June 30, 2012

A Ghost Writer  with a lot of Secrets … Lorna Collins

Lorna Collins was raised in Alhambra, California and attended California State University at Los Angeles where she majored in English.
Between 1998 and 2001, she worked in Osaka, Japan on the Universal Studios theme park with her husband, Larry. Their memoir of that experience, 31 Months in Japan: The Building of a Theme Park, was published in 2005 and was a finalist for the 2006 nonfiction EPPIE award and named as one of Rebeccas Reads best nonfiction books of 2005.
They have written two mysteries together: Murder… They Wrote, published in 2009, and Murder in Paradise, published in 2010. The latter was a finalist for the 2011 EPIC eBook Award in 2011. They are currently working on at least two more in this series.
Along with authors Sherry Derr-Wille, Luanna Rugh, and Christie Shary, Lorna wrote several romance anthologies: Snowflake Secrets, finalist for the Dream Realm and Eric Hoffer Awards, published in 2008, Seasons of Love in 2009, and Directions of Love in 2010. Directions of Love received the EPIC eBook Award for best romance anthology of 2011. The group added debut author, Cheryl Gardarian for An Aspen Grove Christmas, published in December of 2010. The group is currently working on three more anthologies.
Ghost Writer is Lorna’s first solo effort, and her favorite book so far.
Today she and Larry are retired and reside in Dana Point, California.

Could you please start by telling us a little about yourself?

I am one of those rare birds: a native Californian. I was born in Hollywood at a hospital overlooking the Hollywood Freeway. I grew up in Alhambra, California in the same neighborhood with my husband, Larry. I received a California State Scholarship and Cal. State LA majoring in English.
During my career in Document Control, I wrote many policies and procedures, leading me to other positions, including Sr. Technical Writer.
In 1998, Larry and I moved to Osaka, Japan to build the Universal Studios theme park. This adventure resulted in our memoir, 31 Months in Japan: The Building of a Theme Park, which was a 2006 EPPIE finalist, Editor's choice Award winner, and one of Rebeccas Reads best nonfiction books of 2005.
We then moved on to mysteries, the first of which was Murder…They Wrote. Our second, Murder in Paradise, was a finalist for the 2012 EPIC Award.
In addition, I write anthologies with Sherry Derr-Wille, Christie Shary, and Luanna Rugh. Snowflake Secrets, our first, was a finalist in the Dream Realm and Eric Hoffer awards. Another, Directions of Love, won the 2011 EPIC Award for romance anthology. There are two others: Seasons of Love, and An Aspen Grove Christmas.
Ghost Writer, my first solo work from Oak Tree Press, is my first fantasy/mystery romance. I had so much fun writing this one that I am already at work on another in the same genre called Sofia’s Garden.
Meanwhile, Larry and I are happily retired and writing in Dana Point, CA.

Please tell us your latest news!

I’m so excited about the release of Ghost Writer! It features my first ghost, Max, who is a crusty self-centered old curmudgeon. I adored bringing him to life since he’s so different from any other character I’ve ever written. In fact, I dragged my feet about finishing the book. I finally figured out that the reason was that I didn’t want to let go of Max!
Ghost Writer is a great beach read since it’s set in and around Laguna Beach, California.

Please describe your writing environment.

I believe in suffering for my art. But seriously, Larry and I share an office where we look out on our ‘Zen Garden’ complete with Japanese rock garden and waterfall. As we write, we can hear the trickle of water tripping down the stones. The waterfall is about thirty-five feet tall and goes from the top of the slope to the bottom, so the sound is heavenly. There is a link to photos on our website www.lornalarry.com. All 9,000 plus of my favorite tunes are loaded onto my computer, so I can also surround myself with wonderful music. It’s the best place in the world to support creativity.

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

I know who my major characters will be, but sometimes new ones appear as the story develops. In Ghost Writer, the character of Helen, Max’s former secretary, came along as a bit of a surprise. But I welcomed her when she showed up since she brought with her another whole story thread.

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

Research is the key to any book, and it’s absolutely necessary. Larry and I are currently working on a historical novel set in San Juan Capistrano. We’ve read as much as we can find on the period between 1800 and 1890, but there aren’t too many sources. Fortunately the ‘official’ historian of San Juan agreed to review our chapters as we complete them. She’s a fabulous resource.
As for something cool we discovered doing research, we were in Hawaii (doing research) at the time of the final edits for our second mystery, Murder in Paradise. We’d written about a restaurant we knew well. But when we arrived, we discovered it had moved! We made a couple of changes to the manuscript, and it was published with the correct information. But that’s why it’s necessary to be thorough in researching even for contemporary writing.

What main genre do you write in?

This is really a funny question since we only intended to write the memoir. But while attending the Maui Writers Conference in 2005, Larry came up with an idea for a mystery, and we met the inspiration for our protagonist, Agapé Jones.
Then I had a wild idea for a romance anthology with a through story. I floated it to Sherry Derr-Wille, and she liked the idea. Then I added two more author friends, and the anthologies came about.
The ghost found me. We were carpooling from work one day, and he came to me. He was so fusty and annoying, I had to write him! So now, I’ve added fantasy to the mix.
And I have an old romance novel languishing in my files waiting for me to get back to it.

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

Since we’re both writers, the rest of the family has been very accepting and encouraging. We were blessed with amazing families who would have encouraged us in whatever we chose to do. Some of them read our books, and quite a few have passed them on and recommended them to friends. Of course, we write I a variety of styles, so most readers can find something they like. (The truth is, I’m easily bored, so doing different kinds of books keeps it interesting.)

Current Release Details:

Ghost Writer, my fantasy/romance/mystery set in and around Laguna Beach, CA, was just released by Oak Tree Press. It is available directly from the publisher’s website, www.oaktreebooks.com, or from most other online sources in paperback and ebook format.

Who is your perfect hero? And why?

Larry, of course. He’s the gentle but self-confident and internally strong guy I always write. I know him best since we’ve been married nearly forty-seven years, and I grew up with him. I’ve never met a more decent and kind person. And that’s what I want for the women in my books. They, like me, are usually pretty self-sufficient and strong. So, I know that the personalities of the main characters will work well together.

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

The best place to find out about us is on our website www.lornalarry.com. Our precious Japanese son-in-law, Toshihiro Komiyama, insisted on updating it. He’s kept it up ever since. On the site are links to my blog and lots and lots of information on us and our books.
We’re both on Facebook and Goodreads. I also post to LinkedIn and Twitter. In fact, if folks are anywhere in social media, it would be hard to miss me!

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

Our critique group is probably the single most important reason we got our first book published. I had started the book, then asked Larry for input. He came back some time later with a completely different book. And that’s where I gave up until a friend suggested coming to the group to see if they could help. They did. And we learned to write together.
We continue to attend the group meetings every Monday night. And they continue to make suggestions that improve our work. I highly recommend finding a group that’s the right fit, but I always recommend working with a group.

What's your favorite genre to read?

I have always loved anthologies. I enjoy the shorter format since I usually read at bedtime. I can complete a novella in a few evenings. I also like reading tight, clean prose. I have read some books that go on and on without moving the story along. I find that kind of writing annoying. Not that I don’t’ enjoy many full-length novels as long as the writing is compelling and the story moves along.

Do deadlines help or hinder your muse?

Now that I’m retired, deadlines are a major force in focusing my attention where it needs to be. Since I now have more discretionary time, it’s easy to get distracted. Deadlines are a good way to stay focused on the next thing. Of course, I always have several manuscripts working at a time, so the one with the first deadline gets the most attention. Unless the characters are yelling at me, that is. Then the one who shouts the loudest often requires getting onto the page, if only to shut them up!

When unemployed computer programmer Nan Burton inherits a California beach cottage from her great-great-aunt, she’s delighted. But she’s in for a huge surprise: The house is haunted by the ghost of famous romance writer Max Murdoch (pen name Maxine DuBois) who insists Nan complete his last novel, threatening to keep her from sleeping until she agrees. The ensuing clash pits youth against the long-dead but still egotistical author with humorous and moving results.

June 16, 2012

Welcome the Soul Seducer, Alicia Dean!

Alicia Dean loves creating spine-chilling stories that keep readers on the edge of their seats. She's a huge Elvis Presley fan, and loves MLB and the NFL. If you look closely, you'll see a reference to one or all three in pretty much everything she writes. If she could, she would divide all her time between writing, watching her favorite television shows-such as Dexter, Vampire Diaries, Justified, and True Blood-and reading her favorite authors...Stephen King, Dennis Lehane, Michael Connelly, Lee Child, and Lisa Gardner to name a few.

It's good to have you back Alicia. Could you please start by telling us a little about yourself?
I write romantic suspense and paranormal romance. I’ve self-published, published through The Wild Rose, published through a traditional publisher, and I’m currently a launch author for Adams Media’s new romance line. I’m a proud member of The Oklahoma Romance Writers of America and Heartland Area Romance Authors. I have three grown kids. I live in Edmond, Oklahoma where I’m a legal assistant for a family law firm by day.
Please tell us your latest news!
I’m very excited about my latest release, Soul Seducer. It’s a paranormal romance that’s one of the launch books for Adams Media’s new Crimson Romance line.
How does your family feel about having a writer in the family? Do they read your books?
They’re very proud and supportive. Yes, they read my books. My sisters, my cousins, and my nieces read all the books I release. (Well, SOME of my cousins do. I have about a million, so not all of them read my stuff <g>)

What are your hobbies?

I love playing golf, although I haven’t in a long time. I love watching my favorite tv shows, major league baseball, and the NFL.

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

Stephen King. It would be scary yet exciting, and I would love the opportunity to learn from him, to pick his brain and hopefully, have some of his genius rub off on me.

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

 Email – AliciamDean@aol.com / Website - http://www.aliciadean.com/
What type of book have you always wanted to write?
A bestseller. J
Do deadlines help or hinder your muse?
They help. No doubt. Tremendously. If I have a deadline, even if it’s just an upcoming critique meeting, I’m much more productive.
What was your first published work and when was it published?
My first published work was Nothing to Fear with The Wild Rose Press in 2007. I’ll be forever grateful to them for giving me my first opportunity. It’s the second book I wrote, and it will always hold a special place in my heart.
Is there anyone who really mentored or inspired you to keep writing until you were finally published? 

Definitely. Multi-published author, Mel Odom. I took a class with him in Sept, 2001, and that was when I began seriously pursuing publication. I completed my first novel while taking classes with him. He taught me so much about how to work hard to become a better writer and gave me the drive and encouragement to never give up. I consider him my mentor, but he doesn’t like that. It makes him feel old, and we’re the same age. J

She spent her entire life fighting death. Now she’s falling in love with him…

Audra Grayson became a nurse in order to help save lives. But one night after a brutal beating, she almost loses her own. The near-death experience opens a door between the world of the living and the world beyond. Two Grim Reapers invade her life. One is charming, with the angelic blonde looks of a saint and the black soul of a psychopath. The other is dark, dangerously attractive and, in spite of her distaste for his reaper duties, she finds herself inexplicably drawn to him.

When Audra's patients begin to die unexpectedly and her loved ones are threatened, she will risk her life—even her soul—to save them. But can she risk her heart to an inhuman being whose very purpose is to take those she is trying to save?

June 9, 2012

Please welcome Oklahoma author, Kathy Wheeler.

Kathy was born in Presque Isle, Maine.  How she ended up in Texas, Colorado, then Oklahoma is as much a mystery to her as anyone.  She graduated from the University of Central Oklahoma with a BA in Management Information Systems and a minor in Vocal Music.

In the big picture, she has not been writing near as long as some of her writing cohorts, but has already completed a number manuscripts.  An avid traveler, she’s been to Europe, Mexico, Canada and roams from one RWA conference to another, nationwide.  She’s served several positions in the Oklahoma Outlaws RWA Chapter.

Kathy lives with her musically talented husband in Edmond, Oklahoma, has one grown daughter and one bossy cat!

Could you please start by telling us a little about yourself?

I am an avid pro football and basketball fan. As an eight year member of jazzercise, I’m lucky that on occasion, two of my favorite interests interconnect where jazzercise is privileged to perform at the OKC Thunder Halftime show once per year. My degree is a Bachelors in Management Information Systems with a minor in vocal music. So…yes, I love karaoke and musical theater as well.

Please tell us your latest news!

I have nine completed manuscripts that includes a Cinderella series in which the glass slipper fits one of Cinderella’s evil stepsisters. Book I – The Wronged Princess was released March 31st, and is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords. Three other books, contemporaries, are under contract. For more information, see http://klwheeler.com

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

My characters plan themselves, I’m afraid. Usually nothing I plan for them comes out as I’d envisioned. They just sort of take over. Yes, I believe I am certifiable.

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

It ranges in variation. My husband is very supportive but does not read my stories. However, if one were to read the Epilogue in Amanda Quick’s, With This Ring, they would see exactly my husband.  My sisters, sister-in-law, mother and daughter, all read and critique my stories.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

I was looking through the Google prompts and saw “What if Cinderella’s slipper fit one of the evil stepsister’s?” I was hooked.

What main genre do you write in?

I love reading historical (mostly Regency, some Medieval), but the historical never came to me, except in the Book I of my Cinderella Series, but then I started on a second, then a third and finally a fourth.  My other five stories are contemporary with an element of suspense. One of which is scheduled for a June 13th release through Wild Rose Press, called The Color of Betrayal. Two others through Soul Mate Publishing, Quotable and Maybe It’s You.

What is your writing process?

Do you outline, fly by the seat of your pants or a combination of both? My process is simple. I have an idea and start writing. Usually, I begin with dialogue. As my fingers fly across the keyboard, things may come to me so I’ll list questions or comments at the end of the document prefaced by: don’t forget blah blah blah.

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

Several of my character are, uh, very direct, in your face, women, who demand attention. I don’t really think it’s a matter of being one of the characters as much as it is, they are a part of me. Two come to mind: Pricilla, of The Unlikely Heroine – Book II; and Lorianne in Maybe It’s You. Scary.

Who is your perfect hero? And why?

I recently read Tessa Dare’s new release A Week To Be Wicked. The hero, Colin Sandhurst, was adorable. His sense of adventure and humor, masked to cover his fears and insecurities left me panting.

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

The best advice comes from my husband. Advice I’ve used and forwarded. The first time he relayed it to me was when I was in college (I was a late bloomer). He said, “The time is going to come and go anyway.”  Meaning, if you keep plugging away, it’s going to happen. And sure enough — I have nine completed manuscripts, and three are under contract.

Even when Cinderella loses her glass slipper, she feels quite smug when Prince Charming announces to his kingdom, he'll try the shoe on every maiden until he finds his mysterious princess. Unfortunately, it slides just as easily on her sister, Esmeralda's dainty foot.


GENNA LYNDSEY is not a people person. A short, too-skinny, wild haired waif, with crazy hair and sturdy nerdy glasses lives through books. So it’s lucky she and her best friend own their own bookstore. Her college days taught her that dating was too unreliable to depend on others. It was then that she started resorting to obscure quotes to shield herself from others who ventured too close.
RICK JOHNSON, Fraud Insurance Claims Investigator, is assigned to look into an unusual number of claims filed by Genna Lyndsey. He suspects Genna of sabotaging her own property for insurance money. His investigation uncovers an adorable introvert determined to keep everyone at bay, while someone else resolves to put her out of business—no matter how great the risk.

How can a girl who’s been rejected by Once Upon A Time ever believe that happily-ever-after even exists? Co-bookstore owner Lorianne Gentry is branded by deep-seeded insecurities. Abandonment issues surface when she finds herself falling in love—totally pissing her off.
Ashton Turner III is nobody’s Knight-In-Shining-Armor. He’d jumped off that horse a long time ago­—the sex, however, was damn good. And when Lorianne’s grandmother delivers Ash life-altering news, his past explodes into the present.

~ Coming Soon ~