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Hello! My sci-fi novel "Welcome To The Apocalypse" has been approved for a 30 day campaign with Kindle Scout, an imprint of Amazon. I'm hoping you can help me WIN.

How the campaign works is similar to So You Think You Can Dance or American Idol or X-Factor. Readers get to vote on a book in the program. Votes count towards publication. Yes, we writers have finally got ourselves a "So You Think You Can Write" competition. Can you imagine what that would look like on TV? A whole bunch of people sitting at computers.

Anyway, why should you vote? If the book is published through Kindle Scout, every reader who nominated it gets a free ebook of "Welcome To The Apocalypse", an advanced copy prior to publication. They get to say they helped get a book published. Plus, you can enter the Giveaway to win $50 cash prize.


Book Blurb:

Kill or be killed just got real in this game.

It's launch day of a game that'll entertain cosplayers and doomsday preppers. Kelly, Jack, and Reis enter simulation pods to survive a virtual apocalypse, yet instead of "game over" they enter a new game. Then another. Each new day brings a new battle. Surviving the games is easy, it's "kill or be killed". But fatigue and cyber sickness are setting in and the pods are designed for three days. With no communication to or from the operators, they can only hope they're rescued before it's too late.

Excerpt available to read on the Kindle Scout page.

(started Sep 28 and ends Oct 28.)
You must have an Amazon account to vote.


Readers can win cash simply by voting. Bonus points for sharing your nomination.


About the Author:

Debbie Richardson is a writer of speculative fiction. Her favorite authors influence her to write: Dean Koontz, Stephen King and Anne Rice. She wanted to be a musician first but decided writing had better hours. She wants to be as prolific as her favorite authors and she loves meeting readers and sharing her writing tips with other authors. When she's not writing she's reading, killing weeds in the garden, walking the dog, or apologizing to her piano and guitar for neglecting them. You can read about her other books on her website

Wish me luck!

Best to all,

D L Richardson


Good Morning, Booklovers!

At a time when everyone in the US is talking or at least hearing about politics at every turn, we're going to take up the subject too.

No, no. Do
n't run away... We promise not to mention the H word or T word. Instead, we're talking about author Nicole Evelina's journey to our political past in her historical fiction novel, Madame Presidentess!
Welcome, Nicole! What may I get you to drink?

I can’t drink anything with caffeine, so I go for decaf tea. My favorites are Twinnings English Breakfast and Fortnum & Mason’s Royal Blend – both with crème and sugar.

Ally: No problem. While I'm fixing our drinks, please introduce yourself.


Nicole Evelina is a multi-award-winning historical fiction and romantic comedy writer. Her most recent novel, Madame Presidentess, a historical novel about Victoria Woodhull, America's first female Presidential candidate, was the first place winner in the Women’s US History category of the 2015 Chaucer Awards for Historical Fiction.
As an armchair historian, Nicole researches her books extensively, consulting with biographers, historical societies and traveling to locations when possible. For example, she traveled to England twice to research the Guinevere’s Tale trilogy, where she consulted with internationally acclaimed author and historian Geoffrey Ashe, as well as Arthurian/Glastonbury expert Jaime George, the man who helped Marion Zimmer Bradley research The Mists of Avalon.

Nicole is a member of and book reviewer for The Historical Novel Society.

Something unique that isn't in your regular bio:  
"I’m a person of strange fascinations. I LOVE makeup. MAC is my preferred brand and I own around 40 shades of eye shadow and about two dozen eyeliners (seriously.) I think I’d be a makeup artist if I wasn’t a writer and PR practitioner (or a historian, which is my other wannabe vocation). I also love sparkling wine and am becoming a bit of a connoisseur – that will play into a future novel. I also wish I was British. I love their accents, history, culture, television, sense of humor – they do everything better."

Her website is

She can be reached online at:


Ally:  What inspired you to write Madame Presidentess? Was this year's national election part of the decision or just a happy coincidence?

NICOLE:  It was an accident that I found out about Victoria Woodhull. I learned about her by seeing a picture of her with an alluring caption on Pinterest, of all places. The caption said, “Known by her detractors as ‘Mrs. Satan,’ Victoria Claflin Woodhull, born in 1838, married at age fifteen to an alcoholic and womanizer. She became the first woman to establish a brokerage firm on Wall Street and played an active role in the woman's suffrage movement. She became the first woman to run for President of the United States in 1872. Her name is largely lost in history. Few recognize her name and accomplishments.” I immediately had to know more and began my research. I mean, any woman called “Mrs. Satan” is someone I have to get to know!

Once I started researching her, I keenly was aware that we had an election coming up in two years that could well give us our first ever female candidate on a major party ticket, if not our first female President. That is why I chose to independently publish the book – because traditional publishing houses were too slow to be able to get it out before the election.

Ally:  Is this story fact or fiction? What kind of research did you do?

NICOLE:  Some of both. It’s as close to historical as I could make it without this being creative non-fiction. I’d say it’s about 70% accurate. I made up some secondary characters and one of Victoria’s affairs is fictional (but it was inspired by a rumored affair). Of course, as with all historical fiction, most of the dialog and details are made up, but all of her speeches, courtroom testimony, articles and even a few lines of dialog are taken from historical evidence. We even have descriptions of her home in Murray Hill and her brokerage office. Thanks to the biographers, we also have records of actual words from Cornelius Vanderbilt, Rev. Henry Ward Beecher, Catharine Beecher and Susan B. Anthony, all of which were used in the novel where possible. The authors notes at the end of the book go into great detail on what is accurate and what is not and why.

My main references were newspaper articles from the time and biographies of Victoria,  starting with the fanciful one she commissioned from Theodore Tilton during her lifetime  and Emanie Sachs’ scathing account published just after Victoria’s death, through more recent works such as Other Powers: The Age of Suffrage, Spiritualism and the
Scandalous Victoria Woodhull by the recently deceased biographer Barbara Goldsmith, Notorious Victoria by Mary Gabriel and The Woman Who Ran for President by Lois  Beachey Underhill.
I also read quite a few books on women’s lives in mid-to-late-19th century America, as  well as the on suffrage movement and electoral politics at the time (voting was very different and not nearly as anonymous then as it is now).
For those who are interested in my sources, I have a complete reference list on my  website here: .

Ally:  If you could take the real Victoria Woodhull to lunch, what would you ask her?

NICOLE:  I love this question! I would want to dish with her about the ins and outs of the suffrage movement and what her crazy family was really like. Specifically, I’d want to how she put up with her parents and siblings, find out if she ever really did blackmail anyone as was claimed, why she had a falling out with Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and what it was like being an outspoken woman in her time. Where did she get her amazing strength and courage? As a historical fiction writer, the best I can do is guess; this would give me the opportunity to get the real answers.

Ally:  What's the next writing project on your agenda?

NICOLE:  It really depends on which character starts talking first. I really need to concentrate on writing Mistress of Legend, the third and final book in my Guinevere trilogy. This book will cover the end of Guinevere’s life, including the fall of Camelot and what happens after. In my version, she certainly doesn’t live out her days in a convent!

I’ve also got a sequel and a novel planned to my romantic comedy Been Searching for You. That book was supposed to be a standalone, but due to fan demand, I’ve extended it into a series that could be anywhere from 3-5 books, each telling the story of a different couple you meet in the other books. The novella was a surprise that just came to me after a real-life event and I think it will be a lot of fun!

I also need to begin research for a WWII-era historical novel about a Catholic nun who helped hide Jews and aided the resistance in France. She was a victim of the concentration camps and should be on the path to sainthood, but few people outside of her native country know her name. As far as I can tell, there is only one book written about her in the world.

Ally: Let's try a few short answer questions:
  • a. Will you vote in the 2016 election? HELL YES!!! Women like Victoria fought for my right to vote for nearly 100 years. I’m certainly going to demonstrate it!
  • b. Favorite media site: Social or actual news? Social is either Pinterest or Instagram. News is CNN or BCC.
  • c. What are you currently reading? What am I not reading is a better question. Because it’s getting close to Halloween, I’m breaking out the scary books: In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware, The Seduction of Water by Carol Goodman, and House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski, which I’ve been wanting to read forever, but was too chicken to try. Also reading a lot of marketing books.
  • d. Favorite TV show: Orphan Black
  • e. Manicure or pedicure? Manicure. I’ve never had a pedicure! (Ally note: You don't know what you're missing!)

Ally:  Thanks so much for visiting today. I enjoyed hearing about your book and a bit of little-known history. Let's take a look at the novel before you go...

Madame Presidentess

Forty-eight years before women were granted the right to vote, one woman dared to run for President of the United States, yet her name has been virtually written out of the history books.

Rising from the shame of an abusive childhood, Victoria Woodhull, the daughter of a con-man and a religious zealot, vows to follow her destiny, one the spirits say will lead her out of poverty to “become ruler of her people.”

But the road to glory is far from easy. A nightmarish marriage teaches Victoria that women are stronger and deserve far more credit than society gives. Eschewing the conventions of her day, she strikes out on her own to improve herself and the lot of American women.

Over the next several years, she sets into motion plans that shatter the old boys club of Wall Street and defile even the sanctity of the halls of Congress. But it’s not just her ambition that threatens men of wealth and privilege; when she announces her candidacy for President in the 1872 election, they realize she may well usurp the power they’ve so long fought to protect.

Those who support her laud “Notorious Victoria” as a gifted spiritualist medium and healer, a talented financial mind, a fresh voice in the suffrage movement, and the radical idealist needed to move the nation forward. But those who dislike her see a dangerous force who is too willing to speak out when women are expected to be quiet. Ultimately, “Mrs. Satan’s” radical views on women’s rights, equality of the sexes, free love and the role of politics in private affairs collide with her tumultuous personal life to endanger all she has built and change how she is viewed by future generations.

This is the story of one woman who was ahead of her time – a woman who would make waves even in the 21st century – but who dared to speak out and challenge the conventions of post-Civil War America, setting a precedent that is still followed by female politicians today.

Barnes and Noble:

Thanks for stopping by! Come back soon...

Today we welcome back author Kimbra Kasch with a spotlight on her YA fantasy romance,
Morgaine Le Fay and the Viking.
For those who don't remember or haven't read Kim's April visit to the blog with Demon's Ink,
click here for that interview.

               Theirs was a romance that threatened two kingdoms.
An attraction more powerful than any sword, stronger than any warrior and more magical than all the powers of Merlin:


Everyone has heard of King Arthur and his magical sword, Excalibur, but there’s another legendary hero who received a magical sword from the Norse Goddess known as The Lady of the Lake. Meet Holger Danske and his sword “Cortana”.

The Vikings, led by Holger Danske, invaded England. Yet somehow, even as enemies, Holger and King Arthur’s half-sister, Morgaine Le Fay, shared a forbidden love.

MORGAINE LE FAY AND THE VIKING is the secret Denmark never shared...until now.

Travel across oceans, continents and countries to discover the story of legendary Viking hero, Holger Danske, and his magical romance with King Arthur’s half-sister in Morgaine Le Fay and the Viking

This is the story of two warriors who never thought they’d find love, especially on the battlefield, yet standing poised against each other Morgaine and Holger face an attraction more powerful than any sword, stronger than any warrior and more magical than all the powers of Merlin.

Buy Links:

Publisher: Midnight Frost/Crimson Frost
   Formats available: mobi, epub, pdf



Morgaine’s head was held high, her back straight, with her chin jutted forward, as she rode like a warrior into battle. Covered in shiny mail, she sat upon her lively white steed, much like a nobleman, but no one could be mistaken. One glance and anyone could see simply by looking at her, this was a fine lady, with skin as smooth as silk and clear as a summer day, her russet curls plaited and twined around her head, forming a crown of braids befitting a high-born princess.

Raising her hand to shield her eyes from the harsh morning light, she turned toward the mountains, searching for a sign. Something. Anything.

Nothing was there. Still she sat, waiting.

It was after sunset when the shadows finally shifted across the horizon. That’s when she noticed the dark silhouettes of men. Not peasants. These were broad-backed warriors on horseback, sitting outlined against the blood-red moon. They were moving closer, nearer to battle.

Arthur did not want his sister on the front lines. “You should be in the background working your magic,” he insisted, hoping she would heed his pleas.

She threw her head up in defiance and gave a little snort. “Never,” she insisted.

His voice took on an authoritative tone. “I am the King,” he reminded her with a frown etched over his face. She turned to grin at him, “Did you think I could forget?”

With a heavy sigh, he went on, “It is not as a King that I am asking, but as your brother. I cannot bear the thought of you being hurt for me. I want you in the background, not on the forefront of battle.”

She shook her head, and then reached across the gap between them. She ran her palm over his cheek. “Do not waste your worry. You know, death holds no fear for me.”

“Perhaps,” he nodded. “But there are worse things than death. Please sister, if only for my sake, move to the back and do not separate yourself from us—I beg of you.” He tried to convince her not to ride forward from the front lines, but she wouldn’t listen.

“Do not even think of it,” she said, with that familiar look of determination in her eyes and the stubborn tone Arthur had become so acquainted with. Pulling back on her reins, she danced her horse around him. “I am a symbol for the men to look upon. I must move about for all to see.”

And no matter how much he wanted to deny it, they both knew she was right. Sitting out in front of the knights, she made an unforgettable impression.

“But you can inspire from anywhere, it need not be the frontline,” he insisted

She shook her head, disregarding his warning as she rode ahead to act as the King’s guard over her brother. Sitting proud and tall, she fully intended to protect him from the onslaught that was about to begin. Arthur was transfixed. She was more beautiful than ever. An angel blanketed in shadows but edged in starlight, no man on the battlefield would ever forget her face.

She felt the fire burning inside her belly. The cry of war rising up into her heart, she wanted nothing more than to ride.

As the men moved nearer, she raised her hand, stopping Arthur’s men—holding them back, “Wait for my signal,” she called out, “Steady!” Finally reaching up over her head, she dropped her sword across her body as the moonlight glistened on the shiny steel, blinding the men riding toward them into battle.

Morgaine let out a laugh that echoed over the field as she galloped forward, and then immediately she swung her mare away from the men. Standing out alone and off to the side, she was a vision…

Suddenly time stood still. She was frozen, as a warrior on their frontline came into view. His arm raised up over his head, sword in hand, he led the charge against her, against Arthur, and against all the people of Camelot. He was a brute of a man and her attention was riveted.

There was no turning away; he was all she saw, all she noticed. Opening his mouth, he let out a roar as he rode straight toward her, this man with the golden mane.

The moonlight shimmered down on him. His browned skin glistened and his hair gleamed like an autumn jewel beneath the starlight. Suddenly she was reminded of hot summer days and amber pebbles washed up on the white sandy shores. Fascinated, she was spellbound by his glowing skin beneath the fading evening sun.

She was mesmerized.

Shaking her head to clear the fog inside her mind, she readied herself for his blow. Raising her shield, she steeled herself.
He was a giant among men, with ten times the form of any god she could imagine.

Was it possible? Was this an illusion? Could he be real?

His sapphire eyes found hers, locking on her lilac orbs, and a blinding heat struck her like a bolt of lightning. She could not turn away. His sword raised high in the air, his shield barely covering his broad chest, she stared at his form. A rush of fire raced through her, as she sat still watching this man ride with such a majestic carriage.

Giddy and out of breath, her heart beat faster than she could ever recall.

What was happening here? What magic was this? She wondered at her own body, feeling dizzy as a young maiden at her first games. Someone must have cast a spell. She turned her head, searching for the Viking sorcerer performing this magic.

There was none.

She had never had this reaction to any man. No. Morgaine had never had this reaction to anyone.

Her breath caught in her chest, and she could barely breathe. The air was trapped inside her throat, choking her. She had to cough to force the air back into her lungs.

This man could not be human. He was either a devil or a demon, she was sure of it and yet he had signaled his men into the battle before he veered off to the side, riding straight toward the sorceress with the flaming locks. His mouth was open as he let out a warrior chant she had never heard before.

Another spell, she told herself, an incantation—perhaps the same one he cast upon the knights and warriors.

She turned to her side, to see how her men were holding up under this magic.

It could not be.

His words had no effect on them. They were not under his spell. Their swords were unsheathed, raised, and ready to do battle. The knight beside her let out a thunderous cry, spurring his horse faster, as they rode past her into the throng of bare-chested men with the horns upon their heads.

Her steed moved forward, but she did nothing more than hold on to the reins as her mare carried her into the field of battle and straight toward the magic man. She was unprepared, mesmerized, and out of control…

Opposite each other they rode, one toward the other. She saw him motion to his men to continue riding forward as he veered further off to the side…to make his way straight toward her.

In a matter of moments, he was upon her. Sweeping up beside her like the blast of a storm, he stole her breath away. His thickly muscled arm snaked out away from his body, striking before she could do a thing or even before she realized what had happened. But there was no pain. It was not with a thrust of his sword that he struck, it was only his arm. Quickly twisting, he shifted his weight to make room for her. His powerful arm wrapped around her waist, grabbing her with the strength of the ocean’s tide, he pulled her toward him.

Morgaine sat motionless as a statue in the garden; she offered no resistance. Instead, she simply slid sideways from her horse onto his. It happened in one swift motion.

Pressing his palm flat against her belly, he held her in place, tightly nestled in front of him. She felt the warmth of his breath on her neck, caressing her face. Her hands fell limp to her side, accidently brushing against the hot flesh of his thigh. His skin burned beneath her fingertips.

The heat rose from her hands to her chest, and a small gasp escaped her lips as she let her hands rest upon his thickly muscled leg. He chuckled low in his throat and she knew he understood the effect he was having on her senses.

Pressing his firm rippled chest into her back, she felt something she had never felt before…lust.

She could do nothing to resist him. Leaning back, she drank in the strong, musky scent of him and felt her head spin. He held her steady and still.

Another mesmerizing potion, she thought, his spicy scent must be the mixture of a wizard’s tonic, worn to hypnotize his enemies.

Unable to fight the strength of his powerful magic, she succumbed. His tantalizing aroma made her want nothing more than to be with him, alone.

About the Author:

Hi everyone! I'm a romance writer who grew up in a family with 9 kids and only 1 t.v. so I spent my days reading and, later, writing. I love books. . .maybe because I never got to pick t.v. shows we watched. But I’d run home after school to catch the last fifteen minutes of Dark Shadows...

 I still love to run...or at my age, maybe I should say wogging (a cross between walking and jogging). Here in Portland, I love Halloween themed runs - where people don costumes and run. It's a lot of fun...and I know those two words don't always go together: But it is.

 And, with all those Halloween themed runs, I guess Dark Shadows had more of an influence than some people might think. Even today my favorite author is Stephen King. My all-time favorite book is Salem's Lot.

 Favorite romance novels are The Hunger Games...okay, I know, it's a survival book but it's really all about romance. Then there were the series: Twilight, Fifty Shades, and more but I also love paranormal, Horror and even light books like Dewey the Small Town Library Cat... Mainly, I just love to read. . . and write.

 I've just had my first novel published and am looking to share it with the world. It's a story I was inspired to write after visiting Hamlet's Castle and seeing an enormous Viking statue down in the tunnels next to the dungeons.

Sorry to be so long-winded but did I say I love to write? ...and talk and...knit, and sew, and bake... I could go on but I'll close by saying, I hope you’ll stop in on my site and I can tell you I have a couple other stories you should check out: How about a story about a Demonic Tattoo artist in Portland, Oregon: Demon’s Ink? Or, how about a love story? Of course we all know love is risky, but in The Cats of Cullaby Creek it’s dangerous….

You can find  them here:

Visit me at



Cl’rnce, laziest dragon at Dr’gon and Wizard Tech, can’t escape his Quest. Time is running out for getting the Whisper Stone to the Dr’gon Council Chamber when a killer knight trees Cl’rnce.

Moire Ain, a runaway girl with a magicks book and a hunger to become a wizard, comes to his rescue.  Armed with her bumbled spells and Cl’rnce’s goal to get back to full time napping, they set off to complete the Quest and save a king.


Cl’rnce Merlin Clan Principus River Dr’gons—or as his twin sister called him, “waste of dr’gon scales”— crumpled the poster in his paw and stared into his school’s main hall. The Dr’gon and Wizard Technological School and Knights Academy students filed past him. None of them looked at him and most gave him a wide berth.

Cl’rnce didn’t care. He had plans. “ This is war. My sister is going to pay,” Cl’rnce whispered, too low for any of the other students to hear.

Hazel was one snarky sister, and it was over-the- top mean of her to make and hang that poster. He un-crumpled it and read it again:

Fair Warning. Cl’rnce Merlin Clan Principus River Dr’gons has stolen the baby Barforamous from the zoology department. Be on the lookout. Cl’rnce most assuredly plans a messy and smelly practical joke for the annual Students’ Assembly.

Cl’rnce sighed. Hazel was a spoiler. Most of what she wrote was true, except for the part about him having the Barforamous. Bubbles had escaped yesterday during Cl’rnce’s mid-afternoon nap. The smelly little fart-machine creature was probably eating all the stink- weed on the river’s edge and would work his way back to Wiz-Tech all on his own by tomorrow. But that was too late for Cl’rnce’s long-planned prank.

“Being brilliant, and the best practical joker at Wiz- Tech, of course I have a backup plan.” Cl’rnce sniggered.Three hours before, he’d snuck in and set a robe-shrinking spell. It would go off in less than an hour.

He was pretty good at magick, although he kept that a secret. Magick 101 was one of the few classes he didn’t sleep through, but he preferred to preserve his title as school slacker and practical joker. No point in ruining his reputation by letting anyone know how good he was at magick. Besides, as much as he liked magick, it was a lot of work.

Buy Links:

Barnes and Noble:
Indigo Music and Books:

Kirkus Review: "...the story remains amusing throughout. A charmer."



Kath Boyd Marsh, born a fourth generation Californian, roamed the USA and came to stay in the magical BlueGrass of Kentucky. Here she writes in an office filled with dragons. Her debut novel took a mere two decades and a multitude of drafts to find a publisher. But Kath, Cl’rnce Merlin Clan Principus Dr’gons, and Moire Ain would not give up.

Author contacts:


                                       ***NEW RELEASE***

Endless as the Rain

By MS Kaye

For Adriane Graham, the real question comes down to this: “Am I Alec Kaden’s guest…Or his prisoner?”

If she’s a guest in the Kaden mansion, then it means Alec has freed himself from his family ties to organized crime. It means he’s telling the truth when he says he’s protecting Adriane from dangerous men and they can shake off the shackles of haunted pasts.


If Adriane Graham is Alec Kaden’s prisoner, it means his tenderness is simply a ruse to keep her under control; his kindness is just poisoned hypocrisy. It means Alec is a cruel liar, and that somehow, by some desperate way, she’s got to get out of this charming man’s well-guarded house before it’s too late.

Is she Alec’s treasured guest? Or merely a pretty bird, trapped in his gilded cage? The troubling questions pour like fountains…flowing…

Endless as the Rain.

Released by InkSpell Publishing 9/4/16.

Order here:   Amazon   |   Kobo

Add to your to-read on Goodreads.


I looked around to see a black sedan creeping up behind me. I moved to get out of the way, barely on the gravel. I kept walking and vaguely appreciated that the driver didn’t speed by in impatience and kick up dirt and rocks. The car continued at the same careful pace.

Just as the passenger door was at my arm’s length, the car stopped. I guessed the driver must be seeking directions, and waited for a window to roll down. They had to be lost. I’d never seen an unfamiliar car on this road. It was only used or even known about by old residents of the neighborhood.

The back door opened, and a man stepped out.

I caught a glimpse of his tailored suit and overly straight posture as I glanced around, deciding if I should keep walking, walk quickly...or bolt into the trees toward one of the houses.

“It’s getting late,” he said. “Would you care for a ride home before it gets too dark?”

His voice—it sounded vaguely familiar. As I looked at him properly, part of my mind was distracted. His skin was like white marble, sculpting a beautiful face, but hard, unchanging, unyielding. Except his eyes. They were puddles in the stone, the only gentle thing about him.

I stepped back.

He lurched forward and grabbed my arm just above my elbow.


About the Author:

M.S. Kaye has several awards and published books under her black belt. A transplant from Ohio, she resides with her husband Corey in Jacksonville, Florida, where she tries not to melt in the sun. Find suspense and the unusual at

To receive news on upcoming releases, sign up for email updates on her website.

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Good Morning, Booklovers!
Instead of the usual Wednesday Coffee Chat, I invited author Michele Drier to talk about the issues of working with characters within a series. She accepted, and without more fanfare, I'm turning the blog over to her! Take if away, Michele.

Not Finished Yet
by Michele Drier

When I began writing The Kandesky Vampire Chronicles, I had a trilogy in mind.

Why three? No particular reason it just seemed that I could explore all the characters in these paranormal romances and wrap them up in three books.

Was I wrong! The characters, especially Maxie and Jean-Louis, the passionate but probably ill-matched lovers, grabbed the stories and wouldn’t let go.

“Wait a minute,” they shouted at me. “We’re not finished yet!”

Now, nine books later with probably more to come, I find that they have to grow, become different from their first book, learn things.

What do characters learn and how do they grow in an extended series? They have to remain interesting, tackle new challenges, overcome old barriers and show readers and fans that though they’re still the people you’ve grown to love, there are new complexities. They can develop internal changes—finding new depths or new fears—or react to outside influences—a death threat, a new baby.

This is a bit tricky as the Kandeskys, the vampires, are 500-year-old Hungarians who’ve lived a life of ease in their castles and manors in Eastern Europe. Sure they’ve had some ups and downs…a centuries-long feud with their neighboring vampire family, the Huszars; adaptation to new technology (they bought the first Mercedes in 1903); adaptation to new marketing and businesses…they invested in Hollywood gossip magazines in the 1920s and now own the world’s largest, most extensive celebrity gossip empire with TV shows and slick magazines covering Europe and the Americas.

Beyond the technology and increasing wealth, two of the unmarried male Kandeskys have run up against a formidable wall…twenty-first century women.

Jean-Louis and Nik Kandesky are beyond sexy. They’ve honed their attraction to, and interest in, women for centuries. What are Maxie and Jazz, two modern, L.A. women going to do when these beautiful creatures turn on their Old World charm?

There’s outside tension in the books. Other vampire families, Eastern European terrorists, rival business factions looking to carve a piece of their empire away, terrorists wanting to take down the family.  By far, though, the tension is between the lovers.

It’s not enough that they come from different centuries and countries. Manners are different. Relationships are different. Women in nineteenth century Budapest didn’t have jobs. Men didn’t ask them for opinions on business…or much of anything.

Add to that, the men are vampires. A commitment to a vampire puts a whole new meaning on “forever.”  As Maxie wrestles with loving Jean-Louis, she realizes that marrying him and becoming a vampire also is an irrevocable thing. As Jean-Louis says to her, “You come from the land of do-overs. Don’t like your situation? Change it. This isn’t my world.”

These characters have all become both closer to me and more independent as the series continues. They’ve all had to grow and change. Jean-Louis and Nik have haltingly, grudgingly, begun to share some of the dangers the Kandeskys face from outside forces. In SNAP: I, Vampire, Maxie is even acquiring the vampire ability to “mind read,” really opening up her mind to the collective unconscious of the Kandeskys and understanding the subtly of their communication.

Maxie and Jazz are losing some of their brittleness and are learning that actions from the men are not designed to take control, but are hard-wired reactions from nature and nurture training them to take care of their women. All of them are learning that it’s not a case of women being incapable, but of men having to take care.

There’s a lot of growing and changing in the future for the Kandeskys…now including some women…but they haven’t told me yet where they plan to go. Just invited me along, so far. It’s gonna be an interesting ride!

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. In addition to the San Jose Mercury-News, she was the City Editor of the Lodi New-Sentinel, the Executive Editor of the Manteca Bulletin and Assistant Metro Editor for the Modesto Bee.

Her Amy Hobbes Newspaper Mysteries are Edited for Death, (called “Riveting and much recommended” by the Midwest Book Review), Labeled for Death and Delta for Death.

Her paranormal romance series, SNAP: The Kandesky Vampire Chronicles, has received “must read” reviews from the Paranormal Romance Guild and was the best paranormal vampire series of 2014. The series is SNAP: The World Unfolds, SNAP: New Talent, Plague: A Love Story, Danube: A Tale of Murder, SNAP: Love for Blood, SNAP: Happily Ever After?, SNAP: White Nights,  SNAP: All That Jazz, SNAP: I, Vampire.  A sci-fi thriller, Ashes of Memory, is scheduled for release late summer 2016.

She’s active in the mystery community and also teaches writing classes in Northern California.

Visit her facebook page,
her Amazon author page,
her website,
or contact her at

Good Morning, Booklovers! Yes, it's Wednesday, but we're doing something a little different today. Instead of our normal coffee chat, I'm posting a guest article discussing what it's like to be a male author in the female-dominated romance genre. I think you'll find it interesting to read his perspective. With that brief intro, I'll turn it over to Serge de Moliere...

Romancing the Reader   by Serge de Moliere

Are women writers better at “romancing” the reader than men? I don’t think so. Perhaps the greatest romance ever written was Romeo and Juliet, the passionate, tragic story of two ill fated lovers from warring families. As everyone knows, that tragedy was popularized as a play penned by the great William Shakespeare. Whatever the true identity of the Bard, which remains rather clouded, one thing is certain: Shakespeare was a guy. And like many men, Shakespeare was a romantic. Yet in the contemporary world, women often seem to scoff at male romance writers, even though the single most popular romance writer of modern times is also a male: namely Nicholas Sparks (author of the tremendously popular tear jerker, “The Notebook” and many other titles).

I recently read an online interview with a senior editor at one of the major romance publishing companies. This was a woman who by all accounts is highly talented, established and well respected in the field of romance. Yet, during the interview, when asked her opinion of romance writers, she noted that “the ladies are great” (emphasis added). With that single off hand phrase, she unconsciously demoted the ranks of male romance writers to also-rans, assuming they were even included in her lexicon of romance writers.

Why is it the prevailing opinion still seems to be that only women can write compelling romance novels? Whatever the reason, it impelled many popular male romance authors of the last quarter century to write under female aliases. For example, Leigh Greenwood’s writing career spanned more than twenty-five years and a multitude of romance novels. And yet he hid his gender for most of that time, preferring to have fans believe that he was a woman. Asked why he chose to do this, he explained he believed that “cultural obstacles” prevented most people from considering men as “romantic”.

Another highly successful male romance writer was Thomas Elmer Huff, who also veiled his male identity under pen names such as Jennifer Wild or Beatrice Parker. But his masculine gender did not prevent him from creating admittedly strong, memorable romantic heroines. Bill Spence, another highly successful but disguised male author, wrote under the pen name “Jessica Blair”.  He did not reveal his true identity until he was 89 years old (which fact, by the way, also busts the myth that only young people can write romantic novels). Bill said that it was his publisher who insisted that he write under a female pseudonym to help ensure his popularity with women readers.

Incidentally, women occasionally object to such subterfuge by male writers, even though this practice was followed by women authors for many years and still continues (e.g. Louisa May Alcott published as A.M. Barnard; also, J.K. Rowling recently wrote outside the Harry Potter genre, authoring The Cuckoo’s Calling, a crime novel published under the pen name Robert Galbraith. That is, until she was unmasked by journalists using forensic linguistics software.). Some claim that the “power disparity” between men and women makes such practice acceptable for women but prohibited for men.  Personally, I prefer to write under my actual gender, although I would not criticize men who do not in order to gain an “edge”. Men who write successfully under female nom de plumes, however, do perpetuate the stereotype.

Recently, in one internet discussion of the subject, a woman tweeted that it made her “uncomfortable” if men wrote and/or read romance novels. I’m not sure why this is. Both men and women have romantic and erotic urges and impulses that may be directed towards either the same or the opposite sex. A male who writes romance, whether erotic or not, is no more or less “normal” than a woman who does so. Women who generically dismiss male romance authors appear as sexist as those males who disparage women who are surgeons or soldiers. The great mixed martial artist Ronda Rousey seriously debunked the idea that only men can be great fighters. She did this by her continued success and obvious skill in the hexagon, which rivals that of the great male fighters of our time. Sadly, despite his parallel success in the romance genre, Nicholas Sparks has failed to carry the banner for male writers; and so many readers retain outmoded ideas about the male romance writer.

After I identified myself as a male romance writer, a woman tweeted me, asking if I thought that my writing career was “hindered” because I don/t write under a female alias. I replied that, while I hoped this was not the case, I’m not really sure.  Probably 95 percent of the authors carried by my current publisher are women. Further, most editors in the romance genre are female (just take a look at the staff listing of such behemoths as Harlequin, Loveswept or Forever Yours and you can confirm this for yourself). Consciously or unconsciously, some female editors may view a manuscript differently when they know that the author is male. If this is true, it is unfortunate.

Bruce Jenner and others have demonstrated that a person born biologically male may have a feminine persona and may successful convert to that gender, if they feel the urge. Likewise, authors, whether male or female, may have the sensitivity and skill to write from either a feminine or masculine perspective. In fact, many great authors write from both perspectives. Harry Potter, while not a macho protagonist, still represents a fully formed and highly popular male character who was created by a woman (J.K. Rowling). Contrarily,  the great filmmaker James Cameron wrote Titanic”, the celebrated tragic romantic film, which boasts the memorable female character “Rose”.

There are many other examples of compelling females penned by males. Arya Stark is a fictional character created by American author George R. R. Martin. She is a prominent figure in Martin's award-winning A Song of Ice and Fire series, and also a main character in HBO's adaptation of the series, Game of Thrones. The romantic film, Silver Linings Playbook features Jennifer Lawrence as the female protagonist, Tiffany, a strong woman not to be trifled with, as the male protagonist/lover (played by Bradley Cooper) finds out. Tiffany is assertive and more than a match for the domineering father (played by the very macho Robert DeNiro). Notably, Jennifer was nominated for an academy award for that stirring role. 

One of the strongest and most memorable female characters in Science Fiction is “Ripley” from Alien, who single handedly battles the horrific, acid spewing space monsters of that film. Daniel O’ Bannon and Ronald Shusett wrote the original story upon which the screenplay for “Alien” is based, and Shusett wrote the film script. The film, for those of you who may not recall this film classic, starred Sigourney Weaver as the outspoken and indomitable “Ripley”.  We may also mention Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a TV character who engaged in romantic flings while battling vampires and demons. And her character was written by Joss Whedon.

My own writing is based on people- both males and females- that I have known or been acquainted with. While protagonists in my stories are blends of more than a single person, they are based on reality. And so are the romantic story lines. If anyone out there still thinks men cannot write stirring, romantic female characters, I urge you to try reading a few male authors, including yours truly. One proviso: my romances tend to be a bit spicy, so they may not be for everyone’s taste.

My ebooks may be found on Amazon (18+ adult content):

NOTE from Ally: Watch for Serge's new romance novella coming soon, "The Abduction," about a young woman who is taken hostage by space aliens and falls in love with one of her captors.


Serge de Moliere lives and writes in New York City, where he draws on the astonishing diversity of this great metropolis to create compelling and often racy characters and stories. Many of his titles are published by Etopia Press and are available on Amazon.

Contact the Author:

Twitter @Serge_deMoliere
Etopia Press:

             The Joys and Trials of Writing in Several Genres
                                           By Joan Leotta

This summer I achieved a writer's hat trick  (ice hockey talk for three successive scores by same person in one game).  None of them is self-published. One is a collection of short stories, another is a romance/mystery/YA and the third is a picture book.  Each is out from a different press and each is in a different genre. It was not my plan to have all three come out in one summer. Two were delayed: one due to my problems with plot, the other because of  my small publisher's schedule and health.  Timing is the Lord's. Working in more than one genre is a joy because it allows me to express my creativity in different ways and a trial because I have to establish a series of relationships with editors  and divide my time to market the books in three different directions. My plan for each marketing line was orderly, but this summer, I have had illness and death in the family and am becoming worn out trying to market all three at once while still writing new material.

The short stories in the collection called Simply a Smile were published by Cane Hollow Press. Many of the included tales were written for contests and several were winners, including one international first prize. Two were published by a national print magazine and two or three by small, web zines. Though varied in genre—mystery, romance, women's fiction—they have one thing in common. Each was inspired by an  object, another obsession of mine as a writer. The first place winner is an ekphrastic tale (inspired by a work of art). It is my goal to market these for enjoyment and by teaching others how to draw stories out of art and ordinary objects, including appearing at middle schools.  But I have only written one email so far in this direction.

Secrets of the Heart is the fourth in my Legacy of Honor series, a set that focuses on Italian-American women and their struggles with the backdrop of serving our nation in time of war. The first, Giulia Goes to War, takes place in World War Two, the second, Letters from Korea during that conflict, the third, A Bowl of Rice , deals with the experiences of a nurse in Vietnam , and the fourth takes place in Rome Italy during Desert Storm (with a prequel of Civil War activity!). These are marketed as romance. I belong to a Romance writers marketing site.

WHOOSH!, my picture book, began as a simple tale of going sledding with my dad.
Writing for children is a high calling and one I only dared to attempt because for the past thirty years I have also been a performer for children (story telling in schools, museums, at fairs and festivals). I love to work with children—what is done for them, lasts. It is still that, and thanks to the marvelous illustrator my publisher chose, it should resonate with urban children. I'm a city girl and I wanted this book on sledding in a park to remain urban.

Actually my eclectic nature is even more diverse than these three examples indicate. I'm a journalist (30 years), a poet (just google me), and a playwright—my first work, Pinpoint Wisdom was produced in Boston this year.  When a topic comes to mind, it "tells" me what form it should be—sometimes the form changes and I rewrite in another form. Pinpoint started out as a short story and then became a poem, and finally, a play. In one day, I might work on a poem, finish an article for the paper, work on a novel, and search for possible publishers of my next picture book.  As an omnivore reader, it's great to be able to indulge my love of each genre by contributing to it.

The disadvantage of my multi-faceted approach to writing is in the time it takes to market to varied genres, the number of organizations I have to belong to  in order to find advice for various genres, and the time it takes to target and arrange book signings and appearances. Add to that several family crises this summer and well, my marketing plan for each of the three and the three together has been shredded.

So, am I scattered or eclectic? Am I broadly talented, or skimming the surface of a number of genres? That is a question only my readers can answer, but I can tell you this—I'm having fun. 

                                                              Author has Hat Trick Summer—three books!

Three of this Calabash, NC award winning journalist and performer's books were released this summer. Moreover, each book is in a different genre! Simply a Smile, is a collection of short stories, the middle book is Joan Leotta's first picture book, and the third is romance/women's fiction.
Buy Links:

Simply a Smile:  Amazon

WHOOSH!:  Amazon

Secrets of the Heart (Legacy of Honor Volume Four):  Amazon

Meet the Author:

For as long as I can remember I have been a writer and a performer. The joy of doing what I love as a profession came to be when in 1982 I left my job at the Department of Labor to stay home with my children. At home with them I began my own business as a writer for local papers in Washington, DC , magazines, and more.

After taking Jennie and Joe to see a storytelling show at Wolf Trap I realized I wanted to do that too, so I took a course at the Kennedy Center, read all I could about story performance, joined the local and national professional groups, watched, told tales and learned. After volunteering as a teller, my son’s preschool hired me to tell and so I began my dual career of writing and telling. Each facet is still equally important to me.

In each side of my creativity I seek to serve an audience, produce and present material respectfully, entertain and edify. It is my sincere hope that my performance, whether on stage or on paper, blesses you, my audience.

Contact Joan:

Through her blog.
If you want her to speak to your group, email her at

Welcome, booklovers! This week we're departing from our normal Coffee Chat to post a guest article by author Lian Penn. I hope you enjoy this insight into her writing process. Take it away, Liah!

                            How I Name Characters in My Novels
                                                By Liah Penn

You probably think there is a science to naming characters. Well, there is. Sort of. Names are just as much a characteristic as the color of my character’s hair, or the way they walk.

My hero has to have the name of a hero: Jack, Blane, Hank, Jude. Single syllables. Hard consonants. The heroine must be appealing. When’s the last time you heard of a sultry heroine named Mildred? Or Agatha? Or Bessie? I give her a strong name with just enough uniqueness to show that she is special. Ada. Elizabeth. Grace. Maya. I look at the phone book or steal the name of a friend. In the case of my book “Pure Death”, I used the name of Ina as the name for the heroine. Ina is the name of a street in Tucson that is named after a pioneering woman. It is strong and unique. It seemed to fit my character perfectly.

Sometimes I name characters after friends or family members. My father, my son, my mother-in-law show up in my novels. A friend who has been supportive gets a role. If I can’t find a name among friends, I resort to the internet, or phone books, or a book propped up on my desk. A name on a spine. A publisher. A poster. Does it roll off the tongue? Is the name more suitable for a dog or a turtle or the five fish in your son’s aquarium? I don’t use it.

The villain can’t be Ashley or Bob. I give my readers something to chew on. Does it feel distasteful in my mouth? Damian. Vincent. Vlad. Somehow, without even knowing it, the reader has discovered the bad guy in my story.
Copyright by Laurie Pennison

About the Author:

Liah Penn is an author and attorney who resides with her husband and two sons just outside of New Orleans, LA.  A former prosecutr, she has practiced law on an Indian reservation, on the Mexican border, and in a small Louisiana town.  A former baseball coach, she is also an accomplished visual artist and potter.  Although she lives in Louisiana, she is a die-hard Red Sox fan having watched many games from the bleacher seats at Fenway.

My email is;  I can be found on Twitter @liahpenn and Facebook under Liah Penn.

PURE DEATH (An Ina Stone and Sam Fujimoto Mystery)

An Impure world, a perfect murder...

A murdered society debutante, her body sprinkled with 89 Costa Rican butterflies. A headless, gutted corpse washed up on shore with a beautiful, dead teenager. The case is anything but straightforward, and in an uncertain future, where resources are limited and the genetically defective are banished to a ghetto territory for Impures, Chief Detective Ina Stone and her partner, rookie detective Sam Fujimoto, must cross into Pure Territory to find a killer. An Impure herself, Ina must overcome her defect. And when her life is threatened, she must learn to rely on Sam, whose interest in her seems more than just professional.

Yet the Pures may have created a world in which even they don't want to live anymore. Resources have become too scarce to hide, and a black market for medicine comes to light. When a third murder is discovered, Ina and Sam know there's a connection. With too many suspects and not enough time, they must find that connection before the killer strikes again.

Buy Links:  Amazon           B & N           Etopia Press

It's Wednesday again, booklovers!

Please welcome author Cheryllynn Dyess who brings us her paranormal fantasy,
Born of The Veil!

How do you take your coffee, Cheryllynn?

With coconut sugar and Irish Cream creamer!!!

Ally: Perfect. While I prepare our drinks, why don't you introduce yourself to our readers?


Cheryllynn's vivid imagination comes through in all she does in life. Her writing started in junior high and although she never truly shared her work until recently, she kept them hidden away in an old tattered orange folder. Original works she wrote from 1984 still holding ink on the pages are now being shared. Science Fiction and Fantasy are her favorite genres with mystery and thrillers in close running.

Born in Northwest Florida and raised in Southeast Georgia she gained a love for nature and the outdoors. After almost twenty years in the health care industry and obtaining her Bachelors of Science in Healthcare Administration/Healthcare Information Systems she has returned to her love of writing. Currently living in Central Texas with two of her three children, she has begun a new chapter in life that has opened her heart and soul to many great adventures. Her dreams are to one day return to her native homes and settle in for life with her kids and all her family and to continue writing.

And something unusual: In school I played the trombone, loved it! Not many people think of me playing that instrument.

My links to the World:

Amazon Author Page
Authors Den
Personal Website

Ally: What type of books do you write? Do you write in more than one genre? Or under more than one name?

CD:  Currently I write fantasy / paranormal / ya under the name Cheryllynn Dyess, but I am looking at an adult series that will be under the name Stormy June.

Ally:   What makes your heroine unusual or appealing enough to have a book written about her?

CD:  In Born of The Veil, Tara is a young woman plagued with visions and visits from the dead and demons. She finds out that she is also Immortal. She is strong, funny and determined.

Ally:  What's the best advice you've received as a writer?

CD:  I was told to write what was natural to me, not to force it. I absolutely agree with this advice. Be yourself no matter what.

Ally:  What's your next writing project?

CD:  I have a few pieces in the works that are follow-ups to others I have out already and then one that is a stand-alone called Diamond Diaries. Diamond Diaries will be a journal type book from the view of a diamond through the course of time and its adventures.

Ally: That's a very unusual premise. Sounds really interesting.
Now it's time for a few quick answer questions:
  • a. If you could be any paranormal creature or person, what would it be? Fairy… always loved them.
  • b. A guilty pleasure: Oh my, let's see…Cheezits…
  • c. What's your favorite accessory?  Rings and earrings.
  • d. Favorite nail polish color: Purple
  • e. Favorite after-five drink: Vodka and anything.

Ally: I've loved having you on the blog, and let's end on a high note. Please tell readers a little about your book...

Born of The Veil blurb:

The dead are all around us.

Tara can see them, hear them, and help them. All her life she has battled with this gift...curse.

Only her mother and best friend know the truth. Then she meets a stranger in a historic graveyard and he changes her life in ways she never could have imagined.

Tara was born already a member of a secret society known as The Veil. They are immortal and their mission is to help everyone they can. She is shown how to handle her gifts and discovers even more on her journey.

With the gift of immortality, Tara still battles one curse that has been there her entire life. Demons! Demons have tried to attack her as long as she can remember.

Can she learn to use her gifts?
Can she trust those around her?
Can she conquer her nightmares?
Can she finally be free?

YouTube Book Trailer:

Buy Links:

amazon uk -
amazon au
amazon ca

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