Friday, April 29, 2016

Books, Chocolate and Wine with Mari Manning

How Tarot Cards Ended Up in My Latest Romance
I attended one of those old Catholic colleges located in a large Midwest city. For a restless suburban girl whose most traumatic experience was watching her Siamese cat murder the chick she’d just brought home from biology class, living in a down-at-its heels neighborhood clinging to the edge of a major metropolis was an adventure.
I walked a lot, lapping up new sites and situations like a kitten with a dish of milk. One day, I turned down a narrow side street and discovered a little occult shop. I was a good Catholic girl who did not subscribe to ghosts, Ebenezer Scrooge not withstanding. Still, I hesitated to poke my head inside although eaten by curiosity. So I walked past. A few days later I strolled by the shop again. I did not go in. The third time I approached, a beautiful girl came out. Tall and slender, jean shirt, paisley scarf tied in her long hair and college knapsack hanging from her shoulder.
I went in.

Books, Chocolate and Wine with Beppie Harrison

 Irish Roads

We were in Ireland, my husband and I, and I saw this stretch of empty road ahead of us, so I pounded on his shoulder and said, “Do take a picture here, please!” And because he is a most obliging man he didn’t even sigh. He pulled over to the side of the road and took this picture.
I was working then on a book about an Irish rebel named Diarmaid MacGuinness. He and a young Donegal girl he’d taken along with him (mostly because he didn’t like leaving her in danger at the hands of her drunken father) had to get from the Inishowen peninsula in Donegal—which is as far north and west as you can get in Ireland—to Galway, where the rebel group he was planning conspiracies with were centered. It was a long distance, close to 300 miles, and this was 200 years ago, at the beginning of the 19th century.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Wednesday Selfie ~ Why I Love Druid Heroes

The beauty of nature, whether it’s an awesome sunset, the color of the fall leaves or the striking beauty of lightning is breathtaking, mysterious and has a power all its own.
To the druid, the sentry of the world, nature was the driving force and was dependent on the precarious balance of air, earth, fire and water. Their beliefs were strong and drawn from the spiritual unity of the natural forces. Druids were not masters but rather servants of nature.  In addition, they were the philosophers, judges, mathematicians, and scientists of the day. Druids did not codify their story but rather believed in the oral history. Nothing was written down. The only accounts that do survive are from the early Greeks and Romans who had first-hand knowledge. Druids were the caretakers of the lore and also great healers who were respected and considered the keepers of the ‘Old Faith.
Followers of the ‘Old Faith’ didn’t worship a deity although they did have the concept of a Mother Goddess which symbolized the earth and the fertility of nature.
When the Romans came to Britain the druids, and the deep respect people had for them, was a threat that needed to be eliminated. It began with character assassination and ended with eradication. To justify the slaughter, the Romans went on a smear campaign. But that’s another story.
Why are fantasy writers drawn to druids? I can’t speak for other authors but I can tell you why I was drawn to druids in my story. Their deep beliefs, devotion to the land and people, are the underpinnings of my hero’s personality.

I’ve recently started a contemporary time travel story and find that there is a druid hero lurking in my very modern Jayson.  I suppose you can expect to see a bit of druid magic in all my heroes, no matter what era my stories take place!
What kind of hero do you like?

Monday, April 25, 2016

Medieval Monday with Bambi Lynn

Happy Medieval Monday! Today we start a new theme conflict with guest author is Bambi Lynn. Sirona watches the battle from afar. She has had enough when she sees Rhain fall and her brother at the mercy of a warrior goddess. Enjoy the excerpt!

Excerpt from Gods of the Highlands:
The Comyns stood little chance against the demi-gods they faced. Lucan was a formidable warrior, but both Tanis and Cam could defeat ten or twenty men alone. Sirona’s heart staggered as she watched them. A group of Comyns clustered around Cam, another attacking Tanis. She thought she saw Rhain amongst them but it was hard to see.
She spurred her horse around the edge of the fray, shouting to no avail. Her cries were drowned by the clang of steel against steel and the shouts of fighting men.
On the opposite side, Fergus had set his sights on Lucan. Their swords clashed like hammers on anvils, ringing in her ears and threatening to split her head open. They were vicious and ruthless in their efforts, but in the end, a mere mortal was no match for a man with the blood of the gods coursing through his veins.
She spotted Rhain in the melee, locked in combat with her brother. She ignored Màili’s demands to pull back to the relative safety of the trees, renewing her plea for them to stop. Suddenly, the battle between Tanis and Rhain came to a violent head.
“No!” Sirona screamed as she slid down from her horse. She hit the ground hard and dropped to her knees, crying out in pain. When she looked up, Rhain lay motionless on the ground. Over him stood a blonde woman, no taller than Tanis’ shoulder. She was dressed like a shield maiden of the old Norse legends. She faced Tanis with a fierce expression, her sword held before her, its lethal blade catching the sunlight and setting off a blinding glow.
Tanis grinned at her like an idiot before she attacked him, forcing him to the defense, a position he was not used to. She sliced at him, jabbed her blade at his most tender areas, screamed at him in a language Sirona could not understand but, by the woman’s tone, recognized as the vilest of insults.
It seemed the battle would never end, that neither opponent tired. But with one fatal mistake, the mysterious pixie-woman gained the advantage. Before Sirona could blink, the woman had Tanis on his back, his sword hand empty and the tip of her weapon at his throat.
Sirona had had enough. She hiked up her skirt and tore across the grass to where the woman held her brother at sword point. “Stop!” she called. When she reached them, she flung herself between Tanis’ prone body and the warrior woman. “Please,” she begged.
The rest of her family seemed to gather their senses as well and within seconds, the strange woman found herself staring down three more Highland blades. For a moment, no one spoke.
It was Màili who broke the silence. “Bitch,” she fairly spat at the other woman. She lifted her chin, silently daring the blonde woman to make a move.
“Whore,” the woman sneered back. After another long moment of tense silence, she sheathed her sword and turned away.
With a sigh of relief, Sirona gave Tanis a quick once over to be sure he was unhurt, before giving into despair over Rhain’s fate. Dreading what she would find, she looked over her shoulder to the spot where she’d last seen him lying at Tanis’ feet.
Both Rhain and the woman were gone.

Back Cover Copy for Gods of the Highlands:
They grew up orphans, relying on each other to keep the secret of their heretical powers from the other members of their clan. Now a vengeful pagan god is after them, using them in his relentless pursuit of a soul so powerful, its possessor will be able to command Lucifer himself. Camulus is unbeatable in a fight, but cannot defend his heart from a fallen goddess.
Sirona can heal with nothing more than a touch. When she is captured and her secret discovered by a rival clan, only the laird’s youngest son can save her from being burned at the stake. Tanis commands the elements, but meets his match in a celestial being from heaven who is anything but angelic.
Lucan can create anything…except life. That he must do the old-fashioned way.
Together these cousins must band together if they have any hope of defeating the god of death and ensuring a bright future for themselves and their kin.

Buy Links:

Friday, April 22, 2016

Books, Chocolate and Wine with Mickie Sherwood

Help Readers Find Your Romance Novels
(Mickie Sherwood's Indie Author's Tip)
Hi all,
I'd like to thank Ruth for sharing her visitors with me today. I'm Mickie Sherwood. I create sweet, and spicy romance—a heartbeat away!
Bringing characters to life for the enjoyment of others is exhilarating. The decision to go "indie" brought a humongous boost to my excitement.  Total responsibility fell on me to ensure a great experience for my readers. Therefore, because I'm not an editor, copyeditor, cover artist, or formatter, I hired professionals for those tasks.

Books, Chocolate and Wine with Judy Kentrus

An Interview with Judy Kentrus
The Wedding Gift wasn’t on my writer’s radar to be written. Readers loved Cindi Pearl Sullivan and Preston Reynolds, the couple from Winner Takes All so much, I stopped my work in progress and wrote about their wedding. Of course, I had to make it interesting enough to hold the reader’s interest because the couple was already in love and were eager to wed. What better way to disrupt their plans than bring back a man who held Cindi’s heart as a teenager. The girl he once knew as a plain, sweet innocent, had turned into a Monarch butterfly with a vivacious personality. He wanted to pick up where they left off, but first he had to break up her engagement.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Wednesday Selfie ~ What We Need

When my children were younger and still at home, we had a very busy household. Nothing really unusual: car pooling, running to watch baseball games (totally annoyed when our ‘star player’ sat out), usual household stuff, full time job, traveling (for the full time job), and volunteer work, you get the picture.
Part of my organizational regimen was keeping a calendar in the kitchen. Everyone was obligated to note their events on it so Paul and I could make certain we knew where we were going at any given time. The calendar provided us with a clear view of who could cover what for whom. Every December for the holidays, one gift I could count on was a calendar for the new year.
One year, the kids got me a calendar system. It fit conveniently on the fridge door. It had a calendar and a wipey board.  Now not only did we have a calendar to manage our events, now we had a place to write down the grocery list. Being organized, I labeled a section, What We Need. At any given time I would find things like milk, cereal, someone's favorite dessert, or my husband’s request for liquid plumber.
I had been away on a two week business trip overseas. My return flight got me home late. After kisses and hugs, the kids went upstairs to finish their homework while I made myself something to eat and sat at the kitchen table with Paul. He caught me up on things going on at home and I caught him up on my trip. While we spoke I started the grocery list and I went to the fridge to see what was on the What We Need list. I stood there a moment and read what the kids had jotted down.
What We Need
A dog
Time with Mom
I smiled at the request for a dog. That was an on-going discussion. It reminded me of the time the kids set the table for dinner and put every stuffed dog they had everywhere in the dining room. There was one hugging the back of Paul’s chair, one hanging from the chandelier, another stuffed in my water glass. We laughed. But that's another story.
It was the Time with Mom that brought me to tears.
I was concerned that when they grew up and were on their own we would lose that connection. Now, years later, they all have busy schedules working and with their families. It's wonderful that Time with Mom hasn't really changed. All three call Paul and I as well as each other on their way home from work.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Medieval Monday with Cathy MacRae

Happy Monday! Today I'm hosting Cathy MacRae and her book, The Highlander's French Bride. Was Melisende's husband unfaithful? Was there any truth behind her sister's taunts? Read the excerpt. What do you think?
Excerpt from The Highlander’s French Bride:
Melisende’s arms fell to her sides. “Why would you go back to such a life?”
“To the parties,” Lucienne answered, “and the gowns of fabrics so fantastic they make you cry from the sheer pleasure of them. Laces so delicate they can scarcely withstand the needle. Embroidery so fine it takes four seamstresses a week just to produce one sleeve.” Her eyes closed and rapture lit her face. “The men so courteous, so eager to woo me. Dancing, stealing kisses behind the fountain. They tell me how beautiful I am, how much they desire me.” She opened her eyes, settling her gaze on Melisende’s shocked face.
“Once Raul began annulment proceedings, their interest increased a hundredfold. I will have no lack of sponsors once I return.”
“That is a shameful way to live, and you know it, Lucienne.” Tears burned in Melisende’s eyes. “How can you do this to yourself?” She swept a hand toward the bed. “To her?”
The scorn returned to Lucienne’s face, casting ugly shadows beneath her high cheeks. “You think you know what is right for me. That I should be exactly like you, drowning behind your polite façade. You believe everything is perfect in your little world with your adorable new husband who loves you?” Her eyes narrowed as she slid her gaze to Arielle. “Have you not wondered why she looks like him?”
Melisende immediately looked at the child asleep on the bed. Her dark hair spilled across the pillow like a shadow in the dimly lit room. She glanced back at her sister. “Why do you say that? I think she looks just like you.”
“She has my nose and eyes, oui. But her dark hair comes from her father.”
Non. From your oh-so-sweet husband.”
Melisende’s gaze bounced from Lucienne back to the child. Lucienne’s parting words so many years ago loosed themselves from the depths of her mind. What do you think went on whilst he slept in our house—only me and him? He would be unable to look you in the eye if you knew everything that happened.
She shook her head. Non! It is impossible to think of it! He has already assured me there was nothing between himself and Lucienne. But her heart grew cold in her breast.
Lucienne strolled to the bed and stroked her daughter’s hair. “She looks so much like me. But she has Kinnon’s hair.” Her smile set an arrow in Melisende’s heart.
Brushing aside her doubts, Melisende stepped forward. “Do not be absurd, Lucienne. Her hair is much like mine, and Raul’s is dark as well.”
Lucienne tossed her head. “You do not seem to recall Arielle was born early—or so I told Raul.”
“Lucienne, did you have relations with someone whilst we lived in Randon?” Melisende demanded. “Did you marry Raul knowing you were already enceinte?”
Lucienne sent her a mocking look. “You would love to believe that, wouldn’t you? To keep your lover innocent of the deed.”
“I do not believe you,” Melisende replied firmly, against the reservations that gnawed at her.
Lucienne’s eyebrows raised, a lofty smile taunting Melisende. “Yet you see the resemblance, non? No matter what you tell yourself, you will always know there is the possibility. We spent an entire week together, unchaperoned. You know how insatiable he is, n’ai-je pas raison?” Her eyes glittered. “No matter what you try to believe, you will always wonder if he shared his body with me first.”
Back Cover Copy for The Highlander’s French Bride:
Heir to a lairdship, Kinnon Macrory is driven to prove his worth by fighting the English on the battlefields of France. His dreams of heroic valor are destroyed by the realities of war—the atrocities visited by fellow soldiers on the very people he is sworn to protect. Three years in a French prison for a crime he did not commit leave Kinnon longing for the one thing of beauty in his war-torn life—a young woman of great kindness and wisdom named Melisende.
Melisende de la Roche struggles to stay one step ahead of soldiers who would imprison her for helping an injured Scotsman wrongly accused of treason. She finds refuge in her uncle’s shop—until a chance encounter sends her fleeing into the unknown once again, haunted by the beguiling friendship with the troubled young Scotsman she is certain she will never see again.
Determined to find the woman of his dreams, Kinnon returns to France, only to discover a trail of clues to Melisende’s whereabouts. Their reunion will open the doors to passion, but half-truths and lies from the past could destroy the one thing they both are willing to fight for—each other.
Buy Link for The Highlander’s French Bride

Friday, April 15, 2016

Books, Chocolate and Wine with Karen McCullough

My Own Take on Magic
I’ve been reading fantasy and science fiction for as long as I can remember, which is broad research for writing any story that includes magic. Throw in that I have a degree in Cultural Anthropology, which involved a lot of reading and research on myths, legends, and lore of other cultures, and magic has been part of my life longer even than writing has, since I didn’t start writing seriously until I was well into my twenties. I suppose it was pretty inevitable it would show up in my stories.
Magic in fiction comes in a lot of different flavors. There are probably as many different approaches to thaumaturgy as there are authors writing about it.  Depending on the author, magic can be a religion, a science, a myth, a technology, or simply a fact of life.
And the way magic works tends to vary depending on the genre. In other-world-set fantasy, it’s frequently an integral part of the world and the way it functions. Everyone knows it exists even if only a few can use it. It generally already has a culture built around it and may be the basis of the world’s religion. No technical details are given for how it works and none are expected.
On the other hand in urban fantasy, magic often has a more arcane, secretive flavor. It’s usually a rare power, and those who have it often try to hide it for fear of the reactions of those without it.  Think Harry Potter or any of the gazillions of vampire books.
I’ve written it both ways.  In my fantasy novels, Wizard’s Bridge and Witch’s Journey, the magic is the magic of another world, a fact of the environment, and a gift that some people can access while others can’t. I don’t try to explain what it is or how it works, though I try to show how my characters interact with and make use of it.
Still, I wanted to try a novel set in our contemporary world, where a secret group of people have magical abilities.
According to science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”  I’ve always been fascinated by that suggestion.  It doesn’t take much imagination to figure out why, and we’ve seen it in action often enough when more technologically developed cultures first come into contact with more primitive ones.
A riff on that idea formed the basis of my book, The Wizard’s Shied
If an advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, why couldn’t what we might call magic now actually be a technology or even a biological possibility that we don’t really understand?
Which led me to wonder, what kind of technology might that be? 
After some debate, I chose to go with an invisible force, but I wanted it to relate to something that most of us are at least vaguely familiar with.  In the book, I posit that magic is a kind of subatomic psychokinesis (the ability to move objects using just the mind).  My wizards, of whom only a small number are actually strong enough to do anything useful with this inborn ability, are psychokinetics who can view and move things on a microscopic level, but can do a lot of it on a scale that lets them do things that look like magic to everyone else.
In the excerpt included I try to show how my heroine uses her power. Beyond the question of whether psychokinetic ability is even real, I try to ground the way it works in reality as much as possibility. It takes a great deal of energy, first of all, so when my characters do magic, they have to rest more and eat more to compensate. And the larger the object they try to move or the greater the force in opposition, the more power it takes to manipulate them.
In most ways their powers obey the laws of physics. And I use that idea as the basis of the plot, when the hero, a physicist with a specialty in micro-circuitry uses his knowledge to build a shield to keep anyone else’s magic from affecting him. He was once tortured by other wizards and he doesn’t plan to let that happen to him again. But he hasn’t thought through all the ramifications of what such a device might do in others’ hands—until it’s stolen from him.

To solve a murder and retrieve a stolen magical shield, a pair of wizards journey into a dangerous, magical underworld, where the weapons of choice might be guns... or lightning bolts.

Back Cover Copy of The Wizard’s Shield: A powerful wizard with a physics degree and a checkered past invents a shield to ensure he'll never again be tortured almost to death.

The wizarding powers-that-be fear the repercussions of such a device and send his former girlfriend, an accomplished wizard herself, to retrieve the device or destroy it.

When the shield is stolen by the magical mafia, Ilene McConnell and Michael Morgan have to set aside their differences and work together to recover it. Michael claims he needs the device as insurance against the kind of injury and injustice he suffered once before. Ilene maintains its potential to upset the delicate balance of power makes it too dangerous and that it needs to be destroyed. But none of that will matter if they can’t retrieve it before a ruthless, powerful wizard learns how to use it for his own ends.

Buy Links for The Wizard’s Shield

Reviews for The Wizard’s Shield
"I truly enjoyed this book. The characters are wonderful. Michael is the all-around good guy, gone bad, but on his way back around and Ilene is the broken-hearted girl trying to make it on her own despite never getting over her lost love. They are great as individual characters, but fantastic together.
The storyline is original and well done. The descriptions are vivid and I love the new twist on magic. The science behind the magic is great. The plot is clever and creative. The book is well written and nicely paced.
There is a load of emotion coursing through the entire story. We get love and anger, betrayal and mistrust, all mixed together with desire, longing, magic, and of course shifting balance - - on so many levels!"
~ Beverly at The Wormhole   Full Review
"If you like romance blended with science facts and fantasy, you’ve hit the mother lode. Wizards Michael and Ilene battle a powerful evil wizard using air, fire, water, and earth as weapons throughout the story. The close proximity and united front brought on by their partnership is complicated by unresolved feelings from their youth.
Strong characters, a solid plot, and realistic dialogue blend into a compelling fantasy."
-Muddy Rose Reviews on Amazon
Excerpt from The Wizard’s Shield
The rush of a sudden, fierce wind outside drew Ilene to a window to watch the shrubs and palm trees flapping wildly. Sand blew over the pavement and splattered against walls and trees. Dead leaves, loose papers, and other debris danced in the air. A livid, purple-tinged darkness turned the day grotesque. Tendrils of indigo-shaded power floated along with the dark storm clouds.
A flash of lightning seared its way from sky to ground just beyond a row of houses across the street, followed closely by a crack of thunder that rattled the windows.
A man and woman hurried three small children along the boardwalk that led over the dune from the beach to the street. They toted coolers, bags, boogie boards, and buckets. The youngest trailed a towel flapping behind him in the wind. More lightning zig-zagged from sky to ground, not far away. Ilene sucked in a sharp breath.
The father looked up and flinched. Fear tightened his muscles as he dropped a cooler and turned around to snatch up the straggling toddler. His voice carried over the rushing wind. "Get to the van. Quick!"
He nodded toward a vehicle parked down the street. His wife and two older children raced on ahead.
Ilene’s hands clenched into fists. Too much energy crackled in the air. It wasn’t directed at the family, but that didn’t guarantee they wouldn’t get hurt by it. Collateral damage. Some of the more ruthless mages cared little for who else was affected by their activities.
Two flashes hit nearby, one right after the other. The child let out a frightened wail as his father, bent low over him, dashed off the wooden walkway and down the street. Even they could sense the danger building.
Ilene couldn’t trust their fate to chance. She roused her own power, feeling for charged particles in the area. Gathering them in, she rolled and pushed them into position, building a lattice of force around the family. It wouldn’t keep out the wind or the rain—she could have done that with air, too, if she’d had time—but it should keep the lightning from reaching them. For the moment, that mattered most.
Even at a distance, the rush of oppositely charged particles prickled in her brain. The growing polarization signaled an impending strike.
What formed out there made her gut clench in fear. It was so close to the father and child the hair on their bodies must have been standing on end. The man looked around wildly, searching for shelter. The panic in his eyes radiated across the fifty feet or so that separated them.
Would her barrier be enough to protect them? The ground charge was forming so close it could jump right through it if she’d left even a small opening. Ilene reached out toward the building charge differential. Playing with lightning was tricky business. Choosing her positions carefully, she pushed in various weak spots to move the polarizing field.
It sucked a lot of energy out of her to divert its course. Her ribs and head ached as she herded protons in a subatomic cattle drive to get the charge well away from the family. Those minuscule bits of potential energy were every bit as ornery and uncooperative as cows were reputed to be.
Even as the bolt formed, she didn’t know if she’d succeeded. Her breath stopped in her throat for a long, long moment as she waited.
The streak of lightning followed the diverted path to the beach, a safe distance away.
The man ran to the van, getting there just moments behind his wife and older children. He pushed the toddler into the back seat and ran around to the other side, while his wife slammed the rear door and got into the front. Ilene didn’t let out the breath she held until they were all safely inside the vehicle. She released the protective field. The van’s headlights flicked on and moments later it chugged off down the street.
More lightning singed the sky. An inflatable ring rolled down the street like a runaway tire. Ilene shuddered, though it wasn’t entirely the weather that set it off. The storm was a natural thing, but someone—a powerful wizard—was using it.
Using it to attack. The island or the house or its occupants. Brilliant, livid streaks of orange and red mixed with violet and deep blue swirls riding with the clouds. The smells of ammonia and ozone and peppers burned her nostrils.
Lightning flashed brighter and closer. Dangerously closer.
The grumble of thunder grew almost constant. The rushing downpour of rain added to the chaos and noise. Driven by the wind to blow almost horizontally, it splattered against the window in big drops that spread out, then slid down the glass like groping hands trying to claw their way in.
Something was out there. The swirls of lividly hued power grew deeper and more intense. It rode on the storm in frightening concentrations. Why here, though?
About the Author
Karen McCullough’s wide-ranging imagination makes her incapable of sticking to one genre for her storytelling. As a result, she’s the author of more than a dozen published novels and novellas, which span the mystery, fantasy, paranormal, and romantic suspense genres. 
A former computer programmer who made a career change into being an editor with an international trade publishing company for many years, she now runs her own web design business to support her writing habit. Awards she’s won include an Eppie Award for fantasy; three other Eppie finals as well as finaling in the Daphne, Prism, Dream Realm, Rising Star, Lories, Scarlett Letter, and Vixen Awards, and an Honorable Mention in the Writers of the Future contest. Her short fiction has appeared in several anthologies and numerous small press publications in the fantasy, science fiction, and romance genres. She lives in Greensboro, NC, with her husband of many years.
You can reach Karen at:
Social Media Links: Twitter  Facebook  Pinterest  Amazon Author Page  

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Wednesday Selfie ~ My Muse is Out to Lunch

“Today I have nothing to say,” I typed after staring at the screen for what seemed to be hours. I tried to think of something witty, compelling. After all I’m a writer. Maybe if I started over again, I could pull the paper out of the typewriter roller, crush it and throw it in the basket. But that wasn't going to happen. I’m using a computer. I heave a heavy sigh and stared at the blank screen.

There are lots of reasons why we reach a barrier: censor our work, stress in our ‘other’ life, rejections, low self esteem, I could go on, but you get the picture.

Here are some tips to help move forward:
  1. Develop and follow a writing schedule even if you write only a few hundred words. If you are consistent and sit down to write on a schedule, your mind will react accordingly.
  2. Don’t be hard on yourself. Just write. Save the critique for later when you edit.
  3. Don’t panic. Panicking will only make the block worse. The less you think about what you’re doing the better your writing will be. Let it flow.
  4. Take some time off especially if you have just finished one project. Give yourself time to recharge your batteries and gather new experiences.
  5. Set reasonable deadlines and goals for yourself. You may also want to find a writing group for support. It’s good to touch base with other writers and understand you are not alone. Commiserating puts things in perspective.
  6. Take a good look at any long standing issues that stop you from writing. Writing can be cathartic. Write about your anxieties and talk them out, preferably with another writer.
  7. Work on more than one project. Sometimes a second project can spur ideas for the first.
  8. Try a writing exercise. Just for fun. Finish this sentence: Like a butterfly, she magically …
  9. Get away from your desk for a while. You need to stretch your legs, get the blood going. Go to the gym, browse your favorite book store, or go for a walk. When you come back to your desk you will feel renewed.
  10. Remember why you started writing and don’t give up. Think about the excitement, how much fun you had getting the words down. Recapture the spirit that is the muse. 
This past weekend I joined friends from the Hudson Valley Chapter of RWA at their annual retreat. I packed up the car and went with goals in mind. The hour long drive up into the Jersey mountains gave me time to decompress. 

Liz and Stephie planned a fluid program. We spent the day writing and the evening brainstorming with a bit of partying. It was great unplugging from my day-to-day and spending time with other writers. I came home with great ideas how to resolve the plot issues for my WIP, renewed energy for writing, and had a wonderful time with friends. The weight lifted, I'm ready to invite the muse back to my desk. 

Monday, April 11, 2016

Medieval Monday with Jenna Jaxon

Happy Medieval Monday! Today I’m hosting Jenna Jaxon. Lady Alyse is in love… with her husband and his best friend. What will happen when her husband finds out?  Here is an excerpt from Time Enough to Love

Excerpt from Time Enough to Love:
Abruptly, he gripped her face, pulling it up until she peered into the dangerous dark eyes of her husband. Terror surged through her at the sight of his snarling countenance.
“Why so amorous this morning, my sweet?” he growled, his eyes snapping with anger. “Were Geoffrey’s kisses not as satisfying as you remembered?”
Oh, God. Oh, God. He saw—
Thomas flung her toward the bed. She huddled at its foot in a heap, shivering, while he strode to where she lay, towering over her. Alyse cringed before him, head bowed, too frightened and ashamed for tears.
“I believe I may have misspoken earlier, madam.” His voice dripped sarcasm. “I had, in fact, gone in search of you, to invite you to an intimate breakfast with your husband. Imagine my dismay to find you engaged in one already, albeit with someone else’s husband. From the exchange I saw, I can scarce credit that you hunger still. Yet you enter our chamber apparently unsatisfied. Pray tell me, how many more husbands would you devour ere the day begins?”
His voice rose to an excruciating volume, and Alyse clamped her hands to her ears lest she be deafened.
“I have played the tender lover these past weeks. Petted and cajoled you, like some simpering green boy in an effort to remain true to the vow I made you, despite my right as your husband to demand your obedience in bed. I have been patient, kind, and true, madam, and I am repaid in treachery!”
“Nay, Thomas!” Quite suddenly, she found her tongue and raised a resolute face to her livid husband. She rose from the floor and stood facing him, breasts heaving in indignation. “Whatever you saw, whatever you think, I did not betray you with Geoffrey.”
“You were in his arms, your mouths locked together as though nothing could pull them asunder. Do you deny that?” He spat the words at her.
“Nay.” She pitched her voice low, her resentment of his accusation ebbing. “God forgive me, I kissed him and held him, and he held me. And the world ceased to exist for a little while.”

Back Cover Copy for Time Enough to Love

When Lady Alyse de Courcy is betrothed to Sir Geoffrey Longford, she has no choice but to make the best of a bad bargain. The hulking knight is far from her ideal man, and although he does possess some wit and charm, he is no match for the sinfully sensual man she secretly admires, Thomas, Earl of Braeton, her betrothe’s best friend. 
From the first, Sir Geoffrey finds himself smitten by Lady Alyse, and, despite her infatuation with his friend, vows to win her love. When Geoffrey puts his mind to wooing Alyse, he is delighted to find her succumbing to his seduction. But when cruel circumstances separate them, Geoffrey must watch helplessly as Thomas steps in to protect Alyse—and falls in love with her himself.
As the three courtiers accompany Princess Joanna to her wedding in Spain, they run headlong into the Black Plague. With her world plunged into chaos, Alyse struggles with her feelings for both the men she loves. But which love will survive?

Buy link for Time Enough to Love: Amazon

Friday, April 8, 2016

Books, Chocolate and Wine with Mike Lord

Please welcome Mike Lord to Books, Chocolate and Wine. He’s used a box of chocolate as a weapon and in the process created murder and intrigue across the continents. He constructed a fascinating story with wrongful deaths, murder, mayhem and a few red herrings!

Back Cover Copy Chocolates and Cyanide 

A box of milk chocolates is delivered to a man just before he leaves to fly to work in Botswana.  He does not open it and just tucks it into his packed suitcase.  His suitcase is delivered in error to a lady passenger in Johannesburg, who helps herself to one of the chocolates and dies of acute cyanide poisoning!

A concerted effort by the police in South Africa and England have to determine who was the intended victim, and who placed the cyanide in the chocolates, but the identities keep them mystified until they find who purchased the chocolates, and who stole the cyanide.  The activities of a string quartet throws up several red herrings…

Books, Chocolate and Wine with Janni Nell

How long did it take you to write Darkwood?
About eight months. You know how they say some books are easy and others try to kill you. This was one of the latter. Fortunately I survived.
What is your process for writing a book? For example, are you a plotter or a pantser? Do you start at page 1 and write your book sequentially or do you skip around? Do you start with your characters or the plot?
I pants it until about chapter three, which is about the time I realize I have no idea what I’m doing. Then I start to plot. With my next book, I’m planning to plot the whole thing before I start. We’ll see how that goes.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Medieval Monday with Barbara Bettis

Happy Medieval Monday! Today I’m hosting Barbara Bettis. Sir Stephen is ambushed. Thank goodness his horse has led the attackers on a merry chase. But who would betray him? Who?  Here is an excerpt from The Heart of the Phoenix. 
Excerpt from The Heart of the Phoenix:
So far: Sir Stephen has just escaped attack as he returned from a secret meeting.
This had been no random assault. The trap had sprung for him alone. But only three people knew of his rendezvous this night. His mind worked the trio of relationships. All friends—he’d thought. Which one had betrayed him? Bitter regret burned his throat, and he forced a swallow. Hadn’t he learned long ago not to trust anyone? Especially friends.
The ringing in his ears died, and he heard silence once more. Not until the rustle of a hare whispered through the brittle dry grass did he move. He settled back against a tree to gingerly unkink his leg, then brush his knuckles across his aching thigh. The thick blood had clotted. A sigh fought free of his clenched lips.
The bay was long gone, leading the others on a futile chase to the river. It would find its way back later. Stephen was on his own for now. And it was a damned long hobble back to St. Anselm. He’d best get started if he wanted to make it before dawn.
The eastern horizon glittered pearl before he espied the monastery’s roof outlined against the night sky’s fading pitch. He limped toward the narrow opening obscured by a tangle of grape vines so ancient no one recalled when they last produced. A muted grunt escaped his throat when he tugged at the warped wood. The old door creaked, then gave a few precious inches. He squeezed through sideways and hauled it shut.
The scriptorium lay ahead on the right. He’d wait for Brother Gerald there—if his double-cursed leg continued to move. He limped forward, neck and jaw locked rigid in his struggle to remain erect. Perspiration plastered shirt and aketon to his body, soaked through to the plain tunic he wore over a finely wrought chain doublet. But in his chest, a block of ice lodged where his heart belonged. During the long walk back to the monastery, he’d worked out which of his three closest comrades bore the title of traitor. Bile rose in his throat at the answer.
Inside the copy house, Stephen dropped to his knees, numb to the explosion of pain in his thigh. He prayed. He prayed he was wrong. And if his reasoning proved right, he prayed for the strength to act. Tomorrow he’d confront Brother Michael. God help the monk if harm befell even one of the men because of his treachery. Why had Michael turned, now of all times? The Phoenix Brotherhood hadn’t been this close to uncovering the treacherous Dragon for years.
Whatever happened must be quick. They must either find the leader of the murdering mercenaries before the Dragon escaped Normandy, or they must move operations to England. Stephen had promised to be home before the conclave to support John’s claim as Richard’s successor. His father may have recovered in the past months, but he needed Stephen’s help. And Stephen had vowed to assume duties at Riverton Castle or die trying.
Although that was a distinct possibility.

Back Cover Copy: The Heart of the Phoenix:
Some call him a ruthless mercenary; she calls him the knight of her heart.
Lady Evelynn’s childhood hero is home—bitter, hard, tempting as sin. And haunted by secrets. A now-grown Evie offers friendship, but Sir Stephen's cruel rejection crushes her, and she resolves to forget him. Yet when an unexpected war throws them together, she finds love isn’t so easy to dismiss. If only the king hadn’t betrothed her to another.
Can be cruel
Sir Stephen lives a double life while he seeks the treacherous outlaws who murdered his friends. Driven by revenge, he thinks his heart is closed to love. His childhood shadow, Lady Evie, unexpectedly challenges that belief. He rebuffs her, but he can’t forget her, although he knows she’s to wed the king’s favorite.
And deadly
When his drive for vengeance leads to Evie’s kidnapping, Stephen must choose between retribution and the love he’s denied too long. Surely King John will see reason. Convict the murderers; convince the king. Simple. Until a startling revelation threatens everything.
Buy Link The Heart of the Phoenix:

Friday, April 1, 2016

Books, Chocolate and Wine with N. N. Light

Get to Know Mary aka Princess of the Light A-Z Plus Save 33% Off

Mary Miller is someone just like you and me, except she has been chosen by God to rid the world of Darkness and restore the Light. Sounds pretty cool, right? Mary thought so too, until she met her first assignment: The Walking Man. He’s a homeless man being haunted by Lucifer’s second-in-command, Than, and The Walking Man shuns any human contact.  Her Heavenly guide Gabriel’s not much help, either. Mary needs to figure it out fast before Joe (her new boyfriend) finds out. Being the Princess of the Light is harder than she thought and as Than amps up the attacks, she’s worried she might not survive this ordeal.

Here are twenty-six fun facts about Mary aka Princess of the Light:

A- Art is one of her loves and she secretly paints in her free time

B- Bookstore Manager and loves all things books

C- Coffee and chocolate are her addictions

D-Demons attack her at every turn and must defeat them all

E- Empathy is one of her gifts from the time she was little

F- Friends are her family and she loves her friends fiercely

G- Golden Lake is her home and she loves it so much

H- Her greatest fear is turning evil and giving in to the demons

I- Insecurity flutters around her heart as she wonders if she can truly be the Princess of the Light

J- Jokes and comedy make her laugh heartily

K- Kicking Than’s butt gives her pleasure

L- Love, pure unconditional love, burns brightly in her soul

M- Musicals, she loves them and her favorite is “Guys and Dolls”

N- Natural appearance and make-up is her fashion sense

O- Orange is definitely not the new black in her opinion

P- Purple is her favorite color and lavender is her favorite scent

Q- Quiet and shy is the type of child she was growing up

R- Reading is her favorite thing to do and she encourages everyone to read

S- Soul mates are something she strongly believes in and she may have found hers

T- Transportation for her is mass transit or walking

U- Underneath it all, she is a normal woman living her life

V- Vexed by Lisbeth at every turn, she must figure out a way to banish the demon

W- Winter is her least favorite season, although she loves Christmas

X- Xtra sensitive talking about her father, Richard, as he died in a car crash

Y- Yearns for the day when the world is filled with Light and hunger is eliminated

Z- Zeal to heal and help all those who feel helpless and alone

Princess of the Light
Inspiring spiritual growth one person at a time

Back Cover Copy
Gabriel, the Archangel and Messenger of God - yeah, that Gabriel - visits Mary Miller. He tells her, as the key, she is destined to spread the Light and vanquish the Darkness. Her first assignment is to restore the soul of the Walking Man. Sounds simple enough -- until she’s thrown into the face of evil. And then, Joe Deacons enters her heart. This battle just got a lot more complicated. She must complete her mission without losing all she loves.

Excerpt for Princess of the Light
"He absolutely adored his daughter, too. I remember that clearly. She was his everything." Alfred paused, apparently lost in his thoughts. With a sigh he said, "There was a scandal with the project, though, and André got fired. Soon after, Dara left him, took Katherine with her and André fell apart. He started drinking heavily and, without his daughter, his life fell apart."

Joe looked at me and I fought to keep from throwing my hand over my mouth. There was purple fire in his eyes and I felt his anger. I already knew the story of André and I tried to smile at him.

I smelled burning flesh. Joe flashed in full armor fighting demons with a golden sword.

I gasped at the vision and brought my hand to my chest in shock feeling the key necklace, before I could stop the physical reaction. The necklace weighed heavily as did my heart. He would be fighting at my side soon.

Marie asked, "Are you okay, dear?"

Joe turned to look at his mother. He nodded and only said, "I never knew any of this."

Alfred continued, "I am sorry, son, but you asked for the truth. This is what I know. André was sleeping at the office and drinking all the time. He was supposed to give a presentation to a client and was drunk. He got into a scuffle with his boss and rumor has it, André punched him."

I feigned shock and said, "Oh my!"

Than is to blame. I don't know how I know or what happened but I vow to the Lord that I will make Than pay, thought Joe.

I choked and almost spit out my drink. I just heard Joe's thoughts! I had to set him straight and right away.

I cleared my throat and said awkwardly, "Joe, I think I left something in the car."

Joe looked at me with eyebrows raised. "Excuse me, we'll be right back," I said with a smile.

I walked outside and knew that Joe was right behind me. When I reached the car, I whirled and said in a stern tone, "Are you trying to get yourself killed?"

Joe stopped mid-step and said, "What are you talking about, Mary?"

I ran into his arms and whispered, "You cannot take on Than by yourself! I heard your thoughts in there. Now, I don't know how you know that it was Than who drove André to punching his boss but please promise me that you will not get revenge."

I paused to catch my breath and remembered what Gabriel told me. "Joe, in order to defeat the darkness and not become dark ourselves, we need to have a pure heart. We are filled with the Light and our motives must always be to speak the Truth and spread the Light."

Joe took several deep breaths while he held me. He stroked my hair and whispered, "I'm sorry, my angel. I didn't mean to frighten you and you are right. It was just a momentary thought."

I lifted my head and locked eyes with Joe. Tears filled my eyes but I was determined. I bit at my top lip and then whispered, "Promise me you won't put yourself in harm's way." Hot tears spilled down my cheeks.

Joe wiped at them and said in a deep, reassuring tone, "I promise, Mary. I promise I won't be a hothead and I won't be rash." Then, he laid his forehead on mine and whispered, "Please don't cry, darling. Please."

I nodded and whispered, "I would die if I lost you. Than will use you to try to get to me. You are my love, my everything." My voice cracked. "I would die if I lost you," I repeated.
Joe shook my shoulders a little and looked deep into my eyes. "Listen to me, Mary, you will never lose me! Do you hear me? I am by your side now and forever."

Overcome with emotion, Joe kissed me.

Buy Links for Princess of the Light
Save 33% off when you use coupon code: WS76R
Sale ends April 8, 2016

Leave a Review on Goodreads

About the Author 
N. N. Light is the husband-wife writing team, commonly known as Mr. N and Mrs. N. Mrs. N. has been creating stories ever since she was little. Her grandfather remembers when she was two years old, she would stand at the top of the stairs and tell him a story filled with emotion (and in a language foreign to him) with her hands on her hips. Let’s just say she was a born storyteller.

They’re blissfully happy and love all things chocolate, books, music, movies, art, sports, trains, history, cooking and baking. Their mantra is to spread the Light.

Most of the time you can find them on Twitter or getting new ideas on how to spread the Light on Pinterest. They’re a proud member of ASMSG, Independent Author Network and Marketing for Romance Writers.

In addition to being authors, they’re also book promoters/reviewers, social media marketers/influencers and the owners of N. N. Light Author Promotions. They both love books, have ever since they were young. Matching up books and readers is something that gives them great pleasure.

100% of the proceeds of Princess of the Light go directly to food banks (US and Canada) in order to feed the hungry and help those in need. With only 7,500 books sold, N. N. Light will be able to set up a monthly endowment for the local food bank.

They’d love to connect with you either via email or via these various social media sites: