Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Spotlight Author with Cara Elliot

Welcome back, everyone. So glad you are here with me. I’ve managed to get the awesome, Cara Elliot to give us a few minutes of her time and answer some questions for all of us. Take a minute to come hang with us.

Cara tell us a little bit about you and the amazing stories that you write.

I’ve always loved storytelling—in fact, I’ve been writing books since I was five (or so my mother has told me, and she has the proof lovingly preserved in her scrapbook!) Now, that first story was a wild Western, complete with cowboys, horses and six-shooters. However, after reading Pride and Prejudice, I fell in love with Lizzy Bennett and Mr. Darcy, so now write Regency-set romances. (Ha—I must have a thing for Men in Boots!)

I love Regency England because to me the era is so richly romantic. It was a world a swirl in silks, seduction and the intrigue of the Napoleonic Wars. A time when old ideas were constantly clashing with radical new ones. And seeing as I tend to write unconventional, independent-minded heroines, it’s a perfect setting for their clashes with some equally willful, devil-may-care heroes. In that, nothing has changed since I was a child—I love to see sparks fly!

Cara, you have also been known as Andrea Pickens. How hard was it to transition into a new pen name and why did you change?

The transition was actually pretty smooth. My Andrea Pickens “Spy” trilogy was swashbuckling adventure. (Think Jane Austen meets James Bond!) The three oh-so-dangerous heroines were not afraid to put on breeches and boots, and then kick a little butt!

But my books were getting sexier, and my publisher and I were so happy with the new direction that we decided it deserved a whole new name. So, as Cara Elliott, I slide into a sexy, slinky little black dress. But hey, what girl doesn’t like a makeover!

My current ‘The Circle of Sin’ trilogy features three beautiful, brainy heroines. Each of them is a brilliant scientist—and each of them has a dark secret in her past. Experience has taught Ciara, Alessandra, and Kate that men are dangerous devils. But when an old mistake threatens utter ruin and scandal, each of the ‘Sinners’ is forced to accept help from an unexpected hero . . .

Kate’s book, TO TEMPT A RAKE, which comes out February 1, was such fun to write. Her rascally hero, Marco, has made cameo appearances in previous books and telling his story was a real delight. I’m going to miss him! (Hmm, I may have to bring him back for further adventures.)

What is your favorite thing about writing romance?

Wearing my Patagonia synchilla sweatpants and Ugg boots to “work”!

If you had to pick a favorite character that you have created or one that you wish you had created who would it be and why?

Oh, don’t ask me to pick a favorite character from my books! That’s like asking a mother to pick her favorite child. LOL. I love them all, though some were far more of a problem to “raise’ than others. But after a good scolding—and a bribe of chocolate—they shaped up in the end.

As for the characters of other writers, I’m a avid reader as well as a writer, so there are lots of authors whose creations I adore. (Too many to list here.) I love seeing how my favorites develop the depth and quirks of their various people, and I’m constantly learning how to craft emotional intensity from them.

Staying to my promise of five questions, my last one will have to be this. Can you please lend any advice you may have on writing, finding an agent or getting published?

It’s a crazy business, so the best advice I can offer is to pass on some words of wisdom that Lisa Kleypas gave a few years ago. She said writers have to think of themselves as armadillos, which are really tough-skinned critters that can be hit by a truck and still get up and keep moving. And that’s so true. You have to be prepared to get knocked around a lot, but still believe in yourself. (It also helps to keep a big stash of chocolate in your desk drawer.)

Cara, thank you so much for the time you have spent here at Micole Writes Romance. Please tell us where we can find out more information about you and your books.

Thanks for having me, Micole! My website is, and I have lots of fun research and pictures posted there that your readers might enjoy. Plus there are some pretty cool contests and goodies, so I hope everyone will stop by and say hello!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Spotlight Author with Alexandra Hawkins

With all of the excitement of the New Year, somehow I forgot to celebrate my one year anniversary on Micole Writes Romance. How did this happen? Well given the fact that I have been buried in research for my next book, which by the way I started on January 15th, I was also coming off the holiday haze, and well let’s face it… I am a little brain dead at times. ;-) So how about you pull out those party blowers from New Years (hopefully they haven’t collected too much dust yet) and toot your little horn for me and my blog! It is now one year old. Yippy!!!

I have to admit, this is very exciting for me. When I started this blog a year ago, I didn’t know what I would be up against. The experience has been wonderful. I have been blessed with amazing guests and commenter’s. I know I say thank you to all of you at the end of each of my blogs, but I don’t think any of you really understand how much your visits mean to me. This includes the authors who take the time to answer all of the daunting questions I ask.;-) Those of you who make a weekly appearance in the comment section! (you know who you are) And the ones who lurk amongst us. (you know who you are! ;-)) I love you all. Thank you. Without you guys I wouldn’t have a blog.

Here’s to the next year. I plan on beefing up the blog with more writer information for those of you who are already writers and those of you still kicking the idea around. I would like to reach more readers and continues to give you the information that you want to know from your favorite authors. I also would love to do more giveaways! ;-) I know how much you guys like the giveaways.

With that said, I have another wonderful guest here with me today. Alexandra Hawkins. Here she is to share her books and herself with us.

Alexandra, please tell us a little bit about your latest release…

On February 1st, the third book in the Lords of Vice series, “After Dark With a Scoundrel” will be released. This book focuses on Dare (Lord Hugh Mordare) and Frost’s younger sister, Lady Regan.

An innocent kiss banished the fifteen-year-old Lady Regan to Miss Swann’s Academy for Young Ladies for a little social polish. Five years later, she returns to London confident that she is no longer the outrageous hoyden her brother once accused her of being.

Nevertheless, old habits are hard to break—and this time, Lady Regan plans to steal more than a kiss from Dare. All she has to do is beat the master of seduction at his own game.

What is your favorite thing about being an author?

I love the fact that I get to spend the day making up stories and I get paid for it!

When did you know you wanted to pursue a writing career?

For most of my life, writing has been a creative outlet for me. I didn’t start to view it was a possible career until I had completed my first manuscript. Once I had proven to myself that I could finish a novel, I was eager to take the next step and try to get it published.

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

Excellent question. While it varies a little with each book, I usually develop my main characters first. Stories emerge as I develop each character’s backstory.

What made you decide to write historical romance verses another genre?

I was seventeen-years-old when I discovered romance novels. Regencies were my particular favorite, so years later, when I decided to write a romance, I knew that I wanted to write a Regency historical.

If you had to pick one character in your books, who would be your favorite? And why. Or if you don’t want to pick a favorite… which one do you connect with the most? And why?

It’s difficult to pick a favorite. When I’m working on a manuscript, the hero and heroine are my two favorite people in the world. It’s just part of the writing process. If I can’t connect with a character, I’m not going to be able to tell their story.

So who do I connect with the most? Probably Lady Juliana Ivers from “All Night With a Rogue”. I empathize with her driving need for creative expression, and her frustration that no one was taking her seriously.

Where does your inspiration come from?

Anything and everything. Classical music, while I’m taking research notes, a random snippet of dialogue, and even a few dreams have inspired story ideas.

When you aren’t writing steaming hot romances what do you do in your spare time?

If I’m not working on my TBR pile, I’m tinkering on a home project with my husband, or playing with my kids.

Alexandra, thank you for being a guest on my blog.

My pleasure, Micole! Thanks for having me.

Where can we find more information about you and your books?

Readers can learn my about my Lords of Vice series by visiting my website:

I also post updates on:

Make sure to look for Alexandra. She's got a great website and some amazing books. Thanks again friends for stopping by.



Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Spotlight Author with Josie Malone

So how is everyone doing two weeks into their New Years resolutions? I'm hanging in there. I hope all of you are too. I have another great guest here today. She's got a couple of books to tell us about and one to giveaway. ;-) Let's not waste any more time, say hello to Josie Malone.

Hi Micole, thanks for inviting me to chat with you. It’s great to be here.

Tell us a little bit about your latest release…

BookStrand just released A Man’s World, my historical western romance in trade paperback and it’s available at and What a great Christmas present for me since I didn’t expect to see it in trade paperback until March 2011! Another thrill was seeing the cover of The Daddy Spell, now in e-book from BookStrand.

The Daddy Spell was especially fun to write since I used the memories of my childhood home as a setting for this new story. What happens when two kids decide to find their divorced mom the perfect husband? Oh yeah, and a new dad for them, since their old one should and could be replaced. A pony farm definitely needs an ensemble cast of four-legged critters – in other words, ponies. I drew those fictional ponies from the ones that made The Funny Farm so special. I know that’s a rather strange name for a pony farm, but it came from my grandmother who said that our stories about life on the farm could make anyone laugh until they cried.

What are you working on now?

For my next book which I hope will find a home at BookStrand, I finally decided to revisit the world of Trace Burdette, my heroine in A Man’s World. My newest project, A Woman’s Place allows the marshal of Junction City to meet his match, and Iraqi War veteran/homicide detective Beth Chambers takes no prisoners. I figure she’ll fit right into 1888 Washington Territory. Of course, I had to figure out how to get a woman from 2012 to the old West, but that was part of the adventure.

What do JOSIE MALONE fans have to look forward to in 2011?

Well, if everything goes as I hope it will, then they will get to visit Junction City and the Lazy B, Trace’s ranch again, in A Woman’s Place. The Daddy Spell is scheduled for trade paperback release in June 2011 and as soon as I finish A Woman’s Place, I plan to start a spin-off of The Daddy Spell. It isn’t titled yet, but I know my heroine, hero and the story. So, the writing continues and I get the fun of popping back and forth between fictional worlds. Yahoo!

Where does your inspiration come from?

It depends on the story I’m writing. If it’s young adult, then I draw inspiration from the kids I meet when I substitute teach at the local schools, or the ones who come to the family farm to learn horseback riding. If it’s an adult novel, sometimes it’s what pops in my head during barn chores. That’s when I play the “What-if” game. Of course, I’ve had a lot of life experiences too, but then again I’ve always listened to the stories other people tell, like my grandmother who served pithy putdowns along with her pot roast at Sunday dinners. I’ve served in the Army Reserve, dealt cards in a casino, wrangled dudes, cattle and horses, raised my two sisters, and as one of my first writing teachers quoted, “Everything is grist for the mill.”

What is your writing process? Plotter or Pantser?

I think I’m a total Pantser, but that’s not 100% true. I live and work on the family farm so when I’m doing stock chores, teaching riding lessons, training horses, working at my day job, I also plan out my books. I have to think of something when I shovel horse stuff in the stalls. By the time I hit the computer at night, I usually have the scene that I want to write ready to go in my mind. And I try to write every night – at least that’s my goal although it doesn’t always work.

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

DON’T QUIT. Yes, you can do this – write your own book from your heart – and nobody else can tell your story. So polish your words, learn your craft and submit your work to the appropriate agents and publishers, but DON’T QUIT! Accept the fact that some people won’t like what you write – my own family never read my first two books because, “they were kids’ books.” They also complained bitterly when I started writing for newspapers and magazines because people outside the family read my articles and mentioned them “in public.” No matter what the family said, I stuck to what my grandmother told me. DON’T QUIT! I’ve been writing longer than most people. I sold my first two young adult books more than 20 years ago and then my publisher folded. Aargh! If I’d allowed that to stop me, I never would have sold again. So my best advice – DON’T QUIT!
Did you receive rejection letters during your journey to become published?

Of course.

If yes what is your best advice to someone who’s received their first one?

I could probably have papered my office with rejection letters, but I didn’t. I’ve received a ton of them over the past 20+ years. The best ones offer advice to improve the book and if an editor or agent takes the time out of a tremendously busy schedule to offer you that advice, I think you should take the time to consider it.

Maybe, like me, your pacing does need improvement. My wonderful editor at BookStrand had me cut 30,000 words from my historical, A Man’s World and she was absolutely right. All those extra words dragged down the story. Maybe, your hero is like mine from my first novel which I wrote more than 30 years ago – I loved him – but he wasn’t particularly romantic. He was honest, reliable, steady and my heroine’s best friend – the kind of guy a woman could live with for the next fifty years, but he sure wasn’t sexy. That novel will never sell, but I learned a lot from writing it. I also learned that it was time to put it aside and move onto a more saleable project.

You can even learn something from an assortment of form rejection letters – I figured out that nobody liked my historical a couple years ago after receiving several computer generated rejection letters – yes, this was the same book I sold last spring. So, I rewrote it completely, submitted it to contests, got great feedback, but didn’t win, rewrote it again, took classes, rewrote it again – by now it was 115,000 words and submitted it again.

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

Actually for me, it was an e-mail offer from BookStrand last spring, and it had been 20+ years since I sold a book.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Writing a book – okay, I’ll still be learning my craft, polishing my words and writing the best book I can, straight from my heart, telling a story that only I can tell. That being said, I would also love to be on the NY Times bestseller list.

Where can we find out more about you and your books?

Visit my website,

Thank you Josie for stopping by and sharing with us. Josie plans to give a copy of her book THE DADDY SPELL, to one lucky commenter. So make sure to stop in and say hi. See you next time at Micole Writes Romance.