Friday, July 31, 2020

Catch a Romance!

While summer may be vacation time, this year is very different than others. Instead of going off to relax with several good books, I am finishing up edits on a new Romantic Suspense as well as keeping a watch on the current books that are coming out. This week I am welcoming to My Writing Corner  author Gabbi Gray. I have to admit her new book caught my attention because of its setting.  

 She tells us she lives surrounded by trees, raccoons, deer and other woodland creatures 
on a mountain in beautiful British Columbia. (okay, one of my absolute favorite spots!) She says she lives on a mountain where her fur baby chin poo "keeps her safe from nasty bears."

While she works for the government by days, she says she spends her nights writing gay romances.  She also says that while she firmly believes in happy endings, she likes to make her characters "suffer before finding their true love." Of course, I wanted to know more about her writing.

What are some of the challenges of being a writer?

My biggest challenge is focus.  I have Attention Deficit Disorder and, as the expression goes, I see squirrels everywhere.  Actually sitting down and doing the work of a writer is tough for me.  I participate in writing sprints to get the words on the paper, but struggle with editing and, eventually, marketing.  I’ve discovered that being a writer is so much more than just putting words to paper.

 Tell us about your road to publication. 

I’ve had a very bumpy road to publication.  I started writing my first book in university in 1996.  I still have plans to finish that book.  The year 2012 was tough for me, and I decided I needed to focus and take my writing seriously.  From there I haven’t looked back.  I just finished writing my fourth gay romance and hopefully it will be published next year.

 How do you come up with your characters?

The past few books have been for a call from a publisher.  One was set in a small town in Vermont where one character had to come from the town.  I knew I wanted to write a gay romance and from there, for reasons I still can’t explain, I came up with a dead black Civil War soldier ghost who haunts the local cemetery.  The visitor had to be a gay man who could see a ghost.  Who better than a history professor dedicated to telling the stories of the dead?  The next book had to involve ice cream and the beach.  I wanted to set it in my city of Vancouver, Canada and that led me to question what are the major industries?  That leap was to the film industry and the book is my take on the big film star and the unknown person.  Again I made it a gay romance and had my ice cream story.

 How do you come up with plots?

Usually I start with characters and let them guide me through.  I’m a pantser who writes romance so I start with my two main characters, the happy ending, and then I go from there.  How I get there is always a mystery.

 Tell us about your latest book.  What made you write it?

Catch a Tiger by the Tail is a romance about two men who fall in love on the sound stage

during the production of a film.  I wanted both characters to have tragic backstories so even though I call the book my fake-boyfriend age-gap gay rom-com, there is some weight to those characters.  Throw in tiger tail ice cream (orange cream with black licorice), and I had the makings of a story.

 What advice do you have for beginning writers?

Perseverance.  It took me eight years to get published.  I kept writing, kept taking classes, kept striving to improve.  These days self-publishing is a valid alternative to traditional publishing, to be sure.  I wanted the community of writing with a publisher and was very lucky to find The Wild Rose Press who have published three of my books – including one that was written way back in 2014.  Hang in there and keep working toward your goal.

 What are you working on now?

I had the opportunity to return to that small town in Vermont.  A beloved character is a gay man, and I knew I wanted to write his happy ending.  I’m hopeful the publisher will contract the book.  Beyond that I have several projects vying for my attention.  I can’t sit on my laurels and, to be blunt, I can’t not write.  It’s part of me – a part I will always treasure.

Let's learn more about  Catch a Tiger by the Tail 

Thomas Walsh knows the number one rule in the film industry. Don't get involved with the talent. But resisting the urge to take the big screen to the bedroom can be hell when the lead actor on the set looks good enough to slow lick at a time.

Peter Erickson's latest role as a gay man hits a little too close to home. He's still in the closet and secretly grieving the death of his lover. Then an enchanting production assistant catches his eye, and he's surprised by the instant attraction that stirs more than his wounded soul.

When the two men are caught on camera in a very intimate pose, both Thomas and eter are afraid they've caught a tiger by the tail. 

Sounds  great!  Where can readers buy your book?

Amazon US:

Amazon CA:


Barnes & Noble:



How can readers get more information about you and your work?



Facebook (page):




Thank you, Gabbi, for being my guest!  Any comments or questions for Gabbi?

Friday, July 24, 2020

Stormy Danger

For just about every published author, there is a different tale on how he or she got to that goal of seeing a book he or she authored for sale to readers. It's always fascinating to hear not only that story of getting a book published, but what makes a person want to write fiction in the first place.  Asking that question is always one I pose to writers who visit My Writing Corner. It's fascinating to hear not only how a writer gets started but what drives him or her to tell a fiction story. Over the years I've discovered as many different stories about writing as there are stories. 

Today's guest in My Writing Corner brings us another wonderful tale. My guest is Patricia McAlexander who writes both fiction and nonfiction. Welcome, Patricia! 

Have you always wanted to write fiction?
     Yes—I always loved writing stories. In first grade, we learned to read with Dick and Jane books. At home I wrote a similar series named Jean and Jerry. In later grade school years, my younger sister and I co-authored stories, each of us “playing” with different characters. And in high school my friends read short novels that I’d written. But when I became a college teacher, I abandoned fiction for academic publications. Now I’m returning to that old love.  

What are the challenges of being a writer?
Perhaps getting inspired, but once I am inspired, the challenge then is getting back into the real world. And once the story is completed, the challenge is editing it: making sure facts are correct, the sentences are clear, and the style “works.”

Tell us about your road to publication.
After I retired, I was going through old papers and found an early story I'd written about a young woman in a hurricane. I turned it, with major changes, into Stranger in the Storm. I submitted Stranger to The Wild Rose Press. Editor Kaycee John thought it had potential, gave helpful advice that I took--and my next draft was accepted. I feel very lucky that for my first publication of fiction, I decided to go the small press route with Wild Rose. 

How do you come up with your characters?

Most of them are composites of people I have known or of myself, with a big dose of imagination.

How do you come up with your plot?
I am what they call a "pantser" which I guess comes from the idea of flying by the seat of your pants. It's as though I am reading my own story and wondering how it will turn out. Of course I do think ahead, asking what would happen if this were real, what would that character do? But even that is like reading my own story. 

Tell us about Stranger in the Storm. What made you write it? 
As I said, I found an old story I’d written. It intrigued me and I revised it. That story—and Stranger—are set on the Great Sacandaga Lake in upstate New York where my parents had a summer cottage. That setting made the story very real for me. The blurb (in this blog) tells the basic conflict. A young woman writer leaves an abusive relationship to stay in her parents’ cottage on the lake while they are traveling in Europe. A hurricane strikes, and a handsome stranger rescues her when her car becomes stuck as she goes for supplies. After her earlier relationship, she hesitates to trust anyone—and this is made more problematic because her rescuer has a twin brother who is an escaped felon in the area.

After she discovers the abusive side of his personality, Janet Mitchell leaves Jack Dexter, the professor who swept her  
off her feet. Will she discover the same darkness n Wes, the handsome young man who rescues her during a hurricane?

Years ago West Corbett vowed not to get romantically involved again, fearing anyone close to him might be harmed by his brother William, a born criminal. Now as he weathers the storm with Janet, their mutual attraction becomes clear. Can he keep that vow--even though he knows William is on the loose and may be headed directly for them?

 What are you working on now?
I am finishing up a novel about my ancestors who came from Baden (a state now part of Germany) in 1850 to farm in New York State
     What advice do you have for beginning writers?
Writing and publishing your writing are not easy, but if you have that spark of inspiration and belief in your work, keep going even when the going gets tough.

How can readers get more information about you and your books?

  Buy Links

Thank you for being my guest.  Any questions for Pat?

Friday, July 17, 2020

Save those Settings!

These days it is difficult to travel or to go anywhere, and that only brings in the wanderlust even more than normal. Having already given up one trip to the California coast this year, I am longing again to visit some of my favorite places.  Unfortunately, that can’t happen so I am taking my characters in my books there instead.

 In the past I have done blogs on my southern Colorado roots, where I am setting my current stories, but recently I have also been going through some of my old manuscripts that I want to finish.  One is set in beautiful Vancouver, B.C. My last trip there was last year, and while I don’t’  know when I’ll be going again, it will give me great joy to pick up one of my old manuscripts set there and start working on a story to take me back to visit, even if it is only in my mind.

 Settings can be critical to any story.  Another that I am working on is set in a remote section of the Northwest where there are limited routes to travel. That can be a great idea for a getaway or if you want to hide from someone, but if an old boyfriend is stalking the heroine, she’ll have a tough time trying to elude him once he learns her whereabouts.  I’m looking forward to tossing in a ghost to help her escape!

That brings me to the point of this. Location can be every bit as important as characters in developing your story, so don’t shirk on the details and use it just as you might use a villain or a hero.  A snowstorm can strand travelers, but it can also provide some undivided time where  two lovers can work out the obstacles that have been keeping them apart.

 To me, bringing in the setting and making the reader feel the location is critical to making any story work. But how can you get that into your work if you haven’t been to a location?  There are always pictures you can find online or in magazines. Find ones that you can relate to as you write your story and then use them to transport your writing brain to that location.

  Recently I was going through old postcards and ran across one of a beachfront hotel. Immediately I began remembering the time around the pool, the early morning walk along the misty beach on a spring morning. Within moments I was writing down those sensations for future use. I am not going to be using it anytime soon, but when I start working on my northern Washington story, I’ll have the description available.

 I did the same when I visited the Northwest several years ago for the story I mentioned above. I spent a whole afternoon, just studying and then writing down the various sensations and things I was seeing and hearing. The smell and sound of the ocean were other sensations I made note of for future use. I even stopped as I drove around the seawall just to hear the sounds so I could use that in a story about the heroine bike riding along walking path.

 \Now you don’t have to visit all the locations you want to write about, but when you are in a location, writing down the various senses associated with it can be useful as you call them up later. Wherever I travel, I do that. A writer can be working, even when on vacation.

For more information on my books, please visit:

or email me at

Thanks for joining me today!  Any questions?  Please ask!


Friday, July 10, 2020

Cooling off with Summer Romance

With the summer heat fully upon us, it is time for something to cool us off, and why not look to ta sweet world of ice cream!  When mixed with hot summer romance, the result can be filled with fun. 

My guest today in My Writing Corner is author, D. V. Stone. She is the multi-genre author of two independently published books. Felice, Shield-Mates of Dar is a fantasy romance. Agent Sam Carter and the Mystery at Branch Lake is a mid-grade paranormal. Recently, Rock House Grill was released by Wild Rose Press. 

She also hosts  Welcome to the Campfire and A Peek Through the Window, both weekly blogs. She was born in Brooklyn, but she has moved around  and even once lived on a dairy farm in Minnesota before moving back east. Throughout her wandering, she says she still always considered herself a Jersey Girl. Eventually, she met and married the love of her life, Pete—a lifelong Jersey Man, and moved to Sussex County. They live with Hali, a mixed breed from the local shelter and their cat Baby.

Welcome, we have a few questions for you. 

How did you get your  start  as a published author?

Almost nine years ago, I was laid off from my job due to a downturn in the economy. I admit, initially there was some wallowing and self pity. But after a few weeks, instead of it being a curse, the layoff turned into a blessing. I’d always loved reading and finally I had the time to do what I’d dreamed of, becoming an author. Aimhirghin, Kingdom at a Crossroad is still a work in progress. Everything I didn’t know about writing I learned with this book. Then a few months later I wrote Felice, Shield-Mates of Dar, another fantasy romance. Felice was my first independently published book. Since then, I’ve learned so much and have been contracted with Wild Rose Press.

Tell us how you come up with characters?

There are a variety of ways. I try to pick names that will reflect something about the character. I’ve spent hours researching names and the meaning of them. Then, especially with fantasy, I’ll run them through a translator enabling me to find more “exotic” sounding names. But honestly, with Rainbow Sprinkles the main character's name was just rolling around in my mind. Gloriana. Then I wanted to give her a simple surname and decided on Jones.

Where did you get the idea for your latest book?

When Wild Rose Press sent out a call for a “beach read”, something short and fun. Immediately my thoughts turned to my past history owning an ice cream and grill. It’s a tough business and the profit margin can be tight for new owners. I also wanted a “seasoned” character. A second chance at romance. So Rainbow Sprinkles was born and a short while later also contracted. I love the story and the cast of characters including a recalcitrant basset hound named Fred and Sadie in memory of my two bassets.
Retired and widowed Gloriana Jones is forging on with the plans 
she and her late husband dreamed of--bringing joy and happiness, one ice bream at a time, to Lake Unami. But bad weather is drowning her dream. A trip to Upstate NY is bittersweet for Nathan James. He is excited to see his first granddaughter but without his wife, he is lonely.
When his car breaks down, he heads to the only light he can see, an ice cream shop. With aid from a heavenly source, electricity sparks, but will the two weather the summer storms and find love a second time? Or will their hopes and dreams melt away.

Sounds like a perfect story for our summer reading!  Thanks, D. V. for being my guest today. And if you would like to learn more about D. V. and her books, here is here contact information:

Any comments or questions for D. V.?

Friday, July 3, 2020

Hit the Wall? Try a Writing Partner

My road to publication taught me so able lessons, but one of the biggest was that if you run into a problem getting published, why not reach out to other writers? This can be done in so many ways and it doesn’t have to be non-fiction or fiction – it can be both. Shortly after running into obstacles getting my short stories published, I met a group of other writers who wer ehaving the same problems. We decided we would go together and put all our stories into an anthology. Suddenly we had a publisher and all our stories ended up getting published. We did the same with a second anthology.  For a few of us, things worked out even better. We had novels we wanted to see published and since the anthology publisher was fairly new, the editors were looking for authors. Several of us ended up getting our first books published with Wings ePress. 

What I learned from that experience was to look beyond just the traditional world, but I also learned the value of working with other writers. We all had one story we had to write for our anthologies and we all critiqued and edited each other’s work. The critiquing, the editing and the feeling we were all in it together was more than just valuable. It helped improve my writing. That experience not only led to valuable writing friendships, but also put me on the road to getting more books and stories published.

Several years later, I met Sue Viders. Sue was already the author of a very popular writing book with several other writers, and I felt privileged when I became her critique partner. We soon found we enjoyed not only writing fiction but she wanted to write another non-fiction book on writing. A partnership was formed and we have never looked back. 

We began with a book on creating characters and moved on quickly to two on plotting and then
another on villains. Our next book will be a series of writing tips addressing the different types of authors. Like our other books, it will soon be available at

As Sue and I worked together, we discovered we liked the way the other author wrote fiction, and we decided to try our hand at writing a fiction novel together. Immediately (because that is the only way

 Sue works – she sees a job and she wants to do it --  we began working on a plot using our Plotting Wheel and putting together the characters using the various sheets we had developed together.

Sue was anxious to begin writing and before long we began developing our ideas into actual scenes and bringing our characters from charts to life.  What we enjoy about writing together is that our ideas spark interest from the other person so whenever we hit a dry spell, one or the other can supply the spark to get things moving again. When we both hit a wall, we brainstorm, just tossing out ideas to the other and before long, the problem is solved and we move along.  

All of this is a long way of saying that if you’re stuck for an idea or a writing partner, look around you. There may be other would-be writers out there looking for someone to work with. Find the person who might have other strengths and weaknesses different from yours. Years ago, I worked with a male co-author who was great at coming up with plot twists and characters, but he hated dealing with the mechanics. Together, we both loved writing dialogue and we would toss dialogue back and forth at each other and type it all up into character conversations. It was not only fun, but we were able to get the stories written faster. 

Writing with a co-author can be helpful in other ways too. Let’s face it, there are days we don’t feel like writing, but working with a co-author can help you get over those days of inaction. Let the other person carry you and then you can turn around and carry them when they are hitting a blank spot.

When it comes right own to it, writing a book is hard work. Sometimes writing with someone else can get you moving forward, so look around. Is there someone you know who might want to try to get a story written? Offer to help. Get their help, and most of all, keep writing! 

Our newest book on villains is now available on, where you can also find all our writing books for authors.

If you have any writing questions, please email me at, or visit our

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 ...