Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Meet Christine Gabriel

The guest today in My Writing Corner is author Christine Gabriel, and I am pleased to be
presenting a profile of her and details on her newest book, Crimson Forest. Christine, please tell us a little about yourself. 

Christine is a diehard Buckeye fan and grew up in the small farming community of Monroeville, Ohio, where she spent much of her time writing imaginative stories. She has spent the last ten years managing a financial institution in Norwalk, Ohio, where she's learned that compassion and love are her greatest gifts to give to others.

She has a small tribe of children who have become her biggest fans and most honest critics. She’s an avid animal lover and has been known to bring home a stray to cuddle with her while she writes. She’s also deathly afraid of earthworms and will cross the street in order to avoid one on the sidewalk. She loves vanilla coffee and can’t begin her morning without it, even knowing that doing so has consequential effects that could potentially cause a Zombie Apocalypse.
Christine’s most important view is that her readers are able to escape out of their realities and enjoy a little piece of her imagination. She holds each one of her readers close to her heart and loves them as if they were one her dearest friends. She currently resides in Norwalk, Ohio where she’s working on Crimson Moon, Book Two of The Crimson Chronicles series.

Here's a blurb on Crimson Forest:

“Something horrible is happening in the Crimson Forest. I need you to promise me you’ll stay away from it.”

Eighteen-year-old Angelina Adams had every intention of taking that advice. She had no desire to disappear into the trees as so many hunters had done. But when her mother is brutally murdered in their home, and the attacker comes for her, she has no choice but the flee into the blood-red woodland that claimed her father’s life years before.

There she meets Nicolai, a handsome, mysterious stranger who vows to protect her from the dark forces bent on destroying her life. But can he be trusted? Is he who he says he is, or will he simply take what he wants fro, her and move on?

Angelina soon realizes that nothing is as it seems in the Crimson Forest, a place where creatures known only to humans through myth and legend fight for love and survival. It’s a world where fairy tales, thrive, nightmares become reality, and some secrets are better left undiscovered.

To find Christine Gabriel on Social Media:
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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Meet Heather McCollum

My guest today in My Writing Corner is author and cancer survivor, Heather McCollum, who has a very special story to tell. Welcome,  Heather.

Thank you so much for having me here today! I never get to talk about myself : ) I’m a busy mom of three, dog mom of one, guinea pig mom of three, and wife of one so there’s always someone else to talk about. This is a refreshing change. Fire away, Rebecca!
Heather, did you always want to be a writer? When did you know you wanted to write?

I’ve always written stories and poems, since I was little. By high school any fictional assignment ended in a happily ever after (and kissing). Everyone thought I’d be an English major. I surprised them all by majoring in Cellular Immunology, a branch of Biology, instead. But after years of working in the drug development field and coming home to write in the evenings, I joined my local Romance Writers of America chapter and have pursued publication ever since. I stayed in my day job for a decade until paying for 3 kids in daycare no longer made sense. Then I began writing during nap times and in carpool lines until I had some manuscripts I could submit. In 2009 I became a finalist in the prestigious Golden Heart writing contest (with my paranormal romance, MAGICK) and published shortly after that.
How did you get published?

Got an idea, wrote lots of words, changed lots of words, attended workshops, started over, attended conferences, pitched my book ideas, submitted manuscript, ate chocolate over rejections, took out adverbs and added stronger verbs, entered contests, cringed over red ink marks, changed more words, started something new….repeat for ten years. LOL!

Fast forward from 1999 – 2009…
After writing the first two books in my paranormal romance series, The Dragonfly Chronicles, I entered them into several contests. I entered the Georgia Romance Writers Maggie Contest and won third place. I then won first place in the Lone Star Writing Contest and the final judge was an editor. She contacted me through e-mail about the book. Right after I signed my first contract I got the call of a lifetime about being a finalist in the Golden Hearts. From there I was able to attract and sign with an agent. 2009 was an incredible year!

You had some bad moments when you found you had ovarian cancer. Can you tell us about that and your journey back to writing?
Hearing “it is cancer” shatters your world. My days turned from producing witty dialogue and magical adventures to 6-hour chemo infusions and juggling a dozen different medications. At various times I was numb, frantic, in pain, furious, and afraid I’d leave my kids without a mom and my husband without a wife (he lost his own mom to breast cancer when he was 9yo). I didn’t believe in happy endings with my own happily-ever-after threatened. So I couldn’t write or even read fiction. I only wanted to read and write about how I was going to kill the beast trying to take over my body.

Being a writer, I was miserable NOT writing. So I started to blog about my treatments. As people began to follow me, I tweaked my focus. I wrote about how to survive any type of pain, whether from cancer, job loss, divorce, loss of a loved one, or some other tragedy. How does one continue on in the face of such loss? I bled my fears and pain and hope out into those pages and thus began healing emotionally.
As my treatments ended (15 months of kicking cancer’s booty) I found the mental strength to start writing fiction again. My growing strength and the realization that I just might live, rekindled my belief in happy endings. I’m thrilled to report that my last CT scan was clean and my cancer screening blood test (CA125) was very low, meaning that I am still in remission. Woot!

Tell us a little about your latest book.
CRIMSON HEART was released in June of this year and is the third full-length book in my Highland Hearts series (although each book can stand alone, they are best read in order). In the first books, the heroines possess a magic (colored blue) that moves small particles, either in the body to heal or in the air to affect the weather. Searc Munro, the Highland hero in CRIMSON HEART, is the first male to inherit the magic, except his magic is colored red and it kills.

When Searc’s killing magic is revealed, he journeys east to Edinburgh where no one knows his cursed secret. On the way he rescues an English lass, Elena, who is fleeing England’s Bloody Queen Mary and the threat of the executioner’s block with secrets of her own. Thrown together by chance, drawn together by desire, they must learn that love and trust go hand in hand before their secrets are exposed and Elena becomes the next victim of the murderer stalking the Scottish court?

What gave you the idea for this story?
Ideas for CRIMSON HEART came mostly from my fabulous trip to Scotland last summer. We stayed on Loch Linnhe, near Fort Williams in the Highlands. The rugged green mountainsides dotted with fluffy sheep, the raw beauty in every direction, and the rich history inspired me. When I later toured Edinburgh castle, I realized it was perfect for the setting of my latest story. St. Margaret’s Chapel, on the grounds of the castle, is quaint, ancient and authentic. I knew immediately that it would be a part of CRIMSON HEART.

Give us an idea of how you develop your characters.
I’m a very visual writer. I like to see my characters (basic features & strong emotions) and settings (authentic historical details). So I create collages for my books. I take a day toward the beginning of each new project to cut out pictures of landscapes, people and objects that mean something to my story. I paste them on an open folder, poster board or even in a blank book to give me something to glance at while writing.

I like to choose pictures that depict strong emotions. Sometimes just staring at a character’s tortured face helps me figure out their background, quirks, fears, and motivation. Once I start to understand my characters I let them loose in my mind. While I’m washing dishes, walking the dog, and folding clothes banter and disasters tumble my thoughts into fantastic plots. Then I run to a notebook and scribble down my ideas. The good ones make it into my computer.

How do you research your stories?
For basic dates and locations, the internet is fantastic. Pinterest provides lovely pictures of period clothing and accessories. I find current and ancient maps on the internet. I have some books on certain time periods, which detail out clothing, food, currency, transportation, etc.

For atmosphere, nothing beats actually setting foot on and breathing the air of the setting, which was why my trip to Britain inspired me immensely. Speaking with trained tour guides and investigating the authentic historical and cultural details at museums and sites provides us with the closest to first-hand knowledge available. 
What are you working on now?

CRIMSON HEART is the last full-length novel I have planned in the Highland Hearts series, although fans of the series have requested more. So there could be another long novella or full length book after CH.
My other historical paranormal romance series, The Dragonfly Chronicles, is almost complete. Four books are out and I’m currently writing the fifth and final novel, SACRIFICE.

Lastly, the sequel to my first Young Adult contemporary, paranormal romance, SIREN’S SONG, will be coming out in the spring next year. So there are several projects keeping me busy.
What would you tell writers who are facing life changing obstacles as they also try to write?

Great question. Everyone is different and each writer responds uniquely to life altering stress. I spoke to one author, who threw herself into her fictional world when she was diagnosed with cancer, preferring to lose herself there instead of dealing with her own frightening world.
On the other hand, writing fiction takes a lot of mental stamina. Creating worlds out of nothing, building two-dimensional characters into authentic beings, and teasing lives apart until they explode in conflict can be too much for someone fighting pain, fear and loss.

In that case, writers need to focus on their health first. I was told by some very experienced authors to “take a season” and heal. I was upfront with my agent about needing time and she worked with my editors to extend my contracts and deadlines.
My advice is to do what feels right to you. If you love to write, but can’t tear yourself away from focusing on survival (like me), blog about what you’re enduring. Give people someone to follow who is inspiring and positive. Make your difficulties work to help others.

What do you read when you are not writing?
I usually read in a genre that I am not currently writing, otherwise I tend to take on that author’s voice in my own manuscript. It’s rather like picking up a southern accent when visiting down in Dixie for a while. Right now I’m reading Cassandra Clare’s CLOCKWORK PRINCESS, which is a YA, paranormal set in old London. The series is very different from my current work in progress, SACRIFICE, an adult book which takes place in late 19th century Scotland.

I also read how-to-write books. My current favorite is Blake Snyder’s Screenwriting book called SAVE THE CAT. I love how he constructs an adventurous plot and makes me think about theme and pacing.
I’m also a lover of biographies and history books, which both help me flesh out settings and characters. Right now I’m reading everything I can find on WWII as I’ll be taking a break from writing romantic fiction to write my grandmother’s memoir on surviving a concentration camp sometime in the next two years.

Tell us a little about your writing day – how do you make time?
Now that all three of my kiddos are in school, it is much easier for me to find time to write. It takes me from 5:50 AM – 9:00 AM to get my kids to their three different schools. During those hours I sneak to my computer to answer e-mails, check Twitter and Facebook, and remember what needs to be done. After the kids are in school, I exercise, shower and warm a cup of chai latte to coax my muse out to play. She can’t resist the taste of cinnamon.

If it’s nice out, I sit on my back porch where I can hear birds. If I’m inside I sit at my lovely little writing desk, which I’ve named Eleri. I turn on my faux Tiffany lamp named Jule (after the heroine in SIREN’S SONG) and settle into my unnamed chair.
I pull out the collage of my current project and find where I left off in the book. If I can write for three solid hours each day I can usually stay on schedule. After the kids get home I squeeze in a little more time finishing a scene or writing a blog post or interview.

I am so blessed and thankful for this fabulous life. I might not live in a huge house or drive a new car, but I have my health again and I get to spend time each day doing what I love – writing about digging around in the ashes of conflict to find the perfect happy ending.
Is there anything else you would like to tell writers about facing overwhelming odds or ovarian cancer?

The same advice applies to both – don’t give up. Continue to take steps forward each day, even if on some days that just means making yourself get out of bed and shower. Steps forward for writers could be writing each day, even if it’s just one page. But each step takes you closer to your goal, whether it’s to be published or to finish chemo. And when you’re buried under rejections or must endure another intravenous infusion, and you feel like your day is closer to Hades than Heaven, just remember the words of Winston Churchill (which became my mantra) – “When you’re going through Hell, KEEP GOING!”
Ovarian cancer is the deadliest of the GYN cancers and there are no early detection methods (a PAP Smear doesn’t detect OC, that’s Cervical cancer). The symptoms are very quiet and are often missed until it is too late. Your best defense is to know the symptoms and listen to your body. If you experience one or more symptoms, every day for three weeks, please see a GYN for a pelvic exam. A trans-vaginal ultrasound and a CA125 blood test is recommended if OC is suspected.

Bloating that is persistent
Eating less & feeling fuller
Abdominal pain
Trouble with your bladder
Other symptoms may include: fatigue, constipation, indigestion, back pain, pain with intercourse, menstrual irregularities, and unexplained weight loss or gain.

For more information about ovarian cancer, please check out . You can also feel free to contact me at
How can readers reach you or find you online?

Thanks for having me here today! I’ve had lots of fun answering your questions. For more information on me and my books, please stop by my web site at I can also be found here:


Thank you so much for being here today, good luck with your writing and thank you for your inspiration and advice on fighting ovarian cancer.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Meet Christy Effinger

Visiting today in My Writing Corner is author Christy Effinger. Welcome Christy. You studied creative writing in college. Did you always want to be a writer? When did you know you wanted to write?

I’ve wanted to be a writer since I wrote my first story at age seven. My love of books led me to major in English with a creative writing emphasis. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to find a job, but I wanted to write more than anything. So I took the risk.  
How did you get published?

A friend of mine from grad school had her first novel published with The Wild Rose Press. I knew she was a good writer and I admired her work, so I queried TWRP in July 2013. An editor asked for a partial, and then the full manuscript. TWRP offered me a contract in October 2013. Then came content revisions and final edits. The book was released August 29, 2014.  
Tell us a little about your newest book, Say Nothing of What you See

It’s about a girl named Mira who is abandoned at a spiritualist commune in the northern wilderness. Mira becomes a reluctant player in a medium’s twisted game of revenge.
The story sounds fascinating. What gave you the idea for this story?

As I mentioned in another interview, I’ve long been interested in cults, communes, and other fringe groups. The follower mentality perplexes me. Why will some people do whatever they are told, even to the point of mistreating others? Humans can rationalize anything, and that certainly is the case with Dr. Simon and his students. I wanted to explore the depth of one man’s depravity—and the destructive power of jealousy.
How do you come up with your story ideas?

Generally I have characters who intrigue me and I want to know their stories. I realize that’s a vague answer, but it’s hard for me to pinpoint exactly where my ideas come from. A story might begin with vivid scene. For instance, with Say Nothing I had a clear mental image of a woman standing atop a huge grain elevator. I knew she was going to jump, but I had to write the story to find out why and what happened next.  
Give us an idea of how you develop your characters?

I’ve learned to let characters be authentic to their true selves. If I listen to them instead of telling them what to do, they will show me how the story must unfold. My job is to observe how characters react to situations and other characters.  
How do you research your stories?

Most writers are naturally curious. We have to be. In my case, I try to read widely and often, and research subjects related to my story. For Say Nothing I read books and articles on psychic mediums and spirit communication.     
Do you always know how your story is going to end?

I have a rough idea of how a story will end, but I try to stay flexible. Often characters will take me in a direction I never anticipated.
What are you working on now?

My current WIP is a contemporary women’s fiction novel. So, it is quite different from Say Nothing.
What would you tell writers who are just starting out that you wish you had known?

It takes time to develop your craft—certainly more time than I expected. I thought college had prepared me to write a novel, but it hadn’t. The only thing that prepared me to write a novel was actually writing a novel. Many authors (myself included) had to write at least one practice book before they were published. The important thing is to keep reading and writing and polishing your work. Each project will be better than the last. 
What do you read when you are not writing?

I read a wide variety of books, from literary classics to commercial fiction. I also enjoy reading narrative nonfiction and poetry.
Tell us a little about your writing day – how do you make time?

The last three words of that question say it all: you make time. When I wrote Say Nothing I was teaching fulltime at a community college. I wrote the novel at night while my husband was taking graduate classes for his MBA. Now I’m at home with my baby daughter, but I still have to make time to write, because there’s always something else I could be doing. I try to write in short bursts when the baby is napping or content to play nearby.
How can readers reach you or find you online?


How about a blurb?
When her aunt steps off a grain elevator into the emptiness of a prairie evening, Mira Piper loses her one protector. Chloe, her flighty mother, impulsively drags her daughter to Bramblewood, an isolated spiritualist retreat in northern Michigan, run by the enigmatic Dr. Virgil Simon.

Chloe plans to train as a medium but it's Mira who discovers she can communicate with the dead. When her mother abandons her, Mira discovers a darker aspect to Bramblewood: the seemingly kind doctor has a sinister side and a strange control over his students.
Then one winter's day Troy Farrington arrives, to fulfill his mother's dying wish and deliver her letter to the doctor. But calamity strikes and he finds himself a captive, tended by a sympathetic Mira. Haunted by her dead aunt and desperate to escape Bramblewood, Mira makes a devil's deal with Dr. Simon. But fulfillment comes with a steep cost...betrayal.

I’m running a Rafflecopter giveaway through September 30, 2014. The prize is a $25 Amazon gift card. The Rafflecopter can be found here:
Thanks so much for being my guest.  Anyone have questions or comments for Christy?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Meet Sydney St. Claire

My guest today in My Writing Corner is Sydney St. Claire. Tell us about your journey to
publication. When and how did you get your first book published?

Wow, this will be a journey into the past! I started writing in the early 80’s. I didn’t have publishing in mind. Just had a scene stuck in my head and thought I’d write it. It was a love scene between a Native American and white woman. I was reading lots of western and Native American historicals at that time. So I thought I’d see if I could write a love scene.
Well, a funny thing happened. I had to know what brought those two characters, Sarah & Golden Eagle from my first book, White Wind, together. It was the wilderness, so what was she doing out there alone. Before I knew it, I had four chapters! I was encouraged by my sister-in-law to finish the story and that began my writing career. She sent me a book: How to Write Romance and get Published (I believe). That book became my bible. Keep in mind, there was no internet yet so I had whatever resources of the library or bookstores.

I persisted, learned my craft, wrote, rewrote. It took me three years to finish the book as I had a young family so I wrote on and off, having to sometimes skip three or more months. It took another four years to rewrite and learn the business of writing, how to submit (I made all the classic mistakes in submitting) and improve on the craft of writing. Things like starting out with “It’s was a beautiful day” had to go, as did almost the first two and a half chapters. I learned to use flashback and thought <g>
After four years of submitting, my manuscript sat in the slush pile at Dorchester for a year. To my surprise and shock, I was offered a contract on the very first book I wrote. A year later, I held my first copy of a book I’d written. Total time: nine very long years! I published my historical romances under my real name Susan Edwards

What made you want to be a writer?
I think I’ve always been a writer. But not in the typical sense. I wasn’t a kid who wrote stories or even told stories. I dreamed stories. From my earliest memories of playing with dolls and stuffed animals, I remember creating scenarios for my playthings. Looking back, they were stories. Even then, there was a good guy and bad, a situation, a beginning, middle and end and the required happy ever after ending.

I grew from there to daydreaming in school. And they were stories with plots, which of course I didn’t recognize. I would have been far too embarrassed or ashamed even of putting those stories on paper, yet I remember some of them because, like a writer, I rewrote them, over and over. Years might go by and I’d pull out that daydream and rewrite it, polish it, etc.
This was a part of me my entire life. Until I started writing. Once I found I could create stories on paper, the need to create in my mind went away. I’d work on my books instead.

So the simple answer is, I’ve always been a writer. I just didn’t discover my gift until much later in life.
You write erotica. Why did you choose that particular genre?

Anyone remember that movie: A Funny Thing Happened On The Way to the Forum? I was seeking to rebrand myself after Dorchester went under. I had two series with them that no one else wanted, though I did sell the White Series backlist to Carina Press. In need of income, I found an online freelance site and discovered ghostwriting/work for hire jobs.
There were a lot of writing jobs out there. Some, the pay was unrealistic like 500 for a 60k book! But I found a bunch of erotica novella jobs and applied. I was hired. I was a bit worried about writing short, BDSM, and contemporary but I didn’t have anything to lose but a bit of time. It turned out, I was good at it. The internet is a wonderful place for research! The woman who hired me gave me more work and increased my pay!

During a break, I decided to write one for myself: Cinderella & Prince Dom. I sent it to Wild Rose Press and again, to my surprise, Diana offered a contract on that story and the other five in the series. I can’t say I choose the genre but the genre choose me! I was in the right time, right place when I got that very first free-lance assignment. I publish the erotica books under the name of Sydney St. Claire.
What gave you the idea for this story?
I love writing a series so I was looking to create a series. I was also going to stick with the BDSM subgenre of erotica and one day, Once Upon a Dom came to me and that naturally led to Fairytales. I like to say these are fairy tales your mother never read you.

What do you like best about your hero?

One thing I like was his devotion to his wife who died of cancer. After her death, he wasn’t a saint but no one had taken her place and he couldn’t participate in the BDSM events he put on. Without her, it didn’t feel right. That changed with Jaimie. He’s a good, strong character but I really liked it that he could admit when he’s wrong. He was the victim of a group of employees embezzling from him. Jaimie was fired before he learned of it. Jaimie’s boss framed her. His sense of justice demands that he learn if she had been involved or framed. When he discovers she is innocent, he tries to do what’s right to make restitution. Of course, he does it in a way to bring Jaimie to him so he can offer her that coveted happy ever after!
What about your heroine?

Jaimie is just plain spunky. She’s lost her job, her cat just died and her car has broken down but she doesn’t whine about it. She really had a lot of reasons to be bitter. She’d discovered the embezzling and gotten herself fired and framed. But she presses on. She’s also vanilla and has no idea what she’s getting herself into when she agrees to go with her friend to Pleasure Manor for a weekend of fun and sex.
Who are some of the favorite writers in your genre?

I love Cherise Sinclair and her Masters of Shadowlands series and there are several other Wild Rose Authors whose erotica stories I’ve enjoyed. Marie Tuhart’s Quick Silver Ranch, Louisa Masters Diving Deep. That’s just a few.
What are you working on now?

I’m working on Snow & Her Huntsman which is book three in the Once Upon a Dom series. It will be out early 2015. Edits for Red & The Big Bad Dom are due anytime!
Do you have any words of advice for beginning writers who might like to try erotica?

Read it and read it with an open mind and a can-do attitude. Leave your squeamish self-locked outside of your office and your personal beliefs as well. It’s a business, so if you want to try it, then do it. I’d never written erotica beyond a very short story that never sold. I’d certainly never even considered writing BDSM before but I manned up and got the job done. And at some point, if I continue with this series, I’ll be adding a foursome! My wonderful editor had a comment about my Goldilocks and the 3 Dom story that made me go 'yikes'! Yikes. Oh, research! Reading is research but crawl through the web as well! There is certainly a lot out there.
How about a blurb?

Jaimie Newberry is jobless, her rent is due, and her cat just died. On top of that, she was accused of embezzling before she was fired. When her friend invites her for a weekend of kinky fairytale role-playing, she agrees to go as Cinderella. What has she got to lose when sex with a handsome prince is involved?
CEO Bryce Langston needs to know if Jamie is innocent of embezzlement or just very clever. He arranges for her to be his weekend sub but soon realizes the pretty scullery maid is na├»ve to the BDSM lifestyle. As her prince and her Dom, he intends to not only learn the truth but to make sure she has a fantasy come true. 

How can readers reach you or find you online?

Coming Soon Link:
Buy links       
Wild Rose Press Main Page: (available 9/12/2014)
(Nook & Amazon links available at the publisher website)
Coming Soon Link in case the short link above doesn’t work

Thanks, Sydney for being a guest today and good luck with your book.  Any questions for Sydney?

Mysterious Doings

As the  summer begins, it is time to start selecting those books we want to take on vacation or for sitting around the pool or at  the beach...