Getting to know G. S. Kenney #author #romance #scifi #fiction #books #amwriting #amreading

My guest today writes stories that are out of this world, quite literally! I’m pleased to introduce G. S. Kenney to you all. Let’s take a look at her bio and then we’ll slide right into the interview.

Author G. S. Kenney writes romantic speculative fiction novels. Her first science-fiction romance novel Freeing Eden, published by Soul Mate Publishing, was a 2018 RWA Golden Heart® finalist. The Last Lord of Eden, the second novel in the Ascent of Eden series published by Soul Mate, is now also available.

G. S. Kenney started reading early, and never stopped. In kindergarten, drawn in by a book with a picture of three witches at a cauldron, she learned to read by starting with Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Now she writes stories of her own (and still loves Shakespeare). Interested in many fields, she studied the “Great Books” at St. John’s College, architecture at Harvard, and financial planning at Boston University. She has also conducted post-doctoral research in psychology at the Center for Creative Leadership in Greensboro, North Carolina, and for many years developed software systems.

Website *  Facebook * Instagram * Twitter * Goodreads

Betty: When did you become a writer?

G. S.: My family moved to Texas when my children were little, and I began working for American Airlines, where my first assignment was managing the development and installation of a yield-management system for a truck-rental company in Miami. I flew into Miami every Tuesday morning and returned Thursday in time for dinner, which meant that I spent two nights every week in a hotel in Miami, away from my family. I’d been making up stories for my children pretty much since they learned language, and I found in those lonely hotel rooms that the stories I was constantly developing in my head were a lot more interesting than the stories on the television. So I began writing them down. That was over twenty years ago, and I’ve never stopped writing stories since.

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

G. S.: A long time! I didn’t even try to get published at first. Between parenting and working full time at a job that included travel, I had my hands full. I wrote for my children and their cousins. They loved the stories, and that was enough for me. I wrote and wrote, and I got better through the practice.

Eventually, though, the kids went off to college, and I stopped working in tech. I polished up some of the later (and, trust me, better!) stories and began making submissions. That’s when I discovered that the stories my children and their cousins found fascinating still left something to be desired from a professional publishing perspective. Years of coursework, writing groups, and beta readers, and many rejections later, Freeing Eden finaled in the Golden Heart contest, and I found a publisher as well.

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

G. S.: Ah. That’s a good question. My style is definitely still evolving, and there are many influences.

This is the part where I have to mention that I attended St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland, a small liberal-arts college with a four-year entirely fixed curriculum centered on reading and discussing the seminal books and ideas of Western civilization. I’ve read a lot of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century literature, and initially developed a style that reflects the elegance of that period: omniscient point of view, large words and long sentences, and entirely too many semicolons.

I still love reading books from that period, but the style is not well suited to my subject matter, futuristic science fiction with more than a dash of romance. Neither is the style of the mostly white-male-scientist writers of mid-twentieth-century—Asimov, Sturgeon, and the rest—who fostered my love of science fiction.

I’m trying for a more intimate style, more character-focused, often (but not entirely) deep point of view—what the romance genre is so good at, but I want to do so without entirely shaking the elegance and descriptiveness of the older styles. Do I create a unique blend that works? I hope I do.

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

G. S.: Two things—one positive, and one negative. The positive prompt was definitely my children, who, when they were little, couldn’t get enough of my stories as fast as I could make them up. The negative prompt was television. I was traveling for work back then, two nights a week every week alone in a hotel room. Of course TV is different now, but back then, I couldn’t find anything on the hotel TV even half as interesting as the stories in my head. So instead of watching TV, I wrote down the stories I was already making up anyway. You’d be amazed how much time for writing that frees up.

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

G. S.: YA science-fiction, very soft scifi just *this far* (forefinger and thumb less than an eighth of an inch apart) from fantasy, and sometimes actual fantasy, suitable for children.

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?

G. S.: I most enjoy writing the scenes that come easily—and believe me, they don’t always! These are the scenes that seem to want to write themselves, and all I have to do is keep up. The ones I might be writing, for example, after I should have gone to bed already, but I know that if I stop now, I’ll lose whatever muse it is that is making the scene real.

But perhaps you mean, what genre do I most enjoy writing. My background is definitely science fiction, but I don’t prefer to write the very hard stuff full of, say, spacecraft based on deep research into the current state of NASA developments. I’m definitely a “people” writer. Futuristic environments and scenarios are tons of fun to create—and I like to do a good job of it—but their purpose, for me, is to highlight the human side of the story. So I have gravitated toward science-fiction romance, and that’s the genre of my Golden-Heart-finalist book Freeing Eden, and to a lesser extent, The Last Lord of Eden, its sequel.

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

G. S.: First and foremost, through reading! Second, through actually writing. Novels are different from the stories you just think through in your head. Those stories start somewhere and keep going as long as you can keep making them up, and end when you can’t think of new things to add to the chain. I wrote a couple of books like that when my children were little, and I guarantee you, you’ll never see them. Once I’d written a few books like that, only then did I realize I needed to sharpen my craft. So, yes, for years I took online courses (mostly those sponsored by RWA chapters), read craft books, and yes, had the generous help and feedback of some friends who were further along the writing path than I was.

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

G. S.: I wish I’d started trying to publish much earlier in my writing career. Even though my writing wasn’t as good back then as it is now, I think it would have been a lot easier to find an agent and a publisher, and to establish a reputation as an author.

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

G. S.: I often say that Alfred Bester was my most inspiring author. I was in love with science fiction as a child, and his novel The Demolished Man quite took my breath away. It won the first Hugo award in the 1950s. And The Stars My Destination was also wonderful. I have, in fact, re-read both of these fairly recently, and I believe that despite some outdated cultural aspects, they hold up beautifully.

To save his planet, he’ll destroy his family.

To save him, she’ll do anything it takes!

The world of Eden is in crisis. Politicians throughout the galaxy demand the psychic-power producing drug that grows only on Eden. And the demand is skyrocketing.

Adopted son of Eden’s previous warlord, peace-loving Kell has inherited dominion over the planet and is determined to keep it free. When he discovers that the warlord’s brother and a powerful drug lord have teamed up to seize Eden’s priceless harvest, Kell will stop at nothing to prevent them–even if it means he must become a death-wielding champion.

To protect her from this danger, Kell must distance himself from Zara, the woman he loves. But when his efforts are not enough to save his beloved planet, Zara will do anything to bridge that distance. Can she succeed in time?

Excerpt:

Erik son of Magnus son of Leif had become aware of a commotion in his outer office, but he was ignoring it. As Kestra’s longtime senator to the Interplanetary Federation, he chaired the powerful Negotiation Management Committee, which would be meeting in less than an hour. He needed to be thoroughly prepared—especially today, since the man claiming to be the new Lord of Eden had been subpoenaed to appear first thing after lunch. The committee had to present a united front. He sighed and halfheartedly thumbed through the pile of papers in front of him. Where to start?

The noise grew louder, impossible to ignore any longer. He commed his assistant. “Sten, could you please keep it down out there? I—”

There was a crash, a shriek, and the door opened.

Erik’s heart pumped adrenaline; his head buzzed with it. He stood, fumbling ineffectually with the desk drawer—the locked desk drawer, he realized—where he kept a laser.

A stranger stood in the doorway, a young man. He was half-turning toward the three people opposing him and brandishing a whip of all things, effectively enough to keep all three at bay. He radiated anger and grim determination along with an odd hint of uncertainty, all of this amplified greatly, of course, by the andreatin Erik regularly consumed.

Erik took a deep breath and relaxed. How delightfully archaic. Rather like Reuel. The new young warlord from Eden, no doubt. “You must be Kell. Don’t just stand there. Come in. You’re going to, anyway.”

Buy link:  Amazon

Thanks so much, G. S. for stopping by today! I like your approach to writing science fiction!

Thanks so much for reading today! I hope you’re finding some good books to curl up at home with during this global crisis. There are a few of my books available to read for free. Find out more here. And as always, thanks for reading!

Betty

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 http://www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

Getting to know Clair Brett #author #strongwoman #historical #romance #regency

It’s always a pleasure to meet a fellow historical romance author! Please help me welcome Clair Brett and let’s find out more about her writing inspiration and stories. Here’s her bio and then we’ll dive right in to the interview.

Author of 5 historical romances, including the Improper Wives for Proper Lords series, Clair Brett lives in NH with her ever emptying nest which includes her children when they come to visit, two cats, one willful dog, and a mean Pitbull mix, that will lick you to death and run into her kennel when you speak loudly, and an ever harassed husband who takes it all in stride. A lover of all things Regency, Clair was hooked when she first read Jane Austen. She is a firm believer that a reader finds a piece of who they are or learns something about the world with every book they read. She wants her readers to be empowered and to have a refreshed belief in the goodness of people and the power of love after reading her work.

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Goodreads

Betty: When did you become a writer?

Clair: When my daughters were little and I was teaching middle school full time. I needed a world to escape into that I had control of. I would finish reading a book and think “hmm, I would have ended that differently.” So, I decided to give it a try and I was hooked.

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

Clair: I wrote for over 10 years and have one manuscript that I wrote and have not published, because it was my practice piece. After being told by many editors that they loved my voice and story, but my heroines were too strong for historical romance I decided to go indie.

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

Clair: Again, I write strong female characters, so writers like Eloisa James, Nicole Jordan, and Hannah Howell were strong influences. Karen Hawkins humor and light heartedness also spoke to me.

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

Clair: I have always loved writing, but never thought of myself as a writer, until I had two tiny girls at home and a full time job as a middle school teacher. As much as I loved all the children in my life, I needed a place where grown ups were in charge and I was also looking for some place where I felt I had some control. As an author you are in control of your world and how your characters interact in that world. If I wanted them to eat their peas, they did.

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

Clair: I have always loved Historical Romance with a level of suspense and action/adventure. I was raised on a solid diet of Dukes of Hazzard, MacGyver, and the A-team, and I think that influences my need to have an exciting sub plot.

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?

Clair: I love writing the scenes where my hero is being himself. Usually he is working something out with a friend or brother and doesn’t have to behave in a certain way. I also love to write the scenes where the heroine takes charge of the situation leaving my hero to sit on the sidelines and watch or help (strong heroines, remember?)

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

Clair: I joined RWA early in my writing journey, I read any book I could get my hands on about craft, took classes, went to conferences, but in the end I think I learned most about the ebb and flow of a story from reading other authors. I find when I don’t have time to read, I can feel a disconnect between my story and the flow. It is because I haven’t been reading and need to take the time to get back to that.

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

Clair: That once you start it becomes part of you, like breathing and it would be impossible to walk away from once I got started. I could have planned better. lol

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

Clair: All the writers in my NHRWA chapter. They were the first “real” writers I interacted with, and those authors at conferences that I stalked, too nervous to talk to, Karen Hawkins comes to mind. She was amazingly kind and welcoming when I finally got my nerve up. Also Julia Quinn, who is very down to earth and encouraging when she finds out you are a writer as well and not just a reader.

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

Clair: I’m not sure if I can remember. Winn’s Fall has been in my mind for many years. I think I asked myself the question what would make an otherwise responsible man be a daredevil with no care for his own safety. Often I will have a scene come to me and then I have to figure it out from there, and the scene I got from this was the meet/cute for my hero and heroine. He is in a homemade hot air balloon and she is watching him come across a field from the middle of the road. What could go wrong with that?

Lord Winthrop (Winn) Burton will die on his own terms. A family curse says he will die by the time he turns thirty years old. He will not leave a young wife and a child behind like his father did to him.
When childhood friend Miss Zoe Chase returns to stay with his sister and find a husband, Winn’s plans are thrown into chaos. Not only is the once gangly, awkward girl he remembers, is now everything that tempts him, the accidents that once plagued his life are happening to her.
He must keep her safe, but how can he do that when ravaging her is all he can consider? Or perhaps the curse isn’t a curse after all.
Will Winn die, or will he fall?

Excerpt:

“I will not speak a word until my plate is full and my cup refilled, twice,” He demanded as he sat down at his spot and hefted his cup toward Winn. Who unceremoniously slid the wine bottle toward him and took up the plates to serve the now simmering dinner. Once they were both seated, his friend started. “When admitted to the parlor, your mother and sister were chatting with a woman; I would say close to your mother’s age. It was, without a doubt, the older woman with your pretty partner from earlier. She was introduced to me as Lady Dorothy Lambert.”

“If I remember, that is Zoe’s maternal aunt.”

“Quite right, or so I was told when introduced. It was the same woman we met on the road — the one who scooped up her charge and pierced us with reproachful glares. I got a similar one this evening. Your young lady was not, however, in attendance.”

“She is not my young lady,” Winn corrected. Why would he even say such a thing? They didn’t even know each other anymore. A lot changes a person between the ages of nine and nine and twenty.

Buy links: Amazon * B&N * Apple * Kobo

I love that you made your characters eat their peas, Clair! That’s funny! Thanks for sharing about what inspired you to write your latest romance, too.

Happy reading, folks! At least that’s one thing you’ll never run out of: books to read. Stay safe and healthy!

Betty

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 http://www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

Getting to know Clive Hagon #author #historical #fiction

My guest today comes to us from across the pond, as they say. Please welcome Clive Hagon, an author of historical fiction that taps into Greek myths and legends. First, I’ve asked Clive to tell us a bit about himself, then we’ll move into the interview. Take it away, Clive!

The casual observer would be forgiven for believing that my life has been devoted to gambling, womanizing, and dining well. This is only partially true, for my vocational passion has been to unravel the meaning of classical Greek literature.

I cannot claim formal structure to my studies but, since witnessing Peter Hall’s production of The Oresteia on the London stage in 1981, I have been intrigued by the significance of the play, and all the components of the Epic Greek Cycle. My lifestyle has provided me with the opportunity to devote significant time and energy to the unraveling of these mysteries, and the time now is right for me to begin to create my contribution. I am currently working on an historical fiction concerning the early life of Agamemnon.

Betty: When did you become a writer?

Clive: I have always expressed my creativity in writing, poetry mainly, as well as short stories. Until now none have been submitted for publication as they were written for my own pleasure or, in the case of the poetry, women.

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

Clive: Charles Dickens (anything). Franz Kafka (everything). Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment.

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

Clive: Writing is, for me, a satisfying medium for telling stories. I enjoy being the storyteller.

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?

Clive: My favorite writing activity comes when I write poetry to a woman with whom I have fallen in love. The reason, I think, is self-evident.

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

Clive: Mr. Dunn, (name changed) a schoolmaster, (many, many years ago) insisted that a gentleman should learn how to express himself clearly and concisely in both spoken and written forms. Full of post-world war II vigor, he was prepared to thrash these virtues into all the young gentlemen that came unto his educational care, especially those who emerged from the vast social housing estates that had sprung up, new to the district. I learned at an early age that the pen was less painful than the cane.

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

Clive: In relation to Pelops. The Making of the King, nothing. The journey from where I was before I began writing Pelops, to where I am now, has taken me to information, myth, legend, and learning that I had previously never imagined. In research for the novella, I have gained a startling insight into the nature of the origin of civilization in the western, modern, world. I would not change a thing.

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

Clive: Oliver Postgate. He told stories on television back when I was a child. Ivor the Engine, and Noggin the Nog, were those that I fondly remember. I enjoyed in my childhood mind the rhythm of the sounds, and the images that the sounds created. I strive now to create rhythm with the written word, and to create images in the readers mind.

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

Clive: The background research for the Agamemnon project led me to the task of deconstructing the legend of Pelops. In so doing, I realized that what I had before me were the threads of a tale which could be woven into an engaging fiction. A logical step in the process of understanding the deconstructed remnants of myth and legend provided me with a wonderful story.

A fictional narrative based on the legendary ascension of Pelops to the throne of Pisa.

He awoke, refreshed and calm, to the aroma of warm bread and goats’ milk, and the sound of the horses who had returned to the yard. The old man had gathered the breakfast, and the two men sat in silence as they ate. Without a word, Pelops then hitched the horses to the chariot and led them to the entrance. He turned back to look at the old man, who sat at the table, quiet and still, as Pelops had first seen him.

Pelops spoke. “You are the only friend I have in this world. I will miss your company.”

The old man thought long. “You are my only friend too.” he eventually replied. “I know not what the future holds, neither for you, nor for myself, but I do know that we have both benefited from our friendship. If in the future, you need a quiet place to rest, you will find a home here.”

“Thank you” said Pelops, and bowed his head, overcome with an irrational concern, that the blind man would see his tears.

Please note. Due to the COVID-19 lock down currently in force in Europe, the launch of Pelops. The Making of the King has been temporarily postponed. If you would like to receive information concerning the revised launch date, please email bronzehouse@aol.com with the subject title ‘Pelops. The Making of the King’ and I will inform you of the date as soon as it is known to me. Thank you. Clive Hagon.

Take care of yourself and your family, Clive. I can only try to imagine the depth of research you must have done in order to write the story of Pelops. I’m sure your book is worth waiting for!

My heart goes out to everyone during this global health crisis. Stay safe, stay home if you can, and wash your hands… I’d like to say a huge thank you to all the first responders and healthcare workers on the front lines fighting this pandemic. Your efforts and dedication are vastly appreciated!

Betty

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 http://www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

Getting to know Jen FitzGerald #author #fiction #contemporary #romance #M/M

My guest author today is one I wish I had met in person by now. I have known Jen FitzGerald through online forums for a few years now, and I’m happy to introduce her and her writing to all of you. Let’s take a peek at her bio and then we’ll get to the interview.

Jen FitzGerald has loved romance since her Winnie-the-Pooh days. Christopher Robin and Winnie-the-Pooh have always been platonic soulmates. As a teen, Jen cut her romance teeth on Silhouette’s teen romance line and Danielle Steele books concurrently. She’s still an avid reader, but these days, Jen has added writing romances of her own to her list of fun things to do.

Jen lives in Fort Worth, Texas, with her husband and dog. Their three children are now adults and out terrorizing the world at large instead of them. When not working her day job, Jen spends a lot of time reading, writing, watching hockey, and perusing her social media platforms of preference. She also enjoys music, cross stitching, and chatting online with writer friends.

Website * Facebook * Instagram

Betty: When did you become a writer?

Jen: I’ve been writing for over a decade. Started off writing (JAG) fan fiction many, many moons ago.

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

Jen: I’ve only been (self) published since Thanksgiving of 2017, so over ten years. But in that time, I wrote a ton of fan fiction and churned out four or five books.

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

Jen: I read so much and so fast that titles and author names don’t stick in my head for very long. Characters resonate with me for sure and so the fan fiction I read inspires and awes me on a daily basis. I re-read favorites a lot, hoping that my work will improve by sheer osmosis.

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

Jen: The notion that I could do better than what I was reading. Little did I know how hard it really was.

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

Jen: Romantic MF fan fiction.

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?

Jen: I struggled with this question a bit. It’s a bit wide open and Betty suggested I have fun with it, but I really couldn’t come up with anything to make y’all laugh. So the real answer is that I fell in love with reading Male/Male romance about 2013/2014 and eventually tried my hand at it. I’ve been firmly entrenched in the genre ever since. As for why…well, the whole fantasy of two sexy men expressing their love for one another aside, there are a lot of different issues facing people who fall under the queer umbrella. That added a bit of a challenge to my writing.

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

Jen: Mostly books and programs through my local writers group. Conferences when I could afford them. And reading–lots and lots of reading.

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

Jen: I don’t think there’s really anything. It took me such a long time to publish, and publishing had changed so much from the time I first started attending writers group meetings. I had a grasp on everything in as much as one can before making the decision to self-publish over trying to get into traditional publishing. The rigors and the deadlines scared the pants off me for a long time, although I definitely do better with outside deadlines now-a-days.

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

Jen: As I mentioned, I started off writing fan fiction and I still read a ton of it, so my writing is heavily influenced by it.

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

Jen: A group of friends and I were sitting around after our writers group meeting one afternoon, and someone said, “What if we all…?” The idea resonated with me and percolated, and the next month, after writers group meeting, I asked if anyone wanted to pursue the idea. Everyone was onboard so we hashed out the idea and I dove right in to writing. The original group idea fell apart, but I had a book and a town and a plan, so off I went. There are now six books in the series, and I’m hoping for at least one more.

Amputee Scott Hudson returns home to Ten Rigs and takes over the local animal shelter. For six months Ben Thompson has watched Scott work wonders with the kennel and the dogs, admiring his focus and dedication. Can Scott overcome his injury and all that it entails, physically and emotionally, to find love with Ben?

Scott walks in a circle as he works to catch his breath and Ben follows him with his gaze. The man is fit, that’s for damn sure. Six months of minor construction work and building maintenance as well as kennel cleaning and dog wrangling have kept him in shape. Ben knows for a fact that he works out too. Just then, Scott lifts the bottom of his tee shirt and wipes his face with it. Ben’s eyes are drawn to the barely outie belly button and the smattering of dark hair that surrounds it and trails southwa—

“Thompson, you really need to keep your man crush off the court,” says Dooley.

Ben wrenches his eyes away from Scott’s abdomen to catch Dooley’s smarmy smirk before snapping his gaze to Scott’s. He feels the weight of five pair of eyes, but doesn’t care. He only has eyes for Scott, who, at the moment, only has eyes for him. Everyone else fades into the background. Scott’s eyes have gone wide and the color on his face has deepened although probably only Ben realizes the man has just blushed. Ben holds his gaze for what seems like minutes and then finally shrugs. His feelings haven’t really been a secret, although he’d have much rather revealed them to Scott in a less public forum. But the knowledge is out now and there’s no taking it back. Ben doesn’t want it back, truth be told. He’s tired of waiting for the right moment that never seems to come.

** The book is free and, as a side note, all the nookie happens in the epilogue if that’s not your cup of tea.

Buy links: Amazon * B&N * Apple * Google

Thanks for sharing a bit about your path to publication, Jen! There are definitely many roads that writers can follow to achieve the dream of publication.

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 http://www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

Getting to know Sara LaFontain #author #contemporary #fiction #romance #books

Did you know that many authors start out in a different profession? I’ve met so many who were professors, medical personnel, and, like today’s guest, lawyers. But let’s let Sara LaFontain tell us about her background and what inspired her to become an author.

Sara LaFontain writes Women’s Fiction love stories, featuring unreliable narrators, flawed characters, and people finally finding happiness.

Prior to becoming a writer, Sara held a variety of jobs including wildlife tour guide, purveyor of fine chocolates, cafeteria worker, English teacher, domestic violence victim advocate, and family law attorney. She holds a BA in International Studies from Bowling Green State University, and both an MA in Latin American Studies and a JD from the University of Arizona. All of this means that she is overeducated and has spent far too much money on textbooks.

Sara lives in Tucson, Arizona with her husband and two children. When she isn’t writing, she’s rock-climbing, knitting, gardening, and bragging about desert winters.

Website * Facebook

Betty: When did you become a writer?

Sara: I like to think I’ve always been a writer. When I was a child, I wrote terrible poetry and cliché stories involving elves and dragons. As an adult, I found myself limited to non-fiction, such as grad school papers and legal briefs. There was still a fiction writer inside of me though, one that started but never completed several books.

That changed in 2016, when I decided to take a break from my legal career and actually finish a novel. It took me nearly two years, but I published That Last Summer in August 2018, finally making the transition from writer-in-my-mind to writer-in-reality.

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

Sara: Writing skills are a lifelong development. I’ve always written, just not necessarily anything worth showing to others outside of academia or the courtroom. Most of my creative writing endeavors remain out of sight out of mind.

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

Sara: A few years ago, I was getting burnt out trying to balance my career with parenting two young children. I reached the point that I knew I needed to take a step back from something, so I wanted to close my law practice. But I was hesitant to stop working entirely, because I didn’t know how to fill my time while the kids were in pre-school and kindergarten. I just remember my husband looking at me like I was an idiot and saying “You’ve always wanted to be a writer.

Why don’t you just…write?” That was my lightbulb moment. I finally had the time and support to pursue my dream. I promised myself I’d give it until my youngest was in first grade, and then I’d re-think things. She’s in first grade now, and I’m working on my next series, and absolutely loving my new career. I’d say it was the right choice (write choice? Haha, check out my books for more of my amazing wit).

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

Sara: I actually started a non-fiction book, back when I was practicing law. I worked as a legal coach, guiding family law clients in self-representation. I wanted to write a book about how to find a lawyer to represent you. But honestly, it was boring, and I lost interest. And if even the writer doesn’t want to read it, that doesn’t bode well for readers.

Then I decided to write the kind of book I like. I want to read fun stories where people overcome bad situations and find happiness. I want smart protagonists, a little bit of drama, and ultimately, a happy ending. So that’s what I do now.

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?

Sara: My favorite parts of writing are dialogue. I like writing witty conversations, the kind of things that people wish they could say in real life, but don’t come up with until too late. I’m also a big fan of writing group scenes, interactions between multiple people, with different personalities playing off of each other.

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

Sara: I learned through reading. I’ve always been a bookworm. Reading good books taught me what to do, and reading terrible books taught me what not to do.

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

Sara: I wish I had known more about the amazing writing communities out there. I started my first novel during NaNoWriMo, and read through the forums, but never participated or interacted with other authors. It wasn’t until after I published my first book that I discovered the Women’s Fiction Writer’s Association, a group that I have learned so much from and am so thankful for. Anyone reading this and thinking about embarking on a writing career, please go out and find your people. There is so much support available, if you look for it.

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

Sara: My books are standalone novels in a series. This particular book takes a character, Matteo, who appears as a background character in the first book. He’s a good guy, a bit lonely, and he battles an anxiety disorder that effects his ability to connect with others. I like him, he’s complex and interesting, and I didn’t want him to stay lonely forever. So I wrote No Longer Yours, and found him someone special, someone equally wounded, and let them bring out the best in each other.

Cherry Waites led an idyllic life, until she found out about her husband’s year-long affair. Broken-hearted, she flees to remote Whispering Pines Island, where her only friend is a Corgi. Well, there’s the Corgi’s owner too, but he’s awfully cute. No, not cute! Rude. He’s awfully rude. And annoying. And somehow, always there when she needs him.

Cherry Waites has just arrived on Whispering Pines Island, where she’s starting her life over again. Unfortunately, the first person she meets is Matteo, and they do not get off on the right foot.

Excerpt:

She took a step backward for a better view, but something yelped under her foot, and she almost lost her balance.

“Christ, lady, watch where you’re going!”

“I’m so sorry!” She had nearly stepped on a small corgi. Its owner knelt down, to smooth its fur and glare at her. He looked out of place here, with his shaggy sun-kissed blond hair and his Hawaiian shirt and cargo shorts. Vacationer from California maybe?

“Be more careful,” he snapped. “Lucky for you Tristan moved out of your way.”

“It’s okay, he’s probably just having a bad day. It has nothing to do with you,” she told herself, then realized she had spoken out loud.

“Excuse me?”

“Sorry, I’m not mentally ill. I promise. I’ve just driven two days to get here and had nobody to talk to so I guess I’ve developed the habit of talking to myself. Don’t worry, I’m not some crazy person wandering the streets.” She laughed to show that she was joking, and expected him to smile back. After all, small towns were friendly, and she hadn’t actually hurt his dog. She reached out to pet the corgi, but the man scooped him up in his arms before she could.

“Well I’m glad to know you aren’t mentally ill. Wouldn’t want anyone like that walking around, would we?” He stormed off, and she watched him go, chagrined. She hoped her first encounter wasn’t a portent of what was to come.

Buy links: Amazon * B&N

Thanks for sharing your insights into your writing process, Sara, and the sneak peek at your story. Your main characters will have their work cut out for them to find a path forward to being a couple, which should make for interesting reading, too.

Happy reading, everyone!

Betty

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 http://www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

Getting to know Elsa Winckler #author #fiction #contemporary #romance

Learning from those who do what you would like to be able to do is a great way to absorb the nuances and expectations of others in that line of work or athletic endeavor. My guest author today has done just that! Meet Elsa Winckler! First a look at her bio and then we’ll find out who inspired her and what attracts her to writing romance.

Elsa has been reading love stories for as long as she can remember and when she ‘met’ the classic authors like Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gaskell, Henry James, The Brontë sisters, etc., during her Honours studies, she was hooked for life.

She married her college boyfriend and soul mate and after 45 years, 3 interesting and wonderful children and 4 beautiful grandchildren they are fortunate to live in the picturesque little seaside village of Betty’s Bay, South Africa

She likes the heroines in her stories to be beautiful, feisty, independent and headstrong.  And the heroes must be strong but possess a generous amount of sensitivity. They are, of course, also gorgeous!  Her stories typically incorporate the family background of the characters to better understand where they come from and who they are when we meet them in the story.

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

Betty: When did you become a writer?

Elsa: In 2008 when I entered an Afrikaans writing competition. I was fortunate enough to win it and the prize was the publication of the story. I was hooked.

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

Elsa: I actually jumped right in without any thought to writing skills! I’ve been reading love stories since my teens, so it somehow came naturally to me, but since then, I’ve learnt so much and I’m still learning every day.

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

Elsa: I’ve probably read every single Mills & Boon during the 1980s and 1990s, so I knew what I liked as a reader and that’s what I try to do – write the kind of stories I would like to read.

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

Elsa: The writing competition.

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

Elsa: Romance. I also write Inspirational romance and have one children’s book published (in Afrikaans).

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?

Elsa: Romance. I love happy endings. I’ve been married to the same stubborn, at times infuriating but always loving husband for 45 years, so it makes it easy to believe that true love really exists J.

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

Elsa: I learnt about writing by reading literally thousands of books in every genre but mostly romance. Reading, I think, is still the best way to learn what works and what doesn’t. I’ve been to conferences and learn daily from fellow romance authors. The one book I can recommend, is Stephen King’s On writing. Everything you need to know about writing, is in there.

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

Elsa: How to handle a rejection! I’m still not very good with that J.

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

Elsa: Every single Mills & Boon author! I also love Nora Roberts, Jane Ann Krentz and Sandra Brown, Sarah Balance, Lilliana Hart, Jane Porter, Lauren Blakely to mention a few.

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

Elsa: It’s the last book in a series about the Cavallo brothers, billionaire tycoons with a string of boutique hotels in South Africa and the Seychelles. We’ve been to the Seychelles many years ago and I left a little bit of my heart behind. To have one of the Cavallo hotels in the Seychelles, was an obvious choice. The brothers work hard, play hard but have a difficult time trusting woman.

Darryn Cavallo is a seasoned photographer and quite used to being surrounded by gorgeous, half-naked women without breaking a sweat but he isn’t ready for the powerful feelings fashion model Hannah Sutherland elicits the minute he sets eyes on her. He’d once made the rookie mistake of falling for a model and it had ended badly, so when another photographer implies he’s also been with Hannah, Darryn uses it as the perfect excuse to walk away.

But when they meet again, Darryn can’t ignore his instincts—Hannah is in danger. Lies and threats make targets of them both, and faced with a situation of pure terror, Darryn is forced to realize he’ll do anything to protect her. And to keep her with him, always…

Lifting her face up to the sun, drinking in the fragrance that was the Seychelles, Hannah lifted the layers of pink tulle of the skirt she was wearing and twirled. Sandy, the makeup artist and the hair stylist laughed.

“I was wondering when you’d do that,” Sandy said. Looking over her shoulder, Sandy grinned. “Looks like our photographer caught you in the act.”

Hannah looked up into a pair of dark brown eyes that were watching her over the lens of a camera. This had to be Darryn Cavallo. The rumors were true—he was drop-dead gorgeous. Tall, muscled, with tousled, ink-black hair. Wow.

She didn’t wait to be introduced to him, didn’t wait to listen to his instructions. With her eyes locked on him, she slid into a pose. He stared at her for another minute before he lifted the camera.

And then her body started moving to a beat only audible to her and the photographer. Without any conscious thought, she posed and turned, instinctively knowing exactly what he wanted her to do.

The air around her stopped moving, breathing became difficult, any minute now she was going to go up in flames. Every cell in her body was reacting to him.

Buy links: Amazon * B&NKobo * iTunes

Sounds like a great story, Elsa! Thanks for sharing with us your thoughts on writing!

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 http://www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

Getting to know Diane Barnes #author #contemporary #romance #chicklit

I’m delighted to welcome a fellow lifetime writer, Diane Barnes! We have similar backgrounds but let’s let her tell you all about it.

Diane Barnes is the author of More Than (October 29 2019), Waiting for Ethan (2015), and Mixed Signals (2016). She is also a marketing and corporate communication writer in the health care industry. When she’s not writing, she’s at the gym, running or playing tennis, trying to burn off the ridiculous amounts of chocolate and ice cream she eats. She and her husband Steven live in Massachusetts and dream of moving to Turks and Caicos – at least for the winter months. She hopes you enjoy reading her books as much as she enjoyed writing them.

Website: https://www.dianembarnes.com/

Social media links: Twitter * Instagram * Facebook

Betty: When did you become a writer?
Diane: I was born a writer. Seriously, I’ve been writing stories since I was old enough to hold a pencil. My first novel, WAITING FOR ETHAN, was published in 2015 so I guess that’s when I “officially” became a writer.

Betty: How long did you work on your writing skills before you became published?
Diane: Forever, really, I don’t remember a time I haven’t been working on improving my writing skills. I graduated with a degree in journalism so all through college I focused on writing. I started taking fiction writing classes over twenty years ago and still take them today.

Betty: What authors or stories do you feel influenced your writing style?
Diane:
I love Elizabeth Berg, and I’ve been fortunate enough to attend a few writing workshops that she has taught. That’s not to say that my writing is similar to hers though, but I aspire to write characters as relatable.

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?
Diane:
One day in second grade when I returned from recess, there were large paper footprints trailing from the door, on and under desks, and out the window. We had to write a story about what happened, and I have been writing ever since.

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?
Diane:
The first fiction classes I took were for short story writing, but really my first published pieces were news and feature articles for a newspaper and then a magazine.

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?
Diane:
Everything! It’s one of the rare things I do when I’m not thinking about anything else other than what I’m doing. I love creating something out of nothing, and I love being able to control everything that happens.

Betty. How did you learn to write? A mentor, classes, conferences, craft books, or something else?
Diane:
By writing and reading a lot. I read a lot of craft books as well as fiction, and I listen to a bunch of books on my commute as well. Also, I regularly attend classes, workshops, and conferences.

Betty: What do you wish you knew before you started writing/publishing?
Diane:
How to be patient! Things take a really long time.

Betty: What other authors inspired you (either directly or through their writing) to try your hand at writing?
Diane:
Every great book I read inspires me. Elizabeth Berg’s writing and teaching of writing are inspirational, and Jodi Picoult’s brilliant stories are inspiring.

Betty: What inspired you to write the book you’re sharing with us today?
Diane: Awhile after I moved, I attended an exercise boot camp class in my new town and met so many wonderful, supportive women who became friends. The class was something I really enjoyed. When I started the book, all I knew was the character would attend boot camp. The story took off from there.

“You are obese, Mrs. Moriarty.”
Peggy Moriarty is stunned by her doctor’s words. She knows she’s let herself go a bit, but she thinks the young, skinny physician is exaggerating. Her husband’s death fourteen years ago left her to raise their twins, Grace and Greg, alone. But now that they’re teenagers, doing their own things, her only hobby is watching Messages from Beyond, a show about a medium who connects the grieving with their deceased loved ones.

When the twins leave for college, they give Peggy a gift certificate for an exercise class. At first, Peggy is insulted. But once the sting wears off, she realizes if she gets in shape, she might gain the confidence she needs to go on her favorite TV show and talk to her husband one last time.

With help from her new friends at the gym and Carmen Tavarez, the mother of Grace’s boyfriend, Peggy begins to emerge from her prolonged grief and spread her wings. She may soon discover that her sum is more than a mother, a widow, and her body.

Excerpt:

This is the day I start my diet, Peggy thinks when she wakes up. It’s what she tells herself every morning, but today she means it.

Yesterday, her new physician, Dr. Richardson, pointed at her medical chart. “You are obese, Mrs. Moriarty.”

Obese! At most, she needs to lose thirty to forty pounds. That does not make her obese. Obese is her old next-door neighbor, Lannie Fitzgerald, who had to have her clothes specially made and drove around the supermarket in one of those motorized carts. Peggy is a long way from that.

Her former physician, Dr. Sheridan, never would have told Peggy she was overweight. She was kind, always asking about Peggy’s twins during the exam. Skinny doctor Dr. Richardson, in contrast, made no small talk and didn’t even address Peggy by her first name, making her feel old—and fat. Frankly, Peggy is stunned that Dr. Sheridan handed over her practice to such a rude, impersonal young thing. Peggy doesn’t want a doctor who’s insensitive and prone to exaggeration.

Maybe she should find a new doctor. Yes, that is exactly what she will do today

Buy links: Amazon * B&N * Kobo * Apple

Thanks for sharing your inspiration and experience, Diane. I wish you well with your writing career.

Happy reading, everyone!

Betty

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 http://www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

Getting to know author Edie Cay #author #historical #regency #fiction #romance

Today’s guest takes into the secretive world of female Regency pugilists and reveals her own not-so-secret publisher side. Please help me welcome Edie Cay! Let’s take a peek at her bio and then we’ll find out how she got started writing and what keeps her motivated.

Edie Cay has an MFA in Creative Writing and other degrees. She is a history buff, an avid traveler, and an eager reader of all genres. She has lived all over the United States, but currently calls California home. Under her other name, she has published articles and participated in documentary filmmaking. She is a member of the Paper Lantern Writers, a historical fiction author collective, as well as a member of the Historical Novel Society. A LADY’S REVENGE is her first published novel.

Website * Facebook * Instagram

Betty: When did you become a writer?

Edie: When I was ten. I wrote a book series which took one sheet of 8.5×11” paper, cut into pieces. Each book was 14 pages long, done by hand with colored pencil. I employed other children to write in the series and help me make the books. Each book cost ten cents.

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

Edie: I published my first short story in college, while I worked on my Bachelor’s degree in English. After that, I pursued my MFA in Creative Writing. I continue to read craft books, style books, and reading all genres helps to keep me aware of what is my style and what is others’.

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

Edie: Margaret Atwood—she is very direct. I was more lyrical early on, and then became so very curt and short, because I was emulating Hemingway, and now I am attempting a happy medium, which I think is more Atwood’s style.

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

Edie: When I was nine, a teacher had us write stories for class assignments. I haven’t stopped.

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

Edie: Short stories. I think maybe about a worm?

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?

Edie: I enjoy building a world the most. I always start with characters, figuring out what motivates them, why they do what they do.

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

Edie: I have a Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing, an MFA in Creative Writing, and I continue to take online classes about specific topics, including Writing the Other, and classes from RWA’s Beau Monde Academy. I go to conferences when I can, and I read craft books.

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

Edie: To just get out of my own way.

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


Edie: I wanted to write a romance to help me with plotting. I was (and still am) writing a historical novel that is literary or upmarket women’s fiction, and I was flailing with plot. So I thought genre would be a good exercise. I picked Regency because it was the most popular historical time period. I started writing, and I wrote a novel. It was full of inaccuracies, because I had done cursory research. But in that novel, I met Lydia. And I knew her snark came from somewhere. She had a heart underneath all that coldness, and I knew she had a secret. But what? So I did more research, read a ton more books, and I found that she was a boxer. She just had to be.

Lady Lydia Sommerset is an earl’s daughter. At the ripe age of twenty-five, she still wears the lavish gowns and dances the dainty steps of the haute ton as if she were pursuing a husband; but  her goals are far more personal. Instead, she pursues her tormenters: the men who bet that taking a girl’s virginity—her virginity—really can cure a brothel’s plague. She has her cousins and sister to aid her, but no one can understand what it feels like to be helpless. Pugilism, England’s manliest pastime, is her only relief. Training in secret with a female boxer keeps her sane, but when her instructor is hired away by one of the men she is seeking to destroy, she is in a bind. Her new teacher, a former prizefighter with a ready joke and a quick wit might do more than just correct her technique.

John Arthur is made of money. A street kid who dazzled with his fists, he now impresses as a miracle worker on the London Stock Exchange. But a man can’t forget a boyhood spent in the gutter. Easy-going and affable, John Arthur knows he shouldn’t tangle with bluebloods. He should be happy with a full belly and coin-filled pockets. But when he finds a woman who finds boxing as vital as he does, his life gets suddenly complicated.

Caught between revenge and finding love with a man who might truly understand her, Lady Lydia must commit to opening her heart or closing it forever.

“We haven’t been introduced,” Lady Lydia said, as if she were speaking to a child. It was like she knew all the tones that could put off a person and didn’t mind using them.

“Walk with me for just a moment, here, in public, with chaperones.” He gestured to her sister and the driver. “And that will surely remedy our acquaintance.” He offered her his arm.

“That isn’t how it works.” She folded her arms across her chest. “Perhaps if you had better breeding, you would know.”

If this had been a turn-up, all bets would be against him. “I’ve spent my life taking chances, my lady. I always weigh the risk to benefit. Making your acquaintance, however I can get it, is worth the risk. And knowing me is always a benefit.” He meant to give another non-threatening grin, but he was in earnest. This was the grin that marked him as rubbish. The Quality didn’t smile—they didn’t need to. But it was the winning bits of his domino box that made folks relax and trust him.

She narrowed her eyes and watched him for a moment. It was only then that he remembered his black eye. He must be a wretched fright for a lady like her. No wonder she wouldn’t talk to him.

“Agnes, get in the phaeton. We’ll walk a single block, sir. Make your case. Vasily will follow us.”

“But—” Lady Agnes protested.

“Done,” John said, feeling like this was the hardest bargain he’d driven all year.

Buy links: Books2Read

I’m intrigued by the worm story, Edie! Was it an inchworm, perhaps? I’m also intrigued by a woman boxer during the Regency. That’s a pretty cool historical fact to uncover. Thanks for stopping by and enlightening all of us!

Happy reading!

Betty

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 www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

Getting to know Olivier Bosman #author #historical #mysteries #LGBT #fiction #books

Today’s guest is a writer after my own heart. Olivier Bosman likes to visualize the scenes before writing them, as I do. But let’s let him tell you more!

Born to Dutch parents and raised in Colombia and England, I am a rootless wanderer with itchy feet. I’ve spent the last few years living and working in The Netherlands, Czech Republic, Sudan and Bulgaria, but I have every confidence that I will now finally be able to settle down among the olive groves of Andalucia. I am an avid reader and film fan (in fact, my study is overflowing with my various DVD collections!) I did an MA in creative writing for film and television at the University of Sheffield.  After a failed attempt at making a career as a screenwriter, I turned to the theater and wrote and produced a play called “Death Takes a Lover” (which has since been turned into the first D.S. Billings Victorian Mystery). The play was performed on the London Fringe to great critical acclaim. I am currently living in Spain where I make ends meet by teaching English.

Website * Facebook

Betty: When did you become a writer?

Olivier: I started writing twenty-seven years ago. Initially I wanted to be a screenwriter or a playwright, as what I most enjoyed writing was dialogue. But screenwriters are often employed to adapt somebody else’s book or tinker on somebody else’s story, and I wanted to create my own characters and tell my own stories, so I started writing novels five years ago.

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

Olivier: I’ve always taken my writing seriously. I did an MA in creative writing for film and television and I have attended many workshops to improve my writing. I was a little insecure when I embarked on my first novel, as prior to that all I had written were plays and screenplays, so I joined a writing group where we critiqued each other’s completed manuscripts, and I have a learned a lot from that.

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

Olivier: Screenwriting has very much influenced my style. I picture the complete scene in my mind before I write it and lot of the story is told through action and dialogue, rather than narrative prose.

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

Olivier: An innate desire to make up stories, I suppose. I’ve been making up stories ever since I was a child.

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

Olivier: I wish I had found out about self-publishing before everyone else did. With so many authors publishing their own books, it has become quite difficult to get noticed.

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

Olivier: Wilkie Collins inspired me to write Death Takes a Lover (the first D.S Billings Victorian mystery). In fact, I first wrote it as a play. I was looking for a genre that would work well in the theatre, and after reading The Woman in White I found it: Victorian Gothic. It was the right mix of chills, thrills and melodrama to a keep an audience entertained on a cold, dark autumn night.

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

Olivier: I was explaining what my play (Death Takes a Lover) was about to someone. I told him that it was about a gay Quaker detective with a morphine addiction who had to investigate the suspicious death of a house maid in an isolated mansion in the Yorkshire Moors. My friend said I should turn it into a detective series. And that’s exactly what I did. Rather than adapting Death Takes a Lover into a novel (I did do so later) I decided to introduce my character properly. Give him a back story and a cast of supporting characters which would reappear in subsequent books. The Ornamental Hermit is the first of the D.S. Billings Victorian Mysteries. There are four books in total (plus the play, which has since been turned into a novella). DS Billings delves into a new mystery in each book, but his personal life, his trials at coming to terms with his demons, carry on.

Dimly lit cobblestone streets. Sinister looking men in top hats lurking in the fog. The first three books in the DS Billings Victorian Mysteries Series have been bundled together to chill you to the bone. Detective Sergeant John Billings is an honest and hard working man who has risen swiftly through the ranks to become one of Scotland Yard’s youngest detectives. But in his private life he struggles with the demons of loneliness, morphine addiction and homosexuality. In these mysteries he will lead you on a thrilling journey into the darkest recesses of Victorian society.

“He’s been ill for some time.”

Mrs. Forrester sat next to Billings. Her eyes were still gleaming with the joy of seeing him after all these years.

“He’s never been the same since Sebastian went missing. It’s his heart. I blame it on the stress and expense we incurred in finding Sebastian. Do you know how much money we paid those incompetent detectives in Cumberland? We should have employed you. They profited from us!” She let go of his hands. “They milked us. Combing the hills, dragging the lakes. That’s what hurts the most. That in the midst of our desperation, our grieving, somebody else tried to profit.” She took off her gloves and stared out at the bare trees which lined the cobbled streets of Chelsea. “We got a letter,” she added.

“A letter?”

“From him. From Sebastian. He’s back in Oxford. He sent us a letter.”

“I thought he was dead.”

He realised his clumsiness immediately and cursed himself inwardly.

Mrs. Forrester ignored the gaffe. “We were in Oxford last week. Mr. Forrester, sick as he was, insisted he’d come with me.”

“How did you find him?”

“We didn’t. We waited for a whole week at that tea room he’d suggested for our meeting, but he didn’t show up. And we had no way of locating him. So we went back home. Mr. Forrester thinks it may have been an impostor.”

“An impostor?”

“Mr. Forrester is dying, John. I told you that. There’s a large inheritance at stake. Anyone can pretend to be Sebastian. It’s been ten years.”

Buy links: Amazon

Thanks for stopping by, Olivier, and sharing about your writing, your inspiration, and your latest books.

Happy reading!

Betty

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 http://www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

Getting to know Lexi George #author #editor #paranormal #romance #fantasy

My guest today is Lexi George who also writes under the pen name Alexandra Rushe. Lexi is a fun lady to get to know, so settle back and let’s see what has inspired her to be the wonderful author she is…

Lexi George writes snarky paranormal romance for Kensington Books about hunky, immortal demon hunters and the Southern women they love. There are five full-length novels in the series, plus a novella, and she is hard at work on the latest, Demon Hunting with a Southern Sheriff. She also writes fantasy under the pen name Alexandra Rushe. A Meddle of Wizards, the first book in the Fledgling Magic series, was released in January of 2018. The second book, A Muddle of Magic, came out in October of the same year.

Website: www.lexigeorge.com * www.alexandrarushe.com

Facebook: Lexi * Alexandra

Twitter: Lexi * Alexandra

Betty: When did you become a writer?

Lexi: I’ve always written something, starting with bad poetry in the third grade and progressing to really, really bad poetry in high school and college. My day job for nearly thirty years was as an appellate attorney, which means I wrote briefs for a living, but I didn’t begin seriously writing until my first child was four. That child is now twenty-eight. Gulp!  

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

Lexi: I started my first novel, a fantasy about a young woman’s adventures in a magical land, in 1995. I didn’t have a clue about the craft of writing, but I was having enormous fun. I wrote and wrote. Finally finished the darn thing in 2005 and started querying agents. Much to my dismay, not one of them recognized my brilliance, and I received over 100 rejection letters. Sobering, to say the least. Discouraged, I decided, the Universe was telling me to try something different, so I turned to my other love, romance. I joined a writer’s group and RWA and took craft classes and wrote and wrote and wrote. I was fortunate enough to get a contract with Kensington in 2010, and Demon Hunting in Dixie was released the following year.  

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

Lexi: Georgette Heyer, for sure, and David Eddings, an old-school fantasy writer. I adore Heyer’s sly wit and memorable secondary characters. Eddings Belgariad series greatly influenced my writing style. As a result, I tend to write an ensemble of characters in both genres.

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

Lexi: Loneliness, I suppose. I was in an unhappy marriage and working and raising small children pretty much on my own, so I turned inward for companionship and escape.

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

Lexi: I dove right in with a full-length novel, the fantasy I mentioned. It probably would have been better if I had started with short stories and moved up to full-length novels, but the story that came to me could not be told in a few words.

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?

Lexi: I really enjoy dialogue, especially if the character talking is being lewd or snarky. Great fun. As a writer, I have trouble with what I call “filler” phrases, those physical descriptions moving a character from one point to another. Much easier for me if they just talk! And sex scenes are the worst for me!  I spend days writing them and fretting that I haven’t reached the right emotional level.

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

Lexi: Not to take myself seriously. New writers tend to think their words are golden. Someone (I think it was Ray Bradbury) said the first million words you write are practice. I would also tell my younger self to toughen up. Rejection sucks, but you WILL be rejected, and readers will say rude things about your baby, and there ain’t a damn thing you can do about it. It comes with the territory.

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

Lexi: Oh, so many! Too many to name, but I remember sighing over Loretta Chase’s Lord of Scoundrels,and The Belgariad and Lord of the Rings were my great fantasy influences. I laughed until I had tears running down my face when I read Janet Evanovich’s One for the Money. That book greatly inspired the zany antics in Demon Hunting in Dixie. As a matter of fact, I remember pitching the book as “Stephanie Plum if she lived in the Deep South and had a Southern mama.”

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

Lexi: Duncan and Cassie are secondary characters in book four, Demon Hunting with a Dixie Deb, and it only felt natural to continue their story! Duncan is something of a misfit among the Dalvahni. He has a sense of humor, and his brother warriors don’t know what to make of him.

Cassandra Ferguson McKenna, aka the Witch of Devil River, has only one thing to say to her demon-hunting ex: We are never ever getting back together. Sure, Duncan Dalvhani may be the hottest thing this side of the Mason-Dixon line. He’s got a body to die for—which is hard to ignore when he skinny dips in her river every day—and swears he loves her. But as a demon hunter, Duncan is the sworn enemy of a demonoid sorceress like Cassandra. Give him another chance to break her heart? Witch, please. But when Cassandra is attacked by a werewolf, Duncan not only comes to her rescue, he helps her take on a band of magic-drunk moonshiners, fire-breathing demons, shifty shapeshifters, and a pet Sasquatch named Sugar. Welcome to Alabama. But when a portal opens up for even more hellaciousness, Cassandra has to admit that Duncan is slowly opening her heart—to a whole new world of unearthly delights . . .

“Go away, Duncan,” Cassie said. “We’re no good for each other.”

“I could go away, I suppose, but I would only return.” His mouth twisted in an expression of self-mockery. “I fear I am a pathetic creature where you are concerned.”

Cassie gazed at him in mingled panic and exasperation. There was nothing pathetic about him. The harder she resisted, the more he would take it as a challenge. So, where did that leave them? An affair was the logical solution to their problem, in a hair-of-the-dog that-bit-you kind of way.

“Let’s have sex,” Cassie said, taking the plunge. He blinked, and Cassie felt a ping of satisfaction. She’d thrown him. Good. “Friends with benefits, you know?” She gave him a bright smile. “Want to go for a roll in the hay?”

“You wish to engage in coitus with me?”

“Yup, plain, uncomplicated sex,” she said. “Two consenting adults enjoying one another’s bodies. No mushy stuff. No jealousy or insecurity. Sex, and no strings, and then we move on.”

“Agreed, but with one condition.” His eyes were flinty. “I do not share. I have exclusive use of your body while the agreement holds.”

 “Of course,” she said, striving to sound nonchalant, though her stomach was doing a roller-coaster free fall. He’d called her bluff, damn him, and she wasn’t sure how she felt about that.

He turned and strode away.

“Wait,” Cassie said. “Where are you going?”

He stopped in the doorway and looked back. “To the kitchen to prepare a repast.”

“Don’t you want to talk? About . . . you know . . .” Cassie gazed at him in frustration. “Our agreement?”

“Talking is overrated, and I would have you rebuild your strength. I mean to make the most of our bargain.”

He walked out, leaving Cassie rooted to the spot.

Buy links: * Amazon *  KoboB&N  * BAM * or your favorite retailer.

Wow, that sounds like such a delicious read! Thanks, Lexi, for stopping in and sharing that drool worthy excerpt with us.

Happy reading!

Betty

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