Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Guest Author, Skhye Moncrief

Today's guest is queen of the contests, Skhye Moncrief. Skhye was the impetus behind the phenomenally successful Christmas Ride Blog, where you had to visit 28 blog sites during the holidays and guess the Christmas Carol at each site, to be entered in a drawing for a $75 gift certificate to The Wild Rose Press. Readers liked it so much, we're doing it again in February for Valentine's Day. Details will be posted here soon. Welcome, Skhye, and thank you for the opportunity to get to know you a little better!

Who are you?

I’m a stay-at-home mother formally educated in geology and bioarchaeology with a three-year old. I maintain my sanity by writing fantasy romance. I’m currently published with and have three books in print. My King Arthur was a time-traveling-shape-shifting-dragon novel, HE OF THE FIERY SWORD, two additional Time Guardian stories that go with the dragon tale in HAUNTED HEARTS, & my novella ANCIENT MUSINGS in the SONG OF THE MUSES BOOK 1.

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

I tend to write stories that deal with life and death. That’s kind of a byproduct from studying life and death (bioarchaeology). Although, my fascination with connecting with things lost to time could very well be the true connection. Archaeologists are insane about saving the past. If you like stories about soul mates and reincarnation, you may like mine.

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

I find I’m drawn to new worlds or those created that coexist with our world. I’m usually pleased when I’m surprised -- as I have the “ah-ha” moment of realizing where the spark of the idea originated for the author. Then I stick around for the sexual tension. I get a kick out of culture shock that can make me laugh!

When do you write ?

Whenever I can steal time to write.

When do you read? Where?

I read in absolute silence. The trick is finding it.

Where did you get the inspiration for your current work in progress?

My current wip is being fueled by SLAYERS AND THEIR VAMPIRES, a book on the history of the slayers of what a culture defines as monsters. I started reading it for one or another reason and this whole world mushroomed. It’s in the works now.

Where do you go to think?

I hide in the bathtub with hot water and bubbles. Of course, my three-year old is asking me questions through the door. I don’t know if I get much thinking done! I’ve started thinking on the elliptical machine too…

How did you come up with your title and main characters’ names?

My current wip title was in an article in NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVELER. It had nothing to do with the paranormal I’m writing. But the two words struck me as the perfect title. I usually use Gaelic names because I write Celtic time-travel fantasy romance. Those are easy. I flip through dictionaries looking for cool words with perfect meanings. My current wip requires I make the names up. I’m working hard not to make them sound Chinese or any other recognizable language.

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

Maybe 6 years. I can’t remember. LOL That’s before baby. Everything’s a blur before baby.

Why do you write?

I write because I’m terribly addicted to being able to control my own little world. ;) It’s so sad that we control nothing else…

Today’s contest:

To win a pdf of HE OF THE FIERY SWORD, please tell me location and time period where this first Time Guardian story takes place. Just post your answer here as a comment by midnight CST tonight to enter to win.

In closing, I blog about reference books at Yes, I’m certifiably geek! ;) Visit me at and where I’ve posted my first chapters for the curious to peruse as well as my free read VOW OF SUPERSTION: DRAGON’S BLOOD. HAUNTED HEARTS is available only in print at SONG OF THE MUSES BOOK 1 (print version) at All of my e-books are found at
Thanks for having me, Liana. ~Skhye

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Guest Author, Sharon Donovan

Today's guest is Sharon Donovan, fellow Rose and Pennwriter. I met Sharon at a Pennwriters conference two years ago, and we've kept in touch ever since, and actually get to see each other each year at the Pennwriters conference, something unique in this world of cyberspace where we meet and greet but hardly ever get to actually visit with each other in person. Sharon has an awesome website, designed by the equally awesome Rae Monet, (who also designed my website) and newsletter that is a joy to receive, filled with personal stories and recipes to inspire even the most reluctant of cooks, like myself.
Welcome, Sharon, and here's wishing you many sales of your stories. Check out Sharon's review of Touched by an Angel here.
Hi Liana. Thank you for inviting me to guest blog with you today. I’m Sharon Donovan and my writing career began several years ago after a long bout with progressive blindness. Diagnosed as a type 1 diabetic at the age of six, my vision began fading while I was in my early twenties. For as long as possible, I worked as a secretary in the Family Division in the Court of Common Pleas. I spent my weekends riding horses and pursuing my passion—painting with oils and acrylics.
Devastated when I lost my vision and could no longer paint, I spent my days listening to audio books. Inspired by suspense novels, I enrolled in creative writing classes and a new dream resurrected. Today, instead of painting my pictures on canvas, I paint my pictures with words.
I am a member of Romance Writers of America, Sisters in Crime and Pennwriters. I also belong to a local writing group--The Northland Writers—where we have just published our first anthology.
Being a morning person, you’ll find me at my desk with a cup of coffee before the birds are up. Thanks to modern technology, I use a computer with adaptive software which converts text into synthesized speech. Glen, my helpful assistant from cyber space, is happy to recite what I’ve typed, no matter the time. He’s never grumpy and doesn’t bug me for a raise. He also eagerly reads my email aloud as well as whatever research I need on the Internet to create storylines.
Glen is a Godsend to me. Now if only I could program him to go out for coffee, I might consider giving him that raise.

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

I enjoy writing stories of inspiration to create a sense of balance in my life. However, writing stories of suspense is my true passion. I took a few courses in psychology to better understand the complexity of the mind. Creating storylines based on a person’s background can lead to the many twists and turns to keep readers turning the page.

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

I love a good romantic suspense with a lot of mystery to add that special something that keeps a reader turning the page. I like when the author throws me with a few good twists—just when I think I have it all figured out. For me, there is nothing better than a intrigueing suspense with a happy ending.

When do you write?

I feel I do my best writing early in the morning after a few cups of strong coffee to get me going. If I happen to be on a roll, I keep going for hours or until my brain simply quits pumping. I seldom write in the evening unless I am pushing myself toward a deadline. I need time to relax and indulge in my second passion…reading.

When do you read? Where?

I generally read in the evening. But in the summertime and warm weather, I enjoy taking an audio book outside to relax in the sun.

Where did you get the inspiration for Touched by an Angel?

Touched by an Angel came to me in a dream. I was having problems coming up with a storyline for a writing contest where the theme was inspiration. I struggled with it and after numerous rough drafts, called it quits. That night, I dreamed of a cemetery with two headstones shrouded in yellow roses. After that, the idea blossomed in my head to write about the spouses meeting and finding a spiritual bond through their departed loved ones.

Where do you go to think?

I do my best thinking in the kitchen while drinking a cup of coffee. But I must admit while writing, sometimes the story will just take off as if the characters have minds of their own, shocking me with a totally different ending than in my original synopsis.

How did you come up with your title and main characters’ names?

Touched by an Angel stems from the main characters, Charles and Emma, who meet in a floral shop while going to place yellow roses on the graves of their loved ones. When they discover their spouses have died on the same day and are buried in the same cemetery—side by side—a spiritual bonding occurs. Convinced Cupid is shooting arrows of love from the sweet hereafter, they find love and happiness with one another. Charles and Emma strike me as names that remain timeless and romantic—and seemed perfect for the roles of my characters.

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

Close to six years. Practice makes perfect. I know I’m a better writer today than I was yesterday…and not as good as I will be tomorrow.

Why do you write?

I write because it’s in my blood. Unless you are a writer, you will never understand the countless hours of frustration and all the edits and rewrites that go into a manuscript. But nothing is better than having all that hard work result in a contract. Receiving that news makes it all worth while.

I would like to close in saying that I have also written a memoir on the loss of my vision. Echo of a Raven is the story of a long and bitter bout with progressive blindness due to diabetic retinopathy. A doctor at Children’s Hospital predicted I would be blind by time I was twenty-five. His cruel words changed the entire course of my life, affecting every major decision I made for years to come. I am active in the JDRF (Juvenile Diabetic Research Foundation) fight for a cure. If I can prevent one child from going through the devastation of losing his or her vision, Echo of a Raven will be a smashing success.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Guest Author, Terry Odell

Today's Guest Author is Terry Odell, fellow Rose and also a Cerridwen press and Five Star Expresions author. Terry also has a great blog, which I read regularly, especially the parts about her interviews with law enforcement people. You can never learn too much about how people in law enforcement do their jobs when you're writing romantic suspense or romantic mysteries. Terry also gets a lot of good reading in, which I envy, travels a lot and shares the pictures, which I really like, and has a lot of good info about writing on her blog. I'm very pleased to have her here today, so welcome, Terry, and on with the interview…

Who are you?

I'm Terry Odell, and I never considered writing as a career. Never had aspirations of being a writer. I'm just a 'regular' person who experimented with writing one day and fell in love with the craft. Plus, I had no more room on my walls for needlepoint, so writing became a new creative outlet. I have short stories with The Wild Rose Press, and romantic suspense novels with Cerridwen Press. My newest release, WHEN DANGER CALLS is with Five Star Expressions.

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

I write "romantic suspense" although I consider them mysteries, not suspense. Don't blame me for the blanket term the industry throws them into. I love to throw as much 'bad stuff' as possible at my characters and watch them discover their hidden strengths. And I really love watching their relationship develop.

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

Mysteries, or romantic suspense, for the same reason I like to write them.

When do you write?

I tend to edit and revise in the morning or early afternoon, and crank out new stuff in the evenings. I've given up on most television—don't have many shows that hold my interest, and if I really want to watch one, I'll record it. Being a retired empty-nester has its advantages.

When do you read? Where?

Mornings at the Y on a recumbent bike. Afternoons, if possible, in my chaise by the window in my bedroom. Without fail, every night in bed.

Where did you get the inspiration for WHEN DANGER CALLS?

With the characters. I wanted a heroine who was an ordinary, everyday woman. That led to a hero who was a much more than ordinary everyday man. It turned into something of a 'Pollyanna meets Delta Force' kind of story, but I never plot things out in advance. I just get glimpses of scenes.

How did you come up with your title and main characters’ names?

Argh! I hate titles. They're always the LAST thing to hit the page (with only one exception, and that was a fluke, because I'd finished my first book, and when I was ready to start another one, I called the file "Starting Over" which ended up being an appropriate title for the book). I've just finished a 115,000 word manuscript and STILL don't know what to call it.
Main character's names – pretty much trial and error. I try to find something appropriate to their age, heritage, and social standing. Something fairly easy to type, and I try try try to avoid names that end in "S" because of dealing with apostrophes when you need to make them possessive. Sarah in Finding Sarah was my grandmother's name. Randy just happened – I didn't want a 'macho' name (and I did have some fun with the double entendre). Back then, I was clueless about writing, so I broke all sorts of rules I didn't know existed. One rule I learned – don't use the same initials for any other characters once you've named your hero and heroine.

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

About 5 years.

Why do you write?

Because I'm miserable (and so is my husband) if I don't.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. I graduated from UCLA, and worked in the LA County secondary school system, teaching junior high school science, until we moved to Florida. I can't remember learning to read, only that I always did. My parents tell people they had to move from our first home because I finished the local library. Learning to write is another story. In some ways, I've always been a writer—I just never put the words on paper until a few years ago (although I put them on a computer screen, not paper). Now I can't imagine anything else.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Keep Clicking to Make a Difference in 2009

When life's problems seem overwhelming, look around and see what other people are coping with. You may consider yourself fortunate. ~Ann Landers

I'm still clicking away daily at the Hunger/Literacy/Breast Cancer/Child Health/Animal Rescue/Rainforest site. It really helps, getting that daily reminder, which any of the sites you choose to click on will gladly send you. I just happened to click on the animal rescue link, so that's who sends me my daily email.

What was really neat, was one day when I got my email a few weeks ago I learned that the week's winner of that week's $1000 award from the site was the Days End Farm Horse Rescue Shelter, which is in Lisbon, Maryland. My friend Maggie wrote a romantic suspense novel (Amazon link) about a horse rescue farm, and the villain who wants to sabotage it, and is donating the proceeds from the sale of her book (Wild Rose Press e-book link) to....The Days End Farm Horse Rescue shelter.

Small world, isn't it?

In 2008, people simply clicking on the sites paid for

72.0 million cups of food for the hungry

7577 mammograms

989,957 children to get healthcare

522,292 books for children (over half a million books!)

14,957 acres of rainforest to be saved

and 77.8 million bowls of food for rescued animals

It's such a small thing to do. But what you do makes a difference.

Everything you do makes a difference. There is no kindness in the universe that goes unnoticed.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Guest Author, Marianne Arkins

Today we welcome Samhain author and fellow Rose, Marianne Arkins. Marianne is also one of the two Powers That Be over at Long and Short Reviews, where I hang out the first Thursday of each month for my Balance with Liana chat. When you're done here, I highly recommend visiting Marianne's website and checking out her excerpts, reviews and trailers for her wonderful stories.

Who are you?

I’m a wife, mother, daughter, sister, teacher, friend... I write, build and run websites, teach my daughter, walk my dog, love my husband. I write because I must, and would do so whether I was ever published. I love warm weather, Diet Coke with Lime, Chinese food (the spicier the better), my mother and my friends. I can’t live without my computer, and am a compulsive checker of email. To quote the immortal Popeye, I am who I am.

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

Always romance, always happy ever after... but aside from that, I dabble in everything. I’ve written vintage romance, comedy, mystery, westerns, fantasy and more. But, I write romance because I like stories that are uplifting and positive and leave you warm and fuzzy inside when you’re finished.

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

I like to read just about anything – as long as it has a happy ending. I don’t read sad, I don’t read for edification (unless you count occasional non-fiction), I don’t read Oprah selections. I prefer romance, but also stray into science fiction, fantasy, mystery, westerns, young adult and more.

When do you write?

I do my best writing in the morning, but I like to brainstorm at night, before bed, when I’m a little loopy... I think it lets the brain go places it wouldn’t normally go.
When do you read? Where?
I read anytime, anywhere. I’ve been known to read while stirring soup, while eating, before bed, while waiting for internet pages to load, in the waiting room of ... anywhere... is there ever a bad time to read?

Where did you get the inspiration for your current book?

That’s tough for me to answer – I never work on only one project! I have a fantasy (17,000 words so far), a comedy (45,000 words), another vintage set in 1934 (in its infancy), and a mystery (complete and in edits). I get inspiration from everywhere. I work, quite a lot, with writing prompts. The comedy I’m writing actually started with one line I was given. The mystery from a challenge I gave myself (write a secret baby cowboy story). The vintage sprung from something I stumbled across while writing my other vintage, “Miles From You”. Ideas are everywhere... you just need to keep your eyes open.

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

I’ve actually been writing nearly as long as I remember. I wrote my first novel in fourth grade, I wrote a mystery novel for submission to the Avon Teen Novel Writing contest when I was seventeen, the same year I wrote my first science fiction novel with a friend, and another mystery novel with another friend. There were a few years I didn’t do much writing, but it’s always been there, in my brain, all the time and I always returned to it. Most recently, I started writing seriously about six or seven years ago. I got my first contract for a short story, “Now That We’ve Found You” from The Wild Rose Press in 2006 and it’s all been a blur since then.

Why do you write?

Because I can’t NOT write. It’s that simple.

About the Author: Marianne was born in California, met her husband in Colorado, got a puppy and got pregnant, then moved with the group of them to the frozen north of New Hampshire where her thin blood keeps her indoors six months of the year. It's the perfect scenario for writing! She has a novel, "One Love For Liv" available in print on December 29th, and a novella "Kitchen Matches" available from Samhain Publishing. She also has eight published stories with The Wild Rose Press. Check out her website or blog for more information or to see what's going on inside her brain. If you dare.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Create a Collage for 2009

A couple of weeks ago I was flipping through some old Oprah magazines, looking for pictures and quotes I wanted to use to make a collage of all the goodness I want to bring into my life in 2009. Oprah puts out a very positive magazine, so I like getting ideas from that one. I made a poster-size collage six years ago, as a creativity exercise with some writer friends, and didn’t think much of it, other than it was a fun thing to do. But I liked it enough that I framed it and put it up in my bedroom.

Then the oddest thing happened. Within a few years, everything that I had put into that collage, which was about the things that fed my soul, showed up in my life. I kid you not. Without even thinking of it, just having it on the wall, my subconscious mind went about creating the circumstances that would be needed to bring the things in that poster into my life.

You can call it weird, but I know it happened. One day I looked up at this poster I hadn’t paid much attention to over the past couple of years, had barely looked at—you know how we tend to not see what is in front of us every day--and realized everything in it was now in my life. I was stunned. I’d read about this kind of thing happening, the power of intention and all that, but…

So over the holidays I created a new collage, one for 2009.

You might want to try one, too. All you have to do is go through magazines and clip or rip out pages that have something on them that appeals to you for some reason. A picture, a quote, a splash of color, even. Some of the stuff I ripped out made no sense. But it came together for me when I put the collage together. And you don’t have to use everything you clip out. I now have two files, one of pictures and one of quotes, to use for future collages. You can do them randomly, like free-association, or choose a theme.

It was a wonderful way to relax and have some “me” time in the midst of a very busy season. It’s also a great way to get rid of all those old magazines you have lying around and don’t know what to do with, too. If you don’t have time to do a full poster-size one, do a smaller one. There are no rules to this sort of thing. And if you're a writer, you can do one for your current work in progress, and post it near your desk as a motivational tool.

You’ll be amazed at how creative it makes you feel.

And, in a couple of years, you’ll be even more amazed by what happens.

Take care, God Bless, and let me know how it turns out for you.