Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A New Year Dawns

   It's that time again when we celebrate the passing of the old and the dawning of the New Year. 2013 was a great year in many ways. My sister visited for a week and we had a wonderful time. I had five books published between January and November and one book became a bestseller at All Romance eBooks. I wrote my very first paranormal--In the Spirit--a genre I never thought I'd write (and had so much fun writing). My book, Unconditional, received a quote from one of my favorite bestselling authors, Kris Radish. That was a big highlight for me. I flew to Arizona and traveled with two of my best friends for a week to Las Vegas, Sedona (my favorite place in the U.S.) and back to Tucson. I still have a job, which is a blessing in itself. I had some health issues present themselves, but with determination and care have gotten things under control--and lost a whole size in the process. I finished three more books and have two of them under contract for the coming year. I broke off my long-term relationship with Lady Clairol and went au naturale--and I like it. I still have Binky in my life, and that is pure gift every day.

   It seems like just yesterday we were celebrating the start of 2013. Wow, time is moving so fast. Frighteningly fast. Rather than think about regrets from 2013 or make 'resolutions', I prefer to think about the things I want to accomplish in 2014. Resolutions sound too absolute, too much like things I MUST do. I prefers plans, things I HOPE for.

   I plan to self-publish a novel in the spring and see how that goes. I've started to organize a Street Team (lots of room if you'd like to join. Just email me.) I'll be changing the focus of this blog in 2014. For the past two years, the focus was on presenting authors on various aspects of writing. In 2014, the focus will be on women and women's issues, though I'll tie that all into my writing and the women who carry my stories. I might introduce you to a new author here or there, as well.

   I'm already planning a late spring trip to Pennsylvania to visit family and friends and hopefully have a book signing or two. I've already begun plans for a trip to Florida for the fall. It will hopefully be a chance to see old friends and meet new ones. In any case, it will be an adventure. I want to attend at least one writer's conference and a writer's retreat during 2014. I need to rub elbows with fellow writers.

   When time seems to pass so quickly, I think it's important to embrace every experience and opportunity and to live each moment fully and with intention. I intend for 2014 to be a year filled with life, with love and laughter and truth and honesty and friends and family and energy and fun and hope. I wish the same for you.



Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Christmas Message From Binky

'Twas the week before Christmas and all through the house
Linda vacuumed and dusted while Binky did grouse.
The bathroom and kitchen were gleaming and clean.
The tables and desk held a bright, shiny sheen.
Even the litterbox got a good scrub,
Linda stopping a moment to give Binky a belly rub.
Tomorrow Binky's Auntie Sue Ann will arrive
She's not a cat lover, but they both will survive.
With Sue Ann in the bedroom and I on the blow up
Binky will fret with confusion and eventually throw up.
But then she'll adjust and curl up at my side 
In time for Santa's magical ride.
The morning brings presents and surprises for all,
Even she who disrupts my sleep with cat calls.
She'll check out the tree, sniff her toys, play with paper.
That about sums it up--Binky's big Christmas caper.

Binky suggests that if you need a little break from the holiday preparations or a way to unwind, settle down with a nice cup of cocoa and your very own copy of
Reinventing Christmas, a sweet Christmas romance.

Available at Amazon.com
and in Trade Paperback at 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Jeanne Arnold - How I Became A Writer

I'm very pleased to round out my series on How I Became A Writer by introducing author Jeanne Arnold.

~ * ~

Up until a few years ago, writing a book was not a factor of my reality. Barring college art history papers on the Baths of Caracalla and Roman Art and Architecture, or a resume, I had not typed a word of nonfiction, plot or anything resembling a chapter since high school. Yet it has recently occurred to me that I’ve always been a writer. I started life with a crayon in my hand. I drew everything that came to mind. I drew stories. I drew characters. I drew scenery and events and themes and emotions. As a first grader, I declared I was going to be a picture book illustrator and imitated all of my favorite book artists. I grew older and became let down by middle grade novels with sparse pen and ink illustrations. I wanted to be the artist, the creative hand who drew on the pages what I imagined in my mind.  In high school and college, my writing emptied out of a paintbrush in watercolor illustrations. Detailed faces and landscapes came out of colored pencils and charcoal. I spent a good portion of my adulthood doing portraits and random freelance design. Until one day my characters demanded voices, conversation and personalities. Now they grace the pages of my stories. 

It was a chilly winter day in 2010 when I first set my laptop on the kitchen table and watched the white backyard become striped with sled tracks and footprints. After a stretch of reminiscing and daydreaming, I began typing the story of how my husband and I met in high school. My tale of a seventeen-year-old girl blindfolded for a psychology experiment, being teased by her secret admirer in the art room, morphed into a young adult novel full of magical realism and teen romance. There was no method to my writing and I found myself pouring the words onto the pages. Something wonderful overcame me and in a handful of weeks I finished my first novel. Within a year I wrote a handful of books and signed with the Belcastro Agency where I began my journey to publication. I’ve penned several young adult novels and there are many waiting for their turn inside me. My upcoming young adult romance STUBBORN is available from Champagne Books on January 6th followed by THE HAUNT OF THIRTEEN CURVES in June. My writing gives me the most creative satisfaction, an outlet, completeness. So for now, the paintbrushes are stashed away and the laptop is my canvas.


Jeanne Arnold is an author of young adult romance. At a young age she found her creative outlet in art, and for years her fictional characters came to life in drawings and paintings, until they demanded a voice. Now they grace the pages of her stories. Jeanne shares her time with her fictional teenage counterparts and her human family in Central New York.


With a train ticket, a bad attitude, and an unfortunate scribbling of obscenities across her forehead, seventeen-year-old Avery Ross is tossed out of the frying pan and into the fire when she’s sent from New York to the vast oil field region of North Dakota.  When a green-eyed boy with a sultry Texan accent comes to her defense, Avery has no clue that his actions will lead her into a passion-charged summer, full of temptation and loss.

Defiant and relegated to work at her aunt’s boarding house, Avery discovers a connection between her aunt and the striking boy. He and his brothers are seeking revenge for the wrongful death of their sibling, and Avery becomes entangled in their battle over oil rights, loyalty, and love.  Avery falls for the brooding, younger brother, Gabriel Halden, against her aunt’s forewarnings and creates more tribulations than any of them could anticipate.

STUBBORN will be available in e-format on January 6th, 2014 at all major online retailers. You can follow Jeanne Arnold online at:

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Meet Author Elizabeth Fountain

“A Villain Named Angel”

For National Novel Writing Month this year, I’m writing a sequel to the tale I began last year, a young girl’s quest to prove she’s not a little kid anymore by joining her grandfather’s group of math and computer geeks seeking the pure mathematical formula for forgiveness. In the new story, this young girl (now a teenager) and her friends have to continue her grandpa’s work after he was killed in a car accident. And they’re looking for something more mysterious than forgiveness: they’re trying to find the way back from death. Unlike past years, this time around I had only the scantest idea of the story before I began to write. That’s okay, because I adore the adventure of a completely “pantsed” first draft. And it turns out, the most fun so far involves creating a brand new villain.
He came from nowhere, this villain; I hadn’t set out to find him. I thought the one from the first book would do just fine. Then, in the middle of the first week of NaNo, I sat down at a blank computer screen and began to describe Percival Langston Troy the Third. Yes, he’s the third man in his family saddled with that name, and in a way, that’s where his villainy begins. As a youngster, his name prompted other boys to torment him. He decided to change it. He wanted to call himself “Angel.” As he says: It was still odd, but I figured I might as well choose the oddity I’d become.
Angel’s determination to craft his own fate leads his father to disown him in the most humiliating way. It also provides the impetus for his career as the CEO of a high tech company. From the moment Angel’s father tells the young boy how “sickened” he is by his choice to discard the family name, Angel begins to turn into the villain who will turn fear loose in the world.
Where did all this come from? I’ve no idea, really. I didn’t know there was a physically imposing, fifty-something, treacherously snake-like corporate CEO lodged in my imagination. But then again, I didn’t know my imagination held any of the characters in my story until they showed up, sometimes in dreams, sometimes in reveries, and every once in a while, like Angel Troy, right on the computer screen. They seem to collect the words I’ll use to describe them, drawing these words around them like mist swirling around the pine trees on a cold, clear morning in our upper valley. Angel Troy is big, articulate, well-dressed, quiet, and entirely fearsome to those around him.
It should be fun to see how he stacks up against the protagonist, a fifteen year old girl with one quest already under her belt, a three-legged black Lab at her side, and all the determination born of her love for her grandpa taken too early from her. Creating these characters means I get to hang out with villains, heroines, dogs, and a lot more interesting people. At times like this, writing stories feels like the best job in the world.

Web site:

Facebook page:

Buy links:
An Alien’s Guide to World Domination on Amazon and on BURST Books, and most e-book retailers

Author bio:
Elizabeth Fountain left a demanding job as a university administrator in Seattle to move to the small town of Ellensburg, Washington, and pursue her dream of writing novels.  Her first book, An Alien’s Guide to World Domination, was released by BURST Books in 2013; and You, Jane, her second novel, will be published in 2014. On her breaks from writing, Liz teaches university courses, gives workshops on writing, spends time with family and friends, and takes long walks in the diabolical Kittitas Valley wind. Her quirkily humorous view of humanity is well-suited to tales of aliens and angels, love and death, friendship and dogs.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Julie Eberhart Painter - How I Became A Writer

I'm so happy to welcome Julie Eberhart Painter who shares her story of becoming a writer.

~ * ~

From Slush to Mush, how I became a writer:

 All my life, I was a writer. But I poised on the precipice for fifty years before letting go of the Zip Line and slipping from writer into author. Before that, I was the one who took the minutes, wrote the newsletter, and composed the PSAs.

Some other responsibility always seemed to come between me and my author chair. I will give myself one pat on the back: I never went to a party and said, “I could write a book.”

Then with the encouragement of a dear friend, I “got writing.”

My first long effort was called “Full Circle”—isn’t almost everybody’s? When I walked into a book store to see where my genius might someday be displayed, I saw that in the Romance section alone, there were three Full Circlers that quarter. My first reaction was “Ah, a title that sells.” Fifteen years later, my much more sophisticated version, Mortal Coil, was accepted by Champagne Books.

The journey between writer and author is a long cinder trail: two steps up, one slide back. Long stories were forming. Soon I was not only reading about the craft, but taking courses from mainstream writers and going to Romance, Mystery and Florida Writers Association conferences.

While on that uncertain path, I wrote about writing. When I learned something important, I shared it. Later I branched out to favorite and familiar subjects such as nursing home abuse, hospice, and after a search for my birth mother, adoption.

My issues of fraud, abuse, longing, humor, and card playing senior citizens combined to jell my Brand.

Mortal Coil uses the nursing home setting because to murder a helpless old woman in her bed, cut off her hair and repeat that crime is the antipathy of what nursing homes are supposed to be about. The subplot is driven by a behind-the-scenes scandal of greed and neglect. (Lots of articles on this subject preceded my debut novel.)

Tangled Web includes my adoption search and speculation about my Welsh family. The non-identifying information is a word-for-word replica of a part of my documented information. My search generated many articles before I took it over the top to the emotional level with fiction.

Kill Fee shows that even a friendly duplicate bridge game can lead to murder. (Although bridge players have been known to feel the urge.) Without my years as a director for the ACBL (American Contract Bridge League), I could not have shown the game unfolding in the room with map-like accuracy.

Medium Rare takes our heroine from Kill Fee and turns her into the perfect sleuth to find the murderer who killed the medium who “saw all” among the crazy and motivated office staff in a medical setting.

Daughters of the Sea, The legends of the South Pacific create the impetus for the book and set me up to also write travel articles. Legends make good blurbs describing visual scenes without disorienting the readers.

In January, Morning After Midnight visits the family dynamics of a shattered white southern family and our hero’s relatively upwardly mobile black friend in the midst of social unrest. 

Julie Eberhart Painter, a Pennsylvania transplant now living in Central Florida, is the author of ten books. A frequent contributor to blogs, Julie is a regular columnist at Cocktails, Fiction and Gossip Magazine, an online slick where she talks about fun stuff, such as families, books, art, music, travel and dance.
Visit Julie’s Web site at www.books-jepainter.com
http://bit.ly/17GtxDh for Bewildering Stories, my bio

Blog for  The Writers Vineyard, every fourth Monday, See Nov. 4 and Dec. 2
Link:  thewritersvineyard.com

Friday, October 25, 2013

A Ghostly Tale of Mystery and Romance

Updated 11/05/2013:

IN THE SPIRIT is now available in ebook. If anyone had asked me if I'd ever write a paranormal book, I'd have told them they were crazy. But those of you who know me know I can't pass up a challenge and I just had to see if I could pull it off. I ended up with a story that has a ghost, a mystery/suspense and not one, but two, romances--one in this life and one in the hereafter. It's also dedicated to my cat, Binky, who is a character--both in the book and in life.

(Don't you just love the cover art by Trisha FitzGerald?)

Available from Champagne Books

and at Amazon.com

Here's the blurb and an excerpt to whet your appetite.

Blurb:   Author Jessica Windsor is suffering a severe case of writer's block. Hoping a change of scenery will get the words flowing again, she retreats to a mountain cabin--where she soon discovers she is not alone. The ghost of mystery writer, Andrew McCabe, has unfinished business and enlists her help to solve his murder. Jessica soon finds herself on a madman's hit list.
Ben Gearing has been something of a recluse since he destroyed his marriage and lost his family. But there’s something about Jessica Windsor that makes him want to smile again, makes him feel more like his old self. Could he be ready to finally get on with his life?


Andrew hovered in the doorway while Jessica unpacked her bag. His interest piqued when she removed lingerie and carefully arranged it in one of the drawers. She set out bottles of lotions, cologne and makeup on the dressing table. God, he missed those intoxicating scents of women. The softness of their shoulders, the warmth…

She reminded him so much of Laura. He sighed.

Andrew pressed his lips together. Here goes. “Jessica,” he hissed.

“Binky?” She searched, but the cat was not in the room.

“Great. I’m hearing things.” She shoved the empty suitcase into the closet and started for the door.

Andrew remained in the doorway. “Jessica!”

But she kept moving, passing straight through him before he could step aside.

He gritted his teeth and shuddered. I hate when they do that.

He straightened his jacket.

Jessica stopped and rubbed her hands along her arms. She returned for the second suitcase and emptied it, hanging the contents in the closet. She removed a photograph from the inside pocket of the luggage—a picture of a teenaged boy with her eyes and mouth, but lighter hair.

Andrew peered over her shoulder. Good looking kid. He placed his mouth near her ear and spoke, “Jessica, can you hear me?”

She clutched the photo to her chest and whirled around. “What the…? Who said that? Is someone there?”

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Cat Shaffer - How I Became A Writer

I'm very pleased to welcome author Cat Shaffer who shares the story of her journey into writing.

~ * ~

I taught myself to read when I was four. Now, I really don’t deserve any praise for it. My mother was a teacher, my grandmother had been a teacher and my sister decided as a first grader that it was her duty to teach me everything she was learning. My parents were surprised when I read a newspaper headline but not as surprised as learning that all I ever wanted to be was a writer.

They loved me and supported me, of course. But I know that deep inside they were thinking “A writer? A writer? A writer!!!”

My first success as a writer came when I was in the fourth grade and won an essay contest. My first-plane entry garnered me my photo in the newspaper, a savings bond and a trip to the local TB hospital. Looking back, that may not have been the best reward ever. But I remember thinking how cool it was – it was super easy and people gave me stuff.

So I earned a journalism degree and set off to conquer the newspaper world. I’m sure my parents were proud of me even those I’d chosen a career with crummy hours, so-so pay and minimal respect. Yet I discovered rewards I hadn’t learned in my writing and editing classes.

That I’d walk into someone’s kitchen and see a column I’d written on the front of their refrigerator.

That someone I’d forgotten meeting would ask me if I remembered the time I interviewed them.

How even on the bad days, I’d realize I was blessed with a career that gave me freedom, great friends and a chance to affect people with the way I put words together.
But even as I moved up to an editor’s spot and hung writing awards on my wall, ideas for the other kind of stories – made up stories – circled in my brain. So I played with short stories, tried out poetry and finally realized what I was meant to do.
Write books.

My first attempts shall remain forever hidden from all but my loved ones who will inherit them upon my death. They’re already preparing to haul the manuscripts out, read them page by page and make cruel fun of them. I figure it will cheer them after they discover my estate consists of a Mac Apple IIe and a photo of me with Barbara Bush after having tea at the White House.

It took time. But I attended workshops and read articles by fantastic writers and bought books and wrote. And wrote and wrote. Eventually I screwed up the courage to submit.
And submit and submit. Which, as one might guess, brought me rejection after rejection.

Until a publisher asked for a full. And an agent agreed to represent me. And a few contest wins for my fiction and, eventually, an offer to publish the first in my Shadow Ancient vampire series, “Out of the Shadows.”

That’s when Cammie Eicher appeared on the literary scene. Cat Shaffer made her debut a year or two later when it became obvious to me that having one persona for the gritty paranormal books and another for works that were, well, not gritty paranormal books were a good idea.

I’ve been blessed to write for two publishers, Resplendence Publishing and Turquoise Morning Press, who have given me the go-ahead on a variety of books. My most recent Cat Shaffer release is Academy for Losers, the first in The Non-Magicals series, and is aimed at young adults.

Why young adult? Because Cammie’s books are aimed at adults and the kids from the youth group at my church wanted me to write something they could read. It’s taken a few years, but Academy for Losers is the result.

I love the characters, I love the happenings at the Academy and I’m so excited that the powers-that-be at Turquoise Morning want more. Yes, two more adventures of The Non-Magicals will be coming out in 2015.

So what have I learned since fourth grade?

Writing is harder than I thought back then. Editors are meaner to writers than kind small-town teachers. There is no support group as fantastic as my fellow authors.

And it’s so much easier to hit a deadline when you don’t have a cat laying on the keyboard.

Who knew that being less than special could make Violet Greene so extraordinary?
Banished to Hempstead Academy for her total lack of natural magic, Violet Greene figures life as she knows it is over. She soon discovers that there’s more for her at this Academy for Losers than vocational classes. Like totally cool new friends, the cutest boy she’s ever met and an unexpected talent with lawnmower engines—as well as a chance to use the art of prestidigitation at the county spelling bee.

Life would be perfect if only she didn’t have to thwart a nosy guidance counselor, survive her classes without maiming anyone, and figure out how to ace a report on the most boring book ever. 


Suspense author Cat Shaffer is a native of Northwest Ohio. She now lives in northeastern Kentucky with a bossy Sheltie, a rambunctious Lab puppy and a trio of cats who think they rule the world.

In her alter ego of Cammie Eicher, she writes paranormal suspense, including the Shadow Ancient vampires series.

Cat/Cammie has books in both digital and print formats, most of them suspense novels. She also has her first young adult novel, "Academy for Losers," slated for release this fall, the story of a non-magical girl in a world where what matters most is magic.

The common thread to all of Cat/Cammie's works are strong characters, plots with twist and turns and her love of small towns and small town people, all presented with a sense of humor.

Contact Cat at catshaffer@windstream.net or on Facebook.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Diana Green - How I Became A Writer

I'm very pleased to welcome author Diana Green who shares her story of how she became a writer.

~ * ~

I want to start by thanking Linda for inviting me to her excellent blog. It is fascinating to read the journeys of my fellow writers. 
As with most authors, “becoming a writer” didn’t happen overnight for me. There has been a lot of patience, hard work, and unexpected twists in my life path, to get here.  Now that I am here, I find being a good writer is a moving target. I’m constantly striving to improve, to stretch myself, and hone my craft.

I have always loved stories. As a child, even before I could write words, I drew pictures to make stapled, construction paper books. Once I learned to read and write, there was no stopping me. I joyfully read aloud to anyone who would listen, memorized fables and myths to retell, and began writing my own creations.

At sixteen I tried my hand at becoming a novelist. I almost finished that first one, before teenage life distracted me, and I put it away. It’s just as well, as the writing was not great. Over the following years I tried twice more. In my mid-twenties I managed to complete my first fully-realized book, The Song of Sehdra Mor. It is an epic-fantasy adventure, which I have since reworked and self-published through Amazon.

In the meantime, I got married, had a child, got divorced, went back to school as a single mom, got remarried, and became a teacher. Needless to say, there wasn’t much time in all that for writing. I managed to complete some short stories, a few of which got published in literary journals. I have since self-published twelve of them in a collection titled, The Dream Seller’s Wares.

I enjoyed teaching art and special education both. It was a deeply satisfying career, though the writing urge still nipped at my heels. During breaks in the school year I would dabble, even starting another two novels, before realizing I just didn’t have the time to complete them. Teaching, (even more so with special needs students) is an all-consuming occupation, especially if you love it, as I did.

About two years ago, my health gave out. It was partly a result of overworking and also being exposed to so many cold and flu bugs. I spent my last teaching year struggling against a series of viruses. This triggered an auto-immune reaction in my body. I became seriously ill, so much so I could barely get out of bed, for weeks on end. In time I was diagnosed with auto-immune thyroiditis and chronic fatigue syndrome.

With the help of an excellent specialist, (I will be grateful to her forever), I have learned how to manage my condition. I have regained a portion of my earlier health, though I still function within challenging constraints.  One of the limitations is that I can no longer teach.

Giving up my work with children was painful, but I began to recognize a new path was opening. With my medical condition, I have to work at something with flexible hours, and preferably from home. It just so happens my bliss, my life-long passion, WRITING, fit the need perfectly. 

Once I saw writing as a profession, rather than a hobby, things began to happen. I signed my first book contract, this past March. It was for a romantic science fiction adventure titled New Sion, which has just released with Champagne Books. In August, I sold the first book of a fantasy/romance trilogy, Dragon Clan, to The Wild Rose Press. The novel, Dragon Wife, will be released some time in 2014, and I am currently working on the second book, Dragon Warrior.

Clearly, it has been an exciting time, leaping into the world of publishing, with so much to learn and so much to do. I love being able to share my stories. I have ideas for many more, and now I will have the time and means to write them. It is a blessing for which I will never stop being thankful.

Thank you for taking the time to read about my journey. I encourage you to visit my website dianagreenbooks.com to learn more about my books. There are excerpts, book trailers and more.

 Pretending to be a man isn’t easy. Finn Colville has pulled it off for years, but things get complicated when she falls for her new bounty hunting partner, Eamon Sullivan. On the planet New Sion, it’s against the law for a woman to wear pants and carry a gun, much less shoot people for a living. What will happen if Eamon discovers her secret?
On a backwater planet, at the edge of a galactic war, one man, one woman, and one desperate alien cross paths. Together they embark on the road trip of a lifetime, bound for revelation, and redemption.

Available from Champagne Books, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online retailers.

Diana’s Books
The Dream Seller’s Wares
The Song of Sehdra Mor
New Sion

Diana Green's Bio

Since her childhood, growing up in New Zealand, Diana has been an avid storyteller. For years she enjoyed teaching art and special education, while continuing to write as a hobby. After she developed chronic fatigue syndrome, a career change was necessary, but happily this led her to become a professional author.
Diana’s favorite genres are fantasy, science fiction, historical, and romance. She currently lives in beautiful Washington State where she writes for Champagne Books and The Wild Rose Press.

Visit her website at:  DIANAGREENBOOKS.COM

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Judy Alter - How I Became A Writer

I'm very happy to introduce author Judy Alter who shares her journey into writing.

~ * ~

I don’t think I ever “became” an author though it took me years to feel I could claim that title. Maybe it was the transition from “writer” to “author,” but I think I was born a writer. I came by my love of words honestly. My parents both read voraciously and read to me when I was a child. By ten, I was writing short stories, and in high school I submitted stories to Seventeen, the Bible for teen girls of my era. Of course, those stories came right back.
In college, I majored in English because I wanted to read and some man was going to marry me and take care of me, so I didn’t worry about a career (I’m dating myself, I fear). I must have envisioned a life of reading while eating bonbons, but it didn’t work out that way. I kept going to school, majoring in English until I had a Ph.D. and my then-husband said, “No more college.” Along the way I gave up writing fiction because graduate school in those days taught you to analyze and defend and do everything but give in to your imagination. I wrote a lot of nonfiction, particularly articles on health for the average reader (my husband was a doctor, and I was immersed in the medical community).
I was also developing an interest in the literature of the American West, because of my graduate studies. A friend gave me her mother’s autobiography, a manuscript carefully pounded out on a manual typewriter. The story fascinated me—the writer grew up in a small East Texas town, the daughter of a deputy sheriff who was shot and killed when she was just four years old. Her account was full of details of life in the early twentieth century—a tornado that picked a baby out of its crib and set it down, unharmed, by a stock tank; a wedding breakfast of quail on toast points; the arrival of the first Jewish family in the town. Only problem was I didn’t know what to do with this material except to footnote and annotate it and rob it of every bit of life it had.
The idea that came to me was like the proverbial light bulb going off in my head. I had been reading some juvenile fiction and realized I could make the girl fourteen instead of four and tell the story from her point of view. The result was my first published novel. By serendipity I had met an agent who took it on and sold it to a New York house (those were different days than the present). I called it A Year With No Summer, but the marketing people called it After Pa Was Shot. My mother sniffed and said, “More violence!” To my surprise, they marketed it as a young-adult book and immediately I was pigeon-holed as a young-adult author, a category I’ve worked hard to break out of.

In the years since, I’ve published eleven novels for adults, eight for young adults, and reams of nonfiction, most of it book for young readers, many of them about women of the American West. Along the way I even wrote a cookbook/memoir. These days I’m fulfilling my lifelong ambition to write mysteries, with two series and five books in print, at least two more scheduled. But I don’t think any book ever gives me the thrill that first one did.

A Kelly O'Connell Cozy Mystery, Book Four

Kelly O’Connell’s husband, Mike Shandy, insists she has a talent for trouble, but how can she sit idly by while her world is shattering. Daughter Maggie is hiding a runaway classmate; protégé Joe Mendez seems to be hanging out again with his former gang friends and ignoring his lovely wife Theresa; drug dealers have moved into her beloved Fairmount neighborhood. And amidst all this, reclusive former diva Lorna McDavid expects Kelly to do her grocery shopping. In spite of Mike’s warnings, Kelly is determined to save the runaway girl and her abused mother and find out what’s troubling Joe, even when those things lead back to the drug dealers. Before all the tangles in the neighborhood are untangled, Kelly finds herself wondering who to trust, facing drug dealers, and seeing more of death than she wants. But she also tests upscale hot dog recipes and finds a soft side to the imperious recluse, Lorna McDavid. It’s a wild ride, but she manages, always, to protect her daughters and keep Mike from worrying about her—at least not too much.

About Judy:

  An award-winning novelist, Judy Alter is the author of four books in the Kelly O’Connell Mysteries series: Skeleton in a Dead Space, No Neighborhood for Old Women, Trouble in a Big Box, and Danger Comes Home. With Murder at the Blue Plate Café, she moved from inner city Fort Worth to small-town East Texas to create a new set of characters in a setting modeled after a restaurant that was for years one of her family’s favorites. Murder at Tremont House, second in the Blue Plate Mystery Series, will appear in February 2014 and a fifth Kelly O’Connell novel is scheduled for July 2014.
     Judy is retired after twenty years as director of a small academic press. The mother of four and grandmother of seven, she lives in Fort Worth, Texas, with her Bordoodle, Sophie.

Judy can be found at:           http://www.judyalter.com

Friday, September 20, 2013

Suzanne M. Hurley - How I Became A Writer

I'm very pleased to welcome author Suzanne M. Hurley who tells us about her journey into writing.

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First of all, I’d like to thank Linda for the opportunity to talk about how I became a writer.

While in university, I once applied for a summer job at a Dairy Queen. When asked why, I broke it down to its simplest form and said, ‘Because I love ice cream.’ I got the job. Trying to explain how I ended up a writer reminded me of that story, because, breaking it down to its simplest form, ‘I love words’.

My fascination with words began at a young age, before I even started school. Often I’d hear a word I’d never heard before that would appeal to me and I’d repeat it out loud, over and over, savoring its sound. I’d then look it up in the dictionary to see what it meant.

My mother told me several times, that I’d made a valiant effort to teach myself to read, before I was even formally taught. I can well remember my grade one teacher giving us thick readers, asking us to read a story a night. Eager and excited, I ran home and read the whole book cover to cover. I was lucky because that same teacher went out of her way to keep me supplied in a never-ending stream of books. I also devoured every book I could get my hands on at home - from children’s encyclopedias to my brother’s Hardy Boy Collection. I couldn’t pass a newspaper or magazine without picking it up and reading it and then I discovered the public library where to this day, I still visit several times a week.

Exciting worlds were opened up to me through books and the only downside is that quite often I still pronounce words wrong because I was reading so much at such a young age that I never learned the proper pronunciation of certain words, so I made up my own pronunciation and will still slip into ‘my way’ from time to time.

So words were always a passion of mine, but then took on new meaning when my mother was ill and subsequently passed away when I was a teenager. She had always encouraged my reading and words at that time comforted me, gave me peace and provided a safe haven for my grief, as I searched for books that offered me solace.

My love of words eventually branched out into trying my hand at writing. All through elementary school I wrote stories in my journal about how much I wanted to live on a farm, because I was and am a huge animal lover. In high school I joined the school newspaper which provided me an opportunity to express my love of the written word. However, it was a gift that made my writing take off – the gift of my very first laptop.

My computer and I became inseparable and I carried it everywhere. That way, I always had this special outlet to write my words, and very shortly after receiving it, my first book Changeable Facades was born and I have never looked back. Writing has become my passion and I write every single day no matter what, even getting up early in the morning to write before heading to work or beginning my chores or plans for the day.

In my reflection about words, I am in awe of them. They can be honed as weapons to hurt people or peaceful expressions to soothe and comfort. I choose to write from my heart and to carefully select words to do what books do to me – provide safe havens for readers to immerse themselves in and hopefully receive a small measure of solace for at least a few minutes.  My hope is that my books will also provide a well-needed escape like they do for me and help generate the love of words that I have.

I love writing mysteries and have a series about a counselor in a high school who always seems to find herself in the middle of problems.  I also love writing women’s fiction about women overcoming obstacles successfully and one of them Never Ever was a finalist in the Epic E-book awards. I also have a book coming out in November entitled To the Stars, dedicated to all young people who have lost a loved one. I’m hoping it will provide a message of hope to those in mourning.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

My newest book is Who did it? This book is the fifth in my Samantha Barclay Mystery Series. 

Who killed the beloved principal of St. Michael’s High School?
Newly minted FBI agent Samantha Barclay’s first case is to find the murderer.
Only one problem. Everyone she meets has a reason to see him dead.
Will she uncover who did it - before he or she strikes again?

Happiness to this author is curled up with her laptop creating imaginary worlds that come from her heart. Writing is her passion and dreaming up story lines is her love. Suzanne was born in Peterborough, Ontario and currently resides in Caledonia, Haldimand County, where on morning walks with Mike and Rico, she tries out her new plots on the cows, sheep and numerous wild animals she greets along the way.

My Books:

Changeable Facades
Shades of Envy
Who Did It?
Nice Girls Can Win
Never Ever
To the Stars – will be released in November 2013

Friday, September 13, 2013

Victoria Roder - How I Became A Writer

This week, I'm very pleased to introduce multi-published author Victoria Roder who shared her journey to becoming a writer.

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Although my mom always told me I was creative and should be a writer, I never planned to be an author. I love children, have always wanted to work with them, and went to college to become a teacher. I enjoy watching children learn, I love their humor, their interpretation of the world around them and their loving nature. I also love animals and their unconditional love for us flawed humans. Those two loves led me on the road to becoming an author.
My husband Ron and I heard about a stray Husky that was hit by a car and left for dead. We didn’t want the puppy to suffer, and assuming he would need to be put down, we took the dog to vet.  To our surprise, other than his injuries, the stray was a healthy four-month-old puppy.  The veterinarian amputated his back leg and tail, and the day after his surgery, Rocky walked out of the veterinarian’s office and into our hearts.

I wrote an article for FarmLife magazine on our rescue dog Rocky. When my article, Rocky the Survivor appeared in The Farm Dog Hero section of FarmLife magazine I was hooked on seeing my words in print. I decided my writing goal would be to have something published, in print, which would memorialize each of my pets for all of eternity.  Not an easy goal when you realize I have three dogs, two cats, and a lizard.  It started with my Husky Rocky and then my story of our German Shepherd Dog, Tucker that got lost but we were lucky enough to find him, appeared in FarmLife magazine.

After seeing my words in print I took a writing class and in the course of reading to children everyday, I thought, in addition to magazine articles, I could write for these children I care so much about. Through magazine articles, novels, and children’s books I am well on my way to reach my original goal to have each of my beloved pets star in my writing. My cat Zues made his debut in my middle grade read, The Curse of King Ramesses II. Rocky and Molly lead a team of dogs in my newest middle grade read, Sled Dog Tales and my lizard Slippery is the star of my work in progress, also a middle grade novel.

I ventured into novels with my sister Tammy’s encouragement to write down a recurring nightmare I’ve had since I was a little girl. That dream became my first novel The Dream House Visions and Nightmares. In a publishing sense, my recurring nightmare became my dream come true. I’m also sneaking my beloved pets into my novels, My German Shepherd Dog, Tucker stars as a service dog in my new release, The Haunting of Ingersull Penitentiary. My cat Baby and my sister’s dog Teddy appeared in Bolt Action. So, I guess I’ve run out of my own pets and moved on to the beloved pets of people I know.

I believe animals enrich our lives and love us unconditionally. Think about this, if you locked your husband and your dog in your trunk for five minutes, which one will be happy to see you when you open the trunk? Although my writing goal started small, seeing ‘By Victoria Roder’ for the first time was the encouragement I needed to inspire the confidence to write. That confidence provided the courage necessary to submit my writing to publishers.  I say courage to submit, because any writer knows, if you submit, it is not a question of, if you will face rejection, but when, because it is a part of the process. 

Haunting of Ingersull Penitentiary:
Converting the former federal prison Ingersull Penitentiary, into The Big House Inn swallowed Hailey Price’s inheritance from her murdered mother and deceased father’s estate. But, with any luck, the rumors of the federal complex being haunted will boost interest of the Inn. The abandoned Penitentiary, cursed by a witch, is in a constant battle of good versus evil, an eternal struggle for the souls that enter the complex. The residual haunts are the least of the frightening occurrences at the Inn. An electrical storm traps the visitors with a possessed Ouija board and the spirit of a condemned witch and an ancient curse. It might be Heaven checking into The Big House Inn, but it’s Hell checking out.


Victoria Roder lives in Central Wisconsin with her husband and house full of pets. She is the author of paranormal thriller Haunting of Ingersull Penitentiary, action thriller Bolt Action, paranormal romance The Dream House Visions and Nightmares. Picture book An Important Job to Do: A Noah’s Ark Tale, children’s chapter books, Sled Dog Tales and The Curse of King Ramesses II, an inspirational book It’s Not You, It’s Them: Six Choices to Healing & Thriving After Abuse, and her short stories have appeared in several anthologies. Victoria also creates puzzles for magazines and activity books and coming soon from DWB children’s line, Directions for Life a teen puzzle book and devotion. Please visit Victoria at www.victoriaroder.com