Smart Girls Read Romance

Smart Girls Read Romance -- so do the bestselling and award-winning Authors who write this blog. Join them as they dish about Books, Romance, Love, and Life.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Author Interview: Gemma Dufranse



Author Interview with Gemma Dufranse

K: I am thrilled to interview self-published erotic romance author, Gemma Dufranse. Welcome, Gemma!

G: Thanks for having me, Kimmie. You’re my very first interview! And what better place than Smart Girls Read Romance!

K: Sweet! A newbie! Let’s jump right in, good with you?

G: That’s how I like to work. Let’s do it!

K: Yes, so I’ve heard *grins*! It’s kind of a cliché, but what inspired you to write your first book?

G: I’ve always wanted to write. Storytelling is my passion, but it wasn’t until last year that I decided to buckle down and get out my first novella: Tinsel, Tidings, and Temptations. I think being surrounded by fellow writers giving it their all inspired me to jump in with both feet.

K: It’s funny how we thrive on the motivation of others. Do you have a specific writing style?

G: I write steamy stories. I like to be uninhibited and write whatever flows. I don’t like to let others hinder my writing style by what they might think.

K: Do you think that’s rare in authors today?

G: Unfortunately, I think it weighs on authors greatly what others might think, whether it’s their friends, family, or readers. I know it weighs on me. When I say I don’t like to let it hinder me, doesn’t mean I’m immune. I just struggle to write through the scrutiny.

K: Agreed, on all accounts. Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

G: Authenticity. I’ve read some erotica where I sit back and go, there’s no way that would really happen! I never want that to happen to me as an author. Some things might be hard to believe, but not impossible.

K: I’ve read a few of those also, and not just in the erotic genre. That’s a challenge we should all be facing in our writing. Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

G: Spellcheck is flawed.

K: *snort* Short and to the point! What book are you reading now?

G: I’m reading My Confession by DeLaine Roberts. I am so in love with the passion she has for her characters. My Confession on Amazon


K: You and DeLaine have another connection as well, right?

G: Yes, she’s also my cover designer. I can’t say enough positive things about working with her on Tinsel, Tidings, and Temptations. And the feedback I’ve gotten on the cover is priceless.

K: It is most definitely a hot cover. What are your current projects?

G: Oh, there’s so much going on! This year is going to be a big one. I’m looking to release a few novellas this year in various box sets with some amazing ladies; Abbie St Claire, Geri Foster, Vatonia Boone, DeLaine Roberts, and of course, yourself. The particular project we’ll be working on together is going to be ground breaking. 

*Links to the above authors*
DeLaine Roberts       
Abbie St Claire           
Kimmie Easley

K: Yes, I’ve never been a part of anything like it and it’s going to be good! That brings me to another question. Have you ever hated something you wrote?

G: Pretty much everything up until last year.

K: I guess we won’t be seeing any of your early stuff. Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

G: The people I surround myself with in the writing world. There are many talented men and women out there looking to give back to new authors like myself. Some I may never even meet in person, social media is very instrumental in the literary world. I’ve been very fortunate to make some amazing lifelong friends.

K: I’ve experienced the same thing. It’s a whole new world! Do you have any advice for other writers?

G: Go for it! Don’t wait. Don’t let others hold you back. Don’t write to the market. Don’t lose yourself.

K: Words to live by. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

G: I can’t thank you enough. Every kind word, every constructive criticism, every review, there aren’t enough words to say how much you are appreciated. Read on, loves! Xoxo

K: Thank you so much for joining us, Gemma. It’s been a real honor, and we’re looking forward to great stuff in 2014.

G: Thank you for having me. I’m a little awestruck! I’ll never forget my first interview!

Buy Tinsel, Tidings, and Temptations: on Amazon on Barnes and Noble
Gemma Dufranse: on Twitter
Gemma Dufranse: on Facebook
Gemma Dufranse: on Goodreads

Author Bio: Erotica writer, completing my 'Tramps' series. My novella Tinsel, Tidings, and Temptations is available in Kindle and Nook! I also like the color red. Louisiana





Tuesday, January 28, 2014

POISONS THAT KILL CHARACTERS

By Caroline Clemmons for Beth Trissel

Here I am, Caroline Clemmons, substituting for Beth Trissel. Beth is ill and on her way to recovery, but this month needs to concentrate on feeling better. Picture her snuggled down with her pets in a comfy chair and reading. At least, I hope that’s the picture. She’s a lovely, gracious person and a wonderful writer. 

One of the many areas in which Beth is an expert is plants that heal or kill. Now picture me giving an evil laugh. Bwahaha. Okay, I don’t kill actual people, just my characters as I say below.

My current trilogy, Men of Stone Mountain, is about the three Stone brothers: Micah, Zach, and Joel. Aren’t brothers enough of a link for a trilogy? Yes, but there’s another link to these three books. Each involves poison in some way. No, I’m not bloodthirsty and I don’t intend to use my knowledge to wipe out any real people. Trust me. In this trilogy, however, I wipe out a several people. Ah, the joys of being a writer.

Studying herbal medicine is sort of a mini-hobby. I’ve taken the excellent herbal class Beth Trissel occasionally offers, as well as perusing my books on folk medicine. Pioneers relied heavily on their ability to recognize healing plants as well as those that discouraged pests and vermin. No Walgreens or WalMart around in those days.  Early settlers also learned that what can heal, if administered improperly, can harm. Don’t you suspect a lot of so-called natural deaths were helped along before modern medicine and forensics discouraged using potions and tinctures to kill? Maybe I’m suspicious by nature, but I believe a lot of troublesome people died prematurely, helped along by a loving family member.

Who, ol’e Uriah? Why, he had a heart attack and up and died.” 

“My first two wives? Each took sick and died on me.” 

Who’s to prove otherwise?

BRAZOS BRIDE, is a western historical romance, but it’s also a mystery. Hope Montoya, the heroine, is a smart woman and figures out that someone is poisoning her. Who and why are more difficult problems.  Until she knows, she can trust no one who has access to her food or medicine. She vows to fight for her life, but she’s so weakened by the poison that she can’t fight alone. Enter our hero, Micah Stone. Do you hear the “1812 Overture?” You know, I’ve heard a highbrow is someone who can hear that music without thinking of the Lone Ranger. But I digress.

Micah also has enemies in their area. He fought for the Union Army and the Civil War has left many North Texas citizens bitter.  Micah’s own brothers fought for the Confederacy. Despite their political views, the Stone brothers are closely knit. When Micah was falsely accused of killing Alfredo Montoya, Hope’s father, Zach and Joel came to Micah’s aid. The story opens two months after the trial in which Micah was acquitted. A severe drought has Micah desperate for water. His own water sources have dried up and his cattle are dying of thirst. Micah and his brothers and ranch hands haul water daily from Zach’s spread further west.

Here’s a review of BRAZOS BRIDE:

A NIGHT OWL REVIEWS BOOK REVIEW | Reviewed by: Barb
I found this book to be very entertaining. I read it in one afternoon because I had to know who was trying to murder Hope, the heroine. Her interaction with Micah and their relationship was the heart of the story. I really got into the story and the characters. The mystery of just who of the many characters were the evil ones kept me reading and turning pages (so to speak) on my Kindle. I was unable to stop reading this book until I finished it. That really says something for the author's plot and cast of characters. I enjoy these types of books, but this one was exceptional. I will be patiently waiting for the stories of Micah's brothers, Zach and Joel. I see the potential for some very good stories following these brothers' lives. Good job in making me want more.
Mar 28, 2012 | B007HS10SY
Top Pick 4.5 stars

Isn’t that a lovely review?


This villain is vicious and almost non-stop. After an attempt on their life on their wedding night, here’s an excerpt of a retaliatory strike the next day when they stop by Micah’s ranch on the way to Hope’s. Bert and Slim are Micah’s ranch hands. I’ve already mentioned that Zach and Joel are his brothers (and their stories are HIGH STAKES BRIDE and BLUEBONNET BRIDE):

She savored a bit of the stew, then bit into a fresh biscuit covered with syrup. Closing her eyes in bliss, she chewed slowly. “Oh my, this is wonderful. Never have I tasted better stew. And these biscuits are light enough to float away.”
Bert blushed and lowered his head. “Thank you, Miz Stone.”
Micah’s dimpled smile demonstrated his appreciation for her comment. Why should that please her so?
Hope learned more about their struggle for water, how they'd hauled barrels of it from some spring a good ways off on Zach's land, apparently their only remaining dependable source of water.
She remembered her father’s angry reprimand and the blow he’d delivered when she’d suggested he install windmills on their land. Her eye was swollen and purple for days, but he told the servants she’d fallen against the door. They knew, of course, and wouldn’t look at her until the bruises faded. She pushed the sad memory aside and returned to the present. Did she dare make a suggestion to Micah?
She gathered her courage. “Have you thought about a couple of the Mitchell Self-Governing Patent Windmills? I saw an ad for them and plan to install them in several spots on my land.”
Excitement gleamed in Micah’s eyes. “Hey, I saw an ad also, and I’d love to have them. Until now, I haven’t had the cash.”
He’d planned the same thing. And he didn’t appear to resent her suggestion. She wanted to shout with glee. He actually respected her opinion, and didn’t say a woman had no business thinking such thoughts. “Oh, well, maybe we can get a discount on the freight and cost if we order together.”
Zach nodded. “Good idea, Hope. I wouldn’t mind a couple of them myself, soon as we get your and Micah’s problems settled.”
They talked about where the windmills would be placed and guessed how long it would take them to arrive. All through their discussion, Hope was treated as if her ideas were equal to those of the men. Their response surprised and soothed her. Maybe this arrangement would work for everyone.
Micah laid his spoon aside while Bert served up the pie. "I need to talk about something less pleasant. Someone tried to kill us last night." For a minute everyone stopped talking and stared at Micah. The only sound was a horse’s nervous whinny.
Bert cocked his head toward the window and paused as if listening to the horse, but it quieted so he resumed serving. Everyone forked up the pie while Micah explained about the ordeal.
"Sheriff know?" Joel asked between bites.
Micah nodded. "Surprised me. Acted halfway decent about it. Said he'd keep investigating, but don't suppose anything will come of it. Without a witness, it could be anyone."
"So what's your plan, Cap’n?" Slim asked.
Micah swallowed and said, "I'm leaving you and Bert in charge here. For months now someone’s been poisoning my wife. You know her father was murdered, and now someone's tried to kill us. We have to be on guard all the time. You two are charged with taking care of this place while the rest of us take care of my wife." He dug into the last of his pie.
Slim looked indignant. "Poisoning a purty lady like Miz Stone? Low down sidewinders!"
"You’re right about that.” Micah pushed his plate aside. “Tomorrow you can start the cattle toward the river. One of us will stay at the Montoya ranch with Hope so she's always protected, but the other two will be over to help."
Always protected. She repeated the words in her head while she nibbled at her pie. The words reassured her and she looked at each of the men at the table. She might not have her home to herself, but safety in numbers popped into her mind. She no longer faced danger alone. Things would be all right now.
Bert asked, "Reckon I ought to go cook for you? I could make sure no one messed with Miz Stone's vittles."
Zach smiled apologetically at Hope as if he'd known she should have been included in the decision. "Our two aunts will arrive soon to help our new sister, maybe today if they caught the stage."
Micah said, "You're badly needed here, Bert, to look after this place."
Bert actually smiled. "Me and Slim can do it, cain't we?"
Slim nodded and started to say something, but another horse whinnied and this one sounded alarmed. Slim frowned and sniffed the air. "You smell smoke?"
Micah sniffed at the same time. "Something burning, Bert?"
"Nope, I done put the fire out on account of how dry it is. Covered it good with dirt." He rose and ambled to the window.
"Lord A’mighty, the barn's afire!"


In case you want to rush right over and buy BRAZOS BRIDE at Amazon Kindle, the buy link for print and e-book is:

By the way, HIGH STAKES BRIDE (Zach Stone's story) and BLUEBONNET BRIDE (Joel Stone's story) also are mysteries as well as western historical romances. Each also have poison involved in the plot. Both books are available at most ebook vendors. For a bargain, the boxed set including all three books is MEN OF STONE MOUNTAIN and is available from Amazon at:


 BRAZOS BRIDE and HIGH STAKES BRIDE are also available as audio books from Audible, Amazon, and iTunes.


Sunday, January 26, 2014

My Grandson Called Me The Other Day...

Vonnie Davis
I've been blessed with many things in my lifetime. No, not with riches. Nor with grace of movements. And, heavens, not with good looks either! But with friends and family, my cup runneth over, as they say. My sweetest blessing has been my six grandchildren. All are young adults or teenagers, now, which makes me older than dirt, but we don't need to go there. And as long as Madame Clairol and I are on intimate terms, I can pretend some of those years don't exist.

My grandchildren are scattered, as so often happens. Three live in Indiana and three in northern Maryland. Calvin and I live in southern Virginia. My jewels and I keep in touch via facebook chat, twitter, texting and phone calls.

Ryan after winning his match at 160 lbs.
Ryan, who was born on my fiftieth birthday, is especially good at keeping me involved in his busy life. He's fifteen now and an all-A student, taking honors courses, and a busy athlete with wrestling and track and field. He called me the other day. "Grandma, I saw your name in USA Today online! They wrote about your Christmas novella. What's a novella?" After I explained, I asked him what he was doing reading a newspaper online. It struck me as a little odd for a teenager. "I was eating a snack of rice cakes smothered in honey and chocolate chips and perusing some of the scientific articles." (a math geek, he wants to go into engineering) "I saw the page for books and popped over to see if there might be one I'd like to read. Never expected to see my Grandma's name." The kid sounded both shocked and impressed.

"So what are you reading right now, hon?"

"I'm reading this cool book by Einstein on his theory of relativity. I'd read it over the summer, but wanted to read it again since I'm taking advanced physics this semester. The book's won several awards. Have yours ever won awards?" I laughed and told him they had, but not on the caliber of Einstein's. Ryan gave a typically male grunt. "Writing fiction is different than writing non-fiction, isn't it, Grandma? Don't you have stuff like tropes you have to worry about? And point of view? We talked about that in Honors English." My eyebrows shot up. And I grinned so hard while the two of us discussed writing and literature that my cheeks hurt for several minutes after his call ended.

I asked if there were any books he wanted. My grandkids all know I'll send them most any book they request. Calvin and I work hard to foster their love of reading. Ryan told me about a couple books on quantum physics, and I jotted down the titles so I'd remember them when I slipped over to Amazon to place an order.

When Ryan went to say good-bye, he said, "It was good talking to you, Grandma. Sometimes I just need to hear your voice."

Yep, the kid's a smartie, alright. He knows how to get to grandma's heart. I am so, so blessed.


You can visit Vonnie Davis at her blog ~ www.vintagevonnie.blogspot.com or her website ~ www.vonniedavis.com Her website is currently undergoing construction and is rather messy, but you're more than welcome to stop by and wade through the mess.

Friday, January 24, 2014

THE POWER OF OBSERVATION

I love a mystery! Whether it's a book, movie, play or TV series, I love the challenge of trying to figure out who, why and how someone did the dastardly deed.  The clues are there if you're sharp enough. The grandaddy of observation is, of course, Sherlock Holmes. The sleuth is all over the place at the moment. PBS  has an interesting documentary  about the "real" Sherlock and how he has influenced crime scene investigation.

One of the most amazing things about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's stories is how they are so timeless.  Each generation re-invents the famous detective while still holding true to the basic story. Sherlock is often maddening. but never dull. How I wish I could write a book that shines and intrigues readers for decades. However, figuring out motivations, characteristics and what is really going on in a scene is something we can all use to improve our writing skills.

While I am no expert on Sir Conan Doyle or the mythology of Sherlock Holmes, I can appreciate the influence he has had on mystery writers and avid readers. His take on deductive reasoning and observation still confound me.

For fun, I've gone to websites devoted to developing the art of observation. It's a skill you can develop with practice.  Have you ever watched an Alfred Hitchcock movie and tried to spot his cameo appearance in his movies? Have you ever encountered an elderly lady defiantly wearing a bikini to the beach? How about someone  with unusual eating habits? Can you tell where a person if from by their speech? These are just a few of the quirks that bring your characters to life.

Observing people and things around us can spark the imagination. When you are out at the mall or in a restaurant, look around and create a story about people around you. Observe their mannerisms, clothing or habits. Can you use them in your story? Make your characters unique. Quirks and all.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

WHO LIKES ANTHOLOGIES?

Caroline Clemmons for Tessa Gray

As it says above, Caroline Clemmons here for Tessa Gray, who is overwhelmed with her day job teaching college plus the published author part of our Yellow Rose RWA chapter’s Winter Rose Contest. DeLaine Roberts is heading the unpublished portion of the contest. Those two ladies are busy, busy, busy right now.

I snapped up the chance to step in for Tessa. I have wanted to ask your opinion of anthologies. Me? I love them. The reasons I enjoy anthologies are:

1.      I can read an entire selection while waiting at an appointment or before I go to bed—even during commercials if I’m watching TV with my Hero husband.

2.       I’ve often discovered new authors whose books I then bought and enjoyed.

3.       The stories are overview visits to places and times so I know if I want a longer visit.

I have just finished reading HEARTS AND SPURS, a Valentine anthology by Prairie Rose Publishing. What a treat that was! Each story was a winner. I had read the Prairie Rose release WISHING FOR A COWBOY at Christmas and loved it. As soon as HEARTS AND SPURS released, I purchased it and started reading.

Crafting a short story for an anthology is a gift. I so admire those who do it so well, such as the women in HEARTS AND SPURS. Kathleen Rice Adams, Linda Broday, Tracy Garrett, Tanya Hansen, Sarah J. Macneal, Phyliss Miranda, Cheryl Pierson, Jacquie Rogers, and Livia J. Washburn are the nine authors whose stories are included. Each story is a gift to the reader—a mini-getaway to another time and place. I didn’t find a new author to read in HEARTS AND SPURS because most of these are already among my favorite authors. Cheryl and Livia are the publishers of Prairie Rose.

Talk about the earlier WISHING FOR A COWBOY prompted several of us western romance authors to create our own anthology. This one will be of sixteen very short stories and be titled RAWHIDE ‘N ROSES and be out in March. Proceeds will be donated to a charity for wild horse rescue. After all, we are western writers. What’s more western than horses?

One might think that writing for an anthology is less complicated than creating an entire book. It should be. For me, creating a short story for RAWHIDE ‘N ROSES was a challenge. Visualize me agonizing and beating my head against the keyboard. Sigh.

Writing short is difficult for me because I want to add in too many details and secondary characters. No time for that with a short story and only a little time in a novella. Participants in this anthology had to keep our stories short due to the number of authors. Was this ever a learning experience for me!

The sixteen authors are Simone Beaudelaire, Alison Bruce, Caroline Clemmons (me), Cheri K. Clifton, Keta Diablo, Peggy L. Henderson, Lyn Horner, Susan Horsnell, Paty Jager, Charlene Raddon, Jacquie Rogers, Carol A. Spradling , Chad Strong, Margaret Tanner, Rain Trueax, and Celia Yeary.

Susan Horsnell is editor and formatter. She is so professional and organized, one would think she engaged in editing and formatting full time as a paying job. Alas, she is donating her time. Charlene Raddon created the cover—imagine trying to please sixteen artistic people! Good thing she didn’t have us all in one room or she’d probably have lassoed us and tied us to the furniture. Instead, she showed patience and flexibility.  The group is even planning another anthology in the summer.

Many groups publish an anthology each year. Hero and I often buy collections from Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America as well as other groups that tout “the best of” whatever year for that type story. In these anthologies, I have discovered some of my now-favorite mystery authors. I’m pleased that now romance authors are publishing anthologies, too.  More reading for me.


Do you like anthologies? If so, what do you like about them?   

Monday, January 20, 2014

What's It All About

By Geri Foster

We write because we're writers and we have stories to tell. By putting those crazy voices in our head down, we hope me might escape insanity. We're lovers of words, senses, and imaginations. The comfort of a well written book brings us alive and stirs our desire to do it all over again.




Long before we became masters of writing, we were readers. Women and men who stuck their noses in a book and kept it there until the end. Then closed the book with a well satisfied sigh. Within minutes, we were looking for the next novel to gobble up. Books took us on imaginary flights to all sorts of magical places we'd never go on our own. Oh, no, far too dangerous. There is safety in reading a book about high adventures as opposed to one buying a ticket to some far off land and explore alone.




A book is much like a travel agency, accept it's considerably cheaper. You open a book and you go places far and near. Meet new people, and visit exciting town as well as other worlds. Ones you never considered. And the author takes you there with such ease and comfort, you're not exactly sure how it all happened. You're there all comfrey in your chair, you open a book, and walla! Everything in your mind changes.




Your experience as a reader depends on the writer, and as a writer it's important we make the ride as comfortable as possible.




Happy Ending!


Geri Foster



Saturday, January 18, 2014

GRACE METALIOUS - A PUBLISHING PHENOMENON




Like most authors, I would love for my book to make a best seller list. How to do that? Is it the story? Most certainly. Is it the writing? Most definitely. Is it luck and our readers? Most probably. Truth is it's all those things that contribute to putting our hard work on a New York Times or USA Today best seller list.

The following is a post about an unassuming but determined writer who made that coveted list her first time out. In researching articles for this post, I did find that Grace Metalious never had a particularly happy life and went downhill after her success in the publishing world.




Grace Metalious, nee Marie Grace DeRepentigny, born September 8, 1924, was a best selling author whose first book, Peyton Place, stayed on the New York Times best seller list for fifty-nine weeks. It sold twenty million hardcover copies and twelve million in Dell paperbacks.

She started from humble beginnings and wrote from an early age. After graduation, she married her husband, George, but continued to write after becoming a housewife and mother. Grace was thirty in 1954 when she began work on her manuscript about the dark secrets of a small New England town. She gave her novel or WIP (work in progress) the working title of, The Tree and the Blossom. It wasn't long before she realized her book needed a fictional town and after much deliberation with her husband, Peyton Place was born.

Peyton Place was published September 24, 1956. It was reviled by the clergy and dismissed by most critics, nevertheless, it remained on the New York Times best seller list for over a year and became an international phenomenon. Commenting on her critics, she observed, "If I'm a lousy writer, then an awful lot of people have lousy taste", and as to the frankness of her work, she stated, "Even Tom sawyer had a girlfriend, and to talk about adults without talking about their sex drives is like talking about a window without glass."







As a young teenager, I remember finding an innocuous little paperback book stuck behind other books in my parent's bookcase headboard. It was quite an educational read that summer and I suspect I wasn't alone in my secret reading. Grace Metalious died September 25, 1964 of cirrhosis of the liver from heavy drinking at the age of thirty-nine.While her life and success burned out quickly, she has the distinction of penning a publishing phenomenon.








Thanks for stopping by,
Carra

CODE OF HONOR buy links Amazon for Kindle ebook and print:  http://tinyurl.com/muln4r9

and, Smashwords for nook, kobo and iTunes:  http://tinyurl.com/llshmbg
 
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