… even more than I like writing

It’s true. I have a lot of fun making up stories. I enjoy research, and (unlike some writers) I even get a kick out of rewriting and editing my own work. But the thing I enjoy most — don’t ask me why — is taking my finished product and making these little promotional things.

Everything else about promoting makes me cringe, but creating these is like … I don’t know … doodling?

My latest book — book 4 — comes out today. Check it out. That means that today and tomorrow, I get to doodle all day if I want. 🙂

Sunday? I’ll be back to making things up, this time for book 6 which becomes my WIP (work in progress) now. Gypsum’s story (She’s the One who Won’t Behave) will fill my life for the next few months. Good thing I like to write fiction too.

I’m in SPFBO7: Take Deep Breaths

I keep lists of ideas for new ways to promote my self-published books and I seldom follow through on them. Too much work. Too expensive. Probably won’t make a bit of difference. It’s easy to get discouraged in the world of self-publishing.

One idea got moved from list to list.  I became aware of a contest a few years ago that looked promising called SPFBO (aka self-published fantasy blog off — not bake off.) But every time I saw it, the contest was in progress and I never could figure out where to find the schedule or the rules. Oh well, it probably costs a fortune anyway. And if it doesn’t they won’t let me in.

Then late at night 3 days ago, I skimmed a post from a blog and I saw it. The contest, the SPFBO, was opening the next day! More amazing, it was free and would accept the first 300 people who signed up. This was unbelievable. It didn’t surprise me to discover that last year it filled in under 24 hours.

However, there was one small problem. That same day, the next day, Friday the 14th, was the release day for my latest book She’s the One Who Gets in Fights.

I had three different book release things happening  plus a slew of other related promotional ideas to pursue. Could I possibly get myself entered into this SBFBO thingy as well? Of course I could.

I went to bed determined.  I’d get up and find a way to do it all.

I woke up at 6:59 am to the sound of my wave noise generator stopping. That’s weird. It’s never shut off before. I opened my eyes to see the ceiling fan slowing down.

No!

I live in the mountains of Western North Carolina and every once in a while we lose power up in these hills. Like once every year or two… Not today. Please not today.

But yes, the gods of stress were having a small chuckle at my expense. I found a way to make hot tea (no coffee!) No shower (our well runs on electricity.) I started doing what I could from my phone. Dim that screen. Make that battery last.

However, entering SBFBO was one thing my phone couldn’t do. Did it have enough oomph to be an adequate hot spot for my laptop? Was my laptop well enough charged? If I’d just known this was going to happen …

Entries opened at 2 pm my time. I watched the hours pass, considering a drive into the nearest small town. Since Covid hit, I didn’t know of a single place offering inside space and free internet. Had that changed? Could I make it over to Asheville? Surely they had something.

I must have become boring to watch, for at about 10:30 the gods of stress released their hold on our power lines and  the refrigerator began to hum.

Okay, I can do this now. I can do this. Breath. Slowly.

And of course I did do it because in spite of all my panic it was remarkably easy to enter. I even managed most of my promotional book release stuff, too.

When I woke up Saturday to plenty of wonderful power surging through my home there was also excitement surging through my veins. Someone put all the entered books on Goodreads. Someone else made a list of all the judges. One entrant asked what we all did for a living and the answers were pouring in. This looked to be an exciting thing to be a part of!

Encouragement poured in as well, especially to us nervous first time entrants. I’d read that one of the joys of this endeavor was a sense of community and it looks like no one was joking about that.

So, here I am, in touch with 299 other self-published fantasy writers. Some have have far more success to their names than I do while others have only begun their journey, submitting their first novel. I’m humbled to be in this group and grateful for the whim that led me to read the thing that clued me in to the timing.

Isn’t life funny, in so many ways?

Where Your Treasure Is

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author M. C. Bunn and her historical romance novel, Where Your Treasure Is.

Author’s description

Feisty, independent heiress Winifred de la Coeur has never wanted to live according to someone else’s rules—but even she didn’t plan on falling in love with a bank robber.

Winifred is a wealthy, nontraditional beauty who bridles against the strict rules and conventions of Victorian London society. When she gets caught up in the chaos of a bungled bank robbery, she is thrust unwillingly into an encounter with Court Furor, a reluctant getaway driver and prizefighter.  In the bitter cold of a bleak London winter, sparks fly.

Winifred and Court are two misfits in their own circumscribed worlds—the fashionable beau monde with its rigorously upheld rules, and the gritty demimonde, where survival often means life-or-death choices.

Despite their conflicting backgrounds, they fall desperately in love while acknowledging the impossibility of remaining together. Returning to their own worlds, they try to make peace with their lives until a moment of unrestrained honesty and defiance threatens to topple the deceptions they have carefully constructed to protect each other.

A story of the overlapping entanglements of Victorian London’s social classes, the strength of family bonds and true friendship, and the power of love to heal a broken spirit.

Who Wants Well-behaved Characters?

In my books I usually have one minor character who insists on playing a larger role in the story. I’m always curious as to whether other authors experience this, so I asked M. C. Bunn if she had such a character in her novel, Where Your Treasure Is? (And if she didn’t, I wanted to know how she got the characters in her head to behave so well!)

It turns out her book is full of unexpected characters! Read on to learn the rest of her fascinating answer.

If our characters behaved, we wouldn’t have any stories!

Actually, during the first draft of Where Your Treasure Is, a host of characters completely blind-sided me. Though I never planned per se to write a romance that only focused on the lovers, I was unprepared for the world that opened up around them while I wrote their story. There are Winifred’s cousins, young and old, her Uncle Percival and his manservant Morrant, her staff in the town and country—and George Broughton-Caruthers, her handsome, devilish neighbor. Court is a gang member and horse racing enthusiast. His cronies are other prizefighters, cardsharps, gamblers, prostitutes, and circus folk.

The beginning of Winifred and Court’s story came to me in a flash, as did its end. What I had to find out was what happened in the middle. Every time I sat down to write, thinking that I was about to get back to my lovers, all these characters popped out, and the plot, with all its twists, followed them. What was really strange was how familiar they all were. Dorothy felt like that the entire time she was in Oz. Mentally chasing after these characters through London’s streets and around the Norfolk countryside, so did I.

Yet it was Beryl Stuart, Court’s half-sister, who added a richer, darker layer of complications to a plot that could otherwise have easily been summed up as “lonely rich girl meets poor bad boy” and “the course of true love never runs smoothly.” Because of their differences in social class, Winifred and Court were going to have a rough time of it, no matter what. There’s a dark current that flows out of Court’s world into Winifred’s long before their love story begins, though neither one of them is aware of it. Beryl and her friends bring a second love triangle into the plot, which leads to the next book in the series, Time’s Promise.

I’m also deeply fond of Court’s friend Sam Merton, a boy with a love of firecrackers, rip-roaring yarns, and penny dreadfuls, and Winifred’s memoir-writing uncle, the old adventurer Sir Percival and his manservant Morrant.

About the Author

C. Bunn is a writer of Victorian romance and historical romance novels, a singer (in the indie rock band Mister Felix), and a songwriter. She holds an English degree from UNC-Chapel Hill and a master’s in English from North Carolina State University.

“I’ve always loved writing. It’s a joy to do what makes me happy and to share it.

“My father was a great story-teller. He read to us at the dinner table and passed on his love of history. He’d haul me out of bed in the middle of the night if there was a great old movie on the late show, and family trips always included visits to historic sites. His father was born in 1888, and I have Granddaddy’s letters to his bride-to-be in my dresser. I’m working on the story of Daddy’s first ancestor in America. It’s set in Jamestown, 1690. My mother’s grandmother was placed in an orphanage after the Civil War because her father died on the way home, so I always felt that connection to and had a curiosity about the past. Both of my parents read to me before I could walk. Daddy gave me Dickens, Twain, and Stevenson. Mama put the dictionary in my hands and let me watch I, Claudius  and Shoulder to Shoulder when they first aired on Masterpiece Theatre. She told me I’d be a writer one day.”

Acting was another girlhood passion. “I wanted to play all the characters in the books I’d read, or in the stories I made up, like Dickens and Louisa May Alcott did. I also wanted to be an archaeologist because we knew one who worked on digs in Israel. There was never a time when I wasn’t making up a story, and it was always set ‘a long time ago.’ What I really wished for was the car in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, so I could fly back in time and see what it was actually like for women in Victorian and Edwardian England.”

When she’s not writing, she loves reading long old books. “I love Anthony Trollope’s series, and Anna Karenina. Of more recent vintage, I really enjoyed The Forsyte Saga and The Raj Quartet.”

Her idea of a well-appointed room includes multiple bookshelves, a full pot of coffee, and a place to lie down and read. To feed her soul, she takes a walk or makes music with friends. “I try to remember to look up at the sky and take some time each day to be thankful.”

She lives in North Carolina with her husband and their dog. Where Your Treasure Is is her first published novel.

Find the Author

Website https://www.mcbunn.com/
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/mcbauthor/
Instagram https://www.instagram.com/mcbunnauthor/
Twitter https://twitter.com/MCBunn3
Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/bunn6220/

Yes, there is a giveaway

The author will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt

Chapter 2. A Fool and His Money Are Soon Parted

Approaching the right turn that would take him to Swift Street and the Royal Empire Bank, Court Furor concentrated on traffic. Cold bit his cheeks and hunger gnawed his belly, but he ignored both through force of habit. The soles of his boots were thin and his gloves pointless…No point worrying about what the day would bring, never mind the next one…He was a man of no prospects and no property but preferred to think of it as freedom from responsibility…It was no secret he fancied himself a bit of a lad though he wasn’t overly tempted by long, romantic entanglements. An hour or two with a willing girl would suit…

He directed the horse to a slow walk, trying to secure a place in the queue for the curb. In the gleaming brougham beside him sat a woman, her face hidden under an enormous, bright green hat trimmed with black ostrich feathers. Her driver signaled, and Court tugged his reins…Though a thick veil covered her face, Court caught a glimpse of golden hair, coiled in heavy masses on her shoulders. The wind lifted the edge of her mantle, and he was briefly amazed by the brilliant green of her dress…She’d obviously never missed a meal in her life.

********

Suddenly Geoff and a woman appeared at the bottom of the stairs…Their progress was impeded by the woman’s wildly kicking little boots. Her struggles and the flashes of her bright green and purple silks made her look like an exotic bird thrashing in Geoff’s arms….

Geoff…thrust the woman at him…the woman struggled and kicked…and cried for help. Involuntarily, he clapped his hand over her mouth. She only screamed louder.

“Shut up, you fat sow!” Geoff swatted her across the temple….

The woman’s eyes rolled and she went limp.

Court howled in dismay and caught her… In his arms, she was a mountain of soft cashmere and folds of velvet. Her mantle fell open, and her scent hit him. Lilies and some dark, exotic spice. It was so unexpected and heavenly that the alley and the hackney disappeared. Even his panic was gone.

“…We can’t take ’er!”

Geoff clicked off the safety and waved the pistol under Court’s nose. When Court did not let go of the woman, he pointed the pistol at her head. “I ain’t arguin’! Drive!” He slammed the cab door…

His heart hammering, his head whirling, Court untied the horse, swung up onto the box, and grabbed the reins. As he turned the cab into the street behind the bank, yet another fire truck raced past. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph! They were in for it now.

Thank you!

M. C. Bunn — we appreciate your sharing your book Where Your Treasure Is with us! Best of luck with sales, and with all of your future writing.

Once Upon A Princess Trio

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Deborah A. Bailey and her three fairy-tale inspired paranormal romance novellas entitled Once Upon A Princess Trio.

Author’s description

Formula for Fairy Tale Love:
1 adventurous Heroine + 1 tortured-but-noble Hero = Happily-Ever-After

For all the innate complications involved in finding the secret to blissful fairy-tale love with shape-shifters, three wise and discerning princesses trust their hearts instead of their eyes and fall in love with the unlikeliest of princes.

“Heart of Stone:” Leesa trespasses into a haunted palace, where she meets a gargoyle. Breaking the spell that cursed him may carry a price steeper than she’s able…or willing…to pay.

“Beauty & the Faun:” Kayla flees an arranged marriage and falls for a faun shifter instead. But how can she ignore her duty by refusing to marry a prince?

“Land of Dreams:” Cicely knows she possesses magical ability. Falling in love with the courageous, self-sacrificing Willem may be the key to her awakening…or may unleash forces that will separate them forever. (Sequel to Heart of Stone)

Box set includes books 1-3 of the Once Upon A Princess paranormal fairy-tale inspired romance novellas.

Using Fairy Tale Elements in the Once Upon A Princess Novellas

I asked author Deborah A. Bailey to tell us how much vocabulary she created for her fantasy worlds in this trio and I got back fascinating information about what guided the creation of her entire worlds. Enjoy her answer.

For my worldbuilding, I considered creating words for the worlds I was writing about. But as it turned out I only ended up creating one word, “Malida.” The reason I created it was because I wanted to use it during a conversation between the hero and heroine in Heart of Stone. Willem, the hero, uses that word to refer to the heroine’s grandmother. The grandmother is a former queen of the province where the story is set. In the aftermath of a war, the heroine, Leesa, and her grandmother are (as far as they know) the only remaining members of the royal family.

When Willem asks Leesa about her grandmother he calls her Malida, which is also a term of endearment. It means “great mother.” For Willem to know that name, he would have to have known more about the family than he’s admitting.

Though I didn’t focus on creating the words and language for those worlds, Since they’re based on fairy tales, I made sure to include certain elements. For instance, I included princesses,  magic, and fantasy creatures. In Heart of Stone Willem is a gargoyle who is under a magical curse. He lives in a deserted palace and he has access to enchantments that were left there by the former inhabitant.

In Beauty and the Faun, the heroine ends up escaping into the Great Forest and it becomes a refuge. Forests are often used fairy tales as places filled with magic and mystery. Satyrs, forest nymphs, centaurs and fauns are among the inhabitants of the Great Forest. Each group has their own culture and behavior that they’re known for. The heroine finds these creatures when she enters the forest, and they show that this is an entirely different world than the one outside.

In Land of Dreams the Great Forest is also included, along with fauns and water nymphs. I added additional magical characters, such as elementals, shifters, and river deities. There’s also a character called the Night Queen who presides over the elementals. While I would’ve loved to have created other words (and languages) for the stories, I made sure to include many fantasy elements and fairy tale touches to set the mood.

About the Author

Deborah A Bailey’s Science Fiction & Paranormal Romance novels include suspense, a bit of mystery and a lot of romantic heat. Her books include the Hathor Legacy science fiction romance series and the Family Pride and Once Upon A Princess shapeshifter paranormal romance series.

Her short stories have won awards from the Philadelphia Writers’ Conference and have been published in US1 Magazine and the Sun and are included in, Electric Dreams: Seven Futuristic Tales. She’s the author of non-fiction books, and articles for various online publications.

Visit her site https://dbaileycoach.com/brightbooks for more information and subscribe to the newsletter here: https://eepurl.com/bokGdX so you’ll be the first to find out about giveaways, book launches and sneak peeks.

Find the Author

Instagram — https://www.instagram.com/AuthorDeborahB
Twitter — https://www.twitter.com/AuthorDeborahB
Pinterest — https://www.pinterest.com/debstyle3
FaceBook — https://www.facebook.com/AuthorDeborahAB/
Amazon Author Page — https://amazon.com/author/deborahannbailey
Bookbub —  https://www.bookbub.com/authors/deborah-a-bailey

Buy the Book

Buy link (universal book link): https://books2read.com/u/4Dg5xA
Personal Sales page: https://payhip.com/brightbooks

Yes, there is a giveaway

The author will be awarding a $40 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt

Heart of Stone:

Leesa headed up the stairs and stopped at the 2nd floor landing. Eduardo and Erokan’s rooms had been on this floor. Dust was everywhere, but otherwise the furnishings were just as they’d been left. Varmont’s bedroom, private study and library were on the 3rd floor. Most likely he would’ve hidden some of his valuables there. She went upstairs to check. The doors to the Duke’s room, study and library were open. But the fourth door was closed. The treasure room, perhaps?

She opened the door and stepped inside. Strangely, this room wasn’t as dusty as the others. The air was heavy with perfume. Across from the door was a folding screen decorated with blue and yellow flowers. Behind it she could make out the base of a claw-foot tub.

To her surprise, the entire room had a feminine feeling, from the huge bed covered with blush pink coverlets and plush furs to the gold-trimmed white furniture. Even the jewel-encrusted skylight above her had its own beauty, reflecting colorful sprinkles of light over the pale stone walls.

A white cabinet with glass doors caught her attention. The shelves held glass bottles of different shapes and sizes. Some had liquids inside, others were empty. What were these? Perfumes? Or maybe potions.

The Duke used magic. Maybe this was where he’d kept his enchantments. Would they be worth anything? Possibly. But just as Leesa reached out to open the cabinet, the door slammed behind her.

Startled, she spun around. She was alone. Who had closed it? Leesa ran to the door and gripped the handle, expecting the door to open as easily as it had when she’d come in. But it didn’t. She pulled and banged on it, but it wouldn’t budge.

She was locked in.

Thank you!

Deborah A. Bailey — we appreciate your sharing Once Upon A Princess Trio with us! Best of luck with sales, and with all of your future writing.

Let Me Explain …

As I began to create The War Stories of the Seven Troublesome Sisters, I realized I wasn’t writing a series in the classical sense. In fact, my novels occur simultaneously, almost, as they present a time of great turmoil through the eyes of seven different participants.

Because these seven are sisters, though, they obviously make plenty of appearances in each others book. But, how one sees  their own actions is quite different from how they perceive what their sister does, right? Along with much else, I was excited to explore this point of view difference.

I’ve been looking for a succinct way to tell potential readers what in they are in for before they begin reading. Like most authors, I’d rather attract readers who like what I’m doing.

Today I came up with this add-on blurb and from now on I intend to add it to every book description. I think it helps. What do you think?

The War Stories of the Seven Troublesome Sisters consists of seven short companion novels. Each tells the personal story and perspective of one of seven radically different sisters in the 1200s as they prepare for an invasion of their realm. While these historical fantasy/alternate history books can be enjoyed as stand-alone novels, together they tell the full story of how Ilari survived.

Which sister do you think saved the realm? That will depend on whose story you read.

Oh Good Now This

Today it is my pleasure to welcome Susan Merson and her women’s literary fiction novel, Oh Good Now This.

Author’s description

Starting over is hard enough but when ghosts decide to hitch a ride into the future—things can get complicated.

Widowed Vivi leaves California for a new start back east landing in a college town near her old friend Vikram, now the local ‘spiritual’ leader and disappointing lover. But the two have old business which leads them to uncovering the ghosts they conjured long before and the ones that are haunting them now.  Vivi reclaims her life, — with the help of a couple different dimensions– saying hi to the ghosts who choose to hang around, and growing a new garden and a new life.

We need eerie music for this!

I am fascinated by characters that undergo a major transformation in a story, so I often ask an author if there is such a metamorphosis in the novel I’m featuring. I asked Susan Merson this, and you’ll see her interesting response below. But here’s the thing.

Sometimes, instead, I ask a different questions and it usually goes like this. “In my books I’ve always had one minor character who insisted on playing a larger role in the story. I’m curious: was there such a character in your novel?”

Guess what? Author Merson answered that questions also, and I didn’t even ask it. Cool, huh? Read on …

I like to think of my new book OH GOOD NOW THIS  as a second time around, coming of age story. I am fascinated by how people survive and live their lives fully, especially after loss and the plain old battles of living day to day.

Amanda is a woman in her 60’s who ends up living near Vivi, my protagonist, on a country road, hidden behind tall pine trees. She craves light and strips the house of all its possessions, heaves her clothes into the dumpster, white washes the walls, and scrapes the floors til they shine. Through the large window in her living room she can see the moon and puts her white mattress and white duvet directly in the path of its glow. She can not bear the weight of any memory, any lover, any remnant of what was and lives a reclusive, solo life until she welcomes a young man into her home. He is visiting the local college for a seminar and she needs the money from his room rental.

And she falls in love with him. His easy loping style, his curiosity, his tease of pleasure at her company. Just his presence in the house inspires her to return to the root of who she was as a young woman and she spends her days painting pine cones and making soup, pretending she does not care when or if he returns.

Of course, he leaves, returning to his own life, but freezing Amanda in this new beginning as a person who sees the world deeply, through an artist’s eye once again. And the love she bears for this man-boy, releases the hold her body had on its poisons. Renewed, refreshed, no blockages to hold them back, the old poisons find their way into her body, creating illness when she was just reclaiming life.

Amanda’s death informs the lives of my other characters in this world. The journey she makes from cynical, rejected trophy wife, to full and faulty artist—this unfolding—surprises everyone. And inspires them, as well.

Amanda was a surprise to me when I was writing the book. She showed up when Vivi needed to see how the choices we make in our own lives can affect us, can make our choice for life or death very real. Vivi insists that life is worth the struggle even though she has seen how giving in to poison can loosen our grips and let hope recede. Amanda shoves Vivi toward choosing life at an important juncture in the story and I am grateful she showed up to let me introduce her.

About the Author

Susan Merson began her career as an actress on and off Broadway, in television and film. Co-founding the LA Writers Bloc in 1985 with award winning writer Jane Anderson, she has mentored writers through the Bloc and through her private and university classes in Playwriting, Life Stories, Writing as a Spiritual Practice, Tarot for Writers and the popular VOICING Series.

Her short fiction has been featured in The Jew in America, Nice Jewish Girls (Penguin), The Worcester Review, the Chicken Soup series and several other online platforms.  As a playwright, her award-winning plays have been performed internationally, including her 8 solo plays featured and used as example in YOUR NAME HERE: An Actor Writers Guide to Solo Performance. (Amazon). Long form fiction available on Amazon is her award-winning blog, WHEN THEY GO AND YOU DO NOT and her first novel DREAMING IN DAYLIGHT.  OH GOOD NOW THIS, her newest novel launches 12/1/21.

She is a tarot reader and counselor, a maker of quilts, clothing and whimsy.  Susan is a humble mother and a proud resident of New York City.

Find the Author

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/susanmersonauthor
WEBSITE: http://www.susanmerson.com

The author has also done a series of five videos regarding the use of Tarot for writers (for more information, visit her website):

TAROT FOR WRITERS #1:  INTRODUCTION
An introduction to using your own intuitive powers to tap into the resonance of Tarot images, packed with archetypes and symbols, to jumpstart inspiration for your artistic projects.
**CORRECTION: The Raziel Tarot Deck is designed by artist Robert Place with commentary by Rachel Pollack. https://youtu.be/LGONsfOayJg

TAROT FOR WRITERS #2: LANDSCAPE
Explore the landscape of story. Entering the world of the card offers visceral clues to the landscape of your writing. https://youtu.be/Mwq9x-I9oQE

TAROT FOR WRITERS #3: CHARACTER
A brief exploration of character and how to find their first basic journey. Look deeply at the character clues in the cards and throw three cards to begin their adventure. https://youtu.be/CuovTNQ5ztk

TAROT FOR WRITERS #4:  WHAT STORY SHOULD I WRITE TODAY
On pulling cards to intuitively discover the story, the genre, the themes and the major turning points of a new story. https://youtu.be/eHm0mVSNaPo

TAROT FOR WRITERS/ #5 TIMELINES AND DEEPER DIVE INTO RELATIONSHIPS
Timelines and going deeper into relationships with pro and antagonists. The more cards you draw the more information you can gather. https://youtu.be/EClPq0e-H70

Buy the Book

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/…/oh-good-now…/1138532579
Apple: https://books.apple.com/us/book/id1546617489
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Good-Now-This-Susan…/dp/B08RCXVNTX/

Yes, there is a giveaway

The author will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt

They have settled into their chairs and Tara is tossing some cards, shuffling them and getting a feel. She flips over three cards.

“Oh, my dear. Some bleak times, past, yes?”

Vivi is startled by this pronouncement. “Well, it’s been a time of change, I’d say.”

“Change?” says Tara. “You betcha. This Tower card is about the whole thing coming crashing down. But it’s in the past position. See here? This is the present,” she shows Vivi the 7 of cups. It’s a picture of a man taking a look at a whole gallery of possibilities. “Look at him”, Tara says. “He’s got lots of things to choose from.”

“Well, that sounds good,” says Vivi tentatively.

“Not bad. Don’t get over infatuated with the possibilities. And the last one… here. The Hermit. Yep.”

“What’s that mean?”

“Oh it’s fine. Just a time to go inside and let things percolate. Inner wisdom and all that. Not a bad sentence!” Tara laughs again. “Now. Anything specific on your mind?” Tara continues to flip cards. “So,” she says. “Who is this guy? This King keeps showing up. King of Cups? He fell out of the deck twice while I was shuffling. “Who is this guy who won’t leave you alone?”

Vivi is mystified. “How did you…?’

“Oh, it’s not magic. The cards just know, that’s all. They pick up what you bring. Who is this guy?”

On a personal note:

I learned to read Tarot Cards at 17 years old, in the first creative writing class I ever took. My English teacher was way ahead of her time!  I agree with Susan Merson that Tarot readings are wonderful for many things, including providing inspiration for an author.

Thank you!

Susan Merson  — we appreciate your sharing your book Oh Good Now This with us! Best of luck with sales, and with all of your future writing.

A Summer Wedding at Cross Creek Inn

Today it is my pleasure to welcome Cheryl Holt  and her Contemporary Women’s Fiction novel A Summer Wedding at Cross Creek.

Author’s description

From New York Times bestselling author, Cheryl Holt, comes a sparkling, fast-paced novel about the complexity of family—and all the ways they can drive us crazy.

The lavish Layton-Benjamin wedding promises to be an event to remember, and the groom’s wealthy parents have spared no expense to impress their guests by hosting it at the exclusive Cross Creek Inn, a private mountain retreat tucked away in the heart of the Colorado Rockies. But the bride and groom are from completely different backgrounds, and they’ve only known each other for a few months, so it’s been a ‘hurry-up’ engagement that has everyone worried.

 When the groom arrives late and tempers start to flare, it’s clear the wedding is a minefield that has to be carefully navigated. As parents and friends begin taking bets over whether the happy couple will make it to the altar, secrets are revealed, new loves emerge, and true happiness is finally found.

Book your visit to the Cross Creek Inn! A witty, fun summertime story about family, friendship, and finding out what matters most—that only Cheryl Holt could tell.

From a Caterpillar into a Butterfly

When I got the chance to ask author Cheryl Holt anything, I wanted to know more about her characters and specifically about the ones that make a transition from a caterpillar into a butterfly.

Holt is a very experienced author, and I appreciate her guest post because it also includes her take on when a character shouldn’t show growth.

Read on for her fascinating response.

I have been writing novels for twenty-five years now, so I’ve gotten really good at making sure there’s a good character arc for nearly all of my characters.  I like to have all of their issues resolved at the end so, for example, if a character is unhappy and lonely at the beginning of a novel, she will wind up happy and together with someone at the end.

That said, I’m also renowned for writing characters who are driven and determined to achieve a goal, and those people usually don’t change during the story.  They are typically my villains, but I’m hailed as the “International Queen of Villains”, which means I write some of the best (worst) villains in American fiction.  One of the reasons they’re so fun and infuriating is that they don’t ever alter their behavior.  If my villain is seeking revenge at the beginning of the novel, he’ll still be fussy and stewing at the end—even though he’s been thwarted.  He will never relent, and the book wraps up with him trying to figure out how to restart his plot in a more successful way.  That sort of maddening focus is one of the things that makes a good villain.

In my new novel, A Summer Wedding at Cross Creek Inn, I would have to say that the character who makes the biggest transition in the story is the bride’s sister, Rachel.  In the beginning of the book, Rachel is grouchy, testy, and in a permanent bad mood.  She is the sibling who’s always had a chip on her shoulder, who’s always felt as if the other siblings got a bigger slice of life than she did.  She’s permanently convinced that everyone is luckier and happier than she is—even though she could change her life whenever she’s ready.

She’s her sister’s maid-of-honor, but she’s so unhappy it seems like she might deliberately sabotage the wedding in petty, juvenile ways.  But by the end, she turns out to be a champion to her sister, and in the process, she manages to completely change her life and head off in a new direction.

I think she’s fun, and when her life turns around, readers will be cheering for her.

About the Author

CHERYL HOLT is a New York Times, USA Today, and Amazon “Top 100” bestselling author who has published over fifty novels.

She’s also a lawyer and mom, and at age forty, with two babies at home, she started a new career as a commercial fiction writer.  She’d hoped to be a suspense novelist, but couldn’t sell any of her manuscripts, so she ended up taking a detour into romance where she was stunned to discover that she has a knack for writing some of the world’s greatest love stories.

Her books have been released to wide acclaim, and she has won or been nominated for many national awards.  She is considered to be one of the masters of the romance genre.  For many years, she was hailed as “The Queen of Erotic Romance”, and she’s also revered as “The International Queen of Villains.”  She is particularly proud to have been named “Best Storyteller of the Year” by the trade magazine Romantic Times BOOK Reviews.

She lives and writes in Hollywood, California, and she loves to hear from fans.

Find the Author

Visit her website at http://www.cherylholt.com.
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/officialcherylholt/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/theCherylHolt
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/36853.Cheryl_Holt

Buy the Book

Amazon Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08QNMMNJW

Yes, there is a giveaway

The author will be awarding autographed print copies of the book (US ONLY) to 10 randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt

Sharon…

The view out the window of her suite was spectacular, and Sharon was trying to enjoy it.  She was surrounded by thick, verdant woods, and off in the distance, stark mountain peaks rose, seemingly to the stratosphere.  Even though it was mid-July, they were dotted with snow.

She’d never been what might be described as a mountain person.  Being a typical Californian, one who’d been born and raised in Los Angeles, she’d had her auras read and her chakras aligned and her pores opened.  She was a water person, and she lived on the beach in Malibu where she could stare out at the ocean.

Still though, the Colorado scenery was beautiful, and she had to remember that it was and focus on that fact.  It was awfully quiet though, and the silence would take some getting used to.  In Malibu, with its lone highway that was constantly clogged with cars, there was always a hum of traffic.  It was a regular drone that never ended.

She wondered if the serenity and isolation might gradually drive her crazy, but then, she was staying in Colorado for four short days.  She could endure any torment for four days.  Couldn’t she?

On Sunday morning, after Eric and Jennifer departed on their honeymoon, she would head back to California, and the appalling weekend would be over.

As the mother of the groom, she should have been more excited, but she couldn’t muster the necessary enthusiasm.  Initially, she’d decided she wouldn’t attend, but friends had nagged until she’d changed her mind.  So…here she was, but she wasn’t glad about it, and she had to alter her mood, bury her misgivings, and forge on with a positive attitude.

Thank you!

Cheryl Holt — we appreciate your sharing your book A Summer Wedding at Cross Creek with us! Best of luck with sales, and with all of your future writing.

She’ll be here in two weeks

She’s the One Who Cares Too Much

Book 2, my story of the soft-spoken and caring sister who discovers her own fierce power, will be available for purchase Friday Feb 12 and can be pre-ordered now.

I’ll be honest. I struggled with Coral’s story at first. Her personality was too mild for my taste (I like wilder women) and her dreams were so traditional. But over the months we spent together, she won me over as we discovered her power and strength together.

Every woman has a right to pursue her own happiness, and while Coral may want the simple things in life, she’s hardly a simple lady. Furthermore, in the end she may really be the one sister who saves Ilari. I think there is a good chance it’s true, but I’ll have to keep writing to find out.

Coral is Close

I’ve had such fun creating my magical seven sisters for my current series! One of my chief frustrations is that only one of them, Ryalgar, has seen the light of day. But that’s about to change ….

Over the next couple of weeks I will be putting the finishing touches on Coral’s story, checking it once, twice and thrice to make every little detail perfect.

If you don’t self-publish books yourself, believe me — the release of the new book is an exciting time. It’s also hard work, as an author needs to spend time on the promotional work that will get her story in as front of as many readers as possible.

I always like to try new approaches, and this time around I’ll be doing my first release day book blast with a new company (new for me that is). I’m quite happy with others I’ve used, and I’ll be using them too, but the more eyes I can get on this book, the better. So I’ve added Hot Tree Promotions to my arsenal.

They use something new to me — a promotional teaser — and I needed three of them. They gave me the option of designing my own or paying to have them made. I thought, I like messing around with graphics, so why not give it a try?

Above is my first attempt, and I’m rather pleased with it. Wish me luck — I hope it sells a lot of books for me.

Want to learn more about Coral and her story? Check out her pre-order page.

The Salty Rose

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Beth M. Caruso and her historical fiction novel The Salty Rose.

 Author’s description

Marie du Trieux, a tavern keeper with a salty tongue and a heart of gold, struggles as she navigates love and loss, Native wars, and possible banishment by authorities in the unruly trading port of New Amsterdam, an outpost of the Dutch West India Company.

 

In New England, John Tinker, merchant and assistant to a renowned alchemist and eventual leader of Connecticut Colony, must come to terms with a family tragedy of dark proportions, all the while supporting his mentor’s secret quest to find the Northwest Passage, a desired trading route purported to mystically unite the East with the West.

 

As the lives of Marie and John become intertwined through friendship and trade, a search for justice of a Dutch woman accused of witchcraft in Hartford puts them on a collision course affecting not only their own destinies but also the fate of colonial America.

About the Author

Award-winning author, Beth M. Caruso, is passionate to discover and convey important and interesting stories of women from earlier times. She recently won the literary prize in Genre Fiction (2020) from IPNE (Independent Publishers of New England) for her most recent novel The Salty Rose: Alchemists, Witches & A Tapper In New Amsterdam (2019). The Salty Rose is Beth’s second historical novel and explores alchemy in early colonial times, an insider’s view of the takeover of the Dutch colony of New Netherland, and the Hartford Witch Panic with information she gathered from previous and ongoing research. Beth’s first historical novel is One of Windsor: The Untold Story of America’s First Witch Hanging (2015), a novel that tells the tale of Alice ‘Alse’ Young and the beginnings of the colonial witch trials. She based the story on original research she did by exploring early primary sources such as early Windsor land records, vital statistics, and other documents. She lives in Connecticut with her family. Beth kayaks and gardens to unwind.

Find the Author

Website: http://www.oneofwindsor.com
Email: oneofwindsor@yahoo.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/oneofwindsor
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bethmcaruso/

Buy the Book

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Salty-Rose-Alchemists-Witches-Amsterdam/dp/1733373802

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-salty-rose-beth-m-caruso/1133991342

Yes, there is a giveaway

The author will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

An Exclusive Excerpt for Us!

Chapter 7.

“Hello, Marie. Listen to Grandmamma so she can get a better look at you,” Sara said.

The midwife winked. “Yes, come, Marie. My granddaughter knows what’s best,” she said, smiling.

I guided them to a small room in the back of the tavern. In the exterior wall near the corner was the secret slot where the Indians who wanted a drink after hours placed their deer meat or other trade goods in hopes of a discreet exchange for liquor. My guests couldn’t see it since it was well hidden from the inside by a sliding facade.

“Sit, Marie, I need to see those feet. Are you still sick to your stomach?” she questioned.

I took a seat in a tall-backed wooden chair carved as a marriage present from Henri La Chaîne, a furniture maker and friend.

“No, it’s passed already. I’m fine, just a little tired but no more than with any other child,” I responded.

The midwife carefully placed her hand over my belly. “Do you feel her moving about?” she referred to the baby.

A loud crash emanated from the front of the tavern. The babe in my womb stirred abruptly in response.

“What’s this?” she cried.

We ran to the front, the three of us, to see what was the matter. Business in the tavern had been at a lull when I’d retreated to the back only a few minutes earlier.

On my way to the main room, I heard a man with an English accent screaming at Domingo.

“I won’t take a drink from a filthy rogue like you. Where’s your mistress?” He had just upended a table where Domingo had placed his drink and was ready to turn over some benches in his senseless rage. All my work of cleaning the tavern that morning was ruined in seconds.

Thank you!

Beth M. Caruso — we appreciate your sharing an exclusive excerpt from your book The Salty Rose with us! Best of luck with sales, and with all of your future writing.