Archive for February, 2012

Book Ideas: Where Do They Come From?

Monday, February 27th, 2012

Last week was definitely crazy week. This week promises to be busy. What made last week crazy? I accomplished very little writing because a bug hit me about Tuesday, and Wednesday I was wiped out. I’m still getting rid of the runny nose and cough. Oy! Then this weekend the hubby was down with it, too. Worse than my bug, as a matter of fact.

This leads me straight into a totally unrelated subject. Book ideas. People frequently want to know where writers get their ideas for stories. I’ve never answered that question easily. I get ideas from real life events in history, but I also get them from other random bits of flotsam. In the typical insecure writer fashion this one thing runs through my head on occasion. What if I run out of ideas?


For a long time I’ve been walking my dog past this empty house in our neighborhood. In the summer the rosebushes and weeds go crazy in the front yard. Someone cleans up the mess and the house remains vacant. A single intro line for a novel kept cropping into my head whenever I walked by this house. Finally, about two weeks ago this more fully formed idea came into my head for a post-apocalyptic, horror, and romance novel. Yep. All of those things. I even thought about expanding to a trilogy and then realized I didn’t want to go that far. This one idea. One very fresh idea that I haven’t seen everywhere being written over and over. So I’m keeping it close to my vest until that sucker is written. I haven’t decided if it’ll be a full-fledged novel length story or a novella. The whole thing begs for big.

Then another typical writer thing pops up in my head. “What about the science you’ll have to look up to make this work?” Well, it is research and it isn’t like I don’t do a lot of that already with my historical novels. It sounds like fun, fun.

There are no zombies, shape shifters, or werewolves in this novel idea, by the way.

Guest Blogger: Janis Susan May Patterson

Friday, February 24th, 2012

Please welcome Janis Susan May to my blog today. She writes horror novels, non-fiction, mystery, romance and children’s fiction. I’m pleased to have her tell us why she writes in multiple genres.

Who Am I Today?
by Janis Susan May Patterson

Hi, there! I’m Janis Susan May. I write romance and horror novels.

I’m also Janis Patterson when I write mystery novels. And Janis Susan Patterson for children’s books. And just to make things square and tidy, I’m J.S.M. Patterson for non-fiction and scholarly works.

Sometimes it’s interesting being a crowd all by yourself.

And sometimes it’s confusing. I’m always working on multiple projects in multiple genres, each of which requires a different mindset. The Husband has been known to peer cautiously around my office door to ask, “And who are we today?”

One of the things I am most asked is, “Why? Why do you write in so many genres?” (Sometimes the ‘why’ is replaced by ‘how.’) The answer to ‘why’ is simple – I bore very easily. The idea of writing just one kind of book for the rest of my life absolutely horrifies me. It would be like eating cheeseburgers every meal for eternity – and I do love cheeseburgers. Up to a point. There is so much variety in the world to explore and experience, so why can’t we do the same thing with our writing?

As for ‘how’ – I simply don’t understand that question. Writing is writing. It is the art/craft/science of manipulating words. You can take the same twenty-five random words and create different statements on different subjects with different nuances from them. Some say there are only twenty-four plots; others say eight. Others go by character archetypes or zodiac signs or whatever pigeonholes they want to use. No matter what set of dividers you believe in, each can be manipulated to fit just about any genre. (Well, I do have kind of a hard time juxtaposing serial killers or sexual situations with children’s – definitely do NOT want to go there – so let’s keep this to grown-up fiction.)

Take a plot down to its most basic form, say revenge for a wrong. It could be that a man dumps a woman, breaking her heart. Now in a romance the woman disguises herself or changes over time, makes the man fall in love with her with the distinct purpose of dumping him back to give him equal hurt, only they end up falling in love again, this time for keeps. In a saga, same scenario, except she does dump him and their families carry on an inter-generational feud until two younger members do the Romeo and Juliet thing, making the families see the error of their ways. In a mystery, same scenario again, except before the big love scene the man is murdered and the woman must solve the crime to prove her innocence – or hide her guilt. The variations in any genre could be endless.

It all comes down to motivations and choices. Fiction is shaped by two things – characters and circumstance. The rest is just slant, and slant is nothing but a difference created by nuance and subtext and use of language. And that’s what writers do, isn’t it? Use language?

I’ve learned that using language in different ways to create different styles for different genres keeps my writing fresh. And it keeps the boredom away. I just want to be sure that I don’t confuse anyone, and that’s why I decided to use different names.

I’ve never made a secret of my multiple personalities – I have two websites ( and and cross-pollinate all the time. When Janis Susan May sells a romance or J.S.M. Patterson writes something on archaeology, Janis Patterson brags, and vice-versa. I have only one Twitter account (@JanisSusanMay) but use it for all my names. I can barely keep up with two websites; two Twitter accounts would drive me madder than I already am. I don’t Facebook at all, but the reasons for that are fodder for another blog.

So why, when it’s no small amount of work, do I juggle so many names? The answer is my readers. I don’t mind if they know who all the ‘mes’ are, in fact, I hope they do. I do it because I want to give them reader assurance. If they pick up a Janis Patterson book, I want them to know they’re getting a fairly cozy mystery. If they pick up a Janis Susan Patterson book, it’s going to be a wholesome children’s story. Janis Susan May – either romance or horror, and I think those genres are far enough different that the cover would clearly differentiate. The more formal J.S.M. Patterson will show up on non-fiction only.

Back in the days when the dinosaurs browsed contentedly outside the cave I wrote my first book on a manual typewriter and used my maiden name – Janis Susan May. I wrote romance – and as one of the original writers who came together at that first meeting to see if an organization of romance writers could prosper am considered one of the founders of RWA. Times and people change, however, and as I gradually began to spread out into mysteries I began to see the need for a different persona. I chose Patterson because it is my legal, married name, it honors my wonderful husband and – with any luck at all – will get me shelved next to James Patterson! (I thought about calling him ‘Cousin James’ but don’t think he’d appreciate it.) The other two names grew out of that decision.

Should everyone try to write under a clutch of names in varying genres? Of course not. Not everyone would be interested, and if you’re content in writing the same genre consistently, that is what works for you and you should keep on. I do think, though, that there are a lot of writers who could expand their horizons – and perhaps better survive the vagaries of the publishing business – if they stepped outside their comfort zones to experiment. If you do, let me know how it goes.

Janis Susan May is a seventh-generation Texan and a third-generation wordsmith who writes mysteries as Janis Patterson, romances and other things as Janis Susan May, children’s books as Janis Susan Patterson and scholarly works as J.S.M. Patterson.
Formerly an actress and singer, a talent agent and Supervisor of Accessioning for a bio-genetic DNA testing lab, Janis has also been editor-in-chief of two multi-magazine publishing groups as well as many other things, including an enthusiastic amateur Egyptologist.
Janis married for the first time when most of her contemporaries were becoming grandmothers. Her husband, also an Egyptophile, even proposed in a moonlit garden near the Pyramids of Giza. Janis and her husband live in Texas with an assortment of rescued furbabies.

Guest Blog: Vonna Harper/Vella Munn

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

Good morning everyone. Please welcome my guest blogger for today, Vonna Harper who also goes under the name Vella Munn and two other pen names. She is the talented author of dozens of novels in a variety of genres from suspense to erotic romance. Please give her a big welcome!

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Why do I genre hop? The real question is would I still be semi-sane if I didn’t? Here’s my pop psychology take on why I’ve worn as many hats as I have. Psst. Here’s a secret. Writers don’t get promotions. Okay, maybe we move from “the call” to mid list to that rarified air only a handful breathe. Maybe we can notch our belts with publishers we meet along the ladder to the top of The Big Boys, but that’s not a given. Look, I’ve been putting down ‘writer’ on my tax return for going on forty years and I still don’t have it made. I never will, something it took me a long time to wrap my mind around.

So what are writers going to do if there’s no transisiting from the stock room to the board room? Are we going to stay on the same assembly line until someone hands us a gold watch and shows us the door? Not me.

I need challenges. I also need to pay the bills. When those two collide, I stick my head out and sniff around looking for the new, the exciting, the adventure, the challenge. That can come from many directions. Many years ago I left category romance for a couple of reasons. The easy-to-reveal explanation is that I’d grown tired of happy-ever-after about good and decent people who deserve each other. Reason number two is a little harder to come clean about but what the hell. I was being rejected. The why of those rejections after twenty-some sales still baffles me to some extent, but life goes on.

When I could no longer bring myself to knock on that door, my agent let me lick my wounds for about a day and a half. Then, knowing me as she does, she said, “Where do we go from here?” At the moment I didn’t know. I’d been so wrapped up in category romance burnout that I wasn’t able to see past the burn.

She had a suggestion. Okay, more than a suggestion, a swift kick in the rear. Here’s pretty much what she said. “Historicals are where it’s at these days. You live in a National Historic Landmark. Figure it out.” “I’m not into history,” I whined. “Shut up and write,” she replied. “Either that or go back to being a social worker.” No! Anything but that! The conversation led to a nine book run writing Native American historicals for Tor/Forge.

Then I was back in familiar territory, a little tired of living in the past (and emotionally dealing with how Native Americans had been treated by whites) coupled with declining sales. I’ve always been drawn to suspense so tried a couple of proposals. My agent couldn’t get behind them (they still haven’t sold) and she and I parted ways. (We’re still friends) Ykes, how to pay the bills now?

I signed up with a correspondence how-to-write school and became an instructor while writing a little of this, that, and the other thing. The more students I took on and the more money I made teaching, the more I knew I didn’t want to be doing this. Then my mother broke her pelvis. I got the message. Life’s short. No matter what the financial risk, I had to go back to pounding out my own words.

If you’re thinking I lack a master plan, you’re right. In essence I’m a puppy running around looking for something new to gnaw on. I love gnawing. I just need different textures and tastes to sink my teeth into.

Fortunately for the sake of keeping a roof over my head, I’ve latched onto my latest chew toy, erotica. Back when I was sweating through tame love scenes for category romance I never thought I’d be writing graphic sex, but the erotic romance market was exploding and I was in the right place at the right time. Besides, all it had taken was one of my buddy Kate Douglas’ wolf tales to corrupt me. I’d written about buffalo hunts, prairie fires, and winter survival. I could learn to write about the bold in bed and other places.

Don’t ask me how many books, novellas, and short stories I’ve written as Vonna Harper. A major bunch. I won’t say I’m burning out, but I’m starting to feel the restlessness. I’m putting the finishing touches on my third ménage, something I thought I’d never be able to pull off but needed to try. A couple of months ago I dove head first into the dark side with the self-published Carnal Captive. The title pretty much explains what that sucker’s about.

So where will I go if I leave erotic romance? I have a couple of things up my sleeve so to speak, but as my mother said, “Don’t put the whammy on it.” That was her way of telling me to keep my yap shut. Let’s just say I still love suspense and paranormal and a mess of other stuff.

Speaking of the other stuff, I recently wrote a biography about my writer grandfather that’s coming out this summer via . I haven’t tackled nonfiction since my newspaper reporting and article writing days, but it’s something I’ve needed to do for many years.

Then there’s Snow with Musa, a man against nature. No, I don’t know what possessed me to jump into that but it was an amazing experience.

There’s also my first venture into YA Land Of Burned Out Fires to be released with Astrea Press in a few months.

And did I mention that I started by writing confessions?

I don’t recommend anyone duplicate my crazy twisted writing career path, but it works for me and pays the bills. Most of all it keeps me loving what I do.

Beating my own drum, most of my stuff is at or Not all but what I’m free and willing to admit.


Guest Blogger: Denise Dietz/Mary Ellen Dennis

Monday, February 20th, 2012

Hey everyone! I wanted to thank awesome author Denise Dietz/Mary Ellen Dennis to my blog today. Please give her a warm welcome as she chats about writing in different genres.

Former singer/actress and perennial rule-breaker Denise Dietz, a.k.a. Mary Ellen Dennis, is the author of several award-winning historical romance novels and culinary mysteries. She is married to novelist Gordon Aalborg, a.k.a. Victoria Gordon, whom she met online through NINC (Novelists Inc). They live on Vancouver Island with their chocolate Lab, Magic.


I’ve always written in multiple genres because I like to write what I like to read and I read in multiple genres. I can’t even imagine an author writing in a genre she or he doesn’t read.

Once upon a long time ago, I decided I wanted to be a full-time novelist and I’d give myself 3 months to see if I could write a book. I took a hiatus from my job as a journalist and lived off my meager savings—hooray for saltine crackers from Wendy’s (along with an enormous jar of generic peanut butter). For my first book, I thought—optimistically—that I’d write a women’s fiction, somewhat modeled after Judith Krantz (Scruples) and Susan Isaacs (Almost Paradise) along with a wee bit of John Steinbeck (East of Eden). I decided I’d tell my story from the first-person POV of three different women.

Everything went splendidly until I brought my three women together! Today I’d continue writing the story from one woman’s POV. Back then, I tried to write the same chapter—and subsequent chapters—over and over (and over) again, from each woman’s POV. The book started to grow. And GROW. Until, halfway through, it was longer than Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander.

Obviously, my book was a disaster. But the silver lining was that I knew I wanted, with all my heart and soul, to be a novelist. I wanted to experience the “high” I felt when I expressed my thoughts through words. All I had to do was learn my craft. So rather than go back to my newspaper job, I started my own hand-painted T-shirt business and, at the same time, worked for Paramount as a movie extra. Unfortunately, my beautiful song in Urban Cowboy (a duet with Charlie Daniels) ended up on the cutting room floor and my personal check from Debra Winger—for a hand painted T-shirt—bounced.

When extra work became too iffy and my generic peanut butter ran out, I wrote during the day and waited tables at night.

Having lost 55 (and a half!) lbs on Weight Watchers, I became a Weight Watchers lecturer and, watching members weight in, I thought: Wouldn’t it be funny if some maniac was killing off diet club member when they reached their goal weight? What if people were eating as if their lives depended on it? Using that concept, I wrote THROW DARTS AT A CHEESECAKE, then 3 other “diet club” mysteries: BEAT UP A COOKIE, CHAIN A LAMB CHOP TO THE BED and STRANGLE A LOAF OF ITALIAN BREAD.

My diet club series was very popular, but I hit the bestseller lists with FOOTPRINTS IN THE BUTTER – an Ingrid Beaumont Mystery co-starring Hitchcock the Dog, now available as an e-book – – and full-cast audio: My diet club mysteries, EYE OF NEWT (a mystery that goes back and forth between the present and 1692 Salem) and “Footprints” were written by Denise Dietz.

I still wanted to write romance, my first love, so I began working on a saga—HEAVEN’S THUNDER—that would consume 10 years of my life. At the same time, I wrote more mysteries, and I finally wrote my women’s fiction novel, SOAP BUBBLES, about three women affiliated with a trendy soap opera. I also wrote a mystery/horror novel, FIFTY CENTS FOR MY SOUL, about an uptight actress possessed by a randy doppelganger. “Fifty Cents” was inspired by events that occurred during the filming of The Exorcist. My sister, Eileen Dietz, played The Demon, plus many of the possession sequences, and she allowed me to use her journal—with all the technical details: the rising bed and rotating head, the pea-soup whoops—if I killed off the film’s director

The seed for my circus historical romance, THE GREATEST LOVE ON EARTH, was planted when I researched Heaven’s Thunder and learned that the circus had visited Colorado in the early 1900s. A big circus. With elephants! And what was then called a cameleopard (giraffe). Curiosity piqued, I ferreted out background data, read dozens of books, and although no one circus is the basis for The Greatest Love on Earth, P.T. Barnum’s comes close.

I wrote a contemporary, paranormal romance, HALLIE’S COMET, and I can’t begin to tell you the thrill I experience when that book was published. Having sworn on a stack of Stephen Kings that someday I’d write an historical romance inspired by the poem “The Highwayman,” I wrote THE LANDLORD’S BLACK-EYED DAUGHTER, and despite my track record as a best-selling author, that book was difficult to market because publishers were “concerned” about a couple of 13th century ghosts in a 1790s time period. One publisher didn’t shy away from the ghosts, thank goodness. Published in paperback by Sourcebooks/Casablanca, “Landlord” has been nominated for a Romantic Times award.

No matter what the genre, I always remember that the name of the game is emotions. If the sad bits don’t make me shed a tear, I’ve likely done it wrong. If the sexy bits don’t turn me on, they likely will fail to do it for my readers. Therefore, no matter what the genre—romance or mystery, women’s fiction or horror, erotica or generational saga—I need to create believable characters in believable situations, with REAL emotions my readers can share.

Visit Denise Dietz for a full list of Denise and Mary Ellen’s novels and ebooks.

Eureka! Post Apocalyptic/Horror/Romance

Friday, February 17th, 2012

Authors are funny creatures. We get ideas from the weirdest places. There’s this home in my neighborhood that has been playing with my imagination for months. I live in a community where everyone works pretty hard to keep their houses in good shape, at least on the outside. This house, though, is on my walking route every day when I walk the dog. No one has lived in it for like…forever. In the summer the weeds creep out between the rocks and the roses bushes get weird and wild. It is probably ten or so years old, and it doesn’t look like the typical haunted house stereotype. Anyhow, almost every time I walk by, my muse screams, “Write a story about that place.” It wants a horror story. But with my imagination the horror story would have to have a romance.

So today I was walking the dog and a bigger novel idea jumped out and bit me as I sauntered past. It was more fully formed. It screamed post apocalyptic/horror/romance. Yeah, that’s right. All that. So I’m writing down the basic details of who/what/where/when of this story. Just a tiny bit of brainstorming. I’m not sure if this is going to be the first book in a whole trilogy, or just a one off novella or novel. Stay tuned!

Guest Blogger: Claire Delacroix/Deborah Cooke

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

A fine welcome to Claire Delacroix/Deborah Cooke! Many moons ago I read some of her time travels (especially a favorite set in Scotland) and boy did I enjoy it! Today she’s talking about her experience writing in more than one genre.
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The Appeal of Writing in Two SubGenres
by Deborah Cooke (
also writing as Claire Delacroix (

Thanks, Denise, for inviting me to visit your blog today.

I have always written in two subgenres of romance simultaneously. As a result, Denise’s suggested topic immediately caught my attention. As a reader, I don’t necessarily follow an author into every subgenre she or he visits. As a writer, I think having variety in my work is imperative.


• Getting A Fresh Perspective
The biggest reason for me to write in different subgenres is a creative one. I often write in linked trilogies or ongoing series. I find that if I write one book after another in the same series, they start to feel too similar to me. I want each book in a series to build upon the established story elements in that series but also to be distinctive. If I write something very different before writing the next book in the series, I come back to that series with a lot of questions. Often I see the characters and the core conflict in a new way – instead of being familiar, they are new acquaintances. That ensures that each book does stand apart from the rest.

As a reader, I get bored with linked books that seem to offer variations on the same themes. As a writer, I believe that my alternating between sub-genres ensures that my series would make me a happy reader.

• Telling Different Stories
There is something mischievous about new story ideas. Not only do they pop up like gremlins at the most inconvenient times – when I need to be focused on a contracted work to make deadline, for example – but they like to toy with my expectations. “What if…?” is a very potent question! Invariably, if I am writing a medieval series, I will have an idea that could only take place in the present day, or even in the future. If I am writing a contemporary paranormal romance series, inevitably I will have ideas that don’t fit into the parameters of that sub-genre.
By writing in different sub-genres, I can let those stories live.

• Being Prolific
I write quickly and tend to write three to four books a year. Traditionally, a print publisher would only accept a book from an author for publication every 8 – 9 months. Sometimes they would take one every 6 months. That left me with spare time to explore other ideas. I believe that writers need to write, whether the work is published or not – but of course, it’s better to see the work in reader’s hands. I initially began to write in two sub-genres to keep myself writing on a daily basis. Having more work in the marketplace helps to build an author’s visibility and sales.

• Developing New Skills
Different sub-genres require different skills on the part of the writer in order to deliver to the expectations of the readers of that niche. For example, for me, romantic suspense is a sub-genre I’ve always loved to read but have found tricky to structure effectively. In fact my first book – the one that never sold, and rightly so – was a paranormal romantic suspense. I simply didn’t have the skills to tell that story well at that time. It still haunts me, though – it was a paranormal!

In 2005, I wrote a pre-Apocalyptic future-set urban fantasy romance featuring a fallen angel hero and a very assertive heroine. That book – FALLEN – and the two others in that linked trilogy taught me a lot of new skills, particularly since I realized later that they were structured much like romantic suspenses.

Without having ventured into a new sub-genre, I wouldn’t have learned the skills that make it possible for me to think about re-writing that original paranormal romantic suspense. Learning is good.

• Diversifying the Author Brand
Tastes in popular fiction change constantly, with different sub-genres becoming more marketable while others become less so. By writing in different sub-genres, authors can diversify their author brand. Currently, for example, Claire Delacroix writes both medieval romance (often with fantasy elements) and also urban fantasy romance. Deborah Cooke writes the Dragonfire series of paranormal romances but also paranormal YA, in a spin-off series called The Dragon Diaries. Some readers will prefer one over the other; some will read both; but having the variety within my author brands lessens the impact of any drop in popularity for one sub-genre or another.

As a working writer, writing in different sub-genres gives my income a more solid basis.

Now, I have questions for you! Do you follow your favorite authors from one sub-genre to another? Do you buy everything written by a specific author? Or do you find that you prefer their work in one sub-genre over the others? If you are a writer, do you like to work in different sub-genres or prefer to write within one? Why?

Bestselling author Deborah Cooke sold her first book in 1992, a medieval called THE ROMANCE OF THE ROSE. Since then, she has published forty-five romances and numerous novellas under the names Claire Delacroix, Claire Cross and Deborah Cooke. THE BEAUTY, part of her successful Bride Quest series, was the first of her books to land on the New York Times’ List of Bestselling Books. You can learn more about Deborah and her books on her websites:

Deborah Cooke

Claire Delacroix

Visit her blog Alive & Knitting

or either of her Facebook pages:
Deborah Cooke Fan Page

Claire Delacroix

Happy Valentine’s Day & Selena’s Blog Contest At Her Site

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

Happy hearts and flowers and love day everyone! May your Valentine’s Day be filled with love. Today I have lovely cards from my hubby and two boxes of Godiva chocolate from him. YUMMMMMM! Thanks honey!

Second, please stop by my friend Selena Robin’s blog at

You’ll be entered into a drawing for a gift certificate, so don’t miss out!

Guest Blogger Interview: Selena Robins

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

Please welcome my good friend Selena Robins to the blog today. I’m interviewing her about her writing process and writing life. Selena’s current release is the wonderful contemporary romantic comedy What A Girl Wants. Stay tuned after the interview for her links to the book. Take it away, Selena!

Why do you write?

It’s cheaper than therapy.

Are you more of a write-what-blows-your-skirt-up person or a write-to-the market person?

I love that expression, “write-what-blows-your-skirt-up.” If Marilyn Monroe had been an author she could have used that as an excuse when her skirt flew up. My skirt (when I wear one) blows up around my ears when I’m writing. I need to be passionate and excited about the characters and plot and not worry about what the market is doing.

Do you collect anything?

A lot of dust bunnies when I’m fully entrenched in writing. I also have a large collection of books, which I promised my husband I would donate to the library, but I can’t part with them. I collect musical snow globes, antique cups and teapots. Yet, I don’t like knickknacks all over the house. I’m an enigma at times, even to myself.

What would your last meal be?

Anything and everything Italian. Except my meal would not end with a cup of coffee. I don’t like coffee or even the scent of coffee. I know what you’re thinking, how could an F.B.I. (full blooded Italian) hate coffee? Answer: “I’m special.” LOL

How do you pick your characters names?

I choose names that are appropriate to the characters’ ethnicity and personality. In What A Girl Wants, I chose the heroine’s name because it has great significance to the story.

Do you have pet peeves when you read a novel that will cause you to throw said book against a wall?

Too-stupid-to-be-in-a-book characters. Of course characters make mistakes; they have quirks, challenges and faults, those I can deal with and relate to.

I’ve never actually thrown a book against a wall, but it’s a real bad sign when I’m cheering on the villain and say out loud while reading, “The heroine is in the cabin and the door is unlocked. Go ahead in. Nobody will hear you. She can’t call for help, she didn’t bring a cell phone because she didn’t want to depend on anybody or anything. Dammit, she wants to live her life and not be scared, which is why she decided to go to this cabin alone, knowing you’re hot on her trail. But by gosh, she’s going to deal with you with her bare hands. Please, Mr. Villian, for the love of all that’s good and readable, eliminate her.”

We’ve all read this type of heroine, and lately I’ve read a few heroes that fall into this category as well. For example, the supposedly, brave and strong hero who has made it his life mission to protect the heroine. They find themselves up against two villains who are shooting at them. Hero is exchanging gun fire and at the same time having a conversation with heroine (as if they were sitting, enjoying a glass of wine), telling her his deep thoughts, explaining why he’s so moody, bad childhood, bad relationships…blah blah blah.

Don’t get me wrong, I love heroes who are willing to bear their soul at some point in the novel, but if he is there to protect the heroine, I want him to shut the hell up and use his brain and brawn in a realistic way to get them out of danger’s way.

Passive writing is also a big pet peeve of mine and too many exclamation points in a book. I have a few more, but I don’t want to seem like I’m overly opinionated on this topic.

Tell us a smidgen about your latest novel and where we can buy it.

What a Girl Wants is a contemporary romance for readers who enjoy a spicy ‘friends-to-lovers’ themed romance, filled with witty repartee, unexpected twists, a splash of mystery, comedic moments and red-hot-sex scenes. The heroine (Maddie) is known as “the woman with the black belt in mischief.” Alex (the hero) has accepted Maddie’s pranks over the years and enjoys their friendship, even though he compares her to Lucille Ball on Red Bull at times. Deep down, I think he really likes it…well, most times. Ultimately, What a Girl Wants is about friendship, love, commitment, family and forgiveness.

What A Girl Wants is available in both Paperback and e-Book at: Amazon, Chapters, Barnes and Noble, Samhain Publishing and most e-book distributors.

Thank you Selena! Selena Robins’ What A Girl Wants is not only funny and clever, the sexual tension is off the charts. If you like intelligent, witty romance you’ll love What A Girl Wants.

Selena is holding a contest. Comment here and you could win a copy of her romance Sabrina’s Destiny. Winner will be announced by February 11.

Please stop by Selena’s website and blog at:

Guest Blogger: Charlotte Hubbard

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

Please welcome multi published author Charlotte Hubbard to the blog today. I’m honored to have this classy, kind, and highly talented author visiting with us today.

Just TRY to Brand My Writing!

Seems the current catch-word in author promotion is branding, but I figured out long ago that a body of work like mine defies any brand: just try to find a pithy, punchy, three-word phrase that covers all the genres I’ve written in over the past 20 years! Genre hopping wasn’t something I entered into intentionally, but it’s been the mother of my reinvention: it’s kept me published.

In 1990, when historical romances were in their heyday, I hopped aboard the publishing bandwagon with six Westerns for the Zebra Heartfire imprint. I loved writing those books, but when Westerns were falling out of favor—and the midlist and a lot of major distributors began to disappear—I went looking for my next writing gig. Meanwhile, my agent fritzed out on cocaine and literally disappeared for weeks at a time, so I was on my own . . . almost as though I’d never sold a thing. Took me six years and a lot queries, but when I caught the attention of the Black Lace editor at Virgin Books, my next phase began.

As Melissa MacNeal, I wrote four first-person historical erotic novels—and then once again, I was told historicals weren’t selling well. At least this Brit editor was a bit more polite about dumping me! By that time, however, I had a new agent and he began casting about the American houses and discovered that Alicia Condon, then at Dorchester, was looking to develop an inspirational series.

Inspirational romance was catching on big time then, and when I pulled a proposal from my drawer which I hadn’t been able to sell to one of the big-time Christian houses (gee, my checkered stint as Melissa seemed to mark me as a fallen woman in their eyes!) Alicia ran with it. My Angels of Mercy series, set in the era when Kansas became a state, once again let me write the Western setting I loved but offered me a whole new audience that treasured these character-driven faith-and-family stories. I got so many wonderful letters from readers—still do, even though these books are only available used, and now in e-format.

“All good things must come to an end” seemed to be the operative phrase for me: Dorchester claimed we “weren’t reaching the desired market” for these books, so my series of seven envisioned titles ended after the fourth book came out. Red flags about Dorchester’s solvency were starting to pop up about then, too, but then I began to sell larger erotic romances as Melissa again, this time contemporaries and historicals for Kensington’s Aphrodisia line. Seems the really hot stuff was every bit as lucrative as Christian books, but of course you go with what you can sell. So Melissa penned four full-length novels and a slew of novellas that appeared in erotic anthologies . . . until once again my editor decided it was time for me to go.

Then, in an interesting and fortuitous turn of events, Alicia Condon jumped ship as Dorchester was sinking, and landed at Kensington. Didn’t take her long to settle in and realize that AMISH romances (aka “bonnet rippers”) were selling like gangbusters for several publishers, but nobody at that house was writing them. My agent reminded her about how adept I was at the faith-and-family thing, so when she asked if I would consider writing Amish fiction, the only feasible answer was “Jah, I can do that!” I was under contract for three books in a new Seasons of the Heart series for her when gee, Ellen Edwards at NAL told my agent she was looking for another author to write Amish romances because Marta Perry’s series was doing very well for them.

So, along came yet another pseudonym, Naomi King, and my second Amish series, At Home in Cedar Creek was developed with Ellen’s input from the get-go. I had to squeeze these titles in between the ones I’d contracted with Alicia, and write more intently, with more focus, than ever before. As you read this, my Amish titles are seeing their debut: SUMMER OF SECRETS is hitting the stores now and ABBY FINDS HER CALLING comes out at the end of February. I’ve got a third, separate website for these Amish tales,, where you can read excerpts, try out recipes, and sign on for my newsletter. Another first: I’m doing a Virtual Tour for these books! My blog/interview schedule is posted at and you’re invited to my virtual party!

If you’ve been keeping score, you’ll see that I’ve written historicals, contemporaries, erotica, and inspirational. You can’t get much more diverse than that! And you simply can’t argue that for me, genre-hopping has written my ticket: had I said no to any of the opps that came along in new and different types of fiction, my career would’ve faded away. I will also say that writing in so many genres and styles, under three names, has kept me fresh and fostered my growth as a writer.

So there you have it! Versatility has been the key for me, and you can bet that when the Next Big Thing comes along as Amish romances wane, I’ll be looking to hop yet another genre. Trends come and go, but I hope to stay published as long as I’m enjoying these stories I tell, so saying Yes to change will be the key.

Gee…isn’t that how it goes in Real Life, too?
Thanks again Charlotte for sharing your publishing experience with us. Please stop by and see Charlotte’s work at:

Beloved Old Series

Monday, February 6th, 2012

Happy Monday everyone! Bright and early, though I have to admit I’m sleepy. I stayed up late writing. That’s a good thing but it means when I get up early, I really need the java.

Here’s my topic today, and I’m hoping you guys will share your likes with me. Last week I thought about some old television series/mini-series that I so wish were available on DVD or streaming through Netflix or something. Some of them are available on non U.S. format DVD or Blu Ray. Here’s my list:

Flambards (actually I do have this on DVD)
All The Rivers Run
Jamaica Inn (Jane Seymour & Trevor Eve version)
A Town Like Alice (Bryan Brown version)
Paperback Hero (movie with Hugh Jackmann)
Tour of Duty
China Beach
By The Sword Divided
Shadow Chasers

All of them feature some sort of romance along the way. So do you have a favorite series, movie or mini-series you wish you could see?

Post and let me know your answers and you could win a free ebook from my backlist.