Delightful series! One which will charm your socks right off your feet! Just released: THE GOODBYE CAFE by Mariah Stewart



The Hudson Sisters series, Book 3

On sale March 26, 2019
Trade Paperback • Price: $16.00 • ISBN: 9781501145124
eBook • Price: $7.99 • ISBN: 9781501145162


The Hudson Sisters Series:
The Last Chance Matinee The Last Chance Matinee: A Book Club Recommendation! (The Hudson Sisters Series 1)
The Sugarhouse Blues (The Hudson Sisters Series Book 2)The Sugarhouse Blues 

The Goodbye Cafe The Goodbye Café (The Hudson Sisters Series Book 3)


California girl Allie Hudson Monroe can’t wait for the day when the renovations on the Sugarhouse Theater are complete so she can finally collect the inheritance from her father and leave Pennsylvania. After all, her life and her fourteen-year-old daughter are in Los Angeles.

But Allie’s divorce left her tottering on the edge of bankruptcy, so to keep up on payments for her house and her daughter’s private school tuition, Allie packed up and flew out east. But fate has a curve-ball or two to toss in Allie’s direction—she just doesn’t know it yet.

She hadn’t anticipated how her life would change after reuniting with her estranged sister, Des, or meeting her previously unknown half-sister, Cara. And she’d certainly never expected to find small-town living charming. But the biggest surprise was that her long-forgotten artistry would save the day when the theater’s renovation fund dried up.

With opening day upon the sisters, Allie’s free to go. But for the first time in her life, she feels like the woman she was always meant to be. Will she return to the West Coast and resume her previous life, or will the love of “this amazing, endearing family of women” (Robyn Carr, #1 New York Times bestselling author) be enough to draw her back to the place where the Hudson roots grow so deep?


My Review:

This series is charming in its small-town setting and the simpler life people live. I’ve been onboard for the complete series and highly recommend it.  The three sisters have to refurbish an inherited theatre, The Sugarhouse, part of the inheritance left by their father.  All three sisters had to live in Hidden Falls and complete this task to inherit what he left for them.  All, with various reasons, could use the money.  They received so much more in their six months in Hidden Falls.  Book one and two are the stories of Des and Cara, Allie’s sisters.

This is Allie’s story.  She is the sister who was most flawed and unhappiest.  Her multiple fears, based on her insecurities and the events life dishes out to her, lead her to drink heavily – an addiction which destroyed her mother and her mother’s marriage.  When the opportunity to gain some financial stability comes along, she grabs it. Her father didn’t leave much of a dent in Allie’s life—he seldom was around the home front, escaping from his wife.

I loved how much Allie grew in these six months.  From a rather bitter woman insecure on so many fronts, with fear of not able to be a part of her daughter’s life, to a woman with a softer side, humorous, and vivid, capable to stand on her own feet, and who begins acknowledging her own talents. She was no longer needful of her snobbish friends back in L.A.  She finds a relationship of immeasurable value with her siblings and her aunt.  But will this keep her in Hidden Falls?  Her daughter must return to L.A., to her private school.  Allie will do anything for her daughter.  Is her daughter enough for her?

Nikki, Allie’s daughter, has virtually been taken from Allie, circumstances Nikki’s father provides.  When Nikki goes to visit her mother in Hidden Falls, she discovers she enjoys so much of what the town provides.  She discovers real friends with more than clothes and boys on their minds, meets two aunts and a great-aunt who all adore her, and generally provides the reader the energy only an innocent young, sharp-witted teenager displays.

Three local men get involved in the sisters’s lives.  Allie’s included.  But will time run out for this budding relationship to mature enough before Allie returns back to L.A.?

Author Stewart not only builds a small town where I wish I could live, she allows us into the hearts of these three sisters, Nikki, and their aunt, Barney.  Barney is a little mysterious with her nieces, a bit of an artist in providing what her nieces need, lending more entertaining and emotion to the read. The characters will charm your socks off! Thematic and highly entertaining.


MariahStewartAUPhotoAbout the author

Mariah Stewart is the award-winning New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of numerous novels and several novellas and short stories. A native of Hightstown, New Jersey, she lives with her husband and two rambunctious rescue dogs amid the rolling hills of Chester County, Pennsylvania, where she savors country life and tends her gardens while she works on her next novel. Visit her website at, like her on Facebook at, and follow her on Instagram @Mariah_Stewart_Books.


Posted in Book Reviews, Contemporary Romance, New Book Release, New Book Release Tour, Romance | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Blog Tour: THE SAVIOR by J.R. Ward, Book 17 of the Black Dagger Brotherhood

Waiting for this has been MURHDER…


Black Dagger Brotherhood Series

Publisher: Gallery Books (April 2, 2019)
Publication Date: April 2, 2019
Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc


A vampire and a scientist’s fates are passionately entwined in a race against time in this thrilling romance in the #1 New York Times bestselling “utterly absorbing and deliciously erotic” (Angela Knight, New York Times bestselling author) Black Dagger Brotherhood series.

In the venerable history of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, only one male has ever been expelled—but Murhder’s insanity gave the Brothers no choice. Haunted by visions of a female he could not save, he nonetheless returns to Caldwell on a mission to right the wrong that ruined him. However, he is not prepared for what he must face in his quest for redemption.

Dr. Sarah Watkins, researcher at a biomedical firm, is struggling with the loss of her fellow scientist fiancé. When the FBI starts asking about his death, she questions what really happened and soon learns the terrible truth: Her firm is conducting inhumane experiments in secret and the man she thought she knew and loved was involved in the torture.

As Murhder and Sarah’s destinies become irrevocably entwined, desire ignites between them. But can they forge a future that spans the divide separating the two species? And as a new foe emerges in the war against the vampires, will Murhder return to his Brothers… or resume his lonely existence forevermore?

  Get your copy and Murhder can be all yours


The Black Dagger Brotherhood has a new SAVIOR (click on trailer to see a short video)  The Savior Trailer


The Caldwell Courier Journal

 Sign-up for exclusive Black Dagger Brotherhood original content 


Who better to ask for honest, snarky relationship advice than Vishous?
Ask At Your Own Risk.

Dear Vishous, Agony Aunt Column
(with help from Mary)

Dear Vishous,

First of all, thank you for doing this.  I need another perspective.  I am a 27-year-old woman, about fifteen months out of a five-year relationship.  I started dating a guy about two months ago.  I’ll call him “Evan.”  We met on  We both workout.  We like a good time out at the clubs and the bars.  We’re both Sox fans.  He’s funny and he’s been good about keeping in touch when he travels frequently for work.

My problem is this.  He told me he was twenty-eight.  A week or so ago, when we were playing pool at our local, he told me to snag his wallet and pay for the next round at the bar.  While I was getting money out, I saw his driver’s license.  It said he’s thirty-six and the address listed was in a different area of the city than he told me he lives in. I got the drinks and put his wallet back in his pocket, and tried not to think about it.

But I can’t shake the idea he lied, and it’s causing me to obsess about things that are probably no big deal.  Like, he only comes to stay at my place.  I’ve never been to his apartment, and when I asked about this, he said he has two roommates who get on his nerves and he prefers the break he gets when he sleeps at my apartment.  And I’ve introduced him to my friends, but he’s never offered to do the same.  At first, I was psyched because my ex never wanted to hang with my people.  But now?  I guess I’m uneasy and looking for shadows everywhere.

I don’t care how old he is, and I know that some times folks on Match fudge their age to make them more attractive.  And maybe it’s just an old license.  I don’t want to ruin a good thing by looking like I’m second guessing him about stuff that only appears iffy and for which there is a reasonable explanation.

Please advise,

On The Fence In Beantown


Vishous:  Here’s what you need to do.  Go to your local Stahp ‘n Shahp and get some Sweet Baby Ray’s  BBQ.  Then get a good knife.  After you slice his b*lls off, marinate them and then pan fry ‘em.  Serve them to him hot and spicy and-

Mary:  Okaaaaaaay.  Let’s just all take a deep breath here.

V:  I know, because the BBQ sauce smells great, right?

Mary:  Ah, no.  It’s because we should not settle this type of conflict through bodily harm.

V:  Whatever, that lying sack of sh*t with the fake Match profile doesn’t deserve a set of nuts.  S’all I’m sayin’.

Mary:  I think we’ve heard your point of view loud and clear.  And now, I’d like to offer a more nuanced opinion.  On The Fence, it’s clear that there are some reasons to be concerned about this guy.  One of the things that I tell people in my practice is to always trust your instincts.  As much as you want to believe the best-

V:  Fine.  No BBQ sauce, then.  Just slice, dice and toss ‘em in the pan.  He doesn’t deserve Sweet Baby Ray’s.

Mary:  …………….

V:  What.  Oh, come on, don’t look at me like that.

Mary:  I’ve never actually said this before to someone, but why don’t you light up a cigarette and take a few deep drags.

V:  I thought you’d never ask.

Mary:  Anyway, On The Fence, my suggestion is that you have a frank, face-to-face conversation with “Evan.”  Share your concerns calmly and succinctly.  See what his answers are.  Based on how he responds, you should be able to tell a lot.  Is he listening to you and taking you seriously?  Is he offering to have you stay over at his place?  Or is he defensive and turning everything back on you-

V:  And his Red Sox card is revoked.  He has to root for the Yankees now.

Mary:  -in a way that makes you uncomfortable?  At the end of the day, you deserve to be in a relationship with someone who’s as honest as you are and treats you the way you’re treating them.

V:  I have to agree with Mary on this one.  Even though you’re a human, being with a lying sack of sh*t is whack.

Mary:  Remember, your physical safety comes first, and fast on its heels is your emotional health.  Please do not sacrifice your happiness just because you are hoping that “Evan” is the one-

V:  I think you’re going to find out he’s got a wife and kids and he’s playing you.  Which brings us back to my solution to the problem-

Mary: -and let us know how it goes, please.  Best of luck!

V:  F**k him!  Go get a real man- and that skillet.


About J. R. Ward:ward
J.R. Ward is the author of more than thirty novels, including those in her #1 New York Times bestselling Black Dagger Brotherhood series. There are more than fifteen million copies of her novels in print worldwide, and they have been published in twenty-six different countries around the world. She lives in the South with her family.

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Book Tour with Sherilyn Decter: TASTING THE APPLE, Review & Giveaway

When you hear the word Prohibition, you have images of Flappers, gangsters, and jazz–at least I do. But there was also a lot of mystery in the Roaring 20s. Today we get a chance to see how the ghost of a policeman helps a widow deal with criminal elements.

FB DecterAuthor Sherilyn Decter is visiting today to share her latest release, TASTING THE APPLE, the second installment in her Bootleggers’ Chronicles. She also has an exciting giveaway she’s hosting for the tour. Be sure to check it out at the end of the post.

Before you leave us today, I hope you read my review below. I don’t believe I’ve ever read a story set in the 1920s focusing on how the Prohibition affected the society.

Purchase link at

Regional purchase link Amazon


A young widow on the edge. A policeman back from the dead. Together, can they take down the city’s most notorious bootlegger?

Philadelphia, 1925. With a son to raise and boarders to feed, Maggie Barnes is at her wit’s end. But when a criminal element infiltrates the police force, the single mother puts her cares aside to help. As she tries to dig up dirt on bootlegger mastermind Mickey Duffey, Maggie realizes she can’t take on the case alone…

                Inspector Frank Geyer used to patrol the streets of Philadelphia before Maggie was born. As he attempts to clean up crime from beyond the grave, the spirit uses his Victorian sensibilities to fight back against lawbreakers. But with corruption throughout the police force, can the phantom informant save his city and Maggie’s livelihood?

                With the roof leaking and the lawlessness spiraling, Maggie and Frank have one chance to take down a criminal and prevent the unthinkable…

A Bit About the Author and What Goes Into Building a Series With This Setting

decterThe Roaring Twenties and Prohibition were a fantasy land, coming right after the horrors and social upheaval of World War I. Even a century later, it all seems so exotic.

Women got the vote, started working outside the home, and (horrors!) smoked and drank in public places. They even went on unchaperoned dates (gasp)!

Corsets were thrown into the back of the closets, and shoes were discovered to be an addictive fashion accessory after hemlines started to rise. And thanks to Prohibition, suddenly it was fashionable to break the law.

The music was made in America– ragtime, delta blues, and of course jazz. Cocktails were created to hide the taste of the bathtub gin. Flappers were dancing, beads and fringes flying. Fedoras were tipped. And everyone was riding around in automobiles (aka struggle buggies and I leave it to your imagination why– wink.)

Bootleggers’ Chronicles grew out of that fascination. Writing as Sherilyn Decter, I will eventually have a series of historical crime fiction novels dealing with the bootleggers, gangsters, flappers, and general lawlessness that defined Prohibition. The Bootlegger blog rose out of all the research that I’ve been doing about this incredible era.

Growing up on the prairies and living next to the ocean, I am a creature of endless horizons. Writing allows me to discover what’s just over the next one. My husband and I have three amazing daughters, a spoiled grandson, and two bad dogs.

Sherilyn Decter is enthralled with the flashing flappers and dangerous bootleggers from the Roaring Twenties and Prohibition. Through meticulous research, that lawless era is brought to life. Living in a century-old house, maybe the creaking pipes whisper stories in her ear.

If you want to learn more about the  Bootlegger’s Chronicles, you can reach Sherilyn at the following links:


My Review:  My usual read is full of action–this one is full of depth of understanding the web people are caught in.  At first, the story unfolded slowly, albeit interestingly.  It gave me a chance to absorb the climate of the Prohibition days — the corruption which spread rampant throughout the community, from top officials to the guy doing the dirty work.

Since I love the supernatural, author Decter’s touch of the ghostly Frank adds a lot to the story — not only his apparent need to resolve an issue for which he can’t pass over to the other side, but his unfailingly wise counsel to the only person he’s found who sees him–Maggie Barnes.  Frank is helping to clean up the city.  He has nothing to lose for apparently he’s lost everything.  (grins)

Maggie wants the same, for she lost her husband to the corruption of the city. She is on a precipice of financial ruin.  She’s a single parent, a strong, intelligent woman, playing with fish bigger than she.  Can she manage to care for herself, her son and his education, with her sole means of support through the boarding house and her small earnings?  Her alternative is to swim with the fish in the pool of corruption.  Which is it to be?

I could see the research necessary to make this story authentic.  It drew my attention by that simple fact.  Decter wove the events of the story (Maggie’s determination to try to catch the bad guys) with the prevailing culture of its human tragedy, perfectly seamlessly.  I learned so much. Her flawed characters created a rich texture of emotion.

I commiserated with Maggie’s plight. I commiserated with Edith, Mike Duffy’s wife. The author made me feel compassion for women during that time.   Maggie wants to be loved for herself and be cared for by a man who values her for her talents. Edith is caught in the spokes of a man’s world of corruption and loose morals.

Temptation is looming. Can Maggie resist the temptation of swimming with the fish, lose her integrity and self-respect? Can Edith resist the lure of a man who promises her love?

Colonel Butler is an interesting man.  He tries to do it all — fight corruption from the bootleggers and fight corruption from the politicians and racketeers. He has learned a lesson extremely valuable for humankind to learn.  I don’t want to say what it is, but, it is powerful! Frankly, I bow at his feet for this realization.

Mickey Duffy, Edith’s husband, is also an interesting character who isn’t all he seems.  He has far more depth than it appears.

Under all the corruption, these people are real. They booze and blow to escape demons they live with.

I picked up on a theme, strong and clear.  As long as the arm which controls corruption does not keep you from your own illegal pursuits, your indignation for the wrongdoers holds true.  When it touches you, those of power and influence, it can not be tolerated.

If this is a time period you enjoy, you most definitely should read the book. If you love books with strong messages, this again will touch you.



In 1926, there are 16,000 speakeasies for the two million residents of Philadelphia. Crime, thanks to tommy guns and faster cars, is exploding—literally. Citizens are beginning to panic because of the violence, and politicians are using their bully pulpits to get ‘tough on crime’. The tip of the spear of these efforts are the city’s finest, the police. 

 Detective Tony Giordano is one of the few Italians in Philadelphia’s police force. Tall and dashing, with a killer smile, he comes from a long line of Giordano men who offer protection. Unlike his family who are members of the Honored Society known as the Cosa Nostra, he had decided, at a young age, to go in a different direction than Pops and Nonno. He wanted to see what life looked like from the other side of the street. 

  Ah yes, the other side of the street—which, it turned out, was not so good. As a cop, the money in his wallet was a pittance of his gangster brother’s thick wad. Certainly not enough to afford the car and clothes that make the man. So, he planted one foot on each side of the proverbial street, taking the policeman’s motto to serve and protect to an entrepreneurial level his family would be proud of.  

 In the grand tradition of Philadelphia’s finest, he’s a cop on the take.

 Captain Copeland stops by Tony Giordano’s desk. It’s neat and well-ordered, much like Tony himself. He looks at his captain; only a flicker betrays his distaste at Copeland’s slovenly appearance. Taking advantage of the recent directive allowing police detectives to wear street clothes, Tony is dressed in a brown windowpane-checked three-piece suit, the pant leg creases sharp enough to slice bread. His silk tie is a glorious purple, and there’s a crisp black fedora perched on the back of his head. He’d rather die than wear the soiled uniform his captain wears, complete with food stains and missing buttons. 

 “Giordano, its Wednesday. Aren’t you supposed to be working the street? My pockets are feeling a bit light. Maybe see about fillin’ ‘em? Swing by and pick up Gus and Fingers and see what you can do about it.” 

 “Sure, Cap. I was thinking that it was getting around that time of the week myself.”



Author Sherilyn Decter is giving away an autographed paperback copy of TASTING THE APPLE and INNOCENCE LOST. Click on the Rafflecopter widget below and follow the instruction to enter. If you can’t see the widget, just click HERE.


Thanks for stopping by. Care to comment about what you think of when you hear the word Prohibition?  Perhaps depending upon your age, we’ll have an interesting array of answers.

a Rafflecopter giveaway



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Interview with Author Mary Morgan: Her approach in developing characters

E: Today, we have Mary Morgan joining us.  Welcome, Mary! 

I am captivated with your characters – from reading the Order of the Dragon Knight’s series to the Legend of the Fenian Warriors series.  You can’t imagine my devastation when you finished the first series.  You made the characters so real.  It was as if I had lost a lot of friends!  So when you brought them back, weaving them into the Legends of the Fenian Warriors, I just sat with my Cheshire cat grin.

Before we get into the interview I want to share the link to purchase the complete series with your readers.  I saw the bundle on at a great price.

complete set

Welcome to a world of medieval romances, which will sweep you across time to the Highlands of Scotland and the shores of Ireland. Where warriors will fight for redemption and for the women they love. This is the world of the Dragon Knights of Scotland!

Dragon Knight’s Sword
Duncan MacKay encounters the woman from his dreams, literally. She is from the future, somehow has his lost sword, and can talk to the Dragon who is able to lift his family’s curse.
When an ancient sword lands at Brigid O’Neill’s doorstep, she starts dreaming of a rugged Highlander. Her quest to return the sword will alter everything she believes.

Dragon Knight’s Medallion
Stephen MacKay is plagued with visions that threaten to destroy his soul. When Aileen Kerrigan falls through a time tunnel, he vows to keep the beautiful, half-blooded fae safe.
Aileen, armed with the medallion her mother gave her, and a matching one belonging to a long dead knight, is thrown into the past. When she encounters a handsome but surly warrior who is on a quest, she fears her future could be entwined with his.

Dragon Knight’s Axe
When Alastair MacKay rescues a woman from a slave trader, he steps back into a world filled with magic–taking on the role of protector and leading him on a journey to confront his greatest regret and fears.
Research assistant, Fiona O’Quinlan loves translating ancient artifacts at Trinity College. When she falls asleep on an archeological dig, she awakens in another time. Yet, she is unprepared for the danger ahead–losing her heart and soul to Alastair “Beast” MacKay.

Dragon Knight’s Shield
Angus MacKay is back on Scottish soil and encounters a woman who can wield a sword as mightily as his warriors, and takes her captive. With each passing day, the fire dragon inside him roars to claim the one woman fate has destined for him.
Famed mystery writer, Deirdre Flanagan, is on a vacation to Scotland, when she steps through the mists and enters into a skirmish alongside a Highlander. However, the fight has only begun, and now she must battle Angus as well as evil in order to claim the love of this Dragon Knight.

Dragon Knight’s Ring
Crusader, Adam MacFhearguis is on one last quest to the standing stones in Scotland where he seeks to bury the past. However, a silent prayer sends him to an unknown future and to his beloved Meggie.

Margaret MacKay lives a life in the future without the memories of her past. With each passing day, she yearns to learn more from the stranger in her time.
Will love free the bonds to unite the two lovers who were doomed centuries ago? Or will evil finally claim victory over the Dragon Knights?

E:  Now for the interview questions.

You have just received a call from your publicist.  They have asked you to write a trilogy, carte blanche, no limitations except appropriate guidelines for a full-length novel in the genre of your choice. First reaction?

M:  My first reaction was a full jump into the air. This actually happened with my second series, Legends of the Fenian Warriors. Yet, it was a phone call from my editor. She then convinced me to do four stories, instead of the trilogy. The fourth book will be released late spring/early summer, Destiny of a Warrior.

E:  I want you to be a bit analytical here.  What starts rolling around in that head of yours?  That is, what sparks ignite the idea of a story?  Please elaborate – no simple answers here.

M:  I’m always drifting in and out of a story, Eileen. I’m a constant daydreamer.

The original spark of all my stories begins with history—from reading non-fiction books and watching historical documentaries. I’ve always had a fascination for the past. It first started with the book, Hawaii, by James Michener. His detailed account into the beginnings of the Hawaiian Islands was fascinating and held me spellbound during my seventeenth summer.

Second spark is my deep appreciation and love for Celtic and Norse mythology. I’ve read the legends for years, imagining different scenarios. In my humble opinion, I believe all myths are based on some facts. In addition, history is only as good as the bard telling the tale.

Third spark comes from my love of traveling to Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and England. The magic and beauty of the land inspired me. For example, on my first trip to Scotland, I was sitting on a boulder in the highlands at dusk, surrounded by the bleating of sheep and the mists. My first series, Order of the Dragon Knights, came to life within my mind that summer evening.

E:  Do you use parts of dreams you have had, experiences with ‘nasty’ bosses (real people), your unconscious, personal emotional feelings such as jealousy, fear and love to write realistic characters?

M:  Characters always appear to me in my dreams, especially if I’m leading them down a storyline they do not approve. Often times, a glimmer of another plot will take shape within the dream. I’ve been known to alter an ending based on a powerful dream, and it worked out beautifully.

As far as personal experiences weaving their way into my stories? Most definitely! I draw from emotions, but allow for the characters’ personality to take over. I don’t want to inject my reactions, but the characters’ emotions. You could say that my feelings are a template for the character. If I find the emotion is fitting to me and not the character, it’s time for a rewrite.

E:  Do you follow a plan how to develop characters?

M:  There’s always a plan in the beginning. I start with the basics—height, hair and eye color, background, temperament and flaws. Though on the last, they may not emerge until later on in the story. Some characters are multi-layered and refuse to share much about them.

E:  Once you think about a character, is there a thread you use to flesh them out?

M:  No, Eileen. I tend to let them reveal the information to me. I only had one problem with a character. She refused to emerge from her shell, kept talking to herself, and didn’t like to interact with anyone. One day, I left my laptop and walked away. As a writer, I was frustrated. After a sit down conversation with this character (yes, this actually happened. Remember, I daydream a lot), I came to the conclusion that she was an introvert and extremely shy. There was a pivotal event in her life that caused her to become withdrawn. Afterward, the story exploded, along with the heroine’s voice.

Who was she? Fiona O’Quinlan from Dragon Knight’s Axe, Order of the Dragon Knight’s, Book 3. 

E:  Which takes me to my next question, how restraining are you, when a character begins to tell their story?  Do you let her talk?  See what she has to say? Do you have to reel her in when she takes you ‘plan’ in another direction? Do you discover the character as she/he is revealing themselves or create them as you want them?

M:  I cannot restrain my characters. I can try, but it never works out well. I might be controlling in my reality, but my fictional world is one where the characters can have free rein. If I want to steer them in another direction, I’ll add another plot or scene to the story.

Most of my characters reveal themselves in stages throughout the story. I begin with my own template and they emerge with their own. Usually after several chapters, I can get a good feel for the character. There was only one that chose not to reveal everything about his life to me. He did it in layers. And I’m talking several books—a total of four. It was Aidan Kerrigan who first appeared in Dragon Knight’s Medallion, Order of the Dragon Knights, Book 2. I never knew he was a Fenian Fae Warrior until he stepped through the airport to greet his daughter, Aileen. It was definitely a shock, but he continued to surprise me even more through-out both series.

E:  How do you figure out what your characters look like?  Is it important to know where they live, when they live, what educational level they have? If so, at what point in the novel development does this become important?

M:  I begin with a template of gathering as much physical qualities about them as possible, including where they live and any educational background. It’s important for me to visually see them in my mind. If I can’t, then I’m unable to begin the story. This is all part of my process of being a plotter, but only in the beginning of the story.

E:  How do you balance story-structure, theme and character building?  Are they so interwoven a writer looks at them all at once?

M:  With each new story, I start with a leather journal. As you know, most of my books are in a different time-period. A leather journal helps me to get a sense of the old world. I begin with the basic outline of the story and theme. From there, the main characters emerge. It’s a layered, balanced building process. By the time I’m finished, my fingers are eager to start at the keyboard.

E:  Do you develop one character at a time?  That is, you know what type of character you have as your main protagonist and develop the others to build conflict and arc tension?

M:  Yes. I always start with the main protagonist—or two. There have been two stories where both characters emerged forth seeking development. From there, others weave their way into the story, adding suspense, comedy, or tension.

E:  In your process, does the backstory and character conflict support the story, or do you create the story to support the backstory and character conflicts?

M:  Interesting question, Eileen. I believe with both my series, Order of the Dragon Knights and Legends of the Fenian Warriors, I created a story to support the original backstory and character conflicts. Yet, with my Highland Holiday Romances, the reverse is true: the backstory and character conflict supported the story.

E:  Please use one of the series you’ve already written. Where do you get your inspiration for characters?

M:  I’ve based my own fictional account of the Legends of the Fenian Warriors on the mythology of the Tuatha Dé Danann—one of the invasions of Ireland. They were known as the Shining Ones or the Fae.

The Tuatha Dé Danann was defeated in two battles by the Milesians, whom historians and scholars alike agree were probably the first Gaels in Ireland. It was agreed that the new invaders (Milesians) and the Tuatha Dé Danann would each rule half of Ireland. Therefore, it was that Amergin of the Milesians chose that half of Ireland which lay above ground, leaving the Tuatha Dé Danann to retreat below. They were led underground by Manannán mac Lir, God of the Sea, who shielded them with an enchanted mist from mortal eyes. As time passed, they became known as the Sidhe (Shee), or Ireland’s faery folk.

With my warriors, there is nothing diminutive with these heroes. They’re ancient, extremely tall, and commanding.

E: When do you do a detailed character workup in the process of writing a story?  Or do you?

M:  I do a detailed character sheet at the beginning of each story. It’s the first item on my agenda, along with finding names for the main characters.

E:  At what point does your fictional worldbuilding begin?  Is it much like how you build your characters?

M:  I begin with a template of the world, especially my Fae realm from Legends of the Fenian Warriors. I took months envisioning this mystical land. With each new story, a new layer or element was added. Their world was vast and lush, so I included a Glossary of the Fae Realm in each of my books.

For the Order of the Dragon Knights, I built my world on my travels to Scotland. I drew from my visual sensations of traveling across the land and studying the history of the country.

Thank you, Eileen, for allowing me to share my writing process with you!

E:  Thank you, Mary. Your answers are insightful. 

Now for those of you who are reading the Legends of the Fenian Warriors, Mary will pop by in April to share the cover and hopefully an excerpt of the fourth book of this series.  I eagerly await her next series! 

Purchase Links embedded in covers.

Quest of a Warrior (Legends of the Fenian Warriors, #1)Oath of a Warrior (Legends of the Fenian Warriors, # 2)Trial of a Warrior (Legends of the Fenian Warriors, Book #3)


Author BioMary Morgan photo

Award-winning Celtic paranormal and fantasy romance author, Mary Morgan, resides in Northern California, with her own knight in shining armor. However, during her travels to Scotland, England, and Ireland, she left a part of her soul in one of these countries and vows to return.
Mary’s passion for books started at an early age along with an overactive imagination. Inspired by her love for history and ancient Celtic mythology, her tales are filled with powerful warriors, brave women, magic, and romance. It wasn’t until the closure of Borders Books where Mary worked that she found her true calling by writing romance. Now, the worlds she created in her mind are coming to life within her stories.

If you enjoy history, tortured heroes, and a wee bit of magic, then time-travel within the pages of her books.

Posted in Action/Adventure, Fantasy Romance, Highland Romance, Highland Stories, Historical Romance, Medieval Romance, Novel Development, On Becoming a Writer | Tagged , , , | 31 Comments

Interview with Karilyn Bentley, an author who writes Fantasy with a Touch of Funny! She tells us how she creates her wonderful characters.

E:  Today, we have the pleasure of welcoming an author who uses the tagline Fantasy with a Touch of Funny — Karilyn Bentley!  Karilyn is here to answer some questions I posed her about how she develops her characters.

I find that each author approaches their characters in their own way.  One way can be the right way for one author, proven by published work, and not so for another.  Karilyn is known as a pantser in the writing world.  She doesn’t spend a lot of time plotting.  This holds true in her character building. 

I love the way this author wrote her Demon Huntress series.  The books are written in first person, present tense, which is not the usual.  It helps make it unique.  The reader and character, Gin, are discovering her world together.

Now to the interview.

You have just received a call from your publicist. They have asked you to write a trilogy, carte blanche, no limitations except appropriate guidelines for a full-length novel in the genre of your choice. First reaction?

K:  OMG, how cool! Second reaction: I’m not worthy and will screw it up. Third reaction: Get over yourself. They wouldn’t have asked if you weren’t worthy. Fourth reaction: OMG, how cool!

E:  I want you to be a bit analytical here. What starts rolling around in that head of yours? That is, what sparks ignite the idea of a story? Please elaborate – no simple answers here.

K:  It depends. Sometimes I see something in the paper or online or the news and think, huh, that would make a really interesting story if I tweaked it a little bit. Other times I hear the characters in my head telling me to write their story. Since they often don’t have a story, more like a backstory, it takes a while to flesh out a plotline.

E:  Do you use parts of dreams you have had, experiences with ‘nasty’ bosses (real people), your unconscious, personal emotional feelings such as jealousy, fear and love to write realistic characters?

K:  I do not use dreams because my dreams are so odd they make no sense at all upon waking! While I have never used nasty bosses as characters, I did base my Demon Huntress urban fantasy heroine, Gin Crawford, on a woman at work. I thought she’d make an interesting character and only later after taking a personality writing class did I discover the woman was a borderline personality. That was a rather intriguing discovery. Other than that woman, I try not to put people I know in my books. Which isn’t to say that I don’t base character’s conversations on real conversations I’ve overheard, especially male conversations. I try to use my personal emotions to try to write character’s emotions since it lends a sense of reality to the story.

E:  Let me break the interview for just a moment and share an excerpt from Devil Forget Me, release April 1.  Note the snappy, clipped dialogue, and internal dialogue with herself which portrays Gin’s humorous side, and her confused state about what fighting minions is all about. Dialogue shows a lot about a character.



“Gin!” Smythe yells, heavy steps drawing closer.

“In here! Found another minion.”

Smythe steps into the doorway, filling it with his muscular six-feet-five-inches, his black brows rising for a second as he stares at the headless minion. “Good job. Two of them. What do you think they were doing here?”

“No clue. I didn’t ask.” Maybe I should’ve been a bit more curious about what plans I ruined for the minion, but why talk with evil when you can kill it?

“I’ll let the cleanup crew know another one is back here.” He turns, takes a step, then turns back. “You think it has something to do with the demon in the Agency?”

I shoot him a get-real look. “Seriously? Why would it? We’re in Dallas. The Agency demon is at the Agency in Boston. What would it be doing here?”

He shrugs. “Just a thought.” His words remain as he walks down the hall toward the first dead minion.

The justitia makes a tiny pop noise as it transforms into a silver-linked bracelet surrounding my wrist, while I stand frozen in place, staring at where Smythe stood. Why would he think these minions had anything to do with the Agency demon? Talk about a stretch of the imagination. Or maybe I can’t see the connection.

Finding the demon hiding in the Agency is on our to-do list. Right at the top. Smythe, my twin brother T, and Eloise, the Agency healer, are all working on it. With no luck. We all feel like we should know who the hell this demon is, but every time we try to puzzle it out, our thoughts scatter to other topics.

A clear clue there’s some sort of spell or magic at work to keep this demon hidden.

We’re on to him, or her. At least we will be. Once we can break a spell. If it is a spell. Maybe there’s nothing happening.

What was I thinking about?

I glance at the dead minion as footsteps draw closer. Right. I was thinking about the dead minion and how it would suck to be on the cleanup crew. Wasn’t I?

Well, it would suck to be on the cleanup crew and have to get rid of minion evidence. Better to be the sword that knocks them dead than the broom that sweeps it clean.

E:  Pretty cool, right?  If you haven’t read any of this series, you are most definitely in for a real treat when you do.

Do you follow a plan how to develop characters?

K:  No. The one time I tried this idea the character stopped talking to me and then ended up totally different than how I tried to write him.

E:  Once you think about a character, is there a thread you use to flesh them out?

K:  No. My characters tend to talk to me and I write down how I hear them. I learn new things about the characters as I continue to write the story.

E:  Which takes me to my next question, how restraining are you, when a character begins to tell their story? Do you let her talk? See what she has to say? Do you have to reel her in when she takes your ‘plan’ in another direction? Do you discover the character as she/he is revealing themselves or create them as you want them?

K:  I’m not restraining at all. My characters don’t like to be fleshed out (besides basic characteristics like what their job is) prior to me starting to write their stories. So I always let them speak and write down how they come to me. With Gin, the heroine of my urban fantasy series, I did have to rein her in based on beta reader feedback since she came across as annoying and not sympathetic. Your heroine can have all sorts of problems (and Gin does!) but they need to be sympathetic to the reader if you want that reader to finish your book.

E:  How do you figure out what your characters look like? Is it important to know where they live, when they live, what educational level they have? If so, at what point in the novel development does this become important?

K:  I like to know where my characters live and their education level since that is important to the story. It’s important to know from the beginning of the story since location and education have a lot to do with what makes the character. As far as figuring out what characters look like, well, my little secret is I’m awful with faces. As in, if you don’t look exactly like your social media picture when I meet you (same haircut, same clothes), I won’t recognize you. It’s a little embarrassing, especially at conferences where people I interact with online (but have never met in person) come up to me and I’m all, who are you again? Yep, embarrassing!

I see colors of people and characters, like their hair and eyes, and their height, and that’s about it. When authors go into great detail about how their characters’ facial features look, my brain just short circuits. Unfortunately, it does the same in my books. I actually wrote and published one of the books in Gin’s Demon Huntress series without describing her or the main characters. Yikes. Hopefully the reader read the other books in the series and understands what they look like! All that to say: characters’ appearances don’t matter to me and are usually written in during editing.

E:  How do you balance story-structure, theme and character building? Are they so interwoven a writer looks at them all at once?

K:  For me they are all interwoven. My writing tends to focus more on the characters and the plot than the theme. Probably because the word ‘theme’ reminds me of a bad day in college Literature class. Ha!

E:  Do you develop one character at a time? That is, you know what type of character you have as your main protagonist and develop the others to build conflict and arc tension?

K:  Yes, I do. Although until I read this question I hadn’t actually thought about it, but I do hear the voice of a character or two (depending on the story) and then build the rest of the characters to go along with the main one (or two).

E:  In your process, does the backstory and character conflict support the story, or do you create the story to support the backstory and character conflicts?

K:  It depends on the book. Some books, like the Demon Huntress series, had a backstory that each book explored. Other stories I’ve written work the opposite.

E:  Please use one of the series you’ve already written. Where do you get your inspiration for characters?

K:  As stated in a prior question, in the Demon Huntress series, I took the character of Gin Crawford from a woman at work. Then I added a lot of what ifs (obviously the woman at work did not hunt demons with a special bracelet!) and progressed the character from there. The other characters popped into my head as I continued to write the story. Then I had to flesh out those characters and figure how they related to Gin. The story changed a lot as I wrote it once the characters appeared. The original plot had two guys as the love interests but by the end of the first book it became evident she was really only going to fall for one guy.

E:  When do you do a detailed character workup in the process of writing a story? Or do you?

K:  I never do.

E:  At what point does your fictional worldbuilding begin? Is it much like how you build your characters?

K:  The worldbuilding is right up front. I can’t write unless I know what world the characters are in and how that world affects them. My worlds are fantasy so I have to know the rules of the world from the get go or else I’ll make mistakes.


KarilynBentley[1198]Karilyn Bentley’s love of reading stories and preference of sitting in front of a computer at home instead of in a cube, drove her to pen her own works, blending fantasy and romance mixed with a touch of funny.

Her paranormal romance novella, Werewolves in London, placed in the Got Wolf contest and started her writing career as an author of sexy heroes and lush fantasy worlds.

Karilyn lives in Colorado with her own hunky hero, two crazy dogs, aka The Kraken and Sir Barks-A-Lot, and a handful of colorful saltwater fish.

Draconian Tales
Demon Huntress Series

Posted in Fantasy, Interviewing authors, New Book Release, On Becoming a Writer | Tagged , , , , | 11 Comments

New Release: WHEN A HIGHLANDER WEDS A HELLION by Julie Johnstone


Title: When a Highlander Weds a Hellion Highlander Vows: Entangled Hearts, Book 8
Julie Johnstone
Genre: Historical Romance, Scottish
Pages: 180
Publication Date: March 22, 2019
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC

Highlander Vows: Entangled Hearts Series – all stand-alone
When a Laird Loves a Lady, Book 1
Wicked Highland Wishes, Book 2
Christmas in the Scot’s Arms, Book 3
When a Highlander Loses His Heart, Book 4
How a Scot Surrenders to a Lady, Book 5
When a Warrior Woos a Lass, Book 6
When a Scot Gives His Heart, Book 7
When a Highlander Weds a Hellion, Book 8

Publisher’s Summary:

How far will he go to belong?

Fierce, famed Highland warrior Broch MacLeod has always been a bastard—until one day he isn’t. And now that he’s discovered his real family, he intends to do whatever it takes to carve a place for himself in it, including wedding the lass known as the Hellion of the Highlands.

What will she do for vengeance?

When strong-willed, independent Katreine Kinntoch is forced to wed her sworn enemy’s son, she vows never to surrender her body or heart to the wickedly handsome, too-cocky Scot. Instead, she intends to make him dislike her so much that he’ll gladly send her back to her home.

How long will it take them to see they are each other’s only hope?

Danger and treachery unexpectedly bring Broch and Katreine closer, but can they trust each other enough to choose love over the ties that bind and the revenge that burns all around them?


My Review: I liked the character development of who Katreine is becoming, and how she is shaped by her family’s tragedy.  Her family harbors hatred, presumptions and prejudice against another clan, for good reason.  They killed her sister.  When she finds herself married into the said clan, she relies on her past beliefs only to find they may be wrong and struggles to change what has been her reality for so long.  

Broch MacLeod is an amazing hero.  He is where he is today, right-hand to the King because he needed to prove his worth, more to himself than others. In a land where clan is family, he knows not who fathered him. He must be a bastard.  He recognizes the same determination and powerful need of Brodie, son of the Blackswell laird, to prove himself, disguised in belligerency. Brodie is an interesting character. I hope Johnstone writes his story. 

Broch’s present mission is to bring together two clans, filled with animosity for each other, by marriage. Broch follows orders, but not blindly, even when destiny changes his life. He is a fair and just man.

His run-in (literal) with the hellion Katreine, the woman who must marry into the Blackswell clan, not only garners his admiration but interest.  He hears her pleas and vows to respect them before he enforces the king’s command. In his search for her protection, he finds his own destiny and discovers the truth of Katreine’s sister’s death.

The story from its inception had my attention, dialogue carried the plot forward with character actions making this story a page-turner.

If you enjoy braw Highlander men, women who can defend themselves and the bond and strength of family, shrouded in a hard-won love, author Julie Johnstone’s story is spot-on.


Katreine awoke to the sound of crackling and the sensation of heat. The scent of burning wood filled her nose as she slowly opened her eyes. Broch was squatting in front of her, his broad, muscled back to her. He had one elbow on his powerful left thigh, and with his other hand, he was heating what appeared to be a dagger in the fire.

She moved to sit up, but her leg screamed in protest, and she immediately recalled her wound with a hiss. Broch turned toward her, worry clear on his face in the dancing light of the flames.

“Ye’re awake,” he said, not sounding happy about it.

That made her frown. “Did ye hope I’d nae wake up?”

“Aye,” he said, startling her as he stood and took a step toward her only to kneel once more, holding his dagger in his hand. His gaze fell to her leg, and she looked there, as well, her vision going spotty. She inhaled a long breath, and the wave of blackness cleared. Gritting her teeth, she glanced at her leg again and gasped. There was a jagged, bloody bite covering the front of her thigh.

“Lass,” Broch said, his tone so surprisingly gentle and soothing that she found herself looking to him.

“Ye have lovely eyes,” she blurted as their gazes locked.

Goodness! What had made her say that? She fanned herself, feeling suddenly feverish. “I need to cleanse the wound,” she murmured, looking at her leg once more. The silvery spots came back to her vision and she started to tilt to the side, but Broch caught her by the arm and kept her upright. Slowly, the spots receded, and she focused on him once more.

“I’ve got to seal the wound,” he said.

“I dunnae like the sound of that,” she replied. She started to look at her leg again, but Broch released his hold on her arm and caught her under the chin, which he then cupped.

“I think it best ye look at me.”

“Ye may be right,” she said, trickles of sweat now rolling down her back. “I dunnae feel well.” She attempted to swallow, but her throat felt too dry for the simple task.

“I dunnae imagine ye do,” he said. “But ye were amazing.” She could have sworn his voice had dropped low, like a distant rumble of thunder. One of his fingers was trailing back and forth along her jawline. It was utterly improper, and she should most definitely stop him, but it was so comforting, and her thoughts felt odd.

“My mind feels fuzzy,” she announced.

“Good. I gave ye a wee bit of mandrake root to aid with the pain.”

“Ahhhh,” she said, drawing the word out. It felt as if it had drifted from her of its own volition. She vaguely felt her leg throbbing, but Broch’s eyes were so very blue and his arms so very well-formed… She lost the thought, laughed, and when he smiled at her, she realized how sinful his mouth looked. It was as if he had used it many a time to kiss a lass senseless.

A strong wish to be senseless and unguarded gripped her. Ever since her mother and sister had died, she’d been told to be wary around men, and in this moment, the effort felt too much. She wanted to release herself from the chains that bound her.
“Ye need to let me seal yer wound now,” he said.

She shook her head. She did not want pain. She wanted pleasure. From this particular man, too. Never had she wanted a man to kiss her, but this man, this Scot, she wanted him to do just that. “Kiss me.”

“Ye want me to kiss ye?” he asked, and his shock—or was it distaste?—was apparent in his tone.

“Ignore my words,” she muttered and waved a hand at him that seemed to move in slow-motion before her face. “If ye dunnae think me bonny—”

“Good God, it’s nae that,” he said on a deep inhale. “I think ye verra bonny, but ye are to be wed.”

“Oh, do cease talking, ye clot-heid!” She reached out, slid her hand around his neck, and tugged him so close that his heat nearly overwhelmed her. His scents swirled around her, and her belly tightened. He smelled like smoke, woods, and warrior. “I’ll let ye seal my wound only if ye kiss me.”

Had she really just said that?

By the widening of his eyes, she knew she had, and she grinned.

“Christ’s teeth, ye earned yer name, I can see. From how many men have ye demanded a kiss?”

“Just one,” she said, scowling at him. “Just ye. But with a foolish question like that, I may rescind my offer.”

“God save us both,” he muttered. He set down the dagger he’d been clutching and cupped her face in his strong hands.

Impatient and sensing she was beginning to question what she was doing, she gave a little tug on his neck, and then his mouth slanted over hers.


JulieAuthor Julie Johnstone is the USA Today bestselling author of historical romances including the Once Upon a Rogue series, the Whisper of Scandal series, the Lords of Deception series, the Danby novella series, the Highlander Vows: Entangled Hearts series, and the Renegade Scots series.

Her books are focused in the Regency and Medieval period. Julie’s books have hit the USA Today bestseller list multiple times.

She makes her home in Birmingham, Alabama with her lawyer husband, two boys, one quirky Australian Shepherd and one snooty cat. When Julie is not deep in research, she’s lost in another time period writing. She loves to do yoga, cook, travel, and go to music concerts!
street team:
Twitter – @juliejohnstone
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Posted in Book Reviews, Historical Romance, Medieval Romance, New Book Release, New Book Release Tour | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Interview with Amy Jarecki, Multi-Award winning and Amazon All-Star author, discussing elements of crafting a novel

E: Thank you for joining Booktalk with Eileen today. Amy Jarecki is one of my favorite authors as readers will note if they use the sidebar in the blog to type your name into ‘Looking for a particular review, author or subject?  

 Now for the questions!

You have just received a call from your publicist.  They have asked you to write a trilogy, carte blanche, no limitations except appropriate guidelines for a full-length novel in the genre of your choice. First reaction?

A: First reaction would be a belly laugh. This actually happened to me for the Lords of the Highlands series, except the phone call was from my agent.  

Agents do the work on the front end, pitching my work and negotiating contracts. Publicists do the marketing work on the back end. So…when Elaine, my agent called and told me Hachette/Grand Central Publishing/Forever Romance wanted me to write a highlander series which was actually based on one chapter they’d asked me to write three months prior, I laughed out loud.

The road to traditional publishing with a New York house is long, fickle, and elusive. After years of trying, I got in with a single chapter…go figure!

E: Before we move to the next question, I want to mention how much I’m enjoying Lord of the Highlands series.  Readers, take a look at the fantastic cover of the last book released in Lords of the Highlands–THE HIGHLAND RENEGADE along with the purchase shortlinks.renegade

Amazon US:
Amazon UK:
Amazon Canada:
Amazon Australia:
Barnes & Noble:
Google Play:

I want you to be a bit analytical here.  What starts rolling around in that head of yours?  That is, what sparks ignite the idea of a story?  Please elaborate – no simple answers here.

A: I usually start a story with a nugget of an idea. For example, the manuscript I am working on now is THE HIGHLAND PIRATE. The hero, Kennan Cameron, has played a supporting role in a few past books, and he generally has been portrayed as a bit flawed. He also is a ship’s captain and comes into a fortune in THE HIGHLAND EARL (releasing May 25th). When I was thinking of titles for the next Lords of the Highlands books, I thought…what about a pirate? From there I wrote a statement:

 “Privateer Kennan’s ship is pirated by the vile Jackson Vane. After being forced to watch his men walk the plank, Kennan leaps over the side of the ship and washes up on the isle of Hyskeir. There he is found by Divana Campbell who suffered smallpox and was abandoned on the isle two years prior. But she survived. As they make their way to Kennan’s home, he is driven by revenge. And though he doesn’t immediately fall in love with the lass, she proves invaluable in oh so many ways…”

 And I can’t say more because I’ll give away the ending!

 E: For those fans of yours who are just waiting for the next release, here are the purchase shortlinks of THE HIGHLAND EARL. 

Highland EarlAmzUS:

Do you use parts of dreams you have had, experiences with ‘nasty’ bosses (real people), your unconscious, personal emotional feelings such as jealousy, fear and love to write realistic characters?

A: I do draw on past emotions to enhance the experience of my characters. Sometimes I have to say to myself…that’s how I’d react, not my character! Then comes the rewriting.

 E: Do you follow a plan how to develop characters?

 A: Yes, before I start writing a develop a character profile sheet for the main characters complete with pictures and physical descriptions, personality types, their anticipated character arcs through the story, and backstories.

 E: Once you think about a character, is there a thread you use to flesh them out?

A: I use a standard character profile questionnaire I developed when I first started writing.

E: Which takes me to my next question, how restraining are you, when a character begins to tell their story?  Do you let her talk?  See what she has to say? Do you have to reel her in when she takes your ‘plan’ in another direction? Do you discover the character as she/he is revealing herself/himself or create them as you want them?

A: I do let my characters talk and sometimes I reel them in. Other times they come up with something I never could have thought of in the plotting process. As I work, my characters enrich the story, but the main plot always remains the same.

E: How do you figure out what your characters look like?  Is it important to know where they live, when they live, what educational level they have? If so, at what point in the novel development does this become important? 

A: Character physical description, domicile, education, backstory are always done before I start writing the manuscript.

E: How do you balance story-structure, theme and character building?  Are they so interwoven a writer looks at them all at once?

 A: When I start a scene, I think about the setting, the purpose of the scene, and how it will lead to the next. By this stage, all of the elements are interwoven, though sometimes I’ll write the dialogue and then add characters actions and reactions on a second pass.

E: Do you develop one character at a time?  That is, you know what type of character you have as your main protagonist and develop the others to build conflict and arc tension?

A: In the initial stages I really focus on the development of the hero and heroine. The supporting characters do come later. Sometimes they play a larger role and get their own profile sheet (especially the antagonists).

E: In your process of writing, does the backstory and character conflict support the story, or do you create the story to support the backstory and character conflicts? 

A: I suppose the backstory and conflict support the story…usually.

 E: Please use one of the series you’ve already written. Where do you get your inspiration for characters? 

 A: In the Lords of the Highlands series my inspiration for the characters comes from researching the Jacobite clans of the first rising and using information about the lairds and lords who were powerful leaders at the time.

 E: At what point does your fictional worldbuilding begin?  Is it much like how you build your characters?

A: It starts with the first idea and, though I initially plot the entire story, worldbuilding continues throughout until the manuscript is finished.

E: Thank you for joining us Amy, taking time out of your busy writing schedule to answer these questions. If a reader would like to pose a question to Amy about her style of crafting a novel, please leave your question in the comments.


Amy Jarecki Head Shot_SmallerMulti-Award winning and Amazon All-Star author, Amy Jarecki likes to grab life, latch on, and reach for the stars. She writes historical romance with various series that span many eras and has 30 books in print. She studies karate at the Bobbly Lawrence studio in Saint George and you’ll often find her hiking Utah’s Santa Clara Hills. Reinventing herself a number of times, Amy sang and danced with the Follies, was a ballet dancer, a plant manager, and an accountant for Arnott’s Biscuits in Australia. After earning her MBA from Heroit-Watt University in Scotland, she dove into the world of Scottish historical romance and hasn’t returned. Become a part of her world and learn more about Amy’s books on

 Social Media Links:

Twitter: or @amyjarecki
Instagram: jareckiamy
Book Bub:











Posted in Highland Romance, Highland Stories, Historical Romance, Interviewing authors, Novel Development, On Becoming a Writer | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Audiobook Review: HOW TO STEAL A HIGHLANDER by Olivia Norem



Title: How to Steal a Highlander
Author: Olivia Norem
Genre: Historical/Contemporary Romance, Time Travel
Story Setting: Scotland, 1650 & present day
Pages: 267
Publication Date: June 1, 2018

Narrated by: Greg Patmore
Length: 8 hours, 55 minutes
Release Date: August 31, 2018
Published by: Olivia Norem


A modern thief
Katherine Goldman is a professional with world-class skills, but the expertise of the family firm doesn’t lie within the scope of legitimate commerce. Goldman & Associates steal priceless treasures and delivers them to the highest bidder – and business is good.
When Katherine lands in Scotland to boost some relics, nothing in the experience of this notorious thief prepared her for a collision with a dark, rakish man wearing plaid…who happens to be trapped inside an ancient mirror.

A man imprisoned in time
Centuries before, Simeon Campbell had no idea the woman he charmed was a witch of unspeakable power. When Simeon refuses her gift of immortality, he quickly learns there is no wrath like a woman scorned.

Cursed to spend eternity within the bonds of her enchantment, Simeon is lost time and nearly bereft of hope. Until he’s accidentally released by a lass with questionable motives, in a century he could never have imagined…

One wicked curse
As the pair plunge into a journey where danger trails them at every turn, this man of honor is determined to stop at nothing to save the woman he’s sworn to protect. But Katherine stubbornly knows better than to clash with an enemy face to face. If Simeon is determined to defeat ancient evil at its source, he’s going to need help. He’s going to need a thief.

©2018 Olivia Norem (P)2018 Olivia Norem

My Review:
This story wasn’t at all what I expected because of the characters. It is unique, although there is time travel, with its clash of expressions, women and men’s roles in society and of course the advancement of technology.

Many good qualities to this story. The plot is catchy with vibrant fast-paced dialogue, pertinent to each character’s style of talk. The narrator, Greg Patmore, captures the sensual lure of Laird Simeon who has spent centuries in a glass mirror under the curse of Isobel, a witch, whom he would not bed. I feel the laird’s desperation to break out of living in total isolation. Greg Patmore is talented and a pleasure to listen to.

Katherine, on a job, finds a mirror while thieving for her father and discovers it is no ordinary mirror. She hears a man’s suave voice coming from the mirror asking to be released. He is brawn and beyond handsome in Katherine’s opinion. Katharine is a talented, skilled thief—she gets in and gets out—no changing what she should do. This time, being intrigued since no one hears the man in the mirror except her, she doesn’t follow the Gorman Rules of thievery, grabs the mirror with the promise to try to free the man, which propels the story forward.

Katherine contacts her Colin, her brother. Things are not going as they should. She feels watched. But who would it be? She left no tail.

Katharine’s voice, narrated by Greg Patmore, feels awkward. She doesn’t sound likable—she’s a bit whiny. How can the laird be attracted which he is? Is he so sex-starved that he can’t resist the first woman he sees for centuries? I think the character would be better served if early dialog (internal dialogue) would from time to time show her soft underbelly, and soften her voice – making her real off-the-job voice more feminine.

Katherine didn’t want to get caught in the laird’s charm with his rumbling masculine and beguiling brogue. She is the best thief in the world and knew feelings could get her killed. Perhaps, backstory on why Katharine had to maintain her status would create more internal conflict, fleshing out her character fully.

Sophia captures Katherine’s brother in love too quickly with Sophia, the laird’s sister. I say this because he was just dumped by his wife and on the run from the police. Again, I suggest to the writer, she has a nice sequel for those two, giving a chance for us to discover what Sophia really is like and the merits of Colin.

Lastly, a thread not resolved. How did the laird know what words would release him and the reader doesn’t? There is one little sentence which points to it. We were privy to the exchange between Isobel and Simeon at the time he was cursed. Why did the writer not include a portion or hint of that? We as the reader would benefit, keeping the information from Katherine, of course.

If you are entertained by a spicy Highlander fantasy, time travel, and sexy protagonists, laced with humorous moments, this story should delight you.

I received this audiobook at no-cost from Audiobookworm Promotions. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.


About Olivia Noremolivia
Since Olivia is old enough to remember, she devoured books and stories and became enchanted with the worlds the authors created. Imagination, unforgettable characters, and the swoon-worthy, alpha males have made a huge impact on her writing style.

Olivia is known for strong, sassy characters who are always ready with a quip of humor, despite their situations. Born in the Chicago area, Olivia moved to the sunny shores of the Tampa Bay more years ago then she cares to admit. This “semi-native” writes full-time, and enjoys her “C” hobbies: cats, cigars and classic cars

Posted in Action/Adventure, Audiobook, Audiobook Review, Audiobook Reviews, Highland Romance, Highland Stories | Tagged , ,

Audiobook Review: RISE OF THE DEFENDER ~ a humongous book and an amazing listen!

rise of the Defender

Title: Rise of the Defender de Lohr Dynasty
Author: Kathryn Le Veque
Genre: Historical Romance, Medieval
Pages: 810
Published by: Dragonblade Publishing, Inc.
Published Date: January 26, 2014
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
ASIN: B00C61D40E

Narrated by: Brian J. Gill
Length: 32 hours, 3 minutes
Release Date: March 9, 2015

The de Lohr Dynasty can all be read as stand-alones, but the chronological order is:
While Angels Slept
Rise of the Defender
Spectre of the Sword
Unending Love

Publisher’s Summary:

Read the great Medieval Romance saga that spawned a series. Lose yourself in an enormous epic!

1192 A.D. – Sir Christopher de Lohr is Richard the Lion Heart’s champion, a man who the Muslims nicknamed “The Lion’s Claw”. Blond, battle-scarred and powerful, he is what all men fear. After the fall of Acre, Christopher makes a promise at the deathbed of a dying comrade to marry the man’s incorrigible but wealthy daughter. Christopher returns home to marry the woman, but the only thing is interested in is her substantial dowry. He has no use for a wife and resents being forced into the marriage.

The Lady Dustin Barrington doesn’t want a husband. Petite and beautiful, she is a goddess with the heart of a tomboy. When the enormous, seasoned warrior comes to Lioncross Abbey Castle to marry her, she savagely resists him. More than ever, Christopher regrets agreeing to marry the woman but as they are forced together in a contract marriage, something strange happens… somehow, someway, the animosity subsides and a gentle warmth takes its place. More and more, they come to care for one another but neither of them will admit it.

As the voyage of discovery begins, Christopher is distracted by a very important task entrusted to him by Richard. He has been sent back to England ahead of King Richard to assess the climate of the country and also to assess the activities of Richard’s brother, Prince John. He leaves for London to put himself in the heart of the turmoil that is going on between Richard and John, and brings Dustin with him. The moment they arrive in London, an entirely new and dangerous world opens up to them.

Join Dustin and Christopher as they embark on the adventure of a lifetime. Evil princes, tournaments, politics, wars, and a threat to their relationship from deep inside Christopher’s inner circle invade their loving and passionate world. When Christopher is reportedly killed in battle, Dustin must pick up the pieces of her shattered life and attempt to carry on. But don’t count the Defender out just yet… can he make it to Dustin in time to prevent catastrophe?

My Review: Four warrior knights back from the Crusades, loyal to Richard the LionHeart, are instructed to return to England—Sir Christopher and Sir David De Lohr, Sir Marcus Burton, and Sir Edward De Wolf.

King Richard bestowed on Christopher an honor which makes him the right-hand of King Richard in England. He is the Defender of the Realm, gaining total control of Richard’s army left in England. Chris’s task is to make sure Prince John does not take over the realm while King Richard is still abroad. Prince John is not easy to deal with, nor his slimy advisor, Sir Ralph.

On Sir Author Barringdon deathbed he requested Christopher to marry his daughter. Lioncross Abbey would also be his. All his knights and fighting men were also bestowed upon him. Sir Christopher reluctantly agreed, only because the offer came with marriage to Baron Barringdon’s daughter.  Chris does not want to marry. He wants to champion the king and none other. Sound easy enough? Never, as you will soon find out.

The friendship between these four knights returning to England makes them a special fighting team. They were always in sync, the other anticipating the moves of the battle. They watched each other’s backs for three long years in the Holy Land.

Dustin, Sir Author’s daughter is 19, ‘willful’ and difficult to handle, nor does she want to marry. Willful is not the only word for Dustin. Her beauty, intelligence, and innocence somehow excuse her willfulness. Chris, who never wanted to marry, thinks it may not be too bad after all.

How can this knightly friendship dissolve once on English soil? Simply by the love of one small slip of a woman who isn’t even aware how she affects men. Up to her 19th birthday, any advances by men, she easily thwarted with a swift punch in the nose. She knows what these men want– not her but her large dowry and the ultimate inheritance of her father’s wealth.

All would have been fine. As in most marriages, husband and wife find an equilibrium and manage a marriage, even if just to sire children. However, Marcus Burton was attracted to Dustin, with circumstances propelling them into more than just attraction.

As Chris finds Dustin is more than a beauty, he falls passionately in love with her. With that love, which he won’t admit to himself, he becomes protective and jealous of anyone who shows his appreciation to Dustin. Beware Marcus and David!

This tale, all 892 pages, not only has deep conflict between characters, but they have internal conflict within themselves. What is more important? Friendship where one’s life has been saved many times, honor, or love of a woman?

A note about the narrator: Brian J. Gill mightily adds to the emotion of the scenes with his pacing, tone, character voice, and display of various emotions which befall the characters. Jeffrey, a secondary character, has a German accent. We initially hear from him when Chris shows us he is becoming jealous; Marcus Burton has a brogue, and of course, the others sound English.

The story is magical. Don’t let the length of the story deter you from reading or listening.  As a reader, I was entrenched, experiencing all that transpires. Each character has his/her own path of discovery about themselves and how they intend to remedy the situation they find themselves in. Some of them have more trouble than others to move beyond the lie they accept as true. Le Veque writes deeply emotional scenes of terror, hatred, guilt, sadness, and valor, giving much to ponder for the reader.


Posted in Audiobook, Audiobook Review, Audiobook Reviews, Book Reviews, Highland Romance, Highland Stories, Historical Romance, Medieval Romance | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

My Big Takeaway From Studying Crafting Dialogue is…

A lot hinges on good dialogue.  If it sucks, your story will.

This is the last blog I’ll be posting on crafting dialogue.  It has been a very pleasant part of my journey.  I never realized how much a writer can do with dialogue, yet I knew instinctively what I was learning, I had partially learned from my reading.

I’ve read that reading is an integral part of learning how to write.  Apparently, I cannot disagree.

The following book is the most detailed dialogue crafting book read so far. 

CraftingTitle: Crafting Dynamic Dialogue the Complete Guide to Speaking, Conversing, Arguing, and Thinking in Fiction
Authored by: the editors of Writer’s Digest

The book is divided into six parts with self-explanatory titles:

An Introduction to Dialogue
Crafting Great Dialogue
The Basics of Dialogue
Characters & Dialogue
Dialogue sets the Stage
Dialogue Drives the Plot

Many of the chapters (28) are written by authors who teach writing workshops and write novels or other writing craft books. 

By the time I read through the chapters, which were well-marked with bolded subtitles providing easy perusal if looking for a particular part of the article, I had gained a clear vision of the total flexibility of how dialogue can be used to move a story forward and how much richer a story is by its presence.

I recommend you read each of the articles.  There is some overlapping of ideas which only reinforces what I learned. It will be a handy reference book for me once I begin my novel.


22372278Title: How to Write Great Dialog
Author: Dorothy May Mercer

I also read a short book How to Write Great Dialog by Dorothy May Mercer.  She says dialogue is necessary to bring your characters to life to interest the readers.  She gives examples of good sentences and better ones by showing, rather than telling the writer.  This approach made it clear how much better dialogue sounds with narrative showing action and emotion.

Adverbs are frowned upon. True dialogue isn’t long, complete sentences, however, the narrative or exposition of the scene should have complete sentences with no contracted verbs, such as isn’t.

All in all, her short book had value—easily read quickly, with clear explanations.

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