Jennifer Blake, “Icon of Romance”, “Grande Dame of Romance, and a True “Southern Belle”



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I have very fortunate to have the met Jennifer Blake and I have gotten to know her better through a critique group that meets in Ruston, Louisiana. I was delighted when “Pat” agreed to be featured on my blog.

Blake-Author-Florida-ReverseJennifer Blake has been called a “pioneer of the romance genre”, an “icon of the romance industry,” and a “grande dame of romance.” A New York Times and international best-selling author since 1977, she is a charter member of Romance Writers of America, of which I a member. She is a member of the RWA and Affaire de Coeur Halls of Fame, and recipient of the RWA Lifetime Achievement Rita. She holds numerous other honors, including the “Maggie”; the Holt Medallion; multiple Reviewers
Choice awards; the Career Achievement Award from RT Book Reviews Magazine, and the Frank Waters Award for literary excellence. She has published 70 books with translations in 20 languages and more than 35 million copies sold worldwide.

Today we are talking about her works in The Italian Billionaire series, “The Tuscan’s Revenge Wedding,” “The Venetian’s Daring Seduction,” and “The Amalfitano’s Bold Abduction.”

Italian Billionaires Trio

Contemporary romance

Love, Italian style…three young women are seduced by passion, adventure and handsome Latin males in romantic Italy. Now that’s amore….

Readers and lovers of contemporary romance who enjoy stories with exotic settings and Latin Lovers.

Jennifer, please tell us about your work.

When I began these three stand-alone stories, I’d just finished two different complicated historical series for Mira Books that were 100,000 words each. I’d also left traditional publishing after many years of being restricted in what I could write, and started an online publishing venture, Steel Magnolia Press, with my niece Cyndi Drolet. We had put 37 of my older titles online with new covers, and I was ready to write something to be published as an original e-book. A series of contemporary romances of about 50,000 per book looked like a fun project.

But added to that, I’d been to Italy several times and loved it – and I’d had a few brief encounters with Italian men. Nothing racy or momentous as I was very much married! But on one occasion, a waiter I’d summoned hurried to my table and leaned to whisper, “I always come when you call, Madame!” Then there was the night outside Rome when the large group I was with was served their pasta course on ordinary white plates—but mine was presented with a warm smile and great ceremony on a golden one. Another time, in the Cinque Terre region, I walked into a small wine shop wearing a blue and white print skirt, blue sandals, lace-edged white tank and white over shirt embroidered in blue. An older Italian gentleman, elegantly dressed as only Italian men can be, looked me up and down with a tender smile and indicated my outfit with his fingertips closed together in that continental gesture of something exquisite. “Very nizzze,” he said. I smiled and said “Grazie” to all these overtures. How could I not? Suffice it to say the Italian Billionaire series is my love letter to Italy, and salute to the appreciation for women that makes Italian men special.

Obviously, this isn’t your first book. How many books have you written so far?    

I’ve published 70 books if I count the novella collections.



THE TUSCAN’S REVENGE WEDDING, Steel Magnolia Press, 2013

ROYAL SEDUCTION, Steel Magnolia Press, 2012

SEDUCED BY GRACE, Mira Books, October 2011

BY GRACE POSSESSED, Mira Books, September2011

BY HIS MAJESTY’S GRACE, Mira Books, August 2011

TRIUMPH IN ARMS, Mira Books, 2010

GALLANT MATCH, Mira Books, 2009

GUARDED HEART, Mira Books, 2008

ROGUE’S SALUTE, Mira Books, 2007

DAWN ENCOUNTER, Mira Books, 2006

CHALLENGE TO HONOR, Mira Books, 2005

WADE, Mira Books, 2002

CLAY, Mira Books, 2001

ROAN, Mira Books, 2000

LUKE, Mira Books, 1999

KANE, Mira Books, 1998

GARDEN OF SCANDAL, Mira Books, 1997

TIGRESS, Fawcett/Ballantine, 1996

SILVER-TONGUED DEVIL, Fawcett/Ballantine, 1996

SHAMELESS, Fawcett/Ballantine, 1994

ARROW TO THE HEART, Fawcett/Ballantine, 1993

WILDEST DREAMS, Fawcett/Ballantine, 1992

JOY AND ANGER, Fawcett/Ballantine, 1991

SPANISH SERENADE, Fawcett/Ballantine, 1990

LOVE ANLove and Smoke Audible CoverD SMOKE, Fawcett/Ballantine, 1989

PERFUME OF PARADISE, Fawcett/Ballantine, 1988

SOUTHERN RAPTURE, Fawcett/Ballantine, 1987

LOUISIANA DAWN, Fawcett/Ballantine, 1987

PRISONER OF DESIRE, Fawcett/Ballantine, 1986

ROYAL PASSION, Fawcett/Ballantine, 1986

FIERCE EDEN, Fawcett/Ballantine, 1985

MIDNIGHT WALTZ, Fawcett/Ballantine, 1985

SURRENDER IN MOONLIGHT, Fawcett/Ballantine, 1984

ROYAL SEDUCTION, Fawcett/Ballantine, 1983

EMBRACE AND CONQUER, Fawcett/Ballantine, 1981

APRIL OF ENCHANTMENT, Signet Books, 1981

GOLDEN FANCY, Fawcett/Ballantine, 1980

CAPTIVE KISSES, Signet Books, 1980

LOVE AT SEA, Signet Books, 1980

THE STORM AND THE SPLENDOR, Fawcett/Ballantine, 1979

TENDER BETRAYAL, Popular Library & Fawcett/Ballantine, 1979

SNOWBOUND HEART, Signet Books, 1979

BAYOU BRIDE, Signet Books, 1979

THE ABDUCTED HEART, Signet Books, 1978

NIGHT OF THE CANDLES, Fawcett Books, 1978

SWEET PIRACY, Fawcett Books, 1978

LOVE’S WILD DESIRE, Popular Library & Fawcett/Ballantine, 1977

MURDER FOR CHARITY, Manor Books, 1977

HAVEN OF FEAR, Manor Books, 1977

NOTORIOUS ANGEL, Fawcett Books, 1977

BRIDE OF A STRANGER, Fawcett Books, 1974

DARK MASQUERADE, Fawcett Books, 1974

COURT OF THE THORN TREE, Popular Library, 1973

THE BEWITCHING GRACE, Popular Library, 1973

STORM AT MIDNIGHT, Ace Books, 1973

STRANGER AT PLANTATION INN, Fawcett Gold Medal, 1971

SECRET OF MIRROR HOUSE, Fawcett Gold Medal, 1970


QUEEN FOR A NIGHT, Steel Magnolia Press, 2014

WITH LOVE, Berkley, 2003 (Reissue of “Pieces of Dreams” from the QUILTING CIRCLE collection)

WITH A SOUTHERN TOUCH, Mira Books, 2002 (Contains ADAM, one of the Louisiana Gentlemen)


UNMASKED, Mira Books, 1997

A JOYOUS SEASON, Kensington, 1996

QUILTING CIRCLE, Berkley, 1996


HONEYMOON SUITE, St. Martin’s Press, 1995

STARDUST, Avon, 1994

SECRETS OF THE HEART, Penguin Topaz, 1994

A DREAM COME TRUE, Penguin Topaz, 1994

What does your writing process look like?

It’s a basically an organized progression of words on paper. I begin by brainstorming the story, turn these random notes into a chapter-by-chapter outline, create simple character sketches and then start at the beginning and go on to the end. I don’t write scenes or chapters out of order because the emotional and sexual tension in romance needs the steady escalation provided by a linear structure.Desk

Where do you write?

I normally alternate between the desktop PC in my office and a recliner in the living room with my laptop, but occasionally work outside in warm weather.

Inspiration Wall

Are you a plotter or a pantster?

I’ve always been a plotter. My first published books were Gothic mystery-suspense stories that required several suspects as possible villains, along with clues, red herrings and actions and motivations to lend credence to their possible guilt. It’s easier to write this type story if you plan the details in advance. After turning to historical romance, I had back-to-back contracts for decades. This kind of output is faster, and turns out better, if you’re sure of where you’re going with the stories.

There’s nothing formulaic about plotting, however, and nothing innately more creative about writing by the seat of your pants. In fact, all fiction uses both methods. Plotters and pantsters are like two people heading into unknown territory toward the same destination. One has a road map with a few five pitfalls marked, the other has vague idea of the general route and the knowledge that pitfalls exist. Yet both still have to plunge into the wilderness.

Is there a certain type of scene that’s harder for you to write than others? Love? Action? Racy?

Not really. Every scene should have a definite reason (or two or three) for being in the book. If you know what you’re trying to accomplish and how you intend to get there, all scenes are about the same. On the other hand, I do grumble and gripe about the love scenes after having done several hundred with various degrees of heat. Once I figure out what makes the current couple unique in their approach to intimacy, however, they’re no harder than anything else.

Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?

The death of a child as a major plot point.

How did you come up with the title of your book or series?

After deciding to do a series similar to the Harlequin Presents novels, it seemed natural to choose titles common to that particular romance subset. It was also an experiment of sorts. I was curious to see if the titles made a difference. As far as I can tell, they’ve made very little to none.

What book do you wish you could have written?

Kathryn Falk at Romantic Times once said she thought I should have be tapped to write the sequel to Gone with the Wind. I thought at the time it would be a thankless task, that nothing could ever live up to the original. In hindsight, I believe it would have been a fascinating challenge.

How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning? Do you have any name choosing resources you recommend?

Names need to suit the personalities of the characters as I see them in my mind; I often close my eyes and repeat a name to see if it fits. That they are appropriate to the tie period and place is also important – a Tiffany in 1850s Louisiana would be ridiculous, for instance. In general, I don’t care for unusual or weirdly spelled names as that seems an amateur’s effort to be different. I do like hero names that start with an “R,” and was even a bit superstitious about that for a while after several with that naming method became best sellers—I was afraid NOT to give them an “R” name. And after using several of those, I came across a magazine article that said many people favor “R” names, feeling they extra strong and masculine.

As for sources, I have a couple of books with the nationalities, historical origins and meanings of both given names and surnames, also a couple that are meant for choosing baby names. But I mostly combed the indexes of Louisiana history books for authentic character names for my books set in early Louisiana. When I started my six-book Masters at Arms series about the sword masters of old New Orleans, however, I visited St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 near the French Quarter to jot down names to mix and match for future characters.

What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?

The fact that I’ve survived as an author, that I’m still writing and being read after so many years in this game!

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Retired and puttering with writing as a hobby. If my muse will back off and let me.

Have you always enjoyed writing?

Writing has always come fairly easy—book reports and essays in school were never a problem. Nor were stories a problem; I often put myself to sleep as a child and young teen by making them up in my head. But I loved to read far more than I liked to write—that was until I started writing as a hobby at about 19 or 20.

What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors?

The same classic advice heard a thousand times before: Never give up on your dream. Never, ever give up.

Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?

I don’t usually respond, whether good or bad, since this is supposed to be unprofessional. I really prefer not to read the reviews, particularly those posted online; people can be so stupidly cruel when protected by anonymity. However, reading them can’t be helped at times, as quotes from good reviews must be collected for promotional purposes. I bask in the good one but skim over the bad as fast as possible. The best way to deal with the last is to refuse to let them matter. And then go write something so great it will prove these bad reviewers were clueless idiots.

What (when not writing) do you do to support yourself?

My writing income has been more than sufficient since the late 1970s.

Do you have any other talents or hobbies?

I’m not sure I have talent, but I enjoy painting with watercolors now and then, also knitting, crocheting, beading, quilting, antique hunting, gardening and travel. Not necessarily in that order!

What is your least favorite part of the publishing / writing process?

Editing. Unfortunately, I can think of a dozen different ways to say practically anything. Though I’m a thorough editor, it’s always an agonizing process of thousands of minute decisions. Beyond that, the dialogue, emotions, character actions/reactions, narrative flow and scene transitions are interwoven so completely as I write that making a single change can mean rearranging or deleting things in several places. Not fun! I’d rather write two new books than edit one.

What can readers who enjoy your books do to help make them successful?

Recommend the series to their friends, discuss it at book clubs. Post about it on Facebook or Twitter. And of course, follow me on those sites as well as on Pinterest.

What is your best marketing tip?

The #1 way that readers discover an author is through the recommendation of friends. The best way to influence this give and take is to produce good, solid stories. You can make yourself accessible thought social media and other avenues, if you like, but the best use of your time is always to write another good book, and another, and another…

What are you working on now?

I’m seeing a nonfiction book titled “Around the World in 100 Days” through the publication process. This is a day-by-day chronicle of a fantastic world cruise I took with my grandson lastyear, but gives tips and insights into this form of long term travel. It should be independently published in March or April, 2015.

What is your next project?

I’m working on a continuation of my Louisiana Gentlemen series that was set in contemporary Louisiana and published in the 1990s: These stories were “Kane,” “Luke,” “Roan,” “Clay” and “Wade.”. Books one and two of the new group, titled “Beau” and “Jake,” should be out later this year.

What can we expect from you in the future?

I have a good half dozen story ideas spinning around in my brain, some contemporary, some historical, and at least one futuristic. What will come out on top, no one knows, least of all yours truly. The wonderful thing about being independently published these days is that it doesn’t matter. My next project can be whatever excites me when it’s time to start it.

And now for some FUN…

What do you wear while writing?

Jeans, T-shirt and sandals are my summer uniform, with the same in winter except for a long-sleeved over shirt of some kind along with Easy Spirit Traveltime clogs and socks. Boring, but comfy.

Have you ever dyed your hair an unusual color?

I’ve been golden blond and had highlights, but don’t really like the texture change caused by bleaches and dyes, even the temporary ones.

What is your biggest fear?

That my Bucket List may turn out to be longer than my life. But I’m working on it!

If you had a supernatural power, what would it be?

Astral projection, the ability to go wherever I choose at the speed of light while using nothing but brain power.

Do you make up your bed every morning? What is on your bed right now? (pillows/quilt/crocheted bedspread?) Is it romantic or functional? Provide images if you want.

I do make my bed, though more because I hate crawling into a rumpled, unmade one at night than from any OCD neatness. My latest edition of this important piece of furniture is an adjustable mattress with remote control I love it for reading and watching TV in bed.

Where is one place yth (58)ou want to visit that you haven’t been before? Provide images if you want.

Egypt. The Pyramids of Giza are at the top of my Bucket List since I’ve marked off much else. I was supposed to see this monument on the world cruise, but State Department travel advisories prevented it.

Please describe something (significant number of words/a character/entire scene) you “deleted” from your work and why. Because a real writer knows when to hit THE DELTE KEY!

I enjoy description and like painting scenes with words for my books. I also love Italy, the landscape, culture, and general ambience, so sometimes went a bit overboard with description in the Italian Billionaires series. Some of this sort of thing was deleted during the editing process, particularly where I felt it slowed down or interfered with the main story action.

I hope this questionnaire has helped you to come up with some clever answers, but is there anything else you’d like to add?

One of the best things about my venture into independent publishing has been the ability to expand into other venues with the titles to which I own reverted rights. Audio books are a great example. Around 40 of these backlist titles are now available on Amazon from


Amazon Author Page:

Amazon Kindle Ebook Pages:






Good Advice to Writers: Meet Published Authors, Attend Workshops, and join a Writing Group!

On Saturday, August 15th, 2015, I had the opportunity to join some of my fellow Louisiana authors from my local chapter of Romance Writers of America:NOLA STARS and my ladies from my local chapter of Sisters in Crime: Grave Expectations on an excursion to Waskom, Texas where we met for a writers’ workshop at the Waskom Public Library. Here we met with Kellie Coates  and  Lisa Windgate.

Microsoft Word - Waskom flier,.docx

Waskom flier,

It was a great opportunity and the fact that it was only about an hour and half away was doable. I urge fellow writers and published authors to take advantage of any opportunity to meet and greet with other authors.

I won’t go into detail about talks, but I do want to share with my readers the most important snippet of information I took from the this meeting. Don’t just be a writer, be a good writer. Take classes, join groups, attend workshops, read books, etc. You’ll be glad you did!

Robert Germaux, a Man with Romance in His Soul and His Latest Novel, The Backup Husband

Robert Germaux Author PhotoRobert Germaux is a romantic at heart…and he doesn’t mind letting the world know about it. That’s why he never even considered using a different (read: female) author’s name for The Backup Husband, his modern-day love story.

Although his other novels are mysteries, with either a private detective or a police detective as the main character, in both cases, that detective has a love interest who is central to the story. In fact, Mr. Germaux can’t imagine writing a book that doesn’t have a strong romantic element as part of the plot.

Just how romantic is Robert Germaux? In the mid-nineties, his wife slipped on the stairs leading down to her kindergarten classroom. Cynthia fractured several bones in her foot and ended up missing two months of school. Every morning, before he left for work, her husband would hide a little note for her someplace where she would be sure to come across it during the day— propped up against a carton of milk in the refrigerator, inside the silverware drawer, under the remote control for the TV. It’s a memory that both Bob and Cynthia cherish to this day.

Bob has a variety of other interests, including sports (he once signed a contract to pitch for a semi-pro baseball team in Pittsburgh) and travel (he and Cynthia have shared special moments everywhere from Paris to Toronto to Tahiti), but writing is among his favorite activities. The idea for The Backup Husband came while he was playing the “What if” game one day: What if a woman suddenly realized she might actually be in love with two wonderful men at the same time? He ended up writing the book in record time, enjoying every minute of the experience, and he hopes that’s the case for his readers, too.

The Backup Husband cover photo

Title: The Backup Husband

Author: Robert Germaux

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Length: 305 pages


Available on Amazon

When Samantha and Steven meet early in their senior year of college, the attraction is both immediate and powerful. And why not? She’s the kind of woman every man desires, and he’s the man at the center of every woman’s dreams. The two of them quickly forge a strong bond, creating their own little world, a world that they permit only one other person to enter: Steven’s roommate, Paul, every bit a hunk in his own right. Now two become three, forming a group dynamic that one of their friends, a sociologist, says is “almost scary, how much in sync you guys are.”

The Backup Husband follows Steven, Samantha and Paul as they finish that last year of college and enter their young adult years, the bond among them seemingly unbreakable, until the most powerful force in the world intrudes, exposing how fragile the walls of their world really are. From Pittsburgh to Paris to San Francisco and beyond, their story unfolds, with moments of unbridled joy punctuated by periods of unbearable sadness. Along the way, each of the main characters is confronted by one question: What am I willing to do, or not do, in the name of love? Their responses to that question will send them all down a path from which there can be no return, one that will dramatically alter their lives in ways that none of them could have foreseen.

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And now for a little Q&A:

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

No, not at all. I’ve always enjoyed writing, but the idea of writing a book didn’t occur to me until after I retired from teaching. I tried a couple of books aimed at middle-school readers, and then my wife suggested

I write a book for adults. As usual, Cynthia’s idea was a good one.

Are there any authors whose works just grabbed you at first reading?

Three names come to mind. When I was about sixteen, my father introduced me to P.G. Wodehouse’s Bertie and Jeeves novels, and I couldn’t get enough of those characters.

Then in 1974, I came across The Beowulf Manuscript, the first Spenser novel.

I was immediately hooked on anything by Robert B. Parker.

Finally, Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes was so beautifully written, I was sure I would love anything else he wrote, which turned out to be exactly the case.

How long does it take you to write a book?

I pretty much zipped through The Backup Husband in about six months, and Small Talk, my serial killer novel which will be available on Amazon very soon, took just a bit longer. Most of my other books, however, come in at about a year or so.

Are you a disciplined writer, one who wants to write so many words or pages per day?

I’m a very organized person, but not necessarily disciplined in that way. Some days, I’ll write a whole chapter, which in my books is usually around 1200 words, but then I might not write another chapter for several days. However, one thing I’m always doing is making notes about characters, settings, dialogue, etc.

My wife is incredibly understanding about being awakened at two in the morning when I turn on the light to get something down before I forget it.

Do you always know how a book will end when you begin writing it?

Unfortunately, no. Sometimes I start out with an ending in mind, but as I get deeper into my plot, I’ll realize that that ending won’t work. Sometimes, as was the case with The Backup Husband, the ending I envisioned works, but I’ll have to change the setting. And sometimes I simply have no idea how I’ll end a book. I just start writing and trust that somewhere along the way, I’ll figure it out.

Any advice for new writers?

During the years I taught high school English, I had a poster on my classroom wall that read There is no such thing as good writing, just good rewriting. I think that’s excellent advice for all writers, new or otherwise.

Connect with Robert Germaux:






Media Contact:

My Book Tour, Susan Barton Email:

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Ben Starling, A Hopeless Romantic, A Boxer, and a Very Funny Guy.

How could such a handsome face belong to a boxer?

I know, right? Ben Starling_Author photo_15May15

But this, my friends, is Ben Starling.

And I think you all will enjoy getting to know him and his work as a writer, actor, and artist! Check out his website for a clip of his acting among other things!

Ben Starling is passionate about marine conservation and boxing, both central themes in his upcoming novel. He is Oxford’s only ever Quintuple Blue (varsity champion five years running), was Captain of the university boxing team, and coached and boxed competitively. Ben graduated from Oxford University with a Master of Arts and a MPhil. He was born in the USA but has lived in the UK since childhood.  

Ben Starling Banner_15MAY15

Title of Work: To be revealed!

Genre: Contemporary fiction 

Tagline: What if to be with the man of your dreams… you had to give up your life?

On the verge of losing her job, a side-lined journalist is forced to travel to the South Pacific to untangle a mystery where she meets a reclusive ex-boxer with a message. When a syndicate of corporate criminals invades paradise, she must either defend the island with her life or accept the plum promotion that will save her career.

 Intended Audience: Those who enjoy the works of Nicholas Sparks, Nora Roberts and Colleen Hoover

Connect with Ben!  photo Twitter-Icon_zps3130eebd.png  photo Facebook-Icon_zps3f1c1485.png  photo Goodreads-icon_zps520d2a85.png  photo Facebook-Icon_zps3f1c1485.png  photo WordPress icon.png

Sign up here to be notified of Ben’s upcoming releases: www.ben-starling. com/contact-sign-up/

Is this your first book?

I’m a freelance editor and have also written some short items and received encouragement for that. After focusing on the work of others for so long, I longed to take on the challenge of a full-length work of my own. My forthcoming love story will be released on January 21, 2016.

Where do you write? 

There is a beautiful canal that flows near my home. All my plot snarls are unraveled as I walk along beside it – the most important part of my work is done here. Whenever I hit a tough-going portion, I know where to go. There is something about the tranquility of water that inspires.

Ben_canal walk 1  

Okay, NOW I am jealous! 

Do you have any strange writing habits? All writing habits are strange – stranger than fiction. But I have done my best to estrange myself from the strangest ones of all. In fact, I have had no writing habits at all since I stopped taking plot tips from my dog.

And you’re a comedian! Who knew? 

What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors?

You only need to own two books on writing: one is The Elements of Style by EB White. It’s a must read for authors. The other is: any creative writing book by James N Frey. Read it cover to cover. He is the best writing coach in the business.

Just as your books inspire authors, what authors have inspired you to write?

Hemingway for his symbolism and the poignancy of the troubles of Santiago in Old Man in the Sea. And Herman Wouk for his spell-binding characterisations in Don’t Stop the Carnival.

I’m also a Hemingway fan but I’ve never read Herman Wouk. I’ll have to check that one out! Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

Edward (Bear) Hamilton was the most fun to write – so astoundingly unaware of his shortcomings and flamboyantly unconcerned about his impact on others. I giggled the whole time I was writing him.

How about your least favorite character?  What makes them less appealing to you?

The villain was the most challenging to write. The antagonist is the crucial counterpoint in every tale. Without a worthy adversary for the hero/ine, the story falls flat. And yet, a worthy villain must be chillingly motivated.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Still writing. More travelled. And in the arms of the woman I love – that I look forward to meeting someday soon! I have a recurring dream about meeting her. We love for the same reason that we write. It’s all about making connections. There’s no other reason to live, is there?

That sounds great! I just love the idea of the recurring dream. Sounds like a great novel idea! Or did your dog already suggests that plot? 

Do you have any other talents or hobbies?

I draw to unwind. Magical realism in black and white is my favorite. Recently, marine themes keep appearing too. I keep promising myself to branch out and explore color. But I keep coming back to pen and ink. I’ve posted some on my site.

Ben Starling_Art_Turtle

This is such a lovely example of your artwork! 

What are you working on now?

I’m finalizing materials and planning events for my upcoming book launch. The novel (title reveal coming soon) will be released in early 2016. Lots to do to prepare for that!

And don’t forget to let me know so that I can be a part of your launch!

What is your next project?

A series of prequel short stories to be released from September 21, 2015, set in the same world as my upcoming novel.

What do you wear (if anything) while writing? My fingers to the bone…

THAT is the BEST answer ever!!!! Do you have a pet or pets? I had a beautiful and brilliant Great Dane named Edington once. She learned every game in a flash, retrieved things I didn’t know I wanted and danced with me. I lost her many years ago, but I’ll never forget her. I’m sure she’s my guardian angel watching over me. I’ve had a few close calls and I credit my continued existence entirely to Edington.

When they say the Great Dane is a noble breed, they are spot on!

What is your favorite snack food?

Soup. Soup… and soup. Toss every vegetable in your fridge into the slow cooker, add a few herbs and then go write for day. Always ready when you need it and perfect every time.

Not a bad plan at all! Okay, so this conversation about dogs and soup is reminding me of Best in Show! If you haven’t seen it…watch it!

I’d like to be able to whip up a five-course gourmet meal in a heartbeat too, but I’m still working on that. Always on the look out for a good recipe!

You should try a few Cajun recipes. I think Gumbo would definitely be your style. I like chicken and sausage with okra and tomatoes. Characters often find themselves in situations they aren’t sure they can get themselves out of.

When was the last time you found yourself in a situation that was hard to get out of and what did you do?

I once got out of a dinner party by scheduling invasive surgery. Does that count?

Seriously? You really crack me up!

Have you ever dyed your hair an unusual color?

Yes. Orange. Some things just weren’t meant to be. Or dares meant to be taken.

I like orange! It inspires creativity…so maybe that was a good choice. What is your biggest fear?

That my recurring dream won’t come true.

NOOOOO! Don’t say that! Keep on being your hopeless romantic adorable self! 

What do you want your headstone to say?

Did you hear it too?! I must say, I find talking headstones alarming.

Okay, Ben! You got me! That one made me laugh out loud! 

Where is one place you want to visit that you haven’t been before? Provide images if you want.

Antarctica. Now there’s a fascinating environment. And the closest thing to untouched that is left on our planet.


I want to go to Easter Island. I’m not such a big fan of the cold.

If you could have any accent from anywhere in the world, what would you choose?

I’d be American with a British accent. That’d confuse them. Confuses me quite a bit too…

Made me laugh again! You’re a funny guy! 

What is something you want to accomplish before you die?

Start an eco-hotel on a faraway tropical island.

Do you need a partner? We could build one on Easter Island!

Provide an enticing, titillating, interesting, or fun fact about your book or series:

All my most important cuts were made while shaving. (For detail on what was cut from earlier versions of my novel, see below in the final interview question here: What did you delete?)

VERY IMPORTANT!!!! Please describe something (significant number of words/a character/entire scene) you “deleted” from your work and why. Because a real writer knows when to hit THE DELETE KEY!

Monotonous and extraneous transportation scenes were deleted and folded into more vibrant activities. I tried to follow the maxim of “get in late and leave early”.

Sounds good!

Wow! It really has been a lot of fun doing this interview with you, Ben. I know you’ve got a lot of work ahead of you and I hope you’ll let me read and review your novel. Thanks! Geri

Sandra Bolton’s “Key Witness” Weaves a Tale of Suspense in a Southwest Setting

Sandra BoltonSandra Bolton’s novels are based on her real-life experience with diverse settings and cultures. Her first novel, A Cipher in the Sand, was inspired by her work in the Peace Corps in Honduras, while Key Witness was inspired by her years spent teaching Navajo children.

She honed her writing skills under the tutelage of southwestern mystery writer Steven F. Havill, and she holds a master’s degree in guidance counseling.

Originally from California, she raised three children while traveling the globe with her military husband. She is currently at work on an anthology of short stories. She resides in Raton, New Mexico, with her cat, Fidel, and her dog, Sam.

Key Witness

A Jewish musician from New York; a female cop with the Navajo Tribal Police, her unemployed, alcoholic, and gay brother; a three-legged dog, and a “skinny, gray-haired” nurse named Sally who boasts she can “shoot the short hairs off a pig’s balls blindfolded.” These are the main characters in Sandra Bolton’s latest mystery, “Key Witness”.

Genre: Mystery, Thriller

Intended Audience: Anyone interested in reading, a fast-moving, action-packed mystery with a touch of romance and a strong dose of New Mexico culture.

Not since Tony Hillerman have we seen a writer portray so well the stark beauty of the Southwest and the solitary lives of the Navajo, woven onto a background of suspense and violence.

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Is this your first book? How many books have you written prior (if any?) List other titles if applicable. 

This is my second novel. My first, A Cipher in the Sand, was self-published on Createspace in 2012. 

Where do you write?

I write from two different locations: my home office, which is right off my living room, and I have a little writing nook I set up using my old computer at an isolated cabin not terribly far from my house. I love to write there because there is no internet, no cell, and no distractions. Except nature, and the urge to get outside and enjoy it.

The cabin sounds wonderful! I’m doing the same at lake about an hour from my home. Are you a plotter or a pantster?

I am definitely a punster. I never know for sure which way the story is going until I get going with it. Though, sometimes during periods of insomnia, I do a little plotting.

A punster? Are you being punny? Is there a certain type of scene that’s harder for you to write than others? Love? Action? Racy?

I sometimes struggle with the sex scenes. I want to make them exciting, but not too racy, holding a little back for the imagination of the reader. My natural shyness comes out. I think I am getting over that though, since the editors told me to stop leaving out the details.

I know what you mean! How did you come up with the title of your book or series?

My original title for Key Witness was Jesus Eyes. I had come up with that name based on startling blue eyes of the protagonist, Abe Freeman, and the habit of a few people remarking on his “Jesus eyes.” This was based on actual incidents that happened with my late partner. I decided to change the name, as not to invoke a religious tone, and since the mystery in the story involves a mysterious key.

What other books/authors are similar to your own? What makes them similar?

My book has been compared to the writings of Tony Hillerman because of the setting and references to Navajo culture.

Great plug! Just as your books inspire authors, what authors have inspired you to write?

I had never thought about writing a novel until I participated in a workshop conducted by Southwest Mystery Writer, Steven Havill. He challenged the class to begin writing a novel, gave us the tools to work with, and set goals. After three more workshops with Mr. Havill, I was hooked on writing, and haven’t stopped.

That’s great! Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

I love Sally, the skinny old nurse who thinks she can take on anything. She is fearless and funny. She and Emily are both strong female characters.

How about your least favorite character?  What makes them less appealing to you?

My least favorite character would be Corazon, just because he’s a mean sob. But he’s supposed to be.

Do you have any other talents or hobbies?

When not writing I enjoy gardening, hiking with my dog, photography, reading, and gourmet cooking. I have many interests, but no outstanding talents – a Jack of all trades, I embrace my mediocrity.

Its good to be well rounded. What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?

Every reader should know the best way to help a writer gain success is to write a review and spread the word. Self-promotion is tough, and I feel extremely grateful to be working with a great team now at Thomas and Mercer..

Do you have a pet or pets?

I have a big orange tabby cat named Fidel and a big black dog named Sammy.

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So adorable! What is your favorite snack food?

I’d rather eat anything salty or crunchy than sweets. Trouble is, you can’t eat just one. Right now, I’m sipping on a glass of white wine and munching on popcorn.

Interesting combination. Have you ever been in trouble with the police?

Not in the USA.

And we’ll leave it at that! Characters often find themselves in situations they aren’t sure they can get themselves out of. When was the last time you found yourself in a situation that was hard to get out of and what did you do?

In the Peace Corps in Honduras, a young volunteer and I were nearly attacked by a group of drunk men. As they tried to break our door down, we waited with clubs. Finally, they passed out. We tiptoed out of the room and ran like hell to a bus stop. (This incident is included in my novel, A Cipher in the Sand.)

Scary! Do you make up your bed every morning?

I make my bed every morning because I am a bit obsessive/compulsive.

What is on your bed right now?

Right now there is an old-fashioned hand stitched quilt with a traditional wedding ring pattern.

If you could have any accents from anywhere in the world, what would you choose?

I would speak Italian perfectly. I love Italy and the Italian language, and was fortunate enough to live there for three years.

Lucky you! Do you have any scars? What are they from?

I have an old appendectomy scar, a scar near my inside right ankle that I acquired from a string ray zap that became infected with jungle rot. My latest scars, just this month, came from my cat, Fidel. I tried to rescue him from a dog that was after him, and he went crazy tearing into my face and hand. Fourteen stitches on my nose, and another dozen on my right hand.

I saw the photos of the cat scratches on Facebook! Geez! What were you like as a child?

Being the oldest of five, I was a serious and responsible child.

What was your favorite toy?

No particular toy stands out, certainly not dolls. I liked to play board games, tether ball, cards. See how old I am.

I must be old, too, because I loved tether ball! Do you recall your dreams? Do you have any recurring dreams/nightmares?

Since childhood, I have had a recurring dream of a large book with the pages slowly turning. Maybe it was prophetic.

What is your favorite Fiction/Non-Fiction book?

There are many books that have made a profound impression on me, but I think the first and strongest was Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck.

My sons were in the theatrical production of Grapes of Wrath at Louisiana Tech. My youngest played Winfield.

VERY IMPORTANT!!!!  Please describe something (significant number of words/a character/entire scene) you “deleted” from your work and why.  Because a real writer knows when to hit THE DELETE KEY!

After the editors at Thomas and Mercer dug into my book, I needed to delete several scenes. Most gave background information into the Navajo history and culture that they thought was “interesting” but slowed down and distracted from the main action of the story. Yes, there were entire scenes I had researched and hated giving up, but they were right, of course.

You can always put that edited out information on your blog!



            Facebook Page:

 Publisher’s Website:



 Book Promotion Sites:

Other Interviews:

Thank you, Sandra, for this opportunity to interview you and I wish you great success!

Treat Yourself to Celtic Romance for Valentine’s Day with Grá mo Chroí

I wish to introduce you to Ali Isaac  and Jane Dougherty.

I met Jane during the aliMARSocial Author of the Year Competition with her book, The Dark Citadel.

Today, I am helping her and her co-author Ali Isaac promote their latest release, Grá mo Chroí‘ (Love of my Heart).

Jane Doughtery

Ali Isaac and Jane Dougherty are writers with a shared heritage.

Ali has woven that heritage into the fabric of her stories about Conor Kelly and his adventures in the Otherworld.

Jane consistently slips references to the old stories and the old heroes into all of her novels.

book cover

Long ago in a green island surrounded by protective mists, a people lived among the relics of a bygone age of which they knew nothing, not being archaeologists, but around whom they created a mythology.They were a volatile people, easily moved to love or war, and motivated by a strict sense of honour. They had women warriors and handsome lovers, wicked queens and cruel kings, precious heroines and flawed heroes. Magic was in the air, beneath the ground, and in the waves of the sea, and hyperbole was the stuff of stories. They were the Irish, and these are a few retellings of some of their beautiful stories.

This collection of retellings of some of the great love stories from Irish mythology is our tribute to this culture which has so captivated us. Love in the Iron Age, as you will see, did not have the benefit of Disney. The Ancient Irish had to contend with far more violence than modern lovers, and their ideas of what constituted happiness were not necessarily the same as ours. An Irish princess was not going to languish at the top of an ivory tower waiting for a knight in shining armour. She was much more likely to get on her horse and drag him out of his bed with a curse if he hung about too long. But in many ways, love through the ages has not changed one iota. Grief, sorrow and passion are all there in spadesful.

If the only thing you know about Irish mythology is Saint Patrick, serpents, and Leprechauns, it’s about time you read this collection. If you like what you see, this could be the start of a life changing experience.

Here is a short excerpt from the first story in the collection,

The Tragedy of Bailé and Aillinn 

Bailé, the soft-spoken, left Emain Macha in the north to meet Aillinn, his betrothed. Rare was such a wedding host, and uncommonly joyful. For the king of Ulster’s only son and the daughter of the king of Leinster had made a love match. Even the sun shone bright on Bailé’s journey, the hounds danced and milled about the horses’ legs, fancy bridle bits sang silver songs in the wind, and the company was filled with joy.

Bailé left behind his own lands of Ulster, the blue lochs and gorse-yellow hills where the eagles cried. Before him, beyond the purple peaks of home, lay the low, wooded hills and the rich plains of Leinster. He saw his Aillinn in the contours of the hills, in the white plumage of the swans on the river. She was soft as new grass and spring foals, wild as the March wind, and generous as the blackbird singing to the world. His heart was full of joy that soon they would be wed and their union would bind together her rich beauty of soft hills and birdsong, and his wild majesty of the eagle and the red deer.

If you like the sound of the world of the ancient Irish, treat yourself to a little Celtic romance for Valentine’s Day. You can get Grá mo Chroí here:

Jane can be found on her blog,, on her Facebook author page , or tweeting. You can find out more about her on Goodreads, and all her books are available on and

You will find Ali Isaac pottering about most days on her blog:, her Facebook author page, or tweeting. Alternatively, you can email her at: or Her books are available on and

C. G. Eberle: A mystery author who believes in honor, justice, truth, and freedom.

I’d like to introduce C.G. Eberle (Christopher), another one of my fellow Melange Books, LLC authors, and his latest work, Killer Holidays; A John Seraph Anthology

Short Bio: Born in Buffalo, New York, C.G. was adopted by George & Dottie Eberle and raised in the Irish neighborhood of South Buffalo, where he still lives today. C.G. has been a comic book fan since he was five years old and began writing & drawing his own home made comics back then. His real interest in writing began in high school when he discovered the 1970’s television series Kolchak: the Night Stalker. He began writing as a hobby, then after reading an article re: the birth of a white buffalo in 1994 C.G. began writing THE RAINBOW WARRIOR. It took ten years & seven re-writes for him to get published. In the meantime C.G. began work on the follow-up books & the companion book, THE ERA OF HEROES, which was published in 2006.

A writer since he was 5 years old, Chris started with his homemade comic books and story books, and then seriously took to writing in high school. While in college, studying English Education, C.G. was published twice in 2004 & 2006, and then switched gears to one of his major passions, mysteries. Besides writing C.G. also is a amateur Old West Historian, an avid classic movie fan & collector, a lover of most styles of music, an avid reader, a student of crypto zoology, an amateur Ripperologist, and dabbles in the kitchen quite well.

C.G. began work on his first mystery FAMILY TIES but filed away the idea for a few years as he wrote & polished THE RAINBOW WARRIOR. Then finally he returned to FAMILY TIES, which took four years to write and, thanks to Nancy Schumacher & Melange Books, LLC,was published in October 2013.

FAMILY TIES was inspired by the missing person/homicide case of Chandra Levy, who was killed on May,1st, 2001. To a degree C.G. became mildly obsessed with the Levy case, which was THE major news story for 2001. Intensive coverage continued until news of the September 11 attacks supplanted the media’s coverage of the Levy case. After the 9/11 attacks knocked the Levy case seemingly out of the news, C.G. followed the case as best he could, and knew it was becoming an inspiration of some form, then truly understood what “Ripped from the headlines” meant.

Title of Work: Killer Holidays; A John Seraph Anthology

Genre: mystery

 Tagline: They say the holidays are murder and for John Seraph it’s the truth.

Intended Audience: adult mystery fans

John Seraph, is the eldest of eight children, whose father is the head of ‘The Arm’, the Buffalo, NY Mafia. John walked away from his family to make something of himself, due to a blood oath he made his mother. This is when his life changes in my first mystery FAMILY TIES.Is this your first book?—- No, I’ve written The Rainbow Warrior: GENESIS and The Era of Heroes (through Publish America in 2004 & 2006), and Family Ties and Family Plots (through Melange Books, LLC in 2013 & 2014)

What does your writing process look like?—- I’ve taken a page from Janet Evanovich’s How I Write. In her book about her processes  Evanovich talks about how she builds a story she’s working on. I adopted a similar process. After I have the basic idea I build from there. I chart out what happens on each day.


Monday; John goes to work, sees A fighting with B, breaks up fight; at home John hears from Denise, then get call from police, A was found dead with John’s name written in blood.

To me it’s a lot like building a house. First you lay the foundation, (the story idea), then build the frame, (know what’s roughly going to happen). After that put up the walls & install the pluming and electrical, (write the story). Another major aspect for me is picking the names of my characters, both good & bad.

One book I’d recommend to anyone looking to be a fiction writer is buy yourself a baby name dictionary. There’s a science behind naming characters and not just picking some names out of the phone book. Character names related to their traits is a real connection and when I find something that work it’s like a flashbulb goes off in my head.

Finally research is a major part of what I do. I’m lucky because it’s something I’m extremely good and enjoy, and I’m very thorough. For example: when I was picking John’s choice in handgun it took me two weeks of solidly researching various handguns until I found exactly what I wanted and needed for John.

I read Janet Evanovich’s How I Write, as well.  I highly recommend her book as well as Stephen King’s On Writing, etc.

Tell us a little bit about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image/artwork?—- The folks at Melange asked me for my ideas regarding what I wanted to see on a cover, then Lynsee Lauritsen, who’s an artist, photographer, and designer who works with Melange Books, LLC, looked at my ideas/suggestions and put together a first draft. She was excellent about working with me, explaining what works and doesn’t work. For Killer Holidays, I wanted an image of ‘John Seraph’ and some sort of holiday theme but wasn’t positive of what. Lynsee came up with the basic concept and she soon banged out the final image. We’ve worked like this for four book covers and it’s been an amazing partnership. With my first mystery, FAMILY TIES, I had this image of what I wanted and it was way to busy. Lynsee cut it down and produced a much better image. Then she was professional enough to explain to me everything I wanted would’ve made the cover to busy & crowded.

As an artist and photographer myself, I can’t say I care for the job she did on your covers. The word “cheesy” comes to mind. They look a bit homemade and “self published”, which is a shame because, from what I’ve seen on her Facebook page, Ms. Lauritsen is actually a very accomplished photographer.

Just as your books inspire authors, what authors have inspired you to write?—- The three authors who’ve been my biggest inspirations are Robert B. Parker, Janet Evanovich, and Sue Grafton. I’d have to say Parker has been a long term motivation for me since I’ve been a fan of his Spenser; for Hire series, and own his entire Spenser series in hardcover. Evanovich has been a major influence on me as well not only thanks to her, How I Write, but whenever I’ve had questions re: writing, she or her representatives have been good enough to answer me back.

How important are names to you in your books?—- This is an extremely important aspect of writing I believe a lot of people tend to forget or overlook. One book I recommend to anyone who’s looking to write fiction is to buy a copy of Dictionary of First Names. This has masculine and feminine names, ethnic origins, definitions of names, and notable examples. This is extremely important and there’s a science behind naming characters. One cannot just pluck names out of the air, I try to pick names relating to my characters’ traits & personalities.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?—-To be honest I’m not positive, I don’t think anyone can honestly answer this question. Hopefully with some hard work, a little luck, some grand support, and a lot of sales, maybe I’ll be fortunate enough to land on the best sellers’ list multiple times and be able to give back to my parents who’ve given me so much. And with a bit more luck maybe have a movie screenplay picked up by a producer.

Have you always enjoyed writing?—- Yes, I began when I was about 4 or 5 years old. I used to write and draw my own little comic books. It wasn’t until I was in high school, about age 17, when my first writing sparks ignited after first being exposed to an old T.V. show, Kolchak; the Night Stalker. Soon after I began writing for my school newspaper, then I began toying with the idea of writing fiction. It was 1994 when I began writing my first book The Rainbow Warrior: GENESIS.

What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors?—- KEEP WRITING!!! You can give in, you can give out, but don’t give up! If you have the idea for a good book, and I don’t just mean fiction, research all you can about whatever topic you’re writing about. Also don’t be afraid to talk to writers who’ve made it. I’m always happy to talk to someone who says “Oh I’ve always wanted to write” or “I’ve got this idea for a book”. Also have some basics on hand; dictionary, thesaurus, a few good notebooks & pens, at least one of each near your bed, if you don’t have a recorder of some kind. And if you do take it with when driving. You’ll never when or where an idea will hit you. Also there are a number of books one can find on any number of subjects and about writing, I’d say be selective. A number of these books repeat themselves. If at a book store I look through them and pick the best ones. And don’t be snobby about where you find books & research material. I’ve come across good research books at second hand book stores. The trick is hunting through the piles, racks, and table you’ll come across

What (when not writing) do you do to support yourself?—- Currently I’m working at the new Buffalo Bills Store, at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, NY. It can be rough at times, but it’s a good job and I work with a good solid crew.

What are you working on now?—- Currently I awaiting the edits of my next book Family Education, which should be debuting sometime in 2015. I’m also writing the fifth book in my series, Family Friend, with plans for my next three books, what I’m calling my serial thriller, the Father’s Day Saga. The Saga will take place over the course of three books and three individual mysteries, the stories will have a sub-plot of a story arch that will change not just John Seraph’s life but almost everyone he knows. I am also working on a Year-0 John Seraph story, which takes place before Family Ties. This is sort of an origins story and explains a bit and takes place before he changed his name. I’m planning on self-publishing this Year-0 story as an e-book and giving it away for free.

It is great to hear that you are busy writing and getting the support you need from your publisher. I hope the best for you and your work!

What is your biggest failure?—- Driving my best friend and the only woman I ever loved out of my life. There isn’t a day I don’t think about her, the mistakes I made, and how’s she is doing.

That sounds like a memoir in the making!

What do you want your tombstone to say?—- Hopefully it’ll read: Christopher G. Eberle (C.G. Eberle); Loving husband, father, son, brother, and loyal friend. A mystery author who believed in honor, justice, truth, and freedom.

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Where is one place you want to visit that you haven’t been before?-— Italy. I mean the whole country, all 21 regions. If I had the money and time I’d start in the Northern region and make my throughout the entire country and soak up as much of the culture and the people as I can.

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I hope you’re learning to speak the language!

What is something you want to accomplish before you die?—- Find the true love of my life, make her mine, live happily ever after. I’m doubtful of all this, so I’ll have to settle for making writing my career, becoming extremely good at it, and providing for my parents, brother, sister

Never doubt yourself!

Please describe something you “deleted” from your work and why. Because a real writer knows when to hit THE DELTE KEY!—- In 1994 when I was writing my first book, The Rainbow Warrior, I had a nightmarish image for my hero, of downtown Buffalo obliterated, and the HSBC Tower having been obliterated. Now during my rewrites after September,11th, 2001 I knew I had to change the scene, so I made the Tower still standing but with an almost, demented, demonic, Jack O’ Lantern face blown into the side of the building.

Contact Information:



Facebook Page:!/chris.eberle.353

CGE image1Downtown Buffalo at dusk. (stock image)


Publisher’s Website:



Other Interviews:

I really enjoy interviewing authors and making them a part of my blog,

especially those who are fellow Melange authors

and those whom I’ve met in this industry

who have encouraged and inspired me.



Marie Lavender on Her Blood At First Sight Series: Clever Title! Clever Girl!

I want you to all to meet Marie Lavender, the Bestselling Author of UPON YOUR RETURN and 19 other books. 2014 BTS Red Carpet Review Nominee. Finalist and Runner-up in the 2014 MARSocial’s Author of the Year Competition. Honorable mention in the January 2014 Reader’s Choice Award. Liebster Blogger Award for 2013 and 2014. Top 50 Authors on Winner of the Great One Liners Contest on the Directory of Published Authors.

Is she awesome or what?

ML photo3Marie Lavender lives in the Midwest with her family and three cats. She has been writing for over twenty years. She has more works in progress than she can count on two hands. Marie has published twenty books in the genres of historical romance, contemporary romance, romantic suspense, paranormal romance/fantasy, mystery/thriller, literary fiction and poetry.

ML photo2Lavender just released Second Nature, a paranormal romance/urban fantasy, in December of 2014. She released Magick & Moonlight, a romantic fantasy, back in March of 2014. Upon Your Honor, released in late April of 2014, is her second historical romance. Her current series are The Heiresses in Love Series, The Magick Series and The Blood at First Sight Series. Feel free to visit her website at for further information about her books and her life.

Marie is also on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn.

Today I am writing about Second Nature, her Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy. 

Can this unique human tame the beast in Alec?

For women and men 18-75, who don’t mind reading romance novels or books about supernatural beings 

The Blood at First Sight Series is about how our characters deal with being in the Other world, a world that will change them forever.

Second Nature is available on the publisher’s website, on Amazon, CreateSpace and Barnes & Noble.

A list of her other books and pen names are as follows:

Marie Lavender: Upon Your Return; Magick & Moonlight; Upon Your Honor; Second Nature

Erica Sutherhome: Hard to Get; Memories; A Hint of Scandal; Without You; Strange Heat; Terror in the Night; Haunted; Pursuit; Perfect Game; A Touch of Dawn; Ransom; Leather and Lace

Kathryn Layne: A Misplaced Life

Heather Crouse: Express Café and Other Ramblings; Ramblings, Musings and Other Things; Soulful Ramblings and Other Worldly Things

Tell us something about your books. 

I have written and published twenty books so far. My titles under Marie Lavender are Upon Your Return, Magick & Moonlight, Upon Your Honor and Second Nature. The other sixteen were published under my alternate pen names.

 Where do you write? 

I usually write wherever I can, but a lot of my heavy writing happens at night when I’m in bed.  I also compose on the computer when I’m fully focused on a project.

Are you a plotter or a pantster?

I am a bit of both. I start out writing randomly, getting down scenes however they come to me. In the back of my mind, a basic plot has already formed for the most part, but no details have been filled in yet. Eventually, when I am ready to really focus on a project, I start doing a major plot outline and do more writing after that. I use that outline as an anchor of sorts, but I’m not afraid to let my characters go outside of the lines a little.

I think I’ll set up a scale from plotter to panster since most of us have to do a lot of both. How did you come up with the title of your book or series?

Second Nature finally came to me when I was at my wit’s end about the title. I used a generic title of Love or Blood before it just popped into my head one day. Second Nature made a crazy kind of sense when you really looked hard at the story. The series title came later, and that was about the time that the sequels started nagging at me too. LOL.

Just as your books inspire authors, what authors have inspired you to write?

Oh, let’s see. I have quite the list. I have to count Nora Roberts, Catherine Coulter, Rosemary Rogers, Tessa Dare, Emma Wildes, J.R. Ward, Kris Tualla, P.C. Cast, Kerrelyn Sparks, Chloe Neill and there are so many more that have brought me to the place where I am today. Even Natalie Goldberg in her way fascinated me, and inspired me to keep writing.

With the exception of a couple of Nora Roberts audiobooks, I have to say that I have read none of these authors’ book. If you could cast your characters in the Hollywood adaptation of your book, who would play your characters? 

I’ve only thought of the main characters thus far. For Desiree, I would choose Moon Bloodgood, and for Alec, I might pick Matt Bomer.

I had to look them up. I watched/watch Falling Skies but not White CollarHow important are names to you in your books?  

I believe names are very important. Sometimes I go with the way it sounds or I check the meaning to make sure it fits with the character. I did that with a series I have in mind for a set of six books centering on a coven of witches during the time of the Salem witch trials. I also spend a lot of time ruminating on names for my historical novels. One source I use quite often, other than a baby names’ book, is You can search by nationality and gender. You can also find surnames for any nationality there.

 Thanks for the links! What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?

 I would have to say writing my first historical romance novel and getting it published. When Upon Your Return was released, not to mention the moment I received the contract in my inbox, was one of the proudest moments of my life. And the feeling of having a copy in my hands? Priceless.

Good for you! What is your least favorite part of the publishing / writing process?

I have a love/hate relationship with research. It can be great fun to learn so much information about a topic, but it can also be frustrating when you are unable to find what you’re looking for. But, as my friends and family know, I am pretty stubborn when I want to be, and I will find that breadcrumb if it kills me. LOL. Another dreaded part of the process is editing. Though it’s a necessary evil, I compare it to jumping off into a dark abyss. You don’t know what will come out on the other side, but you’ll be a better writer for it.

 What can we expect from you in the future?

Well, I’m finishing up final edits on A Little Magick, which is the second book of the Magick Series. It is also a children’s fantasy. I am also writing Upon Your Love, which will be the third and final book of the Heiresses in Love Series. That is a Victorian romantic suspense. I am getting closer to finishing that, and I should be in the editing stages soon enough. So, you will probably see both of those out this year. After that, I plan to focus on the sequels in the Blood at First Sight Series, and I may finish up the last book of the Magick Series.

Do you have a pet or pets?

Yes, I have three cats. When my fiancé and I get married, I will have…yikes! I will have nine of them.

You know, you rarely hear of a “Crazy Cat Man, or a Crazy Cat Couple.  So, I think you’re good! Have you ever dyed your hair an unusual color?

 I tend to choose different shades of red, though I have entertained the idea of doing pink. I think this time I will try purple.

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That would depend on the shade! Do you make up your bed every morning? 

Yes, I make my bed, or at least pull the covers up to keep cat hair out of the sheets. I have an Egyptian themed comforter and pillows. My entire room is Egyptian right now. I like to try different design schemes.

ML image6Where is one place you want to visit that you haven’t been before? Provide images if you want.

 I would love to go to Ireland! It’s in my blood, and I’ve always been drawn to the country and the music.

ML image7 Me, too! If you were any plant or animal, what would you be? 

 A white tiger. They are so beautiful!

If you could have any accent from anywhere in the world, what would you choose?

 I love accents! I’d probably choose something European, perhaps British, Irish or Scottish.

 What? Not Irish. Of course, I always get my Irish and Scottish jumbled. Do you have any scars? What are they from?

 I have one defining scar from my childhood, on my leg where I cut myself on a piece of metal. I had to get twelve stitches. It’s pretty faded now, but you can see it if you look close.

What is your favorite song?

 My favorite song right now is “I Choose You” by Sara Bareilles. So romantic.

 I listened to it! It’s GREAT! What is your favorite junk food?

 Chocolate, of course! Dark chocolate is my favorite.

Especially with almonds! What is your favorite book?

Dark Lover by J.R. Ward. I love Wrath!

VERY IMPORTANT!!!! Please describe something (significant number of words/a character/entire scene) you “deleted” from your work and why. Because a real writer knows when to hit THE DELETE KEY!

I didn’t worry too much about the length. I never do. My aim is to finish writing the book first, however long it ends up being. Then I can worry about whether it will fit a publisher’s guidelines. Mostly, I don’t try to cut word length, but I do cut out unnecessary words or repetitive things, or rearrange/revise scenes. If I delete anything big, it’s usually something that I decided wasn’t necessary to the story. With regards to Second Nature, the significant scene I thought about cutting (I hadn’t written it yet as it was dancing around in my head) was of Desiree going for a run near Alec’s house, and then something unfortunate occurs. In hindsight, I decided it didn’t fit the first book, but would be perfect for the sequel. I can’t go into too much detail because of spoilers.

Check out these following links to learn more about Marie Lavender and her work.

Other Interviews: 

Awards & Speaking engagements:


I have truly enjoyed this opportunity to get know Marie Lavender better.

She is an incredibly prolific writer and I hope the very best for her continued success.


ML photo1“A true man does not need to romance a different girl every night, a true man romances the same girl for the rest of her life.”

-Ana Alas

Christian-Paranormal: Callie C. Colbert didn’t pick the genre; IT Picked HER!


Today and Tomorrow ONLY, You can download copies of ALL 3  of Callie C. Colbert’s books!

Callie C. Colbert is a delightful person and a very busy author. As she says, ”  write. I drink coffee. I write some more. J I write books, song lyrics, and poetry.


We met via running in the same MARSocial circles (Shout Out to Coleman Weeks!) and when I saw what she was writing, I knew I wanted to feature her on my blog. I’ve never heard of the Christian-Paranormal genre until now. See what can be gained by interviewing a variety of authors?

And the timing could be better! With her new release “Graze the Night” hot off the pres…upload!

“God first, family and friends second, and writing third.

Everything else will fall into place.”

Genre: Paranormal/horror, psychological thriller, Christian-paranormal (I didn’t pick my genre. IT picked ME.)

Provide and enticing, titillating, interesting, or fun fact about your book or series: ‘Graze the Night’ is written in first person. It also leaves the readers to draw their own conclusions as to whether or not the cop is insane or a victim of the paranormal. I had a great time writing it.

The Tibuens: Lexie’s Journey, Book I

Threads of Reality: Lexie’s Journey, Book II

And now a some exciting facts about Callie:

Tell us about your books:

I write all sorts of things into my books…spirituality, horror, paranormal, etc. so that covers a wide spectrum. One of my reviewers basically said I did a great job of working in a Christian aspect without becoming “preachy.” If you like paranormal, horror, etc. it’s there. If you like something uplifting and spiritual, it’s there as well.

Wow! You’re covering a lot of ground. I’m looking forward to reading them.  So tell me, what does your writing process look like?

My writing process varies, depending on my mood. The stories come to me much like watching parts of a movie in my head. I write those sections down and work at filling in the rest. While I am doing that, more of the story comes to me. It’s interesting because I get to watch the story unfold as I write it. I don’t know where the story is going at that point any more than a reader would. I get anxious to see what my characters will do next! It can take months for this whole process to happen.

There are times when I can’t write down the words fast enough, but then there are times when I really have to work hard at filling it in. It seems to always be one or the other. I’m not disciplined as well as several other authors I know; it is very difficult for me to sit down and tell myself I will complete x amount of words/chapters before I get up. It just doesn’t happen like that for me. It goes in spurts. The characters tell me what to write. I just roll with it.

That sounds very much like my own technique. Do you have any strange writing habits?

I can’t believe I am going to admit this. The majority of the time, I like to have a horror movie playing on the television while I write. Once in awhile, I like peace and quiet. Occasionally I will play classic rock, spiritual, or contemporary Christian music. Yes, I do understand this probably makes me bi-polar in my writing. J

Yep, you pretty much just diagnosed yourself! J I like having movies that fit what I’m writing playing in the background as well. Is there a certain type of scene that’s harder for you to write than others?

Writing physical fight scenes seems to be my most difficult task. I want to learn and grow as a writer so that I will get better at that. All writer’s have things they need to work on…none of us are exempt. I can see the fight scene playing in my head, but putting that into writing seems to be difficult for me. Fighting in dialogue form comes much more easily for me.

I’ve been there! Is there one subject you would never write about as an author?

I love all aspects of spirituality, and I respect everyone’s choices in that area. However, I personally couldn’t write anything promoting cults, hate, etc. It’s just a personal choice. My books have plenty of evil/negative elements, but they are always tempered with life lessons and love.

How did you come up with the title of your book or series? T

hey just came to me. I don’t have to sit down and go through any long process of coming up with titles. They are just ‘there’. I still have to research them to make sure they are not in use, though.

I usually change my titles two or three times. Just as your books inspire other authors, what authors have inspired you to write?

Stephen King is a very prolific writer, and I admire his style very much. 

Stephen King keeps coming up as an answer and I’d have to agree, 100%.

Billy Graham has also written some amazing books. Again, I understand I am bi-polar when it comes to writing. J There are some indie authors that I absolutely admire, and I enjoy reading their work. James McAllister, Rachel Dyson, Coleman Weeks and Pamela Winn instantly come to mind. Chris Tucker, who interviewed me awhile back, writes a zombie series that reminds me of ‘The Walking Dead’, which is my favorite television show. Each has a different writing style and genre, but they are ALL very talented writers, as well as good people. The writing world is insane; we have to stick together! J

I think we need to re-evaluate your self diagnosis…you’re not bi-polar; more like schizophrenic! J But have no fear! You are in good company! I think it is important for a writer to be a well rounded reader as well. The world can be a dark and scary place, and reading how others put that into words can be very helpful in working out how your own characters express themselves. So…you go for it! Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

My favorite character is Lexie, the little spirit-girl from the ‘Lexie’s Journey’ series. She is growing mentally and spiritually through each book. Alicia, from ‘The Tibuens’ and Jo from ‘Threads of Reality’ are also admirable characters. They both ‘come into their own’ through the process of each story.

How about your least favorite character? What makes them less appealing to you?

My least favorite character is Badgeal from ‘The Tibuens’. It’s a love/hate thing. He plays a very important, necessary role in the story. He’s arrogant, deceitful, mean-spirited, and conniving. In fact, he is just evil-as-sin in the very literal sense of the word.

How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning? Do you have any name-choosing resources you recommend?

I never use a name-choosing resource. The names of my characters just come to me. There is no changing the names once that happens, because that is just who each character is. I did run a contest to name the characters in ‘Threads’ prior to writing it, but none of them fit. As the story itself continued to develop in my head, the character’s just ‘had their own names’ and that is how it was. That is how it works when I write.

I’m pretty good about sticking with a name, but I have one character that I’ve changed his name three times and another guy has had two. What can we expect from you in the future? I

hope to write at least one more book in the ‘Lexie’ series, but I suspect there will be more than that. I also plan to work on my doctoral dissertation in the fall, but that depends on where I am at concerning a new book.

The stories hit me from nowhere…so I never know WHEN a new one will come to me. Once it’s in my head, it begs to be written so that is what I do. If I don’t, the characters will bug me until I DO write their story. J It’s not really an option for me. I don’t, and can’t, put a story on a back-burner unless there are crucial, critical things going on in my life during that time that require my full attention.

“When a character is born, he acquires at once such an independence, even of his own author, that he can be imagined by everybody even in many other situations where the author never dreamed of placing him; and so he acquires for himself a meaning which the author never thought of giving him.”

Luigi Pirandello, Six Characters in Search of an Author

So, lets have some fun!  Have you ever been in trouble with the police?

Well…I HAVE spent plenty of time in a jail, but not for the reasons you might think. I was a security officer and then a police officer for many years, so I am actually on the other end of the spectrum. I saw the bars from the front side. J So no, I have never been in trouble with the law.

Good for you! Thank you for your service and protection. Serisoulsy. Now tell us, what is your favorite snack food?

My favorite snack set-up is Flipside crackers with cheese and summer sausage, along with a fruit/veggie tray. Additionally, I have to have a pot of Starbuck’s coffee brewing all the time as well as a large cup filled half with Sprite and half with water. Chocolate, as well, is a necessity.

Let me tell you the best “how to drink hotel coffee” recipe that I came up with while traveling for my real job.

Empty a package of hot chocolate milk into the bottom of the cup.

Fill the cup 3/4 full of robust coffee

Stir in 3 tiny containers of French Vanilla liquid creamer.

At least it is an improvement!

What is your biggest fear?

My biggest fear is that I will write something that no one is touched by. I want to know that at least ONE of my readers could either relate to a character, or at least have empathy for that character. I write to entertain, but I also write to touch people.

What literary character is most like you?

I would say the character that is most like me, or vice-versa, is Alicia from ‘The Tibuens’. She has some rough edges and is going through hell in her life. As the story develops, she becomes a strong force to be reckoned with, yet maintains her huge heart.

She sounds awesome!

Do you make up your bed every morning?

It really bothers me if my bed isn’t made every morning before work.

What is on your bed right now?

Right now I have sheets, a comforter, two regular pillows, three throw pillows and a teddy bear on my bed. J Additionally, I have one of those really soft, fluffy blankets that I like to throw in the dryer, and then curl up in. It’s folded up at the foot of my bed for easy access.

Sounds cozy! 

Please describe something you ‘deleted’ from your work and why. Because a real writer knows when to hit The Delete Key!

‘The Tibuens: Lexie’s Journey, Book I’ went from about eighty-thousand words to just over fifty-thousand. My friend and fellow author, Rachel Dyson, taught me ALL about using the delete key. I wrote down the sections that came to me, but when I worked at filling in the rest, I had way too much going on in it. I had sub-plots within sub-plots within sub plots. My imagination took over and, well, the rest is history. Although, as the author, I knew everything about the story, it didn’t read that way to others. It was too hard to follow and went in far too many directions.

After months of tearful re-writes and pouting as I pulled out numerous plot lines, the story began to work better and I was able to maintain everything I wanted, which was to write an entertaining story that contained life lessons. I didn’t have to sacrifice my characters whatsoever…I just had to pull some of the fifty plots that were going on. I also maintained the ‘good vs. evil’ component, which was the basis for the book. Essentially, I pulled out a full book from my novel. I remember making a Facebook post about it. It was something along the lines of: “That moment…when there’s thirty-thousand words laying on the cutting-room floor, but it reads so much better than it ever did before!!”

It was a painful lesson. For many authors, including myself, we put pen to paper and create a story, characters, etc. and that work becomes a part of us. We get attached to the characters. We get excited about the plot. To pull that much from my novel was very emotional and I actually considered giving up at one point. But, like all of us, I had to learn that lesson, and I have utilized the delete key more than once in my new book.

You can maintain everything great about your story while cutting it down. It’s not only possible, it’s a good idea to help the reader be able to really understand your ‘key points’. Sometimes too much is just that…too much. Sometimes less is better. Sometimes the delete key can be your friend.

NOW THAT IS IMPRESSIVE EDITING!!!! Congratulations! I think you’re the winner, winner, chicken dinner for the most text deleted in a single story.

I just wish I had an appropriate prize for that!

For more information on Callie C. Colbert




Awards and Speaking Engagements: I have received awards for my poetry as well as for other writing ventures. I have also been listed as one of the Admiral’s favorite authors at http://www.Fortiter My next venture is to have print versions of my books. I have just published ‘Threads of Reality: Lexie’s Journey, Book II’ and it is now available, with my other books, on Amazon.

Love is a Mystery… an Indecipherable Mystery in Augustine Sam’s Novel, Take Back the Memory

This blog has blessed me with the opportunity to reconnect with some of the friends I’ve made who, like me, are fulfilling their passion of writing and enduring the common obstacles encountered with the next steps of publishing and promoting.

This blog has also provided the opportunity to make new friends in the industry, learning more about them, and offering them a platform to share their experiences with my readers.Augustine-author-picture

As is the case with Augustine Sam whom I met via my publisher, Melange Books, LLC.

Augustine Sam is a bi-lingual journalist and an award-winning poet.

A member of the U.K. Chartered Institute of Journalists, he was formerly Special Desk editor at THISDAY newspapers, an authoritative third world daily, first published in collaboration with the Financial Times of London.

He later became correspondent for central Europe. His poems have been published in two international anthologies: The Sounds of Silence & Measures of the Heart. One of his poems: Anguish & Passion was the winner of the Editor’s Choice Awards in the North America Open Poetry Contest, USA.

Take Back the Memory

Contemporary Women’s Fiction

 Love is a mystery… an indecipherable mystery.

Intended for an Adult Audience

What would you do if you found out your husband of thirty years is not who you thought he was? What would you do if you suddenly discovered that you have indeed had the one thing you had yearned for all your life without realizing it?

Now, imagine a woman transformed from psychiatrist to patient, and lured into a compelling backward journey through her own life on a psychotherapist’s couch. Imagine skeletons from the past pulling her back into the vortex of darkness from which she thought she had escaped. Paige Lyman is a woman conned by fate, and now plagued by damning memories she must decipher in order to be free. Augustine Sam’s Take Back the Memory is a psychological exposé on love, betrayal, vengeance, and a heart-wrenching secret.

Now a little more about Augustine: 

What does your writing process look like?

Actually, it’s a simple process; I sit in front of the pc and stare at the screen. I stare at it until I come up with a satisfactory opening line. I smile at the scene unfolding in my mind’s eye and begin to write. When I’m done I ‘walk away’ from it for a while (which could be days in some cases) and try to forget the expressions used so that when I eventually come back to it, I can view it from a reader’s standpoint and spot any structural weakness.

I’ve worked that way as well. Do you have any strange writing habits?

I don’t know if this constitutes a strange writing habit but I enjoy listening to radio news broadcasts while writing. Sometimes I prefer a little musical distraction, especially movie scores like Ennio Morricone’s.

I usually have ID Investigation Discovery on the television. You never know when something will spark an idea for a plot or character! Is there a certain type of scene that’s harder for you to write than others? Love? Action? Racy?

No, definitely not. I take immense pleasure writing every scene that is part of my story.

Now that is a great attitude! Is there one subject you would never write about as an author?

This has never crossed my mind. I suppose my journalism background makes it impossible for me to shy away from any subject.

Good point! How did you come up with the title of your book or series?

I struggled with it for a long time. In fact, the first drafts I sent out had a very different title. Finally, I re-evaluated the plot development and decided the title should reflect the core element of the story.  

Finding a catchy title that will SELL the book is a challenge. Tell us a little bit about your cover art. Who designed it?

One of the first things I really liked about the book was the cover art. It was designed by Stephanie Bibb.

Here’s a SHOUT OUT to Stephanie Bibb! I like the way she layers her work. Why did you go with that particular image/artwork?

At first, I didn’t quite know what my book cover should look like. I made suggestions based on some scenes in the book that I thought could capture the essence of the story but when Stephanie read the book blurb, she came up with a totally different idea that got my attention immediately.

Just as your books inspire authors, what authors have inspired you to write?

Oscar Wilde & Nathaniel Hawthorne

I recall reading them both in school. Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

Paige Lyman is definitely my favorite character; she is, of course, the protagonist of the book. I thoroughly enjoyed creating this seemingly self-destructive and complicated woman, who found herself in the place where dreams ended and nightmares began.

How about your least favorite character?  What makes them less appealing to you?

I don’t have a least favorite character per se; they all played different, and I must say, vital roles that helped enhance the story.

If you could cast your characters in the Hollywood adaptation of your book, who would play your characters?

At the risk of sounding immodest, I would want Meryl Streep to play the adult Paige Lyman and the French actress, Bérénice Marlohe, to play the younger version of the character. I would cast Richard Gere as the psychologist, Dr. Wilson, and the English actor, Benedict Cumberbatch, as Stern W.

Great cast! As a journalist/fiction writer, have you always enjoyed writing?

Yes, I have always enjoyed writing. The only time in my life that I truly feel alive is when I am writing.

I know, that is a great feeling!  What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?

Review it and tell others about it.

Word of mouth is the key and is SOOOO easy! What do you wear while writing?

In summer, just shorts, and in winter, whatever I’m comfortable in.

I’ve adopted a lined shirt that I feel super comfy wearing, which is why I ask. Do you drink or smoke?

Yes, I smoke a pipe, and I enjoy a glass of red wine now and then.

A writer at his computer, a glass of red wine sparkling in the monitor’s glow, and a pipe, unlit, nestled in its holder.  I’d say that’s a pretty cool image! What is your biggest fear?

Being unable to fulfill myself as a successful writer.

If it weren’t for my “day job” and my husband’s career, I’d be fearful of supporting myself, but the fact that I PUBLISHED really helps. What do you want your tombstone to say?

Augustine Sam – author, poet, stranger.

Very interesting! If you had a supernatural power, what would it be?

The ability to read minds.

I know, right? What is something you want to accomplish before you die?

Write a timeless piece.

I like that!  What were you like as a child?

As a child, I was exactly as I am today – introverted and very organized.

What was your favorite toy?

I don’t remember having toys.

Well, that is something very poignant. Do you recall your dreams? Do you have any recurring dreams/nightmares?

Sometimes I recall my dreams; some of them are actually nightmares.

And that is rather profound! What is your favorite song?

I have more than one favorite song; the first one that comes to mind is Bob Dylan’s “Knocking on Heavens’ Door.”

That’s a good one. I’ll probably not be able to get it out of my head today. What is your favorite Fiction/Non-Fiction book?

The Collected Oscar Wilde / A Long Walk to Freedom

What is your favorite movie?

The Gods Must Be Crazy

Now THAT is a funny movie!

Please describe something you “deleted” from your work and why. Because…A  real writer knows when to hit THE DELETE KEY!

I deleted an entire scene from the book—a racy scene—that I thought was too descriptive. I also deleted an entire chapter about the protagonist’s childhood years because I thought dwelling too much on the flashback might weaken the connecting chapter.


Augustine’s Poetry Inspiring Image From a Trip to the Archipelago


International Poet of Merit Award Silver BowlAwards:

Editors’ Choice Award

(for poem: Anguish & Passion)

in the North America Open Poetry Contest

International Poet of Merit Award Silver Bowl Award

It has been a pleasure to get know you, Augustine,

and I hope you keep me updated on your continued success.