Resolutions for 2017
When you get beyond the required goals of "lose weight," "more exercise," and "eat healthy," what are your hopes for the coming year? I asked my series characters, and this is what they said.
Guardian Witch series:
Ari: I hope to have my new apprentice trained before 2017 is over. Other than that, another peaceful year would be really great, but in my world you don't count on anything. Oh, the casino! A successful launch for Andreas's latest project.
Andreas: Ah, cara mia, thank you. I second all your hopes, and yet, I sense our idyllic days may be ending. Changes are coming in 2017…and some may not be to our liking.
Maggie York Paranormal Mystery series:
Maggie: Since I can't wish my "gift" away, I'm determined to gain better control of it. And frankly, I'm ready for the next big case to begin.
Josh: I'd like to see a drop in NOLA's crime rate, which would give me more time with Maggie. The captain has me working undercover. While it's interesting, I'd rather be partnering with Maggie. At least I'd know she was safe.
Cross Keys/Elvenrude Trilogy:
Kam: A healthy baby in 2017. I'm taking a break from the spy/investigative work, and Seth will make a fabulous and proud father.
Seth: A boy would be nice, but so would a little girl, especially if she has her mother's blue eyes.
And my own resolutions?
- As long as readers keep reading and reviewing my books, I'll continue to write. I hope to publish at least two in 2017, a sequel to the Guardian Witch series (Embers of Fire), and book number three in the Maggie York series (Ghost Haunting);
- World peace…or at least civility would be nice.
Wishing you a wonderful 2017!
May your day be bright with the spirit of Christmas!
Christmas Eve in Olde Town
Twas the Night Before Christmas, and all through Olde Town,
Not a creature was stirring nor making a sound.
The werewolves were running all night through the woods,
The demons were hiding their faces in hoods.
The elves all were dancing; the dwarves were so merry,
The nymphs were excited and so very cheery.
With Andreas at the Club, and Ari on patrol,
The town was all settled, snug in the cold.
When out of the sky with a light pure and bright
Came a dragon so bold glowing gold and pure white.
Ari dashed through the park, stopped on a dime,
If the dragon was hostile, she wouldn't be there in time.
The children were gathered in the town square
Singing and dancing, their thoughts without care.
When what did their wondering eyes behold
But the dragon that stories had once foretold.
With scales of pure gold, and eyes oh so green
They knew in a moment it was the Dragon Queen.
She'd come to bring presents, to those old and young,
To recapture the stories that once had been sung.
Of a beautiful princess who had fallen in love
With a handsome dragon from the clouds far above
And every Christmas she brought back her joy
By sharing her gifts with each girl and boy.
When Ari arrived and Andreas stopped by
The queen pulled out a bag and undid the tie.
She dropped all the toys at Ari's feet
So they could surprise every child with a treat.
Then blowing snowflakes out of her nose,
The dragon winked boldly, or so the story goes,
And spreading her wings, she rose to the sky
"Merry Christmas to all, and I bid you Good-Bye!"
Ally Shields (2013)
Thanks for reading my yearly Christmas fantasy post with the characters from the Guardian Witch series.
Wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday season!
It's the holiday season... and I'm thrilled booklovers have taken time to join this week's coffee chat interview with Elizabeth Ellen Carter (author of featured book, The Thief of Hearts, a historical romance novella).
Welcome, Elizabeth! How do you take your coffee?
EE: A long black -- no milk or sugar
Ally: Perfect. A person after my own heart. While I pour, please introduce yourself.
Ally: I understand The Thief of Hearts takes place during the Christmas season. Was that by design to produce a seasonal novel or just where this particular story took you? Which brings me to the broader question of what usually comes first for you: setting, plot or character? Did this story fit your unusual writing process?
EE: Even though Christmas time is summer time in Australia, I loved watching the Christmas episodes of my favourite TV shows. They were often light-hearted and fun and I wanted to write something along those lines -- and what goes well with the magic of Christmas? Magic itself, of course! From there, the setting revealed itself -- Victorian London. I love this era. It was the blending of history and tradition with technology and modernity which seemed so appropriate to bring alive a modern police investigation.
The Thief of Hearts is only a departure to my usual writing in that it is a novella-length title. I love writing full-length historical romantic adventures. But just like my other books, I like to write heroines who are thoughtful, resourceful and adventurous.
Ally: How did you chose the names and character traits for the hero and heroine in The Thief of Hearts?
EE: I named the hero, Tobias Black, for one of my childhood crushes, Swiss-born actor Oliver Tobias. He played the titular character in an early 1980s British series called Smuggler. He was dark brooding sexy - the Aidan Turner of his day. The heroine, Caro Addison came because I'd read the not often used short form of Caroline and I liked it. Fortunately, it was also a very Victorian name.
Ally: Do you prefer to write standalones or books in a series? What are the pros and cons?
EE: I started writing standalones because I prefer to read them. Once a story has ended, I want to leave the hero and heroine in that perfect moment together. But now, I'm working on a historical romance which works as a standalone but there are two supporting characters for whom I have story ideas. And on top of that I am planning a six book Medieval murder mystery series for next year. All of which is a long-winded way to say "both!"
Ally: Please tell us about your next book and when it will be available.
EE: I've submitted Dark Heart, a historical romance set in 3rd century AD Rome, to a number of publishers, so I hope that will be the next work released. Set during the turbulent times of the Barracks Emperor’s 3rd Century AD Rome, Dark Heart is a historical romantic suspense.
A Roman magistrate and his reluctant slave must stop a cult that has the power to destroy the Empire.
In the thirteen years since being sold into slavery by her husband, Kyna is now a doctor in Rome. On the eve of being granted her freedom, her beloved master and mentor is murdered. As a slave she has few rights and none at all as woman. Her only hope for justice is Marcus, a magistrate with a bitter past who has reasons all of his own to seek out the killer. Rome is dangerous for those who forsake the old gods for new cults – and one cult in particular has the power to plunge the Empire into a civil war. Can Kyna trust Marcus with her freedom, her life and even her love?
In the meantime I'm finishing another historical romance called Captive of the Corsairs which is set in the early 19th century and centers on the vicious pirates of the Barbary Coast. I hope to have that read for submission by early next year.
Ally: Try your luck at a few short answer questions.
Ally: Thanks for visiting the blog today. Before I let you go, tell us about The Thief of Hearts. (BTW, readers, I've read this one and enjoyed it very much!)
- a. Favorite color of nail polish: Red. (Favourite related line from a film: "I've had two years to grow claws, Mother. Jungle Red!" (The Women, 1939))
- b. Favorite season of the year: Christmas (of course)
- c. Favorite accessory (jewelry, scarves, handbags, etc.) I love scarves, I have about 40 of them and wear them nearly every day.
- d. An item on your bucket list: Travel throughout Europe.
- e. A writer (living or dead) you'd love to interview: Agatha Christie
EE: It is a sweet romance released last month and is just the thing to get you into the Christmas spirit!
Happy Holidays! Come back soon...
Good morning, Booklovers! We've made it to mid-week again and another Coffee Chat!
This week's guest is historical/paranormal writer, Meredith Bond, bringing us her new release: Merry Men box set #2. We previously spotlighted her sweet regency story, My Lord Ghost (click here.)
Welcome, Merry! Tell me how you take your coffee?
MERRY: I need to drink decaf, otherwise my heart gets a really nice syncopated jazz beat going which the doctors have said is not a good idea. But still, every morning I have my decaf (cream and sweetener, thanks), and every afternoon I enjoy a cup of green tea.
Ally: We wouldn't want you to get too jazzed, so that decaf's coming right up. :) Meanwhile, please introduce yourself to readers.
Ally: What type of books do you write?
MERRY: Sweet Regency romance and slightly hotter paranormal romance, most of which are set during the Regency period, although my last two books, Falling and Falling for a Pirate (both in the same series) are time-travel (and oh-my-goodness fun!).
Ally: What made you choose to write historical fiction? There are so many things to remember...style of speech, mannerisms, historical events...and if you don't get them right, people know. How do you insure that modern words, phrases, and attitudes don't slip in?
MERRY: I’ve always loved reading historical fiction, especially Regencies. They were the first romances I ever read and I’ve stayed true. What’s funny is that after you’ve read historical romances and written enough of them, it’s rare that any anachronisms slip in. Sometimes I do have to stop and look up a phrase to make sure that it was used in that time period, but most of the time my brain just slips into Regency language and I don’t worry about it.
Ally: When and where do you do your best writing? Morning, night, in a writer's cave, on the deck, at the library? How many hours a day or week?
MERRY: I write every day (or try to), except weekends (and even then, sometimes I write on the weekends, depending on whether I’m up against a deadline). Afternoons are definitely my creative time and since I’ve moved to Brussels, I’ve started writing in coffee shops—it’s my way of getting out and exploring the city. There are so many cafes throughout the city, it’s one of the nicest thing about Europe (not to mention the chocolate croissants).
Ally: What are those pesky extra words or overused words you always have to edit out of your manuscripts? (like, that, nodded, brows, smirked, etc) Are there other quirks that require special passes when you're editing?
MERRY: “That” I love the word “that”! I had one editor take out over a thousand instances of it! I’m getting better, though. Now I have to make sure I get all of my descriptions in. When I’m writing I almost never put them in and then my manuscript comes back from my editor with lovely little notes saying “what does he look like?” and “I can’t quite picture this room, could you describe it some more”, which means I haven’t described it at all. Lol!
Ally: What's your next writing project?
MERRY: I’m currently working on the last book in the Storm Series (or at least the last one that I’d planned). It’s a Regency set paranormal about a young woman tasked with enforcing the laws of the magical world I’ve created (Rule #1 do no harm) and a smuggler who is using his magic not only to smuggle contraband (brandy) into England during the Napoleonic War, but also trying to frame his father in order to get revenge for how he treated the hero’s mother. It’s going to have loads of magic, smuggling, revenge, and, of course, a sweet, wonderful romance.
Ally: Answer these short answer questions:
Ally: Thanks for spending time with us, Merry! Let's get straight to that boxed set...
- a. a favorite holiday song: Silent Night
- b. a place you want to visit: the Greek Islands (was was recently in Athens, but I’ve never been to the islands)
- c. most unusual thing in your closet: my saris (I’ve got a collection which I wear whenever I go to India to visit my husband’s family).
- d. favorite TV show: at the moment, The Crown
- e. favorite hobby or recreation: knitting, and reading, of course.
The second two books of the award winning Merry Men Quartet, plus a bonus novella!
The Merry Marquis
Through the beauty of music, brings love and the will to live a life lost.
It is only at the pianoforte with beautiful music flowing from her fingertips that Teresa Seton is happy. New to English society, she feels awkward and unsure of herself. Only the attentions of her handsome neighbor can convince her that she is where she belongs—a stolen kiss proves that he means what he says. But the kiss is witnessed and the pair are forced to marry for propriety’s sake.
Once known as the “Merry Marquis”, Richard, the Marquis of Merrick, now lives the life of a recluse. Finding a beautiful stranger at his pianoforte strikes a chord within him, bringing back feelings he thought were lost with the passing of his wife. He is mesmerized by Teresa and her beautiful music, but can he convince her, and himself, that he can live and love again?
A Dandy in Disguise
Can he lose the disguise... and find himself?
St. John Fotheringay-Phipps has nearly forgotten who he truly is. As the dashing, amusing dandy known to all in society as Fungy, he has hidden himself behind a mask of merriment. But he is reminded that there are pleasures beyond society -- when he finds himself feeling responsible for the innocently lovely and fiercely intellectual Rose, the daughter of a famed archaeologist, and her charming, if socially inept, family.
Rose Grace knows that she cannot gamble with her future. She has suddenly been thrust into the role of mother to her two young sisters, companion to her brilliant, distracted father --and family savior. She needs to do the right thing -- to forget her own desires and quickly find a wealthy husband before the creditors come beating at their door. Then why is she distracted by the foppishly handsome Fungy, who seems so very irresponsible and pleasure-loving? Surely he's the last person whose advice she should follow!
A Spanish Dilemma
Robert Seton isn’t just going to sit around spending money on silly amusements when there’s a war going on. But since his father has refused to buy him a commission in the army, Robert is thrilled when he is given a diplomatic post to observe treaty negotiations in Basel, Switzerland between France and Spain. Finally he’ll have a role to play in order to help defeat the French.
Isabella Guzman is very happy to have accompanied her father to Basel to support him as he negotiates with the French. But now that the negotiations are over, the French seem to need a little push to get them to sign what they’ve agreed to. Isabella is determined to give it to them—she wants to go home.
Fighting the French is so much more pleasant when you have an intelligent and attractive ally, but with Robert looking forward to returning to England and Isabella going home to Spain, things are going to get complicated.
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Merry-Men-Box-Set-Quartet-ebook/dp/B01MTWMQ0K
Thanks for stopping by. Happy Holidays! Hope to see you soon.
Good Morning, Booklovers!
Thanks for taking time from you busy holiday schedules to spend time with the Coffee Chat. This week's guest is romance writer Kathryn Jane.
Welcome, Kathryn! May I pour you a cup of coffee?
KJ: I’m allergic to nearly everything, including coffee, so I drink water. Lots and lots of water.
Ally: We certainly have plenty of that! While I get our drinks, please introduce yourself.
Taking readers on wild adventures, and deep into the hearts of kickass characters, keeps Kathryn Jane busy most days, but she still squeezes in time to snuggle feral cats at a local shelter, walk alongside the Pacific Ocean when it’s not raining, spread kindness everywhere she can, and amuse her own prince charming with her haphazard style of dress. (Who says pink and purple hearts on fluffy pants don’t go with a red plaid lumberjack shirt? …It gets cold in the writing cave, and I grab whatever’s handy.)
Something unique not in your regular bio: "I once helped save a life by giving CPR instructions over the phone." (Ally note: That's terrific.)
facebook : www.facebook.com/authorkathrynjane
twitter : @Author_Kat_Janewebsite: http://kathrynjane.com/
Ally: I understand you're visiting the blog during a book sale. Tell us about the books included, especially your own.
KJ: I belong to a fun Facebook group called Seasoned Romance. It’s for anyone who likes to read or write about couples over the age of 35… because life experience matters!
A bunch of the authors in the group decided it was time to get the word out that romance isn’t just for the very young. (Did I mention I’m sixty-one and have a hubby who not only does dishes but still gives excellent backrubs? …sure, things are different than when we were in our twenties, but different doesn’t mean dead, and romance still makes my heart go pitter patter!)
Anyway, where was I? Oh, right, about our sale. To promote Seasoned Romance, my book and many others with older characters are on sale for just a few days (Dec. 7-9) at the rock bottom price of 99 cents!
Dance With Me is a romantic suspense with lots of action and sexual tension, but no graphic sex. It is the seventh stand alone book in my Intrepid Women Series about kickass women and the men who dare to love them.
Here’s the link to our Facebook page where everyone’s books can be found. Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/968128219997294/ or here, if you'd like to join our group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/958318970951705/
Ally: Describe for us your writing process. Do you outline? Do you start a new story with a plot, a character or a setting? Do you set goals or deadlines for yourself? Etc.
KJ: My stories begin as a single sentence. It will roll around in my head for anything from minutes to days, and then I set my hands on the keys and a story falls from my fingertips. I don’t think about the words, they just come. (Sort of like when you’ve had a few drinks and your mouth operates without a filter!)
When a story is really sizzling, I’m as immersed in it—as much a part of it—as when I’m reading a good book. You know, that feeling, when someone interrupts your reading and you come out of the story blinking because you’ve been in a completely different world for a while.
Do my stories always come that easily? Most of the time, and when they stall, I know I’ve made a wrong turn. I’ll go backwards, deleting words until it starts to flow again.
Now, is what I produce this way good writing? Nope, but it’s good story.
Each day, I read through and edit the previous day’s words and by the time I get to the end of them, I’m once again, deep in the story and another chapter or two will slip onto the page.
When the first draft is finished, the real work begins. That’s when I check the story arc, character development and all that other important stuff. I edit, my critique partner does her thing, I edit more, then send it to my editor and we rinse and repeat a few times before it’s ready for proofing and publishing.
Speaking of my awesome editor, she’s a very busy woman and sets a schedule up to eight months in advance, so yes, I’m always on deadline.
Ally: What's the best marketing advice you've received? Do you have any marketing tips for others authors? Favorite media/promo sites.
KJ: My best advice would be to try not to suck at marketing the way I do! I’m an introvert who prefers to live in my own imaginary worlds. Sticking my neck out there to promote myself does not come naturally.
The one thing I can say for sure, is that the more books you write, the more readers you attract. And, if you only have one book to sell? Don’t waste money marketing it. Wait until there are three or more and you’ll get way more bang for your buck.
Ally: Do you have a work in progress?
KJ: My current project is a departure from my usual romantic suspense. It’s book #2 in a series called CATS: Heartwarming Furry-tales. Each book is made up of seven short stories about feral or stray felines, and they’re all told from a cat’s point of view.
Ally: Try these get-to-know-you short answer questions:
Ally: It was a pleasure meeting you, Kathryn. Before we end today's chat, let's take a final look at Dance With Me.
- a. Manicure or pedicure: Neither, I’m a country kinda girl. I occasionally use some peppermint foot crème, and I paint my toenails because I love to wear flip flops almost year round.
- b. Favorite holiday food: Mashed potatoes and gravy
- c. Favorite after-five drink: Strawberry Margarita (until allergies made me stop all alcohol)
- d. Last book or movie that made you cry: Amelia’s story, in my latest CATS book
- e. Your favorite holiday tradition: A simple dinner for just the two of us.