Saturday, November 28, 2015

The Incredible Shrinking TBR Pile

This is not my TBR pile. It's just a picture
of books. I didn't feel like getting my camera
and taking new pictures. #lazy
When I started writing, back in the early 90s, I was targeting Harlequin series romances. But to decide which series I really wanted to write for, I subscribed to several of them. I couldn't read as fast as I received them, so the piles grew and grew.

Eventually I narrowed it down and canceled some of the subscriptions. Then I started attending conferences, where you get free books (and in the case of the RWA National conference, LOTS AND LOTS of free books) and buy books at special booksignings.

And my TBR pile has been massive ever since. Because I keep going to conferences, but also because I don't stop buying books. Authors I love, stuff that sounds interesting...if I have an addiction, it's books.

Every so often, I weed out my TBR pile. Books I got free or even bought to help someone out but aren't things I like to read. (Historicals are the first to be weeded, for example.)

I'll also go on binges where I'll try all the books that I've had lingering because I don't think I'll like them. Sometimes I'm surprised, which is awesome. Sometimes there are personal triggers that override good writing—storylines or characters that I don't care for. So these binges can end up pulling a bunch of books off my TBR.

And then there are the very rare binge-reading-sessions where I plow through book after book because that's my main relaxation activity. I had one of those recently, and it led me to a scary place: a small TBR pile.

My Kindle used to have 6 pages in the "To Read" folder. I'm down to two! That's, like, 10 books! It almost started a panic attack, except I turned to my print TBR shelf and I've been concentrating on that lately. I got a little caught up in the ease of reading on the Kindle. So I have a couple dozen print books, which makes me breathe a bit easier.

But let me tell you, I cannot WAIT for my birthday. After insisting that I don't want anything and being badgered for a while, I give in and say to just get me an Amazon gift card. That's all I need! My wish list has over 40 books on it. I'm also paying a little more attention to the books being promoted all over my social media and stuff.

Top of my "yes, please" list is romantic adventure and paranormal YA (no vamps or shifters, though). So if anyone has any suggestions, please post them in the comments!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Meet the Characters from This Week's Select Contemporary Releases!

My Christmas-reunion-military-hero-small-town-heroine novella got a new cover and blurb for this week's re-release. Most of you who'd be interested in such a story probably already read it. (If you haven't, check it out here!)

So please let me introduce you to my fellow releasees this week! Below, we introduce the characters with some Dating-Game-style questions. You can read the tables turned in my newsletter and see how the guys answer their heroines.

We're also having a Facebook party Thursday evening. Come chat with us and comment to win prizes!

How to Fall
by Rebecca Brooks

Chicago math teacher Julia Evans has always played it safe, but when an impulse trip to southern Brazil introduces her to a gorgeous Australian traveler, she’ll risk her heart for a week in his arms—if his secrets don’t tear them apart.

Blake: If you could incorporate any fantasy into your real life, so you could have it whenever you wanted to, what would it be?

Julia: We come in from outside. We've been swimming, and you smell like salt water and sun. We have places to be—we're supposed to meet friends, or your production team, or whatever. But you don't care. You lay me down on the bed. Do you remember that first time we were in an actual bed, in the hotel in Rio? You kissed me like you'd never been so hungry. As your tongue slid down, you stopped to look up at me and that's the fantasy—the real-life fantasy—that gets me every time. It's the look in your eyes when you know I'm about to be screaming your name.

Second Chance Christmas
by Ellen Butler

Prominent DC attorney Emma Taylor is pulled away from a promising date the week before Christmas to pick up her ex-fiance from the ER after a bar fight. She’s in no mood to re-open old wounds, but it’s Christmas and she can’t just leave him alone and injured.

Colton to Emma:
"All of your suits are at the cleaners, and you have to meet with a new client on the weekend. What do you wear?"
"Seriously Colton, all off my suits are at the cleaners?"
"Yes, all the suits are at the cleaners. What do you wear?"
"Why are all of my suits at the cleaners? I'd never be that disorgainzed, you know that."
"Emma, it's just a game. Answer the question."
"Nope. The question is silly. It would never happen."
Colton rolls his eyes. "Fine, the house burned down. All of your clothes are now ashes. What do you wear?"
"Why did the house burn down? Did you leave the coffee pot on again?" Emma points an accusing finger at him.
"Okay, okay, I'd call up Linda, my personal shopper at Nordstroms and tell her to put aside a suit, two blouses and shoes. I'd pick it up on the way to the office and change when I got there. Satisfied?"
"You're such a lawyer." Colton sighs.
"I know, but you still love me." Emma gives him a big smacking kiss on the cheek and a satisfied grin spreads across his face.

Hidden Away
by Jennie Marts

The only one on Cherry’s side is the sexy sheriff, Taylor Johnson—but she’s been hiding a secret that could rip their new family apart…
…and secrets have a way of revealing themselves.


What is something no one knows about you that would be a surprise to the people who know you best?

I love to read romance novels. I know I can come across as tough and sarcastic, but inside I'm just a ball of mush when it comes to romantic gestures. I know I've made plenty of mistakes in my life, and I love to read romance stories about second chances, because I really believe everyone deserves a second chance at finding love and happiness.

Priya in Heels 
by Ayesha Patel

Medical resident Priya lives life by cultural expectation, but when she falls for an American heartthrob named Tyler, her entire world unravels, leaving both wondering if love truly can conquer everything.

Priya Patel strives to be the perfect daughter for her traditional Indian parents. With her medical residency underway, she faces the inevitable pressures to marry an Indian man of her parents' choosing. She's perfectly content to do so until the Irish-American musician down the hall gets her attention and destroys everything she has worked so hard to build.

Tyler O'Conner can't stop thinking about the beautiful doctor who treated his sprained ankle in the ER. But between weekend band gigs, an intense workload at NASA, and trying to lower Priya's barriers, he doesn't expect to fall in love...with a woman who is meant to marry another man.

Priya struggles to maintain her relationship with her parents, to be their source of happiness, but falling for an American might be the one thing that unravels their world and leaves her in tattered pieces.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Remembering the Dream

I have been in this business—novel writing, specifically, but all the stuff that goes with writing and publication—for a really long time. Decades. I've written a lot of books, and lived through all the ups and downs of being a published author, with lots and lots of industry changes along the way.

I've also had the opportunity, through my services as an editor, copyeditor, and proofreader, to work with someone special. And I'm so excited that his book is now available for purchase.

Being immersed in the world of romance writing, I've met, mentored, and been mentored by a LOT of authors. Being a part of a community like that makes you feel like anything is possible. And it makes anything possible. It also makes it hard to realize that there are people out there who would love to write but don't have the community. The structured support. The education that seeps into you even when you're not looking for it.

That's why working with Dave has been special. He knew nothing about writing or publishing when we met, and was an absolute sponge. It was so much fun to see his work deepen and strengthen, and to share his journey over the years.

Dave has amazingly unique story ideas, and he has trusted me to give him advice on craft and business as we worked together on five books. His dream has been to share those stories and characters with others, and now he can do that with Diana's Magic, which is now available for purchase.

It's been a long time since I first held a book with my name on it and knew the words inside came from me. It's almost as exciting to share that with someone experiencing it for the first time. :)

I hope you'll check it out!

About the Book
Seeking to inspire problem students and build character, new elementary teacher Sarah Carter seizes upon an innovative class project for the school’s annual spring art show. At the same time, she struggles with a private personal tragedy. While coping with bullies, introverts, vampires, and school bureaucrats, Sarah strives to complete the project, support the encouraging growth of her students, and achieve closure with her impending loss. But the outcome is far different from anything she could have anticipated.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Spotlight: Death in the Family by Maggie Mundy

About the Book:
A Death in the Family is a 1920s murder mystery with a paranormal twist.

Finding out who killed her aunt means socialite Annabel Larch must give up her decadent life. She needs help from the mysterious Isaac Pennington, who carries physical and mental scars from World War 1 and for all she knows may be the perpetrator.

This thriller involves Brazilian artifacts, heroin dens and cult worship. Isaac and Annabel have to trust each other and sort through the clues to find out who slew her aunt and try not to get murdered themselves.

Why a Murder Mystery?
I have always written stories with the odd dead body turning up, but this was my first attempt at a murder mystery. I am not sure if there is a right or a wrong way to write one, but I didn’t know who the killer was when I started out. It was great fun to write and find out who was the culprit. I loved reading the old Agatha Christie novels and was always amazed by all the red herrings she would put in and hope I did the same.

I really enjoyed researching the time and was fascinated by how advanced criminal investigation was even back in the 1920s. I am in the process of working on a second book with The Larch Detective agency called A Death at the Theater.


“Get out of my way,” Annabel yelled, her headdress swiped aside and crushed underfoot as she reached Gwen. She fell to her knees as a groan of pain left her lips seeing her beautiful aunt’s neck bent at a strange angle. Annabel’s head kept shaking as if it was untrue, but her heart knew better. Her eyes knew better.

“No,” she screamed. The sound could never be loud enough or long enough to cover the loss. People moved away fearing the ferocity of her grief.

Gwen’s Cleopatra wig still covered her face. Annabel stared as if it was a picture she was trying to absorb but stay separate from. It didn’t work. She pulled Gwen in her arms as if hugging her would bring back life into the still body. It didn’t. The agony of loss cleaved through her body as if it was being drained of all energy. Rocking back and forth, her tears flowed down her cheeks as gut wrenching cries were drawn from her throat leaving it raw. This couldn’t be possible, her strength, her world had gone.

Now do stop that crying dear. You’ll need to find out who killed me. 

The world stopped. Annabel’s breath stopped. Who had spoken? It was Gwen’s voice but her lifeless form lay still in her arms. Annabel brushed the hair of the wig back from her aunt’s face. People were gawking at her, she didn’t care, but she didn’t want anyone to see Gwen like this. She wanted them gone. 

As Annabel breath left her mouth it misted as if she were outside. It was midwinter in Bath and you would expect it out there, but not in here. 

A blast of cold air blew across the back of her neck causing her body to shiver and brought goose bumps up on her arms. Annabel took a deep breath as she slowly turned towards where the cool air had come from. 

The scream left her lungs as she saw Gwen standing next to her. Only this Gwen was see-through. No one else screamed. They all stood around her ogling as if she was the ogre prizing its victim in its arms. They sickened her. It didn’t matter to them; they just continued to stare at the dead body in her arms.

Someone pushed me darling. There seems to be a knife in my back. I really do look a mess don’t I, and I had gone to so much effort this evening.

About the Author:
Maggie Mundy lives in Adelaide, Australia, and is a member of Romance Writers of Australia and the local chapter SARA (South Australian Romance Authors). She recently completed a Bachelor of Arts in Drama and English at Flinders University. She has four books out with Rogue Phoenix Press: Two erotic novellas called Blood Scent and Blood Oath and two paranormal romances called World Change and World Apart. She also has a supernatural thriller out with Soul Mate Publishing called Hidden Mortality and paranormal romance called Unknown Protector. A Death in the Family is her first self-published title.

She has also performed for many years in corporate entertainment for which she wrote her own sketches, which probably explains why her head is so full of characters. She loves writing romance but thinks falling in love can be scary, especially in her stories where creatures of the night really exist.

Monday, November 02, 2015

An Interview with Linda Bradley

Today's guest, Linda Bradley, is giving away a digital copy of her book to one lucky commenter! The winner will be chosen at the end of the week. Thanks for coming today, Linda!

1. When did you decide you wanted to write a book?

I always thought I’d publish children’s books, but when I started reading women’s fiction in healthy doses, I realized I wanted to write books for women about women. When Maggie and Chloe popped into my head, they stayed, and that’s when I found my voice. Maggie’s Way is my debut women’s fiction novel.

2. What inspired you to write this story?

I had been thinking about the story line, but it was filed in the back of my brain with a clutter of other ideas. After seven weeks of radiation treatment for breast cancer, I decided it was time to start fresh so with a new plan to keep myself organized, I connected with my characters and started writing.

3. Do you work on projects simultaneously?

This past year I did because I wanted to enter a short story contest and I had another idea for a women’s fiction book with magical elements, completely not related to the Montana Bound Series. That project gnawed at the edges of my mind until I just had to stop what I was doing and get it on paper.

4. What was the rest of your life like while you were writing Maggie’s Way?

Well, I was recuperating from cancer and I am happy to say, I have a clean bill of health. I was planning my wedding, teaching full time, working at a clothing store a few hours a week and raising two boys. My youngest was away at Michigan State and my oldest was at home working and going to school. It was crazy, but somehow the busy schedule forced me to buckle down and focus on getting the words on the page.

5. What are some of your favorite quotes from Maggie’s Way?

“It was easier to blame myself for ignoring my instincts and playing the game. Beckett had finally understood who he was, now I was left to my own devices to figure out who I was going to be.”—Maggie

“Looking west, the sun filled the sky with streaks the color of summer sherbet.”—Maggie

“We were victims of our own expectations.”—Maggie

“When you are ready to accept those things that only loved ones can give you, your heart will be whole again. You do not choose life. Life chooses you.”—Glad (Maggie’s mother)

6. What were some of the reactions from Maggie’s Way readers that brought you joy?

The reviews had started coming in and I was doing my best to stay focused on planning my return trip to Montana to do more research, more riding, and capture the magic that inspired my vision. One day, the phone rang and it was my girlfriend’s husband. I was surprised he was calling. He then explained the reason for the call. He told me that he started reading Maggie’s Way and was prepared for a chick lit read, but to his surprise he was hooked and wanted to know when the next book was coming out. He told me that he’d be reading the rest of the series. It was a huge compliment, especially coming from a male reader. He was pleased to report that Maggie’s Way had something for everybody.

I received another unexpected phone call. I recognized the number and wasn’t quite sure why the Cancer Center was calling. The woman on the other end of the phone identified herself as the receptionist and told me that I owed her a large cup of coffee and a tube of eyeliner for her tired eyes because she was up all night reading Maggie’s Way, that she couldn’t put it down. She asked what she could do to help spread the word about my debut novel.

When I met with the Literary Goddesses, a book club in Lansing, Michigan, I sat next to a reader that said, she had finished the book just before coming to dinner. She told me it wasn’t that she couldn’t get to it. She had delayed reading the last chapter because she didn’t want it to end.

One Amazon reviewer wrote, “When I laugh out loud and need a box of tissues, I know I'm reading a good book!”

I am touched that my characters have connected with my readers. It truly is a book filled with a cast of misfits waiting to steal your heart.

Linda, those are amazing reactions, and so deserving! Congratulations on your clean bill of health and your new release! Readers, continue below for information on the book and Linda, and don't forget to comment to be entered to win a copy! The winner will be chosen at the end of the week.

Maggie's Way
by Linda Bradley

Sometimes you have to lose your way to find yourself.

Middle-aged, Maggie Abernathy just wants to recuperate from cancer during the solitude of summer vacation after a tiresome year of teaching second grade. Maggie’s plans are foiled when precocious seven-year-old, Chloe McIntyre moves in next door with her dad, John. Maggie’s life changes in a way she could never imagine when the pesky new neighbors steal her heart. With Maggie’s grown son away, her ex-husband in the shadows, her meddling mother’s unannounced visits, and Chloe McIntyre on her heels, somehow Maggie’s empty house becomes home again.

"Linda Bradley’s fresh voice will keep readers riveted from beginning to end. Bradley delivers a heart-warming story full of disarming honesty and beautiful drama…This one stands out!"—Jane Porter, New York Times and USA Today best selling author

About the Author:

Linda’s inspiration comes from her favorite authors and life itself. Her women’s fiction highlights characters that peel away outer layers of life to discover the heart of their dreams with some unexpected twists and turns along the way. Her writing integrates humor found in everyday situations, as well as touching moments that make readers connect with her characters. Maggie’s Way is her debut novel, the first in her Montana Bound Series. She is currently working on Maggie’s Fork in the Road and Maggie’s Montana.

Linda has an associate's degree in interior design and a master’s degree in reading and language arts with undergraduate work in elementary education and fine arts. She wrote and illustrated a children’s book, The Hunter, for her master’s degree. Linda is a member of RWA as well as the Greater Detroit Chapter of RWA. You can follow her on TwitterFacebook and

Linda has two grown sons and lives with her husband and rescue dog in Royal Oak, Michigan.