Friday, March 30, 2012

The Story Behind BLOOD FORGE-Kathryn Meyer Griffith

Thanks for joining us today. Kathryn. Many sales to you.

The Story Behind BLOOD FORGE
Out March 1, 2012 from Damnation Books

(Amazon Buy Link:

Damnation Books: (in E-book and print)

1985. I’d just published my second paperback novel, The Heart of the Rose, an historical bodice ripper (remember those?) about a suspected witch in 15th century England amidst the War of the Roses political intrigues, with Leisure Books of Dorchester Publishing and my editor there asked me if I had another novel to show them yet.

It just so happened that, yes, I’d been working on a third novel; another romantic horror similar to my first book with them, Evil Stalks the Night (which will for the first time in 29 years also be out again, revised and updated, on July 1, 2012 from Damnation Books) I was tentatively calling With This Gun. The story centered around a scandalous love triangle/murder between police officers that had taken place in our small town years before and that I had firsthand knowledge of. Some of them had been my friends, as my first husband had been a police officer in town as well. The police force, their wives and families, had been a tight knit group, but the murder still came as a great shock to most of us. One of my husband’s coworkers had been seeing another coworker’s wife and the two were thinking of splitting up their respective marriages, both with children, to be with each other. The problem was, the cop being left didn’t like it and shot the other cop dead in his house one day after being told what had been going on. It was a terrible situation.

Well, I’d let the whole matter age for over a decade and was finally writing about it, sort of, as a way to free me of all the bad memories.

Now to the horror aspect. I’d use a possessed gun as a device to explain the killings the gun would be responsible for. Now I wasn’t exactly a lover of guns, but I was married to a cop. Guns were part of our lives. Always in the back of my mind was what I’d say to people who didn’t like the idea of me writing about a gun or hated guns: It isn’t a gun that kills people…it’s the person using the gun.

In this book, I gave an even better motivation. The gun made people kill because it was evil. This theme was what made it a supernatural story. A Colt Python would be possessed by an ancient demon; that the weapon had been forged from tainted iron or metal from the bowels of the earth centuries ago connected to that ancient demon-god. So the title Leisure eventually came up with was: Blood Forge (though I begged the editor to call it With This Gun or at least, Blood Forged, which made more sense, but no the publisher was determined to call it Blood Forge and in those days the author didn’t have any say so on that or the cover).

Anyway, in the book I’d follow that gun after its creation from unfortunate human to human as it made people crazy and murderous; created havoc in everyone’s lives it touched. Until two people deeply in love have faith that they can defeat it…with the help of a mysterious priest (who may or may not be a priest at all). There are ways to get rid of a demon, no matter how strong it is.

That plot about following a gun on its deadly rampage has been used many times since in television shows and stories, but I’d began thinking about the book as early as 1983, so, perhaps, I was the first. Who knows?

Which brings me now to what happened after I turned the book in to the publisher. My editor for my first two books, Jane Thornton, read it and refused to editor it. Turned it down flat, saying she despised guns. They killed people. Guns bad. They scared her. She wouldn’t edit such a story, sorry.

I don’t remember exactly what happened after that. It was a long time ago. I think either Jane Thornton left Leisure or she gave the book to another editor, a man called John Littel.

Anyway, he liked the book, gun or no gun, and they offered me a contract on it anyway. I was thrilled. Wasn’t thrilled with the title, as I said, though, and I wasn’t impressed with the cover, embossed or not. Too dark. A snake coiling around the barrel of a menacing gun on a black background. Along with the title, I felt it didn’t portray what the book was entirely about. The novel was a love story, a survival against great odds, a parable of faith, tale. A story of a man’s fight with alcoholism and how his wife’s love helps him beat the insidious influence of the alcohol as well as the gun. It was about cops, their lives and their families. But, as with the title, I had no choice on the cover and had to take what they gave me. That’s just the way it was back then. I still feel that’s part of the reason the book never did well in its first incarnation. I was still an unknown writer and when that’s the case I’ve found that the cover and title–how compelling they are–makes a difference in the sales.

At this point, I must admit, after having just finished rewriting it…it was a very dark book written at a very dark time of my life. The darkest, I think, of all my books. I had gone through a divorce, remarriage and was juggling a full time job and a family. Trying to write at night. It was actually difficult for me to relive most of it. I was still in that early part of my career, still young without enough life experience, where I’d embed what I’d lived through and saw around me into my stories. I didn’t have the maturity yet to write anything too layered.

Anyway, the book came out in 1989 and didn’t do as well as my first two books. I noticed that the publisher turned cool towards me after that and, seeing the way the wind was blowing, I went on to get an agent and she helped me jump up another rung of the ladder when she sold my next four books to a bigger publisher, Zebra Books (Kensington Publishing). And I left Leisure behind; and my three books there went out of print long ago.
But now, 23 years later Blood Forge-Revised Author’s Edition (wish I could change that title but it wouldn’t be fair to people that already read the original book) is coming out again in print, and in eBooks for the first time ever, from Damnation Books/Eternal Press in March 2012. I love the cover this time. My fantastic cover artist, Dawne Dominique, who did eleven of my other new covers, did this one, too. It’s stunning.

So that’s the story of Blood Forge. My third published novel. It, along with my older novels (12, plus a novella and a short story) will all soon be out again. And when the last old book from 1984, Evil Stalks the Night-Revised Author’s Edition comes out in July 2012, my forty year writing career will have come full circle. It’s amazing. I guess a book never dies, huh? I guess not.


A writer for over 40 years I’ve had 14 novels and 8 short stories published with Zebra Books, Leisure Books, Avalon Books, the Wild Rose Press, Damnation Books and Eternal Press since 1984. And my romantic end-of-the-world horror novel THE LAST VAMPIRE-Revised Author's Edition is a 2012 EPIC EBOOK AWARDS FINALIST NOMINEE.

My books (most out again from Damnation Books and Eternal Press Evil Stalks the Night, The Heart of the Rose, Blood Forge, Vampire Blood, The Last Vampire, Witches, The Nameless One short story, The Calling, Scraps of Paper, All Things Slip Away, Egyptian Heart, Winter's Journey, The Ice Bridge, Don't Look Back, Agnes novella, In This House short story, BEFORE THE END: A Time of Demons, The Woman in Crimson, The Guide to Writing Paranormal Fiction: Volume 1 (I did the Introduction) ***

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I don’t necessarily juggle. It’s more of a melding of the two.

The great thing about being a writer is that you can work anywhere, and inspiration comes at any time. The most common places for me to have sudden inspiration is in the shower (which is why I keep a notebook in there, although my bathroom floor has a tendency to get soapy and wet), that fuzzy state between waking and sleeping, while I’m talking with my family about my latest book, and whenever I just relax and rest. It’s almost as if the back of my brain is constantly working and it just takes a nudge to allow it to come out.

So truly, I guess I’m thinking about writing all of the time, especially when I get caught up in a new magical world like the one I created in THE LORD OF ILLUSION. It explains many things. Like, why I have a tendency to wander off in the middle of a conversation, and have to ask my friend what in the world I was talking about to get back on track. Or why I have a tendency to walk into the corners of walls, or forget why I went into a room, or where I was going.

Is that why writers are thought of as a bit kooky?

Or is it just me? Maybe other writers have a way to juggle both worlds and I just haven’t mastered the trick of it yet. But I can see someone make a gesture and I’ll immediately think of how I can incorporate that into my character. Or watch people interact and think of how charming that would be for my hero/heroine. Or fall in love with a character from a movie and launch into an entirely new world with evolved characters of my own. Or see a wedding and wonder what characteristics made these two fall in love with each other and how they managed to overcome any obstacles in their way. Or suddenly wonder why things are the way they are, and what could change to alter the world as it is? Or see a single girl, and create a man that would be perfect for her. Or vice versa.

I lived, breathed, and slept THE LORD OF ILLUSION. I can’t turn the creativity on and off, although there are times when my imagination stalls, and other times when it jumps so far ahead of me that I can’t see the ending of where it’s taking me.

But despite looking like a bit of an airhead most of the time, I have to admit that I love it. There’s an old saying that life is what you make it, and I think that’s true. What you carry around in your head, what thoughts you choose to focus on, becomes your life; because it’s the way you perceive your world (that half-empty, half-full glass of water thing).

For me, I carry around love stories, new worlds of magic, characters that charm me, adventures that I can lose myself in. My life is wonderful, no matter what I’m doing in the ‘real’ world, so maybe not being able to juggle is a good thing.

My Magical Best,


Monday, March 26, 2012

And the winner is......

Congratulations BN100. You're the winner of Cara's book. Please contact Kim at kwatters21 (at) hotmail (dot) com (no spaces) to claim your prize. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Our own, Kathryne Kennedy, a Publisher's Weekly Star Reviewed Author, will be critiquing the query letter and first ten pages from one attendee at the Desert Dreams Writer's Conference. You must register before midnight March 31, 2012 to be eligible. Conference coordinators (Susan Lanier Graham or Tina LaVon McCright) will notify the lucky winner April 1st with details.

To register go to

Friday, March 23, 2012

Interview with Cara Marsi

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Cara Marsi. It’s a pleasure having you come visit us at Much Cheaper Than Therapy, where chocolate is plentiful and advice is free. So grab some chocolate and a lounge chair. Your therapy session has begun.

Thank you for inviting me. I’m always happy to visit with you. I’m relaxing with a chocolate martini. What did you say? It’s not yet noon, too early to indulge. Oh, but it’s noon somewhere in the world.

I understand you have a new release out called “A Catered Romance”. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

“A Catered Romance” is the first book I ever sold. It was originally published by Avalon Books under the title “A Catered Affair.” It’s a reunion/redemption story. I love reunion/redemption themes and incorporate them in all my books and short stories. “A Catered Romance” has many food references too. I got hungry a lot when I wrote it.

Here’s the blurb:

There's more than business brewing between two old high school flames...

Stubbornly self-reliant Mary Beth Kendrick needs financial backing to keep her catering business cooking. A looming corporate buyout forces her to accept help from Tom Sackett, the man who broke her heart and left her distrustful of men.

Unable to forget Mary Beth, Tom sets out to win her forgiveness. As he gets to know her again through their shared business interests, he realizes he wants more than forgiveness from her. He wants her in his life.

Grateful for Tom's support but unwilling to trust him, Mary Beth vows to keep their relationship strictly business. But his attentiveness, culminating in a night of passion, starts to melt her icy resolve and shows her the caring, sensitive man Tom has become.

Can Mary Beth learn to love and trust again? Will she and Tom open their hearts to a second chance at love?

“A Catered Romance” is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

The original title, “A Catered Affair,” was a play on words. Catered affairs are events, usually fancy, that are catered. My heroine is a caterer and she and the hero have an affair. The book was written as sensual, but to sell to Avalon, I had to take out the sex, the alcohol consumption, and the cursing. Since the phrase Catered Affair is fairly common and not usually sexual, Avalon kept the title. I have the digital rights and just published the book myself on Amazon Kindle. Some online friends suggested I put romance in the title so it wouldn’t be mistaken for a cookbook. If you look at the original cover (on my website), it could be taken for a cookbook. I added a love scene, added a few curse words and some wine and champagne drinking, hired an artist to do a new cover, and voila! I had a new book.

What made you decide to write in this genre?

I have always been in love with love. I’m a sucker for a good romance. I grew up watching the romantic comedies from the Thirties and Forties that played on late night TV. I read YA romances as a teen and I was a big fan of the Judy Bolton mysteries, which contained a little romance. Judy was a girl detective like Nancy Drew. I didn’t much like Nancy because she was so perfect. Judy was more realistic and she grew up during the series and eventually married Peter, an FBI agent. I was in love with Peter.

Are you a plotter or a pantser and how did it affect the writing of this book?

I’m a little of both. I always do an outline or a working synopsis before I start a book. I know the beginning and the ending, but I need to plot out the story. And I do character sketches so I have a good in-depth knowledge of my characters. Then when I start writing, I never keep to the outline. My characters grow and go in a direction different from what I’d planned. I follow their lead.

Did you have to do a lot of research for the book? What are your favorite research books or sites?

Not much research on any of my books since they’re contemporary and I set them near where I live or in places where I’ve traveled. The most research I’ve done was for my werewolf paranormal romance, “Cursed Mates.” It’s set in Maine, which I’ve visited, but I needed to research werewolf myths. “A Catered Romance” is set in my home town of Wilmington, Delaware. I like to cook, but I’m a pretty basic cook. I like to eat so I didn’t have any problems writing about food. I did go through a few cookbooks to get recipes I could mention in the book. And it was such fun using food analogies and metaphors.

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?

From something that happened to me in grade school. Tommy, a boy I was crazy about in seventh grade through high school, once said something hurtful about me in seventh grade. That hurt stayed with me for a lot of years. He was cute and rich, I was not. Hence, my hero in “A Catered Romance” was raised rich, my heroine was not. My hero is named Tom, and my heroine is named Mary Beth after my best friend growing up. I used my hurt feelings from the real Tommy’s rejection to get inside my heroine’s head. Writing this book was very cathartic for me. I changed the name of the private high school in the book, but it’s the school the real Tommy attended, and the school from which my son graduated years later.

Which character did you like writing about the most, and why?

Mary Beth because she’s worked really hard to raise herself out of poverty. Although she grew up poor, she went to the same prestigious high school as Tom, only she attended on a hardship grant and had to endure teasing by the affluent students. She has a lot of pride and has grown through the years, yet she still has some lingering wounds to work through from her high school days.

Tell us about how you develop your characters. Do you create character sheets, do interviews, that sort of thing? How does your research affect your character development?

I do character sketches in longhand. I can think better in longhand. I write out my characters’ goals, what motivates them, to what lengths they will or won’t go to achieve those goals, and what scares them the most. I have to know my characters before I start writing.

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

Elizabeth Howard who wrote a series of YA historical romances which I loved when I was a teen. I once wrote her and said I wanted to be an author but I didn’t have a typewriter (this was in the dark ages before computers). She wrote back that I didn’t need a typewriter to be an author. For the past few years I’ve been collecting used copies of my favorites of her books. Others that have influenced me are: Jude Deveraux, Victoria Holt, Helen MacInnes, Rosemary Rogers, Katherine Woodiwiss, Anya Seton, Aola Vandergriff. There are just too many for me to mention them all.

What do you feel is the most effective promotion you have done for your book?

If I knew the answer to that I’d be a billionaire. There’s a saying about advertising: Only half works but no one knows which half.

What do we have to look forward next?

Within a month or two I’ll have a new release called “Storm of Desire,” a steamy romance about two people with a sexual history stranded together during a January nor’easter at the Delaware beach. They’re hot for each other and can’t keep their hands off each other, but they’ve got issues. Lots of issues. My editor has the book now. Once I’m through all the edits I’ll publish it.

Thanks, Cara!

And thank you again for having me.

To celebrate her book release, Cara is offering a free book of the winner’s choice of any of her books to one lucky commenter on today's blog. (please check the blog Monday night to see if you won. Chances of winning determined by the number of entries.)

Check my website for a list of my books. “A Catered Romance” isn’t listed yet, but all the others are.

She will be around all day today. I'm sure some of you have questions or comments for her, so please ask away...

Cara Marsi likes to describe herself as a former corporate drone and cubicle dweller. Now that she’s no longer a slave to the corporate world, she can more fully indulge her love of romance. She likes to write about feisty, independent women and the hot guys who love them. She’s published in contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and paranormal romance. In addition, she’s sold more than a dozen short stories to women’s magazines.

Cara and her husband like to travel, and she loves to write about the places they’ve visited. They share their home with a fat, black diva of a cat named Killer.

Please visit Cara’s website,, to learn more about her books and her life. And to see a picture of Killer all pumped up for Halloween.

Check out author’s website at

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Getting to Yes

Recently at the Tucson Festival of Books, I sat on a panel called, So You Want To Be A Writer.  I love doing talks like this because I think most writers have a ton of questions and they don't know where to go to get answers.  I tell all new writers that the best thing they can do for their careers is join an organization (whether it's RWA, MWA, Sisters In Crime or a local writers organization) and then get to a conference.  It doesn't matter how big or small, as long as its one that focuses on writers (as opposed to readers).  Reader conferences are great once you get published, but if you want to know what it's really like to be a writer, you need to go someplace where you can ask a writer.

Local conferences are going on from coast to coast, on many continents.  Chances are, there's one in your area soon.  If you're US based, Arizona's Desert Dreams Writers Conference is just around the corner--a great conference with a big bang for the buck.  Live in the south? northwest? east cost?  Writers Conferences are everywhere.  In fact, just google Writers Conferences 2012 and put in your state, and I'm sure you'll find one.

At conferences you hear tips and tricks, get chances to meet face-to-face with editors and agents, as well as learn to hone your craft.  The amount of information you can get about your chosen career is immeasurable. 

Many hopeful writers are under the gross misconception that becoming a published author is a matter of talent.  Yes, talent helps.  But there is so much more that goes in the pot and so many ways to screw up the broth!  If your lifelong goal was any other business, you wouldn't think twice about training, education and seminars, but for some reasons, writers think they should just be able to sit down and do it.  And some can.  But if you're getting rejections and bewildered as to why, maybe it's time to educate yourself.  So no matter what conference you attend, make it a goal to get to one this year!

Erin Quinn will be speaking at Desert Dreams Writers Conference in Scottsdale Arizona, April 27-29, 2012.  More information:

And at RWA National Conference in Anaheim, California, July 7-29, 2012.  More information:

Best of luck!

Monday, March 19, 2012

And the winner is....

Congratulations Borkworm 54. You're the winner of Catherine's book. Please contact Kim at kwatters21 (at) hotmail (dot) com (no spaces) to claim your prize. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Hurry! Registration Closes March 31st

Hurry! The registration deadline for the Desert Dreams Writer's Conference has changed to March 31st. Don't miss the opportunity to find out what the experts in the industry are saying about today's market.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Interview with Catherine Mann

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Catherine Mann. It’s a pleasure having you come visit us at Much Cheaper Than Therapy, where chocolate is plentiful and advice is free. So grab some chocolate and a lounge chair. Your therapy session has begun.

I understand you have a new release out called PROTECTOR. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

CM: PROTECTOR continues my “Dark Ops” series about a top secret Air Force squadron of aviators who test the latest technology. This story features Chuck Tanaka, an aviator who was captured and tortured. He thinks his days in the field are over due to his injuries…until he’s drawn in by a mission in the Mediterranean and a mob boss’ daughter.

PROTECTOR is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

CM: The heroine – a mob boss’ daughter – doesn’t know her life is in danger. The hero finds that even with his battle scars, he’s still every bit the honed warrior/protector.

Would you describe your book as a cozy, mystery, suspense, or thriller?

CM: Action/Suspense

What made you decide to write in this genre?

CM: I love to read steamy, action, suspense novels and I’m a military spouse. All of those elements blend into the stories that come to me.

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?

CM: I saw a river boat casino and my imagination took flight.

Do you have all the key suspense/mystery elements thought out before you begin writing?

CM: I have a synopsis written before I start a book, so major plot points and characters are set. The scenes come to me as I write and I always write in order.

Did you have to do a lot of research for the book? What are your favorite research books or sites?

CM: My husband is an Air Force aviator. A good bit of my research comes from talking to him or interviewing other military individuals we know.

Tell us about how you develop your characters. Do you create character sheets, do interviews, that sort of thing? How does your research affect your character development?

CM: I usually start by deciding on a quirk for a character and the character develops from there as I brainstorm. For example, I once wrote a military heroine, very crisp aviator, who collected Beanie Babies.

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

CM: Lori Foster, Suzanne Brockmann, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Sherrilyn Kenyon.

What do you feel is the most effective promotion you have done for your book?

CM: I enjoy directly interacting with readers at conferences and on the internet. Is it the most effective? I don’t know. I just know that I draw great joy from visiting with them, discussing other books and generally having fun hanging out.

What do we have to look forward next?

HONORABLE INTENTIONS, Harlequin Desire, April
UNDER FIRE, Sourcebooks, May
“Dog Tags” in LOVE BITES, HQN, June

Thanks, Catherine!

CM: Thank, YOU! I appreciate your having me here for the day.

To celebrate her book release, PROTECTOR is offering a free book of PROTECTOR to one lucky commenter on today's blog. (please check the blog Monday night to see if you won. Chances of winning determined by the number of entries.)

She will be around all day today. I'm sure some of you have questions or comments for her, so please ask away...

USA Today bestseller Catherine Mann writes military romantic suspense for Berkley and Sourcebooks, as well as steamy romances for Harlequin Desire. A RITA Award winner, she has over two million books in print in more than 20 countries. Catherine resides in Florida with her Air Force aviator husband and their four children. FMI, she can be found online at:

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

St. Patrick's Day Trivia

I don't know about you, but when I think of St. Patrick's day I think of four-leaf clovers, green beer and corned beef and cabbage. I would think I would know more about the day when it comes around every year. This year, I thought I'd do a little digging and find out a little more about this Irish holiday.

First off, I thought lets try something easy, like what actually is a Leprechaun after all? I knew he was of small stature. I had completely forgotten he was thought of as a shoemaker. I didn't know that before the 20th century, it was thought that he generally wore red and not green. I'm not sure why the colored changed over the years.

Below are a couple other interesting facts about St. Patricks Day:

How many americans are named Patrick? 1 in 160

Is corned beef and cabbage a traditional meal in Ireland for St. Patrick's Day? Hardly. Some people do eat the meal, but they don't eat it much. AND it positively isn't the Irish national dish.

Four leaf clover? I'm sure you know it's for good luck but did you know Children in the Middle Ages believed if they carried a four-leaf clover, they would be able to see fairies?

There are approximately 10,000 three-leaf clovers for every lucky for-leaf clover.

It's been said that Ireland is home to more four-leaf clovers than any other place, giving meaning to the phrase "the luck of the Irish."

So this St. Patrick's day, I hope you have the "luck of the Irish"!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Healing Hearts is now available

I'm excited to announce that my first Avalon release (Home at Last) has been slightly updated and I've reissued it on Amazon's Kindle.

Healing Hearts

Bounced from one foster home to another, Sarah Churchill learned early that love is conditional and nothing is free. Not even the homeless dog she accidentally runs over.

Veterinarian Grant Morrison is a sucker for strays, both the four-legged kind and the two-legged kind. So when a redhead walks into his office with an injured dog, he does the only thing he knows how to do and stitches up the dog for free.

But Sarah has her pride. Determined never to be a charity case again, she won't accept the service and insists on working at the clinic to pay for the bill.

Can one man and one big, furry dog break down the wall of hurt and distrust and show Sarah the true meaning of happiness and unconditional love?


Monday, March 12, 2012

And the winner is....

Congratulations Gail Kittleson. You're the winner of Margaret's book. Please contact Kim at kwatters21 (at) hotmail (dot) com (no spaces) to claim your prize. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Bring Your Characters to Life

Arizona's own Laurie Schnebly Campbell can help bring your character to life.

What kind of dialogue makes your characters real? What kind of description works best for your voice? No two writers will use the same techniques for these key elements, but having new tools to choose from can make writing description and dialogue easier as well as more fun…not only for you, but for your readers as well. For each technique, this session will use examples from books by the conference’s best-known guests.

Laurie Schnebly Campbell combines her background in counseling with writing novels like the one that beat out Nora Roberts for “Best Special Edition Of The Year.” Her latest book is a how-to on creating characters, and she’s taught writers online and in person from L.A. to London and New Zealand to New York…recently presenting her 100th live workshop to an RWA group. Besides teaching, she enjoys writing for an advertising agency, narrating for Talking Books, and vacationing with her husband and son in Sedona, the red-rock town named for her great-grandmother. “People ask how I find time to do all that,” Laurie says, “and I tell them it’s easy: I never clean my house!”

Laurie will be speaking at the Desert Dreams Writer's Conference April 27-29, 2012

Registration closes March 31st. Don't miss this opportunity!

Friday, March 9, 2012

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Margaret Brownley. It’s a pleasure having you come visit us at Much Cheaper Than Therapy, where chocolate is plentiful and advice is free. So grab some chocolate and a lounge chair. Your therapy session has begun.

I understand you have a new release out called Dawn Comes Early. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous news?

First I want to thank you for inviting me here today. I never say no to chocolates or giving out advice! As far as my news:“Dawn Comes Early” is the first book in my Brides of Last Chance Ranch series. It takes place in Arizona Territory in 1896 and I am very excited about it. The heroine is a disgraced dime novelist who answers an advertisement to inherit a cattle ranch. You won’t believe what happens next…

Dawn Comes Early is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

The title was inspired by 2 Peter 1:19 NIV “…for their words are like a lamp shining in a dark place--until the Day dawns, and Christ the Morning Star shines in your hearts.”

Kate Tenney is in a dark place and though dawn comes early she doesn’t see the Morning Star for quite some time.

What made you decide to write in this genre?

I’ve always loved reading about the old west. That was when men were men and women were women, but a cowboy wasn’t a cowboy unless he was wild, woolly and full of fleas. Of course my cowboy heroes are more likely to be tall, dark and handsome, but you know what I mean.

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?

The idea was inspired by a group of fifty ladies of the First Church of Millford who formed a society of old maids in 1861. Each member vowed she would not marry. Each woman paid five dollars on admission with the principal going to the one who remained unmarried the longest. According to an article in The New York Times thirty years later all but fifteen of the original had married. I was never able to find out who won the prize—and being a romantic I sincerely hope that no one did—but where real life stops imagination takes off.

What are your favorite historical research books and why?

I love reading old diaries, preferable unedited ones with all the glorious misspellings. The book I reach for most often is English Through the Ages, which keeps me from using a word before its time. I recently wanted to use the word hightail only to discover that it wasn’t in use until 1900.

Which character did you like writing about the most, and why?

I really liked writing Kate and Luke. They make an interesting couple; she’s a college educated woman and he’s “just a blacksmith.” He doesn’t know what she’s talking about half the time. He does, however, learn to read her heart and in the end that’s really all that matters.

I also had a lot of fun with some of the minor characters like Aunt Bessie. After reading Kate’s banned dime novel she decides to put some passion back into her marriage with disastrous results.

Tell us about how you develop your characters. Do you create character sheets, do interviews, that sort of thing? How does your research affect your character development?

I’m a pantser which means I write by the seat of mine. To me a character’s all about voice. I have to hear them in my head. When characters start waking me to talk then I know we’re set to go.

I usually start by having each character say a simple prayer. This helps me get a handle on the character and what’s going on in his or her life. In Dawn Comes Early one of the cowhands prayed: “God, the father, thank you for your many blessings and don’t forgit to send rain. And if you ain’t sendin’ rain to us, don’t go sendin’ it to no other ranches, neither.” Boy, did that ever tell me a lot about him and the ranch.

What are some common speech terms, dress modes, transportation or housing facts that you found interesting for your time period?

Cowboy lingo is so colorful and fun. How can we not love it? Can you think of more mouth-pleasing words than hornswoggle, caboodle or skedaddle? Or what about fiddlefooted, ranktankerous, rumbumptious or splendiferous? A latte may be the haute cuisine of coffee, but give me an Arbuckle’s any day. The one drawback of formal education is that today we all sound alike.

Do you have any authors who inspired you?

As a girl I read everything Louisa May Alcott wrote. I was convinced she based Jo in Little Women on me.

What do you feel is the most effective promotion you have done for your book?

The most effective promotion is word of mouth, which today means having readers mention your book on Amazon, Facebook, Twitter and the like. The only way I know to get word of mouth is to write a good book.

What do we have to look forward next?

The second book in the series Waiting for Morning will be published January, 2013. I also have a non-fiction book (my first) coming out. Grieving God’s Way: the Path to Hope and Healing will be available from Thomas Nelson in July. I wrote this book following the loss of our son and it’s very close to my heart.

Thanks, Margaret!

Thank you for having me!

To celebrate her book release, Margaret Brownley is offering a free book of Dawn Comes Early to one lucky commenter on today's blog. (please check the blog Monday night to see if you won. Chances of winning determined by the number of entries.)

More Love and Laughter from N.Y. Times Bestselling Author
Margaret Brownley

“Daily Reasons to Smile” Contest

“I’ve matched up twenty-three couples over the years and in all that time I only made one error. Although I still think the marriage would have worked had she not shot her husband.”—Aunt Bessie in Dawn Comes Early (Brides of Last Chance Ranch)

Characters from Margaret’s new book will send you a reason to smile every day until April 11th. Join in the fun and you could win a book, potted cactus (the story takes place in Arizona Territory) or an iPod Nano and alarm clock docking station. To enter send an email to Be sure to put “Reason to Smile” in the subject line. That’s it!

She will be around all day today. I'm sure some of you have questions or comments for her, so please ask away...

Thrills, mystery, suspense, romance: Margaret penned it all. Nothing wrong with this—except Margaret happened to be writing for the church newsletter. After making the church picnic read like a Grisham novel, her former pastor took her aside and said, "Maybe God's calling you to write fiction."

So that’s what Margaret did. She’s now a New York Times bestselling author and a Romance Writers of America RITA finalist with more than 25 novels to her credit—not bad for someone who flunked 8th grade English. Just don’t ask her to diagram a sentence.

Check out author’s website at

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Creativity Gene

Where does creativity come from?

I will tell you that my mother is an artist and my father is an accountant. Taking that at face value, one might automatically conclude that my mother gave me her talents. There was a time when I drew. I was pretty good, but it wasn't my passion. Growing up, I knew that was required to stick to something that was hard, that would be put in front of a critical public and have them make snide remarks.

My drawings (yes, I still have them) are for my own personal consumption. They're not perfect and I never plan to devote the time to get them that way. I never plan to put them in front of anyone to critique. My mother has a critique group made up of other artists. Just like in writing, being around others who share your passion is required to improve your talent. Of course, there are also those that don't 'get' you but that's a topic for another story.

Growing up, I realized that my father was extremely talented too. Now before you start thinking he was cooking the books, I mean his talent was in the way he saw patterns in numbers that helped him invest and budget. Many times I would go grocery shopping with my father and we'd talk about value of products--taste is important, not just the price tag.

But there were also the times when we'd be alone in the car and he'd entertain me my making up lyrics to songs. My favorite--Car wars, nothing but car wars. Get in your cars and drive away, sung if you will to the Star Wars theme song a la Bill Murray style. There were many more and to this day I still sing the lyrics he did, often when my kids are in the car:-). Some traditions deserve to be passed down.

He also made things up besides lyrics. Once when we were waiting for one of my sisters to get off work, he told me he'd been a jackass in another life and my mother had been a snake. They'd kept each other company in their animal forms until he found her in this life. Now that's creative!

So where does my creativity come from?

Both my parents. I'm a very visual person as well as being analytical. As for why I chose writing, both actually wrote at one time. My mom created short stories for children and my dad wrote a murder mystery in the style of Mickey Spillane.

Where does your creativity come from?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Connie Flynn Goes A.W.O.L.

At Amazon -
This just in . . . Connie Flynn, Basic Track Instructor for Bootcamp for Novelists Online, will go AWOL beginning March 10.

Not the usual AWOL, I suppose.  I mean, a person’s not supposed to give notice when they go AWOL, are they?

But it was time.  In November I blogged that my heart was in my writing and since then I’ve worked to finish my fantasy novel – yes, I’m still working on that one – and on getting my out of print books up on Amazon, plus pull two other finished mysteries into shape to publish.  Every time I turned around, the demands of teaching the Bootcamp and my college classes interfered, making my progress very slow.  Finally it came to a head, and after some heart to heart conversations with family members and close friends I eventually concluded I couldn't do it all.

I decided to take a six month leave of absence from Bootcamp for Novelists.   I’m rescheduling my upcoming classes and will return on September 7 with Sparkling Dialogue, followed by Punch Up Your Prose.  Come the new year (yes, 2013, how quickly time flies) I’ll resume the Four Pillars of Structure. Registration will remain open for those classes and I will offer 2-4 course package discounts.

In the meantime I’ll be busy finishing the book that’s been burning in my heart for so long and will keep in touch with former students and future students through the Bootcamp Bunker.   I now might even find time to take in some movies or spend a day at the mall and there will definitely be more lunches with family and friends.

So see you in September.  I’ll be looking refreshed.

P.S.  Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of my debut paranormal novel, SHADOW ON THE MOON.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Create Complex Characters

The most interesting characters are the hardest to write. Beth Andrews will explore ways to create complex, layered characters who will jump off the page and into your reader’s heart. Don’t miss this workshop at the Desert Dreams Writers Conference.

Registration closes March 31, 2012

Friday, March 2, 2012

Judi McCoy's March 6th Book

With her passing last week, we'd like to showcase Judi's next dog walker book here on Much Cheaper Than Therapy in her memory.

Fashion Faux Paw

It's Fashion Week in New York and Ellie's in charge of the dogs' modeling outfits that match their mommy-mdoels for a fashion competition. But before the first round closes, one of the designers drops dead of anaphylactic shock, her Epipen useless because someone's emptied it.

The victim's peanut allergy was well-known, so Ellie and her dog Rudy must comb through the brash designer's rivals, colleagues, and many enemies to discover who was so desperate that she committed the ultimate crime of fashion.

RIP Judi.


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Tribute To Davy Jones

Monkees singer Davy Jones passed away Wednesday after suffering a heart attack. He was 66.
Davy was a singer, actor, and here's something you might not know about him, he was a jockey. Yep, before he became a teen idol in the sixties and seventies with a group called the Monkees, he planned to become a horse racing jockey. But instead he followed his dream to be an entertainer. Lucky for us that he did because for many of us he was our first teen idol crush.
These's no doubt a lot of us will be humming, "Daydream Believer" today as we write.
Goodby, Davy. We will always remember your talent, and your sweetness.
Rest in peace.