Thursday, January 31, 2013

FIRST FRIDAY! 3 Fab authors-1 Picture. Bonds. Fey. George.

Photo by Ivan Dzyuba

For February’s First Friday, I wanted a little more heart, so I asked Parris Afton Bonds, Yves Fey, and Rebecca George, three wonderful authors with backgrounds in romance. The rules, as always, are to tell what they see in this photograph in 150 words or less. 

Her steps lagged as her eyes took in the old place. It had always been a retreat, a respite from the dutiful demands of family, work, and, yes, even her public persona. She had bought the little house with her first royalty check, as meager as the house. Over the years, as her checks had increased, she could easily have afforded to restore the place to a quaint luster. Yet she had kept its genteel shabbiness, something to hide behind, something real, something authentic, when she no longer knew who she was, when she needed to escape the demands of everyone, waiting for her to solve their problems. Now the children were in college, her husband claimed by someone else, her work schedule less demanding but more rewarding. And the little house was no longer shabby but serendipitous, for inside awaited, at long last love. Her steps quickened.
Standing in the rough grass, Cassie looked at childhood home, the sting of salt air sharp on her skin, salt scents teasing her nostrils.  Teasing her memory.  She’d been isolated here.  Lonely.  Protected - the doors and windows roughly carved with runes, curtains woven with spells, dreamcatchers snaring nightmares.
Silence embraced her.  Not silence without.  Even on the most sunbaked summer day, the air weighted with heat, the sound of waves crashing on the rocks floated over the cliff’s edge.  Sometimes, like now, a gull screamed.
But blessed silence reigned within.  The rising cacophony of voices – voices of minds screaming, souls screaming – they did not carry here.  They did not invade her.
Cassie walked forward, then gasped as a cold spike of fear pierced her spine, pinioning her where she stood. 
Someone waited inside.  Hid inside.  Anticipating.  What?
Had she not chosen to come here? 
Had she been summoned?
She walked toward the cottage.
Fifteen years, she thought, and it looks the same.
Her heart began to beat faster as it would have fifteen years earlier.
Would he still look the same, she asked herself, and now questioned her decision to come back to Ireland. When she left, it was never to return. Yet here she was.
She had changed her name and, with a new identity, achieved a certain peace in Dallas. For fifteen years she believed she had buried the past. Then his letter came, and it was as if those years meant nothing.
Please,” he wrote, “come home. Until now, I did not know why you left. If only I had  known the truth then, I would have done everything in my power to stop you.”
Would you, she wondered as she opened the door.
He stood tall before her.
“Hello, Harry,” she said.
“Hello, Kathleen.”

Parris Afton Bonds
Parris Afton Bonds is the mother of five sons and the author of thirty-five published novels. She is the co-founder of and first vice president of Romance Writers of America.
Declared by ABC’s Nightline as one of the three-best-selling authors of romantic fiction, the award winning Parris Afton Bonds has been interviewed by such luminaries as Charlie Rose and featured in major newspapers and magazines as well as published in more than a dozen languages. She donates her time to teaching creative writing to both grade school children and female inmates.
At Amazon
Yves Fey’s debut mystery, FLOATS THE DARK SHADOW is set in the dynamic and decadent world of Belle Époque Paris. Aspiring artist Theodora Faraday and Detective Michel Devaux clash in their search for an elusive killer who has already claimed too many children.  Classic detection and occult revelation lead Michel and Theo through the dark underbelly of Paris.  Following the maze of clues they discover the murderer believes he is the reincarnation of the most evil serial killer in the history of France. Whether deranged mind or demonic passion incite him, the killer must be found before he strikes again.
At Amazon
Rebecca George is the award-winning author of five novels. Her newest, SO WHISPERS THE HEART, was released recently on Kindle. Of her four previously published  books, DAPHNE  was a Romantic Times award winner, Best Historical – Love and Laughter, and was considered by Aaron Spelling Productions for a TV movie. CALL HOME THE HEART was a runner-up for Best Historical.
A native of Georgia, Rebecca was raised in the Tidewater region of Virginia. She went to the University of Georgia and majored in history. She lives with her four rescued dogs in a historical district in Upstate South Carolina.

Join in and tell what the picture says to you. Post 150 words or less in a comment.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Interview with Mystery Author Jinx Schwartz

My guest this week is the funny, often outrageous Jinx Schwartz. Jinx is the author of the Hetta Coffey mysteries.

What’s the best thing about living on a boat?
Being on the water. I love, love it, even at a marina, but prefer to be at anchor. We are surrounded by sea birds diving for fish, rays doing an aerial ballet, turtles blowing in the night, and dolphins cavorting. Once in awhile, a whale blows. Now THAT will get your attention, especially if it is close!

What’s the worst thing?
See photo. Need I say more? Getting caught in a storm you can't hide from. We now have another boat.

What, if anything, do you miss about living on land?
We live on land several months of the year, and it's fine. I like my dishwasher. Given a choice, I'll take the boat, but both work for us. My husband is a golfer; he gets summers on the green, and I get winters on the water. I do not play golf, for I have way too much self-respect.

Have you actually met some of the characters you write about?
Oh, yes. First off, people who venture offshore in a boat less than several hundred feet long are a different breed. They are risk takers, rebels, dream seekers, and some are just plain nuts. Great material for books.

Do you suspect some of the people you meet are running or hiding from another life? 
Absolutely. We were approached on the beach once by a guy who stood out like, well, a landlubber. Turned out he was an insurance investigator and wanted to know if we knew a guy named X, who was reportedly living on a sailboat down here in Mexico. When I asked the name of the boat, the man said, "Elusive." He stomped off while I was still rolling on the ground laughing.

Who, living or dead, would you most like to spend an evening with? Why?
My parents and grandmother, of course.
However, for a stranger I'd pick Hunter S. Thompson, in a bar. Who wouldn't want to spend time with a guy who said: "I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity, but they've always worked for me."

Which, if any, other authors have influenced you?
Larry McMurtry. Seriously, who wins a Pulitzer Prize for a Western?  I love his sense of history and, because I am a Texan, his Texas-ness. We have our own brand of humor, sense of place in History, and even self-deprecation.  I am a ninth-generation Texan, which makes me even more unbearable than most. 

Who would you like to play your main characters in a movie?
Hmmmm. Hetta Coffey? A younger Bette Midler. Even if she is a Yankee. Hetta Coffey is a sassy Texan with a yacht, and she'd not afraid to use it!

Which of your characters would you most like to meet in person?
Oh, I've met them all, trust me.

Anything else you want to say?
I always have a lot to say, just ask my friends. Some of it is even true, although the odds aren't that good.

I was raised all over the world, in Texas. My dad built dams and we dragged relatives, and chile con queso, with us to Haiti, Thailand, Puerto Rico and the like. I followed his steel-toed footsteps into the building bidness and continued wandering around the globe. I started writing to set the record straight after reading a Texas history book referring to my ancestors as "a congenial society for evil." That just wouldn't do, so I wrote The Texicans.
Twitter: @jinxschwartz I manically retweet interesting stuff posted by others. If boring, I Unfollow.

JUST ADD WATER (Book 1) Award-winning Hetta Coffey series
Amazon author page:

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

What's the difference between foretelling and foreshadowing?

Practical Magic, Stockard Channing
 My scheduled guest had to postpone because of illness, so I'm reposting an old article from May 2011. It still crops up from time to time.
Foretelling is when the author jumps ahead of the story with a “had I but known” statement or scene, though maybe not in those exact words. It's generally the prerogative of witches, discouraged as a plot device. It's a kind nana-nana-nanha (my creative spelling there), an obvious tease.  Foretelling takes away the element of surprise and deprives the reader of experiencing the events with the character.
Had I but known what lurked under the eaves, I would not have gone to the attic. And then the story begins but avoids telling what was under the eaves. This is supposed to build suspense, but most of us find it annoying. It takes away the reader's pleasure in figuring out the plot and trying to outwit the character.
In a movie, it would be letting the viewer see the killer in the shadows as the victim walks innocently down the dark street. The audience may anticipate but would be deprived of the big gasp and adrenaline rush when the killer jumps out wielding the axe.
Sometimes the author tells the reader the outcome—if Bob had known he'd end up locked in a cell, he wouldn’t have gone out that day—so the reader doesn’t feel the tension build along with Bob. Instead he waits for Bob to catch up. He knows what’s going to happen, so there’s little suspense.
If the same scene were done with foreshadowing, the camera would make sure the viewer saw the deep shadows but stop there, letting the audience figure it out. The tension is much greater that way. Foreshadowing is done with small portents of evil or small incidents that hint to the reader that worse is coming. In foreshadowing, the sky darkens, the wind rises, and the swells deepen. Tension develops as circumstances worsen. The timbers creak, a sail rips in a gust, and a barrel washes overboard, but the reader experiences it through the character, sharing his or her feelings. When this is done well, the reader’s heart races, his breath comes faster, and he turns the pages faster and faster.
Another way to foreshadow is with a small incident that shows something about the character, say an excessive reaction to a spider. Though nothing more is told at this point, the reader knows Corey is terrified of spiders. But the seed has been planted. Now the reader will be watching for spiders, sure something bad is going to happen. Then let the reader forget, lull him into complaisance. Then, when things slow down, have the giant spider spring from the tree and grab the hero (gasp), or depending on the genre, drop silently onto the hero's shoulder (scream "look out").
Do you use either of these? Can you give an example?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Humorous Romance with Jan Romes

At Amazon

Today I’m interviewing Jan Romes, author of delightful humorous romances. Her stories will make you smile!
Who inspires you and why?
As soon as I read this question I grinned. The answer is easy: people with a great sense of humor inspire me the most. And I’d have to say that the ability to make people laugh or to be able to laugh at yourself is one of the most endearing qualities in a person and I tend to navigate to those kinds of folks. My writing is always laced with humor.
When and how often do you write?
I write every day. Sometimes it may only be a paragraph or two. It may be on a scrap piece of paper on my way somewhere, but thoughts fire through my mind all the time and I have to write them down right away.
When I’m home I try to write in the morning. First, I get a pot of coffee brewing and then I dive into writing.
You write humorous romance. Is that a reflection of your life?
Humor is definitely a reflection of my life. I grew up with eight siblings and I have to say, we’re a weird and funny bunch. Also, my husband makes me laugh a lot. He speaks in metaphors (i.e. We were watching a high school basketball game and he says from out of the blue, ‘that kid runs like he’s pushing a lawn mower’. Someone else might not find that funny, but I laughed so hard I had tears in my eyes. Guess you had to be there.)
In Three Days with Molly, Finn lives on a bus. How did you research that? Have you ever been in a celebrity’s bus?
I searched the Internet for custom made buses and also found a few blogs written by ‘road widows’ (wives or significant others of musicians). My husband and I stopped at an RV dealership and I snagged a brochure that showed a plush layout. I’ve not had the pleasure of stepping into a celebrity bus. It would be awesome to be able to though. 
In The Gift of Gray, Alexis takes a job as a masseuse. Wow! How did you research that one? (Inquiring minds would really like to know. J
I’ve had massages (not recently, darn!) so I was aware of the some of the techniques, plus I work as a fitness trainer so I am familiar with the muscle groups.
Do you have favorite book (of your own) or character?
Hmm. I love them all because of the special relationship I had with the characters. I felt what they felt. When they’re happy, I’m right there with them. When their hearts get broken I cry. Each book and each character’s situation is different, so it’s hard to choose. I’m going to pick One Small Fib since it was my first book published.
Which of your characters would you most like to spend an evening with? Why?
Wild Rose Press
Again, I’m going to pick Allie Blue and Kiptyn Thomas from One Small Fib. Allie because she’s sassy but sensitive. And Kiptyn because he’s ruthless with his business skills but underneath that staunch billionaire exterior lurks a guy whose looking for happiness and love, it just takes him awhile to realize it.
How do you determine your character’s flaws?
I try to pair flaws with upbringing and occupation. In Three Days With Molly, Finn is a self-proclaimed bastard. His early life was meager so he learned early on to be self-reliant and guarded. He became a successful country-rock singer and those traits carried over into his professional life.
Molly is a hard worker with trust issues too. She works for a divorce attorney and has seen her share of dysfunctional relationships. It didn’t harden her but it made her overly cautious.
Do you have photos of faces for your main characters? Or do they live in your imagination?
I often find photos to accompany my main characters. And I refer to them often. For Three Days With Molly, Finn Riley bears a striking resemblance to country star, Jerrod Niemann and Molly could easily be Anne Hathaway’s stunt double.
Thank you so much, Ellis, and best wishes for much success with your own writing career. Your books rock!
Here’s an excerpt from
At Amazon
Jessi pulled her arm loose. The second she was inside, she realized the error of coming there. If Ian was the crazed person she’d been trying to shake, she just made things easy for him. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb. In her romance novels she was careful not to write ditzy heroines. Obviously, in real life she was one. Her gaze zinged around the small living room. Wicker furniture with navy and white striped cushions filled most of the space.  A large conch shell decorated the middle of the glass-top coffee table, while a small TV and an array of silk plants took up the rest of the room. Nothing screamed stalker. Then again, it wasn’t his place.
Ian was dilly-dallying, and Jessi was getting irritable. “Is that French vanilla I smell?” It was a ridiculous question since there wasn’t a trace of French vanilla anywhere.
“No. Just plain old coffee.” Finally, he led the way to the kitchen.
Jessi’s mouth instantly filled with saliva. If she didn’t get a sip of coffee soon, she would need a bib. 
Ian pulled two coffee cups from a mug-tree on the counter. He filled one and grinned.
Slow torture. She wouldn’t have to fall asleep for him to kill her. All he had to do was withhold coffee. Before he filled the second cup, his cell phone rang. Ian wrinkled his nose and walked into a room off the kitchen. Jessi assumed it was the bedroom because their places appeared to have the same layout. Ian’s conversation was somewhat muffled, but she could still hear most of the words.
“Yeah, I know. I have it under control.” Ian dropped a handful of cuss words including the f-bomb. 
What did he have under control? Jessi tossed the question around while diving at the cup of coffee still setting on the counter. She took a test sip. Mmm. Some of the tightness in her shoulders let loose. She slurped another sip. Coffee was heaven. The ultimate. Way better than everything, including sex. Jessi snickered. According to the love scenes she wrote sex was a girl’s best friend. Another sip of coffee said that was rubbish.
Some garbled rambling met her ears, but suddenly Ian’s words burst loud and succinct in her brain. “I’m going to take her by the throat and choke the life out of her.”
The sip of hot coffee in Jessi’s mouth sprayed across the plastic table cloth decorated with starfish.
You can find Jan at:

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Little Cottage in the Woods

The Cottage
Do you keep pictures of people, places, or things you use in your book? I do. Sometimes the picture comes first and inspires a part of the story. Sometimes the story comes first, as it did here.
My ever-alert critique partner, knowing the main character in my WIP (suspense novel) rents a tiny cottage, spotted the picture and sent it to me. I tracked down Sandy, who graciously gave me permission to use it. Since it’s January and there’s snow in the picture (although it’s supposed to be in the low 70s here today), I decided to post it today.
This charming cottage belongs to Sandy Foster, who took this photograph. She turned an old fishing cottage into her studio. It’s such an interesting spot that Trevor Tondro did a feature on it for The New York Times. (Follow the links to see more.)
Mine didn’t look quite like this, but the cottage is exactly right. Here’s the bit about the cottage, though it may change before the book is finished.

“Thank you.” Madeleine followed her past the truck and down the drive to the tiny storybook house she’d seen from the road, watching Jean’s long gray braid swing in rhythm with her long strides.
“I told you it was small. But it’s clean and warm. It was my daughters’ playhouse.” She stopped and waited for Madeleine to catch up.
“It is small, but it’s charming. Who painted it?” Madeleine didn’t know if she could fit inside it.
“I did. I’m a potter, but I dab a little paint here and there. It was sittin’ here empty, and I decided it might do for short-term rentals. My husband’s a carpenter. We fixed it up again and touched up the paint I did for when my girls was little. I wouldn’t offer it except to a woman, and a small one at that.” She glanced over at Madeleine, curious.

Monday, January 7, 2013

You want me to do WHAT?

The Wild Rose Press

My guest this week is Jerrie Alexander, author of the exciting debut novel The Green-Eyed Doll.
So I poured myself  into writing the book. I suffered, banged my head on the keyboard, went from being unable to sleep to refusing to close my eyes until the last sentence was written.
Occasionally, I tried to force my will on my characters, only to realize I had to allow them to tell their own story. After all, I was just a conduit, a means for the hero and heroine to get their story told.
I worked through critiques, beta readers comments, completed the book, and at last, my baby was ready to meet the world. I wiped the sweat from my brow and hit send.
Then the real work began.
The real shock came when I received my first edits! It's funny now that the bleeding has stopped, but the first time I read those comments and questions, I was stunned. Flamethrowers couldn't have damaged my heart any worse.
In my head, I knew my editor and I wanted the same thing, so I forged ahead. I went line by line, writing and rewriting, strengthening each sentence. Cutting out the waste and tightening the story. All the while, I was gritting my teeth and mumbling.
We emailed back and forth, as the second edits came and were completed. Then the final galley appeared in my inbox. My final read through.
Holy cow! She'd been right about everything. The writing was tighter, the story more compelling, and the emotions felt real.
Now don't get me wrong, this doesn't mean I won't react the same way next time. It's probably the most vulnerable I've felt in years. But I learned my lesson...the right editor is priceless.
Catherine McCoy is on the run. For the past year, she’s been on the move, hiding the secrets and guilt in her heart. When she lands in small-town Texas and meets Sheriff Matt Ballard, he ignites a flame she thought lost forever.
Matt has scars of his own. He left the big city after an undercover operation went bad and his partner was killed. Now, as Matt hunts for a serial killer who paints his victims’ faces like porcelain dolls, Catherine becomes a safe haven for him. Two tortured souls finding comfort in each other's arms—until he uncovers her secret, and their bond of trust is broken.
When Catherine disappears, Matt races to find her, fearing the murderer has found his next green-eyed doll. But the killer has a surprise coming. Catherine will fight to the death before she’ll be a victim again. Will her determination be enough?
A student of  creative writing in her youth, Jerrie set aside her passion when life presented her with a John Wayne husband, and two wonderful children.  A career in logistics offered her the opportunity to travel to many beautiful locations in America, and she revisits them in her romantic suspense novels. 
But the characters went with her, talked to her, and insisted she share their dark, sexy stories with others.  She writes alpha males and kick-ass women who weave their way through death and fear to emerge stronger because of, and on occasion in spite of, their love for each other.  She likes to torture people, make them suffer, and if they’re strong enough, they live happily ever after.
Jerrie lives in Texas, loves sunshine, children’s laughter, sugar (human and granulated), and researching for her heroes and heroines. 



Thursday, January 3, 2013

It's FIRST FRIDAY! James. Lavene. Seewald.

Three talented authors give their take on same photograph in 150 words. It's always interesting, the different ideas and voices that a single picture generates.
The armless redheaded doll gave me the creeps when I first dug it up. I was clearing away brush after the violent windstorm from three days ago when I spotted a small foot sticking out of the ground beneath the elderly privet. I had no idea how long the doll had been interred. We’d lived in the house only five months, and I knew nothing about the previous owners.
Soon after we moved in my two-year-old son started talking about a red-headed girl doll he wanted to play with. The little girl had it, and he wanted it.
There was no little girl in our house or anywhere on the block. Yet the baby kept getting increasingly frustrated because the little girl held the doll and wouldn’t let go.
He jabbered excitedly and held out his hands when he saw what I’d unearthed.

They’d looked everywhere for Rita.
The storm had torn the Outer Banks apart. Most people thought Susie’s mother was crazy trying to find a doll when their home had been washed out to sea. They didn’t understand. Susie needed something to think about, something to hope for. She needed to think there was something still left for her so she could pick up the pieces of her life.
Susie’s Mom needed that too.
Susie and her mother found Rita, finally, lying on a bench near the boardwalk, as though she’d been waiting there all that time for them. They cried together, and Susie wrapped her scarf around Rita where the rough weather had stripped her dress away. She smoothed her hand across the doll’s hair and tried to make her presentable.
“I think she’ll be fine now,” Susie said with a smile.
“I think we’ll all be fine now.”


Silently slipping into the magical dress shop,
cloaked in the black velvet mystery of night,
her heart tripping like a hammer,
she escapes into a world of wonder.
A  land of make-believe comes alive
as she sees the exquisite dresses,
fingers the delicate fabrics,
and pretends she is the fey fairy princess of her dreams.

She slips into a confection of silk and buttery lace.
The purity of a violin's sotto sound begins
 as she dances, swirls, twirls in her pretty party dress.
And there is nothing but the perfection of this moment,
 serene and beautiful for all eternity.

A loud rapping, tapping startles her.
"There you are," her mistress says.
At Amazon
"It is late and time we were in bed."
She fervently believes
some day her dream will become reality,
but for now,
she is merely a broken doll
clothed in torn rags.


Dean (AKA Miranda) James is a seventh-generation Mississippian who has now spent over half his life in Texas. A medical librarian by day (in the Texas Medical Center in Houston), he plots murders, listens to music, reads, and works part-time at Murder by the Book on Saturdays. He is owned by two cats who make Sarah Bernhardt look like an amateur when they think it’s feeding time.

Joyce Lavene writes bestselling mystery with her husband/partner Jim. They have written and published more than 60 novels for Harlequin, Berkley and Charter Books along with hundreds of non-fiction articles for national and regional publications. She lives in rural North Carolina with her family, her cat, Quincy, and her rescue dog, Rudi. Visit her at, . Twitter: @authorjlavene,

Amazon Author Page
Multiple award-winning author Jacqueline Seewald has taught creative, expository and technical writing at the university level as well as high school English. She also worked as an academic librarian and educational media specialist. Her Kim Reynolds mystery novels, originally published in hardcover by Five Star/Gale includes: The Inferno Collection, The Drowning Pool, and The Truth Sleuth. The first two novels in this series are now available as ebooks in all formats including Kindle, Nook, Kobo, etc. Check out the The Truth Sleuth available as of January 2013 in paperback edition from Harlequin Worldwide Mystery.