Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Celebrating the Old Year

This is the time of year when I usually take stock of things I did and didn't get done in the past year in preparation for making up a list of things I want to do in the New Year. (I don't usually check on last year's list--in case I didn't get everything done.

Usually I do this in terms of my writing and whether or not I got a book done or something published. Unfortunately I came up empty on the fiction front this year, but I did manage to get two non-fiction booklets published with my co-author Sue Viders. (see Let's Write a Story blog). Editing on the third book in the series should be done in the next week.

And while I did a lot of writing I am sad I didn't totally finish anything, but I have several stories on the verge of having The End written.

So what are my accomplishments? Well, one of the things I like to note in my writing classes on setting is to set the mood, know the location. One of the ways I do that is first hand observation.

This year I spent a lot of time first-hand observing in a series of trips that often were totally unexpected. They were not only fun but continue to give me pleasure as I get to write about them. 

The spring took me to Washington state and Vancouver, BC, which I hadn't visited in several years. Driving north of Seattle took me back to the fictitious location of Redfern Manor, and brought me new ideas for a story set in the Northwest. A spectacular sunset on a Vancouver beach provided all the inspiration I needed. While my sister took pictures, I was coming up with story ideas and new possibilities for a sequel.

A summer trip to southern Colorado took me back to my roots and an early morning visit to Trinidad, Co,  where I am setting a western historical romance. You can totally plot a story while traveling across 100 miles of empty prairie and being part of the location can really pull you into thoughts of the past and wagons struggling to roll across the land.

My final trip of the year took me to New Mexico, where my Dead Man series is set and just driving across the country there also gave me new ideas for the final book, which I am just in the process of finishing.  Again, there is a certain feel for the landscape and talking to and listening to the people of the region that you often only get through real interaction. I spent quite a bit of time simply wandering around and soaking in the flavor of the city, and doing some writing of a scene set in Santa Fe.

As it turned out, I guess when I look back I did accomplish a lot of things in the past year. Between research and editing I have several stories that are almost ready for an editor.

Bring on 2017!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

A Holiday Romance from Across the Sea

Today I am continuing my quest for holiday themed romances with one from another time in a different realm. My guest today in My Writing Corner is Mary Morgan, the award-winning author of the Dragon Knights' series.

Mary, where do you get such great story ideas?

Where do I begin? Inspiration comes to me in so many forms--from my love of history, romance, travels, and life. These are all powerful sources of motivation for me. In truth, I've always had a story inside my head. On my first trip to Scotland, the Dragon Knights were born. I was sitting on a boulder in the Highlands during twilight. The inspiration for their stories began to unfold. I'll never forget the feeling.

Tell us about your writing process. Do you plot carefully or wing it?

I'm definitely a plotter in the beginning. Since I write medieval romances (my love of history), I have to "feel" the ancient. Therefore, I start all my stories by writing down as much as I can in a leather journal--from character descriptions, environment and general outline. However, once I get started writing on the computer, the character inevitably take over the story. I'm hardly ever in control, especially at the back end of a story. It's similar to a freight train and the words fly across the pages.

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

A Magical Highland Solstice was inspired by my love for the holidays. After finishing the Order of the Dragon Knights series, I wanted to wrap up the year with a holiday-themed romance. It was a labor of love to write this story. I took a major secondary character from my series, Cormac Murray, a true and loyal friend to the Dragon Knights and gave him his "happily ever after." He deserved his own book.
What do you like best about your hero?

I've always admired Cormac's steadfast loyalty to the Dragon Knights, especially after the death of their sister, Margaret MacKay. He never judged them. In addition, he had a great sense of leadership when it came to taking care of his clan and people--qualities I truly admired in this character. He jumped out at me from the very first story.

What about your heroine?

Eve was such a joy! She was giving, supportive, and she was putting other's needs before her own. I wanted to be her best friend.

How about a blurb?

Laird Cormac Murray has witnessed how love destroyed his own father after the death of his mother, and he vows to never take a wife. Yet, when he comes upon a bewildered lass traveling alone, he finds his heart will no longer listen to his mind. In the end, Cormac risks everything to claim the love of a woman not of his time.

Eve Brannigan loves helping others and baking. After winning a contest, she is stunned to learn that the Clan Murray has requested her assistance to cater to their guests during the holiday season. When a lost path in Scotland leads her to a handsome but gruff Highlander, Eve fights the temptation to allow love to enter her heart for the first time.

Can the Fae and the magic of the Yule season bring together two souls who have forsaken love? Or will tragedies from the past separate the lovers forever?

That sounds like a wonderful romance for the holidays--perfect for a calm evening of reading after wrapping presents.

Buy links:


Barnes & Noble:


All Romance ebooks:

The Wild Rose Press:

How can readers get in touch with you?


Thank you, Mary, for bringing us this week's holiday romance.  Any comments or questions for Mary?

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

A Bewitching Tale for the Holidays

The cold days of winter are a perfect time for reading, so what could be more fun than a holiday-themed story that combines romance, animals and the paranormal. My guest today is author Tena Stetler who has done just that in her latest book, A Witch's Holiday Wedding, which was just released last week.

Tena, why don't you tell us about this book and what made you want to write it.
It's a sequel to A Witch's Journey which released in June. It's a story of redemption, magic wildlife rescue, true love and paying it forward. When I finished A Witch's Journey, I discovered the characters Laten and Pepper were not done with their story.

What gave you the idea for it?

I have been involved with animal rescue and have always wanted to visit Maine, so I combined the two and wrote the story. I wanted to make people aware of wildlife and animal rescue and rehab but to make it a fun romantic read in a magic setting.

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

My characters, like my stories, just come to me fully formed, with names and personalities.

What do you like best about your hero?

He's experienced tragedy in his life which estranged him from his family, but he learns from his mistakes and is a better man for them.

What about your heroine?

She is strong willed and believes in doing the right thing, even if it costs her. But in the end she is rewarded for her actions.

How about a blurb?

Elemental witch, Pepper McKay, and former Navy SEAL, Lathen Quartz, have built Lobster Cove Wildlife and Rescue and Rehabilitation Center on enchanted McKay land. During a romantic interlude on Halloween night, Pepper happily agrees to become Lathen's wife. What better day than Winter Solstice for their wedding in a town that loves celebrations and Christmas? However, planning a wedding and operating their wildlife center takes a toll on both Pepper and Lathen. When the couple takes a much-needed break for Thanksgiving with family in Colorado, a Maine snowstorm fills the center with injured wildlife. Lathen finds himself drawn into a cover military mission, while trying to deal with issues concerning friends and family. Pepper wants to cancel the wedding. Is she having second thoughts? Will the nosy McKay ghosts, Lathen's werewolf pack, Pepper's parents and her best friend help or hinder the wedding and holiday plans?

That sounds like a lively story with lots of twists and complications. How can readers get in touch with you?

Facebook Page:
Twitter Page:
The Romance Reviews:

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

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Going Back in Time with A New Mystery

I've always been a big fan of books set in Los Angeles, even before I moved there and eventually set a murder mystery there. I also love stories about the City of Angels set in the past. Today's guest in My Writing Corner meets both of those criteria.  Meet Jennifer Kincheloe, whose latest mystery is set back in early 1900s Los Angeles.

Did you always want to be a writer?

No! When I was young I wanted to be a jungle doctor in deepest darkest Papua New Guinea. But I changed my mind. I learned I could have a bigger impact on the world if I used public health interventions to protect whole populations instead of dealing with individuals the way a doctor would—one on one. I got a Masters in Public Health and then a PhD in Health Services Research. I did research at UCLA looking at how to improve the health of vulnerable populations. It wasn’t until I was in my forties that it even occurred to me that I could write novels. Before that, it was scientific articles and policy reports.

Where do you get story ideas?

Old newspapers. I read them cover to cover—everything from want ads to the fashion section to crime. I read memoirs. In my first book, THE SECRET LIFE OF ANNA BLANC, there is a character called The Boyle Heights Rape Fiend. He comes straight from the memoirs of an LAPD officer who used to dress up in women’s clothes and stroll out on the arm of another cop in order to capture the criminal.

Tell us about your writing process. Do you plot carefully or wing it?

The first book started out as a screenplay. I wrote the screenplay using a plotting system from a book called SAVE THE CAT. Lots of fiction writers use it as an outlining tool. It basically helps you think of the book in a three-act structure. Although my second book (which is coming out in Fall of 2017 and is yet to be named) never was a screenplay, I still used SAVE THE CAT to do the outline. Same for book three (coming out Fall 2018)

Tell us about your latest book, The Secret Life of Anna Blanc, and what made you want to write it?

THE SECRET LIFE OF ANNA BLANC is just out on audio. I wrote it as a tribute to Alice Stebbins Wells, the first female cop in Los Angeles in 1910. But when I began writing, the protagonist flowing out of my fingertips—Anna Blanc—was nothing like Alice Stebbins Wells. Alice was a middle-aged, middleclass, former Christian minister working as a police matron, helping women and children who came into contact with the criminal justice system and protecting them from the cops. She was promoted from matron to cop and given full police powers. Anna Blanc is young, beautiful, rich, naïve, and self-absorbed. In that way, she’s nothing like Alice. But she’s incredibly brave, grows immensely, and in the end we see what she’s truly made of. Anna does all the same work that Alice did as a matron. However, I didn’t think Anna was quite ready for full police powers in book one. (For one thing, even male cops had to be at least 26 years old and Anna is only 19) We’ll see what happens down the line.

Your newest book is also being put on audio. Tell us about that, and any special challenges you faced.

Yes! It’s a dream come true for me, but I faced an enormous obstacle in casting it. When THE SECRET LIFE OF ANNA BLANC took place, people were pouring into LA from all over the world. LA tripled in population between 1900 and 1910. My characters reflect this diversity. I had to find a narrator who could do lots of different accents: English, Scottish, French, Mexican, German, East Coast, Southern, Midwestern, and Californian. She had to do both male and female voices, upper class and lower class. The narrator I found—possibly the only person on the planet who could pull this off—was Emmy, Audie, and Audible Book-of-the-Year award-winning actor, Moira Quirk. Fun fact about Moira: she’s English. At one point, I have her singing in a male, American voice and she manages to make him sound kissable. Now that’s AMAZING.

How about a blurb?

RT Book Reviews describes the novel as “I-Love-Lucy meets Agatha Christie,” which I think really fits. But here’s what’s on the back cover:

It's 1907 Los Angeles. Mischievous socialite Anna Blanc is the kind of young woman who devours purloined crime novels—but must disguise them behind covers of more domestically-appropriate reading. She could match wits with Sherlock Holmes, but in her world women are not allowed to hunt criminals. Determined to break free of the era's rigid social roles, Anna buys off the chaperone assigned by her domineering father and, using an alias, takes a job as a police matron with the Los Angeles Police Department. There she discovers a string of brothel murders, which the cops are unwilling to investigate. Seizing her one chance to solve a crime, she takes on the investigation herself. If the police find out, she'll get fired; if her father finds out, he'll disown her; and if her fiancé finds out, he'll cancel the wedding. Midway into her investigation, the police chief's son, Joe Singer, learns her true identity. And shortly thereafter she learns about blackmail. Anna must choose—either hunt the villain and risk losing her father, fiancé, and wealth, or abandon her dream and leave the killer on the loose.

How can readers reach you or find you online?

Readers, please reach out. I’d love to hear from you. If you like old pictures from around the turn of the twentieth century, that’s another reason to find me on line. I’ve collected thousands while researching my books.

Follow me on Facebook and Twitter, and check out my Pinterest page.

Becky, thanks so much for having me!

Thank you for being my guest.  Any comments or questions for Jennifer?

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...