Posted in authors, books, characters, conflict, family, favorite books, fiction, friend, love, mystery, novels, pain, publishing, purpose, readers, romance, series, small towns, support, WFWA, womens fiction, writers

Multi-published Women’s Fiction Author Kathleen Paterka says “don’t give up.”

Kathleen Irene Paterka Author

A very special welcome to Kathleen Paterka. We met through the wonderful group, WFWA, Women’s Fiction Writers of America.  Kathleen, when did you first know you wanted to be a writer and was there a particular inspiration to get started?

I fell in love with the written word in the 2nd grade reading my first Trixie Belden® book. In case you’re not familiar with the series, Trixie was a girl detective who teamed up with her brothers and best friend Honey Wheeler to solve mysteries occurring around their little town in the Hudson Valley area of New York. Trixie Belden changed my life. It was the first time I’d read a book with a plot and no pictures. I devoured the existing series (12 books), and anxiously waited for the next one to be published. It was around that time I made the decision that someday, I would be an author and write more Trixie Belden novels. While I never did tackle the world of Trixie Belden (the last book was published in 1986), I did start my own series. The James Bay novels (Fatty Patty, Home Fires, Lotto Lucy, and For I Have Sinned) are set in the fictional resort community of James Bay, Michigan. After finishing those four stories, I wrote another two books set in different locations. Royal Secrets is about a family-owned Las Vegas wedding chapel, while my upcoming release, The Other Wife, is set in Chicago. For my next book (which I’m currently researching), I’ll be taking readers back to James Bay.

I too well in love with writing over Trixie Beldon, as you can see from my own tattered copy. It is one of my treasured possessions.

Trixie Belden

Do you have a background in writing? What other work have you done, and how has it impacted your writing career?

In school, my teachers tried steering me toward Creative Writing classes, but I dug in my heels, screaming “No, no, no!” I didn’t like being forced to write poetry or short stories. I knew I wanted to be a novelist, and I couldn’t see any point in wasting my time by writing Haiku (sincere apologies to any Haiku-enthusiasts who may be reading this). While I concede that there are basics to the craft that must be mastered (sentence structure, proper grammar, plot elements, etc.), there’s simply no way another person can ‘teach you’ how to write a book. Want to know the secret? Sit down and start. It’s as simple as that. Caveat: notice I did not say it was ‘easy’. It may be simple, but it’s definitely not easy. After graduating college with a degree in Sociology, plus a few years spent working for a local newspaper, the Catholic church, and the law, I finally settled down where I belonged: in a beautiful castle located in Northern Michigan. My job as staff writer at Castle Farms (a century old French Renaissance castle listed on the National Register of Historic Places) is like a fairy-tale come true.

Kathleen, what advice would you give to new writers just getting started with their first manuscript?

The best advice I can pass along was given to me by an author friend when I was just starting out. This highly successful NY Times bestselling author told me: “Perseverance and persistence, along with discipline, determination and confidence, are EVERY bit as important as talent. Your belief in yourself… is THE ONLY THING that separates you from the hundreds who will fall by the wayside without their dreams and goals realized. Don’t give up. Don’t give up. Don’t give up. Work hard, work smart, work tirelessly. Be tough, be brave and be persistent. All clichés, yes. But when they apply to you and how much you want to realize your dream, they are very apt.” I’ve kept my friend’s message tucked close in my heart through all the ups and downs of my publishing career, and it’s served me well. Today, I’m sharing her message with you. Don’t give up!

FattyPatty ForIHaveSinned HomeFires LottoLucy RoyalSecretsCream

Tell us about one of your book in 3 sentences. Fatty Patty (my first novel) is semi-autobiographical. Though I’m now at a normal weight (and have been for over 35+ years), I weighed three hundred pounds while in high school. Fatty Patty tackles the issues of dieting, dating, self-esteem, and exposes the gritty honest truth of what it’s like to be overweight in a society that worships thin.

What is the premise of your novel we are promoting today? My upcoming release, The Other Wife, will hit the shelves (and the cyber-world of Amazon, Barnes & Noble, plus Kobo) in February 2015. What happens in a woman’s life when her husband dies? What kind of secrets might be revealed? I came up with the idea when my own husband, Steve, actually died in front of me early one morning. I was sitting at the end of his bed in the semi-darkness when he made a strange sound. At the time, I thought it was the oddest snore I’d ever heard. Turns out, it was the infamous ‘death rattle’. Believe me, if you’ve never heard it, it makes the hair on the back of your neck stand straight up! Luckily, Steve was in the cardiac unit of our local hospital. They called a Code Blue, and the medical team managed to resuscitate him. He’s since had a triple by-pass and doing well, thank you! But that hospital experience in 2011 got me to thinking: What if Steve had been at home, asleep in our bed? What if he’d let out that horrible sound, and I’d assumed it was only a loud snore? I probably would have poked him, rolled over in bed, and gone back to sleep… what a horrible thing to wake up to in the morning. And what would my life have been like after that? Thus, a new storyline was born.

Can you share a few paragraphs from your book to whet our appetite?

Here’s the Prologue from The Other Wife… I hope you enjoy it!

It wasn’t much of a sound. Later, she would remember it as an odd sort of grunt. Still, it had been loud enough to wake her. Eleanor rolled over in their king-size bed, stretched out an arm, and nudged him. Richard’s snoring had worsened in the past months. She lay there in the darkness, waiting to see if another nudge was necessary. Just the other day, she’d read how snoring could be a sign of sleep apnea, leading to other, more serious, health problems. Perhaps tomorrow, depending on what kind of mood he was in, she’d mention the subject over breakfast. Maybe she should insist that he see a doctor. Not that it would do much good. Richard rarely listened to her. For most of the thirty-eight years they’d been married, he hadn’t listened to much of what she had to say. He’d probably give her his usual shrug, tell her to quit worrying.

Quit worrying. It wasn’t until five hours later that she realized she’d had good cause to be worried. She should have known that sound was different. She should have stayed awake. She should have tried to rouse him. Instead, she waited another minute, surrounded by silence. Then, turning over, she laid her head back on the pillow and curled up in her spot, still warm from sleep, snuggling into the clean, fragrant smell of freshly laundered sheets changed by Martha the day before. Closing her eyes, Eleanor drifted off into the most pleasant dream… only to wake the next morning to every woman’s nightmare.

Richard, in bed beside her, was dead.

Readers, go to Kathleen’s website. There is a place where you can enter to win a FREE copy of her new book, The Other Wife. I have read Fatty Patty and Royals Secrets.  They are both fantastic.  I can’t wait for The Other Wife to come out.

Thank you, Kathleen, for being on Author Interview Friday on Writing Under Fire.

Author website:




Barnes & Noble:



Posted in authors, characters, family, readers, romance, WFWA, womens fiction, writers

Karoline Barrett brings us The Art of Being Rebekkah

Welcome Karoline. I am sure you are excited about your book coming out December 9th. Congratulations. Let’s start by learning all about you.

Karoline:  Thank you. I am excited. As for about me: I love reading and writing women’s fiction, romance, and humorous cozy mysteries. Right now I’m working on a cozy set in upstate N.Y.

My short fiction has been published by various places:

Every Day Fiction.

The Visit published back in 2010 by Eastown Fiction.

 L’Chaim was  published by All Things Girl, October 2013.

I was born in upstate New York and have lived in South America, Indiana, Florida, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. At the moment, I live in a small Connecticut town with my husband.

When I’m not writing, I love reading, spending time by the water, traveling, and doing anything that has nothing to do with math.

 Other random facts about me:

  •  Favorite colorsRed, pink, yellow
  •  Dog or catDog. But cats are okay, too
  •  Favorite go-to authors: Ann B. Ross, Debbie Macomber, Jane Heller, Danielle Steel, Janet Evanovich, Sue Grafton, Anne George 
  •  Favorite place to be: The beach!
  •  What I really needA maid
  •  I wish I livedOn a beach in New Jersey
  •  Favorite places I’ve livedSão Paulo and New Jersey
  •  Favorite moviesNacho Libre, Coming to America, My Cousin Vinny, Ushpizin, The King’s Speech
  •  Wish I could writeDeep literary fiction
  •  Favorite poet: Sylvia Plath
  •  If I wasn’t writing I wouldBe a math person, maybe

Joanne:  I always love to hear how everyone got started in this crazy world of writers.  When did you first know you wanted to be a writer and was there a particular inspiration to get started?

Karoline: I’ve always been an avid reader, and writing was always in the back of my mind. One day I decided to stop thinking about it and actually do it. I started with short stories and eventually wrote The Art of Being Rebekkah.

Karoline Barret book cover

Joanne: That is a big leap from short stories to a novel. Some people  may not realize that. Easy to say, sometimes hard to do. Do you have a background in writing or take any special writing courses that helped you along the way?

Karoline:  I took writing courses through Long Ridge Writers Group.

Joanne: Do you always write in the same genre?

Karoline: I tend to gravitate to women’s fiction and romance, but my second novel, in progress right now, is a humorous cozy mystery. I can’t see myself ever writing science fiction; my mind just won’t work that way!

Joanne: Many of us cross over genres and it is difficult to pinpoint one to fit our books. For the book we are promoting today, what shelf would we find it on if it were in a bricks and mortar bookstore?

Karoline: The Art of Being Rebekkah is a romance at its heart. I’d place it with women’s fiction.

Joanne:  Are you published through a traditional publishing house? If yes, how did you find your agent and publisher?

Karoline: In the fall I’m going to be published by E-lit books, a company  started by my agent, Frances Black of Literary Counsel. My book was finished in November of 2011, I began querying agents in January 2012, and signed with Frances in October 2012.

Joanne:  What was the hardest part for you in the writing process; the outline, synopsis, query or building the story itself?

Karoline: Oh, the synopsis, definitely! I love outlining and building the story.

Joanne:  I can certainly agree with you there. The synopsis can be brutal. Are you a pantser or a planner?

Karoline:  Planner! I have to outline, even though my outline evolves as my characters and story evolves.

Joanne:  Can you share a few paragraphs from your book to wet out appetite?

Karoline:  Of course! Happy reading-

The Art of Being Rebekkah

“I do want children, a lot of children,” Rebekkah cried, unable to stop herself. “I don’t have a career. Being a wife and mother is all I want to do.” She didn’t know why she continued to sit, spilling out her private life to this stranger, but she couldn’t seem to get up and walk away.

It was Ellen’s turn to pale as her eyebrows rose and her mouth formed a surprised O. “Then you don’t…” She closed her eyes then opened them slowly. “I’ve upset your life enough as it is in the last few minutes.”

“I don’t what?” asked Rebekkah, grasping Ellen’s forearm. “You were going to say something. What could be any worse?”

Ellen squirmed in her chair and murmured something Rebekkah didn’t catch, then ran her fingers through her bangs, causing then to stick out at pointy angles. “I know it’s not my business, but it’s obvious you don’t know anything about this. How old are you? If I wasn’t sure it was pretty much impossible I would think you were his daughter.”

“Twenty-five,” Rebekkah replied quickly. “What were you going to say? If what was impossible?”

“I don’t think I…” By this time Rebekkah was sitting so close to the edge of her chair that another inch and she’d be on the ground. “Please, just say it.”

“God forgive me if this is wrong of me, but you so obviously want children.” Ellen paused and played with her wedding ring. “You’ll never be pregnant. Not by Avram, anyway. He’s had a vasectomy.”

Joanne:  Thanks Karoline.  Oh boy. And just how did Ellen know that? That certainly wets my appetite for your book. Where can readers get your book?

Karoline:  I love connecting with other writers. My website is



Website:           Karoline Barrett

Facebook:         Karoline’s Facebook author page

Twitter:             @KarolineBarrett

Pinterest:          Pinterest


Agent:              Frances Black, Literary Counsel

Publisher:       E-Lit Books

Publicist:         CHARLEEN FAMIGLIETTI 

Where to Buy:      AMAZON PAPERBACK

                                    AMAZON KINDLE

                                    B&N NOOK


Posted in authors, characters, children, conflict, disabilities, family, fiction, writers

Barbara Claypole White talks about the trials of marketing your book.

Barbara-3 (2)

It is my pleasure to have Barbara Claypole White with me today on Author Interview Friday.  Barbara writes and gardens in the forests of North Carolina. English born and educated, she’s married to an internationally-acclaimed academic. Their son, an award-winning poet / musician, attends college in the Midwest. His battles with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) have inspired her to write love stories about damaged people. The Unfinished Garden, Barbara’s debut novel, won the 2013 Golden Quill for Best First Book. Her second novel, The In-Between Hour, will be released on December 31.

The Unfinished Garden

You can connect with Barbara on her website www.barbaraclaypolewhite,



Signed copies of The Unfinished Garden are available from:

Amazon for TUG:

Pre-order link for The In-Between Hour:

Barbara has offered a giveaway for a signed copy of The In-Between Hour and will ship it anywhere in the United States. All you have to do is leave a comment so we can draw a winner.

Joanne:  When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?

Barbara:  I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a writer. I penned stories and poems as a child, scribbled in diaries as a teenager, then churned out press releases and trade articles when I worked in P.R. (Writing’s still writing!) However, I didn’t realize my childhood dream of becoming a published author until I turned fifty. My motto is never give up.

Joanne: Do you have a background in writing or did you take any courses along the way?

Barbara:  I was a history major who worked in the London fashion industry. (I know, I never take the direct path.) I started messing around with my first—unpublished—novel twenty-five years ago, but I wasn’t terribly focused. After I became a stay-at-home mom and my son entered the school system, I began writing in the mornings and took an evening class at my local arts center. Gradually I developed a writing routine, became more serious about honing my skills, joined writing organizations, went to conferences, found critique partners, and entered competitions for unpublished manuscripts. And I read and read. All those steps helped prepare me to become an author.

Joanne:  Are you published through a traditional publisher? How did you find your agent and editor?

Barbara:  I’m thrilled to be a Harlequin MIRA author. MIRA is the imprint of Harlequin that handles literary commercial or book club fiction, and when they were considering The Unfinished Garden, my agent warned me the acquisitions team is tough. To be honest, I still can’t believe I’m a MIRA author, and I wouldn’t be without my agent, Nalini Akolekar of Spencerhill Associates.

I found Nalini on the Writer’s Digest new agent alert, researched the heck out of her, and spent two weeks creating a personalized query letter. (Yes, one letter, two weeks.) She offered representation a week after I queried her. From the beginning, Nalini made everything easy. She had a plan, I did nothing, and three months later I had a two-book deal. Did I mention that I love my agent? 🙂

Joanne:  Authors and publishers talk about finding your voice. What does that mean to you and how did you find yours?

Barbara:  If you’re on Twitter, read Marian Keyes’ posts. That woman has bucketloads of voice! Your voice is the way you express yourself—your use of language, humor, etc. I think it also reveals your inner core. To find your voice, you have to dig deep; you have to expose the most personal. I guess I found my voice when I stopped trying so hard and subconsciously reverted to my letter writing style. Throughout college I wrote long, unedited letters—filled with voice.

Joanne:  What marketing techniques do you use to increase your sales?

Barbara:  My marketing approach is slow and organic—like my writing. I see connections and follow instincts. For example, I persuaded a local gardening magazine to do a small piece on The Unfinished Garden, even though the editor told me—emphatically—she didn’t review fiction. My angle? The novel has local, rural settings and numerous references to indigenous plants her readers would enjoy.

Marketing is really a giant jigsaw puzzle with some very small pieces. You don’t have to think big, but you do have to connect with others. The half hour you spend answering an email from a reader is still part of your marketing campaign.

Obviously the first step is to write the best book you can, but 90% of everything that happens next revolves around networking. It takes a village to promote a book. Authors helping authors is a huge part of the equation. Be gracious to other authors—post reviews of their books, share their blog posts, and go to their readings. There is a wonderful pay-it-forward subculture amongst authors.

I do believe in blog tours, since most reviewers are online, but the cornerstones of my marketing efforts are always local: booksellers, book clubs, media. I organized readings for The Unfinished Garden at all my local bookstores, publicized them through the local events’ listings, and contacted editors of local papers, newsletters, and magazines for ‘local girl makes good’ stories.

Reaching book clubs has been key for TUG. (Over a year out, I still have book clubs on my calendar.) I started by emailing everyone I knew, and I accosted anyone who made the mistake of mentioning, “I’m in a book club.” Also, one local bookseller became my champion and recommended me to a number of book clubs and literary organizations. That’s a perfect example of the power of connections. (I made a point of introducing myself to her months before the novel came out.)

Marketing is a slow burn, but if you build a solid foundation, it does get easier. And you find yourself happily saying to anyone who asks, “My second novel, The In-Between Hour is the story of two broken families coming together to heal, and you can pre-order it NOW! on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Indiebound.”  Or, you can leave a comment below for a chance to win an advance reader copy. See? I just did a little bit of marketing….

Joanne:  What great advise.  Thank you Barbara.   Now readers,  here is a sneak peek into The In-Between Hour

 The In Between Hour

The In-Between Hour (Harlequin MIRA, December 31, 2013):

 Will imagined silence. The silence of snowfall in the forest. The silence at the top of a crag. But eighty floors below his roof garden, another siren screeched along Central Park West.

Nausea nibbled—a hungry goldfish gumming him to death. Maybe this week’s diet of Zantac and PBR beer was to blame. Or maybe grief was a degenerative disease, destroying him from the inside out. Dissolving his organs. One. By. One.

The screensaver on his MacBook Air, a rainbow of tentacles that had once reminded him to watch for shooting stars, mutated into a kraken: an ancient monster dragging his life beneath the waves. How long since he’d missed his deadline? His agent had been supportive, his editor generous, but patience—even for clients who churned out global bestsellers—expired.

Another day when he’d failed to resuscitate his crap work-in-progress; another day when Agent Dodds continued to dangle from the helicopter; another day without a strategy for his hero of ten years that wasn’t a fatal “Let go, dude. Just let go.”

Posted in authors, conflict, family, fiction, love, romance, writers

Author Patricia Campbell writes contemporary romance

For today’s Author Interview Friday, we have Patricia Campbell.  Welcome.


Joanne:  When did you first know you wanted to be a writer, and was there a particular inspiration to get started?

Patricia: I had a part time employee who was published by Harlequin American. We became friends over the years, and I’d often read pages of her works in progress. She belonged to a critique group, but wanted the opinion of a non-writer. I enjoyed giving her plot ideas. One day she told me to quit giving away all my good ideas and write the stories myself. After my husband died, writing became a wonderful outlet for my emotions.

 Joanne:  Do you have a background in writing or take any special writing courses that helped you along the way?

 Patricia: For many years I’d written articles for my travel agency newsletter, and other business related pieces. I knew nothing about writing a book, only how to read them. I’ve always had at least two books going at the same time. I don’t remember when I wasn’t reading. Once I attempted novel writing I knew I had to learn the craft. Attending writer’s groups and going to conferences put me on the path. Now I consider my critique partners and feedback from other authors essential.

 Joanne:  Do you always write in the same genre?

 Patricia: Yes, I write contemporary romance because with each book I get to fall in love with another wonderful man.

 Joanne:  Are you published through a traditional publishing house? If yes, how did you find your agent or publisher?

 Patricia: I’m published by Etopia Press, a royalty paying small publisher. How did I find them? Query, query, query, query – ad nauseum.

 Joanne: What were the deciding factors to choosing your publisher? Would you recommend them?

Patricia: I had no interest in self publishing. I knew there was somebody out there who would recognize that my books were good enough to publish. That’s why it took me over ten years. Yes, I have recommended Etopia to other writers I know.

Joanne: Do you always write in the same POV or narrative or do you switch it up in different stories?

Patricia: I write mostly in the POV of the two main characters. In the book I’m currently revising, I’ve also added the POV of my villain because his mind is so twisted. One of my books, not yet published, is written in first person POV by two characters and everyone else is in third person. I do love to read books written in first person.

Joanne:  Authors and publishers are always talking about finding your “Voice.” Exactly what does that mean to you and how did you find yours?

 Patricia: Haven’t a clue except to say that one should never try to emulate the style of another writer. I’ve often been told by people who know me, “That sounds just like you.” I write as I speak.

Joanne:  Author, Jennie Nash, was quoted on Writer Unboxed that she reads other novels to study structure. Do you follow a structure pattern such as staying in chronological order, or alternating points in time, or different POV’s?

Patricia: I read for pure pleasure. But the bad news about being a writer is that it’s very hard not to notice mistakes and typos in published books. It takes away from the enjoyment of the story.

 Joanne: What was the hardest part for you in the writing process; the outline, synopsis, query or building the story itself?

Patricia: Outline? Surely you jest. I detest the query, blurb and synopsis part once the story is completed.

 Joanne: It is not enough to write a book and wait for the money to start rolling in. What marketing techniques do you implement to increase your sales?

Patricia: The advent of electronic publishing has increased the number of published writers beyond imagination. I mostly use social networking and email, as well as Facebook and my website to get the word out there. And interviews like this one. Then just hope the word spreads. As to the money rolling in – I can dream, can’t I?

 Joanne: Are you a pantser or a planner?

Patricia: Definitely a pantser, but about halfway through the story I have to put on my big girl panties, slap my characters around a bit to let them know it’s me telling the story, not them.

Joanne: What advise would you give to new writers just getting started with their first manuscript?

Patricia: Keep writing, learn the craft, but don’t expect your very first manuscript to get published. Unless, of course, you happen to be writing the Great American Novel.

Joanne: How important do you consider critique groups and networking with other writers?

Patricia: Essential. There is no substitute.

Joanne: What is the premise of your novel we are promoting today?

Patricia: Individual goals don’t have to be the death knell of finding love and romance. As in real life – dynamic, powerful strong-willed people tend to attract someone with those same qualities. Once a Marine is the story of two such people. He’s a retired marine who owns and operates a charter airline, and has a hidden dark and dangerous life. She’s a determined dynamo on an upward career path. It’s the secrets he keeps from her that may destroy their relationship.

Joanne: Can you share a peek at your story?

Once a Marine
Once a Marine

         .       Once a Marine –

Is it a one night stand or the first day of forever?

BD James is on an upward career path. She works for a tyrant whose erratic demands have already cost her a broken engagement. Her personal life takes a dramatic turn when she meets Rafael Cruz, a retired Marine who lives a secret and dangerous double life.

When she learns Rafi has deliberately kept her in the dark about his black ops missions, she questions whether her passion for him is strong enough to overcome her fear and mistrust.

Rafi believes BD is the one woman who is strong enough to challenge him—a quality he values highly. He’s reluctant to change his footloose life, but BD’s much more than a plaything. He would give his life for her. He’ll do whatever it takes not to lose her.

Posted in authors, children, family, favorite books, fiction, friends, love, parents, wishes, writers

Turning Back the Clock [My Three Wishes Blog Blitz]


Today I’m participating in the Three Wishes Blog Blitz, hosted by author Juliet Madison! From 2nd to 6th September you’ll have the chance to win some awesome prizes at all the blogs participating in the blitz, including mine. All you have to do is follow my instructions below for winning the prize I have on offer, and then you can click over to Juliet’s blog to enter her prize draw, and see the list of all other blogs taking part and enter their giveaways as well. How cool is that? Why is it called the Three Wishes Blog Blitz? Juliet’s new  romantic comedy release, I Dream of Johnny, is about three wishes, a high-tech genie in a lamp, and one very unfortunate typo that proves magic isn’t all it cracked up to be…

What if we could turn back time? If you had three wishes about turning back the clock, what would they be? Stop 9-11 from happening? Of course, but I don’t think I have the skill or no-how to do that. So . . . on a lighter note.  If I could turn back the clock,  I would

1) have believed in myself to make the tough decisions that I either:  a) didn’t do at all   b) made wrong decisions because of  lack of faith in myself.

2) have taken better care of my body so I don’t have all these aches and pains now (or is that just old age?)

3) told more people that I loved them, and more often.

What would YOUR three wishes be if you could turn back time?  Let’s play “Back to the Past” (not the Future) Every person that leaves a comment with their three wishes about Turning Back Time, will get his/her name thrown in the hat for a copy of my debut novel, ACCIDENT.  AND, if you LIKE this on Facebook, your name will go in twice.  BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE, since wishes come in  threes, if also link back to Juliet’s page and LIKE her blog, your name will go in the hat a 3rd time.

Accident cover for Outskirts

The competition closes at 12pm Friday 6th September.

Once you’ve entered my giveaway, visit Juliet’s blog & enter her giveaway too, and visit any or all of the other participating blogs to enter more prize draws. You could potentially win a whole heap of prizes! Good luck! Visit the official Blog Blitz post here:

Blurb about ACCIDENT 

Susan Jennings is an alcoholic soccer-mom in the 1980’s that buries her secret buried behind the bottle. Her addiction causes a fatal car accident that kills her only son and the driver of the other vehicle. Her mother and daughter are badly injured. Susan is charged with vehicular homicide and sentenced to ten years in a prison cell the size of her walk-in closet. She must first learn to stay alive behind the dangerous prison walls, and then face her addiction before she can try to win her teenage daughter’s forgiveness. Deanna Jennings awakes from a coma to discover that she has lost a limb in the accident, and her baby brother. She is not interested in forgiving her mother. With her father becoming increasingly distant, she relies heavily on her devout Christian grandparents to get her through the trauma. She meets the handsome and charismatic pastor of their church, Reverend Jim Olson. Despite the vast difference in age, Deanna is convinced the pastor has a romantic interest in her. When Susan discovers that Reverend Olson is now pursuing her daughter, she is determined to use any means necessary to be granted an early parole. She must save her daughter from the snares of the devil hiding behind the clergyman’s collar.

Posted in authors, characters, conflict, fiction, Indie, KIndle, love, romance, WFWA, writers

International Consultant and Author, Jerilyn Willin

Today on Author Interview Friday, I have Jerilyn Willin. She writes both fiction romance and non-fiction self-help books. Jerilyn is an international consultant, author, and speaker. She helps organizations and individuals discover their unique strengths, develop their talents, and deliver solid, more satisfying results.


Joanne:  Jerilyn, when did you first know you wanted to be a writer and was there a particular inspiration to get started?

Jerilyn: I have been writing various things since high school. In fact my current novel, Unless A Love Be Free was born from a story I wrote as a high school senior. My college and grad school years saw me take a hiatus from writing for pleasure, but soon after graduating from grad school, I collaborated on a play for YA that was actually produced at a local Jr. High. Seeing my characters come alive on stage is what got me back on the track of writing for pleasure.

Joanne: Do you have a background in writing or take any special writing courses that helped you along the way?

Jerilyn: I took some seminars at the Iowa Writer’s Festival in the early 2000’s. They really bolstered my confidence. I’ve also had seminars with Debra Dixon and Jennifer Greene.

Joanne: How long did it take you to publish your first manuscript?

Jerilyn: Do you hear me laughing? In 2001 I signed with a NY agent and just as she was beginning to shop Unless A Love Be Free around, Sept 11 happened. All of NY (and the world) was in shock. Needless to say, nothing happened with my manuscript. In 2003, I received a breast cancer diagnosis and for a year I did nothing but work to get and stay well. When I got a clean bill of health, I worked to re-build my consulting business. In 2008, a colleague and I collaborated on a journaling/self-help book titled Deep, Deeper, Deeper Still. It is a “guided journey for people who journal”. We went directly to POD. The relative success of that book and what I learned when I joined a writer’s marketing group got me re-interested in having Unless A Love Be Free see the light of day. I decided to publish it via CreateSpace for paperback and as an ebook through Barnes and Noble (for Nook) and Kindle Direct Publishing. I started that process at the start of 2012 and Free came out in May 2012.

 Unless a Love Be Free

Joanne: Why did you choose to go the self-publishing Indie route in lieu of traditional publication? What were the deciding factors to choosing your publisher? Would you recommend that same Indi publisher to a colleague?

Jerilyn: I would definitely recommend CreateSpace to a friend. I choose a professional to format and upload the manuscript for me. His name is Donnie Light. He came highly recommended and lived up to his reputation. He formatted and uploaded both the paperback and the ebook. I chose the indie route because basically I was tired of rejections that said, “we love your story, but it is not right for our line.” It’s true that Unless A Love Be Free is not a typical romance. It is not set in England/Ireland/Scotland, and while the hero is noble, he is not a nobleman. Traditional publishers are skittish to go with something different than the tried and true. The writer’s marketing group I joined ( opened my eyes to indie publishing. As a member of RWA I thought traditional publishing was the only way to go. Thank goodness groups like RWA are seeing that indie publishing is a viable alternative today. While it would be wonderful to be on the shelve of Barnes and Noble, I am “on the shelf” of and and that is just fine.

Joanne:  Do you always write in the same genre?

Jerilyn:  In terms of fiction, yes. I love historic romance. As I said earlier, I have also written a non-fiction book.

Joanne:  Many of us cross over genres and it is difficult to pinpoint one to fit our books. For the book we are promoting today, what shelf would we find it on if it were in a bricks and mortar bookstore?

Jerrilyn: It would be in Romance area. I call it an historical romantic adventure.

Joanne:  Do you always write in the same POV or narrative or do you switch it up in different stories?

Jerilyn: Right now I don’t have different stories.

Joanne:  Author, Jennie Nash was quoted on Writer Unboxed that she reads other novels to study structure. Do you follow a structure pattern such as staying in chronological order, or alternating points in time or different POV’s

Jerilyn:  One of the things that makes Unless A Love Be Free different is that the “prologue” and Part II of the book are set in the same time period. Part I takes place five years earlier. There are four point of view characters in Free: the hero, the heroine, the antagonist and the heroine’s best friend. When I change POV, the POV character gets the entire scene. I work hard not to head-hop.

Joanne: What was the hardest part for you in the writing process; the outline, synopsis, query or building the story itself?

Jerilyn:  I don’t use an outline. I am a seat of the pants writer. The hardest part for me is the synopsis. Yuck!

Joanne:  It is not enough to write a book and wait for the money to start rolling in. What marketing techniques do you implement to increase your sales?

Jerilyn:  Social media, signings. Had a few days of free books through Kindle. Literally thousands of people downloaded it. I was shocked. Hope they all read it. Wished most would have reviewed it on amazon! I travel a great deal for my job and confess that I leave bookmarks in magazines in the seat pocket.

Joanne:  What advise would you give to new writers just getting started with their first manuscript?

Jerilyn:  Keep writing. NEVER say, “What makes me think I can write?” and don’t listen to people who say it. We all have stories inside us. One of my favorite quotes is “Most people go to their grave with their songs still in them”. Song or story…get it out there.

Joanne:  What is the premise of your novel we are promoting today?

Jerilyn:  That everyone deserves a second chance and many times we don’t give it to ourselves. Free is a story of redemption and love through self-acceptance.

Joanne: Where can readers go to buy your book and learn more about your writing.

Jerilyn:  I have a blog as mentioned below. I also have FB and amazon links below. The books are available at and If a reader would like an autographed copy, they can contact me at I add $3 to the cost of the book for postage.




Joanne:  Thank you Jerilyn.  I am sure authors that are considering the Indie route will be very interested in your comments above.  I am sure that the romance buyers will want to get a sneak peak into your story. Can you share a few paragraphs from your book with us?

A “taste” of

Unless A Love Be Free

“Wait.” McKenzie closed the distance between them, laying a restraining hand on his arm. “Garrick, I…there is something I must say.”

Her look wrapped him in soft velvet, warm, rich. It got inside him, and set his blood racing. Did she know what she risked touching him like this, looking at him as she did? His defensives, already weakened, shook with the pounding of his heart.

She looked away, and he knew she was changing her mind, backing away from what she wanted. “Say it, McKenzie.”

“I realize circumstances might have been quite different these past weeks. I want you to know I’m grateful for…your honor and protection. You have nothing to fear from me, Garrick Stuart. Whatever happens, I won’t betray you. I know the man you are.”

Before he could stop, before he could warn himself that to act on his feelings would bring disaster, Garrick brought his lips to hers. To his amazement, she did not pull away. The havoc her response wreaked stunned him. Rocked by a surge of emotion, he could contain neither his will nor his words.

“There is something powerful between us. Do you feel it?”

“Since the day on the dock.”

She tilted her head and their lips met again. This time he kissed her as he hungered to, deep, long, filling his senses. His arms came around her and his heart missed a beat as her body melted into him. His loneliness and need poured forth. It was too much. As quickly as he embraced her, Garrick pulled away. He needed time to think, distance to clear his head. Ignoring the questions in her eyes, he left her standing in the circle of light.

Garrick didn’t stop until he reached the ledge just above the water mark. He crouched down, watching the incoming tide. The canoe fought the ropes securing it, battling to join the tide surging around it on all sides.

“Damn it all!” Garrick ran fingers through his hair in frustration. Caring about this woman was not in his plan.


Posted in authors, characters, children, conflict, fiction, love, parents, WFWA, writers

Toot, Toot, Yes I am tooting my own horn

My book, ACCIDENT, is available in print copy at Outskirts Press. From Outskirts, price is $12.56. It wiill also be available on Barnes & Noble and Amazon for $13.95 but not showing up on those sites yet. I am soooo excited.
You can also order the e-version on Amazon for $2.99 at
Photo:</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><p>My book, ACCIDENT, is available in print copy at Outskirts Press. From Outskirts, price is $12.56. Will also be available on Barnes & Noble and Amazon for $13.95 but not showing up on those sites yet.

When soccer-mom, Susan Jennings is convicted of vehicular homicide, she is destined to spend the next ten years in a prison. Her seven-year-old son is dead and her teenage daughter is left without a mother – and her left leg. She must find a way to survive the dangerous prison world while trying to win her daughter’s forgiveness. When she discovers that the handsome and charismatic pastor of their church is pursuing her daughter, Susan must face her fears in order to be granted an early parole and save Deanna from the same fate that caused her own downward spiral into alcoholism.

Posted in authors, characters, fiction, friends, love, WFWA

X-CEO/ Biker-chick, Author Laura Drake never outgrew her cowboy crush.

It is such a pleasure to have Laura Drake with us today on Author Interview Friday. I feel like I know Laura from our interaction on WFWA (Women’s Fiction Writer’s Assoc.,) but we have never had the pleasure of a face-to-face encounter. I love her style of writing and easy-going manner, both on forum posts and in her stories.

Laura’s bio will capture your heart before you ever read a page of her books.

“Laura Drake is a city girl, who never grew out of her tomboy ways, or a serious cowboy crush. She writes both Women’s Fiction and Romance. The Sweet Spot, the first novel in her, ‘Sweet on a Cowboy’ Series, was released by Grand Central in May, Nothing Sweeter, in December. Her ‘biker-chick’ novel, Her Road Home, will be released by Harlequin’s Superromance in August, 2013.

Laura resides in Southern California, though she aspires to retirement in Texas. She gave up the corporate CFO gig to write, full time. She’s a wife, grandmother, and motorcycle chick in the remaining waking hours.”

Laura Drake

Joanne: Tell us how it all began for you.

Laura: I began writing my first book sixteen years ago. Three novels and 413 rejections later, I landed an agent, and a few months after that, I sold. No overnight success story here! But honestly, I think my story happens more often than the author who hits with their first book. We may know what makes a good story, but getting it down on paper in a compelling way takes a lot of learning. It makes me sad to see writers give up their dream because getting published takes too long.

Joanne: Wow, I am not sure I would have the tenacity to keep going after 413 rejections. You give me strength to persevere. Many of us cross over genres and it is difficult to pinpoint one to fit our books. For the book we are promoting today, The Sweet Spot, what shelf would we find it on if it were in a ‘bricks and mortar’ bookstore?

Laura: In romance. I believe that I write right down the middle between Women’s Fiction and Romance. The editors proved it; half of them thought it was WF, half Romance. The seven books I’ve either written or have under contract all sold as romances.

Joanne: Are you published through a traditional publishing house? If yes, how did you find your agent and publisher?

Laura: Yes. I write my contemporary westerns set in the world of professional bull riding, for Grand Central. My small town novels sold to Harlequin’s Superromance line.

The third book I wrote, I knew was special. My crit group agreed. I queried 117 agents – they all turned me down. But I belong to RWA, and was the Treasurer for my local chapter. An editor was flying in to speak at our monthly meeting. I worked close to the airport, so I offered to pick her up. Little did either of us know there was a huge accident on the freeway, and what should have been a half hour trip turned into two hours!

After talking about the market and the industry for an hour, she asked me what I wrote. When I pitched her my ‘special’ book, she asked me to send her a partial. I reached into the back seat and handed it to her! Hey, I was desperate, not proud! She looked a little taken aback, but she promised to read it on the plane on the way home. Good to her word, she contacted me on Monday, and said, “The first thing we need to do is get you an agent.” Yeah, like I hadn’t tried that! She introduced me to my amazing agent, Nalini Akolekar of Spencerhill Associates. Don’t ever hesitate to volunteer, or help other writers – doing so got me an agent!

Joanne: Authors and publishers are always talking about finding your “Voice”. Exactly what does that mean to you and how did you find yours?

Laura: By not listening to the editor in my head. By being true to who I am, and by listening to the story I had to tell. I think we lean toward genres that fit our voice, even before we know what it is. For example, I’m an open, friendly, casual person (if I were a dog, I’d be a black lab.) No way would I have a literary voice. I write down-home stories with Western settings; bull riders and biker-chicks. My friends say that they can hear me speaking when they read my books.

But that doesn’t come until you are comfortable enough to write what you want – not what you think you should write.

Joanne: Who are some of the authors whose work you admire the most, and why?

Laura: Oh wow, you know how hard this is for an author (or any reader, for that matter,) to do! I love: Barbara Samuels, Joann Mapson, Jodi Piccoult, Pat Conroy, Anne River-Siddons….I could go on and on.

What draws me in the most is emotion and passion. I love to immerse myself in a character and experience the world through their eyes. I love it when I come across a sentence that so perfectly describes an emotion in a fresh way that I stop reading and think, “That’s just how it feels!”

Joanne: What was the hardest part for you in the writing process; the outline, synopsis, query or building the story itself?

Laura: Outline? What’s that? I’m a pantser with plotting envy. Therefore, the plotting is the hardest. I know the characters when I begin, but it takes me a while to figure out what to do with them! Eventually the plot develops organically, based on their flaws and what they have to learn, to end in an HEA!

Joanne: I admire a pantser. I need a guide dog to get through my stories. It is not enough to write a book and wait for the money to start rolling in. What marketing techniques do you implement to increase your sales?

Laura: Well, I’m not sure anyone knows what increases sales, but I’ve found Twitter to be a wonderful tool for me. Because I write about bull riders, I’ve found PBR fans, Rodeo fans, farmers, ranchers, dairymen, etc., on Twitter, who would hopefully find my books interesting. I began as a fan of the sport, hoping to connect with other fans – years before I sold a book. So when my book came out, all my ‘Tweethearts’ wanted to buy it!

Joanne: It can be so frustrating and discouraging (especially if you got 413 rejection letters.) What advice would you give to new writers just getting started with their first manuscript?

Laura: Enjoy the learning. It’s been said that it takes 10,000 hours to master something this complex – and it took me at least that long. Don’t start looking toward selling yet, or you’re going to give up in frustration. Stay focused on why you started writing to begin with – and I’ll bet it had nothing to do with selling a book!

Joanne: What is the premise of your novel we are promoting today?

Laura: The Sweet Spot is the first in my ‘Sweet on a Cowboy’ series.

Charla Rae Denny’s role as a traditional ranch wife and mother fits her like custom-tailored Wranglers. When her only son is killed in a tragic accident, Char retreats to a world of grief and Valium. Her reeling husband takes up with a blonde buckle bunny half his age. Their ranch, which supplies bucking bulls to the Pro Bull Riding circuit, is split up in the divorce. Jimmy gets the bulls, Charla, their valuable semen.

All her county fair ribbons won’t help Charla now. She’s alone, addicted, ill-equipped, and has no one to blame but herself. In spite of her fear of horses and smelly cows, she stands up, takes off her apron, and learns to run a ranch. She and Jimmy have lost their way. But through months of hard work, tears, and some hard knocks, they both learn to forgive – themselves and each other.

Where should readers go to find out more about your books and buy them?

Twitter: @PBRWriter


We would love a sneak peek into your story. Please share a few paragraphs from your book to wet out appetite

The Sweet Spot

The Sweet Spot

Charla rolled over, pulling the covers up to block the light, but it was no use. Consciousness was as relentless as the dawn that inched across the ceiling, highlighting the crack above her bed. It had been painted over many times, but the lightning-shaped fissure had been a constant of her mornings as far back as her memory reached.

She felt around the edges of her mind. She’d forgotten something. Something important. It barreled from a tunnel and slammed her to reality. The hollowness in her chest made her gasp and she hugged herself, afraid she would implode.

Benje is gone.

She pulled the covers up and curled into a ball. Another day to face, when her reason for facing it was gone. Why bother?

She heard the answer in the shush of slippered feet passing her door. Daddy. The grief counselor pointed out that they still had responsibilities. She had to go on for those. Dashing the tears from her cheeks, she threw back the covers and shouldered the sunrise.

Laura: Thank you so much for having me today!

Joanne: No, thank you. this was a delightful interview. I know I will be rushing out to buy The Sweet Spot as I imagine other readers will as well.