Friday, December 21, 2012

An Interview with Author Amanda L.V. Shalaby!

Hi Amanda!  Thanks for joining us today.  I have lots of questions for you - let's get to them...

What does your work space look like?

Oh, it’s a terrible mess.  I’m obsessed with post-its, and all the note blocks I can buy at Home Goods.  It must be the influence of my historical England stories, because I love my office space to be deliciously cluttered!

Tell us 3 interesting things about you.

My Shih Tzu dog, Bella, has a larger wardrobe than I have.

I buy Clinique makeup during every Bonus Time, whether I need makeup or not (always not).

I should own stock in Smash Burger.

What is one favorite quote?

“A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world.” – John le Carré

What inspired you to write your first book?

A dream, of course!  But that little number (written when I was fourteen years old) is right where it ought to be – in a special drawer, not to see the light of day until the time comes when I can do some serious polishing!  My Crimson Romance novel, Rhianna, published this year, was inspired by my very dear grandmother, Catherine M. Fisher, and would not exist but for her request.  It is to her and for her.

Do you write in more than one genre? 

Right now, I am enjoying writing historical romance.  My current project, which is nearing completion, continues in that genre.  But I have a special place in my heart for fiction with coming-of-age and loss of innocence themes.  As I anticipate a much-needed break from historical romance, I plan to polish some of my unfinished works in that area.


What book are you reading now?  What rating would you give it?

I’ve been re-reading the classics, even reading some for the first time.  Right now, I’m enjoying Little Women, and I give it four stars!

What are your current projects?  Can you share a little of that here?

Sure!  Here is a short synopsis of my current project:

Audra Kingsley, a wealthy heiress, may not have seen much of the world, but she knows exactly how she wants her future to play out – and a coming out ball held at her country estate, Kingsley Manor, would suit her just fine.  Her father’s wish that she be presented at St. James in London seems silly and an awful lot of trouble, since she is to marry her neighbor and childhood sweetheart, Lord Crispin Brighton.

Obligingly, she travels to King Street with her patroness, the eccentric Lady Sutherland, with the intention of returning home to her beloved as soon as the affair is completed.  Unknown to Audra, Lady Sutherland is in no rush to leave London, and intends to spend the Season in town with friends and relatives – and show Audra she has more options in the suitor department than Crispin, a second son.

Thus imprisoned, and receiving no correspondence from home, Audra finds herself surrounded by few friends, and is forced to attend parties, balls and operas – all while becoming the object of a secret admirer’s obsession.

Suspense, deception and the power of true love are laced through this adventurous tale.  Will Audra escape?  And to what lengths will she go to return home?

What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing your book to life?

When I began forming the story of Rhianna, I literally knew nothing of 19th century England.  I had not watched a single period movie, or read a single Jane Austen novel.  I had to do years of extensive research just so I would feel comfortable writing about the period. 

Do you ever experience writer's block?  What do you do to overcome?

I think every writer gets writer’s block from time to time.  I find the best thing for me is to walk away from the work for a while, or discuss it with a trusted companion.  My mom happens to be both my “ideal reader”, to quote Stephen King, and my first critique partner.  A hot cup of coffee helps, too!

Here are some "Fun Questions":

Fill in the Blanks:

I love pizza with extra cheese & sauce!

I'm always ready for a movie night with my hubby.

When I'm alone, I write, read, cook or dress up my dogs.

You'd never be able to tell, but I write novels!

If I had a halo it would be pretty straight.

If I could travel anywhere I'd be in London right now!

I can never try out for American Idol because singing is not my gift!

For your fans;

Find Me Here:


To order the book: Crimson Romance ebooks | Amazon | B&N | iTunes

Thanks for visiting!  Good luck and great sales! 


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Author Molly Kate Gray Visits!

Hi Molly Kate!  It’s wonderful to have you visit with us today.  I have lots of questions for you.  Let’s get to them…

What is one favorite quote?
It is not our abilities that show what we truly is our choices.  Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

What inspired you to write your first book?
My first “book” will never be published.  My daughter had been really sad that the Harry Potter series ended.  As a fun challenge for myself (and a treat for her), I wrote “my” version of what the next year would entail for the Harry Potter characters.  It was simply for fun, but it showed me that I could write a novel-length story.  I also learned just how much I enjoyed writing.  After completing that story, I began working on original fiction.

Do you write in more than one genre?
Yes, although I’m currently only published in romantic suspense.  I have a young adult romance (with a dash of paranormal) in the works.  I’ve also just begun a contemporary romance that I hope to develop into a series.

How much of the book is realistic or based on real life?
Small Town Secrets is somewhat autobiographical.  I hadn’t realized how much of myself I’d put into the story until my husband read it and commented on it.  I knew that I found writing it to be oddly therapeutic, and I suppose that’s because I’ve seldom discussed that part of my background with others.

Are there any new authors that have grabbed your interest?
I recently finished reading Deep Autumn Heat by Elisabeth Barrett.  I really loved her writing style and the small town she built as the story developed.  I haven’t had a chance to read the next book in the series yet, but I really thought the first story was excellent.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Originally, Small Town Secrets contained an epilogue that wrapped up the story that didn’t make it in the final, published version.  I wish I’d worked harder to keep that last chapter in the book, since I really miss the sense of completion the epilogue gave.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about his/her work?
I’m incredibly fond of Kimberly Derting’s work.  I read a lot in the young adult genre, and I’m always impressed with the element of suspense she’s able to bring to her books.  Also, watching Jay and Violet’s friendship evolve and change throughout the series has really been a beautiful story to read.

What was the hardest part of writing your latest book?
I started writing Fade to Black last spring.  When I first began working on it, I had no idea what my summer held in store.  I lost 3 family members in 6 weeks – one being my sister in law and the other was my father.  Being emotionally drained really brought my writing to an unexpected halt, and then it was really difficult to get started again.  Simply completing the story proved to be a huge challenge, and it was a relief when I could say that I’d finally worked through it and finished the story.

Do you have any advice for other writers?
I’d love to say that writing is easy, and while I truly enjoy bringing characters and stories to life – writing is still hard work.  You’ll have times when writing flows like melted butter on hot toast, and then you’ll also hit patches where your books are developing at glacial speeds.  People who are successful are those who just keep going, even when they’ve hit a difficult point in their work.

Do you write an outline before every book?  Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I’ve been told I write in a kind of unique pattern.  While I don’t plot my stories out completely, I do write my final chapter first.  That way, I know my final destination.  After the conclusion, I write the climax of the story.  Then, I build my “novel journal” where I keep character sketches, pictures of actors who look similar to my characters, and photographs of buildings or other settings in the town I’m trying to build in my novel.

If you had to go to a deserted island with only five books, which ones would you take?
Little Women, The Little Princess, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, The Body Finder, and whatever story I’m reading at the time (I hate to stop a book in the middle).

Now for the Fun Stuff!  Please Fill in the Blanks:

I love pizza with Italian sausage and banana peppers.

I'm always ready for pictures of Ian Somerhalder.

When I'm alone, I’m almost always plotting my next scene (or chapter) in my head.

You'd never be able to tell, but I really hate drawing attention to myself in public.

If I had a halo it would be safely tucked away somewhere, since I’d never dare to wear it (see my answer to the statement above).

If I could do anything I'd find a cure for food allergies.  (It’s really sad when my kids are limited in where they can go and what they can do because they might accidentally be exposed to something they can’t eat.)

I can never visit Australia because I’m incredibly claustrophobic.  (I could never stand to be on a flight that would last that long.)

Where can Fans Find you?

Twitter: @MollyKGray

To order the book:  Playing with Fire

Thanks so much for being here, Molly!  We're wishing you success and many sales. 


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thoughts on Thankfulness

Today I’m writing about Thanksgiving.  I know I’m tardy, but that’s not too surprising.  My license plate reads, “ILBL8.”  *smile* 

How was your holiday?  I hope it was filled with moments that will become warm memories of family and food and perhaps, football.  That’s what Thanksgiving is all about in the South, at least where I come from. 

We celebrated on Thanksgiving Day with a feast at my hubby’s folks.’  His ninety-one-year-old grandmother was there.  I have to wonder what she thinks of the world today.  It’s so different than the one she grew up in.  In many ways, the world of her youth was more like the books I write – a simpler time, a less ‘sophisticated’ time, perhaps.   She watched very patiently as we all glanced at our smart phones throughout the afternoon, while my daughter and niece took lots of photos for “Snapchat” and sent them off to friends, and then while we all checked our Twitter feeds for the latest news on games and players.   Yes, the world has changed.

Thanksgiving is a day to spend celebrating your blessings, big and small.  It seems ironic to me how our society has managed to change the day after Thanksgiving into one of the biggest shopping days of the year.  Of all days, it seems that Friday might be a day to say, “No, I just realized I’m at peace with what I have.  Thanks anyway.”

I know, I know – it’s about the sales – and the opportunity to get a head start on Christmas.  But it just seems funny to me, juxtaposed as it is with a Day of Thanks. 

In honor of the occasion, I wrote a silly poem that I want to share with you today. 


Dear Lord,

On this sweet Thanksgiving Day

I bow my head low and take time to pray

For I, among all, am so richly blessed --

As You can well see by this house’s mess


I have boxes and bags that lie in piles

From my last two trips to the mercantile

Fripperies that I shall never quite use --

But I purchased them because they amused


Thanks for being so generous to me

For a credit card with no yearly fee

Now I need Your help more than before

Preparing to shop the Black Friday stores


Please give me true WISDOM and the FORESIGHT

To pick the best stores to purge at midnight

Send me the STRENGTH I'll need to see me through

When I must fight for a pair of new shoes


I’ll need ENDURANCE for this tiring day

And the host of troubles that’ll come my way

Please give me COURAGE to push to the fore

So I’ll be first shopper inside the store


Then please grant me HEALTH, don’t let me linger

I must take good care of my ten fingers

In all the bustle of this busy day

I can’t forget…


Cyber Monday is just two days away!





However you spent your holiday, I hope it was happy and filled with family and friends.  I hope you created memories to hold close in the years to come.  And if you went shopping on Black Friday – I hope you found some crazy awesome deals.  You’re braver than me! 


Special Notes:

My historical romance, Melinda Heads West is up for Sizzling Hot Book Cover, a reader’s poll that begins Saturday morning, December 1st, at  I’ll need all the help I can get, so PLEASE visit the website to vote and then pass the info on.  Thanks! 


I’ll be back on Wednesday with another Author Interview.  See you then!   (P.S.  Don't forget to feed the fish!) 

 -- robyn


Monday, November 19, 2012

An Interview with Romance Author Becky Lower!

Today, we have romance author Becky Lower visiting with us.  Thanks for stopping by, Becky!  I have lots of questions for you – let’s get to them.  First of all, please tell our readers three interesting things about you that they might not know.

I am single and have never been married…I liked to play too much to settle down.
I know how to handle a chain saw.

I am an amateur interior decorator.

Wow~ Those are certainly interesting facts!   I almost need to ask about all three, but I’ll try to stay focused. *smile*  So tell me what inspired you to write your first book?

It was the fulfillment of a life-long ambition. I had just finished orchestrating a designer show-house as a fundraiser for a local arts council. I worked with fourteen different designers who each took a room and put his/her spin on it. I was fascinated by the process, so I decided to write a book about a woman who takes on an old Victorian home and renovates it to be her showroom and living quarters. After a few attempts to interest an editor, I shoved it under the bed and moved on.

Do you feel you have a specific writing style or genre? 

With my historical novels, I like to take ordinary people and plunk them into events that were happening in their day--some big, like the wagon train migration, some small, like the introduction of the silk top hat and the subsequent collapse of the beaver pelt industry. Then, after I surround my characters with these events, I consider how they would react by asking myself how I would respond if placed in the same situation.

If I ran into a young black woman with a baby in an alley, and knew she was being tailed by slave mongers who wanted to return her to her plantation, would I be able to turn my back on her and walk away? Then, I transfer my response to that of my character.

I like to take a break from the heavy research involved in writing historicals by having a line of contemporary books. The baby-boomers of this world are about to rebel against every heroine being in her twenties, so my books are about the over-40 woman who is ready to move into a new phase of her life. The first one, Blame It On The Brontes, will be released in the spring by Soul Mate Publishing.

How do you come up with your titles?
The first book in the historical series, The Reluctant Debutante, was a collaborative effort between me and my best friend. When Crimson said they needed a better title for it, she and I just kept bouncing ideas off one another and came up with the title. The very next day, another person, from my critique group, suggested the very same title, so I figured it was a perfect choice. The Abolitionist's Secret was my own creation -- not the first title I had for the book, but I think it fits both Crimson's style and the book. For the contemporary, I had the title banging around in my head for a couple years, and tried several times to write a story connected to it, but could never get it to gel until I created the fractious and contentious Bronson sisters.

Where do you get your ideas?

My ideas come from all over the place. The Cotillion series was prompted by my love for Regencies, but I didn't want to have to learn about English royalty. Too time-consuming.  I was watching ice skating on television one night, and the commentator was filling in the backstory on one of the lovely young ladies. He said she was planning her debutante ball, which would take place at the end of her skating season. That got me to thinking about the Debutante balls as part of American culture, and the series was on its way.
For my contemporary book, my sister drug me to a class on jewelry-making using sea glass, or ‘beach glass’, as it's referred to in Ohio. The instructor told us a poignant story about her love of collecting the glass and how it bound her family together, and I was inspired -- not to make jewelry but to write about how sea glass could bind a family together.

Do you mind telling us what book you’re reading now?  What rating would you give it?

I'm struggling to get through Gone Girl right now. As my sister says, I should read these best-sellers to see what they're doing right, but I am to the point where I'm just skimming through it and can't wait for it to end. The writing is fine, but I don't care enough about either character to want to know if they live or die. I felt the same way about Fifty Shades of Grey. Hated the book, and only got one-third of the way through the first one before I gave up on it. So, to answer my sister's question of what these authors are doing right, I'd have to say they are hiring great publicists.

What are your current projects?  Can you share a little of that here?
My next book to be published will be the third book in the Cotillion Ball series. It's about Basil Fitzpatrick, one of the brothers in this large family, and I truly enjoyed writing it, since it was written from his perspective. That's the first book I've written from a man's point of view, and I enjoyed sitting down every day and working on it. It's due for release in May, 2013. I just began working on Book 4, which is all about Jasmine, the other twin. It's a bit unusual for me, too, since she's the one who needs to change, not the man. I can't wait to see how it unfolds.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Take classes on craft, enter contests, and join a critique group. Don't be afraid to let others take a look at what you're working on. Oh, and develop a thick skin.
Do you write an outline before every book ?  Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I started off being a full-blown pantser, but I kept painting my characters into corners from which there was no escape. I kept hearing about Blake Snyder's book on plotting called Save The Cat. It has a simple, 15-beat outline, where you fill in the major events in your story. It's a very loose outline, but it allowed me to work the kinks out before I began to put words on the screen. I used it for the first time in my story about Basil. I outlined it and then put the outline away. Didn't look at it once as I wrote. But because I had the major points already in my head, I was able to write quickly, and get it done. I went back after I was finished and compared the outline to the actual story, and it was really close. So, I'll probably be a loose plotter from now on. I kind of like that moniker.

Okay, Becky, if you were marooned on a deserted island and could have only one of your heroes with you, which one would you choose and why?
Sigh. It would have to be Joseph, the hero from my first book in the Cotillion series. When I was a teenager, I dreamed about finding a strong, tall, muscle-bound Indian in my backyard and falling in love. Obviously, since I'm still single, it hasn't happened yet. And now that I've created my ideal man in Joseph, something tells me it's not ever going to happen.

Okay, now for some fun stuff.  Please fill in the blanks:
I love pizza with pepperoni and bacon--not the Canadian kind but real, cholesterol-laden bacon.

I'm always ready for a night at the movies.

When I'm alone, I cuddle with my dog by the fire.

You'd never be able to tell, but  I would love to be able to tap dance.
If I had a halo it would be bent.

If I could go back in time  I'd be an outlaw.
I can never grow up because that would be boring.

Finally, where can fans find you?

To order the book:  Keep checking The Abolitionist's Secret should be available for pre-orders by November 26.

Thanks so much for being with us, Becky!  Good luck to you and many sales! 
Okay, now it's YOUR turn to ask Becky anything you want!  Use the comment section and have fun!  *smile*


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

In a Perfect World...Part II

In February, I posted a small piece about life in the Perfect World.  Here are a few more thoughts... Enjoy!

In a Perfect World...

You could eat all you wanted on special occasions, without the miserable, bloated feeling afterward.

Children would never have homework - so you wouldn't have to show how stupid you are.

Hair would never need cutting, coloring or styling. Great hair days, every day! (no gray!)

We'd all be fabulously rich, widely acclaimed, published authors and poets. (*smile*)

The faucet would never drip.

No one would have to take meds.

There would be no such thing as wrinkles.

Your neighbor would carry all your favorite brands of food! (For when you borrow, get it?)

Krispy Kreme donuts would be healthy. (Or -- fill in your favorite brand.)

All flowers would be perennials, and there would be no such thing as weeds!

Your scales would lie. (So would your mirror.)

You'd soon find the hair on your shirt that has been tickling you for hours!

Onions would never make you cry (and neither would your children!)

There'd be no such thing as computer viruses!

God would answer every prayer immediately.

Your bathroom would clean itself.

You really COULD earn $5000 a week from home.


Saturday, November 10, 2012

"Tag, You're It!" with me - Robyn Corum!

Hey all!  I’m participating in a fun round of interviews with sister authors this week!  We’re all part of a dynamic campaign called, “Tag, You’re It!”  I’m posting my interview questions and answers here today and at the bottom, you’ll be able to (come back and) find the links to the other girls’ interviews! 

Questions for Robyn Corum for Tag – You’re It!
What is the title of your book?
Melinda Heads West
Where did the idea for the book come from?
The idea actually came from a flash fiction contest on a writing website.  I created the first chapter and really liked the character of Melinda.  I decided to ‘play’ with it, and more chapters followed.  Soon, I was in the middle of a novel!
What genre does your book fall under?
It’s a Historical Romance/Western
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I am so bad at this.  Matt Damon as Boone, maybe, and Jennifer Lopez as Melinda.  The only problem is that I don’t see Melinda as classically ‘pretty’, and her hair is always a mess!
If anyone can come up with better characters, let me know!  I’d be interested to hear your ideas. *smile*  (Leave them in the comments section!)

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
A young girl traveling across three states for a family deed finds misadventure, danger and love.

Will your book be self-published or agented?
It’s published by Crimson Romance, a division of Adams Media! It was released October 8th, 2012.  The paperback should follow in about a month. 
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
About seventy days.
What other books within your genre would you compare your WIP (writing-in-progress)to?
I can’t think of a single book similar to the one I’m currently writing, except that it has a very loose mail-order bride plot! 
Who or what inspired this book?
I have often heard about the tenements in New York City at the turn of the century.  I wanted to try to capture the harsh realities of that life on paper and in a character people could relate to.  “Ama” was born.
 What else about your book might pique the readers’ interest?
It’s a hard story to tell.  I threw myself couple of hard curves, which I can’t really share or it would give away too much.  But suffice it to say that like today, the mail order ads in the 1800s didn’t tell the whole story either!  *smile*
Here are some ways to catch up with Robyn after the interview:
To purchase Melinda Heads West: Melinda-Heads-West
Authors Den:  authorsden
Twitter: @robyncorum
Here are the links to other authors participating in the Tag- You're It! Fun:

Thanks so much!  robyn