Thursday, April 25, 2013

How I Became A Writer - Linda Swift

I think it was almost inevitable that I would become a writer. My earliest memories include being read to by my dad and fraternal grandmother, both teachers, avid readers, and "hobby" writers.
I followed the predictable steps many writers take, first writing poems beginning when I was ten. These came to include love poems in my teens. I also wrote my first romance book in my early high school years. It was five hundred pages written in longhand on lined notebook paper.

When I married at nineteen, I put away childish things and my literary attempts were in this category. I threw my novel in the trash but my dad, unknown to me, salvaged it and kept it for several years before he returned it to me. He said he felt I had matured enough by then to treasure it and I had, and have it to this day, although I've had only memories of him for many years now.
When my two children were enrolled in school, I decided to become a teacher and enrolled as a college freshman. Marriage, family, church, and school consumed all of my time for several years. My only writing was a few short stories for my children and skits for my college classes. Several years and three degrees later, my dormant  urge to write was satisfied when I enrolled in a university creative writing class. This led to my membership in a state poetry group and a fulfilling association with "real" writers for the first time and soon I was having poems published in a variety of publications.

I began writing short stories and taking more writing classes. I won a Fiction Skills Scholarship for a week at a national writers' conference and had my first short story published by a literary magazine. Other stories followed. But my goal was a published novel and this was reached when Kensington published my novel in the Women's Fiction genre. I was invited to contribute a novella to their Christmas Anthology, then had a second book scheduled for release when the line I wrote for was cancelled and I became an orphan.

A hiatus of several years followed while I traveled with my husband on consulting jobs to many places including England. My agent was unable to place my work elsewhere due to the changes taking place in the industry and I eventually severed my contract with him.

Meanwhile, I kept writing and finally turned to digital publishing in 2007. And the rest, as they say, is history.  I have been contracted with nine digital publishers, and currently have titles with five of them. I have twelve books available in ebook and print and seven short stories in ebook only. An additional book has just been released  and I have plans for more to come this year.

My journey toward my desired destination so far has not been easy but the rewards far outweigh the time and effort spent. I have not reached as high as I'd like to be today, but I'm higher than I was yesterday and I'm still climbing. There is an old adage that says it is the journey rather than the destination that is most important so I'm trying to make mine count. 

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Linda Swift divides her time between her native state of Kentucky and Florida. She is an award winning author of published poetry, articles, short stories, and a TV play. Linda's first two books were published by Kensington. She writes historical and contemporary romance, women's fiction, short stories and poetry (available in e-books and print from Amazon and other distributors) Her publishers include Publishing by Rebecca J. Vickery, Champagne Books, Whiskey Creek Press, Whimsical Publications, and Willow Moon Publishing.

My Website:

My Facebook Page

My Amazon Author Page



When Paula's husband divorces her to find himself, she is devastated. Adding to her hurt and anger, he joins a band and dates a sexy young singer. Forced to start over in the job market, Paula returns to college for a degree in Special Education.

As Paula struggles to cope, her shattered ego receives a boost when two men seek her company – Derek, a retired naval officer in college to qualify for a second career, and Greg, a wealthy businessman and philanthropist. Toss in a Professor with a huge misconception, a campus stalker, and her daughter's upcoming wedding, and Paula's new world becomes more complicated.
But once she unexpectedly finds herself, and falls in love again, starting over proves to be better than she could have ever imagined.

Buy link: That Special Summer
* * * AND - Linda is going to draw a name from the comments left on this post and the winner will receive a digital copy of That Special Summer. So be sure to let us know you were here. Random drawing will be held and winner announced on Sunday, April 28. Be sure to check back then to see if you're the lucky winner!* * *
On May 3, stop by and find out how author Graeme Brown became a writer.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

How I Became A Writer - Kevin B. Henry

This week, I'm very pleased to welcome Kevin B. Henry, author of Amber Gifts, who will share his story of becoming a writer.

I think I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I was a voracious reader as a child and that trait continued right into adulthood. Most of what I read while growing up was Science Fiction; Heinlein, Clarke, Anthony, and Zelazny, among others. As adulthood approached, I branched out into the Mystery genre. I read a lot of the classics during college, Hammett, Chandler, and through a most curious musical path I discovered John D. MacDonald and his Travis McGee character. I wanted to write stories that combined all of those authors style and in the attempt, I never really could write anything of my own. Most stories started and then lay fallow for years, forgotten or thrown away.

Fast forward thirty years. During a low point in a generally adequate life, I was complaining to myself, regarding how interesting it would be, living during the years just prior to when I was born. It may sound cliché, but I instantly imagined the opening chapter, where a down-on-his-luck man is given a vial that will transport him to another time, before he was born. I realized that this was not a story I had ever read. This was my own idea. I wasn’t trying to be Heinlein or MacDonald or anyone else. I was being myself. I grabbed my laptop and started writing. The rest as they say, is history.

The entire process of creating Amber Gifts took a little over two months. It’s not a long story. I’m not Rowling or Tolstoy. I’m never going to write an 800k word epic. Being a child of the television age, I like to think that I’m writing an episode of some series, maybe a TV movie. Maybe as I grow as a writer my stories will grow as well, but I like the small format, telling a good tale quickly.

I added a lot of the things I enjoy, obscure references, trivia, things you might hear on a typical Jeopardy show. I did as much historical research as I could, mostly over the Internet. I wanted the writing to be accurate, but I also wanted there to be some hint of conspiracy theory or side events that may or may not have actually happened exactly as I told it. I wrote in the style that I have lived my life, I didn’t want the truth to get in the way of a really good story.

While my main character, Mitchell, is male, I wanted to include a strong female character as well. Crystin is a combination of the many people I have met in my life. She is smart, knows her own mind and has skills and talents she is not afraid to use. I really liked writing her and hope the character rings true for readers.

I’ve completed two additional stories in the Amber Gifts universe. The next tale describes what happened to Mitchell during his very first experience in time travel. The third continues the story of Mitchell and Crystin. If you read Amber Gifts you’ll understand that there is a lot more to their story that needs to be told. I’ve submitted the first for publication and will submit the other soon. Hopefully they will be accepted.

I have plans for a fourth story, but I keep getting side tracked with other writing projects and have only done the most basic of outlines. I don’t map out every detail. I like discovering the story as its being written. It may sound strange, but I know how it begins, I know how it ends, but I only have the smallest of ideas what happens in between.

It’s a lot of fun taking someone and throwing them into the past. I hope they’re as much fun to read as they have been to write.

After a decades long downward spiral, Mitchell is at the bottom of life’s rungs. A stranger hands him a simple, amber vial and tells him to drink it. With that one act, he is now a time traveler and when asked to help some new acquaintances, he gladly agrees. A simple request to find some items left scattered throughout time. How hard could it be?

But someone wants to stop Mitchell’s efforts and it will take more than luck for Mitchell to find all the items and survive long enough to complete his mission.

Amber Gifts/ Amser Chronicle Blog:

Kevin B. Henry Blog:

Amber Rants:


Amber Gifts on Facebook:


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April 26 - Find out how Linda Swift became a writer.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

New Cover Art for Unconditional

It's always exciting to get new cover art for an upcoming book. Kind of like seeing the sonogram of the baby, I suppose. Well, here's my new baby, due in May.

Created by Kim Jacobs, Turquoise Morning Press

And here's the blurb to go with it:

Meg Flores has it all—a loving family, a fulfilling career, and marriage to her best friend, Thomas. She is devastated when her husband announces he wants a divorce so he can pursue a relationship with his secretary—his male secretary. For Meg, the betrayal goes beyond that of a cheating husband. She is losing her best friend and the hopes for adding a child to her life. But when Thomas is diagnosed with terminal cancer and his lover walks away, Meg must decide if she can move beyond Thomas’s betrayal and love him 'til-death-do-us-part.'

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Linda Rettstatt - How I Became A Writer

This week, I’m kicking off a new blog series—How I Became A Writer. I’ll feature a different writer every other week who will share his or her story and a sample of their work. In between there will be other announcements and excerpts (and maybe a few more authors), so I hope you’ll come by every Friday to see what’s new.

Here’s my story.

I decided in the ninth grade when I had a wonderful English teacher who had the ability to make literature come to life that I wanted to be a writer. I started writing poetry—mostly those teenaged-angst type poems. I grew up in a small town in Southwestern Pennsylvania and got a job right out of high school working for the local newspaper. Before you get all excited, no, I was not a reporter. I was an advertising clerk. But as luck would have it, no one on the reporting staff wanted to cover the plays performed in the local theater by the Community Theater troupe. I eagerly volunteered and this my ticket to a by-line. At the same time, I enrolled in a correspondence course with the Famous Writers’ School in Westport, Connecticut. And I set a goal for myself—to save up money, move to Westport, and become a tortured writer living in some shadowy attic while I wrote the great American novel.

Then I saw something shiny—a new guitar. There went the savings. I poured my creative passion into music, performing with a folk group for ten years. Writing was relegated to the back burner. From my vantage point in life now, I can honestly say I didn’t have the self-confidence or the courage to pack up and move five states away from home. Writing song lyrics now and then, a few poems, and one play that has yet to be performed sublimated my need to write.

Fast forward a few decades (and, no, I won’t say exactly how many). I had obtained a master’s degree in social work and had worked for years in the Pittsburgh area as a social worker and then as a psychotherapist. What I enjoyed most about doing therapy was that it gave me the opportunity to be creative, to come up with something new and different to challenge clients or to give them options to resolve their problems. And I’d continued with my music. Then I became restless and bored with it all. I needed a change.

In 2000, I accepted a job with a non-profit in Northwest Mississippi. This was a major move for me, so far from home and all that was familiar. Though I did have a few friends in the area already. I was back and forth for a couple of years, working between Pennsylvania and Mississippi. I returned to Mississippi to institute a counseling program for the organization where I’d been working. After fourteen months, it became apparent that the program was underutilized. The clients the organization served simply did not see a value in therapy even if it was free.

One day in January of 2004, I sat in front of the office manager, complaining that clients either had canceled or simply not shown up. I whined that I was bored and had nothing to do. Knowing my story of wanting to write, she said, “You have a computer in your office. Go write that book you keep talking about.” (I’m still not sure if she was being encouraging or if she just wanted me out of her office so she could work.)

I returned to my office, wondering what I could possibly have to say. Could I really write a novel? What would I call my book? What came to my mind was: And the Truth Will Set You Free. This sounded like a great title for a women’s fiction novel—the kind of fiction I knew I wanted to write. (I adored the writing of Elizabeth Berg.) I wrote the title on a page, closed my eyes for a moment thinking what that title could mean, then began to write my story. It's the story of a 50-something woman asked to take an early retirement from her job. Two months later, I was informed my program was to be closed. (Talk about life imitating art!)

Have you ever shaken a bottle of champagne and popped the cork? That’s what it was like. Words flowed. I saved writing to a disc (no flash drives then) and took it home where I sequestered myself in my bedroom and continued writing. I couldn’t stop. More importantly, though, something shifted inside me. I felt as if something had broken loose in me, as if a great rush of ocean-scented air whooshed through me. I felt more alive than I’d felt in a very long time.

It took me four months to finish the first draft of that book. Then I dared to let a few friends read it. As far as I was concerned, I’d accomplished what I’d set out to do—I wrote a novel. But my friends asked what I planned to do with it, insisting it should be published. In my naïveté, I sent queries letters out to about fifty top agents. And over the following weeks, received rejection letters on a daily basis.

A friend pointed me in the direction of e-publishing, suggesting I go that route. I submitted to one publisher—Wings ePress. About six weeks later, I received an email with ‘Contract’ in the subject line. It was on my birthday! What a unique gift!

And the Truth Will Set You Free was published in July, 2007. But by that time, I’d already completed four more manuscripts. As of this writing, I have fourteen books published with three small presses in both e-book and trade paperbacks. Three more books (two of which are novellas) are scheduled for release between May and November. Though I continue to write women’s fiction, I’ve also ventured into contemporary romance. I guess I’m just a romantic at heart.

I may have made this sound way too easy. What I’ve learned is that, if it seems too easy, I didn’t do it right. I’ve learned so much along the way these past nine years, mostly from other more accomplished and experienced writers. We all have to start somewhere, but we also have to commit ourselves to honing the craft of writing.

I can say this with every certainty: Writing is my true passion. It’s the one thing I do that always gives back more than it demands of me. It’s the one thing that energizes me, makes me smile when I don’t even realize I’m doing it. It’s the one thing that engages me on just about every level—intellectual, psychological, emotional, spiritual and even physical (I’ve learned that writing for 16 hours straight is not good for my body). Writing is the best gig ever and, even though like most writers, I still have my day job, when someone asks me what I do, proudly say, “I’m a writer.”

So I’d like to share with you a blurb from two of my newest books and invite you to my website at to view the others.

A Falling Star (Mainstream Contemporary Romance - Champagne Books)

Following a Hollywood scandal, Spence Parker’s acting career is crumbling faster than the small hometown he left eleven years earlier. When he decides to get out of town for a while, Spence realizes just how alone he is. With nowhere else to turn, Spence goes home. After a regretful reunion with Valerie Marks, the girl he left behind, Spence is determined to do something to try to save his hometown from extinction. It won’t hurt if his actions impress Val, as well.

Act of Contrition (Women’s Fiction – Turquoise Morning Press)

The argument ended as blinding headlights bore down on her. The steering wheel spun beneath Jenny’s fingers. A horn blared, and then…nothing. Jennifer Barnes wakens to learn she is the sole survivor of the crash that claimed her husband and eight-year-old son.
Why did she survive? The question haunts her even after she retreats to her cottage on the coast of Maine. She is seeking a place to grieve and to escape the guilt that eats at her. Instead of the solitude she anticipates, Jenny comes face to face with her past.

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Happy reading,