Author Speed Dating – Cheryl Ann Smith

I love discovering new authors, so I wanted my blog to be a place where readers and my author pals could come together. Only we like to do this Speed-Dating style. Check out a new author and her work here every Wednesday, and if the spark is there, you’ll have a match. 

This week’s guest: Cheryl Ann Smith

 

 

 

15 Questions

1. If you had the chance for front-row tickets AND backstage passes with any band, past or present, which one would you be jamming with? Explain your choice.

Since I’m a smidge older, I’d say Journey or Chicago. I love classic rock. Although I do like current stuff, I always go back to the bands I grew up with, crank up the sound, and sing at the top of my lungs. Who cares what the guy in the car next to me thinks!

2. What is the one thing you wish someone else had told you before you published your first book?

I’d have wanted to know the truth about publishing. It’s not easy and only a small percentage of authors sell their first book and become an instant success. But it’s also fun and fabulous. I’d tell new authors to enjoy the ride!

3. Keith Urban or Adam Levine?

Adam Levine. He was a nerd in high school and now he’s hot. Seriously, Google young Adam Levine.  We like to see heroes and heroines grow and change, and Adam did that in his real life. Besides, he fits my bad boy criteria!  

4. What are your go-to meals for the final week before deadline?

I’ll cook anything easy, like simple pasta meals, or if I’m stressed, I let my hubby and son fend for themselves. Google is perfect for finding recipes that don’t take much time to fix. As long as I don’t give my family e coli bacteria as a side dish, they’ll eat almost anything.

5. Give the title of the first manuscript (published or unpublished) you ever wrote. What was the story about?

My first book was “Catherine’s Choice”, a historical western. It started from a horse’s point of view (yes, true!). The hero and heroine spent most of the book hunting down bad guys and fooling around. It was really long, thin on plot, and never sold. But it started my love of storytelling.

6. Books by George Orwell or Kristin Hannah?

Sorry George, but I’d have to say Kristin. I do love books of all kinds, but I head for romances (or thrillers) for escape reads. And if the book makes me laugh, I’m all in!

7. At which time of day are you more productive as a writer, mornings or nights, and is caffeine a friend or foe?

I’m an early riser. Sometimes too early. The best time for me to write is when the house is quiet and nothing breaks my writing flow. I immerse in the setting and the characters and hate interruptions, so I work when my family is sleeping. The rest of the day is family time and for doing other things. I’m almost 100% a water drinker, so no caffeine.  Thankfully, I can write when in a sleep-deprived coma!

8. Which WIZARD OF OZ character were you most like during your junior high years?

I’d have to say I presented most like sweet and shy Dorothy, but I was feisty beneath my little blue checked dress and lacy socks. I crushed on the pre-teen bad boys and wanted to marry Elvis. Other than growing up and liking bad boys who are old enough to shave and buy beer, nothing has changed!

9.  In addition to writing, what are your other outlets for your creativity?

I can’t paint or sew more than a straight hem, so those are out. I’m a geek for old stuff and like to use vintage in decorating, so that gets my creativity going.  For example, my front porch is a fun mix of wood and metal flower planters.  If there is a garage or estate sale near my house, I’m there.

10. What type of shopper are you: mall rat, online shopper, bargain sleuth, or none of the above?

Getting a bargain is the best. I shop at the mall for clothes as I won’t buy anything without trying it on. Cute on the rack doesn’t mean cute on my post-three-kids body. Yes, I am an online shopper, too, mostly books, and I impulse purchased a set of vintage car bookends a few weeks ago on eBay. Love them. 

11. Have you ever experienced misgivings as an author, and, if so, what are some of the ways you’ve tried to keep those feelings at bay?

It took me 17 years to sell a book, so I had a lot of self-doubt. Fortunately, I’m stubborn and couldn’t give up my dream. I hoped that if I kept writing, eventually I’d get a story that would interest someone. When it finally happened, I think I appreciated it more than if I’d sold too early before I knew what I was doing, how to craft a book, and how to build a career.

12. Scandal or Pawn Stars?

Pawn Stars. I love junk that turns into treasures. Antiques Road Show is so fun to watch. 

13. How many books have you published, and how many are still tucked in a drawer somewhere?

Right now I have 8 novels, 1 novella, and 2 short stories out. Another book in my Brash and Brazen series comes out in November. I’ve also pitched a new series and am waiting to hear. There are 5 or 6 full manuscripts and lots of partials languishing in my computer and files. I could probably paper my bathroom in rejection letters.

14. What was the most challenging revision you ever had to make in a manuscript?

I briefly wrote for a small press. I think the editor wanted to write the book herself. She wanted nearly everything changed. My agent had to talk me off the ledge outside my second floor office. Thankfully, she did because I’d have had to revise the book while riddled with broken bones and a body cast. Two stories isn’t high enough up! Seriously though, I’ve never had revisions like that. It was crazy. 

15. Sure, it’s like picking a favorite child, but which one or two of your titles do you secretly love just a little more?

Although I have newer books in my Brash and Brazen series that I’d consider favorites, I’d have to say my first published book, THE SCHOOL FOR BRIDES, holds a special place for me. How could I not love the book that made me a published author? 

 

***

 

 

 

 

The Sweetheart Kiss

 

By Cheryl Ann Smith

 

There was one thing guaranteed to get Jess Lucas through a wedding that she didn’t want to be in, with a bride she intensely disliked, and a headache that had spiked through her skull the moment she slipped the hideous bridesmaid dress over her head: Alcohol.

The crystal clear liquid called to her with a sweet siren song from within the bottom of her oversized tote bag.

There had been speculation among her friends that Amelia Earhart — and aircraft — could be found in the tote along with Bigfoot and extinct dodo birds, if the right team of explorers took on the search. Laying that rumor to rest would have to wait until she finished soaking her throbbing brain with fermented potatoes and ethanol.

Jess was certain a quick dash into the changing room wouldn’t be noticed as the groom hadn’t yet taken his position at the altar. Maybe the clueless sap had wised up and was now making a run for the Ohio border.

No luck. She caught a glimpse of him talking to the minister and smiling. She didn’t know him well, but felt sorry for the guy. He was so dumbstruck by love that he couldn’t see past the big teeth and enhanced breasts to the character within his future wife.

But that wasn’t Jess’s problem. The ceremony was not to start for three minutes and she was quick, despite a slight buzz from previous liquor shots. Without any impediments to block her path, she could get to the bride’s room, down the 1.5 ounces of vodka left from a raid on the minibar during a trip to Vegas last summer, and be back in line before anyone noticed her missing. She just had to shake off groomsman number three.

She’d brought a variety six pack of those little booze bottles, knowing that in order to survive the wedding of Mandy Mae Smith — soon to be Jones — she’d need liquid courage.

Not much of a drinker, she’d managed to chug three bottles already, but her duties had kept her from the fourth.

The white crinoline along the bodice of the wide fifties-prom-dress-inspired bridesmaid dress was already rubbing off the top layer of skin on her left arm pit. By the time the evening came to a thank-God-it’s-over close, she intended to be ripping drunk and naked with a groomsman in a vestibule closet somewhere. After all, wasn’t a single woman entitled to be cliché at least once in her life?

“Ready?”

“Er, what?” Jess looked way up at tall groomsman number three, Dodger Drake. Yes, that was his name. His fake tanned orange face grinned down from a foot above her, his teeth so white that she became convinced he ate, slept, and probably had sex while wearing teeth whitening trays.

“It’s time to line up,” Dodger said and his gaze dipped unapologetically to her modest cleavage pushed up under her chin by the bone-corset bodice of the dress.

 

***

THE SWEETHEART KISS, Book 3 in the Brash & Brazen trilogy and a May 2017 release from Kensington Lyrical Press, may be purchased through these retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million and Kensington.

 

***

About Cheryl Ann

A fan of romance fiction since the dark ages, author Cheryl Ann Smith loves to throw her heroines into danger, just to see what they’ll do.  She’s currently working on an exciting a new contemporary romance series that mixes her crazy sense of humor with the adventures of a trio of female PI’s, who are the kick-ass heroines Cheryl has always wanted to be.

Cheryl lives in Michigan with her family, and when she isn’t writing, she dreams of living in a grass hut on her own tropical island. Since that’s unlikely to happen, she looks forward to any vacation that gets her near an ocean.  If you’d like to learn more about Cheryl or her books, you can visit her website at www.cherylannsmith.com, or connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Author Speed Dating – Pamela Hearon

Author Speed Dating(1)

I love discovering new authors, so I wanted my blog to be a place where readers and my author pals could come together. Only we like to do this Speed-Dating style. Check out a new author and her work here every Wednesday, and if the spark is there, you’ll have a match.

This week’s guest: Pamela Hearon

 

Pamela Hearon

WOMEN'S FICTION-1

15 Questions

1. Which of the Peanuts girls – Lucy, Sally, Peppermint Patty or Marcie – would be your best friend if you were added as a character on the comic strip?

Peppermint Patty.  I was such a tomboy as a kid, growing up in a neighborhood of six boys and me.  I could outrun them all … until I got older and smarter.

2. Name a genre or sub-genre you have never written in but would like to.

Oooo, suspense.  I had a suspense element in one of my books, and loved writing it.  My editor made me tone down the bad guy, though, because he gave her the creeps!

3. When did you first decide you were a writer, and when was your first book published?

My dad always talked about a story I wrote in the 5th grade, so I was writing way back in the last century, but my first book didn’t get published until 2009.

4. Jeopardy or Real Housewives of Orange County?

 Jeopardy.  I’m the only person on the planet who has never watched one of those Real Housewives shows.

5. Do you write the synopsis before or after you write the manuscript?

After.  When I try to write it before, it never matches what I actually write.

6. Sam Elliot or Robert Downey, Jr.?

Mr. Downy, please (and can he wear his Ironman suit?).

7. Describe a character from one of your books who is most like or most radically different from your significant other.

Kale Barlow from HIS KIND OF PERFECTION—a little overweight, a whole lot funny, and sexy as hell <3.

8. “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” or “The Great Gatsby”? Book or movie version, your choice.

Gatsby—the movie version with Robert Redford in the starring role.

9. What has been your proudest moment as an author?

I was a RITA Finalist in 2013—wonderful validation from my peers!

10. How important is social media to you in your writing career?

Honestly?  I’m much better at just having fun on FB, Twitter, and Instagram than I am at promoting my books.

11. What kind of snacker are you? Potato chips and ice cream or kale chips and edamame?

Tortilla chips and ice cream—but not together.  I really love Sweet and Spicy Cajun Trail Mix, too.  Oh, and coconut chocolate chip cookies.  And nuts—any kind (except cashews).  But I can’t stand pretzels—blech!

12. What are the hardest and easiest part for you as you write a book?

Easiest—dialogue.  I hear the characters talking in my head, and I just write what I hear.  Hardest—ignoring the other voice in my head that says the story is crap.

13. Adele or The Rolling Stones?

Eric Church (color me Country).

14. What is the best piece of advice you can offer to a new writer, particularly one you wish someone gave to you when you were getting started?

Write for the love of writing, and count your success by how you feel about what you’ve written.

15. If you could travel anywhere in the world, free of charge, where would you be booking your next vacation?

Australia.  G’day, mate! ☺

***

Pam book

 

 

 

 

Gaining Visibility

By Pamela Hearon

 

 

 

Julia eyed the steep incline, noting the weight of her carry-on and her duffel. Both pieces of luggage had wheels . . . and in a few days, she’d be conquering the Cinque Terre.

Determined, she took on the hill, schlepping her bags behind her.

Dragging the extra forty pounds up what felt like eighty degrees of cobblestone incline for two hundred yards left her questioning her fitness and her sanity, however. She stopped at intervals, filling her lungs with huge gulps of air that apparently held no oxygen as she felt little to no recoup in her body. The bags threatened to pull her arms from their sockets, and her fingers gripped the handles with terror, knowing that any slip backward meant having to retrace her excruciatingly painful progress.

By the time she reached the turnoff onto the hotel’s walkway, the twenty-two hours of travel since leaving Paducah hit her like a Mack truck. The warm fuzzies she’d started up the hill with had been abandoned along the way, replaced by hot pricklies that caused her blouse to stick to her chest and back and underarms, making the areas alternate from itch to burn.

She stomped along a walkway built on yet another incline, albeit gradual, up to the sign that indicated the office. In front of the door, two men blocked the path, discussing something that apparently had to do with the swimming pool. From their wild gesticulations and heated tones, one of them had released piranhas into the water.

If you stop, you drop, Julia reminded herself. But it was the sight in front of her more than her mantra that inched her closer.

Adonis— or whatever the Roman mythology equivalent was— had come to life. Stripped to the waist, his torso was an ocean of waves and ripples that made her mouth so dry she longed for a taste. Long legs defined with muscles bulging from the shorts he wore pivoted him gracefully toward the pool and back to the other man whom he towered over.

Julia drew close enough to appreciate the sunlight glistening on the perspiration that poured from the black curly hair onto the wide, sculpted shoulders and chest. Despite the angry undertones, his deep voice had a smoothness that glided across his tongue like caramel gelato.

This was the man, rather than Howard, who should’ve been hooking up with Miss Italy. At thirtyish, he was the perfect age— the perfect everything— and Julia released the breath she’d been holding with a sigh.

“Um . . . excuse me. I need to get through here.”

Adonis swung toward her, pinning her with a sullen gaze from eyes as dark and rich as mahogany. “Mi dispiace, signora. I did not see you.”

Julia drew another sigh and shrugged. “That doesn’t surprise me.”

***

GAINING VISIBILITY, a September 2016 release from Kensington Books, may be purchased through these retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million and Kobo.

***

About Pamela

Pamela Hearon grew up in Paducah, Kentucky, a small city that infuses its inhabitants with Southern values, Southern hospitality, and a very distinct Southern accent. There she found the inspiration for her quirky characters, the perfect backdrop for the stories she wanted to tell, and the beginnings of her narrative voice.  Pamela was a 2013 RITA® Finalist and Maggie Finalist for her first Harlequin Superromance, OUT OF THE DEPTHS (August 2012).  Six more Superromances followed, including THE SUMMER PLACE (National Readers’ Choice Award Finalist), and HIS KIND OF PERFECTION (2015 Maggie Finalist).  She made her debut in women’s fiction in 2016 with GAINING VISIBILITY (Kensington Books Sept 2016).

Connect with Pamela through her website, www.pamelahearon.com, or through Facebook or Twitter.

 

 

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Author Speed Dating – MK Schiller

Author Speed Dating(1)

I love discovering new authors, so I wanted my blog to be a place where readers and my author pals could come together. Only we like to do this Speed-Dating style. Check out a new author and her work here every Wednesday, and if the spark is there, you’ll have a match.

 

This week’s guest: MK Schiller

MK pic

 CONTEMPORARY MULTICULTURAL ROMANCE

15 Questions

1. If you were to make an appearance at Comic-Con, which Superhero costume would you be rocking?

It would be Wonder Woman. The girl is armed with a truth lasso and killer cuff bracelets. Bonus, she has a jet.

2. At which time of day are you more productive as a writer, mornings or nights, and is caffeine a friend or foe?

I think it really depends on what’s going on. I wish the moments I’m creative are scheduled. I’d say nights win though. Caffeine is a great pal, but red wine is a close friend.

3. George Clooney or Bradley Cooper?

Definitely, Bradley Cooper circa “Limitless” and “Silver Linings Playbook”. He always plays characters that make me laugh and feel.

4. What is your biggest dream as an author?

Well, if we’re dreaming big, I would love to see one of my books on the big screen.

5. Name a movie you’ve watched countless times but one you’ll still tune in to whenever it’s on cable.

“Forest Gump”.

6. How many books have you published and in how many genres and sub-genres?

It’s hard to believe, but 9 books with one on the way. They are all contemporary romances, but range with sub-genres of romantic suspense, new adult, and multicultural romance.

7. Love It or List It or Modern Family?

I’d have to go with Modern Family as it’s one of my family’s favorite shows.

8. What is your favorite way to celebrate after you receive a new book contract or get a great review?

Going out to dinner with my family and announcing it at our monthly Greater Detroit Romance Writers of America meeting.

9. What is your best advice for new writers?

Be encouraged by all praise and heed the criticism to help you become a better writer. But…do not let either define you.

10. Extra-large French fries or a perfect square of dark chocolate?

Chocolate every time, all of the time. Now, if we could make deep fried chocolate French fries, that would be something.

11. Which of your books gave you the most trouble, and what helped you make it to “the end”?

I struggled with the conflict and black moment in Where the Lotus Flowers Grow. It was almost too dark, especially for me. But in the end, I kept it because the whole theme of the book is that love can bloom in any dark corner. Just like the Lotus Flower.

12. Do you have a music playlist for writing? If so, list some of your go-to artists.

Absolutely. In fact, every book has a playlist and artists that helped me get through it. I love Indie artists like Hugo to classics like James Taylor. My playlist is super eclectic and frenzied just like my characters.

13.Virginia Woolf or Maya Angelou?

I’ve read both and enjoyed them, but I’d have to go with Maya Angelou. I read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings in high school and it really resonated with me. After all, the beautiful heroine used literature to make her stronger in the face of severe trauma.

14. What do you do when you’re in the middle of a book and a new idea pops into your head?

I turn my head and mutter, “squirrel.” It depends if I’m under contract, but I might start writing the new book if the idea makes my fingers twitch enough.

15. Were there other authors who helped you along the way on your writer’s journey, and how did they make a difference for you?

There are too many to name. I was inspired by amazing authors I had read, but also by those who I had met through my local writing group from our knowledgeable speakers to our members. These brave and lovely authors helped pave my writing journey.

***

MK Cover

 

 

 

Where the Lotus Flowers Grow

By MK Schiller

Steam from the bathroom swathed him as he stepped out, a towel looped low around his hips. His naked chest, revealed muscles chiseled to perfection. I’d seen him when he arrived, but I wasn’t paying attention. And now my attention would not go anywhere else. His damp hair, the color a mix of sun with flecks of sand, lay unruly against his head. His expression conveyed annoyance. I pivoted, my bum backing into the bureau. He narrowed his eyes. Green eyes? Brown? They were both.

They were neither.

“I’m waiting for an answer.”

My fingers clutched the book, digging into the hardback cover, holding it against my chest as if it could shield me from his voice, deep and husky. I shrank back farther, praying the floor would quake open and swallow me up.

His eyes shifted to my hands. He blinked, staring at the book. As much as my eyes were absorbing, my mouth refused to work. What could I possibly say to him? There were no excuses. I’d trespassed and, as a result, I’d be sacked.

“I’ve frightened you,” he said, his voice a shade softer. He held up his hand. “Wait.”

He picked up a few articles of clothing from the open suitcase on the bed, then looked back at me. “Stay.” He closed the bathroom door behind him, disappearing into the diminishing poufs of steam.

I should run. But my feet were stuck to the floor, even though my legs were shaking. For once, I was grateful the sari would hide that.

When he came out a few minutes later, he wore soft, faded jeans and a green rugby shirt. He stood a few feet away, but I could smell fresh soap and sweet mint radiating from his body.

He slapped his chest three times. “My name is Liam Montgomery.”

I continued to stare, dumbfounded. Was he introducing himself to me as if we lived on the same plane? I had found comfort in being a maid because the attention paid to me was on par with my paycheck. That was my preference. My choice. Perhaps a penance in a way. But now…I had all his attention and no idea what to do with it. He sighed, shaking his head with disappointment. “Lotus Girl, why would you pick up a book you can’t read?”

Lotus girl? Was he talking to me?

“Let’s try this again. Mera Nam, Liam Montgomery,” he said in poorly pronounced Hindi.

“You don’t speak Hindi either?” When I didn’t respond, he picked up his phone and pressed a few buttons. “So many languages in this country. Rest assured, I’ll find yours.”

As if rest were a possibility.

“Ah, here we are.” He repeated the introduction in Punjabi, Gujarthi, Marthati, Tamil, Bangali, and even Sanskrit. Each time, he looked at me with a hopeful expression. With my continued silence, he grew more disappointed. Somehow, his desperation to talk with me made the tension dissipate just as the steam had. Finally, he threw his phone on the bed.

He shook his head in resignation, offering me a self-deprecating smile.

“That’s all I got. I suppose we shall never speak.” He stared at the book again. I held it out to him with both hands. He stepped closer, his bare feet oddly beautiful. Later, I would wonder why I didn’t just lay the book back on the bureau. His hands, large with long fingers, gripped the other edge and stilled the wobbling tome. I tilted my chin, forcing myself to look at his face. I knew I’d regret the moment if I chose to…squint.

He nodded toward the book, but kept us at a distance. “It’s a shame, really. This is my favorite Dickens’s novel. It’s almost an autobiography.”

He tugged on it. I wouldn’t let go.

He chuckled, rubbing the back of his neck. “Why the hell I’m still talking to you when you can’t bloody-well respond, I have no idea.” He gestured to the door. “Either it’s heatstroke, or I’m going mad.”

“You’re wrong.”

He swallowed, his eyes widening. “I’m not going mad?”

“It’s not an autobiography. Dickens said his most autobiographical book was David Copperfield. Not Nicholas Nickleby.” I thought I’d said it in my head, but the way his jaw dropped made it clear I’d articulated the statement.

Liam smiled again, his expression a mixture of curiosity and suspicion.

“She speaks. And what interesting things she has to say.”

***

Where the Lotus Flowers Grow, a September 2016 release from Lyrical Shine, an imprint from  Kensington Publishing, may be purchased from these retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million.

 

***

About MK

MK Schiller was born a hopeless romantic in a hopelessly pragmatic world. She has a full-time life and two busy teenagers, but in the dark of night, she sits by the warm glow of her computer monitor and attempts to conjure up passionate heartwarming stories with plenty of humor. She hopes you enjoy her stories and always find The Happily Ever After in every endeavor.

Stay in touch with MK through her website, www.mkschillerauthor.com, her Facebook author page and Facebook profile, her Amazon Author Page, Twitter and Goodreads.

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