Monday, June 25, 2012

Interview with Francis Ray - Romance Author

Francis Ray
Romance Author
Release Party for A Dangerous Kiss

     Welcome to my interview with Francis! Yet another of her books is being released this week and she's here to celebrate with us! Gather around the table, pull up another chair, as we enjoy coffee and snacks at an outdoor cafe in busy Manhattan! The warm summer breeze makes us want to fill our book bags before we head to the beach and we hope you'll add a few of Francis' books!

Deanna:  Francis, thank you for bringing us all together here in Manhattan. The city is alive with people and traffic. Tell us a bit about yourself.

Francis: I hope everyone can enjoy the city! I started reading romance books late in life, but after the first book I was hooked.  Now that I write, I really miss those long leisure hours of reading.  Reading is a great addition that you can proudly admit to in public. 

Deanna:  For an evening out, would it be dinner or a movie? What would the dinner be? What might the movie be?

Francis: For an evening out it is usually dinner at a steakhouse.  I like action films like Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.

Deanna:  Do you prefer wine, whiskey, scotch, or ice tea?

Francis: I prefer sweetened iced tea with lots of ice and a splash of fresh lemon juice.

Deanna: What do you do to relax when you aren’t writing?

Francis: I love reading and working in my flower garden.  I can look out my office window and just enjoy the flowers in that particular bloom season or relax outside with my iced tea and a romance book.

Deanna:  That does sound enjoyable. Do you have to split your writing time between a day job?

Francis: As of this month I can say I write full time.  I've looked forward to this day for a long time.  My hope is that I can be disciplined and increase my output from 4 to 6 books a year.  Wish me luck.

Deanna:  Congrats on being able to write full time and good discipline will help you achieve your goals! How many plots do you include in one of your books?

Francis: In my romance books I have 1-2 two plots.  In my women's fiction I usually have two romances going on so the plots increase to 2-3. 

Deanna:  Readers love to know how writers spend their day. Tell us about a typical day in your life as a writer.

Francis: A typical day for me in the summer is hand-watering all the pots of flowers (17), a light breakfast, answering email, doing a little social networking, and then it's time to work on the current book.  That 'work' might be actual writing, research, or plotting.  If I have a book out that month there is also marketing, answering fan mail and book signings.

Deanna:  What one thing would you pass on to new writers?

Francis: Be gracious, and remember that another writer's blessing might not be yours. Be thankful for your accomplishments, but never stop trying to improve on the craft of writing.  I know more than one.  Sorry.

Deanna:  Helping others and hoping they reach a successful limit is just good karma and comes back two-fold! We have to cheer each other on! Do your books have a common theme or are they all different?

Francis: The reoccurring theme of my books is the strength and resiliency of women, and the power of love.

Deanna:  What are the physical characteristics that you admire in a man?

Francis: I admire tall, athletic men.  My husband was six-two, but physical characteristics wouldn't have drawn me to him.  It was the strength of his character and yes, that great smile, that attracted me the most.  Beauty, as the old saying goes and our readers know, fades.

Deanna:  Tell us about your latest book and the type of reader if may appeal to.

Francis: A DANGEROUS KISS is the 3rd book of the Kiss trilogy and 7th book in the Grayson Friends series.  The book should appeal to readers who love hurting/healing books.  Payton "Sin" Sinclair has a painful and a dangerous secret that he's carried since he was eighteen.  He's based his life on the premise that love and family will never be his.  He doesn't expect to find himself attracted to Summer Radcliffe, the beautiful cousin of his best friend.  He's torn between these unexpected feelings and duty. Read more about the book HERE.

Deanna:  That certainly sounds like a wonderful story. Tell us about Summer Radcliffe, the heroine of your latest book. 

Francis: Summer is an intelligent, independent woman.  She lost her parents when she was eighteen. She achieved theirs and her dream of owning a 5-star restaurant in Manhattan. She's strong because of Sin who was there for her when tragedy struck. Once they share a earth-moving kiss, she has no intention of letting Sin get away. The Radcliffe motto is go after what you want!

Deanna:  Do you do any research for your books?

Francis: Yes, lots. The Kiss Trilogy is set in New York, and although I've visited several times, I still researched the city online.  Then, there were the characters occupations - computer programmer, fashion editor, sports consultant, and restaurateur. I'd like readers to learn something each time they read one of my books.
Deanna: What inspired you to write in your genre?

Francis: I was inspired to write romance because of the monogamy of the characters, their strong moral values,  and the happy endings.  It’s a given that people will have problems in a relationship.  I liked how the main characters in romance novels worked through problems in a sensible, moral way.

Deanna:  Readers do enjoy a series where they can become friends with the characters. Did you enjoy writing the hero or heroine more in A DANGEROUS KISS?

Francis: It would have to be Payton "Sin" Sinclair because of the burden he carried.  I just love a hurting hero.  He was so noble, so sure that love wasn't for him.  It was a pleasure to prove him wrong. 

Deanna: What do you find is the hardest part of writing?

Francis: Writing is the hardest part of writing.  After the initial “what if” it takes me a long time for me to write the story. Love scenes are the most difficult to write.  I'd much rather shut the bedroom door, but my readers would riot.  LOL. 

Deanna:  Sexual tension is sexy, too, but they DO love those romance scenes. What do you need before you start writing? 
Francis: I don’t need anything to start writing. However, I find it goes faster if I’m on the computer. Pen and paper no longer work for me.

Deanna: What are you currently working on?  What's next in the series? 

Francis: I recently finished ALL I EVER WANTED, book # 8 in the Grayson Friends series.  In a week or so I'll start on ALL I EVER NEED, Book # 9. 

Deanna:  Francis, thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with our readers this week. Readers, we thank you for stopping in! Be sure to leave your comment and email addy so Francis can reach the winner and send you the e-book.

New York Times & USA Today Bestselling Author

THE WISH, eBook - November 29, 2011

A SEDUCTIVE KISS, A Grayson Friends Novel #5 - January 31, 2012 

WITH JUST ONE KISS, A Grayson Friends Novel #6 - February 28, 2012

WHEN MORNING COMES, - June 5, 2012
SING TO MY HEART: Then Sings My Soul, -June 19, 2012

A DANGEROUS KISS, A Graysons Friends Novel #7 -June 26, 2012
I KNOW WHO HOLDS TOMORROW, October 30, 2012 

CONTEST:  On Saturday, June 30, one lucky commenter will win an e-copy of A SEDUCTIVE KISS

Monday, June 18, 2012

Meet M.K. McClintock - Romance Author!

MK McClintock
Western Romance Author 

E-book Winner:  Sue B
Congrats, Sue!!

      Welcome to our chat with MK McClintock! I hope you can smell the river and the pines along with damp earth as we gather here on the bridge to learn a bit more about MK and her western series. She's giving away three e-copies of Gallagher's Pride to three lucky commenters chosen at random so be sure to leave a comment with your email addy so she can easily contact you. I'm excited to get started. We do have a coffee and latte stand available to keep us warm here in the mountains, help yourself and feel free to ask MK any questions you might have. Thank you for joining us!

Deanna:  MK, thank you so much for joining us. It's gorgeous out here, but I also love the mountains and pines! Tell us a bit about yourself.

MK: To put it simply, I’m a country/mountain girl at heart (and in truth) who bakes to relax, hikes just to stand on a mountain, swims in crystal blue lakes, reads voraciously and prefers gloomy days to sunny. I’d rather stay home for pizza and a movie than go to a party. I prefer dresses to pants, print books to digital, chocolate to anything else, and never tire of watching eagles fly.

Deanna:  What made you want to become a writer?

MK: I honestly don’t know. Writing stories and poems is just something I always did growing up. It seemed natural to progress in the direction of full-length books. The moment I became a writer is the moment I realized there was no better time than now to make it happen.

Deanna:  Tell us about your book and your characters. We’d love to read an excerpt!

MK: Gallagher’s Pride is the first book of the Montana Gallagher series about a family set in 19th century Montana Territory. This book delves into the story and character of Ethan, the first brother, and a woman from Scotland, Brenna Cameron. Brenna deals with a great deal of loss and makes a choice to travel to Montana to find answers (I can’t tell you to what without spoiling it!). Ethan is a stubborn rancher whose main responsibility has been to look after his family. Brenna complicates all of that, but in a good way. This first book introduces the main conflict that will carry over into the other books and introduces us to the other Gallaghers. You’ll see romance, adventure, and some western action.


Hawk’s Peak, Montana – 1870

     “I’m not going back.”
    “You’re being too stubborn Ethan! You only have one year left of college. The ranch will still be here.”  
      “Am I interrupting?” Ethan turned to look at his brother who poked his head into the room.
      “Yes,” shouted their father.
     “No,” Ethan yelled at the same time.
     Jacob Gallagher looked at his oldest son and tried to calm himself down. This stubborn streak his son possessed was one thing he wished hadn’t been passed down. He loved his boys and he was grateful they loved ranching and this land. Jacob had left the city when he was a young man to escape a congested life, to build a legacy for his children in the west. His sons were a necessary part of building that legacy, but he wanted them to have all he could provide. That included an education.
     “Ethan, we can argue about this until roundup, but you’re still going back.”
     Ethan usually kept a cool head but he and his father were just too damn much alike. He gave his old man a good hard stare trying to decide if he was willing to defy him. He loved his pa and knew he wanted the best for him. It galled him good to know that his pa was right. It galled him even more to see his brother still standing there grinning like a fool. Knowing that Gabriel would soon follow in his footsteps took off some of the steam.
    “Alright pa,” Ethan finally conceded. “One more year, but then I’m staying for good.”
     Jacob clasped his son’s hand and gave him a smile in thanks. “One more year,” his father agreed. “Now, let’s go into dinner before your mother comes in and tans us both.”

Montana Territory-1879

     He wasn’t about to let the grievance go unanswered. His parents had found thirty years of peaceful living in this beautiful and rugged land. They had traveled to the northern territories to escape the sweltering madness of Texas and had indeed found peace. Even when the land became the Territory of Montana more than ten years ago, they had still lived in peace with the other settlers that had come to mine and graze cattle. In all that time they had only one encounter with the Indians and that without loss of life. Since the army was defeated by some of the tribes about ten years back, the Indians were content to keep peace. So long as the settlers stayed to their land and left the natives to theirs.
       Peace for the Gallagher’s had ended with Nathan Hunter.
     The bastard had purchased land only a few miles from their extensive borders. The small stretch of grass between the two spreads belonged to a belligerent old swindler, Dwight Dickens, who refused to work the valuable land. When the fool realized that there was more than one interested party, he let the bidding war begin. It was little more than fifteen acres, but the prize of that land was the water. Water and grass were the greatest currencies out west, without which a rancher may as well pack up and leave. Control of that stretch meant control of the stream coming down from the mountains. The snowfall each year assured that the water would flow continuously through till the next winter and keep their ponds full.
     The Gallagher family won the bidding war, but only once they agreed that old man Dickens could keep his small homestead on the land. It was a small sacrifice for the water rights.
     One week later, Nathan Hunter had his men stretch barbed wire along the new boundary line. Ethan hated using wire. When they had first come to Montana Territory, there was little more than a few small ranches in the area they chose to settle, a day’s ride north of Bozeman. Not many settlers lasted past their first winter in the harsh climate, but the Gallagher’s had found home and soon became some of the most respected ranching families in the territory. Known for their fairness in business and hard work, they had made a solid name for themselves. Jacob Gallagher built a legacy on that wild land and his children were damned if they’d let one man destroy it.
     Ethan Gallagher sat tall atop the midnight black stallion. A magnificent animal bred from the Hawk’s Peak bloodline. Gabriel, his younger brother by two years, sat just as tall on his own dark sable gelding, a beauty he brought with him to Montana from a Kentucky horse farm on his way back from university. Both animals wore the staggered HP brand of the Hawk’s Peak ranch.
     Gabriel swore loudly enough to annoy his mount. He settled the animal with a soothing word and glanced at his brother. Ethan said nothing. He appeared to not have a care in the world. Gabriel knew better. Ethan’s anger was never readily apparent. The darkness of his eyes and the clenched jaw were sure indications that his brother was ready to commit murder. In this instance, it would be the murder of Nathan Hunter. Gabriel wouldn’t think ill of his brother if it came to that end.
     dead cow was discovered when the wranglers went out to round up a few strays that had wandered during a fierce thunderstorm the previous night. The cow had dropped a calf only the week before. The calf had been injured trying to stay near its mother, but when the wranglers brought it back to the ranch, everyone knew they couldn’t save him.
     Ethan’s gaze went to the mangled legs of the animal, sure indications that the innocent creature had struggled and suffered. It hadn’t been successful in its fight to survive. The deadly wire wrapped around the poor creature’s legs was proof enough for Ethan. Proof that regardless of the backbreaking wooden fence the Gallagher’s had put up to keep their cattle from that particular stretch of wire, someone had deliberately put the wire onto their land.
     This was one of many unprovable incidences which had occurred since the arrival of Nathan Hunter and Ethan was close to not caring about proof for the Marshall. If the law of the territory wasn’t going to put a stop to it, then by God, the law of the land would. Ethan spared his brother one last look then turned his mount and headed for the bordering spread.

Deanna: I will be wanting to read this series!! Wow! What type of hero do you like best?

MK: Flawed heroes. I don’t like perfection in people and fictional people are no different. I want a hero who can cry, get bruised, have a broken heart, make mistakes, and be stubborn. Of course I want the usual chivalry and saves-the-day outcome, but a perfect hero is boring to write.

Deanna:  How many plots do you include in one of your books?

MK: Depends on what I’m writing, but in the Gallagher books there’s more than one. Each book has their own individual storylines, but there’s a main plot that carries over from the first book to the others.

Deanna:  I think most readers enjoy the series books more. I know I do, it lets me get to know the characters better. Readers are also curious about what we do in our writing day. Tell us about a typical day in your life as a writer.

MK: I own a couple of small businesses, so I’m usually working the first part of the day. I answer writing-related emails and update online accounts first thing in the morning and then here and there throughout the day. I used to write only in the mornings, but that’s definitely changed since the sun comes up earlier now and I can go walking at 5:00am. Now I write when I have the time, generally in the afternoon and late evening (it’s tough – I like a 9:30pm bedtime). I have to keep a balance so that writing doesn’t seem like a job. It’s already a lot of work, but for me it always has to remain fun or I wouldn’t do it, which is probably why I started book tours. I throw in baking, gardening and walking into my typical day to keep things hopping.

Deanna:  Busy people get things done! Do your books have a common theme or are they all different?

MK: I haven’t really thought about that before, to be honest. Mostly the books are similar, but can have more than one theme – good vs. evil, love and sacrifice, overcoming personal demons…but I write historical romance so the elements that come with that are always present. In my western genre books, there’s always the revenge theme mixed in with romance.

Deanna:  How long does it take you to write and then edit a story?

MK: Generally about six months from start to finish. I prefer to give myself seven months so that I can step away from the book for 2-3 weeks and look at it with a fresh mind. Research adds time, but I’m always researching for a book while writing another, so I can’t say exactly how much time I spend doing that. I have a book planned for a 2014 release that will likely take a year to write just because it will require a good deal more research. For editing – I have a great new editor (wish I had found her sooner), but her turnaround is amazing, so I can still get the book out on time!

Deanna:  Congrats on the editor! Do you have to be alone to write?

MK: Definitely. I zone out and get into the story, so interruptions bring out the worst in me unless I’m ready to be interrupted. 

Deanna:  How do you go about naming characters?

MK: I have three baby name books and use baby name and surname websites to help out. I start by deciding whether or not I want the character to have an American name, Scottish, Irish, French, etc. I then pick out the first name which generally takes a little time. The name has to fit with the personality I imagine. Then I search out the last name in the same way, making sure I like how it fits with the first. In the case of a series like the Gallagher books, the surname came first. Once in a while a name will change because the personality evolves and no longer fits. Perhaps I put too much thought into character names, but it’s a big deal for me and one of my favorite steps!

Deanna:  Is it easier to write about the characters if you find pictures of them before you write or do you write then find character pictures?

MK: Write then find pictures. I almost never find a picture similar to what’s in my mind.

Deanna: How do you pick locations for your stories?

MK: Either I’ve been there, want to go there, or it just happens to fit with what I needed for the story. In my current books there are a number of locations. The Gallagher books take place primarily in Montana, but I’ve thrown in Scotland, New Orleans and Kentucky simply because I like a change of scenery. If everyone was from Montana, without any variety, no matter how much I love it, I do believe I’d grow bored after four books.

Deanna: What’s next?

MK: The Gallagher series will continue while I’m researching the next set of books. I have another series to finish, a trilogy and three stand-alone titles in the pipeline. I have a “pet project” of sorts – one of the single-title books that I’ll begin interviewing and researching for this summer. This is my year-long writing project and rather close to the heart, so I’m looking forward to it.

Giveaway:  Three (3) Kindle copies of Gallagher’s Pride (delivered digitally). Open to everyone. Be sure to leave your comment and email addy!

Links to MK McClintock


Sunday, June 10, 2012

Charmaine Gordon - Romantic Suspense

Charmaine Gordon
Romantic Suspense

Deanna:  Readers, thank you for stopping in to read about Charmaine's books. I'm please to have her back for a third time as she releases yet another book! Please be sure to visit her blog and roam thru her pages there! Charmaine, welcome back! What advice do you have for new, aspiring authors?

Charmaine:  My advice to upcoming authors is to write the best story they know how, edit with care yet be merciless trimming the fat. Then research publishers, agents, editors, anyone who might be interested in your story. Read submission qualifications carefully. If you don’t fit, don’t bother them. Then write a killer query letter, short to grab someone’s attention. Same thing with a synopsis. You thought writing the book was hard? Duh! Now comes the serious part. As for rejections, develop a tough hide. No biggie. Move on. Never give up and don’t quit your day job.

Deanna:  Has anything in your life helped with your writing?

Charmaine:  My acting experience helps me a lot in creating characters. Names float into my head along with fully fleshed out people. Same thing with painting in the scenery. Background sounds, taste, all the senses.

Deanna:  That had to be an exciting time in your life. I can’t even imagine! What would you say is your strong point in writing?

Charmaine:  I’m good with dialogue, having read a zillion scripts. I may have mentioned that often I sleep-write. A story comes in the night; in the morning, I write.

Deanna:  I have characters come to me but can’t say I’ve ever dreamt about a book I’m writing. How long does it take to write a first draft?

Charmaine:  Takes about four months to write when I stick to a thousand words a day and life doesn’t interfere.

Deanna:  That’s the hard part…not letting life interfere! Do you have a favorite hero that you’ve written?

Charmaine: Maverick in To Be Continued is a fine hunk of a man. Tall, rugged, talented, so clever with his hands. Yum.

Deanna:  Tell us about your latest release and share a bit about it.

Charmaine: Sin of Omission is my latest book. An interracial romance /suspense. In the previous book, Reconstructing Charlie, two characters demanded more attention. I’m just a girl who can’t say no and I began to write. Interracial is complex, more than the average tale of lovers. I dug deep, listened to someone who knows and continued. The story takes place in a fictional small town north of Chicago. There’s a bad guy, a bad woman, love, family, complications all over the place and maybe, just maybe, a happy ever after. I’m not telling. Enjoy the journey. I ask readers of my Survive & Thrive books to open your hearts and minds and enjoy this romance filled with love and suspense.

Seems easy enough. Jimmy Costigan will deliver supplies to sister Charlie’s project Haven, a respite for the needy, and leave. Simple.
    Instead, Shelley Jackson answers the door, says she needs him and soft-hearted Jimmy stays to protect the family seeking refuge from a sociopath. He didn’t count on falling in love.
A twist of fate intervenes when Shelley keeps a secret that threatens to break apart the Costigans and her future. A mysterious client, Deanna Rose, enters Haven, victim of a savage beating under strange circumstances. Using Internet resources, Shelley digs in to find Ms. Rose has an unsavory past.
With the reputation and safety of Haven at stake, Shelley is at risk to lose everything … and everyone she cares about.

The past has a way of catching up and like his sister Charlie, Jimmy had carried a secret for a long time. He stormed down the hall, anger rising with each boot step. Too bad. He’d hoped he and Shelley might at least have some laughs together. Hat crushed between both hands, he headed toward the door.
“You’re not leaving,” Shelley said.
“I’m uh…I need some air.”
Grabbing a fistful of his shirt, Shelley said, “Jimmy, it’s ten o’clock. I need you to stay all night. Please. Go in the morning. I’ll call for help. Maybe Charlie can. . .”
“I’ll be right outside for a few minutes,” he said facing the door. “My guitar’s in the jeep and a travel bag.” Opening the door, a warm night breeze blew in. “Full moon tonight.”
Shelley stepped out next to him. High heels off, she reached Jimmy’s shoulder. He glanced down at her upturned face as she gazed at the moon. Her chocolate skin sparkled with moonlight. He forced himself to look away from this magnificent woman, far too special for a guy like him.
“The rocking chairs are moving back and forth in the gazebo,” she said, her voice soft and mellow. “That’s a good omen about the Haven.”
“Oh yeah?” Don’t even know how to make small talk. “I was thinkin’, kids need pets and I’m gonna build a dog run on the side and maybe get a couple of horses. Build a small stable and riding ring and make a trail. What do you think?”
She smiled up at him. “Great idea. We’ll find out if anyone has allergies first so wait ‘til tomorrow, okay? Get your gear and let’s have a drink before calling it a night. There’s a bottle of red, a bottle of white.”
He sang, “It all depends upon your appetite.”
“Early Billy Joel.” Shelley loved his music.
“Oh yeah. Do you have Dr. Pepper?”
“Is this a deal breaker?”
“Nope. I don’t drink. Just Dr. Pepper.”
“I’ll take a look.” She sashayed toward the pantry. After a quick look, she said, “No Dr. Pepper. Juice, water, soda, chocolate syrup, soups, Jell-O. We’ll get some tomorrow.”
He displayed a pouty lower lip.
With a stern look, she said, “Get over it, Jim. You’re not leaving here.”
“I’m not?”
“I said before, I need you. Just get your gear and we’ll lock up, turn on the security system.”
His loose limbed body swaggered to the jeep to haul out his gear.
Alone for a moment, Shelley wondered when he got to be a hunk, so unlike intense Detective Patrick Donnelly, her off again-on again lover.
Locking the door Jimmy set his gear down. She gave him the security code and Haven was safe.
He settled his tall frame next to her on the couch and stretched out long legs.

Deanna:  Great excerpt and blurb! Wow! I love that so much is going on! If you could get away right now, where would that be?

Charmaine:  Give me a beach with gentle waves lapping at the shore, palm trees swaying, a hottie by my side; mischief afoot!

Deanna:  What do you love to do to relax?

Charmaine:  Not too much relaxing here. My grandest granddaughter age 4 is the light of my life. Funny, smart, she takes care of Granny, that’s me, aware of fragility surgery has wrought this past year.
      My only daughter is an inspiration. Feisty as a youngster making sure the older brothers listened when she spoke, now she’s a teacher guiding middle school kids into a bright future.

Deanna:  Charmaine, thank you so much for being here this week. I love to share your books with my readers!

Charmaine: Thank you, Deanna. It’s always a pleasure being in your company.

Monday June 11 

Sin of Omission will be available in print, Amazon and B&N. 
The ebook copies are available right now.


CONTEST:  The most interesting comment will win a e-copy of Sins of Omission on Saturday, June 16th!