Friday, April 7, 2017

Comedy with a dash of Romance - Jude Haste!

My guest today, is author Jude Haste who comes to us from London and writes comedy with a dash of romance. Jude is also a strong anti-bullying advocate.

Instead of an interview, Jude chose to write a guest post. Take it away, Jude...

Raising awareness of Bullying and Work Stress
By Jude Haste - Author on Amazon

Thank you for the opportunity to discuss my latest novellas. I write comedy with a dash of romance that I hope raises awareness of the subjects of bullying and work stress. These are important themes as they involve people's mental health and stability.

I began writing to deal with my own work stress and I cut my teeth on a quirky comedy called Loaded. I then went on to write Toxic I and Toxic 2 novellas which follow a lady's life as she deals with her toxic boss. I wrote the Knockout novellas with a bit of a 'Carry On' theme in mind and dealt with a bully in the bedroom rather than the boardroom.

My latest works include: You're Just a Picture On My Wall. I took this title from a song track which my older sister wrote the lyrics to decades ago, so it is quite a personal story. It starts with an incident that actually happened to me. I had to switch off this fire alarm after doing a fire drill at a school and the blasted thing would not shut up. So, I made the situation worse by attacking the alarm box and cursing at it only to turn around and find an entire fire brigade standing right behind me. How embarrassing! Later on in the story, there is a skiing trip and again I used one of the thousands of embarrassing incidents in my life in this section of the story too. It was my first time skiing and my group had to carry their skis to the top of the mountain and then the instructor has you put them on and explains what to do. Unfortunately, when I clicked mine in I was facing the mountain and as soon as I stood up, I shot backwards down the mountain out of control. The instructor raced to save me by skiing backwards behind me and catching my butt in between his thighs to slow me down. Again, how embarrassing!

My main inspiration for writing this book though is based around a character called Ms. Reed, who is the elderly headmistress of an all-girls private school in London. She is a quirky and eccentric character, a bit of a snob, but the point is that she is NOT a bully, in my opinion. When I think of the word bully, the word 'relentless' springs to mind, and Ms. Reed, as quirky as she is, is never shown in the story to be relentlessly picking on or excluding anyone. We all have flaws. 

I always deal with second-chance romances as my  heroes and heroines, who are around my age and I can identify with. The main characters, in this novella, have both been through heartache and need to put their feet back on the ground to deal with the present.

My next novella, Jaywalker, is set in New York, although there are flashbacks to scenes in London. It is based on bullying in the workplace. The main character meets and falls in love with a New York cop but the course of true love does not run smoothly and there are many bickering scenes. The hero is depressed after a failed long-term relationship. When we meet him, he is in rather an unhygienic state. This was deliberate as one of the first signs of someone being depressed is that their own hygiene standards deteriorate. The workplace bullying is based around a series of emails that are received from the boss's sidekick, a lady who seems to spend most of her time relentlessly writing emails, criticising other people's work.

This novella, as it played out in my head really took me out of my comfort zone, but we meet a lot of other characters, like Simon the Psychiatrist who was a wacky character that I created to add to the comedy.

Just an Illusion was another novella I wrote, that I set in India. It is based around an interracial relationship and was important to me in that I wanted to highlight that most mainstream religions share a lot of similarities. I wanted to dispel myths that make us see each other as odd or different.

The boss in this book is actually held a bit accountable for his bullying, but unfortunately with men or women in positions of power, they always try and justify their actions, feeling that the use of bully boy tactics gets the job done. There are courses in conflict resolution that exist and should be taken up by managers. These courses aim to get managers to acknowledge their workforce as people. We are not robots!

We should try to have a positive impact in this world we live in. I hope that from my work, people may learn to come to terms with their work stress by finding an outlet for it, as my characters did and that my novellas bring a bit of comic relief in what can at times seem like a dark and hopeless night! 

You can follow Jude here...  (click the links)


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Exactly how I pictured it!

Have you ever imagined a place and when you finally got the chance to visit, it was exactly as you pictured? 

In my book, WILD GOOSE CHASE, Olivia Pence and Dezz Casey had a love-hate relationship since kindergarten. When they ended up working for the same magazine, all hell broke loose. Their boss had her fill of their back and forth taunts, and ordered them to take a two-week cooling off period. They were to travel separately and find serendipitous situations to write about and if the time away didn't fix their woes, the boss threatened to take drastic action. 

Of course, Dezz laughed in the face of danger (a/k/a being fired) and followed Olivia, who was on her way to Florida. Some funny situations took place along the way and so did some romantic ones. Of course, trouble also found it's way into their adventure. Dezz headed back to New York and Olivia continued on.

Olivia visited Ponce de Leon's Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park in St. Augustine, Florida. When I wrote this scene for her, I'd never actually been to this amazing attraction and had to heavily rely on information from the internet. WILD GOOSE CHASE was published in May 2016 by the Wild Rose Press. In February 2017, I finally got to visit the place I wrote about. I admit to being in awe when I realized how close I came with my descriptions in the book. The second I saw the albino peacocks I got all warm and gushy inside. There were also colorful male peacocks strutting around, making noise since they were in rut. I drank from the Fountain of Youth. The water tasted remarkably like well water. I'm still waiting for the 'youth' bit to kick in. At present, those pesky crows feet are still creasing the corners of my eyes. 

In my story, Olivia sat on a bench and tried to come to grips with her true feelings for Dezz. I think I sat on that same bench after I finished touring the park.  

For me, this after-the-fact research was surreal. It was a writer's retreat that not only helped me reconnect with the characters in the book, but also recharged by my creative batteries for future stories. 

There's a lot of beauty and history to enjoy at Ponce de Leon's Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park. If you get a chance, check it out.

~ Jan


Monday, March 20, 2017

Special Guest: Cindy Dorminy

Today my special guest is Cindy Dorminy. She hails from The Volunteer State -- Tennessee. We'll talk to her about her latest book release, Left Hanging, and then discover the talent behind it.


Welcome, Cindy! It's great to have you here! 

* Thanks for having me, Jan.

On with the interview and a sneak peek at the cover for Left Hanging. 

Q: Cindy, what genre would best describe your book?

A: Left Hanging is a sweet contemporary romance, but it borders on women's fiction. 

Q: Setting is so important. It pulls the reader in and makes them feel like they're experiencing the story firsthand. Where does the bulk of Left Hanging take place?

A: Left Hanging is set in Nashville, TN. At first, it's in a university setting and the rest is based around a hospital. Both the female and male characters are from Nashville and work at the hospital.

Q: Without giving too much away about your main characters (because half the fun is discovering them as we read), can you tell us a little bit about them?

A: Theo is the second oldest of four children. His father is a pastor and his mother is an attorney. He's on the last leg of his medical training when he returns to Nashville and reunites with his 'Juliette' or at least that's what she said her name was in college. He loves games (hint: check out how the title of the book is laid out) and that's how the two main characters bonded.

Darla is a nurse and single mother. She figures 'Romeo' a/k/a Theo didn't want to have anything to do with his baby, so she's been going it alone. And out of the blue, he shows back up, which turns her life upside down.

Q: Sounds interesting, Cindy! Could you share with us the blurb? Perhaps one of your favorite passages from the story?

A: I'd be happy to. Here's the back cover content:

As a nurse and single mom, Darla Battle hides her loneliness behind a smile. But when she discovers that the new cute doctor everyone is talking about is her daughter's father, she knows she needs to keep her distance from the man who abandoned her and their child, Stella.

When Theo Edwards returns to Nashville to finish his medical training, he never expects to run into Darla, a girl he spent one night with seven years ago. For reasons he can't fathom, her attitude toward him is frosty, but he still hopes to ignite the spark they once felt.

Once Darla realizes Theo doesn't know he's Stella's father, she has no idea how to tell him the truth. And the longer she waits, the more difficult it becomes. When the situation spins out of control, can the two come together for the sake of their daughter? Or is forgiveness out of reach? 

And here's one of my favorite scenes when they bump into each other years later: (Theo's point of view)

Through her dark hair, which hides most of her face, she glances my way, not stopping her face washing or babbling. She tries to snatch some paper towels out of the dispenser, and they fly through the air, missing her shaking hands. "Are you lost? she asks as she kneels down to pick up the mess on the floor.

I take her arm to help her stand.

"This is the women's bathroom, you know," she adds.

Whoa. Not what I expected. Maybe our time together didn't mean very much to her. I thought we had something special. I wanted her real name, a real relationship. But she vanished after the fire, and no one I asked seemed to have a clue who she was. This little reunion is a shock to me too. I would like to know what she's been doing all these years, but I get the feeling she doesn't have the same curiosity.

"Yeah, well, we met in a bathroom, so I thought it was appropriate." I cannot stop the Cheshire Cat grin from spreading across my face.

She stands there, focusing on the hand dryer, the sink, everywhere except my eyes. Cat's got her tongue. I wish this cat did.

"Hello...Romeo." Finally, she speaks.

I throw my head back and chuckle as I lean against the counter, crossing my arms. The edge of my shirt absorbs a puddle of water. "It's you, after all this time."

She throws the paper towels in the trash can, and her eyes flit around the room. Sorry, girl. It's only you and me.

It's as if her hands can't figure out what to do. I can help her with that. Eventually, she's going to have to face me. She crosses her arms and huffs. I enjoy the scenery while she clenches and unclenches her fists. She is as beautiful as I remember. Not model, stop-and-stare beautiful, but purely, completely perfect-for-me beautiful. And she still wears that same uncertain "I'm not good enough" look on her face. But today, it's coupled with a nasty nail-spitting stare. She waxes and wanes from seeming upset to acting as if she's ready to smack me. Maybe I should take a step back in case she wants to make contact, and not the fun kind. I remember how much her face lit up when she finally realized I really liked her and that I wasn't playing her like some random hookup. We did hook up, but I was already gaga over her by that time. I remember later that night when she woke up in my arms, with one leg slung across mine, dangerously close to the fun zone. It's something I'll never forget. But here we are seven years later, and she seems scared again. Well, let's see what I can do to get rid of that feeling for good.

"So, how long has it been?" She wears a painted-on smile that doesn't reach her eyes.

I'm trying to be nice here, but she's not making it easy. "About seven years, give or take a few months and days." Actually, it's been seven years, one month, sixteen days, not that I'm counting.

"Nice to see you," she says.

She could have fooled me. I don't have a long history of girlfriends, and I'm certainly not a master of body language, but I'm pretty good at knowing when I'm not wanted. I take a step toward her anyway, knowing good and well that I might regret it. She steps back, bumping into the paper towel dispenser. I reach out to flip over her ID badge. She has conveniently clipped it on her shirt so her picture and name aren't showing. She swats my hand away.

"Whaaa? I still can't know your real name?"

She crinkles her forehead.

I lean against the counter again, and my entire face lights up. "It's really good to see you." Inside, I'm doing a happy dance and yelling, "Yes." This isn't the happy reunion I imagined we would have one day, but I can work with this.

"Well, I need to get back to work," she whispers. She tries to push past me, but she's not getting away that easily.

I put my hands on her shoulders. "Please."

Her eyes flick to mine for a second before she looks away again. She doesn't need to be afraid of me. It wasn't my fault a fire interrupted the best night of my life. I run my hands down her arms. "You can't leave before I know your name."

She stretches her lips into a tight line as she averts her eyes from me.

"I thought I'd lost you. You gotta at least give me a name. Preferably, a real one this time."

Q: Is there a central theme? Or, like many books, are there a few themes throughout the growth of your characters?

A: Everyone deserves a second chance at first love. Also, since Theo's a preacher's kid, the theme of forgiveness is woven throughout the story. It's not preachy, but it comes from his upbringing.

Q:  Is Left Hanging a stand-alone book or part of a series?
A:  It is a stand-alone...for now!! I do have ideas for three more in this family, but they are not ready for anyone to see.

Q:  As you wrote your story, were there any surprises you didn't see coming?

A: The ending is totally different than I originally planned. I was working with a writing coach and she said my ending was too obvious and I needed to "throw more apples" at my main characters. Sorry, Stella. It's Kristen's fault.

Q: What did you find the most challenging about Left Hanging?

A:  It is a sweet, low heat romance. Most publishers want super hot romance and this is definitely not that! I'm so glad Red Adept welcomes all levels of heat in their romance novels.

Q: What are you working on now?

A: I'm finishing up edits on a romantic comedy, then will dive back into the Left Hanging family.

Q: Aspiring writers look to published authors for guidance and to give them a bit of our reality. Do you have any advice or experiences you'd like to share?

A: Several things actually:

1. Don't give up. If you enjoy writing, keep at it.
2. Be flexible with how you plan to get to your end goal. If you want to be published, getting an agent might work for you. Going with a traditional publisher may be for you. Being an indie author may be for you. They all can lead to the same end goal. Explore all options.
3. Make writer friends that can help you be a better writer, give you advice, and be there when you receive the one hundredth rejection letter.

Q: When you're not writing, what do you like to do? What helps you recharge your creativity?

A:  I work out every day. If I'm not lifting weights, I'm taking my dog for a walk, or I'm riding my recumbent bike. I love to read all kinds of novels too. Exercising and reading (sometimes at the same time) really helps with writer's block. Another way to recharge my batteries is to sleep. If I'm stuck on a scene, I'll try to go to sleep thinking about it. Many times, I'll wake up with a way to move forward. 

Q: You live in Nashville. Can you tell us what it's like to live in such an incredible city?

A:  Nashville is a great city. There is live music everywhere (see my bio - yes, the grocery store, the airport, even in the shoe department at Macy's). I love seeing new up and coming bands and it's not unusual to see famous musicians walking around doing normal activities. It's an unwritten rule in Nashville that we leave the celebrities alone. I think that's why they like to live here. They can go to the Pancake Pantry or the movies without anyone asking for an autograph or a selfie with them. Plus, there are countless people that live here most people don't even know about. Like the session players you'll hear on albums, or the writers who are the talent behind the big hits. One time, I was at a big concert sitting next to a writer friend. It was surreal when the band started playing a song he wrote and everyone in the place was singing HIS song.

Q: You're the proud owner of a four-legged fur friend. Tell us about her. What does she add to your life? Does she make an appearance in any of your books?

A: Daisy Mae is just the coolest little critter. She's a Chihuahua / something / something mix. We went about a year without a dog and when it was time, we went to 'Dog House' as my daughter called it. (Nashville HumaneAssociation) After several trips trying to find the right dog, we were wandering around the kennels when an employee asked us what type of dog we wanted. We told her what we had in the past and (I'm not kidding), she said, "Let me see what we have in the back." She rounded the corner with the cutest little 1 year old sweetheart and we knew immediately she was the one for us. She is a food hound. If we have food, she wants it, no matter if she's already eaten. She's also my writing companion. During the warm months, I sit outside on my screened-in porch and she hangs out with me (as long as I have food).

Q: Your husband is a musician. Do you care to give his music a plug while you're here?

A:  Yes he is, but not professionally. He's also a songwriter. Lately, he's devoted his performing time to the praise band at our church. Another unique aspect of Nashville:  Churches are overflowing with talent. He loves it and he doesn't have to deal with smoky bars anymore. He spent about ten years in the music publishing industry, so he was a big asset to have in my corner when it came to publishing contracts. The downside (he wouldn't think so) to being married to a musician is that there is always one more instrument to buy. I think he has more guitars than I have shoes.

Q: It's been a joy hearing about your book and learning who you are, Cindy. Can you tell us where we can follow your writing career?

A: Thanks so much for having me. I love connecting with readers. They can find me here:

Website: www.cindywrites. com (You can also sign up for my newsletter on my site)

Twitter: @cindydorminy

Facebook: CindyDWrites

Instagram: DorminyCindy


Red Adept Publishing/Cindy Dorminy:  Left Hanging


Check out Left Hanging on Amazon 

About the author:

Cindy Dorminy grew up on a steady diet of popcorn (the kind you pop in a sauce pan), Tab (pre-Diet Coke), and movies for teenagers. She can't let a day go by without quoting a line from one of her favorite films, so quirky dialogue is a must in her stories. When she's not at her research coordinator day job, Cindy is writing funny love stories, walking her dog, or slinging iron the old-fashioned way. She shares her house with her musician husband, her awesome daughter, and a cool, four-footed child that would eat all the cheese if she could figure out how to open the refrigerator. Cindy is a member of Romance Writers of America and Music City Romance Writers. She resides in Nashville, TN, where live music can be heard everywhere, even at the grocery store. 

Romance isn't everyone's cup of tea...

...but where would we be without it? (the romance, not the tea *grins*)

Romance is the special connection that provides a feeling of excitement, mystery, and an escape from our everyday lives. It's the extraordinary chase most of us want to engage in on a regular basis. Some might scoff at the notion, but deep down, they crave it too.

I admit to being a hopeless romantic; an inexhaustible, sentimental daydreamer. I believe in meet-cutes that ignite a spark, chemistry so strong it can melt plastic, and happily-ever-afters.

Writing romance is a good fit for me. Some shy away from the genre because the ending is always predictable. The characters are guaranteed a happy-ever-after or happy-for-now. The path to get all that happiness, however, is never easy. That's where the true test for the characters comes in. It's also where the height of endurance and love can be staggering. As the author, I try to throw as many obstacles as I can at the hero and heroine, and hope they can weather the storm so their hearts can sync.

Reading romance isn't everyone's cup of tea, I get it. In the past, you may have read romance novels filled with flowery prose or unrealistic situations. I think a lot has changed in the genre over the years. If you haven't read romance for a while, you might want to give it another try. There's a good chance you'll find writing that's intelligent, entertaining, and filled with personality. ♥♥

~ Jan


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Cheryl Holloway is my guest today!

Welcome to my blog, Cheryl. I’m so happy you’re here to discuss your book, A Sisterhood of Women Living Life: A Short Story Collection – Book 1, and to find out more about you too. I’m currently reading your book, and I have to say, you have a keen way of setting up the conflict for your characters right from the start. I’ve been able to feel the emotions along with your heroines. I can’t wait to dive back in and discover what else they have in store for me as a reader. 

On with the questions... ♥

Q:  In the preface of the book you address your readers and explain that most of the stories are based on real-life events: from your own experiences and those of your close friends and relatives. I won’t ply you to find out which ones are real and which ones are fiction, but I wondered what kinds of emotions you felt while breathing life into your characters and putting them in some familiar situations?

A:  Jan, my emotions while writing this book were all over the place: anger, frustration, love, happiness, joy and pain. I wanted to develop characters that were like the actual person, but I had to also make my characters fictional. In some stories, I added believable events, while elaborating on the truth.

Q:  The stories are geared around romance but from the title I’m sensing some real camaraderie between women in order for your characters to survive the circumstances you put them in. Can you say a little bit about the roles your secondary characters play?

A: The Dreaded After Call, is about a long–distance relationship gone haywire and the main character leans on her secretary, Avril, who is a wise young woman. In Wine A Little, I was a wine connoisseur many years ago and used some of my background to write that story and the secondary character was a kind gentleman who was not afraid to show his love. In Rape’s Revenge, the secondary character was a mother, who was strong in her faith and beliefs; and she guided her daughter to do the right thing. In A Widow Moves On, the man she had fallen in love with was not the man that she knew and loved. He had a secret and skeletons in his closet. In Dark Secrets and White Lies, I show how when you tell one lie, you generally have to tell another lie to keep the first lie a secret.  The lies had escalated and it was almost as if the truth was hit by an avalanche of lies.

Q:  Given that your book is a collection of short stories, was there one story in the grouping that you found easy to write? One that was more difficult? Were there any stories that didn’t make the cut; meaning you decided not to share it at this point?

A: The easiest story to write was Wine A Little, because it was a “light weight” topic. LOL. The hardest story to write was Rape’s Revenge. Anytime children get hurt in the process, I tend to cry. Yes, I had a couple of stories that didn’t make the cut for Book 1. I don’t want to reveal them because I think they will make the cut for Book 2.

Q:  Settings in a story can play a big part. Sometimes the setting is subtle; in the background not rousting much conflict. Sometimes, however, it adds to the drama and escalates the tension. Can you whet our appetites by picking a setting from one of your stories and how it was the perfect place for conflict to arise?
A:  Yes, in A Widow Moves On, the couple always went out to dinner or other places, rather than his home. So, the setting of his family room was the perfect place for her to “notice” things that seemed out of place.  I don’t want to give away the ending.

Q:  Which heroine was your favorite to write? What trait of hers do you think your readers will pick up on right away and fall in love with her?

A: The young woman in Dark Secrets and White Lies, was a Millennial and she was somewhat of a challenge for me to write her character and stay true to the events.  I think my readers will pick up on the fact that she was frustrated and angry with herself for continuing to lie. I, especially, wanted this book to have something for women of all ages.

Q:  On the flip side, which hero was your favorite? What trait of his do you think the readers will connect with?

A: In Wine A Little, I so enjoyed writing the hero and making him a man that we can all love. He was kind, caring and loving—all the time.

Q:  Romance is easy; love is not. Were there any heroines/heroes that as you wrote their story, you weren’t sure they were going to get their happily-ever-after because they didn’t seem to be able to resolve their issues?

A: You’re absolutely right, romance is easy and love is not. In Rape’s Revenge, I knew what the outcome was going to be, but I had to figure out a way to execute it without making all of the characters look bad.

Q:  Please describe how you felt when your book was finished. Were you emotionally spent from everything you put your characters through? Did you break into song? Dance around the room?  (There have been times when I’ve burst into song and danced when I type The End - *grins*)

A: Of course, some stories drained me more than others, but, overall, I was elated when the book was finished.  I usually give myself some type of treat when I finish a book, such as a special chocolate candy, a movie that I’ve been wanting to see or dinner at a new restaurant. 

Q:  This was book 1. Are you currently working on book 2? If so, when do you plan to publish it?

A:  No, I have two projects that I need to finish before I start working on Book 2.  However, I plan to publish Book 2 in late 2017 or early 2018 depending on the editing.

Great information about your book. Thanks for sharing it. Okay, now a little about you...

Q:  You wear a lot of hats when it comes to the whole scope of writing. You’re a writer, journalist, editor, writing instructor, accountability writing coach for debut authors, and an experienced blogger. You are so kind to fellow authors and pay-it-forward by highlighting them and their books on your blog. How in the world do you balance everything?

A: It is definitely a juggling process. I took an early retirement, so that I would have time to write. Now, I’m busier than ever. I teach writing workshops and have several clients in my accountability writing programs. On my blog, I pay it forward to other authors on a regular basis and I write every day. I am extremely busy and yes, each day still only has 24 hours. LOL

Q:  Regarding your workshops, I see on your blog that there's one coming up in March. Would you tell us more about that in case some aspiring writers/or seasoned writers want to attend?

A: Yes, my workshops are held in Maryland at a Bed & Breakfast, so writers feel relaxed and they can get their writing juices flowing.  Each workshop has a specific theme.  On March 4th the theme is Getting Focused. Writers can get help to start or finish a novel, write poetry, or revise a short story. I provide motivation and inspiration. On April 15th the theme is Getting Published. Writers get tips, shortcuts and advice on self-publishing and traditionally publishing their books. The workshops are a one-day event from 9-5 and at a reasonable cost. Writers can email me.

Q:  When it’s time to step away from writing, what do you like to do? How do you recharge the batteries for your muse?

A:  I recharge by writing a “new” story. I also enjoy going once a month to the local Writers Group for a few hours. We share our stories, good news, tips, advice and new releases. The camaraderie is great for renewal.

Q:  If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

A: On the beachfront, where I could look out at the water and enjoy the sound of the waves and the smell of the ocean. But then, I probably wouldn’t get any writing done.

Q:  Music is a constant inspiration for me. Is it for you as well? Which musical artist sings to your soul?

A: Yes, music is an inspiration for me. I wouldn’t be able to write without some kind of music playing. I like R & B and Gospel. If the house is too quiet, I cannot concentrate. My grandkids all know that they can talk to me when they come over, but they say, “Shhh. Grandma is writing her new book.” They love to look at my blog and see my picture.

Q:  You have a trailer for your book. Would you like to share it with us?

A:  Yes, I have a new trailer coming out soon for A Sisterhood of Women Living Life. Readers can check my blog for actual release date. I currently have a Blog Giveaway in Celebration of 500 Blog Posts and 500 Tweets. The prize is for three winners. They will receive an eBook copy of A Sisterhood of Women Living Life and The Proposal: A Leap of Faith, as well as a $10 Starbucks Gift card. All they have to do is leave a comment on my blog.

You’ve been a joy getting to know, Cheryl. I’m glad you visited my blog and I hope you’ll come back soon.

Bio for Cheryl Holloway:

Cheryl Holloway is an amazing contemporary romance author, journalist, award-winning editor, writing instructor, accountability writing coach for debut authors and experienced blogger. She has written several eBooks, The Cougar Tales Series, Book 1: Father and Son; Book 2: The Italian Basketball Player; Book 3: Jamaican LoverThe Bane Bath Salts, (Teen Drug Prevention), and her latest release, A Sisterhood of Women Living Life: A Short Story Collection.  They are available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords. Cheryl has worked for the Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press. She has several forthcoming books, including Lana’s Dream and How to Enhance Your Life with Prayer. When she’s not writing books, she is either writing her blog or reading. Cheryl Holloway’s passion is to Pay-it-Forward to other authors on her blog.  

You can follow Cheryl here:

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

♥ Merlot in Maine! ♥

And the witty saga of four women who met at a jewelry store cash-for-gold event and became best friends, continues in... 


Suddenly single and in their forties, these four women had no clue how to survive the mental trauma of starting a new life. Elaina Samuels, Tawny Westerfield, Stephanie Mathews, and Grace Cordray's journeys to regain their footing began in book #1:  No Sweat Pants Allowed - Wine Club. They connected on a deeply personal level and had some fun. They even decided to move in together. Conflicts arose; so did a lot of laughs. Little by little their confidence grew and they realized they would be okay as long as they had each other. I don't want to say too much as to what situations they find themselves in because I hope you'll take a risk on the series and discover these four amazing characters.

In book #2: Sipping Sangria, Elaina, Tawny, Steph, and Grace learn more about themselves and each other. Their quirky personalities surprised even me, as they tried to move forward. While the fun is plentiful, so is the drama. Real life involves missteps, doubt, and pain. We all have to weather that stuff at some point. It's no different for these women. They've had their hearts broken and they're still on the mend. My wish is that you'll dive into this book to see how they're faring. 

Book #3 has arrived: Merlot in Maine! Here's the blurb: 

Sometimes the only way to truly start over is to move. That's exactly what Elaina Samuels and her unruly band of cohorts decided to do. Elaina, Tawny, Steph, and Grace bought a bed and breakfast in Maine. The trip from Cherry Ridge, Ohio to Portland is a wild and crazy ride, filled with things they never could have foreseen. In this adventure, there's laughter, tears, doubt, and a little danger thrown in to keep them on their toes. Will this relocation to the northeast be the key to real happiness? Or will it test their friendship to the breaking point?

This is my Wine and Sweat Pants series, so far. (There may be a book #4 in my future. We'll see.) I've had a blast connecting with these characters. I'll admit to shedding a few tears too. I've put these gals through a lot, yet they're stronger and feistier than ever. I've grown to love Elaina, Tawny, Steph, and Grace. If you read their stories, my wish is that you'll laugh with them, cry with them, and root for them as they continue to grow as women and friends.

To celebrate the release of Merlot in Maine, I'll be giving away some cool prizes. They're unusual prizes. The women in this series are unusual. It's only fitting that my giveaway prizes be unusual as well. All you have to do for a chance to win, is to leave a comment below. (Also, please tell me how I can contact you, should your name be drawn - for example, 'catch me on Twitter' or 'catch me on FB').   

On Friday, January 13th at noon (EST), I'll be drawing names for:

3 - $10 gift cards to Burger King

1 - package of microfiber cloths from the Norwex line of products (Includes an enviro cloth, window cloth, and a dusting mitt)

1 - Optic Scarf (or cloth) also in the Norwex line of products, for: cleaning eye wear, phones, computers, and cameras. (It has a handy-dandy clip, so you can secure it to your purse or case) 

Good luck to all who leave a comment!

Thanks for sharing in my joy and excitement for Merlot in Maine! 

Lots of love to all of you, 

~ Jan


Amazon author page


Sunday, January 8, 2017

Welcome, Marcia Carrington!

Today I have the pleasure of having author, Marcia Carrington, on my blog with a special post about writing a sequel.  

Welcome, Marcia! 

The Joy of Writing a Sequel

Marcia Carrington

Thank you so much, Jan, for the opportunity to discuss something I recently experienced whilst writing my latest release. In 2014 I released a short story entitled MAN ON A MOTORBIKE, which was about a young woman reminiscing about her marriage to her late husband, and how an encounter with a motorbike rider brought out her feelings and thoughts which had been dormant for several years.

In looking back at the inspiration for the story, the 1969 Peter Fonda film EASY RIDER was one of the things which I used as a starting point, as my book’s characters (like myself) loved the film, but my book deviated thereafter, as it concerned a newlywed couple. To be honest, in this case, like in many of my other books, I cannot say exactly where the romance of Linda and Clay originated, but I knew I wanted to create a short story with multiple flashbacks, and that contained a character who was a biker.

Being one of my personal favorite stories, with MAN ON A MOTORBIKE I always felt there was more that I could mine from the material of this first part, and this had gnawed away at me for quite a while. This first part was only 4,000 words, and I knew I wanted to explore the characters in a longer format at some stage in the future.

In 2015 I began to plan a sequel to the original story, entitled SILAS SAVAGE. Silas Savage is the name of the biker whom Linda, the story’s heroine, finally meets in this second part. Proceeding with a sequel was not daunting in any way, in fact, it felt like a liberating experience for me. To be able to delve deeper into the story, elaborating upon incidents in MAN ON A MOTORBIKE which I touched upon in the first part did make sense for me. There is always a sense of trepidation with the writing of every story, and I very much wanted it to be a worthy sequel to the first part weighed a little on me, but I was happy with the final result.

Apart from readers meeting the elusive Silas Savage at long last, his appearance in the first book being more of a cameo role, the opportunity to present Linda’s nouveau former mother-in-law, Azalea, was fun for me. In this case, I explored a plot issue I had briefly mentioned in book one, whereby Linda’s in-laws had largely abandoned her, and the impact this had on Linda was detailed in the second book. In a related point, I also expanded the role of Linda’s parents, Annette and Mac, who due to the length of the first book, were given limited exposure. In SILAS SAVAGE, their role is more of a subtle, gentle Greek chorus, in stark contrast to Azalea’s haughty shenanigans.

The joy of writing a sequel to MAN ON A MOTORBIKE not only gave me the chance to tie up its loose ends and plot points but also, bring the story to a close, intimating further adventures of the characters, thereby leaving something to the imagination for the reader to interpret as they wish. In a manner, the story is finished technically, but as in life, the characters do go on with their lives. My aim was that this was presented clearly, making readers use their own take on what happens after the book ends on their particular reading device. Here is an excerpt from SILAS SAVAGE from chapter one:

“Linda dear, where would you like to put this vase?” Annette asked, showing her daughter an ornament. Linda was packing some items into a carton, and turned towards her mother.
“Over here in this box mom,” Linda said, as Annette moved towards Linda. Carefully wrapping the vase in clear bubble wrap, and applying some sticky tape, Annette placed it gently into the box. Linda sighed deeply, and bit her lips. “It was Joshua’s very first artwork from school; he was so happy when he brought it home that day,” Linda said, looking at the item in remembrance. “He wanted to be an artist someday, but…” Linda’s voice trailed off, as Annette approached her daughter.

“Yes, I know, it’s very beautiful,” Annette said, keenly observing the flower vase which was painted in a bright red on the top, and blue on the bottom half. “He was a joyous boy, so giving, so much more mature than his age,” Annette said, tears beginning to fall from her eyes. Linda stroked the vase, her hand combing the glossy surface through the bubble wrap, and shook her head.

“I miss him so much mom, he was my little man after Clay died; always standing up for me, helping me how he could…” Linda said, breathing hard, and trying to compose herself as much as possible. It had been just a year since little Joshua was accidentally run over after leaving the school bus that rainy afternoon, but for Linda, it was as if it happened yesterday. The shrill sound of the ambulance sirens flooded her head, this noise one Linda could not remove from her mind for a long time.

“I know honey,” Annette said, taking Linda’s hands, as their eyes traveled to both Joshua and Clay’s gold-framed photos which were on the cabinet opposite. “We have our memories to comfort us, never forget that. What we experienced with them we will cherish in our hearts forever,” Annette said, as Linda entered her ready embrace, staying there for a few minutes. The house had been eerily empty for Linda since the passing of her two men, its silence becoming more rampant especially since Joshua’s death. Linda moved away from her mother, and peered into her comforting blue eyes.

“Thanks, mom.”

“For what honey?”

Linda sighed, and shook her head.

“For being here when I really need it, you know,” Linda said, as Annette smiled wistfully at her daughter, drying her tears with a tissue from her dress pocket.

“You don’t have to thank me, I really think it’s the best thing for you to come back with us…we need you at home,” Annette said, as Linda nodded. “We’re not as young as we used to be, and, certain things will just be easier with you around.”

“Same here mom,” Linda said, whooping in and hugging her mother again, who squealed in delight when the doorbell sounded, interrupting the serene atmosphere. Annette and Linda looked at each other in confusion. The chime of the doorbell again reverberated, indicating someone impatient was at the door.

“Expecting anyone honey?”

“No,” Linda said, eyes running everywhere.

“I can open to see,” Annette said, as Linda hummed her agreement.

“Thanks mom, I don’t feel like speaking to anyone,” Linda said, as Annette touched her daughter on the shoulder, brushing her cotton blouse, and moved over to the door. Annette’s mouth fell open when she saw who was on the other side of the security door.

Azalea,” Annette said, as Linda’s head jacked up abruptly, doing a double-take.

“So the mother-in-law is back,” Linda said, biting her lips, her heart pounding frantically.

Marcia has written other books as well:

From Jan:  I loved hearing about your books, Marcia, and enjoyed the excerpt. I'll have to investigate further (via Amazon). Thank you for being here today. You know I love reading and anything pertaining to writing, so please come back again and catch us up with regards to your latest project.  

Here's a short bio for Marcia: 

Marcia Carrington writes about the human condition, exploring what makes people tick, but in an upbeat and optimistic tone. She is an interested observer of popular culture, and fan of cinema from all eras and countries, especially from the 1930-1970s. Marcia is a long-time soap opera viewer, watching daytime, and night time serials from a very young age.

Marcia is also a food connoisseur, with a particular love of chocolate, and coffee. The morning coffee has always been a staple for Marcia, and something which she cannot do without. There is just something about the fresh aroma of coffee early in the morning, and anytime for that fact, which proves irresistible to her.

Marcia Carrington's Links: 

MAN ON A MOTORBIKE - buy links:

SILAS SAVAGE - buy links: