Friday, January 31, 2014

Magic In The Mix with Karen McCullough

Magic in the Mix

I write in a variety of genres, and a lot of my books contain elements of more than one. I grew up reading mystery, suspense, fantasy, and science fiction, then found romance when I got a bit older. I love them all. I find it easy to write in all of them, except for my inability to stay in one at a time. I, or my publishers, classify my stories based on the most predominant element, but there’s almost always a mix.

One of my most recently published books is a mix of science fiction, fantasy, romance, suspense, and mystery. In fact, it would be hard to say what the primary genre is for A Wizard’s Shield. The fantasy/science fiction element is the primary driver of a plot that becomes decidedly a mystery as it develops. But the relationship between the two leads is also a significant story driver as well. I like to think of it as just a good story.

Most people are familiar with the mix of romance and mystery/suspense in the plethora of romantic suspense novels on the market. But fantasy romance is a less well-known subgenre that still has many fans. But that brings up the question: how do you mix magic and romance?

It's actually not as hard as it sounds. But it does require staying in a particular mindset while writing the story. When you’re writing characters that have unusual powers, abilities or needs, you have to stay aware of how those different qualities affect the characters in every facet of their lives. It’s just a step beyond what an author normally does in getting to know their character. One already has to consider how normal things like family and economic background, location, and education affect the character. For special characters you add in the effects that having the ability has. 

In a fantasy story with romantic elements like The Wizard’s Shield, where both of the main characters have magical abilities, that power has to inform how they relate to each other as well as to others. If they can read minds or feel emotions, that’s going to have an influence on their behavior. Can they hide their reactions to things they shouldn’t know, but do? (Actually my characters don’t read minds, but they’re always aware that they can do other things that most people can’t.)

Add in elements of mystery and suspense to the story, and you have to account for how the character’s abilities would affect the progression of the story. Do they have ways to beat the bad guys that others don’t? Do they have to be careful not to harm others in the process? Do they need to hide what they’re doing from normal people? How do they explain what appears to be inexplicable? What kind of vulnerabilities do their special powers invite?

In my story, although Michael Morgan lived with Ilene McConnell’s family when he was a teenager, they were separated when the hormones hit and they grew too close to each other too early. At the start of the book they’re reunited after twelve years—and a lot of hard living—apart. Despite the bitterness between them, they immediately have to work together to divert a threat from some dark forces. Working together, though, means something different for them than for most people. It involves combining their power to make it strong enough to redirect a tornado. The process gives them access to each other in ways far more intimate than most people ever experience.

They understand each other in ways that no one else can, but that doesn’t mean they agree on everything, even the ways to use their abilities. In fact, Michael and Ilene have some significant differences that they have to work through. Some of those stem from their gifts; others are just the kinds of human disagreements everyone has with others. But when you’re fighting a criminal underworld that uses magic in evil ways, you use every advantage you have.

They’re very good at fighting magic with magic.  But then there’s what happens when they make love. No, I’m not going to tell you. I hope you’ll want to read the book yourself to find out. But here’s a hint: it’s really magical!

A powerful wizard with a physics degree and a checkered past invents a shield to ensure he'll never again be tortured almost to death. 

The wizarding powers-that-be fear the repercussions of such a device and send his former girlfriend, an accomplished wizard herself, to retrieve the device or destroy it. 

When the shield is stolen by the magical mafia, Ilene McConnell and Michael Morgan have to set aside their differences and work together to recover it. Michael claims he needs the device as insurance against the kind of injury and injustice he suffered once before. Ilene maintains its potential to upset the delicate balance of power makes it too dangerous and that it needs to be destroyed. But none of that will matter if they can’t retrieve it before a ruthless, powerful wizard learns how to use it for his own ends.

Buy Links:

Meet The Author

Karen McCullough is the author of more than a dozen published novels in the mystery, romantic suspense, and fantasy genres and has won numerous awards, including an Eppie Award for fantasy. She’s also been a four-time Eppie finalist, and a finalist in the Prism, Dream Realm, Rising Star, Lories, Scarlett Letter, and Vixen Awards contests. Her short fiction has appeared in several anthologies and numerous small press publications in the fantasy, science fiction, and romance genres. She has three children, three grandchildren and lives in Greensboro, NC, with her husband of many years. 

Author’s links:

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Cover Reveal for The Courage To Love

Well, I just couldn't wait to share my new cover with everyone.  Coming soon Book 1 in my new series Love On The North Shore, The Courage To Love

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Love in Adversity With Victoria Roder

Love in Adversity 

Has your love life always been perfect, smooth sailing? Yeah, mine either. That’s why I create characters that struggle in their relationships. I write about vulnerable men and women with insecurities that major in misunderstandings. I toss in adversity, murder and mayhem that can pull people lovers apart or cause them to rely upon each other and grow closer.
In the Haunting of Ingersull Penitentiary Hailey Price and her soon-to-be-ex-husband still care about each other, but Hailey’s workaholic ethics and Nate’s lazy get- rich schemes clash. Converting the former federal prison Ingersull Penitentiary, into the “The Big House Inn” swallowed Hailey Price’s inheritance from her murdered mother and deceased father’s estate. But, with any luck, the rumors of the federal complex being haunted will boost interest of the Inn. The abandoned Penitentiary, cursed by a witch, is in a constant battle of good versus evil, an eternal struggle for the souls that enter the complex. 
The residual haunts are the least of the frightening occurrences at the Inn. An electrical storm traps the visitors with a possessed Ouija board and the spirit of a condemned witch with an ancient curse. Hailey, Nate and several guests spend a heart pounding night in the battle of good verses evil. It might be Heaven checking into “The Big House Inn”, but it’s Hell checking out. 

Haunting of Ingersull Penitentiary Excerpt
Turning toward the desk, her heart jumped in her chest. Upon it sat an Ouija game board which she would swear had not been there a moment ago. Holding her breath she closed her eyes for a second. Slowly opening them didn’t change the fact. The game remained perched on the desk. 
Talking out loud calmed her shaking hands. “I just overlooked it when I walked in.” We signed papers on that desk. I would have seen it.  No. No it had to be there the whole time. The dumb game was there the whole time. Shake it off. 
She glanced at the framed pictures of former wardens lining the far wall. The portrait representing 1963 to 1972 caught her attention. It was the only photograph of a warden pictured with his wife. Through her research, Hailey discovered that Maryann Armstrong was a direct descendent of Jonat Ingersull, the man the penitentiary was named after. 
“Charles and Maryann Armstrong. Oh, so serious. They don’t look very happily ever after. At least I’m not the only one that didn’t get the fairytale.” 
Turning from the portraits she made her way to the registration desk. Picking up the Ouija game, she opened the drawer. Tossing it inside, she slammed the drawer shut. 
“There. I hate those creepy games.”  
A dark shadow darted past. A cold shiver rocked her body. Jerking her head, she followed the dark mass’s movement. It disappeared. 
WhatWhere did…? Overactive Imagination? Or were the rumors about Ingersull Penitentiary true? 

Want to read more?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Interview with Sassy Writer Vicki Batman

Joining me today is author Vicki Batman, so sit back enjoy the interview.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?  Once, I told Handsome I wished I could write like Dick Francis. But it wasn't until a friend said, "You can do this," that I took upon the challenge. After I sold a few stories, I finally felt like a writer. 
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk? I like sticky notes. I put notes to myself, reminders, whatever on them and line them up in front of my computer. When not needed, I rip off and toss. That part is fun.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing? I love to do needlepoint, play mahjongg, Jazzercise, take long walks, hang on the couch with a good book, go to a movie with Handsome. 
How many books have you written? Which is your favorite? I've had 27 short stories published—I *think* that's right. One of my favs is one sold to the TRUE magazines entitled "Drive My Car." It's about a girl who takes driving lessons from the cop who wrote the ticket. Very funny. 
What do you think makes a good story? Upon opening to the first chapter, a reader should get hooked and want to finish the book/story. So a good hook. Then the characters must be intriguing enough to keep the story moving and continue to pull the reader along. Finally, a satisfying ending. 
What are your favorite book genres in writing and reading? I write sweet and sexy funny fiction. I read sweet, sexy, funny romances and mysteries. Why? I cut my teeth on the Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden. I've always liked mysteries and have one coming out in 2014. 
Who are you favorite authors to read? My all-time favorite author was Dick Francis. I read Janet Evanovich, Carl Hiassen, Elizabeth George, Sue Grafton, Sophie Kinsella.
You Can Find Vicki at:

Three short romantic comedies from sassy writer girl, Vicki Batman.
"Just Desserts": a political dinner gone disastrous brings together a reluctant attendee and her handsome seat-mate.
"Bug Stuff": A cute accountant unites with his co-worker to fight a pesky adversary.

"With This Ring": When a wife forgets her little black dress, all turns into something utterly romantic and unforgettable in the end. 

Find Bug Stuff…and other stories at: 
And other e-retailers.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Family Relationships and Writing From The Heart with Award Winning Author Karen Rose Smith

I am pleased to welcome guest blogger, Karen Rose Smith, to Happily Ever After Today.


When I wrote HER SISTER, I knew it was a departure from the type of book I usually write.  It's women's fiction with romance and mystery.  But is it really so different? One element that has always characterized my romances is family relationships.  Whether I'm writing the ultimate romance or adding a mystery or suspense plot, family trumps all.
There are many reasons for that.  Although I was an only child, my extended family was large.  My parents and I lived with my grandfather and aunt until I was five and then my parents built a house next door.  I ran between the houses as if they were both "home."  On summer mornings I can remember my aunt singing while she made breakfast.  When I was home sick from school, I stayed with my aunt and my grandfather until my parents returned home.
In HER SISTER, I drew on memories of my uncle's farm where my dad and another uncle worked, too, raising tobacco.  I remember going out into the tobacco field with them on a flatbed trailer being pulled by a tractor.  I helped push the tobacco leaves onto lathes before they were hung in the barn.  I can still remember the sun on my face, the smells of harvesting, the enjoyment of feeling free on that farm.  In HER SISTER, this was Amanda's background.  One summer she shared it with Max when they fell in love.
To write this book, I analyzed what happened when a family fell apart because their three-year-old was abducted.  Then I imagined what could happen as they found their way back to each other in the midst of another crisis.
After writing romance for twenty years, my first mystery—STAGED TO DEATH—was released by Kensington Books in December.  I found the genre fit perfectly and I love the challenge of devising puzzle pieces that fit together to weave a story.  Family is a relevant theme in my mysteries, too.  In HER SISTER, I decided to combine everything I like best about writing--an emotional plot with romance and mystery.
I hope you enjoy it.
©2014 Karen Rose Smith 

When Clare Thaddeus' sister was abducted, she was five and her family fell apart.  Now, twenty-seven years later, there's a chance Lynnie could still be alive! Divorced parents, a rebellious daughter, and a 
devoted sister find their lives in turmoil once again.  This time, will crisis tear them apart or will forgotten love knit them together once more?

Meet The Author

Award-winning author Karen Rose Smith was born in Pennsylvania. Although she was an only child, she remembers the bonds of an extended family. Since her father came from a family of ten and her 
mother, a family of seven, there were always aunts, uncles and cousins visiting on weekends. Family is a strong theme in her books and she suspects her childhood memories are the reason.

In college, Karen began writing poetry and also met her husband to be. They both began married life as teachers, but when their son was born, Karen decided to try her hand at a home-decorating business.  She returned to teaching for a while but changes in her life led her to writing romance fiction. Now she writes romances and mysteries full time. Her 84th novel will be published in 2014.  She envisions herself writing relationship novels, both romance and mystery, for a long time to come!

How To Contact Karen

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Today's Book Feature: The Witch Finder

Scotland, 1661

He's a haunted man.
Alexander Kincaid watched his mother die, the victim, they said, of a witch's curse. So he has dedicated his life to battling evil. But in this small, Scottish village, he confronts a woman who challenges everything he believes. She may be more dangerous than a witch, because she's a woman who threatens his heart. 
She's a hunted woman.
They called her mother a witch, but she was only a woman made mad by witch hunters like Alexander Kincaid. Having escaped to the Border hills, Margret Reid is seeking a safe haven and a place to hide. But when the witch hunter arrives, not only is her heart in danger.
So is her life.

Read on For An Excerpt

 from Chapter One

Margret nodded her thanks. Shielded by her scarf and plaide, she walked back out onto the hard-packed dirt of the lane to see the witch finder looming before her, blocking her path.
He was just as menacing in daylight, cloak swirling above bucket top boots, all in colors somber enough to please the Kirk. Yet if she had not known who he was, she might have suspected him of practicing dark arts. 
His deep-set eyes snagged hers. Even in daylight, she saw a haunted look there. As if he were the one carrying the demons.
She cast her gaze to the ground, hoping he would not notice her. 
Too late. “Good day, Guidwife.”
She tried to step around him, turning her face toward the hills.
His hand touched her shoulder. "I said, 'Good day!'" His voice was firm as his touch. “Will you not look at me and give a civil reply?”
Against her will, she turned, slowly, and watched his expression change, the same way they all did when they saw her full for the first time.
“My God.” Startled into blasphemy, he drew his hand away from her shoulder. “I was not blinded.”
She met his eyes, knowing he saw something very different when he looked at hers. 
“They’re . . . ,” he stumbled over the words. “One is blue, the other . . .”
She let him look. No reason to hide what he had already seen. One eye was blue, clear and bright like her mother’s. The other was altogether different, with a patch of brown filling part of the iris. 
“And yours,” she began, when the silence stretched taut. Shadowed by his brows, his eyes looked near black. “One is brown, the other, brown.” Calm words, when she wanted to scratch his eyes out and cover her own so no one would ever see them again and wonder.
Down the street, the two women from the alehouse had stopped at the edge of the common green to watch. He looked at them, then to the alehouse and back to Margret. “You know who I am.”
He must know enough of village life to know that news of a stranger traveled fast.  “I do not know your name.” In her dread, she must have missed it.
“Alexander Kincaid. And yours?”
She did not answer. “They say you find witches.” His boots were fine leather, the fabric of his cloak a deep black not faded with time. Together, they must have cost a woman’s life. Maybe two. “It seems you find a lot of them.” 
Surprised, he leaned away. She took a deeper breath. She should not have insulted him, but now that he had seen her, the best she could do was resist. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes the man would hesitate long enough for her to run.
“I don’t do it for money.”
She raised her eyebrows. “But they do pay you.”
“To do God’s work. To stamp out evil, yes.”
Was that what haunted him? Had he seen too much evil and chosen to fight it? “How many? How many witches have you found?”
He looked toward the fields and made no ready answer. What lay behind his silence? Days, weeks, months of confronting them in too many towns, killing too many witches to remember? 
“Not enough,” he said, finally, facing her again. “They still surround us.”
She thought she had seen them all, all the hunters. Some, with pursed lips and Bibles, were convinced they were servants of God. Others, with lascivious eyes and slack lips, had more earthly motives.
But this man was different. He spoke of God, but the pain he carried was his own.
“You haven’t told me your name,” he said.
“Margret what?”
It was a common enough name. It would mean nothing to him unless he was from Edinburgh.
“Reid. Margret Reid.”
“I will see you again, Guidwife Reid.”
She hurried away without answering, wishing it were not true.

Copyright © Blythe Gifford 2013

Where to Find The Book

Meet The Author

After many years in public relations, advertising and marketing, Blythe Gifford started writing seriously after a corporate layoff. Ten years and one layoff later, she became an overnight success when she sold her first book to the Harlequin Historical line.  Since then, she has published eight romances set in England and on the Scottish Borders in the medieval and early Tudor time period.  For more information, visit or
Author Photo:  Jennifer Girard

Monday, January 13, 2014

Interview with Sandra K. Marshall

Joining me today is romance author Sandra K. Marshall, so sit back and check out her interview.   Then check out her newest release.
Q.  When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?   
A. I wrote as soon as I started reading.  I wrote a skit in school, letters to friends, family and kids in the military, but I never thought of being a writer.  Not until my husband started bugging me to do something useful besides reading.  lol  Men!  He claimed that as much as I read I could write a book.  Humph!  He knew nothing, and I still tell him that.  lol
Q.  How long does it take you to write a book?  
A.  Usually, around a year.  I'm a slow writer.  
Q.  What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?  
A.  I can't stop editing, and I try to.  One day, I'll make myself write the first draft without editing.
Q.  What do you think is the best way of publishing a book these days? 
A.  I think the digital format is the fastest way to get your book out to the public.  I'm not sure it's the best way though. 
Q.  Where do you get your information or ideas for your books? 
A.  Usually, I get my ideas from the news either on television, or other media, and every day life.  
Q.  When did you write your first book? 
A.  I started my first book in 1988 and finished it in 1989.  It didn't get published.   
Q.  What do you like to do when you’re not writing? 
A.  I enjoy doing things with my hubby like riding his Suzuki Burgman 400 series motor scooter.  With the wind blowing in my face and around me it removes all of the cobwebs, and I can get back to writing. 
Q.  What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
A.  I learned one book could turn into two or three books.  lol
Q.  How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?  
A.  I have written three books and a novella, but I didn't get published until 2008 the first time.  I have a short story coming out in 2014.  The Riverboat Mysteries trilogies are my favorite.
Q.  Can you tell me and your readers something about your main characters?
A.  In the last book of my trilogy, The Deceived, the heroine, Melanie Dubois, has been lied to by many people and she has fallen in with a crowd that wants to destroy her family business.  She has hated her mother since a teenager and doesn't realize her mother loves her the most.  Mike Mercer is an F.B.I. agent who has watched this group for some time.  He has been in this series since it started, and he's very protective of Melanie.  
Q.  Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say? 
A.  Yes, I have heard from readers, and most of the time they want to know when the next book will be released.  Smile!  I have gotten very good reviews on my books so far.  
Q.  What do you think makes a good story? What are your favorite book genres in writing and reading? Why?
A.  The characters and their lives make a good story.  My favorite genre to write is romantic suspense, and I read everything.  I always like a lot of suspense in my stories.  
Q.  Who are you favorite authors to read? 
A.  This is a difficult question.  It would probably be easier to tell you the authors I don't like, and I would never do that because I know they worked hard on their stories, too.  

Want to learn more about Sandra or contact her? She can be found here:

Now that we know a little about Sandra let look at her newest book.

The games they play can lead them to love or ruin. 
 Melanie Dubois detests her family’s casino business. The way this addiction destroys people has her on a tear of magnificent proportions. Then again, this young lady has been put through a train wreck of her own design. She distrusts everybody except for the people who are determined to use Melanie as a poster-child for zealots. 
 Mike Mercer has spent nearly a year in a deep cover mission for the FBI. The one fly in the ointment of completing his objective to take down a group of dangerous anti-gambling zealots is a fiery-tempered, blonde-haired woman named Melanie DuBois. Worse than that, she’s got a passion brewing just beneath the surface that’s an even deadlier attraction. 
Fighting for your life is never easy when the odds are stacked against you.


Dressed for the day in pale blue sweats, Mel stood in the drab, dark kitchen of Janet Batten’s house and debated what to do. The growl of her stomach made the decision for her, she’d fix breakfast. She switched on the light over the sink, and reached into a lower cabinet for a couple of skillets. She poured olive oil in one pan and went to the freezer for sausage to put in the other one. Slowly, she drew ingredients from the refrigerator and placed them on the butcher block counter before she went to the pantry for potatoes and onions. 
     Early morning was her favorite part of the day, it was quiet and no one was around. 
     Why was she being left out of everything this group was doing? After being here for a month, she was still being treated like an outsider. It was almost like she was still at home. Why wouldn’t they let her help? She’d been picketing, but she knew there was more going on than just that. 
     Did they consider her a part of the establishment they were trying to destroy? True, she would inherit a portion of the Odyssey Casinos, but she didn’t want any part of the company. Why should she when her family treated her like a wicked stepchild? If that was the problem, she’d tell Janet that she would sell her part and use the money to help those who were addicted to gambling. 
     She didn’t want to belong to an industry that destroyed anyone, or their livelihoods. She’d led a privileged life on the backs of losers, living in a huge home, going to private schools and college because of them. 
     Thinking of the Odysseys’ always made her think of her family. Her relationship with them had been rocky for many years. Even so, she loved her sister, Jolene, and they’d been great friends when they were younger. After her sister was saved from the monster who’d kidnapped her, Mel had wanted to go see her, but didn’t want to risk being forced to leave this group by her mother and stepfather. 
     Absorbed in her thoughts, knife in hand chopping onions vigorously, she didn’t hear anyone come into the kitchen. A large shadow appeared on the wall in front of her, Mel swung around with the knife pointed at the person’s chest. 
     Recognizing Janet, her heart still pounding, she lowered the sharp edge. "You scared me to death."
   "I’m sorry I frightened you," Janet said, stepping back. "You must’ve been in deep thought because I said, ‘Good Morning’ when I first walked in." 
     "I was thinking about how I don’t feel included in your plans. It feels like home. I was always an outsider there, too."
     The older woman wrapped the younger one in her arms. 
"We didn’t mean to do that, Melanie. You should’ve told me sooner how you felt," Janet said, releasing her and gazing into the girl’s blue eyes. "We want you to feel wanted and comfortable in your new home."
      "Then why can’t I do something besides picket?" Janet probably thought she sounded like a big crybaby. She turned away to keep busy as she waited for the answer, she scrapped the ingredients from the cutting board into the skillet. 
     "It looks like you’re doing something besides picketing. Do you have enough for everyone?"
     Mel glanced at Janet and caught a smile on her face. "I’ve got enough for a small army, but you know I didn’t mean this." She poured in the scrambled eggs and put bread in the toaster. 
     Janet walked to the fridge drawing out butter and milk to place on the table. "After breakfast we’re having a meeting, and it would be helpful for you to tell your family’s story," and then casually asked, "Would you be willing to do that?"
     "Sure, I want to." That was an understatement; she couldn’t wait to tell everyone about the evils of gambling. Yeah, she’d gladly let them know what the casinos had done to her dad. Janet had promised her when she came here she would become involved with major activities and maybe this was the start. 
     Janet stopped beside her, caressing the top of Melanie’s head. "It’ll go a long way to help alleviate the others distrust of you."
     "Thanks for the opportunity to explain myself." So that’s the reason she hadn’t been able to get close to any of these people except Janet. Well hell, if that’s why they were ignoring her, she’d spell it out why she was here. 
     "I’ll let you know when I’m ready for you."
     "Thanks," Mel murmured, as she darted a glance at the salt and pepper-haired woman while Janet took silverware and plates to the long, scarred wooden table. "Why are you so nice to me?" 
     Janet walked to stand beside her. "I had a daughter about your age." She touched Melanie’s arm. "If she had lived, I would want her to be like you." 
     Mel leaned toward Janet. "I wish I’d had a mother who loved me." It would have been nice to have someone really care about her. She glanced past the woman as she heard people streaming into the kitchen. "We’d better hurry, here they come."
     The first person she saw was Al Slavery, who could miss that evil scarred face. It was all she could do to keep from flinching as he drew closer to her. Next came Dan dressed in his usual jeans and sweater with a swagger that would turn on most women. Several young stringy-haired women in sweats and a few older men followed behind him. 
     "Leave the juice on the counter along with the food. It won’t hurt them to help themselves today." Janet winked at her. 
     Mel smiled at Janet, saying, "Good idea." She swished the food from the skillets onto platters. 
     Janet winked at her and turned toward the people before they could sit at the table. "Come and get it before it gets cold." 
     The guys grabbed plates and rushed forward. Mel backed away from the counter so she wouldn’t be trampled in their attempt to get to the food. It would be a miracle if there was any left; she’d probably have to settle for a bowl of cereal. 
     "Hey, you guys leave some food for the rest of us," Janet barked, sounding like a drill sergeant. 
     Mel suppressed a grin, watching the men take smaller portions. She might get to eat some of her cooking after all. She flinched when Slavery purposely brushed against her scowling at him. 
      The man gave her the creeps. 
     A couple of hours later, Melanie watched people gather in the living room from where she sat on the brown-striped couch. None of them came near her, even though she scooted to one end. They obviously preferred to sit in the orange and beige matching chairs or on the floor rather than next to her. The red and black flannel-shirted man she knew as George glared at her as he took his seat. 
     When Janet, her forehead slightly beaded with perspiration, walked into the room and stood in front of them, everyone stopped talking and expectant faces turned toward her. She stood in the middle of the huge family room, light glowing down on her, making her look like a prophet with her arms spread. 
     A hush settled over everyone, faces rose expectantly as though waiting to hear from their savior. Well, she was in a way since the woman had taken them in after they’d lost everything to gaming. It was amazing how these vacant-faces lit up when Janet spoke. 
     "Let’s pray for the salvation of those we are trying to save from the wickedness of gambling." Janet bowed her head. "‚Dear God, bless our crusade to save poor souls from the hell holes of iniquity. Watch over us tonight and keep us safe as we picket before the Odyssey, and help us reach the spirit of those who have lost their way. Amen." She raised her head, asking, "Are you ready soldiers?" 
     People jumped to their feet, waving their hands and yelling, "Yes. Yes, we are." 
     "We’ll do anything you ask of us," George, a ruddy-faced man, said. 
     Smiling, she stuck her hands palm down in front of her and waved them up and down. "Calm down, children." When everyone sat, she nodded at Melanie. "Many of you have wondered why Melanie is here, since she’s part of the industry we’re against, so today we’re going to give her a chance to explain."
     Mel stood and walked to stand beside Janet. The woman put her arms around her shoulders, whispering, "Your story will rouse them even more." 
     Mel smiled up at the maternal gray-haired woman. "Thanks for allowing me to join this wonderful group. I do want to help, and I’m willing to do anything." She took a deep breath, gazing into their faces as she rubbed her moist palms down her sweat pants. How could she make these people believe she belonged here with them? 
     "Humph. Seeing is believin’," George said from his seat on the couch. 
     "It’s okay, go ahead. There won’t be any more interruptions," Janet said, frowning at the man. 
     "I don’t blame him for not believing me." She clenched her hands and lowered her chin to her chest. "I’m ashamed to admit my family owns the Odyssey Casinos.‛ 
     "I know you don’t like what your casino and others are doing to our families here in the Mid-West any more than the rest of us." Janet hugged Melanie, releasing her a moment later. "Why don’t you explain what gambling did to your family."
     Her chest swelled as she inhaled, then exhaled and moved her hands nervously as she gripped them in front of her. "My father was addicted to gambling, and it killed him." Not able to stand still, she paced in front of the people, no longer seeing them. She clenched and unclenched her fingers. "My father became indebted to loan sharks, and in order to pay them off, he became involved in a scheme to sell the Odysseys to the Moneymaker Casino, a company involved in money laundering."
     Damn. Double damn. Why did he do it? She bit her lower lip to keep them from trembling as she talked about the man she’d loved. "His partner didn’t trust him and, believing Daddy was double crossing him, killed him." Coming to a stop in front of them, with her head high, she added heatedly, "My father would be alive today if it weren’t for gambling. I intend to close every single one of them." She’d make the casinos pay for what they did to her father. 
     Loud clapping followed her last statement. 
"That is so sad, Melanie. You may not have lost your home like the others here, but your loss was something far more precious.‛ Janet touched the younger woman’s arm. ‚Do you have more to add?‛ 
     Get a grip, Mel. Don’t fall apart now. Gaining control of her emotions, she said, "Yes, I do." Forgive me, Sis, for what I’m about to say about you."One addiction leads to another, my dad and my sister were both addicted to gambling, smoking and alcohol. My sister was able to break the drinking habit recently by going through rehab."
     "Oh sure, she has. How long has she been off alcohol?" George asked, in a scoffing tone. 
     Mel gazed at the older, red-faced man. She knew he’d lost his home, his wife and his job because of gambling, but she didn’t think that was his only problem. There’d been a time or two she’d caught him taking a swig from a wine bottle he’d stashed in different spots around the house. Once, she’d even caught him digging one out of the snow. 
     He’s definitely an alcoholic. Only Jolene had conquered her demons and George was still battling his. Janet had to know he was drinking. Mel couldn’t understand why the woman allowed him to continue to stay in her home. 
     "Only about six months, but she goes to her AA meetings regularly." She hoped Jolene was still sticking to the program, but Mel didn’t really know. 
     "Oh, she’ll fall off the wagon," George sneered. "They all do."
     Had the man tried to quit drinking and failed? "My sister will be one of those who’ll have the strength to stay off alcohol," she said, glaring at the man. Jolene better not start again. She’d brain her if she didn’t stay with the program. She and her sister had their problems, but Mel still wanted Jolene to be happy. The damn men Joley got involved with used her because she was desperate for love. 
     The pinch on her arm halted her speech. Obviously, Janet wanted her to stick to the topic of gambling. 
     She glanced up at the woman, saying, "I’m sorry I strayed from the topic." 
     "Well, it’s true that people light up and drink when they gamble, but it’s a problem that can be addressed another day. Thank you for telling your reasons for being here, Melanie." Janet patted Melanie’s shoulder, giving her a little shove. "It’s time for everyone to get their clothes ready for tonight. It’s going to be extremely cold with the wind blowing and snow expected any time so put on your warmest clothes." 
     Oh shit, why couldn’t they wait for summer to picket? She hated winter. Walking away from Janet, she decided she’d better make sure her long underwear was clean, or she would freeze her ass off tonight. 
     When she reached the stairs, she glanced back and noticed Al, the man she’d nicknamed Scarface because of the long scar on one side of his face, in a huddle with Janet and Dan. What’s up? 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Parenting Juggle vs. Writing Time with Patricia W. Fischer

4355. 4. 7. 6. 
Those are just a few numbers in my day. The first are the amount of steps I’ve managed to take by the time I’m sitting down to write this article.
The second are how many kids I have. 
The third are the amount of children in my house right now and the last number is the average amount of sleep I get a night. 
The last one needs to up and the third will decrease back to four within the hour. 
I accept the daily challenge of parenting in fact, I welcomed it with open arms. In my pre-parenting years, I worked as a waitress, bartender, and then a pediatric/adult trauma nurse. I know chaos well, but in the ten years since I became a mother, I’ve also forgotten what it’s like to go to the bathroom by myself, the beauty of wearing something besides yoga pants, and singing a song that doesn’t have ducks, ponies, or wheels on the bus in the lyrics. 
Are there days I want to pull my hair out and drop f-bombs over everyday things, absol-fing-lutely, but it’s all part of the parenting juggle. 
Now add in that I’m a full-time writer and most look at me like I’ve lost my mind, but honestly, it’s a part of me I can’t ignore and put on the back burner. 
If you’re like me, you know what I mean. It’s part of who you are, no matter if you’ve had nine hours of sleep or three. Whether the laundry is done or not. That story simmers and bubbles under the surface and you must tell it so how do you juggle it all?
Here are my five tips to keep your family at least taken care of and your storytelling skills going.
  1. Accept that you’re not super human. It’s okay that your entire house isn’t clean at the same time and you haven’t cured world hunger. Just go for house doesn’t look like the aftermath of a frat party and your kids have been fed three meals today.
  2. Don’t make things complicated. Sandwiches are a perfectly decent meal. Add a side of fruit or some carrot sticks with ranch dressing, it’s all good. Meals don’t have to be something major, try and cover the four food groups as best you can and move on. I’ve served pancakes and cereal for dinner more times than I can count. It’s fine. My kids still love me and my husband thinks I’m fantastic. 
  3. Put tubs of Lysol wipes in easy to find places, in every bathroom, and under kitchen sinks. Every morning I wipe down the bathroom counters, the dining room table, and the kitchen counters with the wipes—it takes ten minutes max. They are quick and easy to use and store under most sinks. I give them to my kids to quick clean their bathrooms and they love that their bathrooms are clean enough not to gross out their friends. 
  4. Make cleaning a game. I have kids ages 3-10. When it comes to certain chores, I give them the opportunity to win something. In the case of vacuuming, it’s a dollar. Each kid gets five minutes to vacuum downstairs and the person who fills the bin with the most dust and dog hair, wins. I set the timer so each kid has the same amount of time and it keeps me in check.  Honestly, you shouldn’t be the only one cleaning your home, unless you’re the only one who lives there.
  5. Keep yourself on a timer. Being a writer is also about PR, blogging, and writing the next book. I’ve figured out the only thing I really can’t do with a house full of kids is the deep POV and serious editing. I can write pages of a crappy first draft while I hear, “He won’t get out of my room!” time and time again, but when it’s time for editing, I need concentration. That’s what I save my alone times for. No social media, no email checks, no housework. That’s MY time and I use it to the best of my ability. Grab the moments when you can and use them to your strengths.

I hope these help. For more info, please check my website, Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest, or LInkedIn Pages. 

My romantic comedy, Weighting for Mr. Right is available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. My romantic suspense, Deep in My Heart is available at Kobo, Smashwords, and Barnes and Noble.

Dr. Jocelyn Promise had no long-term plans to stay in Tuscany, Texas, but she saved the daughter of Caleb Davis, her high school crush, and became a hero. Will she allow herself to fall for him again? 
Widower and Air Force Veteran, Caleb Davis, never wanted to fall in love again... until he saw Jocelyn. Now someone from his past has arrived to even a score. 
Can he protect his family, Jocelyn, and his heart? 
Things are about to get interesting in Tuscany, Texas

Barnes and Noble

Meet The Author

During my journey to be a full-time storyteller, I made several stops along the way to be a waitress, bartender, bill-collector, bank teller, clerk at Blockbuster Video, dishwasher, prep-cook, a wanna be crypto-zoologist, and finally settling in as a pediatric and adult trauma/critical care nurse for 10 years before starting my career as a writer.
Now, I spend my time in front of a keyboard, coming up with (hopefully) fantastic and entertaining stories to pay for my buying too many books habit and the endless cups of coffee I drink on a daily basis.

Want to contact Patricia W. Fischer

Amazon Author Page

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Interview with Erotic Romance Author Draven St. James

Check out my interview with erotic romance writer Draven St. James

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?  
I've always known I wanted to be a writer. I came up with stories before I could even write and lets just say I'm not the best artist.  So I won't be illustrating any books anytime soon. Thus, when I could actually write out my stories I found my love of words. 
How long does it take you to write a book?  
Honestly, it depends on the book and the amount of research I have to do. It is possible to write a first draft of a book in a week. I have done that, but when you tack on editing that is what takes the most time for me. 
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk? 
I guess something that may seem odd to others would be that I write all the steamy scenes in my books last.
What do you think is the best way of publishing a book these days? 
 I've really enjoy working with Loose Id so I'd say that submitting your work and finding a publisher might be good to start. With any book an author is responsible for a good part of their promotion so either through self-publication or publishing through a publisher it is a lot of work. 
Where do you get your information or ideas for your books? 
I get my ideas from my day to day experiences. Interactions with individuals from different professions or just seeing a man and thinking "wow, I want to work a story around him". I get my information through on site interviews, like in the Firehouse Six series I spent some time at a firehouse getting to know the guys.
When did you write your first book?  
My first m/m erotic novel was when I was twenty-two. I didn't submit it because I'm horribly shy about my writing, but eventually my pushy friends got me to let down my guard enough to submit.  That book was Grey's Hidden fire from the Firehouse Six series. 
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?  
I really enjoy reading, which I have very little time to do anymore. I enjoy dancing and going out to coffee with friends. Granted, as of late I haven't really had time for much else. It is all promo, editing and writing.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books? How supportive my friends and family were. 
The ones who had never even read erotica, let alone m/m erotica went out and bought my books. They actually read them and were surprised by how much they enjoyed them. 
How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?  
I've published three, but I've written at least ten. I pick at them and mold them until I feel they can be completed. My favorite so far is Fire and Mistletoe because I got the opportunity to delve more into the Firehouse Six guys. Mica and Grey are my two favorite characters, but the other firefighters are getting their own stories. Simon should be next!
Can you tell me and your readers something about your main characters? 
Mica and Grey are two down to earth heroes. They are passionate, but not perfect. They're real. They laugh a lot and explore one another's nudity in depth.  Lol.  Grey is vulnerable where Mica is more open. They compliment one another. 
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?  
I do hear from my readers and I love it! They generally ask when my next book will be out and who will it be about. When Grey's Hidden Fire was released it didn't take long before my readers were asking for more of Mica and Grey…then of course they wanted more of Simon. The same thing with Scent of a Wolf happened. The readers wanted to know more about the shifters and the stories behind the other characters. 
What do you think makes a good story? What are your favorite book genres in writing and reading? Why? 
I think a great story is only great if the characters are strong.  A story is character driven. No matter how exciting a story line may be, if the characters are weak the story won't hold together. I read primarily m/m erotic fiction both paranormal and contemporary. I read and write what I love in those genres.  I think that I enjoy those genres because of the strength of the male characters and how it contrasts the vulnerability that is exhibited. Also, building new worlds is incredibly fun!
Who are you favorite authors to read?
Wow, now that would make for a very long list. I really enjoy Lynn Hagen, Stormy Glenn, Stephani Hecht, Shawn Lane, Carol Lynn, Morticia Knight, Katalina Leon, Rick Reed, Erin O'Quinn, Gabrielle Evans, Joyee Flynn, Charlie Richards, so, so, so, so, many others!  I use to have more time to read and now I just buy the books and they sit sadly on my Ipad waiting for the day when I'll have time to read them!

Now that we have learned a little about Draven St. James lets check out Fire and Mistletoe

When Greyson Hayes envisions the perfect first Christmas with Mica Cruz he sees twisted sheets, a bottle of wine and a roaring fire. What he doesn't see is a holiday spent with the uproarious Cruz family. Grey hasn't taken part in a family Christmas since the death of his parents. Despite his misgivings, he can't seem to form the word no when it comes to Mica.

Mica knows that Grey's not a grinch. Hell, the man shares so much Christmas cheer during the holidays that he leaves no time to experience any for himself. Not this year. Mica plans to make a few changes, starting with a few wicked and whimsical gifts. He enlists the help of his co-workers at Firehouse Six. They band together and strive to provide Grey with the same joy he gives to everyone else--with five a.m. tree hunts, strategically placed mistletoe and Mica playing Santa's not-so-little helper.

But while Mica is busy being nice, Grey has plenty of time to be naughty…


The holiday season immersed Mica as he wandered around the mall with Simon, one of the men Mica worked with at Firehouse Six. The strong scents of cloves and nutmeg permeating the air carried along the melody of every Christmas song known to man. Santa bellowed a “Ho, ho, ho” when they made their way past his village. Children lined up around the plush red chair, herded by elves in their eagerness to see jolly old Saint Nick. 

“What exactly are we looking for?” Simon asked from beside him. He fairly bounced in his gait. The man never did anything at a slow pace. 

“I’m having a hard time picking out something for Grey,” Mica admitted. 

“If you want something for your lover, then shouldn’t we be at the adult store?” Simon grinned with a not-too-subtle thrusting of his hips. 

“Hardy har har. I already got that gift. I want to get him something more serious. More meaningful.” Mica sighed. For all the little bits of information Grey shared regarding his life, he remained closed off in other ways. They were still getting to know the minor quirks about each other. But with each moment shared, Mica fell even more in love with the quiet man. 

“Earth to Mica.” Simon’s hand swished in front of his face. 

“Shit, sorry. What were you saying?” 

“I wanted you to share with the class what you bought Grey at the naughty store. Please, please, please?” Simon vibrated with his enthusiasm. His moss-green eyes shone like they were lit from within. 

“No. If I let you peek into the bedroom games, soon you’ll want to come in to referee. I think not, my friend.” Mica emphatically shook his head. 

“Okay, but just know, my own thoughts about it are probably so much dirtier than what’s really happening.” Simon snickered and proceeded on ahead. 

Mica followed him into a popular clothing store. There was always hope he’d trip over what would inspire him. He’d already purchased a lot of gifts for Grey, but he hoped to give Grey everything he wanted for Christmas. That included a joyful holiday season. Mica didn’t want to be responsible for Grey being disappointed or regretting his decision to spend the holiday with Mica and his family. 

He finally shook himself out of his mental reflection and took a look around, nearly getting smacked in the face with a silk thong. He doubted the perfect item for Grey would be in the women’s lingerie section. 

It was quite awkward being surrounded by racks of teddies, panties, and cotton gowns. The ankle-length flowered frocks just wouldn’t look good on Grey’s frame, Mica thought, laughing to himself at the visual. 

“Oh, come on,” Simon cooed. “Grey would look so dreamy in these.” 

Mica picked up the pink panties Simon waved at him. “This isn’t really his color.” 

“They have them in green,” Simon offered. 

“That makes it so much better.” Mica rolled his eyes. Besides, he preferred Grey naked. “But I’m sure you could buy them for yourself.” 

“But wherever would I wear such a delicate piece of fabric?” Simon fluttered his lashes. 

“Not where, but for who.” Mica tilted his head and assessed Simon. 

Simon stared back at him while obviously attempting a blank expression. 

“Come on, now. I see the way you look at him.” 

“Him who?” Simon’s face reddened. 

“You know exactly the man I’m referring to,” Mica prodded. He escaped the women’s section and wandered over to the men’s clothes. How romantic was a shirt? 

“I don’t…” Simon hunched his shoulders. “Do you think he notices?” 

“I knew it.” Mica couldn’t stop the huge smile that spread across his face. “And no, I don’t think Michael knows.” Simon’s crush on the lieutenant at Firehouse Six remained under wraps between Grey and Mica. Truth be told, he’d seen Michael giving Simon some curious looks. Michael frequently made a point of poking fun at Simon, but never in a cruel way. If Mica dialed up Dr. Phil on the situation, he’d say the two men were playing a game of chicken regarding who would cave first. Except with Michael’s pride, even if Simon swerved before him, Simon might just run into a brick wall. 

“It’s ridiculous. I mean, look at me.” Simon gestured to his thin frame. “Someone like Michael would never be interested. He treats me like a kid anyway.” 

“Don’t sell yourself short. Maybe you have too little going on upstairs and too much downstairs.” 

Mica smirked. Although he wasn’t one hundred percent sure Michael was gay, he wouldn’t be surprised if Michael came out. Not long after Mica’s relationship with Grey came to light, Michael had made a point of pulling Mica into his office for a private chat. Michael had given him the number of a gay support group for firefighters, one that not even Mica had known about. Then Michael had gone on to explain that if Mica or Grey ever needed any advice on being openly gay in their profession, his door was always open. Through the whole conversation, Michael hadn’t out-and-out said I’m gay, but Mica’s gaydar had dinged like crazy. 

“Funny man,” Simon muttered. 

“Just remember, sometimes it’s what isn’t said that’s important. Besides, we’ll be losing you to the paramedics soon. Give him time to miss you.” 

“It’ll be odd not to work with you guys anymore, but working as a paramedic is more up my alley. I’ll still be helping people in a different capacity.” Simon shuffled through some hideous shirts on a rack, completely avoiding Mica’s comment about Michael. 

“True, but you’ll miss out on all the great food,” Mica joked. 

Simon theatrically put his hand to his chest. “Oh my Lord, I will waste away.” 

“You have no excess to lose. Just make sure to eat a box of doughnuts a day and come to visit us often,” Mica ordered. 

Simon chuckled and chose a bright orange dress shirt off the rack to pair with a pink tie. “Do you think he’d like this?” 

“Like it for what? Something to laugh at?” Mica stared at the glaring combination of colors. For a gay man, Simon had horrible fashion sense. Not that Mica was a pro or anything, but orange and pink? Really? “Or perhaps to direct traffic?” 

“You know, I’m sure we came here for you. Go forth and find something for Grey. I’m getting old standing next to you, and I actually have to go on shift in about two hours.” 

“Don’t get all snarky on me,” Mica said with a shake of his head. Scanning the store, he meandered past Simon to the jewelry section. He perused the selection of watches, the masculine bracelets, and paused at the rings. 

“Really?” Simon asked from behind him. 

Mica ignored him and hunched down to get a closer look at a simple band with what appeared to be titanium lines of color along the surface. 

“Can I help you with anything?” A smiling saleswoman approached and stopped to face him over the glass counter. Without waiting for his response, she pulled out the tray of rings and set it in front of him. 

“This is a special collection of platinum with inlaid titanium. We just got them in, and already they’ve become one of our most popular items.” The sugary sweetness of her voice belied the sincerity of her words. 

Mica couldn’t care less about her sales pitch. The ring beamed back at him, and in a flash he could see the precious metal contrasting with the tan skin of Grey’s strong finger. Was it too soon to take such a big step? He felt no panic or fear well up. His mother had told him that once you know, you know. 

“Really they are quite a unique find. So masculine and—” 

“You can stop now. I’m sold.” He pointed to the band he wanted. She sized it based on his hand and placed it carefully in a box. 

The heat of Simon’s gaze burned its way through Mica’s shirt. It was a private event for the man to have been a part of, but the group of men at the fire department had become a second family. Mica didn’t need to be concerned regarding Simon gossiping about his purchase. 

When the woman finished ringing up Grey’s gift, he pivoted to face Simon. The only reaction he got was a small smile from Simon and a subtle nod. He didn’t need the approval, but it felt good nonetheless. This man had known Grey longer than Mica had, and Simon’s acceptance produced a certain level of comfort. 

“Just don’t go all cheesy, dude.” Simon bumped his shoulder against Mica’s. “That doesn’t seem to be Grey’s style, you know? Simple is the way to go.” 

“I’ll keep that in mind.” Mica started to move away from the jewelry counter, only to be stopped by Simon pointing out a tray of men’s bracelets. 

Pink to red gravitated up Simon’s face all the way to the tips of his ears. Mica suppressed the urge to smile when Simon picked out and bought a bracelet that was a combination of titanium and leather. 

With both of them holding their purchases, Mica said, “I think he’ll like it.” 

“If I can manage the cojones to give it to him,” Simon muttered. “It wouldn’t be the first gift to be left languishing in my closet.” 

A twinge of surprise went through Mica. He knew Simon had a crush on Michael, but not for that long. 

“Like a Band-Aid, man. Just like a Band-Aid.” Mica put his hand on Simon’s shoulder and squeezed. “You never know.” 

“Sometimes being in the dark is better,” Simon whispered so low Mica barely heard the words.