May 26, 2012

Saddle up for a ride on the range with Oklahoma author Callie Hutton!

Hi Callie, and welcome. Please tell us your latest news!

I recently signed a contract with Soul Mate Publishing for my third book in the Oklahoma Lovers series (Michael’s Story).

Do you plan all your characters out before you start a story or do they develop as you write?

I develop my characters as I write. I know (vaguely) what I want the story to be about, but as for how each character is, that comes to me while I’m writing. Sometimes they surprise me.

How much research do you do for your books? Have you found any cool tidbits in your research?

When I’m writing historical, a little bit more research is involved because a lot of readers are history buffs—and know their facts. But I still do research when I’m writing contemporary. Right now in a short story I’m writing, a woman is giving birth in a bar, so I had to do research on emergency births.

What main genre do you write in?

Historical Romance – mostly western, but I also delve into contemporary romance.

How does your family feel about having a writer in the family? Do they read your books?

My family is very supportive. Some of them have read a couple of my books, but others are waiting for them to come out in print. A niece is waiting for my contemporaries to come out because she doesn’t like historical. I don’t think there’s any one person in my family who has read them all, lol.

If you had to choose one person to have dinner with, who would it be? And why?

Hillary Clinton. I think she’s an amazing woman. I hope to see her as POTUS one day.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

Yes. When I was a little girl, I started making up stories in my head to entertain myself before I fell asleep at night. This habit continued on well into adulthood. One day I decided in order to get the voices out of my head, I needed to write them down.

Do you write full time?

I write full time hours because I work as a substitute teacher in the high school. At that level, the teacher will generally leave work for the students to do, which they do on their own. I bring my laptop and write.  

What did you do before you became a writer?

I’ve had many jobs, but sales was the one I had for the longest time. 

What is your writing process? Do you outline, fly by the seat of your pants or a combination of both?

I am a combination writer. I pretty much know what I want my story to be about, but I get about half way through before I actually do any kind of an outline. And that gets changed as I go along, depending on what my characters have to say about it. They don’t always agree with me, and have been known to gang up on me, as well.

If you could be one of your characters - Who would you be? And why?

I would be Sylvia, Angel’s step-mother. She starts out unlikeable, but later on in the story her full personality is revealed, as well as her motivation for what she did to Angel. She’s a hoot.

Can you please give us a sneak peek at any of your upcoming books?

The book I just sold, A Prescription for Love, is the story of the oldest nephew in A Run for Love. Michael was one of my most popular characters. I’m also working on a short contemporary story about a bar in Amarillo, and when I finish that, I intend to get back to a regency I’m writing, The Elusive Wife.

Who is your favorite cover model?  And why?

I don’t have a favorite cover model. I like Jimmy Thomas—another nice guy. But I have a policy of ‘no bare chests’ on my book covers. There are a few Jimmy does, and if I self-pub, I would use one of his pre-made covers (where he’s dressed, lol).

Is there a genre of book you would like to write but haven't yet?

Yes. There is definitely a Highlander book in my future, as well as a strict mystery/suspense. I would also like to write a time travel one day.

What would be the best way for readers contact you? Do you have a website?

My website is:, where my blog also lives. I love to get e-mails from my readers, at

How can readers find out more about you and your books?

By visiting my website, where I have excerpts from all my books, as well as coming attractions.

What is the best and worst advice you have ever received?

Best advice: Write, write, write, read, read, read.

Worst advice: Write the book that editors want to buy.

Do you belong to a critique group?

Yes, I do, and I also have other critique partners who are not in my group. If so, how does this help or hinder you? Definitely a help. I don’t always take suggestions that my CPs make, but many times they pick up things that I hadn’t noticed or thought about.

What's your favorite genre to read?

Romantic comedy.

What type of book have you always wanted to write?

A ‘Sandra Brown’ type story, with intrigue, many sub-plots, and a well written, well thought out story.

When did you first decide to submit your work?

After I finished my first manuscript. Please, tell us what or who encouraged you to take this big step. I didn’t need a whole lot of encouragement. To my way of thinking, if you write a book, you send it out. You get rejected. You re-write it. You send it out again, and again, and again. It’s part of the process. If you’re going to be a writer, you have to write. If you want to be a published writer, you have to send it to someone.

Do deadlines help or hinder your muse?

Definitely help. I’m pretty disciplined as far as writing every day, but if I know someone is waiting for it, I pull the all-nighters like I did in college, and get the job done.

What was your first published work and when was it published?

A Run For Love was contracted by Soul Mate Publishing in August of 2011, and released in November of that year. It was the third book I wrote.

Is there anyone who really mentored or inspired you to keep writing until you were finally published?

Not really. I’m pretty good at motivating myself. I’m sure my sales background has something to do with that.

A small wooden table in the corner drew her. She placed the glass on the table and eased her sore and tired body onto the chair. One leg shorter than the other three, the chair rocked as she settled. A woman the size of the counterman came through a curtain separating the area from whatever was in the back. With a brisk nod in Angel’s direction, she headed her way.

Make a comment and win a download of An Angel in the Mail! Winners will be drawn randomly on Saturday, June 1.

May 19, 2012

Vampires abound with J.D. Brown. Let's see what she's sunk her teeth into ...

Welcome J.D.! Could you please start by telling us a little about yourself?

Absolutely. I’m J.D. Brown, the author of Dark Heirloom, a new urban fantasy vampire series published by Muse It Up Publishing Inc. I’m from Chicago but currently living in Wisconsin and have been trying to find my way back to the city ever since I left. I love paranormal characters and have made a living out of creating my own. Humans have no place in my stories. Instead, I let the dark creatures tell it like it is and take you along for the ride.

How much research do you do for your books? Have you found any cool tidbits in your research?

I research a lot before every new story and sometimes I end up doing a little research while I’m writing too. With urban fantasy, a lot is based on factual information, “what-if?” scenarios from history, real locations, etc. I need to know where things are and how they work. Seriously, if a cop ever searched my computer history, they’d have me committed. I have little notes like “Where is this old Nazi bunker located?” Haha.

I didn’t think I’d like researching because I never liked when I had to do it in collage or high school, but it turns out I can sink deep into weeks’ worth of facts when it comes to getting ideas for a plot and I love it! I get so engrossed in the possibilities and ideas just start snowballing in my head. I’ve learned a lot of cool tidbits along the way. I think my favorite of all are the old original vampire folk tales I read while getting ideas for the vampire world in Dark Heirloom. They old myths are so completely different from how vampires are portrayed today or even how they were portrayed twenty years ago.

What main genre do you write in?

I write urban fantasy with a little romance woven into the mix.

How does your family feel about having a writer in the family? Do they read your books?

My family actually shocked me a bit. I knew they would be very supportive, they’re always behind me no matter what crazy thing I do, but I wasn’t expecting them to read my work at all. I’m the only one in my family that reads for fun, so when my mom, sister, and uncle read Dark Heirloom cover to cover, I was so touched I didn’t know how to react. They’re all waiting for me to get a phone call from a big-time Hollywood producer. I don’t have the heart to tell them it will be many years before that happens.

What is your writing process? Do you outline, fly by the seat of your pants or a combination of both?

I do a little bit of everything. I plot, research, and outline like fiend, but when it comes time to write all my planning seems to fly out the window and the characters take over. I feel like the mom, trying to keep them in line, but it’s pointless and truth be told, they know the story better than I do.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I think I definitely have my own style. I like to write in deep first-person point of view, allowing the reader to experience everything as it happens to the main character. That’s my goal for every book I write; to give the reader an experience. I also love to inject humor and exaggeration in high-tension areas, but this is also kind of my main character’s doing. Ema can’t stay serious for more than five minutes without injecting some sort of witty remark into the scene.

Current Release Details:

Dark Heirloom is the first book in the Ema Marx series and is now available on and I’ll leave you with the blurb:

“You’re a vampire” is so not what Ema Marx wants to hear when she wakes from a two-day coma in a cryptic yet exquisite castle in northern Finland. Unfortunately, it explains a lot. Like why she’s able to see in the dark and walk through solid objects. What she doesn’t understand is why the other vampires expect her to have all the answers. It’s their fault she turned into one of them…right?

Jalmari’s hatred for his old-man intensifies when he’s ordered to bring that troublesome girl to their castle. He has a clan to run, there’s no time for babysitting newborn vampires no matter how they were converted to their culture. But when a two-thousand-year-old premonition threatens to take the crown and his life, Jalmari sees no other choice than to take out the catalyst. Ema Marx. Fortunately for Ema, she could also be the clan’s only savior.

The race to figure out her vampiric origins is on. And maybe she’ll get the hang of the blood-drinking gig along the way…

Who is your perfect hero? And why?

If I could take Jalmari and Jesu (two of my characters from Dark Heirloom) , melt them down, and mix them together, that would be my perfect hero. I absolutely love a strong tempered alpha male that’s going to take charge and challenge my world every day (Jalmari), but he also needs to know how to be a sweet gentlemen that can treat a lady like a lady (Jesu). But in my opinion, perfect is boring so I made them two separate men.

How can readers find out more about you and your books?

I’m all over the web but the best place learn more about me and my books is at my website

And the best way to chat with me or stay up to date with my happenings is by liking my Facebook fan page at

Is there anyone who really mentored or inspired you to keep writing until you were finally published?

My mom has always been the backbone of my life, always supporting me and encouraging me to dream big and make those dreams come true. But I also owe a huge thank you to my author friends, Charlene Wilson and Anastasia Pergakis. Those ladies believed in my writing even back in the very early days of conception. They held my hand through the good times and the bad times and they refused to let me give up. We’ve grown incredibly close through those shared experiences and I’m forever grateful for getting to know them.

Author’s Links:
·       Facebook Fan Page
·       Twitter Profile
·       J.D.’s Blog
·       J.D.’s Book Club

Buy Links:
·       Amazon Kindle
·       MuseItUp Publishing Inc.

May 12, 2012

Let's take a turn through history with Lisa Lickel. Welcome Lisa!

Lisa Lickel is a Wisconsin writer who lives with her husband in a hundred and sixty-year-old house built by a Great Lakes ship captain. Surrounded by books and dragons, she writes inspiring fiction. Her published novels include mystery and romance, all with a twist of grace. She has penned dozens of feature newspaper stories, short stories, magazine articles and radio theater. She is the editor in chief of CreativeWisconsin magazine. Lisa also is an avid book reviewer, a freelance editor, an editor at Port Yonder Press, a writing mentor, a hostess at Clash of theTitles and enjoys blogging at The Barn Door and Reflections in Hindsight. She loves to encourage new authors. Find her here or at her blog.

Do you plan all your characters out before you start a story or do they develop as you write?

Because my stories are character-driven, they usually start out telling me about what’s going on. I often have the gist of who they are before I begin, but their quirkier sides tend to come out as the story unfolds. For instance, I could see Ardyth’s outsides, that she wore plaids a lot, and kept her figure girlish by bike riding well into her seventies. As we got to know each other, I learned about her insecurities and how she handled them, and how she “sniffs” when she disagreed with something so she doesn’t say (much) she’ll regret later. Although that tends to happen anyway.

How much research do you do for your books? Have you found any cool tidbits in your research?

I’m also a historian, so most of my stories have a tiny bit of history in them. I’ve had to research laws in different states regarding ownership of property, eminent domain, what kind of money was minted in the US in the 1850s-1860s, what banks were open where, where the Underground Railroad went. Although I knew tobacco is grown still in Wisconsin, it surprised me because we usually think tobacco is a warmer-weather crop. I loved learning about the round barns that freeman Alga Shivers built in west central Wisconsin, and about the Cheyenne Valley settlement that I use in The Map Quilt.

What are your hobbies?

I like to sew and quilt, although I don’t have as much time for that any more as I used to. I guess I use my time differently from when I was raising my family. I like to plant things, but I’m not very good at taking caring of them. I like to go camping and travel.

Do you write full time? What did you do before you became a writer? Or Still do?

I spent a lot of years preparing to tell stories before I turned to full time writing. I worked several secretarial jobs in different places, a school, a church, and as a temp went into different businesses on short-term bases to help with special projects or step in for someone on vacation or on leave. I’m a local historian, as I mentioned before, so research is just plain fun and a great help to building the background for books, as well as generating new ideas. I still do that with my local historical society.

What is your writing process? Do you outline, fly by the seat of your pants or a combination of both?

I start out my books with the basic plot, which is flexible. I try to write the dreaded synopsis by building on my loose ideas of what the story is about and how the hugest problem is resolved. From the synopsis I get my chapter goals which I use as a sort of outline in the manuscript. I usually try for word counts, with around a certain number of pages per chapter, which again is flexible, but helps me gauge my work in progress. I can write the scenes then, as they come, in the right chapters in the manuscript, which is not necessarily in order as they happen. Sort of like directing a movie by using the sets that are built, or doing all the scenes on the location they happen, then cutting and arranging them in order later.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I get a lot of house-cleaning done when I’m in write mode. I know that sounds really odd to some people who have to go away to write, but I’m distractable, have to have quiet, and need to get up and pace or think on my feet, waving my hands around and having a discussion with my people. That would just be too weird in public. I like to clean something while I think. In public, I prefer to people-watch.

Can you please give us a sneak peek at any of your upcoming books?

I’m excited about a new contract I signed for another mystery that I enjoyed writing after The Map Quilt. It involves Egyptian Mau cats, a pet food company, and biogenetic engineering which I found fascinating. Yes, I had to do a lot of research, and it was a hoot. The title is not set yet, nor a release date, but here’s a peek:

Ivy Preston keeps other people’s secrets for a living. When a small town mayor invites Ivy Preston and True Thompson to move their businesses to Apple Grove, can their love survive the sudden rise in crime?

After being left at the altar, Ivy Amanda McTeague Preston uproots herself and her cat, an Egyptian Mau named Memnet, from her boring and lonely life to start over at the urging of Mayor Conklin, a fellow pedigreed Mau owner. Truesdale Thompson is ready to move in a fresh direction with his life. A private man whose physical wounds are the only outward sign of a tragic accident in his past, True and his cat, Isis, open a branch of his trendy little bookstore and coffee shop in Apple Grove. When Ivy takes a mysterious message while the mayor is away on business, only Ivy’s criminology professor mom, and True believe there’s something rotten in Apple Grove. Can Ivy carry on her romance with True while saving the town from further Mayhem?

Do you belong to a critique group? If so, how does this help or hinder you?

After struggling with critique groups when I still had the umbilical cord attached-new writer, I can say looking back that it’s an invaluable experience, although excruciatingly painful when you’re new and in love with your words. Going through critiques teaches writers how to listen to other readers, to pick out those gems of fantastic advice from sometimes a lot of rubble, how to read for other writers and discern what they need, not what I need to say. If a couple of critiquers have the same problem, then I sit up and take notice and try to make adjustments, but if one person points out a problem or potential problem, I feel that I can be more subjective and decide what to do, if anything. Writers must always be adaptable, always learning, always be able to look at their work objectively from a business standpoint. Who’s going to buy and read this, and what am I willing to do to give them what they want?

What's your favorite genre to read?

I especially love to read what I don’t write – thrillers, spies and conspiracies, but also fantasy and science fiction. I’m afraid if I read too much of my genres I’ll start subconsciously picking up ideas.

What was your first published work and when was it published?

The Gold Standard, the first book of the Buried Treasure Mysteries, was the first book I had published, fourth manuscript I wrote. The book and I were put through a wringer washer. I signed the contract in 2007, but the book didn’t come out until 2009 due to a lot of ups and downs, including a re-write, in between. I wrote The Map Quilt in 2008, and now, three years after The Gold Standard was published, which is also three years’ time in the series, The Map Quilt was released. I think that’s pretty cool.

Contest info:  On May 22 the official book launch takes place on the web, with lots of freebie gifts if you purchase a copy of the book that day, and hopefully the publisher will have The Map Quilt on sale, so if you can wait til next week to buy, great—if you have to have it immediately, I understand and thank you.  Buy here.

Also coming is the print version from Two Small Fish/Five Loaves Books soon.

Death in rural Wisconsin is only the beginning to new chaos in Robertsville. What do a stolen piece of revolutionary agricultural equipment, a long-buried skeleton in the yard, and an old quilt with secrets have in common? Hart and Judy Wingate, who met in The Gold Standard, are back to solve the mystery of The Map Quilt. Hart’s new battery design could forever change the farm implement industry. But after the death of Hart’s most confrontational colleague in a fire that destroys Hart’s workshop, the battery is missing.

Throw in a guest speaker invited to Judy’s elementary classroom who insists she owns the land under Hart’s chief competitor’s corporate headquarters, and a police chief who’s making eyes at Hart’s widowed mother, it’s no wonder Hart is under a ton of pressure to make sure his adventurous pregnant wife stays safe while trying to preserve his company and his reputation.

Website link