Tuesday, October 25, 2022

An Exciting Ride

Having lived in the West all my life and having grown up in ranching country, stories involving horses always intrigue me. My guest today in My Writing Corner brings us a book that immediately caught my attention. Joining us today is author Marla White, who is a story analysis instructor at UCLA and writing coach living in Los Angeles. She tells us she graduated from the University of Kentucky where she took her first horseback riding lesson.

After dabbling in hunters, barrel racing, and weekly trail rides, she fell hopelessly in love with the sport of eventing. She says she “conquered” Novice level before taking a break to pursue novel writing. She says she hopes to return to the saddle some day soon. 

Marla has been involved in several award-winning television movies for ABC, CBS, USA, and HBO.  Later she became the head of television for Emmy Award winner Peter Tolan. She currently teaches story analysis and story workshops at UCLA. 

Her first novel, The Starlight Mint Surprise Murder, was published in 2021, followed by the first two books in her Keeper Chronicles series. When she’s not writing, she’s out in the garden, hiking, or putting together impossibly difficult puzzles.

Here's a fun fact Marla has shared with us today.

"The first time I got on a horse was to ride a neighbor’s fat pony bareback. It took off, I clung to its side for maybe 100 yards before hitting the ground, and have been in love with horses ever since.  It’s entirely possible I hit my head."

 Tell us about your road to publication.

Like a lot of other authors, my “overnight success” was about 10 years in the making.  I wrote my first book, “Cause for Elimination,” years ago as part of a writers’ group. Once it was finished, I submitted it to publishers and agents, did PITMAD, and heard resounding crickets.  So I put it away safely in a drawer and wrote my urban fantasy series instead.  

In 2020, an author friend told me about an open submission alert she’d gotten from her publisher, The Wild Rose Press, looking for novellas in any genre with a holiday cookie at the heart of the story.  It was the middle of Covid and like everyone else, I took up baking to pass the time, only a childhood favorite cookie kept epically failing. So during NaNoWriMo I wrote the first draft of “The Starlight Mint Surprise Murder.” Then I realized the submission couldn’t be longer than 25,000 words so I had to cut it down by half!  I sent it in and on April 1st I got the e-mail they wanted to buy the book.  At first I thought…April Fool’s day? This has to be a joke but nope, they meant it.  And then my editor asked if I had anything else so, with her immense help and kindness, dusted off “Cause” and here we are!

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

That’s easy – marketing.  It’s 1,000 times harder for me to come up with marketing and promotional plans than it is to actually write the book.  Don’t even get me started on the nightmare of being a grown up adult navigating the shark infested waters of TikTok.

What advice do you have for beginning writers?

Two bits of advice that are more or less related.  Write every day. It’s a muscle you need to keep using so write.  If you have ten minutes free, scribble some ideas down. Ideas come to me at the weirdest time so I always have a notebook to jot it down before my swiss-cheese brain forgets it.  If you sit down to write and nothing comes to you, keep typing or scribbling anyway, even if you think it’s garbage.  That’s what re-writing is all about. If you’re just not in the mood because God knows we’ve all gone through some pretty dark days in the past couple of years, put your novel aside and write about what you’re feeling. To paraphrase a famous slogan, just write. 

And don’t give up. I hope the story of the long road to publication for “Cause” will inspire new writers to keep at it.  Keep working to improve your writing, take the notes from your beta readers that make sense, but don’t let a few negative responses become obstacles in your way the way I did.  

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

In addition to “Cause for Elimination” coming out on October 10th, I have my second cookie book, “Bloodstains and Candy Canes,” available for pre-order now. 

The idea for it came from a combination of things/events. I had mostly finished a first-person cozy mystery that features a female veteranarian in Los Angeles who gets drawn into a murder mystery. Then the open submission for the cookie books popped up in my email and I thought about using those characters, because I just adore them, but didn’t have a story idea.  Without giving too much away, some events happened in my life and I thought, “I can’t murder you in real life, but I’m a writer and can kill you in a horrible way”. That’s one of the reasons I love writing murder mysteries, it was definitely cathartic!  


Let's get a Blurb for her featured book today, Cause For Elimination.

Reclaiming her life after a devastating riding accident, equestrian Emily Conners’ world shatters again when she discovers her friend and boss lying in a stall with a smashed skull. Now jobless and with a handsome cop underfoot investigating the case, she's torn between wanting the killer found and keeping her own secrets safe.

Detective Justin Butler always gets his killer, but this victim has a stampede of enemies and few leads to go on. Stonewalled by the tight-knit equestrian world, he looks to Emily for help, but she’s strangely reluctant. Is she hiding something, or is she afraid of their growing attraction?

As the search for the murderer heats up, their hearts become entangled and their lives at risk, forcing Emily and Justin to work together to find the killer before they strike again.

Fun facts about the book

Something readers might find interesting:

Much of what happens in this novel is inspired by real events, people and places from my years of riding horses. Emily’s distinctive pickup truck was inspired by a real truck I coveted. Justin’s uncontrollable ride with “whoa?” – happened to me on that very field. The horse she rides, Reese, is based on the last horse I owned right down to his big suitcase head that he likes to waggle.  Don’t even ask me about the upholstery story!  And though I’ve never forgotten to unhook my air-vest, I’ve certainly had my share of close calls.   

Now, how about an excerpt:

        “You can save your smarmy charms for someone else. I’m not crazy. There’s no way that horse kicked Pamela to death.”

        “No one is saying you’re crazy, Ms. Conners,” he explained in a tone which implied exactly the opposite. “I understand how difficult this must be for you, but as you must be aware, horses can be unpredictable. Isn’t it possible your friend–” 

        “Her name was Pamela Yates. I’m—was, I guess—her assistant.” 

        “Excuse me, ma’am, of course. Isn’t it possible Miss Yates startled the horse, and the animal kicked out as a natural response, injuring her and causing her death?”

        Injured? Pamela’s brains were on the wall. On three of them, as a matter of fact. “Have you actually seen her body, detective?”

        “No, ma’am, I thought it would be best if we talked first.” 

        The man’s soothing voice made her want to scream. Instead, she fought to maintain a reasonable tone in her own. The last thing she needed was to antagonize him, erasing all hope of keeping Feneatha off the endangered species list. 

        “Why don’t we do this,” she said, keeping the you patronizing, pompous ass comment to herself. “Why don’t we take a look at the… at her…at the stall.” If it doesn’t put too much a dent in your morning, detective, sir. 

        Emily clenched her fist so hard her fingernails bit into her palm. “If after seeing her you decide it was an accident, I’ll move aside and let animal control do their job.”

        “Fair enough,” the detective agreed and followed her down the barn aisle to an open stall. 

What’s your next project?

I have two books I’m working hard to finish by the end of the year, plus hope to get a third outlined during NaNoWriMo.  I find I do a lot better when I have a deadline and love participating whenever I can.  

One book is the follow up to “The Starlight Mint Surprise Murder.” This time around ex-cop Mel O’Rourke is busy re-inventing herself as the owner of a B&B in the small mountain resort of Pine Cove when the last person she expected to see shows up on her doorstep asking for help. Poppy Phillips, the smarmy, sophisticated cat burglar Mel was chasing when she suffered her career-ending injury, is afraid she’s being framed for murder and needs Mel to find the real killer. 

The other one I just got back to polishing after a long absence is part of my urban fantasy Keeper Chronicles series.  They are the ongoing trials and tribulations of the ex-archangel Gabriel, his devilsh lover Evie, and his human friends. They’ve battled a dragon, a demon horde, and now face his toughest challenge of all – his family.  Because Michael can be a jerk, the other archangels have ego issues, but when Lucifer gets involved all hell breaks loose.

Thank you, Marla, for being my guest today! Here are Marla's Buy Links and her social contact information.

 Buy Links 

Amazon  https://amzn.to/3qk7XCP

Books2Read  https://books2read.com/u/b6zjM6

BookBub  https://www.bookbub.com/books/cause-for-elimination-by-marla-a-white

GoodReads https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/62233827-cause-for-elimination

All Author https://allauthor.com/book/70256/cause-for-elimination/

Social Media Links





Twitter:  https://twitter.com/TheScriptFixer

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/marlaw825/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MarlaAWhiteAuthor

TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@marlaw825

Any comments or questions for Marla?

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

How About an Encore?

As we move closer to the holidays, it's about time to start finding those books we can enjoy over our winter breaks or while sitting inside on cold weekends. This week's guest in My Writing Corner has visited us before, and she always brings an offering to read that gets our interest. Her latest work sounds just as appealing as her other books.

Kathleen Ann Gallagher is originally from New Jersey, but she currently resides in Southwest Florida with her husband and her Coton de Tulear, Luc. She started writing at an early age; she says she has been making up stories since she was a young girl. These days, when she isn't dreaming up a new plot for her next romance, you might find her performing in community theater. But w
hen she isn't writing or on stage, she's usually relaxing on one of the Florida beaches nearby.

 Kathleen also says she loves meeting her readers, and she is extremely grateful for their continued support.  It's easy to understand why they support her! Kathleen's latest book is Love's Encore, and it sounds as though she's tapping into her love of the stage in this book. Let's get a blurb:

Desire wins the lead role.

Sadie Layne, a creative and motivated high school drama teacher, is grateful for second chances. After surviving breast cancer, she embarks on a celebratory trip to LA with her two best friends. Sadie never expected to run into the handsome and charming Vince De Carlo in the hotel lobby. She hasn’t seen Vince much since they worked together in a theater company years ago. Their meeting interrupts her plans and reminds her of the life she left behind.

Vince, a struggling actor and cover model, is in LA to promote a television pilot. His old attraction to Sadie is stronger than ever. He never forgot her, even though a trusted friendship and a scripted kiss was all they’d shared.

The reunited pair give in to temptation, but reality soon collides with lust as strong doubts about their blossoming romance get in the way. Sadie dreads facing her defeat as an actress, and Vince doesn’t think a struggling actor like himself is capable of providing the accomplished teacher with what she deserves.

Will the couple find a way to keep their sizzling romance alive and build a future together? Or will their uncertainty win the lead role and smother the flames?

Want to know more? Let's get an excerpt:

        Sadie shook off the nerves, straightened her posture, and sucked her stomach in. Her new motto was taking chances and living life to the fullest. Here goes. She slowly approached her old theater partner. Hopefully he’d be happy to see her, and she wouldn’t make a fool out of herself in the middle of an upscale hotel. Her heart picked up speed and a hot flash hit her hard.
        “Hi, Vince. I’m surprised to run into you here.” She offered a big smile. Relief washed over her when his expression brightened. Hopefully he didn’t notice her schoolgirl jitters.
“Sadie Layne. I can’t believe it.” He smiled back at her and held his hands out. “I haven’t seen you since the reunion last year.”
        “I know. It was great to get together with the old gang. I can’t believe we graduated over ten years ago.”
        Small talk was a good start for now. Vince leaned in and gave her a friendly embrace. She hadn’t expected that. He held onto her shoulders as he pulled back and stared intently. Goosebumps formed on her arms. She tried to hold it together and appear calm, but her insides jumped around like popcorn in a microwave.
        “What brings you to LA?” Vince asked.
        “I’m here on vacation with my friends.” Her stare locked onto his heart-shaped lips and she shivered.
        His huge smile and the admiring way his sexy blue eyes took on a gleam gave her an inkling that he was pleased to see her too. Who knew? He’d never expressed an interest other than a friendship. They did enjoy each other’s company and they had a lot in common, but she had her doubts about being involved with a fellow actor, even though she’d had her longings. She’d heard horror stories about relationships in the business. Her work had been more important than a love affair.
        Although, she did recall the passionate punch in his kiss. At the time, she thought it was his great acting skills. Could it have been real? She’d never forgotten when another classmate, Monica Sears, had cornered her and drilled her about the details of the love scene in the show. She’d always known why. Vince was one sexy dude.
        “It’s awesome to see you, Sadie. You look beautiful.” He gave her a long, hard stare and flashed his pearly white smile. A dimple appeared on his cheek, and it took her over the edge.
        The same adorable grin. Her head spun, and she took a few deep breaths. “You too.” She reached into her bag and took out the cover flap with his picture on it. “When did you start modeling?”
        He crossed his arms and chuckled. “Oh, you found out my dirty little secret?” His cheeks took on a reddish glow. “I got involved with the industry a couple of years ago. It got me through in between gigs,” he admitted as he shrugged.
        “I think you’re a natural. Your pose made me want to read the story.” His shirtless chest had a lot to do with her interest, but she’d keep it to herself. “What is this you have here?” Sadie pointed at the poster, trying to steady her trembling fingers. She’d like to believe her excitability was due to the anticipation of the trip, along with the long flight. But she knew that wasn’t what had caused it.
        The earthy scent of his cologne floated her way, and she’d had enough of this distraction, but she’d be polite. She was in LA to celebrate, not fool around.
        “It’s a pilot show we’re pitching, and I scored the male lead.” He curled up his fist and pumped it. “Yes! Can you believe it? We’re filming the pilot episode tonight, and we’re looking for audience members to fill the theater,” he said, his expression beaming with pride. He took on a stance of confidence with his feet planted firmly on the floor, legs slightly spread, shoulders back, and his head high. You’d think he was a serviceman about to salute an officer.
        “That’s fabulous. It looks like you’re finally on your way,” she cheered, and offered him a congratulatory hug. He held onto her for a few minutes, and she didn’t expect to enjoy it so much. Was her teenage crush turning into something much more?
        “Why don’t you try to come to the show tonight? I know it’s short notice and you probably have plans, but if you can make it, it’d be great.” He tilted his head, and she couldn’t resist those alluring gray-blue eyes. “Sorry, I don’t even know who you’re here with. When did you get in?” Vince took a step back.
        Out of the blue, this handsome, muscular, and confident looking man had caught her off guard and filled her head with naughty visions. Sadie held back a grin. She’d kept her cravings hidden when they’d hung out. Besides, it probably would have destroyed their friendship and ability to work together. But Sadie had to admit she loved his pouty lips. Everything about Vince oozed sex appeal.
        “I’m here with my friends, Jill and Millie, on vacation,” she said.
        “Well, think about coming tonight. I’d appreciate your critique.” He handed her the show’s info packet. “That is if you don’t try to change the script. You used to improvise. I remember the time Miss Nolan stormed out of the room when you changed your lines.” With a gleam in his eye, he laughed.

Yes, I know. You want more, but you'll have to get the book. Here is the information as well as how to contact Kathleen:

Love’s Encore buy link:

Amazon:  https://amzn.to/3Jw1fm1 

Social contacts:

https://bit.ly/3vFEPcc Twitter

https://bit.ly/3P47Hln Blog 

https://bit.ly/3QllTaE Facebook

Thank you, Kathleen, for being my guest today. Any questions for Kathleen?

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Turning the Spotlight Around

Every week writers visit My Writing Corner to discuss their new books and to tell readers a little bit about themselves and how they began the writing process.  This week I am focusing on the person behind that spotlight. For a writer, one of the best parts of being an author (besides getting to play with all those characters roaming around in our heads and visiting places around the world in our minds) is seeing our work placed before readers so they can share our journey. This week I get to share a new journey with readers as my latest book is available for pre-order. Seeing a new book for sale is always a great day for any writer. 

My newest book, Dead Man’s Treasure, will soon be available to readers so you can also visit the wonderful, complex world I had the opportunity to create. I must admit, for me, one of the best parts of writing is being able to build that special world and then share it with readers. I enjoy transporting them to my fictional worlds where I spend so much time as well as introducing them to the characters who have inhabited only my mind for years (yes, years—no story gets written overnight). 

First let me begin the way I normally introduce my other author guests with a proper introduction. I often like to say that writing has been my chosen way of life for decades. Beginning in my teenage years, fiction books and writing have been a big focus in my life. I began devouring books in my teenage years and spent summers walking to the library every week, checking out at least two books to read. From spy novels to romances to historical fiction, library books were my constant companions.  Even on summer vacations, I would buy a book to take along. At the same time, I began making up stories of my own, scribbling them down in a spiral notebook. (I still carry a spiral notebook for scribbling in my purse in case I get an idea while I am out and about). While I read books in all genres, the stories that I wrote were in the Romance and Romantic Suspense genres, though I had no idea what different genre were. I simply knew I fell in love with the characters in the books I read—from science fiction to mystery to romance. 

The first lesson I learned from all my reading--before I began writing--was that I wanted to see the main characters prevail--no matter what sort of obstacles might arise. In my own writing, I gave my characters plenty of dilemmas as I scribbled away in notebooks of all shapes and sizes or just plain old notepaper. In later years I got my first typewriter and began typing them up. I spent weekends writing fiction. In one of the apartment buildings where I lived, people knew me as the “typist” because they would come by my door on the way to the elevator and I always seemed to be “typing” on weekends. 

Even now, I like to say writing has been my way of life because I seem to be writing just about every day. That way of life began in college where I pursued journalism as a career and got my first job on the college newspaper. We put out a paper five days a week so that meant I had to turn out a story a nearly every day and thus my life began as a daily writer. Weekdays I turned out news stories and on weekends I went to the park or library and wrote fiction. 

That college job also taught me another valuable lesson that would come in handy later—breaking news. It was a period of protests on college campuses and someone burned down the oldest building on campus following a week of war protests.  We all got called in to work and turned out a special edition of our daily newspaper. I still have a copy of that paper and I’ve never forgotten it. In later years, I would have to work other major “breaking” news stories--all the way from the eruption of Mt. St. Helens (I was working Seattle at the time) to riots, several earthquakes and major fires when I worked in Los Angeles.  As a newswriter and even as a newsroom manager, writing or editing stories, was a daily way of life.

My non-fiction life and my weekend life of writing fiction converged and solidified in the past twenty years when my fiction work began to be published. My first fiction (a short story) was published in an anthology and as they say, the rest is history. Writing continues to be my daily way of life, even though I have left the fast-paced world of news. Writing fiction is just as fascinating--and as difficult. Stories don’t just appear—they require hours of work. Still, there is nothing quite like seeing a location or characters come to life in my head and then on my computer screen, then in book form, and hopefully then in the heads of readers. 

Dead Man’s Treasure, is the second book in what I call my Dead Man trilogy. The idea for it took shape from a story I was told in college about this old, deserted building that had been used as a company store in the mountains. The story went that someone had been killed there and left a bloody handprint on the wall and it was supposed to be still visible. Since I was going to college only a few miles from that store, of course, my friends and I had to drive out there and see for ourselves. The windows in the stone building were boarded up but we managed to find a way to crawl in, and sure enough, there was the handprint. I have no idea if it’s still there—or if the building itself still exists, but the idea stayed with me, and now I’m writing my second book with that setting. 

Now, if only so many characters didn’t keep taking shape and clamoring in my brain to come out! From Colorado and New Mexico mountain towns, to the freeways of Los Angeles to the rugged beaches of the Northwest, new characters keep arising and asking for their stories to be told. Hopefully, I get to keep telling them and readers enjoy them.     

 Dead Man’s Treasure and the first book in the trilogy, Dead Man’s Rules, as well as all my books are available at Amazon. If you would like to contact me, or read all my books, here is my buy link and my contact information. Happy reading! 

Buy Links:

Amazon Pre-order:  Dead Man's Treasure

Social Contacts:

Fiction Website: RebeccaGrace.com

Non-fiction Website:  Writethatnovel.com

Amazon:  RebeccaGrace

Does anyone have any questions or comments for me?

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Romancing the Rails

The snow has started falling in our Colorado mountains, so I think it's time to start turning attention to that fall and winter reading material. Today's guest author in My Writing Corner,  Darlene Fredette, brings us a book that sounds perfect for reading on a day sitting in front of a warm fire with a cup of hot chocolate. Her new book is Derailed Hearts and that grabbed my attention immediately. 

Darlene lives on the Atlantic Coast of Canada where, she says, "the summers are too short, and the winters are too long." She's long been an avid reader and she tells us she's been evolving as a future writer since childhood. She loved to develop the many stories coming to life in her head. She writes contemporary romances with a focus on plot-driven page-turners. When not working on her next book, or painting, or drawing, she says she can be found with her husband, her daughter, and her yellow Labrador. 

Her newest book is Derailed Hearts:

Nana Marley has her heart set on more great-grand babies, and with the help of a folklore legendary rabbit, she might receive her wish.

Single father and ER doctor, Ethan Marley, is ready to put down roots. He and his daughter embark on a train adventure across Canada from west to east coast. Boarding the train, he meets a woman who steals his breath, and he learns that she too is headed to Redford Falls. He is intent on maintaining a friendship only, but Jenn makes his heart race faster than the train.  

Fashion designer, Jenn Martini, travels by train to Redford Falls to visit her father. Her plan for a solitude escape derails after meeting Ethan and his daughter. Sharing a confined-spaced cabin sparks an immediate attraction, and by the end of the trip, she longs to be a part of their family. Only as she opens her heart to love, do the scars from her past begin to heal.

With more in common than relatives in Redford Falls, is their love strong enough to overcome the truth behind the accident…and save their future? 

Let's find out more by talking to the characters:

Ethan, why are you moving to the East?

I am from a small town on the east coast, Redford Falls. My daughter and I have been through a rough year and it’s time for a fresh start. The best place to do that is home. 

What kind of life do you want for you and your daughter?

The love and support of family are most important. We will have both in Redford Falls.

What draws you to Jenn?

Jenn is beautiful, intelligent, fun, and she has the biggest heart. She also has a surprising special bond with my daughter.

What worries you about becoming involved with her?

Not only will my heart break when Jenn leaves Redford Falls, I fear my daughter will retreat into her shell without Jenn in our lives.

Now let's talk to Jenn:

What kind of life are you seeking for your future?

I thought my life was complete until an accident stole my future. I’m currently trying to rebuild my life and going home for a visit will hopefully be the first forward step of many.

What do you want most in life?

To find happiness, love, and a family of my own. I think I’ll find all three with Ethan and Avery. 

What do you like most about Ethan?

He is incredibly handsome, extremely smart, and he makes me smile and laugh. He is a great father to Avery. Ethan makes me feel whole again. He is supportive and makes me believe that a future is within reach.

What frightens you about becoming involved with him?

Once Ethan knows we have more in common than relatives in Redford Falls, he—and Avery— will probably never want to see me again.

Want more? Let's get an excerpt:

Avery pointed to herself, Ethan, and then Jenn. 

Ethan rested his forehead against his daughter’s. “You want Jenn to come, too?” 

Avery nodded.

The little voice in Jenn’s head told her to return to her cabin and to stay clear of Ethan and his daughter. They were as enticing as strawberry ice cream. “I would love to join you.” The words fell from her lips. 

Ethan stood and set Avery on her feet. 

The child held onto her father’s hand and reached outward with the other. 

Jenn accepted the tiny hand and in doing so, she sensed a comfortable connection to this family—a connection she suspected would be incredibly hard to break.

Want more? You'll have to get the book! Here is the Universal Purchase Link: 


And if you would like to know more about Darlene, here are her Social Contacts:

Website: http://darlenefredette.blogspot.com/

Amazon Author Page CA: https://www.amazon.ca/Darlene-Fredette/e/B005NAF660/

Amazon Author Page US: https://www.amazon.com/Darlene-Fredette/e/B005NAF660/

Blog: http://findingthewritewords.blogspot.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/darlenefredette1/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DarleneLF

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/DarleneLF

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

Mysterious Doings

As the  summer begins, it is time to start selecting those books we want to take on vacation or for sitting around the pool or at  the beach...