Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Interview With Author Silver James

Please help me welcome paranormal romance author, Silver James.

Silver, how did you get into writing as a career? Do you write full time or still have a day job?

I wanted to be an actress when I grew up, but you know...that whole had to be skinny thing? And moving to California? Not going there! I always told stories in my head and in school, I started writing them down. Making a living as a writer is a chancy thing, so I had several careers while I continued to write—both fiction and technical articles. Now that I'm retired from the real world, I can devote as much time as I want to my imagination.

What do you hope your writing brings to readers?

Escape. That's what reading did (and does) for me. I hope my readers are swept away to a different world where they can experience life through my characters, and enjoy both the thrills and the chills, all the while safely ensconced in their favorite chair.

I love that answer, Silver. Your current release is FAERIE FATE. What attracted you to write Paranormal?

Ever since I peeked behind the curtain of the Wizard of Oz, I've been intrigued by what's hiding behind the Veil. Faeries, witches, shifters, and magical folk of all ilk fascinate me. I enjoy giving them a voice.

Good heavens, I guess that's when I became hooked on paranormals, too. I used to have nightmares about the witch. Whew! I digress, back to you--is paranormal the only genre you read?

I grew up reading westerns and sci-fi, a love learned from my dad. Then I discovered Andre Norton and her Witch World series. I still read all across the board—thrillers, romantic suspense, and paranormal!

Great, another eclectic reader. Who are some of your favorite authors?

J.D. Robb, Roxanne St. Claire, Leslie Kelly (especially writing as Leslie Parrish), Jennifer Lyon, and Jayne Castle (Jayne Ann Krantz) in the romance genre. Robert Ludlum and Tony Hillerman, Andre Norton, and Anne McCaffery. Just to name a few.

Tell us about your writing process. Are you a plotter or a pantzer?

I heard a term the other day—plotzer. I think that's a good description. I start with well-defined characters, usually, and I let them tell the story, though I have a end point I nudge them toward, sort of. The fun part of the process is the detours I end up following. Most often, a character will present her/himself and I'll spend time getting to know her/him. The plot evolves as I learn more about the character, especially when additional “critters” line up to be introduced, thus filling out the story. My critique partner calls me an “organic writer”—whatever the heck that means. She says I get immersed in the story and live vicariously through my characters, thereby breathing life into my words. I hope she's right!

What great terms, plotzer and organic writer. Do you have a writing schedule?

I tend to write every day, even on weekends, though I don't always manage that schedule if real life decides to intervene. If I'm under a deadline, then it's Katie-bar-the-door stay-the-heck-out-of-my-way. Everything is put on hold until I'm done.

Are you attending any conferences this year or scheduled as a speaker?

I'm headed to three this year. First up, I'm actually at the OKRWA Summer Heat Mini-Conference this weekend. Today, in fact, I'm at an Oklahoma City area Barnes and Noble, signing with three other terrific authors attending the conference: Lucienne Diver, Alicia Dean, and Amanda McCabe.

In July, I'm headed to Orlando for RWA Nationals and over Labor Day weekend, I'm going to New Orleans for Heather Graham's Writers For New Orleans conference. Good times ahead!

Oh, I am so jealous! Any guilty pleasures or vices you’d care to share?

Homemade bread—baking AND eating! Starbucks Mocha Frappicinos. And lobster tail dripping in lemon butter. Coffee. I must have my coffee fix in the mornings.

Now you've made me hungry. LOL What advice would you give to pre-published authors?

If you love writing, write. Write for yourself. Write what you enjoy reading. Study your craft and become the best writer you can be. Keep sending out queries. Don't give up. Someday, the right manuscript will land on the right desk at the right time—and you'll get the call.

Silver, that's very good advice. Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself?

I have a warped sense of humor. I'm owned by two Newfoundland dogs and the lolcat who rules us all. I hate doing laundry. In fact, I know I'm REALLY suffering writer's block when I start doing the wash! And when I say I've been there, done that, I'm not joking (or bragging). I'm older than dirt and have been lucky enough to do some amazing things in my life.

Hmm, all that sounds normal to me. Tell us about FAERIE FATE.

Time travel. Reincarnation. The mystical folk of the Tuatha Danaan. In FAERIE FATE, the first of three inter-related books, we meet Clann MacDermot, Clann O’Connor, and a feisty woman from the future, returned to the past to make things right. FAERIE FATE is a tale of love and loss, of lessons learned, of feuds and fealty.

Celtic, one of my loves! Can you give us a blurb?

If you could go back, do it over again, would you take a chance to find true love? What if you had no choice?

On her fiftieth birthday, the faerie catapult Rebecca Miller a thousand years into the past to find her happily ever after with Ciaran MacDermot, Chief of Clann MacDermot, the last Fenian warrior in his line. In the twenty-first century, Becca is old enough to be Ciaran’s mother. In the tenth, she’s young enough to be his bride.

The Fae forgot to mention one slight stipulation. The lovers must be bound before the Festival of Light, or Becca will forever disappear into Tir Nan Óg, the faerie Land of the Ever Young. Will they discover the binding words before time runs out and they’re torn apart forever? Or will their eternal love defeat their Faerie Fate?

Without the words, history is doomed to repeat itself.

Intriguing! Would you share an excerpt with us?

The little clock she’d received as a present on her twenty-fifth birthday whirred and chimed the time. One small, tinkling chime. Two. Finally, twelve in all. Midnight between March twentieth and March twenty-first. The vernal equinox. The day when light and dark, good and evil, love and hate all balanced on the finely tuned axis of mother earth.

Voices, strange with lilting accents, whispered somewhere in the darkness of [Becca's] dream.


“She sleeps,” said a soft voice, feminine, one Becca didn’t recognize.

“Aye.” The second voice was deep, male, arrogant.

“Will she remember?

“Nay, she’ll not.

“How then will she know what to do?

“She’ll know.” He sounded confident.

“What of him?

“Aye, he’ll definitely know now. He should have known the last time, but she was too afraid, and he was too full of himself.

“What is so different this time?” She was skeptical.

“She was young then, not matched well to him. Now, she’s no young soul. She’s had all those lives without him, the lonely nights, and the ache in her heart for all time. This time, she has courage born in the fires of suffering. She’ll know not to run from him, but to him.

“You’re sure with the knowing of it this time?


“And, if it doesn’t work?

“Ciaran dies. Again.

A sharp intake of breath came from the woman. “That cannot happen. Too much went wrong the first time.

Wow, you sold me there! Where can readers find your books?

The Wild Rose Press


Barnes and Noble

How can readers learn more about you?

They can always find me at Penumbra, my blog and website: and they're welcome to poke around in the shadows there. If they tweet, I'm silverwriter on Twitter.

Silver, thank you so much for sharing with us today. Please leave your comment or ask Silver a question. A comment will enter you in my Saturday drawing, so be sure and leave your email address.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Research Can Be Fun or Hazardous

Eve is the winner of my Saturday giveaway drawing. Eve, you have 48 hours to contact me.

Now on to research. I'm one of those people who can lose myself in research. When I'm online, I go from one link to another and can easily get off topic if I don't focus. Sometimes, though, I need to see a setting first hand. For my June release, OUT OF THE BLUE, I needed to go back to Possum Kingdom Lake to see the cliff formation known as Hell's Gate, and to pick out a likely spot for the home in which my heroine Deirdre Dougherty stays after her rescue. I remarked in a blog for someone else that Hero and I set out to search for the best place to photograph Hell's Gate. We decided the most likely spot was the Boy Scout Camp at Johnson Bend on the lake. The problem arose when we overlooked the sign telling us to sign in at the first cabin. Oops. Apparently we look harmless, because we weren't arrested. We were escorted as I quickly took photos and we left. Whew! Getting arrested would have been embarrassing.

I think the name of the lake is funny. Yes, I have a warped sense of humor. You can see how the name Possum Kingdom Lake would confuse a time traveler from 1845 Ireland, right? The thing is, there are, or at least there were, a lot of possums in the area. Trappers used to kill the little varmints for their fur. Ugh. Having seen possums up close, I can't imagine wanting the fur, which is scraggly. There is no accounting for taste, is there? Which brings me to another observation. People who've eaten possum say they definitely do NOT taste like chicken. The animals are reported to be chewy and very greasy. One friend who grew up in a private orphanage during the Depression said if you're hungry enough, you'll eat what's served, but she didn't like the taste.  Thank goodness I've never been that hungry. The point is, though, that this lake was named because of the abundance of possums in the area.

I live an hour from Possum Kingdom Lake, which is in a lovely area of the hill-like Palo Pinto Mountains. In the fall, the post oaks of that area turn brilliant colors. Some say the Comanche Indians named the area for the colorful trees. Others say the Comanche used to paint colors on the trees at some festival or other. I suspect the former, because the fall colors are lovely for this part of the world. Hero and I like to drive through the hills--like a little mini-trip--for a change of scenery.

The Comanche were formidable fighters in this part of Texas. Occasionally a band of even more fierce Kiowa came through. Very near my home is the site of the kidnapping of three children by the Comanche, who then traded them to the Kiowa. Those children were rescued a year later by a trader, and they were returned to their families. But that's beside the point of today's post. Or, is it? Each part of research opens up another avenue. Avoiding detours are difficult to those of us who love research. We store up these tidbits to use another time on another story.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Welcome Author Skhye Moncrief For Her World Building Discussion!

Readers, please welcome paranormal author Skhye Moncrief. She’s talking today about world building, and she’s an expert on the subject. SWORDSONG, her latest release, is another story readers won't be able to forget..And take a look at that terrific cover! Who can resist a man in a kilt, right? He looks so angsty (did I make up a word?). Don't you just want to comfort this man? Sigh. She's offering a prize--one of her previous books, so please remember to leave your email in your comment.

Skhye, thank you for visiting us.

Good morning, Caroline. Thank you for having me over as a guest. My latest Time Guardian story was released June 25th. I'm extremely wired with this event. The reason I wrote this novel is one of those choices authors make... Hence, my focus on craft here today. So why did I write that story?

SWORDSONG was the Time-Guardian novel I wrote after reading the earlier works of Karen M. Moning before my Time Guardians series was contracted for publication. I kept thinking I seriously needed to simplify my world and write a story in my series more like hers set in the "real" present, i.e. something more familiar for readers who just might not care for being thrown into a whole new world.

This is one of those crazy decisions we writers make never knowing if it will pan out for us. :) But SWORDSONG set off a whole new layer of world building in my over-sized fantasy world I've created--one that coexists with ours. I wanted to make the story world more tangible for the reader. Okay, that's if you can call a novel tangible in any sense other than it's a physical object, i.e. a book! But everyone was writing these new worlds interwoven within the fabric of the one we occupy. I just had to try the marketability angle. So, I whipped up some ambiance...

We are soldiers of Truth.

We are students of the past

We are guardians of Time.

We live, and, from living, we must die.

Death is not risk.

Death is adventure.

Death is part of the Cycle.

Woe be to he who fears the Call.

~Time Guardian Creed (

My creed worked to define reality for my lads regardless of the setting. It's reality. A reflection of their goals--life in general. These men time travel. They can't risk screwing up history. So, their creed is kind of blunt and harsh. But it hits home as they ponder a what if... Just as I had asked those same thoughts about paradox. Time travel and prehistory was my cup of steamy tea that I read for so long. I studied archaeology too long not to send my characters back to times and places we can never visit. Why? I can answer that. ;) Oddly enough, a psych test I took during a continuing education class when I was about 19 noted I lived in the past. I guess this aspect of my writing is just a reflection of who I am--my curiosity and fears. Then again, I keep writing romances that reviewers label thrillers, suspense, etc. I just don't know what goes on inside my head! *sigh* Although, I'm always explaining to my critique partners that if a story has a chase aspect, it should ring true. And time guardians safeguard history. They've got to beat the clock as the pages move forward. Ticking clocks and chases... Aye, there's the Time-Guardian rub.

But get ready to laugh.

My first and never-to-see-the-light-of-day manuscript was a time travel set in someone's mind because she was comatose. Crazy setup! Yes. But that's not the funny part! I hit delete and sent that unfinished 1000-page monster on its way to the happy hunting ground. Back to meet its moment of creation in the great loop of existence... :) Okay, maybe that's nonexistence because nobody knows about that story but me. Does a story that never is read by an audience continue to ring with glory and romance like a circulated book? Oh, here I go again with those annoying pontifications.

Alas, time travel hits home with me. So, I wrote SWORDSONG because it rang true to my interests and formal education as well as I gambled on the trend in setting a coexisting fantasy realm smack dab in the "now" with us. Should I chant here that we write what we write because those subjects are familiar to us even though they are deeply buried within our subconscious? It's true. We write what we know--even if the knowing is something we just experienced in person, reading, or by viewing a documentary. Humans innovate all the time. There is very little inventing going on... Take some archaeology classes if you don't believe me. Remember, this article is about understanding ourselves. If we search inward long and hard enough, we'll find that everything we write about is a part of us. And, it can't hurt to make the world more approachable and digestible for the reader.

Thanks for having me here today, Caroline. If you have a magic wand, please wave it at me. I so want to time travel! ~Skhye

Join my fan group to be in my monthly drawing for a Time Guardian Fan Kit and more!

Read 1st chapter of SWORDSONG

Read another (shorter) excerpt from SWORDSONG

Purchase SWORDSONG in print at amazon

What are reviewers saying about the Time Guardians series...

"Arthur is a masterpiece..." HE OF THE FIERY SWORD's King Arthur ~Diane Mason; The Romance Studio

"FORBIDDEN ETERNITY... spine-tingling suspense. The story is dynamite; it explodes off the page and leaves you breathless for more." ~Tulip, LASR

THE SPELL OF THE KILLING MOON offers the best of spine-tingling suspense. The setting is perfect... Moncrief’s ability to wield magic and emotion are without compare. Her words twist together emotions and visuals until you experience this tale as if the trap were set for you. Some lines blend a kind of poetic magic: “Moonlight wove a special kind of magic, a spell so vacillating that a person never knew if reality were anything other than a dream.” Darkness and premonitions and deadly intent fill these pages... a unique blend of mystic Medieval Gothic and romance…and a true blood-curdling thriller." ~Snapdragon, LASR

"Intense, original, suspenseful, and dramatic... an unpredictable topsy-turvy romance... the suspense builds with every page in SACRIFICIAL HEARTS. In a world where symbols mean everything, magic is the way..." ~Snapdragon; LASR

Stories available at,,, and

"Be the change you want to see in the world." ~Ghandi

Skye, I do have a magic wand my daughter gave me, but apparently it’s defective. LOL I’d love to have read the book about the comatose woman’s adventures. Too bad you didn’t know about retrieving lost documents then.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Interview With T. K. Topin, author of THE LANCASTER RULE

Please help me welcome T.K. Topin, author of THE LANCASTER RULE, now available as an e-book from Chapagne Books.
CC: How did you get into writing as a career? Do you write full time or still have a day job? (If so, at what?)

TK: I guess you can say I sort of fell into writing. It's been something I've always wanted to do, but like most people, I thought: "Yeah, right, that'll never happen." In 2008, I just got the right sort of motivation and decided, definitely, that I would write. So I did. And now look at me, a book published, two more completed, and two more cooking on the stove, so to speak. I'm not a full-time writer, though I'd like to be. I still have a day job that pays the bills (barely). I've been a graphic artist for too many years.

CC: What do you hope your writing brings to readers?

TK: I hope it brings some excitement and a little adventure for readers. But basically, enjoyment. I always love those books that "take" you some place else, and you just can't put it down because you want to know what happens next.

CC: In what genres do you write?
TK: Well, as I've only published one book, it's safe to say that it's science fiction/fantasy. I do like this genre, as you can make things up along the way without worrying if it'll make sense. And it goes right up there with adventure and excitement. But, even though I've sort of chosen this genre, it's not hard-core sci-fi fantasy. More character-driven - no matter what century you're in, or which world you're in, people are basically still the same. I have two more stories I'd like to tell, but they are very contemporary, nothing sci-fi about them.

CC: Who are your favorite authors?

TK: I'd have to say, among my favourites, are Frank Herbert (Dune series), Eoin Colfer (Artemis Fowl series), Jonathan Stroud (Bartimaeus Trilogy), Diana Galbaldon (Outlander series), J.D. Robb (In Death series), Dean Koontz (especially the Odd Thomas series). And of course, who doesn't like J.K. Rowling. Most recently, I've discovered Steig Larsson of the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo fame. I've just realized that I like serial books...mostly because you meet your favourite characters again. Maybe that's why I decided to write a trilogy.

CC:  Tell us about your writing process. Are you a plotter or a panzer?

TK: Now that I know the meaning of those two writing styles, I'd have to say that I am a plotter. I follow a chronological order that starts at chapter 1 and goes steadily along until the last chapter. I write notes to keep track of things, or what should come next, but instead of writing those, I wait until I get to that point, then write it out. I like order.

CC:  Do you have a writing schedule?

TK: Not really. As I said, I have a day job (it helps that I work from home) and I juggle it around that. Most days, if it's quiet, I prefer to work during the morning hours after the first hit of coffee. This goes on until mid-afternoon. Although, lately, I've had to be content with the afternoon, where I can shut myself in the bedroom and snap open the laptop in peace and quiet. Morning are now dedicated to promoting the book online and keeping up with book-related doing this interview, for instance.

CC:  Are you attending any conferences this year or scheduled as a speaker? Blog tours or other promotions?

TK: Living in Barbados has it's drawbacks where conferences are concerned. While I'd like to, it's a little hard to do. At the moment, I've been doing exchange blog interviews like this one, hopefully getting some exposure. I've done a few electronic ads, locally and internationally from blitz emails to Facebook ads.

CC: It's hard not to envy someone living the Barbados, but I would miss my local conferences, writer's groups, etc.. Any guilty pleasures or vices you’d care to share?

TK: Hmmm, if it's guilt, then one should keep their mouths shut, right? But in actual fact: No. I'm rather dull.

CC: Anyone who can writer THE LANCASTER RULE can't be dull. When you’re not writing, what do you do to relax?

TK: Sleep usually covers it all. But, generally speaking, anything from playing video games, watching movies or just "chilling" with friends.

CC:  What advice would you give to pre-published authors?

TK: Don't dispair! Keep at it. If you've gone to the effort of writing a book, then you've got something worth reading. But get someone to read it first. Don't trust your own opinions. Whatever comments or advice they give you on it, listen to them. Fix it if it needs fixing (it always does), work at it some more (re-read, re-read, re-read), and when you think it's ready (it never is), actively seek out the different avenues of getting it published. Another thing to remember is that now, there's so many different ways of getting published - so research it, educate yourself in matters of the literary world, brush up on your marketing skills, know your target group...and most importantly, grow some extra skin because when the first onslaught of rejections come in...

CC:  Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself?

TK: Hmm, no. Kidding... Well, there's not much to tell. My life is extremely sedate compared to the books I've written. I live in Barbados with my husband, was born and raised here, my parents were of Japanese descent (yeah, I know, and they lived here of all places!). I've two geriatric dogs and one part-human cat (think Hell Boy as a kid). That's about it, really.

CC: Yeah, I've a cat like that, too. His name is Sebastian and he thinks he's human.  Sometimes we're not sure he's not a little part human. Tell us about your latest release.

TK: My latest and first release is called THE LANCASTER RULE. It's also the first of three. I've just completed the third and going through self-edits.

Basically, it's about a young woman who finds herself 300 years in the future after she steps into a stasis pod. She awakes to this future and has to deal with all the frightening aspects she encounters. It's a very different world now. She learns to survive, finds love, finds herself, realizes that she was destined to be in this new future.

CC: Can you give us a blurb of THE LANCASTER RULE?

TK: Sure. Blurb:

The world loathes Josie Bettencourt's kind – pod-survivors from the past. When death is certain, an ex-military and friend to the pod-hunters, saves her life. Unfortunately, she is soon arrested and taken straight to the Citadel, the heart of the Lancaster regime where they have ruled tyrannically for over fifty years. Now, young John is in power, hoping to make a change, to erase the wars, famines and unimaginable terror. When Josie meets the frighteningly powerful John Lancaster, she has to ask, is he really the so-called tyrants' spawn? She soon discovers who the true tyrants are by unraveling a deadly plot to take over the world. And she realizes that her life and this new future are indelibly linked to the one she left behind.

THE LANCASTER RULE, the first of a three-part saga, takes you on an exciting rollercoaster ride, 300 years into the future!

CC: Do you have an excerpt you can share?

TK: A PG Excerpt:

“How long are you planning on letting her sit there and wait?”

“As long as I feel like,” World President John Lancaster replied tersely. His lips compressed, and he glared intently at Josie’s slight figure slumped against the wall. She was staring vacantly before her. He had his hands clasped behind his back. The sight of her disturbed him. He could not understand why. He stood this way for nearly ten minutes. Simon had argued against his involvement, but he insisted. He was, after all, still in charge of all military and police matters, and he had been, after all, once the head of counter-terrorism.

Simon moved slightly into John’s line of sight. He cocked a red brow in his usual nonchalant way; a mixture of annoyed bother and mischief touched his face briefly as he looked to his long-time friend. Then, he sighed, audibly. He didn’t have to speak. They had known each other long enough, had been through enough that words, sometimes, were not necessary.

“Stop that,” replied John in a low voice after a moment, frowning in displeasure. Finally he turned to look at Simon. “Fine, I’m going.”

When the glass door slid open and John Lancaster stepped in, Josie jerked with shock. The last person she expected to see was the president of the United Europe and Americas himself, and without conscious reason, she scrambled to her feet and backed up against the wall. The ledge she was sitting on knocked the backs of her knees so she flopped ungracefully back down again. With a hoarse yelp, she straightened and regained her footing.

Lancaster gave her a quizzical look and raised a brow. Yes, he thought, she really does not look like your typical terrorist.

Seeing the actual John Lancaster in person was quite different from looking at the televised images she remembered, where he projected a razor-sharp persona: clean and electronically enhanced, a smooth but pasty skin that set off his dark-haired, brooding nature. In real life, however, Lancaster was merely pale with the mottled shadows of evening stubble along his strong jaw line, which he held tightly as if gritting his teeth, clamping them down in case they snapped her up whole.

He had a neat, somewhat heart-shaped face with a strong brow line, made more so by the thick black eyebrows, which seemed to convey his varying thoughts by the tiny movements they made. At the moment they were knitted together, furrowing the spot between them in a tight line. His nose was short, straight and sharp, slightly upturned, almost childlike were it not for the strong rise of cheekbones and sunken cheeks that seemed to draw your eyes straight to his expressive mouth. He held his lips tightly clamped, and when he spoke, they moved almost reluctantly. When they were relaxed, on the brief moments they unclenched, they were full on a small, neat mouth and as delicate as a Renoir portrait.

But it was his eyes that frightened Josie. Wide and large, dark and sunk deep into his face, they glowered silently at her, watching her every move and expression with a belligerent rudeness of someone used to getting their own way. It was as if he could actually feel, hear, and taste with his eyes, like a snake does with its tongue. Even more frightening was the way he held his head, slightly bowed, keeping his thoughts to himself, still as a watching predator with just his eyes orbiting around.

His hair was clipped short; it was brownish-black, glossy, and formed a small widow’s peak at his forehead. Standing at least six-foot-two, slightly slender but noticeably muscular along shoulders and chest, he moved in a lithe, fluid way that only sharpened his predatory look. If he had started growling low like a panther, Josie would not have been surprised. But even his movements seemed to be held in check, tightly reined in, as if containing some maniacal, elemental force.

Suppressing the urge to shudder, Josie composed herself and stood before him, her arms clasped around her to cover an imaginary nakedness. They regarded each other in silence for a moment, each sizing the other up. Finally, in a graceful move, Lancaster turned his head to one side, eyes downcast, face relaxed except for the ever-present knot at his brow.

“Josephine Bettencourt.” He spoke it softly, his voice low and slightly deep, a strange mix of accents, British being the most pronounced. The tone and pitch suggested he did not need to speak with emotion to get what he wanted. He merely spoke her name, and it sent chills running down her spine; the power and intensity he held was obvious enough.

A small, tight smile tweaked one corner of his mouth; a near invisible line appeared next to it. He turned to face her again, one brow raised.

“I’ve never met a ghost before.” He watched her closely now. “Let alone someone who doesn’t exist.”

CC: Great excerpt. I remember that scene in the book. Where can readers find your books?

TK: You can click to the publisher's site at Champagne Books (, click the "ebook" button.

CC: How can readers learn more about you?

TK: I've a website, it's not fully-functional, but I'm there. You can follow my blog page:, follow my Facebook page: The Lancaster Rule (or Written by T.K. Toppin), or even follow me on Twitter: TKToppin.

And one last thing, thanks so much for having me. Any opportunity I have to talk about my book is great. And to those interested, I'm interviewing my hostess today over at my blog page, so see you there.

CC: Thanks, T.K., for stopping by for an interview today. Thanks also for mentioning that I'm on your blog today at discussing writing and my June release OUT OF THE BLUE from The Wild Rose Press.

Leave a comment to enter my Saturday giveaway. A follow or RSS feed counts as a second entry. Please leave your email address in your comment.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Review of THE LANCASTER RULE by T. K. Topin

By T. K. Topin
Champagne Books
Available now
ISBN 978-1-926681-34-4

THE LANCASTER RULE opens in the viewpoint of heroine Josie Bettencourt in the year 2333, after Josie has been “resurrected” from the pod-like sarcophagus in which her father secured her in the year 2006. As readers might imagine, the world has changed tremendously in over three hundred years—yet much remains the same. Struggles for power, greed, jealousy, and crime still exist. Not long after Josie is restored to life, terror strikes her world. In a dizzying series of events that take her around the world, Josie loses sense of who is right and who is wrong. People die in front of her eyes, yet she doesn’t know who she can trust. Is Lorcan Wellesley a vicious terrorist or the love of her life? Is John Lancaster an evil tyrant or is he in love with her? Striving to determine right from wrong, friend from foe, Josie leads an amazing journey.

T. K. Topin was born and raised in Barbados. For the last twenty-odd years she has worked as a free-lance graphics artist. Writing has always appealed to her and is something she would like to pursue full-time. In THE LANCASTER RULE, T. K. spins a suspenseful futuristic adventure. The only things I disliked about it were that it is mostly related in narrative and includes a few abrupt POV changes. More dialogue would pull the reader further into the story. However, I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The beautiful cover was designed by Amanda Kelsey. THE LANCASTER RULE is the first in a trilogy. I will be eager to read the next two books.

Leave a comment to enter my Saruday drawing.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Blogging, Multi-tasking, and Research

Today a magic fairy makes me three people. LOL I'm a guest on the blogs of my friend Skhye Moncrief and my eldest daughter, plus this blog. Authors are so good at multi-tasking, aren't we? My daughter Stephanie's blog is about my research trip to Johnson Bend Boy Scout Camp at Possum Kingdom Lake and other research for my time travel OUT OF THE BLUE. Does almost getting arrested count as research? I hope so. This area is not that far from my home--maybe an hour away--so getting there is not difficult. Skhye's blog discusses a lovely trip my youngest daughter and I took to Lost Maples State Natural Area near Bandera for the western historical THE TEXAN'S IRISH BRIDE that will be released Sept. 3rd. I love that area of Texas and always look forward to a trip.

Whether historical or contemporary, my books are set in Texas. I do a lot of research from books and online, of course, but I also rely on the way too many research books in my persoanl library. Contemporary research books include the Writer's Digest series. My favorite is DEADLY DOSES, which I also use for historicals. TEXAS ALMANAC is always handy, as is a Texas road map to help me visualize distances. Historical research involves the same books, but I also use a collection of severak memoirs written by early settlers. Fehrenbach's LONE STAR is the most easily read of all the history books I've found. I have several medical books, the funniest of which is DR. CHASE'S RECIPES FOR EVERDAY LIFE by A, W. Chase, MD, published by the author in 1866. This book includes not only his "recipes" for various maladies, but also notes on tanning hide, building furniture, and other things people of the time needed to know. The Writers Digest WRITER'S GUIDE TO EVERYDAY LIFE IN THE WILD WEST and THE WRITER'S GUIDE TO EVERYDAY LIKE IN THE 1800'S are helpful, but there are errors in these books and writers much be wary. Barbara Belding Gibson's PAINTED POLE: THE BELDINGS AND THEIR RANCHES IN PALO PINTO COUNTY is one I have used a lot. In addition, I was fortunate enough to visit the ranch a few years ago. What a treat.

I am a book fiend. I scavenge book sales, garage sales, Goodwill, and other places for books that fall in my fields of interest. One never knows when a seemingly odd book might provide just the details of authenticity to make writing credible. For instance, in case you've wondered how people entertained friends and relatives for weeks on end when living in a small one-room cabin, I found one possible answer in TEXAS TEARS AND TEXAS SUNSHINE: VOICES OF FRONTIER WOMEN (if I remember correctly). One of the memoirs talked of visiting a relative. Since the guest was a woman, she slept against the wall with the wife between her and the husband. If the guest had been a man, he would have slept on the outside, with the husband between the guest and the wife. Imagine having sex while there's another person in bed pretending not to notice! Definitely no thanks! That offers way, way too little privacy for me! Maybe those sleeping arrangements were not widespread, but the writer seemed to think it was normal. I haven't used this in a book and don't plan to, but you get the idea of how such knowledge grounds an author in pioneer life. It reminds me of the first part of Janice Woods Windle's TRUE WOMEN in which the little girl watches through cracks in the loft floor at her sister and brother-in-law "playing" under the covers in the room below. I believe there was almost no privacy for pioneer women. Which mans that, while I love reading and writing about late 19th century life in Texas as I view it but as it probably wasn't, I realize I am so blessed to live in a house with electricity, modern plumbing, air-conditioning, and doors on all the multiple rooms.

What are your favorite research books?
Leave a comment to be entered in my Saturday giveaway.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Interview With Deirdre Dougherty, Heroine of OUT OF THE BLUE

Yes, I do realize that to others, Deirdre Dougherty from OUT OF THE BLUE is not a real person. She is very real to me, though, and the cover image of her is very much like my mental image for her--long dark hair, pale skin, and light brown eyes.. To help you understand her (and in the hope you'll buy the book) here is an interview with Deirdre.

CC: How did you come to be an herbal healer?

DD: The women in my family have been healers as far back as we know. We grow many herbs, but we buy others in Galway City. We're also clairvoyants. Some call it he gift of sight, but for us it's been a curse. No one trusts another who has the sight. Oh, but let them have sickness, and they come running to us then.

CC: How did your father and grandfather feel about your gift and your healing?

DD: Da was that proud of ma and me. Grandad, too, but he died in the rebellion of 1798 when Ma was a babe.

CC: Tell us about growing up in Ireland.

DD: Oh, it's a grand place is Ballymish. Right on the Atlantic, it is. How I loved to sit on a huge rock and look out over the ocean. The sea breeze tasted of salt and promise. Out cottage was small--only two rooms and a bit of a loft--but it was filled with love. Flowers grew everywhere except the vegetable garden. Thinking on it makes my heart glad

CC: What sort of industry was nearby?

DD: Only the marble quarry. The marble there is that pretty you wouldn't believe it. Many shades and colors. The green was my favorite. Da worked in the quarry until Eoghan the Elder killed him.

CC: Heavens, did you say someone murdered your father? What happened?

DD: No one could prove it, but we all knew who was responsible for the rock slide that crushed poor Da. His mates took a collection for Da's burial and stone, for Da was well-liked by everyone but Eoghan. The evil man had wanted to marry Ma, but she turned him down and married Da. Eoghan harbored a grudge every day. You know the saying, "He might forget a favor, but he'll never forget a grudge." That sums up Eoghan and his son Eoghan the Younger. When I was ten, Da was raised up—you’d say promoted--it was too much for Eoghan. He killed Da.

CC: What about your Ma and your Gran?

DD: The women in our family married late. By the time I was twenty, Gran was growing feeble. Ma and I went to Galway City to buy herbs that we couldn't grow, but Gran didn't feel up to walking that far. Da had cousins there and we stayed with them for two nights. It was like what you call a holiday vacation. When we returned, we found Gran laid out on out kitchen table and Mrs. Fraser sitting with her. The kind lady said Gran was found that morning by the road. Her head had been smashed with a large rock. Guilt and sorrow wracked Ma and me. We knew we should never have left Gran alone, and we were that sure Eoghan or his son had killed Gran.

CC: How did you come to travel through time from 1845 Ireland to 2010 Texas?

DD: Before I was born Gran had a terrifying vision. She insisted that Da and Ma dig a tunnel from the center of the cottage floor, under the cottage, and coming out about twenty yards behind the cottage. They dug a couple of hours each evening all winter long. Before dawn, Da spread the dirt on the garden. When the tunnel was completed, they planted shrubs to conceal the exit. That was the first vision that helped me.
          When I was twelve, Ma made me learn to swim. Do you know they say that if a woman can swim it proves she's a witch? So Ma rented a boat at Ishkerrig and we rowed out so no one could see us from shore. Then Ma taught me to swim in the ocean. We took off our dresses and swam wearing only our underclothes. I was that shocked the first time Ma told me, but it was wonderful. That was the second vision that saved me.
         After Ma died, I had visions of a man reaching for me. Oh, he was a handsome one, but I thought he intended to choke me. That was the third vision that affected me leaving Ballymish. Let me tell you, I was frightened. I was alone, and Eoghan the Younger had started calling me a witch. He was turning the villagers against me, when I had done no one harm. He said I cursed their potato crops and that's why the plants were dying. I knew I had to leave so I planned to walk to Galway City and stay with my cousins until I could find me own place. I packed my carryall and readied myself to leave as soon as the village was quiet. It didn't get quiet, though. Eoghan the Younger banged on the door just before full dark. He had a mob with him and they had torches. He told me to come out, but I wasn't stupid. I scooped up my cat Cathbad and shoved him into the carryall. Quickly as I could, I moved the rug over the trap door to the tunnel and slid inside. Already I smelled the roof thatch of our lovely cottage burning. I emerged in the brush and headed for the road to Galway City. Someone spied me and the mob gave chase. They cut me off from all escape except to leap off the cliff into the Atlantic. I was so scared I prayed to Saint Brendan and Saint Brigid to deliver me. Eoghan almost caught me, but I leaped off into the sea.

CC: What a terrible series of events you've endured.

DD: Ah, but I've found the place I belong now. I like this Texas and my job. I won't tell too much about that or it will spoil the book for readers.

CC: Thank you, Deirdre, for sharing your past. I'm glad to know your future is peaceful.

DD: Peaceful? No, not atall. Well, maybe now it is, but there was such trouble getting to the peaceful part. So many times Brendan almost died. I was near kidnapped and then almost killed. Whew, this was a scary book you wrote.

CC: Hey, it ends happily-ever-after. What more do you want?

You can find OUT OF THE BLUE at and print and e-book.

Happy Father's Day weekend to everyone!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Goodbye To A Favorite Family Pet--Miss Delilah Sue Kitty

Before I report my sad story, let me announce that Sheila won the book for commenting on Alice Duncan's guest blog yesterday. Congratulations, Sheila. I've emailed you the download.

Last Friday our sixteen-year-old gray tabby, Miss Delilah Sue Kitty, died of renal failure. She’d been sick for a while and on medication in an attempt to reverse the problem. Sadly, she continued to deteriorate and was in pain, so we had her euthanized. What a sad day! Darling 2 went with Hero and me to the vet’s office to lend her support. Darling 1 called several times during the day to offer her support because she lives several hours away. Our vet is a lovely man and his primary tech is such a pet lover that all pets respond to her—people do, too. At least they made the decision and process less painful. The vet explained that giving Delilah Sue IV’s to rehydrate her would only be a temporary measure. She was so afraid of strangers, that we knew she would hate being in a pet hospital. She’d already endured too much. We opted for a quick, painless death.

This brings me to talking about pets in our lives. They become like family members, like furry children on four legs. They offer companionship and love and ask for very little in return. I believe they are sent into our lives for another reason—to teach us to deal with death. Losing a pet is hard; losing a loved one or close friend is harder.

At least for most of us. I have a friend whose husband said he no longer wanted to live when his favorite dog died. Fortunately, he finally responded to a new dog and now has a new reason to live. Another man in our town asked that he be cremated and buried in the back yard beside his favorite dog.

We buried Delilah in our back yard in a casket-like box our vet provided. I loved Delilah, but I hope to be cremated and enurned—a term we learned when my mom died and wanted to be cremated then buried in the plot beside my dad—beside my husband in a cemetery with a nice marker. I won’t be there, but I want people to know where I was.

Delilah Sue was not always a friendly cat. She loved to sit beside my keyboard to be near me when I’m writing. She also loved to sit ON the keyboard when she wanted more attention. Nothing subtle about Delilah. If she were angry, she would walk by and nip me. We used to leave her with Darling 2 when we went out of town, but it was too hard on Delilah and on Darling 2’s ankles. Darling 2 said she would rather drive out and check on Delilah at our home—it was less painful.

When Delilah was growing quite ill, Bailey and Sebastian lay on each side guarding her. The day before she died, Delilah tried to crawl under a chest to hide, so I knew she was trying to die in private. I put her in her basket under my dressing table so I could watch her all night.

We miss Delilah Sue and I think our other two cats and our dog miss her. Sebastian keeps querying me about something. I’m not fluent in catspeak, but I think he’s asking me a question about Delilah’s whereabouts. Bailey doesn’t seem to mind having Sebastian to herself. She’s quite smitten with Sebastian and seems to have forgotten that they’ve both been de-sexed. Perhaps she’s remembering the good ol’e days before her fateful trip to the vet. She’ll no doubt be slightly jealous when we get another female cat next month—Sela, an orange tabby that Darling 2 rescued. Shhhh, I haven’t explained about Sela to Hero yet.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Guest Blogger Author Alice Duncan!

Alice Duncan is one of my favorite authors. I adore her cozy mystery Spirits series featuring Daisy Gumm Majesty and set in 1920's Pasadena, CA. Daisy is a fake spiritualist who does all she can to keep body and soul together and help support her family. She is a spunky, industrious heroine much like Alice herself. In addition to rescuing dachshunds, Alice has sung and danced in a folk group. See photos on her website under her bio, and check out her YouTube links there. Alice Duncan has also written as Anne Robins, Emma Craig, Rachel Wilson, and even westerns as Jon Sharpe a couple of times. Alice, Anne, Emma and Rachel all write historical novels. Jon writes westerns. Back when she was young and didn’t know any better, she wanted to write the Great American Novel. After life kicked her around for a few decades she realized that she not only doesn’t want to write the Great American Novel, she doesn’t even want to read it. What she craves from reading material is to be taken away from life’s toils for a few hours. Entertainment is what she aims to provide with her novels, and she considers it a most worthwhile goal—and one she accomplishes extremely well. Read more interesting things about Alice in the bio on her website,, and don't forget to read excepts of her books while you're there. Please welcome guest blogger Alice Duncan!


Every now and then, when I’m sitting and ruminating about things whilst dachshunds cavort on, around, in front of and behind me (I’m serious about that. It gets downright annoying at times), I wonder why I can’t seem to force myself to write contemporary stories. The conclusion I inevitably come to is that I don’t like life as it is and prefer to make up life the way it probably wasn’t a long time ago. I mean, sure, people make up mysteries and romances about modern-day people, but I’m someone who not only doesn’t follow trends, but actually had to be told what a “Jimmy Choo” was. In other words, I’m hopeless in today’s world and like to get as far away from it as is humanly possible, as often as possible.

Therefore, I write historical novels. For several years I wrote historical romances set in the Old West (or my version of it). I had help in this endeavor from my mother, who grew up in Roswell, New Mexico, in the teens and twenties. Yes, I’m old. But my mother was old when she had me, her mother was old when she had her, and there’s room for at least three more generations in the spaces between my Swiss maternal grandmother and me. I won’t even talk about my paternal great-grandfather, who was a deserter from the Confederate Army. At least, I won’t do it here.

Anyway, Mom used to tell me stories about growing up in Roswell, and it sounded as though she lived in the wild, wild west. When she was a little girl, ranchers ran cattle down Second Street (the main east-west street in town); she and her three brothers and one sister lived in a three-room house made of adobe brick; her mother (having been widowed two days after my mother was born) earned a living for the entire brood as a seamstress; my uncles occasionally went out on the desert and captured wild burros, which they’d then ride until they got bucked off; there was no electricity in town; and there weren’t even any trees to block the relentless spring winds. Heck, I wrote an entire novel (COOKING UP TROUBLE) about the spring winds here in Roswell (Mom said she’d sometimes arrive at school with her legs having been sanded raw by the blowing dirt, dust and pebbles), and another one (PECOS VALLEY DIAMOND) that began with kids running to stay under the shadows made by clouds so that they could be cooler during the vicious summer heat. Today when the wind blows, which it does constantly during the springtime, the only vicissitude I endure is finding shingles that used to be on my roof in my front yard. And, lucky me, I have air conditioning.

Hmm. The Good Old Days don’t sound like a whole lot of fun, do they? Well, they probably weren’t for the folks who lived in them. However, when it comes to history, a novelist can fudge a bit. In my western historical novels, for instance, I leave out the cholera epidemics, floods (Roswell is in the middle of the desert, the soil is like clay, and it takes a long time for water to soak in. Before a couple of dams were built in the thirties by the CCC, the place flooded once or twice a year), ptomaine poisoning due to lack of refrigeration, lack of antibiotics, etc. Mom told me about tent revivalists who used to visit town and the Chautauqua folks who’d lecture in Roswell, etc. Therefore, I decided to give Annabelle Blue, heroine of PECOS VALLEY DIAMOND (available on Kindle and iPad) and PECOS VALLEY REVIVAL (to be published in January 2011), a lot of the stuff my mom used to talk about only without the grime, illness and so forth.

Oddly enough, once I moved to Roswell, I became nostalgic about Pasadena, California, where I’d lived for most of my life. Mind you, it was the smog, crowds, expense and general chaos of Southern California living that drove me away from it (I recall trying to shop for Christmas dinner after work once, and finding no parking anywhere even close to the market, much less in its parking lot, which was full to bursting. It was quite frustrating), but it used to be a beautiful, serene place where wealthy easterners wintered, and refugees from the motion-picture industry fled to escape their hectic lives. Of course, all those rich folks needed people like me (poor ones, in other words) to do their chores for them, so I decided to give Daisy Gumm Majesty, heroine of my “Spirits” books, a working-class background and a strong work ethic learned from her parents. The fact that she learned quite early in her life that rich folks can be just as gullible as poor ones, and that they sometimes have a good deal more money than sense, only added to the fun with Daisy, who’s a phony spiritualist.

I chose to set my historical mysteries in the 1920s, because so very much was going on then. Women, after decades of trying, finally got the vote in 1920 (in Turkey, by the way, women got the vote in 1918. Go figure); the world had lately endured two ghastly crises (the Great War and the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic); radio was being invented and improved upon almost daily; baseball was truly the great American pastime; the sale and consumption of alcohol was outlawed, giving rise to bootlegging and the murdering gangs who fought for control of the illegal stuff; and young people had begun questioning the values of their elders with a vengeance. The last item on that list is probably as old as the human race itself, but in the twenties the rebellion of the “Bright Young Things” seemed to take on an almost hopeless ethos. After years of war, illness and death, lots of young people concluded there wasn’t anything they could do about life, so they might as well party (if you need proof of this, read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s books).

Unfortunately for her, Daisy Majesty, my favorite character to date in any of the books I’ve written, and who has appeared in four books to date, suffered through the worst of what life had to offer, too, but she couldn’t waste her life partying because she had a war-injured husband to care for and support. Although I have a lot of fun with the “Spirits” books, Daisy has many burdens to bear. As Connie Gregory, reviewer for Connie’s Reviews, put it: “HUNGRY SPIRITS has substance in the story line as well as in each character.” That made me feel good, as did the Booklist review of HUNGRY SPIRITS, the first line of which is, “This enjoyable series deserves to be much better known.” Huh. I couldn’t agree more!

Anyhow, that brings me to the most important point of this blog. HUNGRY SPIRITS, the fourth “Spirits” book, is being released this month! You can read the first chapter on my website ( if you want to. In fact, you can read the first chapter of all the “Spirits” books there, if you hunt around a bit. The first three books, STRONG SPIRITS, FINE SPIRITS, and HIGH SPIRITS, are also available for your Kindle or your iPad if you’re lucky enough to own one of those interesting devices.

By the way, I hold a monthly contest in which I give books away. I started doing this some years ago, and I still have too blasted many copies of my books sitting around. Anyhow, each month I throw the names and addresses of entrants into my special contest doggie dish and at the end of the month Daisy, my winner-picking wiener, selects winners of the books I’m offering. This month is HUNGRY SPIRITS month, so if you’d like to maybe, depending on Daisy, win a copy, just e-mail me at and give me your name and home address. Daisy does the dirty work on the last day of the month. Thank you!

One person who comments today will receive a download of the Civil War anthology NORTHERN ROSES AND SOUTHERN BELLES, in which Caroline has a novella, LONG WAY HOME. Be sure to leave your email in the comment! This win does not disqualify you for Caroline's Saturday drawing nor as Alice’s weiner winner if you email her. Hooray for free stuff!


Reviews for Alice Duncan:

“This enjoyable series deserves to be much better known. It takes place in Pasadena at the beginning in the early 1920s. WWI has had an immense impact on the Gumm-Majesty family. Billy Majesty returned from the war with wounds related to being both shot and exposed to mustard gas. As a result, he cannot walk or work and has become addicted to morphine. Daisy, his wife, supports the family working as a spiritualist. Billy doesn’t approve, but Daisy and the Gumm family are much more pragmatic. In this adventure, Daisy is asked to teach a cooking class for disadvantaged immigrant ladies at the Salvation Army. That sounds innocent enough, but Daisy can’t cook. She manages to stay one step ahead of the class, but she lands right in the middle of an anarchist plot, forcing her to turn sleuth and, along the way, confront her prejudices against Germans, whom she blames for her husband’s disability. Daisy’s upbeat attitude in the face of serious problems gives her great appeal, as does Duncan’s grasp of the period. Recommend Daisy to fans of Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs.” Judy Coon, Booklist

“Daisy is a terrific heroine – she’s strong, smart, sassy, independent, and loyal. All of Alice Duncan’s characters have outstanding traits, and the author’s narrative of Pasadena in the era of speakeasies and flappers is nothing short of genius and a true love of the time and place. HUNGRY SPIRITS is an easy reading guilty pleasure and is chock full of danger, intrigue, and friends and family relationships. This is a delicious tale showcasing another of Daisy’s unknown talents – cooking! Thank you Alice Duncan for providing some of the best stories and characters in today’s literary market.” Betty Cox, ReaderToReader.

“Alice Duncan has given us a slice of life book in post-wartime with an interlocking mystery. She delves into the feelings of the survivors and the families who lost loved ones. HUNGRY SPIRITS has substance in the story line as well as in each character. A great change of pace book, thoroughly enjoyable with great writing that holds your interest throughout. I highly recommend it; it's good for the heart and soul! “ Connie Gregory, Connie’s Reviews.

“The latest post WWI era "Spirits" novel is a terrific historical that contains a strong mystery subplot. Daisy and the strong cast including the repeat characters from previous books (see Strong Spirits, Fine Spirits and High Spirits) and the cooking class make for a fascinating deep look at 1921 California.” Harriet Klausner

After you finish commenting on this post, please go over to and read her interview of moi that was supposed to run yesterday. Rebecca has had major computer-related problems lately, so she's a tad behind.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Welcome Author Mimi Barbour!

Readers, please help me welcome author Mimi Barbour today. Mimi, thank you so much for joining us today. You’ve led a richly diversified life. Tell us about your time in Africa. Then, tell us about your life now.

Hi Caroline. Thanks so much for inviting me to join you today. I really do enjoy these interviews. Humm?? Wonder what that says about a person. Ahh Dr. Phil…?

I have had a fun life. Moved many times around Winnipeg as a child, and I think it created a traveling niche in my psyche. I love to meet new people and go to different places. Spent the first eight years of married life in various areas in the Yukon. Then stayed in one small town on Vancouver Island for fifteen years and raised a family. Got an opportunity to move to Chile and lived there for seven years, and then ended up in West Africa for two more, and finally back to Canada to settle down Mid-Island where I live with my hubby, and two rambunctious turtles the size of small plates. (Okay maybe not rambunctious but they do come when I splash the water!!?)

Being in Africa was like living in a National Geographic program. I loved the people and the color and hated the poorness and the enforced oppression by their own government. Being called Mammy by the kids turned me on - they knew a soft touch when they saw one.

What led you to writing? I know you took writing classes, but why writing rather than, gardening or photography or bridge?

In Africa I had too much time on my hands and needed to take on a challenge. I was already teaching English to the fellow who worked as a gardener, quilting and cross-stitching, but I’d decided I needed more focus for my brain. I’d always loved writing letters and stories and thought I’d could to learn how to write for children. I took two years correspondence classes on creative Writing.

(There’s a story on my website called ‘Run for Joy’ which was the only children’s story I’ve had published. In truth, this image was the whole reason for me to start learning how to write. I had to tell the story about the naked African boy running in the rain and kicking a ball only half full of air. His protruding little tummy looked like a beer belly and he was so happy. The memory always makes me smile.)

Do you think you’ll diversify the types of romance you write or stay, as we say in Texas, stay with the one who brung ya?

My series is in the paranormal genre because I wrote the first story ‘She Me’ for a contest and I had to follow their guidelines (more about that later).

But, I’d love to write series romances. We all have to start somewhere and since I’ve read them for many years, having a gold star on my personal stairway next to Harlequin would be a real joy.

Who are a few of your favorite authors?

I’ve been reading the J.D.Robb series because it’s all I have left of Nora’s books to read. I love Susan Elizabeth Philips and find her bad-boy stories a delight. I particularly enjoy courtroom dramas and who-dun-its so Richard North Patterson fills that slot for me, and when I get in the mood for a good historical there’s no one better than Jo Beverly. Sharon Ashwood is also a new favourite of mine in the paranormal line with her quirky voice and ghost-busting heroine. But I guess my all-time best read is ‘Shantaram’ by Gregory David Roberts.

Oooh, Sharon Ashwood sounds like an author I should read. When you’re not writing, what do you do to relax?

I garden, but always with a pencil and paper nearby. It’s amazing how many plot problems have been solved when I’m on my knees, with a spade in my hand and sweat dripping. Gotta stop and pull off the gloves, stand up groaning and kvetching, and go over to the table to capture my ideas. Then I resume my place only to have the next, greater than before idea hit me that also has to be written down. Sigh!! Sometimes I just give up and go back to the computer.

I love spending time with friends and when I do that, the stories are forgotten….mostly Unless while people-watching, a favourite habit of mine, I see some behaviour that just needs to be documented.

What would you like to tell readers about THE VICARAGE BENCH? What inspired you to write the stories in this book?

The Vicarage Bench has been so much fun to write. The first story “She’s Me” was to be an entry for a Wild Rose Press contest called Through the Garden Gate. Well, instead of going through it, I sorta jumped over the flippin thing by ignoring some of their guidelines, and so was notified that they couldn’t accept my story as part of the contest but…they’d like to publish it as a stand-alone. I calmly agreed the same way any hysterical banshee would, and so my first story got released.

The second story “He’s Her” came about because the fact that I was now a published author went straight to my swollen head, and I figured heck – if I could do one, I could do two. And I did!

Running with the ball was too hard to stop and along came number three “We’re One”

I guess the premise of the books—having the protagonists either reside in someone else’s body (along with the owner), or have the hero invade hers, just tickles my fancy. It’s great fun writing dialogue, and the emotional side of each character can be stretched further than normal, because now it’s two souls who have to deal with the emotions involved. Also—because my favourite part of writing is characterization, I believe the people in my stories have wonderful personalities, are fun and full of surprises….at least I hope they are.

Beautiful cover, Mimi! Write a paragraph using the following words: peach, prize, leather, stocking, pig.

The curvaceous blonde wriggled and retied the waistband of her illegally-short shorts, trying to secure them from sliding down again. Her long pigtail swung freely with each move she made, as once more, she climbed the tree stretching and struggling for the peaches that hung just out of reach. Sara knew her sleeping child, cuddled in the car seat, would consider this a wonderful prize, and if she could gather all three she aimed for, then stocking them away for the next day would save her from having to spend her hoarded cash on fresh fruit. Sara would have gotten them too, if it weren’t for the leather-jacketed idiot barrelling towards her on a screaming motorcycle. Noticing her, he skidded across the road and flew off his bike, landing close to where she now hung on for dear life. Screams from inside the car grew louder, but didn’t come close to drowning out her cussing.

Do you write each day? What is your writing schedule?

Yep! I write each day unless I absolutely can’t. If I’m on holidays and am expected to be sociable with friends, I normally wait until everyone else’s has gone to bed. I’m a night owl and therefore can usually outlast most of my friends. If nothing else, I have to clean up my e-mails because after two days the amount collected is mind-blowing.

Are you a plotter or a seat-of-the-pants writer?

First I come up with an idea and plot out most of the story in my mind before I jot down the main items. Then I write out a rough draft for the characters. Later, once I actually start writing, everything changes. But without that small guideline, I really don’t have any direction to go towards or what will happen when I get there.

What advice would you give pre-published writers?

Oh goodness… now might be a good time for a bathroom break or for fresh coffee. Just kidding. I won’t go on and on except to say this. If you think you’re really good enough to be published, but you haven’t had any formal writing education, or haven’t taken any classes— then think again. Creating a novel that will interest an editor today is very hard to do. If you truly want to it - be prepared to work your ass off, have a real job to cover the bills, and study - learn your craft. Read the to-do books, but try and choose the best ones as there’s so much out there. Join a writing group and learn by others’ mistakes. Every author I’ve ever met is more than willing to help the wannabies, because most of us remember the good old days. And never think your work is so good that it can’t be better. Edit and revise and then do it again. It’s how I spend my days. Writing the story is the easiest part…making it saleable isn’t. The two most used reference books in my office are ‘Don’t Sabotage Your Submission’ by Chris Roerden and a big fat Thesaurus.

Give us a blurb about THE VICARAGE BENCH:

The Vicarage Bench is actually an anthology of three novellas. The first ‘She’s Me’ was my original contest entry, and my first attempt at spirit/time travel. I had a lot of fun writing the story of a beautiful, spoilt model from today invading the body of a chubby, sweet librarian from the sixties. The second story ‘He’s Her’ follows the same sort of spirit/time travel, only in this story a sophisticated, cranky fellow moves in on a virgin-sweet, lovely teacher. The third ‘We’re One’ went slightly different, and again I pushed the envelope somewhat. A charismatic, casino owner forces gorgeous, casino starlet to hide inside him in order to save her from a killer out for revenge.

Would you care to give us an excerpt from one of the stories?

Sure - here’s an except from the first ‘She’s Me’.

Chapter Five

Early next morning Jenna was up and forcing her new body into old practises.

“Ow! Stop that.”

“You are so out of shape, I can’t believe it.”

“Enough sit-ups! My heart is pounding so hard it’ll definitely stroke, my back aches—undoubtedly traction will be my only option—and my legs can’t handle so much running. I’ll surely get attacked with varicose veins.”

“You’re nuts. Stop griping. And by the way—we’re walking fast, not running, and it’s good for you. Exercise keeps the blood flowing, builds muscle and inflates energy, and that alone prevents problems. Your skin will benefit, not to mention your heart and lungs. Right now you’re breathing like a stuffed...

“Don’t you say it; don’t you dare.”

“Okay! Don’t spaz!”

“I’m hungry. Let’s eat now.”

“Right! One egg, a slice of twelve-grain bread and a small apple.” This was typical of Jenna’s usual diet.

“Never heard of twelve-grain bread. One egg isn’t enough. I usually have three, with bacon rashers, steamed tomatoes, toast and jam—oh, yes, and a bowl of oatmeal. And of course two cups of tea.”

Sarcasm dripping, Jenna said, “No wonder our arse is as big as an elephant’s. News flash! Lifestyle changes missy, starting right now. We eat healthy as of this moment.” And arguing all the while with her physical landlady about calories, metabolic rates, nutrition and energy, she strenuously suppressed Lucy’s habit of wolfing down every morsel on her plate.

Great excerpt with everything I love, including humor and a paranormal element. Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers?

It’s lovely to be able to visit with you here on Caroline’s blog, but, please do drop by my website and sign up for my newsletter – (which doesn’t get sent out all that often, mostly when I have some news to share.) I also have contests going on from time to time, and so anyone on the newsletter list is automatically entered. There’s an e-mail address also on my website for anyone who has questions. I love hearing from readers.

You can find Mimi on the web at You’ll also find a free read on her website.

Mimi, thank you for stopping by today. Continued good luck with your writing!

THANK YOU Caroline. It’s been a real pleasure. Hugs, Mimi

Readers. don't forget that leaving a comment enters you in my drawing. You can also sign on as a follower or on my RSS feed for another entry. Please leave your email in the comment.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Saturday's Winners and My Saturday Win

Thanks to everyone who commented on this blog this past week--actually it's been eleven days because the month began in the middle of the week. Saturday's winner is Ashley. She will be notified by email. She wins a small basket of Bath and Body Works products and a copy of CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL FOR DADS AND DAUGHTERS in honor of Father's Day next weekend (autographed by one of the authors, award-winning author, Christie Craig) in promotion for my June release, OUT OF THE BLUE. Since I fudged a bit--okay, four days--I'm sending Linda a download of award winning anthology NORTHERN ROSES AND SOUTHERN BELLES, in which I have a novella, LONG WAY HOME.

Please continue your comments to enter next week's drawing. I sincerely appreciate those who have left a comment and who have become a follower. I especially appreciate comments when I have a guest (no one wants to be embarrassed in front of the children).

Now let me tell you about the great day I had on Saturday. I attended the Yellow Rose RWA chapter meeting and Jo Davis (pictured at the right) was our speaker. What a great presentation! Maybe NYTimes bestsellers don't experience this, but I feel a writer can always take something away from any speaker. Even if we've heard it all before--but in Jo's case I had NOT--we can pick up a tidbit or be reminded of something we'd forgotten. Jo had pearls of wisdom dropping every time she opened her mouth. She spoke on Deep Point Of View, which is one of the things that I always think I understand but which confounds me on a permanent basis--until today. Maybe the fact that she used to teach school is why she made everything so easy to understand. Bless her! Then she applied the same principles to a synopsis. You probably thought you saw searchlights scouring the skies over Grapevine, Texas, but it was just the light bulbs finally going off over my head. And--can it get any better?--I won LINE OF FIRE from Jo's Firefighters of Station Five series. Let me tell you, I am feeling pretty pleased with the day's events.

After never winning anything, in the past two months I've won a pair of earrings, a $5 gift card, and now Jo Davis' book. I could get used to this. Let's hear it for Free Stuff!

Shameless promotion because I love these book covers, I'm posting again the covers for my new release and the anthology. Wait until I show you the stupendous cover for my September release. Life is good!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Writing the Senses

"What I like about a good author is not what he says, but what he whispers."
Logan Pearsall Smith


Darling 1 told me that she obtained some old-fashioned lye soap for the mother of a friend. No doubt the mom now uses modern soap that includes plenty of moisturizers. She merely wanted a bar of  the lye soap of her childhood--not to use, but to be reminded of times past. .

What is your first good memory? Your first bad one? Your first sorrow?

I once heard a supposed expert on TV say people cannot remember scents. How wrong he was! Perhaps he meant he could not recall them.. I remember the smell of my grandmother's flowers on a hot summer day, the smell of my mom's face powder, the scent of my father's face when I kissed him goodnight, the scent and feel of clean cotton sheets dried on the clothesline. Those things are in my past--some of them further away than others--but I recall them as surely as if they occurred today. My brother swears that when he passes a woman who uses the same face powder as our mom, he thinks of Mother. He said he always wants to lean near and inhale, but fears the woman would misunderstand. LOL As writers we are charged with translating those memories into word picture so vivid that readers experience them.

We record not only our personal experiences, but those we imagine. I haven't killed anyone, but I can write about someone who does because I've experienced anger, desperation, and envy. I've never had a child or husband die---thank You, God!---but I have lost parents and siblings and others close to me. I can write about grief from that well inside me.

I've mentioned before that we store up experiences and become the sum of all of these--not just those we personally have gone through, but also those we observed. I firmly believe writers and other artists are more sensitive to people and to life.
We empathize. 
We listen.
We gather.
We are the storytellers of our generation as surely as those before recorded language when people sat around the fire and listened to their recited history. We record, so that a hundred years from now people may share our experiences. Our smells, our tastes, our touch, our sights, our sounds. I wonder who will be reading our words then? In what form will they appear?

Tell me about your first memories. How old were you?

Don't forget to comment for a chance to win my Saturday giveaway. Open to international readers. A follower counts as two entries. Leave your email address in the comment.

I'm still on a blog tour for my June release, OUT OF THE BLUE, from The Wild Rose Press and from Amazon. You'll find my tour appearances on the sidebar to the right of this article. Join me for new excerpts and details about the story before the story. As Isabel Roman commented, she likes to know the backstory, she just doesn't want to get bogged down in it inside the book.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Book Review--SOMEWHERE MY LASS by Beth Trissel

I love Beth Trissel's blog. It is always well written and her husband's photographs are gorgeous. My blog today, however, is about her new release, SOMEWHERE MY LASS from The Wild Rose Press. This is a time travel romance, one of my favorite reads. Once I started reading this romance, I couldn't stop reading. From the first paragraph, I was hooked! Beth keeps the reader turning the pages to see whether or not Mora and Niel will get back to Scotland, what will happen if they do, will they stay there,.will Niel cease to exist? The pacing keeps the reader involved.

Not only does Beth Trissel have a terrific blog and website, but she is a remarkable author. I enjoyed the first of her Somewhere series, SOMEWHERE MY LOVE. In all honesty, I have to say that SOMEWHERE MY LASS is even more captivating than the first of the series. Beth Trissel writes with vivid language that paints a picture in the reader's mind. Her characterizations breathe life into all of the characters, and especially the hero and heroine. Anyone who enjoys a good read will love this book.

Let me share the blurb with you:

Neil MacKenzie’s well ordered life turns to chaos when Mora Campbell shows up claiming he’s her fiance from 1602 Scotland. Her avowal that she was chased to the future by clan chieftain, Red MacDonald, is utter nonsense, and Neil must convince her that she is just addled from a blow to her head–or so he believes until the MacDonald himself shows up wanting blood.

Mora knows the Neil of the future is truly her beloved Niall who disappeared from the past. Although her kinsmen believe he’s dead, and she is now destined to marry Niall’s brother, she’s convinced that if she and Neil return to the past, all will be right. The only problem is how to get back to 1602 before it’s too late.

The balance of the present and future are in peril if she marries another, and the Neil of the present will cease to exist. An ancient relic and a few good friends in the future help pave the way back to the past, but will Mora and Neil be too late to save a love that began centuries before

I give this book 5 roses out of 5. Reader  can order SOMEWHERE MY LASS from The Wild Rose Press or Amazon in edownload or in print..You'll find Beth's blog at
Don't forget my contest continues. Leave a comment to be entered in Saturday's drawing for a gift basket from Bath and Body Works along with a few odds and ends to surprise the recipient..

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

We Are Not Alone--A Family Affair

Friends and I went to lunch today after a meeting. We were discussing family, helping one another, and being alone. One of my friends is divorced, one a widow, and the other and I are happily married. Each of us has children who we think are the greatest children in the world. But we didn't argue over who's child was the most brilliant, the sweetest. (What would be the point, when I know mine are?) We were talking doing things on our own.

Fortunately for me, my Hero husband and my two Darling Daughters are very supportive of my writing passion. Hero keeps the computer working and the house running and does errands so that I can keep writing. Darling 1 helps with research, promotion, with my blog template, and with all kinds of questions. Darling 2 is also good for research. It's as if I have an auxillary staff. LOL Wow, I've always wanted a staff.

Not all writers are so fortunate. I remember one Harlequin writer several years ago who was well on her way up the ladder whose husband resented her spending time writing and killed her. What a shock that was to the writing community! Pardon my prejudice, but I always think that sort of thing happens to people who don't read. Maybe her husband didn't read books, even though she wrote them. Very sad situation, for she was a young woman. Readers and Writers should live to a higher standard in my opinion. Don't ask me why I think that. I know it's not logical but I can't prevent the thought. But I digressed.

The point of this is that success at writing takes more than one person pecking away at the keyboard. I don't mean monetary success because, let's face it, I'm not raking in the dough here, folks. I mean success at productive output. Pages written. Books completed. Books marketed. Family members must cooperate and support the writer if in no other way than not interupting. So, if you're a writer, thank your family. If you're a reader, thank a writer--and a teacher. LOL

Don't forget to leave a comment for the Saturday prize drawing. Put your email in the comment. Follow or tell me you're a follower for an additonal entry. You know the drill.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Antiques and Other Bad Habits

One of my hobbies is browsing antique malls and going to estate and garage sales. I try just to browse, but I can't resist a bargain. Darling 2 and I love antiques and collectibles. In fact, we used to have booths in several antique malls. The problem was, we kept the best stuff for ourselves. I know, not good business, but we have some great items we enjoy. Another problem was that we never had the cash to buy the expensive but really lucrative items to resell. Assuming we would have resold them, of course.

We also love home tours. You know, the Victorian homes or revitalized area tours. Waxahachie, Texas is a town south of Dallas known for its Gingerbread Trail each spring and a similar one in November. Darling 2 and I were at one of the spring tours when we spotted one of our favorite signs, "Moving Sale." We stopped and I had just paid for a lovely folding Oriental screen I wanted. Darling 2 was still shopping when a policeman showed up and asked the homeowner for her permit. Oops. She didn't have one. He said, "Everyone will have to put everything down. I have to close this sale." The homeowner, who was moving to another state the following week, begged and pleaded. Since I had already paid, I did not feel inclined to leave my purchase. Darling 2 and I picked up the screen and hoofed it to my car a block away. That screen is heavy, let me assure you, but we made very good time and slid that baby into the car with no delay. When we drove back by the home, everyone was leaving--except the policeman. Poor lady. Not only was her sale closed down and her profits quashed, she probably had to pay a fine. For our part, my daughter and I still laugh about what a weird sight we must have made, jogging with a folded screen on our shoulders.

Darling 2 collects pottery and Darling 1 collects Stanley hand planes. I collect nativity sets, angels, and odds and ends. Hero collects electronics, tools, and fishing gear. Each of us reads so we're always happy to find a garage sale with lots of books at a bargain. We are all pack rats, so it's no wonder our basement is filled with "stuff."  We figure as long as we have the room, there's no harm. We don't have other expensive habits, so we'll continue collecting our favorites. 

What do you collect? Do you shop garage and estate sales?