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by Micki Browning

In this breathtaking mystery debut, marine biologist–turned-divemaster Meredith Cavallo stands accused of a chilling crime after a dive gone wrong. But do the murky circumstances point to an accident, a murder, or a supernatural encounter?

Mer thought adjusting to a laid-back life in the Florida Keys would be a breeze. But when she rescues a floundering diver who claims to have seen a ghost, she’s caught in a storm of intrigue. News of the encounter explodes on social media, attracting a team of ghost hunters who want to capture proof that a greenish ghoul haunts Key Largo’s famed USS Spiegel Grove shipwreck.

Meredith knows the wreck inside and out, and agrees to act as their safety diver. When Ishmael, the charismatic leader of the group, vanishes during a midnight dive, everyone except Mer is convinced the ghost has claimed another victim. Topside, the tenacious detective in charge of the investigation finds Mer’s involvement in both incidents suspicious, and her enigmatic neighbor resurrects ghosts from her past.

Determined to find a rational explanation, Mer approaches Ishmael’s disappearance as any scientist would—by asking questions, gathering data, and deducing the truth. But the victim’s life is as shrouded in mystery as his disappearance. Still, something happened under the water and before long, she’s in over her head. When someone tries to kill her, she knows the truth is about to surface. Maybe dead men do tell tales.



Mer fought to keep the unconscious diver on the surface, and they bobbed in the water just beyond the back of the LunaSea. She’d get only one chance to get him on the boat without injury.

She imagined carrying him like a sleepy child, his arms draped over her shoulders. Only she had to grab the ladder, find her footing and wedge her leg between his, or the force of the rocking boat would slam them back into the ocean.

“Here it comes, Cavallo,” Leroy, the captain, said. “Get ready.”

Mer inhaled and felt the power of the water swell beneath her. As the wave ebbed, she swam toward the boat, planted her foot, and drew her arms in to pin the diver against the ladder. Another wave hit, raising the LunaSea’s stern into the air. Gravity pulled at Mer, doing its best to drag her back into the sea. She gripped the ladder. Her biceps strained until Leroy seized the diver under the armpits and hauled him onto the deck like a gaffed fish.

Before Mer could readjust, the swim step plummeted and hit the water with a teeth-jarring thud. She held tight as the boat righted itself, and then clambered up the ladder.

Emergency equipment littered the deck like flotsam. Mer dropped her gear on the bench.

Leroy leaned over the now conscious diver. His tense face made Mer’s pulse race.

The diver clawed at the oxygen mask on his face. “Tell her!”

Mer brushed the man’s hand aside and resettled the mask. “Tell me what?” she asked her captain.

“He says he was diving the Spiegel Grove shipwreck.”

“Impossible,” she said. “We’re five miles away, and the current’s going in the wrong direction.”

“That he was diving the Spiegel and there was a—” Leroy struggled to find the right word. “Presence.”

“A presence? You mean like a ghost? Please.” She pursed her lips.

He shook his head. “I know. Except just after you went in the Sea Dragon radioed they’re missing a diver off the Spiegel.” He nodded toward the diver. “This one.”


Award-winning author Micki Browning worked in municipal law enforcement for more than two decades and is an FBI National Academy graduate. She retired as a division commander – wonderful fodder for her current career as a full-time writer.

Her mystery, Adrift, set in the Florida Keys, won the 2015 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence and the Royal Palm Literary Award for best unpublished mystery and unpublished book of the year.

Micki resides in Southern Florida with her partner in crime and a vast array of scuba equipment. She’s currently working on Beached, the second Mer Cavallo Mystery. Learn more at

Contact Micki:

Good Morning, Booklovers!

Our Coffee Chat author guest this week is Miguelina Perez with her debut novel, The Vicar's Deadly Sin.

Welcome, Lina, What may I get you to drink?

I love coffee with lots of milk. Caffe Latte.

Ally: The magic pot is yours to command. While I pour, please introduce yourself.


Ms. Miguelina Perez is a writer, and jewelry artist. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of the District of Columbia. As a jewelry artist one of her lariats was showcased in the San Antonio Express-News. She has won several awards including a critical Writing award for an essay on the gender roles of Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn and Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women.

She finished her first book, The Vicar’s Deadly Sin – a Regency romance mystery, the first of a seven-part serial based on the Seven Deadly Sins. Currently, she is working the sequel to the Vicar’s Deadly Sin, “Angel’s Lust” and will start on “A Hero of Her Own” a contemporary romance thriller, about a serial killer terrorizing New York.

Originally from Brooklyn, NY, Ms. Perez resides in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

Something about you that's not in your bio: "I believe in love at first sight...
I also believe love conquers all.

Contact the author:


Twitter: @regencyinkwell


Ally: What type of book is The Vicar's Deadly Sin?

LINA:  It is a regency romance mystery.
PG-13 and up. No sex. Sort of Jane Austen meets Nancy Drew..

How do you choose and name your characters?

Sometimes I take a name from someone I know and give them the last name of someone else.

Ally:  Do you have a book trailer or will you? Are they worth the time and money?

LINA:  Yes, I have one, and 
I think they are worth it. But if you do not have the money, you can learn to make your own.  I have made my own. And hope to continue to make them. I have even made them for friends.
(Ally note: I've made all but one of mine. It's rather fun if you have the time. I use Movie Maker.)

Ally:  How do you spend your non-writing/editing time?

I spend my time reading, watching television and knitting. But that is after I know the place is cleaned and all of my chores are done. Lol…

Ally:  Does your real life show up in your writing? In what ways?

In the contemporary romance I hope to write,  I will be adding some real life in it. Lots of it will be the main heroine and her relationship with her family.

Ally:  What is your next writing project?

LINA:  I am almost done with the first draft of the sequel for The Vicar’s Deadly Sin called Angel’s Lust and it is about the lust for youth and beauty and how young maidens are being sacrificed to a fictitious god by an Italian Count. Here is the blurb:

      Lady Jane Bartholomew and Miss Margaret Renard are back and this time they are out to catch a murderer targeting young maidens for sacrifices.
      Believing that having come close to getting themselves killed in their last investigation, Sir Hugh, now engaged to Lady Jane Bartholomew and Mr Latham, solicitor to Miss Margaret Renard, are distressed to learn that the young ladies are once again up to their old tricks.
      Believing they can solve the murders, the young ladies may well fall prey and become sacrificial lambs, unless Sir Hugh and Mr Latham protect them while trying not to fall victims themselves to the unseen evil walking among them leaving a pile of corpses in its wake?

Ally: Let's finish our chat with a few short answer questions.

  • a. favorite book – Pride and Prejudice
  • b. book you're currently reading – The Houseguest: A Pride and Prejudice Vagary
  • c. favorite tv program – Grimm, sadly it has been canceled.
  • d. favorite quote – In Love I am but a mere reflection – M. Perez
  • e. A guilty pleasure – Vanilla Shake
Ally:  It was a pleasure visiting with you today, Lina. Good luck with your books. Before you go, please show readers more about The Vicar's Deadly Sin...


The Vicar's Deadly Sin

A Touch of Romance…A Touch of Regency…A Touch of Murder… Lady Jane Bartholomew and Miss Margaret Renard have been friends since the age of twelve. Together they share their dreams, hopes and a love for reading. However, it is their wild imagination and a penchant for solving mysteries that will test their abilities when the Vicar of Dover is found murdered. The young ladies are joined by two gentlemen, also eager to find the murderer in order to prove to the ladies that detecting is a man's job, though the gentlemen find their beauty, wit, and pride more troublesome than solving a murder. The Vicar's Deadly Sin is a delightful and witty Regency romance mystery about two friends and their love for solving crimes, while keeping society and its rules at bay.

Buy On Amazon:

Book Trailer:

Thanks for stopping by. Please come back soon!


GIVEAWAY! Freebies!

I'm excited to report that Goodreads is hosting a giveaway of three print copies of Ghost Walking (Maggie York Paranormal Mystery #1) for residents of the US. I hope you'll enter below or on Goodreads. I'd love to send you a copy!

Ghost Walking blurb:

Not believing won't make the ghosts go away.

New Orleans' homicide cop Maggie York is at the top of her game until a sniper's bullet changes everything. She flatlines, comes back. But not quite the same. She sees and hears things...ghostly things. And she blurts out enough to her doctors to end up on medical leave with a diagnosis of PTSD. If only.

Six months later, the voices have faded and the ghostly sightings are less frequent. The department still won't let Maggie return to the job. Oh, she's quit talking about ghosts, except to a few friends and the loony relatives who believe she's a witch, but Maggie doubts herself. Since inactivity is making it worse, she sets out to track down her shooter, only things get complicated...a ghostly witness wants his own murder solved, and sexy homicide cop, Josh Brandt—who just happens to be her replacement—wants her to butt out of his case.

After Josh catches her at the murder scene of a key witness, he wonders how the attractive redhead is staying one step ahead of him and how deeply her involvement goes. She doesn't appear as unstable as he's been told, but she's hiding something. He recognizes the signs...because he has secrets of his own. Unraveling her case soon draws them down twisted but intersecting paths.

And failure may cost Maggie her life.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Ghost Walking by Ally Shields

Ghost Walking

by Ally Shields

Giveaway ends January 23, 2017.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Good luck! Thanks for entering!

Welcome to the first Coffee Chat in 2017!

I hope your holiday was wonderful and that you have lots of new books to read! In case you still have a gift card to use, check out my interview with author Christina Hoag and her romantic YA thriller, Girl on the Brink.

Good morning, Christina! What can I get you to drink?

I drink café con leche every morning, half espresso, half milk. After travelling and living in countries with real coffee cultures, I can’t drink American-style coffee anymore!

Ally:  No problem. My magic pot can fix anything. Meanwhile, please introduce yourself to readers.

Christina Hoag is the author of Skin of Tattoos, a literary thriller set in L.A.’s gang underworld (Martin Brown Publishers, August 2016) and Girl on the Brink, a romantic thriller for young adults (Fire and Ice YA/Melange Books, August 2016). She is a former reporter for the Associated Press and Miami Herald and worked as a correspondent in Latin America writing for major media outlets including Time, Business Week, Financial Times, the Houston Chronicle and The New York Times. She is the co-author of Peace in the Hood: Working with Gang Members to End the Violence, a groundbreaking book on gang intervention (Turner Publishing, 2014). She lives in Los Angeles.

Something unique not in your usual bio: "
I was almost born in Zambia, which is where my parents met. They left a couple months before my mother was due to give birth and I was born in New Zealand instead."

For more information, see 


Ally:  Your write both mature fiction and young adult. Is it hard to switch between the two? Do you set out to write one or the other, or does the heroine tell you what kind of story she prefers?

CH:  Both my novels started out as YA. On “Skin of Tattoos,” I eventually upped the protag’s age by just a few years to make it an adult novel and it made all the difference as far as the scope of what the character could do since teens are limited in their range of actions by their age. However, the book still has some YA elements in that the protag has a lot of issues with his parents and family that he comes to term with by the novel’s end.

I conceived “Girl on the Brink,” however, as a YA, and it stayed as YA, but it was tricky, I confess. It took me a while to firm up the YA voice and perspective. It didn’t come naturally to me. I had to immerse myself in YA books to get the hang of it. I’m more comfortable with the adult voice though I have another YA in mind for down the road. YA readers are very enthusiastic so it’s a rewarding audience.

Ally:  What was your road to publication? How long did it take you? What did you do to find a publisher?

CH:  It was a long and rocky road to publication that took years, even after I finished writing the books, which took years in of itself. I eventually got an agent after sending out about 90 queries, but frankly, she was a lousy agent who gave up quickly. I did not. I rewrote and rewrote and got another agent, who was a real pro. She did not, however, succeed in selling my book (this was Skin of Tattoos). I kept at it. I knew it was good, and I knew Girl on the Brink was good, too. I kept rewriting, but I switched from seeking agents to seeking publishers who took unagented subs. I kept searching the Internet for publishers and submitting. My persistence paid off in the end, but it was a years-long process. I always tell aspiring authors, don’t give up and believe in yourself. Just keep going no matter what anyone tells you.

Ally:  What has been the biggest surprise about the writing/publishing/marketing business? How did you adapt?

CH:  Genre is everything. If you can’t fit your book within the confines of a specified genre, publishers (and agents) can’t market it. A good story just isn’t enough. This was the case with my novel “Skin of Tattoos.” My agent finally labelled it a “literary thriller,” and that seemed to work. “Girl on the Brink” was an easier one to categorize, as it deals with teen dating violence and there is an established contemporary social issue genre in the YA canon.

Ally:  Your next project and potential release date?

CH:  I’m working on two novels, both nearing completion. One is a traditional detective mystery set in Los Angeles and the other is what I’m calling a literary political thriller, set in Caracas, Venezuela, during the 2002 coup attempt. I was living there at the time and I covered the coup as a journalist. It was a very intense time. My goal is to finish both of these next year.

Ally: Try these short answer questions.
  • a. Do you make New Year's resolutions?  I used to but found they didn’t work. Now I just hold myself accountable by writing things on a list. If it’s on the list, I have to do it!
  • b. How many books do you read in a year?  I average about one a week.
  • c. Favorite perfume or lotion:  Lanolin lotion from New Zealand. This is made from natural lanolin from sheep’s wool, which in its raw state is quite oily. It’s a beautiful thick, rich cream.
  • d. A guilty pleasure:  A cream tea. The cream in cream teas ideally comes from Devon, England. It is boiled twice, resulting in a thick, clotted cream. With jam on a scone, and of course a pot of tea, it’s to die for.
  • e. A place (real or fictional) you dream about visiting:  I really want to go to Mongolia. I’d love to roam the steppes with yaks and sleep in a yurt. Kind of weird, I know, but I love remote, isolated places.

Ally:  Thanks for visiting the blog, Christina. Before you go, tell us more about Girl on the Brink...

Girl on the Brink Blurb:

Sometimes the one you love isn’t the one you’re meant to be with.

The summer before senior year, Chloe starts an internship as a reporter at a local newspaper. While on assignment, she meets Kieran, a quirky aspiring actor. Chloe becomes smitten with Kieran’s charisma and his ability to soothe her soul, torn over her parents’ impending divorce. But as their bond deepens, Kieran becomes smothering and flies into terrifying rages. He confides in Chloe that he suffered a traumatic childhood, and Chloe is moved to help him. If only he could be healed, she thinks, their relationship would be perfect. But her efforts backfire, and Kieran turns violent. Chloe breaks up with him, but Kieran pursues her relentlessly to make up. Chloe must make the heartrending choice between saving herself or saving Kieran, until Kieran’s mission of remorse turns into a quest for revenge.

Girl on the Brink Buy Links:


Have a wonderful New Year! Come back soon...


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!

Stay in touch with me on Twitter: @ShieldsAlly
View all books on Amazon: 

May your day be bright with the spirit of Christmas!

Mary Did You Know?
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?

A long black -- no milk or sugar

Ally: Perfect. A person after my own heart. While I pour, please introduce yourself.

Author Bio:

Elizabeth Ellen Carter is an award-winning historical romance writer who pens richly detailed historical romantic adventures. A former newspaper journalist, Carter ran an award-winning PR agency for 12 years. The author lives in Australia with her husband and two cats.

Something unique/unusual that isn't in your regular bio. "I've raced classic Mustangs."

Social Media Links:



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.
  • 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
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!)

EE: It is a sweet romance released last month and is just the thing to get you into the Christmas spirit!


The Thief of Hearts

December 1890
London, England

Some seriously clever sleight of hand is needed if aspiring lawyer Caro Addison is ever going to enjoy this Christmas.

To avoid an unwanted marriage proposal, she needs a distraction as neat as the tricks used by The Phantom, the audacious diamond thief who has left Scotland Yard clueless.

While her detective inspector uncle methodically hunts the villain, Caro decides to investigate a suspect of her own – the handsome Tobias Black, a magician extraordinaire, known as The Dark Duke.

He's the only one with the means, motive and opportunity but the art of illusion means not everything is as it seems, in both crime and affairs of the heart.

As Christmas Day draws near, Caro must decide whether it is worth risking reputations and friendships in order to follow her desires.

Book Trailer:

Buy Links: 

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?

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.

Meredith’s Bio:

Meredith Bond's books straddle that beautiful line between historical romance and fantasy. An award-winning author, she writes fun traditional Regency romances, medieval Arthurian romances, and Regency romances with a touch of magic. Known for her characters “who slip readily into one’s heart,” Merry loves to take her readers on a journey they won't soon forget.

Something that isn't in your regular bio:  "
I’m currently living in Brussels, Belgium, learning French and loving every minute of living in Europe!"

Merry loves connecting with readers. Be sure to find her:

Google +:


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 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:
  • 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.

Ally:  Thanks for spending time with us, Merry! Let's get straight to that boxed set...

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!

Bonus Story!
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.

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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?

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.)

Author LINKS:

facebook :
twitter :  @Author_Kat_Jane


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:  or here, if you'd like to join our group: 

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:
  • 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.

Ally:  It was a pleasure meeting you, Kathryn. Before we end today's chat, let's take a final look at Dance With Me.

Dance With Me

Love can be one hell of a ride!

James is locked on and ready to take down a rogue Special Agent when secrets are suddenly revealed, and shocking new information puts lives on the line.

Julia is comfortable wearing the boots of command and knows exactly how the mission should unfold, but an unexpected wild card will screw up everything and leave her with more questions than answers.

Married for over forty years, Julia and James have grit, love, and a strong supportive family on their side, but what they’re up against this time threatens to undo their dream of a brand new life together.

A fast paced, mind bending adventure, wrapped around a timeless love story.

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