Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Intriguing Romance For Summer Reading

We are turning the corner on summer and moving toward August and I still have so many books I want to read.  And more just keep coming. I hope you're enjoying your summer reading.  Today's guest author brings us a tale of romantic intrigue and suspense. 

Meet M. S. Spencer, who has lived and traveled in five of seven continents, but who has spent most of the last 30 years in Washington, D. C. as a librarian, Congressional staff assistant, speechwriter, editor, birdwatcher, kayaker and parent. She has worked in several library systems and at the Torpedo Factory Art Center in Alexandria, VA. She has published ten romantic suspense/mystery novels. She divides her time between Florida and a tiny village in Maine.

Thank you so much for having me at My Writing Corner, Rebecca. I’d like to talk about the setting for my new murder mystery romance, Artful Dodging: the Torpedo Factory Murders and about how the hero and heroine meet under less than romantic circumstances.

My latest release takes place in Old Town Alexandria, an historic cobblestoned city on the Potomac River. It follows the adventures of several artists at the Torpedo Factory Art Center, a hulking warehouse of a place on the waterfront.

An old munitions factory, it lay abandoned after World War II until the 1970s, when an intrepid band of biddies got the City of Alexandria to lease it to them for an art center. Today it houses 82 studios, the Art League, the Friends of the Torpedo Factory, and an Archaeology center.

Old Town is now a vibrant hub for restaurants and the arts. Galleries — including the Torpedo Factory—abound. Milo and Tristram meet by chance in one of the more frequented Irish pubs, O’Connell’s.

Murders,  mistrust, misfits, and miscreants—needlepoint artist Milo Everhart has her hands full. Can Tristram Brodie prove to her that love conquers all?
 It’s just before Christmas, and Milo Everhart has two needlepoint stockings, a cross-stitch purse, and three canvases to finish for her clients. Waiting out the rain in a pub, she is captivated by the handsome man next to her, but blocking the road to romance are two mysterious corpses who turn up in the tower of her Torpedo Factory Art Center. As if that weren’t enough, a second crisis erupts—a proposal to gut her beloved Art Center. 
 Tristram Brodie, hard-driving corporate lawyer and former Marine, is focused on his plan to convert the Torpedo Factory into a box store. He is drawn to the beautiful woman sitting next to him, but their mutual attraction will be frustrated by both the murders and his intentions. As they edge closer to love, they must find a way to overcome both their differences and the still-fresh memory of her late husband. 


       The bartender backed out past the man, who made no move to get out of his way. Milo frowned. The fellow appeared oblivious to the fact that his position inconvenienced everyone. At first she had assumed he was waiting out the rain, but his body language spelled expectant. Every minute or so, he would poke his head out and look up and down King Street. For lack of anything more exciting to do, she fell to observing him. The top of his head brushed the doorjamb, making him about six feet three inches. His bulk didn’t jibe with his height, though. She guessed him to weigh in at maybe one hundred seventy-five pounds stripped. He was undeniably her type—lean, trim, tall, clean-shaven—none of that painted-on, five-o’clock shadow male celebrities sported nowadays. And old enough, for once. Maybe forty? She could only see his profile at the moment, which revealed thick black hair curling over his ears, slices of silver gray relieving the dark waves at the temple, a straight nose, moderately rosy—from drink or the cold?and a forceful chin. Without warning he pivoted, and Milo caught the full impact of a deeply masculine face right in the kisser. Whew. Even with the Armani suit, definitely not gay.

He tapped the toe of a highly polished Gucci loafer with impatience and pulled out a pocket watch. By this time, Milo had dropped all pretence and openly scrutinized the man. He thrust the watch back in his pocket with a scowl and spun around toward the bar, almost colliding with Tony. He took Milo’s glass from the startled bartender. “Thanks, just what the doctor ordered.”

Milo lifted a finger in protest. Tony looked at her, and the man followed his gaze. Eyebrows raised in surprise, he held up the whiskey. “Er, I take it this isn’t for me?”

She tried to come up with a flip response, but his rich baritone rattled her.

Tony stepped between them. “Yes, sir, that drink belongs to the lady. May I get you something?”

The man didn’t answer. He stared at Milo more or less the way she was staring at him. Flustered, she plopped back down on the narrow bench, barely avoiding an embarrassing slide to the floor. He continued to stare. She resisted the impulse to pat her short fawn-colored ringlets, which always appeared tousled no matter what she did, and blinked. He blinked back.

Finally she blurted out, “Would you care to join me?”

He shook his head as though to clear his mind. “Forgive me—I’ve never seen such lovely eyes…I mean, eyes that color…I mean…sorry. What would you call them? Mahogany? Bronze?” His admiring gaze did wonders for Milo’s mood, which took a decided uptick.

“I just call them brown. But thank you.”

“I’m sorry about purloining your drink. May I buy you a freshener in restitution?”

“I guess so. Er…did you want to sit down?”

“I’d better not. I’m waiting for someone.”

“Oh.” His plight, though not unexpected, depressed her. Of course Armani man had a date. He probably always has a date, even during Lent.

Tony brought another glass. The man paid him, then hesitated as though reconsidering. “You know, she is awfully late. Since you’re right in the window seat with a commanding view of the entrance, may I be allowed to change my mind and sit here until she arrives?”

Ulp. “Not at all.” Good—got that out without stuttering.

“Thanks.” He pulled a low barrel stool next to the bench and clinked her glass. “Cheers.”

They sipped their whiskies in companionable silence while the rain pummeled both the sidewalk and the pedestrians with barely concealed antagonism.

After a few minutes, Milo decided her heart had settled down sufficiently to ensure a quaver-free sentence. “I’m Milo Everhart.” And I’m Gorgeous George. You don’t mind if I seduce you, do you? No, wait—he didn’t say that. I did. Hopefully in my head. “Um, I didn’t catch your name?”

“Tristram Brodie. Pleased to meet you.”


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Thanks, M. S. for being my guest. Questions or comments for M. S.?

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A Big City Romance for Summer Reading

We're in the heart of July and the hot days are a good time to stay inside and read that new book or to take it to the beach or mountains. No matter how and where you choose your reading time, summer is great for new books and learning about new authors to read.

The guest in My Writing Corner today is Charlotte O'Shay, author of the new book, The Marriage Ultimatum.  Charlotte was born in New York City into big family and then married into another big family. As you might imagine, as a writer, that provided her with enough drama, noise and inspiration for a lifetime of stories.
Negotiating skills honed at the dinner table led her to a career in the law. After four beautiful children joined the crowded family tree, Charlotte gladly traded her legal career to write about happily ever afters in the City of Dreams.

And that is just where her newest book is set.  Here's a blurb:

Dead-end job? Dreary apartment? Disastrous love life? Check, check, and check.  Toddler who makes it all worthwhile? Absolutely. Juggling work, college, and the care of young Alex was never Sabrina's plan.

But Sabrina's dreams are bigger than any curve ball life can throw at her. Her top priority is keeping her small family together, no matter what the cost.

Vladimir Grigory doesn't believe in dreams. He earned his position at the top of New York's corporate ladder with his own sweat. His empire is his baby, and he'll destroy anyone who threatens it. Even the sexy employee who challenges him on every level.

When the New York tabloids and the world call him the baby daddy of Sabrina's son, Vlad believes Sabrina is part of a plot to expose the secrets of his past. He threatens to destroy her future. But since Sabrina has secrets of her own, she has no choice but to agree to Vlad's marriage ultimatum.

Sounds like a perfect read for the summer time.  Let's get more!  Here's an excerpt:

“Ms.,” he glanced at the folder again, “Boyd.”
Now Sabrina felt lower and dirtier than the bottom of a trashcan. They hadn’t exchanged names the night before. We went from zero to sixty in five minutes in the backseat of a car. We were seconds away from completely anonymous sex. You’re the top guy at VGI. Hell, you are VGI, and I climbed over you like a lap dancer. But buddy, your hands were glued to me, too!

The heat climbed up from her chest to her face again.
If she could rocket off the planet, she would in a nanosecond. Her heart blocked her throat, and she couldn’t utter a word if her life depended on it. Not wanting to look but unable to tear her gaze away, she just stared.

And man, he was taking his sweet time staring right back.

Are you intrigued?  Here's where you can get your copy of  The Marriage Ultimatum.

The Wild Rose Press:

ISBN(s) 978-1-5092-0814-2 Paperback
              978-1-5092-0815-9 Digital


Kobo: ISBN: 10:1509208151

           ISBN: 13: 9781509208159

ISBN-13: 2940158185540
If you'd like to get more information about Charlotte or visit her website, here is that information.

Website: (wordpress)     

Facebook: Charlotte O’Shay

Twitter: @charlotte_oshay

Instagram: charlotte_oshay_author

Thank you Charlotte, for being my guest today.  Any questions or comments for Charlotte?

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

A Learning Vacation

This is a short blog this week because most of the writers I know are either on vacation, facing a deadline or off to the big conference of the year. Thousands of romance writers have descended on San Diego this week for the annual RWA or Romance Writers of America Convention. It's a great convention to attend because it is a wonderful opportunity to see old writing friends, make new friends and get the opportunity to listen to some of the best selling romance authors in the world.

Where else could you as a writer ask a question of the great Nora Roberts and get a direct answer. I'm not going this year, but I remember going to one of her workshops (getting there very early so I could get a seat) and thoroughly enjoying her presentation.

 I also got a chance at another conference to hear bestselling mystery/romance author Hank Phillippi Ryan. I was really interested in her presentation because--like me--she had worked as a journalist and she was giving a workshop about how her job as a TV reporter helped her. That workshop really hit home for me. She mentioned that it made her more aware of editing, and that journalists often find it easier to work with editors. As journalists we worked with editors every day. Seldom did any of our writing get on the air without someone else reading over our work. Whether it was a managing editor who questioned facts, or the news producer who shortened or corrected badly constructed sentences, or the anchor who might fix things to his or her style, we got edited when we wrote for newscasts. When you know that perhaps millions are listening or reading your work, you want the writing to be the best it can be. Any help from an editor is welcome, and that only helps to be a better editor yourself.

And where else do you get to talk to real live experts who can provide wonderful research material. As part of RWA's Kiss of Death Chapter, dozens of us got to visit Quantico one year for a close up look at the FBI. We even spent time on the gun range.

 I always recommend that aspiring writers try to attend conferences when possible. Even small conferences can be eye opening and educational. I admit some of the larger ones, like the RWA Convention can be overwhelming, especially when you don't know anyone. I remember being frightened at my first few national conventions, but then I realized there were so many other writers there who were just as alone as I was, and everyone was eager to find someone else to talk to. We were all in the same boat--wanting to learn to write or in later years wanting to sell our writing. By simply wandering around the convention and sitting at dinner and lunch tables with strangers, I got the chance to meet agents and editors so I could pitch my work. I also got the chance to meet other writers who were facing some of the same challenges I was.

If you don't get the chance to go to an RWA national event, take a look at small regional conferences. For a  few years I attended the Tony Hillerman Conference in New Mexico and at one I got the chance to meet best selling mystery author John Sandford. That was a real treat because I had been reading his books since he started publishing the Prey series. And it was even more fun to get to chance to speak directly with him. The journalist in me drove me to immediately ask how his own career in journalism had helped him. He mentioned that it meant he knew had to write every day and he still looks at writing fiction that way. As a reporter he wrote stories that were at least 750 words so he focuses on writing at least that much every day. If you had to do it as a working reporter and without excuses, you can do it as a writer if you want to succeed. That made perfect sense.

So this week as I watch all my friends go off to San Diego for the big convention, part of me is envious, but I'm looking forward the next conference I get to attend. And in the meantime I will continue to work on my next book so I'll have something to sell in the future. But whether you're a reader or a writer, don't ignore those conferences close to home. They can be helpful for selling your books, but they can also be fun for the readers who attend. Consider a vacation at a conference. You can learn while you enjoy being away from home.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

A Gothic Romance for Summer Reading

We are in the heart of summer reading now, and I've finished some very fun and engaging romances and mystery titles and I'm always looking for more. I hope you've found some treasures out there too. Among my favorite books are those with Gothic elements, and that fits the bill for today's guest in My Writing Corner: Sarah Andre, author of the new book, Tall , Dark and Damaged.

  Did you always want to be a writer?

Since 2nd grade, when my teacher showed my parents a story I’d written and said, “She understands what makes up a story and that’s very unusual for this age. She’s going to be a writer.” As a middle child (3 of us in 4 years) I distinctly remember thinking “Ah ha. This makes me different. This makes me special to my parents.”

Where do you get story ideas?

I only know generalities. I knew in the first book I wanted the hero to be a disgraced Olympic skier hiding out in a tiny log cabin in CO (for some reason.) My latest romantic suspense I only knew I wanted to set it in the breathtakingly grand Chicago house my grandparents lived in when I was small. There were places in and around it that frightened me, so the story had to take on a Gothic undertone.

Love those gothics! Tell us about your writing process. Do you plot carefully or wing it?

I am the Supreme Goddess of Pantsers (bow down!) I never know what the next sentence will be, so I’m surprised a LOT! Seriously. Characters, plots, conflict…who’s the villain?? No clue. For example, the page I’m on right now (first chapter, new romantic suspense.) My art restoration hero is walking home from a bar at midnight. Black Escalade screeches up on the curb blocking him. Two FBI agents jump out, guns drawn. One barks, “Get in.” Hero shakes his head and says, “Not this time.” This time?! There was a last time? Why would the FBI want a mild-mannered restoration artist not only once but again?! What’s going to happen in the car? At headquarters? Later in the story? (If anyone has ideas, please email me!) It takes an enormous amount of faith to keep writing the next outlandish sentence, and the next, until the story ends. It’s a faith I still struggle with.

How do you normally come up with characters?

Their personality, depth and flaws appear in the revision process, I’m sorry to say. And it’s typical for my heroine to be a cardboard prop for my hottie alpha hero for many revisions until I can finally flesh her out and spice up their interactions. Although the more years I write, the more I’m constantly with my characters in ‘down’ times. Like swimming laps, I’ll think: “Sean would react like this to his brothers…” Or my husband will often say (in that tone), “Sarah, I’ve told you all this before,” and I’ll know I was in my writer daze and must have nodded, said ‘yep,” and didn’t hear a word. 

Tell us about your latest book and what made you want to write it?

As I mentioned above, it was in honor of my grandparents and their lovely mansion. I have many hidden personal pieces in there, like the hero’s great-grandfather invented Orange Crush. MY great-grandfather invented Orange Crush (and unfortunately sold off the patent right away or I’d be walking the rows of my Tuscan vineyards right now.) Hidden staircases and passageways, names of people in my life, the koi pond and apple orchard out front…it’s all from the seven-year-old inside.

How did you come up with your characters for this book?

I knew I wanted the hero to be the black sheep son of a billionaire (originally written in 2008, before the billionaire craze.) The plot surrounds what happens when he returns home twelve years after being disinherited and kicked out. Let’s just say a grenade going off would have done less damage! And I love movies like The Thomas Crowne Affair or Dan Brown’s novel The DaVinci Code…anything to do with art theft or hidden meanings and clues, so that was the original basis for my heroine’s job. Devon, my hero was SO flawed and emotionally damaged he slowly took over most of the subplots. Therefore, the cool art stuff will be in my next Damaged Heroes book. (The one I’m writing now…the one with the FBI kidnapping my hero….does anybody know why yet?)

What do you like best about your current hero?

How he never gives up. From the second he steps into his childhood home I hurl conflicts, heartbreak, betrayal on an epic scale…and he keeps getting back up and doing what’s right. Although sometimes it takes him awhile!

What about your heroine?

I like her grace. Her ability to juggle multiple disasters and yet take care of her family and employees no matter the cost to her. I like her growth at the end—being able to confront conflict instead of swallowing her anger and slinking away.

How about a blurb?

His Life Changed in a Heartbeat
Disinherited as a teen, Devon Ashby returns home twelve years later as a ruthless CEO, brilliant at negotiating deals, but emotionally stunted. In an instant all he’s struggled to build implodes. Amid the turmoil of saving his company from a hostile takeover, his engagement to a business partner’s high-society daughter hits the rocks. Compounding his troubles, he encounters his high school sweetheart, whose heart he smashed. The vulnerability she awakens leaves him at greater risk than all the crises he faces.

Her Dream Job May Get Her Killed
While restoring art in a billionaire’s private gallery, Hannah Moore is unwittingly drawn into the dysfunctional family’s confidences. When she discovers the rich developer behind her and her sick aunt’s eviction is the family’s black-sheep son—the lover she’s never gotten over—her desire turns to fury. Always one to avoid conflict, Hannah must stand up to Devon and the growing menace of someone who thinks she knows too much.

A Decades-Old Secret Turns Deadly
When a family member is murdered, Devon and Hannah become ensnared in sibling greed, festering jealousy, and a tragic secret that’s divided the family. Amid their reigniting passion they race to expose the killer before they become the next victims in this cat-and-mouse game of survival.

How can readers reach you or find you online?

Thank you for asking! And thank you SO much for the opportunity to be here today, Rebecca. Readers, please get in touch, I love chatting. (Especially if you are good at brainstorming!) JK…no, I’m not. 
Website  Author  FB Page Twitter

Thank you so much for being my guest today. Any comments or questions for Sarah?

Friday, July 1, 2016

Scouting a New Publishing Method

Writers are always looking for new ways to get their work out there for readers. Today's guest in My Writing Corner is author Linda Kelley, author of the book, Rimrider, who has some answers for authors who might be considering Kindle Scout. 


What the heck is Kindle Scout?

A few short years ago, Amazon launched a venture for new, never-before-published books where readers help decide a contract. Selected novels are published by Kindle Press and receive 5-year renewable terms, a $1,500 advance, 50% eBook royalty rate, rights reversions and featured Amazon marketing. The marketing part is a huge appeal. It’s the curse of most authors’ existence (I spit on you, hateful marketing gods!) Having Amazon shoulder the burden is a major plus.


If a book is approved, the author receives a preview link to check the data submitted along with the Kindle Scout campaign launch date. All campaigns last 30 days. The more nominations a book receives the more likely it will get the attention of the Kindle Scout team and be selected for publication.


Will the requirements make my head hurt?

Nope. Submissions are taken all year long and eligibility standards are simple. The manuscript must be submitted in English and be 50,000 words or more. Authors must be 18 years of age or older, have a valid Amazon account, and reside in a Kindle Scout–eligible country. Five categories are available: Romance, Mystery & Thriller, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Teen & Young Adult, and general Literature & Fiction.


Any downside with Kindle Scout for the author?

Isn’t there always? The author is responsible for the book’s cover art. It must look professional, be ready to go when the manuscript is submitted, and satisfy Amazon’s specifications. Unless you’re a professional graphic designer, you’ll have to shell out money for an artist. The manuscript should also be professionally edited, free of typos and grammar errors. Paying for a good editor is a must. Kindle Scout doesn’t offer hardcovers or paperbacks, so if an author wants something to hold in his or her hot little hand, the printing cost are shouldered alone. For some, the lack of marketing decisions can be irksome. Amazon has total control. An author can’t run a 99 cent sale or post the first book in a series for free to drum up interest in the rest. Finally, the terms of the contract state that the book will only be available on Amazon, so bye-bye Barnes and Noble, any other site, and all ereaders who can’t open a MOBI file.


What’s the benefit to the reader?

You’re allowed to vote for three nominations. If your choice is a winner, Amazon will send a free copy of the ebook upon publication. No muss. No fuss. The only cost was a few minutes of your time to check out the book. You also get to proudly strut around the room and brag to others about supporting indy writers.


Who the heck are you?

I’m a fantasy/science fiction indy writer with five published books with a small press and a book now a Kindle Scout nominee. I live in Florida, slathered in sunscreen, and prefer air-conditioned comfort to heat and humidity. On the plus side, my skin will never look like badly laid roofing shingles. Here are my lurking spots if you care to lurk with me:

Twitter: @AuthorLAKelley


Be honest. Do you think you really have a shot?

Let’s put it this way…Amazon labels the popular Kindle Scout nominations in the smoking hot category. Even as a teenager I was only found in the dorky and peculiar category. The odds aren’t great, but if you don’t try, you can’t succeed. That being said I would great appreciate a vote for Rimrider by L. A. Kelley. It’s a science fiction space opera about a teenage girl who becomes a space pirate. Imagine the American Revolution with Earth as the redcoats and the colony planets as Yankee rebels and you get the idea. Intrigued? Click on the link and heartfelt thanks for taking a peek. 



Thank you, Linda, for being my guest today. Any comments or questions for Linda about her book or the new Scout program?

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...