Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Writing Wednesday: Debut Author Claire Marti

Today, I'm hosting a new author from The Wild Rose Press, Claire Marti. I was lucky enough to read an ARC of her debut novel, Second Chance In Laguna, a fun romp of a read (review coming soon) and invited her to visit!

Hi Claire! Give us your "brief bio."

Here's my "standard" pitch about myself... (sorry it's in the third person!)

Claire Marti started writing stories as soon as she was old enough to pick up pencil and paper. After graduating from the University of Virginia with a BA in English Literature, Claire was sidetracked by other careers, including practicing law, selling software for legal publishers, and managing a non-profit animal rescue for a Hollywood actress.

Finally, Claire followed her heart and now focuses on two of her true passions: writing romance novels and teaching yoga. Her debut, Second Chance in Laguna, releases from The Wild Rose Press on March 31, 2017 and is the first in the Finding Forever in Laguna series.

The part about managing an animal rescue sounds ripe for more stories... What's your favorite part of being an author?
I’ve got two favorite parts. First, I love creating the characters because the entire story springs from their inner conflicts. Learning to love and accept themselves frees them up to love and accept others. Second, I enjoy transforming the crappy first draft into flowing prose. I compare it to fitting puzzle pieces together.

What's your approach to the actual writing? Do you plot or go with the flow?
I’ve got a hybrid approach. I do detailed character sketches and create and analyze the characters’ inner conflicts. Then, I have a loose story plotted over a three-act structure. I don’t do a detailed outline because I need the freedom to see what happens within my initial story concept.

I totally get that. Now, for a more creative question... If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?
To transport myself from place to place in seconds. I’d love to visit my friends and family around the world in a blink of an eye. I’m impatient and would love to skip all that pesky driving and flying.

OMG, Totally get that. I recently spent 7 hours just sitting at Logan while waiting for JetBlue to fix a broken plane! Could've totally used that superpower!!

Now, for the meat. Tell us about your new release!

My debut novel, Second Chance in Laguna, won best unpublished contemporary romance in the Heart of the Molly and third place in the Maggie and releases on March 31, 2017. Here’s what it’s about:
Magazine editor and aspiring novelist Sophie Barnes left everything she knew to move to Laguna Beach to rebuild her life after being devastated by her fiancé’s jilting her at the altar. Little does she know she’ll meet the love of her life, player Nicholas Morgan, and fulfill her deepest dreams of becoming a successful author.
And I've read it so I know it's a fun read! Okay, you’re casting the movie version of your novel – who would you choose for the main characters? We’re talking dream cast.

Hero Nicholas Morgan can be played by Chris Hemsworth with green contact lenses. (YUM!)

Heroine Sophie Barnes can be played by either Allison Williams or Barbara Palvin. (Yep, can totally see that. Good choices!)

Thanks for visiting today, Claire, and best of luck with your new release! I'll be watching out for the next book int he series too - - Where can readers like me find your book and where can we find you online?

My website is and you’ll find me on Twitter @clairepmarti, on Facebook at ClaireMartiAuthor, and on Goodreads.

My book is available in eBook and paperback at all major retailers. Here are the links:

·       Amazon:
·       The Wild Rose Press, Inc.:
·       Barnes and Noble:


Monday, March 27, 2017

Monday Book Review: Sex, Lies & Sweet Tea, by Kris Calvert

Sex, Lies and Sweet Tea, (Sex & Lies, Book One) by Kris Calvert
Published November 2013

About the Book:
Hotter than hell and half of Alabama, FBI Agent, Mac Callahan is thirsty for everything except love. Coming home to bust a white-collar crime ring, Mac intends to execute his usual practice with work and women¬ – get in, get it on and get out. Instead, he finds himself unexpectedly drawn to the legacy of his family, his plantation, and the charms of a Southern girl. Samantha Peterson possesses everything he needs in a woman, including the evidence to wrap his case. As the investigation heats up, so does their passion and a dangerous game ignites. But, then again, everything’s hotter in the South.
My Take:

I may have mentioned recently how enamored I've been lately with Southern romances. From Savannah to New Orleans, I've read quite a few novels that are set South of the Mason-Dixon Line.  Well, I've found another talented author in this romance subset, with a series set in Alabama that's fast paced and sizzling.

Sex, Lies and Sweet Tea is the first in the series, introducing us to a hot and rugged FBI special agent, McKay "Mac" Callahan, who is also a true Southern gentleman at heart. When he leaves D.C. to head an investigation in his hometown, he meets Samantha Peterson and falls hard.

She thinks he's just home to visit his mother in the upscale elder-care facility where she just took a new job. He's actually investigating fraud and corruption at the same business, and isn't sure whether Sam is involved in the scheme. And what will happen if she finds out he investigated her along with the other suspects as he looks for clues in between kisses?

I enjoyed the weaving of mystery with the rich Southern plantation lifestyle, but some of the excess goes over the top. Taken in context (and a few grains of salt) it all works pretty well. While this is the start of a series, the novel is a standalone story that gives this plot a complete resolution and this couple their HEA, while simultaneously introducing the reader to other characters in this setting who might also be looking for love.

I'm looking forward to reading more from this author, and more stories set in this quirky yet traditional Southern town. Grab this first book on Amazon

Friday, March 24, 2017

Friday Feature: Chatting with Romance Author Donna Simonetta

Hi Donna! I'm so happy to have you here as my guest today. Tell readers a little bit about yourself.

Like Katie, I’m a New England girl. I was born and raised in Connecticut, went to college in Massachusetts and then moved back to Connecticut and later to New Hampshire. But like Magda, in my new release A Sweeter Spot, I fell in love with a man from Virginia. We ended up in Maryland, because it plopped us in between our two moms, and it’s where we stayed. I worked in the business world for a long time, but my love of reading led me to get my MLS, and now I work part-time in a school library, in addition to my writing. Although, it’s getting harder to find enough time in the day to do everything I need to do for my writing and the library. Something’s gotta give, and it won’t be my writing!

I like a cozy mystery, and I love to read romance! I love the happy endings in romance novels. Real life gives us plenty of stuff to worry about, and reasons to be sad. When I read, I want to escape to a world where I know the mystery will be solved, and true love will triumph. I prefer contemporary romance with some humor…like Katie’s My Kind of Crazy, what a fun book! It’s what I try to bring to my writing as well, humor and heart.

What's your favorite part of being an author?
The actual writing! On a good day writing, I can get lost in my work, and forget about everything else. I’ll suddenly realize it’s almost time for my husband to get home and cross my fingers that frozen pizza will be okay with him for dinner – lol! I’ve really liked some aspects of my library work, but that has never happened to me there. You could interrupt me at any point in my day in the library, and I could tell you, to the minute, how much longer I have to be at work.

What's your approach to writing? Do you plot or go with the flow?

I do a little of both. I figure out where to start, where to end, and what the high point is in between those two points. And I spend a fair amount of time before I start, thinking about my characters, their appearance, background, and what motivates them. So when I do start writing, things can flow. And sometimes, they flow in a direction I didn’t anticipate!

If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?

It would be teleportation. My family and friends are scattered all over the place, and it would be great to be able to just teleport to wherever they are for a visit. I hate the hassle of traveling, but love the opportunity to see loved ones. It would be great to pop to Ireland for a cup of tea with my best friend, and then zap to California for cocktails with my brother-in-law.

I've gotta say, that's one of the more popular superpowers that all of us busy authors would love! Now, let's get to the good stuff... Tell us about your new release!

I’m really excited about A Sweeter Spot! It is the first book I wrote that has no fantasy elements, which was a challenge for me, but I am so happy with the result. It’s set in a fictional small town called Rivers Bend, on the Virginia-Maryland border. The heroine moves there to help her best friend run the library, but also to get away from her wealthy, controlling grandmother back in New York. She expects to be a fish out of water, and just stay until her friend is back on her feet, but ends up falling in love…with the quirky little town and with its favorite son, former NFL player and hunky single dad, Jeff Braden.

A Sweeter Spot is the first book in a trilogy about Rivers Bend and the Braden family. Some exciting Rivers Bend news …I just signed a contract with the Wild Rose Press for book 2 of the series! It’s going to be Heather Braden’s story, and whether or not she finally gets her HEA with her first love, and Jeff’s former NFL teammate, Mick Evans.  I’ll keep you posted on all the deets about it, title, cover, release date, as soon as I know them!

About the Book:
Magda knows a 28-year-old shouldn’t run away from home, but Rivers Bend is the ideal escape. Helping out her best friend will get her away from her uber-wealthy, controlling grandmother and duplicitous ex. She doesn’t expect the quirky little town to feel so much like home. Add in hotter-than-the-sun Jeff and his daughter, and leaving seems as unthinkable as it is inevitable.

Raising Sam alone, Jeff knew he wanted her to grow up in his supportive hometown. The arrival of a feisty new tenant sends Jeff's world spinning. Magda fills a void in his life that he’d like to make permanent.

Will love triumph over the most powerful woman in the country, and can they figure out how to make this happy-for-now in Rivers Bend into their happy-ever-after?
Wow, I love the sound of this story! Think I need to add it to my read/review pile right now! Okay, you’re casting the movie version of your novel – who would you choose for the main characters? We’re talking dream cast.

Fair warning to visitors, I’m going to have a boring answer to this one. As a reader, I never picture characters as movie stars. I always see it in my mind when I read, and it’s vivid and clear. I didn’t realize until fairly recently that not everyone reads that way, but that’s another story. When a movie is made of a book I love, I’m frequently disappointed, because the world looks different. Wrong. At least to me! And the actors don’t look like anything like the characters I’ve come to know.

When I began writing, it sort of happened the same way for me as reading. If you dropped me on Main Street, in totally fictional Rivers Bend, I would be able to find my way anywhere, because it’s that real to me. So, to me, Jeff just looks like Jeff. I really tried to come up with some hot actor’s name to answer this question,  but I honestly can’t think of anyone who looks like Jeff does to me.

Hey, that's fine! We'll cast some hunky unknown and start his career with a bang, lol. Tell us where can readers find your book and where can they find you online?

I’m all over the place online, and would love to connect with my readers there! Here are some links:


And my books are available from my publisher, the Wild Rose Press, and from all the usual places…here are some links to A Sweeter Spot:
Barnes & Noble:
Amazon UK:

And here are the links for  Angels Fly:

Barnes & Noble:
Amazon UK:
The Wild Rose Press:

I would love it if your readers wanted to pick up one of my books, and if they do, and like it, I would really appreciate it if they could leave a short review of it where they bought it, or on Goodreads. Before I was published, I didn’t realize how important that was to the author!

Thanks so much for letting me visit today, Katie!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Writing Wednesday: Kilts, Camo & Tuxedos - Oh My! Do's and Don'ts when Writing Alpha Males

My latest romance is available for pre-sale right now with an anthology entitled HUNKS TO THE RESCUE. 15 authors and 15 hot alpha males jumping feet first into dangerous situations. The best part is that all the heroes are different, showing that alphas come in a delicious variety of flavors.

Which reminded me of this magazine column I wrote last March for CapeWomenOnline magazine for my "The Write Way" column. The magazine is currently undergoing transformation, and I'm not sure whether it'll be back up and running any time soon, but I had fun writing these tips and thought I'd share again.

When you hear the term "alpha male" you think strong and in charge. Movie images of ripped Navy SEALs or muscle-bound Highlanders might flit through your mind. Or maybe you picture the powerful billionaire CEO, intense and driven with the "A" type personality.

A for alpha.

Alpha males are a staple in literature as well as movies, and as a writer you should take time to master this stereotype (pun intended) no matter what genre you write. There's a big difference in creating a strong alpha male who might also have hidden vulnerabilities, as opposed to one who is simply a domineering jerk.

Romance author Susabelle Kelmer says, “Who wants to read about a selfish jerk? We sure wouldn't want to date or marry one! There is a difference - a true alpha male has got to have redeeming qualities, or I'm not going to be able to get into the story.”

“I've read some stories where the alpha male was such a jerk I had to put down the book,” agrees paranormal author Karilyn Bentley, who writes the Demon Huntress series. “I like them where they are strong and capable but also have feelings and are kind.”

When reading any genre of novel, we expect our heroes to be strong and stand up for what they believe, but readers also want to connect with characters on a deeper level. Even an alpha male needs something to make him vulnerable, and thus human. He can't just flex his muscles and order women around. In a mystery or tale of suspense, he can’t be right 100% of the time. And in a romance, he needs to give as good as he gets.

So as you’re working on your next manuscript, keep these ideas in mind. And make that Alpha work for our approval.

"Alpha Guidelines"
DO make sure your hero is hot, ripped and ready for anything. No, he doesn’t have to be conventionally handsome (although it helps) but he needs to have self-confidence and a certain amount of arrogance about his looks.

DON’T take that self-confidence over the top into the realm of self-obsessed. No one like a Narcissist.  

DO give him a job or a cause he can believe in, and something the reader can relate to in some way. Whether it’s a fireman who puts his life on the line, a Navy SEAL saving wounded soldiers, or a cowboy working hard to save the family ranch, readers love a man with a cause they can believe in too. The CEO who makes millions for his company just by shipping jobs overseas? Not so much. The CEO with a secret soft spot for disabled kids, who donates millions to the local children’s hospital? Swoon-worthy for sure.

DON’T make everything a cliché. Yes, there are stereotypes for good reason – those are formula characters that work. But that doesn’t mean readers aren’t looking for something fresh and new. From the alpha werewolf seeking a mate to the billionaire who marries the poor girl as part of some deal or to gain his inheritance… Yeah, overdone. The CEO who falls for his formerly shy assistant and dazzles her with fifty shades of kinky sexual situations? We’ve seen (and panned) the movie.

DON’T be afraid to try something fresh. There are all kinds of alphas out there, whether they’re in traditional alpha jobs or not. In LINGERIE WARS by Janet Elizabeth Hendersen, the hero was a former British special forces guy (okay, maybe a little cliché), who owned and ran a lingerie shop in Scotland! A twist to be sure, but it worked. Trust me.

DO give your hero a backstory that tugs at the reader’s heart. What made him the way he is today? A strong loving mom, being raised by a grandparent, childhood in an orphanage, a happy household filled with siblings, high school success or failure… try writing up a character background to see what makes the guy tick. What gives him strength? Why is he fighting for whatever it is he fights for? Eventually, some of this backstory needs to leak into your novel, to let the reader glimpse the hero’s vulnerability. If you totally understand the character and his motivations, it’s so much easier to make the reader fall in love with him.

DO make your alpha fall for the heroine for the RIGHT reasons. Loving her big boobs is NOT a good reason. Being horny is NOT a good reason. Alphas should love and respect women. Perhaps they’ve had a love ‘em and leave ‘em past, but it shouldn’t be misogynistic. Not wanting to settle down at twenty-something is a whole lot different than trying to sleep your way across Manhattan for the sheer sake of gaining notches on the bedpost and bragging about it on Twitter.

There are all sorts of alpha heroes out there, and all sorts of readers to cater to. In the end, you need to write the guy YOU would fall for, whether he owns a comic book store, a construction company or a mansion and a yacht. Alpha is alpha.

Chances are, there will be plenty of readers on that same page.