By Molly Harper, Narrated by Amanda
Ronconi and Jonathan Davis
paced, fun novella is an otherworldly tale of the perils of dating, especially
the perils of dating a magical being.
is a loner. Long ago she decided that being lonely was preferable to trusting
the wrong person.
tree nymph newly arrived in Mystic Bayou. The place that calls to magic due to
the rift between worlds. It is also the experimental town where normal people
and magical creatures can cohabitate.
to start a dairy farm and creamery, Ingrid knows she must learn to be friendly.
When she attracts the amorous attentions of Dr. Rob Aspern, she returns his affections
only to become disillusioned that he is only after her magic.
After a few
false starts and the help of their friends, Rob and Ingrid try again. Can his
career and her past be overcome so they can be together or is the mistrust too
great to conquer. You will definitely want to listen to this novella, it was a
lot of fun with interesting characters.
narrators, Amanda Ronconi and Jonathan Davis did an excellent job of bringing
the story to life. Their understanding of Molly Harper’s characters added
another texture to this already fabulous story.
Hello Lila Mina, it is so nice to have you here at my Creekside
Lila: Its lovely to be here! I
wish we could meet for real in a place like this.
Sherri: Oh, me too, if I ever win
the lottery! Until then, I love meeting writers and readers here in my virtual
I love your name, Lila Mina. Where does it come from? Do you know
what it means?
Lila: Thank you! I love the first name ‘Lila’, it reminds me
of lily flowers. In Swedish, it means ‘purple’, and it’s a perfect match
because it’s my favorite color. My logo is actually a purple lily. Mina is also
a reference to Swedish, it means ‘mine’. Yes, I’ve got Swedish roots!
Sherri: Tell me a little about yourself,
where are you from. Where do you call home?
Lila: I am from a
French-speaking country in Europe, and live now in the south-western island of
Kyushu, in Japan, where I moved with my family ten years ago.
Sherri: How interesting, then I’m
sure you are a coffee and wine drinker, or do you go in for more Asian tastes?
Lila: Italian espresso, Japanese green tea and red wine, in no particular order of preference.
Sherri: One of my daughters-in-law
is Asian, she is Cambodian. She has exposed me to so many other cultures from
food and drink to customs and beliefs. I love herbal teas especially ginger tea
and chai, but coffee, and especially espresso will always be a favorite.
beats espresso, that’s for sure. So nice to hear you’ve got ties with Asia, too!
Sherri: Do you speak Japanese or
any other languages? I would love to learn other languages. I took high school
French and learned Spanish while working in the crab house. I’ve picked up a
few words of other languages from reading, movies and friends.
not English, is my mother tongue. I’ve got various levels of fluency in other
languages. I grew up reading books in French, English and German, I love
Japanese literature… but I read translations! I’m not fluent enough in Japanese
to read whole books, I’m afraid.
Do you travel much. I’ve only been to the United States and Mexico.
Have you ever been to North
Carolina, or the East Coast?
Lila: No, never to North
Carolina, unfortunately, but when I was a teenager, my parents took me and my
brother to a couple of trips to the US, and we visited New York and Miami.
Because our plane got grounded due to terrible weather in New York, we received
free roundtrip tickets as compensation. This gave us the incredible chance to
travel all the way from Europe to Hawaii!
Sherri: That was quite a
compensation. I’m working on a historical novella that takes place during World
War Two, the bombing of Pearl Harbor is what finally launched us into the war.
I would love to visit Hawaii.
The novella will be my first published historical. Historicals are
my first love but I started writing contemporary romance and then drifted into
What genre do you
Lila: Of the very sexy kind! I
don’t write erotica per se (hmm well, ok, now and then I might indulge in a
short PWP), but I believe in sex positivity and how intimate scenes help build
characters and plot even in a thriller or horror story. I love pushing my characters’
limits, and it includes sending them on a path of self-discovery through mutual
exploration. My Temper trilogy is a dark LGBTQ and interracial
paranormal romance. I love blending genres and don’t believe much in
Sherri: My own novels have been
difficult to categorize. They don’t fit the traditional romance format yet
there is a strong romantic element. Mine, fall somewhere between women’s
fiction, suspense and fiction. I don’t know. It’s frustrating. It must be even
more so for you, with English not your native language.
Lila: Japanese literature and reading
books in French, English and German, all of this influenced my style and the
way I tell my stories. I have also a strong dislike for the way the ‘market’ is
supposed to dictate what people need to write and read. Writing is art and
creation, and shouldn’t be reduced to a commodity. So categories and rules
should be broken now and then. This is why I’m so glad self-publishing exists
On top of that, for the past five years or so, I’ve decided to
write stories featuring only women my age and older, so in their late thirties
and forties. Like the hit comedy ‘Grace and Frankie’ reminds us, women don’t
turn into stone after they hit 35, so it’s important for me to show that we are
still very much passionate – maybe even more than when we were younger, because
we are more in tune with ourselves. But of course, this makes my stories harder
Sherri: There are people who need
your stories told your way, don’t let the dictates of the marketing derail your
goals. This is also what I tell myself.
I am reading more older-characters, characters of mixed race or of
different races. I have discovered that a good story is a good story no matter
if the characters are different than me, maybe better because they are
different. It is one of the reasons I make my own characters biracial and with
challenges different than my own. I like to explore those differences and
similarities. My world, even in my tiny part of it, is filled with a variety of
people in a rainbow of colors, religions and sexual preferences, so too should
Has your career influenced your stories?
Lila: I’ve got an extensive
background in law (I’ve got a PhD in international law and passed the bar exam in
my home country). This had a very bad impact on my creative writing. In fact,
although I used to write hundreds of pages every year in my teens, my creative
well dried up during my law years and ‘sterilized’ my thoughts. I became an
entrepreneur when we moved to Japan and finally, my mojo came back. I still use
what I learned in my stories, though, either for my plots or characters.
Sherri: Do you write full time now, or hold down another job as well as write?
Lila: I’ve got two business on
top of writing, so no, unfortunately it’s not my full-time job!
Sherri: How long have you been writing?
Lila: Since I was ten, I think.
Along with reading, it’s been my major emotional outlet all my life – that’s
why I became nearly depressed when I couldn’t find the time or inspiration any
more during my twenties and early thirties.
Sherri: People who are not
creative do not understand what it is like to not be able to create. Like you,
I started writing at around ten years old. Different tragedies in life have
staunched my creative flow, losing our home to a fire is another reason I write
a darker, contemporary suspense. I believe it is my way of working through the
Lila: Oh wow, yes, I can entirely relate to that. We were in Tokyo in
2011 when the huge earthquake struck the northern region of Japan. In a blink,
our lives changed and we had to start again everything, in another city.
Writing clearly helped process my emotions and fears.
Sherri: What new project do you
have going on?
Lila: This year, I published my
Temper saga (three books, about 240k total), and I am currently working
on the sequel, called Vindicta. Temper introduces my three heroes: Lana,
37, an Italian businesswoman, Honda, 57, her martial arts instructor and Yuki,
42, Honda’s wife. It’s set in Japan.
When Lana accepts the Hondas’ red-hot proposal in Tokyo, she
stumbles into a dark rabbit hole. The Veil of Reality crumbles under her eyes.
To her horror, she realizes she is the solution to Honda’s spiraling madness,
but the enemy within has awaken and is slowly burning her alive, too. Vindicta
takes place in Italy a few years later, where Lana and her family go back to
find answers (and much more) after the tragic events of Temper.
I also plan to release a novella (40k), Platinum Nights, in
early 2020. It’s a contemporary and interracial romance set between LA and
Japan. I’ve got a few other novella-length stories (some contemporary, some
paranormal) that I want to flesh out.
Sherri: You sound busy. I like to
juggle multiple projects but sometimes it can also be overwhelming.
What do you love about
Lila: Seeing my characters come
to life, listening to them whisper their story in my ear, rousing powerful
emotions in my readers, introducing people to other places and cultures.
Exploring my own fears and aspirations, too!
Sherri: I can relate about
exploring my own fears and issues, I think writing and reading are forms of
therapy. My friend and the former leader of the Pamlico Writers’ Group once
said all artists, including writers, are broken. It is through that broken part
that we view the world and give it light.
What is your least favorite
thing about writing?
Lila: The long days where
nothing works, the hours spent staring at a blank page when everything seemed
so clear under the shower. Editing and formatting kill me! Maybe one day I’ll
be able to hire someone for doing all of the dirty work, ahahaha.
Sherri: With all that you have
going on do you have any hobbies or interests besides writing? Do these show up
in your writing?
Lila: Martial arts, in
particular aikido, are the way I release my tension and stress. And yes, most
of my characters (men and women) practice one!
Sherri: What do you feel are your
writing strengths and weaknesses? What comes easily for you, and what do you
have to work harder to get?
Lila: My readers enjoy my
descriptive and immersive style, the way I make them experience so many
feelings, how I spirit them away to Japan and lead them to more tolerance and
open-mindedness. They also praise the quality of the steamy scenes I write, how
mutual respect and consent are always keys, even in some very scorching and
disturbing moments, and this is important to me. Bestsellers like 50 Shades of
Grey have done a lot of damage with readers, beyond the world of BDSM, and it’s
crucial that romance stops glorifying abuse, in my opinion.
My weakness is that as a non-native English speaker, aside from
language mistakes now and then, I cannot pass for an American writer, either in
style or the way my characters act. This is off-putting to some. I’m also a
pantser, not an outliner, so sometimes I get stuck – chapters 1, 13 and 22 are
done, and I wonder how to connect all of this!
Sherri: I’m southern so there are
those who would swear English is not my native language either, it’s the
accent. It does make looking up words difficult and using proper language more
time consuming, but I believe who we are and where we are from can also be an
asset to our writing. It gives a unique voice.
I sympathize with being a pantser, I don’t outline either. I have
learned to make note of things I want to go into the story. My first draft is
rather lean and I go back and fill in, flesh out and tie everything together
during the rewrite.
Well, it seems our time is running out. I have enjoyed visiting
with you today. I hope someday we can meet in person.
If you have enjoyed my chat with Lila Mina, please check out her
links below. Visit her social media and follow the links to her books. I know I
Have a great day. Y’all come back to Creekside Café and set a
spell, we’ll talk about books, life and the sexy new waiter. Shh, don’t tell my
Lila Mina’s bio:
Readers will find behind the pen name Lila Mina
a European woman in her early forties who has been living in Japan for a decade
with her husband and son. After nearly twenty years of using her writing skills
for drafting legal briefs and business reports, she went back to her first
love: fiction. These days, when she is not running behind deadlines or wrapping
tea for overseas customers, you can find her practicing aikido, writing or
editing her manuscripts while sipping delicious green tea.
Inspired by the rich and complex Japanese culture and folklore,
her stories feature strong and mature female protagonists facing their inner
demons or ruthless enemies, and who are never shy to embrace their desires.
trilogy is her first major published work of fiction. Made of Deference,
Dread and Deliverance, Temper is a dark and interracial LGBTQ
paranormal romance featuring a seasoned trio of heroes: two bisexual ladies (37
and 42) and their pan partner (57).
Goddess of Spring by P C Cast, Read by Caitlin Davies (chirp)
This romantic fantasy, paranormal romance is a beautiful
depiction of what love should be, without prejudices.
When Lina asks the Goddess Demeter for help saving her
bakery, she has no clue that Demeter has her own agenda. Transported to
Olympus, Lina is tasked with the job of visiting Hades in the Underworld and
bringing peace to the newly departed.
Lina, in the body of the Goddess of Spring, Persephone, journeys
to the Underworld and with her own powers, establishes herself as their
champion. Lina’s affinity for animals, allows her to sooth the savage beasts
that guard the land of the dead, and her wisdom and kindness sooth a trouble
Hades has kept himself away from the other gods and
goddesses, preferring dead mortals to their self-absorbed antics. He cannot
believe how different Persephone is.
Lina, falling in love with Hades wishes to tell him the
truth but her pledge to Demeter doesn’t allow her to do so.
She, a mortal cannot live in the Underworld without dying
and her responsibilities in the real world keep her tied to her past. How can a
couple from two different worlds find a way to be together? Soul mates find
each other no matter how far away they might travel.
One goddess nearly destroys them both, while another seeks
to bring them together. Can true love win over even the greatest obstacles?
This delightful story will make you believe in the
possibility of magic and happy ever after.
Dead of Winter by Wendy
Corsi Staub, read by Melanie Ewbank
Bella Jordan never planned to be
an amateur sleuth. She was just a widow trying to survive being a single
parent. Raising her seven-year old son, Max and trying to do whatever she can
to see he gets a happy Christmas, Bella doesn’t have time for the dead body
that has washed up from the lake.
The Valley View Inn and Lily Dale
have become their home, and despite or maybe because of the weird things that
happen there, Bella’s sharp wit and logic are often at war with the mystical
and magical side of her community. A sceptic, Bella really doesn’t believe in
visions or talks with the dead, even though a magical cat brought she and her
son to Lily Dale, and they have offered the mother and son their protection,
Bella refuses to allow herself to trust her other sight.
A scream in the night and a body
on the shore have Bella rethinking her ability to be logical.
When Max’s friend, Jiffy goes
missing, Bella believes it is linked to the murderer.
Magic and logic team up to help
locate the missing boy, catch a murderer and retrieve priceless artifacts.
This is a delightful story of
love, hope and possibilities mingled with mystery. If you like a good cozy
mystery with a little twist, check out Wendy Corsi Staub’s Lily Dale Mystery
By Jayne Ann Krentz, narrated by Amanda Leigh Cobb
Jayne Ann Krentz is the first author that made me fall in
love with contemporary romance. Her slightly paranormal character-traits,
strong heroines and the combination of romance with intrigue, makes her
romantic-suspense novels a thrilling read.
When meditation expert, Winter Meadows first takes on Jack
Lancaster for a client, she was just trying to pay the bills. She never
expected to fall in love with him or get tangled up in his obsession of hunting
a dead man.
Jack Lancaster is an FBI consultant with the ability to find
patterns and details through lucid dreaming. When his dreams threaten to
overwhelm his reality, he seeks out Winter Meadows and her meditation
techniques. In a short time, Jack comes to rely on Winter. She understands him
in a way no one else, not even his family can.
Quinton Zane knows he must first get rid of Jack Lancaster
before he can fully realize his goals. When he underestimates Winter and thinks
to use her to destroy Jack, he makes a huge mistake. Together, Winter and Jack
Jayne Ann Krentz weaves the fabric of a story with
character, plot and a glittering strand of what-if. She makes the reader
believe in possibilities and leaves us entertained and ready for more. One of
my favorite authors and Untouchable
is another reason why.
Today I’m excited to welcome Nancee Cain to Creekside Café. Nancee
graciously hosted me on her Facebook Group Page, Cain Raisers for my second
Takeover. Thank you again for your generous hospitality. It is so nice to have
you here at my virtual café. I wish it were real and we could be sitting back
sipping something cool and refreshing.
Nancee: I’m so glad to be here. And your takeover was
so much fun! I think if we met in real life, we’d
for sure be good friends and sit and talk books!
Sherri: That would be lovely
but I’m not drinking grape Koolaid, I have bad memories of that stuff. Though I
do admit to liking lemonade and blue lemonade, I can’t stand the smell of
grape. Imagine Artesian well water and grape Koolaid mixed. For those of you
not familiar with an Artesian well, is smells like rotten eggs.
But books, yes, I love
books and I really like your Facebook Group. You’ve done a great job of bringing
people together. How do you find time to write and keep up with everything
that’s happening with your online group? Surly you don’t work outside the home.
Nancee: I work full time as a nurse counselor in the field of
addiction, and it seems like I write/manage social media full time as well. I
get up early and work before work, work on my lunch break and after work.
Sherri: Wow, and I thought I was busy. When do you sleep? You must be
young and single to be able to handle all of that. Unless you have one of those
amazing husbands who actually support your career. Are you married, how many
Nancee: Yes, um, let me think. (My hubby knows
this better than I do) In Dec we will have been married 37 years. Oh good
grief… That’s a long time he’s had to put up with me! Lol We laugh every year
on our anniversary and agree to “renew the contract.”
Sherri: The mechanic and I will be celebrating 28 years married in
July. He says we’re still on our honeymoon. He’s my cheerleader, my support and
even my researcher at times.
Where are you from, Nancee?
Nancee: I’m from Alabama and live about 60 miles NW of Birmingham in a
Sherri: Have you ever been to the east coast, especially, eastern North
Nancee: I did when I was a kid. We used to travel east from TX and
either go to FL or up the east coast. I love NC and think it’s a beautiful
state. I’m writing a story now that takes place in the Appalachia Mountains,
which is one of my favorite places.
Sherri: How long have you been writing?
Nancee: Since I was a teenager but seriously since 2012.
Sherri: We have a similar timeline, though you have been more
productive. How many books do you have out?
I have two paranormal angel romances and a novella. And in the contemporary
Pine Bluff series there are five currently published, with two more coming by
the end of the year. So that will make ten total in December.
Sherri: Wow, that’s impressive, especially with your demanding
schedule. Are you indie or traditionally published?
Nancee: I’m Hybrid. I pitched at Romantic Times in 2014
and was offered for two—Saving Evangeline and The
Rehabilitation of Angel Sinclair. I only accepted Saving Evangeline
and it was published through Omnific in 2015 the rest I’ve done through self-publishing.
Sherri: Tell me your journey to getting
Nancee: I was a reader first, hooked up with
my critique partner, who is also a dear friend, and started attending our local
Southern Magic RWA. I took classes on how to write and dove in. I pitched at RT
2014 and after that I’ve done self-publishing.
Sherri: What do
you love about writing?
Nancee: I love the beginnings,
when the ideas are fresh and when the characters start to take over the story.
I’m a real pantser. And my favorite part of the process is what some consider to be the hardest.
I love the editing because my editor takes my rough manuscript and guides me
with a sense of humor and encouragement to make it
the best it can be.
Sherri: I’m a pantser as well,
though I’ve not embraced editing so much as rewriting. When I read through a
passage and see where I can make it better. I just have to be careful about
seeing a place for this great scene, dialogue, or whatever, only to realize
I’ve already written something similar in the next chapter.
What do you barely tolerate about writing?
Nancee: Like most, the soggy middles can be troublesome and the
afterward, the marketing, getting the
book out there. I’m at heart an introvert and would rather just hide in my
writing cave and write!
Sherri: Middles often get muddled, my mentor Marni Graff said to add
another piece to the puzzle. She’s a mystery writer. She has really helped me
find my voice as an author. It was her encouragement that pushed me to
self-publish my first book after my agent dropped me. I met one of your author
friends, Marie Savage, she said you were her mentor. I hope to have her visit
the café also.
that’s so sweet of Marie! She is a fabulous writer and we have become great
friends in real life.
Sherri: What are your writing strengths and weaknesses?
Nancee: I have no sense of comma usage. And
my folks have a lot of wall sex, seated sex, etc. because I don’t understand
when to lay, lie, laid. LOL As for strengths, I’m pretty strict about
writing every day.
Sherri: I learned to make time to write while participating with my
local Romance Writers’ the Heart of Carolina’s Book in a Week challenge. It
gave me the confidence to send query letters to agents and participate with
Who are your favorite
Nancee: Too many! I love Romances,
Contemporary, New Adult, Young Adult, I like psychological thrillers and
Southern Gothic and I love biographies.
Sherri: Historical romance was
my first love but like you, I’ve branched out. I really enjoy biographies,
especially for research.
Do you have any other
hobbies or interests? Do these show up in your stories?
Nancee: I’m an amateur
photographer, genealogist. Strangely enough, I
haven’t incorporated any of my hobbies into my writing. Since I write about
heavy stuff, I guess I pull more from background working in the addiction
field. Geez, I need to give these folks some fun hobbies!
Sherri: Who or what has most
influenced your writing?
Nancee: My parents always
encouraged it, my critique partner keeps me honest, Stephanie Phillips, my agent is patient
and my number one cheerleader. And I have found my tribe of authors who will push me when needed, hold my hand, laugh with me
and share my frustrations.
Sherri: What are your writing plans
for the future?
Nancee: I’m currently working
on a magical realism/romantic suspense story. And on July 11thThe
Reintroduction of Sammie Morgan, Book 6 in the Pine Bluff Novels will
be released. In November, the final book, The Realization of Grayson
Deschanelle will be published. It’s
going to be hard to say goodbye to Pine Bluff.
Sherri: Oh man, our time is
running out and we have so much more to talk about. Promise you’ll come back
again. Thank you so much for joining me at the café, Nancee. For more
information about Nancee Cain and her books follow the links below.
Biography and Links
I’m Nancee Cain and I
write romance with a serrated edge. My characters are flawed and many are
dealing with troubling issues like addiction, alcoholism, suicidal thoughts,
PTSD, Learning Disabilities, Low self esteem.
The first books are
“wickedly” good paranormal romance reads about snarky, hilarious
angels who have to come to earth and solve a problem, yet do so disguised as
humans. They don’t always succeed, but they are always funny!
romance novels all have ties to the small town of Pine Bluff, Alabama–where
everybody knows your name and your business! Each book is a standalone,
but they are more fun read in order to see what your favorite characters are up
to! (Dylan from the first book was quite the demanding rockstar and appears in
all but one of the books, I believe) And his book is FREE!
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: 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
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,
Sherri: Is there anything about
writing that you despise or barely
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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 a24/7job. 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. Istudied 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 whereIget 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 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.
Sherri: Welcome to Creekside Café, Suki McMinn. Let me introduce you to
my friends and readers.
Suki: Thank you so much for inviting me to your cafe. I really enjoyed
your chat with Thyra Dane. You know, she and I go way back. When I was a brand-new
writer, we wrote fanfiction in the same fandom and became great friends online
before she came to see me in person. We even hosted a fanfiction contest
together. I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek at her short story in the
anthology, and it’s a real treat. Her style is so fresh and funny and sexy, all
at the same time.
looking forward to reading all of the stories. I have to say, I’m excited about
the project. For those of you who haven’t heard Suki, Thyra, along with several
other international writers will have stories featured in an upcoming
Suki: This is the first time I’ve contributed to an anthology, and it feels great to be on a team of authors. I was impressed with the New Romance Cafe group and loved that we wanted to donate the book’s proceeds to Pink Ribbon International. I’m a breast cancer survivor, so it’s a cause near and dear to my heart (quite literally!). A routine 3D mammogram saved my life in 2017.
While I haven’t experienced cancer first-hand, I have friends and loved ones
who have. It feels good to be able to do something good with our talents.
Suki: I can’t wait to read the stories in our anthology,
“Love in Bloom,” as well as the summer book, “Hot Summer
Nights.” We have such a diverse group of authors from all over the world
writing in different sub-genres. It’s going to make an interesting collection.
I set my paranormal romance in the fictional town of Hogback where my cozy
mystery series takes place, but I steamed it up quite a bit since it’s a
romance. All the stories in our book have the theme “spring” in
common, and mine is called “The Iris.”
Sherri: It was so cool to learn you are not only familiar
with eastern North Carolina but a Carolina girl as well.
Suki: I am! It’s my
favorite place in the world. And did you know North Carolina is known as
“the writingest state?”
My newest book, “The Vampire of Waller County?” is set in
North Carolina. It’s actually the first book in my new series of novelettes
(the Hogback Series). Book 2, ”Christmas in Waller County,” is out now as
Sherri: They sound like a lot of fun. Tell us a little about
Suki: I call it a cozy vampire mystery series with sweet romance and humor. (I might have made that genre up. Ha!) My main character is 18, so it could also be considered New Adult. My artist brother, Corey McNabb, painted the artwork and designed the covers, which I love. I set the series in Hogback, a tiny fictional North Carolina town in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It’s just like Tryon but with more biting.
Tyron is your home, now?
Suki: I grew up in Asheville, North Carolina, but spent 27 years living in Los Angeles. I returned to North Carolina—to the tiny town of Tryon, where I lived for four years before my husband’s job took us to Phoenix, Arizona. Now I spend my summers in Tryon and the rest of my time in Phoenix.
Sherri: You were a model and actress in LA? Seeing your picture, I can see why you, you are lovely. You have a great smile.
Suki: Thank you! It was an interesting profession, and
now I write about it. My first novel, “Drop Dead Gorgeous,” is a paranormal
romance set in L.A.’s modeling world.
Sherri: Have you ever been to
eastern North Carolina?
Suki: Yes! Growing up in the
mountains of North Carolina, we spent many of our summer vacations at the
beaches of North and South Carolina. My grandparents bought a little house in
Bolivia, North Carolina, right on the intercoastal waterway. We called it the
“Little Sandy Beach House” because there was a tiny patch of sand at
the end of the street where the water met the land and made a perfect private beach.
On Saturday nights, we played bingo in the community building, and that was
about as wild as it got around there. I sure do miss it. If I had my druthers,
I’d have a little house in the mountains and a little house on the coast.
home is north of that area, along the Pamlico Sound, though my oldest son and
his family live near Bolivia.
Do you write full-time or do you
hold down another job as well as write?
Suki: I write full time. I
retired from my on-camera career when I left Los Angeles.
Sherri: How long have you been
Suki: I started writing ten years
ago at the age of 49 and fell in love with it. I lived in Los Angeles at the
time and wondered what was next for me after working for nearly three decades
as a model and commercial actor. My husband and I left L.A. two years later and
moved to Tryon. When new friends asked what I did, I said, “I’m a
writer,” because that’s what I wanted to be. Then I made it so.
Sherri: I admire your confidence,
it took me years to be able to call myself a writer.
Are your books Indie published or
traditional or hybrid?
Suki: Hybrid. My first book, “Drop Dead Gorgeous,” had a publisher, but it went out of business a week after my book came out. I’d just ordered the cake for my launch party and invited the whole town of Tryon in a press release, so I gave myself a quick and dirty education in self-publishing and got the book back out in its second edition just in time to pop the champagne. Then I self-published more books, but I continue to look for publishers for some of my books. I write both fiction and nonfiction. I write nonfiction as Susan McNabb.
Sherri: Some days I love being a
writer and other days I want to bang my head against the wall. What do you
enjoy about writing?
Suki: I love “losing
time” as I get immersed in telling a story. There’s really nothing better
except maybe strutting down a runway, but I don’t do that anymore.
Sherri: Is there anything you
despise about writing?
Suki: The technical stuff. I can
spend hours trying to figure out how to place page numbers correctly on a
draft. I once deleted the table of contents from a book because one chapter
heading was indented more than the others, and I didn’t know why. Those things
aren’t in my natural skill set, and they drive me crazy
Sherri: I’m right there with you
one that one. I ask my sons or grandsons to help me on the computer and they go
bip, bip, bip, okay, it’s done. I’m like, hey wait a minute, you hit what
button to get you where?
Sherri: What are your writing
strengths and weaknesses?
Suki: I’m not sure if it’s a strength or weakness,
but like many writers, I’m often plagued with self-doubt. My path to being a
published author is littered with corpses of finished and unfinished books.
They might be brilliant or horrible, but I can’t tell which.
Sherri: Yes, those brilliant
ideas that fizzled out somewhere in the middle of the story. But the fact that
you went on to write three books says it all. I believe we as authors have to
find our voice. Sometimes we have to experiment and see what doesn’t work in
order to discover what does.
What type of books do you read? Who are your favorite authors?
Suki My favorite author is Jane Austen. I have an English
Literature degree so have enjoyed a fair number of the classics, but I also
appreciate many other kinds of writing. I read fiction and nonfiction and only
wish there were more hours in the day to read. I love book clubs because they
introduce me to authors and genres I might have missed.
Sherri: As we mentioned earlier, Suki and I met in the Facebook
group, The New Romance Café.
Suki: And are now bound by an anthology of romantic short
stories called “Love in Bloom.” I noticed we had friends in common
among our North Carolina authors. It’s a small world.
Sherri: It is interesting that two of us in “Love in Bloom”
are from North Carolina when there are authors from New Zealand, United
Kingdom, Norway, and several states in the US.
Before we go, give us a little insight into you as a person
and as a writer.
Suki: I had no idea writing could be so rewarding or I would
have started much sooner. Now, I make it a point to encourage new writers. It
can be a hobby or a profession, and you can start at any point in your life. I
also advise new writers to join writers’ groups. Writing is such a solitary activity,
and sharing experiences with other writers is crucial. I’ve learned so much
from other writers in the ten years I’ve been writing, and there is still so
much to learn. When I moved to North Carolina, I joined the North Carolina
Writers’ Network. When I got to Phoenix, I joined the Desert Rose, a local
chapter of the Romance Writers of America. If you can’t find a group you like,
start one like we did with Tryon Writers. Reach out and make new friends in the
writing world. You won’t regret it.
Sherri: I agree, I love my
writers’ groups. I believe it is important to have a supportive local group
like the Pamlico Writers’ Group and the Heart of Carolina. But having the
resources of a national and international group like the Romance Writers of
America has allowed me to take online classes and participate in contests,
workshops and other events I would not have known about otherwise.
Part of the reason I started this
blog was to connect with people who share my passion for books and writing.
I hope you have enjoyed my chat
with author Suki McMinn. For more information on Suki, check out her website
www.sukimcminn.com. If you are interested in her non-fiction work, you can find her as Susan McNabb,