Monday, September 27, 2021

A Visit to a Mysterious World

 One of the fun parts about doing a blog on authors is that I get to learn the stories of so many fascinating authors. Today’s guest in My Writing Corner, Christina Strigas, is another one whose story is as interesting as the characters in the fictional tales she writes.

Christina Strigas is an author and poet, raised by Greek immigrants. In addition to her fiction work, she has also written four poetry books. Her popular poetry book, LOVE & VODKA, has been featured by CBC Books in, “Your Ultimate Canadian Poetry List: 68 Poetry Collections Recommended by you.”Her fourth poetry book, LOVE & METAXA, has just been released to rave reviews from Pank Magazine.  Her  poems have appeared in Montreal Writes, Feminine Collective; Neon Mariposa Magazine; Pink Plastic House Journal; BlazeVOX; Thimble Lit Magazine; Twist in Time Literary Magazine; The Temz Review, and Coffin Bell Journal, to name a few. Her poem, “Dead Wife” was nominated for best of the net 2020. 

She has also self-published a self-help/poetry book based on her popular quotes that went viral on Twitter. She writes romantic love poetry in a stream of consciousness narrative prose. Her influences are Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Mary Oliver, the Romantics, and Pablo Neruda. Christina Strigas will be releasing  The Wanting, an erotic romance novel with The Wild Rose Press, releases today,  She will also be rereleasing Crush, a paranormal romance novel on October 13, 2021, with The Wild Rose Press. 

She created the popular @ArielPoets on Twitter along with poetry editor and poet, Alexandra Meehan, where they inspire writers and poets to believe in the power of poetry. In her spare time, Christina enjoys foreign cinema, reading the classics, and cooking traditional Greek recipes that have been handed down from her grandmother.

Christina, tell us about your road to publication.

My road to publication has been a challenging one, due to the fact that I am a poet and a novelist. Both have similarities but are somewhat very unique in their own way. I self-published my poetry books through Amazon and Ingram Sparks. My first poetry book was published in 2016 and my latest one, this past summer of 2021. I taught myself everything about self-publishing, hiring illustrators, format specialists, editors, and book cover designers to assist me on my journey. I found a traditional publisher for my two novels, The Wanting and Crush. That road is somewhat easier, in a sense, that you have the publisher and editor guiding you and assisting you along the way. 

Recently, the traditional publishing company for my two novels had to shut down for personal reasons, and I gratefully joined The Wild Rose Press Publishing Company. Whether you self-publish or publish with a traditional publishing company, as a writer, you still have to produce a polished final copy that is ready for print. 

The most challenging of all my books, was my recent poetry collection, Love & Metaxa. It was accepted and rejected three times, due to various circumstances, and the pandemic. After the third attempt to publish it, it was already uploaded on pre-order with a particular publishing company before they broke the news to me that they were not going to be able to publish my manuscript due to their own personal circumstances and issues. I tried not to take it personally, but I was left high and dry. I had to continue the editing process on my own, with the help of my editor and friend Alexandra Meehan, who was with my every step of the way. 

I had to change a few specs on the cover that they designed for me. I had to redo the formatting completely. What I didn’t expect and what I wasn’t told by them is how the “pre-orders” that were sold under their label, were already printed and ordered. To my surprise, and horror at the time, there were sixty copies of my pre-order ordered and shipped on the release date. Hence, after numerous emails to Ingram Sparks, and a slight meltdown, I realized that the old version and the new version of my book were floating around in the universe. It was a stressful time for me, but I survived the chaos. I learned the greatest lesson, if you upload your manuscript on Ingram Sparks for pre-order, you better make sure it is the final copy! In the past, I had never done a pre-order with my other poetry books. 

I am proud to say, that from the feedback that I have had from my readers, my self-published copy is turning out to be a well-received book, with a soft cover and a beautiful format design. 

What do you feel is the most challenging part of being an author?

The most challenging part of being an author is having the time to write without being interrupted. Also, partaking in all the social media and promoting your books and your brand continuously. I find it draining and lacking in creativity when I have to promote my books. I know I should do more, I know I should ask people to read my books, I know what I have to do, but I would rather use my spare time writing than being on social media. My favorite platform is Twitter. I have met many writers and poets on there and I find it is my best outlet. I still use it to write some thoughts and tweet ideas, but I find it challenging to keep promoting my books. I know my fans and followers like my tweets better than they like my book promotions, so I do it once in a while rather than every day. I find there is not one way of being an author. I prefer to be raw and myself, hence followers will buy my books based off of my unique vision, rather than a tweet of my book with no connection to me. It’s challenging promoting yourself everywhere. I think writers have to choose their favorite platform and focus on that rather than be all over the place and achieve a minimal result. 

It’s challenging to be a writer most of all, because our minds never rest. I am thinking of a new novel even as I write my old one. 


What do you enjoy about being an author?

The fact is that I live my daily life as a teacher in a public school, and a Course Lecturer for a university. I write books and poetry and I am an author, but I find it hard to enjoy being an author. I find it hard to communicate with people what it feels like to be an author. It gets confusing for me when the lines blur. I don’t live the life of an author because I can’t afford to sit home and write, except when I am off during the summer. I would love to sit at home and write all year long and dedicate my days to writing, but life as we know it is expensive. 

I enjoy the parts when people reach out to me and tell me how they are inspired by my writing or loved my book. I am humble when it comes to my work and excited to talk about my writing when people ask and care. I should shout it out loudly that I am a writer but most of the time when people ask me what I do, I say, “I’m a teacher.” 

How do you develop characters?

I develop characters by taking mental notes of people I meet, people I have met, and people I will meet. I research names and their meanings. I like how names roll off the tongue. I like how characters are flawed. I like tragic heroes. I am Greek, so I think of all the Greek tragedies ever written and the characters that formed them, created the essence of historical figures we try to decipher today. I research jobs, characteristics, public figures, and places. 

I delve deep and even use my own experience from time to time. I remember stories that were told to me from a young age. 

I develop characters who I would like to meet, and ones who I would stay away from and are toxic.

I like when my characters have so many imperfections, but are still loved, despite it all. 

How do you come up with your plots?

I come up with my plots while I write. The ideas come to me during the writing process and the stream of consciousness awareness. It is as if my mind is visualizing the characters and the scenes as they are being written. I don’t know what will happen from chapter to chapter, but when it comes to my first draft, it is all through stream of consciousness. 

What is your latest book and how did you come up with the idea to write it?

My latest book that is coming out on Sept. 27th is an erotic romance novel. It all started when I received a beautiful journal as a gift from one of my students. I opened the journal and started to write a poem, on July 4, 2010. It was 7:45 a.m. and I woke up with a poem in my head. I wrote “I love your soul” on top and the number one for the page number. I flipped to the final page of that journal and I wrote, “New Book Idea : Serena – Teddy” and the first two chapters were hand written poems turned into prose. It started out as a poem and then it turned into love letters, and finally a book. The creative process has no boundaries. 

When I started writing this story of Serena and Teddy, I had no idea where it would take me. My imagination ran with it. 

 I don’t write any outlines when it comes to my novels or poetry books. I go with the flow of the words and the characters. I did know that I wanted to write about two people and how they were destined to meet. I also wanted to write about their sexual awakening happening at the same time. This is not your typical erotic romance novel. I did not follow any formula, but the one guiding my fingertips. I have learned that when it comes to coming up with an idea for a novel, I need to merely write it out and the words will come rather than sit and think about it. I am more of a stream of consciousness type of writer when it comes to both my poems and my books. 

My other novel Crush, which is a paranormal romance novel, is also not a typical love story. I wanted to make my vampires unique and so I researched Greek folklore and came up with my own terminology and definitions of vampires. At the time that I was writing The Wanting, Crush was getting rejected left and right. Then one day, in 2012, it was accepted by MuseItUp Publishing. 

I worked closely with Lea, the editor,  and years later she published The Wanting. She helped me with the editing in both novels and helped me become a better writer, as much as Alexandra Meehan helped me become a better poet.

A writer needs an editor more than she needs coffee!

Tell us about your latest book, The Wanting.

 It’s an intimate account of sexual awakening. Between two people with a magnetic pull and connection that leads them to each other. It is an erotic tale of relationships and their internal struggles as told through dialogue with themselves. 

One night, Serena and Teddy are out at a bar and they both meet and fall for another person. Serena meets Ben, an attractive eBook writer and Teddy meets Melina, a sexually charged school teacher. The story that unfurls, is a roller coaster ride of two erotic journeys. Questions arise...Are two people meant to be together? What is serendipity? Do soulmates exist?

The Wanting is a book about the confusion between sex and love. It is a modern romance into the mysterious world of sex and the power it holds over our minds. 

What’s your next project?

I am working on a few projects at the time. I have a finished poetry book that I am submitting to publishing companies. I am also working on a collaborative poetry book with my poet friends, Alexandra Meehan and Jacquie Prebich. We want to feature all our poems in one book to showcase our different writing styles through similar themes. 

Over the course of the summer I started to write a series that I need to edit and rework based on a group of friends and their romantic relationships in foreign cities. I am on Book 1 and Book 2 now. It is the first draft. I am hoping to finish it by next summer.

I also have a full-length manuscript that I have been working on the past couple of years that I keep changing. 

As you can see, I have a lot going on at all times and my mind rarely rests. 

Here are Christina's buy link and contacts to find out more about her work:

Thank you Christina for being my guest on this week's My Writing Corner.  Any questions or comments for Christina?

Monday, September 20, 2021

An Autumn Treat

It may be the end of summer, but ice cream treats never go out of season--nor do books featuring a backdrop of ice cream goodies. My guest today in My Writing Corner is Darlene Fredette. She lives on the Atlantic Coast of Canada where, she says, the summers are too short, and the winters are too long. She’s been an avid reader since childhood, so it only makes sense she would turn out her own stories. Darlene says she loved to develop the many stories coming to life in her head.


These days she writes contemporary romances with a focus on plot-driven page-turners. When she is not working on her next book, she says she can be found with her husband, her daughter, and her yellow Labrador. Darlene’s favorite pastime is taking summer daytrips to the Valley to soak in the small-town feel.

Let’s get more information about Darlene. 


Tell us about your road to publication.


My road to publication was a long one. I received many rejection letters, but I persevered and kept learning everything I could about the writing craft. Eventually, I received a contract for my first book, Keeping Secrets, but when the publishing company closed, I received my rights back and contacted The Wild Rose Press, who offered a contract for my revised book and new title, Law Of Attraction.


What do you enjoy about being an author?


Seeing my book published. There is so much satisfaction in holding my book in my hands. All the hours, rewrites, waiting for a contract offer, and edits are beyond exhausting, but worth it in the end.


How do you come up with your plots?


This might sound crazy, but when I am doing housework is when inspiration strikes. I can start housecleaning and a storyline just pops into my head. By the time I’m done, the story has a solid plot.


What advice do you have for beginning writers?


Read and learn everything there is on writing. Write, erase, and write more. And don’t get discouraged by rejection letters. Stay positive and keep writing the best story you can.


What is your latest book and how did you come up with the idea to write it?


Cherry Red was one of my favorite books to write. The ice cream premise came to life after reading my publisher was looking for stories to fit their One Scoop Or Two series.


Let’s get a blurb.


This summer, ice cream entrepreneur Carly Redd's only focus is expanding her business—until she's coerced into attending her ex's engagement party. Showing up without a date is unthinkable. She reluctantly agrees to be escorted by her brother’s co-worker, although doing so breaks her rule of not dating firefighters.


The daughter of the town’s fire chief should wear a Do Not Touch sign, but firefighter Noah Harding's interest blazed the moment he saw Carly. Agreeing to be her fake boyfriend is a no-brainer, but convincing Carly to trust him with her heart is harder than extinguishing a fire.


Overstepping the platonic-only rule is as dangerous as fire and ice swirling into a tempting combustion.


That sounds as yummy as an ice cream cone! What’s your next project? 


I am currently working on a new series within my Redford Falls series. The first five books in the series focused on introducing the town and several residents, but the new series: The Marleys of Redford Falls focuses on the five Marley brothers.


Here are the links and contact information if you would like to buy her books or get in touch with Darlene:


Universal Purchase Link:

Author Web Site:


Amazon Author Page:

The Wild Rose Press Author Page:





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

Monday, September 13, 2021

Of Love and Honor

 As we move into the colder days of Fall, it's time to warm things up in My Writing Corner. My guest today is Katherine Grey who writes sexy sweet contemporary romances with a hint of the paranormal. She and her family live in upstate New York. She says that when she’s not writing, she can be found up to her elbows in flour trying out new bread and cookie recipes. That sounds like we should all stop by for a visit!

Welcome, Katherine, please tell us about your road to publication.

I started writing seriously with an eye toward publication in 2008. I joined a local writing group and absorbed as much information as possible. My first novel, a Regency set historical, was published in 2010 by the Wild Rose Press. A novella and a second book also set in the Regency period were published in 2012 (also by the Wild Rose Press).  I was working on my next book when the tumult of life threw me for a loop.   

It was quite a few years before characters began to talk to me again. I started jotting down the bits of dialogue and snippets of scenes that popped into my head, but really didn’t do anything with them except stick them in a folder. I finally sat down in 2019, took out that folder, and wrote a complete book, the first one since 2012. 

That book, Honor Bound, is the first book in a paranormal romance series about a military unit consisting of men with unusual abilities. I had planned on releasing it in 2020, then the pandemic hit and well, you know what they say about the best laid plans.

What do you find is the most challenging part of being an author? 

For me, the most challenging part of being an author is the marketing aspect of it. Whether you are published by a major publisher, a small press, or self-publish, marketing has become an important part of being an author. It’s almost as important as writing the next book. I try to schedule time to do marketing every week because I like connecting with new readers along with my current readers but I have to admit I don’t take advantage of every marketing option available.  For example, the new thing for marketing is to get on TikTok.  Personally, I don’t think TikTok is for me so I don’t have any plans join. 

What advice do you have for beginning writers?

My advice for beginning writers is to write on a regular basis. I’m not saying write every day, though I do, because I realize not everyone’s schedule is conducive to being able to set aside time to write every day, but try to write at least a few times a week. The more you write, the easier your story will flow from your fingers on to your computer/laptop screen. 

My second piece of advice is not to compare yourself and your writing journey to anyone else’s. I know it’s easier said than done. I still struggle with it at times. We all have different responsibilities that affect our ability to get words on the page. Just because you see Author A announce she’s publishing a new book every month and you only publish a new book a year doesn’t mean she’s a better writer than you are.  

What is your latest book and how did you come up with the idea to write it?

Honor Bound is the first book in the Echo Company series. I’m not sure how I came up with the idea as I collected bits and pieces of the story and the series in general over a number of years while I wasn’t actively writing. 

Let's get a blurb:

When honor meets temptation…

California “Callie” St. John learned the hard way just how much one night of rebellion can cost. Determined not to repeat past mistakes, she tries to be the perfect daughter by volunteering with various charities and keeping everyone at arm's length. After narrowly escaping a car bombing, she is forced to accept help from the one man who can get past her defenses, making her long for the impossible -- letting him into her life...and her heart.


 Lieutenant James “Hawk” Hawkins, a member of a Special Ops unit of soldiers with unusual abilities, is known for keeping his cool in any situation. Acting as a bodyguard to the daughter of one of DC’s mover and shakers is just one more mission like any other. When an enemy from his past targets the spoiled socialite, Hawk realizes she is more than she seems.


With his reputation on the line, he’s willing to risk everything to keep her safe. But succumbing to temptation isn’t an option…no matter how much he wants to give in.

What’s your next project?

The second book in the Echo Company series, Promises To Keep, was released in July so I’m currently writing the third book in the series. I don’t have a title for it yet. I don’t usually come up with a title until after the first draft is written. 

Here are Katherine's social contacts to learn more about her and her buy link:

Buy Link: Amazon - Honor Bound

Social Media Links:  Facebook    Bookbub   Goodreads

Thank you Katherine for being my featured guest on My Writing Corner and introducing us to the first book in your Echo Company Series, Honor Bound!  Does anyone have any questions or comments for Katherine?

Monday, September 6, 2021

An Explosive Tale

Don't we all love the real-life stories that come from authors? Today's Writing Corner guest, Susan Furlong's stories began even before she was born.  She tells us that she was born in the middle of a spring snowstorm at the University of Michigan so her mother had to walk across campus in the snow to the hospital while she was in labor. What a beginning! 

Susan says she doesn’t remember any of this auspicious beginning, but it always makes for a good story! And haven't we come to love her stories?

She says as a child her family moved across the country six times to various big cities before the age of fourteen because of her father’s career in women’s ready-to-wear clothing. She met and married the love of her life in college and moved to his small hometown in southern Ohio. That put an end to her travelling. She says now you can’t get her out of there with a crowbar! She taught first grade and fourth grade and raised her children who did not have to change schools even once.

Creating stories started early in life—as is typical of most writers—even before she could actually write. Then came handwritten pages stuffed in her underwear drawer, followed by stories created on a manual typewriter. Her first computer—a Commodore 64—was replaced by a series of computers and laptops, which her husband promised she could never fill up the storage space, but she always did. At age 32 she performed in her first community theater play—Guys and Dolls—where she quickly realized that she wanted to play ALL the parts, which is exactly what a writer does. She writes and/or directs church-related plays and sketches and also performs and sings with a music and drama ministry, LightReaders.

Her love of history led her to wanting to write two plays about her now hometown, and they were presented in reader’s theater style by local citizens. That was followed by two non-fiction books about local history published by Arcadia Publishing. She says she loves to do the research even though old books and documents make her cough and sneeze! Susan first discovered romance novels when she won a copy of Velvet Song by Jude Deveraux at the local bookstore. She still reads all varieties of books, but historical romance is forever her first choice.

Her books Steadfast Will I Be and By Promise Made were published by The Wild Rose Press in 2019 and 2020 respectively. By Promise Made won the NEST – National Excellence in Story Telling – for Historical Romance for 2021.

Her third book – Keeper of My Dreams – a continuation of the Cullane family adventures -- is being officially released today!

Susan, please tell us about your road to publication.

Me at age 9 in my kimono

Creating stories started early in life—as is typical of most writers. At nine-years-old I wrote, directed, and starred in my first play, inspired by Japanese kimonos sent to us by a family friend. This was followed by handwritten pages stuffed in my underwear drawer, then stories created on a manual typewriter which I wrote while cooking dinner or after the kids were in bed. I then filled up the disc storage on my early computers, and today I have dozens of flash drives to save my work. 

I wrote my first paid story for a children’s magazine, followed by numerous published short stories for children and articles for adults in various national magazines. The busy life as a working mother (a teacher and writing coach) slowed down my own writing, but in 1997, I co-wrote a full-length play about the Last Supper, “The Twelve Seats at the Table,” published by Eldridge Publishing and has been presented at over 100 venues across the country. In 2007 and 2008 I wrote two plays about the history of my hometown and a local cast presented them to the community. This led to writing two books for Arcadia Publishing about this same local history and people. In 2018 I sent a historical/adventure romance novel to be professionally edited, and this editor suggested I send it to The Wild Rose Press. Steadfast Will I Be was accepted and published in 2019, followed by By Promise Made in 2020, and now Keeper of My Dreams. 

What do you find is the most challenging part of being an author

The most challenging thing for me is the actual time it takes to sit at the computer and type out the words. Stories and plots are always floating around in my head, and I often work them out while doing other things. I can shut out TV commercials or take a break from reading with the book still in my lap or go for a walk, but I tend to be restless (As anyone who has to sit beside me in church will tell you!) so sitting for extended periods of time at the computer is hard for me. Still, when I get excited about a story, I can find myself at my desk for hours.

How do you come up with your plots?

I love history, not the dates or places, but how the people lived. I love to do research, even though old books and historical materials make me sneeze and cough (The Internet has been a godsend for my dust allergies!) It continually astounds me how many unbelievable/seemingly ridiculous events actually happened. This usually sets me off thinking about how I could drop my characters inside that situation and see how they survive. 

My first book, Steadfast Will I Be, was inspired by the fact that King James V was held prisoner by his step-father until he escaped at age sixteen and regained his throne. The second book, By Promise Made, started when I learned that King Henry VIII waged war against Scotland, killing thousands of people, because four-year-old Mary, Queen of Scots, would not marry his nine-year-old son. The seed for my most recent book, Keeper of My Dreams, grew when I learned that the Chinese first intended gunpowder to be a life extending elixir until it exploded and burned down their houses. You can’t make this stuff up, but you can write about it!

What advice do you have for beginning writers?

Write, write, write whatever speaks to your heart. Write about people and places you love, even if you have to research them until you fall in love with them. Write what pleases you. If you try to please others, such as publishers or unknown readers, you take the joy out of the creation process, and if you write to follow the latest trend in books, it’s a waste of time unless that trend stirs you. If it doesn’t stir you, it won’t stir anyone else.

Don’t be discouraged when after a publisher accepts your work or you self-publish it, you get it back to make dozens of corrections. Proofreading and editing are very important, so never neglect them, but your writing life is in the creation of characters, worlds, and adventures while the editor’s job is fixing mistakes, crossing the t’s, and using the commas. While both worlds have their place, your joy comes from the story, not the spelling. Although, no one can understand the world you’ve created if you don’t cross the t’s and use the commas! 

The scariest part of being a writer is showing your work to other people, but do it. Sometimes criticism is based on their own shortcomings, not yours, but if you see value in what others say, use it to improve your work. I’ve listened and I’ve learned, and I couldn’t have been more thrilled when my historical fiction book, By Promise Made, received 5 star reviews from InD’Tale magazine and N.N. Light’s Heaven Books, and then won the NEST (National Excellence in Story Telling) award for historical fiction. Yes, I’m bragging, but that is the joy bursting out of me!

I have so many stories/novels sitting in my closet that will never be officially published, but I still remember them fondly and all the pleasure I had in writing them. Some of them I even cannibalized for a new book. Nothing goes to waste.

Be a writer because you MUST write. Be a writer because your soul would be missing a piece that can only be filled with whatever you put on paper. Your stories must find a place in YOUR world first, and if they find a place in other people’s worlds, all the better. 

What is your latest book and how did you come up with the idea to write it?

My latest book is Keeper of My Dreams. In doing research for an earlier book I found references to the development of weapons in England and how England’s advanced use of gunpowder defeated the Scots who preferred hand-to-hand warfare. During the same era, pirates freely roamed the seas with the support and authority of the government. Leaps of imagination led me to Reid, the gunsmith, who designed an advanced handgun and to the pirate who wanted it. To balance these two strong men, came Leena, the daughter of the Cullane family featured in my first two books.

Gunpowder and love, both explosive.

  Reid Haliburton, a skilled gunsmith, wants to control who uses his revolutionary handgun until a vicious pirate decides the gun will be his. The price of refusing is Reid’s life and those of his three young sons. Reid’s only chance to save his sons is to send them away and face the pirate’s wrath alone.

Leena Cullane Adair is stunned to find three lads hiding in her cart, and, although she only met their father a week ago, he holds her heart and her dreams, and she will do whatever it takes to keep him and his sons alive.

That sounds like a fun read!  What’s your next project?

I have two books in my “next pile.” One is at my publisher, The Wild Rose Press, for review and edits, and is tentatively entitled “Desperate Hope.” It takes place during the American Revolution and highlights George Washington’s secret spies who eventually turned the tide in the patriots’ favor. My hero and heroine think they are fighting on opposite sides until they discover the truth.

My next book is still in the plotting/research and writing stage and is about the Glencoe Massacre in Scotland in 1692. This tragedy is often an example of clan warfare, but in reality was a plan by the government to suppress opposition to its policies. My hero is a soldier ordered to carry out the massacre, and the woman he loves is about to be one of the victims. They must find a way to stay alive and together. 

Thank you, Susan for being my guest, and good luck on your new book. Here are the Contact and Social Media links if you would like to follow her books.

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 ...