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Friday, October 30, 2015

Secondary Character Are Important, Too.

By Suzanne Rossi

Hello everyone.

Wow, it's hard to believe the end of October is here already. I've heard it said that the older you get, the faster the time goes. Must be right. Whew.

Today, I'd like to talk about secondary characters in a book. They're just as important as the hero and heroine to our stories. They can be a best friend, a relative, a troublemaker, or anybody with whom the main characters interact. Sometimes, it's easy to just mention them in passing, but I like to flesh them out.

In several of my books, I've even gone to the extent of giving them a back story. For instance, in my first book, Along Came Quinn, the villains, Rod and Victoria, had their own distinct personalities and motives. I delved into this deeper in the sequel, A Tangled Web. I set up Victoria to have redeeming qualities. She hated being a con artist, but knew no other way of life--until she met the hero. Her scheming brother, Rod, however, was never going to learn, yet I liked writing him.

All in the Family is a mob story with the heroine a mafia princess working for the Feds. The hero is a jaded, former undercover FBI agent who is also her handler. The secondary characters in this story are the son of a mafia don, a hood, and a stripper named Bubbles LaRue. I think I had the most fun with her. She had a back story straight out of the backwoods, and considered herself a rags-to-riches kind of gal.

Occasionally, I write several secondary characters. Giving all of them a history would slow the pace to a crawl and put the reader to sleep. So, I concentrate on one or two. In The Reunion, I put Dave Coryell and Suzanne Wayland Crocker front and center. I loved writing Suzanne. She was a total bitch, yet I liked her. In fact, I liked her so much, she almost took over the story. About two-thirds of the way through the first draft, I realized I needed to tone her down, so the heroine could shine. To this day, I think she's my favorite.

In my soon to be released book, The Assassin, the heroine's mother, Priscilla, not only had a back story, but if left to my own devices, would have become the heroine in another novel. I had close to ten pages of information dreamed up about her childhood, her marriages, divorces, and all the baggage that goes with it.

And of course, no novel, especially romantic suspense, would be complete without the secondary character who's the killer. Now they are fun to write, but I have to be careful not to divulge too much too soon or the reader will figure it out in chapter four. I generally leave a lot of the back story to the end after he or she has been caught. It's a bit like Hercule Poirot explaining how and why to his amazed audience in Agatha Christie books. However, I love Agatha Christie and Hercule Poirot, so I use it.

I've also discovered that the setting of the story can be as much of a character as any person. A cruise ship, a tropical isle, a big city, a small town in Indiana, as long as the writer can make the reader feel like they are there, then it's a character. I try to use places I've lived in or visited to make them sound more believable. Many of my stories are set in the Memphis, Tennessee, or South Florida locales. I've called those two places home for most of my life.

The next time you pick up a book give special attention to those secondary characters. Like 'em or hate 'em, they are part of what makes the story and keeps you coming back for more.

Have a great day and I'll see you in November.

Suzanne Rossi

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

I See Dead People--An Author Thing

Actually, anyone writing historicals featuring those who've gone before us see dead people. Most of the folk who've ever walked this earth are departed, if you think about it. But not necessarily gone. Characters speak to me, unless they're sulking. And I see them, unless they're being elusive. Conversations and scenes unfold like watching a movie. Some only in snatches; others are far more in-depth. The trick is to capture these tantalizing glimpses before they fade like mist in the sun. I'm certain this time I'll remember. How can I forget something so vivid, right? A faulty assumption on my part. The bold enactment that played so brightly before me only last evening, or a few hours ago, grows hazy. I struggle to recall the details. Life intrudes and the clarity is lost. I'm learning to jot down some notes before the words zoom away, except for the scene I'm flirting with now that I'm positive I'll remember...tomorrow. 

Speaking of communing with characters, sometimes out of the blue, I was walking in our meadow one afternoon when I heard  a woman say, "Master Stuart do not venture here." And she floated toward me in the mist so that I wasn't certain she was real. Neither was Stuart Monroe, hero of the story, especially as he was in the graveyard at the time. That's how ghostly Gothic historical romance novel, Traitor's Curse, opens, and now you know why. I never know how inspiration may come, only that it will.

Traitor's Curse (out Nov. 6th) is available for pre-order in Kindle and Nookbook and will also be available in print. The novel is the third in my Traitor's Legacy Series and the sequel to Traitor's Legacy, released by The Wild Rose Press
Excerpt from Traitor's Curse:
 “Turn back. A man watches you.”
Again, the warning carried from the unseen source.
What man, and how did she know Stuart was observed? He could barely discern anything.
“Who are you? Show yourself.” Uneasiness lent indignation to his demand.
Through the haze, he spotted the figure of a young female dressed all in white. A death shroud?
Pray God, it wasn’t. His gut knotted, and he stood staring at her.
Ethereal, ghostly, she seemed to float toward him, but must have walked.
 Must have.
A cold shiver stood the hair on the back of his neck on end. Was she flesh and blood, or spirit? Had she crossed the divide between the two worlds?
He scarcely dared to breathe.
Still, he stood rooted to the trail. And not only from fright. Fascination. Despite fear of being haunted, an aura about her drew him.
He waited, every muscle taut, poised betwixt heaven and earth, the scent of crumbling leaves in his nose. At least, that was real.
Whiteness swirling around her, she neared.
Then he spotted it, an ivory coverlet draped over her head and around her slender shoulders pinched together in front with pale fingers.
No shroud.
The blanket reached to her ankles and trailed behind along the ground. Mist muted the flowers stitched into the cloth. This accounted for him not spotting her sooner. She’d blended in with the vapor.~
***Visit my Amazon Author Page where ALL my books reside.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Tomorrow, Tomorrow, Will They Buy It Tomorrow?

Book three of "A Highlander's Beloved Novel", my bear-shifter series--BEARING IT ALL--releases tomorrow. I'm nervous, as I always am. I'm worried if I've done everything I can to get the word out. Lucky for me, my publisher, Random House Loveswept, has helped promote me, too.

The series thus far has been about the Matheson brothers--Creighton, Ronan, and Bryce. In Scottish, mathe means bear and these men are sons of bears, or bear-shifters.

Book one, A HIGHLANDER'S OBSESSION, is Creighton's romance with an American who's traveled to Scotland as a companion for her Grandma Effie to attend her uncle's funeral. For Creighton, it's almost love at first sight. For Paisley, who has a boyfriend back home, meeting Laird Creighton is like a nightmare. She can telepathically communicate with animals and she hears Creighton's bear speak to Ronan's bear. Poor thing thinks she's finally crossed the line of insanity.

Book two, A HIGHLANDER'S PASSION, was Bryce's romance with his childhood friend, Kenzie. Bryce, a widower, is father to a precocious four-year old who's liable to say most anything. He's spurned Kenzie once before. Now, realizing his mistake, he's out to win her love. She's not having any of it.

Ronan, the middle brother, has said repeatedly, "I have nay time ta hunt fer a lassie. If she wants me, she'll have to drop from the feckin' sky." Men should be more careful what they say, don't you think?
A Scottish hunter and a French secret agent find themselves on a collision course with danger—and irresistible desire—in Vonnie Davis’s new bear-shifting Highlander novel. 
In the pine-dense mountains of the Scottish Highlands, shape-shifter Ronan Matheson is taking a couple weeks off from his duties at the family-run lodge to find solace at the cabin he built. His bear is running free when a desperate woman parachutes out of the sky, directly onto his furry, powerful chest. Instead of clawing her to death, Ronan’s inner bear longs to keep her safe. Once he’s back in human form, Ronan is amused by the mysterious beauty’s fearless attitude—and tempted by her expertly toned physique. But what could she possibly be doing in this isolated stretch of the Highlands?

French intelligence agent Anisa Brosseau (think 007 with boobs and curly hair) never imagined she’d be on the CIA’s bad side—until she’s framed for treason and forced to flee in a stolen drone. Hiding out in a remote cabin, Anisa just needs some time to clear her name. What she doesn’t need is a brooding, muscle-bound Scot in a skimpy kilt to drive her crazy with lust. But when Anisa’s enemies come knocking on his door, Ronan calls on a secret weapon to protect his turf and the bonny lass he’s come to love.


Saturday, October 24, 2015


Oh, the dreaded blank page. You're sitting in front of the computer, fingers poised and your brain goes blank.  Where is inspiration when you need it?

Nora (yes, the famous one) says you can't edit a blank  page. Duh! So, where can I find the key to unlock my creativity?

The story I'm working on is set in late, 1800's Colorado. My town is based on a real place, Lake City. I've mentioned it in the last blog. Small as it is, I'm sure there are hundreds of real life stories that are worth writing about.

My characters have been in the back of my brain demanding their story be told. All well and good, until I begin writing and other characters pop in. Well heck. Now I have to figure out what their part in the story is.

One writer friend sits down and pounds out 20,000 words in a couple of days. Her mind is full of interesting characters and action. It's been months and I'm just about to hit that mark.  I have to sit back and think of who these people are and what is happening to them. How do they get out of horrible situations. How did they get into horrible situations? The agony never ends.

My critique partners are invaluable. They've sat with me and gone over pages of my manuscript and offered ideas and thumped me when I forget to watch out for point of view changes. (I'm terrible at that and never notice.)

Maybe I need to do some on-site research and head to Colorado. Maybe not. I think it's snowing there already. Yeah, more than an inch of snow strikes fear in my heart. Pretty, but I'm used to a few flurries in the winter.

How do you kick start the writing juices?  Pictures? Real historical figures? Situations? Please, I need help!!

Thursday, October 22, 2015


At the beginning of October, for the first time, I saw Forrest Gump. There had been reasons I hadn't watched it, even knowing it had been so highly praised as a classic film everyone should see.  The reason to see it then came down to wondering how it dealt with a subject I had in my next book-- being slow-witted. 

My hero in Lands of Fire was introduced in Echoes from the Past as the hero's brother, a man who was physically perfect but mentally slow. I saw Jesse's potential even though he was not the norm as a romance hero. In discussing it with a few readers, they encouraged me to explore this and give Jesse his own romance.

Every time I begin to write a book, I do some thinking as to what makes a hero. You can't just say-- here's the hero and expect the reader to buy into it. Heroes have certain qualities that people react to when they see them-- (Characteristics of a Hero-- such as courageous, skilled, sacrificial, destined, and wounded).  

Jesse meets those qualities. In thinking about it, I saw that his wound was his mental limitation-- or more importantly how he saw it. In writing his story, I didn't want to get caught up in the hero aspect of Jesse and forget that limitation. I didn't want to  'normalize' him. It was always important to keep in mind that he was slow, not stupid.  

When I watched Forrest Gump what pleased me was how that last point was emphasized. It made the point I also believe-- what makes us different can be our special quality. 

Although, Forrest had a wonderful mother, who fought to make him see himself as good as anyone else, in my story, Jesse's parents had been filled with fear at his difference. It's not hard to sympathize with them.  In the 1800s and into the early 1900s, our country dealt harshly with those it regarded as mentally aberrant. His parents' fear had led to Jesse avoiding people and places that would challenge him. It took life and someone else to show him that his differences also had pluses.

Much as seeing Forrest Gump reinforced my confidence in my hero and his qualities, I was happy I had not seen it until after I'd written my book. If I'd seen it first, I'd not have had the liberating experience of discovering for myself Jesse's character and recognizing his power. That was the kind of serendipity that I love as a writer and something that always gives me joy when it happens. 

Lands of Fire, will be out November 5, 2015.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Cursive for Pantsters - Slow Down and Get Organized

By Sandy Nachlinger

Do you have a friend who comes up with … uh … unusual ideas? I do. My friend Sandra Allen* had a brilliant (?) plan recently about something we should try. 
Writing in Cursive?

Sandra and I have been friends since the eighth grade and have corresponded with each other for decades—through handwritten and typewritten pages. Recently, word-processed snail mail letters, email messages, and texts have been added to our communication methods. She’s a retired elementary school teacher who lives in North Texas; I’m retired now too and live in the Pacific Northwest. After lamenting the decline of cursive writing in education, my friend’s latest brainstorm appeared in a letter she mailed to me—one she’d created using word processing and sent via the United States Postal Service: We should write snail-mail letters to each other in cursive like we used to. Was I up for the challenge? Of course I agreed.

Finger Cramps

I searched the house, came up with a yellow legal pad, and then sat down to write. It quickly became apparent that unless I wanted a page filled with cross-throughs, rambling scribbles, and arrows to insert thoughts and omitted words, I’d have to stop and organize my brain before putting pen to paper. So I considered what I wanted to tell my friend, planned it out in my head, and started writing. About half-way down the page, I had to stop, put down my ballpoint, and shake out my hand. Like my last attempt at pushups, I found that my writing muscles hadn’t been used for creating more than a few repetitions in a long time! But I did manage to pen several pages (legibly!) and send the letter on its way. In Sandra’s response, she closed her hand-written letter to me with these words: This was harder than I thought it would be!

Slowing Down Can Be Fastest

Aside from giving me stiff fingers, this exercise reminded me of the value of taking a few moments to organize my thoughts before sitting down to write a story. No, I’m not one of those people who outlines her story – I’m a “pantster” who  creates by the seat of her pants. But this exercise in cursive forced me to slow down and consider each word. I realized my fiction writing would benefit from this approach. I’m not going to write a 350-page book in longhand, but if a scene is giving me trouble, I’ll take out pen and paper and try to create it the old-fashioned way, focusing on each word. Slowing down can sometimes be the best and fastest way to get something done!

Now I have to ask: When was the last time you wrote something with a pen or pencil (other than a grocery list)? When was the last time you mailed a snail-mail letter to a friend? Or do you communicate solely by email or text message?

Cursive Chart Source: Mesa Public Schools

*Sandra Allen and I co-authored I.O.U. SEX, available in paperback and ebook formats from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and other online booksellers. We collaborated via email and cell phone.
Amazon eBook Link

Sunday, October 18, 2015


Who doesn't like a party? I know I do and there's one coming up you don't want to miss! On October 21, 2015, ten authors from the Christmas Anthology, SILVER BELLES AND STETSONS, are gathering on Facebook to enjoy virtual food and drink to gab about their books and give away prizes. It's going to be fun so bring your party hats and celebrate with us!

Best selling and award winning authors bring you Ten Western Historical Romance Novellas featuring alpha cowboys from the past. This boxed set will take you back in time when men were rugged and handsome and the women who loved them courageous and daring. Available for pre-order at AMAZON for $.99 or read FREE in Kindle Unlimited.

The Greatest Gift: A Montana Cowboy Christmas by Kathleen Ball. Amazon Bestselling
and Award- Wining Author. Looking for the man who ran out on her, Ginger finds a
cowboy worthy of love but he doesn't want or need love.

Catherine’s Cowboy by Cait Braxton, Amazon Bestselling and Award-Winning Author. During a supernatural dust storm, Fate steps in when rugged army tracker Elam helps Catherine deliver her child.

Stone Mountain Christmas by Caroline Clemmons, Amazon Bestselling and Award-
Winning Author. Can Celia restore the town's Christmas spirit? "A beautifully written
story about love and hope and all the emotions Christmas brings out in people." Karren Lucas

Angel and the Texan from County Cork by Carra Copelin. Amazon Bestselling and Award-Winning Author. Does Angel trust marriage to the man she suspects of killing her husband or the stranger who promises to pay off her debt and set her free if she decides their marriage of convenience won’t work?

The Drifter’s Proposal by Kristin Holt, Amazon Bestselling Author.

The Perfect Gift by Lyn Horner, Award-winning author. Friendship has blossomed into young love, but it seems destined to die on the vine...until an unexpected Christmas gift promises happiness.

Marshal Mistletoe by Susan Horsnell. She married the wrong man. Will fate intervene?

Christmas Redemption by Paty Jager, Amazon Bestselling and Award-Winning Author. Can two battered hearts find solace or will the past continue to haunt their lives? "A story of forgiveness that has a wonderful hero who has worked hard to redeem himself."

A Hard Candy Christmas by Hebby Roman, Amazon Bestselling Author. Two damaged souls. Can their budding love and the healing power of Christmas bring them together?

Christmas Cowboy by Margaret Tanner. Will a miracle Christmas baby unite two tortured souls, or will it forever keep them apart?

My new novella, ANGEL AND THE TEXAN FROM COUNTY CORK, is among this great group of authors. Angel is the third book in my Brides of Texas Code series.

“Don't move, mister, or I'll drop you where you stand.”
The speaker, dwarfed in men's clothing and wrapped in a heavy coat, resembled a young boy but the voice was decidedly female. And, while full of bluster, her voice held a slight tremor. She was obviously wary of his presence. Jamey took a deep breath and squared his shoulders.
“Sure'n I'll not be a threat to ye, miss. Me and Rusty, we're just tryin' to get in out of the cold.” Throughout his life, he'd been in and out of rough, sticky or tense situations. As he heard the snick of the hammer being cocked, he figured this qualified as all three.
“Take your horse and get out of my barn.”
Slowly, Jamey turned his body around to face her. He stayed close to Rusty while keeping his right hand near the rifle. In spite of his situation, he grinned.  Speaking more to himself than to her, he said, “Well aren't ye just a wee slip of a thing?”
“I'm not kidding. I will shoot you.” She backed up a step, raised the barrel of the over-sized pistol, both hands shaking, and aimed straight at his chest. “Now move away from that rifle.”
He needed to get her calmed down or she might actually shoot him. Taking two steps forward, he said, “Fair, colleen, my name is—”
The next thing he knew, he’d slammed onto the hard dirt floor. Searing pain shot along the right side of his head. As darkness closed around him, he wondered where he'd gone wrong.

Thanks for visiting today. I hope you'll snap up this anthology and join us for the party. You won't be disappointed!


Friday, October 16, 2015


By Caroline Clemmons

After being out of town for a while, Joan Reeves is playing catch up on a myriad of projects and asked me to fill in for her today. I want to remind you about a box set from nine of my favorite authors and myself that was released yesterday, COURTING THE WEST, priced for a limited time at only 99 cents!.

Among these ten authors are NY Times, USA Today, and bestselling authors Debra Holland, Kirsten Osbourne, Lily Graison, Cynthia Woolf, Jacquie Rogers, Sylvia McDaniel, Paty Jager, Merry Farmer, Keta Diablo, and myself. Sylvia Moncrief designed the cover. These 10 novels are not new, but we banded together to present them to you in the hope you'd find new favorite authors (us!)

Amazon    Amazon CA    Amazon UK   Nook   Nook UK   
Kobo   iTunes

Included in the box set are:


In 1894, Lily Maxwell travels to Sweetwater Springs, Montana with precious cocker spaniel. Lily is painting the wildflowers of the area for a project that could launch her artistic career. For years, she has denied herself happiness because of her equestrian accident that left her with a damaged hip, a limp, and a sense of unworthiness. Her inability to bear children has kept her from giving her heart to anyone.

Rancher Tyler Dunn's wife abandoned him and their son, and he wants nothing to do with women. This new woman in town with her lovely violet eyes and wonderful talent stirs feelings in Tyler. After Tyler rescues Lily's dog from being swept away by the river, Lily develops a friendship with him, the people on his ranch, and his young son, Oliver. Yet the two of them dare not give in to their feeling for each other.

Can these lonely souls find their hearts' desires under the majestic Montana sky?

DAISY, Suitors of Seattle Series by Kirsten Osbourne

Raised with advantage and privilege, Daisy must now find a husband. Because of her overwhelming shyness, she chooses to let her aunt, Harriett Farmer, find her a husband.

Aunt Harriett's suggestions are not what she expected. Setting her up to be a mail-order bride, she sends her to Montana to meet Eli King. What she finds is a life vastly different than what she's used to. Can she possibly find love and contentment or is she doomed to a life of regret?

HIS BROTHER'S WIFE by Lily Graison

When Grace Kingston accepts a wedding proposal through a mail-order bride agency and travels across the country to be married, she has no idea her bridegroom is a fourteen-year-old boy. There's no way she can accept his offer but with depleted funds and winter coming on, Grace has little choice but to stay.Things go from bad to worse when she meets Jesse's older brother, Rafe. The attraction is immediate. He's surly, rude, and downright pig-headed but he makes her pulse race with a single glance.

Rafe Samuels thought to teach his brother a lesson by making him take responsibility for his rash behavior but one look at Grace and his plans go up in smoke. She isn't the dowdy spinster he imagined and having her live in his house and not be able to have her is the worst kind of torment. But putting her out of his mind is impossible.

As fall turns to winter, Grace finds that living with the two brothers isn't as simple a thing as she once thought. Jesse still thinks marriage is in the cards, and Rafe is a devilishly handsome distraction she doesn't need. She can't decide if he hates her or wants to kiss her. And how does she avoid breaking Jesse's heart when it becomes clear that the attraction between her and Rafe is mutual?

TAME A WILD HEART by Cynthia Woolf

Catherine Evans fell in love when she was three years old, head-over-heels, forever kind of love. The very first moment she saw twelve-year-old Duncan McKenzie, she told God and her pony that she was going to marry that boy. He was handsome. He was kind. He was strong and smart and all the good things a boy should be. For thirteen years she loved him with every beat of her heart. And on her sixteenth birthday he walked away from her father's ranch and from her. He didn't look back over his shoulder. Not even once. And from that day forward, Catherine swore off all men. Her heart turned to stone, her will to iron, and her vow to God changed. She'd run her father's ranch. She'd succeed. She'd survive. And she would never, ever love another man as long as she lived.

Duncan McKenzie left the ranch ten years ago, desperate to escape temptation in the form of a budding young lady too innocent to claim for his own. But Catherine's frightened father summons him home. The ranch is under attack and the old man's stubborn daughter refuses to seek help. Duncan left a sweet young girl behind a decade ago. He returns to a defiant siren, a woman whose heart is as wild as the land she would sacrifice her life to protect. When Catherine's father coerces her into marrying Duncan, the fire in her eyes spells trouble, but it's the good kind of trouble Duncan has no desire to resist. Marriage is the only way he can protect her. Especially when Duncan's own past comes calling in the form of one dangerous and vengeful outlaw. Catherine's cowardly enemies want the ranch badly enough to kill for it, and his reluctant bride is very much in their way.

SLEIGHT OF HEART by Jacquie Rogers

A Straight-Laced Spinster...
Lexi Campbell, more comfortable with neat and tidy numbers than messy emotions, is determined to find the sharper who ruined her little sister and make him marry her. When his lookalike brother Burke appears, she greets him with a rifle and forces him to help her. Can she resist his magic charm?

A Gambler With Magic Hands...
To claim the family fortune, smooth-dealing Burke O'Shaughnessy has to find his brother Patrick, despite being saddled with an angry spinster. But when Lexie shows and astounding talent for counting cards and calculating odds, he figures she might be useful after all. Can he draw the queen of hearts?

A HERO'S HEART by Sylvia McDaniel

Wade Ketchum is searching for his only surviving sibling when he finds a ready-made family.

Rachel Cooke is stranded on the Oregon trail with three orphans and a rebellious sister, until gambler Wade Ketchum rescues them. The hardened cowboy is searching to find his long lost brother, is out of cash, and has no time for a praying spinster. When Rachel runs out of options, she makes a deal. Wade must pretend to be her husband and help her reach Oregon. But somewhere along the trail, pretending becomes real. Can she help Wade realize that he still has a heart capable of love?

LAYING CLAIM, Halsey Homecoming Series, by Paty Jager

Jeremy Duncan commits to haul one last load of supplies across the great interior of the Yukon before heading home. But, he has to trade his pack animals for sled dogs and leave Skageay in the middle of a blizzard due to one strong-willed, business-minded beauty.

Determined to find her older brother, Clara Bixbee doesn't care how she gets across the pass, as long as she does, and soon. Hiring handsome pack guide Jeremy Duncan seems to be her best choice. Especially after she saves a young girl from being beaten by the local gang leader and needs to escape Skagway fast.

SARAH SUNSHINE by Merry Farmer

She was done with her shameful past...
But Sarah Wither's past isn't done with her. Though she longs for Roy LaCroix--body, heart, and soul--old wounds and fresh battles threaten to end her second chance at an honest life before it begins.

His future is only a heartbeat away...
But how can Roy LaCroix stay true to the woman he's waited for so long when he and Sarah are embroiled in a twenty-year-old feud that threatens to keep the star-crossed lovers apart? Roy must choose: be a man of substance or stay true to his heart.

Only love can stop history repeating itself before it's too late.

CHASING THE DEAD, Bannister Brothers Series, by Keta Diablo

The Apache kidnapped me to dispel and evil ghost from their village. If I tell them I don't possess the same skills my madre did, they'll cut my throat and feed me to the dogs. Celesta was the best spirit chaser in all of New Mexico before she died.

The most I can hope for is that Emmett, my fiancé, will rescue me. Is he capable of such a thing? Poppy must not have thought so because he sent Deacon Bannister to save me. Deacon...the man who walked away days before our wedding a year ago. The man who still melts my bones with one look.

We're running for our lives from Uday, the vaporous ghoul tracking us. He lusts after Sacheen, the beautiful maiden banished from the Apache village who travels with us. The warrior killed her father when Sacheen refused to marry him, and then Sacheen's brother killed Uday.

The ghost's powers grow stronger every minute on our journey back to El Vaquero...and so does my love for Deacon.

THE MOST UNSUITABLE COURTSHIP, Kincaids Series, by Caroline Clemmons

Storm Kincaid wants justice; Rena Dimitriev wants revenge.

When Storm's best friend and the man's wife are murdered, Storm secures a temporary appointment as a Federal Marshal so he can trail and capture the killers. He follows them to twenty-one-year old Rena's home, which is in flames when he arrives. She has survived by following her elderly husband's instructions while the men murdered him. Storm intends to take her to the nearest town where she will be safe.

Rena can identify the men who killed the person who had been her husband in name only and like a grandfather to her, and she vows to kill at least one of them. Whether or not Storm allows her to accompany him, she assures him she will go after the murderers. She is the only person alive who can identify the evil foursome whose policy has been to leave no witnesses. Storm agrees to take her with him. She'll be safer with him to protect her than she would be riding alone.

As a powerful and passionate love blossoms, they unite to rescue three orphaned children, fight the elements, and encounter the killers. Will their love be enough to protect them?

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Landmarks to Celebrate...Or Not.....

By Anna Jeffrey

As this year winds down, I can't help but reflect that this year is a landmark for me. 20 years has come and almost gone since I sat down and decided to write a novel. I'm now working on my 19th and 20th books. I hope to finish at least one of them before the year's end. When I think about other authors I know who have written 50 or 60 books, 20 doesn't seem like  much production for a 20-year investment of time and energy.

I have gone through 6 or 7 computers, several printers and various other equipment. I have spent a ton of money on trying various things to benefit my writing habit, including working at an outside job most of the time and working on writing in the wee hours. 

When I first set out to write fiction, I intended to write mainstream books based on stories right off the front pages of the newspapers. Think Jodi Piccoult. At the same time, I joined a couple of writing groups, one of which was huge. Someone in that group suggested that I would find it easier to get published if I wrote in the romance genre. 

At that point, I had read very few romance novels that I knew to be such, but since my goal was to get published, I decided to give it a try. I spent the next year reading romance novels. I don't know how many I read, but there were a lot. Some I found memorable. Others I barely plowed through.

The first book I wrote from beginning to end was "The Love of a Stranger," which was rejected by many agents and publishers alike. One day, I attended a RWA chapter meeting where Harlequin author Judy Christenberry was the guest speaker. By then, 6 years had come and gone and I had 27  rejections under my belt and I was close to throwing in the towel. Judy talked about themes and characters Harlequin liked to publish. Among them were cowboys, secret babies, lost love regained. So, driving home from the meeting, I thought, "I can do that." 

I sat down at my computer and wrote a story about all of that in one book. "The Love of a Cowboy," a family saga that was over 150,000 words and 650 manuscript pages long and it wasn't necessarily a romance. However, it won some contests and got the attention of a New York editor. We agreed to meet in Albuquerque at the Southwest Writers' Conference in which my saga had won first place. 

Then 9/11 happened and all of the horrors that followed. Not knowing even if the phones in New York were working, I finally found the nerve to call that editor and ask her if she still planned to attend the conference in Albuquerque. Her reply was, "Oh, yes. I've never been a fearful flyer." 

She was braver than I was. I drove to Albuquerque to a conference that would normally have been huge and well-attended. Only a handful of attendees were present. When I met my hero, I was surprised to see that she was a tiny spit of a girl, even in high heels. When I asked her about her flight, she told me she was the only passenger on the plane. It was such a powerful moment. Even through the pall and gloom and anxiety that hung over every person, thought and word, I had the feeling that somehow, destiny was at work for me.

She and I went to dinner and she told me her company would like to buy my cowboy book because she liked my voice and my writing, but they only wanted the romance between Luke and Dahlia, not the rest of the story. She wanted me to cut 65,000 words.

I was flattered by her compliments, but horrified at the same time. I had no idea how to cut 65,000 words out of a story and still have the story. She told me that when she returned she would write me an editorial letter and work with me on the cut. And she did. Her letter was 20 pages long, but we got through it. She was what I call a true editor and I will never forget her. She walked me through those revisions and the result was the book that to this day, is my best-selling book. 

That was another landmark year for me. I still remember all of it vividly and will until the day I die. 

"The Love of a Stranger" hadn't even gone to print before she quit the publishing company and moved away from New York. Another landmark event for my writing future. I will always feel that losing her affected my career in a negative way from which it never recovered. I still believe that I'm as good an author as Jodi Piccoult--if I don't believe in me, who will?--and I still have a yen to write mainstream fiction. I have always had a hard time believing that I'm truly a romance author.

So, for what they're worth, there are a few of the landmarks in my writing career. Hopefully, there will be more. After spending so much on this, I can't give up.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Challenge by Paty Jager

All my life I've excelled when I've been challenged. When my older brother was learning to read, I sat beside him and my mom learning right along with him. He took the Hunter's Safety Test, and the next year I took the class and beat his score. ;) He excelled in band, I excelled in band.  My dad said we had to get 3 point or better GPA, I finished High School with a 3.85.

I like to be given challenges. That's one of the things I like about being an Indie author. I set my challenges
and I strive to meet or beat them. This past month, I struggled with the challenges I'd set for myself. Partly because I jumped on several multi-author projects that put a halt to my schedule. Last week, I took my challenges by the horns. With a struggle and lots of brain muscle, I laid those challenges down.

I have the fourth book in the Shandra Higheagle Mystery Series, Murderous Secrets published, with the paperback coming out in a week. I have the last of the Halsey Brother/Halsey Homecoming series available. This is a Christmas novella titled, A Husband for Christmas: Shayla's story. Those were my projects that didn't get published as I'd planned. But they are out and I can now breathe a sigh of relief.

The multi-author challenges were a Christmas anthology of Historical Western Romance Christmas Novellas Silver Belles and Stetsons on pre-order. And a box set with nine other amazing western authors. The box set, Courting the West is available on pre-order also.  Both the anthology and box set aren't new books for me. The anthology has my Christmas novella, Christmas Redemption. But I took the time to tweak it a bit and add a couple new scenes for people who have read it before. Courting the West has the first book on my Halsey Homcoming trilogy- Laying Claim. This book takes place in the Yukon during the gold rush.

With those challenges out of the way, I now have to make time to promote all the above and write the first two books in my new historical western romance series, Letters of Fate. I've started one of the books and am having fun with the concept and the characters. But it is one more challenge because I am using someone else's world to write this story. It takes some interaction with others and keeping the story true to the original.

My biggest challenge now, is to get these two Letters of Fate books written before December 21st. We're visiting our children and grandchildren for Christmas and I have to get my writing done before we leave.

What was your biggest challenge this year?  Did you face that challenge with tenacity and win?
Writing into the Sunset

Saturday, October 10, 2015

The 'Rules' of Fiction Writing (Borrowed by Susan Sheehey)

I've been a part of a local critique group for several years and there's been a lot of new writers showing up lately. I love it. I love all the new people, the fresh ideas, and most importantly the reminder.

The reminder of exactly where I started all those years ago (I refuse to admit precisely how long). I'm sure my face looked just as confused, self-conscious, and nervous. It takes a lot of bravery to accept those critiques and keep writing forward.

Then it reminded me of all the various 'rules of fiction writing I've learned along the way.

There are dozens of subjective ‘rules’ out there, including every genre maintaining their own set of laws, but here’s what I’ve found to be universal. These are rules I’ve learned either the hard way or being in the right place with the right people, such as my critique group or a kind editor who took the time to reject my query with constructive advice.

*Say as much as you can in as few words as possible. Then cut the word count by half.

*Adverbs are spawns of Satan. Don't use them. Instead, find the right verb.

*Adjectives aren't evil, but they are sinful. Use sparingly. (Dangit, I used an adverb!)

*Head-hopping is just as confusing as it sounds. Keep to one point of view at a time. If you have to change heads, best option is to only do it by chapter or scene break (limit scene breaks to 1 per chapter.

*Likewise, stay in one tense: past or present. Otherwise it becomes too "Back to the Future for people.

*Cliches are such a cliche. Originality is the only way. Ya feel me?

*Showing is better than telling. Showing makes things more active, better paced, and easier for the reader to connect to the character. Telling has its uses at times, but again only sparingly.

*Info dumps (also called backstory dump) belong in the dump themselves. Otherwise it reads like a history book. Filter in the backstory in small bits throughout several chapters.

*The most important rule is to forget everything I just wrote and do what works for you and your voice. Fiction is subjective.

Can you think of any other rules I've missed? That we can throw out together?

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Get her latest release, Prince of Solana, the 1st in her romantic suspense trilogy Royals of Solana.

Thursday, October 8, 2015


By Mary Adair

Jamie, by Caroline Clemmons, is the first book in the Series, The Surprise Brides.

5 Stars

This story takes place in Colorado in 1880.

The Surprise Brides is a set of four books, each written by a different author telling the story of one of four brothers and his “surprise” bride.  This whole idea of my favorite authors coming together and collaborating on this multi-faceted story is exciting. From the prologue to the end of Jamie’s story there are tantalizing tidbits that spark the reader’s curiosity about this thrown-together family and builds anticipation for the next story.

Jamie is the oldest of the brothers and so to me his and Olivia’s story seemed to be the reasonable one to read first. Each book is a stand-alone story, but the way the stories naturally blend, you cannot read just one and stop.

Kind of like eating potato chips.

In the prologue we learn Fiona Fraser decided to take the problem of her poor, lonely, unmarried sons into her own hands and surprises each one with his very own mail order bride. You can imagine the ruckus when these unexpected wives-to-be arrive at the Fraser home and are presented to the four, self-reliant, independent Fraser men, none of which felt he needed a wife at this particular time in his life. Each of Fiona’s sons have good reason not to be happy with the situation his mother is forcing upon him.

Jamie has been married before and the only good thing to come out of that challenging union was his two beautiful but undisciplined children. Mama Fraser appears to be quite proud to announce that Olivia is a teacher in her introduction to her oldest son. Olivia will soon realize that between the scars Jamie suffers from his first experience with marriage and the unruly children her heart goes out to, that her work to make this marriage a happy and loving one will not be easy.

Olivia steps up to the challenge when her mother-in-law injures her leg and must take to her bed. As Olivia manages the household and makes progress with the children’s behavior, she falls in love with her new family and husband. She doesn’t realize her love and courage will be tested in a most severe way that could end in tragedy if she fails to protect all she holds dear.

Will Jamie recognize the blessing he received when Olivia entered his life? Will their marriage ever become the union they both long for? Will tragedy bring an end to their story?

All the questions are answered in this well-plotted and beautifully told story. I was captured from page one and my interest did not waver once throughout the story. This is a book for someone that enjoys stories of big families filled with big personalities lots of changes. I look forward to reading more of this family’s adventures.

The other three brothers' books are:

The Surprise Brides: Caleb by Callie Hutton

The Surprise Brides: Gideon by Cynthia Woolf

The Surprise Brides: Ethan by Sylvia McDaniel

All four books are available in print and also from Nook, iTunes, and Kobo.

Mary Adair is the author of the award winning, bestselling Native American Passion series set in the Colonial Carolina and England. She and her husband live on the side of a mountain in Eastern Oklahoma with a menagerie of pets. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Confessions From One of "Those People"

By Carolyn Hector

First and foremost, Happy Fall, Y'all! And Happy Pumpkin Everything. 

So like, today there are 79 days left before Winter Holiday. Yes… GASP!! I said it… I am one of “those people”

But before you judge me and beg me to at least get through Halloween, please remember I am from Florida. Last year for December 25th I had the A/C running. I swear we have 10 months of heat and so the minute it starts getting cold (68 degrees) I start singing Christmas Carols. I find myself hitting the seek button on the radio
for the cheerful tunes (all except that one about the shoes for the dying mom).

I used to take my kids Trick-or-Treating at the mall and pass stores already putting up their holiday decorations and get so excited.
Remember how the school supply list always got me excited to start writing? Well, I use a few of those notebooks to start my lists—of course there is one notebook used for gifts for the kids, but the other is a notebook for me and my list of books I want to read. And let’s give a big round of applause for RT Magazine (Romantic Times Mag) for prepping me with Christmas list of books in this month's issue 

I’ve written a total of 25 manuscripts and out of all of them, I think about 5 are some form of Christmas theme. Forgive me! I love the idea of big bulky sweaters, kissing in front of a fireplace, and of course snow! It's all so romantic to me. 

It all just makes me want to start writing. Oh yeah! NaNoWriMo starts up next month. Are you plotting?’s something I hope to find under the tree this year.  what’s making my list this year

I promise...sort of... That I haven't been too naughty this year!

What's on your holiday list (pumpkin, turkey, or otherwise)?

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Smart Girls Surprise: Western Romance Music, Dance, and Books #western

Website | Pickle Barrel Gazette | Amazon

Smart Girls Surprise
by Jacquie Rogers

Oooh, do we ever have a surprise for you... well, a few of us at SGRR, anyway.  I can't tell you what it is--I can't even tell you which authors are the culprits--but I can give you a clip of a fun movie.

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers 
Barn Dance

Okay, I do have something that I can talk about, and that's the fabulous boxed set that's coming out October 15.  What's that, you ask?  It's Courting the West, and it's available for pre-order now, so get it while it's 99¢!

My contribution is Sleight of Heart.  I've mentioned the inspiration for the characters--the heroine, Lexie Campbell, is patterned after my mom's sister and the hero, Burke O'Shaughnessy, is a mash up of Maverick, James Bond, and Remington Steele.

But that was after the idea of the story came to me.  And where did it come from?  Heart.

Yes, he's a magic man, Momma.

Yep, we have a lot of good reading for you.  And I've only read half the books in Courting the West, so I'll be buying it, too.  What a deal!  Several of my favorite authors, plus one of my absolute favorite books of all time, which I'll re-read for the umpteenth time because I have no willpower whatsoever, The Most Unsuitable Bride by Caroline Clemmons.  

This is such a win!  I'm happy to be included and ecstatic to get to read all these wonderful stories.  And guess what?

Prizes every fifteen minutes and a grand prize of $50.  You get to schmooze with your favorite authors and talk about books and just about anything else you can think of.  Handsome cowboys, and oh, those chaps.  What could be more fun!  So please join us!