Thursday, January 17, 2019

Awakening to the Dream of Publishing

With many publishing houses closing and with the growth of Amazon books and other retail online outlets available for e-books as well as print, many authors I know have stopped waiting for contracts with big publishing companies. They have decided to go on their own and publish their own books. While I have done it for non-fiction, others are doing it for their fiction books, to great success.  Today's guest in My Writing Corner, Cyndie Zahner,  has a new book out that caught my attention. When she told me she was publishing independently, I wanted to know more about her publishing journey.  
 Why did you decide to publish independently?
Publishing a book on my own was fate. When I quit my full-time job and began writing novels, the best advice I received from a published author was don’t wait to secure a publisher for your first book. Begin your second.

I took her advice and began writing my second book, Dream Wide Awake, as soon as I finished my first. I completed Dream Wide Awake’s first draft not long after I signed a contract with The Wild Rose Press (TWRP) to publish my first novel, The Suicide Gene.

Instantly, I loved TWRP. They were a wealth of knowledge. But like all publishing presses, TWRP’s road from submission to publication was long. So, while I waited for “release” day of my first novel, I worked long hours on Dream Wide Awake.

Fate has a funny way of aligning life’s puzzle pieces. I came across a class taught by that same author who originally offered me that initial advice to “keep writing.” This time? She was teaching self-publication. I took that as a sign. (Read Dream Wide Awake and you’ll find I don’t believe in coincidences.)

Another influencing factor? Prior to TWRP accepting my first novel, several small presses turned it down. While most encouraged me, none offered publication. Then I happened across a great little writing competition called Ink & Insights. I submitted my first novel to that competition. What sets them apart from other competitions is that for a reasonable fee, they give extensive feedback from four editors. (Love Ink & Insights.) I heeded every word those editors offered, revised my book with their suggestions, submitted the final draft to TWRP, and they accepted it.

So, now with one novel on the path to publication, I submitted my second novel to Ink & Insights, 2018. My scores came back high. I took every suggestion of the editors again, revised Dream Wide Awake, edited it again and again, and hired a fabulous proofreader. She cleaned up the novel, and I sent it to ten beta readers. They loved it. So, when The Wild Rose Press contacted me and asked to read my second book, I had done so much work on the book already I couldn’t bear waiting another eight months for publication.

I jumped in and self-published.

What are the biggest obstacles?
 First, being on your own with no one to ask questions of. 

Having a publisher for my first novel helped. When I decide to try self-publishing, I felt a bit disloyal to TWRP. However, when I told them I was self-publishing my second novel, they were understanding and supportive. Through them, I had met other authors, some who had also taken both routes: traditional and self-publishing. A few answered questions for me. I can’t say how much I owe to TWRP. If I hadn’t gone through the process with them, the road would have been tougher.

Second, you must do everything a publisher does.
 That means your workload doubles. Researching how to place my book on multiple websites was time-consuming alone. I also had to find a conversion program to change my word document to pdf, epub and mobi files (Jutoh, love it); decide what to do about ISBN numbers (botched that, purchase a block of ten on your own if you self-publish); find review sites (this I learned from TWRP); find a cover artist (thank you to my niece, Amanda Filutze); clean up my social media and learn more about the internet (thank you to my daughter, Jessie Zahner Grieshober, who walked me through this maze of misery); track my links (, I love you); and worst of all, research margins and design my print book. (I hate gutter margins.)

Thirdly, Dream Wide Awake is a totally fictitious novel, but some of the information is based on my life experiences. Chapter three, for example, was very personal. I based the experience of one of my characters on something that happened to me as a child. I did not want a word of that chapter changed and with self-publishing? I was the boss.

Last but certainly not least, I alone had to decide when my book was ready, which was to put it mildly, nerve-racking.

What do I like best about indie publishing?
 My freedom. I’m in charge. If I want to lower my price, I can. Up it? I can do that, too. I’m able to try different book blurbs to see which ones sell more books, and change key words at will.

I also have the opportunity to use Kindlepreneur (I’m purchasing Kindle Rocket), and Kindle Select (in which I will set up a ninety-day test period).

Do I like traditional or self-publishing more? I still can’t answer. There are advantages and disadvantages of both. TWRP has been wonderful to work with and my indie book, Dream Wide Awake, just finished third in Ink & Insights, 2018 Apprentice competition. So, I’m not complaining.

The bottom line is, publishing is secondary to writing. As long as I can continue creating stories to keep people up at night, I’m happy.

What a great story.  Let's find out about your new book -- Dream Wide Awake. Here's the blurb:
Dream Wide Awake 

Is someone looking for six-year-old Mikala Daly?

Mikala has visions. Years before she was born, her father, detective Jack Daly, married into a family rumored to see dead people. Jack didn’t believe in their psychic abilities until that gift—curse—befell his daughter.

Now their normal, mundane life spirals into mayhem as Mikala relays her dreams to him about three missing boys. Jack struggles to keep her visions secret. Is he risking her life?

He works to locate the boys before American government officials realize Mikala’s sixth sense is aiding his search efforts. Jack knows that in 2002 after 9/11, the CIA expanded an adult remote-viewing program to include children. When the project’s results stunned the White House’s secret commissioners, the adult program was discontinued and the childhood program, Project Dream, was born.

One daunting question haunts Jack. Is it true? Is death the only way out of Project Dream?

This sounds like a wonderful story! Thank you for bringing it to us and for sharing with us your road to independent publishing.   Here are the information links for Cyndie as well as the buy links for her new book. 

Author Links:
Author website:    
Author interview: 
(Hear about my 9/11 premonition that influenced Dream Wide Awake.)

Purchase Links:
Author website:    
Barnes & Noble:    

Again, thanks for sharing your story. Any questions or comments for Cyndie?

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Setting a Romantic Precedent

This is definitely the time to sit in a cozy chair and read a wonderful romance novel. It's the season of long nights, hot chocolate (or a good glass of wine) and a wonderful book.  When I read the description of today's book in My Writing Corner I knew I had found a wonderful choice for just that sort of pleasurable evening.

My guest today is Amber  Cross and her latest book is Precedent for Passion. 

Their attraction set a precedent no one else could match…

Abby’s imagination hadn’t been playing tricks with her memory. Fifteen years after meeting him in a court room, Glen Plankey is still so attractive he makes her toes curl. And that voice! Deep and authoritative, she practically melts into a puddle at the sound of it. She can’t wait to see more of him.

He can’t get away fast enough. Everything about her reminds him of that terrible day, yet his brain turns to adolescent mush when he looks at her curvy body and his heart skips a beat each time she smiles.

Soon undeniable attraction leads to scorching passion and grows into a true love affair. But is it strong enough to survive when he thinks she has played him for a fool?

Both of these characters sounded extemely intriguing so I wanted to know more. I just had to ask them a few questions about their current situation:

Abby, what is great about your life right now?

My life is almost perfect.

Professionally, I have it made. Once a month I serve as family court judge at the Essex County Courthouse in Guildhall. The rest of the time I have a small law practice in Somerset. That’s my new hometown in the northeast corner of Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. I can get to Canada quicker than I can get to the interstate, but I fell in love with the place as soon as I saw it.

I live in a beautiful condo on the third floor of my office building. Every morning I swim at the Somerset Academy pool-before school starts, of course-and my stepbrother David just bought Somerset Gables. That’s the town’s hilltop resort. When our brother Romney is in town, he stays with David and we all hang out together.

For the first time since college I have a social life. Okay, let’s be honest, it’s the first time in my life that I’ve had one. Just call me Miss Overachiever. I finished high school at sixteen and college at twenty. There wasn’t time for social gatherings with that kind of schedule. But better late than never, right?

My first friend in town was Jason. He lives in the condo across the hall and we serve on the planning board together. Once I thought he might even be the guy for me, but he had other interests and I don’t know if anyone will ever measure up to my dream man, anyway.

I don’t know much about him. I have no idea where he lives. I doubt he even noticed me when we did meet, or that he’d remember, but my memories of him keep me up at night.

What was your earlier experience with Glen?
I was clerking for Judge Henry between college and my first year of law school. I hadn’t figured out yet what my ideal man would look like until he walked into the courtroom. Tall, with dark hair and blue eyes and a deep voice that turned my insides to mush, he made the rest of the room fade away.
He was fighting for his life that day. For his son, his unborn daughter, and any shred of dignity he could salvage. It was an ugly battle. His wife accused him of deviant behavior in the bedroom and an appetite for sex that couldn’t be quenched. She probably thought her stories would guarantee sole custody for her and ruin him in the eyes of anyone present. What I saw was a father whose main concern was his children’s well-being. A man whose only fault was falling for the wrong woman. He needed someone who could appreciate his brand of commitment, his depth of passion; someone like me.

What do you think about him now?
My late-night fantasies didn’t do him justice.

What worries you about him?
I’m afraid he doesn’t have a place for me in his life. Even if he does, even if he’s ready to try commitment again, how will we make it work? He lives in New York City. That’s six hours from me when the roads are clear, and no state troopers are out on patrol. He has two teenagers to raise. I want to have a child before it’s too late. Will he want to start all over again? Has he truly recovered from the damage his ex-wife did? I’m afraid timing and geography might not be on our side.

What excites you?
Everything! I know that sounds silly, and a thirty-five-year-old judge should have something more profound to say, but there isn’t anything about him I don’t like. He’s a great father, a good brother and son. He tackled his biggest fear-public speaking-to make a toast at Jason’s wedding that moved everyone. Including me. Especially me.

He’s really smart. Every night we play chess by telephone. He’s a worthy adversary. His moves are almost as challenging as trying to get to sleep after we end our calls. The verbal foreplay we share is so exciting it sometimes keeps me awake for hours.
The man is perfect. To me. Perfect for me.

Oh, Abby! It sounds like you have a good reason to be smitten! Now we want to hear from Glen:

What are your thoughts on seeing Abby again?
I’m cursed. Of all the people I could have run into at my best friend’s wedding, why did it have to be her? I’ve never forgotten the shock in her gray-green eyes when my ex-wife all but castrated me at the Guildhall courthouse. Seeing her again, even after fifteen years, just brings it all back to me. I lost my dreams that day. My future.

What is it that draws you to her?
You mean, besides thick chestnut hair I want to sink my hands into? Or lush curves that belong on a WWII locker poster? A better question would be what doesn’t draw me to her?
The woman is sexy as hell. Smart and feisty, too. Once we get past our fifteen-year history, I simply can’t get enough of her. She’s intelligent, independent, and quirky. She keeps me on my toes. Keeps me up at night. I feel like a teenager experiencing his first crush every time I see her or hear her voice.

It’s not just a hormonal reaction, though. I like everything about her. She adores her brothers and the feeling is mutual. She’s great with my kids. Just as devoted to her grandparents as she is to her profession.

I love that she has a career of her own. She doesn’t want me as a meal ticket. Doesn’t view me as a sperm donor. She likes me for me.

What is it that makes you want to stay away from her?
I can’t trust myself. When I fell in love the first time, which I realize now wasn’t love at all, I was taken for a ride that won’t end until the kids are out of high school. Or college. Or married. I couldn’t see it coming then, and fifteen years later I’m not sure I’m any wiser. I’m a genius. No, really, I have the I.Q. tests to prove it, but where my heart is concerned, I’m about as dumb as they come.

Where do you think she fits into your future… or does she?
Freedom is so close I can almost taste it. In three years, my kids will both be out of high school. I won’t have to stay within a certain mile radius of their mother. I won’t have to hold onto the job I have, even though I love it, just to carry health insurance for them. I can get a telecommuting job and move home.

I used to dream about living in Somerset again. Helping my father and brother on the farm. Playing basketball with Jason. I still look forward to those things, but now the dream has changed. Grown to include chess games with Abby in the same room instead of miles away. I want to swim with her in the mornings and wrap myself around her at night.
I’m just afraid to hope.

Thank you Abby and Glen. Now if you want to read more about their story, here are the buy links:

If you would like to reach Amber and find out more about her work:

Thank you, Amber, for being my guest and to Glen and Abby.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

A New Year of Intrigue & Romance

Welcome to the new year! 2019 promises to be another year of great reading and discovering some wonderful new authors as well as enjoying the latest works of some of our favorite writers. We're starting out the year in fine fashion, spotlighting an international thriller that mixes intrigue with romance:  For the Love of A Spy by M. S. Spencer.

Although she has traveled in five continents, M.S. tells us that she has spent the last thirty years in Washington, D.C. as a librarian, Congressional assistant, speechwriter, and non-profit director. She has two grown children and a perfect granddaughter.

Ms. Spencer has published twelve mystery/romantic suspense novels, and currently divides her time between Florida and Maine.

In an era electric with possibility and peril Maris Graystone and Michael Kinder meet under oddly conventional circumstances. Despite the instantaneous sparks, they both sense there is more between them than physical attraction.

Their love affair intensifies against the backdrop f the dramatic world events of 1991 -- a disintegrating USSR, Middle East peace talks and Vietnam's re-emergence on the world stage. Michael appears and disappears at unpredictable moments, leaving Maris limp and lovelorn. n her quest for answers, she is yanked into the dangerous world of Michael’s work—in Washington, DC, in France, and in Spain. Looking for safe harbor for her emotions and her body, she accepts the advances of a dashing French diplomat. 

Will she embrace the luxury and comfort of Emile and his chateau or the romance of international intrigue with Michael?

Something is wrong. He cares about me, of that I’m sure. So what is it?
In the beginning, a lifetime ago and before they surrendered to their desire, he had said something about it being neither the time nor the place. What did he mean? She didn’t want to know just yet, but she would ask him. Yes, when he wakes up.
Over his shoulder, she glimpsed the clock—five p.m. We’ve been in bed for four hours! She sat bolt upright. He hadn’t fixed her air conditioner. He hadn’t called his office. She hadn’t finished her column. What on earth were they thinking? Or on what other planet? Did we beam up to Mars, where this sort of behavior is acceptable?
She shook him. “It’s late. You have to go.”
He came instantly awake. His azure eyes fastened on hers; his arms went automatically around her.
She felt herself slipping into their world but fought it. “You have to go!”
He kissed her tenderly. “I know. I have to…pack. I have to go.”
“I’m leaving Thursday. I told you.”
“No, you didn’t.” Maris wanted to be indignant, but in the back of her mind, a little voice nagged that he was right. “But—where are you going?”
He opened his mouth and closed it. He peered at her, his eyes questioning. Finally, he said flatly, “To Zagreb.”
“Zagreb? As in, Yugoslavia? Why?”
“It’s not important.” His serious tone told her that it was indeed important, but it also stopped her from asking any more questions. She watched while he dressed quickly. As he fastened the few remaining buttons on his shirt, he bent over her to kiss her nose. “I’ll be gone a while.”
She caught his hand. “I need to know one thing before you go.”
He smiled tenderly. “Yes, I am.”
She blinked in confusion. “Are what?”
He seemed perplexed. “Why, crazy for you, of course. Don’t ask how this happened either since I don’t have a clue.”
“But, but…” She had to ask, even if it made her look ridiculous. “What I want to know is, what’s your name?”

At that, he threw back his head and roared. All the worry coloring his features just moments before fled. He sat down on the bed and touched her cheek. “I suppose that could come in handy, in case you want to send me a Christmas card or something.” At her look of apprehension, he replied quickly, “Michael. It’s Michael.”

Want more:  Here are the buy links:

If you would  like to get in touch with M. S. or learn more about her, here is her social media information and contact info:

Amazon Author Page:

I Heart Author Page:

Thank you, M. S.. for introducing us to your latest book and two wonderful characters! 

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

A Date in Space

When I first began checking out novels from the library (as opposed to children's books from the school library) I fell in love with science fiction. Well, perhaps it was because my older brother had been reading sci-fi books and I would sneak them out of his room and read them after he finished and before he returned them. Naturally when I began reading grown up fiction I still read science fiction... until I discovered my next love affair with a genre -- romance. So naturally I was quite excited about our guest today in My Writing Corner -- Haley Cavannaugh -- and her new book Astraeus.

Haley is military veteran, wife and mother who says she loves diving into any book that grabs her interest.  She is a graduate of Columbia College and loves spending time with her family when she's not writing. Here's a blurb: 

When Dr. Sakota Thorell signed onto the mission to scout out a new, habitable planet, she knew discovering extra-terrestrial life was always a possibility. But she never expected to find an alien adrift in space, nor for that alien to be so intriguing. Sakota feels an instant and undeniable attraction to Astraeus, but represents a million possibilities, and just as many threats. 

There are others hunting Astraeus, and his rescue may cost Earth its last hope.

Want more? Let's get an excerpt:

    “What are you called? What’s your name?”
     He opened his mouth, and she moved closer, eager for his first words. Instead, he focused on her lips with obvious fascination. His intriguing eyes caught the light. Despite her disappointment that he couldn’t speak, a rush went through her. Alien or not, he was the most handsome man she’d ever laid eyes on, with the kind of ethereal elegance some upper-class, privileged men on Earth spent fortunes on plastic surgery trying to achieve.
     “It’s okay if you don’t want to talk, or if you can’t. We’ll get there. Now, I’m going to check you.” 
She kept her voice gentle, as she might use with a child. She pressed the button to disengage the protective bubble over the med bed and shone the retinal scanner in her own eye to demonstrate. “I just need to look at your eyes with this.” She motioned with the scope to him. “It won’t hurt. I promise.”
      Warm puffs of his breath blew on her neck as she leaned in. She paused, noting the remarkable eight-pointed star-shape of his pupils. The mutation was his one physical difference, and only if one looked closely. The pupils dilated when hit by the scope’s light. She’d never seen eyes as remarkable.
     “You’re doing great,” she soothed. Her head burst with countless questions. 
Where are you from? How did you get here? What do you want?
       He appeared to like the cadence of her voice. His posture relaxed, and his breath against her was steady. How long had she been staring into his eyes? Should she push her luck and try to examine his mouth?
       Before she could try, his finger stroked her inner arm. He was still restrained at the wrists, but he could reach her.
       She allowed it. He stroked a featherlight finger along her forearm. As he did so, his gaze never left hers. She offered a kind smile. “That’s right. Friend. Sakota. Sa-ko-ta.”
      He opened his mouth and let out a chicken-like squawk. “-Ota,” he said in a throaty, deep voice.
      She raised her eyebrows. “Good. Very good.”
      He tilted his head, watching her lips. “Gooood.”
      Excited, she lowered the retinal light. “Can you understand me?”
      He looked confused. “Me…”
      “Okay. That’s a no. Then let me take this opportunity to say, in no uncertain terms, you, my friend, are the stuff of dreams and legends. I’ve waited my whole life for this. Are you getting this, Alistair?” she called out.
      He came in over the speakers. “
I am. Amazing. I’ll get to work on a linguistics program. Our friend seems to want to communicate.
       She moved to pull away, but the man’s fingers closed over her wrist.
      “Let me go.” She jerked her arm, but he wouldn’t release his grip. She gave him a cautionary look, and he loosened his fingers, though he still held her. Warning bells went off.
What if he’s not here in peace?But his eyes sparkled impishly. He seemed to enjoy her skin pressed against his. Maybe he hadn’t been touched in a while. Or maybe he had a crush. Who knew.
Before she could extricate herself, the intercom chimed. “
Sakota, are you okay?
     “Yeah, I’m fine. He’s just being friendly—”

If you want more information or want to get in touch with Haley, here is her contact information:

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

A Fantasy for the Holidays!

For those of you still looking for a good book to give someone this holiday or if you just need something great to read in those quiet moments when you want to hide out and relax in a comfy chair with music in the background, we have the perfect suggestion for you. Today's guest in My Writing Corner is award-winning Celtic paranormal and fantasy romance author, Mary Morgan.

She tells us that her passion for books started at an early age along with an overactive imagination. Inspired by her love for history and ancient Celtic mythology, her tales are filled with powerful warriors, brave women, magic, and romance. But it wasn't until the closure of Borders Books where Mary worked that she found her true calling by writing romance. Now, the worlds she creates come to life in her stories.

If you enjoy history, tortured heroes, and a wee bit of magic, then time-travel within the pages of her books. Her latest work is Trial of a Warrior. 

"You met them in the Order of the Dragon Knights. Now, journey to the realm of the Fae and witness their legends!”

A warrior sentenced to die.

On trial for breaking a supreme Fae law, Fenian Warrior, Liam MacGregor has no regrets. He is prepared to accept his sentence—even if it means his death. However, freedom comes in an unexpected manner, and brings with it certain dangers as he travels through the Veil of Ages. 

A princess honor-bound to remain hidden.

Princess Abela might be a priestess and the daughter of royalty, but that doesn’t prevent her from doing the unimaginable. She sacrifices duty and honor to set free the man who captured her heart so many years ago. No matter the severity of his crimes, she cannot let Liam die.

A rescue that will bring about a war and divide a kingdom!   

In their quest to secure a treaty to forestall Liam’s death sentence, they must fight their desires for one another, as well as the Fenian Warriors sent to capture them.

Want to know more? Let's put our guest couple on the spot and ask them a few questions about their situation.

Ian, tell us a little about the predicament you find yourself in.
I am awaiting trial in the Room of Reflection. In human terms, I’m confined to a prison. Several seasons have now passed and my patience is diminishing.

What law have you broken and what are the possible consequences?
I took Aidan Kerrigan, who was banished from our kingdom many years ago, through the Veil of Ages. At the time, he believed his daughter, Aileen, was in grave danger. She had ventured through the ruins of Arbroath Abbey and stepped into the past. Aidan wished to rescue his daughter from 13th century Scotland.
The consequences of my actions? Death.

How did you meet Princess Abela?
Many centuries ago, we met in the Royal Gardens one day. I caught a glimpse of her radiant beauty as she strolled through a patch of bluebells.

What are your thoughts about her?
She captured my heart the instant our gazes locked. Regardless of my feelings, I was destined for the Brotherhood of the Fenian Warriors, and Abela was a princess of the realm. Forbidden to me.  

What do you admire about the princess?
Her unwavering strength and positive attitude. She storms into a situation with utter confidence, regardless if the odds are not in her favor.

Now let's turn things around and talk to the Princess Abela. Tell us, what is the most important thing in your life?
To remain true to my vows to the kingdom, while maintaining the love I hold within my heart for a certain Fenian Warrior.

 What are your fears for your kingdom?
That I have brought shame and dishonor to our people, especially to my parents, the king and queen. By using the powerful magic from the temple of Mother Danu to free Liam, I have broken a sacred trust.

Why would you want to help Liam?
Death should not come to this honorable warrior. I deem his actions were righteous. In truth, I love him. I will risk my own life and freedom to release him from his chains.

 Want to know more? Let's get an excerpt:
He could feel her heart beating against his skin, and the air cooled around them. Sunlight faded, and he slowly lifted his head. Unable to focus on their surroundings, he rolled over and brought her still quaking body against his chest. He tried to calm his own rapidly beating heart and closed his eyes. When he finally did open them, he glanced upward.

“Where is our sunshine?” asked Abela, her question muffled against his chest.

He stroked a hand down her back. “The sun and moon are as one.”

Abela visibly shuddered, her eyes growing wide. “No,” she whispered.

Liam wiped a finger across her worried brow. “What troubles you? It is only a solar eclipse.”

“Have you not heard the legends about a Fae witnessing the appearance of both—sun and moon—at the same time?”

“I believe it is only a tale told of—”

“Two Fae who defied the kingdom and married,” she interrupted.

“And they were banished,” he concluded, kissing her lips. “It is a story about a couple on our homeland, Taralyn. I do recall it was when the moons crossed with the sun. We are in the mortal world.”

She pursed her lips in concentration. “Yes, you are correct.” Glancing over her shoulder, she added, “Yet, can this similar occurrence be an omen?”

Liam cupped her cheek, forcing her to meet his stare. “Again, we are in the human world and not our own. This does not apply to us.” Tucking a strand of hair behind her ear, he asked, “Are you truly worried? Have I brought you shame?” He held his breath, fearing her reply.

“No, no,” she whispered against his lips. “I have waited a lifetime to be with you, Liam. My heart is yours. It has always been yours. Why do you think I freed you?” She swallowed. “I love you.”

That's all we're telling you! But this sounds like a  good gift for the holiday, promising a great story! Here are the buy links:

Buy Links:

If you would like to know more about Mary or get in touch with her:

Social Media Links:

Thank you, Mary, for being my guest today! Comments or questions for Mary?

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Writing the Holiday Romance

As we move to the heart of the holiday season, it's really coming down to the wire to get those wonderful holiday-themed books to read or to give to your friends. I've worked on holiday-themed stories in the  past and I know how tight the deadlines can be and how hard it can be to come up with special books aimed at a certain time of the year. Today's guest in My Writing Corner is Kathy Otten. She was with us a few weeks ago and she is back with a new holiday book, Ordinary Angel.

Kathy, what are the joys and difficulties of writing a story for the holidays?

The time line is my biggest problem. I start to get in the mood at Christmas time and come up with a story idea. I work with a small press and for a story to come out for the following Christmas, it needs to be submitted by February. Which doesn’t give me enough time to write it, which means it would have to be written during that year and submitted the following February in order to come out that next Christmas, two years after my original idea. That’s why I write holiday novellas. For me a year isn’t enough time to research and write a whole novel. I don’t write that fast and I’ve got several other projects going at the same time as well as family and a full-time job.

I love writing them because it’s fun to incorporate all the elements of Christmas I enjoy, but with a historical twist. The characters and their stories are a way to remind people that Christmas is about making memories, family, friends, giving of ourselves and love. Things we tend to lose sight of the rest of the year.

Best wishes for a happy holiday season.

Thanks, Kathy. How about a blurb on Ordinary Angel?

A lifetime of polite indifference is all Julianne Spencer sees when she envisions a future with her current suitor, Mr. Terrel Lee Parker. She is looking for someone more passionate, more heroic, who can love her for who she really is, and not the proper young lady she pretends to be. 

Her future seems hopeless until Christmas Eve, when fate drops a wounded outlaw at her door and she comes to realize true heroes can be found inside even ordinary men.

Let's talk to Julianne, and find out more about her story:

Julianne, can you tell us a little about yourself?
 Yes, I live in Ashville, Colorado. It’s a small town surrounded by small outlying ranches. I’m the youngest. My sisters are all married and have started their own families. My father is a doctor. I help him out when he’s busy, though my mother doesn’t approve. I enjoy singing and I help out with the annual Christmas pageant at church.

Have you been lucky in love?
No, I’ve had several suitors, but they have always bowed out early in our courtship. Mother blames me. She constantly reminds me I’m a young lady and that I need to mind my tongue and comport myself appropriately. But I can’t see how any of it was my fault. Mr. Paul Carson dropped his suit because he saw me take a ride on Sue Ellen Pomfret’s velocipede. My skirt blew up and people were able to see above my ankles. Niles Rutledge thought I was flaunting myself like a painted lady because I was swimming in the pond. I had on my chemise and drawers. It’s not my fault those boys were spying on me. And Howard Benton took offense because I told him his mother was better off divorced, than to stay married to Howard’s father, who is a cruel, sadistic man with a terrible temper.

What did you think of Terrel Lee Parker at first?
 Mr. Parker is a fine southern gentleman. I thought him a handsome man, but stuffy. All we ever talked about was the weather, or what a fine sermon the reverend gave. I could not see a future with him, other than one of polite indifference.

Did you feel an immediate attraction to Terrel Lee?
Not many men wear spectacles, but Mr. Parker looks quite fine in them. He has a battered hat he wears constantly, with the brim pulled low. My friend Maggie thinks he should buy a new hat, but somehow that old hat suits him. There were times when we were alone, I’d see him looking at me, and I’d just wish he’d grab me and kiss me, really kiss me. I understand him better now. He was not only raised to be a gentleman, but he was painfully shy.

What do you see for your future together?
 Lots of happy years. I love living at his ranch. Watching the sunset from the front porch is something we do almost every day. And it’s all right if he doesn’t say a word. There are layers to Mr. Parker, and like a gift inside a gift, I unwrap a new one every day.

What is your favorite thing about Christmas?

 Trimming the tree. We string popcorn and cranberries for garland. After the Christmas Eve pageant we light the candles on the tree and sit in the dark. He puts his arm around me and pulls me close. He never says much, but I can feel his love. We eat a few Christmas cookies. I know his favorite now. It’s quiet and peaceful. I love him.

Thank you, Julianne, and thank you, Kathy, for bringing us another special romance.
Here is the information to contact Kathy and to buy Ordinary Angel.