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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

WIP Wednesday

This is Work-in-Progress Wednesday and in honor of Halloween, I'd like to tell you about the ghost stories that have made their way into my books.

Black Swamp Mysteries features a psychic spy who sees ghosts. In Vicki's Key (released early 2012) she sees a ghost in the home she is staying in, as well as a ghost at the Carolina Civic Center's Historic Theatre and at Luther Britt Park.

Vicki's home was inspired by real ghosts sighted in real homes in Lumberton, North Carolina.

Like the ghost that walks in front of the windows in an abandoned home, shining a lantern to light the way... but to where?

Or the real Lady in White, who roams the Historic Theatre. She is often seen walking across the balcony. She looks as real as a live person but when she reaches the opposite side, she disappears.

I am currently working on Dylan's Song, which is set in Ireland. When Vicki ventures to Ireland with Dylan, she meets his grandmother Bonnie O'Sullivan. Bonnie warns her that the "veil is thin in Ireland", something I've heard from many, many who were born and raised there.

What does that mean? It means it is easy to cross into another dimension... Or communicate with those in other dimensions...

And Vicki sees ghosts while she's in Ireland. Several of them.

Unfortunately, Dylan's grandmother passes away while they are in Ireland (which is part of the reason for their trip) ... But if she's gone, why does Vicki continue to see her?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Teaser Tuesday

I am beginning a new weekly series entitled Teaser Tuesday. Each Tuesday, I'll be providing a short excerpt from one of my books.

This week's teaser is from Secrets of a Dangerous Woman. Irishman Dylan Maguire, a CIA operative, is speaking with Vicki Boyd, his lover and a CIA psychic spy.

"What was that text message really about?" Vicki asked.

"Sam," Dylan said. "I'm on standby tonight."

"For what?"

He shrugged. "I don't know. I never know what he's gonna have me do. Sometimes I'm injurin' a man just to hear him talk. Other times I'm pretendin' to be someone I'm not..."

"We need to talk."

"Ooh."

"Why'd you say that?"

"I didn't hear m'self say anythin'."

"Yes, you did. You breathed strange."

"Are we micromanagin' the way I breathe now?"

"No."

"Okay, then."

"There's something on my mind."

"Ooh," he said.

"There you go again."

"It's just when a woman you're livin' with says there's somethin' on her mind in that tone o' voice, it can mean only three thin's. She wants a ring. She wants a baby. Or she wants somebody to move out. And it's usually not 'er."

Monday, October 29, 2012

Monday Musing Maggots

Like so many people I know, I've owned dogs just about my entire life. I grew up in a time before heartworm medicine, before a monthly flea treatment really got rid of fleas, before tick medicine prevented ticks. It was a time when we bought flea powder at the grocery store...

Yet, we always treated our pets like they were family. My dad used to make an ice cream cone and then held it while his Scottish terrier licked it. I would ride my bicycle across town to pick up five cent cans of dog food for my cockapoo. And they never, ever had bugs in their food.

So in mid-October when I was at PetSmart in Wilmington, NC - 87 miles one-way from my home - I picked up a 34-pound bag of Pro Plan. It cost $43 on sale so it was far more expensive than the Sam's Club five minutes from my house charges for Member's Mark.

And it never occurred to me that it would be filled with maggots.

I have those specially designed dry dog food bins where I pour the food in and it closes with a seal-tight fit. I opened the bag, wrestled with it (since it was 34 pounds and bulky) and poured it in.

When I was finished and ready to put the lid on, I saw the maggots swarming in the food - and some with wings were trying to fly out.

I immediately enlisted my daughter-in-law's aid to hold the bag while I poured the dog food back into it from the food bin. You can see the maggots in the food and crawling over the lid in this video we made.



I called PetSmart who told me if I couldn't drive 87 miles back to their store (and spend $32 in gasoline to return the $43 bag of food) then I should contact the manufacturer.

I contacted Pro Plan and explained what happened. Their response:

Maggots are not harmful to dogs and it won't hurt them it they eat it.

Their factories were sanitized and the maggots didn't come from them.

However, they offered to send me a coupon for the next time I wanted to drive 87 miles to buy another bag of their dog food.

I went to the local pet store who does not carry Pro Plan. They gave me 10 pounds of Eukanuba for FREE so I could try it with my dogs and see if they liked it. I came back two days later and bought their largest bag. Now my dogs are eating Eukanuba.

I still have the 34 pound of Pro Plan in my garage, taped into the original bag and then into a plastic bag. The bin is outside drying after I spent thirty minutes cleaning and disinfecting it.

Lesson learned.



Friday, October 26, 2012

An Excerpt

Here's an excerpt from Secrets of a Dangerous Woman:

Brenda was taller than her sister. His chest touched her back as he leaned on the door, her hair brushing against his face and flowing downward nearly to the top of his jeans. She smelled of Vicki’s shampoo and Vicki’s perfume.


“Where the bloody hell do you think you’re goin’?” Dylan said.

She didn’t answer but continued facing the door.

“Put the gun down, Red,” he said calmly.

“Since you remember me,” she said, still with her back against him, “you know I didn’t have a gun.”

“I know that you’ve got me gun in your right hand. And I know as soon as you turn around, that gun is goin’ to be pointed at me chest.”

“Let me go, Irish. Don’t make me shoot you.”

“There are two things I won’t be allowin’ to happen. First, you’re not gonna shoot me with me own gun. And second, they won’t be catchin’ you with me gun on you. They won’t be tracin’ you back to me.”

She remained motionless and he could almost hear her mind racing. “I’m bad news, Irish. You and I both know it. It’s better this way.”

“It’s better that you stay here. You’re safe here.”

“What are you saying?”

“I think I just said it.”

“I’m turning around,” she said after a moment’s hesitation. “And I’m handing you the gun.”

He moved slightly away from the door, dropping his arms from around her head as she turned around. He took the gun from her hand and set it on the kitchen table beside them.

“I wish I’d met you before she did. We would have been good together.”

His eyes followed her jawline, her full lips, a slightly wide, upturned nose, her high cheekbones, and a mountain of copper hair a man could get lost in. Then his eyes moved to her perfect brows, one raised slightly, coquettishly, before stopping to peer into her mesmerizing amber eyes. “We would have been dangerous together.”

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Devotion

Today's guest at Book 'Em North Carolina is Marianne Evans, the award-winning author of Christian romance and fiction.


Evans’s novel, Hearts Communion, earned Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year honors in the Romance category and readers have lauded her work as ‘riveting’, ‘realistic and true to heart’ and ‘compelling.’ Evans has also won acclaim in such RWA contests as The Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence where she has been a finalist twice, and the Colorado Romance Writers Award of Excellence.

A lifelong resident of Michigan, Evans is active in a number of a number of Romance Writers of America chapters, most notably the Greater Detroit Chapter where she served two terms as President. She’s also active in American Christian Fiction Writers and the Michigan Literary Network.

I hope you'll pop over to Book 'Em North Carolina and read an excerpt from Marianne's book. Then leave a comment -- Marianne will award 4 autographed print editions of Hearts Crossing, her award-winning novella and book one of her Christian inspirational Woodland Series (US/Canada only) to four commenters from this tour and her review tour, and a $25 Amazon gift card as a grand prize to one commentator from both this tour and her review tour.







Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Truth or Fiction

I am often asked how much of my own life goes into my writing.

I have to admit, more and more of it as I continue with Black Swamp Mysteries. Here are a few:

(1) I began keeping angelfish when I was writing Vicki's Key. I made Vicki's front as a CIA operative that of an angelfish breeder. Then my own angels began to breed - every time I wrote about it in Vicki's Key.

(2) One of my rescue dogs, a gorgeous collie named Simone, makes a cameo appearance in the Black Swamp Mysteries series as Sandy's dog (the next door neighbor.)

(3) I wrote in Exit 22 several years ago about a woman walking her Jack Russell and inadvertently getting in the way of a hired assassin - a year later, I would adopt my first Jack Russell, Eddie.

(4) Vicki's and Dylan's favorite place to eat in Lumberton, NC is The Village Station, which happens to be my favorite place here, also.

(5) I love the house that inspired Aunt Laurel's home in the series. And like Vicki, I would probably see ghosts there. Which is why I didn't buy it when it was recently for sale.

(6) The information about the tribal leader in Afghanistan in Vicki's Key standing up to the men who repeatedly robbed them "in the name of Allah" was based on a true incident.

Do you prefer a story that is completely imagination? Or do you like knowing the back stories and true inspirations behind the characters and scenes?


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

On Writing

Today I am visiting Lisa Haselton as I continue my book tour for Secrets of a Dangerous Woman. Lisa asked me some interesting questions, including where I feel my muse the most; what the greatest challenge is in writing my current Black Swamp Mysteries series; and what I am working on now.

I am often asked if I get writer's block and I can honestly say that I never have. The ideas seem to come from everywhere: every person I meet, every news story I read, every place I visit.

Do you ever experience writer's block? What does it take for you to feel your muse?

Please visit me at Lisa Haselton's, read the interview and leave a comment!


Monday, October 22, 2012

Cuddle Buddies

If only people could be more like dogs. What a wonderful world it would be!

Two of my dogs are Jack Russells: Lucy (with the red collar) and Eddie (with the blue collar.)

I adopted Eddie almost three years ago. He was found in a local dog pound by a Humane Society volunteer who combs the pound each week looking for dogs to rescue. He was limping and it was thought that he might have twisted his front leg. It turned out, he'd been shot.

After adopting him, I took him to a surgeon in Cary, NC, who reconstructed his leg and inserted a metal plate. He now acts as though he'd never been injured at all.

Eddie was the first to teach me how loving a dog can be even after having been brutally abused. Because of that, I am perhaps over-protective of the little fella.

Lucy is a new addition, having joined us this past summer. She was found by the same Humane Society volunteer. One day after rescuing her, she came down with parvo. Fourteen pounds when she went into the animal hospital, she was ten pounds when she came out more than a week later, having been fed intraveously as she fought for her life.

They are now the best of friends.

They sleep on my bed, one on either side of me. And on chilly mornings, I awaken to find one cuddled at my back and the other nestled against my stomach - and both under the covers.

I wouldn't have it any other way.

Friday, October 19, 2012

A Romantic

It turns out, Dylan Maguire is a romantic.

He's the Irishman who moves to America in Vicki's Key. The man who becomes a CIA operative in Secrets of a Dangerous Woman. The man with a mysterious past he thought he'd turned his back on forever in Dylan's Song.

He loves a warm fireplace on a cold evening;

A bottle of wine to warm from the inside out;

The way his lips feel against the pale, soft skin of Vicki's neck;

And the way the fur feels beneath their bodies in front of the fire.

He loves the look in her eyes as she leans back on the rug;

The way the fire reflects and dances in her irises;

The warmth of the blanket as he wraps them both

And the way the rest of the world no longer matters.

He loves the feel of her fingers running through his hair,

The sweet fragrance of her perfume as she lingers against his skin;

The sound of her voice

And a rapture only the two of them share.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

On Writing

Today I am visiting Change the Word, where I was asked:

What is the worst piece of advice I ever received?

What was the best?

Please take a moment to read my answers and let me know what was the best and worst piece of advice you ever received?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Kacey's Konnections

What makes a good book?

That's one of the questions I was asked in this candid interview.

Please join me today at Kacey's Konnections. And find out what I like best: Brad Pitt or George Clooney; silk or satin; Dancing with the Stars or American Idol; and much more, including an inside peek of Secrets of a Dangerous Woman.

Then leave me a comment letting me know what you prefer and your thoughts on what makes a good book.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Movie Deals

Whenever I speak to a group, I am inevitably asked when one of my books will be made into a movie.

There are at least two ways to deal with movie rights: to sell them or to option them.

Selling the movie rights means the producer/ director/ actor/ studio had purchased it through infinity. It's often the reason why studios produce remakes: they own the rights so they can make new versions of the same material as many times as they'd like. This used to be the only way to get a book made into a movie.

Optioning the movie rights means I give a producer/ director/ actor/ studio permission to have exclusive rights to it for a specified period of time. During that time, they need to get together their group to make the movie: a producer, director, funding, main actors, scriptwriters, etc. Before the end of the specified term (1 to 3 years, depending on the deal) they must submit the information to the author and begin to move forward - or the rights go back to the author.

In both cases, money changes hands.

In the past, I have optioned several of my books. But funding might have fallen through or the actors desired for the script were not available or for one reason or another, the movies didn't get made. My agent is now working hard to option the books for film - and I would particularly love to see Black Swamp Mysteries as a television series.

On my bucket list: to have my book, The Tempest Murders (which hasn't been released yet) made into a movie - with an Alex Band soundtrack!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Plotter or Pantser?

Today I hope you'll visit me at A Reading Obsession, where I am chatting about plotters versus pantsers. It's one of the most frequently asked questions I receive from other writers: Do I plot my scenes meticulously, using Post-It Notes, index cards, flow charts, etc? Or do I write from the seat of my pants and allow the book to take me where it may?

The answer is a little bit of both. Having been a computer programmer before I became a full-time writer, I believe in knowing where I am going to start, where it's all going to end, and something about how to get from one point to another.

But there are always unexpected things that crop up in a book... Read my guest blog and let me know:

If you're a writer, are you a plotter or a pantser? And if you're a reader, can you tell whether the author was a plotter or a pantser?

Friday, October 12, 2012

Why Isn't Technology Helping?

When I first began using email roughly 15 years ago, I answered all my emails in 15 minutes each morning before I began work. Before long, the time allotted grew to an hour, then two hours, and then three. Flash forward to 2012 and I spend a whopping 6 hours a day answering emails. This is in addition to my workday, not to be confused with during my workday.

I receive on average 300 emails each day, 7 days a week. This is NOT counting spam, which numbers into the thousands. After an event such as Book 'Em North Carolina, my inbox swells to more than 1,000 a day. I have employed as many as 2 people to help me wade through the mountain of emails but in the end, I'm the go-to person for how to respond.

Yesterday before I started my 8-10 hour workday, I spent five hours answering emails, responding to tweets, Facebook entries and blogs directed to me. Though I have a presence on Pinterest, I haven't even begun to interact with it in any significant way. At the end of my workday, I spent an additional 3 hours answering more emails.


I spoke to another author who has a growing blog following. She began by posting her blog in a few short minutes each morning. Then as the list grew and she began commenting, her workday began to grow - and it's still growing.

A friend who runs a non-profit tells me that her world is spinning out of control. She used to mail things to sponsors, benefactors, and others related to her work. There would be a week or two lag time before they'd respond, and no one thought anything of it. Now someone sends her an email and if she doesn't respond within 15 minutes, they're emailing again or calling to ask what's the holdup?

Technology was supposed to make our lives better. Microwave ovens. Running water. Food from the grocery. Carryout. Email. Cell phones. GPS. Laptops. iPads. eReaders. Facebook. Twitter. Pinterest. Blogs.

Then how is it possible that my grandparents, who raised their own livestock, milked their own cows, sewed their own clothing, drew water from a well and had to walk outside in the middle of the night to find their way to the outhouse in the dark - worked 8 or 9-hour workdays and had time for dinner with the family in the evenings, weekends, church on Sunday...

And with all the technology we have today, all it has managed to do is make our days longer and the hamster wheel go faster?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Star Gazing

With autumn comes shorter days and instead of lamenting over the lack of sunlight, I find myself mesmerized by the skies. We've had many cloudless nights here in coastal North Carolina and it's been the perfect time for star gazing.

I've heard many times over the past two years that our lives are moving faster and faster; the technological advances are stunning, so swift that the past 20 years have outdistanced almost any time in any history.

Are we experiencing a new Renaissance?

I think of my father who was born in 1930. The Wright Brothers had flown their first "flying machines" less than 30 years earlier. But Pan American was just getting started with the first airline that would eventually fly around the world.

My grandfather, when faced with a seemingly impossible situation, used to say, "You can no more do that than fly a man to the moon."

Yet in 1969 that is precisely what we did.

Today we not only have equipment on Mars but it sends us photographs. When you consider how our ancestors got mail less than fifty years ago, it is an astonishing feat.

Yet today's youngest generations seem to take technology and science for granted.

How can we know what we've accomplished if we don't see how far we've come?

The next time you're tempted to star gaze, consider the fact that there are thousands of aircraft in the skies at any given time; that we've positioned satellites around our earth's atmosphere, capable of seeing virtually every spot on earth; that placing a man on the moon is commonplace; and new universes are being found that could rattle our beliefs in the years to come.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

How Close to Reality

It has started again: my 14th book, Secrets of a Dangerous Woman, was released last month and already readers are trying to guess who the minor characters are in real life.

It's no secret that the series is set in the real town of Lumberton, North Carolina, which is located less than 20 miles from the South Carolina border in the southeastern section of the state. The main characters are unlike anyone in this town (or I think, any other) but since the book's release, I've been asked numerous times if the minor characters are patterned after real people living in Lumberton.

The short answer is: No.

They can hypothetize all they want but characters like the woman who thinks she's psychic (but isn't) and the doctor still performing surgeries at the age of 102 are not real people; not even close to it. They are figments of my imagination.

When I first began writing suspense/thrillers for publication, I learned of a New York Times bestselling author who was sued for every book she wrote. As a result, she formed a separate corporation for each book so when the cases were settled, the other party could not get proceeds from any book except one. Why was she sued? Because people recognized themselves in her books. They might have been the real victim of a crime or a family member of a murdered victim or a suspect that was acquitted. And the descriptions were so close that they were convinced anyone else could identify them, also. And they had issues with her profiting from their misfortunes.

I am constantly watching people. I pick up on a look in the eye, a nervous tick, a particular stance, a birthmark. And when I am creating the characters for my books--whether major or minor--I borrow characteristics, a little bit here and a little bit there. The result might be that a particular character has one characteristic of a real person I may know or know of; but no more than that. They are unique, such as each human being is uniquely special.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Immortality and Beyond

Please join me today at Immortality and Beyond, where I am interviewed about my writing habits and my most current work.

One of the questions I was asked is what advice I would give to new or aspiring writers. My answer was immediate: take your ego out of your work.

I have been fortunate to meet dozens of authors every year, ranging from the unpublished to New York Times bestselling authors. One of the characteristics that I've found can stop an author in their tracks--even before they get started in this industry--is thinking their work is above reproach. No author's work is perfect and you can only improve if you're willing to listen to what others have to say, consider their opinions, and work to make your book even better.

Find out the other questions that were asked - and leave me a comment or ask me a question!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Of Books and Series

Black Velvet Seductions recently asked me some intriguing questions:

Where does each book in the Black Swamp Mysteries fit in? And what did I hope to accomplish with each one?

For the past ten years I had been writing stand-alone books, which required me to introduce new characters to the readers, reveal the plot and wrap things up nicely at the end. A series, however, is quite a bit different. It permits me to introduce multi-faceted characters whose layers can be revealed over several books. While wrapping up the current book's plot, it also allows me to lay the groundwork for the next book's plot. And it gives the reader the opportunity to feel closer to each main character so that opening the first page of the newest book is like visiting an old friend once more.

Find out how Exit 22, Vicki's Key, Secrets of a Dangerous Woman and the fourth book I am now writing, Dylan's Song, fit into the series-and what you can expect with the future of the Black Swamp Mysteries Series.

Friday, October 5, 2012

What It Takes

I am often asked what it takes to organize a large-scale Writers Conference and Book Fair. So today I'm briefly discussing some of the aspects involved in organizing the annual Book 'Em North Carolina event at Writers and Authors. It occurs on the last Saturday of each February in sunny Lumberton, North Carolina.

Our next event is scheduled for Saturday, February 23, 2013. It brings together New York Times best-selling author Mary Alice Monroe, acclaimed Hollywood producer Chuck Williams, more than 75 authors, publishers, literary agents and book promoters.

The event is FREE and open to the public. To read all the details including bios on every author featured at the event, go to Book 'Em North Carolina's official website.

Please visit me at Writers and Authors and leave a comment!

Being an Author

Today I am appearing at Bunny's Review. She asked me some intriguing questions about the ins and outs, nuts and bolts, of being an author. One question she asked was what advice I would give to a new author.

As I was pondering her question, I received an email from an author who had recently written two books. She wrote each draft and then contacted me about selling her books at an upcoming writers conference I chair. When I responded that the event was just six months away and she didn't yet have a publisher, she replied that she knew she would have one and both books would be published within the next three months.

While it's certainly possible for an author to self-publish quickly, this author was wanting to go the traditional route. I knew from reading her emails that she was in for a real wake-up call.

The best thing a new author can do is learn as much about the publishing industry as humanly possible.

Step One is to write the best book you can possibly write.
Step Two is to edit, edit, and edit some more.
Step Three: get to a professional editor. Do NOT assume because your mother, sister, brother, father, best friend enjoys reading that they are qualified to edit your work.

Once your book is the best you can possibly make it, edit until you are sick of it. Maybe then it will be ready for an agent or a publisher.

Learn how long it takes for publishers to read your work, seriously consider it and then get it into the production schedule. For example, suppose you have an agent and he or she sends your book to one of the large publishing houses. And suppose the editor loves it. That editor does not have total authority to offer you a contract. He or she must present the book to a committee comprised of editors, sales and marketing staff, production personnel - and he or she must convince them that your book is worthy of the $75,000 price tag it will cost them to produce it. If they're convinced, it could take two years for it to arrive on a bookshelf.

Mid-size publishers and smaller publishers can operate more quickly. Because they have smaller staffs, one editor can often decide on a book project. But it still takes time to go through the production schedule - the editing, typesetting (even though it's been streamlined by importing text from a word processing document to a professional typesetting software), graphics design, printing and don't forget the complete marketing plan.

When you try to rush into getting your book into everyone's hands as quickly as possible, you're setting yourself up for less-than-stellar results.

Find out what else we talked about at Bunny's Review and leave me a comment on what you would advise a new author!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

A Hero

Today I am a guest at Romance with an Attitude. One of the questions led me to reveal the identity of one of my heroes.

His name is Sam Simon.

You might never have heard of him but you certainly know his work. He helped to develop The Simpsons. But it isn't his work on the show that placed him into hero status. It is what he does with the money.

Sam funds 100% of The Sam Simon Foundation, which is dedicated to rescuing animals. On six acres of land in gorgeous Malibu, his staff retrains dogs that were once destined for euthanasia. One arm of the facility trains the dogs for use with deaf and handicapped individuals. Once trained, the dogs are provided free to those who need their services to survive or thrive on their own.

He also operates a free spay and neuter clinic which includes a mobile unit. It allows people who could not afford to spay or neuter their animals otherwise, the ability to help stop the proliferation of unwanted litters.

In recent years, he began another venture training dogs for soldiers returning from war who suffered from post traumatic stress disorder.

Dogs who don't successfully finish the training - possibly due to psychological problems or physical limitations - are placed into loving homes. The dogs that do finish perform a diverse array of duties for the people who need them the most.



He also funds a program in which people who can not afford to feed themselves or their pets can get assistance and free food.

He does not accept any contributions to The Sam Simon Foundation and if you try to send them money, they will send it back. He doesn't want the extra paperwork involved in accepting donations and he says it gives him pleasure to use his own money for such a worthwhile cause.

Visit Romance with an Attitude to read the rest of my interview with Debbie Wallace - and let me know who your hero is!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Can Reading Stop Crime?

Today I am a guest at Queen of All She Reads. The question that was posed to me was:

How can reading reduce crime?

The answer takes me to the founding of The Book 'Em Foundation, whose slogan is Buy a Book and Stop a Crook. Find out how reading can keep us all safer by visiting the Queen's Blog.

Then hop on over to Book 'Em North Carolina's website to see what we're planning to increase literacy!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Making a Movie

If your book was made into a movie, who would play the lead?

That's a question I was recently asked by romance author Christine Young.

If you've read Vicki's Key or Secrets of a Dangerous Woman, who would you select to play Irishman Dylan Maguire?

Who could play Vicki Boyd?

Or bad girl Brenda Carnegie?

Find out my answer to this and many other questions she posed at her blogspot.

Then let me know which actors you would have chosen!

And in a rare second appearance, I can also be found at Sandra Cox's blogspot. Sandra asked me an intriguing question:

How do I know so much about the CIA?

The short answer is, yes, some of it is firsthand. But you'll have to read her blog to find out how I know what I do -- and where I get other information pertaining to the agency!

Monday, October 1, 2012

To Catch a Bad Guy

Folks who know me well know my passions: animals, writing and reading are at the top. So when I saw this book cover, I knew we had to invite author Marie Astor to the Book 'Em North Carolina blogspot for a guest appearance.

Hop on over to Book 'Em North Carolina and read an excerpt from Marie's book. Be sure to comment - she is giving away incredibly beautiful necklaces to some very lucky winners!

What covers grab your attention?

And join me today at Desiree Holt to find out how romance found me and what the most difficult part of writing is -- and what comes the easiest for me.