Sunday, September 27, 2020

Warm Reading for Chilly Days


 It's never too early to start planning for the holidays, and now we've made the official turn to Fall so that draws us closer to not only those gift decisions, but what you want to be reading once the snow starts to fall. (weather people say it could be as early as next week in Colorado) And that brings to mind what we want to be reading as those days start to get longer and we are inside more.

Today's guest in My Writing Corner has a new book out soon and it could be just perfect for either those days as you sit inside and look for your next great read, or as a gift idea for a friend.

 My guest today is award-winning author Debby Grahl. She lives on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina with her husband, David. Besides writing, she says she enjoys hiking, walking on the the beach and relaxing with a glass of wine at sunset. She says she loves visit places like New York and New Orleans, but she also loves to visit the Cotswolds of England.  

She is a history buff who also enjoys reading murder mysteries, time travel and romance. Being visually impaired since childhood by Retinitis Pigmentosa she uses screen-reading software to research and write her books. Her newest book, Mountain Blaze,  will be released  by The Wild Rose Press in November, but it's available for presale right now! 

Welcome, Deb, what are the challenges of being a writer?

My biggest challenge is my loss of vision. I have a disease of the retina called Retinitis Pigmentosa. I lost the ability to see print in my early twenties, but even when I had sight, seeing the printed word was always difficult for me. Reading a book would take me twice as long as a person with normal sight. I became frustrated with this and began to make up my own stories. I recall as a teenager entertaining my girlfriends on our way to school with stories I’d made up. They were kind enough to listen, and today they’re some of my biggest fans. It wasn’t until the invention of screen-reading software that I was able to put my stories into print.

Tell us about your road to publication.

My first mistake in writing was thinking that you just write the book, send it to a publisher or agent, and away you go. Not! I sent the first twenty-five pages to a publisher who was offering a free critique. She wrote back and said I had a good idea for a story if I could write it. She said she marked all my writing mistakes in red. Well, most of the page was in red. 

I finally received a contract with a small press. I was thrilled, until a short time into editing the ms, I received an email informing me due to lack of funds, they were closing their doors. I was crushed, but I sent the ms to another small publisher and received a contract. This time I made it all the way to the book going to print before they also closed. By this time, I was crushed. I moped around for a couple of days then tried one more time. I was fortunate the next publisher actually published two of my books before closing. Now, I’m happy to say, I’ve found a home with The Wild Rose Press.


How do you come up with plots?

First, I choose the location, then draft a short outline of the story itself, last are my characters. I like to have some kind of mystery in my plots, so I decide what this will be, and which of my characters will be involved.


What advice do you have for beginning writers?

Do your research. Readers will catch the smallest mistake, such as if you have a specific building or street, make sure they’re in the right location.

In writing historical, check to make sure you’re using the correct devices in the correct time period.

Take online writing classes. I found these to be extremely helpful with beginner writing mistakes. Writers need to learn about tag lines, POV changes, correct punctuation, and grammar. There’s also what is known as info dump and character development.

When you submit your manuscript, make sure it’s as perfect as it can be. Editors will reject your work in seconds if there’re too many mistakes.

What’s your next project? (or What are you working on now?)

Island Heat is the next book in my Carolina series. The story takes place on Hilton Head Island and is a combination romance and mystery.

Let's learn more about Mountain Blaze, available right now for pre-order:


Disillusioned by his wife’s betrayal, rodeo star Dillon McCoy comes home to the mountains of North Carolina to lick his wounds. When he agrees to take over the family ranch, the Lazy M, he’s unaware danger waits.

Diana Thompson is having doubts about her engagement to Trent Sawyer. She agrees to leave Chapel Hill and spend Thanksgiving with her friend Jenn at the Lazy M. When Diana and Dillon meet, neither can deny their attraction, but both must resolve past relationships while fighting their growing desire.

After Dillon turns down an anonymous offer to purchase the ranch, attempts are made on his life. When a body is found, Dillon sets out to discover who wants the McCoy land enough to commit murder.

Thank you Deb for  being my guest. If you'd like to pre-order Moutani Blaze or get in touch with Deb, here are the links:

Available from Amazon, Kindle, Barnes & Noble

Website --
Facebook --
Amazon Author Page --

Monday, September 21, 2020

A Haunting Delight!

Gothic romances have long been among my most favorite books to read and write, and I always enjoy finding a new author with works I can enjoy. That's why I enjoyed meeting author Anna M. Taylor who writes women's fiction and gothic romances under the penname of Anna Taylor Sweringen. 

She is a retired United Church of Christ and Presbyterian Church USA minister who now writes fiction. A native New Yorker, she says she currently enjoys the heat of the Southwest. She has been writing seriously since joining Romance Writers of America in 2003 and also writes inspirational romance as Anna Taylor and erotic romance as Michal Scott.

Welcome, Anna. What are some of the challenges of being a writer?

Being aware of the negative impact of imposter syndrome and internal editor critique. The weight of feeling not good enough is a burden every good writer carries. What gets me through these days is remembering E.L. Doctorow said in an interview that it’s the good writer whose wracked with thoughts of “not good enough.”


Tell us about your road to publication.

Hmmm…how to make a long story short. My road to publication started with a challenge from my mother-in-law. When she learned I wrote X-Files fan fiction she asked me why I didn’t write about my own characters? Her question revived memories of how I used to write mystery fiction and had loved writing just for the fun of it. I also recalled how after reading F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Last Tycoon I had written a note to myself stating I wanted to be as thoughtful a writer as he was. Fast forward to 2003 and I’m listening to an episode of This American Life called What’s Love Got To Do With It that featured Romance Writers of America, one of the few writing organizations that accepted unpublished authors. I joined that same year, never thinking I’d write romance. I joined the romantic suspense and mystery writers chapter figuring what I learned there I could apply to mystery writing in general. This turned out to be true but I also fell in love with romance. I joined two other chapters as well, Gothic Romance Writers and Faith Hope Love, the chapter for inspirational romance. FHL sponsored an activity called Finish the Book. If you finished a book in a year one of their published authors would give you a critique on its first 25 pages. I finished my first work, Through A Glass Darkly and got a wonderful critique. FHL's Touched By Love contest for unpublished authors opened two months later so I entered and won second place in the short contemporary category. At the same time RWA was pushing general members to move toward PRO status (i.e. submitting finished work not yet accepted). One of the members of FHL had just signed on to be the editor for The Wild Rose Press’ inspirational line and put out a call for submissions. I figured I could submit Through A Glass Darkly, get my rejection and apply to RWA for PRO status. Wild Rose Press accepted my book. The rest as they say is history.


How do you come up with your characters?

I start with my plot, so to come up with my characters I ask what kind of person would react in what kind of way in this particular situation. I also use books like The Complete Writer’s Guide to Heroes and Heroines to help me with archetypes.


How do you come up with your plots?

Usually a line of dialogue or scene I’ve read or watched plants a “What if…” seed that germinates into a story. For instance, there’s a scene in the Bourne Ultimatum where Jason Bourne steps among a group of people at a bus stop and appears to be talking to someone before he moves on. The government agency following Bourne incapacitates that innocent bystander taking him for an accomplice. I posited what if the drug they used on this person causes cardiac arrest and the person dies. What if my heroine is a peripheral part of the team responsible for this person’s death. Now what if the dead person has an uncle who is a trained assassin now bent on exacting revenge by killing everyone connected to that team no matter how slightly. That’s how my novel A Hell For The Good was born.


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

My latest book is a newly revised and expanded version of a novella I wrote it back in 2009 as part of

an anthology with a few of my gothic romance writer colleagues. Haunted Serenade was inspired by a line from Billie Holiday’s rendition of Solitude. It goes “In my solitude you haunt me.” I played my “What If” writing exercise: what if a family member wasted away in solitude pining for a lost love? What if the spirit of that family member invaded a family reunion? What if that weren’t the only spirit invading the reunion? What if my heroine and her ex-lover were present? Would they be brought together or torn further apart? Haunted Serenade is now the first of a set of novellas I’m self-publishing as my Haunted Harlem series.


What advice do you have for beginning writers?

Find things outside of writing that inspire and energize you. Writing can be enervating and lonely, and as I shared in my answer to the challenges-to-writing question, demoralizing at times. Outside interests invigorate the soul and the writing muse. Remind you writing is not all you are or all you can do.


What’s your next project (or What are you working on now?)

I’m working on the second novella in my Haunted Harlem series, A Little In Love With Death, a second chance romance. My heroine returns home because her brother claims to have been brutalized by a spirit haunting their childhood home, a spirit she insisted attacked her several years earlier but no one believed her, including her now former lover. I’m trying my hand at writing this as a time slip story. I think having the reader experience the background story of the haunting in real time will make the present time haunting story more scary. I’ve set Halloween as my release date. Wish me luck.

Thank you, Anna.  Let's get a blurb on Haunted Serenade:


All the women in Anora Madison's family have lived haunted by the curse of Poor Butterfly: women still longing for but deserted by the men they loved. Determined to be the first to escape a life of abandonment, she fled Harlem for Brooklyn, not only severing her ties with her mother Angela, but also ending her relationship with Winston Emerson, her lover and the father of her child. Six years later, she comes home to make peace. When an unseen evil manifests itself during the homecoming, Anora must turn to her ex-lover for help. But if she allows Winston back in her life, how will she protect her heart?

Want to find out more?  Here are the buy links and social media links for Anna:  


Buy link: 



Social media links:

Anna M. Taylor Amazon Author Page:


Anna M. Taylor FB Author Page


Anna M. Taylor website: /

Thank you, Anna, for being my guest and introducing us to your new book1 Any comments or questions for Anna?


Sunday, September 13, 2020

Pulling Back the Curtain

These days escaping into another world with a great book can be very relaxing.  It's why I am always looking for another book to read.  Today's guest in My Writing Corner is Gabbi Grey Black. She tells us that even though she is a firm believer in happy endings, she makes her characters work for it in every romance she writes, no matter what the genre. From contemporary to BDSM, she tells us that they are created late at night in her home on a beautiful British Columbia mountain surrounded by magnificent trees and every conceivable woodland creature—including bears. She also writes gay romances as Gabbi Grey.

 As someone who has been traveling to beautiful BC every few years for the past 35 years,  I am totally envious of where she lives and enjoyed hearing about her work. 

What are some of the challenges of being a writer?

Although I’m an introvert, I like being out and interacting with people. I’ve haunted restaurants and caf├ęs for years with my laptop. I sit and watch the world go by. As of late, of course, that hasn’t been possible. I used to go to Starbucks three days a week with my therapy dog and my computer, sitting down and writing for hours. As those days are gone, I’ve learned to adapt. Now I sit at home and knuckle down. I try to ignore distractions, and only take a break when the dog needs a run outside. I’ve written two novellas since the beginning of the pandemic so I think I’m doing okay.

Tell us about your road to publication.

I wrote Amber Eyes in 2014. I entered it in contests and received plenty of feedback. Once I felt it was ready, I sent it off to publishers. One editor who had expressed interest left her job soon after receiving my manuscript – I’m quite sure the one has nothing to do with the other - but I didn’t have any other contacts at the publisher. I tried another publisher who had expressed interest, but that editor was no longer reading in the genre. Although she passed my manuscript to someone else, I lost the personal connection. Finally, I submitted the book to an editor at The Wild Rose Press who passed it on to someone else. I almost pulled the manuscript from consideration because I had begun to lose faith. I didn’t, though, and that was the best decision of my career. The editor read the book, loved it, and offered me a contact. We spent a long time getting the book ready for publication, but I’m happy with the way it turned out. I’m even happier it is now in readers’ hands.

How do you come up with your characters?

I had a vision of a woman in a BDSM club. She was alone. I started asking questions. Why was she alone? Was she a voyeur or did she want to participate? Had she done things in the past? And, most importantly, who would be her hero? I started writing with just that in my mind, and within three months I had a completed trilogy and over a quarter of a million words.

How do you come up with plots?

I start with characters and they direct me. I’m what is termed a pantser – someone who writes by the seat of her pants. I don’t know any other way to do it. Anytime I try to write to a plotted book, the final product looks nothing like the plan and I wind up feeling I wasted time preparing the plan. I am a romantic at heart so my stories start out with two main characters. I know for sure they’re going to get their happy ending. How that happens is often a surprise to me.

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

Amber Eyes is the story of a newly-released slave and the man who falls in love with her. I use ‘slave’ in the BDSM context. Master/slave is an intense power exchange where one partner surrenders completely, while the other controls completely. These relationships should develop over time, with months of negotiation and with the consent of both parties. The intensity can be rewarding, to be sure. I have several friends living this lifestyle and they are some of the happiest most well-adjusted people I know. I also have personal experience with BDSM and can say some of my experiences are in the book. Shh. My parents don’t know.

What advice do you have for beginning writers?

Keep writing. While waiting to hear back about the first book I sent out on submission, I wrote the next book. And the next. That rejection was a long time in coming, but by then I was getting a handle on this writing thing. I have never looked back. The route to publication has taken much longer, but the rewards have been worth the perseverance.

What’s your next project? 

I have two subsequent books that make up part of my In Their Eyes trilogy of which Amber Eyes is the first. I’m hopeful the publisher will contract the books. Beyond that I have several projects vying for my attention including some short stories in that world about secondary characters. I love the city of Vancouver, and will continue to write about life there. And, to be blunt, I can’t not write. So, pandemic or not, I will keep going.

Let's take a closer look at that new book, Amber Eyes

 School principal Gage Clayton is still grieving the death of his wife and submissive, yet he can't ignore his Dominant needs. As he enters Club Kink, he's inexplicably drawn to a newly released sub with an intriguing proposition and the most captivating amber eyes. But she has disturbing baggage and her expectations prove quite a challenge, one that would necessitate a commitment he's not ready for.

Rielle Reid needs a Dom while she waits for her former Master to return. When she invites a handsome stranger to her home dungeon for a night of play, she's surprised at his gentle dominance—and her response to it. But in the light of day, his demand for equal footing confounds her. After living four years as a twenty-four/seven slave, she has no concept of how to be anything other than property.

Gage must find a way to master Rielle to free them both from the shackles of the past.

She needs a firm hand.

He needs a challenge.

Sounds like a fun read.  

If you would like to read more, here are the links to get in touch with Gabbi and for the book. 

Buy links:

 Amazon US:

Amazon CA:

Barnes and Noble:

Google Play:




Add it to GoodReads:

 And if you would like to get in touch with Gabbi, here are her personal links:




Facebook (page):



 Thank you, Gabbi, for being my guest this week. Any comments or questions for Gabbi?

The Writing Corner is On the Move!

 My Writing Corner is moving to Mondays!  Please join me and my writing guests every week to get the latest on new books, authors and their work, lessons on the writing process and other observations on the writing world.  

And for writing questions and writing classes, also visit my NEW, updated author website www.WriteThatNovel.Net

Friday, September 4, 2020

Life and Love = Great Reading

 The real life stories told by authors about how they write their books can be as fascinating as the fictional stories they tell. That's why I enjoy hearing from authors every week about their newest books.  This week, my author guest is Linda Nightingale.

What are some of the challenges of being a writer?

Time management is #1 on my list. I’m retired. I have all day to write, right? Nope. I need my space—the entire house alone—to write. That might sound selfish, but what the hey, I live alone. Most of the time. Lately, a friend has been spending quite a bit of time here, and that means no writing during that period. There are other life instances that get in the way—errands, doctors’ visits, pouring wine, and other fun stuff. Not complaining, mind you. For the past several months, I’ve had little writing time, and I get cranky. Writing is an escape, a trip to another country, city. or planet. I meet new people and make new friends. Writing keeps me sane. (My friends might dispute the sane part).

 Tell us about your road to publication.

 I don’t think we have time to travel that road. It was a dark, stormy night, and the journey ahead was long, the path shadowy. Many times, she thought she could go no farther; wanted to quit. Ahem. I began writing in the latter part of the last century. I had won awards but was having no luck with publishers or agents. At that time, I did manage to hook a series of three different agents, but nada. The world of publishing wasn’t ready for me and my vampires, angels, and various other paranormal creatures. (Believe it or not, back in the dark ages of romance readers hadn’t yet fallen in love with these svelte supernaturals. One time, after a convention, Berkeley actually called and asked if I had anything other than vampires. I said no, and that was that.

 In 2009, I met an editor from The Wild Rose Press at a convention. I submitted a short story called Black Swan about mortals who willingly donate their blood to vampires for the sensual euphoria of the vampire’s kiss. Callie Lynn Wolfe accepted the story, and I was a published author! I’d found a home for my vampires. No. At the time, TWRP accepted only romance, and my books bordered more on straight paranormal.

 At long last in 2012, a friend encouraged me to send a book to her publisher in Canada.  I submitted a book I thought would never be published. My bathroom looked very nice papered in rejections. Within two weeks, the publisher called and told me he wanted to contract Gemini Rising. The reason I thought the book would never be publishable was that it deals with a subject most publishers won’t touch. It’s a tender, psychological study of incest between twins. Lot’s Cave Publishing has now republished Gemini Rising as Her Brother’s Wife under my pen name Bianca Swan.

 How do you come up with your characters?

 The character walks up and talks to me. When another character mounts the stage, he or she introduces that first character, usually the hero. So, it continues as each of my characters tells me his/her part of the story, be it long or brief. Admittedly, this can lead to thrown-away page and lots of polishing. Usually, I don’t even have to search for a name. The first character comes to me full-blown and complete. For minor characters, yes, I have a names book. It’s rare I use it. I know this sounds a bit psychotic, but I do hear my characters’ voices and see them moving about the stage. Strange, perhaps, but I’ve been told by other writers (other psychos?) that they do, too.

 How do you come up with plots?

  I let the character tell me, and the story unfolds like a movie before my eyes. That’s when the white-hot stream of creativity hits me, and I let it wash me along.  There are times when each word is a struggle. Then I pour wine, and I don’t care if it’s good or not. Anything sounds better with wine. LOL. (I have a dish towel that says For a happy woman, just add wine.) When I’m in that creative zone—not the wine, kidding about the vino—I don’t eat, answer the phone, or see daylight. I love to write before dawn while the rest of the world is still sleeping.

 Tell us about your latest book.

A “What if” robots had feelings, the ability to love, and were exactly like human outside while inside a tangle of circuits and wires. This happened in the early 2000s. I thought how close we were to this goal and wanted to get into robotics before someone stole my ideal (I’m as non-scientific as can be).  I entered Love for Sale in a contest for short stories and won. Promptly, I filed my pretty certificate away and forgot Love for Sale.

 In 2015, the hero Christian woke me up one morning demanding me to pick up my pen and finish their story.  What story? It was done, finished, over. Had won a contest and been filed away. Right? But that “what if” kept bugging me. A glance at the calendar told me I still had time to make my mark in the field of robotics (haha), and I finished LFS, sent it, and almost fainted when Love for Sale was accepted by The Wild Rose Press., not Callie, but later I submitted another of my books to her. She has been my editor from then until now.


What made you write it?

 Life for Sale is my new release and the book I’d intended to talk about, but I’m easily distracted. I wanted to do a series. I had an idea for a continuation of the story about the sentient (I’d learned a new word) androids. I was at a standstill on another story. Christian knocked on my head, and I began to write the second in the Tomorrow’s Angels series. If I could change anything, I’d cut down the number of love scenes and cool them down in Love for Sale. I might then get more attention from sci-fi fans.

Mayfair Electronics has created life. But four of their Special Editions -- sentient androids indistinguishable from human have escaped. 

Rebel Christian Aquillard and his owner, March, are on the run, but they have a bigger problem than rhis creator's plan to destroy him. They've discovered that one of the renegades has suffered a dangerous malfunction , threatening them with more than just  exposure. Trapped on a cruise ship  in the middle of the Atlantic, March and Christian must stop the insane robot before someone  else dies. All the evidence points to March being the killer's next victim. 

 Sounds like fun!  Any advice for beginning writers?

 I’m not a good one to ask (see above Road to Publication), but I think I could condense it to a few words: Believe (in yourself and your writing) and Persevere. Do it for Love

You’ll still need this belief and love of the art/craft when the rejections come or later when you get a bad review. Maybe, you’ll be one of the lucky ones to whom success comes with the first stroke of your pen.

 Remember in Romance, dreams do come true—and if you’re a romance writer, I guess it follows that you make dreams come true.

 What’s your next project?

 World Peace. Oh, writing. I’m working on a contemporary western for a series call. The series is primarily historical, but they are accepting a few contemporaries.  It’s called The Wylder Years. I have 42 thousand+ words and about three more chapters, then it’s off to one of my beta readers, then zip off to my editor. Then comes the nail-biting.

 When Ashton Colter was twelve, his mother divorced his father and returned to her native England. Fifteen years later, his father died, and he was called back to Wylder to manage Marathon Ranch. Can he manage the sassy little ranch hand with her own agenda? Especially when their agendas for Marathon are at opposite ends of the spectrum—and he’s way too attracted to her. After all, she is one of his employees.

 Thanks for hosting me, Rebecca. It was nice meeting your friendly readers.

How can readers get in touch with you?


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 ...