Saturday, September 29, 2012

Welcome Stephanie Burkhart

It is my absolute pleasure to introduce a very talented author, and fascinating person. Welcome Stephanie Burkhart!

Stephanie Burkhart, writing Romance under the Moonlight

STEPH: Maria, thanks so much for having me here today.

MARIA: It's a pleasure to have you here. Let's get to know you a bit – who is your favorite author and what really strikes you about their work?

STEPH: It's a toss up between Victoria Holt and JK Rowling. I love Holt's gothic romance, the dark, dangerous hero and the heroine in distress. She had a strong understanding of historical elements. While her writing is more "telling" in nature, (than showing) as a teenager in the 80's, I found myself just losing myself in her stories.

I love Rowling's imagination and creativity. The world of Harry Potter is so unique.  Her writing engages me as a reader and keeps me flipping the pages. Her characters are interesting, and her writing style is easy to read. If you read too fast though, you'll miss something that turns up in a future plot point. Her writing voice reads very naturally and I think that's what allows her to connect with young adults and readers.

My goal as a writer is to make my readers lose themselves in the story by using a natural voice and an easy writing style.

MARIA: What do you love about your latest book?

STEPH: My latest book with Desert Breeze Publishing is "The Green Rose," a fantasy romance, and I love the journey that Sonia, the heroine, takes in the book. She's determined to find her kidnapped father, but after Gabriel's betrayal, trust is an issue with her. It's up to Ivánstan to earn her trust. 

MARIA: What is your favorite review of one of your books?

STEPH: My favorite review was given by Long and Short Reviews for my paranormal romance, "Twilight Over Moldavia." The adventure Stefan and Caroline take was one that really resonated with me. They hardly know each other, but come together over a shared problem. It's a very suspenseful story.

Here's a snippet: "Twilight Over Moldavia is even better than the first book in the series. It is an excellent story filled with just the right balance of romance, magic, and danger. Stefan and Caroline’s story certainly has a happy and satisfying ending, but the epilogue opens up a whole new story line. I’m already looking forward to the next book in this exciting series." – Poinsetta, 5 Stars, Long & Short, Nominated for Book of the Month, FEB 2012.

MARIA: Do your fictional characters develop on their own or do you have their lives planned out in advance?

STEPH: Well I plan, but only a little. I plan out their physical traits, their strengths and weaknesses, and I give them a job. After that, they're on their own. 

MARIA: What type of scene do you enjoy writing the most?

STEPH: The love scene! What I love about writing romance is that when you start the story you meet the hero and heroine at certain points in their lives. They come together over a common problem and struggle against their internal conflicts until they reach that moment where they want to take on hope and love. As a reader, (and writer) I've gone on this amazing journey with them and I want the reward of a love scene.

MARIA: Would you share with us what inspired you to write "The Green Rose?"

STEPH: I'm on and I came across a writing prompt: Write a fantasy with a spoon, honey, and a flower, no more than 4,000 words. I wrote a scene where Ivánstan meets the 3 witches and figures out their riddle so they have to give him the green rose. I really wanted to expand on this scene, thus the novel was born. 

MARIA: What's your favorite place you visited? Do you have a must see destination on your bucket list?

STEPH: My favorite destination had to be Berlin. While I was in the US Army I visited Berlin in 1988 before the fall of the wall, in 1990-2 and in 1996. The city changed so much during those years and I was thrilled to have a front row seat.

I would love to visit England since I've never been.

MARIA: Oooh, I love England. Is there something about you that isn't well known that you'd like to share?

STEPH: I was married in Nykobig, Denmark in 1991.

MARIA: That's cool, I had no idea! Thank you for visiting me. I loved having you here!

Enjoy this Excerpt from "The Green Rose"

Sonia gazed at the brick house on the opposite shore, cupping her chin in her hand. Draco sat next to the shore, his wings resting over his back and his tail dipped into the water. Hiro perched on a branch overhead. 

"I wonder how Ivánstan fares?" 

Draco snorted. Sonia wasn't sure if that was an "I-don't-know" or a response to something else. 

"I wish I was there with him." 

Draco flicked his tail against the water, spraying mist into the air. Sonia found the light drizzling of water refreshing. 

"He's a good man -- and handsome. I enjoy his company." 

Draco snapped his forked tongue, catching a fly. Sonia tamped down the urge to roll her eyes. And here she thought they were having a conversation. 

"He understands you better than you think." 

"I'm not so sure, Hiro." Sonia walked up to Draco and placed a hand on his relaxed wing. "I care for Ivánstan very much." 

The dragon swung his head in her direction, the slits in his eyes widening and softening. The prick of a blade pierced her back. She froze. Draco's eyes peered past her to the man holding the blade, but he remained still. 

"You care for dragons, Sonia?"


"Aye, it's me. What a fool you are to let down your guard and confess your heart to a beast that doesn't understand a word you say."

"You're a coward and a traitor."

"Oh, don't try to goad me. I have the advantage."

The Green Rose is available as an ebook only.

Buy links: 

See more of Stephanie Burkhart:

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Excerpt from Undercover

Since I can't think of anything to write about -- funny, isn't it -- I've decided to share an excerpt from my novel Undercover.

Alex gambled the man wouldn't shoot. He took one step closer, and discovered he was wrong. Luckily for him, hands that would easily have held the large weapon a few years earlier were now unprepared for its power, and the bullet grazed his shoulder instead of piercing his heart. Instinct kicked in, and a split second later he snapped the guard's neck. Looking at the man's body on the floor, feeling the fire of the wound spreading through his side, he clenched his jaw and muttered, "Crap." This was another face that would haunt him in his dreams.

Climbing out of the windows and scaling an almost flat wall, he only had two thoughts in his head. One was cursing himself for being complacent; a person was dead because he wasn't careful enough. The other was, "Jenny must never know."

Getting away wasn't difficult. It was a big city with countless opportunities for escape, even for a man with a bullet hole in his jacket and blood pouring down his side. Sidestepping into an alley, he took the time to try to stop the bleeding at least a little, and to rearrange his clothes to look more casual and less guilty.

It took a while for him to get back to the rented car, and by the time he reached it, he felt faint. Afterwards it would be a mystery to him how he got back to the gas station, cleaned any traces of himself out of the rental, and drove the Chevy the rest of the way home. By the time he got into the yard, he bled through the makeshift bandages he made for himself, and there was quite some cleaning to be done in the car. He ground his teeth and clung to the thought, "Jenny mustn't know."

Somehow, he managed. He got what he deserved. He was alive and he should be grateful; not everyone was so fortunate.

Once the car was clean, he peeled off his clothes. The fabric stuck to the wound and he swore between his teeth in Russian. There would be traces of him in the office, and on the bullet if they found it. He could only hope no one would make the connection to him.

If taking the clothes off was painful, that was nothing compared to the sensation of pouring disinfectant on the wound. He had become a real wimp since meeting Jenny. In the old days, a thing like this wouldn't have fazed him in the least. Now, it justified at least half a bottle of aspirin for comfort. A drink to calm his conscience would have been most excellent, but she would notice that.

He was almost done when he heard a car drive up in the yard and the front door open, and he hurried to slap a bandage over the wound, hide the bloody rags, and pull a clean shirt on. When he went down the staircase to greet his girl, his smile was almost natural.

Jenny didn't seem to notice a thing, and Alex hoped he'd get away with it.

"It's so great to be home early, you wouldn't believe what a day I had. So, what have you been up to? What do you want for dinner?"

He grimaced when she hugged him, and was glad she couldn't see his face. Then, she withdrew with a frown. There were red drops on her fingertips. "What is this? Why are you bleeding?"

The answer, "I'm not" came automatically, and he realized it was hopeless as soon as the words left his mouth. There was no way he'd be able to hide something like this from her long enough for the wound to heal. If not sooner, she'd discover it when they went to bed, or in the morning.

Jenny rolled her eyes and peeled his shirt off. "Men. Let me see that."

He found himself seated on a kitchen chair less than a minute later, trying to think of an explanation that didn't involve getting shot. He couldn't, and when Jenny took the already soaked bandage off, she exclaimed, "Oh my God, what happened to you?"

She looked pale, and he hoped she wasn't going to faint. "Maybe you should sit down, sweetheart."

"You need a doctor, this is huge, it must be sewn. And you need some... penicillin or something so you don't get an infection."

Alex shook his head and reached out for her with his other hand. "No. There can be no doctor. It's just a scratch, and it will heal on its own."

"This is not a scratch."

There would have to be at least a dozen feasible explanations, but he still heard his mouth tell her the truth. "I... uh... I got shot."

She opened her mouth and shut it again without a sound coming out, and he tried to soften the truth, "It's not that bad, sweetheart. There's no bullet in me, so I didn't really get shot, it just brushed me. But if I go to the doctor with a bullet wound, I could just as well hang a sign saying 'guilty' around my neck."

The word guilty made it all worse, but it had been a long day, his side was pounding, he was dizzy from loss of blood, and he couldn't think of any better way to say it.

Jenny mumbled something to herself, and he couldn't quite make it out. It was something about "men," "crazy," and "Russian." She shouted, "You are so lucky I love you. Did you put disinfectant on this?"

He nodded, and she patched it up with surgical tape and bandages, grumbling, "I'm not a field surgeon. I'm not putting a needle in you. This needs to be sewn, but I'm not doing it. If you want needle and thread in your body, you can do it yourself, or find someone else to do it."

Her ranting made him feel better. It was something real, and though he didn't doubt she was very angry with him, her annoyance was real too.

As much as he tried to get out of telling her what happened, he couldn't. By the time he was done, she crossed her arms over her chest. "You are so lucky there's a big hole in you. I will pretend this all happened in self-defense."

"Yes, ma'am."

She left the kitchen without saying another word, and he got up to follow her, only to sink back down on the chair when the room spun around him. Blood loss came secondary to getting up and following her. He leaned against a counter and trudged on towards the hallway. "Where are you going?"

"Out for a drive. And no, you can't come."

Monday, September 24, 2012

Review, Dark Days of Promise by Shaunna Gonzales

Yesterday, I blogged about Dark Days of Promise by Shaunna Gonzales, and said I'd return with a review when I finished the book. I was up reading last night; I had to see what would happen.


Vicki is a single mom, living with her three children. Her ex-husband is in the military, fighting in some faraway war, and thanks to some help from the closest neighbour Janine, they're doing okay on their own. One day, four men in uniform knock on Vicki's door. She has to tell her children their father is dead, and such words never come easy.

Her ex-husbands death emphasizes the word "single" in a way the divorce never could, and as she tries to cope with a rebellious teenage son and make plans for the future, a handsome banker asks her for a date. Vicki accepts, thinking she's truly alone and that her children need a father figure. These might not be the right reasons for entering a relationship, but it seems logical. At about the same time, Janine's son returns home from the war. He is handsome, strong, and PTSD makes him unpredictably violent.

Gonzales has a knack for creating believable characters. They not only come alive on the pages, but I expect them to appear in real life at any moment. Their thoughts, intentions, and problems are believable. It's hard to describe the story conveying how exciting it really is; it contains just the right amount of danger and adventure to keep you turning the pages, and just when you think you know what'll happen, everything takes an unexpected turn.

The book is classified in cryptic categories such as "Christian books and bibles." I normally don't read Christian books: in my opinion the authors usually overdo it, and the material comes across as a few hundred pages of trying to convert people. Gonzales doesn't fall into that trap. There is religion in the book, but the mentions of faith come naturally, as a part of life for the people involved. She handles religion in an elegant, non-threatening and non-coercive way that makes this book stand out as something that can be appreciated both by people looking for a Christian read, and by people wanting to be entertained by an enthralling romantic suspense.

I warmly recommend the book and I will keep my eyes open for new releases from Shaunna Gonzales. If you buy it, be prepared to shut out the world for a while - I just HAD to know what would happen, so I read it all in one day.


If you want to see more of Shaunna Gonzales, check out her blog,

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Reading right now: Dark Days of Promise

Dark Days of Promise by Shaunna Gonzales is a brand new book, it was released September 20th. I've been curious about it for some time, and after interviewing the author I've been counting down the days to its release date. I've read about 1/4 of it, and thus far I love it.

The characters feel real. In many books you can tell they're made up -- which they are; it's fiction -- but Shaunna's gang could very well walk out of the pages and enter one's daily life. The main character, Vicki, is likeable, and her thoughts, intentions, and problems are completely believable. When they're visiting her neighbour, I can almost feel the warmth of the kitchen and smell freshly baked cookies. There's also unexpected danger and mystery in just the right amounts to keep you turning the page to see what will happen next. It's actually extremely exciting just where I left off to go write this blog, but I won't say anything more about it; I don't want to spoil it for everyone else! =D

I admire Shaunna's way of describing children. I've seen many writers try, stumble, flail their arms in the air, and fall on their noses. When I read about Vicki's kids I can see them for my inner eye, and I believe they exist.

On Amazon, the book can be found in cryptic categories such as "Religious fiction" and "Christian books and bibles." I'm normally extremely skeptical to religious fiction, regardless of which religion it might be. Too many authors set out to convert readers with blunt force, or add a band-aid of Godliness somewhere in the end just to get it in there. It makes want to scream, "I just want to be entertained, so stop trying to convert me! Leave me alone!" Shaunna Gonzales does not fall into this trap. In Dark Days of Promise, the mentions of faith come naturally and I accept it just as I accept people around me are Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Pagans, and so on.

Religion is there, but in an elegant, non-threatening and non-coercive way that makes this book stand out as something that can be appreciated by both Christians and non-Christians.

I warmly recommend the book, and will return with a review when I've read it all. Shaunna will return to my blog in October, keep your eyes open for her visit.

While Vicki’s children grapple with the death of their father -- a man whom she’s successfully fabricated as loving, a lie her rebellious teenager recognizes -- she must find a way to support her family and find a role model for her boys. She never intends to fall for Staff Sergeant Chase, her best friend’s son, who suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). She’d much rather choose a safer man to love, but her children have a voice in the decision she makes. With two deaths to deal with, a suitor after her money, a rebellious son, and Sergeant Chase’s repeated attacks, she can only hope to survive the danger she faces. If she doesn’t, her children will be left without either parent.

Friday, September 21, 2012

New favorite!

It's been a few months since I sat down and read - I haven't had the inner peace to engulf myself in a book. This week my batteries ran out, the inner ones - not the ones in my computer or anything, lol - and I decided to take a break and look at my TBR pile. I opened a number of books, read the first couple of pages, and discarded them. Not necessarily because there was something wrong with them; they didn't fit my frame of mind.

I started to read Tiffinie Helmer's Impact, and found myself engulfed after a few pages. Soon, I was laughing out loud. This morning I started to read her novel Moosed Up, and didn't want to go to work because I needed to keep reading.

The books take place in Alaska, and considering I hate snow, cold, and darkness, Helmer's making me want to go there is quite a feat! Both Impact and Moosed Up contain more graphic sex scenes than I usually read. They also contain more humour. In one scene, the heroine is trapped inside her house by a very large moose grazing her lawn, and she tries to scare it away through throwing apples. The moose, of course, thinks this is great! Who doesn't want a free apple?

The characters are well developed and believable, and you can tell the author knows what she's talking about when she describes the environment. The books are short enough to finish in one evening, and left me wanting more. I definitely recommend them!

In order to survive a plane crash, the elements, and predators, they'll have to survive each other first.

Alaska State Trooper Skip Ozhuwan has waited five years to reunite with Wren Terni, the woman he's always loved. Flying back home for his sister's wedding with only him and Wren in a chartered bush plane guarantees he'll have her undivided attention.

Ever since Skip arrested her five years earlier, Wren vowed never to lay eyes on him again. She's gotten sober and made a life for herself that she's proud of. Seeing Skip now throws her into a tailspin.

When the plane crashes, they are forced to battle a violent arctic storm, outwit predators, and dispose of a dead body. They must find a way to get past their differences if they are to survive to have a future together.

That is, if they don't kill each other first.

Stay out of the woods...the moose are loose and the men are hungry.

Nurse Practitioner Eva Stuart’s life is messed-up. She found her fiancé in bed with her best friend Jeremy, which has killed her confidence as a desirable woman and brought her judgment into question when it comes to men. Needing a change of scenery, she leaves Cincinnati behind for the wilds of Alaska and opts for running a medical clinic in a remote town. Her life quickly changes from messed-up to moosed-up as nature takes a stab at her.

Wildlife Refuge Officer Lynx Maiski is big... and hot... and hungry for a mate. He’s more than willing to show Eva just how sexy she is. After all, sometimes what a street-smart woman really needs is a forest-smart mountain man. But he’s keeping a secret that seems destined to ruin his chances at love.

Soon they are dealing with small town interference, a sun that refuses to set, deadly poachers, out of control lust, and a matchmaking moose on the loose.

Moosed Up on Amazon

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Problems with Productivity

Weather I'm writing, editing, or doing homework, it usually takes place at home. I like being at home. There's something immensely appealing about sitting in the sofa with my laptop, surrounded by doggies. It's a little hard to type when they want to sleep on the keyboard, but that's okay. :-)

Lately, I've found myself less and less productive. The other day I managed to write one full sentence in 1.5 hours. Considering I have two jobs, go to school full time, and have a family and a few hobbies, that pace isn't good enough.

I used to be enormously productive, what changed? Well, we have a foster dog that likes to climb on me, but she's not really the problem. The problem is... I hate Family Guy.

Okay, that statement might need an explanation. My husband has been spending more time at home than he used to. I like the house quiet, but lack of noise drives him bonkers, and the first thing he does when he gets up in the morning or comes home from work is turn on the TV. Family Guy is his favorite show. If he can't find it anywhere, American Dad, Cleveland Show, or King of the Hill will also do. Funny enough, one of those four is always on somewhere. With any luck at all, the same episode is rerun on several different channels the same day, so you can get to watch it five times in a period of a few hours.

Is that a giggle I hear? Well, repeat the below clip over and over again while trying to write a first kiss. Working well for you?

Besides Stewie being a little pest and all Seth McFarlane's voices sounding the same, imagine the joy of having to hear classics like "Promnight Dumpster Baby," "The road to Rhode Island," or "You got the AIDS" five times in an afternoon. We have a small house, so moving to another room is completely pointless.

Every now and then, I've heard people say the average IQ in a household drops with every TV set in the house. I didn't use to believe it, but I swear, I feel myself get dumber every time I have to hear the theme song to one of those shows.

I used to solve the problem through going outside. I've spent many, many hours sitting in the little shady spot right outside our front door, and a big part of my upcoming novel Flashback is written right there.

We have new neighbours since a couple of months, they brought a brand new stereo when they moved in, and they insist on having it outside. That wouldn't normally be a problem; I love all sorts of music except Jazz and Jimi Hendrix. The latter is related to the former; the drummer in Jimi Hendrix Experience used to play jazz and kept playing jazz with Hendrix. To me, all Mitch Mitchell's syncopations paired with Noel Redding's guitar-style bass playing sound like someone falling down a very long set of stairs. (I know Hendrix is supposed to be a guitar God, and I'm not a complete heathen: I like him just fine with the Band of Gypsys.)

Anyway, guess what the neighbours' favorite music is? Jimi Hendrix Experience. Their stereo is on 24/7 and located about 10 yards away, so working outside is out of the question. Seriously, even if I loved Hendrix I don't think I would be able to write after hearing Purple Haze 35 times in a row. It drives me crazy when I take the dogs out, and I think I know all the lyrics now. They're really nice too, so I don't have the heart to go over and ask them to put on something else...

Are you giggling again? Okay, repeat the below video over and over while trying to write an A-paper on Redbox's strategy compared to Netflix's strategy. It needs to be complete with a SWOT analysis and take Porter's five forces into account.

I toyed with the idea of getting an office somewhere away from here. A quiet little spot where I could go and do actual work. Seriously though, who am I kidding? Even if I could afford it, it wouldn't solve the problem.

I found another solution: I bought noise-cancelling headphones. They were really expensive, and I shouldn't have spent this much money on something like headphones, but they're worth every cent. I put them on and turn on some music (that I like, lol) and the world around me can sing "Purple Haze is in my brain," "I stand up next to a mountain and chop it down with the edge of my hand" or "Cowboy Butt Sex" all it wants, because I can't hear it. (Insert crazed laughter here!)

Glorious day! Best invention ever!

Coffeetime contest

Everyone likes free stuff, right? Well, I have a contest running at coffeetimeromance where you can win a copy of my latest novel, Undercover. There are many contests and chances to win on the same page, so it's well worth checking out. :-)

Keep an eye on these projects!

Remember the "The next big thing blog hop?" I had my post last week, and yesterday, the people I tagged posted about their books. They're all talented writers with fascinating projects. Check it out:

Christy Elkins
Lynette Endicott
Stephanie Burkhart
Nicholas Resmondo

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Around the globe and the goddess of love

Today, I have a treat for you: a guest blog from lovely Jillian Chantal, talking about her new book!

Jillian Chantal talks about Hot Pursuit

Many thanks to Maria for letting me drop by and talk a bit about my new release with Ellora’s Cave in the Blush line.  She was very gracious and let the pushy guest (that would be me) invite herself on over. 

The story is called Hot Pursuit and it truly is a chase across the globe.  Now, I know Maria is a big sci-fi fan and sadly, I can’t give her any of that genre for this post. This story is a straight-up adventure. My tag line is “Romantic Adventures with an International Flair” and this book delivers that in spades. Our heroine and hero go from New York City to Rio de Janeiro and then on to London, Germany and Switzerland before returning to New York. There may also be a trip to New Orleans in there somewhere. I know Maria would love it if I had a scene set on Venus but you know what? It is a love story and Venus is the goddess of love, so there ya go, Maria, we have a bit of another planet there for you (and I know, that’s stretching it). 

I used some of my favorite real places in this story but changed the names to protect the innocent like they do in the old TV shows.  I wrote about the chicken piccata in one of my favorite restaurants in Little Italy and it really is to die for just like their chocolate strawberry cannoli. If you ever head up to New York City, let me know and I’ll spill the beans on the real name of the place so you can eat the most divine meal known to man. 


Blush sensuality level: This is a sensual romance (may have explicit love scenes, but not erotic in frequency or type).

Racing across the globe to help a client isn’t part of corporate lawyer Evangeline Fleet’s normal legal services, but this is no ordinary client. She’s the beloved daughter of an old family friend. In her efforts to save the girl, Evangeline gets in over her head when sexy Interpol agent Cecil Waugh enters the picture in hot pursuit of her client. He follows the lawyer on an international chase from New York City to Rio de Janeiro where they forget their differences for a moment and fall into bed together. Before the sheets can even cool Evangeline makes a daring escape, leaving behind her lover.

Relentless in his quest to find Evangeline’s client, Cecil continues the chase across Europe. But it soon becomes unclear who his main target is—Evangeline’s charge, or the spitfire of a woman herself. Only time will tell how hot this pursuit will become.

Book video:


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Monday, September 17, 2012

E-book lending sites

This post will surely get me into trouble, lol, but... here goes!

The world is changing, no doubt about it. I stumbled over a tweet this morning from a book lending site asking if someone had my book Kidnapped available for upload. Book lending sites are sort of legal, but I personally don't like them. I realize this sounds petty. People sometimes tell me I'm cheap for thinking they should pay 99 cents for a book instead of borrowing it for free. Some also wonder if I want to do away with all libraries. Of course not.

Here is my line of thinking. If a library buys say three copies of a book, three people at a time can borrow it. Say that the book is really popular, so someone will lend it as soon as it's returned to the library. Let's also assume each lender keeps the book for two weeks. That would mean that each copy is lent out to 26 people each year. The library has three copies, so during that year, 26x3=78 people will read it.

On a side-note, a big difference between traditional libraries and book-lending sites is that the former usually carry books from established authors. The latter carry everything, and some of the writers might never sell one single copy.

If an individual buys a paperback, likes the book, and lends it out to their friends, I'd estimate somewhere between 2 and 10 people reads that one copy during a year. They're not likely to stand on a street corner and hand out photo copies of it. Not a problem.

If people like the book they borrowed at the library, maybe they'll look for more books by the same author, and actually buy a paperback of their own.

E-books, on the other hand... Some of my e-books have become torrents. How many people download a torrent? Could be tens of thousands. How easy is it to have a torrent removed? Not very. Did the person who made the torrent buy his or her copy? Not likely.

The pricing and sales of e-books is completely different from traditional publishing. Many e-books cost 99 cents, and of that the author gets maybe 30 cents. (It depends on where and how it's published.) 30 cents, for something that might have taken years to craft.

With approximately 800,000 new books released in the US every year, the majority of self published/small press books sell between 200-300 copies during the book's lifetime.

That means, many authors will make a combined sum of 0.30x200=$60 over a period of maybe five years. 

Some people might not have money to buy books, and for them, a book-lending site could be great. I understand that. Sometimes people approach me and say, "I'd love to read your book, but I can't afford to buy it." When that happens, I feel honored someone cares enough to tell me, and I gift a copy. Seriously though, we're talking about something that's cheaper than a cup of coffee. I bet a lot of people have more change rolling around on the floor of their car than the average e-book costs.

I had the same problem working as a musician. Playing an instrument requires talent, practice, and hard work. Musicians also invest in instruments and equipment. People still don't want to pay for it; they say, "You get to do something you love." Well, sure, I like music and I like to play the bass, but I don't always want to stay up at night. It's not fun to talk to drunk people while carrying heavy objects at three in the morning, or have people spill drinks over you.

Maybe I am petty for thinking people can pay 99 cents, or $2.99, or even $5.99 for a book. Still, try to get a plumber over to your house to fix the sink for free, or a mechanic to fix your car for free.

What do you think? I'd love to hear!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Week 13, The Next Big Thing Blog Hop =)

Many thanks to J Lenni Dorner for tagging me in this blog hop.

The rules are simple:
  • Link back to whomever tagged you.
  • Answer ten question about one's current Work In Progress
  • Tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links
Okay, here goes. :-)

What is the working title of your book?

Operation Earth.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

We had just moved to a little rental house conveniently located under the in-flight zone to Sarasota airport. I love planes and love watching them. The way my mind works, plane-spotting quickly turned into, "What if one of those planes would just... fall down... What could make it do that? EMP, maybe. Where would the EMP come from? Aliens. Clearly aliens. That would make everything else stop working too. No cars, no communications, no power... Power... What would happen to the power plants?" And so on.

What genre does your book fall under?

It is a science fiction romance.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Hmmm... I usually answer Steve Bacic because I have a soft spot for him, hahaha, but in my head this guy looks more like what's-his-name from Supernatural... Jensen Ackles. But taller, so maybe back to Steve Bacic. Gosh, I don't know! :-)

Lyndsy Fonseca (Alex from Nikita) could be a good heroine. Or Mila Kunis, she's so awesome.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Distant ancestors are working on an intergalactic time-table for reassimilation, and Earth is next.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

It's scheduled for release by Desert Breeze Publishing about a year from now.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

The first draft was really short, so that was a matter of weeks. The re-writes take time, though, and it grows every time I go through it.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Right now, I don't know. I'll come back to this when something pops into my head. =)

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

I'll go with the beautiful Florida environment.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

There is an evident conflict between humans on Earth and the newcomers, of course. Some people will take an active stance against the aliens, others flee, or don't really care. There will be adventures and a love story.

The blurb will be along the lines of:

No one is prepared when a global EMP pulse takes out every electronic device on the planet. Machines all over the Earth cease their operations, and planes fall out of the sky. Moments later, a voice announces happy tidings; the time has come to reunite, but no one knows what it means. Within days, everything unhealthy is purged from stores, the planet has excellent healthcare, and alien soldiers line the streets.

Hounded by her neighbors to join the resistance movement and make a stand, Rachael still befriends one of the invaders. As the conflict escalates, the destruction of life as she knows it seems inevitable. Can she save the planet?

Five victims for next week, mwuahahaha:
(If I understood the rules right, their blog posts should be Sept 19, and the ones they tag, Sept 26, and so on, so keep following the blog hop!)

To learn more about J Lenni Dorner who tagged me, check out these links:

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Interview with Shaunna Gonzales

I have had the opportunity to interview author Shaunna Gonzales, whose book Dark Days of Promise will be released September 21. Shaunna is a fascinating person, and her book is definitely on my TBR pile. She'll be back here October 11, with a character interview or some other fun stuff, so keep your eyes open! :-)

Welcome Shaunna Gonzales!

Have you always been writing? If no, what got you started?

I thought I wanted to be a writer right out of high school but my older sister, an English Major, shared with me that she had just been rejected. At that time, I didn't know or understand the road to getting published. I knew I had no intention of being an English Major and I remember thinking "If she can't succeed, how can I?"

Fast forward to 2005 when my youngest started school. I had to find something to fill a lot of free time and still be able to stay at home. I started reading novels.

After reading most of J.K.Rowlings Harry Potter series I craved more great reads and went to the local library. I spent months wading through awful fiction, one touting its prize winning status, I threw it across the room. (In my weakened condition it only made it to the bed for a soft landing.)

"I could write better than this!" I grumbled. My hubby, ever understanding of my turbulent moods answered with a calm, "Then why don't you?" It wasn't long before I set out to do just that!

I love that! Do your characters develop on their own, or do you have their lives planned out in advance?

I am a "write by the seat of your pants writer." That means that if I plan too much, even my characters, I get bored. This makes it extremely difficult to write Trilogies or Series. It takes me a good hundred pages of the rough draft to know a character and as my characters are always learning and growing on their own, they take on lives of their own, even after I stop writing the story.

Do you base any of your character's personalities off people you know? (If "yes," do you tell them?)

Hmm... that is a toughy. In Dark Days of Promise, Victoria is very much her own self. I keep asking myself if there is any of me in her, probably.  Her best friend, Janine is a combination of several ladies, all deceased but very much alive on the page. I doubt their children will recognize them. And Janine's son, Kelly Chase. Kelly is partially based a a group of men, veterans that I know. Whether it is his description (physical or emotional) his injuries, or his PTSD, yes, I've told the guys in a round about way and given them credit in the acknowledgments. But the third in the love triangle would not be pleased if I told him that the character is based on him, so that one I'll keep to myself.

So... Kelly suffers from PTSD. That's an unusual but interesting subject. Is there a reason you wanted to write about it, or did it just fit into the story?

I wrote a scene to fix a boring mess and loved it. Loved the suspense it brought to the story and had to figure out where the idea came from.

It took until after the book was finish to completely understand and in the mean time I had to learn why that character would do what he did. My only lead took me back to the early seventies when I met a veteran as a child. Back then I don't think they even had a name for Post Traumatic Stress and if the military did, they didn't use it, at least not openly and the veterans dealing with the disorder were labeled. As I understand it, they were considered weak and in some circles worthless.

As I got deeper into my research and became friends with the veterans that I have, I developed a real affinity for the men who allowed me into their tightly knit brotherhood, albeit on the fringes. Will I ever be an equal? No. Will I ever completely understand? I hope not. But I respect what they and all veterans have done for their country. I also feel strongly that we, their co-habitants need to be aware. PTSD is more than a military acronym and one does not have to be a veteran to suffer from this disorder. I have been told, although I do not have the facts to back it up, that even an infant can suffer from PTSD.

The man I spoke of earlier is still able to kill. But he is not a killer today. Today he is a father of a very large family and a grandfather as well. I've lost touch with him, but I will not soon forget the cautions when playing with him. He would bounce me on his feet in the air or let me use his huge muscular frame as my personal "jungle gym" as long as he was on his back and invited me to do so. He loved children and still does. Never, ever could I touch or try to tackle him from behind. Today I know why. Then I didn't.

That's a fascinating story. I imagine that doing research for the book was a challenge?

Yes, but not in the way you might think. I invested a lot of time and patience in developing real friendship.

Did you find information on PTSD readily available? 

I'm not thinking it would be that hard even if you want a clinical approach, but if one went to a psychiatrist you wouldn't get information on a particular case due to doctor/patient confidentiality.

Good point. I'm guessing it was difficult to get people to talk about it?

I went to veterans who I knew (if only vaguely) through my church. From there I developed a genuine interest and friendship and a sensitivity to not push too hard. I had to learn body language, unique to the individual that let me know I was getting too close. Talking in a small group, just the veterans and myself, without spouses present also helped as I'm not sure these guys wouldn't like their wives to hear the things I did.

When a veteran says something like, "I could tell you but then I'd have to kill you." He very likely is being very honest. It also helped to let these people know why I was asking and get them involved in my project. Those that were not invested didn't share as much as openly and that is fine too.

Now I'm more curious than ever, and I really look forward to reading the book. Thank you so much for stopping by, Shaunna!


Thirty-four year old Vicki Laramie must learn to trust before she can love, but she might die trying.

While Vicki’s children grapple with the death of their father -- a man whom she’s successfully fabricated as loving, a lie her rebellious teenager recognizes -- she must find a way to support her family and find a role model for her boys. She never intends to fall for Staff Sergeant Chase, her best friend’s son, who suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). She’d much rather choose a safer man to love, but her children have a voice in the decision she makes.

With two deaths to deal with, a suitor after her money, a rebellious son, and Sergeant Chase’s repeated attacks, she can only hope to survive the danger she faces. If she doesn’t, her children will be left without either parent.

ISBN: 978-1-61252-218-0  

Link to buy: 

Read Shaunna's blog:

Find Shaunna on Facebook:

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Book trailer for Undercover

I am counting down to the release of Undercover - it's only a couple of days left until September 11 - and to celebrate I made a book trailer. I'm thinking of making another one as well, one that's narrated. Maybe... :-)

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Doggie greeting

I've seen this picture on Facebook lately, I don't know who originally made it, but it's so true. I do it when I come home, but at other places too.

One of my colleagues sometimes brings her little dog to work. I'll walk through the building on the way to my room and say, "Hi" to everyone I meet. If doggie is there, I'll fall down on the floor and squeal, "Look who's here, it's Mila! I'm so happy you're here, I've missed you sooo much, did you miss me too? Where's the tummy? Ooooh, there's the tummy! Love the little cutesie tummy!"

By then everyone's looking at the crazy dog lady and I'll glance up. "Oh yeah, I'm happy to see you guys too..."

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Hot Pursuit

One of my author friends - Jillian Chantal - has a brand new release today. The book is called Hot Pursuit. I haven't actually read it - yet - but from the looks of it, it's interesting. Jillian will stop by my blog with a guest post in a couple of days, so keep your eyes open!


Racing across the globe to help a client isn’t part of corporate lawyer Evangeline Fleet’s normal legal services, but this is no ordinary client. She’s the beloved daughter of an old family friend. In her efforts to save the girl, Evangeline gets in over her head when sexy Interpol agent Cecil Waugh enters the picture in hot pursuit of her client. He follows the lawyer on an international chase from New York City to Rio de Janeiro, where they forget their differences long enough to fall into bed. Before the sheets can even cool Evangeline makes a daring escape, leaving her lover behind.

Relentless in his quest to find Evangeline’s client, Cecil continues the chase across Europe. But it soon becomes unclear who his main target is—Evangeline’s charge, or the spitfire of a woman herself. Only time will tell how hot this pursuit will become.

Read an excerpt: 
Buy the book:

Monday, September 3, 2012

When the auto-pilot kicks in

I tend to spend a lot of time in my own head. It's appealing up there - all these fictional people living their fictional lives, struggling with fictional adventures... You get the idea. ;-) I have, however, started to suspect portions of my mind keeps playing with itself even when I think I'm paying attention.

Sounds weird? Let me give an example. I had the pleasure of attending a wedding the other day. At the reception, I shared a table with a very pleasant young woman, who said, "We've had a class together."

"We have?"

She flashed a smile. "Yup. The Novel."

I instinctively jumped to the last literature class I took - it was just a couple of months ago, so it still exists in my memory - and exclaimed, "Wow, that teacher was hard." Hard wasn't the right word - the teacher was a bit snarky and we almost got into a fight. Turned out she too was working on a book and stressed out of her mind, and once we came to terms with that, we ended the semester as friends.

"Oh yeah, but I liked the group projects."

Something wasn't right with the picture. The last lit class was online, so I shouldn't know anyone in it. Some of my online classes have group projects, but I couldn't recall one about literature. Besides, the name of that class wasn't "The Novel," it was something supernatural, paranormal, something... I also remembered a class in creative writing at my old school. That wasn't it.

She said, "It's okay you don't remember me. I was very quiet."

I wanted to slap myself. Maybe that would make my brain work better... She was such a nice person and I wanted to remember her. "I talked a lot, didn't I?"

"Yes, but that was a good thing. Most of us didn't read the books."

A vague memory was surfacing. The professor's name was Priscilla Glanville, and I sat between Francesca and Roxy. I haven't met either in real life for quite some time, but we're friends on Facebook. (How did you ever keep in touch with people before Facebook?) Was this "The Novel?" It must be. I don't remember the details, but I think I enjoyed it and took another class with professor Glanville.

The disturbing part is that this happens to me on a regular basis. People come up to me and say, "We've been in class together." I can't even remember taking the classes, which is pretty bad if you spend four months doing something. Once I start thinking about it I can invoke foggy memories of most of them, and I remember many of the teachers, because they're kind of what you look at in school.

Mikey said, "It's okay sweetie. Their brains are still young and can retain information. You've reached the age where you forget something every time you learn something new."

That was a laugh-out-loud comment, and oh so true.

Seriously though, my body walks around and interacts with people. I write assignments and discuss, but I'm still on auto-pilot. A major part of my brain keeps examining other problems. Like, how will the hero save the heroine when she's kidnapped and locked up in Afghanistan? I'm pretty sure this is what I brooded over while taking The Novel - I was writing the first draft of Flashback at the time. (TBR June next year with Desert Breeze Publishing.)

I think I remember her now, about two days too late... In the group projects she mentioned, my character was supposed to have red shoes, and mine were dark red instead of bright red. I think she asked to see my shoes, and was a little disappointed they weren't brighter. I wish I had remembered that at the time, and been able to say, "Hey, didn't we talk about the red shoes?"

The Universe - or is it Fate - is fickle.

If someone had told me yesterday that an asteroid would collide with Earth, that we'd have a flood of Biblical proportions, or that a so...