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Our Coffee Chat today welcomes Maggie Le Page with a book that can make you laugh and/or blush.
How do you take your coffee, Maggie?

MAGGIE: Trim cappuccino, chocolate on top, and make it a hot one please (not burnt - just hot) (don’t look at me like that! I know what I like!)

Ally: Yes, Ma'm. :) We'll do our best. Can you show folks your bio?
And don't forget to include something unique.


Maggie Le Page lives in Christchurch, New Zealand (aka QuakeZone) with her partner, two children, and a snooty cat who thinks they're all her slaves. Her days are spent running around after kids or doing one of her 'real' jobs, so her writing generally happens in the dead of night. (Morning? No. She’s a third-generation night owl. Enough said.)

She loves chocolate, hates being cold, and is ever fascinated by the possibility of time travel. Obviously, her ideal experience would be to wake up on a tropical island eighty years into the future, with an endless supply of chocolate on hand.

A Heat Of The Moment Thing, Maggie’s debut novel, is a romping chick lit read with humour and plenty of romantic sizzle. It has reached the quarter-finals of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2014. Maggie’s second novel, The Trouble With Dying, will be released later this year.

And something unique:
I have a very low boredom threshold. I’ve had several career incarnations, and three years in any job is about my limit. (Aside from being a mum, of course - though some days it feels like I’m over that job, too!)

Contact links:

Maggie’s website:

Ally: Since we certainly don't want you to become bored, shall we jump right into the questions? :-D  What type of romance do you write? subcategory, heat level.

MAGGIE:  LOL. I write chick lit—a genre that supposedly doesn’t exist anymore, but every self-respecting chick lit lover knows that’s rubbish! It’s light and humorous reading with plenty of romance. It’s definitely not erotica, but A Heat Of The Moment Thing (my debut novel) does get a bit steamy in places.

Ally: Tell us about the heroine and hero in the book you brought today. Why are they "meant for each other?"

MAGGIE:  Becky Jordan is the heroine of A Heat Of The Moment Thing. Although she’s always pined for Mr Right she seems to have found everyone but, and has lost a bit of herself along the way. She’s recently vowed to forget about men and be more true to herself. She’s just scored the job opportunity of a lifetime and is determined to make a go of it—single.

Matt Frobisher, the story’s hero, is Becky’s new boss. He’s funny and interesting and kind and (of course) gorgeous. Becky is not amused. How is it that as soon as she says no to dating, Mr Probably Right shows up?

That’s where they’re in agreement, because Matt doesn’t do relationships. His background is complex and (for reasons I won’t divulge here - don’t want to spoil it for readers) he isn’t interested in anything beyond mild flirtation. That’s until Becky crashes into his life—literally. She’s full of life and cute and gets herself into all sorts of scrapes. Life is far more colourful when Becky’s around. She challenges him to let his hair down and have fun.

For Becky’s part, Matt is the calm to her storm. She’s a disaster magnet, no two ways about it. If something can go wrong it will go wrong, but Matt has a knack of being there to pick up the pieces. Matt doesn’t want to change her; he likes her just the way she is, and this is something very new for Becky. He’s great for her confidence and sense of self-worth.

Ally:  How do you choose characteristics and names for your characters? Are any of them based on people you know?

MAGGIE:  My characters tend to “teach” me who they are as I write. Often they take a whole book to evolve into 3D characters with believable traits and full personalities.

As for names, I angst over them! I have literally pages and pages of last names I wrote down for Matt, the hero of A Heat Of The Moment Thing. I spent days—no, weeks—rolling names around in my head, trying to choose one that sounded like ‘him’.

None of my characters are based on people I know, sorry. J But, like all writers, I do get inspiration from my own world. My ideas often spark from a random comment or observation, and then the fun begins! That’s the beauty of writing fiction: you get to write it your way, making anything happen to anyone.

Ally:  If you suddenly couldn't write anymore, what would you like to do? and Why?

MAGGIE:  Gosh. Well, I guess I’d fall into a deep dark pit of despair. But when I clambered back out and got on with the rest of my life, I expect I’d head back into education. For some 15+ years BC (before children) I was a teacher, and since then I’ve worked part-time in teacher training. I loved helping teachers be the best they could be.

Ally:  Ready for some quick answer questions?
     a. most romantic song
- two - can’t choose! The Power Of Love (Frankie Goes to Hollywood); Someone Like You (Adele)
     b. most unusual item sitting on your desk or in other writing space - fingerless merino gloves. I have perpetually cold hands in winter! Which reminds me, I need to put them on right now. Summer’s well and truly over down here in New Zealand.
     c. favorite color of nail polish - fingers: nothing (hate my fingernails so don’t draw attention to them); toes - anything goes, but probably plum-red.
     d. favorite restaurant meal - Thai. Yum yum. Any dish with coriander and lime juice, thanks—oh, and make it spicy.
     e. last book you read - “She Likes It Rough” by GVR Corcillo. A great beach read and a must-read for chick lit lovers. (Awarded Best Indie Book 2013 and Best Humor Book 2013 in the Rebecca’s Reads Choice Awards.)

Ally: Thanks so much for having coffee with me. Before we wind this down, tell us a little more about your book.


Becky Jordan has had it with relationships. From now on her time and dedication won’t be lavished on her latest Mr. Wrong—or, worse, Mr. Hell-No!—just the dream travel job which has unexpectedly leapt into her lap. Finally, life is looking great.

Unfortunately, not as great as her sizzling-hot, take-charge new boss. Matt Frobisher is everything she doesn't want him to be, but if anyone thinks she'll risk her career on a workplace fling they can think again. No amount of Superman behaviour from him will make her roll over and play Lois.

At least, that's what her head says. Her heart, however, doesn't do logical. In desperation she finds herself a Mr. Distraction, one with no strings and plenty of appeal. But Mr. Distraction also comes with unforeseen complications. Kryptonite complications, like Becky’s sister. And when she shows up there’s only one sure thing: not even Superman can prevent the Disaster Fest that’s about to blow Becky’s life apart.

(Contains one guy determined to win the girl, one girl determined not to be won, and plenty of heat in the middle.)

18+ intended for an adult audience
Amazon Author Link:

Available at most online bookstores including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords and Itunes.

     Sorry if you were in the mood for a long dissertation on some esoteric fact of life (not that you've ever found that here), but it's just too nice to be inside writing a blog, so I'm playing hooky...taking time to enjoy Spring!


Maybe I'll go for a walk and enjoy the early flowers, listen to the birds, and watch the butterflies...


                           Or grill on the deck...


This is tempting--
                  sitting back and watching the fish go by...


Perhaps I should put my feet up on the deck...


If the weather forecast is right, this is how the weekend will end...

           But what's wrong with a few April showers?
                     (no nasty tornadoes, please.)

Whatever I do--one thing's for sure--I'll be back next week. Hope you are too! :)


The request I get most often... is to know more about Andreas, the main vampire in the Guardian Witch series. I'm hoping he'll share a part of his early history this morning, although it's a touchy subject for him--one hee was reluctant to share with Arianna. 

I turn to smile at him. "Thank you for agreeing to this interview." When he raises an eyebrow, I add, "Yes, I know I threatened to tell the story for you, if you didn't. So, set the scene for us, Andreas. Where were you and what was happening in your life when you were transformed into a vampire?"

The dark, attractive vampire is lounging in his office desk chair at Club Dintero. He gives me a narrowed eye look but answers easily enough. "I was in London in 1815, where I had been living for ten years until I was called home to Italy the year before upon the untimely death of my elder brother. It was my duty to assume control of the family estates." He sighs. "After several months, I hired a manager and returned to my life in London."

"But why? You inherited a position of wealth in a beautiful country."

He leans back, steepling his fingers. "It should not have been mine. My brother Luis had been groomed for the position. I was the younger son, well provided for by my father, but never intended to govern. It was a responsibility I did not want."

"You were close to your brother?"


"How did he die?"

"A hunting accident. His horse went one way over a barrier, Luis went the other. It was a typical death for a young bruising rider." The words are said in a monotone, and I don't pursue the details.

"So tell me about the vampiress, the one who sired you. How did you meet?" He hesitates, and I prod him. "Was it the old story of sexy vampire lures unsuspecting victim into a sexual encounter?"

That gets a response. "Not at all. I had been drinking with friends and was walking home in the early morning hours when I witnessed what I thought was the mugging of an elderly washer woman by two ruffians. I attempted to intervene but was overpowered by the three vampires."

When he didn't go on, I finished the story. "After the vampiress drained you, taking your life, she chose to share her own blood but left you in an ally."

His eyes flicker. "Yes. She was not the maternal type."

"Isn't that unusual, for vampires to abandon their newborns?"

He shrugs, and I can see that our conversation is nearly at an end for today.  "What was it like when you first woke as a vampire? Did you know what had happened?"

"Mostly it was terrifying. Unknown sensations and urges. It was days before I figured it out, and only after I ran into another of my kind." He glances pointedly toward the papers on his desk.

I try one last question. "Have you seen the vampiress since? Where is she now?"

His eyes flash a warning, and he picks up the top paper on his desk. "She is dead."

I take the hint and leave.

   Welcome to the Wednesday Coffee Chat!

Erin Moore is with us today with her paranormal romance, The Shaman's Temptation, which sounds like a hot time in the Arizona desert!

Erin, do you drink coffee or prefer something else?

ERIN:  Earl Gray with lots of almond milk is my caffeine infusion of choice.

Ally: No problem. While I'm getting the tea and coffee for us, you'll have time to show our readers your bio, including an additional interesting fact.


Erin has been writing her entire life, but only recently found her voice in the paranormal romance world.

She's an avowed chocoholic, loves travel and good tea, and finds her inner peace by meditating and writing. Fantasy, historical fiction, and romance are her inspirations.

She is so thankful that she is able to do what she loves and have the support of great readers and friends.

Something not in my bio: I speak fluent German.

Contact links:  (may include 18+ content)
Amazon Author Page:

Ally:  Let's start with a genre question. How did you start writing romances? Did a particular book or author inspire you?
ERIN:  I sort of grew up reading romances in the summers when I could borrow/steal them from aunts and grandmothers, so I can’t really say that it was any one author, except maybe Jude Deveraux (remember those?).

Ally:  Do you work with a critique partner or critique group? Do you use beta readers?

ERIN:  Two amazing women are my crit partners, and since I’ve been published I’ve also had a few beta readers. It’s probably something that I need to focus on more. In terms of crit partners, I think two is probably my limit; it’s hard to find the time for my writing, others’ writing, and marketing, otherwise!

Ally:  I know you have a small press publisher, but have you done any self-publishing or would you consider it?

ERIN:  Would definitely consider self-publishing, especially because my next series is going to be a little off the beaten track, and if I am going to have to start from the ground up in terms of building an audience, then it might be worth it. I’m writing what I’m calling “The Origins Series”, and it’s going to be set in the Paleolithic. Not exactly a Regency!

Ally:  Tell us about the heroine and hero in the book you brought today. What is the major conflict in their relationship?

ERIN:  Takshilim Nah-Kah-Yen is training to be a shaman in his small Arizona tribe. Madeleine Greenway is the financial analyst sent to help his tribe get funding for a casino. Their conflict is really generated from their ways of life – Tak thinks that she is sort of a princess, not able to see the needs of the tribe. And Madeleine thinks Tak is a bit arrogant, until she finds out how much he has invested in helping his people and how strong he is beneath the wounded warrior toughness.

Ally: I confess to loving quick answer questions, so here are yours:
  • a hike in the woods or a day on the beach: Hike.
  • sexy convertible or practical van: Wow, those are my only choices? I think sexy, but I drive a total mommy car.
  • favorite flower: Orchids. For obvious reasons.
  • your next vacation destination: Turkey.
  • sexiest actor, tv or movies: I looooove Hugh Jackman and Dwayne (the Rock) Johnson. Yum.
Ally: You have good taste in men! But I'm afraid we're about out of time. Thank you so much for visiting today. But we'd love to see your book before you go...

A Shaman’s temptation could be the undoing of his people…

Madeleine Greenway, perfectionist and analyst for Surety Bank, has no place in her rigidly organized life for something as unpredictable as a man, much less a Native American shaman. Sent to the White Mountain reservation to help the tribe finance its new casino, she meets Tak, a proud, beautiful Apache, and finds herself surrounded by something magical in the Arizona desert. His touch becomes a passport to otherworldly bliss, and the strange coyote she sees makes her question what’s real. But it’s the amazing sex with Tak that makes Madeleine lose sight of her goal—to guarantee that Surety Bank’s investment in the casino won’t fail.

Last in a long line of shaman shape-shifters, Tak Nah-Kah-Yen has sworn a vow of celibacy to his gods. But Madeleine’s lithe body and honeyed lips compel him to forswear his pledge, claiming her for his own. His passion for her overshadows his link to his gods at a time when he most needs their help. Desperate to find funding for the casino and lift his people out of poverty, he’d accepted start-up money from less than savory sources who are willing to kill to guarantee their profit—the profit Madeleine’s bank jeopardizes…

NOTICE: Content of Erin Moore's books is 18+

The books are available at most online bookstores and can be accessed through her website or her Amazon Author page:
Amazon Author Page:

Thanks, readers, for joining us today. Please come back soon!
If you are a former subscriber and have missed the last couple of posts, you'll need to subscribe again due to a website glitch. I apologize for the inconvenience.
I don't want to lose any of you!

I've been tagged on the My Writing Process blog hop by Antonia van Zandt. The rules are simple: link back to her blog and forward to three other writers, plus answer the following questions:

1. What am I working on?

I just finished and signed a contract to publish a new urban fantasy with elven characters, entitled Cross Keys. Now I'm busy writing Wild Fire (Guardian Witch Book Six) and am currently on Chapter nine. This book has a new twist which you haven't seen in the series before!

2. How does my work differ from others in its genre?

The Otherworld characters are known to and interact with human society, working side by side to solve crimes or defeat enemies. The heroine is a supernatural cop with a human partner; they often use normal police procedures and forensics to resolve very un-normal situations. While there is a strong romantic line, the mystery and adventure storyline predominates. The series has an overall story arc and should be read in order, but each book has a resolution of its own.

3. Why do I write what I do?

I've always loved to read urban fantasy, but I started writing it by accident. When I first began the book that was to be Awakening the Fire, it had a different title, a different name for the heroine, and I thought I was writing a traditional mystery or police procedural. On the second or third day of writing, I realized my heroine was a witch. I had to stop and do several weeks of world building before the story could move forward again! :)
I've continued writing in the genre because I love the way it stretches my imagination to find new and different ways to challenge my heroine yet ground the story in elements of the real world.

4. How does my writing process work?

I write every day, and I do best when I set goals--usually 2000 - 2500 daily words. My first drafts tend to be skinny, often not much more than pages of dialogue. My manuscript could grow 15-20k on the second pass as I add details and descriptions. (I'm trying to get better about this, and do more on the first draft.) First draft will take anywhere from six weeks to three months, with at least a full rewrite and a full edit pass taking another two to six weeks. A second edit takes place once the manuscript is reviewed by my critique partner, Kath Boyd Marsh. Smaller edit passes include searches for overused words and a check to see I have utilized the five senses. Typos and punctuation are proofed on every pass and still the little gremlins manage to creep in. Luckily, Nancy Cassidy, my editor at Etopia Press, is good at catching those when we eventually do the rounds of formal edits prior to publication!

Enough about me. I'd like to pass the torch to these lovely writers. You can read about their writing process next week on April 28:

1. Kath Boyd March, Letters from Earth
2. Kirstin Pulioff, author
3. EE Carter, author

Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon!

         On Writing Paranormal
                      by Michele Drier
, guest author

Last fall, Janet Evanovich blew into town.

She was the guest of the local newspaper’s Book Club, which hosted her appearance.

The auditorium (holds about 2,200), was packed and the free tickets were gone within three hours of the announcement in the paper.

I went with my critique group, evenly divided into Morellis and Rangers.

She was great...funny, flip, everything you think Stephanie Plum would be, and we all had take-aways.

Mine was her talking abut the world of Stephanie Plum.

It’s based on Evanovich’s own family, with just enough of a spin to make them irresistible.

And Evanovich is so crazy about them, she can hardly wait to wake up in the morning and get back to Stephanie’s world.

That’s when I realized that I’m not the only one who lives in fantasy land.

But mine stretches the fantasy a little. Instead of pulling stories and characters from my own past, I’ve created a family that’s complete fantasy. A fantasy of five hundred year old Hungarian vampires.

I’ve boxed myself in. The Kandeskys are uber rich, sophisticated, live in a style that heads of small nations would envy. They travel in their own planes and Mercedes limos driven by their bodyguard, a corps of demons who’ve been with the family for centuries.

The Baron, head of the family, lives in a Hungarian castle. Family members have estates in Kiev. Others live in lavish apartments in Paris, London, Rio.

The family owns enough L.A. homes, condos and commercial real estate to make a Southern California developer drool.

And the vampires themselves. Pen, the Baron’s wife, was a celebrity for years, until she decided to retire because people were beginning to ask how she looked the same for better than fifty years.

Jean-Louis is tall, lean, with dark hair and eyes that range from navy blue to deep violet to black and he’s perfected the ability to glimmer—producing a glow that attracts and calms regulars.

Nik is light to Jean-Louis’ dark, with streaked blond hair and eyes that shift from hazel to brown and when the two of them appear at parties, women give themselves whiplash from looking.

Who wouldn’t want to hang around this family?

There’s one wrinkle. I’d much rather be with them than my “other” life. They don’t cook, clean, pay bills, drive across town to find the cheapest gas, live in fear of stepping on the scale or put up with an elderly cat who stands on a head at night and says, “feed me.”  And this urge to be with the Kadeskys means that all those “other” chores mostly don’t get done.

After I finish book eight, SNAP: All That Jazz, later this spring, I’m going to have to wrench myself back to my “other” life. My daughter’s threatening to call the Hoarders show on me.

For now, back to Kiev!

Book Blurb: White Nights (book seven)

Nik, the third-in-command of the Hungarian Kandesky vampire family, has been handling the family's interests in Czech munition factories for upwards of four hundred years. He's been a contented bachelor, throwing himself into business until Jazz strolls into his life. Jazz is Maxie Gwenoch's successor as the managing editor for SNAP, the international celeb gossip magazine, another Kandesky company. Maxie, Nik, Jazz and Jean-Louis, the Kandesky second-in-command, are headed to Moscow to assess the business potential for a SNAP Russian bureau, until an old enemy shows up. Set against the tensions between Ukraine and Russia, the short Russian nights teach Maxie to cherish her time with Jean-Louis while Jazz faces her own questions about loving a vampire.

Barnes and Noble

Others in the series:  SNAP: The Kandesky Vampire Chronicles, is available in ebook, paperback and audible at ebook retailers. All have received “must read” reviews from the Paranormal Romance Guild. SNAP: The World Unfolds, SNAP: New Talent, Plague: A Love Story and Danube: A Tale of Murder are available singly and in a boxed set at Amazon, B&N and Kobo. The fifth book, SNAP: Love for Blood, rated 5 stars, and sixth, SNAP: Happily Ever After? are also available.

About the author:

Michele Drier was born in Santa Cruz and is a fifth generation Californian. She’s lived and worked all over the state, calling both Southern and Northern California home.  During her career in journalism—as a reporter and editor at daily newspapers—she won awards for producing investigative series.

SNAP: White Nights, the seventh book of her paranormal romance series, The Kandesky Vampire Chronicles, was published March 20. She’s working on the eighth book in the series, SNAP: All That Jazz, scheduled for publication in late spring 2014.

She also writes the Amy Hobbes Newspaper mysteries, Edited for Death and Labeled for Death. A third book, Delta for Death, is coming in 2014.

Visit her website:
facebook page:
Amazon author page:

Have a great day! Visit again soon!

Welcome to this week's book talk on the Coffee Chat! My guest today is Amber Foxx, a writer of paranormal with the woo-woo factor!

Good Morning, Amber! How do you take your coffee?

AMBER:  Black, no sugar.

Ally: An excellent choice and very easy to do. I'll pour if you show readers your bio, plus that something extra that is unique to you.

Bio:  Amber Foxx has worked as a personal trainer, fitness director, and yoga teacher and as a college professor in health sciences. She has lived in Maine, Virginia, North Carolina and New Mexico. While she currently divides her time between the Southeast and the Southwest, she calls Truth or Consequences New Mexico home.

And something unique:  I had my first short story published when I was twelve. I’d forgotten about it until about six years ago. My sister and I were sorting through a box of family papers and pictures our father had left us—and there was that story, as well as one I’d written for a high school English class. After this encounter with the family archives, I got serious about writing. I’ve had several events in my life when I felt as if my father’s spirit was giving me a nudge to do something. This was one of them. He was strong believer in following your bliss.


Ally:  Describe your series according to genre and subgenre. You've called them murderless mysteries, so what kind of problems does your protag solve?

AMBER:  I’ve wanted to invent a new genre, the way some chefs like to experiment with recipes, putting together ingredients that aren’t normally combined in ways that end up tasting wonderful. The books are mysteries in the sense that there are puzzles to be solved, and paranormal because my protagonist is a psychic and energy healer, while the overall feel of the books is like general fiction. They are realistic novels with paranormal elements. Shamans’ Blues has some elements of romance, as well, with an unconventional twist.

The mysteries are about missing people, secrets, or unusual spiritual phenomena. In The Calling, the first book in the series, Mae Martin tries to understand mysteries in her own life—why her father disappeared and the mystery of her own unasked for gift. In Shaman's Blues, the second book, the mystery starts with requests for Mae to find two missing people, but these people themselves end up being a greater mystery than their whereabouts. They have layers of secrets. A ghost plays a part in this plot, as well. In the third book (not yet released) a missing pet will end up being a key part of a much more tangled mystery. I’ve got four books more in various stages of progress, and the mysteries range from how a group of healers and psychics lose their gifts, to an attempt to undo an apparent voodoo curse. 

Ally:  Tell us about Mae’s unusual talent. Do her psychic experiences spring solely from your imagination or have you or someone you've known had similar experiences?

AMBER:  I’ve had some psychic experiences but they are not like Mae’s. I dream the future, which seems to be, in my reading and in my encounters with people who are willing to talk about this kind of thing, the most common type of psychic ability. My gift is random—I’ve only been able to dream the future on purpose once. It was 100% accurate, but I don’t know if I could achieve that again.
The inspiration for Mae’s gift came from someone with a more unusual ability, a woman who could read something of your past or present by holding an object that you had handled a lot. She had a vision from holding something of mine that was surprisingly personal and important to me, when I had just met her that evening and she knew next to nothing about me. This ability was perfect for my books. It gives Mae both insights and limits. She can’t see the future, only the past and the present, and she has to access an object for its vibration that connects it to a person. I didn’t want being psychic to be too easy, but I wanted it to be something she could control with skill and discipline.
Ally:  What is your writing process? Pantser or plotter?

AMBER:  I’m a pantser, but I also plan a lot once I get started. As I write, new characters show up, and plot ideas occur to me. It’s like improv acting, playing all of the roles. I’ll improvise a scene, and then scribble some possible next events. Typing on a keyboard and writing by hand seem to access different thinking processes, so I hand write those tentative outlines. Drawing accesses yet another aspect of my mind. I do some plot-tightening with charts and outlines after the first draft or two, to make sure there are no holes or loose ends.

Ally:  When and where do you write?

AMBER:  I have a home office dedicated to writing, and I write for anywhere from an hour to eight hours a day depending on the day of the week, day job demands, and travel. I made a commitment years ago never to let a day pass without writing and I’ve kept it. I don’t set goals that can be measured in words or pages, because sometimes I have to spend a lot of time polishing a tricky transitional paragraph, and other times ideas flow so rapidly that I don’t stop to spell-check or polish. It takes no will power to make myself write. The hard part is making myself stop and go to bed. I’m nocturnal, and my creative flow picks up after dark.

Ally:  I'm always interested in how other writers handle revisions. How much do you do on your own before involving your editor?

AMBER:  The number of revisions is uncountable, I revise so constantly. Each scene I write gets revised immediately. Then I move on to the next, and then I go back to the beginning and revise it all before moving on again. I think every chapter may have been revised a minimum of three of four times before it even goes to the first critique partner. Before anyone sees it I print it out and mark it up. I’m brutal with myself as my own critique partner. I revise again and then I start with a partner who’s good with plot and gives detailed feedback, working one chapter at a time. After the first critique, I revise and send the whole book to the next beta reader. Revise again. Next beta reader. Revise again. I like to have three readers before I send it to my editor, and then I still find myself making last minute fixes when I think it’s done. My books take years.

Ally:  What do you do when you're not writing?

AMBER:  I read, of course. I love art, and like to go to museums and galleries. I’m a runner—my barefoot shoes are probably my favorite thing I own. I like to go out dancing, and to go hiking in the desert. And I practice yoga daily.

Ally: Let's try a few quick answer questions:
  • favorite mystery author: it’s a tie between James D. Doss and Nevada Barr
  • high heels or sneakers: Do my Vibram Five Fingers count as sneakers?
  • favorite after five drink: decaf green tea (It would be more fun if I said green chile lager or pumpkin ale, but I’ll leave those to one of my characters to enjoy.)
  • an item on your bucket list: Make a bucket list! Or maybe the following is the answer.
  • your dream vacation would be: retirement. There is so much I want to do traveling around New Mexico, so many events that I miss because I have to work my day job. I want to have the year when I go the Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, the burning of Zozobra at the Santa Fe Fiesta,  Santa Fe Indian Market, the Gathering of Nations and the Gallup Intertribal, Route 66 Summerfest, and even the Deming Duck Race and Roswell Alien Chase. The year when I don’t miss a thing!
Ally:  Thanks, Amber, for visiting the Coffee Chat today. I wish you the best of luck with your books.
And speaking of books, here are her current covers and blurbs...

The Calling

A down-to-earth North Carolina country girl, Mae Martin-Ridley is a former high school athlete whose interests run to sports and fitness, not spirituality or mysticism. The last thing she ever expected to be was a psychic or a spiritual healer. Obeying her mother’s warning, Mae has been hiding her gift of “the sight” for years. When events compel her to use it again, the unforeseen consequences spread to affect every aspect of her life—work, marriage, and family. To qualify for a new job Mae takes a class in Norfolk, Virginia, where she meets people who not only accept her abilities but push her to explore them further. She struggles with the shadow side of her gift. Though she wants to use “the sight” to help people, it gives her access to secrets she could regret uncovering. Torn between those around her who encourage her and those who condemn or doubt, Mae has to find her own path.

Buy Links:

Barnes and Noble

Shaman’s Blues
Mae Martin gets a double-edged going-away gift from her job as a psychic and
healer: beautiful music by a man who’s gone missing, and a request to find him.
When she arrives in her new home in New Mexico, aiming to start life over as she
comes to terms with her second divorce, she faces a new challenge in the use of her gift. Her new neighbors are under the influence of an apparently fake psychic who runs the health food restaurant where they work. When Mae questions the skills of the peculiar restaurateur, the woman disappears—either to Santa Fe, or another dimension. The restaurant’s manager asks Mae to discover which it is.
Finding two missing people proves easier than finding out the truth about either of them, or getting one of them, once found, to go away again.
Mystery crosses between the worlds and romance gets turned upside down in Santa Fe, the City Different.

Buy Links:

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Welcome to this week's book chat!

Karen McCullough writes in several genres but today she's brought us a romantic suspense/mystery, which I'm just dying (pun very much intended) to hear about! :)
How do you take your coffee, Karen?

KAREN: With half a teaspoon of Splenda and just enough low-fat milk to change the color. Coffee is my main drink, and I love the stuff. I'm a bit of a snob about it, however. Really good coffee is one of my indulgences.

Ally: Since my magic pot makes the most exclusive coffee on earth, I'll have the perfect cup ready in a moment. In the meantime, please show them your bio and add something unique about yourself that isn't in your official bio.

PictureKaren & grandson
Author Bio:

Karen McCullough is a web designer by profession, and the author of a dozen published novels and novellas in the mystery, romantic suspense, and fantasy genres as well. She has won numerous awards, including an Eppie Award for fantasy, and has also been a four-time Eppie finalist, and a finalist in the Prism, Dream Realm, Rising Star, Lories, Scarlett Letter, and Vixen Awards contests. Her short fiction has appeared in several anthologies and numerous small press publications in the fantasy, science fiction, and romance genres. She has three children, four grandchildren and lives in Greensboro, NC, with her husband of many years. 

Hmm… Something that isn't in my bio… I'm a huge sports fan, especially pro football (Go Panthers, Go Patriots!), baseball (Braves, Red Sox) and college basketball (Duke!!).  Every year for Valentine's Day my husband gives me diamonds - baseball diamonds, i.e. a package of tickets to our local minor league baseball team games.

Blog: http://www.kmccullough/kblog

Ally:  Since we're talking romance today, tell us the types you write? Do you write in more than one subcategory or heat level?

KAREN:  I write several varieties of romance including romantic suspense, romantic mystery, paranormal romance and fantasy romance. The heat level in my stories varies from  sweet to blazing.  Most of my romantic suspense, mystery and paranormal stories are low heat (except for Shadow of a Doubt, which does have some on-the-page sex). My romantic suspense, A Question of Fire, keeps the bedroom door mostly closed. The three fantasy romances (Witch's Journey, Wizard's Bridge and The Wizard's Shield) are all fairly hot.

Ally:  What are the characteristics you feel every hero needs to possess? Do you write primarily about alpha males or average Joes?

KAREN:  For me, the bottom line characteristics of a real hero are loyalty and a rock solid sense of honor. Other things I value in a hero are strength, intelligence, courage and compassion. I feel like my heroes are neither very alpha nor average Joes. They're men who operate according to their own sense of right and wrong, who will do almost anything for the people they care for. They're smart and powerful in their own way, but in general my heroes aren't the leaders of a pack or obviously stronger than others. They tend to be loners, in fact, men who steer their own course, with little concern about whether or not others follow. 

Ally:  Do you have romance novels or favorite authors that you re-read? Tell us at least one thing you really like about his or her writing.

KAREN:  Yes, definitely. From my favorites shelf:  Mary Stewart: Madam, Will You Talk, My Brother Michael, The Ivy Tree, This Rough Magic; everything by Barbara Michaels/Elizabeth Peters; Linda Howard: Mr. Perfect and Cry No More.   Mary Stewart has a wonderful way with description that puts you right into the story. I love the way Barbara Mertz (Michaels and E. Peters) draws vivid characters who smart and witty.  And Linda Howard can wring emotion out of every word in a story.

Ally:  If you could go anywhere, do anything, what would be your fantasy weekend getaway?

KAREN:  Tough one. A luxury hotel in an interesting place, like an upscale hotel in New York or New Orleans would be delightful.  On the other hand I love the beach--in summer a long weekend at the ocean is great.

Ally:  Let's wind up with a few quick answer questions:
  • Cake, cookies or pie:  Cookies
  • Favorite type of jewelry: Necklace
  • An item on your bucket list:  Visit Switzerland, France, Germany and Italy.
  • Favorite spring color: Purple
Ally:  Thanks so much for visiting with us today. Before you get on with your busy day, please show us the book you brought.
Blurb for A Question of Fire:

When Catherine Bennett agrees to attend an important party as a favor for her boss, she knows she won't enjoy it, but she doesn't expect to end up holding a dying man in her arms. Nor did she anticipate she’d become the recipient of his last message about the location of evidence that would prove his brother innocent of murder. 
Now the killers are after her to get that information. She’ll need the help of attorney Peter Lowell, as well as the victim’s difficult, prickly younger brother and a handsome private detective to help her find the evidence before the killers do. 

Buy Links:

Barnes & Noble

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It's Coffee Chat Wednesday! 

Time to sit down with your favorite beverage and enjoy a little book talk. Our guest today is Joan Leotta, who calls herself an eclectic writer. Welcome, Joan. How do you take your coffee?

JOAN: Dark and strong. In fact, you asked about some unusual about me...
Coffee is a passion of mine! My son used to say I needed a 12-step program for Starbucks, but really it is not the big brand coffee so much (that was simply a convenient way to talk about my addiction) as it is good, dark strong coffee that I love. I am a fan of the local brews Port City Java--I always go for the dark blend. I like Starbucks Sumatra and we now have a Kuerig so we can get individual cups quick and hot.  I like Italian roasts and French roasts in most brands--Peets has especially good French roasts in the Keurig cups and we use the Tully's French and Italian roasts as our daily drink at home. I also like tea--chai and a good strong English breakfast. I brew loose teas mostly but am not above using a teabag.

Ally:  A dark brew is coming right up. Perhaps while I do that you could share your bio with us.


Joan Leotta has been writing and performing since childhood. Her “motto” is "encouraging words through pen and performance.” Her award-winning poetry, short stories, books and articles have been published in many journals, magazines and newspapers.

She performs folklore shows and one-woman shows on historic figures at venues up and down the east coast. She lives in Calabash, NC with husband Joe. You can learn more about her



Ally:  Why don't we start with what you write, how long you've been published, and how many works are available? 

JOAN:  I write non-fiction poetry, short stories and novellas--can’t seem to squeeze out those last few thousand words for a full fledged novel.  Have also written a travel book and history book for children.

Three romance books (sweet, YA historical fiction) are currently available from Desert Breeze Publishing and on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
The very first thing I published for pay was a poem with a magazine that no longer takes student work. I was fourteen. It was wonderful! For many years I wrote only in my job and then , after leaving office work , I became a freelancer and professional story performer. The freelance non-fiction articles (My masters is in international economics) paid a lot of bills and the performing paid some bills and fulfilled me creatively allowing me to stay home with my children and have a fabulous time being a mom. I love to write for children but it is the most difficult type of writing and I admit to begin slow with it though I have several projects going. My first full length book was a travel book. I contributed to several books and then also was able to do a non-fiction for Scholastic for children.

After my husband retired, I went into semi-retirement as a non-fiction writer--just a couple of clients now. I turned to short stories and back to poetry. Have had some success with poetry and the short stories and essays . 

Genre wise I am all over the map--eclectic one could say, or if you are feeling less generous, scattered. Mystery and light romance are the most fun to write. The three books with Desert Breeze are novellas.

Ally:  Are you a pantser or plotter? Why do you believe this method works for you?

JOAN:  I am both pants and plot. I do  a semi-outline of where I want the story to go and then start writing and often the tale changes directions--No formal outlines tho, I hated the roman numeral number thing-- as a child.

One thing that is very important to me is to keep my audience ever in mind--how will they react to what I am doing, how is my pacing--will it keep them involved, how much detail is overload for the plot and for the reader/ Important to me.

Ally:  Do you write full time or get in a word or two whenever you can? Daily goals? Word count?

JOAN:  I write every day, but not always on the same project. Usually I have four or five writing projects going on at the same time and fit poetry in as I can. I like to do a poem a day in nanowrimo challenge, but am trying now to challenge myself with various poetic forms.

When I start the book I will set goals, and I will be starting book four of my series for Desert Breeze as soon as my research is father along after a few weeks.

Ally:  How long does it take you to write a first draft?  

JOAN:  A couple of months.  Rewrite? Another couple of months. Remember tho, I am doing other projects at the same time--newspaper articles and books reviews, articles for the disability website I write for and of course, preparing stories for performance, writing poems and the occasional personal essay.

I recently started to write more personal, non-fiction essays and send them out (Chicken Soup has picked one up) because people seem to like them! One thing that is very important to me--my audience. I guess attention to audience is a part of the intersection of my writing and performing personae. I want my readers to feel what I feel when I write, to be entertained and edified.

Ally:   Are settings important in your writing or could your stories happen anywhere?

JOAN:  Settings are very important--both time and place. I write a lot of historical fiction, so the research is very important . 
For the second book in my series, Letters from Korea, I spent hours tracking down the names of restaurants in Pittsburgh's downtown--places that are long gone but that existed then. Research is the heart of how I make things real.

  Before we wind this up, let's try some quick answer questions: 
  • favorite dessert:  ice cream
  • one item you'd take to a deserted island:  my bible
  • favorite actor, tv show and movie:  it is still, cary grant, tv is ncis, and movies--oh dear so many.
  • an item on your bucket list:  don’t believe in bucket lists, but I love to travel.  
  • comfort attire: sweats, jeans or shorts--sweater--my house is always cold for me so I wear sweater all the time. I wear baggy slacks or jeans, take a walk when the weather is fine. I love wearing slippers at home. Restful.

Ally:  Thanks, Joan, for visiting the Coffee Chat. Please stop by again. Now, let's take a look at the novella your brought to show us.

Book preview:

"The Legacy of honor in her family meant that once a person made a promise, the promise must be kept."

Anna Maria O'Shea became a nurse to continue her family's Legacy of Honor.

In choosing to stick to her commitment to service, she looses her long-time college love. The pain of war is stronger than her private heartache.

Is Mark, the handsome physician, the balm her soul needs? Or is it George who will claim and heal her wounds with a love that transcends war and the pain she sees all around her?

Desert Breeze Publishing:


Also available at B& N.