Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Author Despair by Kristen Lamb

Image courtesy of Eflon via Flickr Creative Commons
Image courtesy of Eflon via Flickr Creative Commons
We have all heard the saying, The truth shall set you free. But what many people may not realize is the truth doesn’t set us free from others. It sets us free from ourselves.
Like our characters, we are often blinded by our own lies and since we aren’t facing the truth and admitting it, we can make no forward progress. Growth, change, and victory are all impossible.
This said, there are some dark places all writers go, but since we are ashamed to feel these things, we rarely fess up to feeling them and so they remain in the dark. Thus we remain in the dark and sink ever deeper.
It reminds me of that scene from The Neverending Story. We can become like Artax the horse—admit you cried TOO๐Ÿ˜› .
We sink deeper and deeper and deeper never realizing we’re doing it to ourselves.
What I’d like to do today is to tell you, “You are not alone.” I feel this stuff too.

I’m Not Jealous

Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 9.40.07 AM
If you are taking this writing thing at ALL seriously, you are going to feel jealousy. There is nothing wrong with this. When it is wrong is when we fail to recognize it and inadvertently begin feeding it.
Maybe you’ve been at this writing thing for many years and that newbie you encouraged to attend your writing group landed a sweet book deal her first try. Sure, there can come a point where you are genuinely happy for her, but that will only come after the initial gut punch of Her? Really? Why not me?
Last month I entered the James Patterson contest. Don’t get me wrong, I am happy I did it. I think I have a kickass treatment for my next book. But I do admit, when one of my friends and most passionate followers made the cut and I didn’t? I did NOT feel like yelling SQUEEEE! And throwing her a party at first. There was the beat of….
But…but…but what about meeeeeeee?
Since I’ve been around longer than most, I’ve learned to recognize jealousy when I feel it, take a few moments to experience the emotion…but then move through it. I tackle jealousy pretty much like I tackle everything else.
Head on.
I took the pins out of the voodoo doll I’d crafted in her likeness and then messaged her a truly heartfelt congratulations. And seriously it only took a couple minutes talking with her to become excited for her. I began to question why I was dumb enough to be jealous at all.
***Though word on the street is her writing DOES suck but she worships Satan so he gives her the big breaks๐Ÿ˜›.
Yes, some writers will get that break because they have worked very hard and have great talent. We all hope to be that writer (or be that again since often our career rests on many breaks, not just one biggie).
But, we also have to be honest. The writing business is subjective and a lot also relies on timing and luck. We can’t treat it like a pure meritocracy because often it isn’t. Believing that this profession is fair is just going to make us cray-cray.
There is going to be that friend who hit the right algorithm that day and his blog went viral or his books sold a bazillion copies because he happened to write the first ferret romance novel and suddenly there was an international ferret scandal and now racy rodents are trending.
And be happy for him because, hell all of us wouldn’t mind some of that magic tossed our way.

I’m Tired

Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 9.40.20 AM
What’s up? Oh, I’m just tired.
This is a HUGE lie and one that I’ve been guilty of more times than I would like to admit. See, in our culture, often other people don’t really want to hear the truth. So? We lie. Then we lie enough it eventually becomes our truth. It’s not “socially acceptable” to say:
I’m discouraged.
I’m angry.
I’m despairing.
So we say we are “tired.”
All writers hit these sour notes. Trust me. You new writers out there? I get it. I wrote my first novel, thought all I needed was an agent and within the
month week I’d have a movie deal. Since I had no idea how the industry worked, I was ill-prepared. Oh, I’d heard the stories of authors who’d been rejected for years, but that was not going to be ME.
*hair flip*
In fact, my first conference? I was worried about talking to more than one agent because…
Could we still be friends when I had to choose between them for who would represent my novel?
Yeah, seriously wish I were joking.
When reality came crashing down that I was so dumb I wasn’t even aware HOW dumb I was? It was tough. Looking at that really loooooong road ahead? When I had to face the hard truth that maybe I wasn’t any good. Maybe I wouldn’t make it. Maybe, after all, I simply didn’t have what it took?
It was hard.
Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 9.40.55 AM
If you make it past this newbie phase, you’re likely going to hit The Dip (which is that giant span of suck before our breakthrough).
It is the first book that bombs. It is the royalty check that’s just big enough to supersize a Happy Meal. It’s the blog that is seeming to go nowhere. It’s the first one-star review.
Instead of admitting that we are scared or frustrated or disillusioned?
Well, I have just not been writing because I am really tired.
Of course that is only half of the sentence.
Well, I have just not been writing because I am really tired of not mattering.
Well, I have just not been writing because I am really tired of being stuck.
Well, I have just not been writing because I am really tired of seeing friends outpace me.
And so we sink deeper and deeper.
Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 10.27.51 AM
Name It And CLAIM It
Back to where we began. For anything to change, we need to be honest. Maybe we are avoiding going to a workshop because we feel like a failure. We are being unrealistic with how long this process takes and so we feel like we are a hack and fooling ourselves. We might be embarrassed. Or we are jealous.
Maybe we are dragging around chugging caffeine because we are “tired” but the reason 20 cups of coffee hasn’t made a dent is we aren’t tired at all. We’re deeply discouraged.
Until we get honest with what is truly going on? We can’t make a plan to get past what we are failing to evenacknowledge.
We have to name it to really feel it so we can then move past it.
In the end? Give yourself permission to be fragile. All this is human and best of all? It’s temporary. It is absolutely OKAY to feel jealous, jaded, discouraged, angry…we just can’t camp there๐Ÿ˜‰ . We ALL feel it. Lately, I seriously misplaced my mojo. I think it is under that pile of laundry I need to do.
What are your thoughts? Have you been in a slump that has just felt like The Swamp of Sadness? ARTAX NO! Is your writing suffering because you can’t focus? Are you in the Why the Hell Do I Try? phase? Have you recently felt sucker punched because a friend or colleague surpassed you? What about meeeeee?
It’s all good. We are friends here. And if you have felt all this stuff and moved through it? What are your tips?

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Janie Franz and The Bowdancer Series on Recipe Tuesday

Janie Franz is with me today for Recipe Tuesday with a simple, but delicious-sounding recipe, and the story of how she used it in her fantasy series. 

The Bowdancer series appears in two trilogies so far. The Bowdancer Sage (The Bowdancer, The Wayfarer’s Road, and Warrior Women) and The Lost Song Trilogy (Verse, Refrain, and Coda).  When these books were completed and I started marketing them more as a series instead of individual books, reviewers began to comment on specific elements throughout the series. One was the strong spiritual element; another was the musicial component (songs, chants, and dance sequences). But one reader commented on the food. You wouldn’t think that food would be so prominent in a fantasy series but I have to admit there is a lot of it.

Someone once told me that he enjoyed reading Lord of the Rings because of all of the food mentioned.  And, frankly, hobbits do eat a lot and often. So, I shouldn’t be so surprised that readers noticed food as part of this series.

In the Bowdancer Saga, mostly you see mentions of finding wild greens and herbs, how to herb goat stew or enhance rabbit, or using berries to enhance skewered fish over a campfire. And there is the frequent mention of all manner of herbal teas made from found plants.

In The Lost Song Trilogy, however, Jan-nell (the Bowdancer) encounters people of other races who also have special ways with new spices and new foods. Today, I’d like to share a recipe from a food mentioned in Refrain (book two of this trilogy). In the story, one sword dancer (who is also a wonderful cook) pulls out what he calls desert truffles from his pack and proceeds to prepare them to the delight of Jan-nell and her companions. Those desert truffles are actually sweet potatoes. It was an antiquated name I found for them.  Here I share a recipe for them fried.

Fried Desert Truffles (Sweet Potatoes)

1-2 Sweet potatoes (depending on how big they are)

Peel the sweet potatoes and slice into ¼-1/2 inch rounds. The size of the slice depends on whether you want a thinner or thicker endproduct. Thinner can be crisper. Thicker have more “meat” to them.

Cover an iron skillet with a thin layer of oil. When it’s hot, carefully add sweet potatoes in a single layer, trying not to crowd them too much. Sprinkle with a little sugar (white or brown).

Cook for about a minute or so. Turn with a spatula or fork. They should look brown on the bottom. If they burn a little, it’s OK. Sprinkle again with a little sugar. Fry for a minute or so.

Put on a plate covered with a paper towel.

Fry the rest of the sweet potatoes the same way.

Serve hot, sprinkled with a little salt. These have a more complex flavor than restaurant sweet potato fries because they have more surface area. Also, the sugar carmalizes for additional flavor.

My mother used to fry them this way when I was a child.

Refrain (The Lost Song Trilogy, Book 2, and Book 5 in the Bowdancer series)
Janie Franz


As Jan-nell, her son Bearin, the sensuous hunter Bekar, and trackfinder Chandro continue their quest for the lost song, they make alliances with the virile dark-skinned sword dancers, who serve as bodyguards to a king, and the exotic, handsome beast trainers of the desert. Jan-nell is beset with jealousies, new sexual stirrings, deepening spiritual practices, and a growing bond with one of her companions.

Buy Links:

About Janie Franz:

Janie Franz comes from a long line of Southern liars and storytellers. She told  other people’s stories as a freelance journalist for many years. With Texas wedding DJ, Bill Cox, she co-wrote The Ultimate Wedding Ceremony Book and The Ultimate Wedding Reception Book, and then self-published a writing manual, Freelance Writing: It’s a Business, Stupid!  She also published an online music publication, was an agent/publicist for a groove/funk band, a radio announcer, and a yoga/relaxation instructor.

Currently, she is writing her twelfth novel and a self-help book, Standing Strong: Becoming a Woman of Power.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Embarrassing Moments with Jean Joachim

I'm excited to have Jean Joachim with me today. Jean is the first person to tell me about one of her embarrassing moments, and she tells one of her character Griff's as well. I'm always looking for more embarrassing moments, so if any other writers out there are willing to come clean and tell the embarrassing truth, shoot me an email at jana dot richards at hotmail dot com and we'll talk.

Embarrassing moments are hilarious when they happen to someone else. I love to embarrass my characters in my books. Here’s a passage from Griff Montgomery, Quarterback. Griff hasn’t figured out that he’s in love with Lauren. One night, when he was with Carla, his friend with benefits, he called out Lauren’s name at an inopportune moment. Carla was seething. A few days later, she had a chance to take revenge. Here’s the scene.
(Below this is a brief recollection of a very embarrassing moment for me in real life. Griff insisted I fess up to one in this post, too.)


“Oh, I’m not his girlfriend. Lauren is.” Carla glared at Griff.

Suddenly, the collar on his shirt got tight.

“Lauren? You know Lauren?” Buddy asked.

Oh, shit. Here it comes.

“No, but I’d love to meet her,” she said, casting her gaze on Griff. “I’ve got a message for her.”

Over my dead body. He let out a breath before he guzzled more beer.

“That’s easy. She’s sitting right there.” Buddy pointed to Lauren and her friend, who were munching on burgers.

Griff turned to look and spat out his drink. Holy shit.

“That’s Lauren? Griff’s Lauren?”

“Yep, that’s her,” Buddy said, ignoring the kick from Griff. “Ouch.”

Carla fisted a hand and rested it on her hip. “So, she’s your girlfriend?”

“No, no, no way. She’s my landlady. I’m renting a room with her while my house is being renovated.” The words poured out in rapid fire.

“Even better.” Carla licked her lips. “I’ll bet she has no idea you’re having sexual fantasies about her.”

“I’m not. It was an accident,” he hissed.

“Sure, sure. Keep telling yourself that. Wonder what she’d think if she knew?”

“Don’t, Carla. Please don’t. I’m begging you.” Griff reached for her arm, but she shook him off.

Buddy faced the quarterback. “What the hell did you do?”

“You don’t wanna know.”

“Oh no. You didn’t?” His eyebrows rose.

Griff nodded. “Guilty.”

“Whoa, stand back, Tony. There’s gonna be some fireworks in a minute.” Buddy pushed Hastings to the wall.

“You wouldn’t be lying, now, would ya?” Carla asked, directing her stare at Buddy.

“See for yourself.” He gestured to the brunette at the corner table.

“Lauren!” Carla cupped her hands and yelled.

Lauren stood up, turning to face them.

“You Lauren?”

“Please, please, Carla. I’m sorry, so sorry,” Griff whispered. “Don’t do this.”

“Yes? Lauren Farraday.” Her gaze traveled from Carla to Griff.

No place to hide. This is gonna get ugly. Sweat gathered under his arms and on his forehead. His heartbeat doubled. He shifted his weight from foot to foot, trying to look relaxed under Lauren’s scrutiny.

“I have a message for you,” Carla called out.

“Carla, come on. After everything we’ve been through,” Griff pleaded.

“You’re right. Because of our history, I’m not gonna shout it out.”

“Thank God. Thank you so much,” he said, heaving a huge sigh.

“I’m gonna tell her soft and slow, right in her ear.” Carla was heading toward Lauren before Griff could stop her. He tried to block her way, but she scooted to the left, giving him the slip. When she got to her destination, she bent down, cupped her hands, and spoke softly.

The room was so quiet Griff could hear a crow caw from a tree outside. The patrons in the bar stared at Carla and Lauren. A few looked at Griff and snickered.

“What?” Lauren straightened in her seat. “What? No. I don’t believe it.”

Carla leaned over and spoke again.

Lauren blushed pink then redder and redder. She shot a look at Griff. He stared at her, pleading with his eyes. She stumbled up from the table. “I’m sorry, Marnie. I’ve got to go.”

“It’s on the house,” Carla said, returning to the bar. Her eyes glistened with malevolence as she glared at Griff.

“I can’t believe you did that.”

“Just be happy I didn’t scream it out to the whole room.” She returned to washing glasses.

“I thought we were friends.”

“Yeah? Feel betrayed? Now you know how I felt, jerk.”


By the time I was twenty-eight, I had reached the position of Media Director at Ogilvy & Mather Direct. I took my job seriously. The president had sent me to a one-day conference about mailing lists. During the opening address, I sat in the darkness with notebook in hand, scribbling. But two men in the row in front of me kept talking, whispering. It was annoying. Good money had been spent to send me and I was going to be damned if I wasn’t going to wring every drop of information from that day. So I “shushed” the men, one, two –well , maybe even three times.
When the lights went on, the two gentlemen sitting in front of me stood up. One turned to face me and smiled. The men were the president of my company, and the president of American Express, our biggest client. My boss introduced me as the woman who wanted them to keep quiet. They chuckled, but I was so mortified I wanted to fall through the floor.

I hope all your embarrassing moments morph into incidents you can laugh at, eventually! Thanks for joining Griff and me today

Buy links for Griff Montgomery, Quarterback – 2nd place winner of the DNSB Reader’s Choice Award as Favorite Sports Book Boyfriend.

You can find his story in ebook, paperback and audio here:


Barnes and Noble





Audio - iTunes

Audio – Audible

Author bio:

Jean Joachim, wife and mother of two sons, is owned by a rescued pug, named Homer. She’d been writing non-fiction for what seemed like forever until she got up the nerve to try fiction. It was love. Now she spends her days in New York City in the company of her characters, with a cup of tea and a secret stash of black licorice. Jean can be found at

Monday, April 18, 2016

Secondary Character Monday with Barbara Meyers

I love secondary characters. They're fun to create because they can have quirks and foibles that would be inappropriate for a hero or heroine. My guest Barbara Meyers is here to talk about her very unique secondary character, Vinnie. Take it away, Barbara! 

Someone Unexpected
Vinnie “The Nose” Pellegrino made an appearance in the original and every single revised version of Fantasy Man. (And there were a lot of revised versions.) He was always the villain, the skeptical member of the mob organization who’d never been the boss’s favorite even though he was a distant blood relative. But Vinnie’s gift is ferreting out information through his own elaborate network which the organization knows nothing about.

In my head Vinnie vaguely resembles a 40-something version of the actor Danny Aiello, but with a more prominent nose. He’s not physically very attractive, has that kind of big-guy, not-in-great-shape physique. Vinnie’s not good with people. He’s better with inanimate objects like computers. He’s also not much of an enforcer. He’s kind of a mob hanger-on who’s kept around because of his family connection and his ability to get information when it’s needed.

So who better than Vinnie to be hunting for my heroine?

As a writer I’ve learned that no villain should be all bad. So in my final revision of Fantasy Man (my last ditch effort to get it published after my wonderful editor Noah Chinn had initially turned it down and told me why) I gave Vinnie a pair of ferrets because I wanted him to care about something.

That something couldn’t be human. Nor could it require a lot of care. It had to be something he could interact with (so not goldfish), something that didn’t require a lot of attention (so not a dog) and something fairly low maintenance. I honestly don’t know where the idea for ferrets came from, except maybe Vinnie’s nose for ferreting out information might have helped. I learned during my research that ferrets sleep up to 18 hours a day. There are two of them to keep each other company. Vinnie set up a room for them. He buys them treats. In return they entertain Vinnie. Without requiring too much from him emotionally.

In almost every review of Fantasy Man, Vinnie and the ferrets are mentioned. Noah says because the ferrets are something unexpected that’s what readers are picking up on. They certainly added dimension to the story and we see a side of Vinnie we otherwise would not see. He’s not a very proficient “mob guy” and he bumbles his attempts to capture Quinn. But Vinnie’s relationship with his ferrets make him a rather sympathetic villain and I’m glad. Fantasy Man is a mix of romantic comedy and light suspense which is a perfect fit for someone like Vinnie.

Blurb - Fantasy Man:

Quinn Fontana never thought witnessing two murders would lead to her first taste of freedom. But when her overprotective brother puts her on a plane for L.A. to hide until it’s time to testify, she can’t stop the shiver of anticipation.

If her life is going to be cut short, she plans to live it to the fullest. And that includes seducing her intended protector—her brother’s best friend and star of her private fantasies.

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

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

Excerpt from Fantasy Man:

The next morning, when Reif went to get a fast-food breakfast for them, Quinn insisted he bring the ferrets inside so they could run around for a bit. Reluctantly, Reif did so. He balled up the wrappers from his breakfast sandwich and hash browns and tossed them across the room for the ferrets. Their interest in them lasted about thirty seconds. Quinn and Reif had decided to drive straight through to Coral Bay, swapping the wheel every time they stopped for gas.

“The only thing is…” Quinn began.


“Those two.” She pointed at the ferrets who were digging inside the waste paper can they’d knocked over. They managed to get the lid off an empty drink cup and the melted ice drained into the carpet. “We’ll have to let them out some of the time while we’re driving. They can’t be caged up for two whole days.”

Reif rubbed his eyelids. His eyes were still bloodshot but he wasn’t sneezing as much. “I’m going to need some more pills.”

When Quinn wasn’t driving she let the ferrets out for an hour or so, doing her best to keep them away from Reif. But once, when she was settling Pudge back into the carrier, Fudge leapt into the passenger seat. He seemed to like Reif. Quinn wasn’t a hundred percent sure, but she thought Reif’s attitude toward the wily creatures had softened a bit. Fudge set his feet on the center console and sniffed Reif’s sleeve, then gave a tiny sneeze.

Reif picked up his package of allergy medication and held it out to the ferret. “Want one?”

Buy Links:



All Romance Ebooks:

Barnes &Noble:



Goodreads Link:

Author Bio:

Barista by day, romance novelist by night:  When not writing fiction, Dr. Seuss-like poetry (for adults) or song lyrics, Barbara Meyers disguises herself behind a green apron and works part-time for a world-wide coffee company.

Her novels are a mix of comedy, suspense and spice and often feature a displaced child.

Barbara is still married to her first husband, has two fantastic children and one almost perfect dog. Originally from Southwest Missouri, (she blames her roots in the Show Me state for her somewhat skeptical nature) she currently resides in Central Florida.

Social Media Links:

Web Site:


Facebook Author Pages:

Samhain Author Page:

Amazon Author Page:



Tuesday, April 12, 2016

#CoverReveal - Sara Walter Ellwood's Hunter's Dagger Series

Sara Walter Ellwood makes a return visit to Journeys with Jana with a cover reveal for her upcoming releases. With further ado, here are Sara's beautiful new covers:

Coming in May in both Ebook and Print from

Sara Walter Ellwood

Blurb for A Hunter’s Demon 
(prequel novella of A Hunter’s Angel):

See where it all began….
With people disappearing from Philadelphia’s night streets, the Vampire Council fears they have a rogue on their hands. Special Agent Ian McHenry isn’t all that he seems. Not only is he the FBI’s expert on serial killers, he’s also the Council’s go-to vampire hunter. Detective Grace Wallace is tired of the FBI not believing her theory they have a serial killer on the loose—until Ian shows up on the case. Nothing prepared her for the instant attraction to the darkly handsome Irishman. As they close in on the killer, Ian’s desire for Grace grows stronger. But if he can’t control his inner demon, this true nature will destroy his only chance at love.

Blurb for A Hunter’s Angel
(book 1 of The Hunter’s Dagger Series):

The serial killer stalking Clayton, Pennsylvania, isn’t all that has Chief of Police Grace Wallace worried. For a year, she’s tried to forget Special Agent Ian McHenry and now he’s the expert the FBI sent to catch the killer. She can’t stay away from him, but something primal is telling her to run to save much more than her heart.

Despite the laws of the immortal council Ian vowed to follow as a vampire hunter, he fears Grace is his life mate which puts her humanity in peril. If he gives into the desire again to make her his forever, Ian will become one of the vampires his master destroys. But if he leaves Grace unprotected from the evil he’s hunted for over a century, she is in danger of losing her life…

***A Hunter’s Angel had previously been published by The Wild Rose Press under the pen name Cera duBois***

Author Bio:

Although Sara Walter Ellwood has long ago left the farm for the glamour of the big town, she draws on her experiences growing up on a small hobby farm in West Central Pennsylvania to write her contemporary westerns. Her country upbringing even influences her paranormal suspense romances. She’s been married to her college sweetheart for over 20 years, and they have two teenagers and one very spoiled rescue cat named Penny. She longs to visit the places she writes about and jokes she’s a cowgirl at heart stuck in Pennsylvania suburbia. Sara Walter Ellwood is a multi-published and international Amazon bestselling author of the anthology set Cowboy Up.

Author Links:


Website Links:

To Sign up for my newsletter:

Monday, April 11, 2016

Cowboy Hat Know-How with Bonnie Phelps
I'm very pleased to have Bonnie Phelps with me today for Clothes Make the Character Monday. She's here with a fascinating look at cowboy hat etiquette. Thanks for being here Bonnie!

Cowboy Hat Know-How

When I write, I do a lot of research on the people, places and things that appear in my books. Since I write contemporary romance, I try and make the people and scenes as believable as possible. I hate it when I’m reading a book, chugging right along and I hit that spot that stops the flow because I’m thinking, ‘that’s not how it works,’ ‘he or she wouldn’t do that’ or ‘I’ve been to that place but I doubt the author has.’

For my last book, “My Rodeo Man,” one of the things I needed to learn about was cowboy hat etiquette. The first question I wanted to answer was, would a man keep his hat on or take it off when he was out dancing with his lady since that was one of the first scenes in the book? From there my questions circled around to when does a cowboy keep his hat on and when does etiquette dictate that he – or she – remove it?

Here’s what I learned – almost all the rules have exceptions.

Rule 1 – Don’t touch another cowboy’s hat. The Cowboy Hat Guide put it this way, “You wouldn't want me askin' to try on your underwear would you?  So don't ask to try on my hat.” Exception – If a lady grabs your hat and puts it on her head, smile like the gentleman you are and let her wear it. You can also try for a kiss for letting her have her way with your hat.

Rule 2 – Don’t wear it backwards. There’s a little bow inside the hat’s sweatband and that bow goes at the back of the head – like the label goes at the back of your shirt.

Rule 3 – Your hat is always removed during a prayer or when the national anthem is played. Exception – If you are a lady and your hat is secured by hat pens, then you can leave it on otherwise, remove it just like the guys.

Rule 4 – Remove your hat when introduced to a lady – although it seems to be just fine to tip your hat to a lady if you already know her. Naturally there is more than one way to tip your hat – According to The Star Gazer Mercantile there is, “the Brim Tip and the Forward Tip methods. To properly conduct the Brim Tip method, grasp the brim of the hat between your thumb and two fingers and raise the brim, ever so slightly. The Forward Tip method means that you grasp the front of the hat crown, lift slightly and tilt the brim forward. Of course, both methods should include the obligatory head nod. Otherwise, you might look like you’ve just got an itchy scalp!”

Rule 5 – Never tip your hat to another man. According to The North Texas Reporter in the Old West, “It was akin to calling them a woman.”

Rule 6 – Always take your hat off when you enter a building but you can put it back on in commercial and public buildings. Exception – take it off in a movie theater, concert or at a sporting event if it interferes with someone sitting behind you. (This meant Zach could leave his hat on in the dance hall. I also checked out a bunch of pictures just to confirm that’s what people did and that was a mixed bag.)

Rule 7 – Always remove your hat when you sit down for a meal. Exceptions – If you are sitting at the counter of a diner, you can leave it on. You can also leave it on at a restaurant if there is no safe place to set it down. Nothing worse than someone spilling food on your hat.

Rule 8 – When you take your hat off, always set it on its crown, never on its brim or hang it on a hat stand or peg. The logic is that the brim is softer and the hat will lose its shape if you set it down on its brim.

Rule 9 – Felt hats are for the time between Labor Day and Memorial Day and straw hats are for the summer months. Exception – If it’s hot in October, put on the straw hat. If you’re going to a formal event in August, drag out that felt hat.

If you want to learn more about Cowboy Hats – from proper fit, to superstitions, to styles to etiquette - check out these articles.

The Cowboy Hat Guide
The North Texas Reporter
Earn Your Spurs
Indian Village Mall
The Star Gazer Mercantile
Bernard Hats

Blurb for My Rodeo Man:

Zach Kincaid was definitely not what Ashley Drayton was looking for – one more risk-taking, bad boy to add to that long list of narcissistic, jerks who kept breaking her heart. Well, she was fed up. From here on out, bad boys need not apply. So how in the world had this cocky, confident cowboy charmed his way into her affections? She sure wasn’t going to succumb without a fight.

Ashley Drayton looked like the typical, spoiled Southern Belle that made Zach turn tail and head for the hills. As a champion team roper on the rodeo circuit and ranch owner, he sure didn’t need the complications a feisty, prima donna would bring to his life. When he finally did settle down, he wanted a woman strong enough to stand beside him in the hard-knock world of ranching and rodeoing.

Can a rough and rugged cowboy live happily ever after with a sassy and sophisticated socialite?

Buy Links:

Barnes & Noble:


Author Bio: 

Rumor has it that Bonnie began telling stories at a very early age.  Photos exist of the author toddling around the corner of the house covered in mud babbling about magic rabbits leading her through the garden.  Her parents were amused – until they discovered she had also walked across the newly poured cement patio – which only added fuel to the fire of her passion for writing.  From then on, her active imagination continued to churn out plots and character sketches always wondering how different people would behave in similar situations.  People are endlessly fascinating and stories are everywhere.  She loves exploring, rearranging and weaving her narratives throughout her characters’ lives.

Bonnie used her writing skills throughout her professional life as a fundraiser and marketer for several nonprofits.  She enjoyed the chance to tell and share the story of worthy organizations.  In the late 1980s, Bonnie authored a syndicated column in several California newspapers in which she shared the experiences and misadventures of life as a wife and mother.  The jury is out on whether or not her children always appreciated her candor.  Because Bonnie has romance in her soul, she also worked as a Wedding Planner for several years.  Absolutely loved it!!  She craves anything sweet, revels in any chance to travel, is addicted to and sees a family saga novel somewhere in her future featuring her German immigrant great grandparents. A native Californian, she lives in Northern California with her husband.

Social Media Links:



Friday, April 8, 2016

An Interview with Kat Henry Doran

Kat Henry Doran, the author of the newly released VENGEANCE IS MINE, is here today for an interview. Kat is a fellow Wild Rose Press author, and I'm honored to have her on Journeys with Jana.

Jana: Where did you get the idea for your new novel?

Kat: Vengeance Is Mine was originally published a few years ago in three separate novellas from the Class of '85 series out of the Wild Rose Press. After I obtained my rights back, I decided to independently publish them under one cover with a new title. The germ for the original series began as four high school friends who travel back to their home town to collect an inheritance from a now-deceased friend. This theme never worked out for a number of reasons but it soared as a reunion series.

Jana:  Do you have any words of advice to beginning writers?

Kat: Take all the help from more experienced authors you can get. Take classes, on-line and in-person. Try to attend at least one major conference [more than 10 participants] each year. Listen to what experienced authors tell you—even if you don't agree with it. Take the cotton out of your ears and stick it in your mouth.

Jana: That's great advice Kat! When were you first published and how did that happen?

Kat: I was first published in 2004. This was after ten-eleven years of listening to more experienced authors [even when I didn't like what I was hearing], attending conferences and workshops, and staying true to myself and my story ideas. Eventually I was able to hold the books of my heart in my hands. It was the most miraculous feeling in the world, and I still remember it. There is no other feeling like it, except the day I held my first-born daughter in my arms. I guess 11 years may feel like a long journey but there are members of my local writers group [from back in 1993] who are still struggling to get published.

Jana: What comes first for you – plot or character?

Kat: I'd have to say plot comes first for me, in terms of the classic “What If?” question. I muddle that around for a bit, sometimes days or even months, then I fit the characters to the plot. It is rare that I 'find' the character first, but it has happened.

Jana: What do you hope readers gain from your stories?

Kat: I like to write stories that teach while at the same time entertain, or even make a reader laugh out loud. Even though the topics are often serious and heartbreaking, I like to bring a humanity and hope to my stories.

Jana: Do you have another occupation, other than writer?

Kat: In my spare time I design and create tote bags and aprons of all sizes, shapes and prices. My preference would be to recycle the fabric from one purpose to another. I can make a mean tote out of an old pair of denim jeans, or a man's shirt, or a tablecloth. It helps with my writing because it takes me to another part of the house and I can use other parts of my brain. In the end, it's another form of creativity.

Jana: I wish you lived closer to me. I'd give you all my old jeans.  How do you think your life experiences have prepared you for writing? 

Kat: I often wish some of the jobs I've had, or the things I witnessed or participated in, would go hide in a closet. They always manage to sneak out and take over the story in one way or another. I only recently began adding small children to my story lines because I now have 4 grandchildren to base characters on—and these four are real characters.

Jana: What genre is your favorite to read?

Kat: Political spy thrillers.

Jana: If money were not an object, where would you most like to live? 

Kat: Ireland.

Jana: Name two authors we might find you reading when taking a break from your own writing. 

Kat: Vince Flynn [now deceased, sadly] wrote a beauty of a CIA thriller series based on a character named Mitch Rapp. Since I have an addiction to audio books, I listen to Mitch all the time. My other favorite would be John R. Maxim [also deceased, also sadly] who wrote a series in the late 1980's into the 90's about a group of contract assassins who want out of the business and live quiet lives in a small town in Connecticut. Unfortunately, there are nut cases in the government who simply can't leave them alone. I reread these books regularly because the characters entertain me and often make me laugh. Any man who makes me laugh is someone to keep around.

Jana: Tell me about your heroe from VENGEANCE IS MINE.

Kat: One of the heroes of Vengeance Is Mine, Rory McElroy, sheriff of Easton County, is assigned to guard a member of the class of '90 while she is in town to pick up an award at the reunion. It's about the last thing Rory wants to do but when he sees Dru Horvath for the first time in too many years and recognizes her as the girl who once rescued him from the school yard bullies, things change drastically. I like him because he is loyal, does not suffer fools, and is not afraid to admit he has a few character defects. He may not make me laugh but he sure makes me smile. Plus, he likes to dance to Gershwin tunes. My kind of guy to be sure.

Jana: Tell me about your heroine.

Kat: The heroine who matches Rory is Dru Horvath. She is a Pulitzer Prize winning photographer who reluctantly [read kicking and screaming] attends the reunion of the Class of '90 only because of the award she's been given. It comes with a great deal of money, funds she'll use to help the nuns who raised her in their golden years. She meets Rory and suddenly roaming the world, documenting abuses committed against disenfranchised populations, falls low on her list of priorities. Dru is loyal to a fault and has a real smart mouth. Now, she makes me laugh out loud.

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

Kat: In this case, the names came first and the physical characteristics followed, though that's not always the case. Rory is based on Daniel Craig [James Bond] for his screw-you grin and fabulous eyes. Dru is Tinkerbell with a mouth. She needed to be as slight in stature as Rory is, but dark as he is light. It worked for me, for these two are some of my favorites.

Jana: How can readers find you?

Kat: Readers can find me at:

GoodReads: Henry Doran
Facebook Profile:

Now Available:

Vengeance is Mine 

Ever consider going back to study hall and confronting the school bully? 

The mean girls? 

The brainless jocks who made your life miserable?

For Dru Horvath, gypsy orphan turned Pulitzer Prize winner; Rafe Archangeli, Scourge of Summerville, recently appointed head of a multi-million dollar trust; and Fiona “Fat Aggie” Thorpe who recreated herself with an A-list modeling agency, the opportunity to exact vengeance  is too good to pass up.

Will they find revenge? 

Or something more important?

For Keeps (written as Veronica Lynch)
From The Wild Rose Press

Meghan Muldoon is at a crossroads: struggling to balance the demands of a high stress vocation as an advocate for victims of violence and her feelings for Keenan Rossi, a man who wants to make their relationship permanent.

On Valentine's Day, a series of routine crises force Meg to question staying in a profession which fulfills her both professionally and spiritually--or devoting the rest of her life to the one person who completes her.

Which one is For Keeps?

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Margo Bond Collins is my Guest for Recipe Tuesday!

Margo Bond Collins joins me today for Recipe Tuesday. I have to say I've never heard of buttermilk pie. She says it's a Texas recipe so I guess it hasn't made it to this side of the 49th parallel. Or I don't get out much! Thanks for being here Margo!

Recipe: Buttermilk Pie

One of my favorite Texas recipes is buttermilk pie—and I am convinced that the best version is the one made from my grandmother’s recipe. Buttermilk pie is definitely something that would be served up at Maryann's, the restaurant where Clara goes to meet Mac, and discovers that she's been sent to meet up with her high school sweetheart, Mitchell MacAllan.

This is a type of chess pie–in fact, some of the older versions of recipes for it call it a buttermilk chess pie–and the trick to testing to see if a chess pie is “set” is to slide a cold, clean table knife into the center. If the knife comes out clean, the pie is ready.

The very best thing about buttermilk pie is the slight hint of tartness under the sweet, cold flavor. It's the perfect dessert for a hot Texas afternoon.  Enjoy!

Nanny's Buttermilk Pie

Makes two buttermilk pies

3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 375.

In a mixer (set on low), combine eggs, vanilla, and buttermilk until well mixed. Add sugar and flour, continuing to mix well. Finally, add butter (still cold). When butter is spread evenly throughout mixture, pour into two uncooked pie shells. Cover the edges of the crust with foil to avoid burning.

Cook at 375 for about 45 minutes, until pie is set.

Margo Bond Collins is featured in the Come Love a Cowboy Western Romance Anthology

Eight stand-alone Contemporary Western Romance novellas from Bestselling and Award-Winning Authors.

From firefighters, bronco busters, and wealthy ranchers to bad boys, we have them all for you! If you've ever wanted to fall in love with a sexy, alpha cowboy of's your chance.

On sale for $.99 via Amazon:
Pre-order through March 31, 2016
Release date: April 1, 2016

Luke’s Fate by Kathleen Ball
Meg O’Brien hoped never to lay eyes on the one man who broke her heart. To her dismay, Luke Kelly arrives at her ranch a much different and broken man. Can Meg ever forgive his callous treatment of her and help Luke become the man he used to be?

Grant Me The Moon by Caroline Clemmons
All Tory Fraser intended was to show her high school history club students a local archeology dig. How could she know the excursion would involve a murder?

Three for The Win by Keta Diablo
Hollis should have known better than to fall for a bone-melting man like Stede. He’s gone now and Eli is left to pick up the broken pieces of her life.

Border Affair by Hebby Roman
When his partners’ daughter is kidnapped in Mรฉxico, a self-made millionaire must confront his feelings about their affair and the future of their relationship.

Leaving Necessity by Margo Bond Collins
Mac has one week to convince his ex-girlfriend Clara not to sell his oil company. In this high-pressure reunion, can they strike love again?

The Shape of Destiny by Julie A. D’Arcy
A young male shape shifter. A beautiful female ranch owner. Can love be born in a web of deceit?

Bad Boy, Big Heart by Andrea Downing
She’s a New Yorker escaping her parents. He’s a Wyoming cowboy supporting his dad. One summer, two young people—three months to find love.

Desert Heat by Patti Sherry-Crews
A single mother struggling to keep her guest ranch puts her own desires on hold. When a handsome and persistent fireman sets his sights on her, she must decide how much she’s willing to give.

Leaving Necessity by Margo Bond Collins

Can they strike love again?

At nineteen, Clara Graves left Necessity, Texas, to try to heal her broken heart. She swore she would never come back, and she's kept that promise for ten years. Until now. When she returns for her uncle's funeral, she inherits a small oil company that may keep her tied to Necessity for a few days longer than she expected. But as soon as she can close or sell the business, she's pointing her boots toward greener pastures.

To this day, Mitchell MacAllan regrets letting Clara go without a fight. But his whole life was in Necessity, and leaving town wasn't in the cards. As the foreman of Aerio Oil and Gas, he works hard to keep the townspeople employed and maintain the business, despite a recent downturn in petroleum prices.

Now Mac has less than a week to convince Clara that she should give Aerio a chance, and maybe even forgive him in the meantime. Otherwise, she will once again be leaving Necessity--and taking his heart with her, this time for good.

(also available as a stand-alone novella via Amazon:

Clara kept her seat as several townspeople came to offer their condolences, some for the second or third time that day. A cynical part of her couldn’t help but wonder how many of them were more interested in getting a better look at her after ten years in order to add fuel to the gossip fire than their sincere expressions and kind words might otherwise suggest.

That’s not fair, Clara. She could almost hear her uncle’s kind voice chiding her.

With a sigh, she finally stood up. “Tell me more about this oil company, Mr. Pritchard?”

The attorney nodded. “Of course. But really, Mac will be able to tell you more.” He gestured behind her.

When she turned to look, though, all she caught was a bare glimpse of a dark-haired man in jeans and a cowboy hat as he shut the door behind him.

“Mac?” she asked, turning back to Mr. Pritchard, whose brow creased in a frown.

“He’s the foreman now. Your uncle didn’t tell you any of this?”

“No. This is the first I’ve heard of the oil company.”

“Well, I’ll set up a meeting between you for tomorrow.” Bending to make a note on his calendar, he suddenly paused, then stood up straight. A worried expression flitted across his face. “If that’s okay.”

“Tell me again why I need to meet with him?” If it worried Mr. Pritchard, it might not be a good idea.

“The will stipulates that, if you are planning to sell Aerio, you must work with the current foreman of the company to conduct a thorough review of all aspects of the company before doing so.”

Clara tilted her head. “Is that even enforceable, legally?”

The twist of Mr. Pritchard’s lips gave Clara most of the information she needed. “Not following the guidelines could allow the sale to be challenged in court,” he clarified. “Although you might be able to get a judge to strike down the provision, it would take time and money that could be spent just as easily fulfilling the terms of the will.”

“Fine.” She smoothed down the skirt of her black dress before picking up her matching Balenciaga bag. “Give me a call once you have the meeting scheduled? Thank you again, Mr. Pritchard.”

As she walked out toward her rental car with its mismatched tire—the one she hadn’t yet had a chance to deal with—she tried not to think too much about the next few weeks. Still, she couldn’t help but realize that she had more to do here than she had anticipated.

I’m not going to be leaving Necessity as quickly as I had hoped.

But she was definitely going to get the hell out of Dodge—or at least Necessity—as soon as possible.

About the Author & Social Media Links

Margo Bond Collins is addicted to coffee (mmm...caffeine) and SF/F television, especially Supernatural (mmm...Winchesters). She writes paranormal and contemporary romance, urban fantasy, and paranormal mystery. She lives in Texas with her daughter and several spoiled pets. Although she teaches college-level English courses online, writing fiction is her first love. She enjoys reading urban fantasy and paranormal fiction of any genre and spends most of her free time daydreaming about heroes, vampires, ghosts, werewolves, and the women who love (and sometimes fight) them.

You can learn more about her at and follow her on all the usual social media outlets (listed below).

For updates about publications, free fiction, and other goodies, be sure to subscribe to her newsletter:  

Amazon Author Page:
Twitter:  @MargoBondCollin
Goodreads Author Page:
Facebook Author Page:

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Cover Reveal of ONCE by M.S. Kaye

M.S. Kaye is my guest today, and she's revealing the cover of her upcoming book ONCE. Without further ado, here is the cover of ONCE:

by M.S. Kaye

Her first and also her Once.

Jonathan is studying to become a priest. He is three days from taking vows. He will not be a priest.
Rebecca’s major is pre-law. She is supposed to take over her father’s law firm. She will not be a lawyer.

Their paths cross at exactly the right moment, when each most needs to hear what the other has to say. Jonathan’s structured life is turned sideways, but Rebecca also helps him learn how to forgive himself. It was self-defense, not murder.

Rebecca finds the strength to stand up to her father, to be the real her. If Jonathan likes her writing, it must be worth pursuing.

They must each struggle to forge a new path without each other’s comfort and strength, with only memories of the one day that changed everything.

Will be released 7/2/16 by Inkspell Publishing.
Pre-order buy links: Amazon ~ Kobo ~

Add to your to-read on Goodreads.

Author Bio:

M. S. Kaye has several published books under her black belt.  She writes in genres ranging from contemporary romance, to romantic suspense, to paranormal young adult. As s 4th degree black belt and certified instructor of Songahm Taekwondo, she enjoys bringing some of that kick-butt attitude to her stories. A transplant from Ohio, she resides with her husband Corey in Jacksonville, FL, where she does her best not to melt in the sun.  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads

Also available from M.S. Kaye:

Fight Princess (romantic suspense)
Kindling the Past (romantic suspense)
Clouded (paranormal YA)

Coming Soon:
Once and Again, Once and Forever (Once books 2 and 3)
Strong as Death, Awaken from Death (paranormal YA, Born from Death books 1 and 2)
Endless as the Rain, Overcast, Echo Through the Mist (romantic suspense, Taken books 1-3)

Excerpt from Once:

“What’s the answer?”

He paused. “A switchblade.”

With my fingertips, I reached out and traced the scar across his cheek. “Did you win?”

He removed my hand and closed his eyes. “Yes.”

I slid his Book back to him. “This says we can find forgiveness.”

His eyes still closed, his jaw clenched. He bowed his head. “It also says ‘Thou shalt not kill.’”

I took his hand in both of mine, petted his rough skin, and then brought it to my lips. He had a talent for guiding invisibly, but I didn’t know how to do that.

He watched me again. His eyes were intense, like the black of the night sky, and his forehead was furrowed, as if his emotions were scattered, as if he was shocked at my reaction, as if he had been sure his answer would drive me away. But I knew him. Already, I knew him.

“You’re still a good person,” I said.

His jaw clenched. “I’ve been trying to believe that.”

“I have faith in you.”

He continued to watch me. His forehead never smoothed, as if he was fighting for strength, but his eyes softened. He slid around the booth, closer to me.

I didn’t move, not sure what to do, what was right, what he wanted.

He leaned closer.

I only watched him.

He touched his lips to my cheek, the faintest pressure. I struggled to sit still, to keep my hands in my lap, not to grab hold of him. And then his lips were gone, such brief contact that I couldn’t be sure if he had actually kissed my cheek or if I wanted his contact so much that I’d imagined it.

He spoke in my ear. “You must be some kind of final test.”

My heart pounded into my ribs, against the point of the blade. “Are you going to pass?”

His lips brushed against my jaw. “I don’t know.”

He trailed to my neck, his mouth softly pressing. My hand curled into his hair, the other on his shoulder, holding, clutching. His mouth found mine, barely touching. His warmth invaded my head.

“God give me strength,” he murmured.

The door slid open, and the compartment filled with laughter.

He closed his eyes. Then he slid away from me.