Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Thinking over 2013

2013 was a year of good and bad. I'm grateful to have come through some health challenges and scares mostly unscathed. I've had wonderful support from my family, especially my hubby whom I have fallen more deeply in love with than ever. He's so caring, giving and hardworking. I love him to bits!

I would honestly say it's been a fantastic year with my writing for the following reasons:

1. I had four books come out.
2. I signed two more contracts.
3. I wrote three books which isn't as much as the previous year but with new books out, I had to spend more time on promo.
4. Nano was wonderful. I love the book that I wrote for Nano.
5. My first book came out in print and now Three Tiers for Win is also out in print.
6. Astraea Press let me buy some of my print books at cost price.
7. I learned so much more from working with editors, especially Zee Monodee who is super-detailed and thorough and amazing.
8. I've learned so much about promo and come to a decision on how much time I want to dedicate to it in future.
9. I've started writing a different genre under a pseudonym.

For the New Year, I'm giving away a copy of Cosmetic Heart to a commenter on this blog post - answer the question below. The story begins in sunny South Africa just before Christmas, and the first time when Dan and Lisa start to feel for one another happens during New Year. My book has had some reviews which have given me reason to pause and even regret writing this book. But every time I feel so strongly that what I wrote was true. Maybe I didn't get the character across right though. When my husband asked to marry him, I made him wait six months. We had a stormy courtship and engagement because of my indecision and fear. Lisa is a lot like me. She has many barriers in her heart. I hope that whoever else reads my book sees that Dan's love is what wiped them away. Dan brought out the best in her as true love does. None of our characters are flawless. Some of them have to be lumped with some serious faults. Lisa is one of those characters.

Now for the question I'm burning to hear your answer for:

How flawed do you think a character should be to make them believable and likeable? Can a main character be too flawed as to be un-likeable?

Friday, December 13, 2013

A Reader's Review of "Rescued by the New Guy in Town"

I won a copy of this ebook from a blog competition. I must admit, I was very excited to try the romance as it was written by a man. He is Jeff Salter, fellow Astraea Press author. This is another awesome Astraea Press book that I want to shout to the world - read it! It rocks! So, I decided to do a blog review of this book.

Most romance books are written by women. I very seldom find any written by men and when I do, I'm very curious to see how they handle the genre. No, Nicholas Sparks doesn't write romance. Well, very seldom does he. The author, Jeff Salter, worked as a librarian for many years. His colleagues were women. Rubbing shoulders with these females showed him many things about the gender. He bravely wrote this whole book from the heroine's point of view.

This novel was a breath of fresh air. It was absolutely fun to read. I would actually classify it more as a chic-lit romance. There was so much humour and craziness. I laughed out loud many times. My family kept on asking me what I was laughing at. The spider scene brought the tears to my eyes, I was laughing so bad.

Not only that, the story kept me going. The heroine seemed to find herself going from one mishap to the next. The sexual tension was good and the hero was yummy. The romance came full circle in a wonderful way.

Okay, it was written by a man who'd worked with women for many years but that didn't take away the definite male outlook to the romance. I saw it peeping through which made it a fascinating read. But, he managed to give insight into the female psyche that was superb and touched a chord with myself.

I'd recommend it to anyone who wants an entertaining and touching romance with depth inside.

Buy here: Amazon
Astraea Press
Also available in paperback.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Book Blitzen Giveaway

It's nearly Christmas and there are many lovely Christmas books out. I love Christmas books, especially the covers. Yet, I've never ever written one. I think maybe I should.

E. A. West is organising a Book Blitz(en) giveaway of holiday books. At least Cosmetic Heart can be classified as a holiday book. Well, I think so. Dan wants his employee, Lisa, to pose as his ex-fiancee to save face with his family for a New Year's get together. In South Africa, New Year's Day means braai (barbecue,) lots of sunshine, and swimming. So, that's what Lisa takes part in. While she gets to know Dan away from work and spends time with his family, she begins to fall in love. Dan sees a side of Lisa that he wants, too. But there are way too many barriers to Lisa's whole heart. It's a long time before his love wipes them away.

If you enter the Book Blitzen Giveaway on E. A. West's blog, you can win a copy of my book or one of the many other gorgeous-looking holiday books. Here's the link: Book Blitzen Giveaway or just click the green block on the right of my blog with the happy moose. This giveaway starts today and ends on the 15 December. My book is up for grabs today, hence the blog post even though it's Nelson Mandela's Memorial.

I'm also going to have a giveaway of my book closer to New Year. Wait for it. And I'll run a giveaway of ALL of my books on my Facebook author page on the days leading up to Christmas.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

New Release and Author Interview - Rebecca Crowley

Fellow ROSA member and writer, Rebecca Crowley, has just had her holiday romance released. She actually hails from the US but now lives in sunny, although lately very rainy, South Africa. This book looks so readable. Her debut novel, The Striker's Chance, was excellently written and I would recommend it so I'm sure her novella is wonderful, too, seeing she says it was truly written from her heart. She has also answered my interview questions, so let's start with that and then go onto all the juicy bits about her new book.

What is the best thing for you about being a writer?
Definitely my characters – I love getting into their heads, working up their back stories, and getting to know them as they grow through the story.

What is the hardest thing for you about being a writer?
This may sound funny considering I’ve had a very successful debut year, but I still struggle hugely with self-belief. Whenever I hit “send” on a submission I feel sick to my stomach, and I spend the period of waiting for a response constantly re-reading the manuscript, rethinking the conflict and prose, and generally convincing myself it’s the most terrible thing ever written. I think the ability to be self-critical is essential to producing publishable work, but equally I need to learn to give myself a little more credit!

What genre/s do you write and what genre is your latest release?
I primarily write contemporary romance, but my first romantic suspense will release in March.

What essential things have you learned about writing in the last year?
Considering it’s been almost exactly a year since my debut novel was acquired, I feel like I’ve learned everything! One of the most important lessons has been that you can’t please everyone – what one reader loves, another will hate, and there’s nothing you can do except write the story you want to read.

Who is your favourite heroine from your books and why?
I love all of my heroines and feel slightly traitorous picking one over the other, but my favourite is Regan Hunter, the professional tennis star who appears in Love in Straight Sets, my second sports romance releasing from Carina Press in April. Regan is so fiery and so flawed, and I love her dearly!

What type of hero do you like? Super alpha, wounded or somewhere in between? Or even something totally different? You could give an example from a movie or well-known book.
I’m not a great fan of the alpha hero, actually. I do like my heroes to be strong, but I also love to see their vulnerability and gentleness. Chris Tate, the hero of my holiday novella Hero’s Homecoming, is a perfect example. Blinded in combat, he’s gone from a confident, charming Army officer to needing so much help simply to get through each day that he questions the worth of his survival. Chris goes on a tremendous emotional journey that I’m so proud of having written.

Tell us about your journey in writing this book.
I was 15,000 words into 2012’s NaNoWriMo project and seriously flagging on my story idea. I spotted Carina Press’s call for holiday anthology submissions, one of which was a military homecoming theme. I started writing with very little idea and virtually no plan, and 35,000 words later I had a novella I’m so, so proud of and which marks a turning point in my maturity as a writer.

Tell us three quirky or interesting things about yourself.
Although I ultimately turned it down, at one point I was offered a place to do a PhD on romance novels.
When I was 24 I moved to London with the intention of living there for a year – I stayed for six!
After so many years taking public transportation in NYC and London, the biggest adjustment in moving to Johannesburg has definitely been the traffic!

What rituals do you use to help you focus or get the words down on the page e.g. music or a snack?
I prefer to write either with total quiet or white noise. Sometimes I write in front of the TV but it’s a terrible habit – I don’t get as many words down and I don’t absorb what I’m watching either! And I can’t write sex scenes without lots and lots of wine.

Mention something unique about your books and your writing style.
I’d like to think that my heroines are unique in that they’re fierce, flawed, and don’t always understand themselves or their own actions. They’re not perfect-perfect, and they know it.

What book would you like to work on next?
At the moment I’m working to finish my 2013 NaNoWriMo project, which is currently at about 53,000 words but probably has at least another 10,000 to go. It’s very quirky, with a hot Mormon hero – and no, it’s not inspirational!

Thank you so much, Rebecca. Your answers had me smiling and laughing!

Hero's Homecoming

HERO'S HOMECOMING is available on its own: Carina Press * Amazon * Amazon UK * Barnes & Noble * ARe * Audible

Or as part of the GIFTS OF HONOR duology: Carina Press * Amazon * Amazon UK * Barnes & Noble * ARe

Author Bio:

Rebecca Crowley inherited her love of romance from her mom, who taught her to at least partially judge a book by the steaminess of its cover. She writes contemporary romance and romantic suspense with smart heroines and swoon-worthy heroes, and never tires of the happily-ever-after. Having pulled up her Kansas roots to live in New York City and London, Rebecca recently relocated to Johannesburg, South Africa.

Find her on the web at rebeccacrowley.net or on Twitter at @rachelmaybe.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Why Facebook is Painful for Introverts

I know this is not really a writing-related post, but I'm in the mood for a rant.

I'm "traumatised" by Facebook. Let's say bored and frustrated are better words.

I'm an introvert. Yeah, sure, I'm quite verbal with my close friends and family and lay it out there, but Facebook is increasingly becoming a scary place to navigate as a writer and person.

I have a theory which may not even be true, but I think most writers are introverts. Writers are often sensitive, analytical, and detailed people. Those personality traits usually apply to introverts.

The best way to work out if you're an extrovert or introvert is this: when you're tired, do you prefer to be alone or with people?

I love this post about introverts. Although it's related to the paleo diet which I follow, any introverts would be able to relate to what she says: PaleoNonPaleo

Okay, I do have a few extrovert tendencies. I tend to spout personal stuff but then I regret it afterwards. But when I'm tired, I like to be alone, or with close family. Definitely not with a crowd of people.

The reason I'm almost sure most writers are introverts is that we love being alone with our writing. We thrive on it. Most extroverts would hate spending hours behind a screen with their characters being their only companions.

Facebook is a crowd. My friends list doesn't stop growing. I don't want to turn anyone away and hurt them so I keep on welcoming people into my circle. I work at home so I get lonely sometimes. So, I lay my personal stuff out there but then I wait in fear for criticism, lack of interest, and all those things that sting. Sigh! I sometimes feel like this huge crowd is staring at me, waiting for me to mess up. A totally misguided concept but the blindness of Facebook does that.

You can't see the expressions of people, you can't hear their tone of voice. They aren't flesh and blood people but just words on a page. As much as I like stories and words, to build a living relationship, I prefer to have someone sitting in front of me. You at least know what they're thinking. The silence of Facebook rings very loud sometimes. So Facebook doesn't do well for introverts who prefer a handful of loyal friends and not a whole crowd partaking of their personal lives. Yet, in this busy and lonely career, we want to connect somehow.

As a writer, we need to connect with our readers and put personal things up. I sometimes find it easier with people who are complete strangers but at times it's hard.

I suppose the introverts amongst us must just continue to be strong and lay our personal selves out on the altar of promo sacrifice. It's all part of the business and making the connection. And we do actually enjoy it when we're not overcome by the feeling of being lost in a crowd.

The other rant I have about Facebook is that it has become so cluttered and commercialised. I remember the excitement when I first joined - how I could connect with people I hadn't seen in years. Now, I hardly ever speak to those people but I'm grateful to have the access to connect with them if I need to. What annoys me are all the adverts (sponsored, they say) which pop up on my news feed without my permission, and the groups I follow can get a bit overwhelming. I belong to close to twelve different groups. I keep on embarrassing myself by posting a personal status in a group. I think I've done it about five times and have had to delete it. You must make sure you're on your home page before you post your personal statuses.

So, how do we as introverts navigate the very scary world of social networking?

Be careful what you post. Don't aim for controversial or sensational. I'm speaking to myself here as I love controversial especially when it comes to religion as I question the status quo quite a bit. You will get a response and it may upset you. Unless you're looking for a response. Go ahead then.

Try to spend more time responding to your friends than going on about your own life.

Don't complain about other people at all. You'll regret it.

Don't grumble a lot. Save that for your poor partner to bear the brunt of.

Don't share too many blog posts and You Tube videos. I'm very guilty of sharing stuff that I've enjoyed but I bore my friends way too much. Sharing jokes always seems to build a report with friends.

Spend less time on Facebook and more time connecting with real people or reading a good book.

I keep a separate Facebook account now for my writing friends and groups. It helps me to not miss out on important writing news and it eliminates the crowd factor a little bit.

Any ideas for an introvert to navigate the scary world of Facebook?

Monday, November 25, 2013

New Release by Zee Monodee

Fellow Decadent Publishing author and my awesome editor from Decadent Publishing, Zee Monodee, has just released Book #1 of The Daimsbury Chronicles with Decadent. This books looks like fluffy, girly fun to read and I adore the cover. This is Book 1 in a brand new series with a category vibe. Set in the fictional Surrey village of Daimsbury in England, this is one place that will know a lot of upheavals of love and friendship *cue in soap opera plots!*

And it all starts with Honor Whelan's story, Bad Luck With Besties!


Honor Whelan always trips into bad luck with male best friends. Abandoned by her bestie of eleven years who got her pregnant during a one-night-stand, she finds herself destitute and alone, with no other choice but to head home to the Surrey village of Daimsbury.

Fifteen years earlier, Honor left Daimsbury because her then best friend and the boy she loved, Liam Morelli, got another friend pregnant.

Honor had run...but today, she can no longer hide. Especially not when fate knocks her straight into Liam's path, and he starts to show signs of wanting a second chance.

Will her luck finally change or will she continue to fight bad luck with besties?


She let her gaze travel to the dining table, bare except for the two white documents in stark contrast against the mahogany wood. Which one should she contemplate first? Not that she hadn’t spent the past three months pouring over them. Glancing at the papers shocked her with solid punch to the gut. Every single time.

What had she expected, really? Jonathan might have gotten her up the duff during one drunken night, yet he still remained totally gay. The flat and all its contents belonged to him. He wouldn’t get his hands on her book collection, that was for sure. Everything else, he’d ditched, like a person picked up a rotten sock with the barest pinch of fingers and tossed the smelly rag in the rubbish bin.

A flutter, akin to something pulling inside, started in her belly. She placed a hand on the spot where a baby grew in her. She could almost feel the kid calming from the touch. Doctors could say whatever they wanted; she knew her body. Her baby was alive and proud to exist. Why couldn’t Jonathan see that?

She sighed. Her gaze landed on the eviction papers. Her three months’ notice would run up tomorrow, and she no longer held hope that Jonathan would come round and tell her everything had been a mistake, that he hadn’t meant to eject her, and his child, out of his life and throw her out on her arse, to boot.

She’d been an idiot. The minute she’d confessed about her pregnancy, all shades of her best friend for the past eleven years had vanished. The cold, hard man she’d faced had turned tail and run to his former lover, the same one who had dumped him like a rotten sock, too. The most misogynistic bastard Honor had ever encountered. No wonder Jonathan, under his influence, sent her not only an eviction notice, but also the papers wherein he renounced all rights to the baby and requested she never bother him with anything pertaining to the child.

How could she have been so wrong about him? A tear rolled down her cheek. She should know, shouldn’t she, having an awful track record with male best friends. Hadn’t Liam Morelli gotten Rose Payne, the other member of their trinity, pregnant when they’d been seventeen?

And speaking of Liam. No, she couldn’t think of him. He’d returned to Daimsbury where she was headed, but no other choice lay before her. She had to go back, because the family house in that Surrey village was her only remaining possession.

Her book can be bought here: Decadent Publishing, Amazon

Monday, November 11, 2013

Guest Author Interview and Book Spotlight - Amy Mullen

Today, I have fellow Astraea Press author, Amy Mullen, for an interview and spotlight on her Medieval romance, A Stormy Knight.

1. What is the best thing for you about being a writer?
For me, it is doing something I have always loved to do. In the same way that I can shut out the world when reading a good book, I can escape somewhere else when writing – but I can pick where I go or what the characters will do.

2. What is the hardest thing for you about being a writer?
I think it is just doing it. I love to do to it but it can be painful. I know that does not make any sense, but it’s true. I read once that someone said they loved ‘having written’ and I can certainly understand what they meant.

3. What genre/s do you write and what genre is your latest release?
A Stormy Knight is a medieval romance, and another in the final stages of editing called Redefining Rayne is the same. I love the time period. However, I have what I hope is a great idea for a contemporary. I may tackle that next. I also am working on a sequel to my first. I change my mind every day on which I want to go for next.

4. What essential things have you learned about writing in the last year?
Oh, just about everything. I have learned that commas are hard and no two people agree on where they do and do not go, and also that characters should pull a plot rather than the other way around. I have also learned how much language has evolved. A lot of the words we use today were not used in the medieval time period, which means I have to be very careful about phrases and modern words.

5. Who is your favourite heroine from your books and why?
I only have two thus far and I love them both. I might have to lean towards Rayne in my upcoming release. This poor girl has been put through the grinder and still finds a reason to get up in the morning. I think we all have days or even months like that. She hangs in there when I’m not even sure I would have.

6. What type of hero do you like? Super alpha, wounded or somewhere in between? Or even something totally different? You could give an example from a movie or well-known book.
I think I like the wounded-alpha. Is there such a thing? I like a strong, sure hero but at the same time, he’s got to have some flaws.

7. Tell us about your journey in writing this book.
For A Stormy Knight I just set out to write a good book. It was a test to see if I could. It took me a long time to write it and I realized how hard and rewarding writing a novel can be.

8. Tell us three quirky or interesting things about yourself.
I love the Wiggles, I have the worst singing voice in the world but I sing to my kids sometimes instead of raising my voice, and I cry over a commercial, video, or random event at least once a day.

9. What rituals do you use to help you focus or get the words down on the page e.g. music or a snack.
Sometimes I watch a TV series, but I rarely listen to music. I just make sure I have a drink (preferably Coke Zero or decaf coffee) next to me. I will get up and pace back and forth when I’m thinking hard or stuck. Chocolate helps a LOT during edits!

10. Mention something unique about your books and your writing style.
I don’t know if it would be unique, but I often find, once completed, a story has helped me work out an issue in my own life. I do not do it on purpose and my characters are not modelled on people I know. I always find something of myself or my life nestled in there. I think it can be healing to work things out that way when there are no real life answers or resolutions.

11. What book would you like to work on next?
Well, I’m a football fan. I get a little nutty when I’m watching football (Go Bills!). I recently went to my first live NFL game and was inspired. I think a football themed contemporary may be in my near future. I also plan to write a sequel to A Stormy Knight soon.

Give us a blurb of your book and if you want, a short excerpt.

A Stormy Knight

In twelfth century England, Gemma de Vere and Nicholas de Reymes find love at a young age. Too naïve to truly understand what is happening, their fledgling relationship is torn apart by political games and scheming minds. Nicholas and his family disappear into the night and Gemma is left with a shattered heart.

Seven years later, Gemma still harbors a broken heart, and retreats into a life in which she will not be foolish enough to fall in love again. Mysterious deaths and accidents begin to plague those living within the walls of Blackstone Castle, and her father falls ill. She has no choice but to seek the assistance of King Henry.

Help arrives in the form of her childhood love, the handsome and imposing Nicholas, who is now a fierce and loyal knight bent on revenge. The pain and anguish he feels over the fate of his family casts Gemma as his enemy. To him, she represents all the misfortune in his life as he tries to keep her at arm’s length and far away from his heart.

Their journey towards truth is riddled with treachery and danger from an unlikely source. Will they find their way back to each other, or will his need for revenge outweigh the love he feels in her arms?


"You defy me," he said as he spun around to face her, "and you do it at every opportunity. You have caused me great pain, and I will have no more of it. You lead my men astray and cause them to be weak. I cannot be lord with you undermining my authority within these walls!"

Gemma steadied her voice, her only option clear, "I shall leave then. I will go to my uncle in Wales. We shall remain married. There is nothing that can change that, so your hold on this land is secure. 'Tis all you care for. I once loved it here, but living with a man who does not know how to trust me is too much to bear."

"You are my wife, like it or hate it, and you will do as you are told! You will stay out of my way, and you will not step foot outside of the keep until I say so." His entire body was tense, his voice harsh.

"Nay," she said while lifting her chin, "I shall leave. What you do not know, Nicholas de Reymes, is that I love you."

He froze as she spoke but did not say anything.

"And because of that love" she continued, tears falling in earnest, "I can no longer abide this life. For the second time, loving you has been a mistake. My feelings betray me, and they anger you. I will be gone before I cause you more pain. I will take Isabel with me, and my father can come when he is up to travel. All I ask is you treat him well in my absence."

You can buy "A Stormy Knight" at: Astraea PressAmazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo

Amy Mullen can be found here: Website, Blog, Facebook

Thank you so much, Amy. Your book sounds fascinating. I love that era, too. Adored your answers. Quite a few of my books have helped me through something, too. And I also cry at the drop of a hat. Any movie or story that touches me makes me cry. And wink, wink, decaf coffee is still the best! Go for it with your sports romance. They are great fun to write. Wishing you all the best.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Gritty News and Blueberry Pie

Today, is the 1 November. I've never planned and thrashed out a book so much in my head as the one I'm doing for Nano. I haven't started yet but am itching to get started. It's been such a battle as to when in the story to start. Do I start with a bit of background or straight into when the couple meet and put in some very relevant background in later on? I'm leaning towards the latter.

I'm not a great magazine reader. I prefer books but occasionally I enjoy the Woman's Health magazine especially when it comes with a free exercise DVD. There was an article in the magazine that spoke to me. The gist of the article was that talent, intelligence, and education aren't the only ingredients for success. Grit is a large part of it. Many entrepeneurs and top CEO's went to public schools and didn't get a tertiary education. But they had grit, determination, and endurance. And even though you may not be born with grit, it can be cultivated.

Every now and then I question myself. I don't have a communications or English degree, I didn't start off with great writing talent - I had to learn many skills the hard way through rejection letters, criticisms and bad reviews; I don't have a particularly high IQ or wasn't a great boffin at school. I'm just average, but I can't seem to give up on my writing dream. I think I may have the grit ingredient. Or at least the desire to cultivate it.

The article spoke mostly about being able to stick to sport through pain - like doing triathlons. Now, I know I don't have grit in that regard. I've run a few 10 km races and managed to finish those but I don't know if I could ever do a marathon. I actually don't even have the desire to and definitely don't want to the do the Comrades Marathon like my sister-in-law who has done it several times and seems pretty hooked on it.

But I want to write a best seller one day.

It's been a rocky road so far. Lately, I've been discouraged by so many things. Last night, I started watching a movie called "Blueberry Nights." I love the line in the movie he gives the girl who's feeling terribly rejected after her boyfriend had an affair with someone else.

Elizabeth: Why do you keep them? You should just throw them out.
Jeremy: No. No, I couldn't do that.
Elizabeth: Why not?
Jeremy: If I threw these keys away then those doors would be closed forever and that shouldn't be up to me to decide, should it?
Elizabeth: I guess I'm just looking for a reason.
Jeremy: From my observations, sometimes it's better off not knowing, and other times there's no reason to be found.
Elizabeth: Everything has a reason.
Jeremy: Hmm. It's like these pies and cakes. At the end of every night, the cheesecake and the apple pie are always completely gone. The peach cobbler and the chocolate mousse cake are nearly finished... but there's always a whole blueberry pie left untouched.
Elizabeth: So what's wrong with the blueberry pie?
Jeremy: There's nothing wrong with the blueberry pie. Just... people make other choices. You can't blame the blueberry pie, just... no one wants it.

I've started to wonder if there's something wrong with my writing. Why do other people get rave reviews, many sales and lots of people crazy about their books? My books have been a bit like the blueberry pie at the bakery where Jeremy works. It's delicious but it doesn't sell because people just choose something else. I love blueberries and I love tender, sweet romances. Not everyone has the same taste as me. So, naturally my books won't always sell as quickly as the sassy, dramatic, suspenseful novels. But, hey, it will come. Eventually, the people who like sweet and tender romances will find my books and read them and read more of them. And tell others about them. Yes, there may always be less people who like my type of book, but that doesn't mean there's something seriously flawed with my writing. Sure, I could definitely improve and my aim is to be as good as New York Times Bestselling Writer, Debbie Macomber, one day.

The key is to not take things personally. For a sensitive soul, that's very hard but I'm learning. I hope that someone else will learn from my lessons too.

I'm going to keep on writing now. So, bye for now as Nano begins. Yippee!

PS: I couldn't believe they got James Patterson to do the Nano pep talk for today. Just that extra boost to get me into this really gritty novel!!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Author Interview Charlene Wilson

Tonight, I have Charlene Wilson, author of "The Transformation of Anna," on my blog. Her book won the Reader's Favourite award. Let's get on with the interview as all the meaty stuff about her is in there:

Thank you so much for having me here today, Kathy!

1. What is the best thing for you about being a writer?
That has to be getting to share my worlds and characters with everyone. To have others fall in love with them and even want more is awesome to me!

2. What is the hardest thing for you about being a writer?
I’d have to say the technical side of it. I’m not a whiz at how things should be punctuated or divided. Lol. Thank heavens for editors.

3. What genre/s do you write and what genre is your latest release?
I write paranormal, science fiction, and fantasy. Though I have some contemporary stories on the sidelines waiting to be written. My latest, The Transformation of Anna, is a science fiction/fantasy. (Though some have classified it as a paranormal with the magic flying around.) It takes place in another dimension, and the main characters have advanced powers.

4. Who is your favourite heroine from your books and why?
My favourite heroine is usually the one I’m focusing on at the time. Lol. So, I’m going to go with Anna. We don’t get to know the true Anna very well yet in The Transformation of Anna—things happen that kind of hide her personality—but her soul is strong in her faith to her goddess. Even though her will is bent to adore her new Keeper and her soul is bound, it still cries to Arylin, Goddess of Love, when she sees the statue of her.

5. What type of hero do you like? Super alpha, wounded or somewhere in between? Or even something totally different? You could give an example from a movie or well-known book.
I love the tortured hero or one with low self-esteem who finds he’s more than he thinks, who rises above himself. Sometimes this is done in a way that comes across as cheesy. But when done well, I love it. I love Angel in the vampire series. Moody, searching for salvation, constantly tried, but plugs forward and proves himself over and over.

6. Tell us about your journey in writing this book.
This book—the series, actually—started out as a clip written about a nightmare. Chapter three is almost step for step what happened in the nucleus of it. I posted it on a writer’s site for critique, and while there were corrections, they wanted more. It turned into The Transformation of Anna and continued into book two of the series, Cornerstone Deep. The second book, Echoes, will be released the 10th of next month with book three later next year.

7. Tell us three quirky or interesting things about yourself.
Um, well… I jabber to myself as I do things, gotta hear it to make sure I’m doing things right. *wink* I cook a mean salad. (yeah, I don’t cook, but can throw together a few fresh veggies.) And…I have to have my soft snuggly throw around my shoulders while I write?  Lol.

8. What rituals do you use to help you focus or get the words down on the page e.g. music or a snack.
Gotta have my Ritz Bits. Yeah.

9. Mention something unique about your books and your writing style.
Love crosses dimensions and lifetimes. Death doesn’t hinder soul mates from reuniting after they’ve been reborn. Eternal love and progression.

10. What book would you like to work on next?

Besides book three of Cornerstone Deep, I’m revising book one in my Aumelan series. There are four books written in that one and waiting for revision. The characters are still upset that I pushed to get Cornerstone Deep out first. *wink*

The Transformation of Anna

For centuries, Cole Shilo has harvested the homeless, wiped their memories, and delivered them as servants to the nobles of Cornerstone Deep.  When Cole is sent to harvest a second-class woman who has broken curfew, he expects no different.  But Anna Sinclair’s soul calls out to him.  Soul mates aren’t possible on Cornerstone Deep…
Are they?

“My life is a mirage of endless time. But you engulf me, rivet my mind, encompass my soul.”

What a fascinating premise!

An excerpt from her book:

Cole unstopped the slender vial and gently lifted Anna’s head to administer the potion. As he carefully tipped the container to her lips, tremors traveled down his forearms. His hands quaked. The amber liquid jumped to the brim and he quickly tilted it upright. Gods, Cole, control yourself. She needs every drop.

A soft palm rested on his wrist and Cole’s gaze shot to Elaina’s. When had she returned and how did he not pick up on the strong compassion emitting from her when she had? Her blue eyes looked deep into his, understanding with a touch of sadness. “Let me do that, Cole. You’ve been through enough.”

He wasn’t sure if the tremors were from anticipating a fortunate outcome or from sheer anxiety over the whole ordeal, but he accepted her tender attention as a blessing. Vincent’s intervention with her was evident. He watched as she patiently poured small measures into Anna’s mouth.

Elaina turned to Cole and lifted the emptied container. “Well, that’s it. She got it all.”

He sighed. “Thank you.”

“Anything, Cole.” She smiled and set the vial on the bed stand. “What about you? Can I get you a drink? It might calm you some.”

Nodding, he offered a small smile.

“Good, then. I’ll be right back.”

As she closed the door behind her, Cole eased himself onto the bed. “Don’t give up, Anna.” His faint words were swallowed by the silence of the room. “I’ll fix this and see to it nothing ever happens to you again.” Brushing his fingertips over her hair, he solemnly whispered a plea. “Don’t leave me.”

Her soft locks sent countless memories rushing through his mind. Her smile, her cheeky comments, her blue eyes dancing as if life itself was a game. Her Arylinite spirit embraced every moment of love, able to see beneath façades that others deemed as truth. He sighed, knowing that side of her may have been unique to that lifetime—a result of her specialized upbringing in the Arylin colony of the northern territory.

He tilted his head and gazed over her still face. Her features were remarkably similar to Mianna’s. The gentle slope of her nose, the way she chose to wear her dark hair long, and he couldn’t deny her blue eyes when she’d looked at him. He cupped her cheek with his hand, gently stroking her lips with his thumb. They curved from a bow-tie center into a natural smile. So soft. Inviting. He leaned to her and lightly kissed them, then leaned his cheek to hers.

“Talk to me, Anna.” His breath was a plea. As much as he knew no answer would come, his heart called to her with his deepest wish.

He brushed his fingers down her neck to her chest, tenderly caressing her pale skin at the neckline of her gown. A strained pause caught his throat as he lightly followed her breast to her ribcage. “What’s in your heart?”

The tiny circles he drew on the thin fabric fed his longing for her touch. Supple creases followed his motion. To have her arms around him, the love they brought, had given him unmitigated comfort in a past life. It could be so again.

“My life was yours.” He kissed the circles he created. “Every moment, I found joy in you.”

He looked at her closed eyes. “Please, don’t leave me. Please promise you’ll be mine again.”

No emotion showed upon the visage of his love, but distant echoes of vows lighted his soul.

“Open to me.” He wondered if his whispered thought could possibly reach her unconscious mind. “Speak to me with your soul.”

Her lips parted and a chill flew through him. He waited, listened intently. Weak sensations touched his senses. “Anna,” he said aloud, hope rising. He cupped his palm to her cheek again. “Fight for it. Call to me.”
Anna remained silent.

Cole’s heart ached. Yet, that small reaction spurred his resolve. He framed her face as he lowered to take her lips with his. “I’ll help you.”

The scent of licorice and cream fell from his lips as he called on his Breath of Zephyr . His soul’s voice owned his words. “My life is a mirage of endless time. But you engulf me, rivet my mind, encompass my soul.”

She inhaled his sensual gift and gasped for deeper intake.

Yes. Hope impossibly filled him. His muscles tightened with expectation. His heart pounded against his chest. “Call to me!”

You can buy The Transformation of Anna here:
Barnes and Noble
Author site

You can connect with Charlene here:
Author site

Thank you, Charlene!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Review of The Blog Affair by Alissa Baxter

I am so stoked to be one of the first people to read this book. Alissa offered me a review copy before the book had even been released. "The Blog Affair" is a new release with the Ubuntu Line of Decadent Publishing.

The Blog Affair is a story about a young woman, Emma, who has serious baggage from previous relationships with men. I can't imagine having gone through all the hurt and disappointments she went through. (Don't laugh. I know it's fiction.) Emma has erected a barrier over her heart but she's an absolute master at writing a blog about the pitfalls of disfunctional dating. (Note, the author of the book also runs a really interesting blog which I always enjoying reading posts from -see her address below.) Alissa seems to have an instinctive ability to understand psychology.

Anyway, Emma has run away from her previous boyfriend, Phil, to start a new life in Cape Town. She soon settles in and enjoys her new job working for mystery writer and journalist but rather mysterious and private Nick. Nick seems to carry his own baggage but is smooth, handsome, and appealing to Emma. But Emma doesn't date her boss so she ignores her feelings for him. There are way too many barriers in the way of her heart. Nick seems to respect Emma's reluctance to open up which only makes him even more attractive to her.

Besides dealing with her confusing emotions towards her new boss, Emma has to handle the very unusual young people she lives with. Her housemates' stories and her blog posts which are all put into the book, certainly reveal the dangerous world of modern dating. I think this book would be a great read for our daughters when they reach the age of dating to know which type of men to avoid. But, there's a touch of cynicism in her blog posts and reactions to her friends, which Emma soon learns to let go of. The character arc in this story is really good - the main character learns a balance between caution and finding true love.

While Emma writes her blog about serial datists, a commenter on her blog helps her to see that she has elements of serial datism in herself. She starts to fall for this man while also nursing a growing attraction to her boss.

This is a very different romance. I loved the way she grounded me in the setting very firmly. If I were an American or British reader, I would certainly understand South Africa much better after this read. She brings the country and culture alive in an often humorous way. I laughed out loud several times while reading this book.

Her secondary characters are colourful and unique. I adored Andre the most and wished she'd written a bit more about his fate at the end of the story.

The blog posts are very entertaining and informative. They definitely add a fascinating flavour to the novel.

The ending left me with hope for Emma's future - I was satisfied with it and the place Emma reached in her life.

This book isn't just a romance - it's a journey and a lesson for anyone looking for true love. A good read for young adult women embarking on the world of love.

You can buy The Blog Affair at Amazon and Amazon UK.

You can find Alissa Baxter on her:

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Author Interview Zanna Mackenzie

Today, I have Zanna on my blog for an author interview. Yesterday, I was on her blog.

She's talking about her contemporary romance called "The Love Programme" brought out by Astraea Press. The cover is gorgeous!

Here are her interview answers. Oh, how interesting.

What is the best thing for you about being a writer?
Only one thing? There are lots! I’d probably say it’s the chance to create characters and escape into their world – I love that.

What is the hardest thing for you about being a writer?
Having patience. When I get an idea for a book and start doing the research and character development I have so many ideas flying around I get terribly impatient and want to write all of the book at once. I always feel as though I’m not writing or typing fast enough!

What genre/s do you write and what genre is your latest release?
I write in romance and chicklit. I was fortunate enough to have two books launched by different publishers within a few weeks of each other this year – The Love Programme is a contemporary romance set in the Highlands of Scotland and How Do You Spell Love? combines chicklit with a hint of spells and magic.

What essential things have you learned about writing in the last year?
Both of my publishers provided wonderful professional editors for me to work with when preparing my novels for launch and I learnt so much about the technical side of writing from going through the editing process with them it was tremendous. I’ve also learnt launching a book is just the start and that there’s a huge amount of promotional work involved after the launch day!

Who is your favourite heroine from your books and why?
From my two published novels I’d have to say Lucy in The Love Programme. For starters she’s a travel agent which I used to be too many years ago. She’s also a bit shy, awkward and very confused – I can relate to many aspects of her.
What type of hero do you like? Super alpha, wounded or somewhere in between? Or even something totally different? You could give an example from a movie or well-known book.
I’d say I prefer the flawed beta hero. The guy next door type, essentially kind with a great sense of humour, who makes you smile. In movie terms I’d say guys like the Josh Duhamel character in Safe Haven and the Jude Law character in The Holiday.

Tell us three quirky or interesting things about yourself.
Oh wow! Tricky question! Okay here goes… 1) I’m fascinated by the weather and used to record weather stats every day in a log book as a child. I had a thermometer recording max and min temps, a rain gauge and hygrometer for humidity readings. I still have a wi-fi mini weather station in the kitchen so I can see at an instant what the temp and humidity outside is. 2) I don’t own a single pair of high heel shoes but I love boots and have several pairs of walking boots, four pairs of wellingtons and four pairs of ‘smart’ knee high boots.  3) I dislike shopping – unless it’s for books!

What rituals do you use to help you focus or get the words down on the page e.g. music or a snack.
After I got my two book deals last year I was on a mega high and wrote like crazy for about ten months. I didn’t need anything to get me in ‘the zone’ and was constantly noting scene ideas down at all times of the day – including the middle of the night. Then I got burn out and couldn’t write at all. I was frustrated and worried I’d never manage to get back in ‘the zone.’ I sought advice from other writers and thankfully their advice worked. Now I’m careful to pace myself and like to play easy listening music when I write.

What book would you like to work on next?
I’ve just signed a contract for my next book with one of my publishers, Crooked Cat. If You Only Knew is in the chicklit genre and due out in Feb 2014 so I’m looking forward to working through the editing process over the next few months for that novel. In terms of writing, I’m currently extensively revamping the first book I ever wrote in the hope (fingers firmly crossed) it might see the light of day as a published novel at some point. The book is a romcom set in my favourite place – The English Lake District.

We have very similar taste in heroes - I loved Jack Black (Jude Law) in The Holiday and Josh Duhamel in Safe Haven. They were both stunning movies. And high heels are a definite no-no. Wellingtons are great but I've never owned them as adult until a few days ago. Thanks, Zanna, for an interesting interview.

Give us a blurb of your book and if you want, a short excerpt.

The Love Programme

Thanks to an embarrassing incident involving a wedding and her ex-boyfriend Marcus, Lucy has to leave her home town in a hurry and needs a place to escape to for a while. Best friend Fiona is convinced now would be a good time for Lucy to get herself a new life with some potential for romance thrown in. Fate seems to agree when Lucy is given the once-in-a-lifetime chance to star in a TV show and be a contestant on The Love Programme - two weeks of luxury living on a grand Highland estate coupled with, she hopes, fun and romance in wildest Scotland. When Lucy meets Paul - the young, handsome owner of the Highland estate - she thinks she may have found the love of her life but who is the mysterious Hannah and what part does she play in his life? When she discovers that Marcus is planning to follow her to Scotland to win her back Lucy has some serious soul searching to do. Does she have a future with Paul, with Marcus or is she yet to find the man of her dreams?

Here's an excerpt from this beautiful-looking book:

“Just sit on this suitcase, will you, Fi? I can’t get the stupid thing shut!”
Fiona, obligingly perching her bottom on the bulging case so Lucy could tug the zipper to close it up, said, “I can’t believe you’ve agreed to do this. You’re going to be on a TV show about love! Won’t you be embarrassed having everyone know all your business?”
Her face red from doing battle with the suitcase and, thankfully, managing to win, Lucy shook her head. “No. Where else could I get a few extra weeks off work and live the life of luxury whilst a man tries to impress me with extravagant dates? Plus, I’ll be getting relationship coaching from a top expert.”
Lucy checked around the room to make sure she hadn’t forgotten anything. “Do you think I’ve packed the right clothes?”
Fiona lay back on the bed, stretching and spreading her arms out around her as though she was making the duvet version of a snow angel. “How should I know?”
“Mel said the programme is being recorded at the home of some Scottish laird. It’s a real mansion with a spa and acres and acres of land.”
Fiona pushed herself into an upright position, suddenly all attentive. “A laird, eh? Sounds interesting. What else do you know about him?”
“He’s not going to be one of the dates so don’t get all excited. He’s just rented his home out to the TV production company. Apparently he’ll be away on business most of the time we’re there, so we probably won’t even get to meet him.”
Fiona shook her head. “Shame, how exciting would it have been? Meeting a real life laird would be amazing.”
“He’s probably about sixty, balding, as round as he is tall and arrogant to boot.”
Fiona slapped Lucy on the arm. “Don’t spoil it for me. I was just picturing him as about our age, the classic tall, dark and handsome type. Big brown eyes…” She sighed happily. “Is it just me or do you find all those green wellies and Barbour jackets the country gents wear incredibly sexy?”
“No, it’s definitely just you!” Lucy shook her head despairingly.
As Fiona stared into space, no doubt continuing her little country gent fantasy, Lucy flopped down onto the bed. “Do you think I’m doing the right thing?”
“Of course you are. This could be a life-changing opportunity.”
“I’d like to be able to go on dates without feeling guilty about Marcus all the time.” Sighing, Lucy added, “I want to be free to have relationships like everyone else does.”
“I know you do. So, how can you doubt if you’re doing the right thing? You have to go to Scotland. You know you do.”
“I suppose so but will you be okay? I hate leaving you with your wedding just weeks away. There’s still some preparations to do and I am chief bridesmaid. Maybe I shouldn’t go. This is all crazy, I won’t go. I must be mad even contemplating it.”
“You’re going! End of story! The wedding is being perfectly managed by my mum and by Luke’s mum, so no worries there.” Fiona hauled Lucy to her feet. “What time’s your train?”
“I’m getting the overnight sleeper up to Inverness and then Craig, the TV guy, is going to meet me at the station and drive me to the country estate.”
“I’m so envious.” Fiona sulked, folding and unfolding the corner of the duvet around her fingers.
“I thought you were happy with your Mr-Not-So-Perfect?”
“I am.” Fiona sighed. “But a girl can dream, can’t she?”

Buy Links:

"The Love Programme" can be bought as an ebook or print book at: Amazon and Amazon UK

Zanna Online:

You can connect with Zanna at the following places online:

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Ariella Moon (What a Gorgeous Name) Author and Book Spotlight

Today, I am spotlighting YA author Ariella Moon. She's a fellow Astraea Press author who has written a series of books for the Teen Wytche Saga. Her book, Spell Struck, which we will be talking about today, is book 2 of the series. The covers are soooo beautiful!

Ariella Moon writes about magic, friendship, secrets, and love in Books One & Two in The Teen Wytche Saga from Astraea Press. After a childhood spent searching for a magical wardrobe that would transport her to Narnia, Ariella grew up to become an author and shaman. Extreme math anxiety, and taller students who mistook her for a leaning post, marred Ariella’s teen years. Despite these horrors, she graduated summa cum laude from the University of California at Davis. She now lives a nearly normal life with her extraordinary daughter, shamelessly spoiled dog, and an enormous dragon.

About the Book:

Spell Struck

What if the one person who saw through your lies and loved you, harbored a secret that could cost you everything?

Back Cover Blurb
Goth outcast, Salem Miller, believes her love spell failed until Aidan Cooper arrives at Jefferson High. When he chooses her over the popular girls, Salem knows magic brought him. But can she summon enough wizardry to save her sister? Salem fears Amy’s next suicide attempt will succeed. Magic brought Aidan. Maybe it can cure Amy. Salem’s last hope lies hidden within a damaged grimoire, nearly destroyed by a wrongful love spell. Was her rightful love spell enough to restore it?

Newest Jefferson High transplant, Aidan Cooper, doesn't expect to be attracted to a goth. Then he realizes Salem is throwing a glamour—pretending to be something she’s not. Guess it takes one to know one, since his whole life has been a lie. But if his kidnappers discover he's broken their No Attachments rule, he'll never see Salem again. Worse, he’s terrified they’ll harm her when they discover she possesses the ancient grimoire. To protect Salem, Aidan must destroy the grimoire, and escape his captors.

While Salem races to unlock the Get Well Spell, Aidan scrambles to overcome his past. With their star-crossed paths at odds, will time run out for both of them?

Aidan lowered his hand. His finger pressed against my skin, shooting a delicious tingle up my arm. When I didn’t move away, he hooked his finger over mine. My breath caught. We stayed, frozen, hyper-focused, for what seemed like three lifetimes. Then Aidan trailed his fingertips across the back of my hand. The soundtrack, popcorn smells, and theater audience melted into the background. The world narrowed down to the unspoken grief and need entangled in Aidan’s touch.

I rotated my hand so my palm faced upward. Aidan hesitated. Our gazes locked in the flickering light. The spell link humming between us lit up like blue lightning. At least I think it was the spell link. Aidan plunged his fingers between mine. Our palms pressed together, igniting a current. Air shuddered from my lungs. Magic rippled from us in successive waves.

My heart stuttered. My breath ceased. Every cell within me vibrated. Troops of fairies or dragonflies took flight in my lower abdomen. It’s possible blue lightning shot from my boots.

Good thing I wasn’t holding the popcorn.

You can buy Spell Struck here:

You can connect with her at:

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Review and Author Interview - Karen Rock, author of Wish Me Tomorrow

Today, I'm privileged to feature an author spotlight, interview and even book review for Karen Rock, author of "Wish Me Tomorrow," a beautiful, deep, Harlequin Heartwarming romance. I was given a copy of her book in exchange for a review. On top of that, her blog tour has some amazing prizes which you could win by clicking on the rafflecopter link at the bottom of this post. This is a breakdown of the prizes to be won at the end of the tour (18 October.)

                    GRAND PRIZE
Signed copies:
  • Karen Rock's WISH ME TOMORROW
  • Robyn Carr's THE WANDERER
  • JoJo Moyes' ME BEFORE YOU 
Unsigned copies:
  • Bella Andre's I ONLY HAVE EYES FOR YOU
  • Pamela Tracy's KATIE'S RESCUE
Harlequin tote bag
RWA 2013 water bottle
RWA water bottle holder

                3 RUNNER UPS
$10 Amazon Gift Card

Wish Me Tomorrow

Can they build a future on hope alone? 

For years nurse and grief counsellor, Christie Bates, has been teaching her patients to confront their fears, express themselves and trust in hope. But as her feelings for cancer survivor, Eli Roberts, and his two children grow, can she overcome her own fear and love a man who lives every day with the possibility of recurring illness?

Tackling cancer and single parenthood simultaneously has turned Eli into a devout realist. Which is why he finds Christie's perpetually upbeat attitude so aggravating. Still, despite himself, she's making a place in his heart. If only he could offer Christie more than an uncertain future.

An excerpt from the book:
A black car idled by the curb when they stepped into the foyer. So soon. If only they had a few more minutes.
“Goodbye, Eli.” Her wistful voice produced an almost physical ache in his heart. They’d been through a lot tonight. Having it end after her painful admission felt wrong.
Worse, he’d let her share that without ever admitting anything about his condition. Maybe it would be better if she knew. At least then she’d understand why this really needed to be goodbye.
“I have cancer,” he blurted. “Had, I mean.”
She touched his arm, the gentle sensation lingering long after she dropped her hand. “I’m so glad you’re in remission. Tommy told me about your illness, but only because he knows I work with cancer patients. The children respect your wish not to talk about it.”
Now that he had not expected. Did she understand his reason for telling her? That he needed the reminder of why he shouldn’t see her again?
The town car driver honked and she opened the foyer door and walked out. He followed, pulling the car door wide for her.
“Goodbye, Christie.” He would remember this night—remember her—for a long time. “Thanks again.”
“Take care, Eli.” Her voice sounded quiet. Tired.
He nodded, unable to say more as he watched her duck into the car. His feet stayed rooted to the stone stoop long after the taillights disappeared into the rain. If only he was the kind of man who could see her again. A man whose future didn't blur into a question mark.
But now, as he trudged back inside the building, he told himself to focus on his kids and what they needed. If they were confiding in her that he’d put a lockdown on all cancer discussion, maybe his health issues bothered them more than he realized.
And while he might not ever subscribe to the touchy-feely brand of positive thinking that Christie did, he would make sure his kids had someone to talk to. Someone a whole lot better versed in this stuff than him.
Even though an energetic, beautiful nurse and counselor came to mind, he vowed to find someone else.
For both their sakes.

You can buy "Wish Me Tomorrow" in the following places:
In Paperback: Harlequin Heartwarming
As an Ebook: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and iTunes.

You can find her book on Goodreads too.

All about the Author, Karen Rock

In a quest to provide her ELA students with quality reading material, educator, Karen Rock, read everything out there and couldn't wait to add her voice to the genre. In addition to her work as a Young Adult romance novelist, she's now an author for Harlequin's Heartwarming line and thrilled to pen stories that moms can share with their teenage daughters. She's loved Harlequin books since she spent summers going through her grandmother's Presents books that she passed along in paper grocery bags each year. As half of the writing duo J.K. Rock, Karen also pens young adult romance. When she's not busy writing, Karen enjoys scouring estate sales for vintage books, cooking her grandmother's family recipes, reinventing her gardens to suit her moods and occasionally rescuing local wildlife from neighborhood cats. She lives in the Adirondack Mountain region with her husband, her very appreciated beta-reader daughter, and two Cavalier King cocker spaniels, who have yet to understand the concept of "fetch" though they know a lot about love.

What is the best thing for you about being a writer?
Thank you so much for having me on your blog, Kathy! The best thing about being writer is creating stories, characters and a world that I get to live in until I type the last word.

What is the hardest thing for you about being a writer?
The hardest thing about being a writer is having to say goodbye to the characters and world that I’d created. I grow attached to these places and individuals, a reason I also reread my favorite books by other authors.

What genre/s do you write and what genre is your latest release?
I write contemporary young adult and adult romance as well as suspense and paranormal novels. I’ve had two releases this summer: In July, the first in a YA romance series, Camp Boyfriend debuted followed by my contemporary adult romance, Wish Me Tomorrow, on September 1st.

What essential things have you learned about writing in the last year?
This answer could take up pages! I’ve learned so much. But I’ll keep it to the essentials. I’ve learned to be a storyteller first and a self-critic second. It’s the only way that I’ve been able to complete four books this past year without getting blocked or side-tracked. I now trust in myself to tell the story first and that any problems with regard to wording, sentence fluency, voice or even plot or characterization issues can be fixed during the revision. But you can’t fix what isn’t there so the best way to finish a novel is to tell it first.

Who is your favourite heroine from your books and why?
My favorite heroine currently is Christie in Wish Me Tomorrow. I love her because she’s a study in contradictions. Her optimistic approach to life hides her dark past and her guilty role in it. I love that she counsels other people, but doesn’t recognize how badly she’s dealing with her own issues. At heart, she is a loving, generous, and funny person and I care about her for that, but it’s the layers of her that are revealed as the story progresses that make me root for her.

What type of hero do you like? Super alpha, wounded or somewhere in between? Or even something totally different? You could give an example from a movie or well-known book. 
My favorite male characters are not super alphas. I know lots of readers thrill for the guy that is emotionally unavailable, physically hot, and commanding. Yet I find that to be a turn off (not the physical part!). What I find to be sexy in a man is someone who is good-looking, makes me laugh, is intelligent, witty, thoughtful, strong and respectful. He’s so comfortable in his male skin that he doesn’t have to insult women or play games. Those are the men in my books because they’re the kind I want to spend time when writing, the type that I fall for.

Tell us about your journey in writing this book.
I was co-authoring a YA romance series with my co-author, Harlequin Super Romance author, Joanne Rock and received a mass email from her agent, Barbara, about a new line for Harlequin called Heartwarming. These were to be contemporary love that were deeply romantic and tender. My imagination went haywire. I love the raw emotion of YA literature and here, at last, was a line from Harlequin that would allow me to go to the emotional places I prefer. I wrote Barbara (now my agent as well) and asked her if my idea of an oncology grief counsellor with a dark past falling for an embittered single father recovering from osteosarcoma had potential. She shot the idea to the editor in charge of the line, Victoria Curran, who asked to see three chapters and, after submitting the, later contacted my agent with a contract offer. I now have another contract for four more Heartwarming romances and each story is so special I can’t wait to finish them!

Tell us three quirky or interesting things about yourself.
I’m addicted to reality TV- and not even the cool kind- I will watch thinks like ‘Strange Addictions’ or ‘Hoarders’. There should be a reality TV show for reality TV show junkies like me- lol. Maybe it’s because I write fiction that I like reality? I don’t know, but it’s weird. Another quirky thing about me is that I can’t bear to kill any living thing. Even the tiniest spider is trapped in a plastic solo cup and carried outside. Just yesterday, I used a pillow to guide a fluttering moth from my kitchen, through my living room, into my hallway and out the front door. Success! Finally, I’ll eat anything for breakfast. Seriously. Anything! I’ve eaten leftover LoMein, heated up frozen chicken wings, a meatball sub... I don’t discriminate except when it comes to eggs. Now who would eat those nasty runny things before your eyes can even focus? Lol.

What rituals do you use to help you focus or get the words down on the page e.g. music or a snack?
I squirt some imaginary butt glue on my chair, sit myself down and tell myself I can’t get up until I’ve reached my word goal. And I stick to it (figuratively J) I typically write about 4-5,000 words a day with the idea that no matter how messy it is, I will spend all of the next fixing them. The day after than I write another 4-5 k words and repeat the process.

Mention something unique about your books and your writing style.
I’ve read so much that it is hard to say that there is anything that I do that other writers aren’t equally strong at... However, I can tell you what is recognizable about my writing style and that is a distinct voice, humor, quirky, flawed characters, intensely emotional scenes and unpredictable plot twists that make readers say, “oh no she didn’t!” Oh yes, I will. I like to push the envelope on issues that people are afraid to confront because it’s not ‘nice’ or  easily understandable. But neither are human beings and ultimately isn’t that what the goal is of most writers, to capture a slice of humanity and reflect it in their story; help readers to share in experiences they recognize as familiar to their own so they know they are not alone.

What book would you like to work on next?
I just finished my most recent Harlequin Heartwarming, His Hometown Girl. I have three more contracted, yet am also working on a new YA romance proposal with my YA writing partner, Joanne. As a solo writer, I’m fascinated by the idea of writing a science fiction, YA romance and look forward to writing it!

Well, what an interesting interview! I also love reality TV, Karen. And your books are very unique, from having read Wish Me Tomorrow, I have to say so. Yes, you did push boundaries in your book.

Here is my review of Wish Me Tomorrow:

Christie is a nurse and grief counsellor. When Eli comes into her cancer support group meeting with his friend, John, in a wheelchair, at first Christie is annoyed with his cynical attitude. He finds her breezy optimism a tad irritating, too. But the chemistry is there. Then John has a stroke in the meeting and Christie handles the emergency with such confidence and skill, saving Eli’s friend’s life, that his interest in her is more than piqued.

They meet again when Eli’s teenage daughter reaches crisis point in her relationship with her father who is in remission from bone cancer. Christie fills in for her colleague to be their family counsellor. The relationship progresses from there.

The barriers between their relationship run deep. Christie still struggles with guilt from the past and Eli fears the future. Running parallel to this tender and very touching romance, is the bond developing between Christie and Eli’s two children which helps mend the broken teenage daughter, Becca’s heart. I have always loved stories with bonds developing with the kids. This one does it so well.

Whew! This book isn’t your standard formulaic romance. The writer took me on a roller-coast ride. One moment, I was filled with joy and hope, the next with despair and hurt for the characters in this book. Does she know how to get a reader to empathise with the characters! She made me feel. Really feel.

When I first started reading this book, I have to admit I was wary of the dark subject. I love to read romance because of the usual light-heartedness of the genre. There’s a happily-ever-after and the characters fall in love along the way. When I saw the book was about a man who’d had cancer and she was a grief counsellor for a cancer support group, I was nervous. But the story line looked good.

Karen Rock handled a very painful and delicate subject with immense tenderness and skill. She helped me understand what it was like to be so close to death or the terminal illness of a loved one. She touched a subject that is not often touched in a romance novel.

(spoiler alert) I have to comment on the ending. I can’t say I was totally sold on it in the beginning but I thought it was written in a wonderful, thought-provoking way. In fact, I think an ending that makes you ponder and think about the book for days afterwards is truly the best ending. That's what I loved about this book - it was unique and not just a formula romance. I can tell it was written from the heart.

This book will keep you thinking about it for days afterwards. The romance was beautifully written, slow-brew, and touching. A romance that grew slowly and tenderly and just right for the characters. Skillfully crafted.