Spotlight on Jane Renshaw

I’m happy to welcome author Jane Renshaw. Today, Jane shares her writing journey and new release, The Sweetest Poison, Book One in the Pitfourie Series.

‘How difficult can it be to write a Mills & Boon?’ That idiotic statement was my contribution to the conversation one lunchtime in the Edinburgh publisher’s office where I worked.

And so began a hilarious few weeks in which I and two colleagues each attempted to write a Mills & Boon romance. Rachel managed one and a half pages of Chapter One. Her ‘plot’ involved her heroine slipping on rocks into the arms of a passing hunk. She couldn’t be bothered getting them off the beach and into Chapter Two. But Annie and I persevered. We visited the library and borrowed bagfuls of the slim romances (‘They’re only 55 000 words each – we’ll be finished writing them in a month at the most!’), cringing as librarians shouted embarrassing titles across the room at each other (‘Have you got Part-Time Wife?’). We acquired favourite lines (‘The toolbelt rode his trim hips…’ ‘His eyelashes could have sheltered small mammals…’ ‘You little fool!’). We laughed ourselves silly making up our own titles (Tender Jailer… Bush Fire…). We conducted ‘research’ (the less said about that the better).

Annie found she was unable to write a proper plot outline because she got distracted by the sexy scenes. She based her hero on Dex from Dynasty and kept a photograph of him pinned to her noticeboard. We had long conversations about the imaginary Dex of her ‘novel’ and what he would do in any given situation.

My ‘novel’, meanwhile, was progressing quite nicely, I felt. My bumbling heroine, struggling to make ends meet, had opened a guest house in the Highlands of Scotland and soon encountered the brooding hero, who relished pointing out her many mistakes at every possible opportunity (‘You little fool!’).

But somewhere along the way, something strange happened. I began to care about my heroine and her guest house venture. She and the other characters in the story became real, living, breathing people to me. It was vital, suddenly, that she and the hero should get past their silly antagonism and find love…

I finished my book and sent it off to Mills & Boon. Of course they rejected it – it was derivative and badly plotted and… Well, there was so much wrong with it that it could have been used as an example of how not to write a romance novel. But it was too late. I had taken my tongue out of my cheek, and I was hooked on writing.

How difficult can it be?

Writing that ‘novel’ was the most difficult thing I’d ever done, and the most unexpectedly rewarding. I realised that I wanted to write something ‘for real’ – something true and honest and from my heart. And so began the long, hard, satisfying journey towards The Sweetest Poison.

Blurb

When life has cast you in the role of victim, how do you find the strength to fight back?

When she was eight years old, Helen Clack was bullied so mercilessly that she was driven to a desperate act. Now she is being targeted once more, but this time her tormentor’s identity is shrouded in doubt.

When her life starts to disintegrate, she flees home to the wilds of north-east Scotland, and to the one man she knows can help her – Hector Forbes, the dubiously charismatic Laird of Pitfourie, with whom she has been hopelessly in love ever since those hellish days in the school playground, when he was her protector, her rescuer, her eleven-year-old hero.

But is Hector really someone she can trust?

And can anyone protect her from the terrible secret she’s keeping?

Excerpt

It was a day like any other. The sun fell across the windowsill like it had yesterday morning, like it would tomorrow. She put her palm flat on the warm ledge and looked out across the yard and down the track to where it kinked across the burn. Then she turned and slowly walked right round the room, trailing her hand on the wall like a blind person, and thinking, stupidly:

Goodbye. Goodbye. Goodbye.

Stupid because it was just walls, a little metal fireplace, a window, an old hook on the back of the door.

‘Helen?’ Mum called from downstairs.

‘Coming.’

In the kitchen Mum was standing in the middle of the room, like a visitor.

‘Right, I think that’s everything.’

Their steps sounded too loud as they walked across the empty room, and Helen put her hand on the doorknob and opened the door and went through and out into the yard like she’d done all her life.

And now she was looking across the yard at the byre tap, set into the stone, a huge old thing, green where the copper had tarnished. She and Suzanne used to shove their fingers up it to make the water spurt out at each other. But the person doing the spurting always got just as wet as the one being spurted.

And – how daft was this? – she wanted to pull the tap off the pipe and put it in her bag.

Author Bio and Links

Having discovered early in her ‘career’ that she didn’t have what it takes to be a scientist, Jane Renshaw shuffled sideways into scientific and medical editing, which has the big advantage that she can do it while watching Bargain Hunt! Jane writes what she loves to read – series of novels in which the reader can immerse herself, which let her get to know an engaging, interesting and/or terrifying cast of characters slowly, in the same way you get to know people in real life. Ideally, the drama should be played out in a gorgeous setting, and the cast should include at least one dangerously charismatic, witty, outrageous protagonist with whom the reader can fall in love. A bit of murder and mayhem in the mix never hurts either… Hence the Pitfourie Series.

Website | Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK)

Giveaway

Jane Renshaw will be awarding a $20 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Find out more here.

Follow Jane on the rest of her Goddess Fish tour here.


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Act Two, Scene One

I’m happy to welcome back award-winning author Kathy Bryson. Today, Kathy shares her evolving second act and Feeling Lucky, Book One of the Fayetteville Fairies Series.

Here’s Kathy!

Act Two, Scene One of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer’s Night Dream was the catalyst for my book Feeling Lucky. And Act Two, Scene One is probably a good way to describe where I was in my life and career when I wrote Feeling Lucky. I’d left corporate America and moved to teaching which left me time to write. But six years later, that second act had moved on to a new scene.

I wasn’t particularly planning to move on, but the thing about new acts is that while they usher in change, they don’t stay put. They keep changing. By the time my publishing contract ended, my second act had moved on to a new job, a cross country move, and the loss of two close family members. I gave myself permission to slow down, but that writing break was stretching into its second-year.

So why take on relaunching a book in the middle of that much change? Well, re-reading the book was wonderfully refreshing. I really enjoyed revisiting a story that I had enjoyed writing even though, yes, I still found typos and other errors! And after six years, you can see awkward spots and undeveloped places that you missed the first time around. Time is wonderful for editing, and it was just too tempting to do a little polishing now that I had more writing experience.

The part that was the most fun was creating new covers. After six years of pitching Feeling Lucky, I’d gotten a really clear picture of where the premise needed clarifying to readers. So, I had the great good fortune of finding and working with Dina Arakcheeva through Upwork.com to draw that exact picture. And they came out gorgeous!

The other factor that played into this decision was how much the industry has changed in six years. Amazon is still a big player, but there’s also iBook, Nook, Kobo and many other e-book distributors including Overdrive and Scribd for libraries. There are also many overseas distributors and easy ways to access them through services like Smashwords and Draft2Digital. Going wide is a personal decision and a fair amount of work, but if you’ve built up a selection of books, it can bring attention to your whole collection. You can also experiment with placing your book in new categories or trying out new keywords and phrases. And with new channels, you might reach new readers, bloggers, and reviewers!

Ultimately revisiting my book was very regenerating. It got polished, and going through the steps of re-editing and re-releasing helped me get back in the swing of writing regularly. Your second act is usually a little easier than your first because you’ve got some experience, but you still have to cope with change. If you can embrace and use it to create new stories while sharing old favorites, all the better!

About Feeling Lucky

A madcap fantasy of money and magic and making the most of your dreams!

Megan O’Malley was mortified when she got drunk and pinched the bandleader’s ass at a cousin’s wedding. But she was astonished when he turned out to be a leprechaun! Seems they’re not the little, green men of fairytales after all. They just say that because they like a good joke and what better way to hide the gold? Oh, that bit’s true – as is the part about not sharing.

Fergus O’Reilly cannot figure out what he did to upset the Queen of the Fairies. He was playing a wedding when a drunken lady pinched his ass and the Queen declared him caught. Now he’s broke, homeless, and hustling to stop the lovely lady with the wandering fingers from spending his money!

Available at your favorite online retailer – https://books2read.com/u/3kvq9W

In Feeling Lucky, we meet a different kind of leprechaun–a sexy one! And in an inebriated state, Megan O’Malley cannot resist pinching his attractive buttock. Having inadvertently caught the leprechaun, Megan must now deal with the unexpected consequences: an inheritance of five million dollars and an angry, money-obsessed Fergus O’Reilly camped on her sofa. What follows is a contemporary fantasy, reminiscent of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Kathy Bryson has written a delightful tale filled with witty dialogue, romantic tension and enough plot twists to keep you reading well into the night.

Enjoy!

About the Author

Kathy Bryson is the award-winning author of tongue-in-cheek fantasy that ranges from leprechauns who play the stock market to zombies who hang out with and harangue med students. She’d like to say she’s climbed tall mountains, rappelled off cliffs, and saved small children, but actually she tends to curl up and read, is a life-long advocate of Ben & Jerry’s, and caters to 2 spoiled cats. She works regularly with student writing, so she can claim to have saved a few term papers.
Follow her at:

Website | Facebook | Twitter


Spotlight – Love on the Line

I’m happy to welcome author Kirsten Fullmer. Today, Kirsten shares her new release, Love on the Line, Book 1 in the Women at Work Series.

She’s an ordinary girl in an extraordinary situation.

Andrea left her comfortable home and her family to take a job building a pipeline with her estranged grandpa, Buck. She’s always been curious about his job, and why her mother dislikes him so much. She doesn’t expect, however, to uncover buried family secrets, for the job to be so difficult, or to be the only women on site.

Rooster isn’t a bad guy. He respects women; he was raised by one of the best. But that new girl on the job is too small and feminine. She’s a distraction, plain and simple, and she doesn’t belong on a pipeline. This job is his chance to impress Buck Brennan, a pipeline legend, and no girly greenhorn or workplace romance is going to ruin it for him.

Will Andrea prove herself to her grandfather and forge a relationship with the old man, or will continuous disagreements and unexpected sexual tension between Andrea and Rooster derail their hard work? Find out in this extraordinary coming of age story.

Goodreads | Amazon

Kirsten is a dreamer with an eye for art and design. She worked in the engineering field, taught college, and consulted freelance. Due to health problems, she retired in 2012 to travel with her husband. They live and work full time in a 40′ travel trailer with their little dog Bingo. Besides writing romance novels, she enjoys selling art on Etsy and spoiling their three grandchildren.

As a writer, Kirsten’s goal is to create strong female characters who face challenging, painful, and sometimes comical situations. She believes that the best way to deal with struggle, is through friendship and women helping women. She knows good stories are based on interesting and relatable characters.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Bookbub | Pinterest | Amazon | Goodreads

Kirsten Fullmer will be awarding a $25 Amazon gift card to one winner via Rafflecopter. Find out more here.

Follow Kirsten on the rest of her Silver Dagger tour here.


To Prologue or Not to Prologue

Whenever I’ve asked a writing instructor or workshop facilitator about prologues, I’ve encountered a variety of negative facial expressions—everything from a wince to a frown to a quick shake of the head. And the following responses:

Prologues = Information Dumps.

Agents hate prologues.

Readers will skip to the first chapter.

One instructor offered a ray of hope: Use only if the prologue adds an interesting and integral layer to the narrative.

Continue reading on the Sisterhood of Suspense blog.


Spotlight on Magic, Mayhem and Murder

I’m happy to welcome author January Bain. Today, January shares the first book in her Manitoba Tea & Tarot Mystery series: Magic, Mayhem and Murder.

Blurb

Charm McCall, armed with a library full of Agatha Christie stories and her unique witchy gifts, knows how to solve a small-town murder…

Charm McCall, the oldest of the McCall triplets by a whole day—or one minute before midnight if one’s being picky—is the designated driver for her whole town. Why, if it wasn’t for her, Snowy Lake would incinerate or fall into Hudson’s Bay. With her unique abilities, she’s all set to keep her family and town safe and on its proper course.

That is, until a hot Mountie moves into town, a busload of strippers breaks down on Main Street and Mrs. Hurst goes and gets herself murdered with poisoned jam. Jam crafted by Charm’s family at the Tea & Tarot café. Now it’s up to her to solve the murders—yes, plural, when another local business owner ends up dead.

Charm knows just what to do. What’s breaking a few laws if she can sleuth out the culprit? She knows the people of Snowy Lake better than any new lawman possibly could. So why can’t he just leave her be to get on with things?

And why does he have to be so darn hot?

Excerpt

“Will she let us stay?” Tulip’s eyes widened, her nose and cheeks reddened by the freezing wind. My triplet shivered, wiping her dripping nose on the back of her red mitten. I straightened the collar on her worn jacket and tucked the thin scarf around her neck. The snow was falling more heavily now, already filling in the tracks the three of us had made walking from the street light to the front stoop, the warning still ringing in my head. ‘Don’t knock until you’ve counted to a hundred if you know what’s good for you. Twelve, thirteen, fourteen…’

“I’m not sure, but if we’re really, really good, she might. At least for tonight,” I interrupted my counting to answer her.

“Yeah, don’t you be backtalking her like you did to Mommy,” Star said, staring accusingly.

“I never did that!” Tulip’s bottom lip started to quiver.

“Hush, no one is at fault,” I said. If she started bawling, I didn’t know how long I could hold off. My throat had a lump in it big as a baseball. Thirty-one, thirty-two, thirty-three.

Star screwed up her face but held her tongue, though only after I gave her my sternest older-sister look. I’d been born at one minute to midnight, making me the oldest sister by a full day. Not that birthdays were ever celebrated, though we’d had eight already. Mommy said we were too much trouble on a regular day. No way was she holding a two-day party for a trio of brats.

I tugged the paper sack holding all our possessions closer to my chest, thinking of the one precious book and the half-box of Pop Tarts Mommy had tucked inside for our supper. Maybe Granny would have a toaster or a stove element to warm them up? Or maybe she might have some juice or pop? My throat was dry. Even water would taste good.

Star stamped her feet to stay warm, her pink running shoes leaving an intricate pattern from the soles as she packed the snow. Her scarf had icicles forming from her warm breath hitting the frosty air and her cheeks shone bright red. No frostbite—not yet anyway. But the wind was picking up, blowing showers of ice crystals off the roof and onto our bare heads.

Sixty-six, sixty-seven. I glanced across the open field between Granny’s house and the house next door, visualizing wolves coming out of the evergreens of the thick forest and circling the town. We’d been dropped off on one of the coldest days of the year. Minus forty-seven, according to the loud man on the radio in our old van. I’d caught the name of the town on the welcoming sign leading in. Snowy Lake, population 1259. I was proud to be the first one to learn to read, first one to do most things. Then I could help my little sisters, when they’d let me.

Eighty-nine, ninety. I was shaking now, could barely keep from kicking at the door with my foot. But a promise is a promise. If Mommy came back and saw me doing wrong, I’d get a swat for sure.

buynow

Author Bio and Links

January Bain has wished on every falling star, every blown-out birthday candle, and every coin thrown in a fountain to be a storyteller. To share the tales of high adventure, mysteries, and full blown thrillers she has dreamed of all her life. The story you now have in your hands is the compilation of a lot of things manifesting itself for this special series. Hundreds of hours spent researching the unusual and the mundane have come together to create books that features strong women who live life to the fullest, wild adventures full of twists and unforeseen turns, and hot complicated men who aren’t afraid to take risks. She can only hope her stories will capture your imagination.

If you are looking for January Bain, you can find her hard at work every morning without fail in her office with her furry baby, Ling Ling. And, of course, she’s married to the most romantic man! Who once famously remarked to her inquiry about buying fresh flowers for their home every week, “Give me one good reason why not?” Leaving her speechless and knocking her head against the proverbial wall for being so darn foolish. She loves flowers.

If you wish to connect in the virtual world she is easily found on Facebook. Oh, and she loves to talk books…

Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon | Goodreads | Totally Bound Author Page | Email

Giveaway

January Bain will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Find out more here.

Follow January on the rest of her Goddess Fish tour here.


Book Blast: Dragon’s Revenge

I’m happy to welcome author CJ Shane. Today, Shane shares her latest release, Dragon’s Revenge.

Blurb

When Tucson private detective and Iraq War vet Letty Valdez is hired to investigate a murder, she immediately finds herself targeted by a violent criminal. To find the killer, Letty turns to an old memoir of life in late 19th century Tucson. Clues in in the memoir, with its tale of love between two immigrants – one, an Italian widow, and the other, an exiled Chinese revolutionary – launch Letty on a suspense-filled struggle to find answers, to stop the murderer – and to stay alive!

Excerpt

By mid-morning, Letty was sleepy again. She called the dogs in from the backyard and took them with her to her bedroom.

Less than an hour later, Letty was startled awake. She sat up in bed.

Both Millie and Teddy were up, alert, and facing her bedroom door. The fur on their necks and along the ridge of their backbones was standing up erect. Both dogs were very tense and staring at the bedroom door with full attention.

Letty’s heart began to pound. She couldn’t hear anything but she knew there had to be an intruder.

Millie growled.

Teddy growled, too, a low rumbling growl from deep in his chest. Teddy’s lips curled up sharply, exposing his teeth. His pink tongue flicked in and out of his mouth. Teddy looked ready to attack and to tear someone apart with those fangs. He growled again.

Millie was ready, too. She stared at the door and growled a second time. She showed her fangs, too.

Letty felt like she almost couldn’t breathe. A paralyzing combination of fear and fury immobilized her. She was too banged up to be able to fight anyone. And whoever was on the other side of the door couldn’t be a welcome visitor. Letty realized that beyond a doubt, she had become a target.

The knob on the door began to turn slowly as if someone were trying to quietly enter the room. At the sight and sound of that turning knob, Millie barked a short warning bark. Teddy followed with a deep woofing sound. Don’t even try it, they communicated to the intruder. The door knob returned to its original position. Both dogs continued to stare intently at the door.

Letty knew that the person on the other side of the door knew now that there were two dogs in her room and those dogs were not happy.

Letty quietly got up from her bed and went to her closet. She pulled down a box from the top shelf, retrieved her Glock, and quickly assembled it. Just as quietly, she loaded the gun.

Letty moved toward the bedroom door, listening intently. She didn’t hear anything. She opened the door, gun in hand aimed and ready to shoot.

Both dogs bolted through the door past her and ran through the house. They were following the scent of the intruder. The backdoor was open. Letty did a quick check of every room in the house, gun ready. Nothing. The intruder had fled. Letty followed the dogs out the back door and into the backyard. Teddy did a quick survey of the backyard and Millie stood at attention close to Letty. Whoever had been there was gone now.

Buy Links

Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes

Author Bio and Links

C.J. Shane is a writer and visual artist in Arizona. In addition to her mystery fiction, she is the author of eight nonfiction books. Her first fiction book, _Desert Jade: A Letty Valdez Mystery_, (11-2017) is a finalist for Best Suspense-Thriller novel, New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards.

Website | Rope’s End Publishing | Goodreads | BookBub | Facebook

Giveaway

C.J. Shane will be awarding an original artwork by C.J. Shane – an ink drawing of ocotillo on handmade paper in a wooden frame ready to hang with hooks and wire. Size of frame: 6 1/2″ by 8 1/2″ (U.S. ONLY), via Rafflecopter during the tour. Enter HERE.

Follow CJ on the rest of her Goddess Fish tour HERE.


Loving the Research

I’m happy to welcome Soul Mate author Viola Russell. Today, Viola shares her writing journey and novels.

Here’s Viola!

My journey as a writer began when I first read Little Women. I was a kid, and my mother gave the trilogy to me as a gift. No one fascinated me like Jo March. She was wonderfully tough and brash for a woman of her time, and she dreamed of being a writer. Then, I learned that Alcott had based Jo and her family on her own disparate siblings and parents. Louisa May Alcott did become a writer. Dreams came true–well, at least for her. I did not pursue my dream as diligently for many years, too easily discouraged and rejected.

A bizarre incident started me writing again. A young woman in a bookstore approached me and asked if I’d ever given up a child for adoption. She said I looked just like her friend who was searching for her birth mother. I hadn’t and wished her friend luck in her pursuit of her birth parents; however, the incident made me think, What if it had been true? Hence, my first novel (no longer in print) was born. When my mother died, writing became my therapy. As I made my way through her prized possessions, I found the letters and memorabilia my uncles (her brothers) had retained from WWII. Some were letters to parents; others were objects purchased during their various deployments. The letters left a permanent mark on my psyche, particularly the letters from my Uncle Russell to his parents and sisters (my grandparents as well as my mother and aunt). I then had the privilege of reading the letters he’d sent to his wife and those she’d sent to him. They sparkled with passion. Instinctively, I knew I had to tell the story of my mother’s generation. The family members in Love at War are my family but not quite my family. As a writer, I have embellished and changed things, but the events are historically accurate. My cousins loved the dinner scene–all arguing through email if I’d faithfully rendered Grandma’s recipe for meatballs and spaghetti!

I certainly didn’t set out to write historical fiction, but I soon found it suited me. I next channeled my Irish heritage, writing Buccaneer Beauty, the story of Grace O’Malley. I had to tell the story of a powerful, strong woman who prevailed in a man’s profession in a sexist time. Grace outwitted the British and dominated two Irish chieftain husbands.




















Still, family called to me. My father was much older than my mother. His era was WWI, Storyville, and Prohibition, more so than WWII. I set about creating Jude Mooney, the character based loosely on my father, Samuel Weaver. Jude appears in From Ice Wagon to Club House. Like Jude, my father was a bootlegger. Like Jude, my father trained thoroughbred horses and professional boxers. He also had–let’s say–several wives. I wrote of my hometown, New Orleans (which also became a character, much as it had in Love at War) and then placed Jude in WWI as well as the Irish War for independence.

When I wrapped Ice Wagon, I thought the Mooney family was a finished chapter in my life, but the characters called my name and wouldn’t let me sleep. I picked up the story where I’d left the characters–with Jude’s sons back home in Ireland still fighting for the land their parents had loved. The Progeny follows Jude and his family as they face yet another war and more family turmoil. Again, WWII plays an important role in the novel, as does Ireland. As Jude seeks respectability, his children and extended family must find their places in a changing world.


















It hasn’t ended there. I’ve begun research for the third, and hopefully, last installment of the Mooney saga. What has always surprised me about my historical fiction is how much I find myself loving the research. When I research WWI and WWII, I’m in familiar yet unfamiliar territory. I’ve heard the family lore, and my research takes me into the heat of the battle and the details of a bygone era.

Amazon Buy Links

Buccaneer Beauty | From Ice Wagon to Clubhouse | The Progeny | Love at War | The Doctor and the War Widow | A Fair Grounds Mystery

Where to find Viola…

Website | Facebook | Twitter