and his team put together one heck of a training adventure. Here’s a look at just a few things I experienced that weekend.

Special Ops show and tell of equipment, gear, and vehicles:  S.W.A.T.,  bomb squad, emergency response and rescue, K-9 cops.

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And, a few of the classes I participated in:

-Oneida Tribal Police and Native Gangs: This class was a gold mine of information on various gangs not only in Wisconsin but across the U.S.

-Examination of stereotypical motives for mass/serial murders and the psychological nuances behind specific cases. This was taught by renown author, instructor of forensic psychology, and lover of all things dark–Dr. Katherine Ramsland.

-Police basics – learning the walk and talk – a crash course in cop lingo. Taught by Robin Burcell,  a former cop, hostage negotiator, and an FBI-trained forensic artist turned author.

-Private Investigation: Or, how to be a dick for fun and profit. Great for my amateur sleuth protagonist.

20160813_121656-Force on Force clearing of a building: When is deadly force necessary?  This class was a real eye-opener for me. I learned how officers are trained using reality-based tactical scenarios to evaluate and determine if deadly force is necessary. Gone are the days when trainees shoot at pop-up targets during training and then hesitate when confronted with the same shoot/don’t shoot scenario with a live person. An instant is all it takes to be right or wrong. I learned how this cutting-edge training better prepares officers for dangerous situations.

(Here I am with instructor Randy Clifton. Former Special Agent for the DEA and FBI Academy Instructor.)


As if the classes weren’t enough, one exciting part of the weekend were the surprise events that were planned for us.

When we arrived on campus Friday morning we witnessed a fatal head-on collision involving a drunk driver (simulated). This incident felt very real. Officials wore microphones so that we writers could hear the exchange as emergency personnel arrived and dealt with the events in real time. Responding officers evaluated the intoxicated driver, issuing a field sobriety test and subsequent arrest. Emergency medical personnel triaged the injured and extricated (using the jaws of life) a victim for medical transport on the Flight for Life helicopter.

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(Impressive acting by the guy in the orange shorts! He played dead as the entire scenario unfolded.)


We were in class early Saturday morning drinking coffee and covering terrorist statistics. For instance, Worldwide terrorist attacks in 2015 numbered 391. That number jumped dramatically to 759 in the first six months of 2016!  All of a sudden, we were under attack (simulated). Terrorists had come onto campus and staff was dealing with multiple stabbings while performing a lock-down in the lecture hall to keep us all safe. We all knew this was one of the WPA surprise simulations, but still. Not only did we get to hear staff in the room but critical responders as they made their way to us.

A lot was happening at once and it was tough to take notes with our hands on our heads. (I did manage to sneak a few photos with my cell). We were required to keep our hands on our heads until our non-involvement was established by officers. Afterward, instructors covered protocol for the response.

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Lee Goldberg shared insights into his writer’s journey and words of wisdom on how to use or not use what we learned at the WPA.

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Lee Goldberg and Tami Hoag receive recognition at the Saturday night banquet.

To top off the weekend (I know, you’re wondering how it could possibly get any better), Tami Hoag spoke about her panster writing process and how, often, she doesn’t know the ending until she’s there. She sports a tattoo that keeps her centered and has a love of mixed martial arts (and yes, she can lay you flat with one punch). She also shares a passion to the details right and attended classes that weekend. See, a writer never stops working on the craft.

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The Writers’ Police Academy was an all around adventure I look forward to attending again and again. Thanks WPA for keeping it real!

The Writers’ Police Academy sign up is February 19th. Don’t miss out!

Writing: Not for the faint of heart

Some followers have probably been wondering where in the heck I’ve been lately. Well, life sometimes gets in the way. I’ve had some personal things come up at home this summer, I’ve been busy at my day job, and between hubby and I, we were gone/committed to events every weekend for nearly 3 months. That’s a lot of traveling. Packing and unpacking, laundry, and scheduling of dog sitters. It was fun but exhausting.

writing-a-book-is-a-horrible-exhausting-struggle-like-a-long-bout-of-some-painful-illness-one-would-never-undertake-such-a-thing-if-one-were-not-driven-on-by-some-demon-whom-one-can-neithe

I’ve also been in re-write limbo. That mysterious place where an author takes a finished novel, something that took months if not years to complete, and then must reconstruct it to make it better, stronger. And yes, much of this was done in a car. Thankfully, I’m one of those lucky people who can read in a moving vehicle and not puke.

frustrated-writer

 

Writing a novel is hard enough, but systematically dismantling your baby, scrambling it about, and then assembling the bits and pieces into a decent product is rough. And, not for the faint of heart.

 

THE DARK SIDE, book two in the Randi Lassiter Series, is now finished and waiting for a second pass of editing. I just got the first draft of the cover art and I love it. With any luck at all, I can feed the two or three fans I have a preview of the book next month.

It’s been just over a year since the release of my debut novel and boy howdy, have I learned a lot. It has been an adventure of highs and lows. Some scream worthy, others no more than a moments distraction. From learning how to write a series (didn’t see that coming) to putting together an author platform that I actually (okay, sometimes) use, to educating myself on Indie publishing, it has been a thrilling rollercoaster ride.

Don’t get me wrong, tough as it is, I’m living the dream. I have one book published and a second on the verge of release. What have I got to complain about?

Well, perhaps it’s that I can sit and write for five hours straight and it feels like it has only been five minutes. That I go to bed frustrated, swearing I’ll never write another word again and then race to my laptop the next morning with ideas that just can’t wait to get out.

Or, that I’m obsessed with fixing _________________ (pick one: plot problems, insubordinate timelines, a random comma usage disorder (okay…that’s not a real thing), rogue red-herrings, exposition diarrhea, and dialog that digs in it’s heels, insisting on appearing stilted instead of casual), and poor daily word counts.

And, don’t even get me started on writer’s block!

Writing a book is difficult.

Considering how hard it is to string just two words together some days, its miraculous that I’ve managed to group 90,000 into an order that makes some quirky sense.

Soon I will begin a new novel. This is the first in the Becca Howell series. Becca is a special agent with the DCI (Division of Criminal Investigation) with the Department of Justice (a branch of the FBI) in the Madison office. She’s a grittier character than the protagonist in the first series and I’m looking forward to fleshing her out on the page.

I’ve also updated this blog site to  include some fun/random tidbits. There’s a section called Dead Darlings where I’ll post reader worthy snippets that dropped to the cutting room floor. Also, a section on Research where I hope to share some fascinating stuff I run across when working background on my writing. Research is one of my favorite things and so much of what I learn never makes it in the story, darn it. I hope you find it interesting.

Tell me, what kind of things do you enjoy reading about on other blogs/web pages?

 

How does she do it?

I’m excited to welcome the talented and multi-published author Lauren Smith to my blog today. A prolific writer, Lauren has 15 romance novels/novellas in several sub-genres including Regency era historical, paranormal, gothic, and contemporary adult.

Lauren Smith

I love a good mystery. But,  when I look at Lauren’s bio, book list, accolades and awards, then factor in that she is a lawyer by day, I can’t figure out how she does it all.

Let’s get to know her better and find out.

 

 

What do you think people would be the most surprised to learn about you?

Probably that I’m a virgin, given that I write really steamy romance novels.

That is a shocker! I’ve read some of your novels and I blush just thinking about certain parts of them. (fans face)   It takes talent and practice (writing, I mean) to pen a well done sex scene. Some authors won’t even go there. You’re young and beautiful. So no one is going to believe you’ve never participated on some level of (ahem) extracurricular activity. That said, it’s all the more impressive that you write those intimate scenes so well without the…um…er…full Monty experience.  Kudos, girlfriend!

We know you are a lady lawyer and committed writer. But, what do you enjoy most in your free time?

I love to do photography, walk my dogs, run, draw and watch movies and hang with my friends.

Here is some of Lauren’s art and photography. She’s got an eye for detail.

Lauren’s fur babies.     DSC_0006

Any other passions?

cavalry_2_by_novemberstar88

I adore Audie Murphy and have nearly all his movies and his official biography signed by the author that was a limited print run. *grins. He’s the coolest. Here’s a photo of two riders from the Audie Murphy Days celebration in Texas. 

 

 

Lauren's men

 

Here’s a photo I found of Lauren with what looks to be a group of Audie wannabes.  Looks like great research to me!

 

Other than a computer, what modern convenience could you never live without?

My smart phone. The Audible Audiobook app is essential to my existence!

I’ll have to try that one. Every author has a process—what works for them when they write. What does your writing process look like from first scribbles to finished manuscript?

Lauren page2

 

I write chronologically from start to finish on a book in a Five Star brand five-subject Notebook.  

 

What is your all-time favorite book.

Via Amazon

Via Amazon

Gone with the wind

Via Amazon

 

Man, I can’t believe I have to pick….it’s a tie. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell and The Host by Stephanie Meyer.

 

How about project research, love it or hate it?

Love to buy books for topics, but not so good at following up on reading them! Hahah.

Is there a specific author who inspires you?

Probably Christina Dodd and Marie Force are a tie. They really are amazing writers who have been successful over years of hard work. They’ve taught me to be true to the craft but that it’s okay to want to be successful about it.

You write in various genres, which is your favorite to write?

That’s a tough question. I’d probably say Gothic, even though I only had one book so far written in that genre. It’s just my natural writing voice to make things a little spooky and haunted.

Which is your favorite to read?

Definitely gothic, or classic styled but sexy vampire romances.

Is there a genre you haven’t written but are thinking about trying?

I’d love to write highland romances but the accuracy and accents scare me right now and I would only want to write a good book so I haven’t worked up the courage yet to try.

How long did it take you to write your first book?    Your latest book?

My first book took about 4 months while I was in college. My latest book took about 4 months as well.

And, all in longhand. I’m still impressed!  As a multi-published author, do you have any words of advice for aspiring writers?

Keep writing and view your writing like a business. I see a lot of newer authors who don’t study the market and see what sells. You want to have an original voice but you don’t want to write a book that’s too complicated or fails to register with readers. It’s always important to know what readers like because half the joy of writing is giving readers something they would share.

What projects are you working on?

I’m currently working on a Regency historical and a contemporary new adult!

Tell us a little about a recent release, Climax: Her British Stepbrother.

It’s the 3rd part in my 3 part Serial. All 3  books (Forbidden, Seduction, and Climax) are 99 cents. The story is about Kat, an American college Freshman who moves to England and falls for a handsome, seductive graduate student named Tristan Kingsley. To her shock, she discovers that he’s going to the Earl of Pembroke someday and what’s more, his mother and her father, both who have been divorced from their spouses for years had suddenly met and started dating. Kat and Tristan will soon become step-siblings. I wanted to write a stepbrother story but have them meet and fall in love before their parents start dating.

Forbidden: Book 1 in Her British Stepbrother Series

He’s her first. He’s her everything. He’s her . . . stepbrother.

Kat has always been a good girl. She studies hard and never stays out too late. But when sitting in a pub on her birthday, she realizes she’s a nineteen-year-old virgin who’s never really lived. And she wants tonight to be the night that changes.

Then she sees him walk in. He’s tall, dark, handsome, and straight out of her deepest fantasies. His voice makes her knees feel weak, and when he smiles, she imagines him doing wicked things to her in bed. From the look in his eyes, she knows he’s imagining it too. So when he asks if he can walk her home, she hears herself whisper yes . . .

Catch up with Lauren:

Amazon Bestselling Author Lauren Smith is an attorney by day, author by night, who pens adventurous and edgy romance stories by the light of her smart phone flashlight app. She’s a native Oklahoman who lives with her three pets, a feisty chinchilla, sophisticated cat and dapper little schnauzer. She’s won multiple awards in several romance subgenres including: Amazon.com Breakthrough Novel Award Quarter-Finalist and Semi-Finalist Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Award.

To get alerts for her latest releases sign up for Lauren’s newsletter visit her at www.laurensmithbooks.com                 or          The League of Rogues

Author interview: Elena Hartwell

Today I’m hosting author Elena Hartwell.  Having spent years in the theater realm as a playwright, director, and producer, Elena has now turned her talent to writing fiction. Her debut mystery novel, One Dead, Two to Go  was released April 15th.

Let’s get to know Elena.         Elena Hartwell

What do you think people would be the most surprised to learn about you?

I hold a Ph.D. from the University of Georgia, but I was also a high school dropout.

That is a surprise.  It’s my belief that life is not about the destination, but the journey. I imagine you have great stories about the journey to your Ph.D.  That sounds like an intriguing conversation.  Let’s bookmark that for a future interview!

Authors can sometimes struggle to find a balance between work and play. What do you enjoy most in your free time?

Spending time with my horses. I have a 13-year-old Arabian gelding, Chance, who is a rescue from a kill pen. I’ve been working with him for about a year and a half. He’s come through amazing changes – from being a horse that was dangerous to be around, not because he was aggressive, but because his fear level was so high – to being a very connected, sweet horse. My husband and I recently bought a second horse for him to ride. Jasper is an eight-year-old Palomino Paint, who spent most of his life on a working ranch near the Nevada/Utah border. He’s very confident, and smart, so he’s always testing to make sure you’re paying attention. He’s a great match for my husband, who is basically the same way. I love being out at the farm where we board them, and it’s even better now that I can share that experience with my hubby.

 My husband and I have done dog rescue, but that’s nothing compared to horses.  I can only imagine the work involved in getting Chance to trust people. He’s one lucky horse. 

Other than a computer, what modern convenience could you never live without?

I have extremely bad eyesight. I’ve worn hard contact lenses for over twenty years. I would be miserable if I had to wear glasses, because they can’t make a prescription strong enough to fix my vision without it being like looking out of a fishbowl. I carry an extra pair of contacts when I travel!

 Every author has a process—what works for them when they write. What does your writing process look like from first scribbles to finished manuscript?

I usually start from a sense of a character. Someone who I find interesting. I start to think about who they are, what they want, who is in their life, and what isn’t working, what they’d like to change. Then I’ll write an opening scene or at least something I think is near the beginning. Then I often write the end. This gives me a sense of the overall scope of the story. Then I go back and write the middle. I never outline in advance – I’m very organic – though sometimes I outline after I’ve written the first draft. Doing this allows me to see where I might have something missing or in the wrong place. Then I start rewriting for story arc, does the story make sense and are there any scenes missing? I also look at character arc, has each character had a journey and learned something or changed in some way. Then I usually share my work with someone I trust, I have a writing partner I’ve been working with for several years, she reads everything I write. At this point in my career, I’m writing books two and three for the Eddie Shoes Mystery series, so the next thing I will do is send my draft to my development editor and a few beta readers. I take in their feedback, rewrite again, send it back to my development editor. Once we both agree it’s “done” – it goes to the final editor who does line editing/proofreading. She may also give story suggestions if something needs clarity, for example. I take her notes, do the rewriters, and then it’s on to the next book.

 What is your all time favorite book and why?

Probably The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein. It was a book I loved early in life and I’ve returned to again and again. I love the mythic structure and the quest, but I also love the characters and the incredible detail of the world he created.

Project research, love it or hate it?

Love, love, love research. So much so, I’ve recently been a guest blogger about research and I’ll be leading a workshop on research for fiction writers with EPIC (writers group) in Edmonds, Washington, in October. I research before I start to write, I research during, and—because I’m writing a series—I continue to research after a book is finished so I get more educated on certain things that continue over the arc of the books. I love all kinds of research. I read non-fiction about a topic, interview experts, and ask for experts to read sections or entire manuscripts. I watch documentaries or films made in a specific time period. I love to site visit – and often plan trips to areas where I’m setting a story or a character is from. I find being “in the world” of a character can be very useful, for specific details and also atmosphere or character quirks. Because speech patterns can be regional, it’s also useful to take in the sound of local dialects.

 Is there a specific author who inspires you?

Sue Grafton has always been an inspiration to me, as she was the first mystery author I followed through a series, starting back in my teens. I am also inspired by Tony Hillerman, for writing a series set out in a rural area and around another culture. I love books like Connelly’s Bosch series, and enjoy reading books set in big cities, but sometimes I want to be engrossed in a landscape that’s different and wild.

 Is there a genre you haven’t written but are thinking about trying?

Science fiction/fantasy. I’d love to be the next Anne McCaffrey.

 

Who wouldn’t, what an inspiration she was!   And look, she had a soft spot for horses, too!

 

 

 

 

What is your favorite movie adaptation of a book?

I have a personal connection to Fast Times at Ridgemont High, so I’ve loved that movie since it came out. I went to Clairemont High School in San Diego, where Cameron Crowe graduated just a few years earlier. Though much of the film is fictionalized, there were still recognizable instructors and parts to the film. I also have to admit, I enjoyed the Harry Potter and The Hunger Games adaptations. If I can include television, I love the television series of Bosch, Longmire, and Miss Fischer’s Murder Mysteries.

 

I’m familiar with all of these except Miss Fischer. (Hang on, checking Amazon availability–Yes! They have her in all formats including a calendar. Interesting.)

If you could host a literary dinner party with three writers, dead or alive, whom would you invite? 

J.R.R. Tolkein, Dorothy Parker, and Charles Darwin.

Jrr TolkienDorothy Parker 2

 

 

 

 

charles-darwin-quote

That’s an interesting group, I wonder what conversation would be like at dinner.

What books are currently reading?

Yesterday, on my way to Vegas for the Las Vegas Writer’s Conference, I finished Motive by Jonathan Kellerman and started Gray Mountain by John Grisham. I’ve always been a big fan of both writers, though I had a hard time with something that happened to an animal in Motive.

How long did it take you to write your debut book?   

I wrote the draft I submitted to my publisher in a little over a year. Then I rewrote with my editor for the next seven months, so roughly two years.

Tell us a little about ONE DEAD, TWO TO GO.

On the surface, my PI is investigating a murder. But under the surface, ONE DEAD is about a woman finding her way in the world. She’s trying to figure out how the people in her life fit together and what she wants moving forward.

What other projects are you working on?

Books two and three for the Eddie Shoes Mystery Series (TWO DEAD ARE BETTER THAN ONE and THREE DEAD, YOU’RE OUT). I also have two other novels in various states of “finished” that I’d like to pursue as potential future series.

You’re definitely one busy gal, Elena. Thanks for joining me today, congratulations on the release of your debut novel and best of luck with everything.

Check out ONE DEAD, TWO TO GO:

One Dead, Two to GoPrivate Investigator Edwina “Eddie Shoes” Schultz’s most recent job has her parked outside a seedy Bellingham hotel, photographing her quarry as he kisses his mistress goodbye. This is the last anyone will see of the woman … alive. Her body is later found dumped in an abandoned building. Eddie’s client, Kendra Hallings, disappears soon after. Eddie hates to be stiffed for her fee, but she has to wonder if Kendra could be in trouble too. Or is she the killer? Eddie usually balks at matters requiring a gun, but before she knows it, she is knee-deep in dangerous company, spurred on by her card-counting adrenaline-junkie mother who has shown up on her doorstep fresh from the shenanigans that got her kicked out of Vegas. Chava is only sixteen years older than Eddie and sadly lacking in parenting skills. Her unique areas of expertise, however, prove to be helpful in ways Eddie can’t deny, making it hard to stop Chava from tagging along. Also investigating the homicide is Detective Chance Parker, new to Bellingham’s Major Crimes unit but no stranger to Eddie. Their history as a couple back in Seattle is one more kink in a chain of complications, making Eddie’s case more frustrating and perilous with each tick of the clock. Book 1 in the Eddie Shoes Mystery series.

You can find Elena Harwell on her blog:  Elena Hartwell’s Blog

 

 

Author interview: Rosanna Leo

Today I’m hosting multi-published romance author, Rosanna Leo. Winner of the 12957 (167x250)Reader’s Choice 2015 in Paranormal Romance at The Romance Reviews, Rosanna draws on her love of mythology for her books on Greek gods, selkies and shape shifters.  A library employee by day, she is honored to be a member of the league of naughty librarians who also happen to write romance. Star-crossed loves are her specialty.

 

Rosanna, what do you think people would be the most surprised to learn about you?

I’ve been watching the British soap opera Coronation Street for over 20 twenty years now. It’s a lot different from American soaps, less flashy with regular people, and over-the-top in the drama department. Sometimes I cringe when I watch but it’s become like a sickness, an addiction. If I don’t watch, I wonder. However, it’s the sort of show where you can miss a week and easily return to it. Much of the time, it serves as background noise while I fold my laundry.  

unrealitytv.co.uk

unrealitytv.co.uk

Although I’ve never heard of this one, I love the kind of show you can have on while you run around the house and get stuff done. It feels less like work that way. 

What do you enjoy most in your free time?

Reading is a big thing for me, as I suspect it is for so many writers. I never grow tired of finding new authors. However, I also love hiking and being in nature. I’m a gardener at heart, although I’m sad to report my thumb isn’t very green and I don’t often have success. Traveling is another biggie. My husband and I both love discovering new places to visit. Our favorite places are England and Mexico but we hope to roam elsewhere as well.

These are photos from Rosanna’s London trip!

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London skyline

Hampton Court in London

Hampton Court in London

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other than a computer, what modern convenience could you never live without?

I probably wouldn’t do too well in this life without a microwave. Unfortunately, I’m not the best of cooks so I often have to resort to nuking food. It’s not unusual for me to BBQ something, turn off the BBQ, and realize the meat is under cooked. Hello, microwave.

Every author has a process—what works for them when they write. What does your writing process look like from first scribbles to finished manuscript?

The first thing I do is tackle character sketches for the main characters. What are their wounds, their goals? What do they look like and what are their histories? Then I set to work on an outline, but I leave it somewhat fluid so I can make changes. At that point, I really need to start writing. I don’t like to spend days outlining because I tend to make alterations as I go.

What is your all time favorite book and why?

I think it will always be the Narnia Chronicles by C.S. Lewis. Those books were my childhood favorites and I still love the sense of magic and mystery and even the underlying faith. Plus Aslan struck me as hot. I think he might be behind my decision to write about shape shifter heroes.      

neversaybook.blogspot.com

neversaybook.blogspot.com

Project research, love it or hate it?

Love it! I studied history and literature at university, as well as classical singing, so research was always a big part of my education. I can sit in a library for hours and never get bored. I do believe a writer can possibly reach a moment when it’s time to “let go” of the research and start writing, however. Make sure you know what you’re talking about and then write what you need to write.

Is there a specific author who inspires you?

Boy, anyone who sticks around in this business inspires me. It isn’t always easy. I really look up to authors like Meg Cabot and Susan Mallery. They’ve endured and always manage to write something new.

How long did it take you to write your first book?    Your latest book?

The first book I ever wrote was the one that eventually became Night Lover, one of my paranormal romances. That one originated years ago but the story was very different back then. It went through many changes and it took me years (on and off) to complete. My latest book, a currently unpublished contemporary romance called A Good Man, took a few months from start to finish. I know what I want to convey now so I don’t allow myself to agonize for years. At some point, you have to write “The End.”

Is there a genre you haven’t written but are thinking about trying?

To be honest, romance floats my boat. It’s what I’ve always loved and I can’t imagine writing a story that doesn’t have romance at its heart. I may write in various subgenres of romance, but I don’t think you’ll ever see me writing sci-fi or biographies or mysteries. I need that chemistry, that sizzle.

You write romance in various sub-genres, which is your favorite to write? 

I write in both contemporary and paranormal romance and enjoy them both. As I go forward, I will likely continue writing in each of these sub-genres. I love the humanity inherent in contemporary romance. As for PNR, well, I love the fact that characters and conflicts are something other than human.

Which is your favorite to read?

I love most types of romance. For the most part, I gravitate to contemporary or paranormal, but I enjoy a bit of historical and fantasy romance as well. As long as the characters are compelling and sympathetic, I will stick around.

As a multi-published author, do you have any words of advice for aspiring writers?

Work toward your dreams but make sure you do your homework first. A lot of people out there have the perception that they can crack off a book whenever they like and get it published. The reality is different. There is a lot of rejection and a lot of self-doubt to be overcome. If you want to write in a genre, make sure you love it. If it’s not your passion, it’ll show. If you decide writing really is for you, learn the craft and be ready to make it your business as well as your hobby.

What other projects are you working on? 

I just finished a contemporary romance, A Good Man, and it’ll be the start of a whole new series featuring a sexy trio of contractor brothers. Set in Toronto, my home town, it is fun and flirty but will also touch on some deep issues like PTSD. I’m also hard at work on book 3 of my Orkney Selkies and am about to embark on the final book of my Gemini Island Shifters series. 

How did you come up with the title for your latest book?

My last book was Predator’s Rescue, Gemini Island Shifters 7. It wasn’t hard to come up with the title because all the books in this shape shifter romance series begin with “Predator’s” and end with a term that reflects the characters or conflicts. In Predator’s Rescue, both my hero, my heroine, and to some extent a couple of secondary characters needed rescuing. In fact, the actual setting needed a bit of TLC, but I won’t give away too much. 

Tell us a little about Predator’s Rescue.

Predator’s Rescue is the seventh book in my shape shifter series. It’s an important addition to the series because some big conflicts get resolved. The series began as rather light and fun but took a darker turn around book 5. New villains were introduced and a plotline in which many characters were threatened, both physically and emotionally. In this book, our hero Jani is one of the good guys from the Ursa Resort, my shape shifter sanctuary. The heroine, Fleur, is a reformed bad girl. She used to be part of the vicious cult of shape shifters who attacked the Ursa Resort, the Alpha Brethren. However, Jani always knew there was something good in Fleur. In this book, we see her transformation and redemption.

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The official blurb: 

Tiger shifter Jani Fodor should have washed his hands of Fleur Bissette long ago. However, when she disappears from the shape shifter sanctuary on Gemini Island, he can’t forget her, and launches a fraught two-week search to find her. He thinks she’ll be grateful but the petulant she-wolf resents his intrusion in her life.

Jani recently liberated Fleur from a vicious cult of shape shifters, where she was brainwashed by the sadistic August Crane. The wolf shifter terrorized their friends at the Ursa Fishing Lodge and Resort on Gemini Island. Labeled a “bad girl” all her life, Fleur knows she’ll never fit in with the good guys at the Ursa, no matter how much Jani tries to convince her of their regard. Besides, she can’t stay with Jani. Although he’s the closest thing she’s ever had to a friend, their chemistry is explosive in the worst way.

When a new menace arises, in the form of a vicious drug dealer with a grudge, Jani is adamant Fleur accept his help to rehabilitate her addict mother and remove her from the influence of her dealer. Fleur accepts Jani’s assistance but as they work together, friendship erupts into passion. Neither can deny their lust-struck spirit animals and before long, they realize their connection runs deeper than they ever expected.

Despite the threats posed by the drug dealer, the worst danger of all dwells inside Fleur. Haunted by the spirit of August Crane, Fleur is inundated by visions that torment her. She is consumed by guilt and plagued by old hostilities. Can this bad girl make good? And is Jani’s love enough to save her from her demons?

Want more?  Click here to read an excerpt:   Predator’s Rescue

To catch up with this popular author follow her blog:

http://www.rosannaleoauthor.wordpress.com

Cover teaser

 

 

Author Interview: Barbara Meyers

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Today I’m interviewing author, Barbara Meyers. She is a multi-published and talented writer of contemporary romance and screwball fantasy under the pen name, AJ Tillock. 

Join me in welcoming Barbara. Let’s jump right in and get to know her a bit better.

Barbara, what do you think people would be the most surprised to learn about you?

They’d probably be shocked to learn about my spirituality/relationship with God. And further shocked that I believe everything positive flows from Him. And yes, that includes the creativity/ability to write romance novels!

Ahhh, yes, we romance novelists tend to tuck some sexy scenes into our writing from time to time. Now, whether the actions of our characters is sinful or not can be debated another day, eh?

What do you like to do on Sundays?

That depends if I’m working my day job or not. If I’m not I like to get up whenever I feel like it, have coffee very leisurely, then either make breakfast or make my husband go get bagels. We never have a plan. Last week I checked out the service at a new church. I might read or write or clean or take a nap. Sundays are always a surprise.

I like that, a laid back Sunday with hubby doing the hunter gatherer thing at the bakery—nice! Every author has a process—what works for them when they write. What does your writing process look like from first scribbles to finished manuscript?

It’s a mess and I don’t recommend it to anyone. It starts with an idea and I write down every possibility and save it in a Word doc. Characters, setting, plot, back story. I keep doing that all the time I’m working on the book. Adding to it, solving problems, playing what if…? asking myself questions like “Why did her mother show up?” and dating each entry. I also write whatever scene is in my head even if I don’t know where it will go in the book or even if I will use it. I end up with a bunch of separate Word docs and then I cobble it all together into a manuscript. Somewhere along the line I attempt to write a synopsis, a tag line and a blurb because it helps me clarify what the story is about.

I love to hear about what works for other authors when it comes to writing. It makes my sticky note obsession seem harmless (hold on while a tear a few slips off and find a place to stick ‘em).

What modern convenience could you never live without?

Computer! I don’t think I’d be writing books if I didn’t have one.

(nodding) Definitely. 

What is your all time favorite book?

Jane Eyre

Nuff said. Is there a specific author who inspires you?

I never think of an author as inspiring me. There are a lot of authors I admire and the reason I admire them is because they’ve had long careers and they write consistently good books. Authors like Sandra Brown and Susan Elizabeth Phillips.

How did you come up with the title for your latest book?

The book opens when the heroine is not quite awake and in the middle of a recurring dream about her ideal lover who she refers to in her mind as “Fantasy Man.” Wah-la. There’s the title.

Oh. My fantasy man just popped into my head. I see how that works. Tell us a little about the book.

Ha ha. Well, Fantasy Man turns into Reality Man when she realizes he’s in bed with her. She wasn’t expecting that and he has no idea she’s there.

Okay, I’m going to add Fantasy Man to my TBR list while you tell us what other projects you’re working on.

I’ve been dragging out some of my older unpubbed manuscripts and taking another look at them. And I have an almost completed contemporary romance about a former adult film actress who starts a new life in a small Iowa town.

It certainly sounds like you’ll be busy for awhile. Thanks for squeezing this interview into your day.

And thanks everyone for tuning in!

We’re writers and we love an audience. To prove it, everyone who leaves a comment over the next 30 days, reblogs this interview, and links it back to this blog will have their name put in a hat (rafflecopter, actually) for a chance to win something cool. What can you win? Barbara is giving away an ebook of FANTASY MAN (US only, sorry) and I will send you the first two chapters of my current work in progress just for kicks.

Now, here’s the official info on FANTASY MAN by Barbara Meyers.

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One lie of omission could turn her wildest dream into a world of hurt.

Quinn Fontana never thought witnessing two murders would lead to her first taste of freedom. But when her overprotective brother puts her on a plane for L.A. to hide until it’s time to testify, she can’t stop the shiver of anticipation. If her life is going to be cut short, she plans to live it to the fullest. And that includes seducing her intended protector—her brother’s best friend and star of her private fantasies.

When security consultant Reif Callaghan awakens after a rowdy night out with his coworkers to find a warm, willing woman in his bed, he’s almost past the point of no return when he realizes it’s Quinn. And he’s come way too close to debauching his best friend’s little sister.

Her enticing offer—one night, no holding back, no regrets—is a temptation he can’t resist. Until he realizes she’s been hiding a piece of vital information that could cost not only their one chance to turn fantasy into reality, but their lives.

Warning: Contains fantasy-come-true sex, get-it-out-of-their-system sex, angry-as-hell sex, and on-the-run sex. Also, accidental ferret-napping. Asthmatics are advised to load up on antihistamines before reading.

Amazon                                                         Samhain Publishing

                                  Catch up with Barbara on her blog:  barbarameyers.com