Friday, June 29, 2012

Friday Guest Post: Susan A. Royal

I’ve been making up stories since I was a little girl. In fact, I still have my first “book”, complete with illustrations, written in pencil on lined notebook paper, folded and bound with a red ribbon. I believe I was six years old when I wrote it.

Urban fantasy, time travel, science fiction, paranormal stories fill my kindle and my book shelves, and that’s pretty much what I write. Remember Steven Spielberg’s series “Amazing Stories”? Twisty, quirky little plots, involving someone ordinary, like you or me, and how they deal with something that goes beyond are the kind of things I love.

I had the first scene of Not Long Ago written for at least a year before I went any further with it. It could have gone in a thousand different directions, but the romantic in me knew I had to explore the connection between the man and the woman who saw each other by accident through the coffee shop window. I was lucky enough to submit my work to an editor and an agent who took the time to encourage me to continue writing. They told me my strong points and what I needed to develop further. After I got over feeling rejected, I took what they said to heart and learned. I entered and won short story contests and continued reading, writing, learning, editing. I never gave up.

I get attached to my supporting characters, sometimes more so than my main characters. In Not Long Ago, Arvo, the tailor’s gangly, red-headed son is a charmer with an eye for the ladies, who loves to listen to gossip. He keeps Erin, a young woman who time travels from modern times to a medieval society, informed of castle goings-on. He knows she’s masquerading as a boy but keeps her secret. He even helps her sneak into the Masked Ball so she could dance with the handsome knight, Sir Griffin. In the end, Arvo turns out to be a fast friend Erin can never forget.

When I write, these things are almost always present:  a cup of coffee or Earl Grey in the winter, Pepsi or iced tea with lime in the summer. I’ve been known to snack at the computer, but it has to be finger foods so it doesn’t slow down my typing.  Music: Something that sets the mood I’m writing. I like to listen to acoustic guitar (my son’s recordings) Enya, movie soundtracks like Cold Mountain, The Village, Outlander, Braveheart. I like Moby, Coldplay, Loreena McKinnett, Crowded House and the list goes on…

I’m a plotter/pantser. I have a general idea of where I want to story to go. It comes to me in scenes. It works better for me to write, write, write, and get my ideas down, then go back and whip them into shape.

My biggest supporters in my effort to be published have been my family. They listen to my ideas, help me get past my blocks, listen to me whine, or listen to me period!! (I do get carried away sometimes) And I can’t forget my writer friends who brainstorm with me when I’m stuck.

The most important thing I’ve learned about this experience is never ever give up. Someone once told me “There is nothing about your story that can’t be fixed. You are the author, after all. You can fill the plot holes, flesh it out, expand, or condense, learn to say things better and improve. My least favorite thing about the process is the waiting. I’m an impatient person.

I’ve just finished a fantasy romance, In My Own Shadow and have begun submitting. At the moment I’m writing the sequel to Not Long Ago. (My daughter insisted the story wasn’t done and I agreed, so I had to continue.)

Not Long Ago

Erin has met the man of her dreams, but as usual there are complications. It’s one of those long distance relationships, and Griffin is a little behind the times-- somewhere around 600 years.

Erin and her employer, March, are transported to a time where chivalry and religion exist alongside brutality and superstition. Something’s not quite right at the castle, and Erin and March feel sure mysterious Lady Isobeil is involved. But Erin must cope with crop circles, ghosts, a kidnapping and death before the truth of her journey is revealed.

Forced to pose as March’s nephew, Erin finds employment as handsome Sir Griffin’s squire. She’s immediately attracted to him and grows to admire his courage, quiet nobility and devotion to duty. Yet, she must deny her feelings. Her world is centuries away, and she wants to go home. But, Erin can’t stop thinking about her knight in shining armor.

Not Long Ago is available through MuseItUp, Amazon and B&N
I saw him the other day. It happened when I cut across Market Street and passed in front of the fancy new coffee shop. On the other side of spotless glass, waitresses in crisp black uniforms served expensive coffee in fancy cups and saucers. One man sat alone at a table by the window. No one I knew, just a nice looking stranger who looked up as I passed. We exchanged glances and I froze in the middle of a busy sidewalk crowded with impatient people. Annoyed, they parted, sweeping past me like water rushing downstream.

What I saw left me reeling, as though someone had knocked the wind out of me. My glimpse deep inside the man’s essence unnerved me, but I couldn’t look away. Who was he? The waitress stopped at his table. He turned, lowering his cup into its saucer and shook his head, his mouth curving into a familiar smile that made my heart lurch.

After she left, his eyes returned to mine. A moment before, I thought they’d held a spark of recognition. Now, I saw nothing. I felt cold, as though he’d slammed a door in my face and left me standing outside in the rain.

I had no other choice but to move on.

It wasn’t just recognition—I knew things about him too. Things I had no reason to know. An image flashed in my mind: the curl of hair at the nape of his neck; a scar snaking down his arm. I’d put it there, after all.

I knew the man before me was an excellent horseman, accomplished swordsman, and an honorable man. Beyond the shadow of a doubt. How could I be so certain?

There was something else. A chilling realization crept up my spine. He didn’t belong in my world. Not in the coffee shop, not in the city. Not anywhere. None of this should have happened. We should have been no more than casual observers sharing a moment before going our separate ways. But something went wrong.
· (Amazon)
·   (MuseItUp)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Tuesday Guest Post: Shirley Martin

Pamela, thanks so much for hosting me on your blog. I love talking about my romance novels and novellas.

First, I'd like to invite everyone to check out my video. As you can see when you watch it, I love writing fantasy and paranormal romances. My website is You can read about my romances there, too.  This is my video, and I can't claim credit for creating it.

I began writing historical romances. My two published historicals are "Forbidden Love" and "Destined to Love." But then I saw a wide opening for paranormal romances, such as vampire romances and time travel.  "One More Tomorrow" is a vampire romance, dubbed by my first publisher as a "sizzling seller." In this romance, Galan is a one-thousand year old vampire who falls in love with a mortal woman. Before I wrote this romance, I wondered what it would be like for a vampire who was made that way against his will. And what if he falls in love with a mortal woman? In "One More Tomorrow" there is the evil Moloch who is determined to keep Galan from a mortal woman, even if he has to kill her. This is the story of an enduring love that lasts throughout time.

Fantasy romances are fun to write. You can let your imagination run free, not hobbled by time periods or natural laws. "Night Secrets" is a romance involving two people who fear to love each other, who must save the kingdom against betrayal. "Night Shadows" takes place in the same imaginary kingdom and involves some of the same characters. This is a vampire fantasy romance.

"Midnight for Morgana" is a novella, a sexy version of the Cinderella story. I derived many of my ideas for fantasy novellas from a book I have of Celtic fairy tales.  The plot for"The Princess and The Curse" also came from my book of Celtic fairy tales.

I'd love for you to check out all of my romances at my website. They are sold at and

Friday, June 22, 2012

Get Ready for Fandom Fest!

What? Of course I'm excited for you. Now feed me.
Warning: Shameless BSP ahead. :-)

Early last year, I attended my first local Sisters in Crime meeting. The members were not only friendly and encouraging, but when they learned I’d published a short paranormal/urban fantasy novel, two writers suggested I talk to Stephen Zimmer about becoming part of Fandom Fest.

I’d never heard of Fandom Fest, but a convention that celebrated speculative fiction made my little ears perk up.

Not only was Stephen kind enough to let me participate in an author reading, he even gave me my first chance at a panel (urban fantasy).

Fast forward to 2012. When Stephen put out the call, I asked if I could play in the sandbox again. Happily, he said yes, and I will be participating on three panels plus an author reading.

My current schedule:

Friday, June 29, 4PM: Horror Genre Perspectives from Female Writers (Morrow Room)

Saturday, June 30, 10AM: Exploring Genres: Paranormal Thrillers

Saturday, June 30, 11:30 AM: Author Reading with Marian Allen and T. Lee Harris (Holly Room)

Sunday, July 1, 2:30PM: The Perfect Kill (McCreary Room)

Okay, enough about me. What makes Fandom Fest so awesome is the best-selling authors who will also be there, including Julie Kagawa, Angie Fox, Richard Kadrey, and others. Serious fan girl time here, folks. LOL

And the panels? Somebody clone me because there are so many to choose from – writing, publishing, marketing, etc. I’m still trying to choose.   

Fandom Fest is June 29-July 1 at the Galt House in downtown Louisville, Kentucky. Want to learn more?

Btw, regarding that experience with Sisters in Crime? I’m now a member of both the national and the local group.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tuesday Guest Post: Zrinka Jelic

Thank you for hosting me on your blog today. It’s always a pleasure to reach out to new audience and readers. My debut novel “Bonded by Crimson” has been released on January 28th, and it is available in all formats at Black Opal Books, Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble and All Romance eBooks

Love isn’t in the cards for her…

After her short failed marriage, Kate tries to rebuild her life and takes a position as a nanny to three small boys. She quickly grows to love them, but their father, terrifies her, while igniting a passion she didn’t know she possessed. Disturbed by his distant manner with his sons, Kate struggles to make him more involved in the boys’ daily lives. Her efforts are mysteriously supported by an entity that cannot really exist. Or can she? And if she does exist, is she really trying to help Kate, or just take over her body?

But when he deals the hand, all bets are off…

Six years after his beloved wife passed away, Matthias is still trying to become the father she wanted him to be. Not an easy task for a three-centuries-old immortal. His search for the ultimate nanny ends when Kate Rokov stumbles to his home and into his arms. The immediate attraction he feels for her seems like a betrayal of his dead wife, a love he’s harboured for over three hundred years. But when Kate is stalked by a deadly stranger, life he clung to in the past begins to crumble and break down. Can Matthias learn to trust and to love again in time to save his family from disaster, or will his stubborn pride destroy everything worth living for?


Kate left her mother’s small apartment and passed through the Bridge Gate under the steep medieval-defense walls then continued on to the Forum. A central market and public area during Roman times, it lay in ruins for almost two thousand years. Now it was a tourist attraction. Unable to resist the temptation, she ran through the remains and pretended she
was a child again, playing hide and seek.

She crossed the square to the Church of Saint Donatus. Religious services had not been held here for centuries, but the place made her feel as if she had stepped out of the busy modern world into an unchanging, ancient realm, wrapped in a shroud of mystery, waiting to be awakened again someday.

A few tourists, fascinated with the unusual round structure of the building, oohed and aahed at the entrance. She paid the admission and strolled across the three apses cloister. An amateur sang an unrecognizable tune on the small stage. Anywhere else in the world, his singing would sound like strangling a cat, but the stark interior provided acoustics that made his voice bearable.

The steep stairs took her to the first floor arcade where she walked around, looking down on the ground level until she completed the circle. This was her little ritual each time she visited here.

The thick, stonewalls kept the heat out. She took a deep breath, sat, and pulled the laptop out of her bag. So, what else was new here, besides the marble floor? She scanned the interior while her computer booted, taking note of the plexiglass coverings on the windows. Good, it kept the pigeons out.

Street noises mixed with the clunking sounds of guys setting up chairs on the lower level for the concert venue of the Annual International Festival of Renaissance Music.

And this is where the above excerpt takes place.


Zrinka Jelic lives in Ontario, Canada, with her husband and two children. A member of the Romance Writers of America and its chapter Fantasy Futuristic & Paranormal, as well as Savvy Authors, she writes contemporary fiction—which leans toward the paranormal—and adds a pinch of history. Her characters come from all walks of life, and although she prefers red, romance comes in many colors. Given Jelic’s love for her native Croatia and the Adriatic Sea, her characters usually find themselves dealing with a fair amount of sunshine, but that’s about the only break they get. “Alas,” Jelic says, with a grin, “Some rain must fall in everyone’s life.”

Find me on: Facebook Twitter 

Watch the book trailer: Bonded by Crimson

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Tuesday Guest Post: Lynn Cahoon

My Real Life Ghost Story

I told Pam I would talk about the locally famous haunted house (McPike Mansion, Alton IL) down the street from where I live, but I changed my mind.

Instead, since I write romance and am celebrating the release of my debut book, The Bull Rider’s Brother, I’m telling you the story of the ghost who tried to save me from a bad marriage.

I was just eighteen, summer between freshmen and sophomore year at college. Living at home, I was working swing shift at a local factory making plastic milk bottles.  (As a side note, if you want to make sure your college age child returns to school after summer break, get them a job watching a machine make plastic bottles. I ran back to school after that summer.)

One day, I met the man who would become my first husband. He worked days at the same factory.  We started dating, mistake number one.

Later that week, I saw one of the jokesters who worked my shift sitting on top of the pop machine right outside the door that lead to my workstation.  I pulled aside the plastic strips to tell them they weren’t scaring me, and no one was on the top of the machine.

I figured it was my imagination.

That weekend, I was sleeping over at this guy’s house.  Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a woman sitting on the window sill.  Her face sad.  I sat straight up in bed, but again, no one was there.

I screamed, waking the still sleeping boyfriend.  He turned on the lights and held me until I fell back into a fitful sleep.  The next morning over coffee, he told me the history of the house.  How he’d been told that a woman committed suicide in the house after finding out her husband had been unfaithful. 

I swore I’d never enter the house again.

The boyfriend moved in with me, renting the house to a young couple.  The renter husband robbed a small grocery store a few months later, killing the local owner with a single shot to the head. 

Coincidence?  Maybe.  But the house had a dark energy, a bad feel.  The boyfriend winded up losing the house back to the bank.  Years later, we were married.

Fast forward a couple of decades, after finally divorcing the man who’d made my life miserable, I thought about the sad woman on the window sill.  Had she been trying to keep me from making the same mistake she had, trusting the wrong man? 

I’d like to think so.

So tell me your personal ghost story if you have one.  If not, when was the last time you were scared?

Growing up in the middle of cowboy country, Lynn Cahoon was destined to fall in love with a tall, cool glass of water.  Now, she enjoys writing about small town America, the cowboys who ride the range, and the women who love them. Contact her at her website –

Blurb for The Bull Rider’s Brother
Rodeo weekend is the start of the summer the entire town of Shawnee, Idaho. On a girl's night out, Lizzie Hudson finds herself comparing her life as a single mom with her best friend's successful career when James Sullivan, the cowboy who got away, walks his Justin Ropers back into her life.  Seeing him shakes Lizzie's world but James is in for an even more eventful weekend, learning he has a son.  James has enough on his plate trying to manage his brother's bull riding career.  Can he learn to redefine family and become part of Lizzie's life before she gives up on him and marries another?

The Bull Rider’s Brother is a series contemporary romance about Lizzie Hudson, a single mom who wants to keep her life just the way it is, thank you.  The problems you know are less scary than the problems you don’t.

When James Sullivan comes back for the town’s rodeo weekend and finds out that his high school sweetheart had his child, six years ago, Lizzie’s world is thrown into turmoil and she must decide if safety and certainty are worth giving up on a chance for love.  A love that an emotionally damaged James may never be able to return, breaking her and her son’s heart in the process.

WARNING: My current release The Bull Rider’s Brother from Crimson Romance – doesn’t have a touch of paranormal or high heat level, but if you like a sweet, emotional, small town romance, check it out. 

My Lyrical Press release in November, A Member of the Council, is a hot, paranormal romance. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Tuesday Guest Post: Sara Jayne Townsend


My first successes in writing were with short stories.  After a couple of attempts at overlong pieces that were bogged down with unnecessary detail, I decided to change tactics and try my hand at short stories.  It wasn’t necessary to put pages of info dumps in a short story (one of my early sins in writing novels).  It wasn’t necessary to explain a character’s life story to a reader.  A short story wasn’t so much a life history as a snap shot – a moment in time.  All the reader needed to know about a character was what was relevant to that moment in time.

As a teenager I was fond of stories with a nasty surprise at the end (Stephen King’s “Survivor Type” is a memorable example).  So I started to horror stories with a twist ending.  When I was seventeen I wrote a story called “Just Don’t Scream”.  All I really knew about the main character, Jesse, is that he wasn’t very happy with his lot in life.  Wandering around a deserted fairground, he takes on a bet issued by a mysterious magician.  Things don’t exactly go the way he expected.  I knew no more about Jesse than my readers did.  I didn’t even know his last name – but that wasn’t relevant to the story, so it didn’t matter.  My English teacher had always seen my potential as a writer, and she liked the story so much, she submitted it to a regional creative writing contest.  Suffice to say my fondness for gruesome horror was not shared by the judges, and the story did not impress them the way it had impressed my English teacher.

Over the next twenty years, I explored the genre of short stories as I grew as a writer.  Common themes emerged.  All my short stories featured sobering themes such as isolation, depression, betrayal and loneliness. 

This was brought home to me when I was bringing together the thirteen stories that appear in SOUL SCREAMS.   The common themes, and the fact that so many of the characters shared facets of my life at the time – similar ages, living in similar places, doing similar dead-end jobs they weren’t happy in – made me realise how much I’d been using writing short stories as therapy.

I haven’t written many short stories in the last few years.  Part of that is because I’ve been working on novels, but I think a big part of it is the fact I am in a far better place psychologically than I was twenty years ago.  The writing has clearly been effective therapy.  And it’s far cheaper than counselling.

I hope to write more short stories, as they can be a useful exercise in discipline, especially when one has to stick to a theme and a strict word count.  But I do worry that perhaps later ones will lack the raw emotion of my earlier stories.  On the other hand, I am still a horror writer, and a gruesome death always seems to occur in everything I write. So I suspect there is still plenty of death and violence in my future – at least, as far as the writing goes.

Sara Jayne Townsend is a UK-based writer of crime and horror.  She
has two novels, SUFFER THE CHILDREN and DEATH SCENE, published as e-books by Lyrical Press.

Her collection of short horror stories, SOUL SCREAMS, is now available
in print and e-book format from Stumar Press

Buy links:
print version -
Kindle UK -
Kindle US -
Other ebook format -

You can learn more about Sara and her writing at her website at or her blog at