June 29, 2013

Lorna Collins

Lorna Collins in Three Words:  
Japan, Ghost, Murder

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.
She and Larry are currently immersed in an historical novel set in San Juan Capistrano, CA between the years of 1820 and 1890.
In addition, Lorna is a professional editor.
Today she and Larry are retired and reside in Dana Point, California.

Could you please start by telling us a little about yourself?
I live in Southern California with my husband, Larry K. Collins. We retired a couple of years ago and now can’t figure out how we ever had time to work!
I write in several genres—mostly because I’m easily bored. So far, I’ve written a memoir, 31 Months in Japan: The Building of a Theme Park, and two mysteries, Murder…They Wrote and Murder in Paradise, with my husband.
My solo work, Ghost Writer, is a fantasy/mystery/romance.
I also write romance anthologies with fellow authors Sherry Derr-Wille, Cheryl Gardarian, Luanna Rugh and Christie Shary.
Right now, Larry and I are working on an historical novel, The Memory Keeper, set in San Juan Capistrano between 1820 and 1890. 

Please tell us a little about your new release without giving too much of a spoiler away.
The latest romance anthology, called The Art of Love, was written with Sherry, Luanna, and Cheryl. It’s about four women, each of whom is involved with a different form of artwork: painting, photography, crochet, and stained glass. Along the way, each finds love. 

What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Coordinating our stories is usually the greatest challenge, but since this is number five, we’ve figured out how to do it. I’m the hub and check for continuity and consistency. 

What comes first: the plot or the characters?
For me, it works both ways. For this book, I had a last name: Amalfitano. When I started thinking about who the girl with that name would be, the story evolved. 

Do you plan all your characters out before you start a story or do they develop as you write?
Again both. I usually start knowing who the character is, but they sometimes surprise me as the story evolves. 

Do you have a ritual when it comes to writing? Example….get coffee, blanket, paper, pen, laptop and a comfy place.
I usually write at my desk where I can hear the waterfall outside. I often wake at two or three in the morning when ‘the voices’ speak to me. Since they don’t let me sleep anyway, I get up and write them. Lately, however, I have been doing a lot of editing professionally and haven’t had as much time to write as I’d like. I need to take a hiatus from editing so I can get back to it! 

Do your books have a common theme or are they all different?
Obviously, they are different. But all our mysteries are set in Hawaii, and all our romances are set in a little town we called Aspen Grove, Colorado. Since it’s fictitious, we can make it look and feel exactly like we want it. (Although, if you were to visit Idaho Springs or Georgetown you might recognize some familiar things!) 

How long does it take you to write and then edit a story?
Since I’m usually working on two or three at a time, it’s hard to say. For instance, I’m not only working with Larry on the historical, we also have the next mystery on the back burner, and we’ve already started the next romance anthology, ...And a Sixpence in her Shoe. 

How do you go about naming characters?
I steal names! If I hear a great first or last name, I write it down. Sometimes a character simply appears who goes with the name. I ‘stole’ Amalfitano from a guy I worked with. Since it’s Italian, her first name became Gulietta, but everyone calls her Julie. 

What so you see for the future of publishing and e-books?
More and more people are self-publishing since it has become pretty easy. For that reason, however, lots of truly bad books are available. It is harder and harder to discover the better ones.
We belong to EPIC, the Electronic Publishing Industry Coalition, and we judge their contest every year. The submissions are generally excellent, and we are privileged to read the work of some very talented new writers.
We are also involved with the New Voices Young Writers Group, started several years ago by EPIC. Their contest is an absolute revelation! We receive hundreds of entries from middle and high school young people from all over the world. The quality of that writing is amazing.
Overall, I am optimistic about the future of ebooks. 

What are your current books out right now, and what are the books coming up for release?
My last released book is called Ghost Writer, released last summer. It’s my fantasy/mystery/romance set in Laguna Beach, CA. (Have you noticed, I set my books in beautiful places. That gives me an excuse to spend time there!)
The Art of Love will be released in September by Whiskey Creek press. The other anthologies, Snowflake Secrets, Seasons of Love, Directions of Love (EPIC eBook Award winner), and An Aspen Grove Christmas, are all available in print and ebook for Kindle, Nook and others from the same publisher as well as from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other online book sources. 

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I love walking in the mornings at the marina, editing, and reading, when I have the time. 

Is there anything else you would like to tell the readers we have not touched on?
I would encourage all writers, readers, and industry professionals to attend EPICon 2014 in San Antonio, TX next March. You can find the details on the EPIC website: www.epicorg.com. We’ll be presenting a workshop at the conference. It’s a great place to meet authors and other industry professionals. 

Where can the readers learn more about you and find your books on the web?
They can find information; buy links, and trailers for our books at www.lornalarry.com.

June 22, 2013

Kay Phoenix

Kay Phoenix Rises Out of the Nevada Desert


Kay Phoenix is a rare lifelong resident of Las Vegas, Nevada.  She serves on the board of the Las Vegas Romance Writers and is also a member of the Kiss of Death and Women’s Fiction chapters of Romance Writers of America.  Kay writes in the contemporary and paranormal romance categories, as well as non-fiction articles.  She shares her life with a lovely family, friends, two desert tortoises, two black cats and the world’s best rescue dog, Rembrandt. 
     Kay is also a member of the Las Vegas Artists Guild as a photographer. 

Please describe your writing environment. 

I have a pretty purple laptop –the brand, speed, and all that mumbo jumbo doesn’t matter to me as long as it works.  It’s purple, shiny, and I like it!  So, my writing environment is anywhere my shiny purple laptop and I decide to go.  (It’s a Dell, I had to look.)
What are your hobbies?  
I love to be in nature.  Hiking, camping, and driving aimlessly on any of the hundreds of miles of dirt roads around Las Vegas are all ways that I like to spend my spare time.  I’ve stumbled upon some very interesting things on these dirt road expeditions, like ancient Indian petroglyph sites that aren’t on any maps, and a site where a brothel from a neighboring county had illegally dumped many of their out-dated “menus”. 
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book? 
I believe that all writers are perfectionists, and some of them, like me, are perfectionists to a fault.  I probably would not change the story line, but I would tweak all of the words endlessly if there weren’t such animals as deadlines.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated? 
I was on a camping trip with my grandparents when I was about 8 years old.  We sat down to eat and a jackrabbit came to watch us.  My grandmother suggested I try to write a poem about him, thus my first poem entitled Dinner with a Hare was composed that very day. 
Do you write full time? What did you do before you became a writer? Or Still do?
I am currently a full time mom to the best son in the world, and my writing comes in second.  Prior to becoming a mom, I worked as a Graphic Artist in the casino and gaming industry for 15 years.  It was a very exciting and rewarding career, but I am looking forward to the new doors that my writing will open for me.
Who is your perfect hero? And why? 
Indiana Jones is my perfect hero.  He is smart, funny, and cares about worthy causes like helping orphans and protecting archeological artifacts.  And, he looks just as hot wearing a fedora while carrying a whip as he does in a suit. 
When you have writer's block how do you break free? 
I go for a hike.  Walking puts me into kind of an “automatic pilot” zone, and it clears all the static clouding my thoughts.  When I’m not worried about anything but putting one foot in front of the other, my thoughts flow easier and I’m able to organize them.
What would be the best way for readers contact you? Do you have a website? Email address? MySpace site? Blog? Message Board? Group? 
©    Website:  www.KayPhoenix.com
©    email: KayPhoenix@yahoo.com,  
©    Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/KayPhoenixAuthor/, and
©    Twitter:  https://twitter.com/KayPhoenix_ 

What was your first published work and when was it published? 
My first published work is a short story titled The Plane Truth which came out in August 2012.  You can download it for FREE with the code QA52X from https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/214003.

What would you do if you thought you were going to die, and you were strapped into a seat next to the person that might be the love of your life, especially if you had never told them how you felt?
Locked in their seats, Emily and Aiden are forced to face life and death together after fate throws a lightning bolt their way.

June 15, 2013

Ana Blaze

Ana Blaze Invites You to Check Out The Best Man!


Ana lives just outside Washington DC with her very supportive husband and three rather demanding cats. She loves the ocean, Indian food, IKEA, and cooking. Ana admits to watching too much television and she swears that someday she’s going to learn how to play the guitar resting on the bookshelf in her office.

Could you please start by telling us a little about yourself?
Hi. Thanks for having me over. I live just outside Washington DC with my husband and our three cats. When I’m not writing, I love reading, cooking, traveling and watching TV. Yes, I freely admit that I watch far too much TV. I’ve also been busy learning more about the publishing business as an Intern for Entranced Publishing.
Please tell us your latest news!
My debut, a contemporary romance novella titled, The Best Man, came out on April 29, 2013! I’m still walking on air.
Do you plan all your characters out before you start a story or do they develop as you write?
I do sketch out my characters first. In fact, I like to find pictures and post them along with key facts like ages and full names on the wall beside my desk. My stories tend to be very character driven.
How much research do you do for your books? Have you found any cool tidbits in your research?
It depends on the story, but there is always some research. I’m currently working on a story that involves ski-jumping. Apparently ski-jumping was first practiced in Norway and ski-jumper wear slightly loose suits when competing for the lift.
What main genre do you write in?
I write contemporary and paranormal romance.
How does your family feel about having a writer in the family? Do they read your books?
My family has been incredibly supportive. My husband read The Best Man before I submitted it for publication and lots of them have purchased copies. I still blush when I think about my mom reading some of the spicier scenes.
If you had to choose one person to have dinner with, who would it be? And why? 
Remember when I mentioned watching too much TV? Then it won’t be much of a surprise that I would love to have a sit down with Joss Whedon, the creator of Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Firefly. He is the king of us nerdy, TV-loving, writer-types.
What is your writing process? Do you outline, fly by the seat of your pants or a combination of both?
I’m a combination writer, if I outline too much it loses the excitement factor. I do try to have a general idea of the highlights when I start.
Can you please give us a sneak peek at any of your upcoming books?
I’d love to. J I have another contemporary romance novella coming out from Entranced Publishing this fall. It’s called A Late Thaw and it’s a second chance at love for two long-time friends. It takes place in Vermont, a place that holds a special place in my heart.
When you have writer's block how do you break free?
I find that it helps to write whatever I most want to write. So if I’m stuck, even if I am behind on another project, I give myself permission to take a little time and write exactly what my heart wishes to say. Even if what my heart wishes to say is utterly unpublishable.
I’m online at:

©    Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/anablaze/
©    Website: www.anablaze.blogspot.com
©    Facebook: www.facebook.com/AnaBlazeLove
©    Twitter: @ana_blaze

Beth Chase is too busy planning perfect weddings to worry about the lack of action in her own love life. But if she was looking for a man, she wouldn’t be looking at Colin Pratt. Her boss swears that Best Man Colin is a quiet scholar and science fiction writer who couldn’t possibly cause a fuss at his own brother’s wedding. He’s clearly never met the man in question. Snarky, sexy and more than a little inebriated, Colin is the final obstacle between Beth and the last perfect wedding she needs to make partner. Of course, when she helps him into a taxi at the end of the night she has no idea that he’s only just begun to poke holes in her professional exterior. Colin might have the skills to seduce a romance professional, but can he convince her that he’s the best man to share her happy ever after? 


June 8, 2013

Michelle Pickett

Michelle Pickett Returns in Sci-Fi Fashion

I'm a wife, mother, author, reader, although not always in that order.  I write adult and young adult urban fantasies, science/fiction and paranormal romances and have recently started dabbling in young adult contemporary romance. Reading was one of my earliest passions, writing soon followed. I began writing seriously during college where I graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in accounting. Why I chose a career that frowns on creativity remains a mystery.
I’m addicted to Reese’s peanut butter cups and eat way too many while I write, have an abnormal obsession with hoodies and can’t write without one, and I hate to cook, but love to watch cooking shows on television. An unabashed romantic, I love a swoon-worthy ending that will give me butterflies for days. 

Please tell us a little about your new release without giving too much of a spoiler away.
It’s a post-apocalyptic, science-fiction, romance told from the point of view of Eva, a seventeen-year-old girl. She tells the story of what happens when a deadly, unstoppable virus breaks out, killing everyone who comes in contact with it. She relates her experiences and feelings as she watches the virus ravage the world, the government’s attempt to save as many people as possible by opening an underground habitat, her feelings when she is one of the “Chosen” to live in the PODs and how devastated she is when she has to leave everyone she’s loved behind knowing they’ll succumb to the virus. She tells about her time in the underground PODs, and then finally what happens when the residents of the PODs are finally allowed to emerge and see the world the virus has left behind. 

What was the hardest part of writing your book? 

Time. There’s never enough. I have to force myself to be very disciplined about my writing time and protect it like I would if it were a job outside my home. With four children, a husband and my aging mother to care for, it’s very easy to let time get away from me and find the day has passed and I haven’t written a word. So I have a set amount of work that has to be done each day. I make myself write a minimum of four pages a day. Most days I write more than my minimum…sometimes it takes forever to crank out four, but it keeps me writing and that’s what’s important. 

What comes first: the plot or the characters? 

It depends actually. For my new release PODs, the plot came first. The plot also came first for “Milayna” releasing March 11, 2014. But my current work in progress the characters came first and told me their story. 

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

I find that it’s a little of both. I start with a sketch of who they are, where they come from, the physical attributes, and so forth. As the story unfolds, the characters reveal more of themselves to me. 

Do you have a ritual when it comes to writing? Example….get coffee, blanket, paper, pen, laptop and a comfy place. 

Ah, yes. I’m a little quirky when I write. I get up at six a.m. and get dressed and ready for the day. I have breakfast with my kids when we aren’t running through the house like maniacs because we’re late, which is most days. My writing day begins as soon as I walk through the door after taking my kids to school. I grab my house phone, something to drink, my hoodie, my cell phone, make sure my stress ball is in my desk drawer, and power-up my lap-top. I slip into my hoodie while I wait for the computer to wake-up. I don’t know where my obsession with hoodies came from, but I can’t write without one. If it’s too hot to wear one (I live in Texas!), I have it slung over the back of my chair. Once the hoodie is in place and my computer is ready, I deal with my email first and then start writing. 

Do your books have a common theme or are they all different? 

I write across many themes and genres. It keeps writing fun for me and hopefully for my readers, as well. 

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

It typically takes me around three months to write and another month to edit and revise.  

How do you go about naming characters? 

Sometimes I hear a name I like and use it. I actually have a list on my computer of names I’ve heard that I think are pretty or unique. But sometimes the character names itself. The personality and characteristics of the character just lend themselves to a particular name. 

What do you see for the future of publishing and e-books? 

That’s a really tough question. I see a lot of change in the industry. I don’t know that traditional publishing (paper books) will ever go away completely, but I think it will diminish dramatically as years go on based on price and ease of use of and availability of e-books. Technology is pervasive in our world and I don’t see that changing, so it’s only natural that it will spill over into publishing. 

What are your current books out right now, and what are the books coming up for release?

I have two books published through MuseItUp Publishing. They are adult urban fantasies: Concilium and the sequel Concilium: The Departure.
My young adult titles are published through Spencer Hill Press and include PODs, my newest release. It’s available in paperback and e-book on June 4th, which is also my son’s 12th birthday. That has to be a sign of good luck because he’s such a blessing to me.
Contracted books coming up are: Milayna, a young adult paranormal romance. It’s scheduled for release in paperback and e-book formats on March 11, 2014.  It is tentatively scheduled as a trilogy. If I continue with the trilogy the second book, Milayna’s Angel would release in September 2014. The Infected, the sequel to PODs and last book in the PODs series, will release in November 2014. And finally The Innocent, the third book in the Milayna trilogy (if it progresses) will release in April 2015. 

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?  

I love photography. I drive my family crazy chasing them around with my camera. I love to take photos of faces, especially eyes. They fascinate me, how much emotion you can see in just a look, especially if you can take a photo without a person knowing they are being photographed—when they are relaxed. 

Is there anything else you would like to tell the readers we have not touched on?

I’d like to tell you all that I appreciate each of you tremendously. It is a great honor and very humbling to have someone read my work. I can’t express my thanks enough. 

Where can the readers learn more about you and find your books on the web? (Add the web links and buy links here) 

I love to hear from readers and other authors! Find me here: 

·       Website:       www.Michelle-Pickett.com
·       Email:          Michelle@Michelle-Pickett.com
·       Blog:            www.Michelle-Pickett.com/blog
·       Facebook:    www.Facebook.com/michellepickettauthor
·       Twitter:        http://www.twitter.com/michelle_kp
·       Goodreads:  http://goodreads.com/michelle-pickett
·       Linked In:    http://www.linkedin.com/in/michellepickett
·       Amazon       http://amazon.com/author/michellepickett
·       Pinterest       http://pinterest.com/michelleauthor/


If you’d like to purchase a copy of PODs you can order from these retailers or find
copies in select bookstores:


June 1, 2013

Radine Nehring

Come to a Wedding with Radine Nehring

There is something about a wedding . . . .  Maybe my interest in the subject stems partly from the fact that--since a small but traditional wedding--Radine and John Nehring have celebrated many happy years together. We're living a great marriage and an evolving interest in many of the activities human life offers.  

We even share involvement in my writing career since John is now my business manager and record-keeper. At first it was mostly me, though my interest in writing for publication rose out of a shared passion--living close to nature. After mid-life, we succumbed to that passion and bought rural land in the Arkansas Ozarks only a hundred miles from our home and "pressure-full" jobs in Tulsa. Together we built a two-room cabin and spent most weekends there. I loved the Ozarks and Arkansas so much that words to share that love with others began bubbling in my head and, though I had never written for publication before, I was soon selling essays and feature articles about people and the natural world in the Ozarks. I wrote from Tulsa, then, after we moved to our Ozarks home (now named Spring Hollow) I continued this writing and selling. Eventually I added text to a collection of my articles and wove them into a love story about Radine and John sharing their love for all they were seeing, hearing, and learning at Spring Hollow. The result--a non-fiction book, DEAR EARTH: A Love Letter from Spring Hollow--was released in New York in 1995.

Since I have been an avid reader of cozy mysteries since Nancy Drew first poked her detective skills into my childhood, I then decided it would be fun to try writing a mystery, and the "To Die For" series featuring Carrie Culpeper McCrite and Henry King was born. More book sales meant more work for John as my business manager as well as for me, and now we both have full-time jobs as my writing career expands. Which leads me to the novel featured here, A WEDDING TO DIE FOR.

The featured wedding is Carrie and Henry's, though the path heading there is far from smooth. They are both mature adults, each with one marriage behind them. (Carrie, a retired librarian, is a widow. Henry, retired as a major from the Kansas City Police Department, has been divorced for many years.)  Carrie, whose name fits her caring nature but not necessarily her curiosity about what she observes, too frequently gets involved in other people's problems when she notices they are in some kind of trouble. Henry has the knowledge and training to help her in her "detecting" but, more important, supplies a cool-headed caution Carrie badly needs. As they work together, their reluctance to get involved in a second marriage is overcome by deepening love. Hence, wedding plans. But what is an appropriate wedding for a mature couple? Carrie wants all the frills, including a wedding gown. Henry wants simple. Carrie, with the help of friends Shirley and Eleanor, wins (of course) and a wedding in the 1886 Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, (real place) is planned. But then--the shop of one florist is bombed, another florist is murdered, and, well. . . that's the story.

Writing this book was a happy experience. By time for the WEDDING I knew Carrie and Henry and their thoughts quite well. I simply opened up and began telling their newest adventure. It was actually difficult to leave them to fix a meal or do necessary chores, as my husband can affirm. (After a few books in the series, the dear man learned to warm up left-overs or cook simple meals from scratch. So he's really more than a business manager.)

In spite of my normally consistent devotion to story creation, it usually takes me at least a year to complete each novel. One reason for this is the extensive research required. Every novel is set in a real location, normally a popular tourist destination in the Arkansas Ozarks, and I need to be sure all details are complete and accurate so that the location, as well as the characters and their story, are honored.

I have been asked about naming characters. Hmmm, I can't remember it was ever a problem, though I did hit one difficulty in the opening novel. I had named the female star Callie. But the publisher who bought my series already had a series with a Callie as the protagonist. I changed to Carrie, and now I like that much better. Henry just "came" as did Eleanor, Shirley, and many more. Remember, most of my characters are mature adults, so were named before the current trend to other than relatively plain names. Younger characters like Robert, Carrie's son, and Henry's young half-sister Catherine, bear family names.  (My family. Brother Robert and sister-in-law Catherine.)

All-in-all, though "I kill people for a living" might be said of me as well as most all crime writers, this is a terrific occupation. You see, I get to discover the exciting things, the perils, and the triumphs in the lives of all my characters just as my readers eventually will.

There are now seven Carrie and Henry adventures in this series, six of them available in print, all as e-books. And yes, I am beginning work on number eight. You can buy any or all through your favorite independent bookseller as well as Barnes & Noble. For example, Trolley Line Books in Rogers, Arkansas always stocks all of my books, and currently even has copies of the out-of-print MUSIC TO DIE FOR, set in and round Ozark Folk Center State Park. Trolley Line is at 110 West Walnut Street, Rogers, AR 72756. 479-636-1626. moranbks@sbcglobal.net. On line, my latest novel, A FAIR TO DIE FOR (featured here last summer) is also available in its print version from Oak Tree Press, www.oaktreebooks.com. All books in print or as digital downloads can be found on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or other e-book suppliers.

You're invited along on this adventure with me. Take a chance on a free copy of A WEDDING TO DIE FOR (USA only, please) by commenting about my contribution to Romancing the Heart Interviews. A winner will be drawn from those commenting and announced on this site.  Contact me with your e-mail address at springhollow@arkansas.net, or through my Carrie and Henry web site, http://www.RadinesBooks.com. You may also read the first chapters of all of my books on my web site.