Thursday, June 27, 2019

WIP Update #RomanticSuspense #Series

I am happy to report that I typed THE END on the first draft of my latest Work In Progress.

First draft…if you aren’t a writer, that term might not mean much. To an author, it might signal a book nearly ready to go to her editor, or it might mean several more months of work. I’m taking a wild guess on this one, but I think there are at least two more months of editing ahead for me. There are times a page will spew out of me. There will be enough dialogue, enough description, the point of view (POV) is deep, and only a few tweaks are needed. Other times, it’s a bare bones narrative that needs layers of work.

Maybe I can give you an example. This is a first draft:

Laughter came in with the jingle of the bell above the door. Magpie MacKenzie glanced over
her shoulder from the stepping stool where she arranged music boxes on the top shelf display.
Three women and two men tumbled into the shop, apparently anxious to leave the cold outside. The midday sun blazed through the front windows of Magpie’s Mercantile, but outside the chilly wind snaking through the mountains severely neutralized the sun’s rays.
“Good afternoon.” Magpie descended the stool as comments sprinkled the air.
The sweet sense of pride that enveloped her whenever someone appreciated her shop never grew old. As soon as the door closed behind patrons, they became immersed in textile creations on the left; music boxes, some small wooden instruments, and pottery displayed on the right. The counter nestled next to the music boxes.

After I did my first edit, it reads like this:

Laughter mingled with the jangle of the bell above the door. Magpie MacKenzie glanced over her shoulder from atop the stepping stool where she arranged music boxes on the top shelf of a four-tiered display.
Three women and two men tumbled into the shop, hands stuffed in coat pockets and chins
tucked down, apparently anxious to leave the cold outside. The midday sun blazed through the front windows of Magpie’s Mercantile, but outside the chilly wind snaking through the mountains severely neutralized the sun’s rays.
“Good afternoon.” Magpie descended the stool as comments sprinkled the air.
“Oh, it’s warm in here.”
“What a great store!”
The sweet sense of pride that enveloped her whenever someone appreciated her shop never grew old. Although the store was narrow, the depth of the shop was four times the width. To the left of the entry, a stairway led to her apartment upstairs, and to the right, where Magpie worked, a counter and shelves. As soon as the door closed behind patrons, they became immersed in textile creations on the left; music boxes, some small wooden instruments, and pottery displayed on the right. The counter nestled next to the music boxes. Beyond, deeper into the shop, customers found carvings, sculptures, and paintings.

I can’t guarantee it will read the same once I do my final edit of the book, but it’s much richer than the first draft.

Besides layering in description, appropriate dialogue, and attention to POV, I’ll comb through for over used words, inactive verbs, words not needed, scene clarification, tightening, and the list goes on. The good news is as the years go by, and I write more and more books, some of this fine tuning happens as I write. Practice makes perfect. Or so I hope.

Next month, I’d like to say it’s completed and on an editor’s desk. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Four Favorite #Wicked Women by Kate Hill #horror #EroticParanormal

Please welcome Kate Hill to Wicked Wednesday. Let's talk wicked women. Oh yeah!

Wicked can be a beautiful word, especially if you're as into the horror genre as I am. When I write, I love a happily ever after, but when it comes to movies, give me horror. Often when the horror genre is mentioned, great male villains come to mind, but the genre also has some fantastic female fiends. I'd like to share some of my favorite wicked women of horror--one from each of the past four decades. These women are unapologetically evil, and while you probably wouldn't want to hang out with them, they're fantastic on screen.

1981: Marsha (The Howling): She's a werewolf who loves her wild side. Marsha isn't going to be tamed, and she usually gets what she wants, even if it's another woman's husband.

1994: Molly (Tales from the Crypt Episode Only Skin Deep): Molly is a combination of sadistic demon and avenging angel. She's secretive and morbidly sexy. Follow her home at your own risk.

2003: Baby (House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil's Rejects): Baby is as sadistic as she is attractive. If she takes you home to meet the family, don't expect to get out alive.

2015: Lucille Sharpe (Crimson Peak): Sick, twisted, and vengeful, Lucille is tougher than she looks. Like Molly, she has a sympathetic side, but it's overshadowed by her sadistic nature.
Who are your favorite female horror villains?

Kate Hill Bio

Always a fan of romance and the paranormal, Kate Hill started writing over twenty years ago for pleasure. Her first story, a short erotic vampire tale, was accepted for publication in 1996. Since then she has sold over one hundred short stories, novellas and novels.

When she's not working on her books, Kate enjoys reading, working out, spending time with her family and pets and running the Compelling Beasts Blog, dedicated to antagonists, antiheroes, and paranormal creatures. She also writes under the name Saloni Quinby. Visit her online at

Demon’s Grotto
(Erotic Paranormal)
Ben wants Laura to reconsider staying overnight at Demon's Grotto, and he has information about the club’s history that should convince her. He tells her three creepy love stories, hoping she will change her mind. After hearing these stories of love and murder, will Laura decide to spend the night at Demon’s Grotto?

Amazon Link:

Sunday, June 23, 2019

The World of #Audio for Sleeping with the Lights On #Interview with Lily Dubuque

Sleeping with the Lights On, the first book I published, is now available in audio. Ten years ago, this month, I signed my first contract with The Wild Rose Press. I’m so excited about this fun, humorous romantic suspense launching as an audio book. I never dreamed that would be possible ten years ago.

Today, I’d like you to meet the most talented Lily Dubuque, the narrator for Sleeping with the Lights On. Her voice makes this audio story perfect! I think once you get a listen to her, you’ll just have to check out her other books.

Let me introduce you to Lily and get a glimpse into her world.

Me: Hi Lily! Great to have you here. First off, where do you work and turn the written word into audio? I understand most narrators work out of their homes. Do you have a special area, room, or nook where you make your magic happen?

Lily: Hi Brenda, first I'd like to say how much I enjoyed narrating Sleeping with the Lights On.  What drew me to this book was the middle-aged main character. You made her smart, sexy and fun!  And the plot was as riveting as the characters were compelling.  It was easy to sit in my booth to narrate this gem.  My booth is in my finished basement. Some narrators sit in a closet all day long. I am lucky enough to have a room! 

Me: In Arizona, we don’t see many basements. When we lived in Minnesota, every home seemed to have one. So versatile.  Thank you for the compliments. I love writing characters with a little mileage. Glad you enjoyed her. How did you get started as an audio book professional?

Lily: I worked as a television reporter in my 20's, and when my son was born, I decided to get into voice-overs so that I could stay home with him.  I have done radio and television commercials and my books.  It is really fun to bring the words to life. 

Me: Wow, a reporter. Sounds romantic in an exciting way. And you do bring words to life. How do you approach a book when you first see it and make the decision to audition a sample? 

Lily: Some narrators only look at how the kindle version sells. But I look at more than that. If I can identify with the characters (as I did with Sleeping with the Lights On) and really enjoy the story line, then I audition. If you are sitting in a room recording for hours on end, you really have to enjoy the story!

Me: How long does it take to complete the average book? What are the steps?

Lily: If a book is let's say, eight hours, it will take double to triple that amount of time to create the audio book. I read the book over, figure out how I will make the characters sound, and then go over the pacing and the mood.  I usually record a chapter at a time, and then edit it. 

Me: That is so interesting. I have to compliment you on the job you did narrating Sleeping with the Lights On. Now, I know why you did such a good job. Although set in Minneapolis, the hero and heroine are from the southwest. You had just the right amount of twang in your voice. And then there was Wesley. He’s one unique character and you nailed him, too. Do you have a favorite genre to narrate? Is there any type of book you avoid?

Lily: Wesley was so fun! His personality was really unique and quirky!  I lived in Tupelo, MS for almost four years in my 20's, so I used a little bit of that accent in Carson's voice.  I like all genres as long as the story is compelling. I have also narrated non-fiction but it isn't nearly as much fun!  What I enjoy so much about your books is that you combine romance and suspense.  I like to really feel the emotion between the characters when I narrate. And if there is a plot twist, you don't want to stop reading!

Me: Okay now some lighthearted questions…

Because I write Romantic Suspense, do you ever fall for any of the heroes or heroines? 

Lily: No, but I have a hard time letting them go. After I finish a great book, I feel like the characters are my friends!  I definitely would love to hang out with Sandra and her sister!

Me: When you aren’t working, what’s your favorite pastime? 

Lily: My husband and I love the beach! We don't get there often enough, but hope to move to the Florida gulf coast someday!

Me: Coffee, tea, or cola? 

Lily: I am a coffee girl all the way!

Me: We have coffee in common. Mountains, seaside, or cosmopolitan city?

Lily: Definitely the seaside!

MeIt’s been great getting to know you, Lily. I’m looking forward to working with you in the future.

Lily: I would love to narrate your next book.  Even if I weren't a narrator, you are still one of my favorite authors!

Me: Ah, thanks, Lily…mutual admiration!

Find Lily’s audio books here:

A secret admirer, a redheaded stalker, and an eccentric millionaire throw Sandra on a dangerous path, just when ex-husband, Carson drops back into her life after an eighteen year absence. Can this handsome, country crooner save the day, or will Sandra forever be Sleeping With The Lights On?

Buy Links for the audio of Sleeping with the Lights On:

Amazon Audible (you can hear a free sample too!)

Friday, June 21, 2019

On Helicopters, Guns, and Being Fearless by Jessica James #Fearless #Romance


Not only is my guest today fearless, but she writes about fearless characters. Please welcome award winning author, Jessica James to Fearless Friday.

I’m the type of author who needs to feel, hear, see, and experience what I’m writing about—which often leads me to try out new, uncomfortable, outside-my-comfort-zone activities.

When I was writing Civil War fiction, I attended large battle re-enactments (and slept on the ground), so I could more realistically capture the sights and sounds.

When I began writing military suspense, I attended the Special Operations Forces International Conference in Tampa, where I stood feet away from a lifelike drill of a hostage rescue.

My most recent foray took me to the national A Girl and a Gun Conference in Burnet, TX. This involved three days of shooting shotguns, pistols, and long guns, as well as a wide array of self-defense classes.

But the best part of the conference (and the real reason I attended), was getting to target shoot with a military-grade weapon while hanging out of a fast-moving helicopter. (And when I say fast-moving, I mean the pilot came over the radio and said, “on this run, we’re going to pretend we’re being shot at).
We skimmed right over the tops of trees, zig-zagged, climbed and dove—while, at times, going over a hundred miles an hour—just like the characters in my books do.

It was one of the most amazing, albeit terrifying, experiences of my life. And if I could do it again I would jump at the chance!

Does that make me fearless?

Or crazy?

I’m not certain which one of those is true, but I’m pretty sure I have the best job in the world!

A Love Story That Spans Centuries…
My new release Lacewood, didn’t take any daredevil research….just deep soul-searching. Here’s a short blurb: Two people trying to escape their pasts find a connection through an old house—and fulfill a destiny through the secrets it shares. Part love story, part ghost story, Lacewood is a timeless novel about trusting in fate, letting go of the past, and believing in things that can’t be seen. 

Release price is $3.99. Will be $8.99 after June 25.

You can find Jessica here:

Jessica James Bio:
Jessica James believes in honor, duty, and true love—and that’s what she writes about in her award-winning novels that span the ages from the Revolutionary War to modern day. She is a three-time winner of the John Esten Cooke Award for Southern Fiction, and has won more than a dozen other literary awards, including a Readers' Favorite International Book Award and a Gold Medal from the Military Writers Society of America. Her novels have been used in schools and are available in hundreds of libraries including Harvard and the U.S. Naval Academy.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

The Rest of the Story #ThursdayThoughts #RescueDog

Back in February, I started the story of our rescue dog, Amigo. To recap, we’d searched for a rescue dog and heard about a mixed breed with a sad story. After several attempts to make the trip to Gallup, New Mexico to pick him up, we succeeded. Now, here is the rest of the story.

On her way to work each morning, a doggie rescue lady in Gallup, NM, noticed a small dog or puppy living in a culvert with another older dog. They were always there and looked healthy. As it turned out, the homeless people in the area were feeding the pair. These two took care of each other. The older dog was blind, but had his years of experience. The pup was agile and could see. She named them Wylie and Amigo.

Trapped but rescued
She finally asked the agency she volunteered for, The BlackHat Humane Society, if she could attempt a rescue. It wasn’t easy. Wylie, the blind dog, fell for her trap first time. It took her a couple of times to trick Amigo. And she had a tense moment with some homeless men who believed she was going to do the pair harm.

Both dogs were placed in foster care. Wylie was several years old and placed in a home that specialized in blind dogs. Amigo was believed to be between nine months and a year. We learned of Amigo before he was featured on The Black Hat site. Wylie ended up being adopted by his foster mom who fell in love with him. We adopted Amigo and his foster mom cried as we drove away.

Amigo before adoption
From the beginning, Amigo has loved people. I’m guessing because the homeless fed him. He was afraid of other dogs. After a couple of times at the dog park in Payson, he warmed up. Now, he’s the official greeter when he’s there. In the beginning, we had to keep a close eye on him. He chewed through two leashes. His flee instinct was fierce. Although he took to us immediately and seemed to love us, when he got the chance, he’d run. 

That was four months ago. 

Amigo now
Today, he heels on command, comes when called, loves to retrieve sticks from the water, and chases balls and brings them back. He’s loving and good natured. He’s still highly food oriented, but that’s to be expected considering he never knew where his next meal would come from. But that doesn’t pose a problem. He has quite the personality and brings us lots of laughter and enjoyment. We really lucked out with this little guy.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Real Life Fun Inspires Fiction by Jodi Rath #CozyMystery #Inspiration #Recipe


Some of our best inspiration for our stories come from real life situations. Jodi Rath is my guest today, and she knows how true this is. Her mystery series  are enriched by her life. Read on...

My series, The Cast Iron Skillet Mystery Series, is a lot of fun to write. I use personal experiences from my life that come from many places.  I taught high school English for close to two decades and I have so many funny stories from being a teacher that I use for small scenes here and there. Not to mention, my family is a huge inspiration.

Grandma Opal’s character is developed from my Grandma Evelyn who is just as much as a hoot in real life as fictional Grandma Opal. For example, my husband and I have eight cats—so we have eight litter boxes with little close-lid trash cans by each box. We use the grocery bags to line the trash cans throughout our house. I don’t want to have to spend money on the small trash bags. I found I didn’t have enough grocery bags, so I told my grandma and my mom to save their bags for me. One day, I get a bag full of what looks like used bags except when I pull them out there is a HUGE stack of brand-new bags that my grandma pulled off the hooks at the store. I was like, “Grandma, I didn’t ask you to steal a stack of bags for me!” Her reply was a slitted-eyed glare in a snarky tone, “I can’t steal something that is free to the public, Jodi Lynn!” I knew I was in trouble when she used my middle name, so I quietly held my tongue and shook my head in desperation.  Yep, you guessed it—this scene shows up in book two coming out June 21, 2019 of my series, Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread Murder. That’s only one of many examples. Trust me when I tell you I can’t make some of this stuff up!

With that said, yes, it is fun to write this series as well as therapeutic.


Welcome to Leavensport, Ohio where DEATH takes a delicious turn!

Financial fraud of elderly villagers in Leavensport, an urban sprawl threat to the community, disastrous dates, cross-sell marketing gone wrong, and another murder? 

Jolie Tucker is ready to try dating again. Well, she has no choice—since her family auctioned her off to the highest bidder. Her best friend, Ava, has agreed to a double date, but both friends find out hidden secrets about their partners as well as deception by one of the village’s own, who will soon be found dead. This plot is sure to be spicy!

We both jumped as we heard a hard knock on our front door.
I saw Bradley’s boss, Lou, standing outside the door. I unlocked and opened the door briefly, “Sorry Lou; we had an unfortunate incident a few moments ago. I had to close briefly to clean up. I’ll open up soon.”
“Where is Bradley? He wanted me to meet him here, and here I am. Why we can’t talk at the workplace is beyond me. This is ridiculous. He could at least be outside regardless of what “incident” you’ve had,” he said making air quotes with his fingers.
“Bradley was part of the incident. He probably ran to change his clothes. I would assume he’ll be back soon,” I said.
“Figures, I’ll call him,” he said grabbing his phone and storming off.
I went to close and lock up again when Mr. and Mrs. Seevers came storming up to Lou.
“You no good son of a gun; I oughta take that phone and shove it up your . . .”
“Earl!” Mrs. Seevers exclaimed. “No need for that kind of talk ever, regardless of how much of a creep this guy is.”
“What are you two talking about?” Lou demanded.
“We know what you did, and you won’t get away with it!” Mr. Seevers seethed.
“You two old bats need to mind your own business; I’m out of here,” Lou protested stomping off with his phone to his ear probably calling poor Bradley to chew him out.
“Rude,” Mirabelle stated as I closed and locked the door again.
“Agreed,” I said wondering what was going on with the Seevers, a typically nice retired couple, and Lou.


Jodi Rath
B.A. English Literature; M.A. Education
Author of The Cast Iron Skillet Mystery Series
Entrepreneur MYS ED LLC

Monday, June 10, 2019

Let's Talk #Series with Kim McMahill #MuseMonday


Please join me in welcoming Kim McMahill and her post about series. I love reading series. Can there really ever be too much? What do you say, Kim?
I love reading books in a series. A series gives the reader the opportunity to really get to know the characters on a personal level. We get to see the recurring protagonists and antagonists progress emotionally, evolve into better or worse people, and sometimes we even see them grow old. Even if the story is far outside our real lives, we still often connect to the characters as we share some of the same experiences—a challenge at work, a bully, a crisis of faith, a health issue, or relationship woes or wows.
So, when is it time to let go? It depends on the series. I don’t think there is an easy answer, but there are a number of triggers. Has the storyline fizzled out, has the objective been achieved, or has the protagonist aged to the point that his or her heroics are no longer believable?
I started my Risky Research Series with a clear vision of how the series would develop and end, but I’m starting to realize I may not be in total control. When, and if, FBI agent Devyn Nash dismantles a deadly organization obsessed with controlling the diet-products industry worth billions and brings them to justice, she’s got more to accomplish. Will her next case be strong enough to carry the series past nabbing Coterie? Will she still have a job with the FBI after A Foundation of Fear? Honestly, I’m not sure yet, but in the mean time she has some very dangerous individuals to track down, so I hope you will begin the journey if you haven’t started and see where the drama and danger leads. 
FBI Special Agent Devyn Nash is obsessed with taking down Coterie, a deadly group out to control the multi-billion-dollar diet product industry. The FBI’s plan to expose Coterie places Devyn’s best friend and her partner’s fiancé in the crosshairs of this ruthless organization. Can Devyn protect her friend and bring the coldblooded killers to justice before they strike again while distracted by injury, a sexist bully, and a long-distance relationship with a handsome Wyoming sheriff?
Lobbyist and Coterie assassin Sofia Wilks wants nothing more than to regain control of her life. Sofia knows Agent Nash is nipping at her heels, but the FBI agent isn’t the worst of her fears. She is drawn to a man who has the power to destroy her. 
Devyn Nash’s ribs still ached and pain shot up from the soles of her feet with every step she took. Only a little over a week had passed since she had chased a killer through cactus-covered desert at night in her bare feet. If that wasn’t enough, she had leapt off a rock ledge and tackled the fugitive, which in hindsight probably wasn’t a smart move. She had desperately wanted answers, not another corpse.
Social Links:
Buy Links for A Foundation of Fear:
Free Download: A Formidable Foe Download (prequel novelette to the Risky Research Series)

Friday, June 7, 2019

Thrills, Chills, & Flying Machines by M.S. Spencer #FearlessFriday #travel #romance


Please welcome M.S. Spencer to Discover... Ms. Spencer loves the traveling life as much as I do. But it sounds like she's discovered a few more places. Fearless adventure. Enjoy!

My traveling life began at the age of six months, when my family moved from upstate New York to North Carolina. From there we went to Maryland, and four years later were winging our slow way halfway across the world to Turkey in a Boeing Stratocruiser, complete with sleeping berths above the seats, and gourmet meals served with china and crystal. When I was ten, we took the Queen Mary across the Atlantic to France. After two and a half years in Paris, we drove through France, Andorra, and Spain to Gibraltar and Morocco. Our return trip to America was on the sister ship of the Andrea Doria (once as famous as the Titanic for its spectacular sinking)—and yes, we did run into a major storm!

I once counted up the number of significant moves in my life…and stopped at twenty-five. I have lived or traveled in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, the US, Central America, and South America. I’ve wandered the Pere Lachaise cemetery and laid a flower at Oscar Wilde’s grave. I’ve eaten Sacher Torte in the Hotel Sacher in Vienna. I’ve climbed the narrow steps of the stepped pyramid of Kukulkan at Chichén Itzá. I’ve seen the Peacock Throne in the Golestan Palace in Iran and ridden a stallion across the Egyptian desert under the “nose” of the Sphinx. I’ve swum with pink dolphins and gone fishing for piranha. I’ve watched as thousands of migrating cranes land on my roof on a hill in Istanbul. I’ve even begged for cigarettes from the sailors on a battleship in the Port of Tangier.

My family on the Queen Mary
It’s been an adventure.

My romantic suspense novel Lapses of Memory incorporates bits of those adventures, or uses impressions I have of the exciting events occurring during those years. It follows the exploits of two journalists, Sydney Bellek and Elian Davies, as they travel the globe reporting on various world catastrophes. The first time they meet is as children aboard the very same Boeing Stratocruiser I took at age four. Every few years after that they cross paths—in places I’ve been and during events that I lived through, such as Cairo before the October War, the initial stages of the Iranian revolution, and during the Lebanese civil war.

I write from experience. But that only takes the reader so far. We need more than a travelogue—we need a little romance knitted in. So, while you’re eagerly awaiting my memoir, you might enjoy Lapses of Memory.

Here’s the story:

Sydney Bellek first meets Elian Davies in the 1950s on a Boeing 377 Stratocruiser when she is five and he is seven. They run into each other every few years after that, but while he knows from the start that she is his true love, she does not. Later, as rival journalists, they vie for scoops on international crises from the Iranian revolution to the Lebanese civil war. The handsome and intrepid Elian beats her out at every turn, even while keeping his love for her secret.

Only after years of separation does she finally realize they are meant to be together, but this time, in a twist of fate, it is Elian whose memory of her is gone. Will he remember her before she loses heart or will their new love be enough to replace 
the old one? 

Wild Rose Press, 3/15/2017, Imprint: Champagne Rose
Contemporary romantic suspense/Action Adventure; M/F; 2 flames
Ebook (70,560); Print: 296 pp. 

Buy Links:


Although M. S. Spencer has traveled in five continents, she spent the last thirty years in Washington, D.C. as a librarian, Congressional assistant, speechwriter, and non-profit director. She has two grown children and a perfect granddaughter. Ms. Spencer has published twelve mystery/romantic suspense novels, and currently divides her time between Florida and Maine.


My calendar of events can be found here:

Thursday, June 6, 2019

In the Book: #inspiration of Men and Bull***t #romance

The first book I published went to audio recently, ten years after I signed the contract. I love to
answer the question "what inspired Sleeping with the Lights On?"

One afternoon, when my sister was visiting, she complained about her last disappointing date. She was divorced, and sick of dating and being single. I always told her, jokingly, you've had more men in your life than any one woman deserves, so buck up. That day, I suggested her dating life would make great fodder for a short story. I sat at my computer and told her to recite a characterization of every man she'd dated, starting with the ill-fated relationship with the G.I. in Germany who took her on a date to the Black Forest and didn't get past the first tree, so to speak. I titled the file "Of Men and Bullshit."

That short story turned into the full-length novel, Sleeping with the Lights On. Although there are
Toasting the launch 2010 with my sister
fictional escapades sprinkled into the tale, the men are all real. And by the way, I couldn't fit in all of them.

The cover has been updated since then, but the story is still a fun romp with suspense, humor and a surprise ending. And I'm sure my sister would want me to tell you, it isn't all true. But the men are! You can read the first chapter HERE.

A secret admirer, a redheaded stalker, and an eccentric millionaire 
have thrown Sandra Holiday on a dangerous path.

After two failed marriages and countless relationships, Sandra thinks she’s met the man to end her years of less than perfect choices; choices that not only derailed her travel-related career plans, but also left her single and broke.

Carson Holiday, a Las Vegas country crooner with swoon-inducing good looks, spent his adult life pursuing a recording contract and love, never holding on to either. After eighteen years, he drops back into Sandra’s life, reigniting an attraction he can’t deny.

When Carson reappears, Sandra must choose again. As life confronts her with yet another turning point, will her decisions find her eternally sleeping with the lights on – or will she finally discover a way to turn them off?

And everywhere good books are sold.

Learn more about the characters in Sleeping with the Lights On HERE
Read the first chapter HERE