Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Writers Wednesday: Catrina Barton

Today I’m happy to welcome a young mother and writer, Catrina Barton. Hi Catrina. Please tell us a little about your book, a YA paranormal.

I'm currently working to finish my first full length novel DANGEROUS TEMPTATION. Here is the blurb: Seventeen year-old Kaitlin Sinclair's world is turned upside down when she moves to Indonesia, and discovers the secrets that threaten the existence of the enchanting Cadmon and his people. She dives into a foreign culture, full of mystique and dangers everywhere she turns, where keeping her heart safe might prove as impossible as staying alive!
This genre is hugely popular right now.What draws you to it?

I have always been fascinated by shape shifters, ever since I was knee high. I've recently gotten into YA, because they are quick, easy, fun reads.

Would you share an excerpt?

Love to. Here you go:
“So, this is where you’ve been.”
“Katie!” Payne’s startled eyes opened and he sent her a sheepish look, as he tried to push the pouty girl away.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” She crossed her arms over her chest.
“It’s not what it looks like.” He pulled the blonde’s arms off his neck as a flush crept across his cheeks.

“Oh? Because it looked like you shoved your tongue down her throat.” She glared at the blonde in her tight top. “Get out of my face, Janice!” Kaitlin glared until the cheerleader’s eyes widened and she scurried off like a frightened mouse.
Her glare settled on Payne, who rubbed the back of his neck and stared at the ground, with the tips of his ears red.

“I didn’t want to, Katie, honest.” His eyes rose to her and he put on his apologetic look, the one that usually made her melt.

She gave a derisive snort and angled her body away from him.

“She forced herself on me.” He pushed off the wall, and moved towards her.

“She’s a cheerleader. You’re a quarterback. Don’t give me that bullshit!” Her hands balled into fists at her sides. If I wasn’t one warning away from suspension, I'd go kick her ass! She shot him her fiercest glare, with one hand on her hip. It always sent their classmates scurrying out of her way.“We’re supposed to be dating exclusively, or so I thought.”

"We are.” He took another daring step toward her. “Honestly, Katie,” he wrapped his arms around her waist. “I’d never do anything to hurt you.” His voice sounded so sincere.

She closed her eyes and inhaled slow, deep breaths as she tried to reign in her temper.

She blinked when his lips pressed against hers and his tongue entered her mouth. Oh no he didn’t! She bit down.

He pulled away, tongue bleeding. “What the hell?”

Her hand connected with his cheek. “How dare you think you can stick that in me after it’s been in someone else’s mouth?” She flexed and un-flexed her hand, fighting the urge to sock him in the jaw.

“Calm down, Kaitlin.” He grabbed her by the upper arms, fingers biting into the flesh.

"I'll show you calm," she drove her knee up between his legs. His fingers loosened before he fell forward, writhing on the ground.
He won’t be using that anytime soon. That thought brought her little comfort as she stormed away and climbed into her pickup. She gunned the engine and squealed the tires as she took off to the store.

This sounds great. A guaranteed exciting read.What’s your next project?

I have big plans for another book in the Caspians Series. DANGEROUS TEMPTATION is just the first book.

What one tip would you offer writers?

Don't fret the bad reviews. Learn from your mistakes and improve your craft. it will make your next book much better.
How do your stories ‘come to you’ at first--characters, setting, story line?

It depends on the story The Caspians novels have been in my mind since I was a kid. Figuring out the characters was hard, because I needed just the right balance between them, while keeping them realistic.

Is there a special place you like to write?

Alone, surrounded by nature, but most times it's at my desk.
Wouldn't it be great to have a lovely office beneath a huge weeping willow tree beside a stream? As it stands now, though, do you have challenges with finding writing time?

Balancing being a wife, mother, Kung Fu Instructor and writer can be tough. But if you want something bad enough, you have to make time for it.

Kung Fu instructor? Wow. Good luck with DANGEROUS TEMPTATION and the rest of the Caspian series. And thanks so much for being here today. I hope you’ll come back again.

Thanks for having me visit.
Catrina can be reached at:
Facebook Author Page:

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Writers Wednesday: Jean Rosenow

Today I’m happy to welcome a dear friend Jean Rosenow, whose wonderful book has just been released. Until work took her away, Jean was a member of our local critique group. We’ve all loved this story from the very first, and we’re so happy that it’s now out. It’s a beautiful story of compassion and love, first chances and ‘at last’ chances.

Thanks, Barb! I’m honored that you’ve asked me to drop by today.

Please tell us a little about the book.

The original title was PERSONALS. It started as a short story, published by Grit Magazine in 2004, and I thought that was the end of it. The characters, however, wouldn’t leave me alone…they had more to tell. When their story began to unfold in my head, I assumed it was simply the tale of Ira and Emma and their introduction through the Personals column, but then Rodney came into the picture and stole the show.

What drew you to this story?

People I’ve known and loved. We are only a generation or two away in history from routinely institutionalizing people with developmental disabilities. Some older adults, especially in rural areas, are still living with and being cared for by aging parents or other family members. Nowadays there are more options for supervised independent living without abrupt separation from family, and I hope that I’ve left the impression that this is the direction Rodney is heading. Also, I don’t feel that enough authors write for people into or past middle age. Many of us Baby Boomers no longer want heroes who are strapping young studs with six-pack abs and an inexhaustible supply of testosterone. We’re seasoned enough to value loyalty, respect, good manners and a gentle heart. Our heroes come with graying hair and a twinkle in their eye and they love us in spite of, or perhaps because of, our own signs of aging.

And I recall your saying how interesting--and rewarding--you found it that men who read the short story in the magazine dropped you notes saying how much they enjoyed Ira’s tale. Would you share an excerpt?

Sure. This scene takes place in the kitchen out at Joe’s farm when Ira first shares his dilemma with his old friend - that he has found a woman who just might be ‘the one’ through his personals ad, but she didn’t include any contact information…identifying herself only as the ‘Plain Woman’.

“Have ya et?” Joe asked. “I’ve got brown beans and light bread. Cooked ‘em yestiddy and there’s plenty left fer the two of us.”

“Sounds good. Why don’t we put them on the stove? I’ve got something I want to show you while they heat up.”
“What is it?” Joe asked as he took a Dutch oven out of the refrigerator and transferred some of its contents to a saucepan. “We’ll let these heat slow so they won’t scorch. Nothin’ worse than scorched beans.”

He shoved a pile of newspapers and machine parts to the far side of the
table and then pulled a plastic container of margarine out of the refrigerator and placed it in the middle with a loaf of white bread. He pulled his pocket knife out of his pocket, opened the blade and swiped it on the leg of his overalls before quartering a white onion, which he placed on a saucer and then he opened a can of fruit cocktail. He spooned the contents out in equal portions into custard cups and poured the syrup over the fruit, before asking “Say, do you like the cherries?”

Ira knew that Joe favored the cherries himself and so he said “No. Oh no, I never do eat the cherries.”

Joe poked through the fruit with a spoon and took all of the cherries for himself. “Well, what was it you wanted to show me?” he asked.

Ira felt the letter in his pocket and was suddenly loath to take it out and show it. It had, after all, been written to him alone. He had a sudden intuition that the Plain Woman wouldn’t like to know that he had shown her words to someone else.

“Oh, it wasn’t anything important, now that I think about it. Let’s just eat this feast you’ve set and then go check on those pigs again.”

Joe looked at him sharply and Ira avoided his eyes.

“Oh, look at you,” Joe said. “You’re keepin’ secrets. What’re you up to, anyway?” He pulled the pan of beans off the stove and set it directly on the table, then got a big spoon from the drawer to dip with.

“Help yerself. Maybe you’ll feel more like talkin’ when yer belly’s full. Ya ain’t leavin’ here until ya do, ya know.”

“Are we eating out of the same pan?” Ira asked, annoyed at the rush of heat he felt creeping up his neck.

“Oh, I forgot to get bowls. Here, let me wash a couple.”

“You might get a couple of spoons while you’re at it, too. And a knife for the butter.”

“My, ain’t we fancy today,” Joe sniffed, carrying the still-wet bowls and utensils to the table.

Ira busied himself filling his bowl with beans and then he spread margarine on a piece of bread. He folded it in half and took a bite of it, looking out the window as he chewed.

“Well, will you look at that. I do believe yer blushin’. Now I’d say this ‘unimportant thing’ yer not gonna tell me must have somethin’ to do with a woman to make ya color up like that. Ya ain’t gone and got yerself a galfriend, have ya?” Joe grinned hugely, looking at Ira. He took a bite of his own bread.

“Not exactly,” Ira sighed with resignation. He knew Joe would never let the subject drop until he had ferreted out every last detail.

“Remember those Personals ads we looked at while you were in the hospital?”

“Yep. Don’t tell me ya went and answered one. Ya did, didn’cha?” I knew ya would, ya rascal! I just knew it!” Joe laid his spoon down and gave Ira his undivided attention.

“Not exactly.”

“Well then, exactly what?”

“I wrote one.”

Joe hooted with laughter and slapped his thigh, leaning back on two legs of his chair. “Ya wrote one. If that don’t beat all. And then what happened? Did anybody write back?”

“A few did,” Ira replied cautiously.

“And you’ve picked one out, ain’t cha?”

“I might have.”

Joe’s chair came down on all four legs with a bang.

“So who is she? Have ya called her? Have ya taken her out courtin’?”

“That’s the problem. She didn’t sign her name. I don’t know who she is or how to find her.”

You have definite way of creating memorable--and realistic--characters. I recall someone very like Joe when I was young. What’s your next project?

I’m working on a novel set in the lumber boom of the late 1800’s. The lumber industry has always been an important source of income here in the Ozarks…especially during the westward movement. Cities needed lumber to build homes and businesses and the ever expanding railway system needed ties…lots and lots of ties. Jobs were created and Ozarks families could finally afford what they needed to make their lives a little easier. But what about the eco-system? How would the removal of all that virgin timber affect life for future generations? How did it affect the men and women who worked for the lumber companies? Was it a rape of our native collateral…or did it open the door for management and protection of our natural resources?

This will be a wonderful story. All too often we overlook local history, which is in danger of being lost. Good luck with the novel. What tip would you offer writers?

Keep track of your ideas…even the little ones. I keep a wicker basket on my desk – it’s full of gas receipts, scraps of paper, etc. with clever phrases I’ve heard, memories, sights, expressions – anything I might use later – written on the backs of them.An organized writer would categorize these and keep them in a neat filing system, but this works for me. And it’s fun to reach in sometimes and pull one out just to see what ideas or memories it can evoke.

How do your stories ‘come to you’ at first--through characters, setting, story line?

Usually setting, occasionally a character will come out of nowhere, but without the proper setting, I can’t find their stories.

Is there a special place you like to write?

Curled up in ‘my’ chair in the living room if there’s no one else home, or in my office if there is…I’m easily distracted. LOL

Sounds like you might have some challenges with finding writing time?

Heavens yes! Working five days a week, spending quality time with my husband, the boys and my friends, keeping the house reasonably livable in the midst of a massive remodel, keeping everyone fed so they don’t gnaw off a leg…writing time just has to fit in whenever there’s a minute or two to spare.

LOL. You are so conscientious, and I know your grown men appreciate all you do for them. But we all hope you can find time for your writing and that next story.Thanks so much for being here today. I hope you’ll come back again.

Anytime, Barb. I’m thrilled that you invited me.
Visit Jean website at http://jeanrosenow.com/ and her blog at http://roamingtheozarks.blogspot.com/

Here are buy links for her book.

Or the short version: http://tinyurl.com/d36peu6

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Writers Wednesday: Johnny Ray, Master of the Romantic Thriller

Please help me welcome the Master of the Romantic Thriller, Johnny Ray. But Johnny's involved in much more than writing. He has a special Facebook page devoted to fans of Romantic Thrillers. And-- he just sent me a ‘news flash’ about a brand new project. Johnny?

I have just started a blog talk radio station, which I am excited about. Stop by at: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/johnnyray. But today we’ll talk about writing.

All right. Let me do a little more introduction, here. Pretend we’re on radio. LOL.

Johnny has a passion for life and adventure that he loves to share with his readers. He lives in Clearwater, Florida, where he works full time as a writer, and he can be often found in one of the hundreds of coffee shops along the beach working on his next novel. Sounds like an ideal life, if you ask me. You’ve got a great writing ‘brand.’ How is a romantic thriller different from a romantic suspense?

Thanks. Actually, I think it would be good to explain the difference between a mystery, a suspense, and a thriller. In a mystery the novel is about a crime where someone is trying to solve the “who did it”. In suspense it is about trying to decide “what might happen”. Finally, in a thriller it is about “stopping something from happening.”

An excellent distinction. What draws you to this genre?

Many people say they write romantic suspense, but few call their work romantic thrillers. In fact, most writers don’t write these. However, they are what I love to write. In many ways, I am helping to develop this genre. On Facebook, I have started a group called HOOKED ON THE ROMANTIC THIRILLER, which is open to everyone.

Would you tell us about your latest release?

HER HONOR’S BODYGUARD is a good example of a romantic thriller. Someone wants to remove by heroine from her seat on the bench, and by force if necessary. In order to save her life, the hero has to work through their old relationship and admit their love in order to determine who it is that wants her removed or dead.

Do first loves ever really die? While reunions can take many forms, there is always one question that has to be answered sooner or later—what happened?

Vance had always been extremely proud of Noella, and just because his life had been ruined, he saw no reason why she had to have the same faith. When his dad died, leaving him and his mother penniless, he dropped out of law school and ended his relationship with Noella, but in doing so, he stopped a scandal that could have ruined her family. These secrets he would never let her know.

Ironically, years later, he would have never guessed she would be instrumental in ruining his career with the Tampa police force. After Noella finished law school and started pursuing her goal of working up the ranks in judgeships, she never considered inviting another guy into her life.

As such, when someone attempts to threaten her into vacating her seat on the bench, and by force if necessary, she knows of no one else she really trust as much as Vance, who now has a successful bodyguard and private detective business.She knows that Vance might hate her for her part in having him dismissed from the police force, but what he will never know is that she actually saved him from going to prison.

Additionally, she now thinks he was framed, and perhaps by the same people who are threatening her. She had to talk him into taking her on as a client . . . but would he agree to her request?As the number of attacks on her life increases, Vance soon has no choice but to offer her his protection, and in spite of everything, when they see each other again their old attraction for each other returns.

She wants the truth. He wants the truth. However, making the ultimate sacrifice is not always easy to understand, whether given or received.

Ultimately . . . could they now trust each other with these secrets? While their lives depend on discovering the truth to their past, these truths are locked in deep secrets that could also destroy them.

Sounds very exciting. And I like your question, "Do first loves ever really die?" We romance readers say, "No." Now, what’s your next project?

I have several in the mix. However, I think an international romantic thriller with the tentative title of FOR LOVE AND REVENGANCE will be next and maybe as soon as a month from now. This is a double spy thriller that covers the globe.

What one tip would you offer writers?

Make fiends along the way, and develop a system of keeping up with them.

Good advice. Especially finding a way to keep in touch. Do you have a special place you like to write?

Every morning I write in coffee shops along the beach. Where I live consist of four islands, which are about 35 miles long, and we have hundreds of coffee shops, so this is a great place to write.

How do your story ideas come to you? Which do you visualize first, characters or plots?

I always go with plot first, then I start to interview characters. I think this is true of most thriller writers.

Is there anything you haven’t been asked that you’d like to share with us?

I have a blog http://www.sirjohn.us/ that you can follow for updates, and there is a place on it where you can sign up for my newsletter that will let you know when I have a new release.

On my blog, you will also see a list of my media connections under media connection. I love to connect on the internet. On Twitter I have over 75,000 followers.

Here is the link to Johnny's latest novel http://www.amazon.com/HER-HONORS-BODYGUARD-ebook/dp/B008550EV2

Thanks again for being here, Johnny. Best of luck with your new release.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Writers Wednesday:Toni Sue VerSteeg

Be sure to comment for a chance to win a $10 gift card for Wild Rose Press, courtesy of Toni Sue Versteeg, today's guest.

Welcome back to Writers Wednesday after a two-week vacation. Hope everyone's Fourth of July was terrific. As the first guest for the second half of the year, I’m happy to welcome Toni Sue VerSteeg, a fellow Ozarks Romance Author (ORA). Her latest book SECRETS OF THE SAPPHIRES is just out from Wild Rose Press. Congratulations, Toni Sue. Please tell us a little about the book.

I have always been fascinated with Medieval England and castles. Bodiam Castle is on my bucket list. I WILL go there one day, unless The Big Guy calls me home first. The ultimate would be to travel back in time (hence, the fascination with time travel) and actually see what life was like back in those days. I know I’d miss my comfy bed and tooth brush, but I’d make the sacrifice to see everything with my own eyes, touch the castle walls with my own hands, even witness the stench of the moat with my own nose. Hahahaha! The CIA in this book was actually born from finding a medallion in my Great Aunt Francis’s things after she passed away. It named her as a founding member of the CIA. Rumor has it that she spent some time in Germany during WWII. My imagination went wild, and the Paranormal Division was founded…in my mind.

Fascinating. Hope you will be able to find out some information about your great aunt at some time. And--I love medieval England, too. I’m thinking--road trip for us next summer. (Real time, of course. Too many things I, like you, would miss about modern day. LOL) Would you share an excerpt from your book?

Absolutely! Here’s a scene I loved writing. As a new agent team, they’ve just recovered from a whirl-wind discovery class on one another and are sent to a castle in England to find the time travel mechanism. Undercover, they’ve each invented ways to annoy the other, knowing that neither would risk blowing the mission to object. Nia finds a way to vent a little pent up aggression:

Spying a pair of crossed fencing swords displayed over a desk, Nia’s eyes widened. She couldn’t help pulling them off the wall, holding one out toward him. “Ready to get your ass kicked again?”

Garrett raised a brow. “No one’s ass got kicked that day.”

“Oh, I get it. The last thing I’d want to do is embarrass you.” She tried to keep a straight face. A renegade, cynical smile crept across her lips.

“Hey, I was only trying to save you from the embarrassment. If you don’t care, I don’t care.” He held out his hand, and she tossed the light sword to him handle first. Plucking at the guarded tip, he added, “Since there will likely be no blood shed as a prize, I say we duel for something.”

“And what would you have in mind?” This time her brow rose.

“Perhaps a friendly wager?”

“Perhaps.” Scanning him from head to toe, she tried to size up his motives. “Winner gets to make the loser do something, like, I don’t know, stop smacking my ass and calling me sugar lips?” Nia placed her free hand on her hip and aimed her sword at him.

“You’ll have to pick one or the other, my dear, because those are two separate things. All this time I thought you liked that, too. Huh?” His face scrunched in sullen disappointment for a brief moment before his smile returned. “And if I win, you have to do something I ask,” Garrett answered, his head bobbing in agreement.

“Hmm, what might that be?”

“I’ll decide that after I win.” Lunging toward her, sword at the ready, he announced, “En garde!”

Their blades clashed over and again, each fighting to best the other. Nia was very impressed with his prowess behind a sword, though she’d be hard pressed to admit it to him. Finding herself backed into a corner, she squatted and jumped backward to the desktop, praying it was as sturdy as it looked.

Garrett, his eyes wide, stepped back with a hand out in front of him. “Someone’s done this before.”

Narrowing her gaze, she pointed her sword at him and uttered in her worst Spanish accent, “My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father, prepare to die.”

Laughter filled the room.

“So, you know the film?” Nia placed her free hand on her hip.

“None other than the Princess Bride.”As she hopped from the desk, to the sofa then to the floor, she looked down her sword at Garrett. “I’m impressed.”

“With my fencing skills?”

Thrusting at him, she was immediately blocked. “With your knowledge of chick flicks.”

Waggling his brow, he chided as he fought, “I’m familiar with many things chick related.”

Nia held a hand up, stopping the swordplay, and rolled her eyes. “You know what I mean.”

“Fine,” he conceded, arms splayed wide, “I’ve sat through that particular movie on more than one occasion. In my own defense, it was with a different woman each time.”

Nodding, Nia added, “Of course. You wouldn’t want one of them thinking you actually liked the movie or anything, would you?”

An impish grin graced his face. “Something like that.”

She shoved her blade forth. “So, you’re a lover, not a fighter then?”

Matching her strokes, he shrugged his shoulders. “Can’t I be both?” Winking, he blew her a kiss. Catching her off guard, he landed the tip of his blade on her chest.

Nia looked down at the gold, rounded nub pressed directly between her breasts. “Cheater.”

“I believe that diversions are acceptable in any kind of fight. Sort of the nature of the beast there, sugar lips.” Snapping his sword vertically in front of him, he then sliced it through the air at his side to end the battle.

“Okay, I guess I can’t call you puddin’ anymore then, huh?” Meeting him at the wall, she reached up and replaced her blade over his. She turned to find him standing right behind her, pinning her firmly against the stone surface.

“I had considered having you call me studmuffin or something manlier. Suddenly I have other ideas.” His chin dropped and he winked at her.

Her breath caught in her chest as he lowered his face toward hers. She swallowed hard, her brain fighting for control, screaming at her about how big of a mistake this could be. Other parts of her anatomy were now vying for power, gaining critical ground. Heat flushed her face and pulsed through her body.

The mint of his breath wafted with his words, “Just one kiss.” His head tilted; she could feel the warmth of his lips on hers.

Love it. I can’t wait to read the entire story. The book is right here on top of my TBR pile.

What’s your next project?

I’m busy working on the sequel to SECRETS OF THE SAPPHIRES. It’s tentatively named COMING BACK TO BITE YOU and stars Nia and Garrett. This is a continuation of their story and wraps up the loose ends from SECRETS.

Great. So I’m hoping this current one, SECRETS, is really the first of, perhaps, a series set in the CIA Paranormal Division.

What one tip would you offer writers?

Well, I’m sure most everyone has heard it before, but it bears repeating. NEVER give up. Writer’s Block happens, bad reviews happen, even bad stories happen, but there will be a reprieve if you keep honing your craft, keep telling your stories. No one else will tell them quite like you.

Such good advice. We all need to be reminded of it occasionally. Sometimes, the “down” periods can siphon off that forward energy and the faucet trickles down to drops.

Thanks so much for being here today, Toni Sue. Please come back again soon.
Visit Toni Sue at her website: http://www.tsvbooks.com/  or her blog: http://www.tsueversteeg.wordpress.com/