Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Romancing the West

As we move toward the gift-giving season, time gets shorter for reading but longer for looking for gifts. For me, the idea of giving good books to friends and family can pay off in more ways than one. It gives me an opportunity to shop for myself... in addition to shopping for others.  That means I get to visit all my favorite book stores and look around for any new ones that might have opened in the last year and visit all my old familiar favorites... just in case.

But best of all, the search the search not only means finding new the latest books by my favorite authors, but discovering new authors as well.  My guest today in My Writing Corner is Canadian author, Cat Dubie, author of a new Historical Western just published this month by The Wild Rose Press. Being a fan of romance and Western history, this one goes immediately on my "to be read" list. The title is The Queen of Paradise Valley, and it sounds like a story I want to curl up with on a snowy day.

Diana Rennie, daughter of a wealthy rancher, attempts to persuade mystery man Del Russell to leave his grievances behind and forgive her father for past mistakes. Her careful plan goes awry and results in a shotgun wedding and a prison sentence for Del.

Four years later, Del is back in her life with a vengeance—back for his rightful share of Diana's ranch, back to prove he isn't the criminal she thought he was, back to finish what the two of them started years ago in a passionate daze. And he isn’t going anywhere, no matter what beautiful, treacherous Diana does or says to try to get rid of him. 

Want to know more?  I certainly do.  Let's get an excerpt:

     She released a small sigh. 

     "What were you just thinking?" He stood behind her. 

     She felt his heat and turned, rubbed her cheeks, then her arms. "The cows out there. I imagine they're dead, each and every one. And it's all your fault." 

     "Everything's my fault. Can't you think of something new?" 

     "There is nothing new. How can there be when the entire world outside has ceased to exist?" She swept a hand across her brow. "I'm going to my room." 

     He scratched his jaw. “Shutting yourself in your  room will only make your cabin fever worse. Don’t you  get bored?”

      Damn, how bored she was! “No. Never.”

     “Feel like a diversion? A game. Chess, poker—”

     “Real poker? For real stakes?” She studied his face. And then wished she hadn’t, for his eyes had a smoky  quality that gave her goose bumps.

     A familiar half smile. “I never play pretend at  anything.” 

If you would like even more, here are the buy links:


If you would like to contact the author, here is how you can reach Cat:

twitter:  @CatDubie

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

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The Joy of NaNoWriMo

Today I am taking a break from discussing reading fiction to turn my attention to writing it. For the past five years November has meant a month or four solid weeks of writing every single day. As a participant in NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month, I have struggled along with everyone else participating to start and finish writing a 50-thousand word book. That's an average of 1667 words a day and that's no easy task. At times I have found myself only able to get 300 words done and then had to write 2000 words the next day.

So why put myself through this exercise? Part of it is just to know I can still get a story written quickly.  Part of the reason is also to help me establish a routine of good daily writing habits. And part of it is simply the joy of letting myself go and having an excuse for losing myself in the story. With my focus on my story I find myself seeing everything around me in terms of the story I am writing and that not only helps to keep me going, but it also helps me establish some new patterns or get back to old techniques that worked to keep me writing in the past.

Facing a blank screen or empty pages every morning can be daunting, but NaNoWriMo makes me focus. New scenes must be written every day and that means I have to get off the internet or not take the time to research something at the moment.  I have to sit down at the keyboard and work on dialogue or describing a setting. It means taking steps to develop my characters either in description or ringing them out in the storyline. (which is what I much prefer doing) 

The other thing I love about this month is that I know many of my writing friends are attempting the same thing. We are all in this together and there are writing sprints I can take part in or writing rooms I can visit online and use as further encouragement to keep me going.

But I think the main thing I enjoy as a writer is the sheer joy of watching the story unfold in my head and then on the written page. I can't wait until to reunite with my characters and visit whatever special setting I am using (this year I am using the Northwest since I just visited there) 

So that is where I am heading now -- to a deserted beach on the western Washington coast where I have left my heroine walking along while she is being watched by a dark presence.  What will happen? Well, that's the fun of writing the story. Her fate is in my hands. And I only have a week and a half left to figure it all out.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Some Thoughts on Setting

Several months ago I began writing with a group of published authors on a blog we named Novel Concepts. The idea was that a group of eight of us would work together to write a series of short stories that we would publish online every week as a blog.  The novel concept was that we would end each weekly story with a choice for the reader and let them choose what the next part of the story will be.

So far the stories have been great fun.  The first one was a reunion among friends along the Gulf coast who faced down old romances, confronted lingering problems and even found new romance. Our last story was the fun tale of a best selling romance writer who dies and begins haunting the last person she ran into at a romance conference - a fan who happens to be a male romance writer.

Now we are off and running again, starting our newest story with a young woman who meets a sexy hunk on a tubing adventure down a mountain in Washington state.  I am looking forward to writing my part next week.  I get the opportunity to pick up on a chance meeting and voters have already decided how the next installment begins. The characters are intriguing and sound like fun to write so I am excited about taking them farther along in the relationship. Again, the readers get to decide where the story goes next.

But mostly I am pleased that I get the opportunity to write about one of my favorite settings, the Northwest.  Home to my first and second romantic suspense novels, Deadly Messages and Shadows from the Past, I am always ready and happy to set a story there.

Perhaps that is also why I am also working on this year's NaNoWriMo project with a setting in the Northwest, along the Washington coast where I spent several days last month. Needles to say, I immediately fell in love again with that area. On the Sunday when we arrived I was able to sit outside our cabin and enjoy a long afternoon of sunlight and ocean air.

But the next day, the storms moved in and what writer can resist a log cabin on a cold windy day when the rain is pouring down outside and the logs are burning in the stove, warming up the cabin?

With no internet to distract, no television available, what else can you do but write? And that was exactly what I did -- coming up with an idea for a story about a woman trying to escape her violent ex-boyfriend only to be confronted with a nosy ghost and a sexy new man who is trying to escape his own personal demons.

Setting can be every bit as important to a writer and the story as characters and plot, I've decided. To bring the reader into the location can be every bit as important as making the characters come alive and getting the reader invested in the plot. I almost have to feel my setting when I write, which is probably why I usually stick to locations I know or have at least visited.

And that is really one of the reasons why I am looking forward to that story on Novel Concepts next week. We ran into snow at the base of Mt Rainier as we drove south through the Cascades and I am certain it will help me as I describe the special feel of the Northwest and take the readers along with me too.  Again, the first installment is up, and I'll be moving the story along next monday at

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

A Romantic Return to Laguna

When you find a book you enjoy by an author with a style that you like reading you're always ready to look for that author's next book -- at least I know I am. That was why I was so pleased to see the latest book from author Claire Marti. I thoroughly enjoyed her romance, Second Chance in Laguna, so when I saw that she had a new book out -- At Last in Laguna, I was immediately intrigued and just had to check it out.

 Claire tells us started writing stories as soon as she was old enough to pick up pencil and paper. After she graduated from the University of Virginia with a BA in English Literature, she got sidetracked by other careers, including practicing law, selling software for legal publishers and managing a non-profit animal rescue for a Hollywood actress. But finally she decided to follow her heart and are we readers pleased that she did! She now focuses on two of her passions: writing romance and teaching yoga.

 At Last in Laguna, is the next story  in her Finding Forever in Laguna Series from the Wild Rose Press.
Here's the blurb:

 Alyssa Morgan has secretly been in love with her older brother Nick’s best friend, Brandt Dempsey, since she was an awkward, lonely teenager. When she catches the bouquet at Nick’s wedding, she throws caution to the wind and propositions Brandt to a two-week fling. He’s tried to ignore how Alyssa has blossomed into a strong, talented, gorgeous woman because as his best friend’s baby sister, she’s off limits. After they share a mind-blowing kiss, Brandt struggles to fight their undeniable chemistry. His tragic childhood scarred him, but he pushes it deep inside, only allowing the world to see a wealthy, carefree entrepreneur. Forced to work together on Brandt’s latest charitable venture, Brandt and Alyssa’s passion cannot be denied. Alyssa knows he’s the one. Can she convince him they belong together? 

 Want more? Let's get an excerpt:

      What was his deal this morning? She’d give him the cold shoulder if it killed her.
      And it just might.
      He’d rejected her, so why was he opening doors, hovering, and acting like a pest? Practically breathing down her neck. She could swear he’d sniffed her. Sniffed her. He couldn’t conceal his awareness. If he were so attracted to her, he would’ve agreed to her proposition, right? Since he’d shot her down in flames, he could at least have the decency to ignore her today. Rude, infuriating man.
      Inhaling a deep cleansing breath, she forced herself to concentrate on the center. Sunlight streamed through the abundance of windows and along with the high ceilings imparted a feeling of freedom and  space, perfect for the planned occupants. Because they’d decided to wait to obtain her input for the more specific room layout, the building’s interior remained a shell. She’d add to her brother’s amazing design and ensure Tearmann House’s beauty and serenity.
      Serenity. What a concept. Ha.

Want more?  If you do, At Last in Laguna is now available.  If you would like more information on Claire, here is her contact information and the buy links: 


Twitter:  @clairepmarti

Buy Links:

·      Amazon:
·      The WildRose Press, Inc.:
·      Kobo:

·      iBooks: 

Comments or questions for Claire?  Thanks, Claire for being my guest today and bringing us another wonderful romance from the shores of Laguna.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

A Ghostly Tale from the South

Halloween might have passed, but that doesn't mean we are ready to stop reading spooky stories -- especially if they contain sexy vampires! Those are always high on the reading list and this week author L. A. McGinnis provides just such a book.

From the first time she picked up a book, L.A. was hooked on reading. By the time she left elementary school, she’d finished every volume in the C. H. Campbell library, forcing the poor librarian to order more Norse mythology. When she wasn’t running through the woods or rescuing animals, she could be found curled up in the backyard with a book, escaping to even greater adventures. But Laura dreamed of the day when she’d tell the really, really big story, the tale of growing up in the American twentieth century. But between riding horses and driving fast cars, somehow her teenage years flashed by. 

Realizing that everyone has to grow up, she walked into a classroom at KSU and began studying Chaucer and Shakespeare and Old English, and once again fell in love with storytelling. Eventually, her creativity came full circle, and as she changed from artist to mother, the dream of the Great American Novel was put on hold by all the other things that big life demands. Then one day her son challenged her, so she began writing again. to her delight, discovered that she loved it, perhaps even more than she had before. After pecking out a longer-than-life YA novel and a somewhat convoluted apocalyptic horror manuscript, she finally found a genre that she adored. 

She says she hopes you enjoy Shadows of Ghosts, the story of Logan and Ian. Let's find out more about Shadows of Ghosts!

Driving to South Carolina to claim an inheritance from a total stranger didn’t figure into Logan Dean’s long term plans. But she'd be a fool to pass up an opportunity, and her mother didn’t raise any fools. Now she's a pawn in a vampire war and fighting to stay alive. Thankfully, she’s discovered an ally in mysterious Ian Grant. As her feelings for Ian grow, Logan comes to realize if she wants the love she deserves, she's going to have to fight the demons of her past.

For over a hundred years, cynical Ian Grant swore to never love another woman. But from the first time he saw Logan, he knew an ancient part of his history had come back to haunt him, and the one thing he doesn't want becomes the one thing he has to have.

That sounds like I need to read more!  Here's an excerpt:

     “Why were you talking about me?” Logan countered.

     Ian walked toward her, but she didn’t back away, fueled in part by curiosity, but mostly because nobody pushed her around. When his golden eyes locked on hers, a strange, sweet feeling swept through her.
     The man simply…dazzled. With his fallen angel beauty framed by hair the color of copper and a body that flowed as gracefully as smoke. But it was those eyes, she decided, eyes as gold as Midas that did it for her, slanted above a smile as dangerous as a predator’s.

     A wondrous feeling blew through her, like she’d missed him, like her heart had been broken a thousand times and now was finally whole. He was how home smells when you don’t even know how much you’ve missed it until you come through the front door and there it is. Waiting for you.
     “Who the hell are you, Grant?” She managed, as he stopped a few inches away. The fierceness of his gaze set off another sensation, and as need curled through her, she reeled. It was as if she knew. Knew what his mouth tasted like. Knew his weight on her body. Because she’d felt them before. Staggering forward, Logan found herself caught by capable hands. “Oh God, what’s happening to me?”
     Warm breath feathered her ear. “You’re curious, aren’t you? You feel it, don’t you?” Logan stood helpless, held in place not by him but by something inside her that made it impossible to leave. And when he reached out and tucked a stray hair behind her ear, a gesture so tender, yet so achingly familiar, she couldn’t breathe. “You always had the most beautiful hair.”
     “What kind of games are you playing, Grant?” Logan managed.
     “Unfortunately for us, Miss Dean, this is not a game.” Clouds covered the sun, cutting off the nimbuses that fractured the gloom, plunging the room into shadow. 

     It was a sign, she thought, of something momentous. Or at least, she was going to take it as a sign, which meant pretty much the same thing. Right about then she realized they weren’t alone.

     “What the hell is going on here, Ian?” Face burning, she stepped away from him immediately. Busted. Robert carefully looked between the two of them, a growing awareness on his face.

     Grant smoothly took over. “I just drove out to see Bart’s old place. I’d hoped Miss Dean might be interested in selling.” Just like that, he became completely detached. Gone was any trace of whatever had happened between them. The moment felt stolen, instead of real. He didn’t want Robert to know. Know what, she wasn’t sure, but she did remember Robert’s final words yesterday…get the hell out of here, Ian… 

     Her legs were still a little shaky, but as the distance opened between them, her bearings came back. Fine, she thought, two can play at that game.

     “Mr. Grant was explaining to me his plans for Aviemore.” She felt Grant’s jolt of surprise behind her. “I’m afraid I’ve…” she went on sweetly, “…fallen in love with the old place, too. So, of course I can’t sell.”
    It was a small victory to see that coolness crack for a second. “Then I believe I won’t waste any more of your time.” Footsteps echoed down the empty hall.
     Logan held up a hand to Robert. “Give us just a sec, will you?” She waited on the porch until Ian opened his car door before calling out. “Why did you come out here, Grant?”
    “You don’t want the kind of answers I’ll give you, Miss Dean. Trust me.”
     She bit back a laugh.  “Yeah? Well, sometimes those are the only kind you get.”

If you want to read more, here are the buy links:

If you would like to get more information on L. A., here is her website:

Thanks, L.A. for introducing us to your special world!  Any comments or L. A.?

A Writing Quest

With the cold days of winter in the rearview mirror and spring taking a firm hold, it's time to look forward to all the reading we want ...