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Stasia Mars at Creekside Cafe

Today I’d like to welcome romance writer, Stasia Mars to Creekside Café. Welcome Stasia.

The café is my fantasy coffee shop/bar. What can I get you to drink? I’m usually a coffee drinker but North Carolina is once again experiencing a heat wave, so I think I’ll have a lemonade with a little something-something to give it a little kick. I really like my bourbon.

Stasia: Thank you so much for having me, Sherri! We too have been having a bit of a heat wave here in Maryland. I love coffee as well, but right now I would love a good spicy margarita. Huge fan of tequila.

Sherri: I can’t drink tequila it makes my face go numb. I figure my brain can’t be far behind. It’s good to have you here even if it’s only through the magic of the internet.

Stasia and I are part of a Facebook group for authors, and I invited her to visit me here at my author café.

You are from right up the coast from me. I live on the Innerbanks of eastern North Carolina.

Stasia: Yes, east coast living! I too live pretty close to the water. It’s a place called Kent Island along the Chesapeake Bay and Chester River in Maryland. The bay is right at the end of my street where you can see the Bay Bridge. We’ve been living here for four years and absolutely love it.

Sherri: It sounds lovely.

You’re a stay-at-home mom with three children and several rescue pets. Are any of the children in school? When do you find time to write? I remember when my boys were at home, and it was a juggle between ball, scouts, school and church to find a few minutes to myself. How do you manage it all?

Stasia: Right now, my kids are seven, five, and three. Violet will be going into second grade, Simone will be going to kindergarten, and Quinn will be going into Pre-K part time. So still not all of them will be in school full-time next year, but close! It is quite a struggle to find time for myself and for my writing. I just have to let some things go like laundry and dishes to get some time in, but I am fortunate enough to have a very supportive husband. He helps where and when he can.

Sherri: It’s great to have your husband’s support. Mine always made sure I had a few minutes for myself and encouraged me to write. I forget that not everyone has that luxury. We are blessed.

You have a steamy series, Men of the Mafia. Tell us about your series. What kind of mafia? Are they all part of the same gang?

Stasia: My Men of the Mafia series are books that can each be read as a standalone or in any order. All of the men are from different families and places, but some of them do interact with one another in their books. Some of the ladies even become close friends!

Sherri: What is the appeal of the mafia and these dangerous men?

Stasia: These men are what you would call alphaholes. They’re pure alphas and can be quite brute, but they would do anything for their women. Like…kill. And even be killed. They have the power and money to do anything and give them anything. And when they love, they love hard and for life.

Sherri: How many books in your series? Do you have a favorite book, character or couple? What makes them a fav?

Stasia: As of right now, it will be six books in the series. I started out with Irma and Alejo’s story because they are a personal favorite of mine. I love Irma and her fierceness and how she came from nothing. She struggled to take care of herself most of her life and had never needed anyone. Alejo had the luxury of growing up with a loving family. His father was a mob boss but knew the balance of being a boss and a father. The chemistry between the two is undeniable. This book has a lot of action as well which in my opinion makes it so much more adventurous and fun to read.

Sherri: What comes next? Have you plans for a new series or more of the mafia?

Stasia: After the second book in the Men of the Mafia comes out, I plan to work on releasing the first book to my next series which will be the Women of the Mafia. Showcasing women who come born and bred to one day rule. This will not be a spin-off. It will feature brand new characters.

Sherri: Who do you like to read? Who are some of your favorite authors or who are you currently reading?

Stasia: I love Sam Mariano. Do you have that one book that you still think about even years after reading it? That’s what she did for me with her Moretti Family series. It’s what started my love of mafia romance. She also introduced me to dark romance, and I haven’t looked back since. I owe a lot to her writing and inspiring me. Currently I am reading Black Beard by Angus Konstam. A book I found on clearance and decided to take a short break from reading romance and read about some legendary pirates.

Sherri: Ah, Black Beard is legendary here in North Carolina. If you need any other reference material, I have a list.

Did you self-publish, or did you go the traditional route?

Stasia: I decided to go with self-publishing because I was too anxious to get my books out. I have over twenty books written, and I don’t always do well with waiting around for something to happen.

Sherri: I always wanted to be traditionally published but now that I’ve self-published I can’t relinquish control.

What do you wish you’d known prior to publishing? What will you do differently with your next book?

Stasia: I plan to self-publish my next book, but I am also working on a query letter to send out to literary agents in hopes of going the traditional publishing route. If I would have known how hard it was to self-publish, I think I would have found some patience within myself to wait on finding an agent.

Sherri: Self-publishing is a lot of work. What would you tell someone who is just beginning to write seriously?

Stasia: To not give up. Ever. If writing is your passion, go for it. It’s okay if it takes you years to complete a novel. You completed a novel which most people cannot say. Join social media groups and don’t be afraid to reach out asking for advice. And you don’t need to publish your work to consider yourself a writer.

Sherri: What is your dream for your writing career?

Stasia: To make a career out of it. To be able to make enough money so that my husband can do what he loves as well. I am so blessed to have a supportive husband that is helping me follow my dreams and I would love to do the same for him someday. Also, I would love to be able to help other aspiring authors. To be that successful author that others look up to. I would love to be influential enough to help other authors become more successful.

Sherri: Tell us 10 fun facts about you. What makes you unique?

Stasia: Hmm…ten fun facts. Okay, here it goes.

If I had an entrance song it would be Enter Sandman by Metallica.

I don’t eat the ends of my food and usually pick the corners off. It ends up looking like a rodent got a hold of my food (what my husband likes to say).

Along with my three rescue dogs and one rescue kitten, I have two rescue rats.

I am five feet tall.

My favorite animal is an armadillo.

I like making different covers for my laptop with fun stickers from Etsy.

My favorite writing tool is my rocketbooks! I can write as much down and make as many notes as I want without wasting paper.

I love shopping for clothes and shoes on Ebay.

I have a camper which I absolutely love taking on camping trips with my husband, my children, and my dogs which happens to also be my favorite atmosphere to write in.

And last but not least, my husband is going to be on HGTV with his brother renovating a beach house in Kitty Hawk, NC!

Sherri: Okay, I think I’m in love! My last book, Trent’s Melody has a renovation as part of the romance. My favorite thing to do with my kids was camping (we tent camped) and I love Kitty Hawk and Hatteras. I used to live in Texas, so I adore armadillos. I think we’d get along great!

When a reader finishes your books, what do you want them to say or feel?

Stasia: I want them to want more! I don’t want readers to just love my stories, I want them to enjoy my writing in general. I’ve had a few readers reach out to me on social media telling me how much they enjoyed my book, and it was such a great feeling. I cannot wait to be someone’s favorite author someday!

Sherri: What is the overall theme of your books?

Stasia: So, right now I am focused on the mafia books I have written. It’s honestly the most fun for me to write because they’re untouchable. They pretty much have the power to do whatever they want. They do not abide by the law and have little morals. But eventually you will see more from me and the wide range of romance that I write. Most of it teeters on the line of dark romance, and some are undoubtedly dark. But overall, romantic!

Sherri: Thank you, Stasia for joining me at my virtual café. If I ever win the lottery, I’d like to do this for real. I am so glad you stopped by, and I do look forward to hearing from you again.

Stay tuned, Stasia will be launching her new book very soon and we’ll be doing a cover reveal right here!

Posted in Creekside Cafe, interview

Sitting on the Porch with Betty Bolte

Today I’d like to introduce you to a very interesting lady, author, Betty Bolte. Welcome to Creekside Café, my fantasy job, where I get to look out over the Pamlico River and talk to authors like you about books and writing, while drinking coffee or something a little harder. I’m just recuperating from the Pamlico Writers’ conference, so something a little harder it is.

Betty and I met online through the Romance Writers of American Professional Author’s Network. It’s good to have you here, Betty.

Betty: It’s a lovely day to chat with you, Sherri. While I’ve never resided in North Carolina, being near the coast again feels like coming home. I was born in Baltimore, Maryland, and grew up in a small town west of the city, Eldersburg. But we often drove down to the Eastern Shore to the beach for the day.

Sherri: Well then, you’re almost home. Do you live on the east coast now?


Betty: Sometimes. We own a week of timeshare at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and Ocean City, Maryland. Hubby and I went to Charleston, SC twice for research and to enjoy the delicious food! We’ve also visited Asheville, and last year I went to Tryon (western NC) for the World Equestrian Games with my daughter and her friends. Now I live in Alabama, but I’ve also lived in Virginia, Indiana, Georgia, and Tennessee.

Sherri: Do you write full-time or do you juggle another career as well as write?

Betty: Now I write full time, but that’s only been since 2012. Prior to that I either worked full-time or freelanced as a technical writer/editor for corporations and individuals. I also wrote for the local paper while we lived in Indiana, both articles and a column on the sandwich generation as we lived it in our home. My dad lived with me and hubby and my two kids for seventeen years. Lots of material there!

Sherri: Have you always been a writer?

Betty: I started writing as a child and have worked with words ever since. My jobs have always centered on writing: as a secretary, freelance word processor, temporary secretary, then as a freelance newspaper stringer, magazine article writer, columnist, and ultimately as a technical editor/writer. Now I focus on writing fiction.

Sherri: You must truly love writing, what is your favorite part of writing?

Betty: Everything. Crafting a sentence that exactly captures the message or feeling or experience so that others can share what I or someone else is trying to convey. That applies to nonfiction, technical, and fiction writing, by the way. All writing is an act of sharing our inner thoughts and other information. Inventing fictional places and people that represent what’s happening in my imagination is so satisfying, too!

Sherri: Is there anything about writing that you despise or barely tolerate?

Betty: Sloppy and vague sentences and incorrect word usage. Like using “reign” instead of “rein”. That kind of incorrect usage.

Sherri: I hate when I make simple mistakes and of course spell check doesn’t catch them because they are spelled correctly even if not used correctly. What’s worse is when they get past the Beta readers and editors. It makes me want to sob into my wine, or would that be whine in my wine?

Betty: Speaking of wine, make mine a chardonnay. I enjoy some in the evening to help me unwind after a busy day of writing and trying to market my books.

Sherri: Unfortunately, there is so much business an author has to handle, when do you find time to write, check emails or just visit with friends?

Betty: I typically write in the morning, from about 8 until noon on most weekdays. Afternoons during the week I may meet a friend for lunch, or have appointments and errands to run. I have a weekly workout appointment, for example. Lately, I’ve been physically able to take walks again, which makes me happy.

Sherri: I’ve recently started walking again. I believe it’s important to get our exercise since much of our job is spent sitting at a desk.

You have been writing a number of years. Tell us about your writing journey.

Betty: I’ve been published since 1994 in nonfiction by Macmillan, Chelsea House, and Mason Crest publishers. My first paranormal romance was published by a small, digital press, Liquid Silver. My historical romance series is published by a hybrid press, ePublishing Works!. My paranormal romance series, Secrets of Roseville, are all indie published. My agent is currently shopping some historical fiction to traditional publishers. So I’ve been published in most ways possible.

Sherri: That’s only the synopsis, now tell us the rest of the story of how you became published.

Betty: It’s been a convoluted path! I started writing articles for the local paper in Indiana, as a stringer which is a freelance journalist, in the early 1990s.

Sherri: I, too, wrote for a local paper when my youngest son was in middle and high school, but you turned it into a book writing career. Tell our readers how that came about.

Betty: I covered the school board and park board meetings, and so got to know other local authorities. One of them liked my writing and suggested to an editor at Macmillan that I might be able to write for them. Specifically, the editor contacted me looking for someone to write how to use the then new version of dBase V database software. Along with my computer analyst husband, we wrote several chapters in different books on that topic. So, I had clips from the newspaper articles and then credits from being published by a traditional publisher. But I really wanted to write fiction, which proved more challenging for me to master than nonfiction.

So in the meantime, I decided I’d apply for a job at a children’s magazine to be their editor. They informed me I needed at least a bachelor’s degree in English to qualify, so I went back to college at Indiana University. I paid my way through by freelancing as an editor and graduated in 1995. During this time, I heard of a book called Susan B. Anthony Slept Here which is a compilation of all of the places where women have a landmark in America. Reading that book brought to light the number of girls who have landmarks, and ultimately led to me writing Hometown Heroines, which I ended up self-publishing in 2001 because despite having two different agents they and I couldn’t find a publisher who would take the combination of historical fiction and biography. I republished it in 2012 as Hometown Heroines: True Stories of Bravery, Daring, and Courage, with ePublishing Works!. The book won a gold medal in 2014 from the Children’s Literary Classics organization.

Literary Classics International Book Awards – Youth Award Winning Book

Sherri: I will have to look it up. I love history and I have a herd of grandchildren. My older granddaughters would probably enjoy reading of heroic young women from history. What else have you accomplished? I’m in awe. You have an amazing resume.

Betty: My father-in-law was contacted about writing books for a young adult audience as work for hire on horses while we were living in Georgia, but he referred them to me since we owned horses for my daughter to ride and compete in three-day eventing. The man was aggregating the entire Horse Library and needed help with a couple of horse books, which ended up being Jumping and Dressage, then turned around and asked me to write some school club books, which I did on how to form a foreign language club and a crafts club at school.

All along, I had joined RWA and my local chapters (in Indiana, Tennessee, and Alabama) and took classes/workshops on writing fiction, read books on writing fiction, working to write the best story I could. I entered contests to get feedback and find out where I needed to improve, too. In 2006 I went back to college to get a master’s degree in English while I was working as a technical editor/writer for SAIC at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. I graduated in 2008 and continued working until 2012, when I was able to finally quit working full time because my father had passed and both of our children were graduating with their bachelor degrees. We no longer needed the extra income to cover assisted living and tuition expenses, but could make do on my husband’s salary. Finally, I could really work on my fiction and not be distracted so much with technical and nonfiction writing and editing.

In January 2014 I did a Twitter pitch #pitmad about a paranormal romance called Traces (a story I originally wrote as part of my master’s thesis, but that’s another long story!) which was picked up by Liquid Silver and released in April 2014. Then pitched a sequel, Remnants, which I wrote over the summer and released in October 2014.

I contacted ePW early in 2014 about publishing my historical trilogy, A More Perfect Union. They reviewed the stories and agreed there was a market so they put them on the market for me. Emily’s Vow and Amy’s Choice both released in October 2014. So I suddenly went from not having any fiction published to having 4 books out in one year! Three of them in one month! The third book, Samantha’s Secret released in April 2015. The publisher asked me to add another book to make the trilogy into a series, so the last book in the series, Evelyn’s Promise, released in January 2016.

Sherri: That must have been exciting and a bit overwhelming. I can’t even imagine how you handled the promotions of three books in one month.

Betty: It was stressful but very exciting. Then when I received the publication rights back from Liquid Silver after two years, I indie published and re-released Traces as Undying Love in January 2017, and Remnants as Haunted Melody in March, and added The Touchstone of Raven Hollow in May. In December, I released a prequel (indie again) to the Charleston series, Elizabeth’s Hope, which introduces the other four books.

The fourth book in my Secrets series, Veiled Visions of Love, released in September 2018. The fifth and last book in that series, Charmed Against All Odds, is part of a joint Common Elements Romance Project with over 100 other romance authors and is scheduled to release in November 2019.

Sherri: Wow, I’m nearly speechless. You have had an amazing career. So what’s next? What are your plans for the future?

Betty: I’ve just finished writing the first book in a new supernatural historical fiction series, Fury Falls Inn, which is called The Haunting of Fury Falls Inn and will release in October 2019. It’s set in 1821 in northern Alabama and I’ve been having a lot of fun learning more about the history of this area where I’m currently living. I have 5 more books planned in that series. I’m toying with the idea of a historical romance trilogy set in Charleston again but on a thoroughbred breeding farm. I also want to research how my ancestors served during the Revolution and write their stories.

Sherri: You mentioned a husband, he must be very supportive of your career. How long have the two of you been married?

Betty: I’ve been married to my husband for 32 years this July.

Sherri: That’s funny, my husband and I will celebrate 28 years this July. I don’t know how you’ve accomplished all you’ve done with raising a family, surely you’ve had no spare time for hobbies or other interests?

Betty:  I love to walk and hike, read, crochet, embroider, and travel. I’ve included hiking in book 3 of the Secrets of Roseville series, The Touchstone of Raven Hollow, where the couple go hiking and stumble into an enchanted valley. The situation they find themselves in was inspired by an Irish myth and reflects my eclectic reading interests, too. Of course, I am a huge fan of American history, especially the colonial period and American Revolution, which is why I wrote the A More Perfect Union series set in and around Charleston during the Revolution. And I’m fascinated by the concept of ghosts and have experienced unexplainable happenings in my home from time to time, so I like to write about ghosts, too.

Sherri: I am in awe and a bit intimidated. I cannot imagine you have in weaknesses in your writing.

Betty: I’m always working on one aspect or another of my writing tools. Setting is a big strength and I think having unique characters. I’m also known for my research skills to ensure my historicals are as accurate and authentic as I can make them. Weaknesses include dialogue – I never think it’s snappy enough – and finding a good balance between action and introspection.

Sherri: Who are your favorite authors and genres?

Betty: I read widely and sample many different authors and genres. I tend to read more historical fiction/romance and paranormal, but I also mix in some classics and mystery from time to time. Of course, I do read a lot of nonfiction (books and online sources) as I research my stories, contemporary or historical.

Sherri: Is there someone who has influenced your writing?

Betty: I learn different techniques and approaches by reading so widely. So I don’t think any one or handful of authors have influenced my writing, but all of them have contributed to how adjustable I can be to match message to audience.

Sherri: Our time is running down, but I hope to be able to sit and chat with you again real soon. Perhaps we will have the chance to meet in person one day?

Betty: Hopefully we’ll meet in person at the conference one year. I’m not going to NYC this year, but will definitely attend the Nashville conference in a couple years as it’s so close to where I live in northern Alabama.

Sherri: You can connect with Betty through her website or blog, or find her on social media, and don’t forget to check out her books either at her website or Amazon author page through the links listed below. Thanks again, Betty, for sitting on the porch and chatting. It’s been lovely.

Social Media Links







Betty’s Novel Ninjas Fan Club:

Twitter: @BettyBolte



eBook Discovery:

Author’s Den: