Sunday, July 26, 2015

So you've signed your book contract, what's next? The Cover and my reveal for my next book!

For those of you who have published a book, the process is pretty standard. Once your contract is signed, your book goes into the editing process. From both of my publishers, there was a waiting period of about four months before my manuscript came back with suggestions and edits from the first of two editors.

Usually the editing is grammatical in nature and depending on the strength of the story line, suggestions are made about characters, plot points or observations of logic that we tend to lose sight of during the writing process.

At this point, the publisher will contact you about your cover. As an author, you have a choice. Either use the cover artist /art department chosen by the publisher, who will pay for the cost of the cover, or find a cover artist on your own and pay for the cover yourself.

Which option should you use?  Depends on how passionate you are about the cover and if like me, are a control freak about font, color and image.

Before you make the decision, please do your research. Look at the other covers from your publisher. Are you publishing Romance? Do you want to go with a traditional cover with the couple in states of steamy undress or something contemporary that hints at Romance with objects or a setting? Is it a mystery? Does the cover scream intrigue and make the reader want to know what happens next?

Keep the following in mind when making your decision. Cost, Control and Craft

  1. Cost - A cover from your publisher will not cost you anything. It is one of the perks of signing. An independent cover artist will charge you. The range differs with every artist, from $150 to $500 +. Often the packages differ depending on if your book is being published as an ebook or as an ebook/paperback.
  2. Control - Many publishers use cover artists who charge for changes to the cover, so having the ability to change font, color or images are minimal with the cover from your publisher. For my first book, I loved everything but the model chosen for my heroine. Her outfit didn't match her character as a futuristic Detective. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to change it, because the stock character came dressed that way. Even with this small issue, it still conveyed the sci fi theme and remains one of my favorite covers to date.

What do you want the cover to say? The pictures alone should give your reader an impression about theme, setting, and atmosphere. We are visual in nature and can see in an instant, whether the book appeals to us. Don't believe me? Do a google image search for book covers and see which one's jump out at you. Those are the same reactions that others are having.

    3. Craft - Unless someone has read your book, at this point your cover is your craft. It is the thing you will use for your marketing, identify new readers with your brand and make people want to pick it up, click on it, or take their precious time to read it. Do not underestimate the importance of a smart, savvy cover. You will be living with it, as you market your hard work and introduce people to you, your characters and your brand.

Questions only you can answer

When you finally make your decision, the artist will want to know what you want on the cover. Because he or she won't be reading your book, it's important to give a sense of plot, theme, characters and atmosphere through the questions you will be asked.

Some of the questions include:

Book title
Author's name
What is the genre? Romance, mystery, YA, non- fiction, horror, etc.
What is the book about - I recommend sending in a short synopsis or at the very least, the blurb you will be putting on the back cover
If Romance - details about the hero and heroine from color of eyes and hair to if they look like a certain movie star. All of these are important because most smaller prints use stock model shots, so they will be sliding that picture into a background that will reflect your book.
Key Elements in the story - objects or locations that figure prominently. For example, a treasure chest, flowers, a castle.
Are there other covers that might compare - it's a good idea to look at other covers in your genre and reference them for a particular feel or look. Submitting links or websites will give the artist a good understanding of a cover with a similar feel.
Is there anything you don't want on the cover - One of my cover artists - Rae Monet, asks this question. For myself, although I write romance, I don't necessarily want to see abs and or a typical couple posed on the cover. Answering this question, will give your artist an idea of what you might consider cliche and narrow the vision they have in their head for your book.

My Reveal !

So for my newest book, I did my research, looking at other blogs and cover artists that had a great reputation in the industry. Because my book will be in print and as an ebook, I had to find an artist who offered both packages as well as other options like multiple designs, liberal options for changes and a decent turnaround time.

With multiple awards and numerous covers on the USA Today and New York Times bestsellers lists, I opted to go with Damonza. After filling in their questionnaire, and anxiously waiting for ten days, I received back two covers. The first shows the location and a key object in my book.

 The second is a more traditional romance cover, but with the suspense and edginess that comes with a paranormal mystery romance.  

So which did I choose? After several days of polling friends on Facebook, I went with the majority, which was ... ( drum role please), the blue cover.
 It was then submitted to my publisher for approval and I have to agree, my friends made the right choice.
 I did however purchase the second cover as well, which I will use for marketing purposes, and because I love it too. Did I make the right choice? Feel free to comment below.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

So you've signed a book contract. Now what?

The other day, I signed my contract for my new book, Surviving the Summit of Good and Evil. This is my third book and second with my publisher Black Opal Books. Unsure of etiquette and having published two previous books - I submitted my query to both publishers.

I soon found myself in an enviable position - both publishers wanted my book. How then to decide which publisher to go with? Both are amazing indie publishers. I had nothing but great experiences with both of them. Both gave me great attention as an author from correspondence, marketing, wonderful editors and timelines to publication that were realistic.

So what made me go with Black Opal?

My book in print. While I loved my experience with my other publisher, they have chosen to go in a direction of ebooks only,and for me, I am a traditionalist. I love feeling my book between my fingers or being able to see it on my bookshelf as I dream of the day when it will be on many other bookshelves. Don't get me wrong, I am a huge fan of ebooks but as an author who is building my platform, having multiple avenues for readers to access my book is also important, and having my book in print and ebook is a non negotiable for me.

So what now? My contract has been signed, my book is queuing in the edit line and if history is correct, will be four months before I get the first edits back, then another six months for second edits and finally publication.

Now it's up to me as an author to start promotion of my new book and try to generate buzz for the upcoming birth of my new paranormal baby.

First things first, here's the pitch for my new book, Surviving the Summit of Good and Evil.

New York Detective Kate Morgan carries a lot of secrets. The black sheep of America’s most notorious crime family, she walks a fine line between her commitment to truth and justice and the obligations demanded from her family.  Her ability to read minds doesn't help either.
FBI agent Grant Anderson embraces his role and place in the Anderson family, America’s richest and philanthropic example of good will and kindness but also bucks his family’s expectations of settling for their idea of the right girl. To them Kate is anything but the right girl.
For thousands of years, the Morgans and Andersons have been sworn enemies. Families steadfast in their loyalty and commitment as handpicked first families to the Devil and God. Both sides tread carefully, maintaining the balance between good, evil and immortality and endure each other only once a century, during the Summit of Good and Evil. With the mysterious murder of Gus Morgan, the balance is threatened, the future of humanity in jeopardy and it is up to Kate and Grant fight their attraction  and solve this murder before all hell comes crashing down

So that's what I sent as my query, along with the book and within forty eight hours, this was Black Opal's response, which makes my heart sing, every time I see this.


I definitely want the book. Do you have a synopsis?

I will have the attorney prepare you a contract as soon as he gets back from vacation.


Lauri Wellington
  Acquisitions Editor
black logo without background for letterhead

Over the next few months, we'll examine the process of taking this book to press. Next steps for me - soothing my inner control freak and choosing a company to design my book cover.
Next up - choosing a great book cover.  Stay tuned ....

Thursday, April 2, 2015

In Defense of Target Canada - A reflection on my past in the trenches

This is the first and last time that I will ever combine my day job and my career as a writer, but I feel it necessary, after all the bad publicity surrounding the failure of Target's expansion into Canada to defend the company that I once loved as an employee and continue to love as a brand. I can't speculate on decisions made by corporate, I can only share what I personally experienced and my opinions are my own, so if you don't like it, stop reading.

Back in September of 2012, I showed up for my first day of orientation as an Executive Team Leader at a hotel by the airport in Toronto. There, in a ballroom I met my fellow ETL's who were hired from diverse cultures and backgrounds to open the first round of Target Canada stores in Ontario, Canada. We were part of Cycle One stores opening in the GTA west and one of numerous training sessions that brought on over 100 managers to navigate the wave of store openings.

I arrived not knowing what position I would be managing or which store I would be placed in, but the excitement of Target was in the air and after a grueling six months of interviews and beating out thousands of managers for a position with a brand I loved, I didn't care which place I had in the family, I was just honored to be there.

Very quickly, it became evident that the people who hired us, took into account, diversity, personality and work experience. They focused on seasoned professionals, like myself, who had been a district manager, corporate recruiter and training manager, as well as bringing on board a number of Campus Recruits. These were students just out of university and hired by Target with the intent to guide them through the first part of their working lives and give them a career, not just a job.

By the end of the first day, I knew my place in my new family. I was an Executive Team Leader of Overnight Replenishment and my store was Square One, - the flagship and largest Target to open during cycle one. True to form, Target looked at my strengths and pulled from previous experience  while giving me a new challenge at the same time.

I had some experience in logistics when I opened the Krispy Kreme brand in Canada, but the stores were small, with minimal products to worry about. In my new role, myself and three other managers would be in charge of four team leader reports and one hundred team members. We would be responsible for unloading tractor trailers of goods from the distribution center, ensuring the shelves were properly stocked, the store zoned for our guests, backrooms organized and our team members happy and productive within a very short window of time.

My fellow managers were as awesome and diverse as the products that Target carried. We had new Canadians with only overseas experience, campus recruits with no experience, seasoned logistics and retail managers and those from hospitality backgrounds. We were a United Nations of people and experience, all focused on making the success of Target in Canada possible.

How were we going to integrate our experience into the Target brand? Not to worry, we were assured. Good people with good values can be taught anything and they did that with a multi week program that included classroom experience in Canada and practical training in one of their stores across the United States. Our class was split according to stores for the practical training piece. Some of us went to Nashville, some to Texas and our Square One team went to Target Headquarters in Minneapolis to train at multiple Super Target locations.

From the minute we stepped off the plane, we were treated with the legendary hospitality that Americans are known for. We had a grueling two weeks ahead of us, learning the in's and outs of Target culture, and best practices in store. With my training background and the challenge of trying to train team leaders and staff without a working store, I set my sights on acquiring as many training tips and tools that would make the job easier for my future team members. Never once, did they stop me from gathering the materials I felt I needed to do the job. We weren't people from Canada, we were members of the Target family, so if I wanted to learn something that wasn't part of my job description, they patiently gave me a person to advise me or the tools to help me succeed, while never missing a beat with their daily duties of managing a very busy store.

For the first two weeks we were given an overview of all store management positions and for myself more of an in-depth look into logistics. I worked along side team members who had been fifteen, twenty and thirty years with the company.  Passion and enthusiasm were everywhere.  Many of these people juggled two jobs, family and school with a smile on their face and never a negative word. A wonderful African American gentleman in his sixties, gently corrected me on proper stocking techniques, while explaining about how he was going to school during the day to finish his Masters degree because he was working towards his idea of the American dream.

I came away with new Facebook friends, lots of information for my team members and a passion for my new company that did more than treat me as an equal, I was part of their family.

The atmosphere that first day back in Toronto was electric. We shared stories of amazing training, passionate people, and wonderful technology that made everyone's jobs easier. We injected the Target culture of FFF ( fast, fun and friendly) into our classroom and celebrated our fellow managers. For me, I was especially touched when one of the training days coincided with the release date of my first book, The Fog. Not only did Chris, the facilitator, throw my Amazon page up on the screen, he was one of the first people to buy my novel, even though it was Sci Fi Romance, lol.

After that point, time sped up. One more trip back to Minneapolis for 'deep dive' training and in my case a week in Los Angeles to work at a Target offsite location. Once back, with the store still in renovations from the previous Zellers location, we dove into hiring for Square One.

Right off the bat, we battled an inaccurate public perception that said we had bought the Zellers brand and put fellow Canadians out of work. Wrong. We bought the lease space from HBC, their parent company. It was their decision to close down the stores and as a show of good will, we gave people with Zellers experience first crack at interviewing for a Target Canada position. We hired lots of people from that company and they were amazing additions to the Target brand.

On the first day of our hiring fair, we were kicked out of our location by the management of the facility we had booked, because another part of the complex had been rented by a national drug store company and they were holding a Christmas party there. They threatened that they would never return for future bookings, if our small team of managers from Target were allowed to hold their job fair in another part of this massive building.

Bah humbug to Target that day.

So we quietly packed up, moved across the street and crammed ourselves into three small rooms, while apologizing to our prospective candidates about a last minute change in location for their interviews.

With hiring done, we focused on getting our store open and from a logistics point of view, ran into problems immediately. We had a third party distribution company that was sending product to our stores but with a new SAP program and an inability to draw from Target computer systems down south, we were left with an uneven distribution of product. In anticipation of busy store openings, large quantities of items were bought but with the new SAP system for Canada, products started to arrive in either ridiculous quantities or not at all and procedures that should have replenished us properly didn't work quite as well as they should have.

Still we soldiered on and over time we started to receive trucks that had accurate replenishment for our store. Little by little we received the same products that you could find in any Target south of the border. We launched Target specific brands like Archer Farms, Threshold and Up and Up generic products while making sure we promoted Canadian brands as well.

Did we have the cool grocery items that every Canadian looks for in the States? No, we didn't carry Goobers ( peanut butter and jam spread) or those cool American soft drinks  because we probably
couldn't get them. Did we have large bags of American candy brands for Halloween? No, but we had every single Christmas ornament found in every Target store south of the border, with the exception of two ornaments that celebrated the families of American soldiers.

We had Merona clothing and launched noted American designers like Peter Pilotto and Sonia Kashuk while celebrating Canada by promoting the Roots brand. Again we faced criticism about our lack products, which is funny because every time I made the trip to a Buffalo Target, I saw the same endcaps featuring the same products as my Target. I saw the same music artists featured, the same clothes in women's wear and the same products in bedding and bath.

Were our prices that same as American stores? No, but they were close. Canadians don't have the buying power or the ability to offer prices like American stores, so yeah, prices were a bit higher but not enough to boycott shopping there. Our over the counter pharmacy section was frequently a better deal than any competitor and problems with our product mix favored the consumer. It meant you could get great deals in all parts of the store at 30-50% off because we were trying to keep our products in line with our American stores and too much buying equaled a deal for the customer.

As the year went on, we managed cutbacks in payroll, changes in upper management, policy and procedure while trying to keep the Target culture alive. We gave feedback about logistics and distribution and expressed our concerns from the trenches, so to speak, to sympathetic but deaf ears at head office.  Rumors of managing out higher paid, experienced managers started to turn into reality as expectations became unreasonable and good people started to leave. It was at this point, and with an offer from a wonderful American brand, I decided to leave as well.

Did I ever think they would shut the brand down completely? Never. I was flabbergasted to hear the announcement on the news and felt terrible for all the people I knew who still worked there.

I hated watching the media frenzy surrounding the first day of liquidation knowing full well that the pricing was in the hands of  third party liquidators and once again Target was being bashed by people who didn't support them when they were around and now criticized them for prices that they didn't even set.

Last week, I visited the store I helped open for the last time. It was heartbreaking to see the shelves trashed by bargain hunters and hearing the ignorant customers blame hourly employees for the failure of the brand. It was heart warming to see people that I worked with still trying to keep a respectable looking store together, even though they are out of a job in a couple of weeks. That's what pride and integrity are all about.

Say what you will about Target, but they treated us like kings and more importantly like part of their family. They always tried to do the right thing and they should be respected for that.

In hindsight, they tried to launch too many stores and made a classic American mistake of expanding too fast into a country with the population of California. They opened stores in locations where a lot of people equated the color red with a different failed Canadian brand.

Their platform of fun and unique items that every Canadian Target fan hunts for wasn't always possible and without cool American products everywhere, there wasn't a hope that people would accept them.

Every time I look at a paperweight that we received after the initial wave of stores opened, I think we did do it. It was damned hard work opening 124 stores, three distribution centers, and a head office all at once. We had a right to be proud of every piece of freight we unloaded, every planogram we set and every team member we gave recognition to. We spread good will across the nation with social media and the Target Bullseye bus and tried to celebrate Canada instead of pushing American culture onto a different country.

 Like many families we had our problems. We had ups and downs. We fought and made unfair assumptions because we couldn't see the big picture. There were times when we celebrated, times when we failed and times when we had to pick ourselves back up and keep going to matter how hard it was. Sometimes families break down and sometimes they give up. Members might leave but they will always be family and I will treasure my time as a part of the Target family.

The brand might be broken but everything broken can be fixed and hopefully they will be back to try again in the future.

Target really did love Canada. I saw that first hand. Too bad Canada didn't love it back.

Friday, July 4, 2014

A kid, some chocolate and a life lesson learned

Tonight, on my way home from work I stopped by the grocery to pick up something for dinner. Upon entering the store I spied a kid, probably around eleven, hawking chocolate bars. He fidgeted in a casual way, targeting people who came out of the store, probably figuring if they had money to spend on groceries a few dollars more might find its way into his hands as well.

Sure enough, fifteen minutes later, when I left the store, he chose me as his target. "Hello ma'am I'm selling chocolate bars for X organization would you like to buy some? They're one for three dollars or two for five."

Now normally I feel bad for the kids, either giving in because I feel sorry or I breeze by with some kind of mumbling explanation revolving around only having a debit card and no cash. Tonight I had the money and quite honestly felt sorry for the guy. Standing in front of a grocery store, getting turned down by strangers was never something I could stomach, no matter how many fundraising activities I had to participate in for school.  To be honest I don't know if those kids selling the chocolate are part of a bigger scam or genuine young entrepreneurs, too young to get a job without mountains of paperwork and connections that a young person needs nowadays.

The kid smiled at me and I rolled my eyes. He reminded me of the actor who plays Manny on Modern Family. Same type of cute swagger.

"Okay, I'll take one," I said  digging into my pocket for three dollars.

"How about buying two? It's only five dollars," he replied with a wink.

Having eaten my share of these bars, not to mention I needed chocolate in the house like a hole in the head, I declined, reiterating that I only wanted one.

"Come on, I only have six more to sell and I have to stay here until I sell them all. How about two?"
"One." I replied with some amount of finality meant to convince both him and me. My groceries were starting to melt and the kid bantered with such charm that my resolve was

After a few more seconds of negotiation, I walked away with one chocolate bar and an admiration for this spunky kid. I didn't doubt with his charm he would sell those six chocolate bars but more importantly his tenacity, drive and courage will be the keys to get him farther in life than selling chocolate bars in front of a grocery store.

So, kid, if I see you again I probably will buy two chocolate bars from you because the one thing I admire is the courage to try, try and try again...and if you ever read a future book of mine, you'll probably find a character in it. Just like you.

On another note, meet some more of my fellow authors...

Meet Ryan Jo Summers!

      Ryan Jo Summers is a North Carolina writer who pens romances with a twist, mixing contemporary love stores with threads of Christian messages, time travel, paranormal and mystery. She began writing at the age of ten and never really stopped, always having to give voice to the characters and scenes in her mind. When not writing, she enjoys spending time with her menageries of pets, time out with friends, getting with nature, cooking and reading or painting just about anything.  Shimmers of Stardust is her first book out with Soul Mate Publishing, expected September of 2014, followed by a mystery romance in November. 
WHISPERS IN HER HEART--November 2012 Black Lyon Publishing 
SHIMMERS OF STARDUST--September 2014 Soul Mate Publishing 
WHEN CLOUDS GATHER--November 2014 Soul Mate Publishing

Shimmers of Stardust

Logan Riley is a Civil War hero turned renegade outlaw and hanged for his crimes in 1869. Except he survives, traveling through time. Fast forward 140 years and anthropologist Dr. McKenzie Lynne is hired by team of physicists to find a time traveling treasure. Kenzie finds Logan and soon learns the real fate they have in mind for him. Horrified, she runs, taking their living treasure. Now, pursued by obsessed physicists and the military, they race across the deserts and mountains of AZ and NM. If they get caught, it’s a lifetime of imprisonment and tests for him and certainly worse for her. But staying free means forever on the run, hunted and homeless.
        Running and hiding, hunted like criminals, they also discover attraction and love blooming like wild desert flowers. Logan knows how to survive on nothing, how to outwit the pursuers, when to run and when to hole up. What he doesn't know is how to keep himself safe from Kenzie's power. Kenzie's strong Christian faith works to convict him of his past crimes better then the hangman’s noose had. As their affections continue to grow and their pursuers close in, their love will face the harshest test of all—Kenzie's Christian morals and Logan's bad boy nineteenth century outlaw justice against the twenty-first century US Military and the insane physicists who will stop at nothing to get them back. 

Meet Larynn Ford !

I was born and raised in the South, lived in the country all my life, and love my animals. I have two goats, a potbelly pig, a kitty, and lots of fish. I love being outdoors, spending time with my animals, and gardening, but writing is my true love. I write paranormal romance set in the South. While my renewed interest in reading and the idea I’d like to try my hand at writing began with a bunch of teenage vampires, the characters pushing forward from my imagination to my computer screen lately have been cats. Big cats. Rescued, my book about werecougars, will be released July 16.


Fiercely independent and determined to be taken seriously in a man’s world, PI Rose Baxter will do whatever it takes to find the kids who are disappearing from the streets and bring them home safe, even teaming up with PI Marty Brown, a man hot enough to burn whatever part of her gets too close – her fingers, her sheets, her life, and her other nature’s whiskers.
But her other nature knows whiskers grow back and will accept nothing less than this man as her mate for life, a plan Marty’s all in on. Sparks fly when she refuses to be the little woman. Besides, those kids need her and their time’s running out. But, thrown together 24/7 can she fight it?


Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Importance of Setting Goals

I find the hardest challenge I fight, beyond the usual monkey on my back of writer's block is that of discipline. The discipline of writing every day, that is. Of course ending sentences with a preposition is another one, but I digress.

When I think back to the art of discipline - and it is an art, I usually freestyle it, which means I write based on whims and impulses. Does it work? Sometimes. But more often than not,  I end up frustrated because I haven't written enough or completed x book in x amount of time.

Thinking back to the accomplishments I have managed in my life, I am happiest when the those accomplishments are the result of goal setting. Be it personal or professional, the finishing of a goal with a positive result is meaningful, satisfying and motivation to set additional goals.

So here's my challenge to myself and to you. I am going to my first RWA conference in San Antonio at the end of the month. My challenge, my goal is to finish at least one project that I am working on - not just to have something to pitch to editors and agents but also as a way to feel a sense of accomplishment. Will you join me in this challenge and finish that project that has been the annoying monkey on your back?

Now a few authors that have finished projects near and dear to their hearts...

Meet Anne Cole !

Souls Entwined is Anne B. Cole’s debut release, combining sweet romantic suspense, time travel, and paranormal elements in a New Adult novel attractive to a wide range of readers.

In addition to writing, Anne teaches preschool and is raising three very active teenagers with her husband of twenty-two years. Her love for making fresh baked goodies, running, hiking, historical fiction, and her three pet cats continue to be her inspiration while she pens the sequel to Souls Entwined.

Souls Entwined

When a cursed family heirloom sends Gretta Dobbs back in time, a hunky construction worker, Sam Daggett, suddenly finds himself love struck and joins her adventure. Their souls entwine within the bodies of young lovers on a Greek island in 1829, where they begin to unravel the mysteries behind Grettas ring all while avoiding a bloodthirsty pirate who is determined to seek revenge. Gretta and Sam must find the secrets needed to save her and her relatives from an afterlife in purgatory and return to their own lives---or risk becoming prisoners of the past, continuing the evil cycle of the ring’s curse.

To follow Anne’s publishing journey and connect with her, check out her website and find her on Twitter and Facebook.

Click on the Buy Link below to see Souls Entwined on Amazon.

Meet MJ Compton !

Although my 30-year career in local television included such highlights as being bitten by a lion, preempting a US President for a college basketball game, giving a three-time world champion boxer a few black eyes, a mention in the Drudge Report, and meeting my husband, my urge to write never went away. I live in upstate New York with my husband and two young-adult children revolving in and out of the house. I'm a member of Romance Writers of America and Central New York Romance Writers. Music and cooking are two of my passions, and I enjoy watching baseball and college basketball, but I'm primarily focused on wine . . . and writing.

My current release is Moonlight Serenade, a sexy paranormal romantic suspense that New York Times Best Selling Author Maggie Shayne says is "a gripping, sexy as hell, page turner of a werewolf novel not for the faint hearted!" Alpha male werewolf Tokarz de Lobo Garnier will do anything for his headstrong human bride . . . except trust her. She’s a reporter, and she’s on the trail of a story that could destroy the sanctuary his pack has enjoyed since the American Revolution. But she’s in danger, and risking her safety goes against everything he believes. 


Meet Linda Bennett Pennell !

I have been in love with the past for as long as I can remember. Anything with a history, whether shabby or majestic, recent or ancient, instantly draws me in. I suppose it comes from being part of a large extended family that spanned several generations. Long summer afternoons on my grandmother's porch or winter evenings gathered around her fireplace were filled with stories both entertaining and poignant. Of course being set in the South, those stories were also peopled by some very interesting characters, some of whom have found their way into my work. I reside in the Houston area with one sweet husband and one German Shorthaired Pointer who is quite positive she is a little girl. When I am not writing, I can be found singing with the Texas Master Chorale, volunteering with my church and community arts efforts, and working with the local school district. 
Favorite quote regarding my professional passion:  "History is filled with the sound of silken slippers going downstairs and wooden shoes coming up." Voltaire   
Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel now available from Soul Mate Publishing
Confederado do Norte  coming from Soul Mate Publishing July 9, 2014

Twitter:  @LindaPennell 
Buy Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel:

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Happy Canada Day and a few thoughts on gratitude

A big Happy Canada Day to all my fellow Canadians and an early Happy Fourth of July to my American friends. With a full day set aside for writing I can't help thinking about gratitude and all of the things I am grateful for on this wonderfully sunny and hot holiday.

Firstly I am grateful for living in such a beautiful country that celebrates diversity and multiculturalism. Unlike our neighbors to the south, we don't look at Canada Day as a celebration of independence and a turning point in our history - we are still a Commonwealth country if more for tradition than anything else. I celebrate Canada Day for the freedom given to us by the brave men and women that fought for our country in all past wars, for the diversity of our present day country that embraces people from all cultures while standing strong on the values that make us Canada, and for the privileges of living here like great natural resources, friendly neighbors to the south and a pretty darn good reputation as being a nice and hospitable folk.

Finally I am personally grateful to the publishers of my books - Soul Mate Publishing  for The Fog and Black Opal Books, for Showdown at Evil High. Both Debby and Lauri saw potential in my writing and I look forward to a long and happy relationship with both companies.

A Few Thoughts on Gratitude in Writing..

When I think about the word Gratitude, the first thing that pops into my mind is Oprah and her Super Soul Sunday's. I love watching the people that she interviews because in addition to wonderful advice, they seem to embody the word  Gratitude. Many of them have looked back on the lives that they created for themselves and pushed past the daily struggles to embrace the small things that have made them successful. From the families and peers that have supported them to the community that rally around their brand to make it the success that it is today.

I think as a writer it is important to inject gratitude into your characters. Too many times I throw my characters into impossible situations just to see how they can rise above. Not as many times do I stop to have them embrace and learn from their situation. In our daily lives we strive to learn from our experiences, hoping that it makes us better people. So too should our characters. How can we make them learn and grow from their experiences? How can they see the good in a situation and learn from their mistakes? How can they impart gratitude onto others?

On this day of celebration and reflect for Canada, I will be grateful for my blessings and asking my characters to give thanks as well... how about you?

Since my blog was too long yesterday, I had to bump Eris to today. So without further ado.....

Meet Eris Field !!!!

At 17, Eris left Vermont to attend Union University School of Nursing in Albany, New York where she met her future husband, a surgical intern from Istanbul, Turkey. After they married and moved to Buffalo, New York, Eris worked as a nurse at Roswell Park Cancer Institute.  When their five children finished high school, Eris returned to school and completed her Master’s in Psychiatric Nursing. She taught psychiatric nursing at the University at Buffalo for several years. </ Eris’ first publications were a biographical novel, Legacy of Change: The Saga of a Turkish Family from Empire to Republic, that she co-authored with her late husband and a textbook, Psychiatric Advanced Practice Nursing.  In her first novel, The Gift of Love, she shows how the hero, a grandson of a Father Baker boy, uses the treasures of Western New York to save a mute child and win the heart of the woman he loves..
Now, Eris lives in a ‘snow-belt’ town in Western New York and writes what she loves to read--contemporary, cross cultural romances. She is a member of the Romance Writers of American and the Western New York Romance Writers group.  Her interests include supporting the Crossroads Springs Institute in Kenya for children orphaned by AIDS and visiting as many fascinating cities of the world as she can.

Expat from Turkish Harem Rules Saved by Dutch Psychiatrist
The lattices created by the rules of our families and culture may stifle us but it is the lattices of our own making that strangle us.
 June 11. Orchard Park, NY. Soul Mate Publishing’s release, Lattices of Love, by Eris Field is a contemporary, cross-cultural romance about Emine Wheeler, a Turkish-American psychiatric nurse from Buffalo, NY, and Marc van Etten, a Dutch psychiatrist from Amsterdam--two people who must marry but for different reasons.

When Emine broke a long engagement and then refused a maneuvered marriage, her actions threatened her family’s honor. To prevent disgrace, Emine, who had always believed that there should be love in a marriage, accepts Marc’s offer of marriage, a marriage that would solve his problem of providing care for the troubled four year old he calls his daughter. Emine falls in love with her reticent husband who believes that people blame him for his wife’s suicide. Fighting for his love, Emine uses what’s available to her--the fragrant soaps of Edirne, the magic of Turkish baths, ancient recipes for Turkish dishes such as ladies’ curves and ladies’ navels, the mysterious gleam of Zultanite gems from Anatolia, and the crimson silk garments of every Turkish bride—but only Marc can vanquish his demons that stand in the way.
 Lattices of Love is an elegant story about suffering, forgiveness and love. Field has drawn on her experience as a Clinical Specialist in Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing and on her experience with Turkish-American women, including her three daughters. Lattices of Love can be ordered as an e-book from

 Lattices of Love
Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing
Release date: June 11, 2014
ISBN: -61935-478-4

Meet Becky Lower !!!

Amazon best-selling author Becky Lower has traveled the country looking for great settings for her novels. She loves to write about two people finding each other and falling in love, amid the backdrop of a great setting, be it present day middle America or on a covered wagon headed west in the 1850s. Contemporary and historical romances are her specialty. Becky is a PAN member of RWA and is a member of the Contemporary and Historic RWA chapters. She has a degree in English and Journalism from Bowling Green State University, and lives in an eclectic college town in Ohio with her puppy-mill rescue dog, Mary. 

The Road To Comfort
 Juliette St.James has only done two impetuous things in her life, and the first resulted in her becoming a single parent at age 18. Now, she’s embarking on a cross-country trip to celebrate becoming an empty-nester. Not sure of what she will do now that she’s flying solo, she comes face-to-face with her worst nightmare—a cowboy.
 Cyclone Kelley is a former rodeo cowboy who has broken one too many body parts to continue on the rodeo circuit. But the one body part that can’t be fixed by putting it into a cast is his heart, which was broken when his wife died. He wasn’t home to save her, and feels he’s unworthy for any kind of lasting relationship with a woman, so his life has been a meaningless string of one-nighters.
 One broken car and an equally broken cowboy later, they are forced to decide if love is worth gambling on what could be. Or if tornadoes, and Cyclones, are better left alone.

Monday, June 30, 2014

The Big Easy Blog Tour

Many thanks to Tierney James, a fellow author of mine from Black Opal Books.She invited me to be a participant on her tour, so for those of you joining me for the first time, a few answers that she posed to me.

What Am I working on?

I have an equal love of  writing Paranormal Romance and Young Adult Paranormal. Currently I am working on three different projects. The first is a paranormal romance mystery with a working title of The Reunion. It's a story about two families that hold a summit every fifty years. The families are the chosen representatives of Heaven and Hell , their job to maintain the balance between good and evil. The story centers around the mysterious death of a member of one family and the struggle for two opposing members to solve the mystery before all hell breaks loose.

How does my work differ from others in its genre?
I like to focus on my characters and how I can challenge them to grow and learn from their experiences. I think while creating the universe, the atmosphere is very important, but it is the emotional connection the reader has to the characters that make the story. As a reader and a viewer of many movies, I believe it is the stories that connect with its viewers that make the most difference. While I think cool ideas and elements that enhance the story are important, the essential pieces that make the story successful will always be the human connection. I don't like getting caught up in elements of a story that detract from the reading experience. Things like impossible names that the reader spends time trying to pronounce, or hundreds of characters that are difficult to keep track of pull the reader out of the story and once immersed, as a writer, I feel an obligation to keep the story as clean and straightforward as possible for the sake of the reader and making their experience as pleasurable as possible.

Why do I write what I do?

What can I say, I am a sucker for romance. I love strong male characters, headstrong heroines and interesting sidekicks. An unusual twist on reality through creating a paranormal injection of interest keeps me intrigued as well. As writers we spend so much time on the characters and their story during the development stage. It's important for me to be interested in the people and their stories because of the time spent developing their universe. If the circumstances and people don't constantly challenge me, the marathon of writing their story won't make me want to see how their story ends. Often something will happen  to a character and at the time I did not have any idea why I made that happen. For example in Showdown at Evil High, I had no idea why Sullivan demanded to see his dead wife at the beginning of the book. I had no clue how that would fit into Killara's journey until the story had almost finished and this element became important to both characters. I also love writing what I do because I want to be a character in that world. I want to be the gorgeous headstrong heroine, fearless and free. Is is living vicariously through them? You betcha!

How Does My Writing Process Work?

I wish I was disciplined enough to say I get up at the crack of dawn, write for a few hours and can turn out a book in a month. Unfortunately that isn't me. I write best at night, just before bed. Currently I have a 9-5 job so I am able to write during my lunch hour as well as after work.  I have a home office but also write on my couch, in my bed and at the local Starbucks. Basically I carry my laptop where ever I go and when the mood strikes, I write.
And now a few fellow authors, I would like to promote...
In the interest of paying it forward, I am featuring other authors on my website all this week . Here are the first three. I hope you click on their links and check out their fabulous bodies of work!!!!!

Meet Lauren Linwood ! 

Since I was a history teacher, I enjoy reading novels that tie in historical tidbits to their plot. Steve Berry and Brad Meltzer are masters at this. I’m an avid moviegoer, and I also follow college and professional sports. I love to walk every morning and do yoga—but I will never be able to pull my foot from behind me to hover above my head! I watch everything from Downton Abbey to The Walking Dead and wish I could be a writer/producer on Game of Thrones. I gobble up shows such as MasterChef Sand The Next Food Network Star, but I’m sad to report that I’m just a mediocre cook . . . who loves to eat!

She's promoting her new book: Written in the Cards

Maggie Rutherford jilts her too-perfect society groom at the altar and flees to the American West, where she turns her travels into dime novels that she writes under the pen name Lud Madison.

Civil War veteran Ben Morgan marries his childhood sweetheart and takes her to homestead on the Great Plains. Losing her in an Indian attack, Ben becomes a gambler. When he kills a cheating opponent in self-defense, the man’s gunslinger brother swears revenge.

Ben hides on a cattle drive and brings in a herd to Abilene, where a waiting Maggie interviews him for her next story. Sparks fly as they wind up living in the same household, running a general store east of Abilene. But with Black Tex Lonnegan on his trail, will Ben run from his growing attraction to Maggie and the gunfighter’s promise of death–or will he make a stand for his life–and love? 

Meet Heather Wampler !

I'm a simple woman. I love to write. I love love. So I combine the two with some added flair. I tend to write about whatever I'm into at the time. My first novel was about zombies. While at work one day a few of the neurosurgeons and I got talking and The Last Alive was born. The next novel, War of the Gods was born when I was watching my husband play God of War. The third and my second favorite, Cutlass Anne, came from my love of history and my love affair with pirates for a few months.  
I love to write. There is a force in side of me that compels me to write so I do. At the moment I'm working on four more novels. Two that are in the editing stage. It's almost as though I have these stories in my mind that are just bursting to come out. 
I would love to tell you about my most recent release, Cutlass Anne.
After setting out to save her sister, Anne Crowley finds herself face-to-face with the notorious John Jacks, the ruthless pirate captain. John Jacks thwarts Anne’s every move yet she finds herself attracted to the infuriating pirate. Determined to find her sister, and resist the charming John Jacks, Anne and her band of pirates must search the high seas for clues to finding her missing sister before she’s lost forever. 
Twitter - hlwampler