Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Overcoming Rocks and Roadblocks

As authors we all have a certain path we want to follow when we start out and our roads to publication all take different routes. For some, the decision to be a writer comes easily and early in life and at other times it may be something we discover along the way.  For today's guest in My Writing Corner, Ellen Parker, it only makes sense that she should make writing one of her goals in life.

Raised in a household full of books, it was only natural that Ellen Parker grew up with a book in her hand. She turned to writing as a second career and enjoys spinning the type of story which appeals to more than one generation. She encourages her readers to share her work with mother, or daughter—or both. When not guiding characters to their “happily ever after” you’re apt to find her reading, tending her postage stamp-size garden, or walking in the neighborhood. Ellen currently lives in St. Louis.

Tell us about your road to publication:

Like many authors, my road to publication was scattered with rocks and roadblocks of various sizes. After joining my local chapter of Romance Writers of America, I attended workshops, read craft books, and listened to others. A few years, and several manuscripts securely hidden in my closet later, my novel Starr Tree Farm was accepted by Crimson Romance. (They have since gone out of business.) Since that first burst of excitement and “hands on” education in the publishing world, I’ve had my work accepted by The Wild Rose Press.

How do you develop characters?

My characters remain a little fluid and open to change until the final edits. They begin as a few unconnected ideas. Usually I know their current occupations, but an author should know how they arrived at this point. Early in the process, before I begin the first, ugly draft, I sit down and write out a first-person introduction and background. This is where I discover their family of origin and any traumatic events which happen before the story opening. Exact information varies, but included in my most recent pair of autobiographies, for a contemporary, are the sort of staples you’d find in their kitchen. This is a framework only. I learn additional tidbits during each draft and/or revision.

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

My most recent book is Morning Tryst and it released on June 20. A secondary character from my previous work, Comfort Zone, was asking me to tell her story. However, she lived in San Diego and I center my novels in the Midwest. After considerable games of “what if?” and a little prompting by Missouri’s bicentennial, I found an idea which fit with her occupation—free-lance photographer—which brought her to Missouri State Parks.

Morning Tryst blurb:

During a San Francisco visit, photographer Serena Carter sights arresting potential in the hotel bartender and invites him to model. Later, in San Diego, they meet at a beach, and she discovers his personality as fascinating as the images her camera captures.

Self-made millionaire Zack Sans usually avoids cameras. He prefers the world of scientific laboratories and engineering students. But something intrigues him about the petite photographer. 

When realistic Serena accepts an opportunity to photograph Missouri State Parks in all seasons, she expects the budding friendship to die. Will Zack’s ties to Missouri overcome cyberstalking, a wildlife encounter, and opposite views of family?

Let's get an excerpt: 

    Setting the pitcher down easy, Serena pressed her hands flat against the smooth, cool surface to conceal their sudden tremble. “Our table…we need…a refill. Drinks and supreme chicken nacho platter.” She lowered her gaze from gray eyes behind wire framed glasses past a clean-shaven chin to rest on a black and gold nametag. An instant later, she shifted her line of sight to his neck and confirmed her earlier glimpses. In the next blink, she widened her view. Lingering her gaze on his face for the next few seconds, she classified the radiating character marks around his eyes as more age than smile. Fifty?  If correct, he was near to her own fifty-two years. Hiding a sigh, she broke the silence. “We have a tab.”

    He reached for the dirty pitcher and glanced over her shoulder. “Table twenty, the one in the corner—with four thirsty ladies?”

    “Affirmative. We’re celebrating.” She questioned her use of the word the instant it left her lips. Reminiscing. After a day filled with the memorial service and the commitment ceremony, the four remaining best buddies shared drinks, food, and conversation. During recent minutes, the topics shifted from fond memories to current circumstances with a sprinkle of future plans.

    “Anything else?” He tapped the order on a touch screen and lifted a cocktail shaker.

Slipping one hand into a pocket, she fingered a business card and waited from him to face her again. “I want to shoot you, Zack.”

What’s your next project?

My next work, New Dreams, is a change of pace to historical. It’s currently early in the editing phase. This story centers on young, German immigrants in 1851 and the Illinois river town where they settle.

What advice do you have for beginning writers?

JOIN A WRITING GROUP. This advice was given to me by an instructor at a community college writing workshop. The education and support from fellow writers has been crucial to me. Without their encouragement and constructive criticism, I’m certain that I would not be published today. A second, sound piece of advice—Finish the book!

Ellen’s links:

Website: www.ellen-parker-writes.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/ellenparkerwrites

To purchase Morning Tryst:

Kindle: https://amzn.to/35gH37S

Nook: https://bit.ly/3IQfFeG

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

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

A Trip Back in Time

Summer has always reminded me of the wide open spaces of the old West. Maybe it's because it's the season when my Dad would pack up the family and take us to the local "drive in" to see western movies or to camp out in the open range under the stars. (My mother's cousins owned several nearby ranches) Today's guest in My Writing Corner is Donna Schlachter who  also takes us us back into the old West.  

Donna is a hybrid author who writes squeaky clean historical and contemporary suspense. She has been published more than 50 times in books;  is  a  member of several writers groups; facilitates a critique group; teaches writing classes; ghostwrites; edits; and judges in writing contests. She says she loves history and research, traveling extensively for both.  Welcome, Donna!

Tell us about your road to publication. 

My first publication was in a Sunday School take-home paper. Then I sold a piece to an online women’s newsletter. So I thought short pieces were my thing. I wrote those for a few years, but didn’t have much success. I wanted to write fiction, but didn’t know what. An email about NaNoWriMo 2002 came across my inbox, and I was hooked. I wrote a cozy mystery, sent it to every publisher I could find, with no takers. In 2005, I attended a writer’s conference and spoke to a book packager about some ideas I had, and he showed me a project for 180 devotionals in a gift book style devotional. I said I could do it. The book released in 2006. In 2007, the same book packager hired me to write a book on marriage, which released in 2008. In the meantime, I was still writing cozies. In 2012, I signed with my current agent, Terrie Wolfe. When 2014 came around and still no takers, I decided to go the indie route and publish them. I’ve since published in novella collections and published a full-length historical with traditional publishers, and I’ve continued down the indie path. I live both, for different reasons, but that’s a different question.

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

For me, initially, the most challenging part of being an author was admitting to myself that I was an author. Until I published my first book, I didn’t much feel like one. I felt like a fraud, actually. Even after the first book came out, I struggled with telling other people that I was an author, because the first question then was “Are you published?” “Yes.” “How many books?” “Uh, one.” See what I mean?

I was certain that 1 published book didn’t really make me an author. Now I say I’m a published author, and when folks ask—as they invariably do—how many books, I say, “More than 50.” Honestly, I can’t believe it myself. 

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

My most recent release was Calli, and it’s part of the Prairie Roses 2022 Collection. The invitation to join the collection was what spurred me to write the story. I set it at a place I’ve visited, the historic Fort Bridger, Wyoming. Coming up with ideas has never been a problem for me. The time to write them all is my hindrance.

Let's get a blurb:

Calli works as a nurse with the US Army at Fort Bridger, Wyoming in 1880. When a wagon train full of discouraged emigrants passes through on its way east, a pregnant widow delivers her baby then dies. Bradley Wilson, leading this train, has few options. He asks Calli to travel with them until they find a relative to take the child in St. Joe, Missouri. Calli, drawn to both this dark and quiet man and the child, resists. But when she disappears, he wonders if she’s run away or been kidnapped. Can these two put their pasts behind them and move into a new future together? Or will Calli insist on having things her own way?

How about an excerpt?

April 30th, 1870

Twenty miles west of Fort Bridger, Wyoming Territory

Bradley Wilson shielded his eyes from the burning sun and surveyed the trail ahead, thankful to be out of the wagon and stretching his legs. Eastward. He’d traveled this same trail two years before, heading in the opposite direction. What took him back now? Failure? No, more like disappointment. A cloud of dust as big as Kansas, kicked up by the prairie schooners ahead of him, blotted out whatever lay in that direction. Sweat dribbled down the center of his back. He longed to scratch but knew the action wouldn’t satisfy. Instead, he yanked a wrinkled ball of calico from his shirt pocket and swiped at his face. How a body could sweat so much in a land so empty of water was beyond him.

He wished he could guzzle the rest of his day’s ration. Or pour it over his head to cool his fevered brain. But neither would satisfy more than a second and a half. Wasting the precious commodity would haunt him.

Maybe he was too good for his own good.

    Isn’t that what those who abandoned the wagon train had said? Right before they broke off on their own, forging ahead instead of waiting for Joe Collins to die? Two weeks it took. Fourteen days of listening to the man keen and holler night and day. And no amount of laudanum eased the pain of his broken back. Of his insides in knots, sewn back into place as best his wife could do.

    Who knew a horse could drag a man for more’n three miles, and that person still survive? Even if for only a fortnight.

And Miz Collins, ready to drop her first young’un any minute.

Bradley shook his head and double-stepped ahead of his oxen. No, siree. Joe Collins was too good for this world. Along with his widow, Elspeth.

His oxen followed the team ahead as if he sat in the wagon and held the leads. He patted the muzzle of the one nearest him, Beau. The off-side lead, Bob, snorted.

“I know. You’re jealous. I’ll get you soon.”

The pair, purchased in St. Joseph two years prior, had carried him westward. Away from memories of the war. Hoping to find a better life. Away from his sweet Millicent. And their babe. Both now buried on a hill under a tree in east of the Missouri River. He should never have left them behind. Should have kept them safe. Away from the influenza.

    But running wasn’t the answer. As he now understood. And so, he returned east, passing wagon trains of the hopeful and the excited and the na├»ve going the opposite direction every day. Them heading west, toward the new life he’d sought but never found.



    Calliope Jeffers—or Calli, as she preferred—leaned over her patient. “You’re going to be fine.”

    The woman, a private’s wife, her hair plastered to her forehead with sweat, panted. “Don’t feel like it. Hurts a lot.”

    Calli propped the woman’s legs up so her feet lay flat on the tick mattress. “It will be over soon.”

    The door creaked open, and an anxious face appeared in the space. The husband. “Is it done yet?”

    Calli shook her head. “No, it’s hardly started. Go outside and wait.” She sat on a stool at the end of the bed and tugged a sheet over her patient’s legs. Even in this, she’d afford her whatever privacy she could. “Now, when you feel the next contraction, breathe through it like I showed you. Quick breaths. Understood?”

    “Until the pain gets so bad, and my brain stops working.” 

    The mother-to-be did well until, as predicted, she stopped thinking. Her toes curled, and she bore down. 

    Time to distract her.

    Calli’s eyeglasses steamed up from her own effort and the heat that had built during the day. Whoever thought that married couples should live on the second floor of a barn-style barracks, with paper-thin walls and a one-layer roof should be taken out and shot. She cleaned her glasses in her apron, then donned them again. “That was good. Next time, when you want to push, scream instead. Sing. Holler. Whatever works.”

    Even two short years of experience taught Calli it was difficult to bear down and scream at the same time. 

    Two years. Is that all it was since she moved here to Fort Bridger and taken on her dream job? After graduating from nursing college, most of her class sought positions in city hospitals, hoping to find a handsome doctor to marry.

    Not her. At twenty-one, she already had the man she wanted. And his assignment to Fort Bridger afforded her the opportunity to work with one of the best doctors in the territory. Such plans she had. Work. Learn. Have babies.

    But then it all ended. Snatched away by a supposed accident.

    So she’d had to make a new plan.

    And none of it included men, a second marriage, or babies of her own. She sighed and pushed her eyeglasses up the bridge of her nose. Her own babes would be okay, but without the first two, there’d be none of the latter. No, she’d assuage any maternal instinct bubbling to the surface by delivering other women’s infants.

Sounds interesting! What’s your next project?

I’m currently working on another historical mystery romance for another indie collection. My book, Dianna’s Dilemma, is book 19 of The Reclusive Man series. It releases in September 2022. 

What advice do you have for beginning writers?

(in my best Winston Churchill impression, cigar and all) Never, never quit.

That’s it. I had plenty of opportunities to quit over the years. But I realized early on that if I gave up before I had at least 1 book on a shelf that had my name on the cover, I’d never know if I had at least 1 book inside me. And once I had the first, then I had to know if I had 2 books inside me. Rejection isn’t easy. But face it: no matter what you choose to do, there will always be somebody who will say you can’t. Unless you choose to fail, that is. Prove them wrong! Never, never quit.

Thank you, Donna, for the advice and being my guest today.  To learn more about Donna and buy her book:


Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/Calli-Prairie-Roses-Collection-Book-ebook/dp/B09SD6XPRQ 


www.DonnaSchlachter.com Stay connected so you learn about new releases, preorders, and presales, as well as check out featured authors, book reviews, and a little corner of peace. Plus: Receive a free ebook simply for signing up for our free newsletter!


Check out previous blog posts at www.HiStoryThruTheAges.wordpress.com and www.AllBettsAreOff.wordpress.com 

Facebook: www.Facebook.com/DonnaschlachterAuthor 

Twitter: www.Twitter.com/DonnaSchlachter 

Books: Amazon: http://amzn.to/2ci5Xqq 

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/donna-schlachter 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&query=donna+schlachter

Any comments or questions for Donna?

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

A Passion for Writing

How did you get hooked on reading or writing romance? We all have our different stories about how we fell in love with that genre. Today's guest in My Writing Corner, Kimberly Keyes, tells us passion for romance writing began after her mom brought home a box filled with paperback romance novels—which she quickly devoured. She found herself not only reading the stories, but the “About the Author” blurbs tucked into the back of each book.

She knew in her heart, one day she would be a published romance author herself. After earning a Master’s degree in History, Kimberly combined her love of all things Victorian with the plots and characters living inside her head and forged her career as a historical romance author. She soon added contemporary writing to the mix. The result? Award winning romance novels featuring magnetic characters, unpredictable storylines, and scintillating scenes that keep her readers turning pages.

Today, Kimberly spends her time writing and dreaming up new ways to perplex and grow her characters. She currently lives in Orlando, Florida, with her faithful puppy, Papillon, a twenty-pound stray rescued from the streets of Puerto Rico. Her beloved Frank, another cuddly rescue, passed away several years ago, but his legacy lives on as the president (and founding member!) of the “Black Dog Club.” Frank frequently makes guest appearances in Kimberly Keyes’ stories.

Writing romance, she’s living her dream, and loving every minute. It’s a gift to find the one thing you’re meant to do—a gift that Kimberly never takes for granted.

Tell us about your road to publication.

Wow, great question. I wrote for years before I received my first contract offer from my publisher, The Wild Rose Press. I often hear of authors who got published right away. I’m happy for them, but that was not the case for me! In fact, my first two completed manuscripts, long Victorian Era romances, are both tucked under the proverbial bed. As a newbie author, I made most, if not all, newbie author mistakes in both novels—but I learned! 

My first published manuscript is a stand-alone fun and flirty Contemporary romance titled, Lover’s Leap. In it you meet Candace, an up-and-coming romance writer and Logan, a hot-as-hell burned out photographer. Both have links to a mutual friend and find themselves holed up in said friend’s luxury vacation home. Logan’s been sworn off Candace, and Candace has the misconceived notion Logan’s gay. Not.  

My second book, The Trouble with Tigers is a Victorian romance and the first in my Hidden Treasures series. Tigers tells the story of Zeke, the heir to the Earl of Claybourne who returns home from abroad to find his grandfather the earl has hired himself a young tiger (a type of servant—male, of course). Zeke takes instant umbrage with this overly pampered servant of the earl’s and proceeds to cause all sorts of trouble for “him.”

What do you enjoy about being an author? 

I love crafting a really well written story—and having others read and enjoy it. It’s satisfying in the way nothing else is. 

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

Definitely, the most challenging aspect of being an author for me is time management. There are always conflicting demands on my time. From errands and chores to family and friends to exercise and relaxation, there’s always numerous distractions and reasons not to sit my butt in the chair and write. The trick is in knowing when to say yes and when to say no and I’m getting better at this! 

Then after I’ve carved out the time, there’s my actual writing process. I learned long ago to respect my process, but it can be frustrating when I’m raring to go on a WIP (work-in-progress). In my writing, as in many aspects of my life, I cannot be rushed. While my overall plot tends to reveal itself to me early on, the twists and turns show up along the way, and when I force these details, I inevitably make a wrong turn and have to go back and find where I went wrong. That’s not always easy! It does have its pluses. The writing and re-writing and combing through the lines of my manuscript helps me to really know my characters and add the layers that enrich my stories with satisfying depth.

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

My upcoming release, Playing Her Song, is another contemporary romance. It’s the first in a series of three books all taking place in the small town of Honeyville, NC, a made-up town loosely based on a small North Carolina town I visited many-a-summer as a kid. This book came to me while running—which is not uncommon for me. I get a lot of ideas while pounding the pavement. I was listening to some hard rock and suddenly I had this image of a hot musician who’s falling for his one-time tutor who’s come back into his life unexpectedly. I started typing the story and it all unfolded from there. 

Let's get a blurb:

Sometimes a fresh start means going back home…

When Julia's carefully constructed life takes a sudden, demoralizing nose dive, she flees to the small town of her youth. She finds the perfect landing place—a furnished cottage on a private estate in the Blue Ridge foothills. Then she learns the owner-resident is Jackson Tate—her high school crush and, until recently, the source of her greatest humiliation.

Jackson, the small town boy-turned-rockstar, never forgot Julia nor the mistake he made causing his one-

time math tutor to vanish from his life. Jackson avoids all but the most superficial entanglements of the female variety. Yet one look at Julia and he's determined to win back the friendship he lost.

Julia's ancient grudge can't withstand Jackson's lethal combination of humility and charm. But what about her teenage crush? Especially one not so one-sided after all...

Want more? How about an excerpt? 

Before she could second guess herself, she set out across the deck. A gust of wind off the mountain set the flames in the pit dancing and reminded her she ought to have brought a sweater. But she couldn’t bring herself to turn around.

She hesitated at the steps leading down. Jackson sat with his back to the house, elbows propped on the arms of the chair. He appeared mesmerized by the flames. He hadn’t exactly invited her to join him.

“It’s warmer closer to the fire, Julia,” he called without looking her way.

The night chill seeped through the short cotton dress she wore and turned her exposed toes to ice. The heat of the fire would feel really good about now.

He shifted in his seat and studied her over his shoulder.

The fire behind him made his expression unreadable, but she could imagine his arched brow. She lifted her chin and marched down the stone path to the chair beside his.

“I wondered if you’d come out,” Jackson said, his focus once more on the dancing flames.

“I hope you don’t mind.”

“Why would I mind?”

She decided not to mince words. “I guess because of your mood when you left my parents’ house tonight.”

He slanted her an affronted look. “My mood?”

“Brooding is the word that comes to mind. Or maybe just flat-out verklempt.”

The cheek facing her creased as the corner of his mouth kicked upward.

Tension she hadn’t realized she held eked out of her. Jackson, the larger-than-life, self-assured stud, she could handle. Pensive Jackson rattled her.

“I’ve never been verklempt in my life—not that I actually know what that word means.” His eyes narrowed on her, and his smile vanished. “Jules, you’re not wearing enough clothes.” He extended an arm toward her. “Come over here.”

The frigid air had permeated her very bones. But the thought of moving closer to Jackson had all her nerve endings tingling and not from the cold. Good thing her wiser, adult self knew better than to get sucked in by the self-admitted scoundrel.

“I’m okay.” She held out her hands toward the fire.

He rolled his eyes. “I can’t relax over here knowing you’re sitting there freezing.” He paused. “But then I get it. You’re afraid you can’t resist me.”

His cocky attitude and, yes, a freezing gust of wind had her out of her chair and at his side in seconds flat. “Where do you want me?” Oh God.

What’s your next project?

I’m in Historical romance-mode again, three-quarters of the way through the first draft of my second book in my Hidden Treasures series. Book two tells the story of Caden, Zeke’s younger brother, who you meet in Tigers. Caden’s used to living fast and free with few responsibilities, or at least he’s willing to act the part since everyone seems to think he’s cut in the mold of his late, ne’er do well father. And then he crosses paths with Anna. Oh, I’m having a lot of fun wit this one!

What advice do you have for beginning writers?

Three bits of advice I have for aspiring authors. First, don’t dream of writing “one day.” Start writing. Next, hone your craft. Attend on-line or in-person workshops. Practice practice practice. Writing is an art. And lastly, enter writing contests. (No, no one is going to steal your idea or your work. Everyone wants to write their own stories!) Seeing the comments made by several judges can tell you your strengths, which is immensely encouraging, and also your weaknesses. The rule of thumb is this. If one judge criticizes an aspect of your work, and everyone else raves over it, throw out the opinion of the one judge. If several judges mention something that needs work? It probably needs work. And that is advice you need if you want to become a great writer, IMO.

Buy Links

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09VVD6QMX/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_tkin_p1_i0

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/books/playing-her-song-by-kimberly-keyes

Social Media Links:



Amazon Author Page














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

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

School Daze

Finding just the right author and the right book can often be a challenge to any reader. Don't we all go though the bookshelves at our favorite library or bookstore, or stop by the book section in the big box stores just looking for something new to read as well as new authors to discover? This is why I enjoy interviewing authors and introducing authors in My Writing Corner. Every week brings a new author with a new book.

Today's guest is author Patricia McAlexander. She tells us that she earned a bachelor's degree from the University of New York at Albany, a master's from Columbia University and a doctorate from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in English.

After moving to Athens, Georgia, she taught composition and literature at the University of Georgia. Now retired, Patricia has edited local newsletters and enjoys hiking, travel and photography. However, she says most of all, she enjoys thriller romances. Her book, Stranger in the Storm is set in upstate New York. Shadows of Doubt and the book, The Student in Classroom 6 (2022) is set in Athens, Georgia. She and her husband, Hubert, also a retired UGA professor have one son.

Patricia's latest book,  The Student in Classroom 6 has just been released.

Let's get a blurb:

Although a faculty member has been killed on campus and the murderer is still at large, English instructor Katherine Holiday never suspects the criminal might be one of her students. In fact, there’s a man in her adult evening class she wishes she could know better.

Seeing no need for a college degree, Tyler McHenry, a partner in his father’s successful tree service, writes fiction for his own pleasure. No one at the University needs to know his personal reasons for enrolling in a first-year composition course. Still, he finds himself fascinated by the pretty teacher, who believes his writing should be published. 

Sounds intriguing! How about an excerpt?

“You know, Ms. Holiday,” Tyler said as he walked with her back to her porch, “it was against regulations to bring you up in the bucket. Only accredited personnel are supposed to go up.” He paused. “Just like it’s probably against regulations for University instructors to get too friendly with students in their class.”

 “It is,” she said, feeling somehow bold. “But if you can break a rule, I can. Would you like to come in for a beer?”

“That may not be so wise. I am an owner of this tree business and an owner of the bucket truck. I was not worried about breaking that rule tonight. I knew it was safe for you when I brought you up in the bucket. That is not the way it is with you and the University.  And you don’t know—” he hesitated.

“Know what?”

He smiled a little, as if joking. “Whether you’d be safe alone in your house with me.” 


Would you like like to read more? You'll need to get the book! Here is the information for Patricia as well as the buy links for her new release:


Facebook: facebook.com/patriciamcalexanderwriter/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/PatMcAlexWriter 

Instagram: www.instagram.com/patriciamcalexander/




Barnes and Noble (includes Nook):  


i-books: http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/isbn9781509241767

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

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...