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                                   How do you write a series?

I had to stop and think when recently asked this question, but the answer isn't hard. It's common sense in fact.

1. Characters and relationships that are sustainable. If your characters only have one flaw or one snag to their relationship, it will be hard to maintain interest beyond the first book.

2. An overall, on-going story framework—a recurring problem, a tenacious enemy, a career that lends itself to multiple conflicts.

3. Individual arcs for each book that have a satisfying ending. In my opinion, cliffhangers should be reserved for the overall story arc. The reader needs resolution of a major conflict at the end of each book.

4. A finale that ties up all the loose ends and leaves the reader feeling they didn't waste their time. Easier said than done. You can't please everyone, but if you've satisfied the majority of your readers—and remained true to your characters—you've done your job.

It's the little things that can trip you up: keeping descriptions of people and places consistent, maintaining an accurate time line. The devil is truly in the details. If Jane has blue eyes in book one and hazel in book four, I guarantee your email account will zing with readers eager to point out the discrepancy. :) They know your books as well—or better—than you do.

Despite the drawbacks, it never occurred to me not to write the Guardian Witch books as a series. I knew from day one I loved the characters and Ari had a complex story to tell.

I strongly favor series in my own reading. What about you? What keeps you coming back to the same author and/or characters book after book?

Ally S.

Amazon         B & N         ARe        Kobo         iBookstore         Googleplay         Etopia Press

The coffee pot's on, and it's time for a book chat!

Welcome, everyone! Our author guest today writes romantic suspense, always an intriguing combination.
So nice to meet you, Kim McMahill. How do you take your coffee?

I prefer coffee made from fresh ground beans from Costa Rica, and maybe I'm a wimp, but I’ve got to have a healthy shot of French Vanilla creamer.

Ally: Not a problem. No one's defeated my magic pot yet. :) While I'm whipping that up, please show readers your bio and tell them something unique about yourself.


Kim McMahill grew up in Wyoming, which is where she developed her sense of adventure and love of the outdoors. Since leaving Wyoming she has enjoyed many opportunities to see the world, and has lived amid some of America’s most stunning landscapes. Kim started out writing non-fiction, but her passion for exotic world travel, outrageous adventures, stories of survival against the odds, and happily-ever-after endings soon drew her into a world of romantic suspense. Along with writing adventure novels Kim has also published over eighty travel and geographic articles, and contributed to a travel anthology and cookbook.
Hmm, something unique? I’m a complete jigsaw puzzle geek. I know, not very adventurous, but it’s something I’ve enjoyed my entire life and the activity helps me relax.

Author Links:

Twitter at
Amazon Author Page: 

Ally:  How do you begin a new novel? Storyline first? Characters? What comes next?

KIM:  Most of the time the storyline comes first, but occasionally, like with Big Horn Storm, I imagine a character who must have a story. When I heard the name Deuce, I knew I had to write a story with this character playing a major role, and what else could a man named Deuce be except a rancher or a cowboy?

Ally:  Do you write full time or part time? What is your writing schedule? Do you write year round?

KIM:  Unfortunately, I can only write part time. I do write year round, but I’m not good at keeping to a set schedule. I definitely do my best work when the inspiration hits me, and I can’t really force the issue. If I’m not in the writing zone, I’ll use the time for social media and marketing.

Ally:  Where do you get your plot ideas? TV news, movies, actual people you know?

KIM:  I get my ideas from a host of different places. A lot of inspiration comes from my travels. I used to spend a lot of time in Mexico, which is where Marked In Mexico and Deadly Ruins came from.  Big Horn Storm has a number of ties to my upbringing around horses, Deadly Exodus was inspired by a remnant of a dream I remembered one morning, and Shrouded In Secrets was spawned from watching a show on The Travel Channel about the legends surrounding a group of crystal skulls. My latest novel, A Dose of Danger, may be a manifestation of my mild conspiracy theory paranoia and suspicions of market manipulation on nearly every front, especially when it comes to the diet product industry.

Ally:  What's your next project? Is it in the same genre? Tell us a little about it.

KIM:  I’m nearly finished with a second novel in the series which begins with A Dose of Danger. The deadly market manipulation continues as the corrupt coalition wields its lethal influence in the manufacturing of those healthy frozen meals that fill the freezer section of every grocery store. As soon as I do a bit more polishing I’ll submit it to my publisher and keep my fingers crossed.

Ally: Before we wind this up, let's try a few get-to-know-you short answer questions:
  • a. Do you read in the same genre(s) you write? Mostly, but I enjoy a lot of different genres.
  • b. favorite food from the grill: hamburgers.
  • c. When and where did you last wear a hat? I’m not a fan of hats since it ruins my hair.  I believe the last time I wore one was when we rounded the horn of South America. The wind was brutal and the air frigid, but I didn’t want to leave the deck of the ship and risk missing a moment of that epic experience, so I donned a hat.
  • d. manicure or pedicure? pedicure
  • e. Your vote for sexiest man on earth: Hugh Jackman (in real life or as the Drover in Australia, not Wolverine).

Ally: Lol. I admit I didn't find him sexy as Wolverine either. It's been great having you visit, Kim. Before you leave, please show us a little more about A Dose of Danger.



When researcher Grace Talbot and her team discover a possible solution for weight loss they become targets of a group dedicated to controlling the multi-billion dollar a year diet-product industry. Her unsanctioned testing methods bring tragedy to the family ranch, and the attention of the local sheriff’s deputy. With her colleagues either dead, missing, or on the run, she soon realizes she must trust the deputy with her life, but can she trust him with her heart?

Amazon Buy Link:

Thanks for joining us today. Come back soon!

Happy Wednesday!

Are you ready for another author chat? This week's guest is Ruth Kaufman, a writer of historical romance.

Good morning, Ruth! What may I get you to drink?

I’m currently drinking Dunkin’ Donuts ground coffee, ½ regular, ½ decaffeinated. I microwave 2% milk first so the coffee stays hot longer, then add a little Splenda.

Ally: Not a problem. I'll have that ready by the time you show readers your bio. And tell them something unusual or unique about yourself.


Ruth Kaufman is a Chicago author, on-camera and voiceover talent and freelance editor and speaker with a J.D. and a Master’s in Radio/TV who loves chocolate peanut butter milkshakes and singing in a chorus.

Her second medieval, FOLLOW YOUR HEART, released in April. Writing accolades include Romance Writers of America® 2011 Golden Heart® winner and runner up in RT Book Reviews’ national American Title II contest.

Something unique? I’m a speedtalker, and have appeared on America’s Funniest People.

Author Contacts:

Blog Gainfully Unemployed   
Facebook or Ruth Kaufman Author & ActressTwitter @RuthKaufman
Amazon Author Page 

Ally: Tell us about the time period of your novel and how you chose it. How difficult is it to write about another era?

RUTH:  I chose late medieval England, the Wars of the Roses, because I find it a fascinating period when so much happened. Also, there aren’t that many romance novels about Henry VI and Edward IV, and I wanted to change that. I enjoyed immersing myself in that time, and have collected over 200 books over the years and read a lot about my specific settings.

Ally:  We all want our readers to connect with our main characters. What traits in yours do that? Do "connections" always have to be good characteristics, or do you believe readers also relate to the struggles?

RUTH:  I think it’s both. Everyone has flaws, and so I think can sympathize/empathize when our main characters do. My characters have determination and want to be independent, but of course they can’t control everything or everyone and so have setbacks to overcome along the way. I’d like to think readers appreciate the resilience my characters show in pursuing their goals.

Ally:   How long does it take you to write a book from first page to submission? Do you rewrite or revise or obtain critiques prior to submission?

RUTH:  It depends on the book. The fastest was 6 months. I edit as I go, and since I’m self-publishing I hire an editor or two, depending on the project.

Ally:  Do you write in other genres? What's next on your agenda?

RUTH:  I do write in other genres, and I’m trying to decide what to release after my third medieval, working title THE BETTER BRIDE, which should be out this summer. Medieval paranormal? Time travel to Elizabethan England? Humorous contemporary?

Ally: Let's try a few quick answer questions:
  • a. favorite dessert:  Brownie sundae with ice cream and bittersweet hot fudge.
  • b. what was for supper last night?  Roasted Brussels sprouts with a light balsamic vinegar and mustard glaze. I didn’t have a big dinner because that afternoon a friend and I had rather large peanut butter and chocolate milkshakes.
  • c. favorite spring flower:  Lily of the Valley.
  • d. a place you'd love to visit:  Italy, especially Siena and Cinque Terre.
  • e. last store you visited:  Best Buy, to pick up a new laptop.

Ally: It's been a pleasure to chat with you, Ruth. I hope you'll visit again. And now, it time to learn more about your book...



She's a glass-painter making her way in a man's world.

England 1460: Joanna Peyntor has two uses for a man: to pose for a stained glass window design or to commission her skills. But when her brother conspires to ruin her reputation, she concedes to a third: a husband to help save her glass-painting workshop.

Sir Adrian Bedford is on a quest to redeem his family name and estate. When unforeseen passion makes their marriage of convenience inconvenient, will his dangerous secrets keep them from following their hearts?

Thanks for stopping. Come back soon!

Good morning, booklovers!

Grab your coffee or other beverage of choice and join me in welcoming contemporary romance writer, Iris Blobel.
Iris, may I offer you something to drink?

IRIS:  Oh, I love my Twinings Early Grey with a little bit of milk – if possible a little bikkie as well.

Ally:  Tea and biscuits coming right up. While I fix the refreshments, please show readers your bio.


Iris Blobel was born and raised in Germany and only immigrated to Australia in the late 1990s. Having had the travel bug most of her life, Iris spent some time living in Scotland, London, as well as Canada where she met her husband. Her love for putting her stories onto paper only emerged a few years back, but now her laptop is a constant companion. Iris resides west of Melbourne with her husband and her beautiful two daughters as well as their dog. Next to her job at a private school, she also presents a German Program at the local Community Radio.
Something unique/unusual that isn't in my bio:  I had to leave school after year 10 or repeat. (Ally comment: I bet there's a good story there! :) )

Where to Find Me:

My Blog:
Twitter: @_iris_b

Ally: Tell us something about your writing background. Is this your first book? What made you choose this career (or second career)?

IRIS:  No, this isn’t my first book. I’ve been very busy the last 24 months with a few book releases. In regards to ‘choosing’ the career … I can’t say I chose the career, more it ‘came’ to me J It started out of boredom. Since I started listening to the voices in my head, it’s been non-stop, one story after the other. It's fun, and I love it. And very humbling when readers tell me how much they love the stories.

Ally:  Are you a pantser or plotter? How much do you know when you start writing the first page? Do you know the ending? If you've plotted it out, do you stick to your outline?

IRIS:  This question had me stuck a bit, and I looked back at my books to remember what got me started.
Usually, it’s when I’m on holidays that I come up with an idea. I start describing the area, and I go from there. But I also belong to a wonderful group “Tuesday Tales” where authors write to a prompt every week. It has not only influenced many of my books, but also started a few – with a simple prompt. I used to write from the end to the start, but nowadays my characters usually hijack the story … and I just obey. :)

Ally:  What's the best advice you received when you were a beginning author? What other advice could you pass on to others?

IRIS:  It was tough at the start, because I had no idea about writing. I’ve learned along the way, but there were a few nasty words. The best, though, was NEVER GIVE UP. Never ever – and that’s my motto in everything.

Ally:  Is there a sequel planned for this book?

IRIS:  FRESH BEGINNINGS is the third book in the Beginnings series. I love this series which started out with two sister inheriting a house from a stranger. I’ve only recently submitted a fourth book in the series – keep your fingers crossed ;-)

Ally:  I love quick answer questions. Let's try a few...
a. How many books do you read a month? I try to read at least one or two.
b. Where did you go on your last vacation? Tumby Bay, South Australia
c. favorite vegetable:  Is avocado a fruit or vegetable?
d. Have you ever named characters after friends or relatives? Actually yes. I used my friend’s name for the main character.
e. Do you have pets? What are they? We have a dog called “Spot” and two budgies “Cookie” and “Nibbles”

Ally: It's been great to have a guest from DownUnder. I hope you'll visit again. In the meantime, let's show readers your book...


Ivy Bennett thought leaving her boyfriend would be the hard part. It doesn’t take long to figure out how wrong she was. As she struggles with making a new start in her life, the last person she expects to lead her to happiness is a laid-back Australian on holiday. 

Then the arrival of family friend Mia Levesque and her boyfriend, Josh, turns Jared’s holidays upside-down when he’s forced to play arbitrator between the two teenagers.

The small town of Hobart in Tasmania has witnessed many beginnings in recent years. At yet one more beginning, the wedding of a friend, Jared Fraser decides it’s time for some fresh beginnings to come his way… and he sets out for a holiday to the US to travel along Route 66 in a motorhome.

Buy Links:
~♣~ ~♣~ ~♣~ ~♣~ Barnes & Noble ~♣~Smashwords ~♣~ Kobo Books ~♣~


Thanks for stopping! Come back soon...


IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness...

(For the complete text of the Declaration of Indepence and the names of those who signed, follow this link:

Happy Birthday, USA!

Good morning, booklovers!

This week's guest on the Coffee Chat is contemporary romance writer, Marianne Rice.
Welcome, Marianne. May I pour you a cup of coffee?

Ick. I absolutely love the smell of coffee but have never acquired the taste for it. I’m a tea drinker. I love my Yogi Green Tea: Blueberry Slim Life. Yummy and helps my body get rid of the vodka and chocolate I had the night before.

Ally: Then tea it is. While the magic pot is fixing your tea, please show readers your bio and tell them that extra something about you that's unusual.

Marianne Rice writes contemporary romances set in small New England towns. Her heroes are big and strong, yet value family and humor, while her heroines are smart, sexy, sometimes a little bit sassy, and are often battling a strong internal conflict. Together, they deal with real life issues and always, always, find everlasting love. When she’s not writing, Marianne spends her time buying shoes, eating chocolate, chauffeuring her herd of children to their varying sporting events, and when there’s time, relaxing with fancy drinks and romance books.
Something unique: Most people see my shoe porn (that I truly wear and can actually walk—even run—in) and think I’m a girly-princess. Well, I love to be treated like one, but I also love to get dirty. I’ve run in over ten muddy obstacle races—the dirtier the better. I’ve signed up for my third Tough Mudder this fall (the most badass twelve mile obstacle course there is…designed by British Special Ops), and have run a slew other mudslinging obstacle races. It’s the best and most fun way to get a workout in.

Author contact links:

Amazon Author page:
Good reads:

Ally: Are there required elements for a contemporary romance?

MARIANNE:  I don’t think there is a list of official requirements other than Happily Ever After, but for me contemporary means real life, real places, real issues. Granted the towns/cities/buildings can be made up, but they should sound and look like real places. I love to write (and read) about conflicts that most of us face in life in some way, shape, or form.

Ally:  What are your heroine's best and worst qualities? How do they influence her love life?

MARIANNE: In False Impressions, Samantha Chase, despite being a young widow and single mom, is perky, optimistic, and is emotionally and physically strong. Falling for Cole Tucker isn’t hard, but when she learns he’s been dishonest with her, she has a hard time forgiving him. She lets past ghosts and fears get in the way of what she really wants.

Ally:  What is your idea of the ideal book boyfriend? Is he the ultimate alpha? Or a laid-back guy with a good sense of humor? Or something else?

MARIANNE: Tough question. I want a guy who has it all, but that’s unrealistic and I like to write reality. Each hero in the McKay-Tucker series has different qualities. I am attracted to the alpha male (my husband was a middle linebacker in college…yum), but that doesn’t mean he should be obnoxious or domineering. In False Start, Connor is a bit more forceful, while Mason in False Hope is quiet—the observer. Cole is the funny guy. I really enjoyed writing Cole’s story in False Impressions and plan on incorporating more humor into my future books. Tough guy appearance but funny with a soft heart. Yeah, that’s my kind of guy.

Ally:  Tell us about the next book. Will it be a follow-up to this one?

MARIANNE: With the recent release of False Impressions, the McKay-Tucker series is complete, but I’m super excited to announce Secret Cravings Publishing has picked up another series I’ve written starring the Wilde Sisters. They’re unique and supportive of each other after being neglected by their parents. Sweet on You comes out in September, with the rest of the series coming out in January and May of 2016.

5. Here's a few quick answer, get-to-know-you questions:
  • a. favorite after five drink:   Anything with flavored vodka (Pinnacle is THE best brand)
  • b. a day on the beach or a hike through the mountains:  Eeek, pressure. Am I with friends or family? Family—hike through the mountains. Solo or with girlfriends--beach
  • c. Can you keep a secret or do you have to tell someone?  I can totally be trusted, but if the secret won’t hurt anyone by telling my BFF, I gotta share.
  • d. favorite type of jewelry:  Dangly earrings. But funky bracelets are a close second. Oh, and fun rings.
  • e. What author would you like to take to lunch?  Jill Shalvis. I want to be her. :)
Ally: Thanks so much for visiting today. Good luck with your writing! But before you go, let's take a look at your book...

(McKay-Tucker Men Book 3)

Recovering alcoholic and former party animal, Cole Tucker would be an idiot to start something with his newly hired right-hand woman, Samantha Chase. It figures he can’t seem to keep his mitts off the sexy, five-foot-nothing single mom who can toss a sack of shingles over her shoulder and rewire a house better than the crew from Extreme Home Makeover. Her incredible strength and self-confidence draw him in; something Cole has pretended to have for years. All he has to show for himself is his uncanny use of pick-up lines, a hand-me-down farm and some small-town rental properties. When he learns Samantha’s husband and daughter were killed by a drunk driver, the shame of his past experience with a DUI and near-death accident is the last thing he wants to mention to her.

Samantha has no problem accepting her new boss, flaws and all. His simple life is charming and exactly what she hoped to find for herself and her son in Newhall, New Hampshire. Cole wins her over by befriending her fatherless son and making her laugh again, something she hasn’t done in four years. When she learns about his shady past with the bottle, her heart tells her to forgive, but the painful memories of her past are too deep to overlook. 

Buy Links:

Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble: 

Thanks for joining us for coffee/tea! Come back soon...