Friday, December 27, 2019

Revolution and Romance

In this magical holiday season, it is always fun to find a writer who brings us a magical type of story that can transport us to a new world. My guest today in My Writing Corner is Helen C. Johannes. She  writes award-winning fantasy romance that is inspired by the fairy tales she grew up reading as well as the amazing historical places that she has visited in England, Ireland, Scotland and Germany. 

Her stories are  tales of adventure and romance in fully realized worlds that spring from pure imagination and show her lifelong interest in history, culture, and literature.  If you're looking for warriors on horseback or strong-hearted  women who refuse to sit idly at home, as well as passion that cannot be denied or outrun—that’s what she says readers will find in her books.  Her latest took is Lord of Druemarwin.

Lady Raell can fight, ride, and argue politics as well as her brothers. Only being mistress of her father's household keeps her in skirts. In Naed, the new Lord of Druemarwin, she has found devotion, a kindred spirit, and a marriage promise. But when a forgotten and unwanted betrothal comes to light, she has no choice but to run.

Amidst sweeping revolution, Naed must rally his people, fend off assassination attempts, and fight against claims he's a traitor. Then he discovers everything about his lineage and family is a lie. And his beloved belongs to another.

With lives and a kingdom at stake, Raell and Naed must find a way to protect the innocent and save their love. In a world of lies and betrayal, can they trust each other?


Let's get an excerpt:

“Raell, now is not the time—”
Aye, it wasn’t. They stood in torchlight on an open parapet while assassins stalked them, but this might be her only chance to reach him across that precipice he’d thrown up between them, to secure the future they were meant to share.
“Does my honor mean naught? When weighed with D’nalian honor, is mine lesser because ‘tis a woman’s honor? Or because ‘tis a Tolemak’s honor? Be honest and tell me that.”
The world had gone silent; Raell could hear nothing over the rush of blood in her ears, the terrible heavy beats of her heart while she waited, dizzy with fear, breathless with longing, for the man she loved to respond with a word, a look, even a blink. Even a shift of his gaze she’d take as a sign he’d at least heard, mayhap begun to consider—
“Yes, be honest, Lord Naed,” said a voice she’d heard but once, a voice that raised all the fine hairs on her body and made her innards contract into a cold, tight knot. “Tell us both how much honor means to a bastard who’s betrayed his countrymen and his blood.”
Don't you want to read on?  I do!  Here are the buy links:

Thank you, Helen for being my guest today and taking us to another world! Any comments or questions?

Friday, December 20, 2019

A Holiday Trip to Another World

As we reach the heart of the holiday season, let's continue to look at great books to not only read ourselves, but to give as gifts to our friends who are readers. I know my buddies are always looking for a new author to enjoy and a new book to help them get through those long winter nights and cold days in doors. My guest today is author Tena Stetler. She is a best-selling author of award winning paranormal romance with an over-active imagination.  She is adventuring into the world of cozy mysteries next year. She calls Colorado her home; shared with her husband, a brilliant Chow Chow, a spoiled parrot and a forty-five-year-old box turtle. Her books tell tales of magical kick-ass women and mystical alpha males that dare to love them. Travel, adventure and a bit of mystery flourish in her books along with a few companion animals to round out the tales.

Let's hear from her directly about her work:

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Tena Stetler, I write award winning Paranormal Romance/Mystery. Crafting tales that will sweep people out of their ordinary world into a magical, romantic fantasy with a touch of mystery and adventure including a few companion animals to round out the stories is what I do.   For a few hours a day, my readers forget about their problems, worries, stress, and the real world enjoying a feel good story with a happy ending. I think we all need that these days. Don’t you?

I’m a panster, I write by the seat of my pants so to speak, so I never know exactly where a story is going or which direction my characters are going to go. It can be quite disconcerting at times. Especially when I think I’m in charge, turns out nothing could be farther from the truth. LOL

My new release, CHARM ME AGAIN, was inspired by the characters not being finished with their story from Charm Me, published 2016, as a novella 20,000 words. It was part of the Candy Hearts series my publisher put out. 20,000 words was the limit for the stories. That’s when I learned it’s hard to tell a story in a limited amount of words. I guess you could say I’m long winded because that story had only one story line when in fact there could have been more. Yet it was one of my best sellers. Summer’s dysfunctional family was left out entirely because I couldn’t do them justice.  Her brother…well… you’ll see in Charm Me Again is an individual with a difficult past trying to make amends.

A scene in CHARM ME AGAIN was created several years ago from my personal experience of hiking up the Hanging Lake trail in the pouring rain. Posted as an easy hike, it was anything but. Yep they lied. Since that time the listing of the hike has been upgraded to moderate. You’ve never lived until you climb over large rain slickened rocks and boulders on an uphill trail gaining 1,000 feet in elevation over the mile climb. But oh my the view of a lake on the side of a mountain is breath-taking! We stayed and ate our packed lunch on the shore, enjoyed the scenery and other awe inspiring places around the lake. At the time, I knew Hanging Lake would become part of a book one day. Picture to the left is actually Hanging Lake.  That day came as I was writing Charm Me Again.  I hope you enjoying reading CHARM ME AGAIN as much as I did writing it. Happy Holidays!

Now a little about CHARM ME AGAIN

For several months a Scottish Highland Ghost has haunted Daylan, in his personal life, his professional life and at his forge. Yet, being a talented warlock, he is no closer to discovering what the ghost wants or why he chose Daylan. A trip to his estranged sister’s home in Colorado may have unforeseen consequences especially when family history leads him to a shocking discovery.

As his attraction blooms for Josie, a yoga instructor in his sister’s studio, he realizes there may be more to Josie than he can imagine. When an ancient rogue Fae Warrior set on revenge kidnaps her in an attempt to claim her as his own, a devastating curse comes to light.

Daylan’s world spirals out of control as he searches for Josie. Can he break the age old curse to save her and their future, or will she be lost to him forever?

Let's get a  peek between the pages of CHARM ME AGAIN

She swallowed hard and blinked.

Out of the mist, in full Scottish regalia, a ghost stood, his transparent red and green belted plaid blowing in the breeze.

She shook her head, closed her eyes, scrubbed her hands over her eyes, and blinked them open. “What the hell?” burst from her lips before she could control herself. “It’s some kind of bad dream. Right?” She rubbed her eyes again opening only one this time. “Shit, you’re all still here.” She dropped her arms to her sides and glared at Daylan then Summer. “Someone better tell me what’s going on—right now.” Her hands fisted and unfisted at her sides.

Daylan returned her scathing look. “Later.”

“We meet again Shay.” The ghost said. “What kind of attire are ye wearing?”

“Never mind. Ye are the cause of the problem, Daylan.” The leader glared at the ghost.

“Oh, no—not this time,” the ghost said.

Daylan stood straight. “No way. I’m not taking the blame for this.”

Shay grinned. “Oh, now things are falling in place.” He pointed a finger at Daylan. “You are his namesake and that is why Khellan has returned.” He flicked a finger at the ghost. “And you have attached to your namesake hoping he or his twin can break the curse. What a tangle.” Shifting his gaze to her, he continued. “This young lass is caught in the middle with naught power to protect herself.”

“For god sakes. She’s mortal. How can she be caught in the middle?” Daylan shouted. “She shouldn’t even be able to see what’s happening.”

“Yet she does. Something to think about.” Shay shrugged one shoulder. “She is besotted with you, as you are with her. The lass’s blood may be diluted, but it’s there. The cycle begins again.”

Want more? Here are the buy links:

Now here is her contact information:

Thank you, Tena, for giving us a preview of your new book! Any comments or questions for Tena?

Friday, December 13, 2019

Talk to Your Characters

When I was working as a journalist in TV and as a public relations writer, my assignments often began the same way – with research. Whether it was reading over newspaper articles or viewing past stories on a subject, I always knew that when you set out to write about a subject you needed to gather as much information as possible. And if you were writing about a person, you needed to know as much as possible about that person.

That didn’t change when I began writing fiction. The subject matter was important, but even more critical was getting to know the characters involved. If I was going to make those fictional characters move or react in the way I wanted I needed to know everything possible about them. I always say in my classes that it is easier to writer about your mother or husband than it is to write about a total stranger. You know how they might react to a situation or a setting while you would have no idea how a stranger might react. That is why I always recommend getting to know characters first, as soon as writers begin plotting their novels. The best story in the world will seem flat if the characters are flat.

And what is the best way to get to know someone? Talking to the person, of course. We’ve all heard of the benefits of interviewing our characters. We’ve even received question lists and formulas that can help us. But too often these questions don’t go far enough. We need to dig deeper. I always recommend, not just questioning someone, but spending time with that person.  If I can’t afford to spend a few hours a day hanging out with that person, how am I going to make it through the necessary weeks I will spend with that character as I get their story down on paper?

But how does that interview process work? If you’ve never done an interview, (even of your characters) how can you go about it? I actually still employ some of the processes I used when I was actively interviewing people as a journalist – whether it was over a new building project or a down home story about life on the farm. There were some things I learned to do on an interview BESIDES just asking questions. The key was to not only listen but to observe. 

Here are some things you can consider as you do your character interview:

Where are you doing it? And how makes that decision – you or the character. Well, it is all up to you, but think about it. If your character is a business woman, perhaps you want to do it in her office. If she is a stay at home mom, you might choose her house or you might do it in a park as she watches the kids.

If you are doing it at the person’s house, then by all means, be nosy and curious. Now I am not saying I used to look in people’s bathroom cabinets when I did interview in homes, but as a writer you can. Think about the setting where this person lives. Is it an elegant home with everything in a perfect place? Does it look like the living room was professionally decorated? That will tell you something about this person – and it’s something YOU might be able to use in your story. Something you might not have considered otherwise. How will others see your character? Like you are him or her now? The same is true of the person’s office. Is it neat and tidy or are there personal objects all around like a bat and ball in the corner or pictures of your interview subject on the ski slopes? Is it in a tenth floor corner office with a stunning view or a cramped cubbyhole in a trailer on a construction lot? See it in your mind so that you can describe it later in your book. 

If you are doing your interview in a coffee shop, is your character easily distracted by others? Does he or she nod to people or does she totally tune out the chaos around her. If you are having lunch with your character what does she order and does she cut her meat into little piece before she eats it? Okay, these may seem like extreme things to be paying attention to, but these are some of the little things you can keep in your head as you write. How would your character react if she is meeting a stranger in a coffee shop – someone she needs to get information from to solve the mystery or if she is meeting the hero for a coffee date.

Think about how your character might sound on the phone. Does being on the phone make her nervous and it is obvious she wants to get off and be finished with you? Think about who that person at the other end of the phone might be. How does their voice sound? Certain or hesitant?

Again, these are all little things, but as a journalist I was always observing and paying

attention to every detail possible. I still do that as a writer. We all need to pay attention to details because they can make a difference in how you write that character in your story. Those little details set us all apart, not just as writers, but as people, so including those small details make a difference.

What about the questions for the interview? That is another area where it helps to pay close attention. I always came into an interview with a list of at least 5 to 7 questions.  But once the person began to speak, I not only took notes on what they were saying, I was writing down additional questions or posing them in my head to ask later. As you interview your characters, you should keep that in mind too. That’s why I mention that we all can get a list of overall questions to ask our characters from writing classes. 

But… as you ask those questions and write down the answers, consider going off script. Think of other questions that might pertain ONLY to this character, something that might not be on that prescribed list. Look for the unusual, the unique and the quirky. Those can be some of the best answers and can make your characters stand out.

And mainly, listen to those answers. Write them down and when you are stuck at a place in your book where you don’t know what might happen next, it can pay to go back and look at your interview. You might find some answers there.

Characters are ours to create as writers. We need to know them and why not take the time to personally get to know them. The story will be stronger for that extra bit of work.

Friday, December 6, 2019

A Journey into the Past

This is the perfect time of the year to find a good book to read -- whether for relaxation or to get my mind off all the errands I have to get done before the holidays. Don't you just long for an evening with a good book? I know I do!  I love the opportunity to  lose myself in someone else's troubles... like a good murder!

Author Julie Howard sounds like she has the perfect solution to those cold days when all we want to do is sit by the fire and read in her newest suspense book, Wild Crime,  and she is my guest today in My Writing Corner. Julie is the author of the Wild Crime series, and Spirited Quest.

 She is a former journalist and editor who has covered topics ranging from crime to cowboy poetry. She is a member of the Idaho Writers Guild, editor of the Potato Soup Journal, and founder of the Boise chapter of Shut Up & Write.

Let's find out more about her newest work,  Wild Crime:

I'm a murderer. I'm a murderer. I'm a murderer." 

Those three repeated words discovered in an old letter propel Meredith Lowe in a cross-country pursuit to unveil her mother's murky past. Danger stalks Meredith back to Hay City, Idaho as she peels apart the mystery: 

Who is her father, and did her mother kill him?

 In finding the answer, will a growing love slip through her fingers?

Past merges with the present as the story races to its stunning conclusion.

 Want more? Let's open up the book and  get an excerpt from Wild Crime:

    Her hair fell below her waist, ripped free of its ties and weighed down by the warm, lashing rain. The sky-blue dress, so carefully chosen for this night and tried on so many times in her bedroom, was ruined. One strap had torn from her shoulder and dangled down her back. Mud splattered the hem. Sweet Cantaloupe lipstick, a lovely coral that heightened the green in her eyes, was smeared like a bruise on one cheek. She ran.

             The high school gym behind her, decorated in crepe paper and curtains, vibrated with electric guitars and teen-aged hormones. Couples gyrated on the dance floor and then disappeared into dark corners. It was late and the Spring Dance was in full throttle. No one would miss her for hours.

             Before her, trees dripped moss, barely visible in the darkness. She envisioned the moss brushing her shoulders, low branches snagging in her hair, the possibility of snakes both at her feet and above; this made her hesitate. It would take one scream, one gasp, and he would find her.

Want even more? Here are the buy links if you would like to read on:

And here is more information on how to get in touch with Julie or to learn more about her and her writing:







Thank you, Julie, for being my guest and bringing us your newest book!

Characters Lead the Way

We're in the heart of the summer and it is time to relax and enjoy a few good books by the beach or in some secluded mountain cabin. To...