Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Just Released! Charity's Heart is now on sale.

So pleased to announce the release of my latest novel, Charity's Heart!

Marriage, murder and mayhem in 1888 London. Who could ask for more in a book? Well, if you love a little suspense mixed in with your romance, then Charity's Heart is the book for you.

Click here to buy now from Amazon!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Please give a huge welcome to author Barbara Burgess! I've known Barbara for several years and can tell you that she's a wonderful author. 

And, she's offering her fabulous book, The Magic Manuscript, The Nine Companions for free on the following dates:

October 11 and October 12 and (Thanksgiving weekend) November 27, November 28, and November 29.

Thank you for taking the time to visit, Barbara. 
Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

Thanks for interviewing me. I’m an English Canadian from Montreal. I did my BA Honours at McGill University and did graduate studies there in Medieval English literature. I studied with Professor Paul Piehler (Rtd., McGill University) who was himself a student and friend of C.S. Lewis from his time at Oxford University.
When I first moved to Vancouver, I worked at the Federation of BC Writers. I taught English as a second language for five years in Vancouver. I’ve been working freelance as an editor for ten years. In the past year, I have taken on several new clients (authors and TV & film producers) and work as their publicist. As part of my PR work, I help organize book launches, place writers in writers’ festivals, contact media outlets, and am now branching out into representing book illustrators. I contact people in the traditional book publishing industry and even in the film industry. This new venture has been successful and kind of fell into my lap. It’s something I’m quite good at and really enjoy doing – helping authors and book illustrators succeed in the global literary community. Unfortunately, I’ve had less time to do any marketing for my own works. One of my goals is to get back into writing more.

SDG: What inspired you to write The Magic Manuscript trilogy?
I visited Cornwall, England, when I was twenty-one and the King Arthur legend kind of came to life for me there. I wasn’t far from Tintagel, and the atmosphere of the region was charged with a truly magical energy. That visit, coupled with my university studies in medieval English literature, inspired me to write The Magic Manuscript: Voyage to Eve Ilion, the first book in my series. It’s not entirely a retelling of Arthurian literature, because I basically used the legend as a springboard to tell my own fantasy tale. I created a place called Eve Ilion, a magical realm not on earth. In Book Two, The Magic Manuscript: The Nine Companions, most of the action takes place on earth but does so in three different parts of the world and in three different times. I wrote -- as C.S. Lewis once said – the kinds of books I like to read; namely, fantasy literature which can be read by all ages.

SDG: When do you expect Book Three to come out?
I hope it will be finished and possibly published in 2015. The Magic Manuscript: Return to Eve Ilion will be set partly in 21st century Quebec, and of course – as you can tell by the title – it will involve a return to the Isle of Eve Ilion.

SDG: How long did it take to write the complete novel from first draft to edited final?
I began writing my first novel in 1988 and completed it in 2011; the first edition was published in 2011 by Piraeus Books. There was about a decade where I didn’t touch the MS. When I picked it up again, I decided to reduce it from about 110,000 words to 25,000 words (using some of the original MS for book 2, which is 40,000 words). I was ruthless when I edited my original MS. I decided to delete huge sections of the original MS and instead develop the chapters which focused on the island of Eve Ilion. My editors were ruthless, as well, for which I am grateful.

SDG: Your two books are listed in the YA Arthurian, Myth, and Fairytales category on Amazon. Is there a reason for that?
Interesting question! Yes, because The Magic Manuscript series has mythic overtones. I refer to Arthurian Legend (I had read Sir Gawain and the Green Knight in the original—Middle English). I was hugely influenced by C. S. Lewis’ mythic novel: Till We Have Faces, anyone who knows that work will see the influence of his thought in my book The Nine Companions. As a child, I read Greek, Norse, Roman, and Egyptian mythology. Later on, I did my Honours thesis on the influence of the German Romantics on Scottish author George MacDonald, whose books are like fairytales, in a certain sense, and of course I mean this as the highest compliment.
I should mention that my books can be read by readers as young as nine and by adults of all ages. I had one review by a 50-year-old man that I thought to share with you:

"What a strange book for a 50 year old man who normally reads the standard "Who Done It" books to pick-up. Odder still, is the fact that I loved it!

Surprisingly, this novel has everything I love; history, drama, magic, humor. It's all there. The main characters travel through time and discover that they are part of history. All the various styles that I love in books are present in this one book. From the beginning the author invites you in, and rather than feeling like an observer to events, I found myself drawn into the story. I quickly developed a vested interest in the characters. The way the scenes are described I could see the greenery of the forest, the darkness of a cave and even imagine the coldness of the Castle stones. I've been trying to come up with who I would consider a comparable author to Barbara Burgess and the only one who comes to mind is Diana Gabaldo."

SDG: That’s an outstanding review!! Can you tell us if you have had book signings or readings?
My most recent book launch and book signing was at the Atwater Library in Montreal, Canada. A reporter from a local newspaper attended the event and later asked me questions about my books, so there was a nice article on my books in a Montreal newspaper. I also read at another local library in the Montreal area. In general, however, I’ve focused more on blog appearances than actual book signings.

SDG: How fabulous that the newspaper was there! Are your family members supportive of your writing and what do they think about your writing career?     
That’s a lovely question. Yes, they’re supportive and delighted that I have had three books published. I think they knew I always wanted to be a writer as I began writing poems and little stories as early as four years of age.

SDG: Do you have any advice or words of wisdom for budding writers?
Follow your dreams, but be realistic and know that you’ll need to edit your work a lot, and have to work hard to get it published, and even if it’s published traditionally, you’ll need to invest a lot of time in marketing it. It’s helpful to have another job, too, because supporting yourself by writing is no easy task.

SDG: Very true. What are you working on now? Is it in the same genre?
Yes, I’m working on the third book in the series. I love the way it’s going – each book has a unique flavor and can be read as a stand-alone novel, and yet all three novels tie together nicely.

SDG: What is your website and where can readers purchase your book or books?

My website is

My books can be purchased as paperbacks directly from there. They are available at several bookstores in Canada.

Amazon links: 

SDG: And how about your author social media sites:

Thanks so much for featuring me on your blog.

SDG: Thank you for stopping by. I can't wait to see the third book in the series!

Friday, August 22, 2014


I’m very happy to introduce Krysten Lindsay Hager and her latest novel True Colors.

Krysten is an author and book addict who has never met a bookstore she didn’t like. She’s worked as a journalist and writes middle grade, YA, humor essays, and adult fiction. TRUE COLORS is her bestselling debut novel from Astraea Press. She is originally from Michigan and has lived in South Dakota, Portugal, and currently resides in Southwestern Ohio where you can find her reading and writing. She received her Master’s in American Culture from the University of Michigan-Flint.

SDG: What inspired you to write this book?

I saw the quote in a class that you should write the book you want to read and that got me to thinking about what I would have wanted to read back when I was the age of my readers. We all deal with “frenemies” and fair weather friends—those friends you thought were true blue and then aren’t there when you need them. It’s difficult to deal with things like jealousy or being left out, but when those negative feelings are coming from people you considered good friends…well, it hurts all the more. I used to like to read about girls I could relate to and I hope someone reads TRUE COLORS and feels a little less alone in the world, too.

SDG: Nicely said! What was your approach to writing True Colors (did it just flow or did you use an outline or other preparatory method)?

I really just began with the idea and the writing flowed. I didn’t use an outline. I never begin with an outline, but after I finish a draft, I often go back and do one to check the plot structure.

SDG: How long did it take to write the complete novel from first draft to edited final?

I honestly can’t say because I took breaks during the writing process due to several moves (including one overseas) and an accident, too.  

SDG: Glad you managed to finish it with all of that turmoil. Can you tell us a little about your book and if you have had book signings or readings?

The book is about Landry Albright, who just wants to be one of the interesting girls at school who always have exciting things going on in their lives. She wants to stand out, but also wants to fit in, so she gives in when her two best friends, Ericka and Tori, push her into trying out for a teen reality show modeling competition with them. Landry goes in nervous, but impresses the judges enough to make it to the next round. However, Ericka and Tori get cut and basically "unfriend" her on Monday at school. Landry tries to make new friends, but gets caught up between wanting to be herself and conforming to who her new friends want her to be. Along the way she learns that modeling is nowhere as glamorous as it seems, how to deal with frenemies, a new crush, and that true friends see you for who you really are and like you because of it.

SDG: That sounds like an awesome plot! Are your family members supportive of your writing and what do they think about your writing career?     

My mom is a great sounding board when I’m working on something. She’s a reader, not a writer, so it helps to have her perspective and she is not an “everything you write goes on the fridge” type of mothers. She’s completely straightforward and honest. She’s currently not happy with me because I wrote another story where the character ends up with, as she would say, “the wrong guy.”

My dad likes hearing me read my work. When I started out writing for newspapers, he read every article I wrote—even the boring ones about where to buy organic eggs in the local area. If my name was in the byline, he read it and acted like it was the great news story ever written.

SDG: I love to hear how supportive and proud families are. Do you have any advice or words of wisdom for budding writers?

Take literature classes as well as writing classes to learn from the best. Read as much as you can and attend conferences and workshops, and get into a critique group.

SDG: Totally agree with that list! What are you working on now? Is it in the same genre?

I am writing a sequel to TRUE COLORS that picks up right where the previous story left off. I am also working a women’s fiction novel as well and another MG/YA and an older YA one.

SDG: You sure are busy! What is the best time for you to write and does it ever interfere with your day job, if you have one? Also, how long on average do you write each day?

Writing at night works best for me when the interruptions are gone from the day and I can focus better. I don’t have a set period of time I write for or anything. Some days I might work for hours, others I take to just think on the story and go over a scene over and over in my mind until it feels right.

SDG: We certainly do need quiet time, don’t we? Is writing, to you, a lonely occupation?

I had a wonderful English professor named Dr. Jacqueline Zeff who assigned us to read, A Journal of Solitude by May Sarton as undergrads. It changed the way I looked at writing and made me realize the importance of solitude for a writer.

SDG: How wonderful that you had such an inspirational teacher. What is your website and where can readers purchase your book or books?

SDG: Author social media sites:  

Thank you, Krysten, for stopping by and telling us a bit about yourself. I look forward to reading your book, and will definitely watch out for others you write!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Today I'm thrilled to have a guest blog from author Susanne Matthews, or whatever her name is (you'll
understand this when you read her blog!). 

Welcome, Susanne!

About the author: Susanne Matthews grew up as an avid reader of all types of books, but always with a penchant for happily ever after romances. In her imagination, she travelled to foreign lands, past and present, and soared into the future. Today, she has made her dreams come true. A retired educator, she now gets to spend her time writing, so she can share her adventures with her readers. She loves the ins and outs of romance, and the complex journey it takes to get from the first word to the last period of a novel. As she writes, her characters take on a life of their own, and she shares their fears and agonies on the road to self-discovery and love.

Susanne lives in Cornwall, Ontario with her husband. She has three adult children and five grandchildren. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys reading, chatting on the Internet with her writer friends, and hearing from her readers.

What’s In A Name?

When I wrote, Just For The Weekend, I wanted to make it harder for the characters to find one another after the weekend was over. The old “What happens in Vegas…” idea influenced that, but I needed a conflict that would keep the hero/heroine apart for a couple more chapters. I’d done a lot of research on sci-fi conventions and was surprised to learn some of the things I did. Women have been sexually harassed and raped, and it’s a growing problem. I also learned that people frequently use false names in Vegas. So, I chose to let my heroine use a pseudonym—not completely false, but similar and yet different from her own. She needed to answer to it, right? Cleopatra James, became Cleo Jones. You don’t want to confuse the reader by having too many names for the same character. It never occurred to me how such a little thing could blossom into an enormous real-life boondoggle.

In Canada, we have an extremely complex health care system, one that enables all Canadians full access to whatever medical services they might need, without having to pay an arm and a leg. We pay for it in our taxes, and while we might gripe about wait times and such, the bottom line is we are so grateful it’s there when we need it.

Until a few years ago, the province of Ontario had a red and white card with your name on it and your OHIP (Ontario Health Insurance Plan) number on it. Because hospital and medical care were being illegally obtained using fraudulent cards, the provincial government moved to issue new photo identification cards. My name came up last month.

I got the letter in the mail telling me to present myself, with the three requested pieces of identification to have my card converted. Bam! What a surprise I got. The long and the short of it is, I don’t know my own name. Well, all my life, I’ve used Susanne, or some variation of it, as my name. When I looked at my wonderful pieces of ID, my name was different on each one. My Ontario birth certificate had my full name, including my maiden name, old health card had the name I use, and  my driver's license and ownership had my current name preceded by the initials of what the genius at the counter said were my first and second name. Apparently, the name I use is my third name, and I use it incorrectly because it’s a hyphenated name. Now, the woman wants more ID—my SIN (Social Insurance Number) has my maiden name, but Susan, the shortened version of Susanne I used in high school when I was 16. Here I’m thinking I’m going to have to go back home get my passport and a notarized letter to prove I’m me. Panic is setting in, and I’m almost in tears. Her supervisor took pity on me. I got the health card and with it, a new first name—now, I just have to learn to answer to it. 

Follow Susanne on her:

Facebook page

Twitter @jandsmatt

Monday, April 28, 2014

Susanne Matthews

Today we have an interview from romance writer Susanne Matthews. It's wonderful to have you stop by for a visit.  

Brief bio: where you live, any other writing, job related or education info.

Good day. I live in Cornwall, Ontario, Canada. I’m a retired educator. For most of my career, I taught high school English, but I’ve also taught French at both elementary and secondary levels. I finished my career working as a Special Education teacher helping hard to serve students. Prior to becoming a novelist, I wrote and edited curriculum for the Ontario Ministry of Education’s online courses.

SDG: What inspired you to write this book?
My husband is a huge trekker. He has a room full of Star Trek memorabilia—movies, magazines, posters, action figures, tree ornaments, etc. We went to see Chris Pine reprise the role of Captain Kirk in Star Trek a few years ago in costumes. When my husband turned 60, friends and family threw a surprise Star Trek themed birthday party and many of the guest came dressed as aliens and Star Trek personnel of all sizes and shapes. We had a great time. Attending a sci-fi convention is on my bucket list, so I decided to set a book exactly where I’d like to be—in Vegas at a sci-fi convention

SDG: I love that your book is set at a Star Trek Convention! What was your approach to writing it (did it just flow or did you use an outline or other preparatory method)?
I’m a pantser/reviser. I have a general idea of what I’d like to say in the story, the direction I want to take it, and how I’d like to set it up—nothing is written down. Then I start to write. When I finish a section, I go back and revise it. Sometimes, I’ll move sections around, add story or delete things to use later. I research as I go along—basically when the idea strikes—but I do thorough research for all of the information in my books.

SDG: How long did it take to write the complete novel from first draft to edited final?
It took me six weeks to complete the manuscript I submitted. Since I’m retired, writing is my current full-time job, so I devote at least 8 hours a day to it, although some of that time is reserved for blogging and promotion.

SDG: Are your family members supportive of your writing and what do they think about your writing career?  
Yes, my family is very supportive of my career. They’ve all read at least one of my books and are very proud of me. My husband carries around my business cards and hands them out to his clients all the time. The few sex scenes in one of my books surprised my father—he’s 86! 

SDG: Have you written any other novels?
I have written several romance novels in other subgenres. These include Fire Angel and In Plain Sight which are romance/suspense, and currently available.

I have also written a historical novel, The Captains’ Promise, and two contemporary Christmas stories, Holiday Magic and The Perfect Choice. Unfortunately, there books will no longer be available in May because, for health reason, that publisher will cease publication as of May 1, 2014. The books may be reissued in the future, but at this time, I have no definite plans to do so.

I also co-write under the name Misty Matthews. My writing partner lives in Newfoundland, Canada. We have a novella, Grand Slam, available. At the moment, our book, Coming Home, is also a victim of the publisher’s shut down. We aren’t working on anything new just yet and have not made a decision on how to proceed with our previously published novel.  

SDG: Do you have any advice or words of wisdom for budding writers?
Keep at it. Don’t let a rejection stop you. Know your grammar, spelling, and punctuation rules, and sentence structure. Go through your manuscript several times before you submit it. Look for head hopping and plot holes. Last, and definitely most important, research your publisher thoroughly. A place to start is here:  Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the publisher. I wish I had. 

SDG: What are you working on now? Is it in the same genre?

Just For The Weekend is a contemporary romance. At the moment, I am working on the edits for a paranormal/romance/suspense due to be released July 14, 2014, called Echoes Of The Past, set in the present, but based on a Mohawk legend. The newest manuscript I’m currently writing is also romance/suspense.

SDG: Is writing, to you, a lonely occupation?

Not really. I have a huge online support group, and I can always find someone to chat, answer a question, commiserate over a disappointment, or offer advice. I have friends around the world at my fingertips, and consider myself blessed. As well, when you have people in your head waiting for you to get the words onto the computer screen, you don’t have time to be lonely.

SDG: We have a blurb and excerpt pasted below for our readers. Can you also provide your website and places where readers can purchase your book?

My books are available from Amazon, Kobo, iTunes, Barnes and Nobles and ARe.

You can find these links on my website.

Book Blurb for: JUST FOR THE WEEK-END.

Sometimes, you have to step out of the box.
Kindergarten teacher, Cleo James, needs a break. For the past three years, she’s put her life on hold to help her father deal with grief, but now she’s ready to move on. A weekend in Vegas at a sci-fi convention may be just the place to start. She’ll be costumed as an alien and no one will recognize her. What could go wrong? Things get complicated when she’s attracted to a conventioneer whom she believes is a gorgeous Chippendale dancer.  Can Cleo set her strict moral code aside and enjoy what promises to be a once upon a time weekend?
Multimillionaire real estate developer, Sam Mason has sworn off serious relationships. In Vegas to visit family and friends, he’s talked into attending a sci-fi convention for the night. Dressed as an alien, he’s confident he can elude the usual gold diggers looking to star in the role of Mrs. Sam Mason. When he spots a beautiful woman dressed as a green-skinned slave girl, he’s captivated by her and changes his plans to leave Vegas in the morning. The more time he spends with her, the more he realizes she’s unlike any woman he’s known. Fantastic sex and too much alcohol find him married to his alien siren, but before he can tell her the truth about himself and see if they can make their marriage work, the bride vanishes.  Finding her is going to be a challenge.

Excerpt from Just For The Weekend:

“Holy crap! You could have warned me.”
Mitch wore a long black wig, heavy brown makeup, and the facial ridges of a female Klingon warrior. Her body was shoved into a tight, black leather corset-styled top that accentuated her breasts and a long, leather skirt paired with heeled boots with silver toecaps. She had a knife of sorts shoved into her belt.
“Wow! You look fantastic. I could use one of the push-up bras from hell if I ever wanted to look sexy.”
“What are you talking about? You’re one of the sexiest woman I know, and you’re completely oblivious to it. Get your nose out of your father’s ancient history books and look at yourself in the light of the twenty-first century. I love you, girl, but sometimes you frustrate me.”
“Yeah, well, let’s agree to disagree on that. I don’t want to be noticed that way. There’s more to me than a set of boobs and long legs. I’m much happier out of the limelight. Now, are you going to tell me about your makeup?”
“It’s a mask. My friend Hailey works at Paramount and made it for me last year. It gets a little warm after a while, but it’s a lot easier than putting the makeup on each time.”
“I wish I had something like that. Where’s the rest of my costume? I’d better be wearing more than green body paint, blood red lipstick, and gold eye shadow.”
“It’s on your bed.”
Cleo stared at the scraps of fabric and jewelry on the spread.
“No way! There’s got to be more to it than that.”
The costume consisted of a burgundy silk bikini bra, a matching string bikini bottom with gold-colored sheer skirt panels front and rear, gold muscle bracelets shaped like snakes, and two-inch wide metallic fabric ankle shackles without the chain.
“You’ve got to be kidding. I’ll look like a semi-naked leprechaun. How does that fit into a sci-fi convention?”
“It happens to be one of the most popular women’s costumes. For the record, leprechauns wear green, and unless they’re some kind of mutants, they aren’t green. With my five-foot-four figure, the costume loses something, but on you, it’ll be awesome.” Mitch handed her a glass of wine. “Here, take a drink and relax. You showed just as much by the pool this afternoon.”
“Yeah, and whose idea was that? I don’t see why I couldn’t wear my black swimsuit this afternoon. You seem to forget about the moral turpitude clause in my contract. Lying around in the sun half-naked is pushing it. I certainly won’t be wearing that blue bikini to take the kiddies swimming at the local pool.”
“That clause is archaic, and you worry about it way too much—between your father’s ‘rules’ and the school board’s ‘thou shall not’s,’ you’re living in the past. Besides you needed a new swimsuit. Even my mother doesn’t wear a one-piece bathing suit like the one you had. I don’t even think my grandma would wear it. You chose the bikini—there was that gorgeous leopard one…”
“You mean the one cut down to my navel in front, and so high on the hips my ass hung out? No thanks. At least the bikini covered most of my boobs and butt.”
“Whatever.” Mitch rolled her eyes. “Let’s get you dressed. We need to be downstairs in twenty minutes.”
Mitch helped her put on what was surely the skimpiest alien costume in the universe. Cleo stood before the mirror staring at the creature looking back at her.
“I look like a mutant leprechaun belly dancer.” She took a sip of her wine. “It’s a damn good thing you didn’t show me this when you asked me to come. I’d have said no.”
 “For the record, you’re not a mutant leprechaun; you’re an Orion slave girl. Men are powerless before you. Too bad that cutie from the bar last night can’t see you. You’re worth a dozen of the brunette he was with. Come here so I can spray the glitter on you.”
Two glasses of wine in quick succession were easing her embarrassment, but as she allowed Mitch to spray the liquid shimmer on her hair and body, she couldn’t resist one final complaint.
“Well, I’d rather wear what you’re wearing. If the air-conditioning is turned up as high as it was this morning, I’ll be an Orion slave icicle!”
“Seriously, Cleo, relax. Don’t be a prude. No one’s going to recognize you. I know you’re not used to showing so much skin, but you look fantastic, and the men will be drooling all around you. Every woman in the room is going to envy you. You’ll be the most sought-after slave girl here. ”
“God, I hope not. That’s the last thing I want. I feel like a chunk of meat on display for a starving man. You’re the extrovert, the one who wants to be the center of attraction. I’m not. I think that’s why we’re friends—because we’re so different.” Horror filled her eyes as she thought of something else. “Crap, I hope no one takes my picture. The last thing I need is to have someone see us on the Internet and recognize me. I’ll wear this tonight because it’s too late to find anything else, but we’re going costume shopping tomorrow. I’m sure we can find something a little less revealing.”
“Whatever you say, but I don’t think anyone’s going to recognize you.”
Cleo turned around and stood in front of the mirror. Her mouth dropped open in shock. Good grief. It’s even worse than I imagined. Thanks to the glitter, her skin reflected the light and looked alive, shimmering as she moved. Her hair shone the same way, and she looked alluring and mysterious. Her large, hazel eyes seemed more golden than ever. Mitch was right about one thing: she didn’t look like a kindergarten teacher from Gordon’s Grove. She looked like a sexy, alien siren. Just the look I want around a bunch of half-drunk Neanderthals. She remembered how decent guys had turned into absolute jerks at university costume parties.
“If it makes you feel better, you can stand behind the table replenishing the books as I sign them and handing out the bookmarks and the other swag the publisher provided. Come on, let’s go.”
Cleo followed her best friend out of the room. She shook her head. Why do I let myself get talked into these things?
Cleo followed Mitch into the convention hall packed with hundreds of people in various alien costumes, and allowed some of the excitement in the air to calm her fears. She recognized outfits from various sci-fi movies and television shows. There were several Orion slave girls in a variety of shapes, shades, and sizes, and Cleo saw the not-so-friendly glares she got from them—especially when one of their male friends stared admiringly at her. She nodded in return and chuckled when one girl gave the guy she was with a jab in the ribs.
She tried to keep up with Mitch, who barreled across the room as if she were in a speed-walking race. Barefoot as she was, conscious of the icky, sticky carpet, Cleo moved slowly to avoid stomping boots and heels. She’d almost made it to the promised land of booth security when a giant, in snake-like makeup and the dark gray leather and chain mail associated with the Cardassians, grabbed her arm. He spun her around quickly.
“Hey, let go of my …” Her angry words died on her lips.
“What have we here?” He eyed her hungrily. “Are you lost, my pretty little slave girl?”
Familiar chocolate eyes pierced hers, and she couldn’t think straight. His whiskey-smooth voice caressed her; his touch ignited a fire along her spine. Realizing what he’d said, she searched for an answer.
“Lost? No, I got separated from my Klingon friend. She’s over there.”
She pointed to the publishers’ autograph area where Mitch stood.
“Then allow me to escort you safely to her.”
Holding her close to him, he ushered her across the congested convention floor. He bowed to Mitch and gave the Cardassian salute.
“I believe she’s yours, but I’m entitled to a reward for coming to her assistance.”
He smiled wickedly before pulling Cleo into his arms and capturing her mouth with his.
Cleo held herself rigid, but the kiss poured liquid fire through her. Of their own volition, her arms wrapped around his neck both to hold her upright and to encourage the incredible sensations to continue. His mouth devoured hers as if she was his last meal. She’d been kissed before, but never like this. When he slowly pulled away, she was breathless. She read desire in his eyes.
“Later, my Orion beauty.” He turned and walked away, disappearing into the crowd.
 “Who the hell is that?”
“I have no idea.” Cleo reached for Mitch’s blue-tinted Romulan ale and drained the glass.

Buy links:

Amazon         Barnes and Nobles       Kobo       ARe

SDG: Author social media sites:   

Blog: Living the Dream                                                      Twitter: @jandsmatt

Facebook                                        Goodreads                    Amazon Author

Monday, April 21, 2014

I am so happy to introduce a wonderfully talented author, Susan Hart Hellman, to my blog for a quick interview about writing and her mystery novel, Catch 'n Release: The Game.  Welcome, Susan! 

Brief bio: where you live, any other writing, job related or education info.

Hello, Sofia, glad to be here. I live in Southern California, and in addition to being a novelist, I’ve been a freelance magazine writer and newspaper journalist for many years. My work has appeared in The Writer Magazine;   Horizon Air in-flight magazine; Ojai Quarterly;   the Ventura County Star;   Recovery Living, and many other publications. I was Executive Editor of Your Wedding Day magazine, and have also been an advertising copywriter, college instructor, and writing workshop instructor, including those for seniors who wish to write magazine articles and their memoirs. 

I am working on the second in the Dr. Savanna Jamison series, Ring Master; a fantasy series; and a non-fiction book for writers.  The first in the Dr. Savanna series was Catch ’n Release: The Game.

My education includes a Master’s of Science degree in psychology, with an emphasis in behavioral psychology, and research with schizophrenia. After taking a break from educational studies, I’m planning on completing my Ph. D. in clinical psychology this year.

SDG: What inspired you to write this book?

Catch ’n Release: The Game (C ’n R), stems from several levels of inspiration. First, after leaving my second career in psychological testing, cognitive rehabilitation, and research (a 15-year break in my writing career), I decided I needed to return to my first love, writing.  However, I’d only written non-fiction for newspapers and in public relations and advertising, so joined the Ojai Writing Workshop to see if I could learn to write fiction too. 

That group, itself, was an inspiration, and I started writing C ’n R  just as a learning tool, a writing exercise, really. But the genre I chose, a psychological murder mystery, was inspired by my work and education in the field of psychology.  

SDG: What was your approach to writing it (did it just flow or did you use an outline or other preparatory method)?

Because Catch ’n Release originated as a writing exercise, I did not use an outline, but, rather, just started writing, trying to incorporate all the techniques I leaned in the Ojai Writers Workshop and at writers conferences.  But when it became obvious that that “exercise” was turning into a novel, I did prepare several outlines. I had come to appreciate the concept of outlining during my PhD program; it always helped with the required extensive papers, so figured outlining would help with novel writing too, and it did.

Now, however, I wouldn’t start a book, fiction or non-fiction, without an outline because having that structure is how I work best.  Of course, that outline may change a dozen times during the process. 

SDG: How long did it take to write the complete novel from first draft to edited final?

Because  C ’n R was never intended to be a novel, time was not a factor, and I worked on it for about five years.  I used the novel to learn how to write a novel, and gave that a couple of years, under the guidance of the Ojai Writers Workshop. I was in no hurry. Then, the revision process took another couple of years, because I revised the whole novel probably a dozen times, and some scenes and chapters more like several dozen times. Again, it was a learning process, with no thought of publication originally. I was just enjoying the challenge of learning writing technique, and enjoying the entire writing process. 

However, although I’m enjoying the process with the next in the Dr. Savanna Jamison series, Ring Master, this one is going much faster! I’m working on a new fantasy series too, and that is also coming together quickly.

SDG: Can you tell us a little about your book and if you have had book signings or readings?

This is my official synopsis: 

Catch ’n Release: The Game, is the first in a series of psychological murder mysteries, in which Dr. Savanna Jamison, Southern California behavioral neuropsychologist, defense witness, and unintentional underground sleuth, is called upon to help defend a strange looking, possibly brain-damaged man, killer of a girl in a sleazy bar, Happie’s.  The defense, spearheaded by Savanna’s friend, Deputy Public Defender Macy Washington, seems clear cut: killer grabs a knife off the bar; stabs and kills the girl; dozens of witnesses see it.  This killer is headed for death row. Case Closed.

But the case is far from closed.  Savanna dons her newest Armani miniskirt and sets out to work, only to find that most of the witnesses she needs to interview are clueless; the bartender at Happie’s appears to be leading a suspicious double life; and the evidence has gone missing. Also, the victim and her sorority sisters nationwide have been playing a complicated, dangerous little game, Catch ’n Release. And this is the good news!

Savanna unknowingly becomes caught up in the game, and receives several death threat notes delivered in a most unconventional way. And, she’s being stalked by a killer she previously helped convict, but who’s been released from his life sentence on a little-known technicality.

And, clear to everyone but her, Savanna’s new romantic relationship is falling apart. It appears that everyone is playing some version of one game or another, each with a common goal:  catch what you can, release what you don’t want, and never, ever be the one to get caught.

Yes, there have been several readings/signings, including at a wonderful book launch hosted by Ojai’s Feast Bistro restaurant, a location in C ’n R which Savanna and Macy visit to hold all of their important discussions concerning the murder case.  More reading are being set up in both Southern California and Oregon. Also, I did enter this novel into a Writers Digest completion, and didn’t win, but received a glowing review, including this statement:  

“This book is more than a book: It’s a well-conceived package that knows this book is not the end, but just a step in the path. . . .  The characters are engaging, the scenes are riveting, and I absolutely love seeing the way Savanna’s mind processes everything from the beginning of Catch ‘n Release to the excerpt of the next book. Great work.”~ Judge, Writer’s Digest 21st Annual Self-Published Book Awards.

SDG: Are your family members supportive of your writing and what do they think about your writing career?      Yes, very supportive.  My partner tries to make sure I have uninterrupted work time. My oldest daughter, Melissa Hart, is a freelance writer and author of several non-fiction books, so she, of course, is all in favor of what I do.  My other daughter, Jennifer Steinmann, does some very creative event planning, so she is certainly supportive of other’s creative endeavors.  My son, Mark, with Down Syndrome, is thrilled because I work at home and my flexible schedule allows me to “taxi” him to his dozens of Special Olympics activities, social engagements, and dates with his girlfriend.

SDG: Do you have any advice or words of wisdom for budding writers?

Definitely.  If you’re serious about your writing, take it seriously.  Treat your writing career the way you would treat your career if you worked in the corporate world. What would you do to better yourself in that situation?  Attend seminars, get your ideas and work critiqued, develop a team, join professional groups? Do that, and more, to improve yourself as a writer too.

SDG: What are you working on now? Is it in the same genre?
I’m always working on magazine articles, and now also working on some short fiction pieces, with the goal being to have them published in journals. My three large projects include Ring Master, another murder mystery, the sequel to Catch ’n Release: The Game. As I mentioned before, I’m also working on the first novel in a fantasy series, and a non-fiction technical book for writers, which is nearing completion.

SDG: What is the best time for you to write and does it ever interfere with your day job, if you have one? Also, how long on average do you write each day?
Fortunately for me, my “day job” is writing. I write magazine articles and am also spending a great deal of time right now ghost writing a memoir. 

I’m definitely a morning writer, because I’m a morning person.  I guess from spending a great deal of my early childhood on my great aunts and uncles’ farm, which had barely changed, technically, from its homesteaded status, I got in the habit of starting the day before the sun was up, and going to bed very early. This included arising at 4:30 am to help my great aunts milk the cows.  This has stuck with me, but it means writing at night is totally out for me.

My average day of writing or writing related activities is at least eight hours.  I can easily write for 14-16 hours a day for days at a time if I’m really dug into a novel. 

SDG: Is writing, to you, a lonely occupation?

Yes, and I love it!  Being a pretty serious loner, having the opportunity to sit alone in my office, writing for hour-upon-hour, suits my personality!   However, don’t get me wrong, I do love people, and try to go out for tea with other writers several times a week.   Also, there is a lot of socializing in the writing groups I attend (Ojai Writer’s Workshop, Ventura County Writers Club, formal writers conferences several times a year). And when I teach writing workshops, it’s great to chat with the attendees before and after class.

SDG: What is your website and where can readers purchase your book or books?
My books are available on, printed and -book versions, and the e-book through

SDG: Author social media sites:   Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, LinkedIn, and I’m starting a new blog soon.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Check out these wonderful books by Elle Marlow, Front Porch Romance author. This is just one stop on her blog tour, so take a moment and read the blurbs and check out her work. You won't be disappointed.
The Gambler's Passion
By Elle Marlow
Beautiful Arizona Summers is determined to fulfill her mother's dying wish and realize her dreams-even if it means dancing at Bare Backed Belles, cheating at high stakes poker or running from a spray of bullets with a man she's given her innocence to. She'd do it all and over again to find love and keep her promise.

Jace Forrester gets a thrill out of living a double life. Preacher's son by day, card hustler by night. Always after the big win, he can't resist Arizona's ultimate challenge. He may lose more than he bargain for-his heart.
Available from:
Pour Me:
Wanted: One Cowgirl Mommy
That was the ad right next to the bartending one. Carly wasn't sure she was prepared for either, but she was heading back to Arizona regardless. Running from her past and hopefully to a brighter future, Carly couldn't predict that all three would collide and force her to face her demons. And sexy cowboy, Cade McCormick would be to blame for all of it.
Cade had to be careful about the women involved in little Danni's life. A cowgirl was on the bottom of his list! But time has a way of changing hearts and minds roping the past together. Is his new bartender really the woman he thought he lost years ago? Did little Danni really place an ad to find her?
Available from: