Saturday, April 15, 2017

Night Owl Reviews Spring Fling Scavenger Hunt

First and Again

I've got a treat for you. I'm one of the sponsors of the Night Owl Reviews Spring Fling Scavenger Hunt.

During this event I'm going to help you find some great new books. Make sure to check my featured title, FIRST AND AGAIN, out along the way.

The grand prize is a $100 Amazon Gift Card. There will be over 90 winners. The prize pool is $850!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

A Salute to the Past #WW1

Shaping Our Future by Commemorating the Past

This past week America and Canada both commemorated historical milestones. A hundred years ago on April 6, America joined Canada and the other Allied nations in the fight against Germany in WW1. Three days later, Canadian soldiers attacked the German stronghold Vimy Ridge in a battle that has come to symbolize the event that marked Canada's birth as a nation. 

These two events still resonate as significant today. American troops lended powerful support to the Allies at a crucial point in the war. The Canadians' success at Vimy Ridge proved they were a force to be reckoned with as they succeeded where the British and French had repeatedly failed. The Canadians made their mark on history—not as a subordinate unit in the British army, but on their own.

In recognition of these historic events of WW1, today I welcome American romance author Ginger Monette, who has recently published Darcy's Hope, a WW1 saga inspired by Downton Abbey and Pride & Prejudice. Her Belgian field hospital setting required meticulous research into patient care, nurses, and of course the inevitable romances spawned by war. But what she discovered went beyond facts and dates. Today Ginger joins us to share how the men and women of 1917 can profoundly affect us a hundred years later. 

A: First, Ginger, tell us what inspired you to write a romance set during WW1?

G: Downton Abbey! I had already written a companion novel based on some of Jane Austen's characters, and as I was watching Downton Abbey, I began to imagine, what if Austen's iconic Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet were catapulted forwarded into the era of Matthew Crawley and Lady Mary? I was struck by how little British culture had changed in 100 years. I could see Darcy dining with Lord Grantham with little change in decorum. Besides, the turbulence of the Western Front seemed a fitting and colorful setting for a romance between Darcy and Lizzy, two characters known for their “explosive” relationship. 

A: Writing historical fiction inevitably requires research. How did you approach researching a topic as broad as The Great War?

G: With the only sources I could trust as historically accurate—diaries. However, diaries make research difficult as their vantage point assumes an acquaintance with the social mores, current news, general ways of doing things, gender roles, etc. of the era. Since I am not from that era, all those little details had to be gleaned from hints here and there. It took hours and hours of reading before a clear picture of daily life on the Western Front began to emerge. I read six hours a day for nine months and compiled over 200 pages of typed notes.

A: That’s a lot of reading! Didn’t you tire of such tedious research?

G: No. Actually I became obsessed. Those folks back then were a lot smarter than I’d given them credit for. In addition, I found the history fascinating and the people inspiring!

A: How were they inspiring?

G: Machine guns, poison gas, airplanes, and tanks made their debut in WWI inflicting destruction and horrific wounds on an unprecedented scale. Men lived in squalid trenches and saw their comrades dismembered and slaughtered on a daily basis, yet they remained cheerful and self-sacrificing. 

And everyone did something to aid in the war effort. Hundreds of women volunteered as nurse’s aides, others wrote letters, sent care packages, and knitted socks. Men too old to serve as soldiers became stretcher-bearers and ambulance drivers. They fashioned splints from scrap metal, turned church halls into hospitals, and emptied bedpans. 

As I read about these and hundreds of other random acts of kindness, and then came upon account after account of men who deferred to their comrades when they were gravely injured, I was challenged. Challenged to step up and be a better person. Challenged to take a moment to make a difference for someone else no matter how insignificant it seems. To yield to others even in my time of need. And to remain cheerful amidst trying circumstances. Taken together, all the small acts of kindness and self-denial I read about made an enormous difference in the end. I want to lend my hand to humanity to make a difference as well. The choices I make going forward will forever be influenced by what I learned from these people from the past.

A: The lessons of history certainly go beyond boring facts and dates!

G: They certainly do! As my father always said, “Those who do not heed the lessons of history are doomed to repeat its mistakes.” And the mistakes are not always blunders in political finesse or military tactics. People are people no matter what era, and there is much we can learn from those who have gone before us. They speak through the pages of history and their diaries if we will only listen. 

A: I hear you're willing to give my readers access to a special WW1 photo album you've compiled to accompany Darcy's Hope. Can you tell us about it?

G: Most Americans know almost nothing about WW1. I was no exception. But after researching, it dawned on me that my own understanding of the Great War had been greatly enhanced by photographs, and I wanted to offer the same opportunity to my readers.  So, I selected a hundred photographs that represented the technologies, culture, and people/places depicted in my story, then dressed them up like an old fashioned album and offer access to readers who subscribe to my newsletter. But as a special gift, I'll grant your readers free access to this online album—but only through April 19. They can pick up the link here by using the password Alicia Dean.

Thanks so much for hosting me on your blog!

Listen to an excerpt of Darcy's Hope: Beauty from Ashes here. You can also watch the video trailer for the book at

Author Bio:

Ginger Monette currently writes riveting romances inspired by Downton Abbey and Jane Austen. Her
use of compelling plot, vivid historical detail, and deep point of view has earned her stellar reviews for her Darcy's Hope saga and a grand prize for flash fiction. Living in Charlotte, NC, Ginger enjoys Pilates, period dramas, public speaking, and reading—a full-length novel every Sunday afternoon.

-If you love Period Drama or Jane Austen, join Ginger on Facebook at Ginger Monette Author.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Review: Famous in a Small Town by Kristina Knight

I just had the opportunity to read Kristina Knight's new book which will release on May 1, 2017. I was given an advance copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. FAMOUS IN A SMALL TOWN is the first book in her new Slippery Rock series. Slippery Rock is a small town in Missouri, an idyllic farming community where nothing much happens, except life and love! Here's the blurb:

Forced to leave Nashville after a scandal, Savannah Walters has come home to Slippery Rock, Missouri, with a bruised ego and her singing career in jeopardy. As if that isn't humiliating enough, on her way into town she's rescued by her swoon-worthy childhood crush, Collin Tyler. 
 His hands are full running the family orchard and dealing with his delinquent teen sister, so Collin doesn't need to get involved with someone as fiery and unpredictable as Savannah. But the intense attraction between them can't be denied. And when disaster strikes, they'll both be surprised by who's still standing when the dust settles.
FAMOUS IN A SMALL TOWN features two of the most engaging, and broken, characters I’ve ever read. Both had heartbreaking childhoods. The scars of those childhoods stay with them into adulthood and color everything they do and everything they feel. Savannah reacts by running away from their hometown of Slippery Rock, Missouri, while Collin digs in, wrapping his roots so tightly around the community that no one can ever tear him away from his home again. Neither of them can quite believe anyone could love them, even the adoptive families who take in. Ms. Knight does a great job of showing them falling for each other, even though it’s the last thing either of them wants. When the worst happens, they realize they're stronger and better together.

FAMOUS IN A SMALL TOWN is the first book in Ms. Knight’s Slippery Rock series and I can’t wait to read the rest!

You can pre-order FAMOUS IN A SMALL TOWN right now at Amazon

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Mary P. Thornburg: Mary Sue and the Shark

My guest today is fellow Uncial Press writer Mary P. Thornburg. I always enjoy Mary's posts and when she sent me this one, I laughed out loud because I've never heard the "Mary Sue" concept before. But she has a very good point: who wants to read about a perfect character? Please welcome Mary P. Thornburg!

"Mary Sue Gets Eaten by Sharks"

A couple of years ago, one of my novels got an Amazon review entitled "Mary Sue Gets Eaten by Sharks." I was baffled – my heroine's name wasn't Mary Sue, and I didn't know what the reviewer meant until I found that the name refers to a character type, female or male, who is basically perfect, who's thought to serve as a wish-fulfillment figure for the author. At that point I became offended. What did this guy mean, anyway? My character is far from perfect. She's often petty, she's dangerously impulsive, and she's been known to take a mean pleasure in using her unusual talents to scare people she doesn't like. When people don't appreciate her as much as they should, she sulks. Her besetting sin is pride, and translated into specific actions it gets her into serious trouble every few pages.

I didn't complain, because that's counterproductive and also because it was a funny, funny review. But it did get me thinking about all my characters. Are they believable? What are their flaws? How do their flaws and weaknesses contribute to the conflicts the plot challenges them to resolve?

A good story in any genre needs strong characters. But strong doesn't mean perfect – it means well-rounded and real, people the reader can believe in and sympathize with. Just as a totally evil villain is less effective than one with some complexity (think of Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs, a homicidal maniac who's polite and honorable and strangely gentle), a totally good protagonist is unbelievable and finally boring. She not only runs the risk of making readers dislike her (because after all, do we really like Little Miss Perfect?), but she also forces the writer to come up with a plot that presents her with more and greater difficulties, which the reader can never doubt she'll overcome. For the writer, a "Mary Sue" character is a lose-lose proposition.

Romance authors seem to be especially susceptible to the temptation of introducing perfect characters. Recently, I read a romance that was almost a textbook case – the heroine was perfectly beautiful, very successful, morally flawless, absolutely good, honest, and kind; the hero was totally hunky, rich, sweet, smart, and gentle, a regular Boy Scout in thought, word, and deed. Obviously, the author loved both characters and wanted readers to love them too. The problem was that there were no problems. The author had to create a small misunderstanding, which of course the characters – both being perfect – recognized for what it was and solved almost immediately. Not only was I not attracted to either character, but reading about them nearly put me to sleep. Mary Sue meets Mary Sue is a big yawn. You hope they'll get eaten by sharks, the sooner the better, but you're pretty sure they won't. You know they'll walk off into the sunset together, but you're not interested in watching them do it.

We all know that a plot needs conflict, problems to solve, difficulties to overcome. With a Mary Sue character, all these problems and difficulties and conflicts are someone else's fault. Mary Sue has to face them and solve them, but she's innocent of starting or contributing to them. As the old song would have it, there may be bugs on everyone else, but there ain't no bugs on her. As nearly as possible, she's perfect, and her perfection is the kiss of death to her as a successful, likeable, real character.

So how do you avoid turning your hero and/or heroine into Mary Sue? As a writer, you have to be interested in your characters. You have to like them if you want your readers to like them. And to like them, you have to know them, warts and all. Remember that your character is human. Even if she/he is a fantasy character, an alien from outer space or a talking giraffe, he/she must be human, which means she/he must have flaws, weaknesses, besetting sins. Blind spots. Do you know what these flaws are? Can you see what your character can't see? Think about this. Make a list, if that's how you go about writing characters. Consider how these flaws work against the character and make the conflicts more difficult to resolve and the goals harder to reach. And consider, too, how meeting and dealing with the problems your plot throws at her will force her to know herself better, to learn and grow, the way real human beings learn and grow.

If your heroes and heroines are real, your readers will recognize them. They'll sympathize with them and pull for them. They'll rejoice with them when they succeed. They will absolutely never want them to be eaten by sharks.

Author Bio:

Mary Patterson Thornburg lives in Montana with her husband Thomas and two elderly cats. That's Fergus in the photo, struggling to get away. Spooky doesn't show up in photographs; we suspect him of not being quite… normal.

Blurb for "The Boy-Wolf":

All through her childhood, Vivia loved the stories her brother told her about a man who became a wolf when the moon was full. She wished the stories were true; she wished she could know a man like that. Now she's almost fifteen, and she knows there never was and never could be a real man-wolf. But there's something about Lashti…

Buy Links: link: link:

Social Media Links

Facebook author page:

Twitter: @MaryPThornburg


Thursday, March 30, 2017

Ashley York: In the Spotlight!

My book spotlight guest today is Ashley York. This historical romance author is here to talk about CURSE OF THE HEALER, which is set in medieval Ireland. Please welcome Ashley York!


After the death of Brian Boru in 1014, a legend arose of a healer so great she could raise a man from the dead, with a power so strong it could make any warrior the next high king of Éire...and to steal it away from her, he need only possess her.

Fated to be a healer…

Aednat has spent her entire life training to be the great healer, knowing she must remain alone. When she meets Diarmuid, the intense attraction she feels toward him shakes her resolve to believe in such a legend. If she gives in to the passion he ignites in her, can she settle for being less?

Destined to be his…

Diarmuid of Clonascra is renowned for his bravery in battle. Only one thing daunts him: the prospect of taking a wife. The safest course would be to keep his distance from Aednat, the bold, headstrong healer who's far too tempting for his peace of mind. But his overking orders him to protect her from a group of craven warriors intent on kidnapping her to steal her power.

What starts as duty for Diarmuid quickly transforms into something more. Aednat's power might be at risk, but so is his closed-off heart.


The warrior’s expression did not change.

Aednat swallowed down her fear and used her most commanding tone. “Ye’re on Meic Lochlainn land.”

The man continued toward her, looming over her. “And well I know it.”

“Mayhap ye need to seek the rí túath’s permission to be here.”

“Mayhap I have the overking’s permission.”

The Meic Lochlainn had attained overking status, with several lesser kings under him. These men, the ríg túaithe, were from the direct line of former kings, had proven themselves in battle, and had been properly anointed. This man could be one of the visiting ríg túaithe, but Aednat sensed he was not.

She scoffed. “I do not believe ye.”

He stopped close enough for her to see the tiny lines at the corners of his bright blue eyes and the quirk of his heavy brow before he asked, “And why would ye not believe what I say to ye?”

“I do not know ye.” Arrogant! “And who are ye to say what the lad’s punishment should be?”

He had long, dark hair. Taller than most, he was probably seldom overlooked, and she had a notion his will was rarely denied. His broad shoulders and warrior’s stance were, no doubt, quite frightening… to some. Then he crossed his arms about his broad chest, tucking a hand under the intricately carved silver band clasping his bare upper arm. A wealthy man, then. Perhaps he was a rí túaithe.

“Mayhap ye do not recognize me, but ye should heed my warning.”

Any king could order that a little boy be punished with a strip of leather, if he were cruel enough, but it was not an accepted practice. Her grandfather had been a cruel rí. She’d witnessed one lad, Will, barely older than Lorccán, having his fingers sliced right off his hand for stealing food. Aodh Meic Lochlainn had thought it better that the boy starve to death than steal. Will had become her friend—a fellow outcast in the woods.

The stranger’s eyes narrowed and she nibbled her lower lip. She couldn’t back down now. “Well, then, ’tis a good thing ye do not get to decide.”

He closed the remaining distance between them in three strides, his face etched in angry lines. She instinctively backed away, half expecting him to grab her arm.

BUY LINKS - Curse of the Healer

Author Bio: 

Aside from two years spent in the wilds of the Colorado mountains, Ashley York is a proud life-long New Englander and a hardcore romantic. She has an MA in History which brings with it, through many years of research, a love for primary documents and the smell of musty old libraries. With her author's imagination, she likes to write about people who could have lived alongside those well-known giants from the past.

Connect with her online at:

Twitter: @ashleyyork1066

Thursday, March 23, 2017

New Release and a #Giveaway from Luanna Stewart!

Luanna Stewart visits with me today and talks about her new historical novel, IF WISHES WERE EARLS. She's sharing her love/hate with moving and, to celebrate her new release, she's got a giveaway for us. Please welcome Luanna Stewart!

Title:  Ten things I like and don’t like about moving house.

Thank you, Jana, for inviting me to visit with your readers.

In no particular order…
1. I don’t like sorting through old clothes. Never have, never will. That’s why my off-season closet has items I’ve not worn for several years.

2. I do like moving into a new kitchen, organizing the cupboards and shelves to suit my cooking and baking personality.

3. I don’t like all the trips I have to make to Goodwill, the animal shelter (they take old towels and bedding to use in their kennels), and the town dump.

4. I do like packing boxes. Strange but true. Especially the more delicate items, wrapping each piece in paper and nestling it safely in the box.

5. I don’t like unpacking boxes, putting away all the stuff, often wondering why the heck we kept some of it.

6. I do like having a yard or garage sale, finding new homes for some of my treasures that I no longer want or need.

7. I don’t like preparing for a yard sale, organizing the clutter, setting up the tables, praying it doesn’t rain.

8. I do like learning my way around a new location, discovering the best place to do this or that.

9. I don’t like having to find a new hairstylist. The horror! I’ve had my current hairdresser for over 15 years and she knows my hair. I trust her completely, usually telling her to “do what you like”. The last time I got my hair cut I simply said “something shorter than usual” and let her have fun.

10. I do like decorating – choosing wall colours, arranging furniture, hanging artwork on the walls. Making the house a home.

Do you like moving house? What do you like most/least about the process of upping sticks?

One commenter will receive a hand-knitted (by me) washcloth and a bar of handcrafted soap. (USA and Canada only.)

If Wishes Were Earls
By Luanna Stewart


A mysterious letter and an enchanted keepsake promise to lead Miranda to her heart's desire. Or does her heart secretly yearn for more than a sexy earl?


When a mysterious note directs Miss Miranda Large to a tiny village in Cornwall to find her heart's desire, she has no choice but to go. An enchanted keepsake heightens her curiosity. A snowstorm forces her to accept the hospitality of a sullen, albeit sexy and handsome, earl and Miranda's wish doesn't seem so out of reach.

Edward Penhallion, the 12th Earl of Claverlock, is not in the mood to start his search for a new wife. He wants to be left alone with his books and his dreams of revenge. But the arrival of a headstrong, sharp-tongued spinster forces him to play the charming host. Not a difficult task, given her intelligence and beauty. Suddenly, he’s not terribly eager for her to leave.

But as the snow falls and the winds blow, Edward discovers there’s more to Miranda than a lively wit and a lovely face. And Miranda wonders if the trappings of wealth are enough for true happiness.


He chuckled. The low, enticing sound warmed her from the tips of her ears to the soles of her feet, and made her quite forget her urgent need. “I won’t detain you any longer. It is quite safe for you to turn around. I’m respectably clothed.”

She lowered her hand and looked over her shoulder. She’d not noticed much about his face the first time she’d seen him, being distracted by other parts of his anatomy. Her cheeks heated. Oh, heavens, the other parts were all she’d looked at. Not at all similar to those parts on statues, or in paintings. This man’s parts were—impressive. More than her cheeks heated. Why had no one told her a man’s chest, when unclothed, was so thrillingly fascinating?

Now, with the distracting portions of his person covered, she could see he was incredibly attractive. Several inches taller than her, which was unusual given her height, with auburn hair a bit longer than current fashion, and brown eyes holding a hint of humor. She might escape unscathed. The bristles on his cheeks and chin matched the hair visible on his chest, for he had not buttoned the neck of his shirt.  He had tucked in the tails, however, and was possessed of muscular thighs.

When her gaze travelled up to meet his, a smile lingered in his eyes. “Have you seen enough?”

She opened her mouth to refute his implication, but in good conscience could not. She’d been ogling the poor man. Of course she had. What living, breathing woman wouldn’t ogle such a fine specimen?

Buy links for:  If Wishes Were Earls





All other retailers:

Luanna’s bio:

Luanna Stewart has been creating adventures for her imaginary friends since childhood. As soon as she discovered her grandmother's stash of romance novels, all plots had to lead to a happily-ever-after.

Born and raised in Nova Scotia, Luanna now lives in Maine with her dear husband, two college boys, and two cats. When she's not torturing her heroes and heroines, she’s in her kitchen baking something delicious.

Writing under the pen name Grace Hood, she has two novellas published with The Wild Rose Press.






Amazon Author Page:

Monday, March 20, 2017

#AuthorInterview with Claire Marti

Claire Marti's debut romance novel is releasing on March 31, 2017 with The Wild Rose Press. This romance writer who teaches yoga (she used to be a yoga teacher who wrote romance) is an interesting person and a talented writer. Please welcome Claire Marti!

What do you want readers to come away with after they read Second Chance in Laguna?

It’s a story about finding the courage to start over after suffering a broken heart. Choosing to release the past, live in the present, and follow your dreams is a recipe for happiness. I want readers to be inspired to find the courage to change their lives if they aren’t fulfilled. To understand it’s never too late to seek happiness. 

When were you first published and how did that happen? Was it a long or short journey? 

I’ve written numerous non-fiction articles in the yoga and wellness industry. Second Chance in Laguna is my debut novel. I started in late 2014 and began pitching in 2015. I won a few contests and that helped me sign a book deal in March 2016 with The Wild Rose Press.

 How did you get started writing romance?

 As a child, I found my mom’s stash of Kathleen Woodiwiss and Rosemary Rogers novels. Reading those sealed my fate!

What comes first for you – plot or character? And why?

Character all the way. I love creating the characters because the entire story springs from their inner conflicts. Learning to love and accept themselves frees them up to love and accept others.

How many books do you have under the proverbial bed? Will they ever see the light of day? 

None! Second Chance in Laguna is my first novel. I do have characters, outlines, and some scenes written for a women’s fiction novel set in 1920’s Paris and Antibes. I’m working up the courage to dive into it.

What’s one thing that your readers would be surprised to learn about you? 

I’ve got the musical taste of a teenage boy from the 1990’s. Alternative rock, heavy metal—front row for Soundgarden, Foo Fighters, Muse, Guns n’ Roses (back in the day.)

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

I live in Encinitas, California, a sleepy beach town about twenty-five miles north of San Diego. I’ve been writing stories since I was a child. I majored in English at the University of Virginia, practiced law briefly, and transitioned into teaching yoga and writing full-time over the last few years.

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

I’ve been teaching yoga since 2006. I teach in studios, online, and in clients’ homes. Keeping my mind, body, and spirit healthy complements my writing. I like to say I was a yoga teacher who wrote and now I’m a writer who also teaches yoga.

How do you think your life experiences have prepared you for writing? 

I’ve got a crazy family and made many dramatic, ahem, romantic choices in my 20’s and early 30’s. Growing up the youngest of six children, having a French father and dual citizenship, working as a lawyer, a non-profit animal rescue director, and a yoga teacher gives me a broad perspective on life.

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?  

I’ve got Josie and the pussycats. Josie is a rescue dog—part mastiff and part lab. She’s our gentle giant. Beau is a big sweet black kitty and Lola is our rambunctious tiger cat. My dream is to open my own animal sanctuary and save them all!

How can readers reach you or find you online?

My website is Twitter: @clairepmart

Tell us a little about your current work in progress.

I’m working with my editor on revisions to Book Two in the Finding Forever in Laguna series: Brandt and Alyssa’s story. I’m also working on Book Three: Christian and Kelly’s story.

Tell us about your current release.

Here’s what Second Chance in Laguna, releasing March 31, 2017 is about:

When Sophie Barnes’s fiancé jilts her at the altar, her carefully planned life implodes. Considering his betrayal to be a rude wake-up call, she leaves everything she knows in San Diego and flees to Laguna Beach. She vows to transform her life by avoiding men for a year and by fulfilling her dream of writing a wildly successful novel.

Sophie’s new landlord, Nicholas Morgan, is a gorgeous, successful architect with a player reputation. Nick’s avoided the intimacy of a long-term relationship—until Sophie’s independence, courage, and beauty touch his guarded heart. Both Sophie and Nick are terrified of being hurt again, but can they resist the pull of true love?

Here are the buy links!
My book is on sale in eBook and paperback at all major retailers. Here are the links:
The Wild Rose Press, Inc.:
Barnes and Noble:


Nick arrived right on time, looking gorgeous in faded jeans and a plain white T-shirt. How did he always manage to start the butterflies fluttering in her stomach? Just by standing there with the setting sun framing him. She was in trouble.

“Hi, beautiful. Ready to go?” He clasped her face in his hands and planted a soft kiss on her lips.

Returning his kiss, Sophie wound her arms around his neck and deepened it. She couldn’t resist. His strong arms wrapped around her waist, hugging her close to his broad chest.

“Mmm, feel free to greet me like that every time I come over.” His lips curved up into a sweet smile.

Heat washed her cheeks, and she returned his smile. “Let’s go. Prepare to be blown away by the movie snack of the century.”

Determined to keep things light and enjoy the movie before “the talk,” Sophie thrust down the lick of panic bubbling in her gut. She’d accomplished next to nothing all afternoon, instead wrestling with whether she needed to tell him about Doug.

The angel on her shoulder whispered to tell him because if they were going to have any kind of relationship, even a friends-with-benefits one, honesty and trust were vital.

The devil urged her to zip it. They’d only known each other a few weeks. What if he lived up to his Player of Laguna reputation and expected only a fun fling? Even though he seemed deeper than that. What if she scared him off with a premature talk?

“Is that a blush? The popcorn à la Sophie is that decadent?” he joked.

“Ha-ha! Just a little warm, that’s all. No blushing here.” Damn fair skin betrays me every time.

After they settled into their reclining seats at the luxury theater, Sophie poured peanut M&Ms into a tub of popcorn large enough to feed a family of four. Nick sampled it, bowing to her genius. They scarfed down most of the tub before the closing credits.

He kept her hand clasped in his, and she lost herself in the dark humor of the film he’d chosen. It seemed normal. Like they were a happy boyfriend and girlfriend without a care in the world.

Afterward, they headed back to her cottage. When Nick parked and walked her to the door, he glanced at her with a raised brow. She appreciated he didn’t just assume he was coming over and getting lucky, although she wished it was so simple.

“Come in. There’s something I need to talk about with you.” Sophie entered the house, working to swallow her jangled nerves. Immediately, Zack appeared at her feet, rubbing against her and purring like a motorboat. His moral support aided her resolve. Oh, she was dreading this.

Without answering, Nick reached for her. Pulling her close, he kissed her and lifted his head with a smile. “That sounds serious. Everything okay?”

She ducked out of his arms and headed to the couch. Perching on the edge of the cushion, she motioned for him to join her. On the far end of the couch. His touch scrambled her brain and stymied her best intentions.

Author Bio:

Claire Marti started writing stories as soon as she was old enough to pick up pencil and paper. After graduating from the University of Virginia with a BA in English Literature, Claire was sidetracked by other careers, including practicing law, selling software for legal publishers, and managing a non-profit animal rescue for a Hollywood actress.

Finally, Claire followed her heart and now focuses on two of her true passions: writing romance and teaching yoga. Her debut releases from The Wild Rose Press on March 31, 2017 and is the first in the Finding Forever in Laguna series.

Friday, March 17, 2017

M.S. Spencer: In the Spotlight!

My guest today is M.S. Spencer who is here to talk about her new release, LAPSES of MEMORY from The Wild Rose Press. This timetravel/adventure romance is about two star-crossed lovers whose lives keep crossing at different times. Please welcome M.S. Spencer!

Thanks so much for giving me a chance to talk a little about the background to my new romantic suspense Lapses of Memory.

It takes thirty years for Sydney to recognize her true love only to have him forget her.


It is spring in Old Town Alexandria, and Sydney Bellek is dictating her memoir to her daughter Olivia. Every few years from the age of five she meets her true love Elian Davies, but while he remembers her, she doesn’t recognize him. Only after surviving wars, revolutions, and years of separation will she realize they are meant to be, but this time it is Elian who has lost his memory of her. Will he remember her before she loses heart or will their new love be enough to replace the old one?

Meanwhile, her daughter Olivia has her own dilemma—how to choose between the rich and dashing Rémy de Beaumec, who wants to take her around the world, and the steady, quiet, American-to-the-core, Benjamin Knox, who only wants to make her happy.

A little background

As journalists, Sydney and Elian fly a lot. Since in the story they only meet every few years, the dates of their meeting on a plane coincided strangely and wonderfully with new aircraft designs coming on line. Research on the development of flight technology led me to learn some interesting facts. First, the early commercial airlines were designed for comfort rather than speed. The Boeing Stratocruiser that Sydney takes when she is five had sleeping berths and a lounge, and meals were served on china plates with fine wines in etched crystal goblets. As with most advances, luxury was soon sacrificed to speed, and by the 1970s we had the SST Concorde, which made the flight from New York to London in less than three hours. Then the amazing growth in passengers blew me away. In the 1950s air travel was limited to a few adventurous souls and planes carried 100 passengers. Today the Airbus A380 can handle up to 840. In 1950 17 million people used air transportation. In 2011 an estimated 2.75 billion people flew. Sydney’s travels span the airplanes from the Boeing 377 to the Boeing 787, the Dreamliner, which flies today.

Boeing 377 Stratocruiser

Lapses of Memory
Wild Rose Press, 3/15/2017, Imprint: Champagne Rose
Contemporary romantic suspense/Action Adventure; M/F; 2 flames
Ebook (70,560); Print: 296 pp.

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Boeing 787 Dreamliner

Excerpt (PG): The Lady Doesn’t Remember

Several beers later, they wobbled out to the lobby holding hands. Sydney had learned enough to know this Elian was a complex person and really, really cute. When they reached her room, he backed her against the door. She could feel his penis throbbing through his jeans and took a minute to revel in the desire the friction kindled before pushing him away. He set his arms on either side of her and regarded her with serious eyes. “You still don’t remember me, do you?”

She shook her head. She didn’t really want to recognize him. Placing him in some other context could only be deflating. She liked him now, a tall, thin, russet-haired man with a pulsing member and inviting mouth, currently blowing a tidal wave of pheromones in her direction.

He continued to stand there, making none of the moves she wished he’d make. Finally, she took a step toward him and held out her lips. Leaning in, he took them with his. The link pulled the rest of their bodies together. Arms went around waist and neck, bellies ground against each other, thighs intertwined. Sydney fell into a long, dark, winding tunnel that squeezed her, taking her breath away. She no longer felt corporeal, but more like a soft piece of quivering tissue, the bones dissolving, reduced finally to a pool of liquid heat.

He broke away, panting. “Now do you remember me?”

Her arms empty, she tried blinking to drag herself back to the present. Elian swam into view. His cerulean eyes shot signals, signals that she couldn’t decipher. What does he want of me? Why can’t we live for the moment? Just be in the here and now? For an instant she thought of lying, but somehow she knew he would see through it, that it would only push him farther away. “I’m sorry.”
He lifted his hands, then dropped them in frustration. He gazed at her, pleading. She couldn’t help him. Bits of him seemed familiar—as though those features belonged to someone else she’d known a long time ago. Other bits, like his deep, gruff voice and his air of insolence, were strange and new. A fleeting sense of abandonment passed through her. Whoever he reminded her of had left her once before. She didn’t want that loneliness again. She turned from him and put the key in the door. He caught her arm. “We’ll meet again, Sydney.”

She tried to match the hope in his voice. “Perhaps we will.” She ran inside and threw herself on the bed. After a good cry and a call for room service, she paced the room, trying to get a grip on her emotions. Something deep in Elian’s eyes drew her. She didn’t recognize his face, but she felt a linkage, a bond with him. An affinity shared, but long ago. She understood him, knew him. A face rose before her, but all jumbled as though she looked at it through a kaleidoscope. Eyes, chin, nose, cheeks, all split up into triangles and rhomboids, making the face as inscrutable as a Picasso painting.

She gave up.

Halfway through the chicken cordon bleu, she stopped, fork stalled two inches from her mouth. Why does he care whether I recognize him? What is this rapport I sense? Is there some deep, dark secret I should know? Oh my God, is he my long-lost brother?

About the Author

Although M. S. Spencer has lived or traveled in five of the seven continents, the last thirty years were spent mostly in Washington, D.C. as a librarian, Congressional staff assistant, speechwriter, editor, birdwatcher, kayaker, policy wonk, non-profit director, and parent. After many years in academia, she worked for the U.S. Senate, the U.S. Department of the Interior, in several library systems, both public and academic, and at the Torpedo Factory Art Center.

Ms. Spencer has published ten romantic suspense novels, and has two more in utero. She has two fabulous grown children and an incredible granddaughter. She divides her time between the Gulf Coast of Florida and a tiny village in Maine.







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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

How do we fall in love?

When Ginger Monette wrote a post on "the progression of love" on an email loop we both belong to, I knew I had to have her talk about it on my blog. Unless the writer gets progression from simple attraction to undying devotion right, the love story doesn't feel real to the reader. So if you've ever read a romance novel and found yourself doubting that this couple was going to get past their first argument, the writer probably missed a step. To explain, please welcome romance writer Ginger Monette!

Falling in Love: Writing Romance that Goes Beyond Attraction

by Ginger Monette

Have you ever wondered how couples fall in love?

As a romance novelist, it's my job to weave a story that gives readers a front row seat to watch the unfolding of a beautiful love story.

But how does a couple get from “Hello my name is” (or even “I despise you”) to “You're my soulmate and I want to spend the rest of my life with you?”

Having been disappointed by numerous novels where the couple claimed to suddenly “be in love” without actually “falling in love,” I went on a quest to investigate this mysterious process of falling head over heels. What I discovered changed my writing.

I dissected some fifty romance novels and made notes. All the couples had hefty doses of attraction, but the most satisfying stories went beyond attraction to something deeper. They showed the characters passing through four phases that moved them step by step from “meh” (or downright hatred) to “wowie-zowie he's the most wonderful person in the world.” And each phase seemed to be characterized by distinct thought patterns. See if you think these phases and thought patterns ring true to real life—particularly if at first Prince Charming seemed to be more of a frog than a prince.

Acknowledgement of him:
-Acknowledges some good quality about him (talented, kind, generous, etc)
-Finds him attractive
-Hyper aware of him, or hyper critical of his shortcomings (which often signals preoccupation or a subconscious denial of admiration)
-Acknowledges an attraction, but blows it off

Appreciation of his good qualities:
-Defends his character while not necessarily liking him
-Is genuinely thankful for a good quality
-Beginning to warm towards him
-Not so judgmental towards him
-More willing to consider his opinion on a matter

-Takes his advice
-Imitates quality or action of his
-Admits her initial criticism or objections were exaggerated or biased
-Curiosity grows—willing to spend more time in his company
-Acknowledges similar values or mutual interests
-Finds she is thinking (fondly) of him more and more

-Openly acknowledges her love/warm feelings for him
-Desires to be in his company
-Thinks he is wonderful
-Thinks he is perfect match
-Misses him painfully when he is gone
-Thinks about him constantly

So how did this awareness of stages change my writing? In my novel Darcy's Hope ~ Beauty from Ashes, I kept these stages and behaviours in mind as I crafted scenes. When my characters, Jane Austen's iconic Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet, are reunited at a WWI field hospital, Elizabeth is none too happy to encounter Darcy. And although she disdains him, she acknowledges that he is handsome and there is something between them. This cracks the door to romance and gets readers rooting for the couple.

Then, without even realizing it, Elizabeth slips into the appreciation stage when, to her own surprise, she praises Darcy, admitting that their field hospital conditions have greatly improved under his leadership. Readers can feel her coming along, but with the baggage between them, (and the fact that Elizabeth is the prime suspect in a conspiracy plot that Darcy's been charged to investigate), readers can't help but anxiously read on to find out how in the world the couple will possibly reach a happily-ever-after.

As truths of Darcy's past are dramatically revealed and Elizabeth comes to understand him better, she confesses to herself that her initial criticisms were misplaced, and appreciation slowly gives way to admiration. Now, not only does she find herself attracted to him, but she admires his leadership, work ethic, and drive. And after an ah-ha moment where she realizes they both share a similar deep-seated insecurity, her disdain turns to empathy. Her feelings are almost there! By now readers are waiting with bated breath to find out what it will take for him to fully win her heart.

With a softened heart, she is able to look at him more objectively. She discovers they have quite a lot in common and actually enjoys his company. Now fully aware of his good qualities, their compatibility, and her attraction to him, she finds herself cheering for him in a sporting event. And after they share a heroic act and laugh over a hospital tent in the whipping wind, she realizes that in fact she adores him.

You can see how the storyline was intentionally crafted to move the couple through the four phases. By giving them ample opportunity to interact on a deep level and by showing the evolution of their thoughts along the way, readers get a deep sense of satisfaction watching the heroine's tiny bud of acknowledgement open into appreciation, then expand with admiration, and finally blossom into full adoration.

Don't we all ultimately desire a romance built on a foundation of compatibility and emotional intimacy rather than just a pitter-pattering heart?

Blurb: The Darcy's Hope Saga

Downton Abbey Meets Pride & Prejudice!

Escape to the era of Downton Abbey and experience all the drama of World War 1 alongside Jane Austen's iconic Elizabeth Bennet & Fitzwilliam Darcy. You'll watch their tender love unfold as they learn to work together and reconcile their differences at a field hospital only miles from the Front. When injury and espionage separate the couple, Darcy is crushed. But Donwell Abbey holds a secret that just might change everything.

“…a stellar example of fine Austenesque literature. …an exceptionally moving story complete with a compelling plot, danger, mystery, action, introspection, vivid detail, and an emotionally wrought romance.” ~Austenesque Reviews

The Darcy’s Hope Saga:
Vol 1: Darcy’s Hope ~ Beauty from Ashes
Vol 2: Darcy’s Hope at Donwell Abbey

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Buy Links:

       -Darcy’s Hope Beauty from Ashes:
Universal link for all retailers.
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-Darcy’s Hope at Donwell Abbey:
Universal link for all retailers.


Author Bio:

The teacher always learns the most. And in homeschooling her children, Ginger Monette learned all the history she missed in school. Now she's hooked—on writing and World War I.

When not writing, Ginger enjoys dancing on the treadmill, watching period dramas, public speaking, and reading—a full-length novel every Sunday afternoon.

In 2015, her WW1 flash fiction piece, Flanders Field of Grey, won Charlotte Mecklenburg Library's “Picture This” grand prize.

Ginger lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she happily resides with her husband, three teenagers, and two loyal dogs.



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Monday, March 13, 2017

Anita Kidesu is in the Spotlight!

Anita Kidesu is my Book Spotlight guest today with her new release SURPRISE ME AGAIN. Last year both Anita and I participated in The Wild Rose Press's Candy Hearts series. The titles for these Valentine's novellas all come from actual sayings on conversation Candy Hearts. Anita chose SURPRISE ME (I chose CHILL OUT), and her new release is a full-length sequel to that story. She felt there was still a lot to say in this threesome's story. Please welcome Anita Kidesu!


Charged with trespassing and indecent exposure on Erik Stenson's private beach, Carson and Josie Sandberg return to South Padre Island to take care of the ticket. However, their reunion with Erik is not what they expected. An invitation for a drink turns into a weekend of passion that fulfills fantasies and leaves all parties wanting to explore a threesome outside the bedroom. Will time, distance, and family issues stand in the way, or will they be surprised again?


"What about you?" Josie said. "Have you ever been married?"

"I was. Years ago. It didn't last."

A flicker of sorrow passed over Josie's eyes. "Can you tell us what happened?" She frowned into her drink. "That is, if you want to."

"It's okay. I married Jessica about…” Hell how long had it been? Where had the time gone? "I guess nearly twenty years ago. Like you, we met in college, fell in love, married. Things were good for a few years."

Josie leaned to her side, allowing the waiter to place a plate before her. Ignoring her food, she folded her hands under chin and kept her attention on him. "What happened?"

"We wanted children. Jessica ached for children. It became an obsession." Eric took one of the large shrimp from the platter in the middle of the table and began peeling it with trembling fingers, giving him a chance to get his emotions under control. Lord, how he'd wanted children, but not enough to end his marriage.

"After a few years when we didn't conceive, we looked for answers. By that time Jessica was convinced she was the problem and fell into a deep depression. Nothing I did helped. She wouldn't agree to see a counselor. My mother finally convinced us to seek a fertilization doctor." Eric threw the shrimp on his plate and took a long swallow of beer. "Turns out I was the problem, not her. Seems those mumps I'd had as a kid did a number on my little swimmers. Killed them all."

"Hell, that's awful, man," Carson said while Josie placed her hand on Eric's.

Their sympathy nearly did him in. He swallowed around the lump in his throat and squeezed his damp eyes.

After all these years, the pain was still buried under his heart only to surface on dark, lonely nights and like now as he recounted the story. They were the first ones he'd opened up to. None of the other people in his threesomes had even cared to ask.

Carson took a sip of his beer. "What happened then?"

"I wanted to adopt. Wanted to create a family with Jessica. It didn't matter if the children were of our blood or not. The doctors had talked about in-vitro. Turns out Jessica didn't feel the same way." He took deep breath and tried to calm his pounding heart. He wiped his palms on his shorts.
"I came home one day with information on adoption and some on in-vitro fertilization only to find her and her stuff gone. She had left me a note, telling me she wanted children from her own body. Wanted to create them naturally. Didn't want to be married to a man who wasn't a man."

"The bitch," Josie said, her eyes filling with tears. "Oops, sorry. I shouldn't have called her that."
"Don't worry. I've called her that and worse."

"How the hell did you handle it?” Carson asked. “I would have been devastated if Josie had done that to me."

"I drank and buried myself in my writing. I wrote my first novel during this time."

"If I recall, that book was rather cutting against women," Carson said.

Eric shook his head and chuckled. "Yeah. I enjoyed killing off my heroine. Coincidentally, she closely resembled my ex."

"Did you get in trouble for it?" Josie asked, peeling her third shrimp.

"Since I use a pen name, I don't think she even knows I write. Besides, she was too busy finding another husband to father her eight children."

Carson choked on his beer. "Eight?"

"Yeah. She really did want kids, but I'm not sure I would have agreed to that many. I was also told she's gained about a hundred pounds." Under Josie's quiet scrutiny, he dropped his gaze to his plate.

"It still hurts, though, doesn't it?" Josie asked.

Eric shrugged. "It's not as bad as it was. I sometimes think about how I could have kids in college or be a grandfather by now."

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Author Bio:

From the time she was a teenager, Anita would sneak her grandmother's romances and read them until all hours of the night. She never thought about creating one herself, but fell into it with a few friends. On a long road trip, they started talking about their favorite authors and why they like their books. To kill time, they started making up their own characters and plot.

From that point on, Anita had story ideas and characters filling her head. Finally, to shut them up, (or so she thought), she started writing them down, surprised at how erotic her characters wanted to be. Her first book with The Wild Rose Press, "South Seas Seduction," was published in March, 2015. Her short story, "Surprise Me," part of the Candy Hearts Series, was published in January, 2016. The continuing story, “Surprise Me Again,” was released on February 10, 2017.

Now, in between being a pharmacist, taking care of her two cats, and spending time with her family and friends, she writes. Her stories are about love and romance on the edge.

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Saturday, March 11, 2017

Misty Simon is in the Spotlight!

Fellow Wild Rose Press author Misty Simon is my Book Spotlight guest today. The fourth book in her Ivy Morris Mystery series, HOEDOWN SHOWDOWN, has just released. The other three books in the series are FRAME AND FORTUNE, POISON IVY, and  THE WRONG DRAWERS. Please welcome Misty Simon!

Ivy Morris Mysteries – Hoedown Showdown

With the Tasty Tomato Tournament just days away, the small town of Martha’s Point is all abuzz. This is the first year without a sure winner, and the competition is fierce to gain the judges’ approval, even before the tournament starts.

But when Ivy finds one of those judges dead in a shed across the street, things go from bad to worse. All she wanted was seven glorious, kid-free days of messing around with her husband. Instead, she’s going to be tracking down a killer, staying out of the way of a pickle-obsessed farmer, and dodging the new cop who seems out for her blood.

Rating: Spicy


“Myrt,” I said patiently, as if talking to a small child. “First of all, this wasn’t the tomato crusher. It was Judge McIntyre.”

I didn’t even get to the next part since she started wailing. “Oh, my stars! I’m never going to win the Tasty Tomato Tournament now! It’s the fiftieth anniversary, and I wanted at least one chance before I die! And now I will never win this! I’ll be a dead woman long before I can ever show my face again in the tournament! And this was supposed to be my year!”

Not only was that a lot of exclamation points, but she also dragged the last word out until it sounded like a cat dying. I tried to calm her down by settling my hand on her shoulder. She shook me off while dropping her cane at her feet. With a ton of creaks and cracks, she knelt down beside him and started babbling about how sorry she was.

“I don’t think you should touch him.” I said this while definitely keeping my distance. I did not want to touch him more than I already had. To be honest, it had been some time since I was involved in anything more than feeding and playing with my kids or running my store and being a wife.
Occasionally I would help Ben with a case or two in his work as a private investigator, but it was more paperwork than anything else. I did not want to even know what had happened to the judge, much less who had done it. Ben was not going to be pleased. At all.

“I’m so sorry, Mr. McIntyre,” Myrt said with her face close to his, her hand patting his chest. There was a crinkling noise, but she was still talking. “So very sorry. When Irma died last year in her sleep after winning her forty-ninth straight tournament, I thought I finally had a chance, and now I hit you, and I’m so very, very sorry, and I can’t believe I mistook you for a burglar.” She twisted her hands together like she was wringing out a dishtowel. And she was going to draw blood if she continued biting her lip in between babbling some more.

I had few choices right now. I have to admit here that I had no desire whatsoever to call the police. I didn’t want to be involved in things. I had plans this week. This was not going to keep me from swinging from the freaking chandelier if I could.

Of course, I could go across the street and call from the house, or have Ben call and then remove myself from the situation altogether. But that would be completely unfair to Mrs. Crandall.

I couldn’t help myself. I let out a scream that would have brought down an opera house, something between frustration and fright because, at that moment, something furry ran against my leg before shooting into the bushes.

In the end, the decision of what to do was taken out of my hands because the police came tearing up in the one marked car in town, screeching to a halt at the curb. A man in uniform was out of the car before I could blink again. And I’m glad I didn’t blink because I would have missed the way he jumped from the car and then did a forward roll across the front lawn as if he was in some crazy-assed shootout.

You can find me on the web at:

Twitter: @MistySimon
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Author bio:

Misty Simon loves a good story and decided one day that she would try her hand at it. Eventually she got it right. There’s nothing better in the world than making someone laugh, and she hopes everyone at least snickers in the right places when reading her books. She lives with her husband, daughter and three insane dogs in Central Pennsylvania where she is hard at work on her next novel or three. She loves to hear from readers so drop her a line at

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Saffron A. Kent in the Spotlight!

Today erotic romance is in the spotlight! Saffron Kent's debut novel, A WAR LIKE OURS, released on February 24, 2017. Find out more about this talented author!

Blurb for A WAR LIKE OURS:

A liar…

Three weeks ago, James Maxwell’s wife died in a car accident, but he hasn’t been able to tell his five-year old daughter the heartbreaking truth behind her mother's death. Instead, he packs them up and leaves for a summer resort in upstate New York to spend a few peaceful weeks and to gradually break the news. But a spirited and outspoken maid at the resort has figured out his secret.

A hater…

After witnessing her mother’s violent death at the hands of her stepfather, Madison Smith has turned aimless and bitter toward the world—men, in particular. Her dead-end job at the local resort and her convenient girlfriend barely keep Madison from falling apart. When she meets James, however, she’s driven to protect his child from the darkness she sees inside him.

A forbidden kiss…

But Madison doesn’t expect to find that very darkness irresistible. Drowning in guilt and memories, neither does James expect to be drawn to the sharp-witted woman who has made his life miserable. When their tempers flare, a brutal kiss triggers a need that blurs the lines of hate and desire. As their lust spins out of control, they must decide if their attraction is worth fighting for or if love is the real enemy.

Please Note: This book is intended for mature audience. 18+ ONLY.

Author Bio:

Romance Writer and Reader. Coffee Addict. White Russian Drinker. Imaginary Ballet Dancer. Wanna-be Poet. Lana Del Ray & Gillian Flynn Worshiper.

My stories are grey-shaded and NC-17. I write what I love to read. And what I love to read is always twisted and angsty and emotional. My characters desperately need therapy. They tend to kiss a lot too, among other naughty things.

I LOVE to chat with readers about reading and writing so come follow me!

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A liar…a hater…a forbidden kiss…

My arm had begun to feel numb. I forgot to breathe as I looked at him. He could really hurt me. I knew this in my heart. He could really do it. My fear kicked into high gear. Please no. I didn’t think I could go through that again. Turned out people like me could be scared of some things, too. Surprise, my subconscious chanted, weakly.

I tried to free myself. “Let me go.”

He brought me even closer and puffed his stale breath on my face. I fought hard not to gag. His chest wasn’t touching mine, but one deep breath and it would brush. I stopped breathing.

A soft flick, a caress resonated on my skin where he’d grabbed me. It was so soft that it could’ve been air touching my skin, but I knew it was him. He was circling his thumb on my arm. My heart pounded, furious, afraid, and with a tinge of excitement. In the next second, the caress was gone like I’d dreamt it.

I struggled harder. “Let me go!” And then I broke down and uttered a word I hadn’t spoken like I meant it in a long while. “Please.”

Monday, March 6, 2017

Secondary Monday with Marion Cornett

Historical author Marion Cornett is my guest today with her take on secondary characters. Her novels are set during the prohibition era and feature strong heroines (and secondary characters) who live on their own terms. Please welcome Marion Cornett!

They came at me fast and furiously.  My secondary characters—with voices all their own—directing the story, giving it credence, and even helping to lighten up the hard times facing my protagonists.
I’m always surprised in that moment of clarity.

How could these innocent beings become so important to a story?  How could Izzy and Rita Mae take over the stories and tell each one in their own words when—here I so naively thought—the main character is supposed to have the most to say?

Let me repeat, surprised.  I fell in love with my secondary characters—my heroines—as the stories unfold.  Izzy, the perpetually-positive housemaid and companion in “Juniper and Anise,” published by Whiskey Creek Press in 2014, always saw the best in a bad situation, had solutions to unsolvable problems, and even stepped up when all was lost.  Rita Mae, best girlfriend in “Tilly Loves Johnny,” published in 2016 by the Wild Rose Press, fully believed in the protagonist, Tilly, even when everyone else thought she was going crazy.

Now, tell me, who wouldn’t want loyal friends like these two?

But, more importantly, as each novel unfolds, these were the friends that stuck around.  They were the ones that didn’t give up when small-town attitudes strived to bury someone’s spirit or mental-acuity.

And, in these secondary characters, I found my humorous voice while working on more-often-than-not weighty historical fiction.  Dramas during the Prohibition Era, where my protagonists dealt with violent members of the Detroit Purple Gang and dark-of-the-night rum-running of illicit bathtub gin, blind pigs where glasses of hooch, giggle juice, and rye mash were passed around to party-goers and gamblers in a “dry” country, missing persons, and murder mysteries.  Pretty heavy stuff; a familiar road most historical fiction novels tend to travel.

In “Juniper and Anise,” Izzy unwittingly serves as the main character’s conscience but also protects her at every turn.  Hulda had become a woman bootlegger, with dreams of grandeur, but Izzy kept her grounded.  Of course, she’d help with the making of the juniper and anise-flavored bathtub gin yet she was always outspoken of the dangers.  In a scene, early in the novel, the deputy sheriff, Claude Calkins, nearly stumbled upon the illicit operation while delivering a stack of old newspapers to Izzy.

The following ensued:

“You didn’t tell him where I went, did you?” Hulda gasped.  Izzy flittered around like a butterfly, declaring Mr. Claude had just left and how afraid she’d been that he could’ve walked right into the back room if she hadn’t have spotted him first.
“No, ma’am,” Izzy replied.  “An’ I made him stay outside.”
“Good of you.  Now, help me with these boxes,” Hulda said, handing down a container full of juniper berries.  She pulled another box off the buckboard and headed into the house.  “Can you please take care of Rocky?  That horse is going to be the death of me.  Next time I have to go to Phelpstown, I’m taking Mr. Harvey’s automobile—you know he said I could borrow it anytime.”
"The Devil hisself could’na talk me into drivin’ one of those flivvers, even if he tol’ me Hell’s doors is locked,” Izzy exclaimed.
Hulda laughed out loud….

Izzy showed in only a few paragraphs how Hulda’s illegal operation was safe from prying eyes but there were limits to how far she’d travel—especially not in one of those early-1900 automobiles!

In “Tilly Loves Johnny,” the main character has just related to her best friend of the barbarity of a pig snout, two bloody eyeballs, and slimy entrails desecrating the family dining room—a warning from an unknown thug or faction trying to discourage Johnny’s involvement in operating a blind pig.  In just a few sentences, the reader knew Rita Mae wasn’t going to run from this trouble but would be there for her friend.

“Go on, dry up!” Rita Mae’s hands shot up into the air, knocking over the stack of coins, horror dilating her pupils to large brown orbs.  She was poised as if held at gunpoint.  But then she startled Tilly by placing one hand on her forehead like a mother checking a child’s fever.
“I’m not sick.”  Tilly gently batted her friend’s hand away…

Izzy and Rita Mae, two different novels yet same loyalty, a bit of comedic relief, and maybe even an extension of those wonderful friends in my life.  Look to your own writing—do you have a secondary character you’ve fallen in love with?  Do you hear their voice sometimes better than the main one?  Do you identify more with one character more than others?

It is not a crime to love these characters and to keep fleshing them out more and more.  Secondary characters only make the story stronger and gives a firmer platform for your protagonist, and even sometimes your antagonist, to stand upon.

In my current work-in-progress, a female private investigator in the early 1900s has become that secondary character with her quirks, having an occupation nearly unheard of for a female during that era, and fully giving in to a drive and motivations to help those in her life.

Every day I have a chance to write, I’m excited to see where this person will take the story.  Will she change my outline?  Will she do something outrageous I hadn’t figured on?  Will she become a main character someday?

Blurb for Juniper and Anise:

Hulda Pearl Rosenowski chose to survive, no matter the consequences.  Poland may have been her homeland but, when murderous scavengers kill her mama and dear father, and brother Josef, during a raid on their house, she finds a way to escape.  Unharmed physically but damaged forever, Hulda arrives in America with only the clothes on her back and a tattered potato bag containing a few scarce coins and precious family jewels.

Dreams of becoming a “flapper” girl and brushes with members of the Detroit Purple Gang dominate Hulda’s life as she counts down dwindling reserves, takes care of a broken-down farmhouse, a baby, and hides a secret that could land her in prison.  Years later, as told through the eyes of small-town sheriff Claude Calkins, a story of rum-running and bootleggers stealing away in the dead-of-night with stashes of bathtub gin emerges and changes a young girl’s life forever.

Buy Links:


Whiskey Creek Press:

Blurb for Tilly loves Johnny:

Newlywed Tilly Miner turns a deaf ear to rumors and gossip her husband, Johnny, is running parties where “complimentary” hooch loosens lips as well as pocketbooks for those looking to gamble.  Some nights he crawls into their bed, smelling of sour rye mash; others, not even making it home until early morning.  But her loyalty remains unwavering.  And then, the unspeakable happens.
A few days before Christmas, Tilly discovers a bloody atrocity dumped on their kitchen table.  A warning from the Ku Klux Klan?  Johnny laughs it off as a joke.  But, when he goes missing one cold night in February, 1929, Tilly is convinced someone or something prevents his return.

Her undying faith in Johnny is tested by righteous attitudes from her best friend’s mother and a too-cruel mother-in-law, while a recalcitrant sheriff is convinced the man merely ran off.

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Author Bio:

Marion Cornett, like many novelists, began her career in a steep learning curve that ultimately lasted over some forty years before having her first story published.  That meant having national magazines publish original patterns for knitting, crocheting, and needlework, while perfecting her journalistic abilities through motorcycle road racing reporting.

Her claim to fame, at this point, is all about Michigan’s past.  Two volumes on the history of her adopted town, Fowlerville, proved to be a great research tool to then write two historical novels set in a small town that looks a lot like their village in the early 1900s.  “Juniper and Anise,” a story of a woman bootlegger selling bathtub gin during the Prohibition Era, was published by Whiskey Creek Press in 2014 and “Tilly Loves Johnny,” a murder/mystery tale centered around the illicit activities of a blind pig, was published by the Wild Rose Press in 2016.

“The Fowlerville Chronicles” (2010), a compilation of the village’s history from 1836 to 2010, and “Through the Eyes of a Country Editor” (2012), the writings and life of G.L. Adams, publisher and editor of the newspaper, “The Fowlerville Review,” are available in used and new prints.

As research continues, more stories are in the works.  All happening while continuing to travel around the country on named “awesome road trips,” hiking portions of the Appalachian and Arizona trails, and thoroughly enjoying time with her husband, Doug, since falling deep into retirement.

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