Yep. If you didn’t see it in an earlier post, I’m on TikTok. Be careful. It’s addictive.
Geez, I forgot to post this. April 5 was the release date for my short story “Kidnapped For A Day.” It’s in the book What A Day! by the Heart of Dixie Fiction Writers.
Here’s the blurb.
There are 11 authors total, but the biggies are NYT bestselling authors Linda Howard and Linda Winstead Jones. Be sure to pick up a copy (ebook or paperback) at all major on-line booksellers. Enjoy!
I’ve been working SLOWLY on the next Southern Crime Family novel. Sen’s story. But for some reason I couldn’t concentrate on it like I should. So I decided to do sometime I’ve put off for TWO years! Yes. Count them. One, two whole frigging years. Crazy. I had previously replaced the ebook covers for The Circle Organization books, but hadn’t taken care of the paperbacks. Same design, but I needed to include the spine and back copy.
Then they really needed to be reformatted (the inners). That takes time. Plus I wanted to added excerpts for the other books. As in Circle of Desire to have Danger and Deception excerpts in the back and so on.
Doesn’t sound like much trouble, but that includes updating the lists of books. I do have a total of 11 books out. Of course, there are two that are still with RandomHouse. I haven’t decided when to ask for the rights back. I had gotten the rights from HarperCollins to The Circle books two years ago (thus the new covers), but I’ve been putting off the RH ones. Maybe because I hope to write for them again one day? *shrug*
Beyond the 11 for sale, I have 10 books written that are not published. One day soon (hopefully), I plan to rewrite most of them. Not counting, I have another hockey romance and a suspense book I plan to write. Then I might even try my hand at historical (1910s). Goodness, I need to get myself back into forward gear and get to writing.
And I also have plans to release The Circle in a bundle hopefully in the next month or so.
Moving on. As I like to include these on my website, here are copies of my latest ads. By the way, I’m on TikTok. Be sure to follow me! See. I doing a lot of stuff.
Well, like most everyone, for the last couple months I’ve been reading books and watching a lot of TV. I’ve been working the life draining day-job during my usual hours. But since there is no travel time, except a short stroll down the hallway, I’ve found myself with a little more time to goof off. Sure, I have been doing some writing, but mostly ads, tweets, FB posts, and beefing up an old historical romance manuscript. Nothing worthwhile, like writing the my second book in the Southern Crime Family series, Sen.
But oddly, by watching TV, it has given me the juice needed to write that book. I think in a way, the success of Jake had me a little worried. What if I screw up and do a lousy job on Sen? I have a wonderful romance already figured out: a half-Asian bad boy and a deaf white girl whose daddy hated Sen. A bit of Romeo and Juliet, except the girl likes the guy but isn’t in love. The guy is, madly, deeply. Don’t worry, she’ll fall as madly and deeply in love too.
So you’re probably wondering what was I watching that help my writing mojo? Justified. The TV series (2010-2015) that used to be on the FX channel. Love the story, actors, and how they had fun shooting every scene. Set in Kentucky, it reminded me about a lot of things from when I was a kid. Not so much the criminal behavior, but how family stuck together and protected each other. They may fight each other, but heaven forbid if anyone interfered or attacked a family member. It didn’t matter if you hated your cousin’s guts, you took care of that cousin and later, after the trouble was over, you proceeded with your aversion to that relative.
Another show I watched was Self Made on Netflix. Love Octavia Spencer. She’s so talented. Anything she’s in, I’ll watch. I want her to be my friend. I’m sure she’s one of the most interesting people in Hollywood (figuratively, I have no idea where she lives). The movie was uplifting, as in showing with determination you can become successful. Sometimes you have to sacrifice parts of your life to achieve that goal, but if that’s your desire, go for it! Oh, the clothes. Beautiful.
Then I started hearing from different people about a new romance movie similar to 50 Shades of Grey. I didn’t get into the Shades too much, mainly because the woman was a college student. I prefer movies, books with more mature characters. Let’s say each character to have been in the work force, full time, for a year or more. Anyway, I heard this movie was very sexy. It’s called 365 DNI on Netflix. This is my take on it, the writing could’ve been more mature, the photography was awesome, the quality of the filming was pretty good (think inside shots), the music was fine (I didn’t once think porno canned tunes), and the acting…a bit over the top a few times, but considering how good the male lead looked in and out of clothes, I can forgive it. Certainly worth watching once all the way through and a second time for the parts that were unbelievably hot.
Just a reminder, FAKE PLAY is coming out Tuesday, 6/30/20. Be sure to pre-order it and tell your friends. It will be the last of my hockey books for a while. I need to finish up the Southern Crime Family series (JAKE, SEN, and ETHAN) before I head over to a couple of bounty hunters books I want to finish. Goodness, I have so many books to finish or rewrite and get out there. You know, I did finish eleven books before number 10 became published. So number one through nine, and eleven need a chance to be read by you too.
I recently updated the cover of my Facebook page for the Circle series. Love the little show of, well, you know. And be on the lookout this summer for a special deal on the series, along with the two novellas. Yes, five books.
Lastly, the two novellas have a new cover that will show up online this summer. So much to do and so little time.
What do you think?
Two strangers wake up in the same bed after partying in Las Vegas to discover they are married.
Connor Ellison, one of Atlanta Edge’s best wingers and biggest prankster, is given an ultimatum by the coaches and the PR department. He must stay married until the end of the run for the Cup or be available for trade.
Lily Jones wants nothing to do with the insane demand. But he convinces her the best decision is to play along. If they remain married and pretend to be in love, he offers to save her family’s ice rink from bankruptcy. Anyway, it’s only until the end of the hockey season. Then they can go their separate ways.
Easy-peasy. No way will they go to the finals. No way will they truly fall in love.
The book will be available to pre-order at other book seller locations soon.
In the past, whenever I interviewed an author, I used seven questions. It dawned on me today, I may have never answered them myself. Here they are.
Who are your top five authors to read?
Funny that if I had answered this just three years ago, it would’ve been a bit different. But I guess this is true to everyone. My current favorites are Louise Bay, Maya Banks, Jennifer Ashley, Lisa Kleypas, and Linda Howard. The last two have been my favorites for years. When you come across an author who continues to publish books that hold your attention, you just can’t let them go.
What is your go-to book to read over and over again?
Oh, my, I actually have several now. Lorraine Heath’s Lord of Wicked Intentions, Meagan McKinney’s Lions and Lace, Jennifer Ashley’s The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie, and Maya Banks’s Never Seduce a Scot. I swear I re-read or re-listen to contemporary too. A couple of Sawyer Bennett’s Cold Fury books and several of Louise Bay’s English men (that’s not the name of the books, but the heroes are English, and YUM, the narrator (audio version) is great, but that’s because the author writes them so sexy!).
Who influenced your writing the most? Why?
In the beginning, I would say Linda Howard’s books. Her heroines are so smart and gutsy. Her book, All The Queen’s Men, encouraged me to write my first book, Circle of Desire, that was published by Avon’s Impulse Imprint. Now, don’t go and buy my book and expect it read like Linda’s. The only thing similar between the two is the heroines are gutsy in their own way.
The why is easy. I admire Linda’s writing then and still do. As time has gone on, I say several more authors have influenced me, such as Anne Stuart, Sherrilyn Kenyon, and the ones I mentioned above. If I admire your book and want to read it over and over again, I pay attention and think of how I can improve my writing.
Describe where you are the most productive when you write.
In my study. But I can write anywhere I’m left alone for more than an hour. Otherwise, I’ll do other busy author work (editing, outlining, promo, etc.) in hotel rooms, waiting rooms, lunch time at day job, etc. I type it in my phone, iPad, or write into a notebook I try to keep in my purse.
Tells us a little about your current book?
Fake Play is my second Atlanta Edge Hockey Romance book.
Two strangers wake up in the same bed one morning after a big party in Las Vegas to discover they are married. (OMG! This is one of my favorite tropes. But I love it.)
Connor Ellison, one of Atlanta Edge’s best wingers and biggest prankster, is given an ultimatum by the coaches and the PR department. He must stay married until the end of the hockey season.
Lily Jones wants nothing to do with him, but he convinces her the best decision is to play along. He offers, if they remain married and pretend to be in love, he’ll help save her family’s ice rink from bankruptcy. That’s only until the end of the season, Then they can go their separate ways. Easy-peasy.
(But you and I know something will happen to stop that. Like love and marriage and a baby carriage…oops! Did I type that?)
Show us your one favorite scene of dialogue from that book.
(This is a page or so into the beginning of the book.)
“Oh, f**k.” One big hand scrubs his face and then he uses the back of a wrist to rub his eyes. After a heavy sigh, he says, “Darling, you need to go. I have a bus and plane to catch in a couple hours.”
Great. He doesn’t remember my name. Isn’t that special?
“Lily. My name’s Lily.” I sit up and whimper. The room’s spinning. As anyone can guess, I’m not much of a drinker.
“Nice to meet you, Lily. I’m Connor.”
“I know.” My mouth is so dry. “You’re Connor Ellison, winger for the Atlanta Edge. I’ve seen your picture everywhere in Atlanta.”
“All right.” His gaze moves from mine, examining the room. He purses his lips.”Excuse me, but I need to get my stuff together.” He turns and picks up a pair of dark dress pants. For a couple seconds, I watch as he pulls them up and over a firm ass sans underwear.
I become light-headed, not from the view, goodness knows it’s a wondrous sight, but my body alerting me to how I mistreated it the night before. I bend over.
With hands on my knees, and my head nearly between them to keep from throwing up or fainting or both, I take in slow breaths. That’s when I see it. The biggest freaking diamond ring with matching wedding band. On my finger.
I straighten, lifting my hand in front of my face. “What? Is this real?”
It has to be a fake. Some type of joke.
I look at Connor. His confused look tells me he’s as clueless as I am.
What do you believe makes a man sexy?
A man is sexy when he pulls on a white shirt, tie, and dress pants just because he knows I appreciate it. When he does an unexpected and thoughtful thing, like pick up my favorite candy bar on the way home from work. Hugs me and kisses my cheek and tells me he loves me.
Wolf Savalas has a good reason for kidnapping Sofia Cruz, the favorite cousin to the leader of Thirty-Second gang. His MC plans to hit the leader’s home and sweet Sofia will be in the crossfire.
Sofia stopped seeing the handsome biker after he admitted to being a deadly Mayhem Brother. So why is she now handcuffed to the sexy man? And why is she not sure if she wants to be set free?
You know what I like about romance books? Of course, the hot sex, but truthfully, the layers my favorite authors weave into their stories. For romances, there should be two main plots in the book.
One, of course is the mystery of romance. You know, the mystery of how they come to understand they should be together (not just because they are compatible in bed, though that is important as it is in relationship) and how they work out their happy ending. A lot of this is internal conflict because love is emotion. Like duh, right?
Second, what is going on in their lives that pull them together? Or make sure they are at the same place at the same time? It can be a missing child, a failing ranch, a killer on the loose, etc. You get the idea. This is the external conflict.
Then you can layer on more. Maybe the two main characters’ families are mortal enemies (Jake: A Southern Crime Family Novel), or hero has a problem with being touched (Full Heat: A Brothers of Mayhem Novel), or heroine reappears after disappearing years before (Circle of Deception: The Circle series). That’s right. The hero and heroine should never be perfect. One can be a little less perfect than the other, but both should have faults. That makes them so much more interesting.
Just be careful with the layers and plots. As an author, it’s important to keep up with
them. The plots need advancement throughout the book, and certainly need to be solved completely by the end. The layers need to show up along the way too. Usually, those faults need to be improved or a promise of improving. Not all of them, but the major ones. At the end of the book, the characters have to be better for knowing each other.
The only exception to solving a plot or improving a fault or more within a book is when it’s part of a series involving one main character. Such as Sylvia Day’s Crossfire series, Darynda Jones’s Charley Davidson series, Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series, etc.
Personally, I’ve quit reading series with a same main character. I get bored, and after awhile, the hero/heroine gets on my nerves. Maybe because they do not seem to grow and learn from their mistakes. Don’t get me wrong. The series above and many others are great series (they wouldn’t be NYT best selling books if they weren’t) but it’s just not my thing, my taste.
My series have a couple threads that run through them to connect, but nothing major. That’s why most can be read as standalones. The Southern Crime Family series is currently the only one that will need to be read in order. Only book one (Jake) is out. Book two should be in the summer of 2020. The series is about three brothers and their
journey to find love and the true killer responsible for their father’s death. Each book is about a brother.
Another thing about plots. In my books of 60,000 words or less, I try not to throw in a complicated plot(s). Simple is best. If you didn’t, you would limit the romance in such a small book. And no, geez, that doesn’t mean putting in more sex. Romance is emotion. Getting to know each other’s personality traits, understanding why they do the things they do, often learning to trust each other, they are all part of a romance.
For that matter, I write for entertainment. The only place I teach a person something is through my blog posts here (or the workshops I do on occasion).
I was watching an interview with Mike Fisher, a retired NHL Nashville Predator and hubby of Carrie Underwood. In being teased about NHL roommates on the road, he mentioned they no longer have to share a room (per the CBA).
So many hockey romances I’ve read mention roommates. The junior leagues probably still do and that’s where others picked it up. Thus one of many reasons I read interviews, opinions, etc. about the NHL. I’m striving to make it real. Well, as real as a romance should be. Most readers appear to not want real-real. (e.g., My Brothers of Mayhem books.)
I came across a screen shot of my very first website. Yep. I designed it myself with SiteSpinner. A cool little software program that helps those unfamiliar with coding. It was WYSIWYG type and I used it for years. If you can read some of the small print, you will see I was a romantic suspense and paranormal writer. That’s paranormal romance writer by the way.One day, I hope to pull out one of my paranormal romances and rewrite it and see if someone else likes it besides myself.
If you’re wondering, I wrote eleven books before I sold my first one. It was actually book number ten, my second romantic suspense, that Avon Impulse (HarperCollins) published. The first two books I ever wrote need to be thrown out, and only the plots used. One was a historical romance set in the Middle Ages. The next was a romantic suspense, not spy or assassin like my Circle books, but a former DEA agent (heroine) recuperating from her years being undercover. During the operation, she became addicted to cocaine while she played the drug lord’s girlfriend and she screwed up even more. She’d fallen for him. After putting him in prison, and length stay in rehab, she came under investigation. The special agent (hero) investigating her begins to have feelings for her. The drug lord escapes prison and troubles ensue.
No. I haven’t read it in years, but I still remember the plot.
October is a good month for me. My first book, Circle of Desire, was published October 18, 2011, and on October 14, 2014, I agreed with Loveswept (Penguin-Random House) on a two-book contract. (Those books came out in 2016.) It was a mostly lovely experience I will never forget. The best part was joining forces with my agent, Emily Sylvan Kim, Prospect Agency. Love her!
So far, I’ve published 10 books. All of them can be found at most major booksellers’ websites. Only one was from my pre-published days (yep, my debut book). So I guess you could say, I have a good stack to pull from when I have the time.
Presently, I’m working on a new Hockey Romance titled Fake Play.
A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Kenya. She was a member of my writers group, and hopefully will be again when she returns to Alabama. YAY!
She has this wonderful group on Facebook called The KGB: The Ks Grown & Sexy Book Club.
She sent me the following questions to prepare for the interview. There were some great questions. To make sure my mind wouldn’t go blank, I filled them out and even cheated on the video interview by glancing at them. LOL!
So if you want to join her group and check out the video (plus many other authors), here’s the link. The KGB. Lots of fun!
Who are you and what genre to do you write?
Carla Swafford AND I WRITE ACTION/ADVENTURE ROMANTIC SUSPENSE (lots of car chase scenes and running around – think James Bond); and recently I’ve delved into hockey romance! LOVE Hockey! GO PREDATORS! What romance book popped your cherry?
Oh, my, I was young. Around 12. Roberta Gellis, Bond of Blood. Got it because it had a horse and knight on it. I didn’t understand the sex scene until I reread it years later. Still love the story though it has stretches of history information. One thing about older romances, they go into more details than necessary.
What was the last romance book blew your mind?
The most recent one was Kerrigan Byrne’s The Hunter. I actually listened to the book through Audible. It’s a regency but different. The hero was to kill the heroine (that’s not unusual in the type of books I read). Maybe it was the narration mixed with the writing and hero who wasn’t pushy, but a here-I-am, take-me-as-I-am sort. He didn’t try to change for her or be an ass. It struck the right notes for me that I bought it in paperback so I can read it the old fashioned way. Maybe get a better idea of what was about the book that I loved so much it. I rarely buy paperback anymore.
How did you get started writing romance?
Back in the eighties, my favorite authors took their time in writing books (I understand that), so I got tired of waiting and decided I have a good imagination, and instead of waiting for an author to write the book I really want, I would write it myself. Took me a few years, between kids, a full time job, and life, I finished it, but it was horrible and I knew it. I had no idea how to go about improving it. So I wrote another one. The first was a historical romance, and I thought a contemporary would be easier. LOL! It was a romantic suspense. Horrible again. But it didn’t take as long to write. Not long after that I found out about RWA. I joined in 1993.
Which one of your heroes would you risk it all for?
That’s a good question. For I love all of my guys. I guess I’ll have to go with my favorite, Jack, and sadly, his story got cut short. His is in a novella (Circle of Defiance), but he shows up in all of my Circle books. He’s funny, loves his cat, made sure his brother married the woman his brother had loved for so long. He keeps falling in love with women he can’t have, until Katerina (a mob boss’s daughter), and he loves to recite poetry when he’s in a romantic mood. He shaves
his head and has tats and piercings all over his upper torso.
If there was an apocalyptic disaster what is your weapon and what character in any book would you want by your side?
Olivia St. Vincent from my book Circle of Desire. She can kick butt and is a great shot with a sniper rifle.
What was your best fan moment as a fan girl or as an author?
Oh, how to choose. I’ve been fortunate to meet most if not all of my of my favorite authors. I have to say, Anne Stuart. She’s so much fun. One of the writers in my RWA chapter knew her well enough to ask her to be a speaker at one of our luncheons. I was appointed (like I begged to be appointed) as the contact to pick her up at the airport. Anne Stuart was having a problem with a knee, so she had airport assistance in bringing her in a wheelchair to where I was to meet her. There she sat in her wheelchair coming up a gangway and I stood in a crowd of people waiting. I held a sign that said, “Anne Stuart: I’m your number one fan.” She started laughing when I turned it for it read “I don’t own an ax.” (Referring to Stephen King’s Misery.)
Favorite trope to read and favorite trope to write?
Favorite Trope to READ: marriage of convenience (historical Romance or contemporary). Thus why I wrote JAKE: A Southern Crime Family novel.
Favorite Trope to WRITE: I guess most people who read my books can tell, most of my books have something about protecting family, especially younger siblings.
What do you have on deck next?
Presently writing a second book, Fake Play, in the Atlanta Edge Hockey team’s world. I love it when a heroine goes to Las Vegas to party and turns up married to the hero and doesn’t remember a thing (or close to it) the next morning.
But my latest book for sale is JAKE: A Southern Crime Family novel. It’s that favorite trope of mine. Marriage of convenience.
In your own words tell us about this book?
Jake is the eldest of three sons to the meanest man in Marystown, Alabama. Someone has killed the old man and they have to find the murderer. When he’s shot at during the funeral, he chases down a suspect that turns out to be Angel Tally. Angel is the granddaughter to the patriarch of the Tally family. She proceeds to tell him he has to marry her. He doesn’t believe her. But he can’t help remembering the time in high school when she stole his wallet, and he gave her a spanking. She remembers too, and wants to experience his hand on her ass again. She’s always had a thing for him, but she needs to take care of her teenaged brother. Protect him from the life she lives as a collector for the Tally family and far away from the crazy Whitfields. Jake has a secret to protect and having a wife is not in the cards, especially a dangerous, untrustworthy Tally. Then his father’s will is read. It does appear he and Angel will be marrying. Otherwise, all of his plans to go legit will go to hell with his father.
What prompted this series & these particular characters ?
I had to think about this for a little while. Let’s say when I was growing up, most of the heroes I watched in the movies and TV where anti-heroes. Like Jack Nicholson in Easy Rider, Marlon Brando in The Godfather, and Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry. I think that’s why I read and write guys who are not necessarily nice guys. Though in the end, they are often on their knees begging for forgiveness or promising a good time. Anyway, because I love bad boys (and married to one), I decided to write a book about a family of bad men. I set it in the south because those are the type of guys I know.
What was the challenge in writing these characters?
The challenge is showing they can be assholes without making the readers (and their love interest) hate them. I have to show they are the way they are because of their upbringing. They are trying to improve their life. Especially Jake. We are yet to see what Sen and Ethan think about Jake’s plan for their father’s businesses.
What is your writing process like?
I used to write and write and write and then go back and change and correct and get frustrated all the way through. I would hate the book before I got through. It made me a slow writer. But when I was writing for Random House, they wouldn’t let me just provide a paragraph on what I want to write next (Like HarperCollins Avon had) and go with it. They asked for an outline. OUTLINE?! So I took Blake Snyder’s Save The Cat (for screen writers) book and used his beat sheet to make my outline.
I realized two things. It helped to get my ADD brain to concentrate and make the plot work without having to tweak it over and over again. And helped me to write the story faster. Working full time (and during the summer that is usually around 50 hours a week) and doing all the other things a woman has to do, I can write a 60,000 to 80,000 book in 5 months. That’s doesn’t include editing by the outside editor though. I would like to point out I do not necessarily follow the outline all the way through the book, but if I get stuck, I can look at it and I’m off writing again.
Readers often want to know where do you get your inspiration for your stories?
From reading other romance books, movies, news reports, gossip, magazines, etc. I have a vivid imagination. Usually it’s only a scene or character that strikes my fancy and I decide I have a better idea, or different way to present something or someone. (Christy Reece’s Second Chance with the hero being manipulated by the bad guys through a drug lead to me writing Circle Danger and heroine under the influence of bad guys’ drugs.)
Best thing about writing romance and being an author?
Hearing people say they love my books and want to read more. It’s like hearing people say your child has great manners and was brought up right.
Two things people would be surprised to know about you?
I was RWA’s Pro Mentor of The Year in 2015
I was first author to be pulled from the slush pile when HarperCollin’s started Avon Impulse
Where do you write or favorite place to write?
At my desk at home. Working full time, I often write whenever/wherever I have the time.
Your favorite type of heroine to write; your favorite type of heroine one to read?
I like all types, read or write. She can be a bitch if she has a reason (logically) to be one and finds her softer side and wants to improve at some point in the book. She can be a wimp as longs as she develops a backbone when she never thought she could. In other words, they grow as a person. Just as a perfect heroine (goody-two-shoes and all) must show her flaws along the way to being a real person.
Who is your favorite author right now?
Louise Bay. Love her sexy men. Especially the English ones.
What’s on your keepers shelf?
Linda Howard, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Lorraine Heath, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Jennifer Ashley, Julie Garwood, Lisa Kleypas.
Most recent of course is The Hunter by Kerrigan Byrne,
Who is your all-time favorite book boyfriend?
John Medina. Linda Howard’s book titled ALL THE QUEEN’S MEN. It put a spark in me to write CIRCLE OF DESIRE. Nothing alike except they’re both Romantic Suspense and dangerous men.
What is your all-time favorite book?
I just don’t have it in me to say one. They are usually the books I read more than once. Linda’s book I mentioned before; because it had all the things I like in a romantic suspense: mystery, danger, action, sexy moments, humor, and a good twist.
Then Jennifer Ashley’s The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie (Autistic hero); Anne Stuart’s Fire and Ice (Asian hero); Megan McKinney’s Lions and Lace (Irish hero); Lorraine Heath’s Lord of Wicked Intentions (Hero has issues about being touched); Candace Camp’s (written as Lisa Gregory) The Rainbow Season (Bad boy married good girl in turn of 20th century). I’m sure there are more I’m forgetting.
On June 8, at 10:30 a.m., I will be at the Decatur Public Library. Come and buy one of my books and I’ll sign it. All kinds of fun things will be going on. Plus you can have lunch with me or another author. Click here for more information.