Thursday, October 8, 2015

Haunted Blog Tour with M.S. Kaye

I'm happy to be part of M.S. Kaye's Haunted Blog Tour. With Halloween coming, it's a great time to talk about ghosts! Take it away M.S.!

Born from Death series - Haunted Blog Tour

Ghost stories—what better inspiration for character names can there be? Follow this tour to learn the background for the character names of the Born from Death series.

Anne lived an exciting life in the twenties as a flapper, and she died with a slit to the throat. It doesn’t really matter who wielded the knife. She was loyal to Soll, and when Ilona deals with him, Anne haunts Ilona to punish her.

The inspiration of the name:
“The ghost of Queen Anne Boleyn is quite a unique phenomenon in the world of the paranormal. Unlike most ghost who haunt a certain locality, Queen Anne Boleyn's ghost is said to haunt a number of different locations throughout the UK.

“Her spirit seems to have left a permanent imprint on the fabric of her surroundings, which is perhaps down to the impact she made in life and her traumatic death as to why her ghost still persists more than 500 years after her execution.”

Awaken from Death
Book 2 of the Born from Death series

The only emotion Ilona can muster is anger for the death of her mother. Barely engaged in life, she focuses all of her energy on finding and punishing her mother’s killer.
Since Ilona can see ghosts, Archer has to find unique ways to hide while watching over her. When Ilona is in danger of being mauled by a dog, he desperately tries something that shouldn’t be possible. And yet he succeeds. This is just the beginning of his discovery of who—what—he truly is.
Lettie continues to interact with Ilona, her one friend, even when a Messenger warns her. Eventually, Lettie remembers the ancient connection Archer and Ilona share, as well as her part in the punishment Archer bore as a result of that connection.

Amazon   ~   Barnes&Noble   ~   Publisher (all formats)  ~  Smashwords   ~   Goodreads

Strong as Death
Book 1 in the Born from Death Series

Ilona runs from her sheltering mother in order to find the truth, why she’s seeing people who are invisible to everyone else. A mysterious boy named Archer guides her through Brooklyn and introduces her to Hendrick, the man who claims to be her father—though he died in 1890. Ilona must discover not only what she must do to rid the city of Soll, a sadistic and powerful spirit, but also what it means to be half ghost. She proves what her mother told her—love is stronger than death.

Publisher (all formats)  ~  Amazon  ~  Barnes and Noble  ~   Smashwords

Author Bio:

M.S. Kaye has several published books under her black belt. A transplant from Ohio, she resides with her husband Corey in Jacksonville, Florida, where she tries not to melt in the sun. Find suspense and the unusual at

Facebook  ~  Twitter  ~  Google+  ~  Goodreads  ~  Amazon  ~  TSU  ~  Pinterest

Sneak Peek at Awaken from Death:

The blond boy didn’t walk up to a urinal or into one of the stalls, or even up to the mirror. He stood in the middle of the room.

Invisible, Lettie watched curiously.

Something moved backward away from him. Out of him.

She recognized Archer’s shiny black hair and strong frame even before she could see his face.
She gasped. But ghosts can’t inhabit people.

The blond boy shook his head and looked around. “Fuck.”

“I’m sorry,” Archer murmured so the boy wouldn’t hear.

Lettie stared at both of them.

The blond boy turned, leaned his hands on the counter, and looked at himself in the mirror…not the way people usually looked at themselves. It was more like he was trying to see something more than was in the reflection.

Archer watched him, as if waiting for him to see something.

Then Lettie understood. Archer hadn’t merely inhabited the boy—he’d possessed him. But there were only a couple ways that’d be possible—if he were half ghost, or if he…

A memory struck Lettie like a horse galloping across a battlefield. An ancient memory. Lettie had been around since the beginning of time on Earth, but most of those thousands of years she let slink around the crevices of her mind. It was mostly just walking the bridge with the newly deceased. There were a few memories, though, that burned into her every time she let herself pull them forward. And burned was precisely the right word.

She knew—or rather, remembered—why Archer would never leave Ilona.

Haunted Blog Tour schedule:

10/1/15 - Anna Durand - haunted blog tour Hendrick  
10/5/15 - Colleen Laughlin - haunted blog tour Estes 
10/6/15 - JM Maurer - haunted blog tour Mary 
10/8/15 - Judy Reynolds - haunted blog tour 
10/9/15 - Calisa Selfridge - haunted blog tour Marwell Hall 
10/14/15 - Rachael Kosinski - haunted blog tour Balete 
10/16/15 - Jessica Cale - haunted blog tour Casper 
10/19/15 - James DiBenedetto - haunted blog tour Turner Ingersoll 
10/22/15 - Kimbra Kasch - haunted blog tour Kate Morgan 
10/24/15 - Angela Scavone - haunted blog tour Dorothy Walpole 
10/27/15 - Helena Fairfax - haunted blog tour Archer Lane 
10/29/16 - Alisha Robinson - haunted blog tour Mr. Clifton 
10/30/15 Tina Gayle - haunted blog tour non-ghost 

10/31/15 - Rosanna Leo - haunted blog tour Ilona Raynham 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Good Girls Don't Become Best-Sellers by Kristin Lamb

I am reblogging this post from Kristin Lamb's blog. I found it enlightening and inspiring and I wanted to share. And then I'm going to go out and kick some ass!

I am currently reading Kate White’s I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This: Success Secrets Every Gutsy Girl Should Know. There are bad books, okay books, good books and great books. But there is another kind of book and it’s the rarest.
The game-changer.
White has a witty, sassy style. She is seamlessly intelligent and down-to-earth in her fiction. And guess what? Her nonfiction delivers more of the same.
I’ve never recommended a book I haven’t finished, but this one has me far too excited. Even if Ms. White devolves into dirty limericks for the rest of the book? I still feel I have spent my money well. There are some points she makes which I feel are especially poignant and applicable to writers.
Part of the reason I’m referring to her book in this blog (even though I’m not yet finished) is that I might just chicken out unless I jump in. I have come to the conclusion that…

Good Girls Don’t Become Best-Sellers

Before you throw digital knives at me, please hear me out. I’ve been doing this social media thing since MySpace was big. I have three books under my belt, 900 blogs, and thousands of hours of teaching. So I’ve been around long enough to at least make a very unscientific study of human behavior and I can tell you that men almost always have the advantage in the new publishing paradigm. They have the edge for the same reasons they gain the advantage in the workplace.
Those lessons our mothers and grandmothers passed on could be the very behaviors that have us standing in our own way. I feel this is particularly true for the writing profession since it is largely comprised of women over 30.
Women over 30 have lived long enough to see this world change more than it ever has in the entire course of human history. Who would have imagined we’d say things like, “I want a picture. Hold on while I get my phone!”
We were born into a world where women became nurses, not doctors and now we are finding our way in a world where a woman can finally be bold enough to run for president (not vice-president).
Many of the writers I work with believe they are struggling with branding because of the technology, but I don’t agree. I think women are finally in a position where we must choose. It is live or die. If we listen to our rearing we will lose and lose BIG.
We don’t like the new paradigm because we can’t hide behind an agent and wait meekly for outside approval. The new publishing paradigm lands us smack dab in the place we are most terrified.
What I am going to address can help the men (the “Nice Guys”) and it does apply to younger women. But us older gals? I could kick myself for not seeing this earlier and it figures it would take a former Editor in Chief ofCosmopolitan Magazine to help me see the light. I’m going riff with some of the ideas presented in Ms. White’s book and apply them to women in the world of publishing. We are taught to be Good Girls and is this having a devastating impact on our careers.
Then, since I hate whining and love solutions, we will throw out the rule books and explore what it is to be a “Bad Girl.”

#1 Good Girls Are Modest

It is unbecoming to brag, so we are modest and humble and we are shooting ourselves in the foot.
In the corporate world, men are more likely to own their accomplishments, whereas women tend to minimize their achievements. To paraphrase White:
If a man has four years of college French, he has no problem stating he is fluent. Women, on the other hand, will downplay their abilities. We say we have a “conversational grasp” of the language.
When it comes to writing, the second a man even starts a novel, he has business cards with “Author” as his title and he is securing a website. Women, on the other hand? Let’s pause that thought for a little test.
How many of you are aspiring writers? Raise your hand. No one will see.
Now, use that hand to smack yourself soundly and never call yourself that again.

Writers write. There is no try. There is no aspire. Aspiring is for wimps. It takes guts and blood to be a writer.

No one will take us seriously unless we do it first.

#2 Good Girls Need Permission

I cannot count how many writers (usually female) have written a novel, numerous novels and yet still refer to themselves as “aspiring writers.” They are waiting for permission to even use the title even though they have a blog and have written hundreds of thousands of words.
Men don’t do this. At least not in the same numbers. I can attest to that. I’ve met men whose writing was so bad they should have been banned from downloading Word until they took some grammar classes, but that didn’t stop them from having a marketing plan or hiring a PR person. They don’t hesitate to secure a domain, build a blog, or hire the best person to design their cover and if they can’t get an agent? They are more likely to self-publish without needing outside approval to do so.

#3 Good Girls Don’t Have Desires

So many of us gals are afraid to want something. Why is it so hard for us to admit we want something? To claim a certain life? Why do we feel such shame and a need to hide who we are and what we desire?
It is okay for a man to want sex a promotion a raise to want to be a New York Times best-selling author, but for us? There is almost something dirty about wanting to write. Wanting to write and get PAID to write. Wanting to write and to…be famous for it.
Oh no! Kristen has gone TOO FAR! And there is only one punishment for lighting the grail-shaped beacon…
Dirty, naughty Zewt!
Spank us all!
If we are wives and mothers? The problem only compounds from there. I have a hard time expressing I want to go to the bathroom alone, how am I supposed to say I want to be published a LEGEND?

#4 Good Girls Are Demure

As a social media expert for writers, do you know one of the biggest mistakes writers make in branding? They fail to use their names. They tweet as @fairywriter or @ILuvBooks or @dragongirl. They do all of this wonderful networking for months and years and yet it is almost all wasted effort. Why? Because unless I am going to change my name to Fairy Writer and slap that on a cover, that twitter handle is doing zilch nada nothing to build a brand.
Remember what a brand is?

A brand is when our name alone is a bankable asset. It is when a name alone has the power to drive sales.

When I get on social media and see writers using monikers, by and large it is women. Men do this too, but not in the same numbers. And, even if men use a moniker, the second I point out the fallacy, they are far more likely to change it. Women on the other hand are terrified of using their name and take way more convincing.
Men are also far more likely to start a blog. Women?
They have to have three angelic visions, four miraculous encounters and a committee of family members to tell them it would be okay to BLOG. Why is blogging so scary? IT IS FREAKING WRITING. It plays to a writer’s strengths, but I might as well ask writers to perform brain surgery from space with a Chia Pet and an egg beater.
What if people find out I like to write? 
Don’t you think they should if you hope they will pay money to read your books?

#5 Good Girls Feel Comfortable Losing

Well, I tried and that’s all that counts. 
We women are notorious for placing ourselves in no-win situations. Out of one side of our mouth we say we can’t be on social media because we don’t yet have a book for sale, but when we do have a book for sale? Oh, well I feel so awkward talking to people because they might think I am selling my book.
*bangs head on keyboard*

When a man publishes a book, he is there to win. He isn’t there to see his name in print. He is there to see his name in lights.

But us gals? We are notorious for settling. We feel awkward admitting we maybe kind of sort of would like to be number one. Men have no problem admitting they are on social media because they would like to sell books.
Screen Shot 2014-03-03 at 9.58.49 AM

Okay, enough of the “Good Girl” stuff.

I hope I’ve made my point. Now *rubs hands* it is time for me to help you cultivate that inner Bad Girl.
If you want this dream, the first step is to know it is okay to want it. Many of you are moms, wives, and caretakers. Maybe you already have a great career and it is “selfish” to want to write. And I am here to say, YES. It is. And sometimes a little selfishness goes a long way. Men outpace us because they are better at being selfish.
We must learn to stuff a sock in the inner Good Girl’s mouth and channel that inner Bad Girl because she is dying to get out more. Being a Bad Girl doesn’t mean we aren’t still kind and gracious, but it does mean things are going to change.

#1 Bad Girls Do It Afraid

Nothing remarkable happens in the comfort zone. You are going to have to suck it up and writer up. Only sociopaths don’t feel fear. Fear is natural and normal but it gets in the way of greatness. I feel women are far more afraid of failure than men. We wait to be “perfect.” We can’t say anything until we have the perfect book. But perfect is the enemy of the good. Do it afraid.
Yes. You might fail. Odds are you WILL fail and good! Keep failing. It’s how we learn.
My motto?

If we aren’t failing, we aren’t doing anything interesting.

So understand everything I am about to tell you is likely going to scare your pants off.
It’s okay, the erotica authors can lead the way :D .
Pay attention to that feeling because you will need to remember it. If something scares me (like writing this particular blog), likely I am onto something BIG. It is a sign I am heading in the right direction.

#2 Bad Girls OWN IT

Good, bad, ugly. We own what we do. I admit when I left sales and dreamed of becoming a writer, I wrote the world’s worst novel. It was being used in Guantanamo Bay to break terrorists until it was banned under the Hague Convention as torture.
But you know what? I finished a novel. I did something everyone says they want to do but then never actually do. I own the bad, but what’s been harder? Learning to own the GOOD.
It took weeks for me to put the emblem on this blog that I was named one of Writer’s Digest’s 100 Best Blogs. WHY? Because I am a work in progress, too :D .

#3 Bad Girls ASK FOR IT

How many writers are waiting for someone to deliver their big break into their lap? We go to conferences and practically throw up in our shoes at the thought of asking an agent if they’d like to hear about our book. WHY? It is their JOB. Agents don’t have a job without writers.
Ask for what you want. Guess what? All they can do is say no. But, they might just say, “Yes.”
When I wrote my second social media book, I had the terrifying task of finding blurbs. So, I took my own advice and did it afraid. I made a list of all my favorite authors and then…asked. Guess what? New York Times Best-Selling Author James Rollins said, “Yes.”
He already knew me and loved my book.
But I never would have known had I not dared to ASK. Bad girls don’t hear, “No.” We hear, “Not yet” ;) .

#4 Bad Girls DO IT

A lot.
We write. We blog. We tweet and by golly we slap our name on it while we are there. I get that the house is a mess, but guess what? It can wait. Most men aren’t waiting until the house is immaculate and all the laundry is done and the kids are all asleep to take time to write!
How many of us are getting up before dawn or staying up after midnight because our dream might just inconvenience someone else? Let them be inconvenienced for a change!
We ladies bend more than the karma sutra and that is okay, but if our husband actually has to watch the kids for an hour in the evening that is too much?

# Bad Girls Are In It to WIN IT

Again, I love, love, love Kate White’s book because it reminded me of so much I’d forgotten. Yes, I am a full-time author, blogger, and C.E.O. but I am also a mom and spend way too much time in yoga pants and covered in crumbs. It is easy to forget to be hungry. It is easy to lose our way unless we are vigilant to keep the path. It is easy to let other people’s opinions matter too much.

Lionesses do not lose sleep over the opinions of sheep.

Bad girls don’t whine. We don’t make excuses and we do not politely wait our turn. We understand life is short and we need to make our time here count.
Understand that this is an amazing world that is rich in bounty and there is enough to go around. Don’t let anyone diminish you. This is your dream. It isn’t your little hobby or your “thing” it is YOU. It is your dream and it is OKAY to WANT TO WIN.
This seems like such a simple thing, but I hope you see how pivotal this realization is. I can give you all the branding and blogging lessons in the world and it won’t help. We don’t have a technology problem, we have a confidence problem.
Vow today to make a change. Start by admitting you want the dream then, for the love of all that is chocolate, slap your NAME on it. No more hiding. I will find you on Twitter and pull your @FairyGurl wings off ;) .
What are your thoughts? Do you see any “Good Girl” behaviors that have been undermining you? Do you have a hard time calling yourself a…writer? Do you have a hard time with the notion of social media because the thought of admitting you have a dream scares you spit-less? Have you bothered to get a domain name, a website? Blog? Are you afraid to ask for what you want? Do you put everyone and everything ahead of your writing? Are you waiting for permission? Do you feel like you are a poseur or a fake? Do you struggle with perfectionism?

See You at Contemporary Romance Cafe!

I'm at my regular monthly gig at Contemporary Romance Cafe today talking about one of my favorite characters  --  Zane Martin from A LONG WAY FROM EDEN. I hope you'll come by and say hello!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Interview Friday with Devon McKay

      Today fellow Wild Rose Press author Devon McKay is my guest. She has generously agreed to answer a few questions. Let's get to know Devon better!

Where did you get the idea for your new novel? 
I lived in Alaska for 27 years but now resided in Ohio. The tourist season always makes most Alaskans cringe a little. Though the additional income and visitors are gratefully welcomed, the usually quiet state gets extremely busy and that can be unsettling at times. After listening to my sister, who still lives there, grumble about the upcoming summer, I got the idea for the story. I hung up the phone and started writing immediately.

Why did you choose this genre?
I’m one of those hopeless romantics. I love a happy ending. 

What genre have you never written that you’d like to write?
Horror. I’d like to give it a try. 

Horror? That really surprises me, but then I can't watch scary movies at all. When were you first published and how did that happen? Was it a long or short journey?
I was first published last year and my journey was like a whirl wind. I was signed to The Wild Rose Press fairly quickly. I still have to pinch myself. 

What is the hardest part of being a writer for you?
Promoting myself and all of the social media. I’m honestly quite bad at it. I have no problem talking about my books. That’s easy because I fall in love with my stories and love to have one-on-one conversations. But twittering and blogging are not my forte.

What do you hope readers gain from your stories?
Personally, I’d just like readers to be able to escape from the real world for a few hours. That’s how I like to feel when I read a good book. 

What book for you has been the hardest to write? 
My first book published was the hardest. I just didn’t know what to expect and learned so much along the way. 

How many books do you have under the proverbial bed? Will they ever see the light of day?
Currently I have about eight. All unfinished and works in progress. I hope to have them all published one day. 

Do you write in the same place every day or do you like to change it up?
I have two writing dens. One is at my barber shop and the other is at home. I find I actually get more writing done at work between haircuts. I can’t tell you how many times a client walks in and I hold them off for a few minutes until I finish my train of thought. It’s not good for business, but thankfully, I have understanding customers. 

That's really funny Devon! You must be a really good barber! What’s one thing that your readers would be surprised to learn about you? 
I am very shy and hate to be the center of attention. This becomes a real challenge when trying to promote my books. 

I think shyness among writers is pretty common, or maybe it's just me. Tell us a bit about you. Where do you live, and how long have you been writing?
I live in a small town in Ohio. When we moved from Alaska the dream was to own a small farm and so far we’ve achieved that goal. We raise long horn steers, chickens, goats, dogs and cats. This really is living the dream.

Do you have another occupation, other than writer? If so, what is it? Does it help you with your writing?
I’m a barber and own my own shop in a small town. I’ve been cutting hair since I was seventeen years old, so nearly thirty years now. I love it. And it definitely helps with the writing. I get so many ideas for a great story by talking to people every day.

Do you have any pets? Are you cat person or a dog person? Or are you into totally different pets, like goldfish? What do you like best about your pet?
This is a funny question to me because I just posted something about this on my facebook page. I have three dogs and a cat. Every one of them play a part in the writing process. 

What are your hobbies away from the computer?
I like to do stained glass projects in my spare time. Lately, I’ve been replacing the glass from old windows with clear, wavy glass and prisms. Though, I’m a writer, I’m not describing the pieces very well. They actually look quite lovely when I’m finished. Also, my husband and I spend a lot of time at our cabin where we like to fish and ride four wheelers. 

What did you want to be (occupation-wise) when you were a child?
A ballerina, but I have two left feet and happen to be as graceful as a newborn colt. I’ve always been a dreamer. 

What do you like best about your hero in Staking a Claim? 
Blake is so outdoorsy. He is completely at home in the feral wildness of the Alaska wilderness.  

What do you like best about Staking a Claim's heroine? 
Samantha Held is career orientated. In fact, she is so driven it becomes one of her downfalls, a character flaw which I believe makes her relatable. 

How can readers reach you or find you online?
Tell us a little about your current work in progress.
At the moment, I’m working on a story called Betting On Kincade where a woman loses her ranch in a drunken bet made by her stepfather. As if that’s not bad enough, she finds the new owner is her soon to be ex-husband. 

What’s your tagline? Why did you choose it?
I have two taglines. The first one simply ties the romance and the title together and the second one I chose because it’s the tag line my main character came up with to promote tourism in Alaska.
She staked a claim on his heart.
Live Alaska. If only it was so easy.

Do you have an event coming up you’d like to tell us about?
Yes. September’s been a huge month for me. I resigned my first book, Cowboy On The Run, with Amazon Encore and it made its debut on September 1st.  

Tell us about your current release.  
In Staking A Claim, my heroine, Samantha Held, goes to Alaska on a job assignment to promote tourism in the state in hopes to land a partnership position in the advertising company she works with. However, butting heads with Blake Strickland, a gruff Alaskan man, who happens to be quite territorial about the state wasn’t part of the plan. 

Devon McKay Bio:

Living in Alaska for 27 years, Devon McKay has many exciting stories to tell about the state. On several occasions, she was chased by a mother moose defending her young, stalked by a bear, endured temperatures of forty below and once was even trapped in an avalanche. She loved every minute of it! 

After writing her first novel, Cowboy On The Run, she now calls a small ranch in Ohio home with her loving husband and teenage son. Although the farm life is slightly more laid back then the perils of Alaska, Devon enjoys the slower pace of the country lifestyle which gives her plenty of time to follow her passion of writing.

Staking A Claim Blurb:

For most people, seeing Alaska is a dream come true. For Miami Beach resident, Samantha Held, it is merely a job assignment. Creating an advertisement for vacationing in the state gets her one step closer to achieving her career goal—partnership in Kolinsky’s Advertisement Agency. 
Blake Langford is not willing to accept any exploitation of his beloved state, no matter how desirable the striking, southern blonde bombshell with fiery green eyes is, and he’s determined to sabotage Sam’s goal in every way. Falling in love with the enemy, however, was never part of the plan.

Staking A Claim Excerpt:

Fuming, Sam held his gaze as she considered his offer. She couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity to be dropped into her lap. She could learn everything she needed to know about Alaska and have a handsome, but overly protective, guide of the state to show her. Not to mention what his knowledge could do for the brochure.

It would also mean more time in his temperamental company.

Sam considered her options. She had gotten lucky finding Carlton Landing, but what about locating her elusive hotel? As proven last night, it was more than evident she couldn’t even read a map correctly. So, what real choice did she have?

She pictured her new office…the view of the ocean…the partnership. She was willing to take the chance. Besides, she’d never been the kind of girl who shied away from a challenge. Hell, so far, her life had been a series of challenges.

“It’s a deal.” Her voice came off cool and professional despite the quickening of her heartbeat. She offered her hand to shake on the agreement. “We haven’t officially met. Samantha Held. I go by Sam.”

“Blake Langford.” He extended his, grasping her hand and repeating the name she already knew by heart. He held onto her grasp for a minute longer than necessary. “I go by Wolf.” 

Again, the breathtaking grin resurfaced, and an odd pulsation spiked through Sam, leaving her insides quivering like a bowl of gelatin as she second guessed her decision. 

What kind of fool makes a deal with a man called Wolf?

Release date is September 30, 2015

978-1-5092-0329-1 Paperback 
978-1-5092-0330-7 Digital 

Amazon Link

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Wanna win some prizes?

The party may be over, but there are still tons of prizes to be had, including my WW2 romance FLAWLESS!

Over 100 books and book-related prizes are still up for grabs—just enter via Rafflecopter!

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, September 25, 2015

Starr Gardinier is here for Interview Friday!

My guest today for Interview Friday is Starr Gardinier, a fellow Wild Rose Press author. Starr is here to tell us a little about herself and her writing, and introduce us to her new release. 

Did you always want to be a writer?

Yes, since I was about 14. I used to read the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys’ books. I loved them. When I was around 14, I thought I could write something like that. So, I tried and penned four chapters. My father was an avid book reader, so I thought he’d be the best person to read my attempt. He did read it all right, then set me down and gave me a ½ hour lecture on plagiarism. He didn’t believe I wrote those words. As young as I was, I was, like most children, impressionable. It crushed me. As an adult, I realized that it really was a compliment, albeit backhanded, but one just the same. My father thought I’d copied someone else’s work, yet those were my words.

Do you work on more than one book at a time?

As in writing them? No. I concentrate on one set of characters and their issues at a time. But, as I’m doing now, I do write one while marketing another. I think all authors do that.

Do you have any words of advice to beginning writers? 

Absolutely. Don’t Give Up! It’s a hard road, but if writing is truly your passion, keep at it. Don’t let anyone tell you not to do it. Over time, you’ll hone your craft; the more you write, the better you’ll get.

What is the hardest part of being a writer for you? 

I’d have to say the hardest part is not having the time to write more. I work full-time and write on the weekends or in the evenings. My preference would be to write all day, every day.

What comes first for you – plot or character? 

Plot. Once I have a plot, characters seem to create themselves. For instance, with this book, “The Other Side: Melinda’s Story” I wanted to write a book where the protagonist was telling her story to a doctor and I wanted it to be paranormal. The character, Melinda James, was just a teenager when everything started happening. It had to be a youngster. An adult wouldn’t have worked. So, Melinda created herself.

What do you hope readers gain from your stories? 

Sheer entertainment. It’s why I write; to allow people a break from their own lives and place them in a story far removed from their own. I want everyone to simply enjoy a good story.

Tell us a bit about you. Where do you live, and how long have you been writing? 

I started writing when I was 14, but as you can see from my self-revelation above, I didn’t continue until I was an adult. But I did pick up that pen and paper again, obviously. I live in sunny Southern California, where it’s been hot and humid and I feel like I’ve been transplanted back to the east coast.

Do you have another occupation, other than writer? If so, what is it? Does it help you with your writing?

Yes, I’m a paralegal by day. You would be amazed at some of the clients and their stories I’ve seen over the years. I’ve been known to take bits and pieces of the legal issues, fictionalize them, and insert them in my stories. I doubt that anyone could ever recognize them, however. Not even the client. They’re too fictionalized.

Do you have any pets? Are you cat person or a dog person? Or are you into totally different pets, like goldfish? What do you like best about your pet? 

My husband and I have a dog. Ziggy. He’s part long-haired Chihuahua and dachshund mix. Absolutely adorable! We rescued him from the shelter when he was two years old. He’s only about 2 ½ now. The best thing about Ziggy is his unconditional love he gives us. He’s truly excited when we come home. He actually smiles, with all of his teeth showing!

What are your hobbies away from the computer? 

I love to scrapbook. I take photos and preserve them for later years, using all of the latest embellishments and tools. It’s fun and creative.

What do you like best about your heroine in "The Other Side: Melinda's Story"?

Her persistence. Melinda James is bound and determined to live her life. She’s not about to let anyone, doctor or otherwise, to allow her to sway from her longing. She has her doubts along the way, but she is completely firm in her resolve.

How do you choose the names and physical characteristics of your characters? Do you base them on real people?

Not names, but characteristics. Remember above when I told you that I’ve gained some pretty interesting ideas from my day job? Well, some of those just might be particular characteristics I’ve seen displayed from people over the years. I’m snickering just thinking about some of them.

How can readers reach you or find you online? 

They can see more about me on my website: They can reach me anytime by emailing me at My blog is My twitter handle is @StarrGardinier. And of course, there’s my author facebook page at:

What’s your tagline? Why did you choose it? 

The tagline for this book is “If I told you the story, would you believe it?” I thought that was quite fitting and it just came to me. It’s a question Melinda James asks because over the years, no one believed her and she’s searching for someone who will. Could it be you?

Do you have an event coming up you’d like to tell us about?

Yes. October 3, 2015 between 10 am and 1 pm, along with 10 other others, I’m hosting a Facebook Launch Party. Each other will be giving away a free prize. I will be giving away an ebook of “The Other Side: Melinda’s Story.” To join us and enter to win, go to: It will be a lot of fun. All of us authors will be standing by to answer questions and respond to any comments. Please join us!

Tell us about your next (or current) release. 

“The Other Side: Melinda’s Story” is the first in the series and released on September 18, 2015. It’s a paranormal, as you may have guessed. The second in the series is “The Other Side: Trent’s Story” and that will hopefully be released early 2016. I’ll let everyone know when I get that release date. The third in the series: “The Other Side: Ben’s Story” is being written. Who is Trent? You’ll find that out in book one. Who is Ben? You’ll find that out in book two. Read on, my paranormal fans!

Author bio:

A paralegal by day, she’s an author by night. Apart from being an award winning author for her short story "Cut", Starr has appeared in a blaze and made her mark on the literary world with her Ivanovich Series. She has found her unique style and is known for her works' distinctive voice, making every character stand out.

She is the former executive editor of Suspense Magazine. She has been interviewed in the newspaper and on the radio with relation to her fiction work. She has been a co-host on Suspense Radio.

Starr is a member of International Thriller Writers (ITW) and of Sisters in Crime, Los Angeles Chapter and nationally. She has won three Best Speaker awards as well as Best Evaluator at the Voice Ambassadors chapter of Toastmasters. She has always been active in events. As co-chair and main coordinator for the West Coast Author Premiere, she arranged the weekend-long event to help authors from all over network, learn and share their work with the public. Reina has also been instrumental in compiling authors and planning a local author event at Barnes and Noble in Ventura, California along with the store’s event manager.

Blurb: "The Other Side: Melinda's Story":

Melinda's family is dead, killed for information that is hidden deep within her mind. Her father tries to warn her from the 'Other Side' that she is in danger from the killers who want what only she can give them. Committed to Skyview Haven, she must determine if the 'Other Side' truly exists or if it is a trick of her heart and mind.

With time running out Melinda must determine who she can trust. Is it the ghosts of her family, a boy who may not be who he appears to be, or the doctor who is determined to cure her? Can she figure out the truth before it is too late?

Buy Links:

Amazon   Kobo   Barnes and Noble   All Romance Ebooks   Bookstrand   The Wild Rose Press

See the book trailer for "The Other Side: Melinda's Story" on YouTube!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Recipe Tuesday with Andrea Downing!

Andrea Downing is here with a contribution to Recipe Tuesdays. Writers, if you've got a recipe you want to share like Andrea did here, send me a note at I'd love to have you!

With English aristocrats and English gentry running cattle companies and settling colonies in the 1880s American West, one cannot envisage a group of people who ate any less graciously than they did back home.  Out on the Faringdon Ranch of my book, Loveland, there was a cook who would no doubt have brought her favourite recipes from the home country, and served them up to Oliver Calthorpe—brother of a Duke—and his niece, Lady Alexandra, my heroine.  And one dessert that most certainly would have graced their table would be a Trifle.  Cook might well have had a copy of ‘Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management,’ although, most likely, she would have adapted any recipes therein for the American groceries she was able to buy.  Soooo…here is the Faringdon Ranch cook’s recipe for an English Trifle.  I hope you enjoy it!

1 pint heavy cream
3 oz./ ½ cup superfine sugar
2 egg whites
small glass sweet sherry/madeira/dessert wine
1 pint Bird’s Custard from a packet OR homemade with 1 pt. heavy cream, 4 large egg yolks, 1 Tbs. super fine sugar, 1 tsp. vanilla, and 1 dessertspn cornstarch
6 small spongecakes or lady’s fingers or Nilla cookies
12 macaroons, pref. almond not coconut 
24 Ratafia biscuits OR 12 amaretti
2 oz. slivered almonds, toasted
grated rind of one lemon (optional)
raspberry jam of good quality
½ pint sweet wine or sherry
6 Tbs brandy or cognac
slivered almonds and candied peels or berries for decorating top

You should have a very pretty, medium-sized glass bowl for this dessert.  
For the whipped cream topping:  stiffly beat cream, sugar, egg whites  and sweet wine to stand in peaks.  A solid consistency is required.
If making custard, whisk yolks, vanilla, cornstarch and sugar and slowly add heated cream.  Return to saucepan and continue whisking until thick and slightly simmering.  Let cool.
Now assemble by putting lady’s fingers, macaroons and amaretti/ratafia in bottom of bowl and pouring the sweet wine mixed with the brandy over, making sure all are thoroughly soaked.  Spread a layer of jam on that, sprinkled with the lemon rind if using, and the slivered almonds.  Top this with the cooled custard and on top of that goes the whipped cream.  You can decorate with more slivered almonds, candied peels or berries to match the jam.
Many cooks add berries (fresh or frozen & defrosted) on top of the wine-soaked cakes, and that’s delicious, too.  Whatever your preference, this is a lovely dessert in any century.  Then again, they weren’t watching their cholesterol and counting calories in the 1800s…

Blurb for "Loveland":

When Lady Alexandra Calthorpe returns to the Loveland, Colorado, ranch owned by her father, the Duke, she has little idea of how the experience will alter her future. Headstrong and willful, Alex tries to overcome a disastrous marriage in England and be free of the strictures of Victorian society --and become independent of men. That is, until Jesse Makepeace saunters back into her life...
Hot-tempered and hot-blooded cowpuncher Jesse Makepeace can’t seem to accept that the child he once knew is now the ravishing yet determined woman before him. Fighting rustlers proves a whole lot easier than fighting Alex when he’s got to keep more than his temper under control.
Arguments abound as Alex pursues her career as an artist and Jesse faces the prejudice of the English social order. The question is, will Loveland live up to its name?
The light was failing and the birds were settling with their evening calls. Somewhere in the pasture a horse nickered. She sensed Jesse was there, watching, but she never turned as he stood at the fence. She heard him climb over and ease up behind her. He took the coiled rope from her in his left hand and slid his right hand over hers on the swing end, almost forcing her backward into his arms.
She thought of paintings and statues she had seen, imagining his naked arms now, how the muscles would form them into long oblique curves, how he probably had soft downy fair hair on his forearms, how his muscle would slightly bulge as he bent his arm. His voice was soft in her ear, and she could feel his breath on her neck like a whispered secret.
“Gentle-like, right to left, right to left to widen the noose, keep your eye on the post—are you watchin’ where we’re goin’?”
He made the throw and pulled in the rope to tighten the noose. Alex stood there, his hand still entwined with hers and, for a moment, she wished they could stand like that forever. Then she took her hand away and faced him. For a second he rested his chin on the top of her head, then straightened again and went to get the noose off the post while coiling in the rope. She looked up at him in the fading light and saw nothing but kindness in his face, simplicity and gentleness that was most inviting. A smile spread across her face as he handed her the coiled rope and sauntered away, turning once to look back at her before he opened the gate. Emptiness filled her like a poisoned vapor seeking every corner of her being, and she stood with the rope in her hand listening to the ring of his spurs as his footsteps retreated.  

Author Bio:   

Andrea Downing likes to say that when she decided to do a Masters Degree, she made the mistake of turning left out of New York, where she was born, instead of right to the west, and ended up in the UK. She eventually married there, raising a beautiful daughter and staying for longer than she cares to admit. Teaching, editing a poetry magazine, writing travel articles, and a short stint in Nigeria, as well as extensive travel throughout Europe, Africa and Latin America, filled those years.  She returned to NYC in 2008.  She now divides her time between the city and the shore, and often trades the canyons of New York for the wide open spaces of Wyoming. Family vacations are frequently out west and, to date, she and her daughter have been to over 25 ranches throughout the west. Loveland, her first book, was a finalist for Best American Historical at the 2013 RONE Awards and her three further novels and novellas have garnered several awards.

Links to social media: 
Twitter:  @andidowning

Buy Links for LOVELAND:  

Review snippets:

"Andrea Downing has crafted a masterpiece with Loveland. Her fast-paced romantic western keep readers wondering how the story can ever be resolved...Downing is a strong writer who has written a worthy premiere novel. She handles romantic scenes with flair while showing the nitty-gritty of ranch life in the 1880s. Loveland is packed with action and emotion, leaving the reader wanting more. Loveland is one of those books I hated to have end. A hands-down five-star novel."  Mary E. Trimble,  Captivating Stories from the American West to West Africa

"…Great storytelling! Even though the happy ending is a given, the journey was much more satisfying because of the snappy dialogue, the pivotal plotting, and the realistic progression of Alex and Jesse's emotional connection. I'm happy to give this book Five Stars!"
Lynda Coker, Between the Pages

"Andrea Downing does a very good job of depicting the hard life on a ranch in the late 1800´s as well as the struggles of a high-society woman to gain independence. I like the authors descriptive style and the pace throughout the book is very high, with one dramatic event after the other unfolding...The author does a good job in adding a lot of interesting historical detail and a fun group of supporting characters to give this classic romantic story more depth. I would recommend Loveland for lovers of romance and historical fiction enthusiasts."
--Daniella, The TBR Pile