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 Barbara Josselsohn #author #contemporary #romance #womensfiction #writingcoach

I’m pleased to introduce my guest today, author Barbara Josselsohn, who not only writes fiction but teaches others how to write their own stories. But let’s let her tell us about who she is and what she writes…

Barbara Josselsohn is a novelist and magazine writer. Her newest novel is THE LILAC HOUSE, which releases from Bookouture in March and is now available for pre-order. Her articles and essays appear in a range of publications, including New York Magazine, American Baby, Parents Magazine, the New York Times, WorkingMother.com, and NextAvenue.com. Barbara is also a writing coach and teaches writing classes at Sarah Lawrence College and other venues. Her debut novel was THE LAST DREAMER, which was released by Lake Union in 2015, and she is currently at work on her third novel, which is scheduled for release in the fall of 2020. She and her husband live in Westchester County, just north of New York City, and have three children and a lovable shih-poo named Mosley.

You can find her here: Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram  

Betty: How many books have you written and published?

Barbara: I’ve written two books – THE LAST DREAMER, which was released in 2015, and THE LILAC HOUSE, which is currently available on pre-order and will be released on March 13th of this year. THE LILAC HOUSE is actually Book 1 of what’s being called the Lake Summers series. The next book in the series will be released this fall.

Betty: What genre(s) do you write in and why?

Barbara: I write women’s fiction, with romance as kind of a sub-genre – largely because this is a genre that comes naturally to me, and it’s a genre I love to read. Women’s fiction revolves around a character’s emotional journey. For me, there’s nothing more interesting or compelling than writing about a character who’s plunged into a difficult, heartbreaking or catastrophic situation and then navigates a path up from the abyss, becoming wiser and stronger in the process.

Betty: What themes or motifs did you use in your recent release and why were they important to your story?

Barbara: My current release – like my last book and my next book, for that matter – revolves around the theme of reinvention and second chances. I love characters who find the courage to leap toward a new future. I’m inspired a lot by my mother, who – after being a widow for ten years following my dad’s death – fell in love again at the age of 85! I don’t mean to sound like too much of a Pollyanna, and I know that life has a way of dealing devastating blows and knocking us off our feet. But I like to think that life also deals in welcome surprises and unexpected opportunities for growth, enrichment, and love.

THE LILAC HOUSE (on pre-order; releases March 13th)

Summer escapes to Lilac House have always been a source of comfort for Anna Harris. Though things will never be the same since her husband’s death, she knows that it is there, nestled in Lake Summers in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains, that she and her children Zac and Evie can begin to build a new life.

The house is just as beautiful as Anna remembers, and caught up in the rhythm of small town life, helping her Aunt Hope run the little shop on Main Street, Anna begins to feel a sense of herself she hasn’t felt in years. Then she meets Aidan. Handsome, strong and quiet, he also knows what’s it’s like to lose someone. In each other they recognize something they’ve both been missing and they feel a spark.

But Aidan’s past holds a different set of complications. He’s hiding a secret about why he came to Lake Summers. And just as the Lilac House finally starts to feel like home, Anna learns something devastating about Greg’s death that makes her question everything…

Buy Links: Amazon * Apple * Kobo * Google  

Betty: Do you have a specific place that you write? Revise?

Barbara: I’ve learned to be pretty flexible about when and where I write – stemming from the time when my kids were young and I had to grab whatever time and space was available to me! I do have an “office” – a small enclosed sun porch at the back of the house, but since it’s unheated, I need to move out from December through March. Sometimes I move to what I lovingly call my “winter office” and what my family more typically calls the dining-room table. I also work at my local Barnes & Noble, my local library, the campus center at the college where I teach, hotel lobbies when I’m on vacation, etc. The one rule I do have, however, is to do my final revisions somewhere other than where I did the bulk of my writing. Somehow I find that a new setting helps me see the manuscript with a fresh eye, and catch errors, inconsistencies, plot gaps, etc.

Betty: Do you have any writing rituals while you write? Did you have a special drink, or music, or time of day that you gravitated toward?

Barbara: I always listen to music when I write – and typically the playlist I choose has a connection to the book I’m writing. For example, the main character of THE LILAC HOUSE was a ballerina, and a struggling dance shop is at the heart of the book. So while I was writing that book, I was always listening to ballet music – The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, Giselle, etc.

Betty: What helped you move from unpublished to published? A mentor or organization or something else?

Barbara: The turning point was when I enrolled in a novel writing workshop at the Writing Institute at Sarah Lawrence College, which I now teach. That’s where I met my most cherished mentors and began the process of turning my story from a manuscript into a published novel.

Betty: What do you think is your greatest strength in your writing?

Barbara: Oh boy, that’s a hard one, because I feel like I struggle with everything! I was a journalist for a long time before I turned to novel writing, which I think helped me with clarity, structure, and conciseness. It also helped me learn how to apply feedback effectively, which I think is a skill that is often overlooked but can truly make or break a writing career. As for craft, I’ve been told that I create very relatable characters.

Betty: What comes first when you’re brainstorming a new story: setting, situation, characters?

Barbara: For me, it starts with theme – some meaning or feeling or idea that I want to explore. Character is next – and from there the plot begins to unfold. 

Betty: Do you have a structured time to write or is it more fluid/flexible? Do you have to write between family obligations or do you set aside a block of time?

Barbara: When my kids were very young, I had little time to write, and I had to squeeze my writing in whenever I found a few spare moments. I think that experience made me very nimble in terms of switching my writing brain on and off. These days, I teach creative writing at various venues as well as privately, and I also have family and other personal obligations. So I still find myself fitting the writing into the empty spaces – although there are a few more empty spaces now!

Betty: What is one recent struggle you’ve experienced in your writing?

Barbara: My current release, THE LILAC HOUSE, is set in a fictional lakeside town known as Lake Summers – and my editor loved the setting so much that we agreed my next book would be set there as well. It’s been kind of a challenge – but also very fun – to create a whole new set of characters and plot, but place them in the last book’s setting!

Betty: Do you participate in NaNoWriMo? Why or why not?

Barbara: I do participate in NaNoWriMo – in that I try to keep up with the daily word goals. I find it very motivating.

Betty: What are you reading right now?

Barbara: I’m currently reading THE WEIGHT OF INK by Rachel Kadish. It’s such a rich and fascinating story. I’m loving it!

Betty: What is your favorite genre to read?

Barbara: I don’t really have a favorite genre. I read a lot of women’s fiction and historical fiction, but I also enjoy romance, mystery, fantasy, mainstream fiction…mostly, I just like a good story!

Betty: What are your keeper books? How often might you reread them?

Barbara: My keeper books are 19th Century classics – Dickens, Hardy, Trollope, the Brontes. Marc Twain, too. I don’t reread all that often, however – there’s only so many hours in the day, and my focus tends to be on new books.

Betty: When you’re writing, do you read in the same genre as your work in progress or something else?

Barbara: I guess I would have to say both. I like to stay on top of what’s going on my genre – women’s fiction – but I also will pick up books that simply look interesting to me.

Betty: Do you have a “day job” or do you write full time?

Barbara: My “day job” is teaching creative writing and coaching aspiring novelists. I love teaching and mentoring, and am so glad I can do this in addition to working on my own books.

Betty: What do you wish readers knew about the publishing industry?

Barbara: I guess I wish more people realized how important it is to review the novels they like, to post about them on social media, and to share news of upcoming releases by their favorite authors. Often I think readers tell themselves that they’re just one person – how important can their review be? But reviews mean a lot to writers, and can have a big impact on their careers.

Betty: What advice do you have for new writers?

Barbara: One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was from one of my Sarah Lawrence mentors, who said that when it comes to publishing, persistence is more important than talent. I think that’s a great piece of advice – after all, you can’t sell a book that you haven’t written!

Betty: Any hints of what you’re next writing project might be?

Barbara: My next book will be Book 2 of my Lake Summers series, which is due out later this year. After that…I don’t quite know yet, but I do have an idea that’s been simmering on the back burner for several months now, and I’m looking forward to giving it my full attention.

Betty: What kind of writing would you like to experiment with? Or what’s a different genre you’ve considered writing but haven’t yet?

Barbara: I definitely would like to tackle an historical novel at some point. I really enjoy historical research. 

Thanks, Barbara, for stopping by for a chat. Your stories sound intriguing! Something about a lake during the summer is inviting especially in the chill of a January morning.

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 Ellen Green Andrews #author #contemporary #erotica #romance

I’m pleased to introduce my guest today, author Ellen Green Andrews, who brings her love of architecture to her characters and stories. But let’s take a gander at her bio and then we’ll find out more about her writing process, shall we?

Ellen Green Andrews is a retired nurse, with a penchant for reading, with a broad and eclectic genre choice. Encouraged by her husband and grown children, she began writing her own stories five years ago. She is an accomplished seamstress, and has a collection of textiles from around the globe thanks to a friend who travels extensively. She loves to paint, and crafts of all sorts. She is a certified landscape designer, with a concentration on residential design. She is proud of the fact that she has 174 college credits but not a single degree, always feeling being broadly educated was more important than adhering to a degree seeking curriculum. She grew up in Northern Indiana but has lived throughout the United States, following her husband’s military career, she resides at present in North Central Florida. She is member of WFWA and ALLI.

You can find her here:   Website   *     Facebook      *   Twitter

Betty: How many books have you written and published?

Ellen: I have published 2 novels and I’m currently working on my third.

Betty: What genre(s) do you write in and why?

Ellen: The first two are Romance (steamy) and the current book is more women’s fiction. I like a happy every after ending. I like reading most genre’s but when it came to writing, this felt right for me. I guess I am a romantic at heart. The characters come to life for me in this genre. The current novel is a love story, but multigenerational. I wanted to show that even though the current younger generation thinks they invented love and sex, that is far from what is true. I also think young people think problems in relationships are exclusive to them. Sex, love and all that entails is the same from one generation to the next.

Betty: What themes or motifs did you use in your recent release and why were they important to your story?

Ellen: Growing up I wanted to be an architect, but it was at a time when women were not encouraged to pursue higher education in anything other than education or nursing.  I took drafting in my sophomore year of high school but my drafting table was in the far back corner of the room. I think if the teacher could have set me outside on the window ledge he would have. I have always loved architecture so some element of that will probably always be a theme in my novels. I am also a crafter and love working with paper, and while writing my first book, took a course on paper making. So my characters, regardless of how flawed they might be, will always be clever and DIY’ers.

The book I am currently working on features cooking which is another love of mine. This one will have recipes from a cookbook that once belonged to my grandmother.

If love and sex are included in a business deal, can it still be called business?

Charleigh Chace lives in Naperville Illinois. She spent her childhood and youth in the gymnastics gym and her adulthood pursuing her MBA and starting her upscale stationery store. Maybe that’s why at the age of twenty-seven she is still a virgin. Now the business is in serious financial trouble, and the money she borrowed from her parents, which they will soon need to retire is in jeopardy. The only solution in sight looks like bankruptcy, abandoning her dream, and moving far from the parents she has already let down. Then Charleigh meets Elias Graham, a thirty-one year old junk man. He works in the business his parents have spent their entire married life building, and though he believes they need to retire, they won’t hear of it until he demonstrates he has his feet firmly planted in the business. Through his acumen, Elias helped their little business named Jeff’s Salvage Yard, grow into a multi-million dollar business by the name of Urban Recovery; one that Hollywood turns to when they need historically accurate set elements. A chance encounter at a bookstore brings Elias and Charleigh together where Elias proposes a business deal that benefits both of them: Charleigh poses as his rock solid girlfriend; he pays her to do so, and everyone can move on. Fate has other plans for them. Both fall in love with the other but know the deal is off the table the moment either reveals their true feelings. The inability to say how they truly feel about each other leads to misunderstandings, heartache and separation. Only time and circumstances beyond their control will determine whether they can find a future together.

Amazon

Betty: Do you have a specific place that you write? Revise?

Ellen: Yes, I am fortunate to have a dedicated office space. It doubles as my painting space also, but the room is all mine and I treasure it. I’ve never had my own space where I could leave things out and come back to at a later time. But there is a trade-off for all this space. It means all our children are grown and on their own. I am thankful that they come back often and visit. Revisions are completed in the same place. It is a room that is at the back of the house, so very quiet and peaceful.

Betty: Do you have any writing rituals while you write? Did you have a special drink, or music, or time of day that you gravitated toward?

Ellen: Coffee is my drug of choice and all of my MC have a caffeine addiction. I listen to music sometimes, but it can’t be anything with words as I always want to sing along. It seems the brain can’t handle two language tasks at the same time. Either sing or write, but not both. I can however listen to opera’s sung in a foreign language as long as it isn’t one I know. Then it’s just like instrumental to me. I tend to be a night owl which means I tend to sleep late, so writing begins somewhere around ten o’clock in the morning, coffee mug in hand. Unless appointments get in the way I will write until about 6 pm. When I wander into the living room, my husband greets me with “you are home!” which I find funny as I’ve been home all day. lol

Betty: What helped you move from unpublished to published? A mentor or organization or something else?

Ellen: I tried the query/agent route with my first book and after 8 solid months and no requests, I became frustrated with the entire process. As I have read more about the publishing world and the agents world, I get even more disgusted with the entire traditional publishing route. This is not mean to be a slam to E.L. James, but most writers will give her Fifty Shades book the same critique. They are not well written, grammar wise, but they are certainly titillating and guaranteed money makers. And that is all it took for a traditional publishing house to pick them up. I find traditional publishers to be fickle, saying they want “good literature” but then they publish some of the worst rubbish because they know it will make them money. I lost faith that they would recognize good literature when it’s presented to them.

My other pet peeve is agents who develop new vocabulary, to turn you down. Recently I read an article where the writer queried an agent and the agent requested chapters. The writer with great hope sent off the requested chapters only to be told her MC “lacked agency” but why not just say, “your main character is allowing the plot to direct her, instead of her directing the plot? So those of us who don’t swim in the publishing wading pool have to google the vocabulary to see why we’ve been rejected. Seems those agents take great pride in coming up with creative ways and confusing vocabulary to reject you. You end up mistrusting not just the publishing houses but agents also.

Betty: What do you think is your greatest strength in your writing?

Ellen: I tell a really good story. I am a wordsmith, but I don’t believe in using a prodigious vocabulary for storytelling. Interesting language does not need to be pretentious. Reaching people’s hearts and making them become of the book is what I aim for. I am told by everyone who reads my books that that is exactly how they felt as if they were part of the story. 

Betty: What comes first when you’re brainstorming a new story: setting, situation, characters?

Ellen: For me it is situations. From there I ask, “what if” and that is all it takes.

Betty: Do you have a structured time to write or is it more fluid/flexible? Do you have to write between family obligations or do you set aside a block of time?

Ellen: I may not always be happy about interruptions but life happens. I am pretty fluid in when I write. After writing my last book All The Words We Didn’t Say, I took off two months and traveled with my husband throughout the U.K. After we returned, I sat down to do the editing. I turned it over to my beta’s while I was gone. That allowed them plenty of time answer the questionnaire that I have all my beta’s do. It helps so much for the editing process.

Betty: What is one recent struggle you’ve experienced in your writing?

Ellen: For a while I’d given up my office when our youngest son, his wife, and two boys stayed with us when they were house hunting. I’d become so accustomed to having that dedicated space that I found it difficult to write anywhere else. Then holidays crowd in and that takes time out of writing time. Once I start writing I like to go at it hard until I am done. When I have disruptions, it takes me a long time to get back on track, often I have to read what I have written to know where I want to go. I am a pantser, with a deep seated need for organization so I pants, then go back and form an outline to keep track of dates and events and make sure everything meshes.

Betty: Do you participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)? Why or why not?

Ellen: I have a 4th book that I wrote during NaNoWriMo, but I have not edited. It is not strictly Women’s literature and has a basis in truth, so the editing will be more difficult for me. I did that two years ago and not since. I am not sure I ever will again.

Betty:  What are you reading right now?

Ellen: Five Things by Lynne Marino

Betty: What is your favorite genre to read?

Ellen: I don’t really have a favorite. I read historical fiction, romantic comedy, suspense, sexy steamy romance. I love a well-constructed novel set during WWII. I like and have an incredible need to explore new things and ideas that just about anything is game. I am not a big fan of paranormal/Warlocks and Witches sort of writing.

Betty: What are your keeper books? How often might you reread them?

Ellen: Outlander series. Leon Uris, everything he’s written I’ve read many times. Ken Follett is one I could read again and again, although his last few have been daunting and I’d probably not re-read them. I’ve re-read Dan Brown a few times. I’ve read Nevil Shute’s A Far Country many times. Michael Grumley is a recent writer I’ve read. His Breakthrough series is totally fascinating. I’ve read them twice.

Betty: When you’re writing, do you read in the same genre as your work in progress or something else?

Ellen: I don’t necessarily read the genre I’m writing in. If I see something I think is interesting I will read it regardless of whether it’s in my genre or not.

Betty: Do you have a “day job” or do you write full time?

Ellen: Full time writer.

Betty: What do you wish readers knew about the publishing industry?

Ellen: It’s fickle. Never forget they are out to make money and putting out good literature is secondary to making money.

Betty: What advice do you have for new writers?

Ellen: Put your butt in a chair and write. There isn’t a secret to it. You must put words on paper (or into a document) for them to become a book. Don’t worry if it’s good writing, just write, you can always go back and make it good. Find some good books on writing. Read Story Genius by Lisa Cron, The Forest For The Trees by Betsy Lerner are both good guides.

Betty: Any hints of what you’re next writing project might be?

Ellen: Temporary title is In The Margins and it is based on a cookbook of my grandmother’s. It is handwritten. It is more a diary of her early love life with recipes thrown in. She says she wrote it that way because her mother would not question or look at a recipe book, but most likely would a diary. I am shocked at some of the revelations, but oh, grandma you were a thoroughly modern woman!

Betty: What kind of writing would you like to experiment with? Or what’s a different genre you’ve considered writing but haven’t yet?

Ellen: I want to write a suspense. I have an idea and I have been keeping track of the basic ideas and developing characters in my head, but that is down the road a bit.

I love that you’re working on a cookbook slash diary, Ellen! I bet that’s a fascinating read. Thanks for sharing your background and process with 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!

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!

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 Skye Taylor #author of #contemporary #romance #timetravel #politicalintrigue #books #fiction

Please help me welcome Skye Taylor as my guest author today on Betty Bolte’s Musings. Skye has a varied and interesting background she brings to her stories, but I’ll let her tell you more about that! Take a peek at her bio and then we’ll get started.

Skye Taylor lives in the oldest city in the US where she participates in historical reenactments, walks the beach and volunteers at the USO when she’s not writing. Loving travel and adventure, she’s a skydiver and sailor, camped on tropical Islands, climbed a volcano, ridden an elephant, rafted down rivers, snorkeled over coral reefs and explored cities and castles in 15 countries on 5 continents. She spent two years in Peace Corps (2002-2004). She’s a mom and grandmother and the author of the Camerons of Tide’s Way contemporary romance series: Falling for Zoe, Loving Meg, Trusting Will, Healing a Hero, Keeping His Promise and Worry Stone, a time travel romance: Iain’s Plaid and a mainstream political intrigue: The Candidate. Her newest project is the Jesse Quinn Mystery series: Bullseye due out in February. Skye is a member of Florida Writers Association, Sisters in Crime, RWA and Women’s Fiction Writers.

You can find out more about her at www.Skye-writer.com or you can follow her on Facebook, All Author, or Instagram.

Betty: How many books have you written and published?

Skye: The Candidate, Falling for Zoe, Loving Meg, Trusting Will, Keeping His Promise, Healing a Hero, Worry Stone, Iain’s Plaid

Betty: What genre(s) do you write in and why?

Skye: With the exception of The Candidate, my books to date have been romance, 6 contemporary (series) and 1 time-travel. The Candidate is a mainstream and was written because the story just grew out of a combination of experiences, my own, my brother’s and others who came of age during the Vietnam War. But it’s a contemporary story of a man running for president who suddenly comes face to face with a piece of his past during the campaign. He has two formidable adversaries which makes it a suspense and an intrigue. I wrote romance to start with because I love a good love story, but have some trouble keeping my stories within the sometimes confining limits of the genre. I guess I like pushing the envelope, but I’ve had good reviews so perhaps someone else also likes the same thing. I am now working on a mystery series – I also like a challenge and have discovered mysteries are very challenging, especially since I am basically a pantser. I create characters with detailed dossiers, put them in an inciting incident and let them run with the ball. But having to know how it’s going to end is the challenge, leaving hints along the way and still having little in the way of an outline.

Betty: What themes or motifs did you use in your recent release and why were they important to your story?

Skye: Ever heard of a “worry stone?” A small, smooth stone you can carry in your pocket. Something you can touch, rub, hold, etc. while calming your worries. My mom had dozens and I often found them on the beaches in Maine where I lived at the time, made incredibly smooth by the constant action of the waves and sand. In Worry Stone, my heroine, Sandy finds just such a stone on her first date with Cam and she presents it to him, explaining what it is for. He is doubtful about the powers of this little bit of rock, but because she gave it to him, he put it in his pocket. There were times he felt nothing but despair and came close to tossing it into the sea, but something made him return it to his pocket. As this book opens, this little worry stone is still in his pocket when he is standing at the window in the waiting room of the local hospital while Sandy is rushed into emergency surgery, her life hanging in the balance. He pulls it out, still warm from his pocket, while he’s praying for her.

Is love enough to heal a soul-wounded Marine?

Cam wasn’t planning on getting involved with anyone until he put the war firmly behind him but the hope and love Sandy brings to his troubled heart is irresistible. Will Sandy’s love be enough to bring Cam back from the edge of despair and convince him to get the help he so desperately needs? Is his love for her strong enough for him to pull his life together and be the man she believes in?

Amazon Print    * Kindle  * B&N  * Kobo

Betty: Do you have a specific place that you write? Revise?

Skye: I converted the second bedroom in my beach bungalow to a library/office. I have bookshelves on three walls filled with books of all kinds, fiction, non-fiction and books on writing. My desk sits beneath a window that overlooks the ocean, so when I’ve hit a wall, or need to think, need inspiration, I can sit back and watch the endless parade of waves, listen to the roar of the sea, and work out where to go next with my book.

Betty: Do you have any writing rituals while you write? Did you have a special drink, or music, or time of day that you gravitated toward?

Skye: My best time of day for writing is mid-afternoon to 8ish in the evening. Since I’m a widow with grown kids, I can go ahead and get immersed right through what would normally be the supper hour. But I’ve also been known to think about where my book is going after I’ve climbed into bed for the night, come up with a whole new plot point, a scene complete with dialog or something I just don’t want to disappear in the night, so I’ll get up, wake the computer up and type away until I get the ideas outlined. Then I can fall asleep knowing right where I’ll start in the morning.
Sometimes I do put music on, but it has to have no words, and the tempo has to match the scenes I’m writing. If it’s tense, urgent, dangerous, etc., maybe it’ll be Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. If it’s a romantic scene, perhaps music by André Rieu or Johann Strauss. I do have an entire collection on my laptop, a compilation of my favorite music to write by, from a dozen different composers and artists.
One other writing ritual, although not strictly a ritual, is to pick out a talisman that fits each book I write and it sits beside my monitor while I’m writing the book. My brother made me a lovely display case where all those talismans end up after the book has been published. Currently I have a pair of cufflinks while I’m writing a mystery and my heroine is a deputy detective. And, of course, while writing Worry Stone there was a whole row of smooth little stones sitting next to my keyboard.

Betty: What do you think is your greatest strength in your writing?

Skye: Good question. You might want to ask my readers, but perhaps it’s creating complex characters that captivate my readers and make them care. I am not a plotter. I create in depth dossiers on all my main characters and somewhat less detailed for all secondary ones. Once I know these folk really well, I drop them into the middle of the inciting incident and let them tell me how the story is going to unfold. Although I usually have a very clear idea of where and how the story will end, my characters really drive the plot.

Betty: What comes first when you’re brainstorming a new story: setting, situation, characters?

Skye: Well, first I have a nugget of an idea. I don’t really brainstorm to create them – they just come to me. I people watch everywhere and sometimes ideas come to me there. Sometimes it’s an experience I’ve had or someone I know has. Once when I was exploring an island off the coast of Maine with a fascinating history, I stood on an old foundation and the big stone beneath my feet wiggled. I jumped off before I could fall into the yawning, grass lined old cellar, but on my way home the thought came to me: “What if I had fallen in, hit my head and woken up again in another century. Which, of course became the start of my time travel romance, IAIN’S PLAID.

Then I brainstorm the characters who will fit into this nugget of an idea and they take over.

Betty: Do you have a structured time to write or is it more fluid/flexible? Do you have to write between family obligations or do you set aside a block of time?

Skye: As a retired widow with my kids all grown, I am very fortunate that I don’t have to squeeze my writing into a structured lifestyle. I live on the beach so when I’m stumped, I just go for a walk on the beach and let the story rattle around in my brain, come home and type it all up. Or, as I said before, whenever an idea hits, even in the middle of the night, I have the freedom to just sit down and write.

Betty: What is one recent struggle you’ve experienced in your writing?

Skye: Most recent struggle was and is the learning curve for moving from writing romance to mystery. As a panster, I have never had detailed plots, but with a mystery, I needed to know all those details, how to present them and where. So learning to at least do a bare bones outline was a challenge. Also the change from romance to mystery brought a whole new feeling to the process and the story itself.

Betty: Do you participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)? Why or why not?

Skye: No. If it were any other month of the year, I’d have given it a go, but I have a big family with 12 birthdays between Oct 20 and Dec 18, plus five kids and 13 grandchildren, and 8 spouses, a sister, niece and more to prepare for Christmas. And since I almost always travel for Christmas, this means having all my gifts bought, sewn, or created, wrapped and shipped by mid-December. Thus November is an impossible month for me to commit to anything like NaNoWriMo. I wish they’d choose March instead. NOTHING happens in March except St Patrick’s day so why not that month instead of the outrageously busy month of November.

Betty: What are you reading right now?

Skye: I just finished the most recent Tom Clancy book as well as a romance by a new author. I also have three books going I’ve promised a review for. My current book in progress just for pleasure is David Baldacci’s The Escape, and to enlarge my understanding of current national affairs, The Problem with Socialism by Thomas DiLorenzo.

Betty: What is your favorite genre to read?

Skye: I used to read mostly romance, but that genre has become so narrow and same old same old, I have moved on to mystery, action adventure, espionage, and military thrillers.

Betty: What are your keeper books? How often might you reread them?

Skye: Outlander, by Dianna Gabaldon – which I first read when it came out more than 20 years ago. I also have an entire shelf of W.E.B. Griffin, all of Georgette Heyer, and a Maine author most have never heard of, Elizabeth Ogilvie. I’ve read all of them more than once and now and then I take one down and read it again. But less often these days with so many books coming out every day and a finite amount of time to read them in.

Betty: When you’re writing, do you read in the same genre as your work in progress or something else?

Skye: Never. I always read a totally different genre than what I’m writing.

Betty: Do you have a “day job” or do you write full time?

Skye: Writing is my day job. The fruits of retirement….

Betty: What do you wish readers knew about the publishing industry?

Skye: I wish readers could fully grasp the absolute reliance any author today has on getting reviews. The number of reviews is what drives the search engines and the Amazon algorithm. Without reviews it’s hard for even the most compelling book to get noticed.

Betty: What advice do you have for new writers?

Skye: Develop a thick skin and ask for honest critique of your work. We all, even already published authors, learn from the things people tell us about our work. Believe in yourself and never give up. We all have dozens of rejections so don’t get discouraged.

Betty: Any hints of what you’re next writing project might be?

Skye: My next book out is Bullseye, the first in my new series: The Jesse Quinn Mysteries. I’ve had a grand time with the research, joining the Citizens Law Enforcement Academy, going on ride-alongs and picking the brain of some detectives who’ve been on the job for years.

Jesse Quinn used to be a dutiful daughter and wife … until she discovered her husband was cheating on her and the promises her mother made about being a lady turned sour. Then she followed her heart and into the footsteps of her dad, her idol who had died in the line of duty when she was twelve. She’s been on the job long enough now to have risen to detective and she has a fun new partner who is a perfect foil for her style as they pursue investigations on the Major Crimes Squad of the St John’s County Sheriff’s Department.

Betty: What kind of writing would you like to experiment with? Or what’s a different genre you’ve considered writing but haven’t yet?

Skye: I already have one mainstream, political intrigue out, The Candidate (https://amzn.to/2C8Zg83). It was the most challenging book I’ve written to date and one day I’d like to try another mainstream novel.

You’re tempting me with the idea of a ride-along… Did they have those in the past, do you think? Anyway, thanks, Skye for stopping by and sharing with us today.

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 #romance #author Nancy Holland #fantasy #magic #fiction #amwriting #amreading

Today I’m kicking off a series of author interviews to share some new authors and their books with you all. Please welcome Nancy Holland to the interview hot seat.

First, here’s a bit about her and then we’ll begin.

About Nancy Holland:

A college professor with over thirty years of teaching experience, Nancy Holland recently began to live her dream as a full-time writer. After being a finalist in the Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart© contest and publishing two short contemporary romances, she is thrilled to return to her first love and write fantasy romance for Tule Publishing.  

Despite dark pasts, heart-breaking betrayal, and a future that is always at risk, her fantasy heroes and heroines accomplish amazing feats of valor and magic to create a better world for everyone. More importantly, her characters refuse to give up on themselves, struggle to improve their lives, and learn to trust each other.

After years spent studying and writing about words written long ago and far away, she loves to travel with her husband to explore the cities where she can feel the lived experience behind the words.

You can connect with her at www.nancyhollandwriter.com, on Facebook or find her on Twitter @nancyholland5.

Betty: How many books have you written and published?

Nancy: Four published, three more in the pipeline, including the last book in the Witch King trilogy.

Betty: What genre(s) do you write in and why?

Nancy: Short contemporary romance, because that’s how I came into romance, and romantic fantasy, because I grew up on classic (and not so classic) fantasy books and always wanted more, better romance.

Betty: What themes or motifs did you use in your recent release and why were they important to your story?

Nancy: One common theme in all my books is trust (my tagline is “Always trust in love”), but Felyn’s Curse is also about the negative effects of toxic masculinity on men as they grow up and the positive and negative impact of family ties.

Can love and sacrifice conquer a curse?

When Felyn was a young, defenseless witch, she was cursed to live as a shape shifter—a deadly panther. She might have been rescued and raised by a noble and powerful leader, but she lives in fear she will hurt those she loves in her animal form so each full moon she hides deep in the forest. But how can she refuse her adoptive father’s plea for an arranged marriage with a new ally? After all, it’s temporary and in name only… 

Varz agrees to an arranged marriage reluctantly because he needs the military and diplomatic alliance. He has secrets and a growing power struggle back home. He’s relieved he need only marry the young witch for a year until he meets his bride. Felyn is beautiful and intelligent and not easy to ignore, but Varz is a man of his word. His vow to leave his bride untouched will be the hardest one he has had to keep.

Amazon US    Barnes & Noble     Apple     Kobo     Google Play     Amazon UK

Betty: Do you have a specific place that you write? Revise?

Nancy: I’ve been moving my workspace around the house lately from an ergonomically bad location to a crowded one and now to one I hope I can stick with. I also sometimes write or revise in a large recliner that is technically my husband’s.

Betty: Do you have any writing rituals while you write? Did you have a special drink, or music, or time of day that you gravitated toward?

Nancy: I do my best writing in the morning, while I drink my coffee, although I can write at other times given the opportunity and enough motivation. I do have rituals, but wish I had fewer because they easily become time sucks (e.g., social media).

Betty: What helped you move from unpublished to published? A mentor or organization or something else?

Nancy: Basically, RWA in several dimensions — my local chapter (Midwest Fiction Writers) and the critique groups that grew out of it helped me hone my craft, RWA chapter contests gradually convinced me I could do this, and finaling in the Golden Heart was a big boost. And, of course my agent, Scott Eagen of the Grayhaus Agency.

Betty: What do you think is your greatest strength in your writing?

Nancy: Envisioning an intriguing world and situation that others want to learn more about.

Betty: What comes first when you’re brainstorming a new story: setting, situation, characters?

Nancy: Always situation first, then sometimes character (usually the contemporaries), sometimes plot (the romantic fantasy books).

Betty: Do you have a structured time to write or is more fluid/flexible? Do you have to write between family obligations or do you set aside a block of time?

Nancy: Now that I’m retired I can write pretty much whenever I like, but I’ve stuck with early morning from when I had to rush off to work afterwards. I do need at least an hour at a time of more or less focused time to accomplish much.

Betty: What is one recent struggle you’ve experienced in your writing?

Nancy: My constant struggle is between keeping readers in the dark too long about things and telling them too much too early.

Betty: Do you participate in NaNoWriMo? Why or why not?

Nancy: I did in 2017 and won in less than the full month, which was cool (although the book never sold). Before that it just wasn’t feasible with the day job. 2018 was not a good year for me, so I sat it out. Whether I’ll participate this year depends on my health and where I am in my writing.

Betty: What are you reading right now?

Nancy: I read more than one thing at a time these days. Right now it’s The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin and An Unlikely Match, a duet of two short romances by Marion Lennox, plus two scifi/post-apocalyptic books I’ve gotten stuck in and a very long classic I’ve lost my enthusiasm for.

Betty: What is your favorite genre to read?

Nancy: Contemporary romance

Betty: What are your keeper books? How often might you reread them?

Nancy: I don’t reread very much anymore because I find great new authors. My keeper shelf is heavily tilted toward friends and chapter-mates, books I shared with my late mother and other old favorites, and recent books from AOC like Beverly Jenkins, Alyssa Cole, and Sherry Thomas.

Betty: When you’re writing, do you read in the same genre as your work in progress or something else?

Nancy: I generally don’t choose books that way unless a particular book is having a clear effect on my writing “voice,” in which case I’ll set it aside for a while.

Betty: Do you have a “day job” or do you write full time?

Nancy: I wrote with a day job for over twenty years, but am retired now.

Betty: What do you wish readers knew about the publishing industry?

Nancy: It’s not as much of a meritocracy as they probably think, and most published authors are neither rich nor famous (but it’s still a great thing to achieve).

Betty: What advice do you have for new writers?

Nancy: If you write romance, join RWA; if you write mystery, join Sisters in Crime; and read extensively, but not exclusively in your genre.

Betty: Any hints of what you’re next writing project might be?

Nancy: I have two contemporary Christmas-themed romances in the pipeline at Tule publishing.

Betty: What kind of writing would you like to experiment with? Or what’s a different genre you’ve considered writing but haven’t yet?

Nancy: I have ideas for a romantic suspense and maybe a women’s fiction, but I don’t have the plotting skills for romantic suspense and I don’t think my voice is right for WF.

Betty: Thanks so much for stopping by, Nancy!

I hope you all enjoyed meeting Nancy as much as I enjoyed having her visit today. 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 my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.

Discovering Huntsville, AL in 1819 #amwriting #histfic #supernatural #books #Alabama200

I’m sorry it’s been so long since my last blog post. I’ve been trying to figure out a theme for a new series of posts, and finally struck upon one near and dear to my heart. I’ve been very busy the last couple of months researching and writing. I’ve written the first draft of the first book in my new Cassie Fairhope supernatural historical fiction series, which I call Cassie Fairhope and the Haunted Inn. I’m planning to release this book in October, so stay tuned for more info as it becomes available.

The series is set in north Alabama in the year 1821, three years after statehood. So I’ve been digging into the history of the state, including visiting a local living museum from the 1800s, visiting the Heritage Room at the local public library, and reading. Lots and lots of reading!

So I thought in honor of Alabama’s Bicentennial celebration this year, I’ll share tidbits of the research I’ve done and how that informs my storyline (characters, setting, etc.).

To kick off this new series, let’s talk about what Huntsville, Alabama, looked like when the Alabama Territory became a state in November 1819.

The journalist Anne Royall described the city in her Letters from Alabama as consisting of 260 brick houses, a bank, courthouse, and market house. She claims there were twelve stores that faced the square. She also notes with a sense of surprise that there wasn’t a church, but services were held in the courthouse.

Image from a brochure I found in the Heritage Room map archives of Madison County, Alabama published by the Huntsville Historical Society in the 1970s

In Alabama: The History of a Deep South State the authors describe the city as a “bustling community of cotton planters” and that while the big planters who had migrated largely from Georgia dominated all the social and financial aspects, most of the landowners in Madison County, where Huntsville is located, were in fact “small famers from Tennessee.”

In my story, the Fury Falls Inn is located on the Winchester Road which connects Huntsville to Winchester, Tennessee and runs along the foothills of the lower Appalachian Mountains. My characters visit the city upon occasion and have customers that stop in for a meal on their way to wherever they’re headed. So knowing what the kinds of businesses and the layout of the town in the early years helps me ensure I have representative ventures and opportunities for my characters. Since I’m writing fiction instead of a history of the town, I’m free to include some made-up locations to suit the needs of my story. With that in mind, though, I still strive to keep to facts as much as I can when I create a new business, like the livery that is mentioned in Cassie Fairhope and the Haunted Inn.

Huntsville has grown up quite a lot from its early days, with a thriving and diverse population, high-tech industries and arts and culture for all to enjoy. It’s still growing and the leaders have said the city will be the largest in the state within the next 5 years. I believe they must be right on that point.

I’ve much more to share with you all and look forward to your questions and comments as I work through the many interesting facts I’ve unearthed about the state where I live. Until next time!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.

Fun Friday with Avery Coleman from Her Snow White Christmas by #romance #author Cara Marsi #Christmas #magic #snowglobe

I have a special treat for the last Fun Friday post! Author Cara Marsi has allowed Avery Coleman from Her Snow White Christmas to stop by for a visit. Without further ado, here’s Avery…

Hi, I’m Avery Coleman. I write a style blog and sell Christmas trees for fun. The blog is fun. Selling trees in Vermont, not so much.

I grew up on a farm in Vermont. My parents, to make ends meet, ran a Christmas tree lot every year. My sister and I worked at the lot. Growing up, through the Christmas holidays I smelled like pine and couldn’t get all the sap off my hands until February.

I dreamt of escaping the small-town life for the big city. I imagined myself as an editor of a high fashion magazine. After college, I moved to Manhattan to work for a top magazine, but not as editor, as the assistant to the editor, a wicked witch of a boss. Writing my blog keeps me sane while I try to convince my boss to let me write a column or two.

Overworked and healing from a bad breakup, I agreed to help my sister at the Christmas tree lot so my parents could go on a cruise they’d won. Surprisingly, my boss gave me the time off. Sorry to leave Manhattan, which is magical at Christmastime, I trekked to Vermont, planning to work on my blog when I wasn’t selling trees. After all, nothing exciting happens in Vermont, right? Fate didn’t agree.

Mix Christmas trees, a hunky Santa, a very pregnant sister, seven extremely short male cousins, and a whimsical snow globe that may or may not be magic, and you just might believe in fairy tales.

I want to thank Betty Bolte for having me today and allowing me to tell you about my life-changing Christmas story. I also want to say I love Vermont. It’s a beautiful state.

WINNER 2016 EPPIE Award for Best Short Work.

A Christmas snow globe from a mysterious stranger swirls holiday magic for a sophisticated New York woman with a broken heart and a handsome Iraq War vet with a secret.

As a child, Avery Coleman loved Snow White and dreamed of Prince Charming. The adult Avery no longer believes in fairy tales. She’d settle for a handsome prince as ambitious for success as she is. Then an eccentric woman gives Avery a Christmas snow globe, advising her that princes come in many disguises. But when family obligations call Avery from Manhattan back to her small hometown in Vermont, she finds there aren’t many princes to be found in the forest of her family’s Christmas tree lot. At least it’s a vacation from her wicked witch of a boss.

Iraq War veteran Josh Huntsman always did what was expected of him. Believing there had to be more to life than chasing money and prestige, he’d left the corporate world for life in the Army. But his stint in the military cost him more than expected. Back from Iraq, Josh hides his past, volunteering at the homeless shelter and working at a Christmas tree lot. He isn’t ready to rejoin the rat race, and definitely has no use for a bright-lights-big-city girl like the ambitious fiancée who dumped him.

Leaving New York to spend the holidays selling Christmas trees in Vermont might sound magical to some, but for Avery, it’s a return to the place she worked hard to escape. But it’s Christmas and magic swirls in the air like glitter in a snow globe. And a single kiss might awaken a lifetime of happily ever after.

Her Frog Prince Holiday (Snow Globe Magic Book 2), is now available.
Her Red Riding Hood Valentine (Snow Globe Magic Book 3) is now available.
2015 Finalist Oklahoma Romance Writers International Digital Awards
2016 EPPIE finalist (under original title Snow Globe Tales–Avery)

Buy Her Snow White Christmas (Snow Globe Magic Book 1) here:

https://books2read.com/u/38g1O6

An award-winning and eclectic author, Cara Marsi is published in romantic suspense, paranormal romance, and contemporary romance. She loves a good love story, and believes that everyone deserves a second chance at love. Sexy, sweet, thrilling, or magical, Cara’s stories are first and foremost about the love. Treat yourself today, with a taste of romance.

When not traveling or dreaming of traveling, Cara and her husband live on the East Coast of the United States in a house ruled by two spoiled cats who compete for attention.

Connect with Cara at:

www.facebook.com/authorcaramarsi

www.pinterest.com/caramarsi/

www.instagram.com/carolyn2829

Sign up for her newsletter and read about all her books at www.caramarsi.com

I love a good Christmas romance, especially one with a touch of magic! I hope everyone had a magical holiday season and is looking forward to a prosperous and happy New Year!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Thanks and happy reading! Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.