Thursday, October 17, 2019

A Romantic Surprise

There is something irresistible about romances featuring cowboys. Don't we all love to read them?  I've been hooked on cowboy romances since I first started enjoying romance novels many years ago. As a result I'm always looking for new books that feature them and always on the lookout for a new author to enjoy.

 This week My Writing Corner features a new cowboy romance: The Cowboy's Twin Surprise by K. T. Byington, and it sounds like the perfect book for those cooling afternoons and evenings when all you want to do is curl up with a book.

When a little surprise changes her life, Jessie McKinnon has less than nine months to figure it out. A job at Chase Tanner’s ranch seems like a good short-term fix until she can get herself settled elsewhere, hopefully before she even begins to show.

Left to care for his abandoned twin baby nieces, Chase can’t believe his luck when Jessie offers hope of reining in the chaos his life has become. There’s only one problem—the feisty redhead from his past has the potential to break his heart all over again.

K. T.   has worked as a legal assistant and  probate paralegal. She tells us that she  enjoys beach vacations, a cup of tea on a wintry day and she loves holiday movies all year long. Now that sounds like a great  combination.

When she's not writing, she says,  she enjoys  spending time with her family, relaxing in her backyard at home or  frequenting favorite restaurants.

Want more? Here's an excerpt!

From the back, she thought it could be him. His usual cowboy hat was missing, but the long, lean frame, dark hair, faded jeans, and scuffed boots with bits of mud clinging to them easily fit her memory. Typical Chase Tanner. But there was something—no, two things—making it very unlikely. Namely, a little girl with blonde curls peeking over his left shoulder and a second fair-haired cutie clinging to his leg who appeared to be mere moments away from a full-fledged meltdown. Twins, barely old enough to walk.
No way would the fella she grew up with have allowed himself to be found in a situation like this. He was not the marrying kind, much less a family man. Whoever this guy was, buried in domestic responsibility, he could not be the man she remembered. Besides, why would a fourth-generation Montana rancher be standing in the middle of the local employment agency on a freezing January morning when there must be cattle, horses, and a million other things to tend to back at the homestead?

If you would like to read on, here  are the buy links and how to get in touch with K. T.

Contact information:

Twitter:  (I'm just getting started!)
Amazon Author Central:

Thank you K. T. for being my guest. 

Thursday, October 10, 2019

A Lesson from The Past

Do you have old stories just waiting to be told?  Those wonderful characters you designed on neat pages of character forms, or those great plots on note cards that are all sitting inside your desk drawer?

Or what about old story ideas? As writers, aren't we getting them all the time? What do you do with them? I have a whole file.  Back when I worked in a newsroom I was always running across crazy stories... either in a newspaper or on the old Associated Press or UPI wire machines and I made a practice of keeping a file in my desk drawer just for them.  Why?  Not because we were ever going to do a news story on them -- some of them were international, but just to be able to re-read them and laugh again at the human condition or think about what kind of a fiction story might result from an incident.

Let's face it: We all love unique and great stories -- old and new -- not only non fiction, but the fictional stories we start writing and never finish. Sometimes it's enjoyable to get out those old works and re-read them. If nothing else, they can show you how far you've come! Recently when we were cleaning up the basement I ran across one of the first old manuscripts I began writing some 40 years ago while I was still in college.

 The typing paper is yellowing, and there are plenty of typos because I  didn't even have white out back then.

 What do you do with an old manuscript?  Don’t we all have them?  Some, we started years ago and just lost interest. Or maybe the story was going no where or we weren’t connecting with the characters. Whatever the reason, we just gave up on the story and let it go. 

But there it was – still in its own individual folder, the pages yellowed with age, the print from an old Smith Corona typewriter I got in college.

What to do with it? I knew immediately I couldn't throw it away.  Who knew what might be in those pages? Maybe there were pearls of wisdom I wrote back then.

The funny thing about the story is that while it was never published it did set the stage for my book Dead Man’s Rules.  This was the original story behind it. My first temptation was to go through and put this one into the computer and see if I could get it published as sort of a prequel.

But then I began to go through it.  What I really discovered was just how much I had developed

 as a fiction writer. Okay, so yes there were the obvious typos that couldn’t be fixed with a couple of key strokes back then. Instead of clean copy that gets printed now, I had lots of pages with xxxx on them.

But the story itself wasn’t bad. At least the plot wasn’t. I found myself caught up in the problem of a woman who discovered she had married the wrong man. Actually as I read through it, I found myself surprised at the story, but also cringing at the mistakes and problem areas – things like She smiled followed four lines later by He smiled. Such smily people!

Then, of course, there were the obvious punctuation mistakes and all those little things that I was to learn later in writing and editing classes.

What I came away with from this experience is that we can develop our voice and make it clearer and better and we can become better at dealing with the editing and the word choices.  The need to write, though, stays and we shouldn’t ignore it.  We should be ready to pick up that pen and paper or sit down at the keyboard and write when we get the urge.  

And we also need to keep learning.  There were so many lessons that followed those early pages that I have taken to heart and so much of what I see in those pages as compared to my current pages only illustrates that.  If you want to be a writer, go for it! Just like any other choice, make the one that works for you, and if you want to write, do it!  The mechanics can be learned. The writer’s touch doesn’t go away.  The need to write only becomes more urgent.

I’m not certain what I’m going to do with this old story. What I also discovered when going through it is that the first 60 pages from it are missing. Who knows where they went!  

I do know I’m going to re-read it all though again – not just to see how far I’ve come, but because I might it will give me more ideas for the future. And not only that... but I kind of enjoyed that story. I do remember that.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Let the Holidays Begin!

It's not too early to start thinking about the Holidays, and especially when the thinking involves cowboys!  I'm heading to Texas next week for a writing conference, so I definitely have cowboys and country-living  on my mind.

My guest this week is author Shana Hatfield who has an invitation for us as we celebrate the life and times of cowboys!

After spending her formative years on a farm in eastern Oregon, Shanna Hatfield turned her experiences into historical and contemporary romances, featuring hunky heroes. Readers enjoy her  stories filled with humor mixed with hope. She currently lives near Walla Walla, Washington, writing and dreaming up new stories and recipes.

But now let's hear about her latest adventure -- an entertainment book filled with down-home heroes, heroines and hope!

The jangle of spurs mingles with the jingle of sleigh bells in this celebration of Christmas—cowboy style!

Welcome home to a western holiday with A Cowboy Christmas. A collection of unique holiday d├ęcor, traditions, recipes, and guides for entertaining with ease make this your go-to resource for an amazing western Christmas. Filled with stories of real-life ranch families and rodeo cowboys, get a glimpse into their traditions, try their family recipes, and experience their lifestyles. From preserving memories of the past to tips for wrapping presents, discover the special touches incorporated throughout this book that make it a holiday keepsake you’ll cherish for years to come. Brimming with holiday cheer, recipes with full-color photographs, and one-of-a-kind ideas, this book is a wonderful celebration of the holidays that will help make your Christmas unforgettable.

Read a Book, Help A Cowboy
For most rodeo athletes it is a matter of when they get hurt, not if.
Many are uninsured and for those who find themselves out of work for months on end, the injury can be devastating physically, emotionally, and financially.

That’s where the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund steps in. The JCCF provides financial assistance to rodeo athletes who’ve sustained catastrophic injuries that leave them unable to compete for an extended time. Rather than worry about how they’ll pay their bills, they can focus on healing.
 Because she grew up around cowboys and loves to include them in the stories she writes, author Shanna Hatfield supports the JCCF through her Read a Book, Help A Cowboy campaign. In its sixth year, the campaign raises funds and awareness for the JCCF. Now through Christmas Eve, Hatfield will donate ten percent of the proceeds from every book purchase to the JCCF.

If you would like to get Shanna's book, here are the buy links:

And if you can find out more about her and her project at

Thank you, Shanna, for being our guest today.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Fun Adventures for Fall

Aren't we always looking for new reading adventures and fun stories? That's especially true this time of the year when we are looking at the cold days of winter ahead. Well, I ran across an author guaranteed to make those long cold evenings a lot warmer!

Author MarieTuhart has a new book out that promises some very warm adventures. She is my guest today in My Writing Corner. Marie lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her muse, Penny, a four pound toy poodle. Marie loves to read and write, when she’ she spends time with family, traveling and enjoying life.

Marie is a multi-published author wit Wild Rose Press, Trifecta Publishing and does some self-publishing.  I wanted to know about her latest book, More of You. 

Up until now, Anna Carson's relationship with Chris Peterson has been strictly D/s play. He's had a vanilla girlfriend.
 Anna has respected that boundary, but the sexy Dom is no longer attached. Now, Anna is ready to be more than his submissive. Game night at Club Crave is the perfect place to make her move, if only she can face her fears and be bold enough to ask her Dom for more...

 How did you come up with your this story idea?
Well, The Wild Rose Press was asking for short stories last fall and I though. Let me try. So the story idea came to me about 4 couples who attend game night at a local BDSM club and their adventure that night.

 What do you like best about your heroine?
That she has doubts about moving into a relationship with the hero, she wants to, but she unsure that he will.

 What about your hero?
He’s not perfect, he tries. He has the same doubts as my heroine, but he’s also honest with himself why his last relationship failed.

How do you come up with characters?
I started brainstorming the conflict between my hero and heroine, and then I went from there. Usually my characters present themselves to me.

 What are you working on next?
Right now I’m working a new series, it’s going to be at least nine books, but each book is a standalone. Each hero and heroine have their HEA or at least an HFN.

Game night at Club Crave is heating up...
Book 2 in Club Crave – Reflections of You will be out on Oct 14th.
Book 3 in Club Crave – Bound for You – no release date yet
Book 4 in Club Crave – Hot for You – no release date yet

Let's get an Excerpt:

A bell sounded, and Master Jason took to the small stage. The room went quiet.

“Good evening, friends, welcome to game night. You are the first fifteen couples who RSVPed to the event invitation.” Master Jason’s voice was loud and cheerful. “Tonight’s game comes with a twist.” He lifted a shoe-size box and shook it. “Inside this box are pieces of paper with your tasks for the game. All the items you will need to play tonight will be provided. The normal club safewords apply. Have an issue with the task? See me once everyone has chosen.”

“This sounds interesting,” Tanner said.

“Intriguing twist. That’s why we were told not to bring our play bags,” Chris said.

“You are not to share your task with others once you’ve drawn. You will read it, then get your submissive and follow the directions.” Master Jason looked out over the crowd. “Dom Chris, you are first.”

Want MORE???   More of You is available at:

Barnes & Nobel:
Universal Link:

Thank you, Marie, for bringing us your newest book. If you would like to Find Marie on the Web:

Facebook :
Book Bub:
Amazon Author page:
Sign up for Marie’s newsletter at:

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Thrills & Chills from Down Under

Don't we all love it when we can get into not only one book by a writer, but then a second and a third?  Writing one book is difficult enough, but trying to write three seems like a daunting task. I am currently doing that, which is only part of why I was so interested in the work of Stephen King, a West Australian author who writes thrillers. As a big fan of reading thrillers, I was intrigued with his latest work. Even better, he has written a trilogy, Glimpse, so naturally, I needed to know more and wanted to get the answers from Stephen himself.  

How did you get the idea for The Biblical Killer?

It was a process; unlike any I’ve had before with the ten books I’ve published. As this book is the third installment of the trilogy, I already had in mind the direction my main characters were going in emotionally, and I knew the killer from book 1 would escape from custody to seek his revenge on them. But I had to find an intriguing killer to take center stage, and that was not so easy to do. The use of the word Glimpse in each book title signifies that I’m going to take readers into the mind of each murderer and show why and how they became what they are from their own point of view. Book 1’s murderer was a sociopathic narcissist; book 2’s was addicted to beauty because his life from birth was the polar opposite. In each case building the character of the killer was as important for me as the protagonists. I didn’t want to write a trope, I wanted the reader to get engrossed in his tale, as much as the hero’s (hopefully I succeeded). One day, I happened to overhear in a conversation two words: Situational Schizophrenic and it was like a Bass rising for a lure. A ‘situation’ that caused a severe case of mental illness? I had to learn more. 

A good friend of mine is a psychologist and we had a long conversation. My daughter also has a degree in criminal psychology, and the more I learnt about schizophrenia, the more the killer emerged from the mist for me. And so, Bobby Cornhill and his sister Martine grew wings. I saw two children on a remote farm who only have each other to play with until a schizophrenic uncle came to stay. This was important, because sadly, most often the complaint is hereditary. When they become adults, Martine dies and Bobby blames himself for not saving her as he used to when they played on the swing, under the Jacaranda tree. Guilt is one of the most severe triggers to mental illness, and Bobby has it in spades. So much so, his schizophrenic alter ego, named Jolly, wants him to kill anyone who tells lies to have sex with married people on an internet dating site. The question the reader has to decide is: is Jolly merely a figment of Bobby’s guilt-ridden psychosis, or is he in fact real?

Tell us a little about the background for Patricia Holmes and how you came up with her.

I suppose, if I’m honest, Patricia, ‘call me Pat everyone does,’ Holmes is my favorite character of all. You could say she is my ideal woman; highly intelligent, insightful, humorous and devastatingly attractive, not to mention independently wealthy. I love writing her part. I wanted to set the books in an era when women had it tough in the police force, and criminal psychologists were often seen by the police as the enemy. Pat has to be strong and is paired with a twenty-year veteran cop who thinks she will be a complete waste of his time in tracking down a horrific serial killer. But then, he meets her, and they are instantly attracted to each other. I thought the mix of the era, her passion and ability of understanding the criminal mind, along with the inappropriate desire they both feel being in dysfunctional marriages, was irresistible. I love writing about ordinary people and putting them in extraordinary situations.

What do you like best about her?

I love that she can look at random things and make sense of them and understand the psychology behind it all. Cops look at a crime scene and look for clues and evidence, Pat looks at it and asks why. When she explains her profile, and reading of clues, the male police officers she works with are amazed at her ability to understand the one thing they can’t; why did the murderer do what they did.

What about Sargent Rick McCoy? Where did you get the idea for him?

Rick is a good guy, but like most of mere mortals, he is flawed. He is an honest but jaded veteran cop who has seen it all and he is slowly becoming disenchanted with the senselessness of it all. His marriage is a problem, though he loves his wife and daughter. In book 1 he eats and drinks to much, won’t talk about his issues with his wife and sees her trying to help him as nagging. He has an affair in a moment of madness and tries desperately to make it up to his wife after she gives him a second chance. But then Pat walks into his life when a body is found dissected in a suitcase left at a rubbish dump. Across the trilogy the reader will see the effect on four people of their inappropriate desire as they work together to find three serial killers.

How do you normally come up with story ideas?

Often it’s a random thought that enters my head, and I have no idea where they come from. For me to explore an idea I have to write from that point forward and see where it leads me. Often I amaze myself. I don’t preplan anything; I let the story dictate where it wants to go, then fix all the errors in rewrites when I’m finished. Often when I find out how it ends I need to go back and find a new beginning. I know some authors would be horrified with that style, but for me, once I start the words flow like a tap. This is especially true of the ending. When I’m writing, I don’t know how the story will finish and I deliberately force myself not to think of it. What I find is, I want to know what’s happening next, and the only way to find out is to write it.

What are you working on now? 

I’m in the re-write stages of a book called Winer at the Light, a romantic thriller set in 1952 on a remote island lighthouse when a young woman discovers on a lighthouse, there is nowhere to hide. She has rescued a man during a major storm who has lost his memory, but then two men turn up to hunt him. 

Also, due to requests from my editor and narrator, there will be a Glimpse 4, called Glimpse, The Angel Shot. Yep, it’s the first time a trilogy will be made up of four books. They, and other beta readers of Book 3, tell me they all want to know what happens next, and I am deeply flattered by their demands, so I’m 30000 words in. Rick and Pat’s story continues after the devastating ending in book 3.

What are the other books in the trilogy?  Can you tell us about them?

Probably the best way to do that is give you the official blurbs.

Book 1, Glimpse, memoir of a Serial Killer:

In 1999 Australia, Sergeant Rick McCoy investigates the murder of a woman found packed inside a suitcase. 

The Killer abducts another victim and threatens to dismember her slowly. His life is further complicated by a marriage in tatters. Frustrated at every turn, he is paired with glamorous Criminal Psychologist and profiler, Patricia Holmes.  

While trying to rebuild his marriage, he finds himself in a desperate race against time to free the victim and fight his desire for his new partner.

Book 2, Glimpse, The Beautiful Deaths:

Rick McCoy of the Major Crime Squad is trying to repair his marriage when he is sent to the South of Western Australia. A young girl's body has been found in a cave, with flowers on her chest. A search finds five more bodies. 

Beautiful criminal psychologist, Patricia Holmes, has recovered from her stab wounds inflicted by the serial killer PPP, and is brought in. Pat believes they are hunting a man who is addicted to beauty. When another schoolgirl goes missing, they have only days before she too will die. 

As their desire for each other grows and the pressure on their marriages increase, they close in on the man responsible for the beautiful deaths. Meanwhile, in the high-security wing of the mental health hospital, PPP plans his revenge on Rick. 

Book 3, Glimpse, The Tender Killer:

Criminal psychologist Patricia Holmes is now a detective paired with Detective Sergeant Rick McCoy. Together they hunt The Biblical Killer, so named for the quotes left on walls written in the victim's blood. To lure the murderer out they join the Tender Nights internet dating site, openly making themselves targets. Rick and Pat have fought their desire for each other for months. Can they now survive their lust and an insane murderer intent on vengeance?

I’d like to thank you for having me, and for asking such great questions.

Thank you, Stephen, for telling us about your books.  I think I'm hooked.   Here is the contact info for Stephen:

twitter: @stephenBKing1
Facebook: @stephenbkingauthor

Any comments or questions for Stephen?

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Non-Fiction Can Improve Your Fiction

For 40 years I wrote non-fiction almost every day of the week as a television journalist. On weekends I wrote fiction just to soothe my soul. That was the fun sort of writing where I got to take those people I wanted to tell off in real life or whose stories I couldn’t change in real life could be turned into stories with a happy ending. In those fiction stories my characters got to tell off their bosses and to dress any way they wanted or to be whatever they wanted to be or whatever I wanted them to be.

That is the joy of writing fiction – You get to be the person who makes all the rules and sets the scenes and say whatever you want the characters to say. 

But sometimes it makes sense to try writing non fiction too. It can actually help you develop as a fiction writer. This week I spent time conducting interviews for a non-fiction biography series. It meant coming up with questions and then making notes about what the people were saying and listening carefully to their words because the stories are going to be real when they appear on the air. As I sat listening, it occurred to me how helpful these non-fiction interviews could be for my fiction writing. Sometimes when you are writing fiction you forget how important non-fiction can be.

I did a Skype session recently with someone half way across the country and the result worked out well for all of us. I got my questions answered and the interaction was more personal than a simple phone conversation.  Actually, listening to people answer questions and then getting those answers down word for word can be useful later. Coming up with the interview questions can also be helpful for a fiction writer – 

Why not interview your characters just like you might interview a real person?  

How would you interview them? 
What would you ask them? 
What would they say? 
 How would they sound? 
How would you tell a story about them from what they say? 

Character interviews can provide valuable information as you describe your character to an agent or editor, but it can also be valuable information for you on a daily basis as you continue to write the story. It can help you to get to know your character better and perhaps understand your hero or heroine more. An interview with the villain might get you to understand his/her motives better as well. The interviews we did this week were about based around one person and while I've suggested interviewing your main character, it might also be helpful to interview peripheral characters or friends about that main character. How do they see the hero or heroine? What drew them to the person? What so they see as his/her goals or accomplishments?  

You might also apply the non-fiction interview to location as well. Think about the questions you might have if you were  doing a magazine story about your story location or visiting a real place. What would you ask to introduce that location to non-fiction readers who might be reading the story and needed to visualize the location?  Actually why not try to get that magazine story sold?  It can be an extension of your writing salary.  

Thinking about how to write non fiction can also be useful in doing your research. What kind of questions do you need to develop to interview the coroner for your murder mystery? What if you are basing your cozy mystery in a bakery? How much do you know about how the bakery operates?  Knowing  how to interview the person in charge can be useful, instead of just floundering around looking for information. Do a Skype interview with someone if they aren't located near you. 

Here are some ideas for conducting those non fiction interviews:

1. Know your questions in advance – people from police officers to bakers are willing to respond to your questions but have at least a few written down in advance so you have a starting point.

2. Research and know at least a little bit about the subject so that your questions are informed. No one wants to have to explain even the most basic elements to you.

3. Let the interview subjects  talk.  Don’t start interrupting immediately. If you think of another question as they are talking, write it down to ask later.  That means…

4. Take good notes or record the conversation so that you have the information available to you later. 

5. Set up the interview in advance. Don’t just show up and expect a person to be prepared to talk to you.

6. Be courteous and thank them and leave your contact information so that they can get in touch with you if they have anything else to say.

7. If you are going to record the conversation, be sure to ask.  Usually they are fine with the idea, but you’re not going undercover here. If you want information for a story, let them know exactly what you’re doing.

These are just a few tips to help you get information. You can also either conduct the interview over the phone or in person. If you are going to do it in person, you might ask a few questions during the set up, just to let them know what sort of things you’ll be asking.

Interviewing subjects and background information can be very helpful to a writer for more than just fiction. Think about writing a blog on what you learned or even an article for a community newspaper. Fiction writing is fun, but sometimes you can find non-fiction writing to be valuable and fun as well!   s

Any questions??  Please feel free to ask!

Thursday, September 5, 2019

New Ideas for a New Season

We all have to do it, even if we hate the thought of it--rewriting. Sometimes there is no way around it. Even the best plotted story can run into a roadblock, or the story written into the mist can hit a hall before you even know what is happening. Suddenly you  can't move forward. Suddenly the characters are not working. We'll look at how to rewrite the story in coming weeks but for today let's look at how to figure out when you've hit a roadblock and there is no other way around it but to re-write. 

 Currently I am working with my co-author,  Sue Viders,  on a new book with a series of writing tips. We just finished a book on Creating A Villain, and now we're moving forward to help writers who may be starting out on their writing journey. These tips will be focused on all types of writers – from those who write into the mist like me and those who are very focused on form and structure like Sue.  As we are working on the book we are again not only learning about our own characters and plotting methods, but we are also getting new ideas for what writers can do when they hit a wall in their writing.  Here are some ideas you might find helpful:

1. The characters are not cooperating.  I listed that above, but that is a big way to realize that you are heading in the wrong direction. If they don't seem to work in the scenes you are writing, you may be taking them in the wrong direction. Look over what you wrote earlier, look over your character profiles, and look over the characters themselves.  If they aren't working, then you need to re-think where the plot is headed for these people. You may need to do a little re-writing that will send those characters back in the right direction.

2.  You just don't want to write. Sure, there can be many, many reasons for not being able to just sit at the keyboard and having the words flow. But often the problem is that you've hit a point in the plot where the story is going nowhere. You may need to read over your plot again to make certain that it is going where you want it. This might be a good time to re-evaluate your plot and whether it can work in the way you originally planned. It might be time to consider re-writing some of the earlier pages or planning changes in the plot.

3. The story is going in some totally foreign direction and you aren't sure why. 
Again, this may be that your plot is not working. This is a good time to try re-writing a few pages and perhaps trying a new direction to see whether you like the re-write better than the original. If you do, then keep heading in that direction.

4. The villain is getting more important than the hero.

 This might be a function of not having the write characters in the right roles. Again, it might be time to make that hero stronger, or to change the direction of the villain. And if you're going to have a super-villain, great!  Just make certain you are setting up the story that way. That might mean a re-write of some of the earlier pages, but they might also be fun to write with this new bad guy. If you need help with villains, our new book is now available at Sue and I had a great time putting it together. It includes all our favorite villains. 

5.  The motives are not coming through.
 Perhaps what you have your characters doing doesn't ring true. They wouldn't take those sort of risks for no reason. Perhaps you need to re-write those motives to make them stronger, or to make those changes in your characters to make them want something more. Motivation is a big factor for your characters' actions. You need to make them strong enough.

If you do find you have to do a re-write, don't despair.  Sometimes that re-write can make a book much better.  It might even give you an idea for a new book! 

This weekend I will be teaching a class on writing comedy for Savvy Authors in their annual Savvy Con for writers. and next week I begin a three-part series of classes  for beginning writers.