Monday, March 29, 2010

Spotlight Author with Connie Wood

It's about that time again. Yep, you guessed it, Spotlight Author and this week I have Connie Wood visiting all the way from Australia. So everybody give her a warm welcome while I interview her and we talk about her latest release DARK MOON.

So lets not wait any longer. Connie tell us a little bit about DARK MOON.

DARK MOON is a paranormal romance revolving around Tynan, a venator, a hunter of the shape shifters. He is in exile in Alaska until the death of his brother brings him back to his home town and his past deeds. There are shape shifters of all breeds including, wolves, polar bears, and huskys. There are also those who hunt the shifters, the venators, all sexy, talented and hidden secrets. It is a story of redemption, revenge, blood shed, betrayal and most of all, the strength of true love.

Wow! It sounds very intense!

What do Connie Wood fans have to look forward to in 2010?

I am so excited about 2010! DARK MOON was released on March 4th and there will be much more for the remainder of the year. The world of the DARK MOON will be expanded, with more exciting venators and shifters stories to be told.

Can't wait! :)

So tell us, Connie... what is your writing process?

I am definitely a plotter. My story ideas seem to come from the smallest inspiration, such as, a word or phrase, a picture, a character trait. I then sit down and write out the story outline. True, sometimes the story does change slightly from the plot, but the major plot points always stay the same.

Do you have any tricks of the trade that you are willing to share with us?

I am fairly new to this business, but the learning curve has been very dramatic. Learning the craft can be difficult, but well worth it. Be professional, courteous and always stay true to your heart. Because that is where truly inspirational writing comes from.

Very true!

What do you think makes your writing unique?

I hope my writing voice and style is unique. Most story plots have been done, the stories uniqueness comes from the variations the writer can put into the familiar story. the words "once upon a time" are always the same, but what comes next is where a great writer can bring the reader into a new world. Also the characters in my books offer a uniqueness to all my stories. I try to make them as rounded and "real"
as I can. I tend to fall in love with them and hope my readers do too.

How many titles do you have available and do any of them have connecting story lines?

DARK MOON, available through Pink Petal Books, will hopefully have a continuing storyline. The entire world created within DARK MOON thrilled and captivated me. I would be honored to be able to tell the story of others within this world.

THE VETERAN is a stand alone romantic suspense available from Pink Petal Books. THE VETERAN was very close to my heart as it was the first book I ever wrote.

FALLEN FAE is a novella available through Freya's Bower, it is a romantic fantasy about fallen angels, fairys and true love.

They all sound amazing Connie. I imagine that every book an author writes has a special place in their hearts. They are much like the children that we have birthed. Can you tell us what you are working on now?

I am currently working on the sequel to DARK MOON. It is the story of Dane, a secondary character in DARK MOON. I am loving his story and where it is taking the characters and the world of DARK MOON.

Where does your inspiration come from?

Inspiration comes from different things. A phrase, a picture, a song, a person, a new story, even a dream. Inspiration comes from the heart and soul, the same place where you need to be when you write.

What do you do when you get stuck?

A walk in the fresh air does wonders. I can't remember who said it, but "angels whisper to you when you go for a walk". Also going back to the initial inspiration can help when I get stuck. Looking at the picture which brought about the entire story idea can help bring back the excitement for the story.

How do you deal with criticism?

Criticism is hard. Most writers are emotional, they have to be, to be able to write well. So when my work is criticized, I let the emotional response work through and then I allow my analytical response. I can then look at the criticism and see if there is a legitimate basis. If there is, then I change my work. Sometimes it is hard, especially for beginning writers to know what criticism to accept and what to reject. Listening to your heart and story is important, but growing and learning as a writer means listening and incorporating.

Any advice for aspiring authors?

First write the story. Don't write part of it, then edit and then go on. You will get so caught up in edits and other opinions of your story that you will confuse yourself and never get it done. Write the story and then you can begin to edit. Don't lose the momentum of your writing.

Writing is hard, as a business and an art. But don't give up. Realize what level of writing and how much time and effort you are willing to give to the craft. there are many differing levels of writing. Not everyone has to be the next big writing star. Even if you write for free reads or for your family, you are still a writer.

If you love to write, YOU ARE A WRITER!!!

Thank you for that, Connie. That is great advice. Sometimes it is hard to remember when you are trying so hard to get that story out.

Now, just for fun I have put together a few quick questions.

Vampires or Werewolves-
Wow, hard question, I so love both f them. But seeing I have shape-shifters in the DARK MOON series I have to say werewolves.

Chick Flicks or Horror Films-
I would love to say horror films, but the more recent ones seem to be getting stranger and a lot more gory. I prefer the scary, suspense...waiting for the axe to drop so to speak.

Love Letters or Serenade-
Definitely love letters. I have been serenaded once, it was rather awkward. It is much more romantic in the stories.

What is your i-Pod loaded with right now?
It is very eclectic. I have Pink's albums along with the soundtrack to Last of the Mohicans.

Warm Sunny Days or Snugly Rainy Days-
Snugly rainy days. Nothing better for curling up in bed, a good book and listening to the rain.

Connie, thanks for stopping by my site for this interview. It's been great having you here.

Thank you so much, Micole for having me here. It has been an honor to be part of your blog. i love your questions, they really made me think.:)

You can find Connie Wood's books at or or Also in order to celebrate the release of DARK MOON, Connie is giving away an 8gb. i-Pod touch!!! In order to be in the drawing you have to send proof of purchase (ie. a copy of the receipt) of the DARK MOON ebook book to her at Thank you all for sharing your time with Connie and I. See you next time.


Micole Black

Friday, March 26, 2010

Aries Rising by Bonnie Hearn Hill

Surprise! I'm back. I've decided to try something new here at Micole Writes Romance. I hope you all like it. So many of my author friends have books coming out now, and then again in a couple of months. So instead of scheduling them for two interviews, I have decided to make a special promo day for them. Today will be my first go and Bonnie Hearn Hill is here with me to tell us all about her newest venture in her Star Crossed Lovers series, called ARIES RISING.

Bonnie has stepped out of her comfort zone here friends. She's crossed herself over from writing nail biting thrillers, and stepped into, what some might say would be another nail biting area... Young Adult! (wink) But it hasn't slowed her down. Her first book in the Star Crossed Lovers series, ARIES RISING, hit stores this month and to celebrate it she has a few opportunities for you the readers to win some giveaways. One lucky MRW blog reader will win a copy of her latest release, ARIES RISING. Also she's is doing a giveaway for an i-Pod touch! Yep you read right! I am so excited. I promise to talk about that later!

For now, I want Bonnie to tell us all a little bit about her new series. Here is a sneak peak at what you will be reading when you pick up the book! And trust me friends, I bought the book for my fifteen-year-old daughter yesterday and she hasn't been able to put it down! But don't think you have to be a teenager to get into this one. It's a must read for all ages.



Bonnie Hearn Hill

First of the Star Crossed Series from Running Press/Perseus Books

When Terra Bella Beach sophomore Logan McRae discovers Fearless Astrology, all she wants is to win a writing fellowship for the summer to Monterey, and maybe catch the interest of Nathan, the senior she’s kissed only once. He seems more interested in Geneva, the tall, blond Libra editor of the school newspaper—until Logan uses some Leo-pleasing flattery on him. Nathan seems to be coming around, but Logan still has to convince Mr. Franklin, her gruff Taurus English teacher, that she deserves the fellowship.

Frankenstein says she doesn’t put enough of herself in her writing. She tries to appeal to him with homemade brownies. That falls flat, but her opportunity presents itself when the Gears, a group of boys causing mischief at school, streaks her friend Chili’s backyard while Logan, Chili, and Paige, are in the spa.

The Gears also paint nasty things about the Capricorn journalism teacher, Ms. Snider, on the wall at school. Logan decides to identify them using astrology. Frankenstein is intrigued.

Logan is Aquarius with a Pisces Moon. Pretty mellow, but her Aires Rising gives her some Fire. She decides to put it to work to get what she wants. With the fellowship—and Nathan—hanging in the balance, she resolves to trap the Gears on the night she is certain that they will strike again. It is a risky scheme that involves Calypso, a dress mannequin that the girls have dressed up to resemble Logan.

What Logan has failed to see in the stars is someone with a more deadly motive. Then suddenly, the stakes increase, and there’s more at risk than any of the threats by the Gears.

So what do you think? Pretty amazing right? Can't wait to get my hands on it. If you are looking for a place that you can get your own copy of ARIES RISING, you can find it at any Barns & Noble, Borders or online at Amazon.

Now for the details on that contest I mentioned earlier...

In order to be in the drawing to win your very own copy of ARIES RISING you must post a blog question here for Bonnie. The winner will be selected on March 30, 2010.

She will also be giving away an i-Pod touch at the end of her blog tour. Here are the rules and directions for that...

Entrant needs to post a review somewhere or post a fan badge on Facebook. Then they need to send the link to

Good luck to all of my readers. Don't forget to look for the next two books in the Star Crossed Lovers series, Taurus Eyes and Gemini Night. You can learn more about these books and Bonnie Hearn Hill at

Thanks for stopping by Micole Writes Romance.



Monday, March 22, 2010

Spotlight Author with New York Times Best Selling Author, Cheryl Holt

Wow, I can hardly believe that we are a quarter of the way into 2010. Sort of crazy to think about isn't it? Three months have passed since I started my blog. Even harder to believe, is the fact that I have been biting my nails with excitement for almost three months, waiting to share my latest interview with all of my friends. I would like to welcome and introduce, New York Times Bestselling Author, Cheryl Holt.

If you like a spicy read then Cheryl's your girl. She is a master at weaving a tale that will scoop you up and make you lose track of time. She is renowned for her great characters, her pithy dialogue, drama, emotion, and sexual tension. Her stories are so captivating and laced with steamy love scenes, one read friends, and I guarantee you will be hooked!

So with that all said, let's get started!

Cheryl, tell us about your up coming release PROMISE OF PLEASURE.

My new book is the first book in my "Spinster's Cure" trilogy. I've never written an actual trilogy before-all of my previous novels have been single titles-so this is a new venture for me. I'm excited to hear what my fans think of it.

The linking character for the three books is a shady peddler and charlatan named Philippe Dubois. He sells love potions, and he claims he has a potion that will "cure" spinsters so that they marry. He insists that if a woman drinks his Spinster's Cure while staring at the man she hopes to wed, she will be married to him within a month.

The potion is a fake, but for some reason his potions work anyway. In three of the novels, the heroines are all lonely women who, for various reasons, haven't been able to marry. They yearn to wed and have a home of their own. Dubois coerces them into buying the potion, and they drink it, but of course, they wind up staring at the hero instead of the man they'd hoped to wed. And then the fun begins!

The first novel, PROMISE OF PLEASURE, is actually my version of Cinderella. The heroine is a sweet, kind woman who lives with her wicked stepmother and two wicked stepsisters. The hero is visiting their hoe in order to pursue an engagement to one of the wicked stepsisters. So after the heroine drinks the Spinster's Cure potion, the hero is inexplicably drawn to her. An illicet affair begins that is fraught with drama and danger for the heroine.

This book sizzles with all of my best writing devices!

I can hardly wait!!! When can we expect to see PROMISE OF PLEASURE hit the shelves?

The three books are coming from Berkley Books. Here is a list of the titles and release dates.

DREAMS OF DESIRE-- January, 2011

You can bet I will be scouting them out as soon as their release dates hit!!!

I read somewhere that when you began writing romance you were a lawyer. How did you find the time to work such a demanding job and write, which is equally demanding?

I am an attorney, and I guess once you're an attorney, you're "always" an attorney; you never stop being one. But when I started writing novels, I was no longer practicing law. I was actually a stay-at-home mom, with two babies at home. I needed to replace the income I'd given up by staying home with my children, so I started writing books.

Many female novelists begin writing books when they're home with their young children, so I was simply starting out in the same fashion as many successful novelists. And publishers find many of their new novelists from professional woman who have left the workforce to stay at home with their kids.

I've seen your book trailers and loved them. Do you feel that using book trailers to advertise helps boost your sales?

I first started using book trailers in 2006 for my book, TOO WICKED TO WED. I met a vendor t a conference who was the first person to get the idea of making book trailers, and I was mesmerized by the idea-and by the visual possibilities that it opened up for book.

The woman is Sheila English, and her company s Circle of Seven Productions. Although many companies have followed her lead and started making book videos, Sheila's company is the top company in this growing business. They have produced a video for me for each book released since, TOO WICKED TO WED, and each one has been great.

I think they are a fabulous marketing tool. Although it's a well-kept secret, writers don't make very much money. But we are under enormous pressure to advertise, which is very expensive. But with books, it's generally accepted that advertising doesn't help very much. A book's popularity spreads through word of mouth-from one person recommending it o the next. So it's always a dicey proposition to advertise and it's difficult to decide where to spend the money.

With the advent of the web and sites like You Tube, I get enormous distribution and exposure from a book video. For the initial set up price, it can be sent to hundreds of venues where people can view it, so I get a lot of "bang" for my buck.

In my first video TOO WICKED, Sheila distributed the video out on the web and I had a 12% jump in my opening week sales. It's impossible to track whether the video was the reason, but I've always believed that it was-or that it helped significantly.

How long was your road to publication?

My "road" to publishing was actually not that long. I was continually writing for about four years before I sold my first novel. The first one I sold, THE WAY OD THE HEART, was the seventh completed manuscript that I had finished.

This is actually not very long in the scheme of learning to write a novel. It's generally assumed that "anyone" can write a book, and many many people try it. But a novel is a highly complex, difficult art form, and it takes many years to figure out how to do it and do it well. (And to do it over and over again.) Most people never figure it out or they give it up. I've always felt lucky that I was able to sell after only four years.

What is one peice of advice you would give aspiring authors?

Actually, I have "two" pieces of advice:

You learn to write by practicing, which means you need to write everyday, all the time, constantly. It is the same exact process as playing the piano. "Art" starts in your head, then comes out your fingertips onto a keyboard.

Yet if you were a pianist, it would never occur to you that you could audition for the LA Symphony unless you'd practiced for 20 years or so. The cognitive process for playing the piano and for writing a book is exactly the same, but for some reason, people think they can write a book without practicing.

The fact is that it simply takes years to learn how to write a novel. So you have to be dedicated and persistent. You need to write and write and write. That's how you figure it out.

Also, you need to read constantly. You should always have a book in your hand. As you're first starting out as a writer, you should pick a genre you want to write in-whether it's romance, or sci fi, or whatever-and you start writing and writing and writing manuscripts in that genre so you can start to figure it out.

At the same time, you should read every book that comes out in that genre. You should also read every bestseller; and you should read every book that gets a starred review from the trade magazine Publisher's Weekly. You should read everything you can.

I don't know why it works, but if you don't read all the time, you will never write very well.

You should know the names of all the writers in your genre, who publishes them, and who the big editors are in that genre. This is the most competitive endeavor you will ever undertake, and the people who succeed at it "make" it happen.

Learn to write, know the market, learn the "language" of publishing, be ready to jump in in a competitive way.

Wow! What wonderful advice! Thank you for that Cheryl. Now can you tell me what is the hardest thing for you about being a writer?

You don't make very much money at it. Especially at the beginning. Although people never believe this when I tell them, I was paid $2,000. for my first book, and $7,500 for my tenth book. It just takes a long, long time to make any income worth mentioning, and most writers never get to that point.

People jump into it, hoping to earn a second income, or to make a ton of money so that they can quit their "real" job, but that rarely happens. It's just like acting, where a few people like Tom Cruise and Tom Hanks, make millions, but everybody else is working weekends and scrambling for bit parts.

You can't count on earning a living from it, and even when you begin to make money, you never know when a check will arrive, or how much it will be. It's daunting and frustrating and nothing like what a person expects when they go into publishing and hope to succeed at it.

What is the most rewarding thing about being a writer?

I work at home, at the computer in my bedroom. I live a very isolated life, where I work 60-70 hours per week; I work alone, and I rarely interact with grown-ups! I write my manuscripts, then send them off to New York, where people I've never met turn them into books. They're sold around the world. Then a year or so later, I receive emails from readers around the globe-Pakistan, South Africa, Italy, Poland, Japan, Singapore, Australia-and it's amazing to me that I can touch so many lives in a positive way. I'm grateful that I've had such the chance to interact with the world's population.

That sounds amazing. Where does your inspiration come from?

I have been writing novels for 15 years now. So it's not a matter of "inspiration." I constantly get little germs of ideas. It will be just a one or two sentence idea, such as "a woman's brother gambles away the family estate, and when he has nothing left to wager, he bets her chastity. And loses!" (This is the premise of the book I mention earlier, TOO WICKED TO WED.)

I keep a running list of those tiny ideas-there are dozens and dozens of ideas on the list-and then, when it's time to write a new novel, I get out the list and start going through it. I have to decide if I can take a small idea and turn it into a 400 page manuscript. I really struggle: Can I add enough subsidiary characters to this idea? Can I add sufficient plot twists and turns? Can I make a villain wicked enough? Can I make the hero heroic enough?

Some ideas work and some don't.

Do you plot your books or do you let the ideas take you on an adventure until the end?

I am definite plotter. By the time I actually sit down to write a novel, I have it completely mapped out. I know what will happen to each and every character, what will happen in each chapter and each scene, what will happen with each storyline, and I even have much of the dialogue actually rattling around in my head.

I don't know why a writer would write a novel in any other fashion. Novels are not "random" events. There are specific plot devices, character interactions, and pacing structures that need to happen at certain points in the book. When I hear that a writer's characters "took off" in a new direction all on heir own, or that the storyline "had a mind of its own", it tells me that the writer is very new, inexperienced, and hasn't done the sort of detailed prep wok that will keep the novel on track to the end.

Pick one of YOUR characters that is your favorite, which one will it be and why?

My favorite character is also my fans' favorite character: John Clayton, Viscount Wakfield, from my 2003 novel, COMPLETE ABANDON. This is my fans' most beloved novel, and it's because John embodied all the heroic traits that female readers crave.

If you're a reader and haven't read it yet, I highly encourage you to give it a try. You'll devour every page! If you are a writer, I encourage you read it so that you can see how to write a yummy, seductive, heroic character. He's the best hero I ever drafted, and I am renowned for writing some of the best hero's in women's fiction.

Thank you Cheryl for this interview. You can find Cheryl's books on the shelf at any of the larger bookstore chains, such as Barnes & Noble or Borders. Or through any of the on-line booksellers such as Amozon. All of her books are in print and still available. Or yoou can check her out at her website

Now for a little fun...

Vampire or Wolf-


Love letters or Roses-


Night Owl or Early Bird-

Night Owl

Milk Chocolate or Dark Chocolate-

Milk Chocolate

Cowboy or Businessman-


Thank you all for spending time at Micole Writes Romance with Cheryl and I. I hope if you are not already a fan of hers you will run to the bookstore and pick up one of her books! You will not be disappointed!!!


Micole Black

Saturday, March 20, 2010


Today was my local romance writer's meeting, (Yosemite Romance Writers). Tawny Weber was the guest speaker. If you have been following my blog you will already know that she's pretty awesome!!! She talked to us about character emotion. Her talk was good, though I already knew a lot of what she was saying, it reminded me of what is easily forgotten when us writers are trying to get the story out. It also made me realize why I have become so unhappy with my WIP (work in progress).

As you all know, I have challenged a few of my friends to the famous Nano write, where you write a complete book in 30 days. Or up to fifty thousand words. As I stated in my last post, I was doing well the first week in a half. Even managed 20k. When I returned to my WIP after taking a couple of family days, I realized what I had was a bunch of words... 20 thousand to be exact. But none of them really meant anything to me. Probably wouldn't to any of you either if you read them. It was lacking something. Something I just couldn't put my finger on, until today. There's no emotion. None. Not even a little.

For me writing is very emotional. It comes from the heart and deep within my soul. It may take me months to perfect a chapter. Okay... quit laughing those of you who know my writing process. So it may take a little longer. Maybe even five years!! Today I realized that, that's okay. That's me. That's my writing process. I am a control freak... a perfectionist by nature, though I've been working on that a little over the years, and I'm getting better at letting go. Sometimes letting go of the craziness, means letting go of that oh so important emotion. And if I want to be a writer, that is proud of what she has written, that just can't happen any more.

Emotion is something that every one of us craves. It's what makes us feel good or sometimes bad. It's the very reason we grab for that love story and can't put it down. Or stand in line for hours for a movie that we know will make us laugh, even cry. The same goes for music. How many of you just can't get enough of that favorite song? We all long for the way it will make us feel. Happy, sad or otherwise.

So from now on my friends, I vow to write with emotion. Every word, every sentence, paragraph, chapter. No matter how long it takes me (although I do admit, I need to work on the speed maybe just a little (wink)). No more speed writing just to get the words pumped out.

Like the country singer, Terry Clark sings... I'M AN EMOTIONAL GIRL! So bring on the emotion!

Make sure to check back on Tuesday, March 23 for my interview with, New York Times Best Seller, Cheryl Holt. I am very excited to share our interview with all of you!!!

Until next time...


Micole Black

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Writer's Journey

Hope this blog post finds all of you happy and well. In my last post I announced a challenge that I was taking with a few of my writing friends. For those of you trying to keep tabs, I have done as well as, let's just say 20,000 words. I am not near the word count that I should be at right now. In fact I'm down about 20,000 words. :-(

In my defense, (if I have one) I was out of town for a couple of days. Not that, that really matters. I should've been workin' those fingers to the bone, but I just couldn't. I was spending time with family that I rarely get to see. I couldn't make myself go to that place that I need to be when I'm writing and pass up that time with my awesome family!

So here I am, back at home and where do I find myself? With my nose in a book or my eyes glued to the Facebook page. Checking emails repeatedly... like every couple of seconds. No I'm not procrastinating. Not at all!

So here I find myself standing on the edge of that airplane again, waiting to take the jump. But I am determined to reach my goal, so here I go!!! I'm just gonna do it! Get my butt back in that chair, fingers thrumming the keyboard, i-Pod firmly secured in my ears and you guessed it, Gary Allan singing his loves songs to me! :)

If you want up-to-date progress on my writing, you can always check the progress bars on my blog site. I am currently working on The Runaway Bride of Cobblestone Creek. I do try and make the changes to them daily as the words add up.

Feel free to leave some encouraging words for me! ;0

Love all of you! Thanks for stopping by my blog.


Micole Black

Monday, March 15, 2010

Spotlight Author with Martha Engber

Good day friends. This week I have another wonderful author to share with you. Martha Engber. I've had the opportunity to hear her speak, take classes from her, read her how to book, and meet her. What an amazing woman! So please take a minute to get to know her. I know you won't be disappointed.

So Martha, tell us a little bit about yourself and what you write.

I'm a gal born and raised in an old Chicago suburb along the Burlington Northern train line. I only excelled in two thing: movement and writing. So when I wasn't taking the train into the Loop (business district of downtown Chicago) to swelter amidst the other 30 students in a third-floor ballet studio located above a pub, I was scribbling in a diary that my middle sister gave me as a present. I was not a talker or particularly good at expressing myself, so I had a lot to scribble.

I went into journalism because a career in dance seemed to promise even less income. After writing loads of articles about ice fishing, dog owners who married their dog (no joke) and the occasional celebrity, i started writing short stories, and if I may say so, they were terrible.

Now I do everything-plays, articles, novels, nonfiction books, essays, etc.-most of which is literary.

You hosted a workshop for the chapter, Yosemite Romance Writers, that I belong to. We did an exercise on SHOW DON'T TELL. Can you explain the importance of this?

The more control a writer has over her tools, the better she can control them in order to acheive the effect she wants.

Showing and telling are two different tools, both of which are neccessary and should eb used in certain situations as opposed to whenever:


Definition of showing: when you state the fact (She sat down. She looked at the sky.).

Definition of telling: when you convey an opinion (She sat down like she owned the bench. She looked at the sky like she wanted to kill it.)

When to tell: when there's no other way to show what's important at that particular moment.

What is the most important advice you can give to aspiring authors?

Develop an attitude in which your curiosity about how to make your manuscript better exceeds all other emotions, including the wish to be done or a willingness to make do or an urge to prove you're right and other people are wrong.

A keen curiosity is the sign of a person who's willing to learn, and therefore, to improve.

How do you know when your critique group is right for you?

This is an easy one!

1. You feel highly encouraged to keep writing.
2. The comments challenge you to experiment/learn/improve, rather than just make you feel warm and fuzzy.

How was writing, GROWING GREAT CHARACTERS FROM THE GROUND UP, different than writing, THE WIND THIEF, craft versus fiction. Do you go through the same process for both? Is one easier than the other?

Nonfiction reference articles and books like GGC are all about organization of facts and ideas. If you organize the material correctly, people follow along. I'm very organized, so after writing a detailed 10-page single-spaced outline, the writing process proved relatively easy.

Writing a novel, however, is an octopus. After you create your characters, the goal is to show their continual emotional change.

In nonfiction, you're the boss, whereas in fiction, your characters are the bosses. You have no choice but to stick close and see where they take you, which may be far from where you thought the story would wind up.

It's not uncertainty that often drives control-loving fiction writers to their characters too much.

How long was your road to publication?

I was 17 when I got my first official article-about a good Samaritan student who returned a wallet containing $300-published in the University of Missouri-Columbia's student newspaper, the Maneate. I was 29 when i got my first creative writing piece-a children's poem titled I Am a Yam-published in a kid's magazine. The nonfiction book was published in 2007 when I was 42 and THE THIEF was published last October, 11 years after I knocked around the idea.

What are three of your favorite things about being a writer?

I only have one favorite thing about writing: freedom. When I write, I can go anywhere I want in space, time, emotion, place and concept. That escape is crucial, given all the boundaries placed on us by the titles we hold (wife, mother, sister, professional, volunteer, etc.).

Did you receive rejection letters during your journey to become published? If yes what is your best advice to someone who's received their first one?

Did I receive rejection letters? Only about 350! I still get rejections.

There are two ways to look at rejection letters:

1. The negative way: that you're no good.

2. The positive way: that you're in the game, which is far, far above all the other people who are too afraid to submit

I'm a big fan of drowning one's sorrows in some sort of treat. If you've got to feel rotten for 24 hours, which is typically how long people feel bad, they can at least do something that makes them feel marvelous while feeling bad. For example, what's better than a few salty tears that drip into that hot fudge sundae with nuts and whipped cream?

When you're not writing what do you do in your spare time?

Spare time: what a concept!

Believe it or not, I write, which means really write, rather than market or prep for a workshop.

When I don't write, I read (feel free to friend me on GoodReads). When I don't read, I'm teaching all types of fitness classes. When I'm not doing formal fitness, I'm doing free-for-all fitness (trampolines, dancing, skiing) or eating yummy food with family or friends or perusing art museums, which I regularly haunt for inspiration and a general sense of well being.


Coffee or Tea-

Both! Though I'm partial to double espresso served in Parisian bars at about 3 p.m. and the Vanilla Ginger tea at the pace where my critique group meets.

Cats or Dogs-

Neither, I have kids.

What's loaded in your i-Pod right now?

3,475 songs in every genre including a slew of world music including hybrids like Afro-Celtic and electronica tango.

Warm Sunny Days or Snuggky Rainy Days-

Rainy days, since we get so few of them here in CA, relatively speaking.

Roses or Love Letters-

Love letters, which for me are email exchanges that look like this:

To Mike (my husband): Miiiike, my computer died!

From Mike: Don't worry. I'll fix it when I get home.

(Now THAT'S a man!)

Martha thanks so much for all of your great information. And thanks in advance to all of my readers. You can find Martha's books at:


Alondra Press (best for author/publisher)
Barnes & Noble online


Any bookstore

Other links:

Martha's website
Marta's blog
Facebook fan page
Amazon Author Central
Library Thing
Aondra Press

Until next time friends, hugs to all.

Micole Black

Monday, March 8, 2010

Spotlight Author with Lee McKenzie

Almost five months have passed since I met my friend and newest Spotlight Author, Lee McKenzie. She is another one that I had the opportunity to meet up with at The Emerald City Romance Writers conference. She is a Harlequin writer for their American Romance line and a great one at that. I would like to welcome her here at Micole Writes Romance. Hope you enjoy getting a glimpse into her writing life and the new and exciting things that she has in store for everyone in 2010.

Micole, thanks for inviting me to join you and your readers today. I am thrilled to be here!

Well, Lee we are happy to have you here!!! Why don't you tell us a little bit about your latest release.

I write for Harlequin American Romance. My last book, WITH THIS RING, was a December 2007 release. It's a runaway bride story with a bit of "riches to rags" twist on the Cinderellla story. WITH THIS RING is still available as an ebook at

What do Lee McKenzie fans have to look forward to in 2010?

I'm currently working on a series set in San Fransisco. In FIREFIGHTER DADDY (July 2010), sparks fly when a confirmed bachelorette meets a devoted dad. The second book in the series, (tittle TBA) will come out in January 2011.

That's exciting! What would you consider your writing process? Plotter or Panster?

I am definitely a panster, and a messy one at that. I start with two characters and a vague premise. The story reveals itself as I write, which means I go back to the beginning... a lot!... to set things up a long the way. Each book is a unique and challenging adventure!

I know what you mean, Lee. I am a panster for the most part myself. How long does it take you to write a manuscript?

There are days when I wish I was one of those writers who can produce thirty pages a day, but I'm not. For now, two books a year is a comfortable pace for me.

What is the hardest part about your job?

Writing a proposal is a challenge because it means having to produce a synopsis for a book that has yet to be written. Not as easy for a panster who often doesn't know how the story will end until I have written "the end." The wonderful thing about romance, though, is the gaurantee of a happily ever after, and at American Romance we especially love to add an "aw factor" to our HEAs.

What is your favorite thing about being an author?

I worked really, really hard to become a published author and am so proud to be writing for Harlequin. One of my favorite things, hands down, is the reaction I get when I tell people I'm a Harlequin romance author. Doctors, lawyers, business people, scientists, teachers, customs officers, hotel desk clerks, family, friends, neighbors... both men and women... are always so impressed when I tell them I'm a Harlequin romance author. I've often heard romance writers say they get the eye rolls and snide comments, but I'm happy to say that has never been my experience.

How long was your road to publication?

The first book I sold, THE MAN FOR MAGGIE (June 2007), was my sixth complete manuscript. I'm a four-time Golden Heart finalist so I'd like to think I came close with a couple of others. I had been trying to write romantic suspense, which I love to read, but it turns out that my voice is better suited for more lighthearted contemporary romance.

Any advice for aspiring authors?

If this is your dream, if being a romance author is what you really and truly want, then you have to be persistent, see yourself as a professional, and look at writing as a career.

Everything you've been told about joining RWA, learning the craft, studying the market, finding a critique group, submitting, rewriting, resubmitting... it's all true. Commit to it.

Most of all, believe in yourself. Know in your heart that your current manuscript is the best thing you've ever written. If it doesn't sell, move on to your next project. It'll be even better.

That is great advice, Lee! Do you have any tricks of the trade that you are willing to share with us?

After you've studied the market, write what you lve, not what you think will sell. Don't compare your success to anyone else's. You'll make yourself crazy. Be modest about your success, or you'll make everyone else crazy.

Some writers say that they have a story that has to be told, other's say that the characters come to them and demand their story be told... how does it work for you?

I'm a panster, remember? For me writing romance is all about the characters. As I Get to know the hero and heroine, they gradually reveal their story. Letting them lead me is downright terrifying at times, but it's also what keeps the process fresh and fun.

Now for a little fun... here are your FAST FIVE.

Briht Sunny Days or Cozy Moonlit Nights-

The short answer is... both. Here's why. A couple of years ago, my husband built a folly for me in our backyard. It's a perfect place to sit with a book or my laptop on a warm sunny day, and it's just perfect at night with a cozy fire and glass of wine.

Milk or Dark Chocolate-


Coffee or Tea-

Coffee in the morning. Tea in the afternoon.

Love Letters or Serenade-

Love letters, because I can read them over and over and over again. Unless of course you're Michael Buble, and then bring on the song.

Cowboy or Businessman-

I can't have both?

Sure you can Lee. I won't be the one to tell you, you can't. Thank you so much for joining me today. I look forward to your guest blog appearance on July 13th.

Micole, thank you so much for inviting me to join you today! I look forward to coming back in July when FIREFIGHTER DADDY is released!

Hugs and happy writing to all!

Thank you all for stopping by my blog. All of my faithful readers out there... your visits mean so very much to me! Please make sure to keep stopping by my blog and do me a favor... tell a friend! I know all of you will want to visit Lee at her website: or her blog: and on the 24th of every month at Harlequin American Romance Author's blog: You can also find her books at or

Until next time friends.


Micole Black

Monday, March 1, 2010

Spotlight Author with Lori Borrill

It's Spotlight Author time again! And this week I have Lori Borrill joining me. Lori writes steaming hot romances for Harlequin Blaze.

Tell us a little bit about yourself, Lori…

I’ve been married 21 years and my wonderful husband and I have one son in middle school. By day, I work for an insurance company as a data analyst, and when I’m not writing, I’m enjoying hobbies such as photography, scrapbooking and gardening.

What do Lori Borill fans have to look forward to in 2010?

I’ve got three books out this year. Manhunting was released in February. It’s a Valentines anthology written with fellow Blaze authors Betina Krahn and Joanne Rock. In June, I have a Blaze titled INDISCRETIONS, about a bad girl Hollywood socialite who is ordered by a judge to do 30 days community service as a maid. That was a fun story and I’m looking forward to hearing what readers think of it. Then finally, I’m just wrapping up my November Blaze which is yet to be titled. It’s a Christmas Encounters—four short stories that take place at an office Christmas party.

How many titles do you have published?

I have nine contracted works with Harlequin Blaze.

You have some pretty amazing covers. Do you get a say so in how they are going to look?

Authors fill out what’s called an Art Fact Sheet. It provides the Art department with information about our books, what the characters look like, pertinent scenes, the general story line, themes, etc. So in that we choose how to describe the book, which scenes to select and such, there is some input. However, we never see the finished product until the artwork is done, which is a very exciting moment for an author. We all wait in anticipation to see what that cover will look like. Though in the event we aren’t crazy about it, there’s not much that can be done. I’ve been fortunate, though, in that I’ve really loved all my covers.

How long did it take before you got “THE CALL”?

I got the call from Harlequin Blaze almost exactly two years after I started writing seriously.

Any advice for aspiring authors?

Yes, enjoy the process of crafting books and submitting your work. I know it’s disappointing to get rejections, and waiting on submissions is torture. But really, looking back there is a freedom of expression in those pre-published years that you don’t have once you’ve sold. When you start writing under contract, you need to accept input into your content, you have deadlines, you don’t always get to take your story in any direction you want and the stress level can go way up. Though having my work published is a treasured gift, there is much about my pre-published writing experience I miss. So I guess my best advice is to simply enjoy every step of the process. Regardless of whether someone buys your story, you are still creating something that you should be proud of, and if you aren’t having fun prior to getting published, that’s not going to change once someone buys your book.

Being a writer it is very important to hone your craft. Do you have any special books, classes, or on-line courses that you yourself use to make sure you are keeping up with the latest writing trends?

I bought a ton of craft books before I was published, and I had taken some on-line courses through Writers Digest. But I think I made the greatest strides by working with critique partners and getting specific input into my books. That and reading. Read, read, read. It’s how I inspire my own writing.

Are you a Plotter or a Panster?

I was a panster before I published. Then, Harlequin wanted detailed outlines of my books before they would go to contract, so out of necessity, I had to start plotting.

Does writing ever get any easier?

For me, it hasn’t. I think we continue to raise our internal bars and always want to outperform our last work. It also takes a lot of discipline to keep to deadlines and follow story lines we’ve sold to our editors. It definitely goes from a craft to a business once you start writing under contract, which makes the process more complicated.

When you are not writing blazing romances what do you do?

I work full-time, which doesn’t always give me as much time to write as I’d like. My son plays basketball and baseball, so I spend a lot of my spare time watching him play. When I’m not doing that, I’m tending to my garden. I think it’s safe to say there’s not a lot of spare time in my house!

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Boy, that’s a hard one for me, as I tend to take things one day at a time. If I’m still writing, that’s wonderful. If not, I know I will be doing something I love. I have a lot of hobbies and enjoy creating things. Spicy books for Harlequin are what I’m creating at the moment. Tomorrow, it could be something else.

Fast Five

Favorite Book Ever-

Stephen King’s The Stand.

Cowboy or Businessman-


What’s loaded in your i-Pod right now?

Rain. No, that’s not the name of a band. I mean the actual sound of rain. I find it soothing to write to and it helps my concentration.

Love letter or Roses-

Roses, but that’s the Earth sign in me.

Night Owl or Early Bird-

Early bird.

Thank you, Lori. It’s been great having you here at Micole Writes Romance. You can find Lori’s book at And thanks again for stopping by Micole Writes Romance.