Thursday, October 25, 2012

Margaret Millmore in the Author Spotlight

This week in the Author Spotlight, I'm very pleased to welcome Margaret Millmore.

1.  Please tell us a little about yourself.

I was born and raised in Southern California and moved to San Francisco in 1991. I currently reside there with my husband.  I am the grandniece of Irish author Benedict Kiely and the second cousin of Irish author Sharon Owens. My first novel, Doppelganger Experiment was published via World Castle Publishing in September 2011 (revised/re-edited February 2012). My second novel, The Beginning – Book I (The Four series) via World Castle Publishing released August 2012 and is part one in a four part series (release dates for books II through IV are expected in October 2012 through January 2013).   

2.  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’ve always wanted to write, but life took me in a different direction and I ended up working in the commercial real estate field for many years. About five years ago I decided to go in a new direction and left that field and with the encouragement of my family and friends I began writing. It took a lot of time and patience, but I was first published in 2011 and I’m happily working on more.

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

I love it when a story starts to form and come together. I don’t care for the promotional process, it’s daunting and far more intense than I ever expected.

4.  Are you a plotter or a pantser in terms of your writing style? Describe your writing space.

I’m definitely a pantser. My stories start with one little spark, something I experience and usually its small and insignificant, but it sticks in my head and without know when or how a story develops and I start typing (feverishly). My space is in my living room, it’s bright, full of lush plants and tons of artwork.

5.  Which author has most influenced or inspired you?

I can’t honestly say it was just one author. I started out with CS Lewis and Ray Bradbury, and then fell in love with Stephen King. But they aren’t the only ones, every book I read influences me in some way, regardless of the genre or author, I always walk away with something.

6.  Of all of your published books, which one story or character is your favorite and why?

At this time, I only have 2 published books (however my last was the first in a series, so I’ve plenty more coming soon). I would have to say my favorite is Clare from The Four series. She’s strong, determined and sensible, kind of how I like to see myself.

7.  Would you tell us a little about your latest book?

The Four
A Series

They do exist and they always have. They live, love, and work amongst us and they are part of us. But they are different too, they are stronger and they live longer. They are the topic of many books, movies and myths, but their existence remains a secret, not everyone would accept them. And like us, they have those that are simply evil. Keeping these evil ones under control is the price they must pay to continue the lives they love. They must protect their human brethren from the Dark Ones, those that would rather kill than preserve.
Century after century the good battled the Dark Ones, always prevailing and preserving the lives of their beloved humans. In the 17th century, two powerful Dark leaders emerged, they organized their forces and a bitter war ensued. It was a fight to the death and the good thought they’d won. Four warriors led the battle, four warriors whose strength was beyond anything they knew, four warriors whose legacy had to be protected…
The good formed a consortium and with the help of a powerful sorcerer, a spell was cast; a spell that would follow the warriors’ lineage in case their power was needed again. The warriors are long dead, but their heirs are not, and now they must fight. The Dark Ones have re-emerged, they are more powerful, more resourceful and they want to control mankind and the world.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

The Beginning
Book I

Clare had an ideal life. She lived in the perfect little town, had a great family and four of the best friends in the world.  She also had nightmares, nightmares that plagued her for almost a decade. But these are not ordinary nightmares; they are premonitions, warnings of what is to come and what she will become.
She discovers that she isn’t alone in these vile dreams; her friends are having them too. They are dreaming of their ancestors and their own future...  The discovery of their destiny and the future they must embrace is shocking and terrifying. 

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

In October we will release book 2 in The Four series, then book 3 will come out in December and book 4 is planned for early 2013. I have other projects in the works as well, but no publishing dates are set for those.

9.  Where can you be found on the web?

Twitter: MMillmore

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Dark Heroes

If you're playing the Champagne Reader Swag-A-Bration Word Search game, you'll want to read my blog post for this week. If you haven't yet played, just click on the banner above, get your word search list and join in the fun.

~ * ~

Dark Heroes

I recently responded to a call from my publisher, Champagne Books, to write a short romance novella that features a dark hero. Most of us like to think of the hero as being the tall, chiseled, handsome and likable type. So how does one write a hero that has a dark side and not alienate the reader upon their first meeting?

I discovered that doing so is much like walking a tight rope and working to maintain balance. If the hero becomes too affable, he loses his dark edge. If he becomes to dark, he turns into a villain. The dark hero must have a good balance of traits to offset his dark side. For example, in my upcoming novella, Dark Horse (June, 2013, Champagne Books), my hero, Brax, is moody and abrupt—not characteristics that would typically endear him to the reader. But we also glimpse his softer side. For one thing, he loves horses and his interaction with the animals exhibits a gentleness that just might make him redeemable. He appears as a loner who avoids having to deal with people as much as possible, but can’t avoid the attraction he feels for Vanna, the heroine in the story. His stern admonitions toward her nine-year-old daughter could be off-putting if they didn’t also reveal his concern for the child’s welfare. And he has a dark secret that makes us wonder if he is truly a hero or a villain.

The dark hero is a character you want to love, but also a character that exhibits just enough not-so-endearing flaws and habits that cause you to waver until something critical happens to push him into hero mode. Dark heroes aren’t the same as bad boys. They’re the good guys who protect themselves by hiding behind a dark façade and who, for the most part, could go either way. But they ultimately give in to their own goodness and let down their guard or step in to save the day.


Coming in January from Champagne Books -
A Falling Star (Contemporary Romance)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

In this week's Author Spotlight, I'm pleased to welcome fellow Champagne Books author, Linda Swift.

1.  Please tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Linda Swift and I’ve been married to the same wonderful man forever. We make our home in our native Kentucky and the West Coast of Florida. Our children live in Nashville which makes for convenient (for us) visits as we trek back and forth between states. I’ve been a digital author since 2008. I write contemporary and historical fiction, suspense, short stories and poetry and currently have ten books and five short stories available from the publishers, Amazon, and other distributors. Two additional books and one short story will also be released this year.

2. 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 began writing poems at ten, in my teens wrote my first romance novel, later short stories for my children, then took a long hiatus while I went to college and worked in public education as a teacher, counselor and psychometrist. I began writing seriously in the 80s and had poetry, articles, and short stories published in numerous periodicals. In the early 90s I sold three romance books to Kensington, then came another hiatus as the market for mid-list authors shrank. Finally I found my niche in digital publishing and I’m living happily ever after.

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

Creating the story on paper, watching the characters come to life is the most gratifying part of the writing process for me. Working with an editor to make the story better before publication is also a pleasure. I’ve been blessed with wonderful editors for the most part. For me, the thing I dread is writing blurbs. The reason may be that so much is riding on getting a lot said in a few words that will make the reader want to buy the book. A dry-as-toast blurb can kill even a good book. I always want to include the subplots and minor characters in a blurb and have to force myself to ignore both and focus on the H&H to the exclusion of all else.

4.  Are you a plotter or a pantser in terms of your writing style? Describe your writing space.

I am most definitely a pantser. Writing down what each character prefers for breakfast and what color sox they wear seems a waste of time for me. If this information is needed, it will come out in the writing of the book.  They already know these things and if I know the characters and allow them to tell their stories, this sort of trivia will appear naturally in the telling. Sometimes things appear in a story that I hadn’t expected but I’ve learned not to question it because later on the reason will be made clear.  For example, in Winner Take All, Billy Ray went upstairs and found an old pair of his tennis shoes and took them downstairs. Later he put them on to go outside and that decision cost him his life, but I didn’t plan it to happen.  It just did.

5.  Which author has most influenced or inspired you?

Different authors at different times have influenced and inspired  me, depending on my state of development. At the moment, Philippa Gregory’s books are favorite reads because she weaves real historical characters into every book and I’ve done that with a couple of short historicals myself. She, as most historical authors, uses modern dialogue and spends little time describing clothing or other period details. In this respect, I lean toward the books by Valerie Wood who does use the dialect and accent of the times written about. Perhaps because I’ve lived in the area of England where most of Valerie’s books are set and am acquainted with her, I enjoy all of her stories. Both of these authors write books that draw me into the story and don’t let me go until the last page. I usually wait to begin a book like this until I have some blocks of time to spend with them and still find myself sitting up until all hours when I should be sleeping.

6.  Of all of your published books, which one story or character is your favorite and why?

The answer to both parts of this question can be found in one book, This Time Forever, a Civil War saga. I have always been fascinated by this tragic war and life in the “old South.” This book shows the war from both North and South, black and white perspectives and weaves a story of love and honor as well as hate and depravity.

My favorite character is Philip Burke, a Yankee surgeon who becomes a prisoner of war and barters his medical skills to avoid prison. He loves his family and his fiancé and has his life all planned …until he meets Clarissa Wakefield. She is a Rebel, wife and mother, and becomes a caring and competent nurse. Philip has to make hard decisions that will hurt the people he loves and he does so with great regret. One reader said that from the first page she knew that Philip was a good man and truly good men are rare. I couldn’t ask for a better description of my favorite character.

7.  Would you tell us a little about your latest book?

My latest book is also an historical. Mistress of Huntleigh Hall is the sequel to Maid of the Midlands and the main character is the daughter of Matilda and Jondalar of the first book. This story is set in England in 1605 and involves the Gunpowder Plot. One of the supporting characters is Guido Fawkes who is a cousin of Lord Talbot, elderly husband of Alice. Although both of these books are classified as sweet, and suitable for readers of all ages, this book deals with a few more adult issues such as an unwed pregnant secondary character. Anyone who enjoys Regencies, will like these stories which have a Regency flavor with more seriousness and in an earlier time period.

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

I’m getting together a collection of five speculative short stories which have been published as ebooks for  99cents to be released soon as a print book. Then I plan to get an ebook ready for print release with a new publisher and a new cover. After that I want to put a book back together that I had to chop in half to be published as a “pure’ romance. I think the subplots add a lot to the story and I did it an injustice to cut it. Then…next year I want to write the sequel to my Civil War book, set during the Reconstruction Period that followed. I think I need a nap just talking about this!

9.  What interview question have you never been asked that you’re dying to answer? Answer it.

I think I’ve been asked everything I know and answered a lot of questions with things I probably didn’t know very well. I can’t think of anything more I’m dying to tell anyone.

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

I have a website at  I have a facebook page and a twitter account, both as Linda Swift. And I’m very happy to announce an author’s page on a new blog, Once Upon A Word, Publishing by Rebecca J Vickery. Find me here:


I am also a frequent guest on blogs that will be announced on various loops so you can find me talking about a variety of subjects from time to time if you watch for promo announcements. All of my e-books (also available in print) and short novellas can be found on Amazon and several other distributors by typing in Linda Swift.

Thank you so much for having me here as your guest, Linda. I hope our readers have found something of interest and will leave their own comments which I promise to respond to.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Help Support Breast Cancer Research - and Read A Good Book

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. You can help support breast cancer research by sending me a note verifying your purchase during the month of October of any copy of Next Time I'm Gonna Dance. I will donate $1.00 for every verification. Just email me.

Next Time I'm Gonna Dance

When Emmie Steele is diagnosed for the second time with breast cancer, she thinks about regrets. Emmie struggles with the finality of ending her marriage, but is surprised to realize her one regret is that she never learned to dance. This becomes a metaphor for Emmie as she goes through surgery, treatment, and recovery, accompanied by her four best girlfriends. As she heals from both the divorce and surgery, Emmie embraces a third chance and learns to dance with her feet and with her heart.

(* This scene takes place after Emmie has lost her hair and her four best friends had their heads shaved as a sign of their solidarity with her. Emmie is coming to close to finishing chemo and able to look toward the future.)

            "If there's one thing I've learned, it's to celebrate life's moments as they come. Let's have music and room to dance."
            "Dance? You don't dance!"
            "Correction—I didn't dance. I'm gonna learn to dance, and you're gonna teach me."
            That evening Emmie pushed and Polly pulled on the kitchen table to move it out of the way. Polly set the CD player on the counter and went through Emmie's collection of music. "Did you stop listening to music in the eighties?"
            "I happen to like the music of the eighties. I think I'd make a great disco queen."
            Polly shook her head. "I don't know about this. I mean, someone has to lead and someone has to follow, and I'm used to following. I think we need a man for this."
            "Don't be ridiculous. We'll do fine without a man. You just have to think in opposites to lead. Even I know that."
            "Oh, yeah, that'll be easy. I'm not sure I can think and dance at the same time. Okay, here goes. Let's start out with something slow."
            Polly turned on the music and held up her arms for Emmie to step into them. They fumbled to establish posture until Polly switched her arms around to the lead position. There they were, two nearly bald women, stumbling around the kitchen, with Emmie either stepping on Polly's feet or turning the wrong way.
            As they passed the window, Emmie saw headlights flash in the driveway. She stopped and looked out the door at the red pickup truck. "Oh, my God, it's Sonny. What's he doing here at this time of night?"
            "Relax. It's only eight o'clock, and you look fine. Here, let me get your wig." Polly grabbed the wig and flopped it onto Emmie's head, slightly askew. She straightened the scarf she had wrapped around her own head.
            When Sonny knocked at the door, Emmie opened it, breathless.
            He stepped inside and looked at the table pushed to the wall and the open floor space. "Hi. What's going on here?" he asked, his head cocked slightly to one side, and his eyes fixed on Emmie's head.
            "Dance class," Polly said, waving her hand in front of her face to cool off.
            "What brings you by, Sonny?" Emmie asked, straightening the wig.
            "I was on my way home from work. A customer gave me two bottles of this wine, so I thought I'd drop one off for you."
            "You have impeccable timing. We're planning a celebration, and the wine will be put to good use. What are you doing a week from Saturday?" Polly asked.
            "Nothing I know of. What are we celebrating?"
            Emmie smiled broadly. "I have one more chemo treatment, and then I'm done. After a few weeks of radiation treatments, I can start back on the road to recovery. Oh, yes, and Wes filed divorce papers. See, all the bad things are coming to an end at once."
            Sonny stammered, "That's…that's great news, Em—all of it—I guess."
            "Sonny, do you know how to dance?" Polly asked.
            "Sure. Why?"
            "And you know how to lead, I presume?"
            "Well, yeah."
            "Good. I'm going to have a drink. Here are some CDs. Pick a song and teach this one how to follow," she said as she pointed at Emmie. "My feet can't take anymore. Good luck." With that, Polly made a gin and tonic and retreated to the living room.
            Sonny hit the play button on the CD player and a waltz came on. He went to Emmie, bowed deeply and extended his hand. "May I have this dance?"
            She laughed and accepted his hand, letting him pull her into dance position. He was sure easier to follow than Polly had been. Emmie managed to step on his feet a few times, but soon got the hang of it as he gracefully waltzed her around the kitchen. She was breathing hard when the music stopped.
            "Are you okay? Do you need to sit for a minute?" he asked.
            "No. I've done nothing but sit and rest for weeks now. This is fun. Teach me another one."
            Grinning broadly, he changed the CD and a slow dance came on. He took her in his arms, telling her to look at him and let her feet follow.
            She tried, but stumbled over his feet. Laughing, he lifted her and placed her feet on top of his.
            "Hey, dancing is so much easier than I thought. Why'd I wait so long?"
            "You just need the right partner." His eyes were fixed on hers and warmth spread up her neck.        
            She slid her feet from his as the song ended, needing to create some space between their bodies. "Thanks, Sonny, but I think I've had enough for tonight."
            They sat at the table while Emmie caught her breath.
            "I'm glad I stopped by when I did," Sonny said with a grin.
            "I'm glad, too. Polly really can't lead, and I was worried someone would come by and see the two of us dancing around in here and wonder what was going on. She's definitely not my type," Emmie laughed.
            Sonny gazed at her, his eyes twinkling. "What is your type?"
            Emmie felt a shift in the air between them. She caught her breath. "Well, definitely not female redheads who can't lead a waltz."
            Polly shouted from the living room, "Hey, I heard that!"
            "So, about the dinner I promised you two. How about next week?" Sonny asked.
            "Can we wait until after I'm all finished with the chemo? I know it sounds like I'm putting you off, but food tastes like nothing right now."
            "Sure. Whenever you're ready. Are you up to another dance?"
            "I think I'll stick to the waltz for now, if that's okay. I'm kind of tired. It was nice of you to stop by. Thanks for the wine."
            Emmie watched with interest as he stood and ran a hand through his thick black hair, pushing the lock that had fallen onto his forehead back into place. Her hand tingled as she imagined doing that very thing.
            "I'll see you next week," he said, leaning quickly to kiss Emmie's cheek. "Goodnight, Polly," he called out as he headed for the door.
            "Goodnight, Sonny. Thanks for taking over the lesson," Polly called back.
            "My pleasure," he called back to Polly, his eyes again fixed on Emmie as he spoke. "Goodnight, Em."
            Emmie sat for a moment, her hand against her cheek, feeling warmth where he'd kissed her. She joined Polly in the living room. "Well, I can waltz now. You were right—all I needed was a man." Seeing Polly's smirk, she quickly added, "To lead. I needed a man to lead."

Next Time I'm Gonna Dance is available in both ebook and trade paperback at Champagne Books as well as at and B&

If you purchase the ebook by October 20 from Champagne Books, you can get a 45% discount during our Thanksgiving Sale. (Yes, it's Thanksgiving in Canada! Lucky you!) Just use the above link to go to the Champagne Bookstore and use the code: TGTK2012 when you check out.

Thanks for helping me support such a wonderful cause. Breast cancer is something that is a concern for all women, not only those who are diagnosed.