Saturday, September 29, 2012

Cold Comfort Giveaway--2 books!

This weekend I'm giving away two eBooks (format of your choice) of Cold Comfort.Leave a comment to enter, and I'll draw a name on Sunday night. Cold Comfort is suspense with a little romance. 

Cold Comfort begins in December during the long nights leading up to the Solstice. Claire Spencer is attacked, but why? A friend calls in a favor, and burned out PI Ben Riley reluctantly checks it out. His protective instincts compel him to help when he witnesses the next attack, and in spite of their differences, he and Claire work together to uncover the old secrets that turn her life into a lie. Will she gain more than she loses, or will the result be . . . Cold Comfort?

Here's a short excerpt. 

She pressed her fingers to her forehead. "I have a problem."
"What is it?"
"Well, ah, it's difficult to explain. Someone’s been following meat least, I think so. And last night someone tried to—" Tried to what? Kill her?— "attacked me when I got out of my car."
"Did you call the police?"
"Yes, of course, but there isn't much they can do. They suggested aa stalker."
"Ms. Spencer, I assume you're trying to hire me. I'm not a bodyguard."
With his rough voice and terse questions, he sounded more like a junkyard dog.
"I hadn't even thought of a bodyguard. I want to find out who it is." This wasn't going well. Her pain pill had worn off, and she couldn't muster the energy to think. "Mr. Riley, I'm finding this very awkward. Could we meet and discuss it?"
"Sorry. I'm not in that business anymore. If you still have the problem in a week or so, maybe I can refer you to someone. By the way, who gave you my name?"
"Ray Bonney." Ben Riley's a jerk. Her grim tone promised retribution, and the jerk could probably hear it. Tough. "Thanks for returning my call." She hung up without waiting for a reply. So she was in this by herself—now what? Should she buy a gun? A rottweiler?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Critique Groups

At Amazon
My guest this week is Chris Redding, author of Incendiary, an exciting new romantic mystery from Imajin Books.
 What can I say about critique partners. I had one set, when I first began writing, who were terrible. They kept rewriting my stuff in their style. They also gave me the advice that I should start writing category romance.
I don’t write category. There is NOTHING wrong with category romance. I just don’t write that way. I write darker stuff. Not a lot of description or angst.
The next group I was part of met once a month on a Friday. We’d have pizza. The hostess’ husband was a character, that we actually learned a lot from. I kind of miss Al. And Ann, of course our hostess.
I learned a LOT in this critique group. And I acquired a very thick skin about my writing. (Thanks Irene)
I would not be published without them.
There are some writers who never show their work to beta readers. Not me. I don’t trust my writing enough. I appreciate at least one other set of eyes on my stuff.
These days I am in a smaller critique group. We all write different stuff. One writes category. The other writes more science fiction type romances. The third, our newest member, write YA. We’ve not only helped each other, but we’ve become fast friends. We have seen each other through some crappy times.
And I trust them implicitly with my work. I don’t always do what they suggest, but if I’m not sure, I will err on the side of doing what they suggest.
Everyone should have confidants in their lives. I’m lucky to have two.
Cathi and Kathy have kept me from quitting. They’ve kept me on track. They’ve cheered my successes and I’ve been glad to cheers theirs.
As a write, do you use a critique partner?
As a reader, do you find you seek out the same person when you need advice?

What if your past comes back to haunt you?
Chelsea James, captain of the Biggin Hill First Aid Squad, has had ten years to mend a broken heart and forget about the man who'd left her hurt and bewildered. Ten years to get her life on track. But fate has other plans.
Fire Inspector Jake Campbell, back in town after a decade, investigates a string of arsons, only to discover they are connected to the same arsons he'd been accused of long ago. Now his past has come back to haunt him, and Chelsea is part of that past.
Together, Chelsea and Jake must join forces to defeat their mutual enemy. Only then can they hope to rekindle the flames of passion. But before they can do that, Chelsea must learn to trust again. Their lives could depend on it.


Chris Redding lives in New Jersey with her husband, two kids, one dog and three rabbits. She graduated from Penn State with a degree in Journalism.  When not writing she works for her local hospital in the Emergency Services Department. She has been writing for thirteen years and has five books published. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Dare to Believe - excerpt

At Amazon and other sites
And the winner is . . . Polly Iyer!

L.A. Sartor is giving away a copy of her romantic suspense novel, Dare to Believe. Anyone who comments between now and Sunday, September 23, by 8 p.m. Eastern time will be entered to win an eBook or, in the United States, a print book. 

Here's an excerpt.

Last night, after she'd been fingerprinted, Cate had either paced the small holding cell or stared at the ceiling. She hadn't been able to talk to Jason and had imagined every possible worst-case scenario. This morning a female deputy had allowed her to freshen up and then brought her to the judge's chambers.
And now, as the new day dawned bright, she was about to find out just how accurate her imagination was. At least Jason was allowed to be present. She'd never been as grateful for a familiar face as she was at this moment.
She glanced around the small room. It wasn't fancy. The yellowed, pine-paneled walls were dotted with framed diplomas proclaiming Arnold P. Struthers had been awarded this or that degree. Haphazardly placed between the diplomas were autographed photographs of famed skiers from Steamboat. His pine desk was massive but scarred and nicked, as if it had already seen a lifetime with its owner.
Judge Struthers wasn't fancy either. A big bear of a man with a tanned face and brown eyes—deep and unfathomable. His head was crowned by a head of thick black hair. He looked unapproachable.
Cate's heart plummeted to her feet.
"In front of me are two pieces of paper." The judge's voice rumbled out in a rich baritone, perfect for the bench. Not perfect for her.
"One is the charge of Breaking and Entering, with the recommendation of pursuing said charge."
Cate couldn't find the voice to protest, and Jason sat stone still in the only other chair in the office, hands resting on the arms of the old oak chair. A facade, for she felt the tension radiating in waves off his body.
"The other is the search warrant." The judge stared at her, then at Jason and back at her. Surely the judge could hear her frantic heartbeat. Surely she would pass out right at his feet.
Cate forced herself to breathe; going to jail meant she couldn't keep looking for Haley, and when she was found, hold her tight—then keep her tethered to her the rest of her life!
She looked at Jason, knowing he was Haley's only lifeline if she went to jail. "Find her and keep her safe," she begged, then quickly looked back at the judge, and met his eyes squarely and hopefully, bravely.
He nodded and with bold strokes, signed the second paper.
Damn. Just get it over with. By signing the search warrant he was postponing her fate.
"Now it's your turn. Tell me why I shouldn't remand you back to the sheriff's department to be charged with the crime of unlawful entry."

To learn more about L.A. Sartor, visit her website:
Amazon Kindle:         
Amazon Paperback:
Barnes and Noble:                   
And your favorite e-reader store.
Five Scribes Blog for Dare to Believe:
Facebook Profile:
Facebook Writer:

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

What do you do when your English teacher tells you "you'll never be a writer?"

Print or eBook, all formats
L.A. Sartor, author of the new romantic suspense novel Dare to Believe, is my guest. “Ms. Sartor splashes action and suspense across a backdrop of rugged mountains and tropical paradise in a panicked search for a little girl kidnapped for reasons deeper than anyone suspects.” (Giveaway details below.)
I stopped writing. Immediately, according to my parents.
This was in Junior High School, I think 8th grade during a parent/teacher with the student conference. My sweet, pretty teacher told us that I'd never be a writer because I wouldn't learn what writing was all about. Grammar, parsing, nouns, verbs, participles. And that all I wanted to do was to tell stories.
Well, yeah. Duh.
But here's an interesting kicker: I didn't remember any of this. I knew I loved reading even from an early age, and that stories transported me to new worlds, romance, mystery, biographies…I'd read almost anything. Even the newspaper.
Then many years later I read a truly terrible romance, and literally threw the book against the bedroom wall in our small condo. My husband came running in, worried I'd had an accident. I told him I could write better than that. He looked at me kinda funny, then said, "So do it."
I called my mom and told her I was going to write a romance, and she said, "It's about time, I knew you'd get back to it." I had no idea what she was talking about, and she told me the story.
Frankly, I was pissed. Why would a teacher tell something like this to a child filled with dreams?
So I wrote a book, and I loved it. It might not have been great, but it was a start. Then I wrote another and another and here I am, 20 years later, still telling stories.
I want to transport people into adventures, and romance, and mysteries. And if I'm lucky, show them something new, be it a place, an occupation, a perspective.
I'm also am old enough to know that in a small, miniscule way, that teacher was right. I still struggle with the intricacies of grammar. But you know, you can find people to help with that part of the process.
I believe with all my heart, that being a storyteller is a great and even noble undertaking. Don't ever, EVER, let anyone take that dream away from you. And if someone wants to try, you come to me and I'll talk you back into it. You can be a writer, believe it.
On Friday, Sartor will post an excerpt from her novel, Dare to Believe. Anyone who comments between now and Sunday, September 23, by 8 p.m. Eastern time will be entered to win an eBook or, in the United States, a print book.

To learn more about L.A. Sartor, visit her website:
Amazon Kindle:  
Amazon Paperback:     
Barnes and Noble:                         
And your favorite e-reader store.
Five Scribes Blog for Dare to Believe:
Facebook Profile:
Facebook Writer:

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Eye of the Beholder

WINNERS! If these lovely people would contact me at ellis at ellisvidler dot com, Polly and Rebecca will get back to you about the books: Laura Thomas, Linda Lovely, Darla, Malena, Eclairre.

Narrative, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Unless you use your author voice as a narrator in your story, the narrative should be written in the voice and through the eyes of the viewpoint character.
If Tom is a mariner who’s lived most of his life at sea, he’s unlikely to visit a small town in Kentucky and identify the plants in Sally’s garden.
He pushed open the low wooden gate, wincing as the hinges screeched. Not much on maintenance, was she? Before him stretched a winding stone path, bordered by liriope. Hostas, their lavender flowers dancing in the breeze, filled the shady corner below the trees. A wide trellis laced with purple clematis sheltered a pair of Adirondack chairs and a small table. He imagined spending an afternoon there, with a book and a pitcher of tea.
What do you think? Sound like Tom? After maintenance on the gate, it lost me. Maybe I’d give him the stone path, but the rest takes me right out of Tom’s head. Let me try again, through Tom’s eyes.
He pushed open the low wooden gate, wincing as the hinges screeched. Not much on maintenance, was she? He shortened his steps to match stones in the path. All the green gave the garden a restful feeling, and a couple of comfortable chairs made a nice place to read. Pretty, with the flowers. But he’d miss the water. If it were his, he’d add a fountain or something so he could hear water.
I’m more comfortable with the second one. I can believe that’s how Tom saw the garden. But if I wanted to show Tom being familiar with the plants and landscape features, I’d give him some background to explain it. Maybe he kept a worn book on gardening in his cabin on the ship and dreamed of solid ground and an English cottage garden. Or his mother was a gardener and he remembered helping her plant similar flowers.
There are many ways to do it; just keep in mind who the beholder is and how the scene will look to him. What will be important or stand out? Tie the scene to the character.
Can you think of any examples where the narrative didn’t fit the character describing it? Do you do it? I have to go back and check, and often I have to make changes. I find I was the beholder, not the character.
As Nathaniel Hawthorne said, “Easy reading is damn hard writing.” 

Monday, September 10, 2012

4 Excerpts, 2 Authors, 4-Book Giveaway!

At Amazon
We’re giving away four Kindle eBooks this week. Each author will draw two names from all the commenters, so you could win two books. Comments must be in by 8 p.m. Eastern Time Friday, September 14. Winners will be announced here on Saturday before noon, September 15. Check out these brief excerpts.

SO WHISPERS THE HEART by Rebecca George. Historical romance, Napoleonic era, 1803 

…Ninon was unprepared when he grabbed her from behind and threw her over his shoulder. "What are you doing?" She demanded between laughter and anger.
"What I’ve wanted to do since that night in the alley.” He patted her rump.
"Sacre Dieu, Christan, put me down! The blood is going to my head and giving me the headache."
"Not a chance, sweetheart." Laughter rumbled in his chest. "And a headache? Nina, I expected better of you."
"You’re about to get the worst of me." And then, almost pleading, "The devil! If you don’t put me down this instant, I’ll..."
"You’ll what?" He lowered her onto her feet.
"Merci!" Her sigh of relief was short-lived when she discovered he was removing his shirt.  

At Amazon
CALL HOME THE HEART by Rebecca George. Historical romance, Napoleonic era, 1814  

Diccon contemplated the lone figure on the beach. The Cassie of thirteen years ago would never have sought out this solitude. But the forlorn figure below bore little resemblance to his Cassie of old.
Nor was it her appearance that seemed so changed. As he had noted before, her adolescent loveliness had matured into the potent beauty of adulthood. True, that inner fire that had been so much a part of her was lacking but to him that aura of sorrow that clung to her enhanced her desirability. His mouth twisted upward in a self-mocking smile. Cassie would be desirable to him regardless of her appearance. It was still difficult to believe that she had returned. No. What was difficult to believe was that she had ever been gone. He loved her. He had never stopped loving her.

At Amazon
MURDER DÉJÀ  VU by Polly Iyer. Contemporary mystery 

“When I moved down here, I’d hoped my past life would be that—past. But when your ex-husband made a big deal about my buying this property, word got out who I was and what I’d supposedly done. I didn’t care anymore. I was tired of running and fought him.”
“It doesn’t matter who Robert hurts, as long as he makes headlines.”
Reece brushed a curl off her forehead. “Why did you stay with him so long? I suspect you did it for your sons, but there must have been more to it.”
Dana swiveled around, her back to Reece’s chest. She couldn’t look him in the eyes when she told him. He wrapped his arms around her, and she felt his heat like a warm blanket in the cool morning.
“There is.”

MIND GAMES by Polly Iyer. Contemporary suspense 
Most of America recognized Diana Racine, and the stares she attracted from the cops in the station proved no exception. She approached the ruddy-faced desk sergeant, whose vigorous assault on a wad of chewing gum slowed to a grind when he saw the precinct’s late-night caller. He squinted and leaned across the desk.
“Well, looky, looky who we have here.” Anyone who missed Diana’s entrance knew she was here now. Heads turned, tongues clicked, and eyes squinted. “To what do we owe the pleasure? Come to report a missing body, have you?”
Diana had heard similar sarcasm ad nauseum and learned to slough off the sleazy comments. But they still rankled. “When you’re finished with the jokes, I’ll be waiting right here to see the person in charge, since I’m pretty sure it’s not you.”

Friday, September 7, 2012

FIRST FRIDAY--Anderson, Bishop, Dougherty!

 It’s FIRST FRIDAY! One photo, three terrific authors with very different styles. This is how they saw it, in 150 words or less. 
Oh, my. I sent Beth Anderson the Dreamstime comp instead of the purchased one, and she wrote about it.This is the picture that goes with hers.
He'd been having the dream for at least six months. Targets everywhere, shimmering in the hot air. All he could remember every morning when he woke were those targets and the unmistakable sound of gunshots near and far, as if someone whose face he could never make out was running back and forth. The papers said it happened, but had it really, or had he seen it in a movie somewhere? He wasn’t sure.
Slowly over the past two days though, the pictures had become more focused. Today he could feel the ground under his feet now stilled, where before it had always moved. Sounds had finally focused, and the aftermath was beginning to sharpen. Today the circles came at him from every side, voices drawing him toward the edge, telling him he only had to take one more step and he'd have all the answers.
Just one more step.
How easy it would be to take that last step.
Body’s crumbling.
Parents gone.
The dog’s not going to last much longer.
Free fall down the canyon, fly briefly.
Who would clear out all the mementoes and scrap books left at the home place?
The dog would die of a broken heart instead of old age.
What would happen to my signed book collection?
Stomach’ growling, time to head back and fix dinner.
The invitation was obvious, but her normal impulsiveness was restrained by an unaccustomed sense of caution.  “Where did that reaction come from?”  She asked, her words bouncing back from the guano-stained rock as she sought the source of her discomfort.  Perplexed by her sense of foreboding, she wracked her memory.  The shoes were familiar, but why, and why did they evoke this odd feeling of unease?  Was it the setting?  She thought not; she came here often, seeking solitude.  Maybe it was the feeling that somebody had found her hideaway, her ‘happy place.’  She glanced around at that thought, checking to see if she was alone; she didn’t sense another presence, but still, the shoes didn’t get here by themselves.  Feeling foolish, she crept to the edge of the precipice and peered into the bottomless crevice.  Eyes starting from their sockets, she heard the echo of her scream.
Beth Anderson is the author of seven published mainstream mysteries, with three more in various stages of completion, which of course means barely started.  She wants everyone to know describing this picture in 150 words is one of the hardest things in the world because every time she attempts to write a short story, when it’s finished she always wants to know what happened then and what on earth led up to this?  So there she goes again, turning a perfectly good short story into another novel.  So far that has happened seven times. This may be the eleventh. 
You’ll find four of Beth’s latest mysteries in print or e-book on her author page at
Maggie Bishop started with romance and turned to murder in her Appalachian Adventure novels set in the Appalachian Mountains near Boone, North Carolina.  Her cozy mysteries include Murder at Blue Falls where she introduces Jemma Chase, trail ride leader and CSI wannabe, Perfect for Framing has trouble brewing in the Property Owners Association, and One Shot too Many with the photography group meeting at Blue Falls Dude Ranch. The romances are Emeralds in the Snow with a treasure hunt, downhill skiing and a cold case mystery, and Appalachian Paradise set in the spring on a hiking trail. Books available at and other outlets.
Charles Dougherty and his wife live on their sailboat and cruise the Eastern Caribbean.  He recently completed Bluewater Voodoo, the third book in his Bluewater Thriller series, and is working on another thriller that’s not part of that series.  He has written four thrillers, one nonfiction book about his travels afloat, and one short story.  For more information, see his web page at, or dive right into the Bluewater Thrillers with Bluewater Killer, the first book in the Bluewater Thriller series, available from Amazon in Kindle or paperback:
Join in! Leave your own description in 150 words or less.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Rhythm Method

Marjoe Gortner

I first learned about rhythm from Marjoe Gortner, child evangelist, actor, and son of evangelists, when I saw him on a late-night talk show. He explained the four beats to working up a crowd, the one his parents used at revivals and taught him to use. It was very simple and seemed too obvious, but then he demonstrated. In a very short time he had the audience rocking with him. It was a fascinating demonstration. The rhythm was 1, 2, 3, 4, repeated several times with increasing intensity, reaching a high point on the last beat. Vary the pace, mostly through the first three, but always build to an intense scene. Gortner did it with his voice, the speed of delivery, and his tone; even his pacing across the stage speeded up and his gestures got tighter, sharper. Writers do the same thing with their words on paper, changing the pace, tightening, and building from scene to scene.
You must have some scenes that give the reader time to catch his breath, then start building the tension again. But remember there’s always an overriding problem that has to reach out and touch the main characters from time to time, usually just when the character thinks she can relax.
End all the scenes with something unanswered, unsolved. Introduce a new problem before solving the current one. You can briefly lull the character into thinking the water is safe, but the reader better see the shark cutting through the waves toward her. Don’t let the reader completely relax. She has to want to know what happens next.