Tuesday, August 28, 2018

My Biographical Romance FOR THE LOVE OF HAWTHORNE is .99 for Kindle This Week

We all read Hawthorne's stories and books THE SCARLET LETTER and THE HOUSE OF THE SEVEN GABLES in school, but did you learn what made the handsome brooding genius tick, and what haunted him?



Here's a snippet from FOR THE LOVE OF HAWTHORNE:

(Yes, he actually did say Thoreau was 'ugly as sin' - maybe after too much Port, maybe not!)

I joined myself to him heart and spirit, but he still remained enclosed in his shell. It softened, yet I couldn’t hasten its shattering. He turned down invites from our friends—rather, my friends—Margaret Fuller, my revered Ralph Waldo, Elizabeth Hoar who’d filled the Manse with those fragrant bouquets, so I invited them to the Manse instead. When my friends Anna Chase and Sarah Shaw called, Nathaniel emerged from his study, said hello, and retreated back inside. He referred to our constant stream of visitors as “persons who venture within our sacred precincts and who have intruded into the hallowed shade.” This happened constantly, not only when he was in the throes of writing. He veiled himself from others, since he veiled himself from himself, a divine mystery, so to himself.
He seemed most companionable with the affable and witty Henry Thoreau. But after too many glasses of Port he couldn’t resist commentary: “He’s as ugly as sin, long-nosed, queer mouthed, and with uncouth and somewhat rustic, although courteous manners.”
If he’d imbibed any more Port, he’d have forgotten his courteous manners.
Did his seclusion bother me? Of course, being his polar opposite. But such was his nature, and I did not attempt to change him. His being gregarious as I would pose a bigger problem. Better that only one of us be overly sociable. Otherwise we’d hardly see each other.

Purchase FOR THE LOVE OF HAWTHORNE
.99 Worldwide for Kindle This Week

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Book Quote Wednesday on Twitter, #BookQW

Author Mindy Klasky started Book Quote Wednesday a few years ago, and it's become very popular. Authors, contact her at @MindyKlasky on Twitter and ask her to add you to her mailing list. Every Monday she'll send you the word for Wednesday. Find that word in your book and Tweet with #BookQW.

Today's word is FAST.

This is from my biographical thriller SHARING HAMILTON. In 1791, Hamilton and his beautiful mistress Maria Reynolds engaged in a sordid affair which became the young nation's first public sex scandal, ruining his chances for the presidency.

"Hold me, Alex." My arms held him fast.
He unwrapt my arms from around his neck. "I can't, Maria. I've a wife waiting for me at home."


SHARING HAMILTON is free today for Kindle.

Monday, August 20, 2018

My Guest, Author and Editor Kaycee John Tells Us How to Catch An Editor's Eye, or Ear, or Heart


My guest Kaycee John is a Renaissance woman with many talents and a very full plate! Authors, read her advice that’s invaluable at any stage of your career. 

About Kaycee


Published author and editor Kaycee John honed her presentation skills the same way she learned most of life's lessons—the hard way.

As the director of a victim advocacy agency she often found herself standing at the front of classrooms filled with raw police recruits, women's studies and criminal justice majors, and emergency medicine providers, dispelling the myths that surround sex crimes and teaching effective techniques for dealing with victims of violence. Then came press conferences, op-ed pieces for the local papers and news bites on the nightly news. All this while raising three terrific kids and working weekends as a nursing supervisor.

These days she speaks from a different POV: as a once-fledgling author who survived the trenches of rejection and learned how to turn her stories into award winners. She knows the pain of less than encouraging comments from contest judges and acquiring editors so is determined to pay it forward and help others turn so-so submissions into contract offers.

How to Catch An Editor's Eye, or Ear, or Heart

1. Follow the rules of the publisher you are submitting to. If they ask for a double space partial, one inch margins on all four sides, written in Courier or Times New Roman font, do it. If they don't publish inspirational or erotica, do not submit the hottest, sexiest thing ever to come down the pike because it's the best thing you've ever written and all your pals think it's the bomb. If the publisher asks for a partial [usually the first three chapters not to exceed fifty pages], send the first three chapters and don't go over fifty pages. Trying an end-run doesn't work. 

2. Great characters are unique and believable, right down to the warts on their big toes. They hang with interesting people and live in cool places, real or invented. And while we're talking about where a character lives, treat the setting as another character in the book. For each lead, use their choices in food, movies/TV, reading for pleasure, sports heroes [or anti-sports] and style of underwear as a way to flesh them out. Don't be afraid to take risks. A woman who routinely dresses in severe dark colored suits, ankle breaker heels and pristine white blouses paints a picture of a no-nonsense ball-buster career woman. What if she wears sheer lingerie underneath the suit, or maybe none at all. What if that same no-nonsense professional is drawn to a man in hip-hugging jeans, wrinkled flannel shirt over a ratty t-shirt and muddy boots? To me, her tastes in men make her a three dimensional character over a woman who plays it safe by sticking to her side of the professional fence. Trust me, opposites do attract in real life and in fiction. 

3. Keep things, like the setting, simple. Draw yourself a map if you like and refer to it as often as you need in order to keep characters' actions logical and purposeful. On this map, mark in the churches, schools, laundromat, bars, post office and grocery stores. Have a working knowledge of what the area is like during each season. There's nothing worse than an author who has her characters taking a quick dip in the outdoor pool in the middle of May in Western New York. As a long-term resident of Western New York, NO ONE deliberately swims in an outdoor pool at this time of year—unless they’re certifiable or card carrying members of the local Polar Bear club. 

4. Pay attention to the voices of each character, both primary and secondary. A person with little formal education or who is still in their teens is not often going to use multi-syllabic words, unless they possess an off the scale IQ. As an editor I don't need to be reaching for a dictionary because I don't know what a word means. Likewise, don't have each character use the same vernacular. For example, the word “Aye-yuh” is a commonly used phrase in Central New York where I was raised. Perhaps in reality every adult in the small town of Fabius NY says “Aye-yuh” when trying to convey they agree or understand what the speaker is saying. As much as I don't like reaching for a dictionary; I don't like needing a score card in order to keep characters straight. 

5. Build the story around characters who have well-defined Goals, Motivation and Conflict. If a character doesn't have a logical and realistic goal, with logical and realistic motivation, I don't want to read about them. If a story doesn't have conflict, internal and external, don't send it my way. To simplify:  Hannah Heroine wants ____ [goal] because ______ [motivation] but ______ is preventing her from achieving or attaining that goal [conflict]. It works really well if Henry the Hero has goals and motivation which are in direct conflict with what Hannah wants. 

6.  I'd like to talk a bit about sexual tension. If you plan a romance or perhaps a romantic suspense, carefully and slowly work the attraction into the story. Personal interest is one thing, and is important to mention by the time page 20 has rolled around. Don't have your characters, especially those who just met five minutes ago, be thinking about what the other looks like naked. Too Much Too Soon. 

7.  Show don't tell. Don't tell me Allison, age fifty, is exhausted and leave it there. Show me her pale, pinched features; the slow drag in her gait and slumped posture. Don't tell me the meal Hannah and Henry shared was delicious. Show me the juices seeping from the cut of steak, the steam rising from Henry's baked potato, the burst of tart cranberries filling Hannah's mouth with the first bite of a fresh from the oven muffin. It might be cold as a witch's butt in Western New York in February. Show me the frost on the windows, the impassable roads and bitter bone-wracking chills that make sleep impossible.

8. Point of View. On a personal level, I prefer reading third person POV. As an editor, first person makes me sigh and ask 'why did the author do this?'. Omniscient POV—like some unseen, all knowing being floats over the action, telling the reader what each characters thinks and feels, gnashes my molars into dust. And head hopping makes me nuts. Some NYT's multi-published authors pull it off, and do it well. When you're first starting out, keep it simple. Stay in one character's head. It's safer for all concerned. 

9. Passive Voice. In the words of Stephen King: adverbs are not our friends. Please don't have a character 'jokingly ask' or 'laughingly remark'. Let them joke—straight out. Have them laugh, long, loud and deep. Keep the adverbs in the desk drawer where they belong. Make your sentences strong and active. Keep 'was' 'were' 'could' 'would' out of your prose. 

Examples: Jane could hear the fear in Dick's voice. BETTER: Jane heard fear in her lover's voice, saw angst in his furrowed brow and hunched shoulders. 
Dick was standing there, waiting impassively for the train to arrive. BETTER: Frozen in place,  Dick waited in line with the rest of the late evening commuters for the last train to arrive. 

10. Please, please, please remember: evaluation of any submission is one person's opinion. Before I am an editor, I am a reader. If a story doesn't grab me, I'm likely not going to offer a contract. Following the Wild Rose Press philosophy, as well as my own, it's my job to tell a reader why the story doesn't 'work' for me. It's not personal. But . . . if different people, such as critique partners or other editors are saying the same thing about your writing, pay attention to it. As one person, my opinion might be off the wall; three people who make the same observation make a difference. Listen. 

Lastly, here are two excellent references for authors, new and maybe not so new (click on the titles for the Amazon links):

Revision and Self Editing by James Scott Bell

Fire Up Your Fiction by Jodie Renner

Both are excellent sources.

Thanks for letting me run my mouth, Diana. It's been great. 

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Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Meet Marie Lavender and Read About Her Futuristic Paranormal Romance BLOOD INSTINCTS. Enter the Other World at Your Own Risk...

About Marie



Multi-genre author of Victorian romance, UPON YOUR RETURN, and 23 other books. Reached the Top 10 Authors list on AuthorsDB.com for the last 3 years. TOP 20 Authors of 2018 on Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews blog. DIRECTIONS OF THE HEART was nominated for the Author Academy Awards. UPON YOUR LOVE and THE MISSING PIECE placed in the TOP 10 on the 2017 P&E Readers' Poll. DIRECTIONS OF THE HEART was nominated for the 2017 Reader's Choice Awards. The I Love Romance Blog became a finalist in StartDating DK's Romance Blog Awards of 2017. ILRB landed on Feedspot’s 2017 TOP 100 Novel Blogs and TOP 100 Romance Blogs.

DIRECTIONS OF THE HEART placed in the TOP 10 Books of 2017 on Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews blog. TOP 20 Authors of 2017 on Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews blog. Mystery Blogger Award for 2017. A to Z Blog Challenge Survivor in 2016. March 2016 Empress of the Universe title - winner of the "Broken Heart" themed contest and the "I Love You" themed contest on Poetry Universe. SECOND CHANCE HEART and A LITTLE MAGICK placed in the TOP 10 on the 2015 P&E Readers' Poll. Nominated in the TRR Readers' Choice Awards for Winter 2015. Poetry winner of the 2015 PnPAuthors Contest. The Versatile Blogger Award for 2015. Honorable Mention in the 2014 BTS Red Carpet Book Awards. Finalist and Runner-up in the 2014 MARSocial's Author of the Year Competition. Honorable mention in the January 2014 Reader's Choice Award. Liebster Blogger Award for 2013, 2014 and 2016. 2013 and 2014 Amazon Bestseller Ranking for UPON YOUR RETURN. Winner of the Great One Liners Contest on the Directory of Published Authors.

Marie lives in the Midwest with her family and three cats. She has been writing for a little over twenty-five years. She has more works in progress than she can count on two hands. Since 2010, Marie has published 24 books in the genres of historical romance, contemporary romance, romantic suspense, paranormal romance, dramatic fiction, fantasy, science fiction, mystery/thriller, literary fiction and poetry. She has also contributed to several anthologies. Her current published series are The Heiresses in Love Series, The Eternal Hearts Series, The Magick Series, The Code of Endhivar Series and The Blood at First Sight Series.

About BLOOD INSTINCTS



Enter the Other World at your own risk…

What if you found out that you weren't exactly…human?

Myah Sullivan is suddenly living that nightmare. There are Others in the world, dangerous, supernatural creatures that make her mind spin and cause her to question the reality sheĆ¢€™s always known.

Oliver King is her savior, a vampire who tries to show her the way. Through her journey she learns far more than she ever thought she would about herself, and about the past. Soon, she discovers that there is so much more to meeting Oliver than mere happenstance.

Can Myah accept her new reality, or will she retreat into that normal, safe world she once thought was her own?

Meet the hero of BLOOD INSTINCTS, Oliver King, AND Marie, in these in-depth interviews:



1. What is your occupation?  Are you any good at it?  Do you like it?

I am an artist. Working on portraits and landscapes gives me an outlet I wouldn’t have had otherwise, so yes, I enjoy it. And if my fans and manager have anything to say about it, I guess I do all right.

But I once was a Hunter in the Other World, keeping supernatural miscreants in line. I was a warrior and trainer of recruits.

2. What is your family like?

(Looks away.) They are all gone now. When they were still alive, we were very happy. My parents were usually supportive, and I had a tendency to feel protective of my little sister.

3. What did your childhood home look like?

I lived in an Antebellum estate in Leesburg, Virginia. The house was large and white with black shutters, surrounded by lush fields.

4. Do you have any hobbies? What do you enjoy doing?

Besides painting, I tackle woodworking projects in my free time. And I’m pretty good at Judo and Aikido.

5. What is your greatest dream?

My greatest dream is to have a family of my own someday, even if that only means finding a female who is an Other, like me. But vampires have a long life span, so I have a lot of time on my hands.  (He winks.)

6. What kind of person do you wish you could be? What is stopping you?

I’ve outgrown lamenting my fate as a vampire. I have accepted it. I think all of my trials made me who I am, and I’m all right with that.

7. Who was your first love?

Was…of course, I had crushes on females in the past. But no woman has really made me want more than I already have… except for Myah.

8. What's the most terrible thing that ever happened to you?

Losing my family while I was away in battle. I don’t think I’ll ever forgive myself. The only solace I have is that my sister got to live a full life.

9. What was your dream growing up? Did you achieve that dream? If so, in what ways was it not what you expected? If you never achieved the dream, why not?

Honestly, I can’t remember those early dreams. My father expected me to go into the family business; I didn’t want that, though. I guess, in a way, I achieved what I aimed for. I became something more than what he wanted for me.

10. Who is your role model?

My shifter friend Hank…he’s a good male who made his own family in this world of Normals, and somehow he has managed to protect them. To be happy. Shouldn’t we all aim for that goal?

11. Is there someone you pretend to like but really dislike?

I don’t need to pretend to like someone. It’s a waste of effort.


12. What is your deepest desire?
That Myah will give me a chance and let me in.

13. What is your greatest fear?

I suspect she won’t accept the combined beauty and peril of the Other World.

Thank you for visiting us today.

* * *

Let’s shift over and get the author’s perspective.  We have Marie on the stage today.  Hi, Marie!

We just got to talk to the hero of your story, Oliver.  Quite an interesting character.

1.   Can you tell us a little about him?

Sure! Oliver is a 207 year old vampire. He’s had a tough life. He is also a gentleman, and I can’t resister that in a male character.

2.   What are your character's greatest strengths?

Oliver is honorable, brave, and multi-talented.

3. What are his greatest weaknesses?

Myah is his greatest weakness. He wasn’t prepared for his response to her.

4. What are some of his favorite foods?

Like some, he enjoys good food and savors wine. But he tries to mainly stick to forms of red meat. He doesn’t drink blood all the time. If he eats human food, though, he needs to limit his intake or he’ll get sick.

5. What's a positive quality that your character is unaware that he has?

Oliver is more heroic than he’d ever guess.

6.   Will readers like or dislike him, and why?

They will definitely like him, especially the fact that he is patient with Myah.
Well, now that we have a real taste of  Oliver, we have a few questions for you as well as the author.

7. What first gave you the idea for Blood Instincts?

When I knew it was time to write the sequel to Second Nature, the premise that kept coming to me was…what if I found out I was something more than human? And it just snowballed from there.

8. What is your writing style like?  Are you a pantster or a plotter?

I am a hybrid actually, a bit of both. I write as many random scenes as I can, and then I write a full outline to give myself some guidance. After that, I just keep working on each section until the book is finished. Maybe it doesn’t sound too glamorous, but the process works for me.

9. I’m throwing this one in for our aspiring writers.  Did you come across any specific challenges in writing Blood Instincts or getting it published?  What would you do differently the next time?

I guess you could say time placement became an issue. Eventually, I decided to throw a lighthearted, futuristic angle on it. And the problem resolved itself. I probably wouldn’t do anything different the next time. Back when I wrote the Heiresses in Love Series, I came across the same dilemma with the time spans between each book, and that worked out all right.

Did I have trouble getting the novel published? No, I just had to submit the manuscript to my publisher, who previously handled the sequel, and soon they accepted Blood Instincts too.


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Tuesday, August 7, 2018

My New Biographical Romance FOR THE LOVE OF HAWTHORNE--A Psychological Thriller With a Touch of Paranormal




One of history's greatest love stories was that of Nathaniel and Sophia Hawthorne.
They called themselves "Adam and Eve" and "loved surpassingly" as Sophia recorded in her journal.
When her sister Lizzie wanted her to come down and meet him, she wasn't a bit interested.

Here's a snippet from that night:

53 Charter Street, Salem, Massachusetts, 1837
Monday eve under a blur of stars, warm for mid-November 

“O, Sophie!” My sister pounded on my bedroom door. My head throbbed with every strike of her fist. “Pull on a frock and come downstairs! Now!”

I squeezed my eyes shut. “Please, Lizzie, I have one of my headaches. Leave me be.”

Heedless of my request or of the fierce pain tearing my brain, she shoved the door open. Its rusty hinges screeched. “Oh, dear God.” I covered my ears.

She stomped up to my bed, nudging me. “Another headache? You poor dear.” Her tone indicated neither sympathy nor sincerity. “Take more hyoscyamus.”

“I have none left. I took an opium powder,” my muffled voice cracked. I drew my knees to my chest and burrowed under the covers.

“Then come downstairs. You’ll be cured in an instant. Guess who’s here! Nathaniel Hawthorne! That is, him and his two hooded sisters. At least he took his mantle off. It’s nice to see them out of their house.”

I lowered the blanket past my chin, opened one eye and peeked at Lizzie fussing with her cuffs. “What got the sisters out?”

“My visit to them on Herbert Street.” A smug grin accompanied her air of braggadocio. My ears perked.

“Nobody calls on them!” I raised my shoulders off the bed. “You went there? Why did you intrude? You know how reclusive they are.”

“I went to call on Ebe. I read stories in New England Magazine by a Mr. Hawthorne. Naturally I believed it was Ebe under a pen name. Wanting to help her publish in other magazines, I called at their house. But the other sister, Louisa, answered the door. ‘I believe Ebe a genius,’ I told her, and she corrected me presently—‘Oh, my brother, you mean.’ And you know who that is, of course.”

“Nathaniel.” I nodded. “They only have one brother.”

“None other. I made it clear that if her brother writes like that, he has no right to be idle. And now he sits on our chesterfield directly below you!” She grinned at her accomplishment, beaming in the dim gaslight from the hallway. “My newly discovered genius with both his sisters.” She fanned her face with her hand. “You never saw anything so splendid. He is handsomer than Lord Byron.”

Her gushing eased my pain. “Lord Byron? You don’t say.” I chuckled. “I think it rather ridiculous to get up. If he has come once, he will come again.”

Lizzie shook her head. “Nuh-uh-uh. He specially asked for you.” Her tone carried a hint of resentment.

She blinked, pressing her palm to Grandmother Palmer’s pearl necklace nestled above her bosom. "He wants to talk with you about your Cuba journal. I gave it to him and he devoured it in two days.”

I sat up, shading my eyes from the gaslight, however weak. “That’s why he wants to meet me? I didn’t know you gave him that. Why didn’t you ask me first?” Always direct with Lizzie, I played up the annoyance in my tone.

She shrugged, tracing a pattern on my cover with her forefinger. “Everyone else read it.”

“Lizzie, will you stop trying to run my life?” I snapped. My muscles quivered as familiar outrage rose in me. “I know everybody read it. Without my consent. And you gave it to Nathaniel Hawthorne? Someone I’ve never met?”

“All your chiding was for naught then, and it is now. Everybody I gave it to devoured it, and now he’s fascinated with it.” Her voice lilted. “Says he feels he’s known you all his life and has become—” She cleared her throat. “intimately acquainted with your spirit and inner character.”

I narrowed my eyes, but not to block out light. “He read between the lines, then, if he thinks he knows me . . . intimately.” The word sent heat surging to my cheeks.

She flicked her wrist, her standard pooh-poohing gesture. “Well, it is sensual. He heard about it from others who’ve read it and begged me to see it.”

I snuggled back under the covers. “Tell him thank you. I’ll come down next time, when I have no headache. But he needn’t know that. Give him my regrets. I’m bedridden for now.”

Curiosity gnawed at me. I craved a peek at him. Rubbing my hands together with mischief, I slipt from bed, opened the door and tiptoed out to the hall. I crept to the banister and peered over. There he sat, his imposing presence poised in profile. He chatted with Mary and Lizzie, his enshrouded sisters flanking him. They sat in shadow, but he glowed. His voice, most musical thunder, eased my pain, soothing me. “O’Sullivan asked me to write for his new magazine so I penned The Toll-Gatherer’s Day in a single night when I couldn’t sleep.”

Staring as if entranced, I placed my hand over my dancing heart. Oh, handsomer than Lord Byron, all right. But why did he want to meet poor, miserable, maimed, nerve-twisted, trembling me, with pasty face and ash gray eyes, disciplined and defined by chronic headache? He had free access to Lizzie’s company, flattery, and engaging discourse. Had my breezy Cuba journal sparked that much interest? As I focused on him, unblinking, my head ceased pounding. I drew a sigh, luxuriated in the absence of pain and mentally rehearsed our first meeting.


Purchase FOR THE LOVE OF HAWTHORNE

Read Chapter One on my website