Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Winner Is . . .

Thank YOU for commenting and supporting us in this fun month of giveaways.  Be sure to go back and check the posts you commented on and see if you won a prize.

And now to announce our grand winner 

of the Kindle Fire 7" HD Tablet and

several free e-books from Southern Magic's authors!

The winner is . . .

Johanna Denton!

Johana, please contact me at the following address.  CarlaSwafford @ charter.net

FOR LOVE OF THE STORY BY Peggy Webb AKA Elaine Hussey

If you'd told me nearly thirty years ago that I'd still be writing, I wouldn't have believed you. In the early days of my career, I actually believed I might run out of ideas!  I thought publishers would stop buying my books and readers would move on to the next good thing.

The truth is this: I will never live long enough to write all the stories I want to tell. I will never tire of opening a brand new document then typing the title and my name underneath. My children and grandchildren will have to pry the keyboard from my cold dead hands. And why? Why do I pursue a lonely profession day after day, year after year? I do it all for love of the story.

Stories come to me many different ways. They can come in a dream, a memory, a song. They can come from an incident I've witnessed or fly off the page of a non-fiction book I'm reading. Such a small thing, this tiny idea, and yet I grab hold and start typing as if my hair is on fire. I put characters on the page and fall in love with a story, all over again.

My latest novel, The Language of Silence, sprang to life when I discovered a non-fiction book about Mabel Stark, the first female big cat trainer. Shortly after I read about Mabel, the circus came to my hometown (no coincidence there, just a bit of magic), and I got to interview a charming, ancient woman who actually remembered when Mabel was with Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey. 

Mabel inspired Lola, who brought with her a whole host of characters: a granddaughter caught in domestic violence with nowhere to turn, a sister longing to know if Lola got away Scott free with murder, a beat-up old big cat trainer whose secrets are eating him alive, a circus owner who founded a dynasty of equestrians and is determined to die under the Big Top.

Oh, I LOVE this story!  Publisher's Weekly calls it "magical," and fans across the country are telling me what this story means to them. In The Language of Silence, I tackle a serious issue: spousal abuse. Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women, more than car accidents, muggings and rapes combined. Fear keeps many of these women silent. I spoke for them. I gave my abused characters hope, and then I gave them wings to fly away to freedom. If any of my readers identify with Lola and her granddaughter Ellen, I want them to grow wings, too. I want them to fly to the nearest shelter and speak out.     

Thank you so much for stopping by to chat.  One person who comments on this post today will receive a signed copy of The Language of Silence.

The REALLY BIG NEWS, though, is that all this month you've been leaving comments on the posts of my most wonderful Southern Magic sisters!  Boy, what a treat we have in store for you! A Kindle Fire to the grand prize winner, announced TODAY!

Also, you’ve seen our posts about the fabulous Readers Luncheon, hosted by Southern Magic. New York Times bestselling author Sylvia Day will be the guest speaker. Each attendee will receive a bag of books plus author swag, sit at the table with one or two published authors and have a chance to win baskets full of goodies!  It’s like early Christmas! To register for the luncheon, go to http://southernmagic.org/luncheon.html

Do visit me at my websites, www.peggywebb.com and www.elainehussey.com. You can also follow me on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/#!/peggy.webb.92 and Twitter https://twitter.com/

Monday, September 29, 2014


The Holidays are almost here so I thought it would be fun to interview Penny Watson.  You can’t think of Christmas without thinking about the Klaus Brothers.  After all, they so hot they are melting to polar ice caps.    The latest Klaus Brothers release is coming soon and I’ve heard rumors about a little something extra you don’t normally see in romance…

What are you working on now?  And are the rumors true?
My soon-to-be-released project is a Christmas fantasy. It’s SWEET ADVENTURE, the third installment of the Klaus Brothers Series.  And yes, Virginia, it does include a Yeti!
It also includes a tenacious tabloid reporter, the chief toymaker in the North Pole, psychotic frost flowers, a category four snowstorm, and plenty of romance.
Here’s the Goodreads link, with the book blurb and cover: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23204587-sweet-adventure
Where did your idea of Klaus brothers come from?
My inspiration for this series was an incongruous overlap of events.  1.) I was infatuated  with JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series. I loved the whole brotherhood concept, so I decided to create a family with five sexy brothers. 2.) I had “scenes” pop into my head that were happening in a freezing cold environment. So I thought…North Pole! 3.) I watched Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, and I was charmed by the adorable outdoor wedding between Kris Kringle and Jessica. I decided that Santa’s village could be a really sweet backdrop for a romance. (And fun, too…think rowdy elves!)
The Klaus Brothers are the five sexy sons of Santa, who help him run his empire—Klaus Enterprises. I will be releasing the last three parts of the series in 2014, 2015, and 2016.
Book #1 is SWEET INSPIRATION, about Nicholas Klaus, who happens to be a master pastry chef. Book #2 is SWEET MAGIK, about Oskar Klaus, Director of Elfin Resources in the North Pole. Book #3 (SWEET ADVENTURE) is Sven’s story. Sven Klaus is the Chief Toymaker for Klaus Enterprises. His story is being released this holiday season!
Goodreads link for THE KLAUS BROTHERS SERIES: https://www.goodreads.com/series/55453-klaus-brothers

"Apples Should be Red" is one of my favorite novellas.  I love that it has older characters.  What gave you the idea to make such a curmudgeon a romantic lead and what do you think of the response you've received to the story as well as Tom and Bev?
My whole motivation for writing APPLES SHOULD BE RED was to break the standard romance novel “rules” and see if I could still create a successful love story. I made the characters older than the norm (59/62). I made the hero a grumpy borderline alcoholic curmudgeon. The heroine was uptight and repressed at the beginning of the story. Basically, both of the characters were unlikable at the beginning of the book. Was it possible to not only make the reader like them by the conclusion, but also to root for their budding romance and happy ending? That was my goal.
I get fan mail every week from older women who find this novella to be a breath of fresh air. There are very few romance novels with main characters who fall into this age bracket. Some readers call it “OA” for Older Adult romance. Hee hee!
Amazon link for APPLES SHOULD BE RED: http://www.amazon.com/Apples-Should-Red-Penny-Watson-ebook/dp/B00IH5QHTS

What inspired you to become a writer?
I was always interested in creative writing, even as a child. From the time I was eight years old, I was an obsessive reader and writer.  I would wander around the neighborhood concocting the “perfect paragraph” in my head.
I sound like a wackadoodle, don’t I? Oh well!

What are your thoughts on self publishing now that Apples has been out for a while? Do you think it was the right way to go?
Self-publishing has always been the right choice for me. I like to make all of the decisions about my book—from concept and cover design to promo strategy and release date. I’m a control freak, so it works out very well for me.
I will say that my initial publishing experience—with a small digital press—taught me a lot about the industry and was a great way to get started. All of the things that I learned from that introduction served me well later on when I decided to self-publish.

Do you have any advice to writers thinking of self publish that haven't made the leap yet?
If you decide to self-pub, you’re starting your own business. You need to be on board with that. Some folks love all those details, some don’t. If you only want to focus on the writing, it’s probably better to follow a traditional path. If you like the idea of starting your own personal publishing company, self-pubbing is a great option.

And what the heck is about lumberjacks anyway?

Big. Brawny. Sexy. Beardy.

Does that answer your question?

LUMBERJACK IN LOVE is my bestselling novella. It’s a fun romantic comedy set in Vermont. I admit I have an intense love for bearded heroes. Marcus Anderson designs and builds tree houses, he owns a log cabin in Vermont, and he has a cute Bulldog for a pet. He’s my perfect guy!

I highly recommend Penny's Lumberjack Pinterest Board 

PENNY WATSON is a bestselling author of romantic, fantasy, and humorous fiction, a blogger/reviewer, a promo consultant and social media specialist, a beard aficionado, a lover of cocktails, and a plant geek. She is also the author of a children’s series (writing as Nina Clark) called LUCY THE WONDER WEENIE.

Penny’s 3rd Klaus Brothers novella releases in November.  I’ll give away three copies as soon as it released.  Use Rafflecopter to enter.  If you’re not already following Penny on Twitter or Facebook you’re missing all the fun.  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 About Lexxi
Lexxi Callahan writes contemporary romance novels set in and around the New Orleans area. Solving for Nic, Book 2 is The Southern Style Series is expected to release in December 2014.  You can usually find Lexxi on Twitter  @callahanlexxie

Lexxi would also like to note that Solving for Nic would not be releasing without Penny Watson and her tireless hours of hand holding and butt kicking.   If you don't think you can make real friends on Twitter, you aren't following the right people .  Thanks, Penny!!!!  


Saturday, September 27, 2014

Carpe Minutam!

 If you're reading this, you're probably curious over my butchering of a Latin idiom. I won't leave you in suspense.

(Carpe minutam = seize the minute)

Anybody can seize a day--that's easy enough to get your head around. It's the moment-by-moment opportunity grabbing that I personally seem to have more problem with.

I tend to tell people I don't get writer's block. When I say this, I don't mean that I don't regularly get stuck in the middle of some scene or chapter and want to bang my head against my desk until something brilliant finally shakes loose. It happens. Mental blocks get delivered to the doorstep of my consciousness for all kinds of different reasons. My mistake, when I first started writing, was that I'd sign for the package and bring it inside--let the thing hang around like some horrifically useless paperweight. I was waiting for it to either go away or magically turn into something helpful.

Then, someone in my literary world told me I didn't have to put up with it. (Whoever you are, thank you.) They suggested I get a change of scenery, put on some music, paint, or just take a risk on some blatant opportunity to get out and DO something out of the ordinary. In effect, they told me I could (and should) make an effort to write 'return to sender' on those packages full of blocks and kick them off my porch.

My 4-year-old daughter gave me a glaring chance to do this recently, and I nearly missed it. I'd had a rough few days and couldn't see much beyond the writing progress I WASN'T making. When she came running up to me early one morning yelling "Balloon! Balloon!", I didn't think much of it. (Seriously, the child thinks a latex bag full of room air is the best toy ever.) But she was insistent on dragging me outside to see what she was talking about, so I went. I stepped out in time to hear the roar of propane fire as a hot air balloon made a very low pass directly over our back yard.  

And the long-dormant, gleeful child inside of me squealed, "BALLOON!"

We watched it together in awe for a handful of minutes as it drifted on out into the countryside. Just as I was ready to go back in and get on with my day, my daughter tugged on my shirt and very seriously asked, "Can we chase it?"

And I thought...well, why not?!

So we got in the car and spent the next half hour singing preschool songs while chasing down a hot air balloon. I got lost down back roads I didn't know existed. I readied my phone to call 911 when the balloon's basket came perilously close to clipping power lines. We got in and out of the car half a dozen times just to wave. And finally we sat on the hood of the car and watched as they landed safely, deflated the balloon, and rolled it up into a surprisingly small bundle.

We carped the heck out of that minutam.

And I have to say, my writing (and general outlook) were a lot better off for it. :)

~Angela N. Blount


Friday, September 26, 2014

Armchair Living, or How a Woman Who Can't Swim Went Deep-Sea Diving

"Write what you know," goes the old adage, to which I say, "Stick a fork in that old saying; it's overdone." The new mantra: "Write what you want to know." Or, to paraphrase Bob Dylan, "You don't need to be a weatherman to know which way the wind blows."

I've written some of what I know. I know a lot about New Orleans, where I lived for many, many years. I know about Hurricane Katrina 'cause I was there, unfortunately, among the evacuating masses and the rebuilding few. I know about growing up in rural Alabama in a town so small you're related to everyone if you go back a couple of generations. I know about SEC football. I know about the brutal world of university politics (it's ugly, folks).

After that, it's pretty much me writing about stuff I don't know, but want to. I've lived inside the heads of wizards, elves, vampires, and the humans who love them. I've gone deepwater diving off the foggy, frigid waters of Cape Breton into the turbulent North Atlantic in search of a Knights Templar treasure that sank centuries earlier. I've run from would-be assassins through the English countryside (because I was trying to find King John's lost crown jewels). I've ridden out a hurricane in a fishing camp deep in the Atchafalaya Basin; the hurricane was named after my grandmother. I've been a nuisance gator wrangler, a merman, an eagle shapeshifter, and a Scottish gallowglass warrior.

The coolest thing of all? I get to take readers with me. Because that's what reading books--and writing books--is all about. The chance to live in another space for a little while, to experience something new, to study the human condition from a wonky angle and maybe come away with something to think about.

Which brings me to the Kingdom of Faerie, where some of my characters are about to visit. It will be my first visit to that mythical realm, so I've been thinking about what it should look like.

That's where you come in. Tell me what you'd imagine Faerie to be like, to look like. What would you see? What would you smell and hear? My faeries are not like Tinkerbell or Jinx, I should add. Some are good; some are bad. They look very human, at least when they want to. They're powerful, but definitely march to their own drummer. Currently, the Prince of Winter and the Prince of Summer are in a power struggle for the monarchy because the Faerie Queen is on her last leg and childless.

So, help me build Faerie! I'll choose one commenter to receive a book of choice in his or her format of choice.

Speaking of choice, I hope you're following along this month's big blogfest with the members of the Southern Magic chapter of RWA. We're hoping you'll join us on Saturday, Nov. 1, in Birmingham for the always-awesome Readers Luncheon. Have lunch with some terrific authors, win tons of goodies, enjoy some swag and -- oh -- did I mention that the guest speaker is New York Times bestselling author Sylvia Day? Be there! Click here for more info and to register. Hope to see you there! (And sit at my table because I sure do hate to eat alone.)

Check my blog on Sunday to see if you won! You can also find me on Facebook and on Twitter, and read more about my books as Suzanne Johnson here and as Susannah Sandlin here.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Origins of Women's Rights in America

             We’ve all heard of feminists and women’s rights over the years. But most people do not realize just how early in America’s history women began to argue for equal rights between men and women. Indeed, even Wikipedia fails to give justice where just is due as to America’s contribution to Women's Rights in their article on the topic. (Please note, I'm sure there are more authoritative sites, but for this purpose, Wikipedia serves...)
            In fact, Judith Sargent Murray provided one of the first American voices in this debate. Back when I was studying for my Master’s in English, I came across her essay, “On the Equality of the Sexes,” which was first published in Massachusetts in 1790, though written years earlier. Her claim that women should have equal education as men sparked many ideas in my brain! One such idea was a group of three 18th century women who decided to not marry but provided for themselves. The result is my new A More Perfect Union series, with Emily’s Vow and Amy’s Choice releasing in the next few weeks!
            Emily Sullivan vows to not marry because she fears dying in childbirth (keep in mind the difficulties women faced with regard to contraception, especially when children were vital to running a household). She decides to write comportment essays, championing ideas similar to Murray’s, and to persuade her father to help her secure a shop where she can sell embroidered accessories. Neither option meets with approval by her father, who wants her to marry patriot spy Frank Thomson, the man Emily wishes to avoid at all costs in order to protect her heart. When she lands in trouble due to her father’s privateering, Frank must choose whether to save her or complete his mission.
            Amy Abernathy is a renowned storyteller whose heart shattered when the love of her life slipped out of town without saying goodbye. Never mind Benjamin Hanson had a very good reason, to serve as the Continental army, she never wanted to face such pain again. When he returns suddenly, she flees the town to help her sister in her confinement, only to end up kidnapped by renegades and relying upon Benjamin to rescue her. Only she ends up rescuing the other women in the manor house under attack along with him when he faces the wrong end of a renegade’s rifle.
            Meanwhile, Samantha McAlester must prove her midwifery and healing talents are as successful as young Dr. Trent Cunningham’s medical techniques and practices. But she’s nursing not only Benjamin’s recalcitrant infected gunshot wound but a secret that threatens to undermine her reputation and thus acceptance by the townspeople. All while Trent rocks her confidence and her emotional equilibrium. Can they find a way to work together to cure Benjamin before it’s too late?
            Each of these women possesses an inner strength challenged by the difficult circumstances and restrictions placed upon them by social mores and expectations. Those limits were very different then from what women today work within. In part, we must thank our early American female ancestors for speaking up and beginning the long, weary march toward feminism and women’s lib, on to the means for breaking various “glass ceilings” during our own lifetimes.
            In that vein, I’m reminded how my own parents bucked tradition in the late 1960s to 1970s with their chosen careers. My mother worked as an accountant for Koester Bakery in Baltimore and then for a bakers and tobacco workers union in Kensington, Maryland. My father, in contrast, had a photography studio and a couple of apartments he rented out on our property, so he worked from home, took care of the yard, made dinner every evening, and was there when I came home from school to keep an eye on me. (Not an easy job, from what I hear!)
           Do you have a story to share about how the evolving changes in women’s rights impacted your life? What other changes are desired or needed to make women definitively equal to men as far as equal opportunities and rights? Talk to me and I’ll choose one commenter to win a signed copy of Emily’s Vow (digital or paperback, winner’s choice)!

Also, I’m looking forward to the Southern Magic Reader’s Luncheon on November 1, and hope you’ll consider joining us for a fun and book-filled day! Here’s more info for you on that great event!

            For the month of September, Southern Magic celebrates their Readers Luncheon being held November 1 in Birmingham, AL. NYT bestselling author Sylvia Day is the keynote speaker.  Come back and visit every day. Each post will be giving away a book or gift card! At the end of the blogfest, a grand prize winner of a Kindle Fire HD will be picked from everyone who comment during the month and be announced September 30.
            To register for the luncheon, go to http://southernmagic.org/luncheon.html. Each attendee will receive a bag of books and author swag, sit at a table with one or two published authors, and opportunities to win baskets full of goodies.

And please, stay in touch via social media or, better yet, subscribe to my newsletter, Betty’s Broadside, at www.bettybolte.com/newsletter.htm. As a thank you, each quarter I’ll draw one name at random to win a gift. And most important, I promise to not overload your inbox, but only send out a broadside when there is news worth sharing.

Social Media Links
Website: www.bettybolte.com
Newsletter: www.bettybolte.com/newsletter.htm
Facebook: www.facebook.com/AuthorBettyBolte
Twitter: @BettyBolte
Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/bettybolte
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/bettybolte9
Amazon: www.amazon.com/author/bettybolte

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts and opinions!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

So you want to be a writer?

Do you get all starry-eyed when you finish a good book? Do you find yourself thinking . . . I would love to be able to do that, to make people feel like this . . . I could do it too, I know I have a great story in me! ?

If you do, you might be in terrible danger of . . . becoming an author. Ahhhh!

I used to feel that way. For many years, actually. And for a long time, it was just that: a feeling, a fleeting desire. As years passed, however, the feeling morphed into a sort of itch. It bothered me. Didn’t leave me alone. So one day I had no choice and—idea in hand—I sat down to write a first chapter. And lo and behold, I did it. I wrote one chapter! Yay!

Except that was it. The story didn’t go anywhere. Not so yay :(

Through the years, the itch attacked me few more times—enough for me to sit down again to write another first chapter and sometimes even a second. So much that today, the openings of several different books live stuffed in drawers and old folders around my house. Those stories never went anywhere either, especially not to “the end.” Still the need didn’t go away. It stayed and stayed and stayed.

One day, talking to my best friend—off hand, no big deal—I mentioned the itch. I think she saw the stars in my eyes, and knew—before I did—that I was meant to do this. Being the amazing friend that she is, she bought me a book she thought might inspire me. The book was On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King. I read it, devoured it, really, and from then on everything changed. The reason: the book contained the most valuable piece of advice I’ve ever received as a writer. It was nothing magical, nothing earth shattering, just a simple morsel of common sense advice:

Set a goal.

That was it. Set a goal: a number of words to write every day—no matter what.

But hell, you might say, who wants to set goals? Goals suck!

I’ve heard a lot aspiring authors say, “But I can’t be creative on a schedule. I have to wait for my muse to strike.” But I tell you, this isn’t true. I tell you, you can whip your muse into shape, you can train her to be ready when you are. Because honestly, who’s the boss? You? Or her?

Of course, training takes time. Michael Jordan wasn’t born shooting hoops and nailing every single one, was he? Just like no one was born penning novels in their crib. You start with baby steps, until you learn to run and one day maybe fly. I started with a daily goal of 300 words a day. It doesn’t sounds like much, but I’ll be honest: it was very HARD to do it every day. But I did, and after one hundred days I had 30,000 words. Half a novel! Way more than those lonely chapters I used to write.

From there, I increased my goal little by little. I went to 500, then 700. Now I write 1000 words every day, and I don’t bat an eye. It is actually a manageable goal, even considering my busy life with a full-time job and growing family. 1000 words don’t intimidate me. They used to, but not anymore. My record is actually over 8000 words in an 8-hour stint.

I don’t say this to brag. If, a few years back someone had told me that I’d be able to do this, I would have laughed and told them: NO WAY! No, I say this to illustrate the fact that goal setting works and it can help turn that elusive muse into your own personal b*tch—not the other way around.

So yeah, set a goal!

Post by me, Ingrid Seymour :)
Author of Young Adult and New Adult fiction

One commenter will receive a free ebook copy of THE GUYS ARE PROPS CLUB a fun and sexy new adult novel about two girls bent on breaking guys' hearts to avenge their previous heartache.

I'll pick a winner on Thursday morning. ALSO, all commenters are eligible for the September drawing for a KINDLE FIRE HD! So comment away.

For the month of September, Southern Magic celebrates their Readers Luncheon being held November 1 in Birmingham, AL. NYT bestselling author Sylvia Day is the keynote speaker. Come back and visit every day. Each post will be giving away a book or gift card! At the end of the blogfest, a grand prize winner of a Kindle Fire HD will be picked from everyone who comment during the month and be announced September 30. 

To register for the luncheon, go to http://southernmagic.org/luncheon.html. Each attendee will receive a bag of books and author swag, sit at a table with one or two published authors, and opportunities to win baskets full of goodies.

[Image attribution: Photo by Celestine Chua, used under CC/No changes]