Fill Up at Book Lovers’ Buffet Through May 3

bouquet-sale-FacebookHeaderIntroducing the Book Lovers’ Buffet. Load up, you won’t gain a pound!

The Buffet;s “Bouquet of Books” sale will be open May 1-3. More than 175 ebooks, all reduced in price to just 99 cents. Save in categories such as Young Adult, Contemporary, Paranormal, Suspense, Erotic Romance and more!

PLUS, visit the website to win gift cards to your choice of online retailers. $400 in gift cards up for grabs!

Titles from popular authors such as: 

  • Gemma Halliday
  • Angie Fox
  • Jenna Bennett
  • Amanda Brice
  • bouquet-sale-buttonJennette Marie Powell
  • Clover Autrey
  • Carly Carson
  • E. Ayers
  • Genevieve Jourdin
  • CJ Lyons
  • Renee Pace
  • Sophia Knightley
  • Tori Scott
  • Meredith Bond
  • Emily Ryan-Davis
  • Anthea Lawson
  • Diana Layne
  • Lindsey Brookes
  • Gina Robinson
  • McKenna Chase

And many, many more!

The book sale is hosted by Indie Romance Ink.

Check out this video about the sale:

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

Author’s Roundtable: Jennifer Brink

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

I got very little response when I first started writing. My husband and kids were jealous of the time I spent writing. My older sister said, “You can’t even be a stay-at-home mom, right?” I’ve been known to be a little quirky so most of those who know me assumed that I would get bored before ever finishing the book. When they found out that I had finished it, there was some hesitancy to embrace the idea. I was not a published author and they just didn’t expect it to be any good. I had to beg people to read it.

How long have you been writing?

I started writing just short of two years ago. 

Has writing always been something you wanted to do?

No. We had just moved to Washington State, and I wasn’t licensed to work there as a counselor. I went on a few job interviews, but the jobs I was interested in didn’t want to hire me once they found out my husband was in the military. For the first time in my life, I had nothing to do but take care of little kids, the dog and clean the house. 

What books or stories have you written? Published?

My debut novel, Black Roses, has a planned publication date of May 1, 2013. The sequel, Cerulean Seas, is almost finished and will be published by Aug. 1, 2013. I am also working on the third book in the series, Silver Bells, with a planned publication date of Nov. 1, 2013. In addition to The Jessica Hart Series, I am working on a YA/paranormal book with the help of my teen, Nail Polish, Push Up Bras & Pirate Ships, which will be published in the spring of 2014.

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

Black Roses is a comedic mystery about a woman who seems to have the perfect life until her fiancé goes missing and she acquires a deadly stalker. She starts to question the life she’s chosen when she learns that those around her aren’t who she’s always thought they were. Those who’ve read it have compared it to Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series. 

How did you get inspiration for the characters/books?

I’ve loved mysteries since I was a little girl. I can remember taking my mother’s Agatha Christie and other mystery novels she brought home from the library because they wouldn’t let me check out of the Adult section. Add to that a professional life working within the mental health world, too much late night drama TV, and some time on my hands.  Honestly, the stories just come to me. The characters, they are a mixture of different people that I’ve known and my overactive imagination made real by my understanding of human nature, sociology and psychology.

Are the books based on personal experiences?

No, but I do base them on places that I know and real-life possibles.

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

Write the book you want to read, something you won’t be embarrassed to have your grandmother or your children read. Take the time to do it well.

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

Editing is a big deal. First, grammar, language, spelling, etc. is more difficult than you think, even if you’re good at it. Second, you’re going to miss things in your own work. I can’t say how many books that I’ve stopped reading or not recommended because of annoying editing errors.

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

Pride. It’s difficult to have people tell you that what you think is good, isn’t good enough. It’s even harder to take that criticism, even when it’s not constructive, and make it work for you. 

How did you find time to write your books?

That’s the hardest part. My husband is active-duty Army, so he’s gone a lot. And, we have a teenager, two preschoolers and a puppy at home. Something always needs doing. I make time to write, and when I can’t, I take the precious minutes when everyone else is busy doing something else. 

IMG_2500 2 (2)Do you think writing has any benefits, and if so what would they be?

I think the benefit is different for everyone. It keeps me sane and gives me a place in life other than somebody’s wife or mother.
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?

Yes, it can be relaxing, when you’re not stressing about an ending or trying to word a paragraph just so. When I’m “in the zone,” it’s like reading a “choose your own adventure” for big people. Remember those? I loved those! You trade your life and reality for a glimpse of something else for a while. Then, you can come back to the real world refreshed and ready to be a part of it. 

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

Those who know me will tell you that overall I’m a nice, happy, cheerful person. Writing is where I let out the “dark side,” those areas of the mind that know about the world that I choose not to be a part of. I spent ten years as a counselor working with everyone from the chronic/severely mentally ill to the abused, abusers, addicts, adults, men, women and children. I’ve been privy to happenings that no one should ever know about, let alone experience. This gives me a compartment to put it in.

Has writing made you a better person?

Yes, it balances me.

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

I love to read and at this stage in my life I read everything, when I have the time. I still love a good mystery, but they’re harder to find than I’d like to admit. I love comedy like Job, A Comedy of Errors, not so much into romances. I’m just not into the happily-ever-after ending, never have been. Even as a kid I wondered if Cinderella was really happily-ever-after or if the castle got a little claustrophobic. I like a well-written thriller like The Lincoln Lawyer, but they tend to get caught up in boring details. I’m a fan of Stephen King, but his books give me nightmares, still can’t look at clowns the same after reading It. I like chic-lit because it’s fun and a relaxing read. I love the classics like Bram Stokers Dracula. Young adult (YA), like Gallagher Girls is fun and so much better written than when I was in high school. I also enjoy some middle grades (MG) and children’s and the occasional nonfiction book. I think my favorite book is still Where the Wild Things Are. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read that book.

Can you talk about how important reviews are to writers?

Reviews are a big deal. Other people read or don’t read your book based on them. But, even popular books like 50 Shades of Gray get bad reviews. That woman has made millions off a book that reviewed poorly. I think the most important and hardest thing is to get someone to review your book, positive or negative.

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?

No. Sometimes, I barely understand me. It doesn’t bother me. I am predispositioned to proving others wrong. I’m more likely to try harder just so that, years later, I can say, “See, I did it and better than most people.” Everything I’ve ever achieved was in opposition to someone telling me that I couldn’t. Yeah, I know it’s annoying but that’s me.

Could you talk a little more about your time as a counselor and dealing with different sorts of people. How did your time working with them change you or your perceptions of others?
That is a loaded question and so difficult to put into words. I was young and not sure who I was when I followed that path, so it molded me. 
I tell people there’s a reason I am the way I am. Working with the people that I’ve worked with has given me a unique perspective. I have learned not to judge others by my own standards. That each of us has difficulties and strengths, sometimes unknown. Even the most passive can be violent and even the most violent can be passive. We all have a breaking point, some of us are mentally stronger than others. We all have good days and bad days, play on the good days. We all have something good about us. Some of us just hide it better than others. We all have choices who and what to allow into our lives, regardless of anything else. And, not to expect more of others than they are willing or able to expect of themselves. 
Although simple, those are some of the most difficult concepts for us as people to understand. Knowing my clients has made me an accepting and nonjudgemental person.  I have been privy to other’s deepest, darkest selves and secrets. They have given me an understanding of why they do the things they do, the way that they do them. I am also adept at recognizing mental illness and dependency issues. Most times, I keep my thoughts to myself. I tell people that I try to only use my powers for good. When I am goaded into discussing those delicate internal issues, I tell people “You asked for this.” I was good at what I did. I know for a fact that there are large numbers of people out there that I was able to help. But, taking other’s secrets into your mind takes its toll on you. It changes you, forever. Now, my burden is finding a way to keep the demons at bay while simultaneously keeping that faith of confidentiality that was promised.

Check out Jenn’s blog, buy her books on Goodreads, find out what she’s interested in on Pinterest, become a friend or a fan on Facebook, follow her on Twitter and connect with her on Google Plus. And as long as your still here, check out this amazing review Jenn wrote about my blog. Don’t forget to comment on this post, “Like” this blog, tweet about it, add it to a sticky note on Facebook or pin it to your bulletin board on Pinterest.

Enslaved with Shoshanna

What books or stories have you written? Published?

I recently sold my 33rd book! I do a mix of self-publishing and traditional publishing, with Simon & Schuster/Pocket, Ellora’s Cave, Wild Rose Press, Cleis Press, Pengin/Berkley Heat and Entangled Publishing.

Twelve books are coming out in 2013 – two trilogies from Simon & Schuster’s Pocket Star imprint (the Enslaved Trilogy and the Pulse Trilogy), one from Entangled (I think it will be this year, at least, LOL), four anthologies featuring my erotic short stories from Cleis Press and one self-published book. I have a full list of my books on my website.

But I’m really excited right now because Enslaved, the first book in the Enslaved Trilogy from Simon & Schuster, is out April 8!

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

I write mainly erotic romance, and within that, mainly BDSM erotic romance. This is the blurb for Enslaved. I actually didn’t write this blurb…my publisher did. But I love it because it really encapsulates what Enslaved is about.

From a red-hot erotica writer comes an original e-book—a sensual romp across the playgrounds of the unbelievably rich and extremely sexy.

Elisabeth Anderson has seen Trevor and his friends at the infamous Manhattan BDSM club WhipperSnapper, where everyone calls them the BAD Boys, for “Billionaire Arrogant Doms.” The BAD Boys—Trevor Brooks, Marc Wilde and Roman Chase—are aptly named; they’ve made money hand over fist due to their aggressive investing at the Brooks Wilde Chase Fund. These guys are so rich they can get away with anything, or so the rumors go.

Enslaved_02Trevor gives Elisabeth full reign of his estate in Westchester, letting her do as she pleases. He has only two rules. Rule One: she must obey and submit to him while she is living in his house. Rule Two: always answer the blue cell phone. She’s happy to oblige because being with Trevor makes her want to obey, to love him the way he seems to be falling for her. But Elisabeth’s never been good at being the quiet sub; she’s feisty and gets off on the punishments more than she does by pleasing Trevor.

Elizabeth can’t submit to Trevor the way he needs her to, so his friend and business partner (and fellow BAD Boy) Roman takes her in hand. But love triangles can have sharp edges…and somebody’s bound to get hurt.

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

Keep writing and working on your craft. Read every book you can find on writing, marketing and publishing. And if you’re trying to get an agent, don’t stop after a few rejections. It takes time to find the perfect agent for you and your book.

If you want to write erotica, I have a non-fiction book that I edited entitled How to Write Hot Sex: Tips from Multi-Published Erotic Romance Authors. If you’re interested in self-publishing, you can download a FREE pdf of my anthology Successful Self-Publishing: How We Do It (And How You Can Too) on the website I co-founded!

About Shoshanna Evers

Critically acclaimed author Shoshanna Evers has written dozens of sexy stories including Amazon erotica bestseller Overheated. Her work has been featured in Best Bondage Erotica 2012 and Best Bondage Erotica 2013, the Penguin/Berkley Heat anthology Agony/Ecstasy, and numerous erotic BDSM novellas including Chastity Belt and Punishing the Art Thief from Ellora’s Cave Publishing.

ShoshannaBenchStilettosThe non-fiction anthology Shoshanna Evers edited and contributed to, How To Write Hot Sex: Tips from Multi-Published Erotic Romance Authors, is a #1 bestseller in the Authorship, Erotica Writing Reference and Romance Writing categories.

Her BDSM erotic romance The Enslaved Trilogy releases April 8 from Simon & Schuster’s Pocket Star imprint.

Shoshanna is a New York native who now lives with her family and two big dogs in Los Angeles, California. She welcomes e-mails from readers and writers, and loves to interact on Twitter and Facebook.

Sign up for her mailing list to get an email when new books release, visit her website and check out her blog for writers!

Birthday Girl

YardSale_1aHi guys. I just wanted to give a very special hello and shoutout to Patricia Preston, who is celebrating the big 25 today. Happy birthday Patricia!!

Do yourselves a favor and check out her website, become a fan of her author page on Facebook and follow her on Twitter. You won’t regret it. Patricia is a wonderful woman, and I’m truly blessed to know her, even through the virtual world of social media.

I’d love to stay and mingle at the party, but I’m going to have lunch with a very special friend of mine tomorrow, and she’ll smack me out of the wheelchair if I’m late. She told me herself yesterday 😉

Author’s Roundtable: Anita Melillo

How long have you been writing?

I have probably been writing since I was in elementary school, which began with poems and progressed into stories as a young adult. I only have recently decided to get back into the swing of writing by having a couple of my novels published.

Has writing always been something you wanted to do?

I have always wanted to write, and do receive a lot of enjoyment out of it. I feel like it is my way of expressing myself through stories.

What books or stories have you written? Published?

I have written a novel entitled The Great Empty, which is a contemporary fiction, coming-of-age book. I have also written another one entitled Ford At Valverde, which is a Civil War-era historical novel, soon to be released.

The_Great_Empty_Cover_for_Kindle_23-001Can you tell us a little about your books? What are they about?

Although both are fictional adventure novels, they are different genres.

The Great Empty is a coming-of-age story about a rebellious youth named Donovan who leaves his home in Europe for a family trip to Australia. Once there, he quickly determines another course when he takes advantage of an opportunity to seek out adventure of his own. While slipping away from the care of his guardian and sister at the airport in Darwin, he decides to take a tour bus to a crocodile farm, which inadvertently continues to take him hundreds of miles deeper in the outback and into Kakadu National Park. His curiosity continues to get the best of him, when he sets off on foot to explore a trail to a waterfall and plunge pool. One mishap leads to another until he finds himself alone in the dark and unprepared to face the unknown that envelopes his surroundings. Once he discovers that he is lost, he continues to make his way through the bush, but not without its perils. Eventually, he befriends an Aborigine boy named Neji, who is on a journey into manhood. Together they fight against the elements and the mysteries of the dark, with beliefs and rituals as deep as the Dreamtime. All the while, a peculiar stranger continues to shadow them for unknown reasons. Pretty soon, Donovan finds himself on an unexpected course with this deliberate swagman, with his harsh ways and cruel intentions. Without warning, Donovan is forced to use all that he has learned, in order to survive this downward spiral that seems to be leading him nowhere, with his only hope of making it back to civilization again…

The Great Empty excerpt one

The lime-green stems of the water lilies kept Donovan pushing forward as the sun rose hot against his back. It wasn’t enough nourishment for the strength he needed, but it would sustain him until he could unearth something more. At least there had been enough water trapped inside the shoots to wash them down, but the aftertaste was awful. He hadn’t seen a billabong or natural spring all morning and with the rising temperatures, he hoped to find one, before something else found him.

Somewhere in the night he had lost his shoes, and the makeshift socks had gotten so laded down with mud that they had been shed too. The wound on his heel had caked dry so it didn’t bother him as much when he took full strides. If he could only find a way to avoid the prickly vines that swam across the ground and pierced his raw feet.

A few times he had tried walking in the grass, but the insects on the reeds made him itch too much. And he felt safer being able to see what moved around him. He reasoned that if something did creep up he would be in trouble, but at least he would have a running chance.

His backpack was with the spear, and he had no intentions of going back for them. His only mission now was to find a sturdy walking stick and to keep heading east, and as far from the river bank as possible. Whatever remained back there would stay behind him. If only he could convince his mind of the same.

The night had passed with his eyes wide open, but the nightmare never ended. The fear of being hunted was his constant companion. With the hours of silence that had followed the madness, he wanted to believe that the swagman was gone, but he couldn’t stop the delusions from coming. Images of the half-mangled predator seeking him out was as an apparition in his thoughts. And as much as he kept fighting against the loss of food and sleep, the enemy seemed to be winning the battle—whether dead or alive. So he held onto to the ax pick, and he journeyed deeper into the bush.

The further he went the more tropical it became with the changing landscape. Leaves stretched wider on thick rubbery plants and weeping foliage filtered out the direct light from the shade of tall paperbark trees. The ground turned soft with a mixture of sand and dark soil where long winding strands of lush green ferns swung coiled from branches. A big shell of stringy bark had fallen from the base of a trunk and he picked it up, comparing it with the vines that hung like trapeze ropes from the trees.

The air smelled fresher as he got to the base of the mountain. Among the few roots that were edible, Neji had recommended these in a pinch. Even though the shoots and nuts looked much better, he was careful to leave them alone because Neji had also warned that they were poisonous before being soaked in water or cooked. So he shoved the root into his mouth and continued scraping at the dirt with the pick in hope of turning up some yams.

After a while, he was too exhausted to dig so he laid back in the leaves, and his eyes followed the vines to the top branches. In his mind’s eye the tree became a towering skeleton and the thick strangling vines were veins, twisting to the top sockets of branches where light pierced the openings, exposing the green bulbous eyes, thousands of them.

The Great Empty excerpt two

In the most dramatic hours of dreaming, the Dreamtime came alive… A pack of snarling dingoes surrounded him while the Aborigine stood with one foot on his chest laughing with the spear pressed at his throat, all the while Mimi spirits danced in and out of consciousness… and the bubbling sound… must be too close to the creek… got to run… Viola can’t swim…

As daylight crept into the cavern, Donovan’s legs spontaneously jerked when he heard footsteps. But how could that be?… Neji didn’t wear shoes and each step was so… heavy.
He sat up and rubbed his eyes. They were puffy and stinging from the saltiness of his sandstone pillow. He twisted his aching back from side to side. The dry bones were still in the corner, the wooden bowls and cutting implements still scattered about, but where was Neji?

The footsteps grew cautiously closer and his knees began to shake. As much as he wanted to be discovered, he didn’t want it to be by a cannibal. What should he do? Call out? Hide? He considered his options. Then the opening was dark again as a man-sized shadow blocked the recesses of his slumber.

“Who’s there?” his sleepy voice wavered as he pulled the end of Neji’s spear towards him.
The shadow crouched and the light broke free above his head.

Donovan scampered backwards, but stopped when his foot hit the pile of bones. As the image moved into the darkness, what became clear was more horrid than anything he had dreamt all night.

The man leaned forward for a closer look, his sulfuric grin stretched wide as he sneered, “Well, now, if it ain’t the little pomme himself!” His eyes shifted to the pillage behind him. “I see you’ve met my friend Arnie,” he paused to speak to the skull. “Arnie, wave hello to the pomme if you can…”

Donovan pulled the spear inward, guarding the five feet distance between them.
A smaller shadow filled the opening. The tin of water was still boiling over the smoke stack as he said, “Hey mate. Get a look at what I found.” he cupped four small turtle eggs in his hands, anxious to show his friend the find.

“Wait, Neji,” Donovan called out, but it was too late. He had already entered the cavern and was surprised to see the visitor.

Buy The Great Empty on Amazon.

155010_1457679571758_146825_n-003Ford At Valverde is a historical adventure romance of sorts. It is about one man’s attempt at dodging the war while on a treasure-seeking mission for gold, that leads him on a quest that he never imagined possible. As he crosses state borders from north to south, he is hell-bent on determining his own path, until circumstances continue to fuel his situation beyond his control. With each tacking pace of the train, he will eventually venture into the bayous of Louisiana where he is beaten and left for dead, until he is discovered by someone that can alter the course of his destiny forever, but not before many battles are waged against him. Eventually, he is brought to a place where he must choose to live as a soldier of misfortune or discover the real reason why he began his journey in the first place.

From the timber mills of Wisconsin, into the deep South and the rugged West, nothing will keep Daniel Stone from going after what he wants, neither the cruelty of strangers or the vengeful warriors of the plains, while the Civil War looms around him. He would rather die trying to get where he wants to go, than to live with the regrets of a life unlived…

How did you get inspiration for the characters/books?

I have always had a strong sense for adventure, and I believe that the characters journeys stemmed from my own curiosity of places that I thought were intriguing, along with the Indian cultures in both, as well as ideals that I thought were important. I do have a fascination with different places and different cultures, and believe there is a lot to be gained from learning what all of our experiences have to offer.

Are the books based on personal experiences?

My books so far are not based on personal experiences, which is not to say that I will not write about my own experiences at some point. I simply feel that my imagination can take me to places that my everyday experiences can not. I also like to get behind different character perspectives, so that my views aren’t limited to my own experiences and inclinations. I believe it makes for more interesting writing, and it takes me away from the everyday.

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

Advice that I could give to a young writer would be to begin at an early age, and don’t put it off until later years if you are truly passionate about your gift. I think that it is too easy to get caught up in the details of making a living or other life plans, and the writing can get pushed to the side. I often reflect on how much more I might have accomplished through writing, if I had focused on it more as an early adult and pressed on through. Take advantage of opportunities that come your way and create them when necessary. If you are passionate about it, pursue it. I truly feel the effort is worthwhile.

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

There are certainly benefits for writing, even if a writer doesn’t become a well-known one. It is freeing to release something that you feel is bottled up within you, especially if you feel it is beneficial to those outside of your initial sphere of influence. I think there is a part of us that wants to connect with the rest of the world, through many different forms of gifts and talents. For the writer, writing is that expression.

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?

What I feel is relaxing about writing is that it is a way of getting in tune with your inner self, much like meditation. It is a way of exploring the depths of imagination and is freeing to the senses. This is what makes it therapeutic.

Has writing made you a better person?

I feel that writing has made me a better person, only with respect to the ability to express myself through a talent. From my perspective, it would be the same if I was gifted in another area. I don’t think a person really feels complete, if they are not enjoying something they love, especially an art form.

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

I do like to read and wish that I actually had more time to read. I do like fictional novels, which involve adventure and different locales or periods of time. I also like psychological thrillers.

Can you talk about how important reviews are to writers?

Reviews are important to writers because they provide exposure for a writer to express his/her point of view. It may even allow the reader to feel that a writer is more accessible or approachable based on their perceptions. Writer reviews can also help pave the way for new writers to find success through their advice. It also is an avenue for talking about a book that a writer has written to potentially gain more interest from readers.

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

I haven’t received a bad review as of yet, but I can only imagine that I wouldn’t feel very good about getting one. However, if the criticism is constructive, there may be something to be gained from it, as long as it doesn’t appear to be publically damaging or harmful. Pleasant and well-received reviews are the best!

Anita 1-001I really appreciate the opportunity to be featured on your blog. I looked at it and am really impressed with your author features, and only wish that I had the list of published books that some of the others have. The Great Empty is my debut novel. I will have another, a historical fiction novel entitled Ford at Valverde, which will be released sometime in April.

About Anita Melillo

In addition to writing, which I wish I had the luxury of doing full-time, I also have a nursing career and am a volunteer firefighter in the community that I live in.

Is a Monster Lurking in the Black Woods?

If you’ve been following and reading the blog the past year or so, you’ll know I have a soft spot for authors, especially indie authors. I love reading and helping authors get their name out there, and it’s my honor and pleasure to present Laura Wright LaRoche’s new book, Black Woods Revealed. If you remember I had Laura on the blog last summer, discussing the writing process, her advice for writers, and where she gets ideas and inspiration for her stories. Please help me in welcoming Laura back to the blog. It’s great seeing you again Laura.

 black woods revealed RESIZEDExplore another tale of the Black Woods in Black Woods Revealed.


The fierce creature lurking in the woods now has a buddy in the lake. Laura has visions of disastrous events. In order to help find out if what Laura is envisioning is true, Julie and Laura team up with a reporter named Beth, who specializes in historical facts and myths. The three of them dive into the past to see what is hiding as they search for answers to the Black Woods mystery. In a race against time, they try to find closure to the killings that have occurred. Can the disasters be stopped before anyone else dies? How is the creature in the Black Woods connected to the monster in the lake? Find out, in Black Woods Revealed!


The storm blew evil across the land, causing a fishing boat to capsize, and it floated helplessly around on a large lake. Rain poured steadily, making visibility limited. A crack of thunder sounded, followed by lightning that illuminated the dark sky. The surrounding woods glistened as if a fairy had sprinkled dust. Beautiful, for one brief second, then eerily dark once again. Waves smacked into the boat, banging loudly like a bass drum. Pelting rain bounced on the lake surface, steadily raising the water level. Thunder rolled for miles before exploding above.

Husband and wife held onto the boat. Invincibility was only a myth while they struggled for their lives. They were beginning to lose their grip on the cold metal boat as their muscles weakened against the fight. Their voices were hoarse from screaming for help.

Hopelessly, they stared at one another.


Something large broke the lake’s surface.

The frightened couple held on desperately to their upturned boat, startled by a sound louder than the storm. Looking for the source was impossible, as they barely could see one another.

“I love you,” Amy moved her lips, hoping her husband understood.

“I love you too,” Victor mouthed in reply.

The boat had capsized over thirty minutes ago, and the water was cold. The occupants’ body temperatures were dropping, threatening hypothermia.

In these conditions, Victor knew they wouldn’t last much longer. He motioned for his wife to move her arms and legs.

Amy shook her head no, too scared to let go.

They would surely die if they didn’t try moving. Victor urged his wife once more to do something to create warmth inside her body.

Still clinging onto the boat, Amy remained unmoving. She was too terrified even to kick her legs.

Victor feverishly kicked his legs, working the circulation.

Suddenly, a torturous scream escaped Amy when something brushed her legs, and it felt unnatural as if it was covered in coarse, prickly hair. Then she lost her grip from the boat.
Victor reached out with one hand, while the other held tightly onto the boat. Grabbing his wife, he knew she was also losing grip on reality. He tried to yell, but only a hoarse whisper escaped when he began rising from the water. Something beneath his feet pushed him upward. With bulging eyes, mouth agape, his mind tried to understand. Still holding tightly onto his wife, she began rising with him. Looking into his wife’s blank eyes, he knew whatever sanity she had left was fading fast.

Seconds ago, the couple had been clinging to the boat to stop from going under the water. Now they clung on for dear life to prevent themselves from rising. Their bodies were exposed to the waist. Gripping Amy firmly with one hand, Victor let go of his hold on the boat’s railing. He half leaped, half flung himself at the boat’s upturned hull. As he landed on top of the slippery surface, he lost his grip on Amy. Frantically, he reached for her and missed.

The water beneath Amy’s feet thrashed and swirled, exposing a mysterious beast. Victor didn’t know what it was, except that it was alive. A strong wind blew, and Victor began sliding from the boat. His upper body dangled over the side, and he stared into the water. Only inches away and looking directly at him was a pair of monstrous eyes, glowing blue. They were large and round. Just as Victor thought the eyes would break surface, they receded swiftly back into the deep.

Screaming, Amy reached for her husband as she plunged into the lake, into which the animal had disappeared.

Victor’s hand reached out, grabbing only air. He watched his wife as she sank beneath the water. Her panic was the last thing he witnessed before she fully submerged.

“No!” Victor screamed.

Lightning struck a nearby tree, and Victor heard it crash, but his eyes stayed focused on the lake. Then he noticed a large red area spreading throughout the water. Before he had time to react, the beast broke surface. It rose swiftly and fiercely from the water as it jumped into the air like a ten-foot bass, but whatever it was, it was nothing that innocent.
The large animal smacked the water upon reentry, and a two-foot high wave rushed towamerd the vessel. Victor managed a scream before being thrown into the cold water.

Buy Black Woods Revealed on Amazon and check out this interview I had the pleasure of doing with Laura last summer.

Laura, I can’t thank you enough for sharing your new book with my readers. It sounds like an amazing, thrilling read.

Author’s Roundtable: Regina Puckett

How long have you been writing? 

I first became interested in writing in the seventh grade so I have been writing for a very long time. I didn’t attempt to write a full-length novel until I was in my early twenties. My first four novels were real stinkers but everyone needs a little practice in the beginning.

Has writing always been something you wanted to do?

Writing is not necessarily something I want to do as much as something I have to do. I have so many stories in my head I need to get out. When the characters won’t stop talking I’m at the point where I have to write it all down.

Finished book cover for The Beauty in the BeastWhat books or stories have you written? Published?

I write a little bit of everything. My first love was romance and then I ventured off into horror, children’s picture books, inspirational and poetry.

My published works are: Concealed in My Heart, Songs that I Whisper, What the Heart Knows, Love’s Great Plan, Love is a Promise Kept, Mine, Crying through Plastic Eyes, Paying the Hitchhiker, Inheritance, Will Work for Food, Ours, Pieces, If Love was Enough, Balloon Wishes, Borrowed Wings, Caterpillar wants to be a Cow and Regina Puckett’s Short Tales of Horror.

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

My sweet romances are usually set in my hometown of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. The last five novels have been focused on the same family. I never planned to write a series, but with each story I would find another couple I thought needed to be together.

My horror stories came about because of my oldest daughter. She became interested in ghost hunting. She would come back from those adventures and tell us the crazy things that happened. Those stories of her’s had me thinking about everything from a horror viewpoint. Before I knew it, my romances were turning into tales of the macabre, and now I love writing horror. Every time would I finish one story I would think I didn’t have another one horror tale in me, but then I would see something and that would set to me thinking what if…?

My children’s books were inspired by my grandchildren.

How did you get inspiration for the characters/books?

Each book is different for me. Some are born because of a dream or by driving by something that catches my attention. Anything and everything is capable of jumpstarting me into thinking about what might happen next. I’m a huge daydreamer anyway so I might as well do something with those stories floating around in my head.

Are the books based on personal experiences?

There are bits and pieces of me in every book but there aren’t huge chunks of my life in any of my books.

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

I strongly believe you shouldn’t give up just because you’re not selling a million books. If you’re writing to make it into the millionaire’s club then you’re probably going to be really disappointed.

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

Paying someone to look at your work from an unemotional viewpoint is priceless. We owe it to our readers to put out the best work possible. If you’re asking them to spend their good, hard-earned money on your books, they deserve the best you can offer them. The most important thing to remember is they won’t be willing to give you a second chance if you disappoint them the first time. are some of the hardest things you’ve had to overcome as a writer, in order to be published?

It’s a royal pain to get anyone at a traditional publishing house to read what you have written.  Everyone wants a query letter these days and most won’t even accept those any longer. So many publishing houses will only go through agents and they don’t want you unless you already have a proven track record. It’s like a dog chasing its own tail.  A lot of energy is spent with nothing to show for it in the end.

How did you find time to write your books?

I have a full-time job so it’s not always easy finding the time to write. Once I do, it’s even harder to actually sit down and write instead of taking the nap I really want to take.

I write whenever I can. It’s easier when the story is going well. I will lock myself in my office and stay in there until my husband sends out the hound dogs and search party to see if I’m still alive.

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

Writing fills a place in me nothing else does. It’s a great stress reliever. If I’m angry at someone all I have to do to feel better is kill them off in some really creative way. There’s no blood to clean up, prison time or ugly prison garb to wear. I don’t think my round body would look very good in diagonal stripes.

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?

When I’m writing it takes me to a place I have created. The people say exactly what I tell them to say. If anyone gets out of line I kill them off. I don’t have to guess what other people are thinking because I’m in charge. No one in the real world has ever let me be in charge. I can create total pandemonium out of the simplest tasks.

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

Everyone should write even if it’s just in a journal. There are too many restrictions in the real world. Everyone seems to be waiting to criticize what we say and do. It’s like they’re just waiting for you to make a mistake so they can point out the fact that you’re not as smart as you would like to think you are. When I’m writing it’s just me and my thoughts. I don’t have to worry about what other people think of me. Of course saying all of that when you publish something there’s plenty of people out there waiting to tell you everything you did wrong. Never mind. I take it all back. Writing isn’t therapeutic.

Has writing made you a better person?

I guess everything I do influences me in some way or the other, but I’ve never considered if writing has made me a better person or not. It often forces me out of my comfort zone so I guess it will make me take chances I wouldn’t have taken otherwise.

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

I love all the genres. There’s nothing better than a good mystery or romance. If you can find both in the same book, that’s even better.

Can you talk about how important reviews are to writers?

Reviews are extremely important. They let other readers know if the book is worth spending money on and it lets writers know if they need to improve in some area. Your family and friends seldom tell what you need to hear, but a stranger is freer to be a tad more candid.

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

People love to hate my short story The Beauty in the Beast. It wasn’t easy reading what they had to say about it, but I can see it from their point of view. It’s never easy to have poured your heart and soul into something and then have people not like it for one reason or the other. I always try to step back and see the review as a way to fix something if it needs to be fixed. I never claimed to be perfect and sometimes I get too close to a story.  When that happens, I can’t stay objective enough to see its flaws. 

Me holding Tilting at Windmills IMAG0718-1[2]About Regina Puckett

Regina Puckett was born, raised and still lives in Tennessee with her childhood sweetheart and husband.  She has two grown daughters and four grandchildren. She is the author of sweet romance novels, short tales of horror, inspirational short stories and children’s picture books.

If you want to know about the author and her books please stop by her blog.

Author’s Roundtable: Tamara McCallan

How long have you been writing?

Wow. It seems as if I’ve been writing forever. But, if I had to narrow it down, then probably since high school. I enjoyed English in high school and excelled at it in college. I was a police officer for the better part of a decade and, unlike my cohorts, actually enjoyed writing my reports. (And this was before computers so we had to write them longhand!) Though, I will tell you, writing a police report is a world away from writing fiction.

Has writing always been something you wanted to do?

Not as a profession, no. (I know, GASP!) Like I said in your first question, it was something I enjoyed, but if I’m being honest, I never really put much thought into as a career. When I found myself unemployed for the first time ever (I was laid off) I seized the opportunity (after crying uncontrollably for days) and wrote my first novel over the course of my three-month job hiatus.

What books or stories have you written? Published?

Thus far, I’ve written two novels. (The Twelfth House ~ The Elementals Book I & The Eighth House ~ The Elementals Book II) Both are published through 9 Muses Publishing, a wonderful boutique press based in Lone Tree, Colorado.

I am currently working on the third book in the series, The Ninth House ~ The Elementals Book III. In addition to that, I’m writing a paranormal thriller entitled The Fetch as well as two other novels, one entitled Devil on My Back and the other, Five by Five. The first is an urban fantasy about the oft-times tumultuous love story surrounding good ol’ Satan and a demi-angel; the second is a quasi-dystopian sci-fi dealing with analog radio signals and a lost population.

I’m also the author of two articles on writing: Kinesiology in Writing ~ Stimulating the Brain to Enhance Creativity and Enhancing Character Development The Lazy way (Using the zodiac).

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

The Twelfth and The Eighth House are two paranormal romances in what will be a series of 13 novels. All the novels are loosely based on the 12 signs of the zodiac and the four elements with which each is associated.

Twelfth_house_3DFor instance, The Twelfth House is based around the sign of Pisces and The Eighth House around the sign of Scorpio. The Ninth House will revolve around the sign of Sagittarius.

If any of your readers take a mild interest in their horoscope and they like really steamy, action-packed romances, these novels are right up their alley.

How did you get inspiration for the characters/books?

Confession time: I was at a house party, drunker than a skunk and we were lying/lazing around bullshitting about nothing and everything. On the coffee table was one of those really big books about astrology and the signs of the zodiac. One by one someone read off the in-depth description of the personality traits of each person born under each sun sign. When they got to me (Pisces), they read off my supposed traits. When she finished, I was like, “Pssh! That’s nothing like me.”

I swear, all I heard were crickets for about 10 seconds and then the room erupted with a menagerie of the following: “To hell it ain’t!” and “That is SO you!” and “What kinda crack are YOU smoking? It EXACTLY describes you!”

After I sobered up, got rid of my hangover, and let about 10 years pass, I thought, what if I wrote a novel based on my sign? When I got laid off, I seized the opportunity and wrote what was inarguably the WORSE novel on the planet (The Twelfth House).

After sending it off to a couple beta readers, I got it back, checked out their thoughts, and shelved it for about three years amidst MANY tears. In the meantime, I wrote The Eighth House. When it went best seller and people wanted the next in the series, I panicked, pulled The Twelfth House off the shelf, blew off the cyber dust and rewrote the ENTIRE novel. (Yes, the ENTIRE novel…several times) I sent it off to my [new] beta readers and when I got it back, I thought, “Well, here goes nothin’.” I queried it, it got picked up, and after it went through edits, 9 Muses published it, and it (recently) became a best seller.

I think that sometimes, we authors have to write a “practice” novel. And for me, that was The Twelfth House and while this might seem like a waste of time, there’s word floating around out there that it takes roughly 10,000 hours of doing any given skill in order to become a “master” at a trade. For us novelists, that’s around three novels. So, I’m getting there.

Are the books based on personal experiences?

The Twelfth House is somewhat based on my personality traits and when I wrote the law enforcement scenes, I infused a bit of my experiences into the storyline. The Eighth House doesn’t have hardly any of my personal experiences in it, though one of the characters, Night Skye, is based off a real dude. And no, he has NO clue I wrote him into a story.

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

Read. Read. Read. Write. Write. Write. Try to read and try to write EVERY DAY, even if it’s just a couple paragraphs. That, and get out. Socialize. We authors tend to be somewhat introverted, happier dealing with the fictional characters in our heads than real people. And while I would much rather play with my heroes and heroines, in order to develop three-dimensional characters, I need to experience real people.

There is a saying: Beware the writer in your midst. But in order to “be” in the midst, you have to get out of the house.

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

Well, if you actually want to get published AND you want people to read your work and not troll it into oblivion, cough up a dime for editing. Now, I know, I know, professional editors cost a crapton of money and I get that. But there’s another avenue, one that’s less expensive: Hire college students. There are a ton of students pursuing their degrees in English and the like and who are poor because they’re college students. They will happily edit your novel for a fair price, one you can afford. Speaking out the other side of my mouth, here…if you decide to tap college students for editing services, vet them first. Offer up a chapter or two of your work and use it as a test to see if they’re going to be worth your money. Once you become a more established author, I would then recommend hiring professional editing services if you can afford it. Of course, if you’re with a reputable agent or publishing company, they will have an editor on staff who will edit your novel at no cost to you.

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

Applying myself. Look, writing a book is the easy part. I HATE editing. To me, editing is like chewing on glass. It’s painful, loud and it makes me bleed. BUT, it is necessary. So, after I complete a work, I schedule time every day to edit. And edit. And edit. (Like I said…painful.)

How did you find time to write your books?

Finding the time is the easy part. Using that time wisely is the hard part for me. I’m a full-time author so I have aaaaaall day to write. The problem? The Internet. I am an Internet, Web-surfing whore. I would even go so far to say I have an “addiction.” So, I downloaded an app for 10 bucks, and when I sit down to write, I employ the Internet Sentinel. Or babysitter…either way, it keeps me off the Internet by disabling my ability to log on. I set the time (usually three hours) and use that time to write, edit, or stare at the computer screen.

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

This is a good question. Well, I suppose if you’re an escapist, meaning, the real world’s gotcha down, then writing is a great way to escape. As I’ve stated before, I’d much rather play in my head, than in the real world.

As for a benefit that’s a little less esoteric? Then I suppose writing improves the way I speak and interact with people. I find myself choosing my words more carefully, and when I’m not trying to sound intelligent, I imagine ways in which I can incorporate the many interesting people I meet into my storyline.  (I know, I have issues. :))

before the rideSeveral 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?

Um, writing is not relaxing for me, and in fact, it’s quite the opposite. I oftentimes find myself writing anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000 words (sometimes more) at a stint. I liken it to running a marathon. It’s invigorating as hell, but when you finish, you’re exhausted. And that’s me. Writing psychologically exhausts me.

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

Now, I CAN say that writing is therapeutic. In real life, I can’t maim or kill stupid people, BUT in my writing life, I can kill off or impregnate whomever I choose!

Muahahahaha! It’s GOOD to be the Queen!

Kidding. I’m not really that bad. Well, maybe a little. I don’t impregnate people. Or kill them, for the record. Or maim. I don’t do that either.

Has writing made you a better person?

Well, now…THAT’S a loaded question! If I’m being honest, then no. I think I’m a decent person on the whole, but I think what writing and being successful at it has afforded me the ability to participate in activities that let me help those in need.

For instance: I love dogs. Vizslas, in particular. Since becoming a full-time author, I’ve been able to not only volunteer for my local Vizsla rescue, but also foster and become their social media administrator, their fundraising coordinator and the editor for the newsletter. So in that way, then yes, I am a better person because my writing has allowed me to help Vizslas, who, in turn, make me a better, more patient person.

In addition, I’ve designed (and facilitate) a writer’s seminar which helps aspiring authors (Becoming an Author ~ The Journey to Publication). It’s a free seminar/webinar and more information can be found about it on my website. I am a HUGE pay it forward kinda gal. It took me years to get where I am, and the seminar is a way for me to help aspiring authors achieve the same goal, but in less time.

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

YES! I love reading. And like I stated earlier, reading is one of the best ways to become a writer. If you don’t read, you’ll have a difficult, if not impossible time becoming a successful author. And in fact, whenever I find myself in a creative bog, I put aside my own work and read. Reading, for me at least, stimulates my creativity.

My favorite genres are paranormal romance, romance, fantasy and science fiction. I’m not big on mysteries or historical fiction, though, if I’m into a romance that falls within a “period piece” then I usually enjoy it. I read Pride and Prejudice & Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen, and if I can get through THOSE period pieces, I can get through anything.

And why do I read those genres? I don’t know. I think I like the fantasy aspect, the otherworldly aspect, the idea that these things can’t or don’t happen in our real, mundane world.

EighthHouse_3dbook Or do they?

Can you talk about how important reviews are to writers?

Well, that depends. If we’re talking about Amazon or any other major distribution channel, then reviews are pretty important. Amazon’s algorithm is constantly changing, or at least, it seems that way. Reviews tap the algorithm, no doubt, but it’s an author’s sales that have a more significant impact on their ranking and as a result, their visibility. Receiving reviews is simply icing on the cake. (Pardon the cliché.)

That said, do I like to receive reviews? Absolutely. It helps to ground me when someone other than my mother tells me they love my works. And in fact, if a friend or acquaintance reads my story and then reviews it, I actually apply less weight to their opinion than if a complete stranger reads, likes and reviews my story. That might seem odd, but a stranger is (typically) more objective. They have no reason or obligation to write a positive review other than they actually enjoyed the story so I apply more weight to their opinion.

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

I have yet to receive a “bad” review, (but, it’s a-comin’ and I know it) but I did receive a less-than-favorable review, meaning, a reader busted my five-star rating run. Was I upset? A little. And it wasn’t the review that upset me, rather, it was the last sentence in the review, which I felt that as an author AND a reader was completely inappropriate and unnecessary, like a final knife-thrust into my gut.

As a result, I researched the reviews of some of my best-selling author friends and discovered that they, too, had received not just the occasional “less-than-favorable” review, which is to be expected, but horrible, troll-like reviews. It got me thinking, and my musings birthed a blog post on how to write a fair review. (In other words, how to express your opinion while keepin’ it classy.)

So, long answer to a short question, I guess the “negative” review hit me hard, but it also reminded me that we all have our opinions and that’s all right and well. I ultimately wrote a thank you response to the reviewer for taking the time to post a review and for some reason she felt the need to “apologize” for her honesty, which somewhat perplexed me.

And to those who say “ignore the reviews,” I challenge you to write a book, take a photo, paint a picture or build a skyscraper, show it to the world and then tell me how easy it is to ignore a review when someone doesn’t care for your work. 😉 That said, receiving a negative (or positive) review should be a reminder that art is subjective.

By nature, we artists are a bit sensitive. Does that make us weak? Absolutely not. In fact, it strengthens us because we give art to the world, something a goodly amount of the seven billion people who inhabit this earth cannot do. And art, no matter its form, gives us the opportunity, whether artist or admirer, to step outside ourselves and dream…if only for a moment.


Born in the wilds of southern Florida, Ms. McCallan was fortunate enough to experience the untamed suburban wilderness of northern Virginia, the beaches of Puerto Rico, and the amazing history of South Carolina, after which, she endured a healthy marinara-laced portion of Italy, all thanks to her father’s service in the U.S. Navy.

Though she adores Colorado, she is an east-coaster at heart, and tries very hard to pretend she doesn’t hear the siren call of the south and the warm waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico beckoning her home.

If she’s not writing, you might catch her on her crotch rocket exceeding the speed limit, hoping the cops are busy elsewhere.

WARNING: Irony to follow.

A former law enforcement officer of the better part of a decade, she uses her past experience of working in primarily male-dominated professions to write strong female characters involved in highly romantic and/or sexual relationships.

She is an active member/volunteer with Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers based in Denver, Colorado, and enjoys helping aspiring authors achieve their goals of becoming published through her popular seminar Becoming an Author ~ The Journey to Publication. Please visit her website.

The Twelfth House ~ The Elementals Book I, published through 9 Muses Publishing, is the first novel in a series of paranormal romances loosely based upon the twelve houses of the zodiac, and the four elements with which each is associated. Now available, through 9 Muses Publishing: The Eighth House ~ The Elementals Book II. Watch for The Ninth House ~ The Elementals Book III available early to mid-summer 2013!

Author’s Roundtable: Vanessa Wester

How long have you been writing?

If you are referring to my taking writing more seriously, I started writing my first novel in February 2010, so a little more than three years. But, I have been writing since I was little! Ha! Ha!

Has writing always been something you wanted to do?

I always loved making up stories and have always been creative. I wanted to be an author when I was at school, but once my aptitude for science was discovered I forgot about writing for fun.

What books or stories have you written? Published?

I have written and published the first two books of my Evolution Trilogy, Hybrid and Complications, and four short stories (three under a collective group aiming to raise money for charity). I have also written a romantic chick lit-type novel, which might get published one day. I have started LOTS of other ones.

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

HYBRID front coverHybrid

University. Land of opportunity? For Steven Thorn, it’s the start of a new life. Just not the one he anticipated. As his resolve is put to the test, he ends up losing everything. For who could live a normal life as a Hybrid?

Steven Thorn has no trouble settling in at university, until Caitlin Chance catches him off guard. She’s the first girl he has ever felt an instant attraction towards and the more he gets to know, the more he likes. When Caitlin leaves university after a suspicious suicide the romance grinds to a halt. Now Steven is alone, Ingrid gets her chance, and it doesn’t take long for her to discover that Steven is a Hybrid.

However, when his estranged mother, Emily, convinces Ingrid to lie about Steven he obtains a short reprieve. Unfortunately, Ingrid does not intend to let Steven remain in the dark for long. She has other plans. The wheels are set in motion for his radical upheaval.  Steven will become a stranger to everyone. He will be forced to embark on the adventure of a lifetime. He will come face to face with his past and future.

Now they know he exists, they will come to get him. Everything will change…


A community within the Amazon jungle: A safe haven? Not for Steven Thorn, he wants his old life back. He wants his girl back. He does not intend to let his hybrid nature dictate who he is. Everything is possible in the quest for love.

A new type of humanity lurks within the Amazon jungle. The community holds many mysteries. Steven Thorn is not in awe of the community or his recent change, he is eager to leave it all behind. As luck would have it an injury makes it possible. With his grandparents, Jeff and Judith, and his mother, Emily, he rejoins normal civilization.

Now they are back things take a turn.

Steven is NOT normal, but he is convinced he can control his animal instinct – he does not want to kill. Emily has no desire to control her hunger. And Jeff and Judith are willing to try, but do not know if they can succeed. Fate has a way of steering you in a direction sometimes. People find it hard to break the habits of a lifetime.

When Emily decides to break free, Jeff and Judith use their judgement and agree to take Steven back to England.

All Steven can think about is his girl, Caitlin, and when he finds her all is not as he expected. He might have to influence her, he might have to tell her who he is, and he might have to delve in the past. And when he does, will Caitlin like what she sees…it’s a risk Steven is happy to take.

How did you get inspiration for the characters/books?

I think many of my characters have been inspired by real people and real experiences.  But, I did not write with a grand plan, I just wrote for fun. The plot, characters and ideas developed as I went, they still do.

Are the books based on personal experiences?

As I said above a lot of the ideas are based on real experiences, but not all. I am not saying which are which…

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

Never give up, and finish the book – procrastination never helped anyone.

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

I have not had my work professionally edited. At the moment, the cost does not make sense to me. I have had some fantastic readers who read my book in advance and spotted a load of errors, grammatical issues and plot inconsistencies. I think the more people you can find to help you the better. I found that all of my readers spotted different things.

I do think a professional edit is a great idea, if you can justify the expense. I can not justify it at this point in my writing career.

Some readers have commented on the fact that they saw a few things, but on the whole it does not seem to detract from the story. They also thought that my characters speech was too formal, but actually that is how I want them to speak. I try not to use any profanity or slang in my language. If I do not speak like that, why should my characters?

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

Figuring it all out…How to edit, proofread, take constructive criticism, change plot inconsistencies, and prepare a document for e-book and paperback publication. While bearing in mind that Amazon, Createspace and Smashwords do things differently. There is a lot of help online. For feedback and help I would recommend The Writers Workshop free online writing community. I also think that Mark Cokers advice via his free style guide is fantastic.

I self-published because people wanted to read my story, I only share because people seem to like what I write (strange, but true).

COMPLICATIONS front coverHow did you find time to write your books?

I started to write to relieve boredom. I was at home with my one-year-old baby and my brain was desperate to think (I had at that point been a stay-at-home mum for seven years). I decided to go from being a reader to a writer. It was a challenge. I never dreamed of the possibilities available and I never took myself seriously, only recently have I decided to tell people I am a writer.

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

The salvation of my sanity! Seriously, writing has changed my life, and yet sometimes I wonder if I am too lost in my creative world. I am so eager to write that at times I find it hard to focus on my “day job.” I also tutor math, teach and coach swimming, do accounts voluntarily (I used to be an accountant). My cup is full – too full at times. Writing helps me escape; to find a place I can call my own. The problem is sometimes I want to be there all the time. Ha! Ha!

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?

Like I said, while I was looking after my daughter and she slept, it was great to escape into my own world. I am also an emotional person and have found some of the things I write have touched me immensely. Writing about things I care about or think are important helps me to overcome them. For example, I have always found it hard to come to terms with death. Through my books, I talk about it being a natural process; this has helped me deal with loss in many ways.

Recently, I find a lot of my time is taken up with marketing and being on social media sites. Even though I enjoy the social interaction it does take me away from my escape. I am on a mission to try to write more and chat less (easier said than done).

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

I think I have covered this…

Has writing made you a better person?

Not necessarily a better person, a different person. I have my own life back now, my own identity. I am not just a teacher, wife or mother – I can escape into my imagination and write about a range of things to suit my mood.

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

I read a lot of different genres depending on my mood. I have read romance, historical fiction, young adult, thrillers, crime, murder mysteries and erotica.

I find that I am curious about all writing and am willing to give anything a go. Usually, I’ll know pretty quickly if it’s for me or not, and that might change from one week to another. I like a good story, the writing is not as important. I have read books with beautiful prose which were very boring.

Can you talk about how important reviews are to writers?

You know, I have no idea…If I see a book with bad reviews I’ll still check it out with the “look inside” feature is the story interests me. It’s all about the story, the new ideas. I find reviews exciting as an author, but I have no idea if they help or not.

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

I have received “interesting” reviews, not bad per se. The readers did not connect with my story. You know what…I was relieved. I don’t enjoy every story, so I can’t seriously expect everyone else to like mine.

Vanessa WesterAbout Vanessa Wester

Vanessa Wester is bilingual in English and Spanish, since she was born and raised in Gibraltar. She first moved to England to further her education and obtained a degree in Accounting and Law from the University of Southampton, in England, United Kingdom. Initially, she embarked on a career in Chartered Accountancy. After a couple of years it became obvious she was not cut out to work in an office.

A change in vocation led her to become a secondary school mathematics teacher, which she loved. For many years, she has been a stay-at-home mum and gives up a lot of her time towards voluntary organizations. She still teaches math as a private tutor and has many hobbies which include swimming, walking, reading, singing and acting. She is also a qualified A.S.A. Swimming Teacher and volunteers on weekends at her local swimming club.

Writing is her passion. The day she decided to start writing was the day she found an outlet for her imagination. It is the best way she can think of to express herself and escape from everyday life.

Her debut novel, Hybrid (The Evolution Trilogy) was released in March 2012 via Smashwords and May 2012 on Amazon. Since then she has published Complications, the second book in the Trilogy, and has also released another short story called First Date, which is based on her true story. In addition, she co-founded the Seasonal Short Stories Group, and publishes the collections to aid charity.

She now lives on the Isle of Wight, UK.

Check out Vanessa’s blogs and social media channels