Friday, December 19, 2014

Meet Author Anita Philmar and Try Her #HolidayRecipe!

Anita Philmar is my guest, and we're participating in the #HolidayRecipe exchange. My recipe for Struffoli (honey balls) is at the end of Anita's post.
Anita likes to create stories that push the limit. A writer by day and a dreamer by night, she wants her readers to see the world in a new way.

Influenced by sci-fi programs, she likes to develop places where anything can happen and where erotic moments come to life in a great read.

Naughty or Nice?

Read her books and decide.

Deputy’s Bride is an erotic, historical western that is a stand-alone story with a satisfying HEA. Texas Deputy Bo Kildare is looking for a special kind of lady, one that is willing to meet his special requirements. No sweet little virgin will do, he wants a woman who knows how to please a man, perhaps two.
 Recently widowed, Sarah Elizabeth Foster-LaFever has lived in the public eye for the last few years and wants out. Her reputation as Micah LaFever’s wife has left her penniless and without many viable options until Bo comes calling. Now, she believes she found the perfect man until her past rears its ugly head.
Can murder and corrupt dealings keep these two lovers from making it to the alter? 
“God, when is he going to get here,” Sarah muttered and strolled to the freestanding, oval mirror in the corner.
Critically, she examined her silk dressing gown’s high collar. Unable to breathe with every button running down the front of garment secured, she’d only connected a few at her waist. The dark red robe highlighted her creamy complexion and light blonde hair. 
Through the open at the top, she viewed the curve of her breasts and the tight fit of her corset. The cream color almost matched her skin, creating the illusion that she was nude underneath. Tugging aside her wide skirt, she examined the long line of her legs. She’d opted to omit her bloomers. One, because with the fire raging in the fireplace, she was hot. Two, because she thought Mr. Kildare should get a glimpse of what he’d receive if he decided to make her his wife. 
Granted from what Madeline had told Sarah, the man wanted more than a dutiful wife. He sounded as if he were more like her deceased husband. Micah enjoyed playing extreme bedroom games.
She frowned, thinking how much she’d missed sex in the last year. Not because she hadn’t had the chance to indulge. More because she hadn’t wanted to fall victim to the same power hungry crowd that Micah had belonged. She’d done enough for those bastards and she had no intentions of doing... 
Knuckles hammered against her door. 
Brushing a nervous hand over her hair, she offered up a silent prayer that everything would work out before she rushed back to the doorway. After a quick breathe, she asked, “Who is it?”
 “Bo Kildare, I was sent by Madeline Cowden.”
A masculine tone rang from the other side.
His voice alone sent shivers racing over her skin. She flipped back the lock and inched open the door. “Yes, she said you might be stopping by.” 
#HolidayRecipe for  a Quick and Easy Date Night Dinner  

Choose your favorite wine. (Opening the bottle is something you can have your lover do.)
Make a quick dip of combining a mashed avocado with your favorite salsa. (Stir together and you are done.)
Open a bag of your favorite corn chips and you are ready to party.
Personally, I like to enjoy my wine and munch on the dip while I’m cooking the fajitas.
Now slice up a
1 medium size onion
1 green pepper
Sauté in non-stick pan with two tablespoons of oil
add 12 medium size shrimp (Shelled and deveined)
Sprinkle with tablespoon of taco season. (Vary this to your taste.)
and cook until shrimp are done.
Add some flour tortillas and dinner is served. 

Now for dessert – might I suggest you share a hot read, any of mine should put you in the mood.
Also if you are looking for other easy date night recipes – download for free Passionate Cooks

Have a great evening!
Visit Anita:
Anita's Website
An Italian Tradition, Struffoli (Honey Balls)
When my grandparents came from Naples and landed at Ellis Island in the early 1900s they brought many recipes with them, but only in their heads. No one brought cookbooks or written recipes on the boat along with their possessions. A favorite Chrismas treat is Struffoli, better known as Honey Balls. One Christmas when I was a kid, I watched my grandmother make them and scribbled down the ingredients as she sifted and mixed and baked and drizzled. Here's an accurate recipe in English!
•2 cups flour, plus extra for dusting
•1 large lemon, zested (about 2 teaspoons)
•1/2 large orange, zested (about 2 teaspoons)
•3 tablespoons sugar
•1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
•1/4 teaspoon baking powder
•1/2 stick (2 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, at room temperature
•3 large eggs
•1 tablespoon white wine, such as pinot grigio
•1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
•Canola oil, for frying
•1 cup honey
•1/2 cup sugar
•1 tablespoon lemon juice
•1 1/2 cups hazelnuts, toasted (see Cook's Note)
•Vegetable oil cooking spray
•Sugar sprinkles, for decoration
•Powdered sugar, for dusting, optional
For the dough: In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together 2 cups of flour, lemon zest, orange zest, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add the eggs, wine, and vanilla. Pulse until the mixture forms into a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Cut the dough into 4 equal-sized pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each piece of dough until 1/4-inch thick. Cut each piece of dough into 1/2-inch wide strips. Cut each strip of pastry into 1/2-inch pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a small ball about the size of a hazelnut. Lightly dredge the dough balls in flour, shaking off any excess. In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, pour enough oil to fill the pan about a third of the way. Heat over medium heat until a deep-frying thermometer inserted in the oil reaches 375 degrees F. (If you don't have a thermometer a cube of bread will brown in about 3 minutes.). In batches, fry the dough until lightly golden, about 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. (The rested and quartered dough can also be rolled on a floured work surface into 1/2-inch thick logs and cut into equal-sized 1/2-inch pieces. The dough pieces can then be rolled into small balls and fried as above).
In a large saucepan, combine the honey, sugar, and lemon juice over medium heat. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the fried dough and hazelnuts and stir until coated in the honey mixture. Allow the mixture to cool in the pan for 2 minutes.
Spray the outside of a small, straight-sided water glass with vegetable oil cooking spray and place in the center of a round platter. Using a large spoon or damp hands, arrange the struffoli and hazelnuts around the glass to form a wreath shape. Drizzle any remaining honey mixture over the struffoli. Allow to set for 2 hours (can be made 1 day in advance). Decorate with sprinkles and dust with powdered sugar, if using. Remove the glass from the center of the platter and serve.
Note: To toast the hazelnuts, arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 350 degrees F oven until lightly toasted, 8 to 10 minutes. Cool completely before using.
Total Time: 4 hr 12 min
Prep: 1 hr 30 min
Yield:8 to 10 servings



Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Meet Kim Headlee, Author of Ancient Rome Romance LIBERTY

They hailed her “Liberty,” but she was free only to obey—or die.

Betrayed by her father and sold as payment of a Roman tax debt to fight in Londinium’s arena, gladiatrix-slave Rhyddes feels like a wild beast in a gilded cage. Celtic warrior blood flows in her veins, but Roman masters own her body. She clings to her vow that no man shall claim her soul, though Marcus Calpurnius Aquila, son of the Roman governor, makes her yearn for a love she believes impossible.

Groomed to follow in his father’s footsteps and trapped in a politically advantageous betrothal, Aquila prefers the purity of combat on the amphitheater sands to the sinister intrigues of imperial politics, and the raw power and athletic grace of the flame-haired Libertas to the adoring deference of Rome’s noblewomen.

When a plot to overthrow Caesar ensnares them as pawns in the dark design, Aquila must choose between the Celtic slave who has won his heart and the empire to which they both owe allegiance. Trusting no man and knowing the opposite of obedience is death, the only liberty offered to any slave, Rhyddes must embrace her arena name—and the love of a man willing to sacrifice everything to forge a future with her.


Paperback edition forthcoming!


FINGERS CRAMPING AND shoulders aching from having wielded the pitchfork all day, Rhyddes ferch Rudd tossed another load of hay onto the wagon. Sweat trickled down her back, making the lash marks sting. Marks inflicted by her father, Rudd, the day before because eighteen summers of anguish had goaded her into speaking her mind.
Physical pain couldn’t compare with the ache wringing her heart.
She slid a glance toward the author of her mood. He stood a few paces away, leaning upon his pitchfork’s handle in the loaded wagon’s shade to escape the July heat as he conversed with her oldest brother, Eoghan. She couldn’t discern their words, but their camaraderie spoke volumes her envy didn’t want to hear.
Her father’s gaze met hers, and he lowered his eyebrows. “Back to work, Rhyddes!” On Rudd’s lips, her name sounded like an insult.
In a sense, it was.
Her name in the Celtic tongue meant “freedom,” but the horse hitched to the hay wagon enjoyed more freedom than she did. Her tribe, the Votadini, had been conquered by the thieving Romans, who demanded provisions for their troops, fodder for their mounts, women for their beds, and coin to fill the purses of every Roman who wasn’t a soldier.
If those conditions weren’t bad enough, for all the kindness her father had demonstrated during her first two decades, Rhyddes may as well have been born a slave.
She scooped up more hay. Resentment-fired anger sent wisps flying everywhere, much of it sailing over the wagon rather than landing upon it.
“Hey, mind what you’re doing!”
Owen, her closest brother in age and in spirit, emerged from the wagon’s far side, hay prickling his hair and tunic like a porcupine. Rhyddes couldn’t suppress her laugh. “’Tis an improvement. Just wait till the village lasses see you.”
“Village lasses, hah!” Sporting a wicked grin, Owen snatched up a golden fistful, flung it at her, and dived for her legs.
They landed in the fragrant hay and began vying for the upper hand, cackling like a pair of witless hens. When Owen thought he’d prevailed, Rhyddes twisted and rolled from underneath him. Her fresh welts stung, but she refused to let that deter her. He lost his balance and fell backward. She pounced, planting a knee on his chest and pinning his wrists to the ground over his head.
Victory’s sweetness lasted but a moment. Fingers dug into her shoulders, and she felt herself hauled to her feet and spun around. Owen’s face contorted to chagrin as he scrambled up.
“Didn’t get enough of the lash yestermorn, eh, girl?” Rudd, his broad hands clamped around her upper arms, gave her a teeth-rattling shake.
When she didn’t respond, he released her and rounded on Owen. “As for you—”
“Da, please, no!” Rhyddes stopped herself. Well she knew the futility of pleading with Rudd. Still, for Owen’s sake, she had to try. Her father’s scowl dared her to continue. She swallowed the lump that had formed in her throat. “’Twas not Owen’s fault. I—” Sweat freshened the sting on her back, and she winced. “The fault is naught but mine.”
“Aye, that I can well believe.” Rudd grasped each sibling by an arm and strode across the hayfield toward the family’s lodge. “Owen can watch you take his lashes as well as yours. We’ll see if that won’t mend his ways.” The thin linen of her ankle-length tunic failed to shield her from his fingers, which had to be leaving bruises. Rhyddes gritted her teeth. Rudd seemed disappointed. “I doubt anything in this world or the next will make you mend yours.”
“You don’t want me to change. You’d lose your excuse to beat me.” Sheer impertinence, she knew, but she no longer cared.
“I need no excuses, girl.”
The back of his hand collided with her cheek. Pain splintered into a thousand needles across her face. She reeled and dropped to her hands and knees, her hair obscuring her vision in a copper cascade. Hay pricked her palms. Owen would have helped her rise, but their father restrained him. Owen blistered the ground with his glare, not daring to direct it at Rudd for fear of earning the same punishment.
Not that Rhyddes could blame him.
Rudd yanked her up, cocked a fist . . . and froze. “Raiders!”
Rhyddes whirled about. Picts were charging from the north to converge upon their settlement, the battle cries growing louder under the merciless afternoon sun. One of the storage buildings had already been set ablaze, its roof thatch marring the sky with thick black smoke.
Rudd shed his shock and sprinted for the living compound, calling his children by name to help him defend their home: Eoghan, Ian, Bloeddwyn, Arden, Dinas, Gwydion, Owen.
Every child except Rhyddes.
She ran to the wagon, unhitched the horse, found her pitchfork, scrambled onto the animal’s back, and kicked him into a jolting canter. The stench of smoke strengthened with each stride. Her mount pinned back his ears and wrestled her for control of the bit, but she bent the frightened horse to her will. She understood how he felt.
As they loped past the cow byre, a Pict leaped at them, knocking Rhyddes from the horse’s back. The ground jarred the pitchfork from her grasp. The horse galloped toward the pastures as Rhyddes fumbled for her dagger. Although her brothers had taught her how to wield it in a fight, until now she’d used it only to ease dying animals from this world.
But the accursed blade wouldn’t come free of the hilt.
Sword aloft, the Pict closed on her.
Time distorted, assaulting Rhyddes with her attacker’s every detail: lime-spiked hair, weird blue symbols smothering the face and arms, long sharp sword, ebony leather boots and leggings, breastplate tooled to fit female curves . . .
The warrior-woman’s sword began its descent.
From the corner of her eye Rhyddes saw her pitchfork. Grunting, she rolled toward it, praying to avoid her attacker’s blow.
Her left arm stung where the sword grazed it, but she snagged her pitchfork and scrambled to her feet. Unexpected eagerness flooded her veins.
As the Pict freed her weapon from where it had embedded in the ground, Rhyddes aimed the pitchfork and lunged. The tines hooked the warrior-woman’s sword, and Rhyddes twisted with all her strength. The Pict yelped as the sword ripped from her hand to go flying over the sty’s fence. Squealing in alarm, the sow lumbered for cover, trying to wedge her bulk under the trough.
With a savage scream, the warrior-woman whipped out a dagger and charged. Rhyddes reversed the pitchfork and jammed its butt into the Pict’s gut, under the breastplate’s bottom edge, robbing her of breath. She reversed it again and caught the raider under the chin with the pitchfork’s tines. As the woman staggered backward, flailing her arms and flashing the red punctures that marred her white neck, Rhyddes struck hard and knocked her down.
The warrior-woman looked heavier by at least two stone, but Rhyddes pinned her chest with her knee. She dropped the pitchfork and grasped her dagger, yanking it free. Grabbing a fistful of limed hair, she wrestled the woman’s head to one side to expose her neck.
The Pict bucked and twisted, trying to break Rhyddes’s grip. ’Twas not much different than wrestling a fever-mad calf.
Rhyddes’s deft slice ended the threat.
Blood spurted from the woman’s neck in sickening pulses.
Rhyddes stood, panting, her stomach churning with the magnitude of what she’d done. ’Twas no suffering animal she’d killed—and it could have been her lying there, pumping her lifeblood into the mud.
Bile seared her throat, making her gag. Pain lanced her stomach. Bent double, she retched out the remains of her morning meal, spattering the corpse.
After spitting out the last bitter mouthful and wiping her lips with the back of her hand, she drew a deep breath and straightened. As she turned a slow circle, her senses taking in the sights and sounds and stench of the devastation surrounding her, she wished she had not prevailed.
The news grew worse as she sprinted toward the lodge.
Of her seven brothers, the Picts had left Ian and Gwydion dead, her father and Owen wounded, the lodge and three outbuildings torched. She ran a fingertip over the crusted blood of her scratch, and she couldn’t suppress a surge of guilt.
Mayhap, she thought through the blinding tears as she ran to help what was left of her family, ’twould have been better had she died in the Pict’s stead.
The surviving raiders were galloping toward the tree line with half the cattle. The remaining stock lay stiffening in the fields, already attracting carrion birds.
Three days later, the disaster attracted scavengers of an altogether different sort.

Love this book? Please join Kim's All-Stars Street Team!

Older cover by HQN Books, 2006:

Please RT 5* #Liberty by @KimHeadlee ancient Rome historical romance 99 cents! #BYNR #ASMSG #IARTG
Love this book? Please join Kim's All-Stars Street Team!
TITLE – Liberty, second edition
AUTHOR – Kim Iverson Headlee
GENRE – Historical Romance
PUBLICATION DATE – December 2014
LENGTH (Pages/# Words) – 462 pages/118K words
PUBLISHER – Pendragon Cove Press
COVER DESIGNER – Natasha Brown

“When the legend becomes fact, 
print the legend.”

Please sign up for the Pre-Order & Launch Blog Tour, thanks!
December 8-19

Friday, December 12, 2014

Meet Annalisa Russo, Author of Romantic Historic Suspense with The Wild Rose Press

My guest is my fellow Wild Rose Press author Annalisa Russo, who, like me, writes historical romance whose first book, RAGS TO RUBIES, was about an Italian immigrant family—a woman after my own heart, as I wrote my New York saga about an Italian immigrant family! 

Enjoy my interview with Annalisa, contact her and purchase her books from the links below.


You, the Author

I’m a Midwest gal who grew up in a first-generation Italian family in the burbs of Chicago. I went to an all-girl Catholic school (yes, plaid skirt and blazer with knee-high socks) and on to an all-girl college culminating with a degree in English literature. And then I went on to teach fifth grade math—go figure.

During this exciting time I wrote. Most of which is under the bed in file boxes now. I also married, had three children, and became a pretty good cook, though now I just cook for company; my stove is for resale purposes only. Along with a passion for reading and writing, I enjoy gardening and frequently invent reasons for traveling. Over the years, I have inherited a narcissistic tabby named Buster who really runs the house and my life. Luckily, he’s pretty easy to live with and only complains when his dish is empty, which is most of the time.

My first book was a stand-alone book, Rags to Rubies. I have just finished the second book in the Cavelli Angel Saga, a romantic suspense quartet about an Italian immigrant family in 1925. The family consists of three brothers—Michael, Raphael, and Gabriel, named after the archangels (and angels they’re not!) and two sisters, Anna and Tessia. I’m working on the third book in the series now, Gabe’s story.  

If you have 2 hours free time tonight, what would you rather do? Why?
Winter is cold in the Midwest; I would start a fire in the fireplace, pour myself a glass of a good merlot, and snuggle in with a well-thumbed favorite. 

What kind of books do you love to read? Why?
Romance is my first choice because who doesn’t like a happy ending. But I really prefer romantic suspense and its soupcon of danger. The only non-fiction I read is about the time period I write in, the 1920’s, though I’m addicted to the magazine, Smithsonian. 

What type of music do you enjoy relaxing to?
Really, anything but progressive jazz or rap. Right now, the artists with the most play on my iPod are Eagles, Chicago blues, and Amos Lee. Classical when I’m doing something tedious.
What is your stress buster?
If it were springtime, a slow walk around my neighborhood’s pond would be first choice. But since it’s about 20 degrees right now, I settle for a long, hot bath and a copy of Midwest Living.

What is your favorite food? What food do you seek when you're sad, sort of a comfort food?
Anything pasta with a good artisan bread is my go-to and all-time favorite. But since no self-respecting Italian would open a jar of premade sauce, I don’t eat it as often as I’d like.

Describe yourself in one word.
What is the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done?
White water rafter the Lower Animas River in southern Colorado with my daughter. It was exhilarating.
What makes you happy/sad/disappointed/frustrated/hopeful/angry? (Pick one)
Time with family, especially my new little granddaughter.
How would readers find out more about you?
Visit my website,

Your writing

When did you write your first book? How long did it take you to write it?
My first novel took me ten years to complete, because life happened. Though I have quite a few manuscripts under the bed.
Did you encounter any obstacles in writing? What are they? How did you overcome them?
Once of the biggest hurdles for me was a lack of knowledge about the industry of writing/publishing. It took a lot of research and do-overs before I got it right. Now I pass that information on to other aspiring writers through library presentations. I have also completed an eBook on getting published that will be released soon.
How did you feel when you receive your first contract? What did you do? Any celebratory dinner, dance, event, etc to commemorate the occasion?
I was thrilled and celebrated with friends and champagne!

Any writing peeves, things you wish you could improve on, things you do with exceptional talent?

I write historical so I am constantly researching the time period for inspiration and facts. I wish I could have more firsthand experience of that era without being 100 years old!

What kind of books do you love/hate to write? Why?
I love to write books about the 1920’s because I think that era was an interesting one for women. I’ve always enjoyed a good Christmas novel and have had one rolling around in my head which I will put to paper after The Cavelli Angel Saga.

What do you think about editing?
I’ve changed the way I edit my stories which has made the process easier, but not necessarily more enjoyable. I think editing is a necessary evil.

Where and when do you write? Tell us about your favorite work place and time. Any special reason?
     I have an area set aside in my home and am definitely a morning writer. The picture window overlooks a wooded area at the back of my property where deer trail across the lawn and myriad types of birds eat from the feeders. I cannot write in small snippets of time, but rather need a block of four or five hours to get into the groove.

How do you write? Do your characters come to you first or the plot or the world of the story? How do you go on from there? Maybe you can give us an example with one of your books.

All of the above, sometimes characters come first, sometimes it’s the plot. With my first book, Rags to Rubies, the characters came first. 

What books can you recommend to aspiring writers to improve on style, character development, plot, structure, dialogue, etc?

Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point of View by Jill Elizabeth Nelson has changed the way I write in point of view. Also, Holly Lisle’s clinics on creating page turning scenes, plotting, and creating characters are helpful. Noah Lukeman’s How to Write a Great Query Letter and The Plot Thickens would be useful for any beginning writer.

What is your must-have book for writing?
I usually go back to Holly Lisle’s Create a Plot clinic. I am currently reading it for the third time.
What is your advice to aspiring writers?
Write, write, write…send the manuscript out and keep writing while you wait for a response. The first question an editor will ask you after she expresses her interest in your story is “What else do you have for me?”

Your books

What genre(s) do you write? Why do you write the stories that you write?
All my books are historical romantic suspense. I write the kind of stories I like to read.

Among those that you’ve written, which is your favorite book and why?
The book I’m writing now, the third in The Cavelli Angel Saga, I think will be my favorite. It’s Gabriel Cavelli’s story and Gabe is the bad boy of the family and an interesting character, to say the least.

Where do you get your ideas? Do you jot them down in a notebook, in case you forgot?
My recent project is The Cavelli Angel Saga, a quartet about an Italian immigrant family in Chicago in the 1920’s. The family consists of three boys and two girls. The boys are named after the archangels—Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael—hence the title. I remembered a line of dialogue from the movie Michael starring John Travolta: “I’m not that kinda angel.” The words inspired me to write about three men, rough and tumble, and their two feisty sisters. But in the end, the story is about family—undaunted loyalty, unwavering love, and tireless support. I have notebooks everywhere! My car, my purse— almost every room of my house has a notepad. You never know when literary inspiration will strike!

Which book is the closest to your heart? Why?
An Angel’s Redemption: because I can relate to the hero, a man trapped by familial responsibilities. Losing my father at 17 and, being the oldest of five, I was put in the same position.

Which of your books feature your family/friends, etc? What characters are modeled after them? Why?
None of my characters are truly modeled after one particular person, but many are combinations.

Who is your strongest/sexiest/most lovable/hottest hero/heroine? Why?
Michael Cavelli, head of the Cavelli Family and hero in An Angel’s Redemption, is definitely the strongest hero I’ve written about. But, the book I’m writing now about the third Cavelli brother, Gabe, is probably the sexiest—think— Italian David Beckham!

Have you ever wanted to write your book in one direction but your characters are moving it in another direction? What did you do in such a situation?
All the time! That is the reason I changed from an outline to plotting on index cards. It’s easier when a character takes you in a different direction. You just take one card out and replace it with another or just switch them around.

Tell us more about your latest release An Angel Healed, published by The Wild Rose Press.
Archaeologist Raphael Cavelli wonders why he isn’t in some watering hole in Peru drinking a lukewarm cerveza next to a bosomy blonde. Instead, back in Chicago trying to stay one step ahead of the law for stealing the archaeological find of the century, he bumps, literally, into the reason he left seven years ago—the girl he traveled halfway around the globe to forget. Hope Macklin, sob sister/obituary writer for The Spectator, wangles the assignment to cover a high society wedding. If she does well, it means a promotion and a raise — but the heiress’s bothersome brother remembers her from St. Rose’s Home for the Friendless, a time she’d rather forget. She's on the lam, so she can’t afford to draw attention to herself, even for a carelessly handsome man. Fate throws Rafe and Hope together again just in time to square off with the faceless opponent doggedly threatening them.

Any new projects, work in progress?
I’m working on Angel Lost, Angel Found, a story of the third Cavelli brother, Gabriel. The fourth book in the quartet will be about a character from the first book in the series, Seth Truitt, who comes back to the Cavelli ancestral home to heal. I have had a Christmas story in my head for years. I plan to start it soon in order to have it available for Christmas 2015.

Do you outline your books or wing it?  Describe your process. 
I used to outline but have switched to plotting on index cards for more flexibility.

How do you decide on setting?
My stories are based in Chicago in the 1920’s. I’ve lived in this area all my life, so I know and love it. I find this makes it easy to make Chicago the home of my characters.  

What genre(s) do you write in?  Why?
Historical romantic suspense. Why? Who doesn’t love a love story? 

Some writers edit excessively as they write; others wait until a novel is finished to do the bulk of editing.  How about you?
I do basic editing after every five chapters, and then set the manuscript down for a couple weeks. The final edits are easier to do with fresh eyes.  

How much research was involved in writing your book?  How did you go about it?
I’ve spent hours upon hours researching in libraries and on the Internet. I keep binders of the research I do for each book. You never know when you have to verify a fact. Also, to broaden my knowledge of the decade, I read many non-fiction books about the 1920’s. I’m fortunate my friends and family often buy these for me as gifts!  

What inspired your latest release?
I happened to come across a children’s non-fiction book featuring the Charioteer of Delphi Statuary sculpted in 473 B.C. As I read, I became intrigued that the Charioteer’s horses have never been found. This led to Raphael Cavelli being the archeologist who finally discovers them.

Can you tell us about your road to publication?
In the Romance Writers of America monthly magazine, there’s a section featuring first-time author sales. I noticed The Wild Rose Press Publishing Company was accepting new authors and I chose to send my query letter there. They responded asking for a synopsis and the first three chapters. After a few weeks they then requested the full manuscript. Soon after, they offered me a contract and Rags to Rubies was published.

E-books, print, or both?  Any preferences?  Why?
My Kindle was a gift and there are many aspects of the eReader that I enjoy—convenience, very portable, instant download. However, I still prefer a book in my hand, hardcover or paperback.  

How much time do you spend promoting your books?
I try to limit it to five hours a week. Of course, I could spend five hours a day on marketing and still not get everything done. But writing must come first or there will be nothing to promote! 

Please tell us your experiences with social media.  What are your favorite and least favorite parts of it?
In the beginning, social media was my nemesis. I didn’t know what was out there, nor where to start or how to use it. My daughter helped me get started with Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, and LinkedIn. I was already using Goodreads, and we simply upgraded my account to an author page. My least favorite part is how easy it is to get sucked in to a black hole with SM, spending hours and hours surfing, so I try to set limits and take a more narrow approach. My favorite part of social media is the connection with my fans and other authors. 

Have you had other careers before becoming a writer?
I started my working life as an elementary school teacher, and then became a stay at home mom until my youngest started kindergarten. I spent twenty years in interior design and wholesale custom draperies, owning two businesses in two different cities. Then I went back to school, updated my teaching certificate, and returned to teaching—this time as a middle school math teacher. During all that time, I wrote women’s fiction and children’s short stories. Ten years ago, I got serious about writing and Rags to Rubies was the result.

Were you “born to write” or did you discover your passion for writing later in life?
I’ve always enjoyed writing. As a child, I kept a diary and as a young adult, a journal. In my years of teaching, I wrote children’s stories and read them to my students. They seemed to like the stories, but they were a captured audience! 

Do you have or belong to a writing organization?  Which one?
I have been a member of Romance Writers of America for the last ten years. 

What do you keep on your desk?
Besides the computer, a giant dictionary and thesaurus, a book on 1920’s slang and often a cup of hot, herbal tea. 

Tell us about your hero or heroine.  Give us one of his/her strengths and one of his/her weaknesses.

Hope Macklin, the heroine in An Angel Healed, unselfishly adopts four street children putting her own freedom at risk.

You’re having a party.  What character from your book do you hope attends?  Why? 
Gabriel Cavelli because bad boys are always interesting. 

What character do you hope doesn’t attend?  Why?
Lester Royd because narcissistic, condescending, self-centered jerks are generally not the life of the party. 

What’s your favorite film of all times?  Favorite book?
Hands down, Gone with the Wind is my favorite film. I have quite a few favorite books, but recently I’ve enjoyed The Brides’ Trilogy by Nora Roberts. 

What’s the coolest surprise you’ve ever had?
A surprise party on my sixteenth birthday thrown by a best friend who generally couldn’t keep a secret if her life depended on it, and I was completely surprised! 

If you could have one skill that you don’t currently have, what would it be?
I’ve played the piano since I was about twelve years old, but practiced hard for every note. I wish it came more naturally to me.

What might we be surprised to know about you?
I am claustrophobic to the extent that even watching a film where someone is in a confining spot can give me anxiety. 

What’s your favorite comfort food?  Anything with mashed potatoes. Least favorite food? Liver and onions, aargghhhh! 

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