Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Guest Author, Donna Marie Rogers

Today's guest author is Donna Marie Rogers, fellow Rose and part of the Goddess Fish Blog Tour. If you like stories about big, moody cops, then this is the book for you! Welcome, Donna!

Who are you?

Hi! Romance author Donna Marie Rogers (my maiden name) here! Meant To Be is the sequel to There’s Only Been You and my third book in print. I also write erotic romance as Liza James, and sold my first story to the Wild Rose Press in early 2007. Since then, I’ve published seven stories under Liza James, and the three novels and one novella as Donna Marie Rogers.

What type of stories do you like to write and why?

I like to write small town contemporaries mostly, because they’re my favorite types of stories. And ‘they’ say, write what you know :) I did write one historical short story as Liza James, but there wasn’t a lot of research needed for that one...LOL

What type of stories do you like to read and why?

The first romance novel I ever read was The Wolf and the Dove by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss. And while I barely understood what I was reading (LOL), I loved it! I read strictly historicals for the first several years, but when I finally tried a contemporary romance, I became instantly hooked. Nowadays, I read mostly contemporary, but I still love historical. In fact, I just finished reading The Conqueror by Kris Kennedy, and I absolutely loved it!

When do you write?

Well, I haven’t had much time for writing the past few months, but normally I get my best writing done late at night when the kidlets are asleep. Starting this fall, however, both my kids will be in school, so I’ll be spending my mornings and afternoons writing...and trying to figure out how to use the Wii Fit...LOL

When do you read? Where?

I mostly read in bed at night, but I keep my book in the bathroom all day so as not to waste an opportunity...LOL And at least once a week I submerge myself in a steaming hot bubble bath and soak and read until the kids or husband guilt me out of there. *grin*

Where did you get the inspiration for Meant To Be?

I knew before I'd even finished my first draft of There's Only Been You that I'd be writing Garrett's story. I fell hard and fast for the big moody cop. The special relationship he has with his nephew is what melted my heart and locked it for me. I couldn't imagine Garrett not having his own happily-ever-after. He definitely deserved one.

Where do you go to think?
The bathroom. *grin* Till the banging gets too loud, anyway. ;-)

How long did you write seriously before your first book was published?

I started writing There’s Only Been You in early 2004 and finished the first draft about eight months later. I entered contests, queried agents and editors, had tons of great feedback, etc. But I kept hearing the same thing, “I love it, but I don’t know if I can sell it.” So frustrating! I even had two different Harlequin editors tell me how much they loved my characters and the world I’d set up, then ask me for revisions that would basically require me to rewrite the second half of the book. So I submitted it (and the sequel, Meant To Be) to the Wild Rose Press in 2007 and was offered contracts on both :)

Why do you write?

I wish I had a deep answer for this question, but the truth is I simply love to write. I love creating new characters and fleshing them out. I love creating new worlds, new journeys. I can’t imagine not being a writer.

Donna Marie Rogers lives in a renovated old schoolhouse in beautiful Northeast Wisconsin with her husband and children. She's an avid gardener and home-canner, as well as an admitted reality TV junkie. Her passion to read is only exceeded by her passion to write, so when she's not doing the wife and mother thing, you can usually find her sitting at her computer creating exciting new characters, fresh new worlds, and always happily-ever-afters.


Standing there in nothing but a pair of black gym shorts, he was too hot for words. Damn him.

"So what can I do for you?" He leaned negligently against the doorframe, an almost pleasant smile curving his lips.

"I'm here to see Nick. Is he home?"

The smile disappeared. He straightened and crossed his arms over his chest, which made those huge biceps bulge even more. Jessica realized for the first time he had a tattoo. Huh. She wouldn't have thought him the type. Frankly, she thought tattoos were sexy, if they weren't garish, which his wasn't. It looked to be some sort of Chinese symbols.

Probably means `He-with-head-too-big-for-hat.'

"You're barking up the wrong tree there, honey. Nicky's married to his computer."

"Not that it's any of your business, but that's exactly why I'm here. I'm having trouble with my online service and was hoping he could help." Now why did she feel the urge to explain herself? Double damn him.

He looked her up and down in an insultingly blatant manner. "I know a thing or two about computers."

"No kidding? Great, next time I need help surfing the porno sites, you'll be the first one I call."

His eyes went cold. "You think I'm just some big, dumb Neanderthal, don't you?"

Jessica gave him the same insulting once over he'd given her. "If the leopard toga fits..."

"I happen to have a BS in Computer Science."

Hands on hips, jaw working furiously, he looked so offended Jessica was hard-pressed not to laugh. "I don't understand. You could be making a lot more money in computers than you are as a cop. And you wouldn't be putting your life in danger on a daily basis." She glanced meaningfully at the scarred flesh visible just above the waistband of his shorts.

"This didn't happen in the line of duty. Besides, I love being a cop."

He said it as if she should've instinctually known it. Jessica sighed. Garrett Jamison was turning out to be much deeper than she'd imagined. "It's a noble profession. It's also a very dangerous one."

"True enough. But it's not as if I have a family who's dependent on me."

She reached up to tuck a stray lock of hair behind her ear. "What about your uncle, or your sister and brothers? Or your nephew? I'm sure they'd all be devastated if something happened to you."

"What about you?"

His voice had taken on a deep, sexy timbre that turned Jessica's knees to mush. Garrett Jamison was entirely too gorgeous for his own good--or for hers. "What about me?"

Before she knew what he was about, he reached out and cupped the side of her face, tracing his thumb over her cheekbone. "Would you miss me if something happened?"

"What a thing to ask," she breathed, her gaze centered on his full lips. "I barely know you." Was he going to kiss her? Right there where any of the neighbors could see? Not that she'd mind...

"Uncle Garrett, the game's set up. Can we order pizza now?"

Garrett snatched back his hand, and Jessica's gaze dropped to the little boy leaning possessively against his leg.

Was it her imagination, or was the little stinker glaring daggers at her?

"Hi, Ethan, my name is Jessica."

"I know."

Nope, not her imagination. In fact, the scowl on his face was downright hostile. Now what in the world had she done to warrant such disfavor?

"Ethan, you watch your manners," Garrett growled.

"Yes, sir."

He cast her one last mutinous scowl, then turned and ran back into the house. Jessica had to resist the urge to laugh. She wouldn't take his behavior personally. The boy obviously adored his uncle and didn't care to share him. Another fascinating layer of Garrett Jamison--loving uncle.

"Sorry about that. Ethan's a good kid. I'm not sure what got into him."

"My guess would be old-fashioned jealousy. You two apparently have plans for the evening, and when he saw us...talking, his young mind assumed I was trying to lure you away."

A frown creased his forehead. "I don't know. Ethan knows I'd never abandon him. For anyone."

Ouch, point taken. She shrugged. "You know him better than I do. I'm just telling you what I saw. Well, this has been fun, but I need to get back. Mr. Louie doesn't like to watch TV alone."

Garrett chuckled. "Give His Highness a scratch behind the ears for me."

"What? Just this afternoon you suggested I have him euthanized."

"Good Lord, woman, can't you take a joke?" Garrett winked at her, then stepped back and closed the door.

Jessica shook her head. The man was crazy, no doubt about it. He was also so handsome it should be a crime. With a sigh of frustration, she headed back home to watch Wheel of Fortune.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Guest Author, Stephanie Reed

Today's Guest Author is Stephanie Reed. Slowly I've been changing my Wednesday format from all guest author interviews, to articles by editors, agents, and writers on writing. In my travels through the blogosphere, I came upon this article, and thought it would be perfect, so I emailed Stephanie and asked if I could post it. She graciously agreed, and here we are. Please welcome Stephanie, and learn about the challenges of writing historically accurate novels for children.
Hello, I'm Stephanie Reed, and I have the honor of writing historical novels for children, the most exacting readers. Children have a deep desire to know everything, but most loathe boring lists of facts. So how does a Christian novelist walk that fine line of providing an exciting, historically accurate story?

My second novel, The Light Across the River, is based on the true story of Johnny Rankin, middle of fourteen children of pastor and abolitionist John Rankin, and Eliza, the slave woman who escaped on the ice to save her baby in Uncle Tom’s Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe. says of Light, “I loved the rich use of detail and was fully drawn in by the vivid descriptions of the safe houses and the methods that the families used to help the escaping slaves to safety in other locations. The real joy, however, comes from the rich characterizations of the Rankin family and the inhabitants of the town, getting to experience the different personalities and eccentricities and also seeing the way the community comes together to help the Rankin family.”

My main characters are based on people who really lived. Classics like Little House on the Prairie and Tom Sawyer spoke to me as a child because I knew they were based on the stories of real people—the stories ring true. Visiting the actual place where a story happened is exciting, too. The setting reveals the characters, details I need to make them live again. It’s easy to write that a character raced barefoot through cornfield stubble in the dark, but if you look at a real cornfield, you will better describe how painful it was. Even a simple walk through wet grass after a fall evening football game can add depth to a slave escape scene—notice how the stars glitter, how the cool breeze flows across a cheek, how the icy dew seeps through shoes. When I realized that my characters had most of the same feelings I have every day, no matter how long ago they lived, I made giant strides in humanizing them.

There is so much more to a character than his appearance or his clothing. As an old man, Johnny Rankin wrote several versions of Eliza’s escape, adding little details here and there. It seemed to me that he had an intense need to share the story, so I put that in his book. Why? Because the Rankin family had to keep their work on the Underground Railroad a secret. That complicated Johnny’s problem—he wanted to tell about their good work, but he’s forbidden. When I have to keep a secret, it makes me nervous. I twist my hair, but I gave Johnny a bit of hair ribbon that he kept in his pocket, one he wound so tightly at one point that his finger turned purple. Where did he get such a girly thing? A pretty classmate dropped it one day.

It’s useless to make your main character live among lifeless paper dolls. But it’s also exhausting to flesh out a whole town, and that gives me a new appreciation for our Creator.

For some characters, I was fortunate to sniff out online sources published by descendants, most notably crotchety Old Archie Hopkins. I delighted to find actual quotes, like “I was a-settin’”, and to know that he’d suffered a broken hip and so rode a horse everywhere, even across the yard.

For other characters, like Underground Railroad conductor Dr. Greenleaf Norton, I had only a name and a place. When I saw the photo of a beautiful morning suit in the newspaper in connection with an exhibit of historical clothes, I knew it would fit Greenleaf to a ‘T.’ Moreover, it established his character as fastidious and fussy, yet with a heart.

Of course, I asked my husband to take me to the exhibit, where I found a beautiful dress for another character to wear. I also found ‘pattens,’ clumsy metal stilts that clipped to boots to keep wearers a couple of inches above the muddy streets of the time period. Golden! The pattens exactly fit Aunt Kitty McCague, the Kentucky-born matriarch who called everyone by his first and middle names—just like my dear Aunt Margie.

Most important is how your characters live their lives. Everything they do should be an extension of their Christian faith. That’s how we live, right? Well, I try to, but I don’t always succeed, and neither should your characters.

The reviewer quoted above goes on to say, “The religious aspect of the story came across in the faith of the Rankin family (the father was a preacher), and I enjoyed the way the family was consistent in applying their religious faith to their life, and it is non-intrusive to those who don’t usually read this type of fiction.”

The faith is evident in the way the family lives, offering aid to all who come to their house for help. It’s also there in a fiery sermon that Pastor Rankin delivers near the end, when he lashes out at slave-hunters who hunt down escaping women and children for a swig of whiskey and a reward. He even says that he would rather be caught robbing a hen roost than tracking down helpless fugitives. The pastor’s wife Jean later calls this part of the sermon ‘uncouth’, and don’t we all go home and second-guess the minister from time to time? He allows that perhaps she is right, but he smiles as he says it. He isn’t perfect, either.

Children still love to read about real boys and real girls just like themselves. They love to read about kids who don’t automatically do the right thing, who make mistakes, who are laughed at, who are comforted, who are loved. One special element came through all those long-ago-based-on-true-stories I read as a girl. Laura Ingalls Wilder and Tom Sawyer knew about God, just like me. They wondered about Him and what He had to say in the Bible as they struggled to sit still in church.

It’s easy to see that Laura honored the Lord, but Tom Sawyer? Well, he did sacrifice to take a whipping in Becky Thatcher’s place. Some of what he learned in church must have stayed with him, and that’s what I hope happens for children who read my books about real children—just like them.

During her childhood, Stephanie Reed's family would often pass through Ripley on their way to her grandparents' home. The signs she read there about the Rankin house were what prompted her to write Across the Wide River and The Light Across the River. Stephanie is a Latchkey teacher and a volunteer spotter for the National Weather Service. She lives with her husband and two children in Dublin, Ohio.


Visit Stephanie Reed’s Blog

Book Bait Blog

View a video trailer of The Light Across the River

Purchase Across the Wide River

Purchase The Light Across the River
This article was originally published as part of National Children's Book Week at the Christian Writing Examiner.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

It's All About Gratitude

I got this from an email someone sent me this week, but unfortunately all the pretty pictures didn't copy over here to the blogger.
No matter, the message is still as true. Happy Sunday!

There once was a woman who woke up one morning, looked in the mirror, and noticed she had only three hairs on her head.

'Well,' she said, 'I think I'll braid my hair today.'

So she did and she had a wonderful day.
The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and saw that she had only two hairs on her head.

'H-M-M,' she said, 'I think I'll part my hair down the middle today.'

So she did and she had a grand day.
The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and noticed she had only one hair on her head.

'Well,' she said, 'Today I'm going to wear my hair in a pony tail. '

So she did, and she had a fun, fun day.
The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and noticed that there wasn't a single hair on her head.

'YAY!' she exclaimed. 'I don't have to fix my hair today!'

Attitude is everything.

Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.

Live simply,
Love generously,
Care deeply,
Speak kindly,
and pray continually.

Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass...

It's about learning to dance in the rain.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Guest Author, Mona Risk

Today's special guest is Cerridwen and Wild Rose Press author Mona Risk, who has a new release coming out in two days! I met Mona at the Florida Romance Writers Cruise with Your Muse Conference in January. I am a big fan of sunsets (can you tell from my website?), and Mona has generously invited me to come back to Florida and watch a sunset over the water with her any time. I know from experience they are some of the most beautiful sunsets in the world. Mona is also a regular over at The Bookspa during my Tuesday Balance With Liana chats, where we learn ways to maintain our health and sanity in this busy busy world from each other. That said, please take a few moments out of your day to relax with a cup of tea and get to know Mona.

Who are you?

From as far as I can remember, I have been a dreamer and a writer, staring at the blackboard during a math class while re-plotting Cinderella and Aladdin tales, or hiding from the coach during gym to pursue my latest self-told story. At night, I was the one telling Mom the bedtime story while she tucked me. By the time I was a teenager, I wanted to be a doctor and messed it up because of the damn rabbit I had to dissect in premed biology lab. Even anesthetized, he was so cute I couldn’t stab him with a scalpel and cried during the whole lab session. It was easier to shift to Pharmacy and Chemistry than hurt the poor thing. But I never forgot my medical dream and indulged in creating gorgeous doctors and handsome specialists for my medical romances.

What type of stories do you like to read and why?

I love contemporary romances, romantic suspense (Roxanne St. Claire, Gemma Halliday, Christie Craig), sweet romances (Karen Kendal, Beth Andrews, Cynthia Thomason) and medical romances (Dianne Drake, Janice Lynn, Sarah Morgan). Since I write in those genres, I usually read with a pencil in hand and critique as I read.

If I read to relax, I favor historical, mostly Regency, but also any historical by Stephanie Laurens, Tracy Grant, or the oldies by Kathleen Woodiwiss, Johanna Lindsey, Heather Graham…

When do you read? Where?

Before I had children I used to read two books a day or night. My uncle timed me once. Apparently, I was an amazingly fast reader. It helped me a lot with my studies. Now I mostly read when traveling on vacation. I usually drag a carry-on full of books and make sure I save my ebooks on my laptop.

What type of stories do you like to write and why?

I traveled to fifty countries on business trips or vacation and have been exposed to many different cultures. As a result my contemporary novels and romantic suspense are set in foreign countries. TO LOVE A HERO takes place in Belarus and FRENCH PERIL is set in a chateau in the historical Loire Valley. In my next story, my heroine is going to Greece. By the way, all my heroines are American but all my heroes are gallant, hot and sexy foreigners.

My medical romances follow the genre of ER and Grey’s Anatomy. With nine doctors of various specialties in my family all you hear at holiday gathering is medical jargon. I have also shared the struggles and problems that medical residents face when my sister and then my daughter did their respective training in psychiatry and neonatology. My daughter inspired BABIES IN THE BARGAIN, the story of a resident in neonatology torn between her career and her love, and my sister led me to write, Rx FOR TRUST, a romance between two psychiatrists who excel at hiding their own issues..

When do you write?

Seven years ago I quit my fulltime job as a chemist and director of a chemistry lab to indulge my long time dream of writing romances. Gluing myself to my chair, I typed day and night. As a result, the stories flowed out without interruption. Five books came alive during three years of serious writing. Cerridwen Press contracted TO LOVE A HERO and six months later FRENCH PERIL. The Wild Rose Press will release BABIES IN THE BARGAIN on July 3, 2009 and Rx FOR TRUST on December 04, 2009. Rx FOR TRUST is the first book of a medical romance series called DOCTOR’S ORDERS.

Unfortunately, heavy responsibilities slammed me. Caring for my sick mother or babysitting my adorable grandchildren became top priorities. So now I write whenever I can, stealing an hour here or there, or staying awake till dawn when the muse kicks me out of bed.

Why do you write?

I write when I’m happy because I want to share my stories. I write when I’m depressed because my stories make me forget reality and soothe me. I write when I’m lonely because my hero and heroine keep me company and fill my life. I write when I’m excited because my muse flies and won’t be denied.
I write all the time. And when I don’t write I read what other authors write. Writing is good, uplifting but sometimes depressing. Rewarding and yet frustrating. But a writer can’t stop writing no matter what.

Where did you get the inspiration for BABIES IN THE BARGAIN?

The story is based on my daughter’s professional experience. Needless to say, the book is dedicated to her as she read and corrected the medical cases.

My heroine is a pediatrician and a neonatologist finishing her residency and training in a children’s hospital in Washington. Same as my daughter did. And my heroine Holly “coincidentally” shares some of the medical cases and emotional career turmoil that my daughter faced during her tough training. But the coincidental similarities stop here.
The story behind Babies in the Bargain started on a Christmas Day, a few years ago, when my daughter was still a first year neonatology fellow. She was on-call on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day—as she’d been for the previous three years.

To celebrate the holiday season as a family, my husband and son helped me carry an elaborate home-cooked meal and the wrapped presents to the hospital cafeteria. We shared a happy lunch with the guest of honor wearing green scrubs.

Later, she invited us to visit the NICU. We slipped yellow gowns over our clothes and scrubbed before entering the room where five preemies fought for their lives. I approached one of the isolettes and noticed that the preemie wore a dress with Christmas prints. My daughter explained that a nurse sewed the tiny outfits for the babies in residence over the holiday. I realized that the dedication of the NICU personnel, including my daughter, went beyond the performance of a well-done job. They gave a hundred and one percent to the babies they helped save and did it happily. On that Christmas Day, I decided to write a story featuring the wonderful doctors and nurses who treated our loved ones.

BABIES IN THE BARGAIN is a sweet and spicy medical romance that garnered several wins in contests: Launching A Star, The Beacon, Great Expectations; Golden Gateway; Gotcha; Enchanted Words; The Suzannah; Winter Rose; Linda Howard Award of Excellence. The story is based on my daughter’s professional experience. Needless to say, the book is dedicated to her as she read and corrected the medical cases.

Short Synopsis:
With only one year left to complete her medical training in Neonatology, Dr. Holly Collier vows not to let anyone mess up her sacrosanct schedule. Especially not the drop-dead gorgeous Dr. Marc Suarez who broke her heart seven years ago.

When a tragic accident transforms the carefree playboy into a dedicated but novice father to his nephew, Holly gives in to her maternal instincts and turns her structured life upside down for the orphaned preemie. But can she learn to trust Marc again and believe in true love?

Here is a trailer about BABIES IN THE BARGAIN.

BABIES IN THE BARGAIN will be available in ebook and paperback at The Wild Rose Press, and, and can be ordered from your favorite bookstore…
You can learn more about my books at:
Thank you Liana for hosting me today. I love your blog and your fascinating articles on Balance in Your Life.
Thanks, Mona. Here's wishing you many happy sales!