Monthly Archives: September 2013

Books: Velda Brotherton!


new VeldaFrom History to Mystery
by Velda Brotherton

Only recently I learned the huge difference between researching and writing historical romances and sexy, dark, and gritty mysteries. Because that’s precisely what I did. After nineteen years of writing western historical romances, and regional history, I decided to try my hand at another genre. Mostly because of all the experience I had working as a reporter on a small newspaper. I wanted to use the characters, locale and occurrences from all those years to create a mystery series, because I thought it would be the most fun. Besides, mysteries are popular and it pays to follow trends as long as we like what we’re doing. I reiterate that last phrase. Don’t write trends cause they are trends, but do take advantage if one comes along and you’ve always wanted to write something in that fits.

First off, contemporary doesn’t require the big blocks of research into the past. There are so many places where we can be tripped up though. Especially in mysteries, we need to know something about forensics, police procedure, weaponry, etc., even if our protagonist is a civilian. If a lawman is involved, there’s even more research necessary. And all those little things that can trip you up. Is there a dog? What do you know about the breed? A cat? The same question applies. Where will you set the story? Some place familiar, or an exotic locale you know little about?

It didn’t take long for me to see that my approach to the plot had to be different too. Writing by the seat of my pants because I love history and usually know something about the era before I begin, did not call for red herrings, the planting of real and imagined clues, creating suspects, and the like. I’ve never outlined a book in my life. Would I need to do so with this, my first mystery? Maybe. I figured I’d see as I began to gather ideas for the story. There was a lot of painting myself into a corner and having to rewrite, or hauling up short because I didn’t know anything about a specific subject.

My books are all character driven and contain a lot of dialogue. Sometimes I write an entire scene in dialogue only, then go back and add internalization, sense of place, the five senses, and the like. Could I do this with a mystery? Well, the answer to that is yes and no. Yes when I was writing a scene that revealed more about my characters than about my mystery; no when I was planting the clues, casting suspicion on the wrong person or the right person for that matter, or trying to show who could not have done it because he was doing something else.

It didn’t take long for me to see that this would not be easy, this changing over to writing a mystery. I probably rewrote this book a dozen times, and I mean rewrote. Took out entire subplots, changed a character from good to bad or vice versa. It was a constant battle to figure things out, but I finally got it done. I ended with a book rich in characterization, a sexy relationship that was such fun because the bad boy could be so bad and still be lovable, and I ended with a woman strong enough to make him toe the line when push came to shove. And the mystery turned out to be unusual and fun to solve, to say the least.

The idea of using twisted Poe titles for each book of the series didn’t occur to me until I began to search around for a title. I’m so bad with titles but then I saw mention of Poe’s Purloined Letter, thought that I had something purloined in my book. What if I used part of his title? One thing nice about titles, they’re not copyrightable. Of course I didn’t want to use the same exact title. Then after I realized what I’d chosen would work, a writer friend said she happened to know Christopher Allan Poe, a descendant of Edgar Allan and he might write me a blurb. Really? And so why not twist Poe titles for each of the series? Yes, that would work.

I wrote Christopher and he jumped at the chance, read my book, said he loved it and wrote me a great blurb, which hopefully will be on the back of the book cover. That’s in the works now. Hey, If Christopher Allan Poe likes my book, I’m a shoe-in, right? Well, time will tell, but this has been a lot of fun, and even though I’m still writing western historical romances, I’ll continue to have fun writing the next in my mystery series. Let’s see, which of Poe’s many titles shall I twist? Guess I’d better wait till the story begins to unfold.


Cover 1Here’s an excerpt from The Purloined Skull:

Along the road that curled out of Cedarton, a speeding white car left a trail of dust in its wake, its roof reflecting bright shards of light. Sheriff Mac headed for the crime scene, and as usual he was flying low, lights flashing, siren silent so as not to stir up the cattle grazing on both sides of the road. The curious animals raised their heads, jaws moving, and stared at the interloper.
She rose and waved both arms over her head.
The patrol car went into a skid that put its front wheels on the narrow lane to Kyle’s place. Out of the ford of the creek, another wild slide and the SUV rocked to a stop near her Jeep, bumper dripping water. You’d have thought she’d reported a shoot-out in progress.
For a moment a dust cloud obscured the cruiser. Out of that settling debris two men appeared like aliens off a mist-shrouded spaceship. Just like in the movies. She expected to see men in black with dark glasses, outrageous weapons in their hands, perhaps even a little green monster or two. Instead, there appeared the lanky sheriff in his gray Stetson, a roll of crime scene tape dangling from one hand, and beside him a stranger. Tall, well built, with skin like tarnished copper. A black tee shirt showed off wide shoulders and a flat belly, tight jeans hugged some fine equipment and long muscular legs carried him toward her with the mere vestige of a limp.
Sometimes God was good.
This had to be that new guy the department had hired. According to her friend Tinker, who worked at the sheriff’s department, he was an ex-narc off the streets of Dallas. And hot. Tinker always did know her men. He was part Cherokee and rumored to be a psychic or something. Tinker wasn’t exactly sure what.
“Some Indian thing,” she’d said. “He communes with the dead or demons or spirits. I’m not sure.”
A strange thing to contemplate. But he definitely looked like all of the above, tough and mean and on the warpath. Whatever the dead told him, he wasn’t too happy about it. His black, wide-brimmed hat sported a rattlesnake skin band that matched his boots. Probably caught the reptile barehanded and bit its head off. As for that psychic crap, it was a pile of just that. Crap. But that was her opinion. Some put plenty of stock in it. Maybe he would talk to the bones, solve the case right off the bat.

The first chapter


In reading over several manuscripts, I ask myself, how does this writer introduce information about the characters? How much belongs in the first chapter?

Handling background information is one of the trickiest parts of writing. The general rule is to include only what’s needed up front, then gradually provide additional details. The problem is, how do you know what’s needed?

You want to involve the reader immediately with the story and characters. Anything that slows down that process, unless the information is essential to the scene, should be pared. However, the reader needs to feel grounded. Where are we, in what time period, and roughly how old are the characters (just a hint — don’t have to be specific)? Gender’s important, too, especially if you’re writing in the first person.

Don’t drop information in an awkward lump. It can be subtle. We know it’s present day if a character uses a cell phone. If she’s an atypical eighty-year-old who text messages, provide other clues.

Warning: avoid the cliché of having the hero or heroine see him/herself in the mirror. If someone’s shooting at the heroine and she’s running for her life, she might reflect that, beneath the streetlights, her blonde hair is probably turning her into a target. Or, in a different situation, she might compare herself with someone. For instance, she considers her friend’s shiny dark hair much more striking than her light brown curls. Or have someone else comment on her coloring, height, etc.

Make sure details reveal character. To say the heroine’s wearing a business suit or a cocktail dress is often sufficient, but if she’s klutzy, she’ll have a stain on that outfit. If she’s wearing a business suit at a cocktail party, perhaps she’s a workaholic, or an absent-minded exec.

Furnishings, too, should be relevant. If she’s an impoverished heroine in a Regency romance, show the threadbare sofa and chipped porcelain bowls.

Drawing the reader into the story immediately is essential these days. Unlike in the 19th century, when novels could begin at a leisurely pace, we have to compete with TV, DVDs, videogames, and cell phones. In commercial fiction (literary fiction has its own rules), what are we trying to accomplish on Page One?

Make the tone fit the genre. If it’s scary, make it tense or eerie. If it’s funny, keep the tone light. Aim for sparkling prose and dialogue. Prune clichés and chitchat. In a romance, introduce a hero or heroine that the reader can care about. If we can’t tell the protagonists from the secondary characters right off the bat, you’re in trouble. Establish a clear point of view. Try to keep it to a single point of view per scene. Watch out for frequent shifts, also known as head hopping, especially on the first page.

What you want to do is make your beginning draw the reader in. Actually, you want to do this with the entire book, but it’s especially important in the beginning. If you don’t get them then, you’ve lost them completely. Most people don’t have time these days to wade through a hundred pages to get to the good stuff. Put the good stuff up front, and keep it there throughout the story. That will win you readers.


Guest: Shara Lanel – with a contest!


Welcome to my guest poster today, Shara Lanel.  avatar

What genre do your books fall into or is it a genre blended?  Erotic romance with a mix of suspense and paranormal.

 What inspires you to write? Deadlines, and I’m only half joking.

 Do you listen to music or set the mood somehow to get writing? I’ve created a writing playlist, music that won’t break my concentration, like the soundtracks Blade Runner and Chronicles of Narnia.

 Do you come up with the plot or characters first? I kind of start with a situation and one or both of the main characters, and I just start writing. Somewhere around chapter three, I get stuck and stop to think about plot

 Do you have a favorite book of yours? Hard to say a fave, but was very proud when Blame It on the Moon won the HOLT Medallion Award.

 Who would you consider an influence on your writing? I’d have to say the ladies of the Virginia Romance Writers have been the biggest influence, with encouragement, advice, and a lot of talent between them.

 Tell me something quirky about yourself. I’m a devoted Whovian. My first Doctor was Ten, so he remains my fave, and I’m counting down the days to the 50th Anniversary Special. (See, I’m not a geek at all.)

 What do you aim to make people feel when they read your books? At turns frustrated, turned on, scared, sad, excited, and in love.

 What’s next for you? I’ve just completed the manuscript for my next Ellora’s Cave title. Getting ready to revise!

 Do you sing in the shower? No, but I hum in the bath.

 A TWISTED MAGICK Blog Tour needs a fab prize at the end, don’t you think? How about a $20 Amazon gift cert! Comment on any of my blog posts during the tour, then refer to the contest page ( on my Shara blog to get yourself entered to win! I’ll draw the winner on Nov. 1st.

 My links:

 Author Bio:

Shara Lanel’s novels are always full of suspense and hot romance, whether set on the moon or in a Mexican jungle. She resides in Richmond, VA with a clingy dog, an action-oriented son, and a handsome hubby. Don’t put her in the kitchen, unless you want to burn it down, and her green-thumb is hit-or-miss, but she excels as a bibliophile, hoping she never has to pack up and move, since her hubby might see just how many volumes she really has.

 atwistedmagick_msrBLURB for A TWISTED MAGICK by Shara Lanel:

 Shylah, a small-town teacher, has put her arcane history behind her, until two students are murdered occult style. Her Wiccan religion is outed. She loses her job and deals daily with ridicule. The obvious thing would be to leave town, but she refuses—she’s innocent.

 Gabriel is a PI from California dealing with his aunt’s cold shoulder. She wants him to fly to Virginia to solve his cousin’s murder, but he doesn’t have the money or the time until he breaks a big case he’s been working on. Now his cousin’s case is three months cold with one hot witchy suspect and no proof. As soon as he sees Shylah, he wants her, for a lot more than just questioning.

 Gabe has the power to make Shylah’s insides melt and her judgment fade. She knows he can bring her down if he discovers the twisted magick of her past, but every time he touches her, she can’t say no. She needs to get him to see past prejudice and help her find the real killer. Together, they make magic in more ways than one.

A Romantica® paranormal erotic romance from Ellora’s Cave Twilight line.



 “I’d like my fortune read, please.”

Shylah startled, both from the sound of a voice where there hadn’t been one for several minutes, and also at the familiarity. The deep, velvety voice flipped a switch in her body, from off to on. But what was Gabe doing here? How had he even found out about her new business? She slowly looked up, mentally squaring her shoulders. What new tact would he try today?

He gazed at her herbs and candles. “Got any pot in there?”

She sighed. “Why are you here? I thought we were done talking.”

“Like I said, I want my fortune told.”

“How did you even find me?”

He grinned as he pulled out the chair opposite her. “My hotel had the Richmond and Charlottesville papers, so I saw your ad.”

“My name’s not in my ad.”

“I have my ways.”

That worried her, since she didn’t want other Smith Creek residents finding out about her side business.

She looked up again and found him staring at her intensely. Disconcerted, she gestured for him to sit and slid her drawings off the table and into the bag underneath. “What sort of divination are you interested in?”

“What do you usually do?”

“Well, I have a crystal ball if you want the total ambience. I have the tarot or runes, which are the most popular, or I can scry into a mirror. Do you have a specific question in mind?”

He turned the chair around backward and sat down. Why did men do that? “Yes, it concerns the truth about guilt or innocence.”

Shylah grimaced. “I think we’ll use the cards, which will give you something tangible to look at.” She slipped the deck out of the silk bag again and handed the oversized cards to him. “Shuffle them slowly while concentrating on your question. But you can’t expect me to give you a reading admitting to my supposed guilt. That would be counterproductive on my part, don’t you think?”

“I didn’t say it was your guilt or innocence I was thinking about.”

“No?” She lit an incense cone in a tiny brass censer. “Pull the curtain closed a bit, okay?”

“Not all the way?”

“I like potential customers to know I’m in here, even if I’m giving a reading.” She took the cards from him, grazing his fingers and wondering at the tingle she felt. It was a schoolgirl tingle, the kind you get when you’re working with the boy you have a crush on. She hadn’t felt that tingle since high school.

The table was covered with a black shawl with Chinese calligraphy on it. She spread the cards out in the classic Celtic Cross formation, and the first thing she noticed was the death card in the future position. The death card usually meant extreme change, not literal death, but as Shylah peered at the cards and took in their vibrations, she realized that this card might mean literal death. Her face froze. Who? Was Gabe going to die? She looked up into his strong face, masculine jaw and cheekbones, kissable mouth, mahogany eyes. Once she got past her immediate attraction—again—she thought she saw an unnatural shadow across his face. She let her eyes un-focus so she could see it better.

It was a skull.

“What’s the matter? This card with the grim reaper isn’t good, is it?”

“Someone’s going to die.”


Books: Shelley Munro strikes again!


Clothes For The Man In Your Life

Hello from Auckland, New Zealand, and thanks so much for having me to visit again.

The other day, one of our local stores held a one-day sale. Mr. Munro wanted to purchase some short-sleeve shirts, so off we went to the men’s department. They were doing a brisk trade and the changing rooms were very busy with a queue of men waiting to try on garments. Each man seemed to have a feminine escort, and we hung about outside, chatting until our services were required, either to see our men in their possible purchases or to run out for different sizes.

This is the way our conversation went:

“They’re worse than children,” one woman said.

“Julia!” a man hollered. Julia cast us a harried look, scurried into the changing rooms and after a few minutes came hurrying out to find a different selection of trousers.

Then it was my turn to brave the changing room. “I think this is all right,” Mr. Munro said.

“It’s too big,” I replied. “I’ll get a smaller size.” I trotted off to find the required shirts and after delivering them, I retired to the women’s corner again.

“Yes, they’re way worse than children,” the woman said. “At least with children you can pick something out and it’s done. Men are so fussy.”

I nodded and waited for my next call. “What do you think?” Mr. Munro asked.

“That size is better,” I said. “I think you should get the green one too.”

Mr. Munro hesitated then nodded. With three shirts in hand, we went to the checkout. Mission accomplished.

Unfortunately for me, the next stop was the shoe store, and it began all over again…

Do you go shopping for or with the males in your family? Is the shopping process an easy one?

In Past Regrets the heroine Julia doesn’t have to go shopping with a man, but Ryan does help her while she’s trying on several costumes for the club. Ryan’s job is easy. He helps with the zippers and hands out compliments!

PastRegrets72webHere’s the blurb for Past Regrets:
Never look back…unless that’s where your heart belongs.

Love and Friendship, Book 2

Julia Maxwell was a seize-the-moment party girl until the night she spent with up-and-coming rocker Ryan Callander. From that moment, she was a one-man woman. Pity he hasn’t kept with the program.

Tired of the secrets that have kept her out of the press and Ryan’s fans happy, angry with mounting evidence of infidelity, Julia is older, wiser, and determined to divorce his cheatin’ ass.

Ryan’s long European tour had more than its share of hard knocks—one of which landed on his head when he was mugged. Divorce papers waiting for him at home are a shock that fills in some of the holes in his sketchy memory. But it could be too late to salvage his marriage.

If Ryan thinks flirtatious smiles, seductive touches, and hot-and-heavy kisses are going to smooth things over, Julia’s got a hammer with his name on it. To her surprise, he picks it up, determined to rebuild a bright future for both of them. But the past is lurking with some missing pieces that could bring their hearts crashing down.

Product Warnings
Contains a pissed ex-stripper turned burlesque dancer, a bunch of nosy friends and a smooth-talking rocker with one thing on his mind. Stripper poles and skimpy costumes may be involved.

Samhain Publishing

Shelley Munro lives in New Zealand with her husband and a rambunctious puppy called Bella. She writes spicy romances for Carina Press, Ellora’s Cave and Samhain Publishing. To learn more about Shelley and her books visit her website at

Cover reveal: Terri Rochenski!


Hi everyone! Today we have a special Cover Reveal from a fellow The Wild Rose Press author. Enjoy!

ANM 500Alone No More
Novella / Historical Romance
Avail Format: ebook
‘Official’ Release Date: December 18, 2013
Dismissed from her job as a scullery maid and cast aside by her lover, pregnant Cara Morland has no choice but to return to her father’s farm. While lies of widowhood keep her from disgrace, Cara is faced with a local landowner’s unwanted attentions. Without the social status to do much more than avoid the vile man, she loses hope of ever finding happiness.
A friendship based on mutual loneliness blossoms between Cara and James Elliot, a young farm hand hired by her father. He offers his protection, and one shared kiss reveals his heart, but propriety and her feigned grieving period hinders what they both desire.
When Cara’s stalker learns the truth of her circumstances, he gives her an ultimatum—submit to his possession or he’ll ruin her second chance at love with James.
Alone No More is available for early release with Amazon for only $1.99. PLEASE include this information and the following link:
Terri started writing stories in the 8th grade, when a little gnome whispered in her brain. Gundi’s Great Adventure never hit the best seller list, but it started a long love affair with storytelling.
Today she enjoys an escape to Middle Earth during the rare ‘me’ moments her two young daughters allow. When not playing toys, picking them back up, or kissing boo-boos, she can be found sprawled on the couch with a book or pencil in hand, and toothpicks propping her eyelids open.