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On Friday, I decided to stop procrastinating and file my income taxes. So I spent several hours collecting information from three different financial dumpsites in my house, clicking through computer files, and downloading forms and financial info from the web. I was ready to whiz right through the tax forms over the weekend.

The next morning I put on a pot of coffee and got to work.
No problem. Two or three hours tops.

Yeah, right.
Along about hour ten, I came to the conclusion that taxes are harder for fiction writers than anyone else. It's because the IRS frowns upon us doing what comes naturally--making things up!

By the end of hour fourteen, the coffee pot was empty, and my eyes were blurry, but the taxes were finally efiled for another year. And, of course, my bank account was a whole lot smaller. Isn't anyone else supporting the federal government?


The bright spot in this story is the taxes are behind me and I'm free to begin a writing marathon today, two months of concentrated effort I hope will produce the first draft of another Elvenrude novel.

Kam has been whispering in my ear about some kind of trouble brewing. I'm eager to know what's going on down New Orleans way...


It's Wednesday and time for another coffee chat!
Our guest is Suz deMello, a multi-genre author, best known for her erotica.
Welcome, Suz. What would you like to drink?

SUZ:  I'd love some tea.

Ally: While I fix our drinks, tell readers a little about yourself.

Best-selling, award-winning author Suz deMello, a.k.a Sue Swift, has written nineteen books in several genres, including nonfiction, romance, erotica, comedy, historical, paranormal, mystery and suspense, plus a number of short stories and non-fiction articles on writing. A freelance editor, she’s held the positions of managing editor and senior editor, working for such firms as Totally Bound and Ai Press. She also takes private clients.
Her books have been favorably reviewed in Publishers Weekly, Kirkus and Booklist, won a contest or two, attained the finals of the RITA and hit several bestseller lists.

A former trial attorney, her passion is world travel. She’s left the US over a dozen times, including lengthy stints working overseas. She’s now writing a vampire tale and planning her next trip.
Something unusual about Suz: She owns a giant stuffed white tiger.

--Find her books at
--For editing services, email her at
--Befriend her on Facebook:
--She tweets @Suzdemello
--Her current blog is 

Ally:  When do you write and where? Do you have a Writer's cave?

SUZ:  Hmm...I tend to be fairly random about writing. I live with my mom, who is 85 and has Alzheimer's, so I cram writing and promo into the corners of my life that come free. I do have a home office, which makes life easier.

Ally:  What comes first - characters, setting or plot? How do you build from there?

SUZ:  I usually think of a conflict and a setting before I write. For example, I'm writing a short story called "Spring Training," and had the idea for a baseball player and a trainer getting kinky. Then I invented the characters.

Ally:  What's the average length of your books and how long does it take to write one? Does the time involved get shorter with each book?

SUZ:  My books have been getting shorter with the advent and growth of e-publishing. Candidly, if I can sell an anthology full of short stories for 99 cents, why should I write novels when they sell these days for 99 cents? Or are offered for free? I love the commitment and depth of novels--mine range from 50K to 100K--but they don't make economic sense.

Ally: Tell us about your next writing project.

SUZ:  That's sthe short story I mentioned above--"Spring Training." A baseball player gets special lessons from the hot new trainer his team hires. This will be the  first F/M story I've written. It's fun!

Ally: Answer these quick answer questions:
a. favorite after five drink:  Prosecco
b. last book you couldn't put down:   I recently reread an alternative history classic, Pavane by Keith Roberts. Fantastic book, very evocative.
c. most unusual thing in your refrigerator:  Hmm...getting up to look...Guiness, pickled onions and cornichons.
d. tall, dark and handsome or a blond Adonis?  TDH, definitely.
e. soulmates - fact or fiction?  For me: fiction ;(

Ally: Thanks for joining us today, Suz! Before you go back to your busy life, let's take a look at the boxed set of romances you wanted to promote...

***Note to readers under eighteen: This boxed set is rated mature. Do not follow the buy links without parental permission.

The Naughty Literati are a group of authors who’ve come together to showcase their epic talents in stories filled with powerful eroticism and satisfying romance. Our tales range from heartwarming and sweet to scorching hot erotic; medieval to futuristic; humans to aliens and shape-shifters; vanilla committed couples to kinky ménage fun.

Naughty Hearts is our steamy boxed set with twelve stories revolving around that most romantic of holidays, Valentine’s Day. Join us on this naughty journey!

Buy links (18+):


Thanks to readers for stopping by. Come back soon!

Hey, booklovers, it's not Wednesday, but we have an extra coffee chat this week!
YA author Stephanie Thomas is joining us for this Sunday session!
Welcome, Stephanie! How do you take your coffee?

I don't drink coffee often, mostly because I stick with lattes. So, when I do drink coffee, I put a crap ton of creamer or milk in it to make it more like a latte. I much prefer a grande mocha latte with skim milk, though!

Ally: My magic pot can handle a latte. While I'm whipping that up, please show readers your bio.

Stephanie Thomas has been writing ever since she could put letters together to form words. When she was a small child, she would present her mother and father with self-made newspapers filled up with make believe stories and pictures. Her love for writing followed her all throughout her schooling, where she entered and won writing contests of all sorts. Stephanie decided to become an English teacher and completed her B.A. at The Pennsylvania State University. While teaching, she later went on to get her Master’s in writing from The Johns Hopkins University. She completed her very first manuscript during her graduate studies, and by the end of the program, she had completed two more. Stephanie is quick to tell anyone that she’s a born and raised Philadelphian, and her heart will always belong there. She moved to Baltimore with her husband, and they’ve been living there with their son and their doggie.
And you asked for something unique:  I am crazy artistic and love to teach myself new crafts. I've taught myself how to paint and crochet, and just recently how to sew. Right now, my new hobby has been sewing baby items.

Contact the author:


Ally: I'm always curious how people got into this business. Why do you write? And what drew you to YA scifi/fantasy in particular?

STEPHANIE:  I write because I don't know how not to write. I've very honestly been writing since I knew how to make words, and it's always been a passion of mine. I can confidently say that as I advanced through each grade in school, every one of my teachers encouraged me to keep writing. One of my classmates told me that I should write jokes and become a comedian, and sometimes I wonder if I really should have, since I find myself thinking "that would have made a great standup joke" all the time. 
I am a big nerd at heart, and as I grew into reading (since I didn't always love to read), I gravitated toward sci-fi and paranormal. First, I bought up all the X-Files books, and then I switched to Ender's Game and all those types of sci-fi. Eventually, I ended up in George R.R. Martin's world of fantasy, which isn't really Sci-Fi, but I feel like Sci-Fi and fantasy are siblings.
As for switching to YA, I wasn't always a YA author. I was published as a historical fiction author first (my second favorite genre), and then I switched to YA because I needed a break from all of the research. I am a high school English teacher full time, and my students inspired me to write something geared toward them. It's always been a goal of mine to make a high school reading list. We'll see if that happens!

Ally:  Tell us about your scifi/fantasy settings and your world-building process. ie, did you brainstorm with someone? did it come to you in a dream? was it inspired by a book or movie?

STEPHANIE:  LUCIDITY's main setting is the city of Aura, which is where the Dreamcatchers live. Aura is a very sunny and golden place, a stark contrast to LUMINOSITY's setting, the City, which was inspired by Gotham City and is very dark and shadowy. I wanted to play on the ideas of dark places and light places, and how in both settings, both good and bad things happen. My husband helped me to brainstorm. We spent many dinners talking about ideas, settings and plot development. 

Ally:  Where and when do you find time to write? Do you have a writer's cave?

STEPHANIE:  I am a full time teacher, and when I am not teaching, I'm being a mommy to a one year old. So, finding time to write is difficult. I do have a writing cave, my office, but to be honest, I hardly ever write inside the house anymore. I usually go straight from work to a coffee shop to write before I pick up my son from daycare, and I do this two to three times a week. My writing goal is 2000 words a sitting, if I don't have promotional tasks to get through first. 

Ally:  Since they don't always go hand in hand with writing or publishing, do you aspire to be a literary giant or a best selling author?

STEPHANIE:  You know, I used to. I really wanted to be "successful." And then, after being traditionally published and realizing that the publishing world is difficult, stressful and sometimes just plain unfriendly, I had to sit down and redefine what "successful" means. It is a stigma that an author is only successful if he or she is traditionally published in print. Very slowly, this stigma is being broken...but it is a very, very slow transformation. More and more traditionally published authors are taking to self publishing on the side, because they have stories they want people to read, but these stories don't necessarily fit the market at the time. Because this is happening, and because more authors are realizing that "successful" is defined by finishing manuscripts and getting ANYONE (read: not everyone) to read them and not by print book sales, the industry is changing to something much more writer-friendly. 
That's a long answer just to say that no, I don't aspire to be a best selling author anymore. I aspire to have people read my hard work. I aspire to tell a story and let that story live in someone's mind for a short while.

Ally: Let's try some get-to-know-you quick answer questions:
  • a. Who would you most like to accompany you on a shopping trip?  I would love to go shopping with Jennifer Lawrence. I love her humor, wit and attitude, and I bet going shopping with her is fun. I hate shopping in the first place, and it always stresses me out, but who can be stressed out with J-Law by their side. Am I right?
  • b. What's your favorite social media? Ooh, good question. I enjoy Twitter! I've been on Facebook since its inception, but Twitter is fun and fast!
  • c. Have you taken a selfie?   Put it on the internet? Oh goodness, yes. I'm pretty sure I have some silly ones up on twitter at @stephthomasbook
  • d. an item on your bucket list: I want to live in another country, preferably Florence. 
  • e. Will you still be writing in 5 years? I surely hope so. My plan is to transition to a full time mom and a part time writer next year. 
Ally: Thanks for visiting today. I've enjoyed our chat and wish you wonderful success with your books! Before you go, I'd love to hear a little more about Lucidity.
Lucidity (Raven Chronicles Book 2)
Genre: Dystopian YA
Release Date: February 7, 2015


Beatrice never thought she'd find herself in the middle of Aura, the city of her sworn enemy, the Dreamcatchers. Nor did she never think she'd abandon everything she'd ever known and everyone she'd ever loved to blindly follow Echo, the Dreamcatcher Prince. Gabe would never forgive her, if he lives, and nor will any of the Seers. Upon arriving, Beatrice is quickly thrown into the Dreamcatcher Queen's self-serving plot to save Aura from a disastrous plague, and Bea's anticipated return to the City is becoming less likely every day she is held captive and subjected to the epidemic. Her Visions are the key to the cure, but when her Seer friends show up in Aura as well, Beatrice must learn to balance her precarious friendship and loyalty to both her people and the promise she made to help Echo's people. As Beatrice navigates these new people and customs, she learns that there are more than just the Seers, Dreamcatchers and Citizens left in the world...and whomever is out there wants to eliminate all of their competition -- including her.

Buy Link:  Amazon US
(Buy Link Book One, Luminosity: Amazon US)

Excerpt from Lucidity:
Echo was right. I hadn't seen anything yet. As the limousine cruises up to the gates of Aura, I can't do anything but stare out the window in complete awe. Aura is the complete opposite of The City. I immediately understand where it gets its name from, with its golden-hued buildings and sparkling, translucent glass windows. Everything glitters, even the sand as it whips around the tall walls that protect the city from the dry gusts of wind.

                I place my fingers on the limo's window and press my forehead to the glass to get a better look. I can feel Echo's eyes on me as I react probably as a child would at the first sight of something they've never seen before. There are no skyscrapers here, no crowded, jumbled row homes with sooty exteriors. The buildings are no more than two floors high, allowing for a precious view of the almost purple mountains that peek up in the distance.

                "Echo...this is beautiful..."

                "Thank you. This is the home of the Dreamcatcher. After The City banished us, we had to travel a long way to find a place where we'd be safe from attack. We chose this area because it's so dry, hot and humid, that we don't know who'd willingly want to come out here. Besides us, of course." Echo scoots over on the leather seat to sidle up closer to me. "It is beautiful though, isn't it? This is my first homecoming, to be honest. I've never been out of Aura for this long."

                The gates into the city proper click secure when they are fully-opened, and the limo pulls forward once more. As soon as we are moving again, I can see the crowds of people who line the main street, which leads directly to an impressive palace that stands center of Aura, just like our Institution does in the City. The people are all dressed in white, some with different colored trims on their robes. They reach out for the car, calling for Echo, wanting to see their prince.

                As we pull around a circle in front of the Palace, the courtyard is also filled with Dreamcatchers, cheering for Echo's arrival. He brushes a hand down his robe, smoothing the wrinkles from the soft fabric. "Are you ready?"

                Then, a sudden fear grips me. "Do they know I am with you?"

                Echo's gaze meets mine. "No."

                I want to slap him, and it takes everything in me not to lose my temper. "What?"

                "They don't know you are with me. I did not tell anyone I was bringing you home. It is a part of my strategy."

                I lock the limo's doors. We stare at each other for a long while, my chest rising and falling in anger. "How could you put me in this situation, Echo? I am The Keeper. I'm the leader of your enemy. You are putting me in great danger, and you know you are."

                Echo, in his ever-calm way, reaches out and helps pull the hood of my robe up over my head. "You will be fine, because you are my guest. And it is a law in Aura that we must treat our guests with utmost respect." He pauses. "Not that we get any guests...ever."

                Now, I do smack him. My hand makes contact with his arm, and I scowl. "You better not get me hurt."

                "Listen to them. They are too happy to see me. I doubt they'll even take notice of you. No offense." Echo unlocks the doors and slides across the seat to the other side, where he can exit first. "Driver, we are ready."

                The chauffeur exits the vehicle and appears again beside Echo's door. As soon as he opens it, the sound of cheering rushes into the car and Echo sucks in a deep breath. He steps out, and when I see his hand lower back into the limo, I reach for it and gently rest my palm against his, using the offered support to help me out of the car.

                As my feet touch the floor, my robes fall all around me like darkness covering the day, and I'm free of the limousine. Lifting my chin, my eyes move from the ground to the people, and I swallow as the cheering comes to an abrupt stop when they see my violet irises. Almost all at once, they take a step back, and no one makes a sound.

                I tighten my grip around Echo's hand, sure that in the next moment, they are going to rush us and kill me where I stand. Here I am, their sworn enemy, the representation of The Keeper before me who persecuted them, ran them out of The City and killed many of them, including their princess. I stand before them as if none of that had ever happened. I know, if I were in their place, I'd certainly want to see myself dead too.

                Muttering very quietly to Echo, I tug on his hand, "Let's go."

Thanks for spending time with us. Come back soon!

Writing Urban Fantasy: As easy as filling in the blanks? I think not.

The other day a writer friend said he was submitting an urban fantasy to several potential publishers. Good, I thought. The genre has plenty of room for more writers. Then he stopped me cold when he admitted he had taken a story already written (and rejected for publication) and changed the same characters into vampires and werewolves and zombies. He seemed proud he had produced a new manuscript in a couple of hours of using Find and Replace.

I was astonished, and, I admit, a little disgruntled. Surely, it couldn't be that easy. Urban fantasy had to be more than changing the names and species. So, I sat down to take a look, not at the stories I had written—I already knew the struggles I'd gone through, but I looked at those of well-known authors in the genre, like Charlaine Harris or Kim Harrison or Laurell K. Hamilton. (Hmm, should I change my name to Hields? I digress.)

 What I found was no surprise to me: good urban fantasy springs from hard work. It is a unique blending of the contemporary world with the supernatural world. The two are inseparable and must be intertwined from the beginning to the end. Both worlds are enriched by the differences, and the author plays on those differences

Take the characters, for example. The supernatural creatures think and act in unique ways, not like humans. They view events through Otherworld eyes. The supernatural cop smells the crime scene, she senses evil, she seesauras with her inner eye. And supernaturals think about things that mortals rarely consider. Will the use of black magic destroy my soul? Will my roommate drink my blood or take over my mind? How do I kill a creature who is impervious to bullets? How do I even find the enemy if he changes his shape and appearance? Can I smell him, track him, sense him?

Urban fantasy can't exist without fantasy as an integral part. While paranormal fiction needs new writers and readers are waiting to be caught up in a great story, the writer who wants to walk on the wild side must respect it and learn to see the world through different eyes.  

So, what do you think? What's at the heart of paranormal fiction? AShields

Welcome to the Wednesday Coffee Chat!
Today's guest is Bartenn Mills, author of mysteries with a paranormal twist.

Nice to have you visit us, Bartenn. How do you take your coffee?

Thanks for inviting me. Mmmm, the coffee smells good. I’ll take mine black. I need something to keep me awake because I’ve been staying up late reading your book Awakening the Fire.

Ally: Lol. Thank you for the plug!  I'm happy to add to your insomnia! Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Brief bio –   I’ve been an avid reader my entire life. When I went to the library, which was every Saturday, I would search out the thickest books on the shelves. It didn’t matter what genre. As you could only check out ten books at a time, I just wanted to be sure that I had something to read all week. But it wasn’t until I reached thirty that I decided to be one of those magic people who make words appear on the page.   Dreams of writing were derailed by raising two wonderful children, one with a disability, a full time job and a husband who worked second shift. As quickly as my nest had filled up it seemed to empty out. After my daughter got her degree in English Lit she came home, dragged one of my old manuscripts out from under the bed and handed it to me. “Write,” she said. So now I find myself up before dawn playing with my imaginary friends. 
And the unique factoid you wanted about me: I used to design quilt patterns so if you enjoy curling under a quilt while reading a good book I have plenty of both.

Contact Bartenn:
Amazon Author page:
Facebook: Barbara (Tenney) Mills 

Ally:  Since Bishop Bewitched is a Garfield Falls mystery, I assume Garfield Falls is a town. Tell us about your setting and why you chose it.  

Garfield Falls is an imaginary town in the upper Midwest, an area I’ve lived in most of my life. I made the town fictional so that I could play with the interpersonal relationships without offending any real police officers.

Ally:  Where did you find the inspiration for Bishop Bewitched?

I’m a big fan of the Dresden Files and NCIS, so I drew inspiration from both, then gave it a twist and made it my own.

Ally:  Are you writing another book in this series? What's it about? If not, what is your next project?

The next book I will have out this spring is Vanilla Lies, a mystery set in 1985 where a young reporter unwittingly holds the key to a series of murders and must unravel the secret before she becomes the next victim. But because I’ve had so many requests, I have started another Garfield Falls mystery. This time I’ve changed to Sam’s point of view. It is Sam’s first case as a detective and he is assigned to help Bishop find the killer of a wealthy socialite.
Ally:  Describe your writing day. Where, when, how long, goals, etc .  

Since, like so many writers, I have a day job that buys the groceries, my day starts very early. I try to be up by 5:30. After getting completely ready for my day job, I take my coffee and stumble back to my daughter’s bedroom, which we have converted into office space for me and my husband. I start a kitchen timer and get lost in whatever I’m working on. When the timer goes off, I have to leave. I’ve tried writing before getting ready for my day job but found myself sneaking just five more minutes and having to choose between being late or going without make-up. Not a pretty sight. Someday I hope to be able to write all day. There are just so many stories waiting to be told.

Ally:  I love quick answer questions, so here are yours:
  • a. pie, cake or cookies?   Brownies, they’re kind of a cookie-cake, right?
  • b. What author living or dead would you take to lunch?   I’ve been an avid reader all my life so narrowing it down to one is difficult. Since I recently read the BLACK COUNT about the father of Alexander Dumas, I will go will Dumas. Not only did he write some of my favorite books, the Count of Monte Cristo and the Three Musketeers, he lived through one of my favorite time periods, the French Revolution.  (Note from Ally: D'Artagnan (the fourth musketeer) was my hero!)
  • c. Most memorable movie you've ever seen:   I love the movies, fortunately my husband feels the same way. If you don’t find me in a bookstore, you’ll find me at the movies. I think we own over 500 DVDs. My son says I like romantic comedies with monsters. I’m not sure there is such a genre. But some of my favorites would be the Mummy I & II, (the ones with Brando Fraizer) Die Hard I, II & IV, Inkheart, Prince of Persia, Stardust, Hogfather, all the Johnny Depp pirate movies. I’m a huge fan of Disney animation and Pixar such as Mulan, Walle, Up and Big Hero Six. And I can’t forget stop-action animation films like Corpse Bride, Wallace and Grommet, and the Boxtrolls.
  • d. an item on your bucket list:   Right now my bucket list is pretty empty. Getting published was a big goal for me. I spent many years learning, going to conferences, writing, rewriting and writing some more. So when my first book, Bishop to Queen’s Knight, came out I was beyond thrilled. I’m still in a little bit of shock that people I don’t even know like the characters and contact me wanting more. Bishop Bewitched goes deeper into the paranormal side of my detective. He would never admit that he talks to ghosts, but I think it’s pretty clear that he does.
  • e. your favorite type of jewelry:   Real. I worked at a jewelry store right out of college and when I started handing my paycheck over to cover all the things that I’d bought, my father suggested I get another job. Funny how the things I wanted so badly then now sit in my jewelry box and are never worn. My favorite piece of jewelry is a Mickey Mouse ring my husband bought me for Christmas a few years ago.
Ally:  It has been a pleasure having you. I wish you the best of luck with your books. Before you go, please tell us a little more about Bishop Bewitched...
Book blurb for Bishop Bewitched:

When the love spell a young witch is casting explodes in her face Detective Vincent Bishop is the only one who thinks foul play was involved. But how can he be sure when the ghost whispers he normally hears aren’t there. Instead he keeps hearing the cries for vengeance by beautiful women that have no connection to his case. As Bishop investigates, he becomes involved with a coven of witches and realizes a love spell may have been cast on him and the magic in the air is interfering with his finding a killer.

Buy Links:

Amazon US:
Amazon UK:

Buy Links for Bishop to Queen's Knight:

Barnes and Noble (paperback):

Available at other Amazon stores.

Thanks for spending time with us! Come back soon!


Did you know that the third Monday in February is officially George Washington's Birthday? Of course, his real birthday is February 22 and that date had been celebrated at least since 1832 and declared a legal federal holiday in 1879.

So why the confusion?

In a 1971 federal bill intended to consolidate holidays and give Americans three day weekends, Washington's Birthday was moved to a Monday. Attempts to rename the holiday to Presidents' Day (to include Abraham Lincoln's birthday on February 12) failed, but it didn't deter many states and merchants from embracing the new designation. In fact, all presidents - past and present - are frequently honored on this day.

(As an interesting aside: There are two other presidents with February birthdays: William Harrison, February 9, and Ronald Reagan, February 6.)

Have a wonderful holiday! But take a moment to think about the men who've helped us carve our history.


On the traditional day when we celebrate romance, we hope all your fondest dreams come true...

Have a fantastic day!

Ally and the gang!


"HEARTS' PRIDE" by Ally Shields is one of four paranormal stories in Valentines Heat I, a short story anthology for any season.

I've read and enjoyed them all. If you like a variety of paranormal stories, you're sure to love them too! And maybe find a new author or two. :)

Check out the anthology here:

Amazon   Barnes and Noble   Etopia

Welcome, booklovers!
I have a new author for you to meet today, romance writer, Jana Richards. May I fix you something to drink, Jana?

JANA: Coffee, please, with milk, no sugar.

Ally: No problem. Now we're settled with our favorite brew, tell us about yourself. 


When Jana Richards read her first romance novel, she immediately knew two things: she had to commit the stories running through her head to paper, and she’d found what she was meant to do. Since then she’s never met a romance genre she didn’t like. She writes contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and historical romance set in World War Two, in lengths ranging from short story to full length novel. Just for fun, she throws in generous helpings of humor, and the occasional dash of the paranormal. Her paranormal romantic suspense “Seeing Things” was a 2008 EPPIE finalist.

In her life away from writing, Jana is an accountant/admin assistant, a mother to two grown daughters, and a wife to her husband Warren. She enjoys golf, yoga, movies, concerts, travel and reading, not necessarily in that order. She and her husband live in Winnipeg, Canada with their Pug/Terrier cross Lou and several unnamed goldfish. She loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her website at

One unique factoid about me is that every year I spend a few days at a writing retreat at a monastery in Saskatchewan with some of my writer friends. We stay in a little building called St. Scholastica that used to house the teaching nuns. But it’s not as medieval as it sounds. The monastery is actually pretty modern and hi-tech these days!

Contact Jana:

Amazon Author Page: 

Ally:  I'm always interested in how authors got started in a particular genre. Why did you begin writing romance stories?

JANA:  I was on holiday with my family back in the early nineties when I ran out of reading material. We were in a beach community and the only thing I could find at a convenience store was a romance novel. I can’t remember if I’d read a romance before, but this was the first time one really clicked with me. I thought “I could write one of those.” Now I know how incredibly naïve I was being! My first efforts weren’t great, but I persevered and eventually I produced something worth publishing.

Ally:  When were you first published and how did that happen? Was it a long or short journey?

JANA:  It was a very long journey! I call it my apprenticeship. I was first published in 2007 with my contemporary romance HER BEST MAN. I had almost decided to quit writing because after many years of trying I was tired of rejection. For many years I submitted manuscripts to print publishers without any success. A friend suggested that I submit to her epublisher, and figuring I had nothing to lose, I sent them the manuscript. I was amazed and thrilled when they emailed back saying they wanted to publish it.

Ally:  How do you choose the names and physical characteristics of your characters? Do you base them on real people?

JANA:  Sometimes a real person will inspire a character for me, but most often their names and physical characteristics are based on the way I see the character in my head. Choosing a name sometimes drives me crazy. It has to feel right. I’ve been known to change a character’s name many times until it feels like it belongs. I often peruse the baby naming sites on the Internet, or the historical sites that give names popular in a certain year if I’m writing a historical novel. For last names, I often scan my city’s telephone book. Sometimes a name just comes to me and nothing else will do.
Ally:   I know authors are always working on something. What is your next work in progress?

JANA:  I’m actually working on a few things right now. One of the things I’m in the process of developing is a series about the characters in a small North Dakota town. The first book in the series is called CHILD OF MINE. Lauren Walsh suddenly finds herself widowed and pregnant. But her late husband is not the father of her child. Will she have the courage to tell the people in her small town that the baby’s father is her late husband’s brother?

The next book in the series is Lauren’s brother Garrett’s story. Garrett returns from military service in Afghanistan not sure where he belongs. In book three, Garrett and Lauren’s sister Charlotte struggle to forget what happened to her in college.

Aside from that series, I’m also working on a series called “Love in the North Woods” about three sisters trying to bring their grandparents’ fishing lodge back to life, while figuring out what really caused the deaths of their parents. In the “Twice in a Lifetime” series, people travel back in time for a second chance at love.

Ally:  Let's try a few 30 seconds quick answer questions:
  • a. happily ever after - fact or fiction? Fact. Look at me. I’ve been married for more than 35 happy years.
  • b. Do you hope to still be writing 10 years from now? Absolutely!
  • c. favorite Valentine's candy: Chocolate, definitely.
  • d. Most memorable Valentine's Day:  Every Valentine’s Day! My husband and I usually go out for a lovely dinner.
  • e. Can you recommend another author or book to readers?  Sure. I love Mary Balogh’s books. And I really liked my friend Karyn Good’s latest romantic suspense OFF THE GRID.
Ally: Thank you so much for spending time with us today. Before you go, please show us a little more about your book, One More Second Chance.

Title: One More Second Chance
Author: Jana Richards
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press, the Lobster Cove Series
Release Date: February 6, 2015


Dr. Alex Campbell has an agenda—finish his contract to provide medical services in Maine, pay off his medical school debt, and head back to his real life in San Diego. But when he meets Julia, all his carefully laid plans are put in jeopardy.

Julia Stewart, Lobster Cove’s high school principal, swears she’ll never let another man drag her away from the home she loves. Her aging parents need her, and the Cove is where she wants to raise her daughter. When her mother’s illness brings her and the big city doctor closer together, panic sets in. Her marriage taught her men don’t stay.

Can she put aside the heartaches of the past and trust Alex enough to accept the love he’s offering? Or will her fear of abandonment mean she’ll send him away forever?

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“What did the x-ray find?” she asked.

“A spiral fracture of the right arm.” He paused for a moment and took a deep breath as if trying to control his emotions. “I’ve seen this kind of injury before. A fracture like this can be the result of a fall, but it can also be an indication of child abuse. An arm as small as Ava’s will break like a twig if it’s twisted hard enough. I’m obligated to contact the authorities if I suspect abuse.”

Julia stared at him in mute shock, her brain struggling to process his words, as if trying to translate some unintelligible language. The words child abuse rang in her ears. Finally she found her voice.

“You think someone deliberately hurt her?”

“Her injuries are consistent with abuse.”

“I don’t give a damn what they’re consistent with. Ava has not been mistreated. My mother said she fell down the stairs, and if that’s what she said, then that’s what happened.”

“I believe there’s more to the story than a simple fall.”

“If it comes down to believing you or believing my mother, I’m going with my mother.”

“Perhaps you don’t know your mother as well as you think you do.”

Julia sucked in a breath and stared into Dr. Campbell’s dark, accusing eyes. The idea that her mother would hurt Ava was ridiculous. She adored Ava, would do anything for her…

She blinked and looked away, remembering an incident the other day. She’d heard her yelling at Ava about the milk she’d spilled on the kitchen floor, making such a huge deal of it that Ava had cried. It had struck her as strange, since she couldn’t remember her mother yelling at anyone, ever. She wasn’t as patient as she used to be. And how did she explain her strange phone call telling her Ava had been hurt? Of course she’d been upset, but her mother had been nearly incoherent with distress. Was something going on she wasn’t aware of? She was seventy-one now. Maybe looking after a rambunctious five-year-old was too much for her.

No. She shook her head to reject the disloyal thought. Dr. Campbell was the one who was wrong.

“I know my mother. She didn’t do this. It was an accident.”

“We’ll soon find out. Sharon is questioning Ava now.”

Julia stared at the door. “She’ll be scared, all by herself.”

“Sharon’s very good at what she does. She has a way of making kids feel comfortable.”

Julia turned on him, the anger and despair she’d been holding inside spilling out. “And you? Do you enjoy upsetting five-year-olds and turning families’ lives upside down? Does it make you feel powerful to sic the authorities on us?”

“Look, Mrs. Stewart, I take no pleasure in bringing in the authorities. But I’ve seen child abuse, up close and personal, and I can tell you it’s damn ugly. The things parents and caregivers are capable of doing to defenseless children…”

He stopped abruptly, his chest heaving. Closing his eyes, he averted his face and took a deep breath. When he turned back to her, his steely control was back in place. “So yeah, if I have even the smallest suspicion that a child has been abused, I’m going to ask questions. And I’m not going to apologize for it.”

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            New Release includes "Hearts' Pride" by Ally Shields

My publisher Etopia Press has released four volumes of short stories with Valentine's Day themes. (And heat levels from sweet to smexy).

"Hearts' Pride," a short shifter story I wrote specifically for the anthology, is included in volume I with three other paranormal romance/urban fantasy selections by talented authors.

"Hearts' Pride"
includes characters you haven't seen before (although Guardian Witch fans will recognize the setting).
Two black panthers have the starring roles, and I loved writing their story!
Katrina is my kind of "take charge" woman. And Blane...well, you'll have to see for yourself. :) I hope you'll enjoy meeting them.

Story blurb:

When their wedding is ruined by a werepanther attack, Katrina is left hospitalized and Blane is just...gone. But when he finally finds his way to Riverdale, he learns he’s not the only one who’s been tracking Katrina...

Buy Links:  Amazon     B
arnes and Noble     Etopia
And other online retailers

Other fantastic volumes are shown below. Click on the covers for Buy links.