Author’s Roundtable: J.P. Lane

Hi Joan. It’s really a pleasure and an honor to have a few minutes to chat about your travels and your writing. What do you say we jump right in? Pull up a chair and sit down your purse and we’ll get right down to it.

Golden Eye, once Ian Fleming's home in Jamaica where Lane was born and raised.

Golden Eye, once Ian Fleming’s home in Jamaica where Lane was born and raised.

Your bio says that you lived in Jamaica, London, Malaysia, Puerto Rico and Miami. Can you tell me a little about your time in these places and how it’s impacted your writing?

I think all our life experiences impact our writing in one way or another. With the exception of Colombia, the locations in The Tangled Web are places I’ve lived in or visited. But your question has made me realize there may be a little more to it than writing about places I know. I’ve traveled from an early age and that may be why my plots travel around. The book I’m writing now doesn’t have as many locations as The Tangled Web, but the plot doesn’t stay in one place either. It moves between England, Jamaica and Ghana. So it seems I always find a way to return to Jamaica where I was born and lived a good part of my life, and England where I studied and which just happens to be the first country I ever visited.

Although I lived in Puerto Rico for more than three years, I can’t say the time I spent there had any particular impact on my writing. It was really Miami that introduced me to the Hispanic culture, which I touch on in The Tangled Web. Rubbing shoulders with Hispanic co-workers and friends every day, I came to know that culture well. I never did learn more than a smattering of Spanish, but I understand the tone of the language well enough to have brought authenticity to the Spanish dialogue in The Tangled Web. Even when the Colombian characters are speaking English, the way they express themselves is how they’d speak in Spanish. Malaysia had a huge – and lasting – impact on me, but none of my Malaysian experience is reflected in my writing.

How long have you been writing?

Forever. 🙂

Has writing always been something you wanted to do?

I think I’ve always written, without consciously thinking it was something I wanted to do. It was a poem I once wrote that landed me my first job as a writer. I didn’t want the job. I didn’t think I was a writer, but the friend who offered me the position in his ad agency thought I had potential because he’d read my poetry. Until I retired a few years ago, I made my living writing. I was an advertising and marketing writer. There were times I loved it and there were times I hated it – pretty much the same way everybody feels about their job.

What books or stories have you written? Published?

I’m skipping this one since I already jumped the gun and talked about it.

Can you tell us a little about your books? What are they about?

It’s a bit premature to talk about the book I’m writing now, so I’ll stick with The Tangled Web, though every time I’m asked about The Tangled Web I get tongue-tied. If I say it’s about political corruption and cocaine trafficking on a grand international scale, I’m over simplifying, because there are two interweaving main plots. One is about a set of powerful people who get together to rescue their country from becoming a drug state, and the other is about a man and woman who fall in love while caught in this dangerous web of political intrigue. It’s impossible to say more about it without throwing out spoilers. In fact, I think I may already have with that short description.

fullrHow did you get inspiration for the characters/books?

The characters just came to me, as did the plot. There’s only one character which vaguely resembles anyone I’ve known, or known about. She looks like a former roommate of mine in London, but she’s very much like one of my cousins. But something amazing happened with my character, Maria – the ruthless Colombian drug boss. I didn’t know this while I was writing the book, but she has a real-life counterpart. Or I should say had. Her counterpart was assassinated in Colombia late last year. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the news report. She was known as the cocaine godmother. She was a pioneer in Colombian drug smuggling and mentor to the famous drug kingpin Pablo Escobar. It’s said she was behind around 40 homicides. There’s no physical resemblance between her and Maria though. Griselda Blanco was a plain woman. Maria is drop-dead gorgeous.

Are the books based on personal experiences?

No. Not saying my life isn’t interesting, but I find fiction a lot more fun. There are no limits with fiction.

Is there any advice you have been given that you could give to a young up-and-coming writer?

When I published The Tangled Web, I didn’t have a clue what was involved. It’s a miracle I sold that many books. My advice to up-and-coming authors is to do your marketing homework before you even breathe a word about your book. Don’t publish until you’ve built a social media network and a network of other authors who will support you. Line up reviewers and interviewers in advance, so you have reviews and author interviews as soon as you’re published. And don’t release a book that hasn’t been professionally edited. You could have the greatest story ever written, but it won’t get good reviews if it’s littered with typos and grammatical mistakes. And forget the old saying “Never judge a book by its cover.” Whoever said that was wrong, wrong, wrong. Your cover is the first impression of your book, and it can make or break your sales. Have it professionally done. There’s a lot more to a book cover than a nice design. And prepare to market your book. Nobody will buy it if they’ve never heard of it.

Can you talk a little about the benefits of getting your work professionally edited?

I’m sure there’s a writer somewhere out there who’s capable of editing their own work, but we lesser mortals need another eye – several other eyes. Aside from line editing, which is basically cleaning up typos and grammatical errors, there’s the editing that involves scrutiny of the storyline – continuity, plausibility, the strength of the characters and stuff like that. Here’s a good example of the value of an editor. I went into great detail with a scene in The Tangled Web where one of the assassins is getting prepared to shoot his target from a window. I went through that scene with a fine tooth comb, going as far as to time how long it took to get up on a ladder and unscrew the cover of an air conditioning vent. When the manuscript came back from the editor, there was a note in the right margin telling me that he needed to open the window. I’d overlooked that small, but very important detail.

What are some of the hardest things you’ve had to overcome as a writer, in order to be published?

I published my book, so I didn’t have to go through the song and dance of literary agents and publishers. But I think I’ll probably take the traditional publishing route with the one I’m writing now. I’ll be in a better position to answer your question then. 🙂

How do you find time to write your books?

It’s hard, and I haven’t been writing as much as I would like. I’ve been concentrating more on marketing. The thing is I become totally immersed when I’m writing, so when I get back to my book, marketing will have to take a back seat. Both are important to a writer and some writers are able to find that balance. I can’t. It’s one or the other for me.

Several of my guests have often said writing is therapeutic and relaxes them. Can you talk a little about how writing relaxes you? Any specific examples you can share?

Writing is relaxing? Think that’s a bit of an understatement. It’s like a drug that sweeps you away into an alternate universe of your making. It’s pure bliss. Or as another author put it in their interview, it’s better than sex. Okay, I admit that’s a bit of a stretch. But how about as good?

Has writing made you a better person?

I really don’t have an answer to that, but if you were to ask my family and friends they’d tell you I’ve become annoyingly anti-social since I started writing books.

Do you like to read? If so, what are your favorite genres and why?

Yes, I like to read, though I don’t have much time for reading these days. But I manage to bury my nose in a book for an hour or two every night. If I were to choose a favorite genre it would be historical fiction, though I like most genres. I also read a lot of non-fiction, mostly history and religious philosophy. And I love poetry.

Can you talk about how important reviews are to writers?

I think reviews are very important. They’re the feedback on your work, plus they often show your book in a light you never saw it in. For example, even though there are some factual events in The Tangled Web, it never occurred to me that it could be categorized as historical fiction until two reviewers alluded to that in their remarks.

Have you ever received a bad review? If so how did it make you feel?

Indeed I have – a scathing one-star review that made me blush to my elbows. I read it again when I’d recovered from the shock. I don’t think the reviewer was being mean. The book just wasn’t their cup of tea. Though The Tangled Web certainly doesn’t deserve a one-star. That’s usually reserved for very poorly written books, and most reviewers won’t bother to review a book if it’s that bad.

Would you mind sharing an excerpt from your book?

I’d love to, and I’m going to share one I’ve never shared before. This was a special moment during the writing of The Tangled Web. Maria came out of nowhere, and her arrival on the scene changed the plot I’d had in mind. She’s the drug boss, the one with the real-life counterpart.

Late that evening in Cali, Jorgé Caicedo Rojas tightened the sash of his burgundy smoking jacket and walked over to the well-stocked bar to make himself a nightcap. He deliberated for a moment between a Grand Marnier or a Rémy Martin. He decided in favor of the Rémy and poured a large snifter, filling it considerably more than is customary.

Across the room, Maria Echevarría lounged languorously on a butter-soft calfskin sofa, her white satin gown clinging to the curves of a perfect body. “You are such an uncouth pig, mi amor.” Her comment, breathed in a low, throaty voice, was iced, and she contemplated the man at the bar with disdain. “You live in the lap of luxury and yet look how you pour a glass of cognac, like a peasant. And here am I dying of thirst and you haven”t even thought to offer me something.”

Jorgé’s blood boiled at the insult, but he chose not to react. He had learned not to rise to the bait where Maria was concerned. “I apologize, that was thoughtless of me. What can I get you?”

“Drambuie, por favor. My tastes are less extravagant than yours.”

Jorgé poured the Drambuie carefully and took it over to her, waiting for her to begin the inquisition.

“Jorgé, mi amor.” She was pouting petulantly. “You have not brought me up to date on our deal with the island.”

Jorgé took a cigarette from the engraved silver cigarette box and lit it slowly. “Everything is in place, Maria. Transportation to two additional cells in Eastern Europe has been secured. That eliminates our reliance on the Albanian Mafia.”

“Remind me, where are the new distribution centers?”

He knew she remembered perfectly well, but nevertheless placated her with an answer. “Albania and Kosovo. We ship directly to the island and the containers get transferred immediately to a secure shipping line.”

“What ever happened with the African route?”

“I don’t see how that can be beneficial to us at this point. Right now, I think the island is our best bet.”

Maria shifted on the sofa, her dark eyes quickly calculating. Because Europe was largely Mafia territory they had, until now, been left with no choice but to collaborate with the Albanians to open up new European markets. Their partnership with the island opened doors that had formerly been closed. Jorgé was right on that count. But she still considered the island a risk. “Who owns the shipping line on the island?” she asked.

Jorgé eyed her. He never knew what dark thoughts were running through Maria’s mind. Her question could have been for any of a hundred reasons. “It’s a small private operation,” he answered carefully. “They ship mostly agricultural products – citrus, coffee, sugar – that kind of thing. From what I gather, that company was the main shipper of bananas to the UK during the island’s banana heyday.”

Maria smiled sardonically, “Well, bananas are no longer profitable. We must keep up with the times to stay afloat.” Her eyes looked into an unseen distance. “How much do you estimate we can transship through there in a year?”

“With these new centers opening up? I estimate we can move at least one hundred tons in a year. That’s the plan anyway. But I should warn you, there is a downside.”

Maria arched her eyebrows quizzically.

“Our associate demands fifty percent of gross sales.”

Maria did not respond immediately, seemingly preoccupied with close scrutiny of her manicure. She seemed oblivious to Jorgé for an uncomfortably long time before she stated calmly, “I’m not happy giving our associate such a large slice of the pie. That is a ridiculous demand. El hombre debe estar loco.”

“Usted no esta·tomando en cuenta ciertas cosas, Maria. Not only is he offering unobstructed transportation, he can also stockpile the merchandise for us if we need him to. That is a plus. In addition, we are spared the cost of intelligence gathering and bribes to officials because we have his protection as head of state. These things need to be taken into consideration.”

“I’m aware of that,” she snapped, “But even so, I am not prepared to facilitate such an insane demand! There must be another way.” She twisted a silky strand of ebony hair in contemplation as she stared at him unseeingly, not expecting a response, or wanting one for that matter. Then, in the matter-of-fact tone of one who has come to a mundane household decision, she said, “Eliminate him.”

Jorgé flicked an ash into the ashtray without comment.

“Find somebody else. It shouldn’t be that difficult.”

“No creo que sean necesario tales extremos. The man can never be a threat to us.”

“Everyone’s a threat,” she hissed, uncoiling like a viper and sitting up. “Somebody’s pilfering those shipments. The figures aren’t adding up. We can’t be sure it’s happening on that end, but I don’t trust him. He’s become careless, and that makes me nervous. We can’t afford to have our operation compromised. In any case, he’ll be forced out one way or the other eventually. With things deteriorating at the rate they are in that country, it’s only a matter of time before all hell breaks loose. Then, where will we be, Jorgé? Dígame!”

FINAL SHOTJorgé finished his Rémy with a single gulp and sat heavily in an armchair opposite her. He had always had a strong distaste for violence and had only ever turned to violence as the very last resort. “Are you absolutely sure you want to take this path, Maria?” he asked in a futile attempt to dissuade her.

“Positivo, mi amor,” she said rising and going over to him, her perfume enveloping him. She moved closer and ran her fingers through his hair. “I’m going to Europe for a little break. I’m sure you’ll have everything in place by the time I get back.”

Check out J.P.’s website, follow her on Twitter and buy her book on Amazon Kindle, Smashwords and at the iBookstore.

Author’s Roundtable: Christa Simpson

How did your family and friends feel when they heard you were writing?

A few of my friends were really excited about it; especially after I let them read my first book in The Twisted Trilogy. My family was totally shocked. Even though they believed in me, they really couldn’t imagine me self-publishing my stories. But guess what? I did it!!

What books or stories have you written? Published?

I’ve written three books, which comprise The Twisted Trilogy. To date I have published the first book, Twisted. The second book, Twist and Turn, is tentatively set to release on July 1, with the final book, A Twist of Fate, to follow later this year.

I have some other stories in the works, but they are all in the very early stages, and I’m not even sure which one I will pick up and go with next. There are two very different stories fighting for my attention; that is after I get The Twisted Trilogy out there as a whole.

Can you tell us a little about your books? What are they about?

Absolutely, Jason. The Twisted Trilogy is a sexy, sassy New Adult romance premised on a love triangle.

In Twisted, you follow the life of Abigail Jenkins, a sassy chick who works at a lawyer’s office and lives with her handsome ex-boyfriend Edwin Santora. Abby’s dating life is a mess and Edwin continuously reminds her that she needn’t look any further because he’s just what she’s looking for. Before long, Edwin lands a job at her firm as a junior lawyer, and she finds herself catching feelings for him again. The short of it is: A man and woman cannot be “just friends.”  And friendship isn’t what Abby is looking for. She wants babies.  Yes, babies. And yes she’s only 24 years old.

In Twist and Turn, after Abigail is forced to face a heart-wrenching truth about her relationship with Edwin, she sets out to find herself a suitable replacement. Right when she thinks she’s going to end up a lonely old bag, Cameron Clarke lands right on her doorstep. This hunky new lawyer is the man of her dreams and the man of Edwin’s nightmares. Edwin vies for her attention, but he’s unable to compete with this man; who also happens to have a rough past and a beautiful little girl to show for it. There’s a paranormal twist that starts to come to light and you learn that maybe Abby isn’t quite as crazy as you thought she was.

In A Twist of Fate, Edwin and Cameron will go head to head to fight for what’s their’s. But, in the end, there can only be only one. Who will Abigail choose: the love of her life or the man of her dreams? Either way, Abigail will get her happy ever after.

Twisted_500x750How did you get inspiration for the characters/books?

Reading inspired me to write my own stories. When I finish a story and feel like the secondary characters are deserving of their own story, I picture moulding those characters into my own to give them their happy ever after.

I like to play it by ear and go with the flow. When an idea strikes me, I get on the computer and just let it flow. Walking down the street inspires me. Listening in on people’s conversations inspires me. My husband inspires me. Life is truly the most inspiring of all.

What are some of the hardest things you’ve had to overcome as a writer, in order to be published?

I was impatient. I self-published before spending too much time dwelling on traditional publishing. I had read one too many articles about how new authors are not well received; especially when they didn’t have agent representation. I decided, “Why not do this myself?” I really had nothing to lose, but a couple of bucks for a cover and my beauty sleep, or so I thought.

Since then, time management has become a major sore spot for me. I’m working on it, and I’ll get there eventually (after The Twisted Trilogy is complete LOL). It’s tough being a mother of two active children, working a full-time job and keeping a functioning relationship with the hubs, all while trying to successfully edit, publish, promote and monitor my novels.

Do you think writing has any benefits, and if so what would they be?

It absolutely has benefits. I have to write. My sanity depends on it. Even if I never published, I would write. My brain won’t stop pumping out these ideas, and I can’t have them cluttering my mind. So I write, and I get to keep a clear head. Alternately, my kids think being a published author is cool, and I like to make them happy.

Was there ever a point in your life where you felt like giving up because nobody understood you? How did you overcome this time in your life?

I tend to tuck those not-so-nice times away in a little place that I don’t like to visit. I don’t know how I do it, but once I put them in that vault, it’s almost like they never happened; except that I never forget the lessons learned to prevent me from making those same mistakes again. I relied on writing poetry as a teenager, and fortunately I burned every last page of them a long time ago. Yeah, I was weird like that.

I’m lucky to have a solid loving family. My husband is always there for me, even if I bore him to death with my book talk. My mother and sisters are always just a call or text away if I need them, and my little girls are always attached at the hip, so I’m literally never alone.  It’s hard to give up when you have so much support.

What are your goals as a writer?

Honestly, my goal was to be published. I’m published. Next, my goal is to publish book number two. I’m taking things one step at a time. Overall, I hope to become a better writer and engage a larger audience.

Any new challenges you’ve had to face?

The latest challenge I’ve had to face is dealing with scathing reviews. I knew that publishing sassy stories with sarcastic characters was going to rub some people the wrong way. I also knew that others would absolutely love it. Constructive criticism I can deal with, but I’ve learned that some people can be just plain old mean.

Thanks so much for having me, Jason. Isn’t this guy great??!!

Final note: If you read indie and like it, please do the author a huge favour by rating their book and writing an honest, thoughtful review on Amazon and Goodreads.

And like my mother always says: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” 🙂

christa3About Christa Simpson

Christa Simpson is a Canadian indie author and mother of two. She loves reading, writing, music, movies and dancing. She likes her men muscled, her music loud and her kids happy. She lives in a small town in southwestern Ontario with her two little girls and her husband of nine years.

She’s just published her debut new adult romance novel, Twisted. Books two and three of The Twisted Trilogy, Twist and Turn and A Twist of Fate, are coming soon.

Do you want to connect with Christa Simpson? You can find her on her blog, become a fan on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Variety or Confusion

Usually when I write a guest post, it’s to inform readers about some aspect of writing or reading. But today I’m actually going to ask you, the reader, a question that’s been on my mind: Do mult-genre authors give readers variety or confusion?

Why am I asking? I started out my writing career a couple of years ago (Where did the time go!) writing strictly contemporary romance. I love the genre. I love the characters and the present day situations and settings. But it’s not the only genre I like to read or write. Recently I wrote my first paranormal romance. It’s still romance so part of it is familiar, but with a paranormal world build in too. Then last week my “prepper romance” was released. It takes place in our contemporary time, but at a moment when a world-changing catastrophic event takes place. It’s still romance, but now there’s adventure, dangerous situations and peril involved, too.

So, did I just confuse all of my readers by writing a couple of books that are not strictly contemporary anymore? Or did I give them variety so that every book they read from me feels new, interesting and different? Did I find a way to capture new readers who maybe wouldn’t have found me by my contemporary romances because they prefer paranormal?

Personally, I love being able to write what I want, when I want. And I’d like to do it all under the same name, since using a new pen name or two creates a whole lot more work for the author: maintaining websites, Facebook accounts, Twitter accounts and doing tours for each. Of course, I think if the genres you write are too different—like say erotica and young adult—then the author definitely needs to write under more than one name. You can’t accidentally have youths finding your other smexy books! Yikes!!

But that’s not the case with me, so I’m curious if I’ve made the write decision by writing all of my books under the same name or not.

Readers, have I confused you now that I write romance in contemporary, paranormal and adventure sub-genres? Do you have favorite authors who write in different sub-genres? Do you like having a little variety from the authors you enjoy? Or do you think authors should stick to what they started writing and if they write a new kind of book, then they should do it under a new name?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Happy reading!

Heather Thurmeier

Escape to My Arms blurb

Sara’s been preparing for this moment her whole life—she just never believed it would actually happen. With her bug-out bag and emergency food already in her truck, her only goal is to get to her family’s hidden bunker and wait out the pandemic that’s hit every major cruise ship port in the US. But her plan quickly falls apart. She’s out of gas, her route to the bunker is now a two-lane parking lot with no alternative in sight, and her only weapon is a pocketknife. For an experienced prepper, she’s made every rookie mistake.

Dane believes he’s safe in his cabin, off the beaten path and in the woods with his own source for water, electricity and an endless supply of food to hunt. After finding Sara stranded and alone, he’’ suddenly not only providing for and protecting himself, but also the girl who wandered out of the woods and into his life. When looters come looking to take what he has, Sara and Dane’s only option is to make a run for their last hope—the bunker.

Can Sara and Dane find safety in each other’s arms and will they survive long enough to escape to a future together?

Escape to My Arms excerpt

Sara sipped her wine and nibbled on another square of chocolate. He was right. Again.

Escape-to-my-Arms300x450-1They didn’t know what would happen in the future. Hell, they didn’t even know if there was a future to look forward to at this point. So why shouldn’t they enjoy the moments like this one while they could? Moments when they were safe, warm, fed and comfortable. They might not get many more nights like this if things kept getting worse, as they seemed to be. Best to savor the time while you had it instead of squandering it away with fights.

At this point, she didn’t even know what future awaited her at the bunker. Would she live with her family for the rest of their lives, never to interact with people from the outside world again? That’s sort of what they wanted, wasn’t it? Wasn’t that why they hadn’t told anyone about the bunker, because they couldn’t trust anyone?

What if this was her last night on her own? It might be her last night to live her life however she wanted to before she had to start making group decisions with her family.

“You’re right.” She polished off the last of her wine in a big gulp. Her head already swirled with the effects of the alcohol. She’d always been a lightweight when it came to getting drunk. Tonight would be no different. Good thing she’d planned to stop at one this evening. She had other plans for the rest of the night.

“Right about what exactly? I said a bunch of stuff.”

She put her wineglass on the floor and took his hand in hers. “You were right about enjoying this moment we have tonight since we don’t know what the future holds, or even if we have a future.”

“Does this mean I’m forgiven?” He smiled, squeezing her hand.

“Yes. And then some.”

Sara took the wineglass from his hand and set it down next to hers, then straddled his lap, resting her hands on his chest. She pressed her mouth to his, delighting in the surprise on his face.

She wasn’t a throw-caution-to-the-wind kind of girl, but for once she was going to do just that, since she didn’t know if she’d have wind to be cautious of later on. Tonight, she’d live by her feelings. Tomorrow she’d go back to surviving.

Check out Escape To My Arms at Amazon, on Nook and at Decadent Publishing

Heather708twitterAbout Heather Thurmeier

Heather Thurmeier is a lover of strawberry margaritas, a hater of spiders and a reality TV junkie. She was born and raised in the Canadian prairies, but now lives in New York with her husband and kids where she’s become some kind of odd Canuck-Yankee hybrid. When she’s not busy taking care of the kids and pets, Heather’s writing her next romance, which will probably be filled with sassy heroines, sexy heroes that make your heart pound, laugh out loud moments and always a happily ever after. You can find out more about Heather and her books by checking out her website, becoming a fan on Facebook and following her on Twitter.

Thanks so much for having me to your website again! And for all the RTs on Twitter, too.

What You Need To Know About Marriage

By Laura Hinze

After sitting in the airport for two hours my husband, Barry, wandered off to find lunch.

Our delayed flight had been pushed back again and again for two hours. I stayed behind at the boarding gate, waiting more any additional information. Our plane finally came to our gate shortly after Barry went to get lunch.

I was unworried; there was still plenty of waiting to do. The plane was being cleaned and fueling up for our flight home. After thirty minutes had passed there was still no sign of Barry. The loud speaker requested any one with children or special needs to begin boarding the plane.

I looked at my watch.

Barry was still missing. I shifted in my seat. He would be coming back, right?

Lines of regular passages started to form in front of our boarding gate. What was wrong? Where was Barry?

Loaded down with bags, I got up to find my husband.

I found Barry in line at a pizza place. My husband had put in a custom made request and needed extra time.

I explained to my husband that our flight was finally boarding and we needed to leave right away. The flight attendant made the final boarding call for our flight number over the loud speaker. Barry wasn’t moving. His lunch was paid for and Barry was going to eat it. I pleaded with my husband to get on our departed plane. I wanted to return home. He told me that his custom order pizza would be right out and we could leave then.

I turned and ran. My bag bumped my shoulder as I jogged for our boarding gate. Almost to the boarding gate I stopped running. Winded, I considered my actions.

What was I doing this for? I didn’t have to work the next day. I was leaving my husband in an airport.

Barry and I had been man and wife for 9 months. Was I really committed to this marriage? Barry and all of his personality flaws were made obvious before we got married. I knew who Barry was. I could make a detailed list his faults. Like many other women, I thought I could “fix” his problems after we were married.

IMG_0593_editedBarry was my husband now. My husband. The gravity of that word sank in. Where were my priorities? Was my life still just all about me? Where did my marriage fit into my priorities? In the conventional sense I was absolutely correct about getting on the plane but my conscience didn’t feel right. For whatever his real reasons, I couldn’t just hop on a plane while my husband was left behind.

At the root of the issue this was about marriage when the going gets rough. Barry could catalog my bad habits just as well I could list his problems. So, the question was how did I want to be treated when I was in Barry’s shoes? So, it came down to the promises I had made to Barry when we got married. I had given my word to stand by my husband, and it was that simple.

I found Barry sitting at a plastic orange table eating his lunch when our flight took off. Looking back at your life you can see decisions that seem to be lynchpins for future events. Missing that plane was one of my lynchpins. Since then there has been a mix of sunny and stormy days in our marriage. We stayed together and that alone is more than most people can count on. All good marriages need effort from both parties to keep them going.

Even when you are getting married divorce seems like the easy “just in case” situation. When the going gets tough it is going to go through your mind, let’s face it. No one is perfect and there are going to be difficult days. After 10 years of marriage I also know what the possibility of divorce feels like too. Barry and I were having problems.

To deal with the problems I turned a blind eye to the issues. I kept hoping that ignoring the problems might make them go away. In the end it was Barry, through his divorce news, that brought me back to total reality.

I could hardly believe him. Panic set in almost immediately. I had to salvage my marriage. There was no time to waste; my marriage was slipping away. I started working my myself, my own perceptions and my reactions. Barry noticed my changes and softened in his approach. One thing lead to another and our marriage is stronger than ever.

For more information on the secrets of marriage check out Save My Marriage. I’m sure you’ll like it!

Author’s Roundtable: Mary Ann Kempher

How long have you been writing?

Three years.

Has writing always been something you wanted to do?

No, though I’ve always enjoyed writing I didn’t consider writing a book until three years ago.

What books or stories have you written? Published?

Mocha, Moonlight and Murder is my first book, so far.

9781620151402-cvr_Createspace.inddCan you tell us a little about your book? What is it about?

Mocha, Moonlight and Murder is romantic suspense. It will appeal to romance lovers, because Scott and Katherine (eventually) have such a fantastic friendship that blossoms into something more. They really like each other, and the reader will really like them. It will also appeal to readers who love a good mystery; a woman is brutally murdered three blocks from Katherine’s. She sees the killer as he’s preparing to dispose of the woman’s body, but manages to out run him. He finds out who she is and starts stalking her.

Are the books based on personal experiences?

The witty banter between my main characters is reflective of my husband and I. Other than that, no.

Is there any advice you have been given that you could give to a young up-and-coming writer?

Yes, before you start writing, buy yourself a few good self-help books in the genre you want to write. There are very few things you’d try to do without first getting some instructions, why is writing any different? I would also highly suggest you send your finished manuscript to The Editorial Department; they do a fantastic job showing and telling you where the MS has flaws.

Several of my guests have often said writing is therapeutic and relaxes them. Can you talk a little about how writing relaxes you? Any specific examples you can share?

I wouldn’t say it relaxes me, but there is a really nice sense of accomplishment you feel after a writing session. Sometimes I write for just a few minutes, sometimes for hours—if I’ve written a lot and I feel good about what I wrote, that’s the best feeling for a writer.

Do you like to read? If so, what are your favorite genres and why?

I love the classics. Three Musketeers, Catcher in the Rye, etc., but my favorite book is Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.

Can you talk about how important reviews are to writers?

Well I’m no expert, especially since this is my first book. I know as a reader that the review/rating won’t make me read the book or not read the book—but it does encourage me to take a closer look. As an author, I’m told it’s wise to not look at your own review since not everyone will like your book. Not looking will be a lot easier said than done.

Recent MeAbout Mary Ann Kempher

My family moved to Reno, Nev., where Mocha, Moonlight and Murder is set when I was 15. I currently live in Florida with my husband and two children.

My favorite authors are Jane Austen and Agatha Christie. My guilty pleasures include any and all sweets. I love all cake, cookies, brownies and, of course, a grande Café Mocha.  

Check out Mary Ann’s website, learn more about her and buy her books on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, follow her on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.

Author’s Roundtable: Shannon ‘Guernsey’ Coulter a.k.a. S. Moo

How did your family and friends feel when they heard you were writing?

HAPPY! Since I was a little kid, my nickname has been “Motor Mouth.” They were happy I’d be quiet for a bit and put some of the thoughts in my head down on paper instead of constantly into their ears. 😉
How long have you been writing? 

I have always loved to write and studied as a Communications major at Vanderbilt University where I learned all different ways to use words (from public speaking to poetry to lyricism.) 

When I left school, I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to “be” so I became a Communications Consultant, which brought even more forms of writing into my life. My favorite form was creating wellness campaigns that helped adults “look inside” and find aha moments to change their life. When I met my stepkids in 2007, I decided to leave Corporate America to use my skills with campaigns to bring wellness to children through stories and activities. I love it.
S Moo FamilyIs there any advice you have been given that you could give to a young up-and-coming writer?


Do not hold back because of fear of rejection. Know that rejection will come, but so will acceptance! There is no way on this planet to make everyone happy, but because there are so many people out there, others will love your writing just as much as you do!

And please, do not judge yourself by the commercial success of your writing. If you are brave enough to put your art in the hands of others, you ARE a success!

What are some of the hardest things you’ve had to overcome as a writer, in order to be published?

I self-published because my books were meant as a gateway to my company. The books offer positive lessons for kids, and the company has fun activities to reinforce these lessons.

Whether self-publishing or looking for a publisher, know things can go very slowly. Don’t get down on yourself or your work. Persistence and patience – and faith – are key.
Do you think writing has any benefits, and if so what would they be?

Absolutely. We all have so many thoughts in our heads. Writing is a wonderful way to learn more about who you are and the way your mind works. Whether writing in a personal journal or with the purpose of sharing your work with others, getting your thoughts out on paper is hugely therapeutic.

Has writing made you a better person?
100 percent. When I was a Communications Consultant, I wrote to help others better their health and finances. As a children’s book author, I write to teach kids to respect themselves, others and their planet (and hopefully make them laugh!). I truly hope I am helping others with my work. 

PF_Facebook01_R00As a person, writing has helped me get through many tough times. I often find when I’m down, if I put my feelings on paper and read them back to myself, I am able to more clearly understand what I’m feeling and more quickly “get over it.” As I read what I’ve written, it puts things into better perspective, and often times, when I delete what I’ve written, the negative emotions go into the trash with the written words!

Was there ever a point in your life where you felt like giving up because nobody understood you? How did you overcome this time in your life?

Many, many times. I aim to take accountability for misunderstandings I encounter and learn more about the others so I can present my thoughts in a different manner. If I do this in an empathetic and kind way and there is still a misunderstanding, I can move forward, knowing I put in my best effort with a kind heart. Life is full of different types of people, and as frustrating as it is, we simply can’t please everyone. As long as we are the best person we can be, we can look back at our experiences – even those that don’t turn out that great – with respect for ourselves.  

What are your goals as a writer?

To help others find and focus more on happiness. Life is hard. There is NO question. So if in my children’s books, my company and my blogs, I can help people smile and recognize the good things they do have despite life’s obstacles, then I have succeeded.

Any new challenges you’ve had to face?

Creating my own company and writing books have been huge growth experiences for me. When I was younger, I tied how I felt about myself as a person to how “perfect” I did at tasks (be it being the best on my soccer team to getting the best performance review from a superior). If things were any less than perfect, I was devastated with whom I was as a person and treated myself as a failure. It was a black and white existence. The growth of my company and the sales of my books have been slow. If I tied how I felt about myself to these facts, I would be shattered. I have learned to look at the things I have done – having the guts to start a company and write books – as successes and be proud of myself for persevering.

S Moo Author PageFocusing on small successes and letting go of “perfectionism” has changed my life for the better in all aspects – from being a business owner to a parent to a spouse to a friend.

Check out Shannon’s author bio on Amazon, her children’s book series on Amazon, her blog with simple play ideas and fun for families, and her author website to help people laugh at themselves and give themselves a break.

Author’s Roundtable: Peggy Holloway

How did your family and friends feel when they heard you were writing?

They weren’t surprised. They are all used to me going off in an extreme opposite direction from what I was doing. They’re saying things like, “Look what she’s doing now.” I don’t think they are taking me seriously yet.

How long have you been writing?

Less than four years. I had ideas in my head for years before I started writing. I waited until I retired to begin writing so that I could devote as much time as I want to it.

Has writing always been something you wanted to do?

I always wanted to write a novel. I didn’t know it was going to get so out of control. I have never done anything halfway, so I don’t know why I’m so surprised.

What books or stories have you written? Published? 

I now have thirteen books published. Most of my books are mystery/suspense/psychological thrillers. I also have two science fiction/fantasies, a self-help book and just recently published my memoirs.

Can you tell us a little about your books? What are they about?

There are five in the Judith McCain series. She is a runaway fifteen year old in the first book, in search of her identity. She uncovers a lot of horrors about her childhood but also finds her twin sister that she didn’t know she had. Through all of her hardships, she grows into a very human adult who still has some issues but she becomes a psychologist. She helps the FBI solve many cases. The two science-fiction/fantasy books are a time travel love story. The first one, 3037, takes place in the year 3037. A woman from the 1950s has to come from the past to try to save mankind. The sequel is called Time and Time Again.

How did you get inspiration for the characters/books?

I can’t explain it. I had the first book, Blood on White Wicker, in my head for about thirty years. Once I started writing it the characters took over and I felt so out of control, it scared me at first. After that, every time I had a general idea for a book, I just started typing, and the characters took over. I guess the ideas come from my subconscious since a lot of them come from my dreams. I have to keep a notebook on my nightstand so I can write them down in the middle of the night.

Are the books based on personal experiences?

I don’t know if the books themselves are based on personal experience, but sometimes I’ll put in something from my own life. Like once, when I needed a career for someone, I had the person be a geophysicist because I used to be a geophysicist. Judith McCain is not a morning person because I’ve never been a morning person.

Is there any advice you have been given that you could give to a young up-and-coming writer?

Yes, read, read, read. I personally don’t see how anyone can hope to write if they don’t read. Before I started writing myself, I read one or two books a day. I now read three or four books a week. It was through reading that I started to think that I could write a book myself, but it was only after I had read several thousand books.

Can you talk a little about the benefits of getting your work professionally edited?

I had a bad experience with my first editor and didn’t think I wanted an editor. I edited my own books about twenty times each and friends and family read them. I have recently gotten an editor because I keep getting feedback in my reviews about needing an editor, even in some of my five-star reviews. Editors are expensive, and I can see why many indie authors don’t use them. But I think it will get you farther ahead if you use them.

What are some of the hardest things you’ve had to overcome as a writer, in order to be published?

That’s easy, and it’s what had hindered me in everything I’ve ever done, my impatience. When I finish writing a book I want to get it published now.

How did you find time to write your books?

I have all the time I need because I am retired.

Do you think writing has any benefits, and if so what would they be? 

Writing is very therapeutic for me. My characters have taught me a lot about myself.

Several of my guests have often said writing is therapeutic and relaxes them. Can you talk a little about how writing relaxes you? Any specific examples you can share? 

I agree that it’s therapeutic but relaxing? Nope. It takes a lot out of me. I feel like I’ve actually been cut open and have bled onto the page. All of my emotions get stirred up.  One of my main characters got murdered in one of my books, and I cried for a week.

Has writing made you a better person?

I sure hope so. I hope it has taught me more patience.

Do you like to read? If so, what are your favorite genres and why?

I read everything I can get my hands on, but my favorites are mysteries, medical/legal/psychological thrillers, science-fiction/fantasy and espionage. I don’t like vampires, werewolves, zombies and young adult-type novels with high-school crushes, etc.

Can you talk about how important reviews are to writers?

Most writers will do anything short of selling their soul for a review. They are so hard to come by. So many people will tell me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, or out by the pool where I live that they love my books and will promise to write reviews but most don’t. I give away thousands of books in hopes of getting some reviews in exchange but get very few that way. I now try not to dwell on reviews or sales but just concentrate on writing.

Have you ever received a bad review? If so how did it make you feel? 

I don’t mind a bad review if it’s honest and I can learn from it. Unfortunately, there are some folks out there who will give a bad review when it’s obvious they haven’t even read the book. I was a victim of the trolls for a while on Goodreads and it really hurt. I write reviews myself, and I try to give good, honest reviews. I wrote more than 100 last year, all indies. I usually don’t write a review if I didn’t like the book. The only exception is when someone tries to pass off a short story for a novel. I don’t like short stories.

Was there ever a point in your life where you felt like giving up because nobody understood you? How did you overcome this time in your life?

This is something that, if I let it, it could make me quit writing. I try to ignore comments like, “I’m glad you found this little hobby to do after retiring.”

What are your goals as a writer?

To become a best-selling author, of course.

Any new challenges you’ve had to face?

I guess one of the biggest is to learn to not compare myself to other indies. It’s difficult, when I see someone whose books I’ve read, and I feel like mine are better, and they get rewards I have entered. I try to not compare. There are enough readers out there for all of us.

small pic pegAbout Peggy Holloway

I had three careers before turning to writing. I taught Mathematics in high school and community college, worked as a geophysicist in a major oil company exploring for oil and gas and worked as a counselor/psychotherapist with adults, groups, families, couples and teens. I have a BS in geology, an MCS in mathematics and an MA in psychology. I taught Algebra II to William Faulkner’s granddaughter.

My past writing experiences were writing plays for the neighborhood kid to put on when I was around 12-14 years old, writing technical reports as a geophysicist, writing research papers while working on my master’s in psychology, and writing letters to judges, with recommendations, while counseling juvenile justice adolescents.

Besides writing mysteries, I like to read (anything I can get my hands on), paint landscapes in oil and in enamel on glass. I enjoy swimming and walking on the beach. I have had many struggles in life, and I like to incorporate my experiences into my writing. A fantasy I have is to wear a Versache evening gown and dance the tango with Al Pacino.

I am a night person and can’t stand morning people who wake me up early. I like relating to one or two people rather than being in a crowd. Most of my friends are for life. Check out my blog and check out my books on Amazon.

Author’s Roundtable: Melissa Keir

Thank you Jason for having me on your blog. I’m so excited to share my books and my life with your readers.

How did your family and friends feel when they heard you were writing?

My husband and children were super supportive. They celebrate each new release with me. My dad was very proud. My mom tried to become a published author back in the late 70s. Her dream is realized through me. My sisters are a little skeptical. They think that I’m writing stories about them.

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing since I was a child. In high school, I was on the school newspaper and wrote poetry for fun. In typing class we had to type for a period of time, and I would write silly horror stories for my friends. I’ve been a published author for little more than a year.

Has writing always been something you wanted to do?

Writing has always been something I’ve done for fun and to relax. I find that putting my thoughts in writing is easier than speaking many times. I didn’t consider ever becoming an author until last year. I thought I didn’t have what it took, but a few authors I know pushed me to give it a try. They have become my own fairy godmothers.

What books or stories have you written? Published?

I have six books out currently. All are short novella ebooks and available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. You can see my website for details on the different books. They are all contemporary romance and feature small towns as a setting.

Can you tell us a little about your books? What are they about?

I have a series titled The Wilder Sisters series, which is about five daughters who left their small Ohio town after high school graduation only to each return to Amherst to face the things that caused them to leave. There are currently three books available in that series. I also have two books that tell the tale of Lissa and Alex Hunter who were brought together by Alex’s ex-wife. Another book is a play on the Three Little Pigs. Protecting His Wolfe tells the tale of a small town secretary who is targeted by someone for murder and the police detective, Jonah Pigg must protect her with his life.

How did you get inspiration for the characters/books?

I get my inspiration from the world around me. I love to people watch and listen to people’s stories. I also have a vivid imagination and ask “what if” a lot. I’m always playing with ideas in my head.

Are the books based on personal experiences?

Yes, Amherst, Oh., is my hometown. I grew up there, but the story is not about me. I loved being able to share my favorite place with readers. I also have been divorced, and my character, Lissa Vincent, went through a tough divorce. I took some of my feelings from my divorce and wove it into the story. But I do have to remind people that the stories are made up-fiction-not my life.

DSC_0212 bwIs there any advice you have been given that you could give to a young up-and-coming writer?

The best advice is to keep writing. I’ve continued to take classes to improve my writing, and I write daily. Writing leads to better writing. Also never give up. There are always setbacks but nothing should stop you if you love writing.

Can you talk a little about the benefits of getting your work professionally edited?

[Getting your work] Professionally edited is a MUST in today’s publishing business. Whether you pay for it or your publisher does, your work needs to be edited to avoid mistakes that make your book, and you look like less than professional. Poorly edited books reflect badly not only on yourself but also on the profession in general. So many people had a negative connotation about self-published books because of the lack of good editing. That wasn’t true…only a few poorly done books have spoiled it for everyone.

What are some of the hardest things you’ve had to overcome as a writer, in order to be published?

Some of the hardest things are my own expectations. I would love to have everyone enjoy my stories and write glowing reviews of my books; however that isn’t realistic. It takes time to build a following, and not everyone is going to love every book you write. Throughout my publishing career, I’ve had two publishing houses close. One time it was before my book ever was published. This nearly broke my heart because I took it as a sign that I shouldn’t write. But again my fairy godmothers intervened and gave me a kick in the behind. 🙂

How did you find time to write your books?

Time is hard for me as I’m juggling being a full-time elementary teacher, wife, mother and author. In addition, I am co-owner of a small publishing house helping other authors make their dreams come true. I try to write on the weekends or in the evenings from my bed. I love to curl up with my dogs in bed and write my stories on my laptop.

Do you think writing has any benefits, and if so what would they be?

I do think that writing has benefits. It allows people to organize their thoughts before they speak. This is so important if they are like me and have to give speeches. I also believe that through writing, I am able to share stories that may inspire others. It also keeps my mind active and alive, something we all need at any age!

Several of my guests have often said writing is therapeutic and relaxes them. Can you talk a little about how writing relaxes you? Any specific examples you can share?

I don’t have any specific examples. Writing is an important part of my daily life. I enjoy putting thoughts down on paper. I do it in a silent room with my dogs, which allows me to relax and veg out.

Can you also talk a little about how writing your book was therapeutic? What do you mean?

For me I use my writing to work through different situations. I always want my characters to have a happily ever after. Today our world is full of danger, crisis and stress; by writing I am able to lower my stress and hopefully help other people relax and enjoy their quiet times.
Has writing made you a better person?

I think I was a pretty good person before. I’ve certainly had my share of challenges that I’ve faced. Being an author hasn’t made me anything different. It has given me the opportunity to connect with other people I’ve made friendships with and hopefully am able to learn from.
Do you like to read? If so, what are your favorite genres and why?

I love to read. It has been my first passion. I have so many different genres that I enjoy, but always romance has topped the list. My tastes have changed over time. When I went through my divorce, I read every book on divorce. With my blended family, I’ve read many non-fiction books on how to help navigate this tough situation. Currently, I’m reading paranormal romance books.

Can you talk about how important reviews are to writers?

I think that some people put a lot of importance on reviews. I know that Amazon uses reviews to help others purchase books or suggest books. In those ways, it helps promote your book. Good reviews can make other people interested in your story. But I also feel that reviews are over-rated. I don’t use a review to tell me if I should buy a book. For books, the cover and blurb are the most important part.

Have you ever received a bad review? If so how did it make you feel?

We all receive bad reviews. If you have thin skin, get out of writing now. Of course negative reviews sting. You want to have everyone love your book, which isn’t possible. So I try to let it flow off my back. There’s nothing I can do to change their mind, and engaging with the reviewer is just asking for a fight. Why spend the energy?

fireman's helmet and jacketWas there ever a point in your life where you felt like giving up because nobody understood you? How did you overcome this time in your life?

There have been many times in my life when I’ve wished that I wasn’t here. As a teenager, I used to cut before cutting was popular. I used the physical pain to help deal with the emotional pain. My parents were not getting along but didn’t believe in divorce. It was hard to live in a house where fighting was always going on. I moved out and was married at 18 to handle the pain of my family’s issues.

I didn’t believe myself to be loveable after my divorce. I was told for years that my marriage problems were my own fault. Getting medical help and counseling helped with the divorce issues. But also writing helped. I kept journals and wrote about my feelings during those years.

I’ve faced my own health issues as well as the death of my mother while I was back in college. All of these challenges have made me wonder about my purpose in life. I tried to focus on the positive to keep myself going and when I needed help, I reached out to my family, loved ones and doctor for help.

What are your goals as a writer?

I would love to be a New York Times award-winning author. What that means to me is that people read my books and love them. I really want to connect with readers and have them fall in love with my characters.

Any new challenges you’ve had to face?

There are always challenges in every life and every day. It is important to focus on the good rather than the bad. I hope to pass that onto my students, children and readers.

Thank you Jason for letting me be on your blog. I’m so fortunate to have you as a friend, and I hope that your readers enjoy hearing about my books.

Check out this blurb and excerpt of Forever Love by Melissa Keir


Fifteen years ago, Syndie Wilder left her small hometown-Amherst, Ohio-to escape the pain of losing her best friend and boyfriend. Deciding that Chicago offered more for an up-and-coming jewelry designer, she enjoyed the big city life until she chooses to return and care for her father. Taking care of her father and relocating her Internet business, Syndie has no time or desire for romance but fate has a way of playing with best-laid plans.

Thom Johnson broke Syndie’s heart all those years ago and regrets it every day. As a firefighter, Thom sets out to protect Amherst and redeem himself for his bad choices. However, he never has forgotten Syndie and the hurt he caused her.

When a chance meeting happens, can the two former friends allow themselves the chance to become friends again, or will the sparks turn a childhood friendship into a forever love?


Deciding to get out of the house, we headed out for dinner at a popular local restaurant. The Armors Diner was located in an old home that had been converted into a homey place to eat. They had a full menu, containing anything that might tickle your fancy, but they had the best Coney dogs and fries. The Armors was a favorite hangout for the high school crowd, so the walls were covered with photos from all the sports stories covered by the local newspaper. The place was packed, but we found a spot at a small table near the large front window.

The Armors held a lot of fond memories from my time in high school. I used to come to the restaurant as much as I could to hang out and visit with my friends. We would always order the large fries and talk about the boys we liked. The restaurant also had its share of sad memories too—mostly surrounding T.J. and our time together. As if just thinking about him caused him to appear, I looked up to find him walking through the door, alone, and heading directly over to our table.

“Hi Syn, Mr. Wilder. Do you mind if I join you? This place is packed, and I hate to eat alone.”

“Hello Thom. Nice to see you. What have you been up to lately? I haven’t seen you since you dated Syn, here. I must have scared you off good,” dad replied with a grin.

“Mr. Wilder, you didn’t scare me off. Syn decided to run away to the big city and leave this small town behind.” T.J. winked at me, so I stuck my tongue out at him.

I felt like an idiot while they spoke about me, and a little shocked that dad didn’t remember T.J. being at the recent fire. “Hello—I am sitting right here. You shouldn’t talk about me like I’m invisible.” They continued to ignore me, in favor of the conversation. I took the moment to look at T.J. He certainly had grown up. I studied his profile, trying to find a small part of that little boy who was my best friend growing up. His strong jawline and full lips were new to me. His baby fat was gone, but his strong nose was the same. The aquiline had a bump that always looked like he had broken it, which earned him the nickname Rocky. I loved his smile. It was a full grin that lit up his whole face and made his eyes twinkle. I wish I could go back and have a chat with my teenage self. I would share with her just how sexy T.J. was today. Of course, I would probably also have a few words to say to teenage T.J. too. After all, I wasn’t the only one in that relationship.

My ears perked up when I heard Dad invite T.J. over for dinner tomorrow night. It will be nice to give Dad something to do, but another evening with T.J….can my heart handle it?

The Armors provided a nice dinner among friends. Dad seemed to enjoy talking with T.J. about guns, hunting and his job at the fire station. Sitting there in the background watching them interact was a treat. Dad was animated, reminding me more of the guy I grew up with than the pale version of himself he had become since my return. He hasn’t been so upbeat in a long time. I don’t think I’ve felt so upbeat in a while, as well. T.J. had many fun stories of life in the station that made us laugh. I was getting reacquainted with the guy I left behind, as he was filling in the missing years.

T.J. had been my best friend growing up. We were childhood playmates. Then, in high school, we turned into a couple. He became my boyfriend. We used to spend a lot of time hanging out at the train depot and talking about our future, but that didn’t last. T.J. was looking for a girl who was sexually active, which wasn’t me. He broke up with me and went on to date other girls who were more physical with him. It was hard watching him move on, but I was going to leave our small town for bigger pastures when I graduated, so I didn’t need to be tied down. Now that I was back, though, would we try to make it work?

Buy Forever Love at the Secret Cravings Store, Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

About Melissa Keir

DSC_0299 bwAs a writer, Melissa likes to keep current on topics of interest in the world of writing. She’s a member of the Romance Writers of America and EPIC. Melissa is always interested in improving her writing through classes and seminars. She also believes in helping other authors and features authors and their books on her blog.

Melissa doesn’t believe in down time. She’s always keeping busy. Melissa is a wife and mother, an elementary school teacher, a book reviewer, an editor for a publishing company as well as an author. Her home blends two families and is a lot like the Brady Bunch, without Alice-a large grocery bill, tons of dirty dishes and a mound of laundry. She loves to write stories that feature “happy endings” and is often found plotting her next story.

Check out what readers are saying about Melissa’s books:

Amazon five-star review for Second Time’s the Charm: “Such a sweet and heart-warming story. As I read it, and the details unfolded, I was engrossed to see if that I thought was going to happen, would really happen.” – Lacey Wolfe, romance author

Barnes and Noble five-star review for Protecting His Wolfe: “Great read. I couldn’t put it down. I really liked the characters, especially Betsie and the Pigg brothers. A love story with suspense and surprise.” – anonymous

Melissa loves hearing from readers on her website, Facebook author and fan pages and Twitter!

Boston’s Braves

Jason BourneIn the wake of the horrific terrorist attacks at the end of the Boston marathon today, I want to dedicate this post I wrote a couple years ago to the first responders, firefighters, police officers, EMTs and runners who risked their lives to take care of their fellow men and women.

I didn’t see much of the coverage until I got home a couple hours ago, and by that time, the streets were clearing and we’re still waiting on information about who did this and why. All I know is someone will pay for this and the United States of America will overcome!!

I’ve been thinking about ideas for some new material for the blog, and encourage everybody to stay tuned the next couple weeks for some powerful inspiration, encouragement and hope for a new, better, brighter, stronger YOU!!!

Before I close, I want to encourage everyone reading this, especially if you have kids, to go grab them and give them the biggest hug you’ve ever given them. You never know when it will all be taken away in the blink of an eye. I know one of the first things I’m doing tomorrow: giving my best friend a really big hug and letting her know just how much she means to me.

My fellow Americans, LET’S ROLL!!!

My home town: London

One of the things I love to do is travel to different places, meet different kinds of people and learn about different regions and cultures. I’ve always been a lover of history and always love when I have the opportunity to talk to someone who has stories that have helped shape the history of the world. I hope you like this glimpse of one of the places I’ve always dreamed of visiting, London, which happens to be the hometown of Julia Hughes, who was gracious enough to share her experiences living in “The most beautiful city in the world.”

Whenever folk ask me where I’m from, I always answer “The most beautiful city in the world.” Those who guess correctly first time go on my “Discerning People with First Class Taste” list!

peter_panSteeped in history, there are many layers to London: traces of the Luftwaffe’s Blitz are still visible, dig a little deeper and there is evidence of the last person before Hitler who attempted to raze London to the ground: wild Queen Boudica and her chariot riding army of Celts. In between these two very different eras, evidence of the Great Fire of London includes a monument on the site where it started. A Viking King once pulled down London Bridge, and a few scant centuries later, the grandson of a Norman tanner put the fear of God into the English by constructing The Tower of London, (c. 1066), which still looms over the Thames, and ol’ William the Conqueror also commissioned the “Doomsday Book.”

Scars heal, often the new skin emerges more beautiful than before, and enhance the magnificence of the London skyline: St Paul’s Cathedral designed by Sir Christopher Wren being merely one example.

ARIT_ebookThe architectural splendours are complemented by the green spaces of London, and the Royal Parks were our childhood playgrounds. My favourite of all, Kensington Gardens, is also where Peter Pan played, and JM Barrie told his spell binding tales of Never-Never Land, and the boy who refused to grow up. Charles Dickens is another author who left his stamp on London, and there’s even a set of steps leading from the pavement to the river Thames named ‘Nancy’s Steps’ after a character in “Oliver Twist.” Shakespeare’s plays were first shown in London of course, and although the Globe Theatre has been rebuilt to closely resemble the original 16th Century playhouse, take my word for it, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre on a balmy summer’s evening is the place to watch “A Mid-summer’s Night Dream.” 

I haven’t begun to tell you yet about the markets of London; ancient though some of them are, they’re all vibrant and bursting with local colour: though fashion may change in a blink of an eye, walk through Camden Market to find the latest alternative and vintage clothing – design a style all of your own and you’ll never be off trend; Portobello Road is still home to many antique dealers, while Petticoat Lane remains a popular Sunday market with over a thousand stalls spread over two streets.

Much as I want to explore the pubs, clubs, eateries and music venues with you guys – like every other lover I’ve banged on a little too long about my infatuation. If I don’t outstay my welcome this time, maybe Jason will invite me back – or maybe this is the start of a whole new adventure on Jason’s brilliant site – we can all enthuse about our little corner of the world, and why we love our home towns!

me&tink3 (2)Julia Hughes is the London born author of “A Raucous Time”, “A Ripple in Time” and “An Explosive Time” featuring the Celtic Cousins; in addition to a stand alone romantic novel set in Cornwall: “The Bridle Path” Her latest title “The Griffin Cryer” has received over seventy readers’ reviews in the US and UK.  

A Ripple in Time” a romantic time travel adventure will be free to download from Sunday 14th April – 18th April from