Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Mouse that Writes

Normally I present new fiction books in My Writing Corner, but today I am going to make an exception and introduce you to a new book on writing.  Why? Well, quite simply, because it is MY book.

Sue Viders and I have been writing, teaching writing, critiquing each other's writing and working together on one level or another for more than ten years. We've taught a number of writing classes online and given presentations together at writing conferences. 

Over the years students have often asked us about why we don't offer books or put our lectures into books so they can buy them and use them whenever they wanted or recommend them to their friends. We had one book published, Ten Steps to Creating Memorable Characters, which eventually ended up at Random House.

But now we've decided to start offering a series of booklets on our own, based on those many classes we've taught. We love to help aspiring writers and earlier this month our new book made its debut on Amazon, Let's Write a Story -- Seven Ways to Plot.

How did we come up with Dottie, our little writing/marketing mouse?  I'll let Sue tell that part of our collaborative story. As the author of dozens of marketing books for artists she knows what she is talking about!

Sue:  But before we could go “public” with our books, we had to come up with some type of not only a format but a recognizable image and name that people would come to associate with us, Sue and Becky, the writing teachers.

First the format: Taking our lectures and turning them into readable and followable text gave us several booklets of about 50 pages each. Big deal. There are a hundred how-to write books out in the marketplace.

What would make our books stand out…look different so the beginning writer would feel comfortable reading and following our advise? An image was needed. Research was needed. Finally after looking at covers for days, we decided  on a mouse. No other book cover had a mouse on it. Oh there were pencils, pens, computers, even typewriters, but no mouse. Right. A cute mouse. And of course it had to be a female…grin.

And she would be working with a really tall number 2 yellow pencil. Eventually the mouse somehow ended up with her pencil making several dots. And the dress became full of polkadots. It was then Dottie was born.

Let’s Write a Story became our overall marketing image. It along with Dottie is on the cover of all our writing books.

The first book is on our favorite subject, one that we teach all the time all over the county. No, I take that back, all over the world as we have students from every English speaking country on the planet.

So if you need help on plotting, or on creating characters, we hope you'll watch for our new books. The next one on Creating Memorable Characters is in editing right now, and Dottie will be back with that soon.

If you'd like to contact us, please do so, as we are also setting up a new blog, devoted to answering writing questions.

Contact info

And watch for our blog:

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Sealed with Romance

December is always a busy month for everyone so who has time to start a whole new book or even finish one. This is a great time to focus on reading a few short stories, just to get something fun accomplished.  And what better than reading some short romances written by a group of romance writers who have put together a series of stories based on one premise -- some form of communication. 

Sealed with Love from the Heart of Denver Romance Writers is a delightful collection of romantic stories that range in content from historical to contemporary, from paranormal to science fiction.

Okay, perhaps I am prejudiced in that judgment because the volume contains one of my own short stories, "One More Romance," the story of a woman rediscovering a lost love... while attempting to find a lost love letter.

But all the stories by the nine other writers are unique and some are just plain fun. Heroes include pirates, a cursed werewolf and even an alien musician.
How fitting for this season that the first story from former newspaper reporter and teacher, Mary Marcus, takes place during a trip home for Christmas.

From cities to small towns, these stories run the gamut of locations, but they all contain wonderful romantic tales that have the reader shedding a tear or two at times. I particularly enjoyed Joyce Mullen's story, "Thirteen Bachelors," because Joyce is well into her 90s and still writing. What an inspiration!

To be honest, I am not finished with all the stories, but every one I read just keeps getting better.  If you're looking for something to read while waiting for gifts to be wrapped or sitting at the table in a restaurant waiting with a drink for your friends to finish their shopping, you might consider taking the time to download this wonderful volume of romances.

These authors, from The Heart of Denver Romance Writers, are dedicated authors who read romance, study the genre and work hard at writing their own material. It's only natural that they should turn out such a delightful anthology. 

The editor, Helen Hardt, is a professional fiction editor who counts among her clients New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors and RITA winners. She is also an award winning author and one of her stories is included.

Sealed with Love is available now at

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

A Gift of Sexy Fairy Tales

If you're looking for books to buy your friends for Christmas (or for your own library) I have a suggestion to make. This is billed as "A Quartet of Fractured Fairy Tales" and it certainly caught my interest.  The book is Modern Magic, and one of the featured authors, Stephanie Cage, is the guest today in My Writing Corner.  Welcome Stephanie! How did you get started in publishing?

I always wanted to write, and as a teenager I had a couple of short stories published in our local newspaper.  Later I joined a writing group, and started entering competitions, and my first real success was winning a holiday in the Woman's Own magazine short story competition with a short story called 'Hide and Seek' about a young girl struggling to fit into a new step-family.  Then I discovered the Romantic Novelists' Association and began to focus on writing romance, which led to my first ebook, 'Desperate Bid' being published by The Wild Rose Press.  It started with the premise that somebody decided to put their life up for sale on an online auction site, and I thought it was pretty way out, but a few years later I read an article about someone who'd done just that!
What is your writing process? Are you a planner or one who relies on the writing spirit?
A bit of both.  When writing short stories I often just set out with a concept and see where it goes, but for longer stories I'm increasingly realising the need to plan so that I don't end up wandering down blind alleys.  I don't think I'll ever be a very detailed planner though.  I enjoy being surprised by my characters and finding that their stories take turns I hadn't expected. 

What one piece of advice would you give to new writers starting out?
The two pieces of advice I hear most often are 'read a lot' and 'write a lot' and I think both are indispensable, but I would add to the first one, 'read carefully'.  The best authors' stories carry us along, and as readers, it's great to race through a story enjoying all the twists and turns, but as authors we need to do more.  We need to stop and consider the choices the author made throughout the story, and what they add.  Why this viewpoint, this character, this scene?  This helps us to see the techniques being used to craft their stories, and add those to our own repertoires. 

Tell us about your newest work and what made you want to write it?

My latest published story is a novella in a collection of four modern fairy tales by different authors.  The book is called 'Modern Magic' and my story, "Music to her Ears" is a version of Goldilocks.  When I saw that Crimson Romance were publishing an anthology of modern fairy tales, I really wanted to take part, because I grew up admiring Angela Carter's reworkings of fairy tales, and as an adult I've enjoyed reading stories like 'Falling', my friend Imogen Howson's reworking of Rapunzel as a science fiction story.  I chose to base my submission to the anthology on Goldilocks because I'd seen a lot of versions of Cinderella and Red Riding Hood lately, and wanted to do something different, and I liked the idea of the heroine getting to choose something that was 'just right' rather than settling for the first thing (or person) who came along. 
What do you like best about your heroine and hero?
Both Mike and Hannah have a passion for music, and as he's already a well-known musician, when Hannah meets him for the first time, she feels as if she already knows him in many ways.  I enjoyed writing about their love of music because it's something I share.  As part of the Ursa Trio, Mike divides his time between the London area, where he meets Hannah, and New York, where the brothers have a flat (or should I say apartment?), but he comes from Yorkshire originally, and I loved bringing my favorite British county into the story too. 
What are you working on now?
I'm going through the editing process on another novella, Paris Proposal, which is due to be published by The Wild Rose Press next year.  It's a fun, quirky little story about a girl who goes to Paris with her boyfriend for New Year, expecting a proposal, only to find that things don't turn out at all how she expects. 
How about a blurb on Modern Magic?
What if Cinderella ditched the prince’s ball and sent her fairy godmother to find love in her place?
Suppose a streetwise hero hired to steal an all-powerful Genie (stuck in a flash driver rather than a brass lamp) for a tech company ended up running for his life with the CEO’s gorgeous, intelligent daughter?
What if the bed that a certain golden tressed girl accidentally napped in belonged to the hot and famous middle brother of a well-known boy band?
Can you envision the sparks that might fly if a bitter and downright beastly wheel chair bound woman propositioned a handsome bookseller to stay with her in exchange for her rare book collection?
This spellbinding anthology features modern and sexy spins on four classic fairy tales.
How can readers contact you:
Thanks, Stephanie, for being my guest today, and good luck with Modern Magic. I'm putting it on my Christmas list. Any comments or questions for Stephanie?

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Charmed by a Rocky Mountain Love Story

We're always looking for new authors to enjoy, and it's always great to find one from my home state. Tena Stetler and her husband make Colorado their home, and she says the household includes a brilliant Chow Chow, a spoiled parrot and a 40+ year old box turtle. Using the majestic Rocky Mountains for a backdrop, she writes paranormal romance. She says she finds stories in the strangest places--like on a camping trip, or kayaking, or hiking in the mountains. A song and the hair salon combined to create A Demon’s Witch, her debut novel release in September.

Tell us about your newest project.

Charm Me, part of A Candy Hearts Series from The Wild Rose Press, will be released January 6, 2016, just in time for Valentine’s Day. I am so excited.  I hope people enjoy reading it as much as I loved writing it.    
Where did you get the idea for it and what made you want to write it?

 Charm Me was a strange combination of occurrences.  I’d just finished a gun class at a really nice gun club to get my concealed carry permit.  And my husband and I were taking our dog to Agility classes where one of the other dog owner was a yoga instructor who owned her own studio.  On the drive home one evening, I combined the two situations and started to bounce idea’s off my husband. He is the best brainstormer. Is that even a word? Anyway, Charm Me was the end result.   
How did you come up with your characters for this book?

Most of my characters pop into my mind fully formed telling me their names and their stories.  I guess at that point its my job to sort it all out, tell the story.  Sounds weird I know, but sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.  LOL
What do you like best about your current hero?

He’s strong, driven and kinda set in his ways, but grows to understand the necessity of compromise to make a relationship work.  He’s a retired Navy SEAL and that defines him.
What about your heroine?

She’s a brave, strong woman who’s moved to Colorado Springs to take a yoga instructor position, a fresh start for her and her canine companion, Piper.  Summer is an elemental witch that has very bad experiences in her past.   Yet, when Devlin storms into her life, things will never be the same. 
How about a blurb?

Summer Dawn Riley’s an extraordinary elemental witch whose troubled past haunts her. She’s created a calm life for herself teaching yoga and keeping people at a distance. Her life takes a one eighty degree turn when she enrolls in a women’s weapons class and meets ruggedly handsome Devlin Sawyer. Devlin, a former Navy Seal, has sworn off women after two long-term failed relationships, but there is no denying his attraction to Summer. She intrigues him like no other woman ever has. Despite her attempts to ignore him, Summer is drawn to Devlin. His magic signature is strong, but he’s no warlock. Will Valentine’s Day magic find them a future together?

Charm Me is available for preorder now at Amazon
The Wild Rose Press

What are you working on now?
I am waiting on edits for A Witch’s Journey (A Lobster Cove series), The Wild Rose Press just contracted in November. It’s about the magic, love and dedication of a witch – wildlife rehabilitator who meets a former Navy SEAL ready, willing and able to make her dreams come true. Their journey begins with building a wildlife rescue and rehab center, her life long dream, then falling in love despite the dark secrets neither are willing to share, until….

My National Novel Writing Month project (I did make my 50,000 word goal) was a 2016 Christmas story revolving around the characters in A Witch’s Journey.  Once I finished A Witch’s Journey, I discovered the characters still had a lot more to tell, so A Wedding For The Holidays was born.
How can readers reach you or find you online?

Thanks, Tena, for being my guest.  Any comments or questions for Tena?

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...