Thursday, December 22, 2011

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year


I'm taking some time off to enjoy the company of friends and to catch up on my reading. If you're looking for some holiday reading, check out Reinventing Christmas.
It will be available for only .99 cents for
one day only on December 24 at
Champagne Books (in ebook only).

(click cover)

See you all in 2012.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Author Spotlight - Kimberley Dehn

I'm pleased to shine this month's spotlight on fellow author and good friend, Kimberley Dehn.

Every author I’ve met has their own unique story of how they found their way into writing. What path led you to become an author?

I had a crush on Merrill Osmond of the Osmond Brothers and would write stories about me going on adventures with his brothers. I was maybe 14. I think now it might be considered YA erotica cuz there was some hand-holding and serious kissing going on. Before that, I was inspired by the movie, Oliver, and wrote my own version. I recall showing my story to my father, an educator for our local school system, and he helped me revise the opening paragraph. I’d used the word ragamuffins. He used the word, tatterdemalion. Whatta word! I was hooked! A whole new world of words opened up for me. I actually read the dictionary like a novel, soaking up words and meanings. As a result, I now have little trouble coming up with the right word off the top of my head. I wrote constantly throughout my teens, abandoning dear Merrill to explore other romantical-type stories. I read a lot of Barbara Cartland back then.

What aspect of the writing process do you enjoy the most? What part of the process do you dread?

I enjoy layering. Twisting a simple plot into so many curves, searching for the surprise to keep my reader entertained. It takes a lot to entertain me, so I use my high bar to push myself, always looking for the unexpected or the quirky. I love exploring characters, their goals, their flaws, their secrets that I am often not aware of until the end of perhaps the second draft. What do I dread? Letting go. Giving my precious baby to a critique group, a reader, an editor… I want feedback, I value honest opinion. And I don’t argue if I’m told something isn’t working. I’m aware that as a writer I’m too close to my WIP to see its flaws, so feedback is essential to my growth as a writer. But still, sending my baby off into the cold cruel world is emotional.

What author has most influenced or inspired you?

Lilian Jackson Braun who penned “The Cat Who…”. cozy mystery series centered around the life of former newspaper reporter, James Qwilleran, and his two Siamese cats, KoKo and Yum Yum, in the fictitious small town of Pickax located in Moose County “400 miles north of everywhere.” Her humor, love of cats, and the town of quirky characters spoke to me like no other book series out there. She was also a fellow Michigander, and was a reporter for my home town newspaper. She passed on this year at age 97, but she wrote right up until the end. I’m in deep mourning, not only for her passing, but also for the passing of all of her beloved characters. She wrote 29 books. That’s how long I’ve been her fan, so I feel like I’ve lost a loved one from my own family.

Can you tell us a little about your book?

Inspired by Ms. Braun’s small-town quirkiness, as well as the movie, Overboard, and Northern Exposure, the 90’s TV series, I wrote Southern Exposure, the story of a runaway bride from a wealthy, but dysfunctional family, and a single-father mayor of a small Georgia town sliding into the ooze of financial oblivion. I love quirky, and I love to laugh. So I did my usual plot-twisting and brought in Junior Upchurch, a behemoth pig whose scent lures unsuspecting chickens to their death when they follow Junior home to his owner, who has a take-out fried chicken shack. The heroine, Kat Hubbard, ends up in jail with Junior when he’s arrested. I’m notorious for falling in love with my secondary characters, so I had to sit on Mayor Dean Mickler’s seven-year-old daughter, Stevie, who threatened to take over the book. The scenes between motherless Stevie, who is bent on destroying Kat, and Kat, who knows next to nothing about children, are my favorite. I’m also pretty proud of the cover. I shot the photo of the red bra and jelly beans, and the shadow cleavage was just pure serendipity. Unfortunately some think the red bra means the story is erotica. Not for all the moon pies in Georgia! My mother-in-law was gonna read my book, not to mention my daddy! Southern Exposure was a finalist for a 2009 EPIC eBooks Award.

What can readers expect in the coming months? What are you working on now?

I love fairytales, and I love cozy mysteries, and I love Christmas. So I’ve spent the time since Southern Exposure’s debut working to combine all three into another character-driven, plot-twisting, laugh-out-loud story, which I hope will be the first book in a series. I get emotionally attached to my character people, and I hate to say goodbye. Writing a series makes sense for me.

Where can you be found on the web?

My author website is I published Southern Exposure under Kimberley Dehn, my mom’s maiden name to honor her, as she passed away at age 42. For future books I will use Kimberley Koz. My name is Kozlowski, but a lot of people see the Z and the SKI and freak that it’s unpronounceable.
Writers are told to write what they know, and write what they can’t shut up about. Well, just about every writer has a blog about the writing process. I can’t compete to any degree, so instead I blog about what I can’t shut up about: Cats! I’ve rescued strays for 25+ years. I’m currently feline beck and call girl to six indoor cats, one who 20 years old. I have several outdoor ex-strays, too. Plus a group of raccoons that have made my yard their home for the past six years. This summer I rescued a deaf and blind baby raccoon (named Helen, naturally). I blogged about her, too. So follow me at Kept by Cats: Writer Interrupted at

Twitter: Author tweets are at

Also since I really can’t shut up about my cats.

Recently my cat, Herman, got a Twitter account and he’s kicking my butt with Followers. Apparently he has more to say to his Anipals than I do to my writer friends. It’s so embarrassing.

Publisher page for Southern Exposure is:

I’m also on Facebook:

Thanks so much, Kim, for visiting One Woman's Write. And, readers, Southern Exposure is one of the funniest romances you will ever read. You'll fall in love with the characters--even Junior the pig.  Linda

Monday, December 12, 2011

New Cover Art - Coming March, 2012...

I just got this cover art for Wake-Up Call, my March, 2012 release with Champagne Books. Who doesn't love a modern-day cowboy?


Thursday, December 1, 2011

And the Winner Is...

January Bain. Congratulations! Your pdf copy of Reinventing Christmas has been sent to you via email.

Thanks to everyone who participated.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Share your favorite Christmas story or memory.

It's here at last--REINVENTING CHRISTMAS is now available in ebook. This sweet, heartwarming romance is sure to get you into the Christmas spirit. M.J. Rich heads home for holidays to enjoy a nice, quiet, traditional family Christmas. Things don't turn out exactly as she expects.
As I celebrate the release of REINVENTING CHRISTMAS, I invite you to share a story of memory from your own Christmas experiences. On December 1, I'll draw a name and the winner will receive a free download of REINVENTING CHRISTMAS. So be sure to include an email address for contact in your message post.

And get your copy of REINVENTING CHRISTMAS now from Champagne Books  It's only $3.99. It's like Christmas came early.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Meet Author Lizzy Stevens

In this month's Author Spotlight, I'm pleased to feature author Lizzy Stevens.

1. Every author I’ve met has their own unique story of how they found their way into writing. What path led you to become an author?

Honestly I didn’t have it in my mind to become an author. It was always something I was interested in. Growing up if you were looking for me you would probably find me curled up to a good book somewhere. I was always reading. I had thought about writing but never took that big step. I was always afraid I wasn’t good enough. You know that feeling. We all have it. LOL. But I got up the nerve and sent my first book out in 2008 and it was accepted and I haven’t stopped since.

2. What aspect of the writing process to you enjoy the most? What part of the process do you dread?

Like everyone I’m sure. LOL I hate the editing stage. Every author falls in love with what they write and then the editors says that dreaded words LOL These pages here need to be cut or this scene needs to be left out. And you are left sitting there thinking “but I thought it was great” LOL. So definitely the editing is the worst part. The best part of course is creating characters that you fall in love with and hope everyone else falls in love with.

3. What author has most influenced or inspired you?

I don’t really have an author who influenced me. I love to read. So I jump from romance, to mystery, to paranormal. If it’s a good book I read it. LOL So it would be really hard for me to pick the one author who most influenced me.

4. Can you tell us a little about your book(s)?

“A Surprise For Christmas” is about a woman, Samantha, who looks up a the Christmas star and makes a wish to find love. That night there is a knock at her door and when she answers it there is a baby on her doorstep with a note. The mother is dying and is giving her the child. Samantha’s whole world has now been turned upside down but not as much as it’s going to be. When she falls in love with the child and would do anything for her child, the father shows up. He wants the baby. He didn’t know the mother was giving the baby away. Now Samantha’s world has shattered. She can’t lose her child. She is left with a lot to deal with. It’s a very touching Christmas story that will touch the heart of all it’s readers.

5. What can readers expect in the coming months? What are you working on now?

I’m currently working on a mystery. “Blackbeard’s Hidden Treasure” it will be ready the first part of the year.

6. Where can you be found on the web? (web site, blogs, social network links)!/profile.php?id=100001030391242

Blurb:    A Surprise for Christmas

Samantha wasn’t expecting what she got for Christmas this year. Her doorbell rang and there sitting on her porch was a baby in a basket. This changes her life for the good. But then something happens. The baby’s father comes for his child. How can Samantha convince him that she is the best thing for the child?

I'm married and the mother of two wonderful boys. I've been writing for a few years and have several books published. You can find all of my books at Solstice Publishing. When I'm not spending time with my family you will find me sitting at my computer thinking of my next story.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Breaking News!

Early release date for
Reinventing Christmas.

Coming November 15 from
Champagne Books.

Read an advance review.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Finding Hope is Featured in New E-zine

Great news! FINDING HOPE is featured in the very first issue of the new online magazine, THE JOY RIDE. You can check it out with this link:
And while you're there, subscribe to the magazine. It's got lots of great articles for women.

Thanks to Julie McGrath for including FINDING HOPE in her first issue.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Author Spotlight - Donna B. Snow

This week's Author Spotlight shines on inspirational romance author Donna B. Snow.

1. Every author I’ve met has their own unique story of how they found their way into writing. What path led you to become an author?

Path? Um, yeah, like I planned it...hmmm so very not so! I’ve been an avid reader since my teenage years huddling in bed with a good book every night. I could get lost in a good story for hours on end. But my writing path didn’t even begin until I was almost 40 and had a child to read stories to every night. Well, reading turned into making them up, which eventually turned into writing them down because she wanted me to remember them. Then one day as I finished typing those children’s stories into my computer an idea blossomed – and that’s when I meandered onto this path.

2. What aspect of the writing process to you enjoy the most? What part of the process do you dread?

I love the beginning when the idea is fresh and the story is just starting out. See I can’t plot to save my life. I know where I’ll start and where it will end. I probably have a few ideas of things that will happen somewhere in the middle, but other than that, it’s like reading a good book. I’ve made myself cry many times as characters unburden griefs from the past that I HAD NO IDEA those things had happened to them. I’ve learned to keep a box of tissues near my work desk!

3. What author has most influenced or inspired you?

You know, this is really an unfair question because every author I have ever read, and ever will read has the potential to influence me. For example, I recently read an inspirational romance that made something click in my brain and say, “That’s what my story needs!” (Thank you, Marianne Evans! LOL) I have to admit though, Nora Roberts was probably the first author I ever had to get my hands on everything she’s written – love the Irish stories best. Then there’s Nicholas Sparks, and Karen Kingsbury, and Suzanne Brockman, and Rachel Vincent...well, you get the idea...

4. Can you tell us a little about your book(s)?

Well, my writing is almost as eclectic as my reading. So I’ll stick to what’s near and dear to my heart nowadays! I have 3 stories that have been published so far – 2 others that have been rejected and are in the process of being rewritten. First there’s Daffodils, a ‘second chance’ inspirational romance. There’s just something about getting a second chance at a romance that was meant to be that makes my heart sing. Then there’s Dance of a Lifetime, a sweetheart romance that was published as part of a Dance anthology. And I have one paranormal under a different name that was actually my first story ever published. The two rewrites I’m working on are both inspirational romances that I hope to see placed with White Rose Publishing when they’re done.

5. What can readers expect in the coming months? What are you working on now?

Well, I’m almost done with the rewrite of a story about a woman and her coffee house. This story is near and dear to my heart because I play guitar and write music myself, and I had a dream that I opened a coffee house. This is the story of what the place I envisioned would be. And it has a sequel that’s already more than half written, also.

6. Where can you be found on the web? (web site, blogs, social network links)

Thus far, I only have a blog. Eventually I do plan on having a web site as well, but for now I can be found at

So here’s a little bit about Daffodils and Dance of a Lifetime!

High school sweethearts...I think we all remember that perfect couple. Everyone just knew they would make it, they would be together forever. I had friends like that in college. They were perfect for each other. Started as high school sweethearts, and yup, 30 years later, they're still together.

But what about the ones that didn't make it...the ones that broke up and went their separate ways. How many of them realized later in life that they missed their one and only - let the love of a lifetime get away. Would they grab a second chance if they had it?

Here’s a peek at Daffodils. It’s all about second chances...

Margaret Ellington and Lukas North have a history to resolve. He's determined to reclaim the love he threw away ten years earlier. She’s afraid to let her heart be broken again.

When the past repeats itself, can there be a different outcome?


After dinner, everyone headed for their vehicles while Margaret smiled and waved her thanks. Once again, Lukas stood at her side, his shoulder brushing against hers as he smiled and waved alongside her as if they had both moved.

She took a deep breath and turned to him, studying his face as the last of the vehicles pulled out onto the street. Soft brown hair fell into his eyes, reminding her of the boy she once loved. She fisted her hand to keep from brushing it back for him like she had done so many times in the past.

Returning her look, Lukas took both her hands in his strong ones, smoothing her fist. He lifted a knuckle to her cheekbone, the gesture melting a small piece of her heart.

She had to remind herself his sympathy was ten years too late.

“I wish I could change the past, that things could have been different a long time ago.”

Margaret looked down at their hands and folded her fingers over his. She couldn’t deal with that discussion now…maybe ever. “We can’t change history. Ten years ago you made your choices.” She shrugged, holding herself stiff, her voice flat. “Let’s not dredge it up now. We were just kids.” She couldn’t go there. She would shatter if the wrong words were spoken. Dear Lord, give me strength. You promised not to give me more than I can handle, Lord. Well, I’m nearly there. Please…She turned away, blinking back tears.

I wandered a little off the beaten path when I heard there was a publisher looking for stories about dancing. No, I'm not a dancer, never been a dancer, never wished I was a dancer (ok, so maybe I wished it...), never knew any professional dancers...but it just so happens that I wrote a short story to enter in a contest last year - about a dancer. Of course, I never entered it because by the time I finished writing I decided I wanted to make it into a full length story some day. And then I saw the call for an anthology about dancers and it nudged my memory.

So here it is!

Dances with Fireworks is a collection of 5 short stories celebrating romance and the love of dance. So here's a little blurb from Dance of a Lifetime - my short in this anthology:

She should have left right after the funeral. But she couldn’t bear to think of dancing without Chris. He should have been there practicing with her, facing her at every turn, laughing at her foibles, rubbing the aches out of her feet when they were done.

“You need to take some time off,” Cody answered as he pulled her close again and rubbed her back. “He was your brother! They can’t expect you to step out on a stage just a month later.”

“You’ve heard the mantra,” she said softly as she eased away from him. “The show must go on.”

“So let it go on without you! Don’t you have an understudy? Obviously if they’re ready to start rehearsals they must have one for Chris’ part.”

“Of course they do. But if I don’t dance in this show I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to go back.”

“They wouldn’t blackball you because of this!”

She shook her head and looked away then back. “Not them, me. I don’t know if I’ll be able to… to start over without him. If I don’t get right back out there, I don’t know if I’ll ever find the courage.”

Cody stared into her eyes for a moment then slid his hands down her arms and sat back on his heels. “I saw you together in The Nutcracker last Christmas.”

Her head shot up. “Why didn’t you let me know you were coming, that you were there? How …when …?”

He touched her cheek and pushed a strand of her long blond hair behind her ear. “I knew you were in it. I’ve known about every show you’ve been in since you left.”


He stopped stroking her hair and looked straight into her soul. “Because I loved you.”

Dancing with Fireworks can be found at

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Love, Sam Finals for 2012 EPIC e-Book Award

Love, Sam has finaled for a 2012 EPIC eBook Award! Winners will be announced at the EPIC Conference in March, 2012.

I am thrilled to be among the finalists (and I sure would like to fill in that empty spot on my mantle with a nice, shiny award :)


Friday, September 16, 2011

Author Spotlight - Annabel Aidan

Today's spotlight is on multi-published author
Annabel Aidan.

1. Every author I’ve met has their own unique story of how they found their way into writing. What path led you to become a multi-published author?

I’ve been writing since I was about six years old. I always loved it. I was always writing stories and plays as a child. Once in college, I got away from it for awhile, when I got into film and theatre production, and I spent many years working backstage. I started writing audition monologues for actress friends, because they were having trouble finding good material. That expanded into scenes and plays, and then I went back to writing prose. Eventually, I had to make the decision between staying in backstage work and writing. I chose writing.

2. You publish under at least six pseudonyms and in various genres. Can you tell us a bit about each of your writing personalities and their work?

Annabel Aidan – romantic/paranormal suspense

Devon Ellington – sports (both fiction & non-fiction), most of the articles and interviews, teaching, urban fantasy, mystery, some fantasy

Ava Dunne – romantic comedy

Cerridwen Iris Shea – tarot, runes, esoterica, herbalism, aromatherapy, fantasy, magical realism, paranormal (I wrote for Llewellyn Worldwide for 16 years under this name)

Jenny Storm – YA, YA mystery

Christiane Van de Velde – house & hearth essays, articles, novels

Christy Miller (sometimes Christy Garnet Miller)– literary fiction, mostly short stories

3. You’ve got to be one of the busiest women in writing. In addition to writing under several pseudonyms, you also offer workshops. How do you keep yourself and your work organized? What’s your writing style—plotter or pantser?

The more contracts I land, the more I’ve learned how important it is to outline. I don’t create prisons, just list possibilities. I jot down a few ideas, write three or four chapters into the piece, and then sit down and do a rough outline. That way, when I sit down in the morning, I can just pick up with the next scene, instead of wondering where I meant to go.

I’m very dependent on my calendar to keep all my deadlines straight. Once something is contracted, it goes in the calendar, and then I work backwards from there. I don’t do daily To-Do lists. I keep a rough idea of what gets done and then do it.

I like large swaths of uninterrupted and unstructured work time. If there are lists and schedules and the day is micro-managed, I get resentful and don’t do anything. It’s too much like working in an office. I made a choice not to work in someone else’s office, so why would I put myself on that same type of negative schedule?

4. What aspect of the writing process to you enjoy the most? What part of the process do you dread?

I love the actual writing process. I love to sit down and create. First drafts are wonderful, even when they’re difficult. I enjoy editing a lot – I believe in cutting. The red machete is my best friend.

The hardest part are the final galleys. When I hit “send”, I’m always slightly nauseous, worried that I missed something!

5. Can you tell us a little about your most recent book?

In ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT, released in both print and digital formats by Champagne Books, witchcraft, politics, and theatre collide and combine as Morag D’Anneville and Secret Service agent Simon Keane fight to protect the Vice President of the United States -- or is it Morag who needs Simon’s protection more than the VP?

Witch and theatre professional Morag D’Anneville is annoyed when she’s assigned to dress the conservative Vice President as he makes a surprise appearance in his favorite Broadway show. Even more irritating, she has to teach Agent Simon Keane, part of the security detail, the backstage ropes in preparation. A strong attraction flares between them which they both recognize is doomed, and Simon must also fight his superior’s prejudice that Morag’s beliefs make her a threat to the Vice President. When Morag is attacked, Simon’s loyalties are torn between protecting the man he’s sworn to protect, and protecting the woman he loves.

6. What can readers expect in the coming months?

I’m working on the next romantic suspense under the Annabel Aidan name, THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY. The protagonist in that book is Bonnie, a minor character in ASSUMPTION, who helps an attractive man when someone is “stealing” the ghosts of his ancestors from his bookshop. I’m negotiating for a new publisher for the urban fantasy Jain Lazarus Adventures (the previous publisher went out of business), and I’ve got several other books either on submission or about to go on submission. It will be interesting to see what lands where!

7. Where can you be found on the web? (web site, blogs, social network links)

My blog on the writing life is Ink in My Coffee, under the Devon Ellington name, at

There’s an Annabel Aidan web page on the Devon Ellington website:

The Devon Ellington site also has a workshop page, listing where I’ll be teaching, both in person and online:

You can find me on Twitter at @DevonEllington.
Keep in touch! There’s always something going on!

Buy Links:

Direct Buy digital link:

Direct buy print link:

Amazon Kindle Link:


Annabel Aidan writes romantic suspense with a hint of magic. She publishes under a half a dozen names in both fiction and nonfiction. She spent over twenty years working behind the scenes on Broadway, in film and television, mostly working wardrobe. Her plays are produced in New York, London, Edinburgh, and Australia. If you run towards her undoing buttons, she will tear off your clothes and flip you into something else — and then read your tarot cards.

Monday, September 12, 2011

In Defense of Women's Fiction

I've been reading a lot lately on blogs about Women's Fiction--both pro and con. Not for or against the books themselves, but the term in particular. Women's Fiction was, initially, an umbrella term encompassing writing that targeted women readers, stories that would primarily appeal to women. It also included chick lit and romance. As a female reader and then writer, I gladly embraced the term. If I wanted to find a book that would provide a good story about a female heroine overcoming some obstacle, finding her own inner strength, and succeeding with or without a man in her life, I knew exactly where to look.

As a budding author and former psychotherapist, I found a niche for my writing--stories featuring heroines older than thirty who stand strong in the face of adversity. And, yes, some of them do find a romance along the way. But its not integral to their story.

Now I'm reading about authors, some of whom are well-established, who run from the term 'Women's Fiction' like someone dropped it in an outhouse at the county fair. One argument is that there is no genre titled 'Men's Fiction'. Okay, that's true. We tend to think of men as being drawn toward police drama, mystery, sci-fi, and some literary drama. And the shouts of 'sexism' rise.

Why? Sci-fi isn't only for scientists. Paranormal isn't geared toward an audience of vampires and ghosts. Law enforcement and criminals aren't the intended audience for police dramas. Okay, I'm being facetious.

Seriously, why has Women's Fiction as a genre term taken on such a negative value? I read a lot of different genres. Not only because they're entertaining, but because as an author, I need to have a diverse reading base. There was a time when some readers and authors alike would refer to romance novels as those heaving bosom books that denigrate women. Now romance in all its sub-genres has risen to a new height of respect among readership. Is Women's Fiction the new pariah?

I admit to a certain confusion in the publishing industry. I'm published with three publishers. One classifies my books as Women's Fiction and the other two as Mainstream Fiction. One actually lists what I submitted as Women's Fiction under Mainstream Romance.

I'm proud to say I write Women's Fiction and I love the feedback I receive from the women who read my books. I was approached by a man at a book fair who picked up one of my books and asked, "What kind of books are these?" I said, "Women's Fiction." He set the book down like it had burst into flames and said, "Oh, women's stories." Unoffended, I smiled and said, "My books are about women and are stories women would enjoy, but they're also stories from which men can learn." He bought a book for his wife, then asked, "So, should I read it first?" I thought that might be a good idea and told him so.

My point here--Women's Fiction is no more only for women than, as I said, Sci-fi is for scientists and Paranormal is for vampires and ghosts. If we can only get past the semantics.

What about you? Does the title Women's Fiction offend your senses and stop you from picking up a book in that category?


Saturday, September 10, 2011

We Remember

On this September 11, ten years later, we remember with heavy hearts...

We grieve all we have lost...

We pray for a future with peace...

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Mega Contest at The Writers Vineyard

The authors at The Writers Vineyard are holding a
Mega contest to give away over twenty of
their top rated novels.
From September 5 through November 28, we will hold a drawing every Monday. The post for each Monday will announce which book is being given away, the rules, and who won the prior week. Come join us. Lots of ways to win, and while you're there, scan through our posts. We discuss the good, bad, and ugly of writing and the publishing experience.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Passing of an E-publishing Pioneer

I'm very sad to announce the passing of Lorraine Stephens. Lorraine was a pioneer in e-publishing and one of the co-owners/founders of Wings ePress in 2001. Lorraine passed away on Wednesday, August 24. Those of us who got our start in publishing with Wings ePress will remember Lorraine for her openness, her generosity, and her talent.

May she rest in peace.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

My New Cover Art for Reinventing Christmas

I just received the cover art for my contemporary romance novel, Reinventing Christmas, that will be published by Champagne Books this coming December. Once again, cover artist Trisha FitzGerald did an amazing job. Reinventing Christmas is a sweet romance that is sure to warm your heart this Christmas.


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Author Spotlight - K.D. Pitner

This month's
Author Spotlight
shines on
debut novelist,
K.D. Pitner.

Why I Write

When I was a child, my mother told me I should be a great many things, primarily a lawyer because of how I liked to argue with her and remind her that I had rights, but also a writer because I used to tell her stories that explained how she came to be my mother and why I decided I should give up my heavenly perch to be her child. My imagination was vivid from the beginning. As I grew older, I became one of those teenagers that most parents warn their “good” children about, the one who wandered through cemeteries, writing bad, or at the very least, dark poetry, and shunning the conformists because they could not see the real beauty of this world through their shackles of rules and mores.

At this same time, I had an English teacher who required us to keep a journal. We could write about anything we wanted. We could complain about having to write or we could write poetry and stories – anything as long as we were writing. I wrote poems at first but then I decided to try my hand at a story. I loved romance novels and had recently been turned onto the paranormal subgenre of romance so I wrote a ghost love story. It was quite possibly the worst thing I had ever written. No one will ever read it – not even my kids. In fact, I have left my daughter instructions to burn that journal upon my demise. It was that bad.

The next year, I had a new English teacher, Mrs. Smith, who I had worked with the previous year in drama club. She had heard about my horrible story but told me I needed to write her short story based on a time in my life. The trick was it had to be at least 750 words – a mere 750 words! I say that now but at the time it was more like “750 WORDS! Are you kidding me? I can’t write that much!”

A week later, she gave me the story back with enough red marks on it so that it looked like a murder scene rather than a short story. At the very top was the note every student dreads – “Please see me after class”. I sank down into my chair and pretended to be invisible until the bell rang and then slowly I made my way to her desk to see what I had done that was so awful. She explained that she had really enjoyed my story but that I abused commas more than any person she had ever seen. If I could correct my egregious comma abuse and rephrase a few sentences she had been so thoughtful as to underline, she wanted to submit my story to Scholastic magazine for consideration. So I did as she asked and she submitted it as she promised.

The magazine did not choose my story but it was enough for me to keep on writing. Someone liked it. Someone read it and did not promptly say “Burn this and never speak of it again!” So I kept writing. I cranked out 750 words; a book could not possibly be that hard, right?

Fastforward twenty years to August 2011.

My novel, Darker Shades of Midnight, has just been released. It was built around different scenes I wrote in that journal twenty years ago. The story is a historic paranormal romance about Adrian, a centuries old vampire who is haunted by the memory of his mortal life, and Gabriella, an orphan who grows up to discover that she is royalty. Adrian rescued Gabriella from certain death and raised her as his own daughter, who she strongly resembles. When the time comes for Gabriella to marry, she realizes that she is in love with Adrian but believes he only feels toward her like a father would his daughter. While watching her grow into a woman has been a privilege, now he must protect her from an abusive husband and from his maker. More importantly, he must protect her from the feelings that her presence has stirred to life deep within his heart.

Writing has been the one thing I have in which I can completely lose myself. My characters all take on traits of me, good or bad, and Gabriella even shared my birth date because it was easier to keep up with her age if we were the same age exactly. There are a few authors who have impacted me, such as Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Maggie Shayne, and Dan Simmons. I get inspiration when I read their work because it moves me. It makes me feel and when I finish a book by them, I want to be able to make people feel too. Hopefully, I have accomplished that in this novel. As for now, I’m going to keep writing and see what comes up.

* * *
K.D. Pitner lives in the beautiful, scenic Tennessee Valley with her husband and two children. From the age of two, K.D. entertained family members with her stories, often explaining the intricacies of Heaven and how she came to be here on Earth with her parents.

When not writing, she also enjoys gardening, playing the piano and violin, and doting over her four legged babies. She is the human mother of a very co-dependent kitten named after one of her favorite authors, Ernest Hemmingway.

Visit to get a copy of her debut novel Darker Shades of Midnight. You can keep up with what K.D. is doing by visiting her website

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Birthday Scavenger Hunt

August is my birthday month! What better way to celebrate than to give gifts away to my readers? So I'm hosting a Birthday Scavenger Hunt contest on my website all month, with a new treasure to find each week.
Jump over to my Contest page on my website for the details, then get hunting.
Prizes include t-shirts, mousepads, tote bags, hats, notebooks with pens,
keychains, and even books.

Well, what are you waiting for?
I'm not getting any younger here. Click below.


Friday, July 29, 2011

What do you pack for vacation?

It's vacation time. Most of us have a variety of equipment that we rely on daily--laptops, iPads, iPods, iPhones--aye, aye aye. I've had the experience of dragging along a wheeled computer bag that weighed almost as much as the luggage I checked for a flight. And then I had to try to jam it under an airplane seat because I knew lifting it overhead would be a struggle. What was it filled with? My electronics and communication equipment. All that stuff I believe I simply cannot live without for more than twenty-four hours. (Twenty-four hours? Let's try four hours.)

I recently left town for a one-day workshop that required an overnight stay. I broke into a cold sweat as I weighed out whether or not to take along my mini-notebook. I was going to be in a workshop the full next day, then driving four hours to return home. I would have a few hours in the evening after arriving at the hotel, but would be having dinner and meeting up with a few friends. Could I really not live without checking email for one night? With trembling hands, I removed the notebook from my travel bag and set it aside.

I know, most of you can check your email anywhere from your iPhone or a similar phone. I've deliberately avoided having that feature or the texting feature on my phone. My phone is just that--a phone with voicemail.

I've lived long enough to remember the old, ugly black dial telephone that was tethered to the wall, usually in a central place in the house. One phone and you had to stand or sit right there to use it. I'm all for techno advances, and I love carrying a cell phone that makes instant contact convenient. I sometimes wonder how I managed without one. What did I do years ago when the car broke down along the highway? And what might have happened if I could have multi-tasked and taken care of business while doing other things--like driving? I could be a millionaire today. (Okay, I'm being facetious.)

I learned something, however, from my brief freedom from my laptop. I learned how dependent I've become on having an immediate cyber-connection to my friends, family, and the rest of the world. As an author, I'm certainly dependent on my devices to capture those fleeting but brilliant thoughts that pop into my head.

Now I'm looking at planning a vacation later in the year. The decision looms: What to pack, and what to leave behind? Is it really a vacation if I drag a laptop along so I can work? Will my friends or family post an obituary if they don't hear from me for a week?

I'm curious. How do you determine what to take along on vacation and what to leave behind? Can we literally live without electronics for a week, or are we just as tethered to our wireless devices as we once were to that old, ugly wall-bound telephone?


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Shutting Down (just for a day)

Every so often, we just have to shut down, step away from the laptop, and recharge. I'll be spending this Saturday in Birmingham, Alabama with the Southern Magic RWA group for a workshop presented by Margie Lawson.

I'm looking forward to the time with other writers and Margie's presentation. See y'all on Sunday!


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Author Spotlight - Allison Knight

Today's post is the first of my new monthly feature called The Author Spotlight. Today's spotlight shines on author Allison Knight.

Years ago, my little sister and I played opera. So what on earth does that have to do with being a writer? Why, I was into pretend. Of course, I was always the heroine. As I grew, I read. One of my greatest joys was sneaking off to a private corner where I could read. Once a week, we'd go to the public library and during those years I read every Cherry Ames Nurse books. Okay, so right away you can tell I went for romantic stories.

It was about then I began to write, at first poetry. In the eighth grade, one of the local organizations offered a scholarship award, a whole fifty dollars, based on the best essay. I abandoned poetry and turn to writing essays. I won the scholarship and I knew then I would be a writer. The question - what would I write - never entered my mind. I would be a writer. I do have to smile though, remembering my college English professor. Nothing about my writing ability pleased her. In fact, if I remember correctly, she begrudgingly gave me a "C-" for a final class grade.

After college, I began to teach, and met the love of my life, married and began our family. I discovered the romance genre. I found I loved the feel good, happy endings you always got with romances. One day I began a book which became the genesis for my passion to write historical romances. The book was well written - I thought. But I found problems with the book. The heroine's eyes changed color twice. A mother-in-law who played a small part disappeared, never to be heard from again. An important character suddenly appeared out of nowhere, and I remember thinking at the time, where did he come from. I sat in our bedroom, my reading corner and stared at that book. I just knew I could do a better job.

I dragged out the typewriter and announced I was going to write a book. My children thought it was hilarious and my daughter told me, "Oh, yea, Mom. When cows fly."

My husband didn't crack a smile, bless his heart. He built a place in the basement of our home so I had a special place to write. When I started having trouble planning the action, he suggested I plot the story out using a time line. He even supplied the paper. When I sold my first books I came home from school to find a stuffed toy cow, adorned with a set of wings flying around the family room attached to our ceiling fan. It seemed "Cows could fly." I dedicated that first book to my children, telling them to look up.

I've learned a lot over the years but I do believe if I hadn't read so much and didn't love books, I would never have tried to write. And I found you can never learn too much. If you don't continue to grow, to develop, to improve, you can not succeed. Looking at each of my seventeen books I can truthfully say, I have learned, I have grown, I have improved. Am I finished developing, learning? Nope, not a chance. There's still a lot more to learn.

Buy Link

Award winning author, Allison Knight began her writing career like many other authors. She read a book she didn’t like and knew she could do a better job. Since that time, Allison has written and published seventeen romances for both paperback and digital publishers. Her third medieval romance from her 'song' series is at the publisher awaiting approval. A digital short story is scheduled for release in December 2011.
Because she loves to share her knowledge and her love of romance novels she often blogs with other authors. She also loves to talk about the growing digital market.

You can find her at:

She blogs once a month for The Writers' Vineyard,

Monday, July 4, 2011

A Letter to Congress

A Letter to Congress

July 4, 2011

Dear Senators and Representatives,

Happy Independence Day! As I’ve watched the Fourth of July celebrations from various parts of the country, listened to speeches about our hard-won freedoms and to songs, old and new, that sing to that freedom, I find myself often in tears. And I wonder what that’s about. I’m not that easily moved to tears.

For some time, I have found myself feeling less than hopeful about the way decisions are made by all of you and how those decisions continue to impact the people like me. I’m not a politician, and I won’t pretend to know the dynamics that go into the making of a politician. I have great respect for anyone who dedicates his or her life to serving, whether it is in politics or in some other area, based upon the belief that he or she will make a positive difference.

In my own frustrations over the state of our country, I have been one of those who make sarcastic jokes or laughed at your missteps and foibles at times. For that, I apologize. However, with that apology comes an expectation.

I have learned, on a much simpler plane, the value of open discourse and common purpose when it comes to making decisions of import. It saddens me to see members of Congress dig in their heels in the name of party line, rather than sit up, enter into the open discourse with an open mind, and show a willingness to make decisions that will favorably impact the people of this country they serve.

Every day, I am confronted by people, citizens of this country, who barely have enough to put food on their tables, maintain shelter, and cloth their children. I watch the costs of medical care rise and see people who have no access to treatments and medications they need. I see how much there is ‘not enough’. I look back fifty years to a time when I would never have imagined this America. I see these people losing their homes, their families—they are the new face of America. And it frightens me.

I’m one person with one vote. A right that, again, was hard-won, particularly for women. I’m one person who may not be all that well educated about the workings of government (my own fault). I’m one person to whom you have each pledged your service. I’m proud to be an American, and I wouldn’t trade my citizenship for anything.

My expectation is this: that you put aside your party politics and get back in touch with why you have chosen this course for your life. I don’t think any of you sat down one day and said, “I’m going to be a politician so I can conquer the opposing party and reign supreme.” I think you’ve chosen your path out of a true desire to keep this country great. I believe you are each motivated by good hearts and good will.

On this Independence Day, I’ve heard a lot of talk about remembering. Remembering where we came from. Remembering the struggles we have endured. Remembering the gift of freedom we hold dear. Remembering those who have fought and continue to fight for those freedoms.

Today, I’m asking you to remember and to be guided, not by taking sides, but by that desire that once drew you to serve the people and preserve the integrity of our country.


Linda Rettstatt

Happy Fourth of July

                             Happy Independence Day! 

I got nostalgic this morning, thinking about Fourth of July celebrations in my youth. I grew up in a small town in southwestern Pennsylvania--Brownsville, to be exact. I remember the parade that came through town and ended at the Little League baseball field, right across the street from my house. I always thought it was really cool to be able to sit on your own front porch and watch the parade. Of course, we always anticipated the moment when my dad, an Army reservist, would march by and we would cheer loudly.

Then the baseball games would commence. People parked their cars everywhere, and no one got a ticket. It was a town celebration. My dad would fire up the old kettle charcoal grill while we kids splashed in the inflatable pool that held no more than eighteen inches of water. He would stop grilling long enough to turn on the water hose and create an arc of cool water for us to run through (we didn't have lawn sprinklers.)

After a dinner of hot dogs, homemade potato salad, baked beans and ice cream for dessert, we would all pack into cars driven by Dad or Pappy, and head for the community park and the fireworks display. There was nothing like sitting on a blanket on the hood of the car, oooing and aaahing with just about everyone in town as colors burst overhead.

Then we'd join the slow caravan of vehicles out of the park, through town and back at home where we could usually convince my mother to give us more ice cream before bed. Cradling a bowl in our laps, my sister and I would sit on the top porch step and listen to the adults talk about their Fourth of July memories--not all that different from the ones we were creating at that moment.

It didn't occur to me at the time that my own father fought in WWII in the name of the freedom we celebrated.

Let's take time today, away from the food and the fun, to remember those who have and who continue to serve in the name of freedom.

Have a happy and safe Fourth of July.


Saturday, July 2, 2011

An Interview With Two Real Characters

I thought it would be fun to post an interview with two real characters from Shooting Into the Sun--Rylee Morgan and her sister, Lexie. Well, Rylee is the focus of the interview. But, as you can see, Lexie just cannot contain herself.

Interview with Photographer Rylee Morgan

Interviewer: Today I’m interviewing nature photographer Rylee Morgan. She’s preparing a show at a local gallery and has just returned from a cross-country trip on a photo assignment to capture The Faces of America for noted photo book publisher, Paul Devonshire. As a bonus, Rylee is accompanied by her younger sister, Lexie. Welcome, ladies.

R: Thank you. Lexie will be sitting in to see how an interview is conducted, but she’s promised not to interrupt. (casts a serious glance at Lexie)

Int: Well, it’s a pleasure to have both of you here. So, Rylee, how did you get interested in photography as a career?

R: I’ve had a camera in my hand since I was four years old.

L: Our father taught Rylee to take pictures before he… (trails off at Rylee’s glance her way)

Int: So, your father taught you the craft, Rylee?

R: Yes. I then went on to study photography and actually teach some classes at the Art Institute in Pittsburgh. It’s been interesting to watch the shift from film to digital.

Int: And this new project you just completed. Tell us how this came about.

R: Paul Devonshire needed three photographers to capture photos for his new publication, The Faces of America. I took the toughest assignment to travel up north to the Michigan peninsula, down through the Grand Canyon, and to the Pacific Coast and Yosemite National Park. It was an amazing adventure.

L: Especially after we picked up Josh.

Int: Josh?

L: He was a hitchhiker going our way. Rylee had a rule about no hitchhikers, but he seemed harmless enough. Rylee has rules about everything. (rolls her eyes)

R: The point is, the trip turned out to be both business and…er…vacation.

L: Pleasure. (murmured with a smile)

R: Excuse me. (turns to Lexie) What did we discuss before we came in here?

L: (makes zipping motion across lips and sits back in chair)

R: I’m sorry. You were asking about the photo trip. It afforded an opportunity to see places I’ve never seen and meet people from other parts of the country.

L: Like hunky doctors. (whispered)

R: (shoots Lexie a warning look, then continues) It also gave me a chance to search for our father. He left when I was twelve years of age and Lexie was only four.

Int: Did you find him?

L: You’d be surprised at all Rylee found on this trip (spoken with eyebrows raised). I hardly recognize her now. She has a permanent smile plastered on her face. (glances at Rylee, who is glowering) Well, almost always.

Int: I see. Well, I’d love to know more about the reason for that. Rylee?

* * * * *

And if you’d like to know more about Rylee’s trip to find her father, the hitchhiker she meets along the way, and the smile on her face, get your copy of Shooting Into the Sun today.

Available now at Champagne Books and at Amazon for Kindle

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Ups and Downs of Writing

As with most endeavors, writing has its ups and downs. We authors are told we must have a thick skin and must be able to let the harsh criticisms of our work roll off our backs. That can be easier said than done. But it doesn't mean we don't have to find a way to put the possibly harsh critiques and reviews of our work into perspective.

Every author wants a sterling five-star review of his or her book. Naturally. I've yet to meet an author who would say, "If I get three stars on this one, I'll be happy." And we revel in the four- and five-star reviews, the ones that tout our book as brilliant or a must-read.

But how do we handle the other reviews--the ones from readers/reviewers who find our book to be less than entertaining or engaging, possibly even poorly written? Our human tendency is to react out of hurt and shame and with anger and indignation. "How dare that reviewer say such a thing about my book!" It's as if the reviewer said, "Hey, lady, you sure have an ugly baby there."

Developing that thick skin can be a challenge, and often the thick skin is nothing more than an outer cover, a mask to hide the hurt we feel. As professionals, we have to find a way to maintain a balance and to keep things in perspective. I give serious consideration to every critique, every reader feedback, and every review, whether it's a standing ovation for my work or a less than enthusiastic one-handed clap. As a writer, I'm always learning--at least I hope I am. I can learn from the negative feedback as well as from the positive. It's just not as much fun. Are reviewers always right? No, it's a very subjective business. But if they're right just once and, by taking that negativity, I can strengthen my future writing, I win in the end.

Admittedly, there is a difference between a 'bad' or 'negative' review and a slice'n'dice job that's close to being a personal attack on the author. Reviewers have to keep perspective and balance, as well. But I believe that any of us who put our work out there for public consumption and then don't consider the good AND the bad of public feedback does ourself and our future work a disservice.

We can smile at the great reviews and frown over the less enchanting feedback, but it's all a part of this profession we call writing.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

In Memory of My Dad

No matter how old I get, there are still days that stir fond memories from my childhood. My father, Dale Rettstatt, Jr., (nicknamed Sonny) passed away in 1981 at the age of fifty-nine. It's hard to believe it's been thirty years.

As we celebrate Father's Day, I take time to enjoy some memories of my dad. Mostly I remember him as a quiet, constant presence with a dry sense of humor. According to his high school yearbook, he wanted to be an engineer and to build airplanes. He became a soldier who served in WWII and received a Purple Heart for injuries during battle in France. He was a dedicated husband and father, never quite achieving his high school dream. Still, he worked hard to provide for his family, and did so without complaint.

He was in the high school band and played clarinet. He also loved playing cards and, suprisingly enough, creating paint-by-number paintings. I didn't think much about it at the time, but now reflect on the ways my dad tried to feed his creative spirit. Maybe that's where I get this passion for music, photography, and writing--the need to create.

My father was not a very communicative man. I wonder what he was like before he experienced the ravages of war at such a young age. But the man I knew as Daddy was quiet, sometimes brooding (though he did experience headaches from the shrapnel that remained in his head following the war). But he was 'there'. Always. To play ball in the backyard. To take me and my four girlfriends to see the Beatles movie, Help, at a drive-in theater because none of us could drive yet. (More than should be asked of any man!) To teach me to drive. To keep my car in good repair. To help me move out of my parents' house when I thought I was ready for the move. And to help me move back in a year later when I discovered I wasn't quite ready.

He didn't generally refer to my sister or me by our names. If a phone call came, he would shout, "Hey, you. Telephone." If the wrong daughter responded, he'd say, "Not you, the other one." Got so we signed his birthday cards from Hey You and The Other One.

The last time I saw my dad was the day before he died. I had taken a bus home from Pittsburgh for the weekend. He drove me to the bus station on Sunday before he went to work his shift. He lingered at the bus station with me, even though I told him I'd be fine (knowing he needed to get to work). We didn't talk, but he kept asking me if I needed any money--to which I said, "No, I'm okay." It was as if he did not want to leave.

But he left the next evening because of a massive heart attack. Medically speaking, my father had a bad heart. But my Dad had a great heart, a generous heart, the heart of a hero.

Here's to you, Daddy. Happy Father's Day.

The Other One

Friday, June 10, 2011

Outside the Lines

I awoke this morning and, once my vision focused, gazed across the room at the framed photograph on the far wall. It’s a picture I took when I was more engaged in outdoor photography some years ago. I captured the sunset off Norfolk Harbor (Virginia) while on a dinner cruise. And I experienced a flashback to an arts and crafts fair where I had set up a booth to sell my matted photo prints.

A man came by and flipped through the selections, holding up the print of the sunset. He studied it for a moment and then asked, “May I say something about this photograph?”

“Sure,” I said. He then went on to tell me everything that I’d done wrong in shooting that photo—the horizon is almost dead center and, according to my self-appointed critic, you never center the horizon. (I knew that rule.) You never shoot directly into the sun because you will get sun spots. (I knew that rule, too). The picture is bland because there is not much variation in colors—it’s all orange and brown. (I could see that.)

“I hope you don’t mind, but I’ve studied photography and just want to be helpful,” he said.

“Thank you," I said, "but I actually love this picture.”

When I look at this picture, I don’t see a photo of the sunset over the water, with the horizon almost dead center (violating some precious rule). I see a variation in color and tone and shading. I see the orange stream of light the sun sends across the water and pulls the photo together. I see the beauty that can be captured by daring to step outside the bounds of ‘the rules.’ This picture greets me every morning, like a kiss from God.

Was I irritated by his presumption? Yes. Did I let his ‘suggestions’ change the way I approached photography? No. One might ask, "Why not?" After all, he studied the rules.

I used to always meticulously color inside the lines. And I rarely ever had purple grass or a green sun or an orange apple in any of the heavily outlined pictures in my childhood coloring books. Every color was as it should have been and nothing breached the boundary lines on the picture.

As I learned the rules for life, I approached them much the same way. Whose rules? Well, those of my parents, my teachers, my culture. But one day when I was in my twenties, something amazing happened. A friend invited me outside the lines—and I dared to accept. Wow—there was a whole new world out there. A world where I could be creative and innovative and paint in any colors I wanted. And nothing bad happened. Good things actually happened. I was filled a new energy and passion.

I’m not talking legal lines here. (Well, not for the most part. It was the seventies.) I’m talking music, photography, and the inner freedom that comes with experimenting and bending the ‘rules’ and daring to create something new. Even becoming something new. A musician friend, when hearing a composition I’d finished, said, “You don’t want to end a song on a minor chord.” I said, “But that’s where this song ends.” And it did, and it worked. For me. It turned out to be the favorite song of many on the ensuing recording that included my music and hers.

When I began to write novels, I was fortunate enough to not know all the rules involved. I knew rules for spelling, grammar, and punctuation, of course. But none of the rules of plot development, characterization, point of view… I just wrote. I wrote what I felt in my heart, what I heard in my head, and what spilled out from this new passion I’d discovered. Writing. That first book finaled for an award, as have two others since. But that's not the point. It's not about gaining awards. It's about the deep satisfaction that comes from the creative process.

This morning as I stared at the imperfect photograph of the sunset on Norfolk Harbor, several threads of a tapestry wove together. That gravitational pull I felt years ago to step outside the lines and give my creative passion free reign. The daring to compose music that came from my soul and may have stretched the boundaries of the rules of composition. And it all culminated in my eighth published novel, Shooting Into the Sun.

Read an Excerpt
I’ve known this book is my favorite (don’t tell the other kids), but I’ve not been certain why that is. Now I’m certain. Because in that book, I have bared my own struggle in Rylee’s journey to get free of her self-constructed boundaries. And in Rylee’s coming to terms with the way her choices have kept her safe and her life orderly, she is free to color outside those lines and create something new. And, when she does, she is surprised to find that the world doesn’t end.

We don’t usually come to terms with these issues in our twenties or even our thirties. We’re generally too busy living life and still building the life we desire. But, if we’re lucky, at some point (and this often occurs for women when we hit forty-five and older) we feel that tug toward something more, something deeper within ourselves. And if we’re smart, we go with it.

Embrace your passion to be creative!