Friday, September 30, 2011


Lilly Gayle, Author
It took me a long time to get published. Thirteen years to be exact. But since last year, I’ve had three novels published with The Wild Rose Press. My paranormal romance, OUT OF THE DARKNESS came out last May. In June of this year, my first historical was published. SLIGHTLY TARNISHED is a Victorian romance set in 1858 England. And this month, my first American historical, WHOLESALE HUSBAND, came out. And in celebration of my latest release, I’m giving away an e-copy of WHOLESALE HUSBAND to one lucky commenter today. Before I share blurbs and excerpts of my two historicals, I’d like to share a my list of the top ten mistakes I most often discover when editing a manuscript:


The same word used more than once in a short paragraph such as the word eyes. An example from an earlier draft of Wholesale Husband:

“He would have gladly married her for her money.” In the edited version, the second her was removed to make the sentence read: “He would have gladly married her for money.” The meaning is the same but the useless repeated word is gone.

Authors also use the same words and/or phrases multiple times in the same manuscript. These repeated words/phrases are usually unremarkable so the writer doesn’t notice. Editors might miss it too but readers don’t read multiple books at the same time or read over an extended period of time. And you can bet they’ll catch those repeated words, like “just” or the phrases like: He gazed into her eyes. Or: Her pulse quickened.

Those phrases aren’t bad, but if her pulse quickens every time the heroine looks at the hero, it becomes tiring. And instead of having the hero gaze into the heroine’s eyes, he can just look at her. Writers need to be conscious of those “easy” phrases that get over used.

And don’t use an unusual word repeatedly. Words like staccato. 

Watch out for other repeated phrasing too. If you are trying to avoid he said/she said and chose a tag such as: ”His tone was apologetic when he said” or “She kept her tone even when she said…” use it sparingly or it will grate on readers’ nerves.

Repeat words and phrases can keep the writer from probing deeper into the character. Find a different word or phrase or add internal dialogue.


Flat writing most often occurs when the writer starts telling a story. "He wanted to know what Julie was thinking.” Or “He looked at the clock and wondered if she would show up. He was afraid she wouldn’t come.”

Boring. And very flat. No one is going to care about the characters because the writer is telling instead of showing.

The first sentence could be rewritten as: Julie stared out across the waving field of goldenrod—a faraway look in her sea green eyes. What was she thinking?

And for the second sentence, it could be written like this: He looked at the clock. Ten minutes after the hour. Sara was never late. His heart lurched. She wasn’t coming.


Really, surely, actually, totally, unfortunately, ironically, incredibly, hopefully, finally - these and others are words meant to emphasis a verb but they end up doing the opposite. If the verb you’ve chosen is so weak you need to use an adverb to get your meaning across, tryin using a stronger verb.

Example: Her pulse beat really fast. Rewritten: Her pulse raced.

Sometimes, less is more. So don’t add words just to up the word count.


If your character is from the slums, don’t make him talk like a Harvard graduate. The same is true for that Harvard grad. He shouldn’t say things like, “I seen that car at the bank.”

Don’t have your characters use too many adverbs either. Before your hero says something like, “You look really nice.” Remember men don’t use that many words. He’d most likely say, “You look good.”

And don’t have your characters discussing things both characters should already know just so you as the writer can relay the information to the reader. If Joe and Cliff are brothers and they both know Susie’s fiancé was killed in an accident five years ago, don’t have Joe tell Cliff, “You know Susie’s fiancé drove off that cliff five years ago.” Instead, deliver the info from Susie’s POV in such a way as to explain why Susie keeps most men at arm’s length or why she refuses to date men who drive sports cars. Don’t make your characters have a conversation for the reader’s benefit just so you can advance the plot.

If you’re not sure if a conversation sounds stilted, try reading it out loud as if you were the character. If it doesn’t sound like something a person in your character’s situation would say, then don’t make your character say it.

Dialogue offers the reader a glimpse of the characters descriptions and internal thoughts can’t always provide. So make sure your characters don’t all sound alike. Remember their personalities when you make them speak.


Watch out for “ing” “ingly” and “ness.” If someone is meticulous, just say it. Don’t say Joan was known for her meticulousness.

If Jack said something to annoy Suzie, don’t have him say it annoyingly. Find another way to get that message across


Also, avoid frequent use of "to be" words - "am," "is," "are," "was," "were," "be," "being," "been," etc. It makes the writing flat and often tells more than it shows. It’s also passive. Learn to use more active prose.

It was Jeff who discovered the decomposed body in the field—passive.

Jeff found the decomposed body in a field outside of town—active.

There was dirt and blood on the floor—passive and boring.


Just don’t do it. If Suzie is going to the store before she goes to the bank and then out to meet Jeff, don’t make a list. Nobody cares. Lay out the scene. Give more details Let the reader know why she must go to the store and the bank before meeting Jeff. And make those


Don’t say “she was beautiful but shy.” Describe her. “She ducked her chin, avoiding eye contact. Her fiery red hair fell across elegant cheekbones to obscure dazzling green eyes.”

If you’re telling the reader she was beautiful, the reader has to take your word for it. Instead, show the reader why the hero thinks she’s beautiful. Describe the character in such a way the reader gets a mental picture.

The same goes for a scene. Show the reader what you want them to see. Don’t just tell them it’s there.


Sentences should flow from one to the next. If all the sentences start the same way, there’s no flow.

Example: Biding his time, Jim watched Anna walk into the bank. Leaning against the wall, he waited. Smoking a cigarette to kill time, he … Okay, that’s enough of that. Sentence structure should alternate in construction and word count. Mix it up. Use shorter sentences to increase pacing. Change the way you begin a sentence. Just make sure it flows and the reader doesn’t have to stop and go back to understand your meaning. And don’t throw in awkward wording that will make the mind stumble. If a sentences makes the stop to consider what the heck you’re talking about, then you need to change the sentence structure.


Know when to use them. If you have a compound sentence with and or but and either side of the comma can stand alone as a complete comma, keep the comma. If the either half of the sentence isn’t a whole sentence, then keep the comma is unnecessary.

And if a sentence needs a comma to maintain the flow or clarify meaning, don’t delete it because you don’t like commas. And don’t add commas in weird places just so the reader will pause.

Some punctuation rules can be broken in fiction. You can begin a sentence with And and But for dramatic reasons. You can’t add commas willy nilly or delete the needed ones.

Even New York Times Best Selling Authors make mistakes. But unless you’ve already made that list, mistakes can keep you from getting published.

Victorian romance laced with danger.

When a brooding English earl with a SLIGHTLY TARNISHED reputation marries his dead wife’s American cousin to save her from her uncle’s vengeful schemes, the sea captain’s daughter with a taste for adventure sparks desires he thought long dead.

Nicole Keller has always been headstrong and independent, but after a failed business venture and a sinking ship take her father, her home, and her childhood sweetheart, Nikki must support herself and her mother. But moving to England and marrying Chadwick Masters, Earl of Gilchrest isn’t what she has in mind. And falling in love with the mysterious earl could endanger both their lives.

“This will be your room.” He opened the door and stood to one side so she could enter. “I’m afraid you will have to continue to make do without a lady’s maid. The only household staff I employ are Mrs. Lomax, Dickens, Cook, and my groom. My driver lives in the village as do the few maids I hire on occasion to help Mrs. Lomax with the laundry and heavier cleaning.”

Nikki smiled. “That’s quite all right, Lord Masters. I’m used to doing for myself, and it’s only for a week.”

He returned her smile and leaned forward, his warm breath fanning her cheek. “What happened to Chad? Surely we’ve gone beyond such formalities now, Nicole.”

Gooseflesh rippled over her skin. Her body quivered. “I don’t think it would be proper for me to call you by your given name.” She risked a glance at his face and wished she hadn’t. His eyes no longer looked worried. They were hot—almost feverish. Her skin heated.

“It didn’t stop you before,” he said, his deep voice a husky rumble. Despite the heat, Nikki shivered.

Oh my!

“I don’t think this is proper either,” she stammered when he brushed his lips against her temple. A delicious tingle skittered down her spine.

“No, probably not,” he said, nibbling her neck.

A strange tension rippled through her muscles, tightening them with pleasure. She arched her neck, granting him access as he slid his lips along the column of her throat. Her hands bunched the skirt of her plain, serviceable dress. Her stomach quivered.

“What are you doing?” she asked, breathless and giddy.

He pulled his hands from his pockets and pulled her closer. “I’m seducing you, I think.”

“Seducing me?” Her heart hammered against her ribs.

“Hmm. You’re doing it again.” Then he lowered his mouth and kissed her.

WHOLESALE HUSBAND- Coming soon from The Wild Rose Press~

She needs his name. He needs her money. But can a rich New York socialite and a poor Irish immigrant find true love in the gilded age?

Betrayed by her fiancé and heart sick over her father’s death, Clarissa Burdick is further devastated when she learns she can’t inherit her father’s company—the company she loves—until she’s twenty-five or married. And Clarissa is neither. So she sets out to find a husband strong enough to protect her from her uncle’s thugs, too uneducated to run the company himself, and poor enough to marry a woman in name only. But Irish immigrant Devin Flannery is smarter than he seems and more educated than Clarissa expects. Her WHOLESALE HUSBAND soon proves a greater risk to her heart than her company.

“This is a serious proposal,” she insisted, gnawing her lip.

“Who are you codding?” He leaned forward, stretching his leg, ready to descend from the suffocating confinement of the hansom cab.

Again, she stayed him with a touch and again, his body reacted to the contact in a most unwanted way. He narrowed his eyes and pried her hand from his wrist.

“Surely, you’ve heard of marriages of convenience,” she insisted rather desperately as she rubbed her wrist. “Well, this is an honest proposal. If you come with me to Mr. Tate’s office, I can give you a copy of the contract outlining a proposed marriage agreement between us. If you don’t trust my word or that of my attorney’s, then you can find someone to read the documents to you before you sign them.”

She rubbed her wrist again. He considered apologizing for his rough handling but after her last comment, he thought better of it. Even after he’d confessed to some schooling, she still thought him too stupid to read.

Well, if she wanted a dumb Irishman, he’d give her one.

“Aye, lassie. I’ll not be taking yer word for it and that’s fer sure.”

“Then you’ll come with us?”

There must be something seriously wrong with me. But he’d play along, just to see how far Miss Burdick would take this dangerous game she played.

“Aye,” he all but snarled. “I’ll go with you to the lawyer’s office, but I ain’t signing nothing until someone I trust has a look at those papers.”

Miss Burdick’s luminous smile shone like the sun bursting through the clouds on a stormy day. Devin’s heart dropped to his stomach. Fiona would smile like that if he had the money to send her to that fancy boarding school.

Damn if he wasn’t actually considering her proposal.

Remember to leave a comment with your contact email for a chance to win a copy of WHOLESALE HUSBAND.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


If you read the post on Monday, September 26th, you are familiar with author Ann Charles. Here's my review of her book, NEARLY DEPARTED IN DEADWOOD.

Available Now from Amazon Kindle
Violet Lynn Parker is a single mother of twins and living with her Aunt Zoe in Deadwood, South Dakota. Strictly for the time being, Violet works as an agent at Calamity Jane Realty, but her probation period is almost up and she hasn’t made a sale. Not one. Zip. Nada. An odious coworker’s nephew is breathing down her neck with qualifications far superior to Violet’s. For one, he’s made actual sales--lots of sales--in a nearby city, but he wants to relocate to Deadwood.

Posters about a missing girl catch Violet’s interest. The girl in the poster is a ringer for Violet’s own daughter Addy. Worrying about the resemblance starts Violet researching the kidnappings.

Violet is suddenly over run with male clients. Wolfgang Hessler has a huge old home he wants to sell, but it’s in horrendous condition. Dane “Doc” Nyce has just rented the office next door to the real estate agency, and he wants to buy a home. Old Man Harvey has a home he wants to sell, and he also wants to buy a home in town. Jeff, father to Addy’s friend Kelly, has to sell his home to split proceeds with his departing wife. But none of this counts toward keeping her job unless she brings in a signed sale contract soon! 

While Addy is matchmaking for her mom, fraternal twin brother Layne insists he’s the only man their house needs. With another girl almost kidnapped, Violet’s job headed down the toilet, and too many men to juggle, her nerves are frazzled. On top of that, Violet has a secret admirer who sends her bouquets of daisies accompanied by creepy poems. Will she be forced to pack up the twins, return to Rapid City, and live with her parents again? Is Addy targeted by the serial killer? Will Violet sell a home in time to keep her job?

Ann Charles has masterfully written a fun, quirky mystery with a dollop of romance. Ms Charles’ cozy mystery is sure to keep readers turning the pages to the conclusion. Her second book of the Deadwood series, OPTICAL DELUSIONS IN DEADWOOD, is also available. Both Deadwood books are available in print and e-book, and NEARLY DEPARTED IN DEADWOOD is currently available for only 99 cents for the e-book version. Treat yourself to this fun read.

Thanks for reading. Join me Friday for my friend Lilly Gayle's chat on writing.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Please welcome Ann Charles as our guest author today.

Caroline: What made you decide to set your novels in Deadwood?

Ann: I had spent my summers in Deadwood during my teen years, after my mom moved there from Ohio. My family and I explored back roads, ghost towns, old abandoned mines, and stream-lined gulches every chance we could. The history of the place entranced us, and there was always a road we hadn’t traveled that needed to be checked out.

A few years ago, while pregnant with our second (and last!) child, my husband and I were in Deadwood visiting my mom and stepdad. On the way into town, a story idea hit me about a single mom with two kids—twins—who was trying to make ends meet while trying out a new career in a new town. That’s when Violet was born.

From the start, I had a gut feeling that this story was meant to be. NEARLY DEPARTED IN DEADWOOD just poured out of me. The years of exploring the town and surrounding hills paid off, I was able to slip in and out of the setting by just closing my eyes. I could feel the summer sun, smell the pine trees, hear the sounds of Main Street. It was a match made in fictional heaven.

Caroline: I've never been to Deadwood. Could you tell us a little more about the town?

Ann: Deadwood has been around since the late 1800s. It’s the site where “Wild” Bill Hickok was murdered, Calamity Jane liked to spend her days and nights, and outlaws, miners, prostitutes, and cowboys hung out in droves. It’s located in the beautiful Black Hills and has been the setting for many true wild-west anecdotes.

For decades, Deadwood relied on its history to drum up tourism business. But in the 90s, gambling was allowed within the city limits, and the tourists began to pour in by the busload. The good news is that the gambling industry brought jobs and money to town. The bad news is that casinos took over Main Street, and the Deadwood I grew up in disappeared into history. The clothing store where I’d buy Levi jeans, the pharmacy where I’d buy candy, the gift store where my mom had worked for years—they are all gone, ghosts of Deadwood’s past. But, even with the change, the people have stayed the same. They are still friendly, funny, and full of piss and vinegar. I did my best to create secondary and tertiary characters who are as genuine and entertaining to be around as the real folks in Deadwood.

Caroline: NEARLY DEPARTED IN DEADWOOD won the prestigious Daphne du Maurier Award. How did you feel when your book was announced as the winner?

Ann: Stunned. Totally, absolutely, completely stunned. I didn’t think my quirky, mixed-genre book had a chance at winning. I believed that so much that I didn’t even write an acceptance/thank-you speech (even though my long-time critique partner strongly suggested I write a speech right before we headed down to the ceremony—“Really? Not even just a list a names?”). I’ll never forget what it was like to stand up there in front of all of those smiling faces and not have a clue about what to say. Lesson learned!

Caroline: Your cover art is really distinctive. Can you tell us more about it?

Ann: The cover artist is C.S. Kunkle, who happens to be my older brother. He also drew the graphics that are inside of the printed version of the book—I think 7 in all.

He’s been drawing since we were kids, and he’s also one of the main sources for my wild imagination. His art is a little twisted and wild, and his love of monsters has kept me afraid of the dark since we were kids growing up on the farm in Ohio. He’d often tell me stories of vampires or werewolves living out behind the barn—the same barn that I had to go out to on dark winter nights and feed the cows. I grew up watching scary movies with him, and I’m pretty sure he’s warped a part of my brain.

We had wanted to work on a joint project for years, and when I couldn’t hook a New York publisher with this book, I turned to him and asked if he would be willing to work with me on this project and represent the books in the art form. He didn’t even hesitate.

If you check out my Deadwood website (, as well as my main Ann Charles website (, you will see his art all over the webpages. I’m extremely fortunate that my parents put my crib in his room when he was four, because we’ve stuck together through thick and thin ever since. Having such a talented artist so willing to work with me has been an incredible boost to my career.

Caroline: Your main character, Violet, is anything but shrinking. What else can you tell us about her?

Ann: Violet is a hoot! From the first moment I stepped inside her head and stared down Old Man Harvey’s double-barrel shotgun, I knew I’d found a heroine I would love sharing headspace with for years to come. I love her wit, her sense of humor, the way she can laugh at herself when crap is really raining down on her, her lusty and bold appetite for men, and her acceptance that she’s not the best mother in the world, but she keeps trying anyway.

What I had hoped to create in a character when I started writing Violet’s story was someone readers would enjoy hanging out with in real life. The kind of character that is more genuine—she struggles with her weight, has stretch marks, has this crazy hair she can barely control, and cusses and howls at the moon when the situation calls for it. She’s not a first-rate sleuth, but she cares about people and allows that caring to draw her into places where she does things she’d normally avoid like the plague.

Caroline: What is your ideal romantic hero like?

Ann: He loves to cook and he’s great at it. He also is willing to clean the toilet and shower/tub, do the laundry, and go grocery shopping. Oh, and he likes his women short, curvy, and full of spunk. Handsome with sexy forearms is a definite plus! He’s nice to kids and pets, he’s intelligent but doesn’t show off, and he is willing to give a woman the space she needs to grow and thrive.

Caroline: What woman wouldn't love a guy like that? Wait, you described my husband, Hero, so I DO love a guy like that. LOL Speaking of romantic heroes, what can you tell us about Doc, Deadwood’s newest arrival?

Ann: Well, I’d love to tell you all kinds of fun details about Doc, but he refuses to spill—even to me. Seriously. When I write scenes with him in them, I have to work at getting him to share much. He’s extremely closed mouth about his history and his feelings. I curse him often. Not even hard liquor pries open his lips—and believe me, I’ve tried to use it many times and wound up passed out on the floor of my office.

Caroline: Are there any books that you feel helped shape the writer you are today?

Ann: Definitely! Off the top of my head: Stephen King’s DESPERATION for the horror elements; Dean Koontz’ ODD THOMAS for Dean’s ability to infuse setting into a story; Rachel Gibson’s SEE JANE SCORE for her way of making male characters so “male” and sexy; several books by Susan Andersen for her expertise with suspense; Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series for the blending of mystery and comedy; many of Katie MacAlister’s books for her way of using first person point-of-view so seamlessly; Jane Porter’s FlIRTING WITH FORTY for her ability to yank on heartstrings; and Vicki Lewis Thomson’s Hex series for her fun paranormal and romance mix.

Caroline:  Are there other books in the Deadwood series you’d like to tell us about?

Ann: The second book in the series is called OPTICAL DELUSIONS IN DEADWOOD. It is available as an ebook and in print. I’m currently writing the third book in the series, called DEAD CASE IN DEADWOOD. At the moment, I have twelve books roughly planned out for this series. I figure I’ll take readers’ temperatures at six and go from there.

Caroline:  Can you tell us what your writing process is like?

Ann: Overall, I’m what many writers call a “pantser” in the author world, which means I write by the seat of my pants. I get a couple of plot ideas in mind, put together a high-level plot paradigm with all of my subplots listed, work up a few necessary character goal details, wait for that opening line to hit me right between the eyes, and then explore the story as I go. Every time I finish a chapter, I pause to daydream and brainstorm what comes next. I have a general idea of the beginning, middle, and end, but I allow myself the liberty to change things along the way.

If we’re talking about my daily process for getting words on a page, my typical day is pretty normal. I work a full-time day job as a technical writer, so the morning starts out with dragging my butt out of bed around 6:00 a.m., checking email and Facebook/Twitter, and then getting the kids up and moving. My husband gets breakfast going while I get the munchkins dressed and ready for school/preschool. Then I head to work and play technical writer for eight hours, but my brain is constantly dabbling in fiction during long meetings and on “slow” days. I go home in the evening, hang out with the family until the kids go to bed around nine, and THEN I get to start working on writing. I usually stay up until around 1:00 a.m., then crash and start over again when the alarm goes off at 6:00 a.m. By Friday, I’m existing solely on caffeine and sugar and I look like an extra from a zombie flick, minus the craving for brains. Saturday morning, my husband keeps the kids busy so I can sleep in and return to looking somewhat human. The weekend nights are major writing time, too. Then Monday roles around and I’m back to the weekday grind. Someday I hope I can drop the day job, but that’s far into the future at this point.

Caroline: Ah yes, the DDJ--dreaded day job. What one thing is vital to your survival (or sanity!) when writing?

Ann: Caffeine. Lots of it. Injected intravenously.

Caroline: What is your favorite way to relax?

Ann: Sitting on my couch with a good action/adventure movie with a touch of romance on the television, a plate of Chicken Tikka Masala in front of me (with plenty of warm Naan, too), and a Coke Slurpee within reach. Ahhh, paradise!

Caroline: Do you feel like you have anything in common with Violet, and if so, what?

Ann: We both have two kids, rely on a sarcasm-laced inner monologue as a source of humor, and love men who are tall, dark, and handsome. We also both screw up a lot in life and have learned to laugh at ourselves whenever possible.

Caroline: Laughine at ourselves is important. What other projects do you have on the horizon?

Ann: In October, I’m releasing the first book of my Jackrabbit Junction Series called, DANCE OF THE WINNEBAGOS. I’ll release the second book in that series next year after I release the third book in the Deadwood series.

Also, I have a couple of non-fiction books I co-wrote with Jacquie Rogers. The first is called NAIL IT! THE SECRET TO BUILDING AN EFFECTIVE FICTION WRITERS PLATFORM. It’s the first in a series of five books that we have planned on building a fiction writing platform. The second book available now is called GROWING YOUR AUDIENCE, and is a workbook sort of book that can be used with or without our “Growing Your Audience” online workshop. It’s full of great tips on how to figure out who your audience is and how to grow that audience so that you have folks buying your books as soon as they are published.

Caroline: I love Jacquie's MUCH ADO ABOUT MARSHALS. And her blogsite is very attractive, too.  Are there any particular people (writer, teachers, friends) who have helped inspired you as a writer?

Ann: There are so many authors I have met in the last 15 years who have inspired me. Many of my closest friends are writers who have motivated me through encouragement (or whips and finger jabs) to keep trying, keep practicing, keep putting myself “out there.” The support network these fellow authors have provided is invaluable, and without these authors, I might have thrown in the towel years ago.

In addition, my family has always been extremely supportive. Both of my parents are entrepreneurs, and I think they saw in me that spirit and drive that they know so well. My husband has been wonderful, too. He takes care of me while I write. Without him, I’d have matted hair with leaves and bugs in it, I’d be malnourished from eating nothing but tomato paste out of a can, and I’d undoubtedly smell like I’d bathed with skunks.

Caroline: Right there with you! My Hero keeps me on track and takes care of me, too. When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?

Ann: In my 20s, after reading romances for well over a decade, I decided that I wanted to try writing a romance of my own. So I did. I wrote it by hand and it was absolutely horrible. I’ll never share that one with anyone. But I sent the first 3 chapters of it off to a publisher, not realizing at the time how bad the story was, and Harlequin’s Mills and Boon division was very kind in their rejection letter. The editor encouraged me to keep trying. That was all the encouragement I needed, and I’ve been working on improving my craft and career ever since.

Caroline:  So often, writers hear over and over how difficult it is to “make it” in their chosen profession. What inspires you to keep going?

Ann: The characters in my head—they won’t shut up. To keep my sanity, I have to put their stories on the page. Plus, writing is addictive. And the better you get at bringing your fictional worlds to life, the more you want to dabble in these other worlds.

Caroline:  What advice would you give a brand-new writer?

Ann: If writing to get published and sell books is what you really want to do, realize that winning contests, finding a publisher (or agent), and becoming a bestseller doesn’t happen overnight. It takes years, sometimes even a decade or more, like it has for me. I have been working to be published for about fourteen years now. Many authors take less time than I have, some take more. Patience is necessary, as is continually learning, persevering, and practicing. And most important—this is an entrepreneurial business. Entrepreneurs are known for living, breathing, and sleeping their businesses. Writing is the same. If your family doesn’t periodically consider staging an intervention to break you from your writing-related addiction, you aren’t working hard enough at it to succeed.

Caroline:  What is your favorite bad-for-you treat?

Ann: A Coke Slurpee. Someday, I’m going to purchase a Slurpee machine of my own and drink it straight from the tap.

Caroline:  If you had an entire day to yourself with no responsibilities of any kind and unlimited resources, what would it look like?

Ann: Easy—I’d be sitting on a Mexican beach under a big umbrella with a huge blended Margarita on the little table next to me along with a huge plate of chips and guacamole in my lap. In one hand, I’d have my Kindle loaded with a sexy read, and in the other I’d have my husband’s IPod that I’d be listening to while he took a dip in the crystal clear pool of the resort behind us. Later, our kids would join us for a yummy, fun-filled dinner, and then the nanny would give my husband and me a few more hours of “adult swim” time before returning the kids for the night.

Caroline:  What is something that readers would be surprised to know about you?

Ann: I have an irrational fear of cows, which formed when I was a little kid and have not been able to shake. When I was fifteen, I got lost in the Black Hills of South Dakota one summer day because I’d come across a bull standing in the road while I was out on a walk. I was too chicken to try to skirt around it. For five hours, I wandered the forest, lost, trying not to panic as dusk neared. Finally, I came across a cute little cottage filled with a kind, older couple who took me in, fed me some cookies, and then drove me home.

Caroline: Oh, that sounds almost like a fairy tale adventure. You and your brother should make that into a children's book. Do you ever incorporate family members or friends into your books?

Ann: Yes, often. I like to have fun with those who are closest to me. For example, a good friend of mine at work is single without kids. In the second book of my Jackrabbit Junction Series, I gave him triplets and didn’t tell him about it before he read the ARC. His reaction was priceless. In NEARLY DEPARTED IN DEADWOOD is a part loosely based off another friend of mine at work and his grandpa (about whom I’ve heard many funny stories).

For those readers who know me and my friends and family, part of the fun of reading my books is to see whose names they recognize.

Caroline: What is one of your most embarrassing moments?

Ann: Recently, I stepped off a Ferris Wheel at an amusement park, twisted my ankle, and proceeded to fall down the three steps to the ground in a very ungraceful like manner. Think “train crash” here. My shins took a beating, but my wrists were saved because I fell on top of my 4-year-old daughter. What a great mother, right? Cushion my fall with my kid in front of a crowd of about twenty-five people. Ha! Luckily, my daughter took the brunt of my weight pretty well and ended up with only a bruised knee, where as I had to go to the first aid station and get wrapped with ace bandages and patched up with Band-Aids. Just call me, “Grace.”

Caroline: Um, I am not the one to make fun of someone who is klutzy. Ever!  Is there any genre that is off limits?

Ann: I’m only good at writing mixed-genre stories, so any of the pure genres are off limits for me. For example, I once tried to write a romance with no other plot elements mixed in it. It was so horrible that my critique partners will never allow me to use that hero’s name again. I’m serious. And it was a nice name, too. Dang.

Thank you, Ann, for joining us today.
Readers, please return on Wednesday for a review of Ann's book, NEARLY DEPARTED IN DEADWOOD.

Friday, September 23, 2011


Fall is a wonderful time for Hero and me. The days are finally cooler, taxes and insurance are paid, we have the Christmas holidays teasing us ahead, and we enjoy the changing colors. The fires near Darling Daughter 1 are extinguished. With a recent rain that has renewed the greenery and refreshed the air, we might almost forget that parts of Texas are still burning, but we keep those people in our prayers daily.

To those of you in New England or the Pacific Northwest I suppose our changing leaves are laughable. But give us some leeway, please, and let us enjoy this season. So, stealing an idea from my lovely online friend Beth Trissel, here are some fall greetings.

Lost Maples State Natural Area near Bandera, Texas
 Lost Maples State Natural area is a breathtaking site. In fact, Darling Daughter 2 and I visited it several years ago and felt almost as if we were in a cathedral. It's the only place in the state (as far as I know) where these maples grow naturally. Ergo, the name Lost Maples. Years ago Comanche, Comancheros, and rustlers used the valley as a route to drive stolen cattle to Mexico. Now it's a state park for the benefit of everyone with peaceful intentions. No rustlers allowed.

"It was one of those perfect English autumnal days which occur more frequently in memory than in life." P. D. James

Lost Maples
 "There is a harmony in autumn, and a luster in its sky, which through the summer is not heard or seen, as if it could not be, as if it had not been!"
Percy Bysshe Shelley
"Autumn, the year's last, loveliest smile."

William Cullen Bryant

Fall Harvest
"Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns."
George Eliot

"No Spring nor Summer Beauty hath such grace

As I have seen in one Autumnal face." John Donne
"Every season hath its pleasures;

Spring may boast her flowery prime,
Yet the vineyard's ruby treasures
Brighten Autumn's sob'rer time." Thomas Moore

When I was a girl, I loved Emily Dickinson's poetry. I still do, of course, so I'll share this one with you.
"The morns are meeker than they were,

The nuts are getting brown;
The berry's cheek is plumper,
The rose is out of town.
The maple wears a gayer scarf,
The field a scarlet gown.
Lest I should be old-fashioned,
I'll put a trinket on." Emily Dickinson

"Summer makes me drowsy.

Autumn makes me sing.
Winter's pretty lousy,
But I hate Spring." Dorothy Parker

I'll close with a song by one of my favorite popular composers, Johnny Mercer. That man knew how to write a song we'd remember.

Autumn Leaves
 "The falling leaves drift by the window

The autumn leaves of red and gold
I see your lips, the summer kisses
The sun-burned hands I used to hold
Since you went away the days grow long
And soon I'll hear old winter's song
But I miss you most of all my darling
When autumn leaves start to fall."
Johnny Mercer

Thanks again to those of you who have purchased my print or e-books from The Wild Rose Press at or my backlist in e-book from Amazon Kindle. The backlist is still on sale for 99 cents each.

Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Beth Trissel and friends
Although set in England, the tumult taking place in France during the explosion of the French Revolution is the backdrop for my new historical romance, INTO THE LION’S HEART. This story launched the new series The Wild Rose Press is debuting called Love Letters, the premise being that a letter is responsible for bringing the hero and heroine together. At 96 pages, INTO THE LION’S HEART is an easy but satisfying read. However, I did as much research for it as I would a full novel.

Several wave of nobility called émigrés fled France, beginning  in  1789, while they still could. Some took refuge in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland where they plotted against the Revolutionary government and sought foreign aid to help them restore the old regime.

18th Century
French Nobleman
Many émigrés also sought refuge in England, including the King Louis XV111’s brother the Comte d’Artois, the future King Charles X. Most of the nobility who remained in France were guillotined during the Revolution, along with members of the clergy and a large number of commoners. The guillotine was greedy for ever more victims. No one knows for certain, but it’s estimated that as many as 40,000 people were guillotined by the end of the reign of terror.

Captain Dalton Evans
  INTO THE LION’S HEART opens with the hero, Captain Dalton Evans (fought in the American Revolution) journeying to Dover to meet the ship carrying a distant cousin, Mademoiselle Sophia Devereux, who’s fleeing the French Revolution.


October, 1789, the English Countryside in Kent

What a bloody bore. Lurching over the rutted road, the autumn countryside obscured by sheets of rain, Captain Dalton Evans shifted wearily in the cumbersome coach. With little else to occupy him, he pulled the letter from his breast coat pocket. Aunt Agnes conveyed the contents earlier but Dalton hadn’t troubled to read the urgent summons penned by the illustrious Vicomte Henri Devereux—illustrious according to his aunt, anyway.

My Dear Madame,

I pray this finds you in good health and beg you excuse the abruptness of my missive. With the utmost faith in your generous nature, highly spoken of by my beloved late wife, I implore your assistance. France is in turmoil, its future precarious. For myself I make no complaint and will bear my lot, but beg you to assure the safety of my dearest Sophia. Please care for my darling girl as you would your own child. As soon as arrangements may be made, Mademoiselle Devereux will cross the Channel on The White Rose and should arrive at Dover harbor on the 20th—

A fierce jolt jerked his focus to the muddy track serving as a road. That madman driving this coach would have them over in a ditch next thing.

Reassured his position was safe for the moment, Dalton glanced back at the letter. The brief plea lacked the formal, flowery language he would’ve expected from a French nobleman. Clearly the vicomte was backed against a wall, his plight pitiable. But Dalton’s role as newly appointed champion of Sophia Devereux vexed him to the extreme.~
 INTO THE LION’S HEART is available at The Wild Rose Press, Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble, and other online booksellers.

For more on my work please visit my website:

My blog is the happening place:

Beth, thanks for sharing with us today. You know I'm one of your devoted fans, and I can hardly wait to read this novella!

Monday, September 19, 2011


Before we start our interview today, let me reveal that the winner of Karilyn Bentley's free download of MAGICAL LOVER is Lilly Gayle. Congratulations, Lilly. Karilyn will be in touch. Now on to our regularly scheduled blog interview.
Readers, please welcome award winning author,  Laurel O'Donnell, as our guest today. Laurel's awards include the prestigious Holt Medallion for A KNIGHT OF HONOR.

Laurel O'Donnell, Author
Caroline: Readers love to get to know authors. Please tell us about growing up.

Laurel: I was raised as the oldest in a family of five, one brother and three sisters. I am now married with four children of my own and live in Illionis.

Caroline: Who are your favorite authors and favorite genres?

Laurel: They change all the time. I like finding new authors to love! Right now, I’m reading Victoria Alexander and Loretta Chase. I really enjoy medievals and, ironically, I really like reading about the Victorian era. I say ironically, because I don’t write in that era.

Caroline: Loretta Chase is one of my favorites. I just started her latest, SEDUCTION IN SILK. How many books do you read a month? What are you reading now?

Laurel: It’s hard to find time to read when all my time is taken up by writing. I am a very slow reader, as it takes me about three months to read an entire book. Right now, I’m reading Loretta Chase’s LAST NIGHT’S SCANDAL.

Caroline: I can imagine with four children and your writing, you reading time is curtailed. When you’re not writing, what’s your favorite way to relax and recharge? Hobbies?

Laurel: I play Rock Band on the Xbox and sing. It’s more fun if my children play with me. I also play SIMS Medieval on the computer. Or sometimes I just play Spider Solitaire or chess on the computer. I also enjoy shopping!

Caroline: Would you like to share any guilty pleasures that feed your muse?

Laurel: Coffee, chocolate. “Supernatural,” the television show. Those boys are very inspirational!

Caroline: Um, yes and as writers we can call it research, right? Describe yourself in three words.

Laurel: Loyal, devoted, and friendly.

Caroline: How long have you been writing?

Laurel: Since junior high school. I used to write myself in as the heroine in television series like Starsky and Hutch.

Caroline: Where do you prefer to write? Do you need quiet, music, solitude? PC or laptop?

Laurel: I write at my desk in my bedroom on my PC. Semi quiet is good. I usually don’t listen to music, but my children have the television on in the other room. I also can write in a notebook if I need to.

Caroline: Are you a plotter or a panzer?

Laurel: I am definitely a panzer. I’ve tried to plot, but it just doesn’t work for me.

Caroline: Do you use real events or persons in your stories?

Laurel: I have used real events and persons in my writings. THE ANGEL AND THE PRINCE was set during the Hundred Years War between England and France. One of the major battles took place during the battle of Agincourt and both the Ryen and Bryce, the heroine and hero, were in the fight.

Caroline: Do you do your research before you begin a new project, or as you go along?

Laurel: I did a ton of research on my first novel, THE ANGEL AND THE PRINCE. But it took me five years to write it. Now, I research as I go. The web is a wonderful tool!

Caroline: Yes, I imagine the research for that book was very time consuming. Tell us about your writing schedule. Do you set goals? Do you write daily?

Laurel: I try to write at least one page a day. If I do more then that, great. More importantly, I give myself one to two hours a day for my writing.

Caroline: Do you write full time or do you have a day job.

Laurel: I have a part time day job. I drive a bus for the school district my children attend.

Caroline: Ooh, you must have nerves of steel. LOL What do you hope your writing brings to readers?

Laurel: I would love my writing to bring a sense of hope to my readers and excitement. I just want them to enjoy the story I have to tell.

Caroline: Me, too...and for them to buy my next book. What advice would you give to pre-published authors?

Laurel: Finish your novel! So many writers tell me they’ve started three or four novels. Finish it! When you’re done, go back and polish. Don’t get discouraged. Be persistent. And never give up!

Caroline: Great advice. Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself?

Laurel: I have five cats. I used to work at King Richard’s Faire where I was taught to sword fight!

Caroline: I love cats, but don’t have a clue about sword fighting. Tell us about your latest release.

Laurel: CHAMPION OF THE HEART is a medieval romance set in 1333. It’s the story of Lady Jordan Ruvane who is lifelong friends with Fox Mercer until his father is stripped of his lands and titles. Feeling betrayed by Jordan’s desertion, Fox’s turns to a life of crime, hiding in the decaying ruins of a haunted castle with his gang of thieves.

Jordan hides a dark secret from her childhood, a secret that will threaten the lives of everyone she holds dear. As she comes of marrying age, her father announces a tournament in her honor. The winner of the tournament will earn the right to claim Jordan as his bride. A mysterious champion clad in black armor enters the tournament, but he is after much more than just the Lady’s hand in marriage.

What happens next will change the Fox and Jordan’s lives forever. Can Fox conquer the secrets of the past and truly become the champion of his lady’s heart?

Caroline: Intriguing. Can you give us an excerpt to tempt us more?

Laurel: Here’s an excerpt:

“I told you before you could not escape,” he whispered hotly. He held her firmly against the wall, his body pressed against hers.

Jordan knew he spoke the truth, but not the truth as he believed it. It was the truth as she knew it. How could she escape from Fox? And how could her children ever depend on her again if she couldn’t fight to get to them? She couldn’t hold even a trembling dagger to Fox. Uselessness, frustration, and helplessness all welled up inside her, spinning and churning until Jordan couldn’t keep her feelings inside. Warm tears slipped from her eyes and dripped onto her cheeks, and her body trembled with a sob.

Fox placed a finger under her chin and lifted her face to his, studying it for an eternal moment in which Jordan fought hard to bury her feelings. She lifted her chin slightly, waiting for his scorn, waiting for his berating words.

But when the silence stretched on, she lifted her gaze to his. She was unprepared for the tenderness she saw in those blue depths. He lifted a finger to trace the path of one of her tears. Then he pulled his hand away from her, slowly rubbing the tear in his fingers, staring at the glistening drop for a moment.

His blue eyes seemed confused, and a slight scowl marred his brow as he continued to inspect the tear on his fingertip. Then he looked at her again and his gaze swept every inch of her face. A warmth spread throughout her body that suddenly brought her senses to life, sharpening them. The muscles in his strong chest pressed against her breasts. The power in his thighs crushed against her. And something dangerous stirred inside her — something powerful threatened to engulf her. Her vision dropped to his lips, lips that were so sensual, so entrancing. Lips that were slowly moving closer and closer.

Jordan didn’t fight him; she wanted to feel his kiss. She wanted the intoxicating feeling rushing through her body to grow. His kiss would only make the dangerously delicious sensation run wild inside of her.

And then his lips closed over hers, a startlingly gentle caress, a warm, wet brush of his lips. But with that simple touch, exhilaration filled Jordan’s body. It was unlike anything she had ever felt, tender and warm, but filled with a fiery spice all the same.

Then his tongue touched her lips, gently sliding along the length of her mouth, caressing, coaxing. She felt a jolt igniting its way through her entire body from the tips of her hair to the edges of her toes. She gasped against his lips and he dropped his hands to the small of her back, pulling her closer to him as he delved into the recesses of her mouth.

Jordan felt herself being swept away by the emotions raging through her. Her world was spinning on its axis, and she had to cling to Fox as if he were the only thing keeping her from falling. But the tighter she clung, the greater the waters seemed to swirl about her.

“I won’t let you go, Jordan,” he whispered against her lips. “Not this time.”

Laurel: For more excerpts and sample chapters, visit my website -

Caroline: Where can readers find your books?

Laurel: All of my books are listed on my website, as well as sample chapters and links to purchase them.

Caroline: How can readers learn more about you?

Laurel: Again, please check out my website. All your questions should be answered! And if they’re not, please feel free to contact me with your question. You can contact me through my website.

Thanks Caroline, for interviewing me! It was a pleasure to let your readers get to know me.

Thank you, Laurel. Wishing you continued success with your busy writing career!

Friday, September 16, 2011


Readers, my guest today is a friend from one of my RWA chapters. She's a very nice person and has released her first novel. Her prior publication had been in an anthology.
Karilyn Bentley
Welcome, Karilyn. Readers love to get to know authors. Please tell us about growing up..

Karilyn: Hi Caroline! Thank you so much for having me here today! I’m excited to be blogging with you! I grew up here in North Texas and am blessed with a wonderful family. We had a golden retriever growing up and she had a personality all her own. I remember making a peanut butter sandwich and leaving it on the table to grab a baggie and while my back was turned, Tasha grabbed it off the table and ran to the back door. We always put her out when she was bad, so I guess she knew she wasn’t supposed to have that sandwich! Dogs crack me up. I’m definitely a dog person. Currently The Hubster and I have two dogs and a handful of fish, so I have a lot more dog stories if you have hours to listen to them. My favorite thing to do is read and I love to eat cake, especially carrot and chocolate. I’ve been told I have a sweet tooth the size of Texas.

Caroline: Hey! That’s not fair, because you are so thin! Who are your favorite authors and favorite genres?

Karilyn: I love paranormals or historicals because they take me out of my reality and into a different world. My favorite authors change, but the ones that I’ve learned something from are JR Ward, Karen Marie Moning, Sherrilyn Kenyon, and Sarah McCarty.

Caroline: How many books do you read a month?

Karilyn: Maybe about 2 now. Reading is one of my favorite activities but the older I get, the more life interferes with my reading. I’m currently reading LOVE WILL FOLLOW by Bailey Bristol.

Caroline: When you’re not writing, what’s your favorite way to relax and recharge? Hobbies?

Karilyn: I like to play the piano, although I don’t do it that much any more. Nowadays, I’m a bit addicted to internet Mah Jong.  I like to take walks around the neighborhood or go to the gym and who doesn’t like vacations?

Caroline: Describe yourself in three or four words.

Karilyn: A good listener. (I hope!)

Caroline: How long have you been writing?

Karilyn: Since around 2002 when I looked around my then cube and realized I’d rather be sitting at home eating bon-bons. And what better way to do that, than to write. Of course, I’ve yet to find the bon-bons, but I’m still looking.

Caroline: Yeah, me, too. Where do you prefer to write?

Karilyn: I have a study now, but I used to write on the bed with my laptop, or on the kitchen table, or sitting on the floor. 

Caroline: Do you need quiet, music, solitude?

Karilyn: I like quiet, but that doesn’t always happen.

Caroline: Mmm, I like writing to classical music. PC or laptop?

Karilyn: Laptop. You can take it anywhere and my hubby increased its memory so it now actually works.

Caroline: Isn't it nice to have a supportive husband? I'd be lost without Hero. Are you a plotter or a panzer?

Karilyn: Panzer, but I have to have a bit of plotting to know where the story goes and how it ends. No matter how much I try to think of the story in-depth prior to writing, it never works. I have to get in there and start writing before the details will come to me.

Caroline: Do you use real events or persons in your stories or as an inspiration for stories?

Karilyn: Not in my romances. The very first story I wrote was about a kid I knew in HS (the story is currently hiding in the closet never to see the light of day again). He had an interesting story and I tried to capture it. Since it’s home is in the closet, you can correctly assume it didn’t work out so well.

Caroline: I think most of us have a few clunker stories hidden away. Well, maybe not Nora Roberts, but I mean us mortals. Tell us about your writing schedule. Do you set goals? Do you write daily?

Karliyn: I try very hard to write every day, but it doesn’t always work out that way. I wish I was more disciplined.

Caroline: I wish I were too. What do you hope your writing brings to readers?

Karilyn: I hope they enjoy the story and it makes them feel good when they finish reading it.

Caroline: What long-term plans do you have for your career?

Karilyn: I would love to be able to write FT and be able to make enough writing to quit my day job. We’ll see how that plan goes.

Caroline: Would you like to tell us what you’re working on now?

Karilyn: I’m working on the next book in the Draconia Tales series.

Caroline: What advice would you give to unpublished authors?

Karilyn: Keep working. If you want to be published, only you can possess the drive to keep on trying. Sit down and write.

Caroline: Tell us about your latest release, MAGICAL LOVER.

Kerilyn: I’d love to! My latest release is MAGICAL LOVER, the first book in the Draconia Tales series. Here’s a bit about it:

In a world where men can become dragons, Thoren is one of the most powerful. As a shape-shifting Draconi, Thoren wants nothing more than to continue searching for Halfling children, and returning them to Draconia. The last thing he wants or needs is a mate-until he meets Keara, an outcast unaware of the power that lies within her. Keara doesn't know what to make of Thoren or of the magic he practices. She learned early to keep her magic hidden--her witchy red hair and green eyes are burden enough. When Thoren offers his hand in place of a forced marriage with Lord Simon, Keara jumps at the chance to leave her town behind. But she fears Thoren will shun her when he discovers the truth about her abilities. Can Thoren convince Keara she is his lifemate, or will her secret talent be the wedge that drives them apart?

Here’s the excerpt:

“I know enough to realize she denied you.” The stranger growled at Lord Simon, his voice gentling as he turned to Keara. “She will take me though, won’t you?”

Keara locked her gaze on the stranger, drawn by his green eyes that looked so much like her own. She had never seen green eyes on anyone else, but knew what they meant. Remembered what her grandmother had told her about them.

“Green eyes are the mark of evil, girl,” the old woman liked to say. “Be wary of them.”

The wind whipped the stranger’s hair about his face. A chiseled jaw topped by firm lips that whitened around the edges and a long straight nose comprised a face tightened in anger. His compelling eyes bored into hers.

She couldn’t stop staring at those eyes, all the while his fingers continued their steady pattern against her mark, sending sensuous feelings coursing through her veins.

A stranger or Lord Simon? The man whose touch sent zingers of pleasure throughout her body, or the possibly crazy, but socially acceptable man who might have her best interest in mind. Did she actually think that?

There was no choice. It took two tries to get the words out of her dry mouth.

“I’ll take you.” She lifted her chin toward the stranger and said a silent prayer he would spare her life.

Caroline: Geat excerpt and lovely cover. The Wild Rose Press has wonderful covers, don't they? Where can readers find your books?

Karilyn: They can find my books on The Wild Rose Press or Amazon.

Here’s the Amazon link:

Here’s The Wild Rose Press link:
MAGICAL LOVER is available in print and e-book.
Caroline: Anything else you’d like readers to know?

Karilyn: Thank you so much for reading MAGICAL LOVER! I hope you enjoy it!

Caroline: How can readers learn more about you?

Karilyn: My wonderful hubby made me a website, so please stop by and check it out: 
My email is
My Facebook page is: 
Stop by and say hi!

Thank you for sharing with us today, Karilyn. Best of luck to you!