Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Writers' Wednesday Welcomes Brenda Brinkley

It's great to have Brenda Brinkley here this week. Brenda serves as treasurer of Ozarks Writers League (OWL), is a member of Ozarks Romance Authors (ORA) and Sleuth’s Inc. She not only writes both fiction and non-fiction, she’s an award-winning photographer, as well.

Thank you for taking time out of your schedule to talk with us, Brenda. Your current publication, CLEVELAND THE GREEN CAMEL, is a children’s book, as was your first. What draws you to this genre?

To be honest, I’m drawn to several different genres. But my desire to write a children’s book surfaced while I was doing volunteer work over 12 years ago at a local kindergarten. I also have five wonderful grandchildren who inspire me. I have written many magazine and newspaper articles since my first publication in 1983.

My short stories have appeared in ECHOES OF THE OZARKS Volumes 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6, VOICES Volumes 1, 2 and 3, WRITING ON WALLS Volumes 2 and 3, and CUIVRE RIVER Volume V. My photography has graced magazine and anthology covers. The latest is MYSTERIES OF THE OZARKS Volume III. I also have an article in the latest OZARKS MOUNTAINEER magazine.

What’s your next project?

I actually have several. I am working on some fictional short stories, and I write regularly for OZARKS FARM AND NEIGHBOR. I love interviewing the fascinating people of the Ozarks. I am in the editing stage of my women’s fiction novel, and I am also working on my third children’s book. But the next ‘big’ project is our Vacation Bible School at church. I am in charge of organizing that.

Children's books present a whole other challenge--the artwork. Do you do your own illustrations for the books?

Sadly, I cannot draw a decent stick man. Sean Turner has done a very good job with the illustrations for both my children's books.

Photography is a different horse altogether. I had to learn to take decent pictures to accompany my non-fiction articles.

One of my photos was on the cover of an issue of OZARKS MOUNTAINEER. Actually it won the cover contest that year. I have also had a photo on the cover of the STORYTELLER MAGAZINE and on the winter issue of the OZARKS ROMANCE AUTHORS Magazine.

I have had the cover on OZARKS FARM AND NEIGHBOR ten times. The editor of that publication told me that I would never have a cover until I went digital. I had been holding out, but that sent me straight to the store. True to his word, I have had several covers since.

My photos have also been used for the covers of ECHOES OF THE OZARKS Volumes IV, V, and VI and MYSTERIES OF THE OZARKS Volume III.
I’ve seen some of your pictures and they are lovely. One of my favorites is of the Cardinals (the birds, of course) in the snow.

Thanks. My photography will be on display, and for sale, at the Library Station on North Kansas Expressway, Springfield, in June and July. I hope everyone will stop by and take a look.

What one tip would you offer writers,fiction or non-fiction?

Develop a thick skin and hone your listening skills. You don’t have to take every bit of advice that’s offered, but you must be open to improvement. Just like many parents think they have perfect kids, many writers think their work is perfect. Critique sessions are very helpful, but only if the writer is willing to listen and learn.

Both of those points are so important, Brenda. Thanks, again, for joining us today.

Thank you for inviting me. It has been an honor.

Brenda’s books ALBERT'S HAPPY THANKSGIVING and CLEVELAND THE GREEN CAMEL, are available from Brenda, and they can be found at

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Researching Richard-Finding Mercadier

During the research for my books set against the story of parts of Richard the Lionheart’s decade-long reign, I came across several intriguing figures. One of them was the mercenary, Mercadier.

Mercadier served as one of Richard’s top commanders, heading several campaigns during the Lionheart’s long war against Phillip of France. According to one source, he fought with the king before Richard I went on Crusade, then rejoined him once the king was freed from captivity in 1194. Richard valued his service so much, he awarded him lands. Mercadier apparently didn’t spend much time there, however, for sources show him playing prominent roles in battles across Europe.

After Lord John threw himself on his brother’s mercy in 1194 and received pardon, historians say he fought with Richard loyally. (Some of us wonder, however. Still, history says….) Nevertheless, historians also report that Mercadier joined John in a few military excursions for Richard during these last years of the 1100s.

Following Richard’s death, at least one historical source credits Mercadier with ignoring the king’s order of pardon for the crossbowman who shot the bolt that eventually led to the king’s death. According to that source, Mercadier ordered the man flayed.

Later reports indicate Mercadier then served King John in his battles against Phillip. Unfortunately, his loyalty led to his eventual death. According to one account, Mercadier had gone to visit Eleanor of Aquitaine in 1200 when he was waylaid and murdered by another of John’s mercenaries.

Mercenaries were men--often knights--sometimes younger sons--who fought for hire (free-lances). They often act as romantic figures to many of us who write historicals, although at the time, they were generally treated with dread because they could be cruel and ruthless. My ‘Knights of the Phoenix’ series deals with a small band of ‘good’ mercenaries, loosely connected to Mercadier, including Giles of Silverhawk and Stephen of The Black Dagger.

I like to think Mercadier was one of the ‘good’ mercenaries, who gave his loyalty to Richard and later, unfortunately, to John.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Writers' Wednesday Guest Mia Marlowe

Welcome to Writers’ Wednesday. This week, I’m lucky enough to welcome Mia Marlowe, whose latest historical TOUCH OF A THIEF hit the shelves last week.

Before we go any farther--Mia's giving away a book from her backlist for one lucky person, so be sure to leave a comment.

Thanks for being here today, Mia. Please tell us a little about your new book.

TOUCH OF A THIEF is the first of the Touch of Seduction series. In each story, one of the characters has the gift of touch, the ability to receive information in the form of vision from inanimate objects. However, in my heroine Viola’s case, the gift is a double-edged sword. She may be able to learn things from gem stones, but it’s an occupational hazard. You see, she’s a jewel thief!

For more about all the upcoming books, please visit

TOUCH OF A THIEF is set in 1856, the Victorian Era. What draws you to period?

Queen Victoria’s rule spanned 7 decades. It was a time of invention, imperialism and intrigue. A man still might make his fortune in the “gorgeous East” and return to live the life of a rich nabob in London. While the sun never set on the British Empire, it was a time of unrest for her distant possessions. The events in British India have a profound effect on my characters in TOUCH OF A THIEF, even though they are half a world away.

The British presence in India must provide a treasure trove of ideas for plots. I do love this one about the red diamond. Your description of some of the places are so detailed, it shows you've been to that country. That must have been quite a trip. What’s your next project?

I’m currently finishing TOUCH OF A ROGUE, the third story in the Touch of Seduction series. After that, my editor and I have been batting around some ideas for a trio of Scottish set stories shortly after “Prinny” takes the English throne and becomes George IV. We had great fun discussing the series when we got together in LA for the Romantic Times Convention a few weeks ago. It’s a delightful thing to work with an editor you trust on developing a premise together.

My publishing schedule is pretty full right now. I have two titles coming out this year and four scheduled for 2012. Two of the 2012 titles are books I’ve written in collaboration with NY Times bestseller Connie Mason. I’m very blessed to be able to work with such a romance legend and hope to be bringing you more Mason/Marlowe titles in the future!

I, for one, am looking forward to your next two in the Seduction trio. And teaming up with Connie Mason--what an experience that must have been. Your career arc has been so exciting, what one tip would you offer writers?

Make a plan for your work and write it down. Even before you’re published, set a deadline for completing your manuscript and meet it. Know what your daily, weekly or monthly output is. Once you sell, your editor will want to know how often you can deliver a manuscript. If you want writing to be your business, don’t treat it like a hobby.

It’s been great talking with you Mia. Thanks, again, for being here.

Thanks for having me, Barb. I’m thrilled that I’ll be back in your neck of the woods this weekend! I’m speaking for Ozark Romance Authors at Library Station and signing Touch of a Thief at Half-Price Books afterward! Since I used to live in West Plains, this is something of a homecoming for me.

Of course, I’d love to see you all at ORA, but if you can’t make it, I hope you’ll visit my reader-friendly website. You’ll find a contest, an events page that’ll keep you up to date on my appearances, and a chance to visit with me on my blog!

You can also find me at and

Booklist says Touch of a Thief will "dazzle readers", and Publishers Weekly, in a starred review (!!), assures that "Both historical and paranormal readers will love this crossover tale." Head over to my website for an excerpt you can read right now.

But of course, the review I really want to read is the one from YOU! Quinn and Viola’s love story touched my heart and I hope it’ll touch yours too. I can't wait to hear your feedback-- please send it on!

TOUCH OF A THIEF is available from your local bookseller and all major etailers.
Barnes and Noble

Question for your readers, Barb. Historical readers have favorite settings and time periods. What’s yours?

I’m happy to give a randomly chosen commenter one of my “vintage reads”—a book from my backlist.