Getting to know Catherine Tinley #Author #Regency #Historical #Romance

My guest today lives in a place that is filled with history and romantic, so perfect for the author of historical romance. Please help me welcome Catherine Tinley! Let’s take a look at her bio and then find out more about her.

Catherine Tinley is an award winning author of historical romance. She writes witty, heartwarming Regency love stories for Harlequin Mills & Boon. She has loved reading and writing since childhood, and has a particular fondness for love, romance, and happy endings. After a career encompassing speech & language therapy, Sure Start, maternity campaigning and being President of a charity, she now manages a maternity hospital. She lives in Ireland with her husband, children, cats, and dog.

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Betty: When did you become a writer?

Catherine: I’ve been writing for many years – writing for work, and writing for my own enjoyment. I first became an author in 2017, when Waltzing with the Earl was published.

Betty: How long did you work on your writing skills before you became published?

Catherine: All my life, I suppose. It may look as though I had overnight success – Waltzing with the Earl was the first project I’d ever submitted to publishers. Not only did it get me my first ever publishing contract, it also won the prestigious RitaTM Award in the USA. In reality, I’d been building and honing my writing skills for years.

Betty: What authors or stories do you feel influenced your writing style?

Catherine: Georgette Heyer is my all-time favourite author, and my first book was borne out of the frustration that I’d read all of her Regencies and Georgians too many times.

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

Catherine: An idea. That’s often the case, I think. I’d been watching the BBC Pride & Prejudice (yes, the Colin Firth version) and I wondered what might happen if a woman lost her place/ financial standing after she and a man were on the way to falling in love. Since then I’ve published seven books, with the eighth, Captivating the Cynical Earl, set for release in July.

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?

Catherine: I write women’s stories. I write about strong women who face challenges, and overcome them, and find partners who are worthy of them. Although my books are set around 200 years ago, the themes are recognizable as issues affecting women and girls today. I like writing gentle, family-based stories, exploring relationships, and occasionally throwing people into unusual situations to see how they’ll cope. My recent book, Rags-to-Riches Wife, tells the story of a serving-maid, Jane, who is invited to stay with wealthy relatives. Readers seemed to really enjoy the fish-out-of-water and Cinderella tropes, and that book has recently won the RoNA award from the Romantic Novelists Association, which is wonderful!

Betty: How did you learn to write? A mentor, classes, conferences, craft books, or something else?

Catherine: None of the above :D. I just wrote, and read, then repeated that ad infinitum. I now use craft books and find them really helpful, but I rarely attend classes. Everyone walks their own path, and that has been mine.

Betty: What inspired you to write the book you’re sharing with us today? Lady Cecily Thornhill appeared as a secondary character in two of my other books, and I thought it was about time she moved centre-stage for her own story to be told. I’ve matched her with Jack Beresford, Earl of Hawkenden, and given her only a month to melt his cold heart.

The cool, aloof earl
And the enchanting lady

For Jack Beresford, Earl of Hawkenden, emotional entanglements are the path to pain. But when his brother brings his new wife and her best friend to his country home, everything changes. Lady Cecily Thornhill is both vibrant and beautiful, and Jack finds himself increasingly captivated by her sunny nature. Yet he must resist her charms, for in a month she’ll be gone—unless his frozen heart thaws before then…


There was a sudden murmur of female interest, drawing Cecily out of her thoughts. At the same time she heard Nell gasp beside her. All eyes were drawn to the door, where a new arrival had just been announced.

He stood just inside the room, a head taller than almost everyone there. His figure was strong, lean and imposing, his face starkly handsome. Or at least it would be, Cecily thought, if there had been any kindness in it. He wore the full evening dress required for events such as these, but had chosen a black jacket, giving him a faintly sinister air. It was moulded to his form, drawing the eye to the breadth of his shoulders, the narrowing of his back, the smoothness of his hips.

I’ll wager he needed two valets to get into that, thought Cecily dryly. And men accuse us women of vanity!

All around the room ladies were sitting up a little straighter, smiling a little more broadly, and chattering just a little more loudly than they had been. Cecily sighed. Sometimes she quite despaired of her sex.

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Congrats on winning the RoNA award, Catherine! That’s fabulous! Thanks also for sharing your story with us.

I send out my newsletter on the first of every month, so please be sure to sign up below if you haven’t already. Thanks for your interest and I wish you all perfect day, however you define it, to read a good book! Happy reading!


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Some Basics of Magic and Witchcraft #research #magic #FuryFallsInn #amwriting #amreading #American #histfic #historical #fantasy #fiction #books

I was talking with a friend and fellow author the other day about the process of writing a series. Obviously the biggest difference between writing a single book and a series of connected stories is that there needs to be an overarching story for the entire series. In the case of the Fury Falls Inn historical fantasy series that means 6 stories with an ever-growing cast of characters. The core story in the series is about the Fairhope family coming back together to defend against a common threat. But each story has its own internal story arc as well. Writing this series has been a challenge for me in several ways.

I’ve talked before about the inspiration for the series which you can read about here. When I wrote that post I had just released the second book in the series, Under Lock and Key, and by then had a better feel for where the series story was heading. Then I wrote the third book, Desperate Reflections, which is up for pre-order now (see below) and will release on May 11, 2021. When I finished writing that story I realized I needed to have a high-level outline of the remaining three books in the series in order to ensure that I wrap up all the of the threads running through these stories. So I took some time to brainstorm all of the events and revelations I could identify that needed to be included in upcoming stories. I feel far more confident that I’ll address the currently open questions as a result! But let me tell you it really stretches my imagination in ways I’ve never done before.

My witchcraft reference books

Another challenge with this series is writing about magic and witches and warlocks. See, I am not a witch nor do I practice magic. Which means I had to do some research to have a deeper understanding and appreciation for those people who do practice some form of magic or have special abilities. So naturally I turned to books written by practicing witches to find out more about what life is like for them. Specifically, Thea Sabin’s Wicca for Beginners: Fundamentals of Philosophy & Practice and Ly de Angeles’ Witchcraft: Theory and Practice. Although they each approach their practice from slightly different perspectives, they agreed on a good bit. These two books also provided the theories and philosophies behind the practical aspects of witchcraft. That is something I intend to weave into my characters’ knowledge as well.

In this series, my main heroine Cassandra Fairhope discovers she comes from a family of witches. She’s surprised by the news but takes to the idea of practicing magic even though she doesn’t know anything about it. Well, neither did I! So I tapped my research books for guidance on the basics she and later her brothers would need to know.

From my reading, the most basic step before performing a spell or ritual is to ground and center in order to protect yourself as you work with the energy around you. According to Sabin, grounding and shielding are both important visualizations to know how to do. Sabin says, “These techniques will allow you to have more control in your energy work by giving you ways to get rid of excess energy and protect yourself from unwanted energy.” I paraphrased her description of the technique she teaches her students to use as a meditation in Desperate Reflections when Abram is reluctantly learning how to ground and center:

“Now, ground and center.”

“How do you expect me to do both?” Abram sat cross-legged on the carpeted floor that evening, hands resting on his knees as he tried to follow his sister’s instructions. He gazed at her, wondering if she believed the mystical nonsense she’d spouted over the last several minutes. “And what do you mean by center?”

“Relax and breathe. Picture a glowing golden taproot connecting your spine to the earth beneath you.” Cassie perched on the edge of a chair in front of the fireplace in the parlor, her expression serene and gentle. “Close your eyes and concentrate.” She paused for several seconds as he let his lids drop. “Can you see it?”

He inhaled slowly, struggling with the conflicting desires to dismiss her guidance as utter rubbish or to follow her instructions and see what might happen. Despite his reservations, the image of a thick, strong taproot like that of an ancient pine tree formed in his mind’s eye. “Now what?”

“Feel the earth’s energy flowing gently and warmly to the base of your spine.”

A slight tingling warmed his hips as he sat with his eyes closed, seeing the energy like a glowing golden stream flowing up along the taproot and into his body. Squeezing his eyes tight to ensure he didn’t open them and lose the image, he waited for her next directions.

“Now feel the energy flow through your legs down all the way to your feet. Then let it flow up your spine and through your arms and hands.”

“It’s so warm. I didn’t expect to feel that.” He flexed his fingers then relaxed them on his knees. The gentle warmth surged through his entire body, filling him with a sense of peace and security but mostly a surprisingly deep connection to the earth.

“That’s perfect. Now, push the excess energy back down the taproot but keep your own energy alive inside.” Her soft voice drifted to his ears and assisted him in easing the unnecessary energy back into the earth through the golden taproot. “When you’re done, open your eyes.”

He pictured the last of the excess energy evaporating into the ground even as a sense of completion and readiness filled him. He opened his eyes and grinned at her. “That was amazing.”

Interpreting the experience from the guidance of a practicing witch helps me imagine how my characters might also have the experience and their reactions. Hopefully with some sense of authenticity despite my own lack of personal experience. I can’t include every aspect of the philosophies and techniques used but I will try to set the stage and the context for my characters and thus for my readers to also have a better appreciation and understanding.

There’s more magic to come, too. Check out Desperate Reflections below and be sure to grab your copy today! (Note that you can pre-order the ebook now but the paperback won’t be available until May 11.) Thanks!

Until next time, happy reading!


P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out most every month, including news like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers, along with recipes and writing progress. Thanks and happy reading!

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Fury Falls Inn in 1821 Alabama. A place for ghosts, witches, and magic. A place of secrets and hidden dangers. Abram must protect his vulnerable sister from all of it. Before the dark side of magic ensnares her.

When Abram Fairhope grudgingly travels to the Inn, he has no idea of the dire revelations about to upend his life. His only desire is to fulfill his familial duty and then get back to his job as senator’s aide. But the shocking truth of his very nature destroys his carefully laid plans. Worse still, he must use his newly revealed ability to shield her from terrible danger. Threats exist from within and without, especially the surprisingly pretty woman his jaded heart can’t seem to ignore. Can he keep his sister safe and still protect his heart?

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Getting to know Helen C. Johannes #author #adventure #fantasy #romance #fiction #storyteller #amreading #amwriting

My guest today is a fellow member of Romance Writers of America and also a fellow lover of historical places. Please help me welcome Helen C. Johannes to the interview hot seat! Let’s take a look at her bio and then find out more about her and her inspirations…

Helen C. Johannes writes award-winning fantasy romance inspired by the fairy tales she grew up reading and the amazing historical places she’s visited in England, Ireland, Scotland and Germany. She writes tales of adventure and romance in fully realized worlds sprung from pure imagination and a lifelong interest in history, culture, and literature. Warriors on horseback, women who refuse to sit idly at home, and passion that cannot be denied or outrun—that’s what readers will find in her books.

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Betty: How long did you work on your writing skills before you became published?

Helen: Years and years and years. I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember: essays, research papers, poems, stories, novels. Whatever I was studying and whatever struck my fancy, plus countless pages of instructional material in my career as a writing teacher. But my first and forever love is story-telling. Anything with suspense, adventure, danger, and romance.

Betty: What authors or stories do you feel influenced your writing style?

Helen: Fairy tales, most definitely. I think I absorbed them through the skin from a book I had as a child. And Tolkien, whose world building inspired my own attempts; Shakespeare, who knew how to craft a plot true to character; Mary Stewart, who hooked me on romantic suspense; and Susan Elizabeth Phillips, who knows how to pack an emotional punch, among countless others among my wide and varied reading.

I don’t know that they’ve influenced my style so much as demonstrated various aspects of story construction in a way that I could internalize the lessons. People joke about learning by osmosis, but I firmly believe that the best way to lay the foundation for learning to write well is by reading and, reading widely.

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

Helen: My first attempts to write to the market were romantic suspense (I finished 3½ manuscripts), but what truly fired my imagination was a fantasy story I’d begun in high school and never finished. When I dusted that off, I found it was better than I thought and still captured my imagination. After years of work applying all that I’d learned from workshops and critique partners, that fantasy romance became my first published book, THE PRINCE OF VAL-FEYRIDGE. I didn’t know at the time that I’d be turning it into a series, but it’s now Crown of Tolem #1.

Betty: How did you learn to write? A mentor, classes, conferences, craft books, or something else?

Helen: In addition to reading widely, I credit a series of exceptional critique partners for helping me refine my prose. I have also benefitted from workshops, classes, and conferences, most sponsored by RWA chapters. As a teacher, I’ve been a mentor and a contest judge, and while those experiences have given me the satisfaction of helping others, I’ve learned so much more about my own work from spotting gaffes in the work of others. Successful writers don’t work in a vacuum.

Betty: What inspired you to write the book you’re sharing with us today?

Helen: Princess and the Pea and Star Wars. Yes, you read that right.

LORD OF DRUEMARWIN, Crown of Tolem #2, picks up where THE PRINCE OF VAL-FEYRIDGE leaves off. The quest for the Crown has been successful, sort of like in Star Wars: A New Hope, but we all know the war isn’t over, and the main players have to separate in order to confront their own demons (like Luke in the swamp with Yoda). My hero, Naed, new Lord of Druemarwin, must go home to rally his people to the cause and to reckon with what he’s learned about his family (his meeting-Darth Vader-in-the-cave moment). And then there’s the assassin stalking him. His bride-to-be, Lady Raell, has the Princess and the Pea experience, an outsider trying to join a family who looks upon her with distrust and even disdain. It doesn’t help that she’s already unusual among her own people, a woman skilled with blades.

Lady Raell can fight, ride, and argue politics as well as her brothers. Only being mistress of her father’s household keeps her in skirts. In Naed, the new Lord of Druemarwin, she has found devotion, a kindred spirit, and a marriage promise. But when a forgotten and unwanted betrothal comes to light, she has no choice but to run.

Amidst sweeping revolution, Naed must rally his people, fend off assassination attempts, and fight against claims he’s a traitor. Then he discovers everything about his lineage and family is a lie. And his beloved belongs to another.

With lives and a kingdom at stake, Raell and Naed must find a way to protect the innocent and save their love.


“Raell, now is not the time—”

Aye, it wasn’t. They stood in torchlight on an open parapet while assassins stalked them, but this might be her only chance to reach him across that precipice he’d thrown up between them, to secure the future they were meant to share.

“Does my honor mean naught? When weighed with D’nalian honor, is mine lesser because ‘tis a woman’s honor? Or because ‘tis a Tolemak’s honor? Be honest and tell me that.”

The world had gone silent; Raell could hear nothing over the rush of blood in her ears, the terrible heavy beats of her heart while she waited, dizzy with fear, breathless with longing, for the man she loved to respond with a word, a look, even a blink. Even a shift of his gaze she’d take as a sign he’d at least heard, mayhap begun to consider—

“Yes, be honest, Lord Naed,” said a voice she’d heard but once, a voice that raised all the fine hairs on her body and made her innards contract into a cold, tight knot. “Tell us both how much honor means to a bastard who’s betrayed his countrymen and his blood.”

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Thanks for sharing your story with us, Helen! It sounds like quite an adventure!

Happy reading, everyone!


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How Charm-ing! Choosing symbolic charms for #CharmedAgainstAllOdds #paranormal #romance #PNR #fiction #magic #charms #amreading #amwriting #books

Every story I write presents a new challenge. Some are involve defining unique characters, others unique settings or time periods. But in Charmed Against All Odds I gave myself a task like never before. I didn’t actually realize the degree of difficulty I’d assigned myself either. Let me explain…

In Charmed, Roxie and Leo are reunited. Great. A simple second chance at love story, right? Yes and no. What made it complex is that I needed to delve deeply into their young love story, the one when they were in high school before they had a disagreement so huge they split up. Then I also had chosen to have them go on a kind of treasure hunt, looking for enchanted charms to assemble on a bracelet. I really loved that concept! It’s the reverse of something I pondered years ago when going through my deceased beloved mother-in-law’s jewelry and came across a charm bracelet with charms I didn’t know the story behind. I recognized most of them, but then there were a few that raised my eyebrows… But that’s a story for another day.

Having identified the concept of a search for charms, you may have guessed what happened next. The big question then proved to be the one that caused the most work. Which charms and what is the story behind each of them? I had to relive Roxie and Leo’s teenage romance and reflect the growth of their love for each other through the back story and the choice for each charm they searched for. A symbol of where and when they fell in love.

It took several days to gather everything to be able to write their dual love story: the past and the present romances plus the specific charms. It was a good exercise to stretch my creativity and really write something unique. This story was a finalist in the Ind’Tale’s Rone Awards last year. I strive to bring something new and fresh to each story I write so my readers are entertained and so that I’m continuing to grow as a writer.

I’ve blogged before about each of the charms I chose, so if you’re curious about the reasons for each you can hop over to those posts. I’ll share the links below.

The Charms in order of the hunt:

#1: Book

#2: Friends

#3: Handshake 

#4: Theater masks

#5: Arrow

#6: Feather

Thanks for reading!


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Loving her brings out the magic in him…

Wedding bells are ringing, but not for Roxie Golden. If she can survive another round of wedding plans, then her life can return to normal. She’s perfectly happy running the bookstore and weaving helpful magical spells. Then one stormy day, her ex-fiancé strolls back into her life with a gift neither of them wants.

Leo King wants to flee the small town for the big city. Forget about the shame he brought upon himself when he abused his magical powers. First, to satisfy his warlock father’s final wish, he must deliver the mysterious box to Roxie’s bookstore.

But when Roxie opens the box, revealing an enchanted bracelet and a quest spell, their plans and their lives are changed forever. Trapped in a reluctant partnership with the woman he once loved, he risks everything—including his heart—for a second chance.

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Getting to know Julia O. Greene #Author #Fiction #Fantasy #Speculative #Contemporary #Romance

Today’s guest author hails from the Midwest and brings a fresh perspective to her stories. Please help me welcome Julia O. Greene to the interview hot seat! Take a peek at her bio and then we’ll find out more about her.

Julia O. Greene is a pen name for Susan Stradiotto who is typically a fantasy and speculative fiction author. As the material she writes doesn’t serve the romance audience, she decided to pay tribute to her grandmother in her contemporary fiction. Susan lives in Eden Prairie, Minnesota with her husband, three children, and a crazy Bernese Mountain Dog named Delaunay. Stories of all kinds are her passion, and she has always been a voracious reader, lover of worlds, and hoarder of books. Her infatuation with well-developed characters sometimes rivals relationships with real people.

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Betty: When did you become a writer?

Julia: I’ve been a writer all my life but became serious about writing as a career in 2017.

Betty: How long did you work on your writing skills before you became published?

Julia: This is a hard question to answer because I’ve been passionate about reading and writing ever since I can recall. But if pressed to say when I started honing the skill, I’d go with 2017.

Betty: What authors or stories do you feel influenced your writing style?

Julia: There are several from different genres.

  • From women’s fiction, Lianne Moriarty.
  • From paranormal romance, J.R. Ward.
  • From fantasy: Jacqueline Carey and N.K. Jemesin.

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

Julia: In the eleventh grade, my English teacher challenged us to go all out on a creative writing assignment, and I believe that’s what started my love of storytelling.

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

Julia: Fantasy with tons of worldbuilding. My real inspiration here was a trip I took to Italy and Greece.

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?

Julia: Fantasy and Romance, or really anything with a happy ending. While I adore conflict in fiction, I want the resolution to be good for my main characters. This life is so short, I really feel people need to seek out their happiness.

Betty: How did you learn to write? A mentor, classes, conferences, craft books, or something else?

Julia: I’d have to say, “The Brute-Force Method.” I wrote, looked for feedback, researched the feedback I received, purchased craft books, and wrote some more. I learn every time I receive an edit back or feedback from a critique. Ongoing honing and learning are something that really jazzes me up about the process of writing.

Betty: What do you wish you knew before you started writing/publishing?

Julia: The timeline for getting a book to market and what it means to adequately market a book. I’ve learned a ton since I published my first book in 2018, and it’s getting more and more fluid. I actually took a year off from publishing just to build a backlog of content so that I can continue writing while publishing and not lose that momentum.

Betty: What other authors inspired you (either directly or through their writing) to try your hand at writing?

Julia: The favorites I mentioned above plus Stephanie Meyer. I wrote a fan fiction about Alice and Jasper after reading the Twilight series. That, however, will never see the light of day.

Betty: What inspired you to write the book you’re sharing with us today?

Julia: When I wrote An Orchid Falls, it was inspired by a friend who actually went through a divorce. My aim was to give her the happy ending she deserved, even if it was in a fictional form.

Divorced. Single Mother.

Words that Calli never imagined she’d use to describe herself, but today, she would sign those fateful papers and bring the words to life—her life. Her career is going well enough. With the financial arrangements in the decree, she’d be able to maintain a solid middle-class status. Her plans for the future are set…keep on keeping on. Maybe one day, her mother could accept her divorce. Maybe one day she’d be comfortable alone. Maybe one day, her life would turn out how it was supposed to be with Bennett. But for today, she’d go to happy hour and celebrate her freedom with her friends.

The variable Calli’s calculations don’t include: restaurateur, Dominic Moretti.

Food. Fitness.

The two pleasures in life that Dom thrives upon. Moretti’s, his first love, his upscale flagship restaurant in Minneapolis, has grown to one of the most in-demand venues in the Twin Cities. When he isn’t traveling for business, he enjoys overseeing the floor as his alter-ego: restaurant manager, Nic Moore. In his other foodie ventures, he operates as the better-known Dom of The Dinner Shark on Food Network. All work and very little play keep his accounts bulging at the seams, and he thoroughly enjoys a city-boy bachelor’s lifestyle.

The secret ingredient he has yet to factor into his perfect recipe: Callista Lindley.


Not stepping out of his arms, she turned her head and looked up at him with her big, deep browns—eyes he could lose himself in for hours if it weren’t for the pull of her lips. He leaned in and kissed her softly. “Merry Christmas.”

Buon Natale,” answered Calli.

Dom raised a brow. “Joyeux Nöel.”

Feliz Navidad.”

Fröhliche Weihnachten.”

Calli chewed the inside of her lip and looked around, searching with her eyes. A light went on. “Felicem natalem Christi.”

Dom dropped back his head and laughed. Coming back face-to-face, he asked, “Latin?”

“What can I say, four years in high school and two in college. Oh, I have one more. Feliz Natal.

“Ah, yes. Portuguese. I only know two more, so you almost had me. God jul?” He phrased as a question to see if she could guess.

She pressed her lips together and shook her head.

“Norwegian. Come on, living in Minnesota, you never learned that one?”

“Nope, sorry.”

“And . . . Glædelig Jul, Danish.”

“I guess you win.”

“But you have the romance languages, hands down. Speaking of . . . ” He brushed her hair away from her neck, inhaled her floral-vanilla scent, and kissed under her ear.

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Sounds like a delightful story! I may be a bit biased since my cat’s name is Calli, short for Calliope though. Thanks for sharing with us, Julia!

Thanks for reading!


P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out most every month, including news like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers, along with recipes and writing progress. Thanks and happy reading!

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What’s in a Name (or Title)? #historical #HistFic #paranormal #romance #PNR #fiction #amreading #amwriting #books

Choosing the title for a book is a challenge for many authors. I know I wrestle with many options before finally deciding one suits the story. I have come to the point in my career where I choose the name of a book based on my objectives for it as well as the content of the story. The titles for the American Revolution historical romance series I wrote are one case in point.

I tried on three or four different sets of titles for those books before landing on the final ones. They parallel in structure and in content, too. The A More Perfect Union series includes Elizabeth’s Hope (novella), Book 1 Emily’s Vow, #2 Amy’s Choice, #3 Samantha’s Secret, and #4 Evelyn’s Promise. From the titles you know who the main heroine is and the theme of the story. These stories are closely coupled, though you can read them individually and still enjoy the story. In fact the first three novels span October to December 1782. Evelyn’s Promise picks up in January 1783 and continues through the spring. Since the stories are so connected, it makes sense to have the titles also be linked. (In case you’re curious, another set of titles I liked but didn’t choose for the first three novels was for Book 1 Sunlight and Sacrifice, #2 Moonlight and Muskets, and #3 Starlight and Stitches. They include one set of themes and some nice alliteration but they didn’t feel right to me.)

For my paranormal romance series, Secrets of Roseville, I purposely did not make the titles parallel in any way. When I started the series I didn’t know exactly how many stories it would embrace. But I want readers to get the sense that they are individual stories just from their titles. From their titles, I want the reader to have an inkling as to the paranormal aspect of the story and the main theme as well. Most of the titles in this series came easily. Undying Love, Haunted Melody, The Touchstone of Raven Hollow, and the last one Charmed Against All Odds. But the fourth book’s title was a tussle. Veiled Visions of Love went through many iterations and word swapping before I settled on it.

Let’s look a bit closer at each title in that series so you can see my thought process at work.

Undying Love is about a haunted plantation, Twin Oaks, and Meredith’s personal haunting by the memory of her dead husband and child and how she comes to terms with her grief. Her never-ending love for them both but also the Lady in Blue’s love for her family.

Haunted Melody is also set in Twin Oaks, with a different ghost this time, and Paulette’s rediscovery of her love of singing. There are many songs referenced in the story, too.

The Touchstone of Raven Hollow was a bit trickier. It’s about a geologist (the stone part) and a witch who can heal through her hands (the touch part) and is a nod to “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe. The concept of the enchanted hollow or valley comes from an old Irish myth I read years ago, too. Essentially, a beautiful woman is enchanted to look like a hag until she learns humility. When a traveler offers her something to make her feel better, only then is she released from the spell. The geologist and healer are trapped in Raven Hollow until they can break the spell holding them there.

Veiled Visions of Love is about a psychic woman who can read others emotions and feelings except for the man she falls in love with. Thus her sight of him is “veiled” or obscured. But I had played with so many other words for “hidden” or “obscured” that just didn’t sound right. I love the alliteration in the final title but it took some time to finally get there.

Charmed Against All Odds came to me while driving home from a writers’ retreat in the northern mountains of Alabama. The song Against All Odds was playing on the radio, and the lyrics described the situation in my story almost perfectly. The lover who returns but is afraid of being rejected only to be welcomed by his ex-lover. The “charmed” part comes from the theme of an enchanted charm bracelet and the charms that the couple must locate to assemble the set and learn their true destiny.

I have two standalone titles as well. Both are historical fiction but in very different time periods. The first is Becoming Lady Washington: A Novel, set in the 18th century in Virginia and other states. This story is told from Martha Washington’s point of view, the only novel I’ve ever written in first person. It tells about how she learned what she needed to know in order to become the woman who would support George Washington’s roles as general and then first president.

The second historical fiction title is Notes of Love and War, set during World War Two in Baltimore, Maryland. This is an epistolary style novel, including letters and telegrams, but the term “notes” also refers to the fact that the main character is a musician and music critic. She is only given that role after the male music critic was drafted to fight in the war.

I think from this discussion you can get a good idea of my process for choosing the titles for my stories. Hopefully, as you read my books you’ll be able to discern the basis for the titles, too.

Thanks for reading!


P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out most every month, including news like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers, along with recipes and writing progress. Thanks and happy reading!

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An unsuspecting Southern town. Ghosts. Witchcraft. Skeletons in the closet. Discover the Secrets of Roseville in this five book series… Undying Love, Haunted Melody, The Touchstone of Raven Hollow, Veiled Visions of Love, and Charmed Against All Odds!

His desire for a home led him straight to her heart…

She craves more. More adventure. More drama. More excitement. Beth Golden knows without a doubt that she’ll die of boredom working in the family bookstore in small town Roseville. She’s resigned to her fate. Until a handsome biker rolls into town with an air of confidence and mystery. When he introduces her to a whole new world of daring and romance, she’s captivated by a lifestyle filled with unexpected and dangerous surprises.

Mitch Sawyer has one more job to complete before he can finally settle down. He has lived all over the world and wants nothing more than to have his own home with a wife and family. A dream he’ll be able to afford after this final airplane repo job when he can resign his Air Force commission. He reluctantly allows Beth, the sexy and entrancing book lover, to help him by becoming an undercover biker chick. Only Beth’s hunger for excitement endangers both herself and an innocent bystander.

Can he protect the woman and young boy—and his heart—before it’s too late?

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Southern Storms Spring into Undying Love #SecretsOfRoseville #paranormal #romance #PNR #fiction #amreading #books

Once you live through a scary event it can really color how you view related occurrences for the rest of your life. I’m speaking specifically about the April 2011 swarm of tornadoes that swept across northern Alabama and southern Tennessee. Most of the damage occurred in northern Alabama, but an F0 took out a pine tree next to our farm house in southcentral Tennessee. We lost power for the day, but it was back by dinner time. Hubby and I left our teenage children at home and went to work, where we spent most of the morning in the storm shelters in the basement of our respective office buildings. Listening to tornado sirens going off every so often all the time. Watching the weathermen/women track the multiple tornadoes sweeping across the state. I can’t tell you how concerned I was that we’d left our very capable, nearly adult teens at home alone. We did touch base with them via phone, of course. They were fine. I was the one having the issues!

When there was a break in the chain of storms, the powers that be let us out of the shelters. I picked up my hubby at his office and we headed home. We stopped on the way to pick up batteries and ice but then went straight home. It was a long day, let me tell you! Hubby finally made a dash to the pizza place to pick up our dinner, but raced a tornado warning home. Thankfully, it veered away from our house. By the time he got home, the power came back on. We were lucky, but Alabama was not. Significant damage was done to the power grid, which left the northern region without power for at least a week. Which meant we couldn’t go to work and since we didn’t bring our work laptops home, couldn’t work from home either. Since we lived in Tennessee we had power, but people just south of us in Alabama—a mere half mile away—did not.

At that time, the spring of 2011, my dad was still alive and living in an assisted living facility in Huntsville, Alabama. Because we were not residents, we could not go visit him because they’d instituted a curfew and you had to prove residency in order to enter any given area. He was barely able to talk on the phone, but I could call the nurses and they would take a phone to him so I could check in with him. It was difficult, but I knew it would only be for a short period of time. That experience gave me some measure of insight into how care givers and family dealt with not being able to see their loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic. I know that must have been very, very difficult!

So what does this have to do with my stories? Well, when I was writing Undying Love (originally titled Traces when first released in April 2014) I included a tornado hitting the Twin Oaks plantation since it’s set in the spring of the year and in Tennessee. Actually, the fictional town of Roseville is modeled on the small town of Fayetteville, Tennessee, near where I lived then. Here’s a snippet from Undying Love:

The double front doors stood open, creating a picturesque backdrop to the array of delicious foods. Grizabella had been relegated to Meredith’s room until the luncheon ended so Meredith wouldn’t worry about her venturing outside, checking out the food, or tripping someone. Before very long, the crowd thinned. The dark storm clouds continued to gather overhead, lightning fracturing the sky. Finally, the last of the mourners paid their condolences, ate their last mouthful, and drove away. The thunder and lightning drew nearer, carried by the increasing wind whipping through the trees and blowing the tall grass so it danced under the onslaught.

“Quite a view from here.” Max had sneaked up on her so quietly she hadn’t heard even a floorboard creak.

“I’ve always loved being on the porch, drawn to it for reasons I only now understand.” She gazed out over the vista, the rolling hills boasting copses of trees, the lake churning in the wind, the road winding its way across the valley and disappearing to the left. The sky turned from dark gray to silver with a green cast, as though growing ill from its own increasing ferocity. She turned away from the storm to contemplate Max, drawn to him, too, for very different reasons. Reasons she must deny herself in order to protect them both. He’s my lawyer, not my lover. “I guess it’s time for you to head to town for the vote, right?”

His expression turned grim. “Why are you pushing me away?”

Before she could formulate a response, the tornado siren blared at the same time the weather radio sounded. Together, they gaped out over the valley in time to see the funnel cloud come into view and take aim on Twin Oaks.

“Oh no!” Meredith cried. “Where’s everybody? We need to take cover.”

“Get down to the basement,” Max said. “I’ll get the cat. Go!”

“I’ll find everyone.” She closed the double doors and then raced down the hall, searching for her family.

They found her, emerging into the hallway from side rooms as she ran toward the kitchen. Brock’s stalwart expression calmed Meredith’s rising panic. Her mother and sister exhibited concern but not fear.

“The tornado is coming this way. Go to the cellar. Now!” She shooed them before her, aware of Max’s heavy footsteps above as he hurried to retrieve her cat.

His offer to find Grizabella and keep her safe warmed Meredith’s heart. His longer stride made it faster for him to retrieve the cat than for Meredith. As long as he hurried, they’d all make it to the safety of the storm shelter.

It seemed logical to include the tornado but little did I realize I was tempting fate!

I set up a Facebook launch party event with other authors helping me celebrate the release of then Traces in April 2014. Note it’s the same month as when the swarm of tornadoes attacked three years earlier. It was nearly the same day of the month, too. That should have forewarned me but did I listen? Um, nope. I carried on, obliviously. Until the afternoon of the release party brought with it severe weather in the form of thunderstorms and, you guessed it, tornado warnings!

I managed to stay online for this virtual book launch through most of the planned event. Then we lost power so I was unable to interact with the partiers any longer. But I had told my co-hosts that I might lose power due to impending storms so they were able to pick up the party ball and carry on. The next day I went back to the group event and let everyone know we were fine and to touch base with everyone who had been kind enough to attend my first romance book launch party. But wow! What a memory, eh?

If you haven’t read Undying Love yet, the Kindle edition is on sale for $.99 through April 7. Grab your copy today and enjoy!

Happy Easter! Thanks for reading!


P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out most every month, including news like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers, along with recipes and writing progress. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit for more on my books and upcoming events.

Meredith Reed inherits the family plantation after the tragic loss of her family and now must decide its future. Max Chandler has found his soul mate in beautiful yet aloof Meredith, but she threatens to destroy the property he cherishes. Can Meredith learn a lesson from the spectral lady in time to save both her family and home from destruction?

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Getting to know Jenna Jaxon #author #historical #romance #HistoricalFiction #suspense #GetReading #Storytelling

My guest today shares several of my favorite things! She reads and writes historical romance/fiction, for one. See how many other similarities you see as we get to know Jenna Jaxon. Let’s take a look at her bio and then we’ll dive in.

Jenna Jaxon is a best-selling author of historical romance, writing in a variety of time periods because she believes that passion is timeless. She has been reading and writing historical romance since she was a teenager. A romantic herself, Jenna has always loved a dark side to the genre, a twist, suspense, a surprise. She tries to incorporate all of these elements into her own stories.

She lives in Virginia with her family and a small menagerie of pets–including two vocal cats, one almost silent cat, a Sharpei-beagle mix (Sharp-eagle), and a very curious bunny.

When not reading or writing, she indulges her passion for the theatre as a director. She often feels she is directing her characters on their own private stage.

Jenna equates her writing to an addiction to chocolate because once she starts she just can’t stop.

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

Betty: When did you become a writer?

Jenna: I have been a writer practically since I learned to write. In third grade I penned my first masterpiece, a story called Miss Priss Finds A Kitten. I’ve loved writing ever since and relished all my creative writing assignments in high school and college. But I started writing romance in 2009, after six months on a gluten-free diet gave me a huge boost of creativity. I finished a book by Kathleen Woodiwiss titled Everlasting, set in my favorite period—Medieval—closed the book, said aloud, “I could write something like that,” sat down and began to write the book that would become Time Enough to Love. I haven’t looked back since.

Betty: How long did you work on your writing skills before you became published?

Jenna: I began writing in 2009 and my first short story was published in 2011, followed by my first novel in 2012. But I consider myself always learning how to better my writing. Of course, I’ve been honing my writing skills all throughout my school days, including a 400-page dissertation for my Ph.D., so the short answer is “a very long time.”

Betty: What authors or stories do you feel influenced your writing style?

Jenna: Two authors have had a great influence on my writing style. The first was Kathleen Woodiwiss, whose books I devoured as soon as I began to write. The second was Jo Beverley, whose books I stumbled upon while reading an anthology of romance novellas that included a novella by Kathleen Woodiwiss. Ms. Beverley’s works (and I read them all as quickly as I could get them) showed me the depth and breadth of characters and made me fall in love with the Georgian period.

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

Jenna: Strangely enough, I began writing because I became gluten intolerant. Once I realized I had to go on a gluten free diet in the summer of 2008, I was diligent about it. Six months into the diet I felt a huge rush of energy and creativity. At the time I was teaching theater and had already directed a production in the fall semester. So I had no creative outlet for all this energy to flow into. Reading Kathleen Woodiwiss’s Everlasting (her final romance) prompted me to begin writing and the rest, as we say, is history.

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

Jenna: I jumped right into writing historical romance (I was a history major in college, so that was rather easy to decide.).

Betty: What inspired you to write the book you’re sharing with us today?

Jenna: A Countess of Convenience is the first book of my new Captivating Countesses series. Each book of the series will feature a heroine who first appeared in book 3 of my House of Pleasure series, Only A Mistress Will Do. One of the major secondary characters of the book was Dora Harper, who was betrothed to the hero (but does not end up marrying him). So many people wanted Dora to have her own book, I started thinking about her story soon after Mistress was published. But there were several other women in the book whose stories begged to be told, so I came up with the series title, and began creating romances for each of the four heroines. The heroine of A Countess of Convenience is Judith Harper, Dora’s sister-in-law who we hear is ill and bed-ridden in Mistress (we don’t actually see her at all). But Judith whispered to me that she had a story to tell, so I listened, and she became one of my countesses. Dora’s story will be the next in the series, the romance titled Almost A Countess.

Following a tragic accident, an unconscious Judith Harper is returned to her childhood home only to awaken to a horribly changed world: her husband is dead and her child has been given to her in-laws to raise.

As Judith regains her strength, she makes plans to reclaim her child, but to her dismay, the law of the land might not grant her guardianship unless she can show herself to be the better choice, which means she may need to marry again and quickly. Not only is Judith not ready for another husband, but she is newly widowed and will be part of a scandal should she wed before her year of mourning is up.

Still, if she hopes to have her daughter with her once more, she will have to make a marriage of convenience, but to whom?

John, Lord Haxby has loved Judith since childhood, and because of that he let her marry another eight years ago. Now she is free of her odious husband, he hopes he can persuade her that he is the only man who can make her truly happy. However, he discovers Judith is more than interested in Lord Fitzhugh, the man who saved her life. Can he stand aside once more and watch the love of his life make a grave mistake, or will he step up and show the woman he loves he is not a convenient solution to her problem, but the perfect solution?


“Why have you come here?”

“To apologize to you, John.”

“Apologize for what, my dear?”

“For teasing you earlier.”

Of all the things that might’ve come from her lips, those words were the last ones he’d have imagined. “Teasing me?”

“When I asked if there was something I could do for you.” Her voice had dropped so he could scarcely hear her.

“Ah.” As if the fire suddenly blazed anew, sweat popped out on John’s brow and his cock surged forward as if eager to answer the question. “I believe I take your meaning. Think nothing of it, my dear.”

By God, he wished he could think of anything else.

“But I shouldn’t have flirted like that, John.” She stared directly into his eyes. “We have already discussed the…possible necessity of our marrying. In asking that, I may have given you an erroneous idea about my…feelings for you.” Abruptly, she dropped her gaze.

Of course, he’d assumed she’d meant an amorous tryst but had known the offer had come from her nervousness or a need for some kind of physical contact. But since she’d brought the subject up… “Then why did you ask, Judith?”

Her tiny gasp filled him with his usual protective instincts, and it was on the tip of his tongue to tell her not to worry, it was all forgotten. Yet something held him back, some part of him that wanted desperately to hear her answer.

“Because I wanted to know what it would be like to kiss you.”

Buy links: Amazon

It’s always intriguing to have an off-stage character start telling their story, so much so that you have to write the book. Thanks for sharing your book with us, Jenna!

Happy reading, folks!


P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out most every month, including news like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers, along with recipes and writing progress. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit for more on my books and upcoming events.