Thursday, May 30, 2013

Beach Reads!

by Maria Geraci

I hope everyone had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend filled with lots of good family time, sunshine, great food and a renewed sense of thankfulness for all that our troops have done to help preserve our country's wonderful freedom.

I love the beginning of summer! The end, not so much (August is stifling here in Florida!) but May, June, and July are probably my 3 favorite months combined. Mainly because the beach is my favorite place in the entire world. And I do love my beach reads! So much so that I'm doing a beach read giveaway over at Fresh Fiction. Enter your name in the contest and you can win an autographed copy of my novels THE BOYFRIEND OF THE MONTH CLUB and  A GIRL LIKE YOU.  I might even throw in an extra goodie or two! Here's the link to enter!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Welcome Sharla Lovelace!

Hi!  Thanks for having me! 

You may or may not know that the mass market paperback of my last year’s debut THE REASON IS YOU hit the shelves earlier this month on May 7th.  And you may or may not be aware that there are two very hot, very eye-candy-worthy men in that book.  One being oh so physically available, but emotionally on another planet….and the other sizzling on the emotional connection meter, but unable to be touched. 
 new cover!
So what’s a girl to do?

Dani, the main character, already loves the one she can’t have… but that other one she keeps “running into” is doing something to her heart—and body—as well. 

I love these guys so much—because they are simply delicious and worthy of praise.  I even have buttons for them.

They’re worth it.

And I had a few inspirations.  Well, an initial one for sure.  Back in the beginning…wayyyyy back in the seed of an idea that the story was at first….there was only one fact I knew for sure.  That my main character Dani Shane had a mad love for a man she’d known her whole life and could never touch…because he was a ghost.  And in my head after watching season after season of Moonlight (yeah, way back then) and the sexiest vampire I’d ever known…always wearing black… that all-black-wearing ghost had to be Alex O’Loughlin.

And his character’s name became...ahem…Alex.  Um, yeah, but his last name is Stone so…yanno.  Nobody can prove I was thinking of him when I wrote it.  And I trust y’all.  You wouldn’t sell me out, right?  Or then maybe you should, and Alex O’Loughlin would read about it, and decide he needed to read that book, and then decide he needed to play that part, and go talk to directors about optioning the script, and then…and then…he’d call me at home and say he needed to come talk to me in person about it… 

*deep sigh*

So here you go…some Alex eye candy.  With commentary from me.  J


in his vamp days…all in black. Alex Stone the ghost was born here.

Him on Hawaii Five-O now. Yum.

And below is my favorite picture of all time…
Yes yes yes…

Now, to be fair to Jason, the other hottie…. Here’s a thought…

 or two…                

As my thanks for letting me come chat you up today, I’m giving away a signed tote bag (see below), with that sexy bookmark and the button of your choice above pinned to it. (yay!)  I’ll pick a random commenter tonight!
 (love the red!)  
 (love this bookmark!)

Enjoy the pics and good luck with the win!
~ Sharla

Sharla Lovelace is the National Bestselling Author of THE REASON IS YOU, BEFORE AND EVER SINCE, and the e-novella  JUST ONE DAY.  Being a Texas girl through and through, she’s proud to say she lives in Southeast Texas with her family, an old lady dog, and an aviary full of cockatiels.
Sharla is available by Skype for book club meetings and chats, and loves connecting with her readers! See her website  for book discussion questions, events, and to sign up for her monthly newsletter.
You can follow her as @sharlalovelace on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Ramblings From Dru

The hardest thing about writing a monthly post is coming up with a topic that the audience will find interesting.

So here I sit, trying to think of a post to write.

Should it be related to writing? Well, since I’m not a writer, I don’t have to worry about that.

I am a reader, but how many times can I write about the number of books I’ve read since January (for the record it is 78 books).

My friends tell me that besides being a reader, I’m also a blogger/reviewer. I don’t consider myself a reviewer because my musings are short and not standardized. However on my blog I do offer a feature to authors about the day in the life of their protagonist or a recurring character from their stories.

I recently attended my fourth Malice Domestic Convention. I always have a good time and it’s a chance to attend panels; catch up with friends who I haven’t seen in a year, meet new-to-authors and reconnect with the authors I’ve already met. The one for reader fans are fun to attend and so far this year I’ll be going to four events. I’ll be at BookExpo America (BEA) where I’ll be attending the Power Reader event. Then it’s the Fan Fest at Thrillerfest this summer and last but not least I’ll be at Bouchercon in Albany. Is anyone attending any of these events?

Well, it looks like I thought of something to write.

What’s the hardest thing that you have to do?

Friday, May 24, 2013

Pharmaceutical Dreaming

A few weeks ago, I had a bout of bronchitis, which ended up triggering my asthma. That meant coughing, lots of big, loud coughing spasms. I mean, coughing that rattles the windows in my house and those of my neighbors. (I have been known to break ribs from coughing before.) Antibiotics had the bronchitis under control quickly, but the asthma—and the coughing—was another matter. Consequently, I’m still inhaling and nebulizing as I try to shake the last of it, and in order to sleep at night without hacking my lungs out, I’m taking codeine cough medicine.

This means weird dreams. That phrase seems redundant. Dreams are, by nature, non-rational, of course. But these drugged dreams are something else. Much more vivid and bizarre. The dead walk and talk again in my dreams right now. My children, the youngest of whom is about to turn thirty, are babes in arms and toddlers again in these dreams, even as I’m still a child myself, a sibling to my own kids. Every morning I wake in wonder at the strange, technicolor movies I’ve just experienced.

Since I’m a writer, I write them down in my journal. Each morning I sit with my cup of tea and record another outlandish dream—a house suddenly filled with feral cats and I can’t figure out how they’re getting in or how to keep them out, a strange conference at an unknown university where I’m responsible for one of the programs when hundreds of ninjas attack, a ballroom dancing scene where I’m Ginger Rogers in chiffon and stilettos and only my unknown partner’s hand keeps me from floating off to join all the other people living on big multicolored clouds.

Last night, I had a dream in which an editor from Random House visited me in Kansas City to tell me that Random House had published a book in my Skeet Bannion series written by someone else, the first of many, and had sold it for a television series, leaving me protesting that they couldn’t do that since Random House is not my publisher and crying to my agent and my actual editor at my actual publisher, “What can we do? They’re stealing my books!”

I’m a writer, so you’d think some of these dreams would spark stories or books. I have had the germs of stories and books come to me in my dreams before, but not in medicated dreams like these. I know from sad experience that none of these will offer me anything more than a moment’s entertainment and wonder. I suppose that, if I wrote literary short fiction in the surreal school of writing, I might find them useful, but for someone who writes mystery novels and thrillers that must make sense to the average reader, these dreams are a waste of my unconscious’s creative skills.

What they do for me as a writer, however, is remind me that I have at my disposal an incredibly creative partner in that very unconscious. I simply have to find ways to guide its creativity and to ground it in the details of reality. That inventive part of my mind works constantly coming up with all kinds of stories, good, bad, bizarre, and humdrum. It’s up to me to harness and channel all that imaginative energy. Still, it would be nice if it could just toss up a nice, usable, Academy-Award-worthy story now and then.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time for my nightly excursion into the world of flying cars and dogs and Nazi storm troopers chasing me at a writers conference and other exciting adventures.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

My In Between Writing Style

by Maria Geraci

There comes a time in every book's life when the author sits back from her keyboard, scratches her head, and asks, "Now what?"

I really hate when this happens. And it happens every time. At least to me it does, and I imagine it happens to most other authors as well. For me, that time usually comes sometime after writing a "big" scene. And by big scene, I mean those pivotal scenes that usually act as sequence climaxes. Those scenes that bring us to the next phase of our story. The scenes that on the surface seem to almost write themselves, except we know that no scene truly writes itself. Writing is hard. I get that. And it should be, because nothing worth doing well is ever easy.

So how do I go from "Now what?" to "Oh, that's what comes next!" I wish I had a magical answer, especially since I'm in that phase as I type this blog! I stayed up last night, thinking, pondering, wondering. I know how my story needs to end. I know the pivotal scenes I need to write to get to that end, I'm just now sure about some of the stuff that happens in between. You know, the important stuff that keeps your story together?

This is the time when I wish I was a plotter. But I'm not. I've tried pre-plotting, but I just can't do it. I've written novels "pantser" style and it works better for me, but it also causes a lot of head banging moments (like now). So, I've created something that's kind of in-between, a sort of plot-by-the-seat-of-your-pants method. I'm a very visual person, so I use a large three sided poster board that allows me to "see" my story as it progresses. It's filled with lots of little post-it-notes scattered through out as you can see below. Pink is a scene already written. Blue are the emotional highlights of the scene or story "progressers" as I call them. And Orange is stuff I know I need to write. As you can see, there's a lot of orange down there, which means it's time to get back to work.

How do you create your stories? Plotter? Pantser? Or something in between?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

I Need Another Pin!!

by Bethany Maines

Ok, I’m just going to admit it – I’m a competitive Pintrester.

For those who are unaware, Pinterest is a site that allows you to “pin” images (and videos and links) to virtual bulletin boards. You can upload an image, find one on the web, or “repin” from another user on Pinterest. Thus, all recipes, crafts, pretty pictures, exercise tips, LOL cats, and good ideas you’ll get around to eventually, are all collected in one place.

Inspiration Image
I started using Pinterest for my graphic design work. It used to be that I would troll the web and magazines looking for images to inspire a new project, figure out a color palette and see what styles are trending. But then there would be the tiresome process of downloading each image (or trying to remember where I saw that one thing) for my inspiration board. Pinterest saves me extra steps and time. Now my business partner and I can collaborate on a Pinterest Board for our Zoo fundraiser event and refer back to the images at any time. Although, if you ask how we got from Crockett & Tubbs to the finished product, it’s a much longer story.

Finished Project

Gun Shoes by Chanel
I also realized that Pinterest is invaluable in my writing work. Pinterest allows me to flesh out my characters by gathering up things they would like, wear, or do into one spot. Need to be inspired to create modern nor fairy tales? I’ve got a board for that. (Spells of Murder on sale now!) Need to visualize how your male leads will look?  I’ve got a board for that too. Happen to have a herd of leggy, feminist spies running about and you don’t have time to always be looking up what designers they would wear, or what stylish gun-friendly purses are on the market? No problem – Pinterest to the rescue! And now we know that really stylish gun-friendly purses are hard to find and that you can never go wrong with Chanel and Dior.

The problem, I discovered, is that after I pin things I really, really want someone to repin my pictures.  Every week Pinterest sends me emails about how many people repin something I posted. My business partner finds these emails annoying and has adjusted her settings, so the emails never get sent. But I want to know! I want to know that for some reason the picture I uploaded of a 1901 doorbell is spreading like wildfire among the Steampunk crowd. I want to know that the Samurai Mask I pinned for the 2012 Glitter Gala inspiration board is being pinned on the board of every man who's on Pinterest! I want to know that my creative genius is inspiring others!!! 

The creative genius bit was going to far, wasn’t it?  Yeah… I’ve got a Pinterest problem, what can I say? But, um, if you happen to have a similar problem, you can find me here:

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

When Did You Start Writing?

Authors are asked that question many times during their writing careers. Of course there are variations on that them, like when did you first know you wanted to be a writer? Or when did you first get published?

I'm going to answer the first question. When I first started writing, I didn't know how to write. What I mean is I didn't know how to make letters and certain not words or sentences, but I did tell stories.

My mother listened to soap operas in the morning while she did her chores--and I listened to. My favorite was "My Gal Sunday" about a young woman in a little mining town in Colorado. I drew pictures telling my own version of that story. That memory is very vivid. I had my own little table and chair in our breakfast alcove and that's where I "wrote" my stories.

When I did learn how to read and write, I moved on to other writing.

I was captivated by all the Little House on the Prairie books and when I'd read them all, I wrote my own--in long hand and in pencil.

It wasn't too long before I'd branched out to tales that came from my imagination. I know that I did send stories into Jack and Jill magazine. And I wrote a children's book about a fairy complete with illustrations that I sent into a publisher. Received my first rejection--and as I remember, it was nice encouraging me to keep writing.

During the summer when I was still in grammar school, I wrote plays and gathered up all the neighborhood children to perform in them. Looking back, I bet a lot of mothers were happy I kept their children occupied. We performed in my back yard where my dad rigged up curtains so we'd have a real stage. Though I don't remember what any of the plays were about, I know we always had a big audience. (All those mothers, I suppose and the siblings too young to act.)

By junior high, I was writing and publishing my own teen magazine with articles and stories I wrote and illustrated myself.

In high school, I mostly wrote in my diary. When I fell in love with my husband, and my life became interesting, I no longer kept up the diary.

Married and with five children, my writing was confined to newsletters for PTA and plays for my Camp Fire Girls to perform. I did write another book that I sent off, but it was rejected too and I decided that maybe I didn't have what it takes to be a writer. But it wasn't too long before I was writing again, receiving rejections, but not giving up.

And the rest is history. I am not a big name writer by any means and don't make a lot of money, but I am doing what I love and isn't that really all that counts?

Over 35 published books later.

Marilyn aka F. M. Meredith

Monday, May 20, 2013

Murder Doubles Back by Evelyn David

From the New Mystery by Evelyn David

"Think we'll be done with this case by New Year's Eve?"
Mac glanced over at the old man driving the van. "I can't tell from your tone what answer you'd prefer. Got a hot date you don't want to keep?"
Edgar Freed chuckled. "You'd think the scooterchair would keep the quilting league ladies away, but I guess my natural charm is just too powerful. I accidentally accepted three invitations for dinner that night. A murder case is just the 'get out of jail' card I need."
"Natural charm my–"
"JJ!" Mac checked his watch, then his assistant who was on the back seat. "Please concentrate on that case file I gave you. I need you up–to-speed fast. We don't have the whole police file yet, just my personal notes, newspaper clippings and some copies of witness statements. And Edgar, until we know otherwise, this is a missing person case, not a murder."

"All this information needs to be converted to an electronic file so I can read it on my laptop," JJ complained. "Some of the newspaper clippings are falling apart."

"I didn't have any trouble reading it," Edgar said. "Computers aren't necessary for everything." He cleared his throat. "Mac, you have to admit that Norman girl has been gone a long time. Odds are–"

"Yeah." Mac settled back in his seat. "I know what the odds are."

Mac and his partner Lyle Harvey had gotten the call around 1 p.m. on a blustery October day. They had just finished lunch, the highlight of an uneventful first half of a twelve-hour shift. At first, they had both believed the teenager had just gone wandering among the various buildings comprising the Smithsonian. First-time visitors were usually unaware that the Smithsonian wasn't just one museum but a collection of buildings. It wasn't unusual for even adults to get separated from their party.

He took a deep breath as the memories flooded back. The scene had not been secured. Evidence could have been lost. Even at the time he'd known that the search for Amanda Norman had been bungled. Against his protests, old Lyle, the senior detective in their partnership, had let the busload of teens and chaperones leave before everyone had been questioned.

"The witness statements are a waste of time. Didn't Amanda have any friends on the trip? Most of these are from kids who claimed not to know much about her."

JJ's question brought him back to the present.

"We didn't find any," Mac answered. "Amanda seemed to be a loner."

"This is a handicap spot," JJ complained as Edgar parked the van.

"I know it's barely noticeable, but I fit that description." Edgar looked at the young woman in his rearview mirror. "That's the reason I can usually find a parking place in this town. Why else do you think the boss had me drive?"

JJ grimaced. "Probably because my ride is in the shop and all Jeff O'Herlihy has in his fleet this week is a neon green Honda with a bad transmission."

"Enough, you two." Mac pulled the latest postcard from his jacket pocket and handed it to the old man. "Edgar, your mission is to find out everything you can about this postcard. Check out the gift shop or wherever they're selling this stuff."
Edgar nodded. "Wild goose chase. You can probably buy this postcard at almost any drugstore in town."
"Still, we have to start somewhere. Maybe this is a new postcard, just released for sale. This mystery started here; maybe my pen pal wants it to end here." Mac shook his head. He knew it was unlikely that canvassing the museum stores would produce anything, but it had to be done.

He turned to face JJ. "You and I are going to walk the crime scene and see if there is anyone still working here that recalls the incident. I'm hoping someone might dredge up something they didn't tell the police before. Remember being a detective ain't glamorous. It's 99 percent grunt work, one percent luck."

JJ sighed. "Right, I know. You've said it a hundred times, your job is to be lucky and Edgar and I are supposed to handle the grunt parts."

Mac grinned. "Now you've got it. Let's go."

Check out the Sullivan Investigations Mystery Series for unforgettable characters and fun whodunits!

Murder Off the Books
Kindle -
Nook -
Smashwords -
Trade Paperback -
Murder Takes the Cake
Kindle –
Nook -
Smashwords -
Trade Paperback -

Murder Doubles Back
Kindle -
Nook -
Smashwords -
Print –

Riley Come Home
Kindle -
Smashwords -

Moonlighting at the Mall
Kindle -
Nook -
Smashwords -

Friday, May 17, 2013

In the Blink of an Eye

In the Blink of an Eye
By Laura Bradford

At this time last year, I was reading fellow Stiletto Gang member, Maggie Barbieri's posts about the emotions that were kicking in as she watched her daughter's high school years draw to a close.

Now, here I am, going through the same thing as Dear Daughter # 1 approaches the last five weeks before she walks across the stage to get her diploma.

It's all happening so fast now. First it was the round of "lasts"--last high school dance show, last high school musical, last high school choir concert (yes, my daughter leans toward the arts). Then the college paperwork and its assorted deadlines followed (roommate questionnaires, health forms, bills) along with prom dress shopping and the beginning stages of family graduation party prep. And all the while this is going on, I'm trying hard not to think too much because every time I do, the tears begin to build.

I can remember, so clearly, the moment I dropped DD # 1 off at kindergarten like it was yesterday. She'd never gone to preschool so that day, that moment, was truly a first. And it was hard, very hard. For five years I'd been the person who took care of her 24/7. I watched all her "firsts" to that moment, I taught her about manners and kindness, and we were together all the time. I remember holding DD # 2 (who was not quite two at the time) and hearing her begin to cry as we got Erin settled and...left. I spent those first few steps into the parking lot trying to soothe the baby (who couldn't understand why we were leaving her big sister in a strange place) all the while my own heart was breaking.

Did I cry? Of course. In the car, as I drove away...even knowing I'd be back to get her in less than four hours. But that was the first moment we'd separated and four hours seemed like an eternity.

Now, I'm mere months away from separating from her for weeks, and sometimes months, at a time. I know she'll do great, I know she'll be following her dreams, but still, it's hard.

Life really does go by in a blink of an eye.


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Suspending Disbelief

I got into bed last night and was happy to see that one of my favorite movies—“Unfaithful”—was on.  You remember it:  it’s the one that stars Richard Gere and Diane Lane as happily married suburbanites whose world is rocked by the affair that Lane embarks upon with a very sexy French bookseller. As I watched the movie, I was struck by a few things, namely that:

* Richard Gere is sixteen years older than Diane Lane yet we believe completely in that fact not being an issue in their marriage.

* It was so windy the day that Diane Lane first goes into the city that she is knocked down, skins her knees, and can hardly walk upright for fear of that happening again.  That’s some wind, people.

* After skinning her knees, she willingly goes into the apartment of the sexy French bookseller to get bandaids.  And doesn’t get killed.

* Such a thing exists as a “sexy French bookseller.”  Who owns an apartment that is approximately six-thousand square feet and filled with as many books as my son has soccer socks.  (It’s a thing now, soccer socks.  I had no idea.)

* Richard Gere is hardly suspicious when Diane Lane says she’s going into the city day after day wearing nothing but a little black dress and sling-back stilettos.  Well, I guess I can cut him some slack.  If my husband saw me dressing that way, day after day, he would just assume that there had been a spate of deaths in our circle and that I was attending a lot of funerals.  Never would it cross his mind that I was having an affair with a sexy French bookseller.  He knows I’m way too tired for that.

Those are just a few of the things that you have to get past in order to enjoy the movie, and trust me, I did both get past them and enjoy the movie.  As a matter of fact, every time Diane Lane decides to go into the sexy French bookseller’s apartment to get the bandaids, I scream, “Don’t do it!  You’re married to Richard Gere!” but she doesn’t listen.  She goes in every single time.

But watching the movie was informative because it got me thinking about what we do as writers, and how far we push things—realistically—in the name of the story.  More to the point, how far can we go with the details before the reader is scratching his or her head and saying “That would never happen”?  Pretty far, I imagine, if “Unfaithful” is any indication.

Several years ago, I was minding my own business when I saw flashing lights outside my house.  Since I was the only person home on the street, I went outside to investigate and was told by the responding officer that the station was receiving 911 from inside the vacant house next door. I assured him no one lived in the house and took him for a tour around its perimeter.  Satisfied that this seemingly normal housewife/mystery writer was telling the truth, he drove away.

Let me repeat:  HE DROVE AWAY.

I put that story—truncated here—in a book and got some comments.  “That would never happen.”  “Cops would never drive away.”  “What if you were doing something wrong?  Why didn’t he ask you any questions?”

All good comments.  I asked myself the same things.

Turns out that there was an electronic malfunction in the home’s existing phone service.  However, what if that wasn’t the reason? What if I had attempted to murder the upstairs tenants before they left?  What if one of them was still alive and trying to alert the police?

I think part of the enjoyment of any story, be it a mystery or a thriller or a family drama, is suspending disbelief.  I tell that to my friends who find my upcoming thriller—ONCE UPON A LIE—so dark that they are scared to be around me.  “Suspend disbelief,” I tell them.  “Pretend that someone who looks like me—happy, friendly, unsuspecting—could write a book about abuse and murder.  Pretend that some of the things that happen in the book could happen in real life.  And then enjoy the read.”

Strange things happen in the world.  Three women can be abducted and go missing for ten years, just blocks from where they lived previously.  A seemingly innocent school bus driver could harbor a predatory nature so gruesome that even his neighbors—who enjoyed barbecue dinners with him on pleasant sunny nights—never would have guessed what went on inside the house. The world is full of unbelievable stories.

And it’s our job to make them believable, enough to keep a reader guessing or up at night wondering how such luridness could come out of someone’s brain.

But back to the movie.  “It was a dark and stormy day and happily married Constance begins a torrid affair with a swarthy Frenchman.”  On paper, it doesn’t sound so great.  But in the hands of the right actors—namely someone as gifted as Diane Lane—the story becomes believable.  The right writer can do the same thing and hope that you, the reader, doesn’t have to suspend so much disbelief as to scratch your head when you finish the book.

I’ll end this now.  I have to figure out how to ruin someone’s life so as to teach him a really good lesson.  On the page.  In my book.  And then later, if it’s not too windy, I’ll go buy broccoli.

Maggie Barbieri