Tag Archives: fiction

#SneakPeek at PASSION’S PALETTE; #comingSoon #TWRP

So my last MACQUIRE WOMEN book will be out soon ( no date yet, but this year!) and I just got my cover and blurb approval, so I, of course, wanted to SHARE SHARE SHARE.

Passion’s Palette, Book5 in the MacQuire Women, tells Serena MacQuire and Seamus Cleary’s story. I’ll be posting excerpts next, but here are the basic:

Blurb:

Talented and witty portrait artist Serena MacQuire is successful in everything but love. Her gift for capturing people on canvas is rivaled only by her fiery and legendary temper. A tragedy from the past keeps her heart securely locked away, preventing any man from getting close enough to claim it.

But Seamus Cleary isn’t just any man. After he left his professional football career to become a veterinarian, his bitter wife ended their marriage. Now, as he starts his life over in a new town, love is the last thing he’s looking for. The more he tends to Serena’s horses, though, the more he realizes her own heart needs tender care and healing as well.

Will he be the man who finally unlocks and claims her heart?

 

When buy links become available, I’ll post them. For now, remember this cover!!!

When I’m not editing soon to be released books, you can find me here:

Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triberr

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Filed under Author, Characters, Contemporary Romance, Family Saga, Life challenges, MacQuire Women, Romance, Romance Books, Strong Women, WIld Rose Press AUthor

A visit with #author Gary Guinn; #TWRP #mysterywriter

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This is a first for me. Actually 2 firsts. One, I’m introducing you to a male author today – something I’ve never had the pleasure or opportunity to do before, (yay!) and two, he doesn’t write romance – but mainstream mysteries and thrillers (Yay, squared!) Gary Guinn is a fellow Wild Rose Press brothah, not sistah, and he’s got a new book out titled SACRIFICIAL LAM.  He graciously answered all my nosy questions recently and agreed to be featured here today. After the interview, he’s sticking around to give you a little sneak peek at his brand new release. So, let’s get to know a little more about Gary….

Gary Guinn,  The Writer 

  1. What drives you to write?

I wish I knew. The rewards are there. When someone tells me about their emotional reaction to something I’ve written, it makes me happy. A woman once told me she gasped when she read a particular passage in my first novel. That felt really good. But there have to be intrinsic motivations that keep you coming back day after day, sitting there alone, pecking out words in a narrative. For me, the most intrinsic motivation is a beautiful line, in which the language itself makes me smile. When later I read a passage I wrote, and that little emotional bubble of joy trickles up my spine, it makes me want to sit down at the computer and do it again.

  1. What genre(s) do your write, and why?

I write both mainline literary fiction and mystery/thriller fiction, and occasionally I write poetry. I write literary fiction because I like to get lost in the language and let a couple of characters go wherever their yearnings take them. No formulas, no expectations except that they will act like predictably unpredictable human beings. I write mystery/thriller fiction because I love working out the plot, creating the thrill of discovery, the intensity of the action scenes.

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  1. What genre(s) do you read, and why?

I read the same genres that I write, and mostly for the same reasons. I read Louise Erdrich and John Irving to get lost in their beautiful language and to fall in love with their crazy characters. I read Georges Simenon, Colin Dexter, and Hakan Nesser to be mesmerized by murder and the quest of the inspector who finds the murderer. I have a special affinity for what is called Nordic Noir, the dark Scandinavian crime fiction that reflects in its ambiance the land in which it’s written.

  1. What’s your writing schedule? Do you write every day?

I try to write every day, but I average maybe five days per week. I wish I were an early morning person, who got up before the house stirred and wrote for two hours in the beautiful silence. I do get up fairly early every day, but there are other things I do to start my day—yoga, exercise, Tai Chi. And so I might get a little writing in before lunch, but most days I write for a couple of hours in the afternoon, and if I’m really in the flow of a piece, might write into the evening. I do have to stop for Happy Hour, of course, even then.

  1. Give us a glimpse of the surroundings where you write. Separate room? In the kitchen? At the dining room table?

            My writing space looks pretty traditional. Being a retired college English professor, I have a study, with bookshelves covering most of the walls. Desk by the window. Persian rug covering most of the floor. There’s not much wall space because of the bookshelves, but on the little bit that is available, I have a black-and-white print of the Eifel Tower. Hanging at the corners of the second window, a Keffiyeh I brought back from an archeological dig in Jordan and my old doctoral Tam, the only piece of academic regalia I kept when I retired from teaching.

  1. Are you the kind of writer who needs total quiet to compose, or are you able to filter out the typical sounds of the day and use your tunnelvision?

            I prefer total quiet. Occasionally I put on music that reinforces a particular mood for a scene I’m writing. But I usually have no trouble filtering out extraneous sounds, except for excited conversation with loud laughter.

        7. How did you come up with the plotline/idea for your current WIP?

Fairly early in my career at the university, a disturbing incident occurred, which stuck with me through the years. Three of my colleagues at the university, who were all liberal, progressive professors like myself, received anonymous threats couched in violent terms. The university was a very conservative place, and liberal professors like ourselves were in a real minority and sometimes found teaching there an uncomfortable fit. At the same time, we felt a sense of purpose in being the source of divergent, more open, views in the areas of politics, social issues, and religion. The threats created a tense environment, and though nothing could be proved, there was a pretty strong suspicion of who was responsible. As it happens, nothing further came of the threats, but that situation became the kernel for developing the series of mystery/thrillers featuring English professor Lam Corso, a liberal who teaches at a small, conservative southern college. Sacrificial Lam is the first in the series. The second, which I am about halfway through, has the working title A Lam to Slaughter.

         8. Which comes first for you – character or plot? And why?

I would say usually character comes first. In most of my short fiction and in my four novels, I begin with a character that intrigues me and build a plot around the character. The reason is simple. I find certain people, and certain character types, fascinating. When I come across someone who grabs my attention, and when that person sticks in my mind and keeps popping into my thoughts, then I have a character for a story. I begin to imagine that character in a situation, and the story builds from there. The exception to this rule is that for several of my short stories I have been attracted first to a news story that becomes the catalyst for a work of fiction. The best example of that is a story published in Carve Magazine about ten years ago, titled “The Scar.” It grew from a newspaper story about a pickup truck that ran off a curb and drove through the back wall of a country church

         9.What 3 words describes you, the writer?

        Rational, Patient, Empathetic (Peggy here: I think those are fabulous qualities for a professor!!)

Gary, The Guy

1.Tell us one unusual thing about yourself – not related to writing!

            I brew beer. Good beer, all-grain, from scratch. I hand-grind the malted barley. For my two grandkids, I brewed a strong beer, a barley wine, that will age until they come of age, at which time the family will celebrate their birthday by drinking it. Of course, I have to drink a bottle once a year to be sure it is progressing satisfactorily.

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  1. Who was your first love and what age were you?

Truthfully, the first woman I remember being in love with was the oldest of my three older sisters. She was beautiful, popular, the homecoming queen, the whole nine yards, and my best friend and I, who were six years old at the time, were always asking her for a kiss. When she left home a year later, I was broken hearted.

Then there was my second grade teacher, Mrs. McElvane. Every boy in the class was in love with her. Many years later, her daughter was a student in one of my first-year English classes at the university, and when I met her mother at a school function, my heart still fluttered just a bit.

But when it comes to a real first love, the one that made me toss and turn and sigh at night, it was the typical high school sweetheart story. Pursued her, had to beat out my best friend for her, spent every waking moment with her or wishing I were with her. We planned our lives together, named our kids. Then we graduated from high school and, like most high school sweethearts, drifted our separate ways. ( Peggy here – as a romance writer, I can see 3 potential books from these answers. Bravo!

  1. If you could relive one day, which one would it be? Think GROUNDHOG DAY, the movie for this one– you’ll have to live it over and over and….

For our twenty-fifth anniversary, my wife and I spent a month in the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District in England and in Paris and the surrounding area and finally the French Alps. One of the days in the Alps, I might be able to live again and again. We stayed in the little town of Chamonix, at the base of Mont Blanc, popular with skiers and climbers, the highest mountain in the Alps and marking the border with Italy. We spent a full day in the mountains, ascending to the Aiguille du Midi, a stark, forbidding, and stunningly beautiful peak, by cable car, then descending halfway again by cable car and hiking along gorgeous mountain trails, stopping for a picnic lunch with broad views of the Chamonix Valley, and finally descending in time for dinner and wine at an outdoor café in the village. Our room at the little hotel opened out onto a small balcony with Mont Blanc rising across the valley. As dusk settled over the mountains and the lights of the village came on around us, we might have agreed to do it again. And again.

          4. What three words describes you, the person?

Rational, Introverted, Impatient (grandkids call me Grumpy Granda)( Peggy here: awwwwwwwww!)

          5. If you could sing a song with Jimmy Fallon, what would it be?

“I Heard It Through the Grapevine”

           6. If you could hang out with any literary character from any book penned at any time line, who would it by, why, and what would you do together?

I love this question. Thanks for asking it. There are so many beautiful characters in fiction who have stuck with me for so many different reasons. John Irving’s character Owen Meaney, with his strange voice and crushing guilt. Nicole Karuss’s character Leo Gursky, from The History of Love, waiting to die, trying to connect with the son who doesn’t know him. Lewis Nordan’s unforgettable alter-ego Sugar Mecklin, living in Arrow Catcher, Mississippi. The list goes on, but I’m convinced that, if I were going to spend a day with one of my favorite characters, it would be with one of three great detectives—Georges Simenon’s Inspector Maigret, or Hakan Nesser’s Inspector Van Veeteren, or Colin Dexter’s Inspector Morse. All impatient, thoughtful, quiet people, they catch the killers more by sitting in a pub drinking beer and thinking than by chasing them through the countryside. I’d choose Inspector Morse because he drives an old restored Jaguar and listens to recordings of the great operas. We’d sit in an English country pub and drink draft beer, then drive to the station listening to Verdi’s La Traviata.

Bonus round

  1. Favorite sound: The silence after I mute a commercial (Peggy here: my husband agrees!)
  1. Least favorite sound: A sitcom through the hotel room wall
  1. Best song every written: Stairway to Heaven, by Led Zeppelin
  1. Worst song ever written: Christmas Don’t Be Late, by Alvin and the Chipmunks
  1. Favorite actor and actress: Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca; Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca.
  1. Who would you want to be for 1 day and why? ( It can be anyone living or

dead)

            Barak Obama because now that I am no longer president I could forget about the world and spend the day with Michelle at the beach and then take her out to dinner at a great little restaurant at the end of the pier and eat lobster sautéed in butter and garlic and drink a really good Pinot Noir and then walk the boardwalk hand in hand and then, well, and then see where it goes from there.

  1. What turns you on? The moment just before my lips touch her earlobe and then her neck. (Peggy here: are you sure you’re not a romance writer???!!!!)
  1. What turns you off? Belching
  1. Give me the worst 5 words ever heard on a first date: My mother’s coming with us.
  1. What’s your version of a perfect day? An island. Yoga on a deserted dock before breakfast. An egg, bacon, onion, cheese omelet with fresh pineapple and coffee. A walk on the beach. Reading a good book under the palm trees, the fronds moving gently in the breeze off the sea. Lunch from a street vendor—jerk chicken, grilled plantain, rice and beans, beer. A nap. Writing on the front porch of the cabana, a cold beer at my fingertips. A dinner of Red Snapper sautéed in olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper, with maybe a touch of Allspice, and a good Merlot. Watch Casablanca for the hundredth time with my wife. A few minutes back on the front porch, a fingernail moon with Venus close by. Bed.

SACRIFICIAL LAM

Blurb:

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When English professor Lam Corso receives a death threat at work, he laughs it off. A liberal activist teaching at a small Southern conservative college, he’s used to stirring up controversy on campus. It’s just part of the give and take of life. Even when violently attacked, Lam is convinced it has to be a mistake. He can’t imagine anyone who would want to kill him for his beliefs.

When his home is broken into and his wife’s business vandalized, Lam is forced to face facts. The police can’t find a single lead. Lam’s wife—a passionate anti-gun crusader—is outraged when Lam brings a gun into the house for protection. Left to their own devices, Lam and Susan must examine their marriage, faith, and values in the face of a carefully targeted attack from an assailant spurred into action by a different set of beliefs.

What will it cost to survive?

Excerpt:

The sudden shock of something hitting him hard from behind knocked him into the bike and the rack. His glasses fell to the pavement, and his stocking cap came down over his eyes. His first thought was that someone had tripped and fallen into him, and he pushed away from the bike rack, sat up, and turned.

He shoved his cap up, but without his glasses, he saw only the shape of a person standing over him and reaching down toward him. “That’s okay,” he said, “I can get up all right.”

When he rolled to one side to try and stand, a sharp blow struck him in the back of the ribs, and he grunted in pain and went to the pavement face down.

A distorted, almost metallic voice said, “You don’t get it, do you?”

“Jesus!” Lam groaned through gritted teeth. “Get what?” The pain in his ribs and the strange sound of the voice disoriented him.

Then came the kick to Lam’s thigh, and he yelled with the pain. “What the hell are you doing?” But he knew the answer to his question as soon as he asked it. This was it. Someone was attacking him. No matter what he had thought or felt over the past few days, the threat had not been real until that moment. Fear shot through him at the sudden clarity that this person was carrying out the threat. He said between tight breaths, “I’m Dr. Corso…from the English Department… Settle down and…we can clear this up.”

The distorted voice said, “You think I don’t know who you are? The mighty Lambert Corso, who thinks he can stop the earth from warming? Well, suck it up, and take what’s coming, Dr. Corso.”

Lam patted the pavement for his glasses, but he was grabbed by the back of his coat collar and jerked up and thrust hard back down on the ground. His head bounced on the pavement, stunning him. He kicked out at the dark figure, who picked up a bicycle that wasn’t chained and slammed it down on top of him. Lam roared at the pain, the bike pedal digging into his stomach. The attacker threw the bike out of the way, grabbed the front of Lam’s coat, and punched him hard three times in the face before he could raise his arms in defense.

When he dropped Lam back to the pavement, he said, “You dodged a bullet Friday afternoon. My bad. I won’t miss this time.”

And then the attacker stepped away and waited, breathing hard. Another shock of fear and clarity ran through Lam. The car had been trying to kill him. He’d been a fool. He thought of Susan, sitting with the boys on the sofa, watching TV and sipping a glass of wine. He couldn’t let go of her, he couldn’t bear to leave her and the boys, the thought of himself lying dead in an empty parking lot. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. He had imagined dying hundreds of times—cancer, car wreck, drowning, plane crash—but never this, beaten to death by a lunatic who didn’t like his politics.

A desperate sound, short, high, and strained, broke from him. Blind without his glasses in the dark, he was helpless, but he refused to lie there and be killed without a fight. He tried again to stand. But as he struggled to his knees, a blow to the side of his head sent him sprawling against the bike rack, and he thought he was passing out.

The voice came again, “Time’s up, Lambert.”

When Lam looked up, the man stood above him with something—a knife Lam thought—in his hand. The voice said, “You were warned.”

Laughter came from the far end of the parking lot, and a girl’s voice yelled, “Last one to the bike rack buys the lattes!” Racing footsteps echoed on the pavement.

A split second later the figure standing over Lam slipped the knife into a side pocket, turned, ran over the lip of the hill behind the cathedral and was gone.

Buy links:  Amazon // B&N // KOBO // TWRP

Book Giveaway

BIO

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Gary Guinn taught literature and creative writing at a small private college for more than thirty years. His short fiction and poetry have been published in literary magazines and anthologies. His first novel, A Late Flooding Thaw, was published in 2005, and his second novel, Sacrificial Lam, is scheduled to be released March 3, 2017. He loves traveling, dogs, and brewing beer.

You can connect with Gary here:

Website // FaceBook // Goodreads // Twitter

 

 

Peggy here: Gary, thanks so much for agreeing to be tortured – I mean INTERVIEWED  – today! It was my pleasure hosting you and getting to know about a fellow Wild Rose Press writer. Be well and happy writing!

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Filed under Alpha Male, Author, Literary characters, WIld Rose Press AUthor

What’s in a title? A lot more than you think, #MFRWauthor

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I’m sure this is an easy feat for most writers, but not for me. I agonize over book titles. Are they too long? Too short? Do they convey the correct theme of the book? Do they even convey the theme of the book? Will it be a memorable title, or one that is easily forgotten in the myriad of published books these days?

Titles can, in all truth, make or break a book. Would you have read any of these books if these were the titles?:

  1. The High-Bouncing Lover
  2. The Last man in Europe
  3. The Dead Un-Dead
  4. Mistress Mary
  5. Nothing New in the West
  6. Wacking Off
  7. The Don’t Build Statues to Businessmen
  8. The Kingdon By The Sea
  9. At this point In time
  10. Private Fleming, His Various Battles

I was a bit surprised at a few of them, and I can in all truthfulness say I wouldn’t have read any one of them except for the Dead Un-Dead, because I think it was a cool, really out-there title. To see the titles these books were actually published as, scroll down when you’re done reading.

You can’t, apparently, trademark a  title. I found this out when I wrote my third book, FIRST IMPRESSIONS ( which, BTW was the original working title of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice) and did a  search to see how many books with the same title there were (423). My second book I called THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME. 366 other authors also called their works of fiction that. SO, how the heck can I can up with a title that (1) hasn’t been used before, and (2) will make the random reader interested in it enough to pick up the book and check it out? Again, no easy feat.

I used to make lists, pages of lists, with book titles. Even then, choosing just one was torture.

I’m so lame at coming up with my book titles I  left the naming of my second book in the Will Cook For Love Series from Lyrical/Shine to the editors. They came up with A SHOT AT LOVE. When you read the book you’ll know it’s the perfect title, but I didn’t have anything even close to that I was working with! Thank God for the people in the know who really really really know what they are doing.

Naming your book is an awful lot like naming your child. You want to give it something with character, essence, personification, and beauty. And your book, to the writer, is your baby, your child, your creation, so you don’t want to let it down by giving it a crummy moniker; one that will inspire ridicule and laughter. Honestly, I pity the poor children of celebrities who have been named after fruits, compass directions, and astrological projections. Sad.

See? You probably thought the title was the easiest thing to come up with.  I bet you didn’t know how hard it really was to name a book? Well…at least it is for me!

Here’s what the above titles were actually published as, and thank goodness they were!!!

  1. The Great Gatsby
  2. 1984
  3. Dracula
  4. The Secret Garden
  5. All Quiet On the Western Front
  6. Portnoy’s Complaint
  7. Valley of the Dolls
  8. Lolita
  9. All the President’s Men
  10. The Red Badge of Courage

When I’m not agonizing over naming books, you can usually find me here:Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me//

Since this is a 52 week blog hop challenge, here are some other authors who are also taking about how they name their books today. Stop by and check out their blogs.

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Filed under Author, Characters, Contemporary Romance, Cooking, First Impressions, Kensington Publishers, Lyrical Author, MacQuire Women, Romance, Romance Books, Strong Women, The Laine Women, The Wild Rose Press, There's No Place Like Home, Uncategorized, WIld Rose Press AUthor

A #visit with #author Donna Simonetta

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You all know I lovelovelove introducing you to authors. It’s one of the most fun things about having a blog and a forum for writing. Today I have a real treat. I recently sat down with author Donna Simonetta for a little chat about….stuff. She’s got a new book out TODAY from Wild Rose Press called A SWEETER SPOT, and she graciously allowed me to share a little of it below. SO, sit back and prepare to be dazzled.

Here’s Donna… THE WRITER

  1. What drives you to write?

I have always wanted to write. I remember going to Pequot Library in Southport, Connecticut as a child and looking at the stacks to see where my books would be shelved once I was a published author. However, real life got in the way, and I explored other career options. After a health scare made me evaluate my life, I realized I always wanted to write, and there was no time like the present to try it! So I did. And I love it, in a way I’ve never loved my work before.

  1. What genre(s) of Romance do your write, and why?

I write contemporary romance–some with strong fantasy elements, like in Angels Fly, and some without fantasy, such as A Sweeter Spot.

  1. What genre(s) of Romance do you read, and why?

The earliest romance books I read were historical. To be specific, Georgette Heyer’s Regency romances. Loved them way back in the day, and still enjoy re-reading them now. However, now I also enjoy contemporary romances with a little humor and a little steaminess. Think Jill Shalvis or Rachel Gibson.

  1. What’s your writing schedule? Do you write every day?

I try to do something related to my writing every day, but now that I’ve been published, sometimes it’s more promotional in nature, but there’s nothing I love more than sitting down and writing. I work part-time in a school library, which limits my writing time during the school year, but I do try to set aside time every day to work on something related to my writing.

  1. Give us a glimpse of the surroundings where you write. Separate room? In the kitchen? At the dining room table?

My husband jokingly calls where I write my “Command Center”. I sit in our living room, with everything I need in arms reach. I keep a basket next to me, piled high with papers and notebooks related to my current work-in-progress. Right now, that would be the third book in my Rivers Bend trilogy, which focuses on Jason Braden, the youngest Braden brother. I’m enjoying writing about the woman who can make him leave his playboy ways behind! I’m also working on a ghost story that I’m really excited about!

  1. Are you the kind of writer who needs total quiet to compose, or are you able to filter out the typical sounds of the day and use your tunnelvision?

I am not someone who does well in total silence! I like to have some sound in the background. Maybe that comes from my years of being a librarian in a boys middle school library. There is always noise there.

  1. Do you listen to music while you write, and if so, what kind? If not, why not?

I do like to listen to music when I write. However, when I’m working on editing/revisions, I prefer music without lyrics. I find that they distract me from my own words at that point in the writing process.

  1. How did you come up with the plotline/idea for your current WIP?

The kernel of the idea for my ghost story was a house my Aunt Em lived in for a while in Salem, Massachusetts. She was a social worker and the house was an old sea captain’s home, which housed the agency where she worked on the first two floors. She lived on the top floor, and family lore had it that it was haunted. While visiting when I was a child, my mom had an eerie experience there that I’ve knicked for my ghost story. I’ve transplanted it to Richmond, Virginia, but its’ origins are in Aunt Em’s apartment in spooky Salem!

  1. Which comes first for you – character or plot? And why?

The character comes first for me. I start a new notebook for each book, and flesh out my characters right away. I might have an idea for the plot, but I feel that so much of what happens is character-driven, so I like to establish the people first. That way, I know how they’ll respond in any given situation.

  1. What 3 words describes you, the writer?

Happy. Passionate. Organized.

And Donna…the Gal

  1. Tell us one unusual thing about yourself – not related to writing!

I met my husband over the telephone before I met him in person. I was working as an Account Executive and he was my client.

2.Who was your first love and what age were you?

I had LOTS of crushes over the years–ask any of my girlfriends from my teenage years. The first one I remember clearly was in fourth grade. But I have to say that, sappy as it sounds, my first and only love was my husband, and I was thirty-one when I met him.

3. If you could relive one day, which one would it be? Think GROUNDHOG DAY, the movie for this one – you’ll have to live it over and over and….

My husband and I go to St. Pete Beach every year to celebrate the end of the school year. I would happily relive any day there, over and over and over again…white sand beach, tropical cocktails, a good book, my honey?? Who wouldn’t want to relive it every day?

4. Do you like a guy in boxers, briefs, or commando?

Hmm..boxers or briefs…so maybe boxer-briefs! Commando seems like it comes with an inherent risk of harm.

5. If you had to give up one necessary-can’t-live-without-it beauty item, what would it be?

My best friend lives in Ireland and last year she gave me a gift of a monthly beauty box delivery. Through it I discovered Perfectly Perfecting Wonder Balm for my hair, which is kindly described as ‘curly’. A more realistic word would be ‘frizzy’. A little dab of this stuff and it calms that frizz right down! Hard to find in the U.S., but…wow!…is it worth it!

6. What three words describes you, the person?

Funny. Loyal. Hardworking.

7. If you could sing a song with Jimmy Fallon, what would it be?

Elvis Costello, (What’s So Funny ‘ Bout) Peace, Love And Understanding.

8. If you could hang out with any literary character from any book penned at any time line, who would it by, why, and what would you do together?

Nancy Drew. And we would solve a mystery together. (Peggy here: that is sososo cool!!!)

Why? I had all the Nancy Drew books–passed down from a cousin, and I treasured them. I read, reread, and reread all of them. Again. And again. To have the chance to drive around in her roadster with Nancy, Bess, and George, while we solved a case, would be a dream come to life for me!

Bonus round

I love the Actor’s Studio show on Bravo, so this is my version of it:

  1. Favorite sound

The surf. There’s nothing more soothing than the sound of waves.

  1. Least favorite sound

Alarm clock on a weekday morning.

  1. Best song every written

This is a tough one. There are a lot of songs that I really love. Joni Mitchell is a favorite. Her songs were always like short stories, or poems.

  1. Worst song ever written

The Macarena came on at the spa the last time I was getting my hair cut, and it was even more dreadful than I remembered. And really long. My hair stylist and I couldn’t imagine who would pick it for a spa music rotation. At the first chord, she rolled her eyes and said, “Lucky you. You’re here for Macarena o’clock.”

  1. Favorite actor and actress

These are old school answers, but the truth is Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn are my faves. ( Peggy here – love them!!!!! Bringing up Baby, The Philadelphia Story – classics!)

  1. Who would you want to be for 1 day and why? ( It can be anyone living or dead)Living or dead? How about imaginary? I would like to be Buffy the Vampire Slayer for one day. Preferably in the Spike years, not Angel. I would love to see how it feels to be so strong, powerful, and totally kick-ass. And a petite blonde.
  2. What turns you on?

As you can probably tell from most of my heroes–I like a man who is intelligent, with a sense of humor. Kind, with a little bit of an Alpha thing happening.

  1. What turns you off?

Arrogance and rudeness.

  1. Give me the worst 5 words ever heard on a first date ( here’s mine: “Is that your real hair?”)

I can’t really think of an answer for this one, but I have to say that I love yours! Too funny! Peggy here – and it’s true!!!

  1. What’s your version of a perfect day?

I have two versions of a perfect day, but in either case it would have to be summer. I am not a winter person. In my vacation version, I would like to be on a beach somewhere, with a gentle trade wind blowing, a good book, no pressures or responsibilities. In my everyday version of a perfect day, I would get up, have a cup of coffee with a hazelnut flavored creamer, put on some music and write! Not so realistic in this version, would be servants taking care of cooking and laundry! Hey, what’s a perfect day without a little fantasy, right?

Blurb:

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Magda knows a 28-year-old shouldn’t run away from home, but Rivers Bend is the ideal escape. Helping out her best friend will get her away from her uber-wealthy, controlling grandmother and duplicitous ex. She doesn’t expect the quirky little town to feel so much like home. Add in hotter-than-the-sun Jeff and his daughter, and leaving seems as unthinkable as it is inevitable.

Raising Sam alone, Jeff knew he wanted her to grow up in his supportive hometown. The arrival of a feisty new tenant sends Jeff’s world spinning. Magda fills a void in his life that he’d like to make permanent.

Will love triumph over the most powerful woman in the country, and can they figure out how to make this happy-for-now in Rivers Bend into their happy-ever-after?

Excerpt:

“Being cheated on is no fun. It happened to me once. Up here,” he tapped his forehead. “You know it’s not your fault. But here,” he tapped his chest over his heart. “You feel like it has to be your fault – like you could’ve done something to prevent it. But you couldn’t have. It’s all on him, Maggie. Not you.”

She picked a dandelion, whose flower had turned into a puffball, and blew on it, scattering the fluff to the wind. “Maybe. Maybe not. But thanks for the support.”

She pushed to her feet and took a couple of steps toward the river. Jeff rose and followed.

How could he be so angry at a man he didn’t even know? How could this Pierce jerk have slept around on a woman like Maggie? And the prick had even made her doubt herself in the process. It was written all over her anguished face.

He stood behind her and gently kneaded her shoulders. He turned her to face him and cupped her face in his big hands.

“This Pierce guy is the biggest fool on earth to go to someone else when he had you at home, Maggie.”

She blinked away tears, and he felt his heart constrict. Before he could think it through and decide it was a really bad idea, Jeff dipped his head and captured Magda’s lips in a gentle kiss.

Buy Links: Amazon //TWRP //B&N //

A little more about Donna:

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After years working in the business world, my love of reading led me to get my MLS, and I currently work part-time in a school library, a job that allows me lots of time to explore my other love – writing romance! I live in Maryland, with my husband, who is my real-life romance hero. We both enjoy traveling to visit our far-flung family and friends, and spending time on the beach with an umbrella drink and a good book.

You can connect with Donna here:

Facebook // Twitter

 

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#ReadingChallenges and why they are important…

 

goodreads_icon_100x100-4a7d81b31d932cfc0be621ee15a14e70Last year I officially read 150 books in the Goodreads reading challenge. I say officially because I actually read more like 250, but the extra numbers weren’t on my Kindle and I forgot to enter them into the challenge stats whenever I was finished.

My bad.

This year, I’ve signed up again and my goal -again – is 150 books. It will probably be more, but that’s okay. I’ll try to remember to add the paperback and hardcovers after I finish them.

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I tell you all this because I feel a reading challenge is an important undertaking no matter what age you are.

We all remember having reading lists over summer vacation while is school. Some of us found it torture to get through the required books, while others of us ( like moi) asked for extra books because I’d finish the required ones in the first few weeks.

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Those summer reading challenges were meant to keep kids on the reading track and not get lazy and have all those drilled in vocabulary and spelling words forgotten over the 8 weeks of summer recess.

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I read a horrifying statistic the other day that said 33% of college grads NEVER read another book once they graduate. Like in, NEVER! Holy Cow. How can that be??? If I don’t have a book in my purse, or my kindle with me whenever I go out of the house I feel…naked. Emotionally and intellectually and literally ( hahaha- pun meant!)

How can a person never open another book? Never want to be entertained using their mind, imagination, and emotions? Never want to lose themselves for a few hours in the plights, adventures, and romances of characters who jump off the page and into their lives? Never want to educate themselves on new topics, inventions, or learn from the biographies and autobiographies of leaders, movers, and shakers int his world??

I think reading challenges should be mandatory for everyone. I know. Read that sentence again. The word that sticks out is MANDATORY: required by law or rules; compulsory. I know this would never fly legally. You can’t make someone read if they don’t want to. But how about a hard sell of encouragement? Listen, we got two generations of kids off drugs with THIS IS YOUR BRAIN ON DRUGS campaign.brain

I bet we could do the same with people who don’t read. Show something rotting – like five week old fruit and say THIS IS YOUR BRAIN WHEN YOU DON”T READ REGULARLY. I’m not an ad executive and don’t work in publicity for a reason, peeps, but you get my drift.

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I am challenging everyone who reads this today to a 2017 reading challenge. The prizes are vast and include: you’ll be smarter, happier, more entertained. You’ll have things(Books) to talk about at parties, opinions about situations you never thought you’d have, and a general feeling of being smarter than you’ve ever experienced before. You’ll come across as erudite, well informed, and well-read.

Try it. Set a reading goal – write it down ( or send it to me!) and put it someplace you’ll see it every day. And then follow it.

Reading, to quote Martha Stewart – an avid reader – is a good thing.

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When I’m not reading you can find me here: :Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me//

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A #NewYear, a time for new #blogideas

2016 has exited the building – thank you, Jesus!  Now it’s time to figure out what I’m going to say here, in this forum, for the next 365 days.

No pressure….not!

I started this blog because I wanted to talk about writing with people who enjoyed writing as well. Over the past 2 years, it’s morphed into something more. More substantial; more funny; at times, more an internal reflection of my feelings and emotions about…stuff. I’ve been able to introduce you to new authors who are fab and promote their work. I’ve had some serious discussions about life, writing life, family stuff, and current events. I’ve veered away from anything controversial and/or political/ and negative. I’ve wanted this to be a fun place to spend a few minutes getting to know new writers, and to challenge you with ideas. I hope I’ve done my job…

So, 2017. What the heck am I gonna talk about??

Well, I do have some new author interviews lined up already and I can’t wait for you to meet these talented writers.

I’ve also got at least 2 books of my own coming out this year ( maybe 3!) and I know I’ll be going gungho with promoting them.

The publishing world seems to be changing daily, so we’ll talk about that.

I’ve got at least 4 writing trips coming up this year, so you know I’ll be showing you pictures of your favorite romance authors whom I’ll be meeting and fawning over, plus writing about my traveling experiences.

And I guess I’ll be divulging some more personal stuff – only the funny stuff, though!!!

2017 promises to be a life-changing one for me – I’ve got lots going on!!! All good and all exciting.

So, stay tuned and we’ll discuss……lots of stuff!

 

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I get by with a little #help from my #friends..

and by friends, I mean books!

Every year I like to share the list of reference tools and books that keep me sane as a writer. Since I spend sosososososososos much time alone, writing and thinking about writing, I sometimes need tools to help me figure out plots, people, motivations, and dialogue subtexts. Here’s a list of my absolute favorites and the books that keep me sane when I’m trying to swim through the quagmire that is my imagination. Maybe if you haven’t finished making your Christmas and Holiday wish list yet, you’ll consider asking for one of these valuable tools. Believe me, it is money well spent and worth the cost.

1-4  The Emotional Thesaurus ( and amplifier) , The Postive Trait Thesaurus and the Negative Trait Thesaurus

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5.Goal, Motivation and Conflict by Debra Dixon. This is like a bible to most writers!thes8

6.The Romance Writer’s Phrase Book. Little snippets, words, and descriptions to tweak your dialogue and writing

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7. Master Lists. Every conceivable list you need for character, description, setting. Also fabulous as a reference when you play Trivial pursuit!

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8. The title says it all. Rated Triple H for hothothot!

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9.Nothing better for getting into the mind of your character and their inner conflicts and struggles

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And if you’re looking for a great little romantic fiction read for yourself or as a Holiday gift, well, here’s my newest ( shameful plug) A KISS UNDER THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS 

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When I’m not doing research I can usually be found in one ( or more!) of these places:

Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me//

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My #ChristmasList…

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If you were thinking I was posting about gifts I want for this holiday season, sorry. My list isn’t filled with ideas for unnecessary jewelry or tropical vacations or home improvements, although that last one should never be a gift, but a necessity!

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No, my Christmas list is full of all the goals and others things I need to finish by December 31st of this year. Let me, ‘splain.

In January of every New Year, I sit down at my laptop and think of all the things I want to do/start/finish for that year. For example, in January 2015, my list included( but wasn’t limited to): lose the 40 pounds I’ve gained during menopause, finish book 4 of the MacQuire Women series, look for a new publisher. ByDecemberr 31 of 2015, of those 3  things, I had accomplished 2. I’m still working on the 40 pounds.

I’m still working on the 40 pounds. I needed to write that again so I don’t forget about it and start eating like a house on fire because, hey! it’s Christmas.

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Before December 31st arrives this year, I still need to do the following:

  • finish the 1st draft of book #3 in the Will Cook For Love Series
  • work on my Baby Boomers powerpoint presentation for NHRWA and NECRWA
  • Write 6 book proposals ( 2 for Will cook for love, books 4 and 5; and 4 for my new small town series)
  • blog 3-4 times per week.

Okay, so the first 3 items are still in motion. Since I’ve been faithfully blogging 3-4 times per week, I can check that one off.

Now, add to it shopping for real presents for people, baking, attending parties, and doing all the regular life stuff like laundry, house cleaning, et al,  and I have to admit I’ve been neglecting my list just a little.

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Okay, A LOT.

But….

I’ve got a week until Christmas and my shopping is pretty much done. My house is spitspot ( thanks, Mary Poppins for use of that word), and the laundry is getting done, so I can devote time, effort, blood sweat and very real tears to getting these  3 items complete.

Now I just have to write the list for 2017……

When I’m not obsessing about lists you can find me here Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me//

And there’s still time for you to get a very special gift for the Woman or Women ( not judging!!) in your life. My newest book, A KISS UNDER THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS is out and available in e-copy or print form. Here are the links:

amazon // wild rose press // barnes and noble

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On #Goodreads, #giveaways, and growing your brand…

Okay, I’ll admit it. Until last year I didn’t even know what “growing your brand” meant. And if I’m really being honest, I didn’t know a person could be a brand.

Kim Kardashian changed that concept forever.

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The reason I’m waxing prolific today about this branding topic is because I just finished a Goodreads giveaway for my newest release, A KISS UNDER THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS. I’ve done a Goodreads giveaway for all of my books after they’ve been published, but this time I had more hits and requests than ever before, so that got me asking questions, evaluating, and thinking (always a dangerous occurrence!)

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Two avenues of thought rushed through me when I saw the final number of requests for the book (613):

  1. Romance Readers love Holiday stories and they saw this one listed, so they figured they’d take a chance on a relatively unknown author because–hey! — it was a Christmas tale, or,
  2. People saw the giveaway listed who knew me from my previous work and wanted to really read the book and –hey!– there was a giveaway for it.

Do you see the difference in those 2 lines of thought? One is based on the genre of the giveaway, the other on name – or in this case – brand recognition.

When I was told I needed to come up with a brand by which readers would instantly be able to recognize a Peggy Jaeger book ( and I still get goosebumps when I say those 3 words together – Peggy, Jaeger, and book!) by the publishing powers that be, I thought and thought for days about what my books try to give the reader. A solid romance, for sure, with a happily ever after ending, but then aren’t all romances supposed to give the reader that? No, it needed to be different. Recognizable.  Something that, when my name was read or said, would evoke the brand, like Timex – takes a licking and keeps on ticking – does.  Do they even make Timex watches anymore, or am I really dating myself??”

Anyway.

After weeks of sleepless nights trying to figure this out, my daughter finally helped me narrow it down. What I write about are strong women, families, and men (hence, the romance). So, the Peggy Jaeger brand, when you hear the name associated with a book, tells you I write about Strong women, the families who support them, and the men who can’t live without them.

Simple. Genius, but simple. And remember-able ( is that a word? it should be.) And see how smart I am? I put the brand tagline in bold so when you read it, you’ll remember it. Who says you can’t teach an old dog a new trick? Or in my case,  a middle-aged storyteller a new concept?

Brand Concept Blackboard

But back to the Goodreads giveaway.

My winners were chosen by Goodreads and I dutifully mailed off the paperback copies of the books, along with the special boxes I made for them ( see pix) and a nice thank you card for entering the contest. I’ve done that for each of the books I’ve given away and my hope is that the winners see how much I truly appreciate their entering. If they like the book they won, the hope is always they’ll want to read the other books listed.

So, a win/win all around.  3 readers won a book for the holidays and I (hopefully!) got 3 new reader-fans for the effort. Giveaways…to echo Martha Stewart (the Grand Dame of branding)…they’re a good thing!

When I’m not giving things away you can usually find me here: Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me//

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Of #Romance and #book-signings…

 

toadstoolSo yesterday I was privileged to have a book signing for my latest release, A KISS UNDER THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS  at the ToadStool Bookshop in my home town.  For two hours I got to chat and catch up with a bunch of old friends – some I haven’t seen in quite a while ( Brian, I’m talking about you!) and I met a few new ones as well. It’s always a crap shoot for a relatively unknown author to embark on a book signing because you just never know if ANYONE will turn up. One of the store managers has told me in the past they’ve had signings for authors and one or two readers/buyers may show up, but there have been more times where no one has. I think I’d need to be talked off a ledge if that happened to me! Luckily, I’m still here today, writing this, so you know it didn’t.

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Another fly in the ointment to drawing potential new readers in is the Romance Novel aspect of my books. Again, from the people who work in the shop, Romance is not a big seller for them. They have a beautiful section for their offerings, and all the big names are represented ( plus, little ol’ me!) so it’s not because they don’t stock the books. It’s more, I feel, people who don’t read romance as a general rule go out of their way to stop and buy one. Well, that’s something I hope to fix and change just by being a continual face and vocal presence in my community. Earlier this year I did a radio spot with one of our local talk-radio DJs – a guy who just happens to be a wonderful fringe friend. Don’t ask me to explain that because it’s too complicated and involves HIPPA rules and regs! Anyway, after that spot many many people approached me and told me they weren’t romance readers, but were willing to give it a shot since I’d written the book. This may be the only time MY NAME was the draw for a new reader, hee hee. I’m happy to say I know several people since then who’ve said to me, “I never read a romance book until I found out that’s what you write. Now, I love them.” They’ve gone on to explore other romance genre authors because of that, so in a very real way, that’s my PAY IT FORWARD moment.

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It’s not easy to find new readers, especially since the Internet now rules the planet. The Toadstool is the only brick and mortar retail book shop in my area. There are a few secondhand book shops ( which I love!) but this one is the biggest and has recently relocated to a much better, more foot-traffic laden location. In fact, yesterday during my two hours, the shop was wonderfully packed with holiday shoppers. And they weren’t only shopping, they were BUYING! This gives me a warm and tingly feeling for several reasons. It tells me people still like the feel of a REAL book in their hands. It tells me people still read! Actual words on a page, not listen to a podcast or scroll through a computer. It tells me people still give books for gifts – and that makes me the happiest. I always feel if you give a book as a gift for anything – holiday, birthday, just because – you are giving someone a few hours of escape. A few hours spent in contemplative reflection. A few quiet, stolen hours to just sit back and be entertained. Now that’s a true gift.

So, again to all the wonderful readers and friends who came out to support me yesterday ( Pun included since you bought books!) a very heartfelt THANKYOU! I hope whoever you purchased the books for – Mom, Sis, Daughter, Girlfriend, or just YOU – that the stories make you happy and give you the hope and promise that everyone deserves their own Happily Ever After.

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When I’m not out promoting the Romance Genre, you can usually find me here:

Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me//

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