Posted in Creekside Cafe, interview

Interview with Thyra Dane

Thyra was my second interview. We will both have stories in the winter historical anthology published by the New Romance Cafe, Kisses and Other Scandalous Pastimes.

Thank you for being a part of my journey as a writer and interviewer. I hope someday to meet in person.

Today I have the luxury of visiting with a new writer friend, Thyra Dane. Some may recognize her name from her years of writing fanfiction. Welcome to the Creekside Café, Thyra. It’s almost fifty degrees here, I imagine our North Carolina winter seems more like spring to you.

view from Thyra’s cabin

Thyra: Yes, I was born in Denmark and grew up just south of Copenhagen. We traveled a lot when I was a kid. When I was 18 I moved to California and then to Norway when I was 19. I met my husband in Norway and live in Oslo now.

Thyra: Thank you so much for having me here, too bad it is only by way of our computers.

Sherri: What would you like to drink today?

Thyra: Tea, tea and tea. I drink different kinds of tea at different times of the day. High on caffeine in the morning, no caffeine in the evening. Right now I’ll take tea with ginger. Yum. And just to be clear, to those of us who live in cold climates, tea is always hot. I’m not yet quite over the shock of people serving me iced tea when I ordered tea in North Carolina.

Sherri: I have a terrible secret that could get me tossed out of the south. I don’t like iced tea, sweet or otherwise. You’ve been to North Carolina before?

Thyra: I have. Several times, actually. One time I drove down the coast from Washington DC to Florida with my husband and two friends. Later I visited my good friend, author Suki McMinn, in Tryon. She and her husband opened their home to me and my family, which was incredibly nice. That last trip was part of a vacation where we visited nine southern states in one summer.

Sherri: Wow that gave you a lot to write about. How long have you been writing?

Thyra: I’ve been writing for a long time but it wasn’t until I found fanfiction that I realized that romance was my genre.

Sherri: I’m not familiar with fanfiction.

Thyra: Fanfiction is huge and is essentially about taking characters from books, movies, TV shows etcetera and playing with them.

50 Shades was originally a Twilight fanfiction named Master of the Universe and one of the most popular fanfictions. It’s the same place I published my fanfiction.

We were a great writer’s group. We encouraged each other and quite a few have branched out and become published authors. Suki McMinn and others have done very well by self-publishing, which is very encouraging.

Sherri: Have you published a novel yet?

Thyra: I did have a nibble with a publisher but they went out of business just as I was finishing my story. They wanted a Viking romance and I did write one, but I wasn’t pleased with it so it was probably just the same that it was never published. I am planning on writing a Viking series about three sisters. I have the titles ready: The ShieldmaidenThe Healer and The Wife. I also have the stories outlined but I always stumble over some historical details. I LOVE the Viking age and don’t want to mess up on historical facts. Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible not to since we know so little about the Vikings.

Sherri: Write the stories. Continue to research but don’t let the details hold you back. I believe we often let our fears cripple us. As we’ve been emailing back and forth for this interview, I have enjoyed your sense of humor.

Thyra: I’ve been reading a lot of romance and I feel that this is what has made me a better writer. I have found my voice, so to speak, and know that I need to write stories with a dash of humor or it just won’t work for me. This is why most of what I’m writing these days is contemporary romance.

Sherri: Do you have another job or do you write full time?

Thyra: I am the manager of a PR agency that does PR and marketing for schools for young adults. I love my job and I love writing. What I don’t love is the fact that the day only has 24 hours and a week only has 7 days. I need moooore time.

Sherri: Don’t we all. I work full time, write and chair my local writers’ group, plus have a very large family, six sons and nineteen grandchildren. Some days feel like there is no end and others need another twelve hours just so I can finish what needs to be done.

Thyra: Wow, 19 grandchildren! That must be a lot of fun!

I have two kids, one is 17 and one is 19. The oldest is away for school and is actually leaving for a school trip to Japan tomorrow. My husband and I met each other when I was 19 and he was 20. We’ve been married for 29 years now.

Sherri: What do you enjoy about writing?

Thyra: I love creating characters and making them do fun things. I love the creative outlet, I love thinking about my characters, trying to solve a difficult situation and suddenly having a great idea. Unfortunately, my great ideas usually come just as I’m closing my eyes and going to sleep.

Sherri: What do you feel are your writing strengths and weaknesses?

Thyra: I would like to think that my humor is my strength and, of course, that I have inside knowledge to Scandinavia. My weakness is procrastination.

Sherri: Who are your favorite authors/genres?

Thyra: I have a lot of favorite authors. I love Suki McMinn’s books and also authors like Laura Kinsale, Courtney Milan, Sherry Thomas, L.H. Cosway, Mhairi McFarlane and Roni Loren. I read all subgenres in romance and the only thing I look for is quality writing and well written characters. Historical, contemporary, urban fiction and even alien romance – I’ll read anything as long as the story is good.

Sherri: Would you like to tell everyone how we met?

Thyra: We met through The New Romance Café (Facebook Group) and through the anthology project we’re both participating in. I’m very excited about that book project because I finally managed to finish a story. I’m terrible at beginning new stories instead of actually finishing some of the many I’ve started over the years. I guess, I needed the deadline.

I have an old blog that was very popular (over a million readers of one of the blog posts) but it doesn’t fit my writing now. It was for my fanfiction. So I’m currently moving the best parts to a new blog I’m currently creating: I hope to have it up and running in a few weeks.

Sherri: Thanks, Thyra for visiting with me today. I’m looking forward to reading your story in our spring romance anthology, Love in Bloom. The anthology is due out in March 2019. The proceeds will go to Pink Ribbon International. 

Posted in Creekside Cafe, interview

Chatting with Miranda Jameson

I’d like to welcome my new friend, author Miranda Jameson to Creekside Café. I started doing these interviews to help cross-promote my own books as well as introduce other authors to my friends and readers. Thank you for joining us here at my virtual café.

Miranda: Absolutely, Sherri! It’s all about networking. I’m Indie published. It’s not an easy choice, but for most newish authors, trad publishing isn’t an easy choice either. These days, no one does your marketing and networking for you unless you’re an established name. 

Michael Anderle, a highly successful Indie author, advises Indies to ‘Patterson the s@** out of your career’ – referencing James Patterson’s excellent marketing skills! Now, I might not be Pattersoning (haha – invented a new word) but for better or worse, I have control over my own publishing journey. 

Sherri: I think most of us who are indie published or as you say, traditionally published but not yet a big name, have learned to get creative to let readers know we’re here. So, what interesting things have you tried to promote and market your books? Anything you want to share with our readers?

Miranda: It isn’t easy being Indie. It’s a 24/7 job. I made many mistakes, learned a LOT, and became part of the awesome Indie writing community. I received a tonne of help and guidance and try to pay that forward. This year, I plan to boost my marketing beyond organic growth. I have enough books out for a better return on investment. It’s daunting, but doable. 

Sherri: Miranda and I met through the New Romance Café readers and writers’ Facebook group. It’s great to have a supportive and fun online group. 

Miranda: Yes, we met in the Romance Café, of course! It’s a friendly, virtual place where the virtual cake and coffee have 0 calories. Working on our joint project has been great fun. 

Sherri: I’m so excited about the anthology. You and Andi have put in so much work to see this project come to fruition. What are you plans for the future?

Miranda: I have four books planned this year. The first two – Zephyr and Deimos – will complete my Empaths of Venice trilogy. The third one will loop back to before my Warriors’ Council trilogy – and hopefully lead new readers to those books. This story will be set on the Western Front during WW1, so there’s a fair bit of research to do. Its hero and heroine are the two characters in my Love in Bloom story. Henri and Ysabeau appear as supporting characters in all my books. My readers love them and wanted their story. This is another good thing about being an Indie – having direct conversations with readers. 

I like mixing history into my paranormal romances; after all, if you live hundreds of years, you’ve witnessed seismic world events. The last book this year – London Symphony – will be part of my spin-off PNR series set in the 1940s. All my books can be read as standalones, but the stories, events and characters are connected. Readers love cameo appearances by their favourite characters from the other books. 

Sherri: History with the paranormal, that makes sense to me and makes me want to read your books. I too, love history, something I shared with my father. What or who has influenced your writing?

Miranda: Well, I was born in England, grew up in India immersed in stories of gods, goddesses, elephant-riding princes and bejeweled princesses. I studied in both countries, and now live permanently in England. My home is in North Yorkshire, a beautiful part of England steeped in history (which I love).

Like any writer who has read thousands of books, my writing must be an amalgam of all of them – good, and bad. I would encourage every writer to read. You always learn new ways to tell a story better.

Sherri: Have you always been a writer? 

Miranda: Yes, always, but never with any serious intent. It tended to be a clandestine thing. I’m quite a private person and putting my work out there makes me feel exposed and rather vulnerable. After all, writing is a window into a writer’s head. Good reviews take me by surprise because I secretly think my writing is crap! Imposter syndrome – moi?

Sherri: We share the same affliction. It’s exciting when someone likes your work but it’s also a bit surprising and terrifying. I suffer from what if the next book isn’t as good. I try to quiet the voices in my head with creating characters who are more confident, stronger and smarter. Writing is a way for me to speak my mind. I could no more stop writing as stop breathing. What is your favorite thing about being a writer?

Miranda: Creating worlds. Sounds grandiose, doesn’t it, but that’s what writers do. It’s as close to magic as it’s possible to get. Writing is my solution for coping with life’s challenges. It’s also about control. My stories are one place where I get to decide what does or doesn’t happen. Characters become real. Their stories clamour to be told. When I finish writing a novel, I get a real slump because I miss my people!

Sherri: That’s why I write sequels or if you prefer, series. I like bringing characters back for an ovation. Unfortunately, there are also the not so fun things about being a writer. When you start working towards getting something published or sending it to a contest, you are no longer writing for your own pleasure, you are writing for an audience and there are certain expectations between a reader and writer. I suffer the bobble head syndrome. I mean really, how many times can someone nod their head before it rolls off into oblivion. And I reuse the same words and phrases…

Miranda: Oooh! Those gluey glue words. ‘Just’ – why does it pop up everywhere? And what’s with the ‘really’? Delete. Delete! Repeat phrases are something I have to keep my eye on. Thankfully, they get banished during editing. I’m a loose plotter. I have a direction the story has to go and I know the end. I plan plot points and pinch points, but things may change and it’s usually for the better.

Sherri: You mentioned this earlier and I say it to beginning writers all the time, if you want to be a good writer you must first be a reader. Learning what works and what doesn’t by reading other people’s work, developing good techniques and learning the craft of writing, these are important skills that take time to build. What do you think is your greatest strength as a writer? 

Miranda: As for strengths, that’s hard to say. I’ve learned to trust my gut and perhaps that’s a bonus. If my gut tells me a scene isn’t working, it isn’t. I dump it and begin again. I try to create pictures in readers’ minds without miring them in long paragraphs of description. Sight, scent, sound – all those things add layers and make the scene immersive. One reviewer said she felt she was really living in the alternate reality I’d created. Another loves the ‘feels’ in my stories. I like my romances to be romantic. My characters struggle internally, however confident they appear on the outside. Their happily ever afters come with meeting someone who makes them feel right, whatever their flaws. It’s not about feeling ‘completed’, it’s about finding a person who encourages you to be yourself, and loves you despite everything.

Sherri: Yes, anyone can love the beautiful, perfect character but show me the person who loves the recovering addict, the person who is scarred whether inside or out by life’s trials, the person no one else has bothered to really see, that’s real romance. I can’t wait to read your books. 

Who are some of your favorite authors or your favorite genres?

Miranda: I prefer historical and paranormal romances. Probably because I love history, and I love the possibility of powerful, magical beings living alongside us. For historical, I’ve recently discovered Sarah McClean and, through the Romance Café, Lara Temple and Tabetha Waite. As for paranormal, I’ve read all the usual suspects – Larissa Ione, Nalini Singh, J R Ward, and recently, I.T. Lucas. And let’s not forget Anne Rice. Apart from reading romance, I’m a huge fan of mysteries, and historical whodunnits. I blame an early addiction to Agatha Christie. My list of favourite authors is unbelievably long, but if I ended up on a desert island with only two books, I’d want a poetry collection (including Keats and Elliot), and the complete works of Carlos Ruiz Zafon.

Sherri: Wow, the time has just flown by. I hate to bring this visit to an end but I should get back to work on my novel and it sounds like you have a schedule to keep. If you ever get to North Carolina, please look me up. 

Miranda: I have never visited the United States. Can you believe it? It’s a big gap in my travels I hope to fill in the future. Especially since most of my current readers reside in North America. I’d love to see the famous autumn (fall) colours, and I’ve always wanted to visit San Francisco. I’m also a fan of Ina Garten’s cooking shows and enjoy her visits to California’s Napa Valley. Ideally, I’d hire one of those huge RVs and tour around.

Sherri: Now that sounds like an adventure. Let me know when you go visit Ina Garten, I’d love to tag along. 

For those of you who’d like to know more about Miranda or buy her books, here are the links to do just that. 

Miranda’s Bio:

Miranda Jameson grew up in India immersed in stories of gods, goddesses, elephant-riding princes and bejewelled princesses. She firmly believes there is magic all around us if we only take a minute to look.

She now lives in North Yorkshire, England, where she translates her passion for art, history, mythology and travel, into writing action-packed paranormal romances with all the ‘feels’.

 She loves honourable badass heroes with undiscovered depths, and smart dauntless heroines who can save themselves. 

When not clicking away on her laptop, she runs mum’s taxi service and the bank of mum. In other words, she’s got kids. Coffee, gin, and good friends, keep her sane.

Here are my links:

The Warriors’ Council trilogy

Gabriel –

Javier –

Rafe –   


The Empaths of Venice trilogy

Alexis –


Warriors’ Council World prequel novels

Berlin Nocturne –

Berlin Nocturne is also available as a bonus when you sign up to for Miranda’s Inner Circle monthly newsletter

Paris Prelude –


Follow Miranda Jameson on Facebook for updates, sneak peeks, and offers –


Posted in Creekside Cafe, interview

A Visit from Author Rachell Nichole

Today I’d like to welcome contemporary romance author, Rachell Nichole to Creekside Café. 

Welcome Rachell, is this your first time in eastern North Carolina?

to sir new

Rachell: Thanks for having me. No, I’m from the East Coast, so I’ve been up and down the area. Never spent a lot of time in the Carolinas, but a day here and there. We had a stop in Charleston, South Carolina on the honeymoon cruise we took.

Sherri: Ah yes, you’re still honeymooning.

Rachell: Yup, Mr. Nichole and I have been married just over two years now. So we’re still newlyweds.

Sherri: We’re getting ready to celebrate twenty-eight years and my husband says we’re still honeymooning. We’re a little more sedate about it now that we’re older. You describe your books as contemporary with a little kink. That sounds interesting.

Rachell: Wow, that’s an amazing run! 28 years. Congratulations. I have some books that I consider Kink Lite, but some are really quite kinky. Right now, I’m focusing on some heavier kinky books. I’ve also got several different flavors of books that don’t have kink. I have F/F and menage, and multicultural books out as well. All of it is steamy. I’ve also written paranormal and romantic suspense as well, but those are not published yet.

Sherri: I read the excerpt on your blog, A Love Affair in Las Vegas it’s very heart warming. I felt a connection with Barnaby. Like Sylvia Day, you weave real life and emotions with steamy sex. 

What are you working on now?

Rachell: Aw, that’s so sweet. I can’t believe I was just compared to Syl Day! That is one of the best compliments ever! Thank you. And yes, I love Barnaby. He’s such a sweetheart. Right now I’m working on Bound by Submission the second in the ABCs of Submission series, which is connected to the K Club series, that is in this anthology. I also just got ideas for the next two books directly in the K Club series, so I’m simmering those right now and trying to not get pulled into the brand new shiny projects.

Sexy woman face closeup with black lace mask
Sexy woman face closeup with black lace mask cover her eyes and fresh red apple. Seductive red lips and nails. Fashion Make up and manicure

Sherri: We met through The New Romance Café and the Love in Bloom anthology. Tell us about your story for the anthology.

Rachell: Yes, I love that group. It’s such a great place for romance readers and writers to connect. I’m so glad to have met folks just like you there. So, for this story,  I really found it hard to fit Syenca and Jensen’s piece into only 10,000 words, but I also really really loved writing it. I titled it Blooming for Sir because it serves as a prequel story to To Sir, and starts out in the K Club, where the rest of the books in the series really take place. It’s also just got a touch of kink in it, and is about Syneca kind of trying this whole kinky thing out. Syneca and Jensen are both from old money New York families from the Hamptons, and Syneca was arranged from an early age to marry Jensen’s older brother, Jackson. She and Jensen shared a friendship as kids and a few kisses in their youth, but then Syenca broke things off with Jackson and moved away. The story starts out in The K Club during an auction to raise money for Syneca’s foundation to help LGBTQ homeless youth who have been disowned by their families. Jensen offers to buy her for the night, even though he knows she’s not for sale.  I love love loved writing this short piece and I can’t wait to share it with the world. Here is the official blurb: 

It’s springtime in Spartan Nevada, and that means it’s time for the K Club’s 2nd annual fetish ball to raise money for a good cause. This year, one of the club’s owners has chosen a cause close to his heart – the Madison Foundation that helped him when he was a homeless LGBT youth. Syneca Madison Lexington is delighted Dusty wants to help her foundation, particularly since she’s quickly running out of the trust fund money she could still access when her own parents disowned her for being bisexual. But a submissive auction? She doesn’t know if that’s something she can get behind or not. When Jensen Elmwood enters the K Club, intent on purchasing himself a submissive for the night, the last thing he expects is to run into the one woman he’s loved since he was a kid, the same woman who’s been engaged to his brother since high school. When the sparks reignite between them, can a springtime romance bloom into something more? Or will their past hurts and old family influences tear them apart?

Sherri: Well, I can’t wait to see what happens with Syneca and Jensen. I’m sure things are going to heat up. 

You’ve been a published author for several years now. Are you traditionally published or indie? 

Rachell: A bit of both, actually. I have been published now for 7 years. I started with a small press, and indie pubbed a few titles, but the small house I was with closed in 2018, so I’ve since republished my backlist all on my own, with the help of my writer-editor husband. So, with those titles all republished, and with three new titles I wrote and published last year along with the relaunch, I currently have 12 titles out. The story in the anthology will be lucky number 13. 

I’ve been writing for as long as I could string sentences together, and I was writing romance fanfic in high school but didn’t start my first original paranormal romance novel until I was 18. I got my first novel publishing contract at 21, which is really early for so many people, and I feel so lucky to have started my career out that way, with the help and support of the editors, cover artists, and the rest of the team at Loose Id. 

Sherri: You hold several degrees, do you use these in your writing? 

Rachell: All the time, actually. Two of my degrees are in writing. So I feel like I use things I learned in those degree programs every day. The other degree in French is something I pull from in a lot of different ways. I’ve set books in France, and French culture and language end up in several of my books.

Sherri: Do your hobbies and interests show up in your writing?

Rachell: Languages and travel definitely make it into my writing, as does my love affair with food. My characters are eating quite a bit, or cooking for each other, or talking about food. I guess “food” isn’t really a hobby, but I really love cooking, and I think that bleeds into my writing in a lot of pieces. 

I grab most of my recipes online, so here’s one I use a lot that I adore. It’s just some great good, comfort food! 

Sherri: Do you write full-time or do you hold down another job as well?

Rachell: Hah! There isn’t a job I’ve encountered I haven’t also worked! Currently, in addition to writing, I work a normal 9-5 (though those aren’t my exact hours) four days a week at a law firm and I teach writing for an online college. I also do some tutoring on the side, but not very steadily, just in between things.

Sherri: Oh wow, and I thought I was busy. When do you find time to write? You must really enjoy writing to be able to do it as well as work two, sometimes three other jobs.

Rachell: Sometimes, it’s really hard to balance, but right now, I block my writing time, usually on Fridays-Sundays when I’m not at the firm, and then i work my teaching around those 6-10 hour blocks of time where I’m writing. I’m fortunate that I can work on a piece for multiple hours without a lot of breaks. I love the excitement of a new project rattling around in my head begging to be let out. I also love talking to people about my stories. These characters are so real to me so when I talk to others about them like they’re also real people, the feeling is amazing.

Sherri: Oh yes, I feel that way too, especially when writing a series, you feel like they’re part of your family. Is there anything you don’t like about writing? 

Rachell: Writing. Hahaha. I mean, I love it, but I hate it all at the same time. My very least favorite is the final edits and doing the formatting on a book.

Sherri: You’ve been writing several years and have a dozen books out. What do you feel your writing strengths and weaknesses are?

Rachell: I write cleanly. This comes back to my work as a writer and training, but also the fact that I learned to type when I was 9 and I can type by feel entirely. This makes typos less likely. I write what I call a dirty draft, where I can kick out 50,000 words in three weeks, and then dig in and revise it which I’m only able to do because I can type so quickly and without having to stare at either the screen or the keyboard. As to weaknesses, I overuse the shit out of words and I repeat things. So I have themes and names and things that crop up in each manuscript that I then have to revise out.

Sherri: I think we all have our pet words that show up in our writing. Even some of the more famous authors have said they have to go on a search and destroy mission from time to time. Who are your favorite authors or your go to genres?

Rachell: Hah, pet words. that’s a great way to describe it. As to my favorite authors… that’s really hard. Right now I’m obsessed with Roan Parish, Stephanie Julian, Priscilla Oliveras, and Alyssa Cole, in romance and Juliet Blackwell, who writes mysteries and general fiction. I read almost exclusively romance, but am sometimes looking to branch out. These are insta-buy authors for me right now. That list used to include a lot of other names, but I’m rather irate with a particular author who shall remain unnamed for killing off the heroine in the last book of hers I read. She was an author I always always loved, and I don’t know that I’ll ever read her again.

Sherri: I feel that way about a certain author. He writes beautifully, great characters you just fall in love with and then he kills them off or leaves them in a state of flux. NO! I want my happy ending. Life is hard enough without killing off the characters I love. 

Before you go, give us a little insight into you as a person and as a writer.

Rachell: Well, my husband would say I’m perfect… hahaha, okay, that’s a total lie, but he would say that I’m worth it! He is the second biggest fan of my writing (my mom still holds the first spot) and he tells me all the time how talented he thinks I am which just means so much. As a writer, I like to think I’m a lot like I am as a real person. As to my overall personality, I’m loud, and crass and constantly busy. I flit from project to project, and have an inability to sit still.

Sherri: Rachell, it has been lovely to have you at my virtual café, maybe someday I can make it a reality and you can come back for a real visit. I look forward to reading your story in the anthology and hope to do more projects with you. 

Rachell: That would be so much fun, Sherri. I’m definitely game. Thanks for inviting me. 

Here are all of Rachell’s links. If you enjoyed our chat and her excerpt for the anthology, “Love in Bloom,” you buy your copy with just a click.

Author website:
Author blog:
Author Facebook page:
Author Twitter: 
Author Goodreads Profile page:
Author Amazon Profile page:
Newsletter signup:

Facebook Group:


Posted in event, my books, News, promo

“Love In Bloom”–What it means to be a part of an international anthology.

Are you ready for spring? Well, I have no control of the weather, but I can give you a little taste of spring, spring romance that is. Check out our spring romance anthology, “Love in Bloom.”

When my friend, Tammera Cooper, author of The Water Street Chronicles, first suggested I join The New Romance Café Facebook group, I thought, yeah whatever. Another boring group doing nothing. Boy was I wrong. Right away, I could tell this group was going to be different. The group is a combination of writers, both published and dreamers, and readers, romance readers. The New Romance Café offers a safe haven for those who love reading and writing romance.

The founder and host of The New Romance Cafe, Andie Wood and her founding group have given its members a place that allows us to share our eclectic views on romance, characters, reading and writing. The genre is explored from different perspectives and even if we don’t agree, our views are respected. The Café is a place to discuss what we love, romance. I am surprised at how much I look forward to and enjoy participating with this group. (The New Romance Café is a closed group.)
Shortly after I joined the group, Andie put out a call for short stories for the group’s upcoming anthologies. A vacancy due to a family emergency offered an opportunity for someone else to join the two planned anthologies. Someone was needed who was willing to write a short story for their spring anthology. Without stopping to think, I volunteered. Little did I know, as we were ending the first week of January that the story would need to be finished, edited and ready to go by February first. Uh, what did I just agree to? Thanks to Lauriel Masson-Oakden, who took on the task of editing both for content and grammar, we managed to get my story, R and R, ready with time to spare. Thank you so much for that, Lauriel!

Having the opportunity to be a part of this anthology is important for several reasons. The first, all the proceeds will go to breast cancer research. Eastern North Carolina has one of the highest rates of cancer in the U S. Learning that the group wanted to support an international charity and was leaning towards breast cancer made being part of this project more important. All of us have been touched by cancer whether we are survivors ourselves, have family or friends who’ve fought the battle or lost it, cancer is very real for all of us. Finding the right charity was a little more difficult. When the U S based Breast Cancer Research Foundation was chosen, it was obvious it was the perfect fit. This foundation works globally to help women and men, deal with breast cancer. BCRF is active in teaching preventive measures and searching for a cure. BCRF funds nearly three hundred researchers across fourteen countries and six continents. I am so proud to be a part of this anthology, all the proceeds from “Love in Bloom” will got to BCRF.

The second reason to be a part of this anthology is a selfish one. Because the group is an eclectic one, representing several different countries, I hope being included in this international anthology will put my name out into the world. The anthology will link to our stories to our other works making it easier for readers to find our other books. As indie authors, our biggest hurdle is being seen in the crowd. If you are on a budget, you have to choose where to spend your marketing dollar and hope you don’t get lost amid the plethora of similar books. By being part of the anthology, helps us to stand out in the crowd. If readers like your story, they can find more from you with just a tap.
The third reason I am so glad to be a part of this anthology are the people I have met. I started doing interviews on my blog. Along the way I have discovered other readers and writers, their work and their friendship. I cannot tell you how interesting it is to meet people from Romania, Norway, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and even the good ole USA, each reads and writes different from me, there may be some similarities but where we are from, our education, our ages all play a factor in what we write. Sharing their stories on my blog and sharing space with them in the anthology is a great honor.

“Love in Bloom” is a collection of romance stories from writers from different parts of the world. Some of the authors are multi-published and successful. For some, this is their first published work. Others, like myself fall into the middle. The stories’ subgenres are just as varied: historical, contemporary, suspense, vampire and steampunk to name just a few. It’s midrange on the heat level but high octane on the romance. Our overall theme is Spring.
So, when you purchase “Love in Bloom,” you are not only getting entertaining stories, you are helping search for a cure for breast cancer.
Posted in Creekside Cafe, interview

Creekside Cafe Chat with Andie Wood

Today I have the great honor of welcoming Andie Wood, the founder of The New Romance Café Facebook Group and the heart behind the spring and summer anthologies, “Love in Bloom” and “Hot Summer Nights.” Welcome to North Carolina and Creekside Café.

Andie: I’ve never been to the States. I have many friends there and would love to visit one day soon.

Sherri: It means so much to have you here today. I am so honored to be included in the “Love in Bloom” spring anthology. Is this the first time you’ve coordinated an anthology?

Andie: When I started the group (The New Romance Café), I wanted to help empower and provide a platform for aspiring and unpublished writers, as well as connecting them with their readership. More established authors joined as well, and I felt this led to a greater sense of community and purpose. Since it is a romance focused group, it felt natural that the output should be a romance collection or anthology. This also led to the idea that the profits of this should all go to charity.

I’m very excited that The Romance Café will be launching its first anthology of short stories created by author members. I see the anthology as the first step in generating as much exposure for them as possible, all towards a great cause: breast cancer research and care.  Several members’ lives have been affected by cancer one way or another. Many are survivors themselves. We’re honoring all those whose lives have been touched by cancer.

Sherri: That is one of the things that attracted me to the anthology. Eastern North Carolina has one of the largest groups of death by cancer in the United States.

Where are you from?

Andie: I’m originally from Romania but I’ve lived all over the place. I lived in the UK (United Kingdom) for 11 years, had a stint in Spain and Gibraltar, and for the past 2 years I’ve been in the other side of the world, in New Zealand.

Sherri: I’m so jealous. I’ve never been anywhere except the US and Mexico. I traveled some before David and I married, but haven’t had much chance to travel since. Are you married? Do you have children?

Andie: I’m married, I have a 3-year old son and I’m currently 32 weeks pregnant, expecting a baby girl in April.

Sherri: That’s exciting. I had all boys, six of them but I’ve been lucky to have great daughters-in-law and some awesome granddaughters.

You are so active in The New Romance Café, do you work full-time?

Andie: By day, I roam the virtual streets of digital marketing. By night, I’m a voracious romance reader.

Sherri: I love to read but have less chance to do so now with trying to publish and at the moment I’m eye-ball deep in conference preparations. Who are your favorite authors, what genres do you like to read?

Andie: I love romance and gentle crime. In terms of authors, I have to mention Alexander McCall Smith, Sarah MacLean, Nora Roberts, Tessa Dare, and Jayne Ann Krentz and her alter egos. It’s a long list.

Sherri: I’m not familiar with Alexander McCall Smith, but the others you mentioned are some of my favorites. I’ll suggest Sabrina Jeffries, she writes Regency Romance.

Besides reading, what are your other passions?

Andie: I love reading, of course. My other big love is Pokemon. If you watch any of my Facebook Live sessions, you’ll notice I have an impressive collection of Pokemon mugs.

Sherri: I’m a big fan of Minions. They crack me up. I’ve even made a minion of me.

One of my passions is cooking though I have very little time to do it with work and writing. Do you like to cook?

Andie: In terms of my cooking, I have a mantra: if it’s not ready in 45 mins max, I’m not making it.

Sherri: I watch a lot of cooking shows but mostly dream about cooking. Do you have a favorite recipe or a favorite food?

Andie: I’m a big pizza fan, ideally with a thin crust. I remember the first time I saw a pizza, it was being eaten by the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! I must have been quite young and it’s left an impression on me.

Sherri: Pizza is one of my favorite things to eat, I’m not good at making it. My first memory of pizza was when we lived in Hampton, Virginia we’d pick up pizza from the Giant Open-Air Market and carry it home. The aroma of pepperoni and bell peppers, spicy sauce and yeast still wafts around in my brain like a ghost. I couldn’t have been more than seven or eight.

The bad thing about pizza, for me anyway, is the calories. I need to start dieting and exercising? My youngest son and his wife are big on going to the gym and running. If I’m running, don’t ask questions just keep going. Are you an athlete or into fitness?  

Andie: I’m afraid the most taxing exercise I do is yoga.

Sherri: You talked about having friends all over the world. Do you keep in touch with them? It must be difficult with the different time zones.

Andie: I try to make myself as available as possible to my friends, particularly as distance and different time zones make it difficult to have set times.

Sherri:  You are the founder and host of several online writing and reading groups, tell us about them.

Andie: Even though romance is THE most sold book genre, it has a stigma attached to it, as well as to those who read it. I created The Romance Café in mid 2018 because I felt that romance readers and aspiring writers were lacking safe, non-judgemental places online where they could discuss their favourite books and authors. Join us here:

Sherri: Thank you Andie for joining me at Creekside Café, I’ve enjoyed our chat. Don’t forget our spring anthology, Love in Bloom goes on sale March 8th, you can preorder your copy. I ordered mine from Amazon US. The proceeds will go to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation #BCRF, a US based company that works globally. For more information about the charity, go to their website

Posted in Creekside Cafe, interview, my books

Chatting with Jess Taylor at Creekside Cafe

Welcome to Creekside Café, West Virginia author, Jess Taylor. It’s great to have you here. Jess and I met on The New Romance Café Facebook Group and we are both part of the upcoming spring romance anthology, “Love in Bloom.”

Jess: Thanks for this opportunity. It’s been great getting to know you. Can I just say I love your book titles…I’ve been waiting forever to tell you that in person. I don’t know where you got that idea from but those are cool!

Sherri: Thank you. Chrome Pink came about because of the Harley my character Rae Lynn restored for breast cancer. My mom was actually the inspiration for the title, she liked that country song, “Her favorite color is Chrome…” My mentor, Marni Graff uses color in the titles of her Nora Tierney cozy mysteries. I asked if she minded if I stole her idea. For the Leeward series, I wanted to blend a color with a metal. My daughter-in-law, Katelynn is the photographer for the cover of White Gold, she also helped me come up with the title. But enough about me, tell me about your books.

Jess: In talking about my books, there’s so many different things I’ve worked on as a ghostwriter, that really I can’t narrow down to one specific genre, but romance is definitely my favorite.  We all have to sign non-disclosure agreements in which we can’t really discuss the work or claim any ownership of content.  It’s a small price to pay though, to do the work I love.     

Sherri: What genre do you write?

Jess: I love romance.  There’s something about always having a happy ending that’s wildly comforting.  I also enjoy paranormal things.  Ghosts, vampires, swamp creatures, things that go bump in the night.  I love that gothic vibe.

As a writer, I think one of my large-scale goals is to contribute to diversity in literature. As a lesbian, I feel that despite large strides being made there’s still not enough representation or diversity in any media. I think that the romance genre could help that tremendously as everyone knows romance readers are the best readers in the world. They will stick by their writers though thick and thin and are really the best fans to have.

Sherri: I feel the same way, Jess. My characters are biracial, and their relationships are interracial because that is the world I live in. I want to promote characters who are as diverse and as multifaceted as the people I know.

You are single and a doggie mom, tell me about your fur-babies.

Jess: Hah! I am definitely single and ready to mingle as they say. All three of mine are rescue babies. There’s not a purebred amongst them though the oldest one…He’s a 12-year old Terrier mix, that looks like a Scottie dog, I call him Scruffington J. Bear to make him feel more regal. There’s also ten-year old Mugsie “Mugshot” because he’s twelve pounds of terror lol and my seven-year old pretty girl, Deliliah.

Sherri: Do any of your babies end up in your stories?

Jess: One did. It was an awesome Schauzner mix name Beau. His nickname was ‘Commander,’ though lol. I love making up little back stories about mine.

Sherri: When did you first know you were a writer?

Jess: I’ve been writing since I was an older teenage but didn’t really take it seriously until a few years ago.

Sherri: Are you a full-time writer or are you like me, you have to work a day job?

Jess: I currently work at a local pharmacy as a cashier in addition to my ghostwriting. During the day, whole day I’m at work in the pharmacy. Especially now–It’s flu season.

Sherri: When do you get time to write?

Jess: Definitely morning or late at night.

Sherri: Do you have a writing schedule or routine? Do you try to get a certain word count per day or week?

Jess: I really don’t have a writing schedule.  I do have a word count goal I meet every day though.  I do at least three thousand words a day, even on days when I don’t feel good, otherwise projects go unfinished.

Sherri: What is some of your favorite things about writing?

Jess: Oh it’s just fun.  I don’t know any other profession which allows for so much creativity.  I mean you get to constantly answer the question, “what’s next?” It’s really a dream gig.  I’m a lucky gal.

Sherri: What are your writing strengths and weaknesses?

Jess: I always catch myself asking, ‘what does that look like, what does that smell like, how does that feel?’ So, a big weakness is more details. Sometimes I assume because I can see it in my head everyone else can too. Strengths? I’m not really sure. I’ve been told before I do good dialogue.

Sherri: Help our readers get to know you. Who is Jess Taylor?

Jess: I’m 37 years old and have lived in West Virginia all my life. I am a geeky gal. I love comic books and I have been a reader from a young age. I’m also a big art buff and enjoy all kinds of movies, in particular classic movies. Currently I’m watching and loving The Orville and Sabrina the Teenage Witch lol!

I love hot dogs.  If there’s anyone who wants to sit in the parking lot of Dairy Queen or Sheetz with me and eat hot dogs now’s the time to come forward.

Sherri: Tell us a little about your story for the anthology.

Jess: For this story, I wanted to find some inspiration in the classics, so the title comes from that. I also wanted to show a bit about how sometimes reality doesn’t always match up with expectations, but there can be a happy ending even after you’ve given up hope. The title is The Rain Falls Mainly…

Sherri: The international spring romance anthology Jess and I are a part of is “Love in Bloom.” It comes out Friday, March 8, International Women’s Day. All of the proceeds will go to Breast Cancer Research Foundation. #BCRF

It is time to say good-bye, but don’t forget to check out Jess on Facebook, and pop over to The New Romance Café

if you want to talk books. For more information about BCRF I have included the history and mission statement from their website.

The Breast Cancer Research Foundation is a nonprofit organization committed to achieving prevention and a cure for breast cancer. We provide critical funding for cancer research worldwide to fuel advances in tumor biology, genetics, prevention, treatment, metastasis and survivorship.


Since our founding in 1993 by Evelyn H. Lauder, BCRF has raised more than half a billion dollars for lifesaving research. Through a unique and streamlined grants program, we seek out the brightest minds in science and medicine and give them the necessary resources to pursue their best ideas. As a result, researchers are able to make discoveries and design new approaches to address all aspects of breast cancer—and do so in record time.

 “Our goal is to accelerate the breakthroughs bringing us closer to a cure to speed up the progress that will improve survivorship and quality of life for breast cancer patients today.” – Myra J. Biblowit, President & CEO

In 2018-2019, BCRF will award $63 million in annual grants nearly 300 scientists from top universities and medical institutions around the globe. In addition, BCRF has established the Evelyn H. Lauder Founder’s Fund, a multi-year international program dedicated to metastasis that is the first large-scale global effort to unravel the biology of metastasis, with more than $30 million earmarked to date. It is the largest privately funded project exclusively focused on metastasis in the world. But we still have more to do.

The thousands of women and men suffering from breast cancer today depend on us. No institution can conquer this disease alone. Together, we can.

It all started in 1993 at Evelyn Lauder’s kitchen table. 

Over a cup of coffee, Mrs. Lauder and her dear friend Dr. Larry Norton began a conversation that would, over time, change breast cancer history. Recognizing the power of research and its potential to change the lives of millions of women and men worldwide, they realized that to tackle this disease a new approach was critical.

At the time, a breast cancer diagnosis inspired fear and little hope. Scientific understanding of the nature of the disease and how it moved through the body was still nascent. Investigations on prevention strategies were fledgling, screening methods were limited and treatment options were few. 

Mrs. Lauder, along with Dr. Norton and her husband, Leonard, committed then and there to change that. They believed research was the way forward and founded BCRF on the belief that funding was the only obstacle standing between breast cancer and a cure. 

Years before, Mrs. Lauder was diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer and chose to channel her experience into action. A model of resolve, she took it upon herself in 1989 to help establish a state-of the-art breast and diagnostic center at New York’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, where she was a board member.  The facility, known today as the Evelyn H. Lauder Breast Center, set a new global standard for cancer care offering the most up-to-date prevention, diagnosis and treatment services under one roof. 

In that same year, Mrs. Lauder created the signature pink ribbon with Alexandra Penney, then editor of SELF and launched the Breast Cancer Awareness campaign within The Estée Lauder Companies. The program distributed the ribbons, along with self-exam instruction cards, at Estée Lauder counters across the United States and around the world, helping to raise awareness about the importance of breast health and effectively placing breast cancer at the public forefront. 

Since then, Evelyn Lauder’s life’s mission has become ours: to rid the world of breast cancer. Today, BCRF stands as a testament to her fierce dedication, keen intuition and extraordinary vision. 

Evelyn H. Lauder, 1936 – 2011
BCRF Founder

Posted in Creekside Cafe, interview

Chat with Anna Volkin

Welcome to Creekside Café, Anna Volkin. I understand you are a coffee fan like I am.

Anna: Hello, Sherri! Thank you for inviting me to this lovely talk. I’m thrilled to pieces to be here, in the Creekside Cafe with you, although it’s only a virtual meeting. Yes, coffee is my poison of choice. Espresso lungo. Black.No sugar. I can drink it at any time of day. Does that make me an addict?

Sherri: If it does, I’m right there with you, though I prefer a little cream in my coffee. I used low fat milk because of the calories but, oh, sweet delicious cream.

Anna and I met through The New Romance Café Facebook Group. We will be published in the spring anthology, Love in Bloom. This will be your first published story? You are new to writing, is that true?

Anna: Yes, writing is a new endeavor for me. Actually, I’ve never thought of myself as a writer or being able to write fiction until less than a year ago. It’s all new and shiny. Of course, there had been some attempts in my teenage years, but I blame those on my experimental phase rather than on a serious pursuit of writing. So I’d be safe to say I’ve been writing for less than a year – I’m not taking academic papers and specialty articles into account. 

That didn’t stop me from already having outlined a 7 book contemporary romance series – I know, I know, I’m not sure if saying this out loud is shameless bragging or terrifying stupidity. As well as this, I’ve plotted three more short stories (they would make a nice series with the one I’m about to publish) and I’m contemplating a PNR idea. 

Sherri: You mention academic papers and specialty articles; you have a profession that requires you to do other writing?

Anna: Yes, I am an MD, a medical doctor. I’m lucky enough to have my private practice, so it’s up to me to manage my work and writing schedules.

Sherri: Anna, tell us where are you from?

Anna: I’m Romanian, currently living in the capital city once known as Little Paris – Bucharest. I like to say that I was born on the “wrong” side of the Iron Curtain.

Sherri: What do you mean by the wrong side?

Anna: Because I am a citizen of the world – this is how I see myself, without denying or minimizing my roots and heritage. Nevertheless, the selective isolation and censorship my country was subjected to until the ’90s has definitely shaped our view of the world in a different manner. I am lucky, though: I had the tremendous chance to be exposed to both lifestyles and schools of thought (Eastern and Western) and gather deep cultural influences from both of them. Also, the upside of the aforementioned isolation was that our main entertainment as children born in the early eighties was reading – that was what you could do without television and video games, and I’m thankful for it. It has broadened my horizons in multiple directions and helped develop a strong sense of critical thinking.

Sherri: Do you have a favorite author or genre?

Anna: Until a few years ago, I tended to read indiscriminately. Having done my part with “heavy” literature, lately, I turned to “lighter” genres, as reading is a form of escapism as far as I am concerned. I’m most fond of fantasy, dystopian and paranormal. If there is also a romantic thread, that’s for the better. I’ve also caught up on my romance reading and I really enjoy it. I can’t name a favorite author – I’d feel like it would be unfair to all the stories I’ve loved. Actually, my reading is mostly about the stories than about the authors, and I’m really bad at remembering names and titles. 

Sherri: I’ve never been to Romania, I bet it’s lovely. Have you ever been to eastern North Carolina or the east coast United States?

Anna: No, I haven’t got the chance. It’s not on the other side of the world for me, but it’s pretty close.


Sherri: As a new writer, what is it that you enjoy about writing?

Anna: I love the freedom of it. When writing, you can explore different facets of your personality, different voices of the same persona. You can be both a horrendous villain and a fantastic hero. You can introspect. You can fantasize. You can push your limits. You can test hypotheses. You can empathize.

Sherri: I find I can do some of these same things when I read. Do you think reading helps you be a better writer?

Anna: Reading has the unbelievable power of shaping an individual. You become educated, cultured, and imaginative through reading. It’s one of the most powerful workouts for your brain – if you think of it as a metaphorical muscle. It forces you to covert the words you read into images and emotions, thus creating a very personal and intimate experience with that particular piece. I don’t believe in writers who don’t read habitually. As writing itself involves a lot of resources and skills that have to be so well practiced to the point they turn into reflexes. As a non-native English speaker, I find this particularly challenging, but, oh, my, I’m a sucker for a good challenge. Vocabulary, idioms, phrasing, world building, characters, relatability, and technicalities of the craft – you’re not born knowing those things. You learn them, even if sometimes you’re not consciously aware of it.

Sherri: Have you discovered anything you don’t like about writing?

Anna: Oh, there’s no such thing. But it sometimes feels overwhelming. I tend to dive headfirst in things, and now, writing seems the simplest part of an author’s work. But I’m learning every day.  That’s what I’m best at, after all. 

Sherri: I believe that no matter where we are in our careers, there’s still something new to learn. I write at odd times throughout the day, taking a few minutes before work, during lunch and late in the evenings. Have you discovered your best time to write?

Anna: I noticed that my most productive time is in the late afternoon. Unfortunately, I need complete silence and isolation to be able to write, and that is pretty rare.

Sherri:  What do you feel your writing strengths and weaknesses are?

Anna: I honestly have no idea. First, because I am my worst and most pretentious judge. Second, because my perception of my own writing is definitely different from the others’. One thing I believe in, though, is that people – and extrapolating, in this case, authors – have certain attributes. On one hand, it depends on themselves whether they turn those into strengths or weaknesses. On the other hand, it depends on the others whether those attributes are perceived as qualities or flaws. 

Sherri:  Do you have any other hobbies or interests? Do these show up in your stories?

Anna: Oh, this is another topic I could go on forever. I think my main interest is to know things. The more diverse, the better. I also have a very creative side, so naturally, architecture, design, graphic design, advertising and generally, visual arts are things I enjoy and topics I follow. 

I’m also a DIY-er. I love the feeling of doing things with your hands, though I tend to do more “masculine” projects. I own a serious collection of power tools, so you’d rather find me restoring a piece of furniture than knitting, but I don’t do it as much as I’d like because of the lack of space. I’m the nail beater, light bulb changer, screw screwer and so on in our home. 

I love dogs. We have two at the moment and dog shows and breeding is another one of my interests. It’s not a hobby per se, but maybe when I’m old and grumpier I’ll have my own kennel. 

I’m sure the things I love and know are showing in my writing – it’s the first rule for a newbie – write about what you know and love. But, as you are well aware, stories are not a 1 to 1 reflection of the reality. They, for sure, need to be plausible and relatable, but the beauty of writing is that you can take pieces and snippets from reality, add some wild imagination, bits of what ifs, stir them well, then mix and match. I like to think about it as a mosaic: little, identifiable, known elements, put together to create something new every time. 

Sherri: You have really leaped into writing with your pen at the ready. I’m excited to see all your plans. The New Romance Café has really opened doors for both of us.

Anna: The New Romance Cafe was one of the best things that happened to me in 2018. I met a lot of great people there – readers and writers alike. I’ve made a bunch of great friends – Liana, Suki, Thyra, and Miranda; together we’ve created The Grumpy Sisterhood: Romance with a Side of Grump, our joint authors’ group, where we hope to gather people with similar interests in romance books. And, of course, this is where I met you, and, yay! we’ll both be featured in the spring anthology coming out on March 8. 

Sherri: I can’t wait to read the anthology. I’m looking forward to reading everyone’s stories. Is your family excited about your being published?

Anna: I honestly think they don’t know what to make of it. *laughs* My husband is and has always been very supportive about whatever I wanted to do. We share a love for books and reading so my writing doesn’t look so far-fetched to him. I must confess, though, that he hasn’t sampled it yet. But he’s my to go partner for writing prompts and character development exercises. 

My daughter is still young and all she sees is my umbilical attachment to my laptop; I’m not sure she actually knows what I’m doing.

The dogs seem to be my biggest fans so far. They look at me in awe whenever they take a break from their favorite activity, sleeping. I’m not sure if the adoring look is because of my sparkling personality and writing or because they just need to be fed.

Sherri: I believe Love in Bloom is only the beginning. I would love to do another interview with you in a few years after you have published a couple of books.

Anna: Cheers to a great start! I certainly hope I’ll get the stories on paper soon and for sure, I’d love to keep in touch and chat about books: Mine, yours, other authors’.

Sherri: I hate to say goodbye but it’s getting late and even though it’s only a virtual chat, real life creeps in and work calls. It’s been so nice to have you at the Creekside Café and I hope someday, we can meet for real.

Anna: Thank you for this lovely meeting. The romance community rocks!

Don’t forget to check out our ebook, Love in Bloom. All proceeds will go to breast cancer research.

Posted in Creekside Cafe, interview

Creekside Cafe Interview with Nicole Highland

Today my special guest is Nicole Highland. Nicole is the cover designer for the upcoming spring anthology, “Love in Bloom.” Nicole and I met on the New Romance Café Facebook group after becoming part of the anthology writing project.

Nicole: Hi, Sherri! Thank you for having me.

Sherri: You did a beautiful job designing the covers for the spring and summer anthologies. I understand that is your job in the real world.

Nicole: I currently work full time as a graphic designer for a lighting company, and I do freelance on the side. I graduated in 2011 with my Associate’s degree in graphic design. I worked a year in the medical industry as a front desk representative before landing a job in my field. 

Sherri: That’s funny, the main character in my first novel, Chrome Pink, is a graphics designer for a lighting company, or she was before leaving that job to return to the town of Leeward and pursuing her art.

Nicole:In addition to writing, I love graphic design and photography. I love makeup artistry as well. I can usually sink my teeth into anything that gives me an outlet to express myself creatively. Basically, art rules my life! It probably won’t come as a surprise that I tend to write about creative heroines. In my Sweetest Love series, my heroine Natalie is a very artsy person.

Sherri: So, I take it, you don’t get to write full-time either?

Nicole: For right now, writing is just a hobby, though I would love nothing more than to sit in my pajamas and write all day. Maybe someday!

Sherri: I don’t know that I’d call it a hobby, you do have three books published. That’s a career, maybe a fledgling career, but I think you’ve earned the right to call yourself a serious author.

Nicole: I’ve been writing for a long time now, but I’m still very new to the publishing aspect of it. I’ve self-pubbed three contemporary/new adult romances so far, and one short story. They’re all in the same universe, though I didn’t originally set out to write them as a series. I have plans in the future to write a standalone paranormal vampire romance, and a standalone historical romance set around WWI. 

I would love to be published by a traditional publisher someday in order to gain more exposure. But, I do love being in total control of every aspect of my writing, so I’m torn between the two. I haven’t queried with anybody yet, but I’m considering doing that later this year.

Sherri: With your abilities, going traditional offers you few benefits. So many of the writers I’ve talked to who are traditionally published, still have to do their own marketing and publicity. You may get a little more exposure through Harlequin but unless you are an A-lister, they don’t spend a lot of time promoting you or your work.

Nicole: I’ve heard that from other authors as well. The first time I heard that, I was very surprised. Maybe I’m on the right path after all!

Sherri: We’re sipping ice, cold Pepsis, the pride of the Carolinas. I don’t know if you know this but it was invented just up the road from us, in New Bern. It was called Brad’s Drink. Have you ever been to eastern North Carolina before?

Nicole: I haven’t been on the east coast much, but I have been to North Carolina because I have family down there. It’s interesting going through the mountains, since we don’t have any mountains around here! The only thing I dislike is when my ears pop as we go through!

Sherri: You’re from Indiana?

Nicole: I’m from Fort Wayne, Indiana, and I currently reside here. Fort Wayne is the only place I’ve ever lived.

Sherri: I’ve driven through and flown over Indiana but I know very little about it.

Nicole: It’s a pretty good place to live. I’m not a fan of the winters, though! I’m a summer girl all the way. 

Sherri: We have several things in common, being only children and writing romance. What do you enjoy most about writing?

Nicole: Oh, there are so many aspects I love! I love being able to create my own worlds. I love being able to make a reader smile. And I also love creating my own covers!

Sherri: You’ve started a second, or should I say, third business designing covers. Tell us about that.

Nicole: I’ve been doing graphic design for years, but I didn’t start working on book covers until 2018. It’s been so awesome to lend my creativity to my fellow authors! I absolutely love it. It’s always a wonderful feeling to hold the final product in my hand, knowing that I was able to contribute in some way.

Sherri: You write romance, is that what you read as well?

Nicole: My absolute favorite genre is romance. There’s something unbelievably satisfying about a great love story with a happy ending. This genre brings light and hope to a world that can be pretty dark at times! I don’t know if I have a single favorite author, but lately I’ve been really digging Jill Shalvis. I recently discovered her through my library, and wow, I’m glad I did! I’m also a fan of Debbie Macomber.

Sherri: We all have our strengths and weaknesses. I am terrible on grammar and prefer short sentences and a faster pace. My characters are often flawed, sometimes gritty from life. I think sometimes our weaknesses can be developed into a strength. What do you feel are your strengths and weaknesses?

Nicole: I’d like to think one of my strengths as a writer is my ability to create realistic characters. For weaknesses: I go into every project full bore, so I tend to get burnt out easily. I also have a tendency to overuse certain words or phrases. 

Sherri: I’m guilty of the over using certain words and phrases too. I’ve started seeking them out on edits.

It looks like our time is getting short. I’d like to give another plug for the upcoming anthologies. You have a short story in the summer anthology?

Nicole: Yes, look for my story in Hot Summer Nights.


Book Links:

Behind Brown Eyes (Book 1, Sweetest Love Series):

Sweetest Release (Book 2, Sweetest Love Series):

Sweetest Dream (Book 3, Sweetest Love Series):

Short Story – Sweetest Kiss – Available for email list subscribers:


Social Media/Website:


Posted in Creekside Cafe, interview, Uncategorized

Interview with Cat Stein

Today I’m visiting with my new writer friend, Catherine “Cat” Stein.

I met Cat through our Facebook group, The New Romance Café. We’re both contributors to the upcoming spring anthology, “Love in Bloom.” My story is a romantic suspense called R and R. The R and R is supposed to stand from rest and relaxation, but it’s more like romance and revenge. What’s the name of your story, Cat?

CatLove is in the Airship, it’s a steampunk romance, with pirates, danger, a mechanical snake, and as always, a feisty heroine

Sherri: Wow, that sounds like a fun read. I’m excited about the anthology but let’s come back to that. You are a native of Ann Arbor, Michigan? It probably seems warm here in eastern North Carolina compared to Michigan. We’re having a fairly mild winter so far.

Cat: Haha. Nothing mild in Michigan. We had record cold this week. Everyone huddled at home under blankets, drinking tea.

Sherri: Have you ever been to North Carolina before?

Cat: Only to the western part of NC, but I’ve been to the coast in South Carolina and Georgia. I’ve been to a good chunk of the 50 states and I’m working on getting to them all.

Sherri: I would love to travel. It seems time or money are always limited. Do you write full-time or do you hold down another job as well as write?

Cat: As of mid-December, I am a full-time writer. I quit my part-time, work-at-home job that I’d had forever because I really wanted to focus on making a career out of my writing. The great thing about my old job was that I was able to still be at home with my kids, but writing is my true passion and I can do that at home, too!

Sherri: How many children do you have? Do you home school?

Cat: Three kids, all girls. The oldest is 14 and the youngest is 9. And I definitely *don’t* home school. I volunteer a lot at their schools, as a Girl Scout leader, and with their athletics, but I think I would go crazy if I tried to do all the teaching as well.

Sherri: Juggling a family and writing is difficult. I have six sons. When they were young, I’d steal an hour or two to write in the morning after they left for school or in the evening after supper. When is your best time to write?

Cat: In the morning I do social media stuff and non-writing author business. I’m not at all a morning person, and it’s just harder to get the creativity going at that time. Depending on what’s going on any given day, I’ll then write during the late morning/early afternoon. Evenings I do social media stuff again, but mostly just checking in/replying between taking kids to activities, dinner, getting everyone ready for bed, etc. And then once things are calm (anywhere between 8 and 9) I sit down for my most productive writing time.

Sherri: How long have you been writing?

Cat: I’ve been writing all my life, and seriously writing with the aim of publishing for maybe 3 or 4 years. I published my first book in November of 2018.

Sherri: We are close in time. I published my first book in November of 2017, my second in September of 2018. Are you Indie published or traditional?

Cat: Indie. I love having the creative control over the content, release timing, covers, and so forth.

Sherri: I really love your covers. Do you design your own?

Cat: Thank you! I love them, too! I wish I had that sort of talent, but alas, I do not. My editor is also my cover designer, and she does amazing work. I had the idea for the series look (subtle maps in the background, heroine featured prominently) and I picked the images, but she turns all that into something beautiful.

Sherri: You write Steampunk romance. Could you explain this genre to those who may not know about it? I’ve read a couple of Young Adult novels in the steampunk genre and thoroughly enjoyed them. I’m looking forward to reading “How to Seduce a Spy.” I just bought the ebook.

Cat: Thanks for buying the book! I hope you love it. Steampunk involves alternate-history or fantastical worlds with Victorian-era and/or Wild West aesthetic (corsets, top hats, tea, trains, dastardly villains). The technologies of the world are steam-powered or clockwork instead of electricity, and you often see wild machines, airships, and other impossible or implausible devices. The world of “How to Seduce a Spy” puts kind of a twist on steampunk, having the technology based on magic potions rather than mechanical contraptions. They do drive steam cars, though. 

Sherri: What do you enjoy about writing?

Cat: I love making the characters come to life and giving them an adventure and a happy ending. All my books are very character-driven and I really love watching and helping them lead the story.

Sherri: What do you despise about writing?

Cat: Marketing is really hard and I don’t really understand it yet.

Sherri: Marketing is hard, and it can be expensive, especially for an indie author. Everything falls on us. It’s one of the reasons I wanted to do interviews with my fellow writers. To give us a venue to talk about our books, writing and maybe let readers know we have books out there for sale. They can find us if they don’t know to look for us.

Tell us about your book(s) and your Main Character(s).


Cat: The Potions and Passions world is an alternate Victorian era world, where technology relies heavily on magic potions. Potions are used to light lamps, fuel vehicles, heal wounds and illnesses, make people feel certain ways or certain things, and a host of other uses.


How to Seduce a Spy, book 1 of the series, follows barmaid (and potion mixer) Elle Deschamps as she’s recruited to help travel the world trying to find new sources for the magic serum that powers the potions. Elle”s had a difficult life, but she’s determined, hard-working, smart, and has never given up on her dream of owning her own potion shop. Her quest puts her alongside Henry Ainsworth, a British spy also looking into the serum shortage. Henry is quietly competent and slightly roguish, but socially and romantically awkward. He loves sarcasm, swearing, and tea.


The Earl on the Train, a Potions and Passions novella set just before the events of How to Seduce a Spy, has hero Nick and heroine Ida meeting by chance on a train and ending up together on an epic road trip from England to India. Despite the scandal in her past, Ida has a dream of crafting and selling magic-based perfumes to the elite of society. She’s chatty, spunky, and feminine. Nick is struggling with an addiction to recreational potions and chaffing at the societal restrictions put on him because of his position in society. He’s traveling to gather intelligence for his spymaster uncle, but he’d rather be at home, redecorating.


Sherri: Is this a series or stand alone?


Cat: Each book in the series can be read as a standalone, but they share the same world and some characters do appear in both books.

Sherri: How many books have you published?

Cat: Just the two are out so far. The next book, “Not a Mourning Person”, is with my editor right now and will be out in the spring. It gives a minor character from “How to Seduce a Spy” her happy ending.


Sherri: I understand you are a football fan.

Inside Michigan Stadium. The University of Michigan is a *huge* part of Ann Arbor life (so many jobs, buildings, activities, etc.) and the football stadium (largest in the country) can hold almost as many people as live in the whole city. I was in the marching band in college and I get to be with the band on the field at homecoming every year. So that is the bell of my trumpet looking out over the field.

Cat: Yes! Huge! I go to all the University of Michigan home games and watch all the away games. We’ve had season tickets for years. Saturdays in the fall are pretty much, “Nope. Can’t do that. There’s a game.”


The first book in my Sass and Steam series (the world that Love is in the Airship is set in) is planned for a fall 2019 release to coincide with football season. It all takes place in Ann Arbor in 1904 over the course of the football season. The heroine is a die-hard fan.

Sherri: Unfortunately, our time is running short. I hope you will come back to the Creekside Café and visit with us again.


Cat: It’s been tons of fun. Thanks so much for having me!


Sherri: To follow Catherine “Cat” Stein, check out her media links below and don’t forget to be on the look out for both our stories in “Love in Bloom,” an international spring anthology. The proceeds will go to Pink Ribbon International for breast cancer research. The ebook will be available March 8, International Women’s Day. Thank you again Cat for chatting with me. Now, to finish “How to Seduce a Spy.”

All my social media links and book links are below:

Social Media:
Facebook page:
Facebook group:

How to Seduce a Spy buy links:
Google Play:

The Earl on the Train buy links:
Google Play:

 A production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest at the arboretum. Every summer these outdoor Shakespeare productions are put on, and they’re amazing.