December 24, 2014

The Notary

The Notary is now available in paperback.

December 10, 2014

Romance Magicians: Interview with Cheryl Yeko, Past Gayle Wilson Awar...

I'm hanging out with Southern Magic Romance, revisiting the excitement of winning the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence for my debut novel, Protecting Rose...I'd love for you to stop in!


Romance Magicians: Interview with Cheryl Yeko, Past Gayle Wilson Awar...: Cheryl Yeko   Imagine my surprise when I discovered a fellow Soul Mate author, editor extraordinaire, and creator of outstanding boo...

November 13, 2014

International Digital Awards And Other Fun Stuff

Hi, everyone. For those that don't follow me on Facebook, where I've announced to the world, to the extent that I'm now in Facebook Jail and barred from posting to Groups for a week, lol ... I'd like to share my awesome news. 

My self-published novella, Mountain Hero, took 1st place in the International Digital Awards Contest, in the Romantic Suspense, novella category. I'm thrilled! Mountain Hero is the 1st story in my Hero Series. Eyes of a Hero, the 2nd novella in this series will be released in January. Stay tuned!  I'd like to share my very yummy book cover, which I created myself. I think it turned out nicely.

It's been a good month.

My novel, Shielding Her Heart, has been nominated for the BTS Red Carpet Awards - Best Book of The Year in the romantic suspense category. If you've read Shielding Her Heart, please hop over and vote for me. Vote Here: 

Thank you!!!

Then to top it off, I finally worked up the courage to do my Toastmaster Ice Breaker speech, and walked away with the Best Speaker ribbon. 

How cool is that!!

Also, The Power of Three has a really nice website now. Stop over and check it out, and catch of on the prior chapters to our co-author'd novella, Rodeo King. Be sure to sign up for the Newsletter to keep up-to-date on this fun story.

October 16, 2014

The Power of Three Video

Hi, everyone. Just a short post to share the video I created for me and my BFFs, Callie Hutton, and Char Chaffin.

We'll be promoting this video at the upcoming RT (Romantic Times) conference in Dallas, in May. Char and I will also be there promoting Soul Mate Publishing...look for us if you attend.

Oh, and just for fun, here is The Power of  Three selfie,from the romance conference this summer...having way too much fun!!


August 12, 2014

The Power of Three - RWA Conference Fun!

The Power of Three, Callie, Char, and Cheryl would like to introduce something new and fun for all our readers! 

Remember those old-time magazine serials? You'd get a chapter at a time, anything from "true crime" to romance. Sometimes you'd get science fiction, or a mystery. The story built, issue by issue, each segment ending with a knockout cliffhanger that kept you on the edge of your seat, dying for more. 

Well, we thought it might be fun to start our own romantic serial, starting with our September newsletter. Each month we'll include a chapter of the story, and it will go for at least ten newsletters.

There might be more. The fun of this serial is the entire 'pantser' (writing by the seat of your pants) aspect. As we take turns writing it, we'll release each section in the newsletter. When we're finished, we'll self publish it in its entirety. We might even set it up in such a way that we can do more than one serial. What fun! 

We can't wait, and we hope you'll stay tuned; follow along with us in our Newsletter. If you're not currently a subscriber, you can sign up here: The Power of Three

Today we're sharing pictures from our wonderful writers conference, RWA's 2014 Annual Conference, in San Antonio. Many were there, many had fun. Including Yours Truly, The Power of Three. 

What's just as good as hanging out at the beach with a fab book and a tall, cold glass of anything sweet and yummy?

Hanging out with your BFFs with tall, cold glasses of sweet n' yummy . . . and plotting all kinds of fab writing stuff! Callie was unable to join us at the restaurant because she was attending the PAN (published author network) retreat, so we ordered really BIG drinks and toasted her!

We all live several states away from each other, and about the only time we three can get together is a conference.

Currently we're plotting a weekend retreat somewhere, sometime in the future when our collective batteries are low and we are in need to energize. In the meantime, live chats, Facebook, and emails keep our momentum going.

For writers, conferences like RWA are like mega-zaps of mega-vitamins. There's nothing like hanging out with like-minded people who are as crazed as you.

Here are a couple photos of the awards dinner.

Nobody needs sleep.

Okay, maybe a catnap now and then. Who needs food? Well, perhaps a bag (or ten) of chocolate to keep up the sugar energy. 

In between glomming on chocolate, catching a dozen Zzs and swilling your beverage of choice, the talk and the workshops revolves
around writing, publishing, editing, awards, contests, parties, more workshops, book signings . . . for five straight days it never stops.

Hang on, soak it in, take tons of photos, and plan on even more craziness next year.

The book signing was a great success.

Char and Cheryl met up with their publisher, Debby Gilbert, of Soul Mate Publishing.

Followed by a fun-filled night at the Soul Mate Authors' Dinner!

And then of course, what the heck, our first Power of Three Selfie. Having way too much fun!!

Thank you for sharing our conference with us. We are all looking forward to next year's conference in New York City!

Be sure to stop back in next month for the first chapter of our new novel we are writing together.
How fun is that!

Where You Can Find Us:

Facebook - The Power of Three

Where Love Always Wins:
Audible Playlist:
Soul Mate Publishing:



July 2, 2014

The Notary - New Release Party, Monday, July 7th

I'm having a party on July 7th, from 6 pm - 9 pm, in honor of my new release, The Notary. 

There will be prizes!

I would love for you to join me. 

Click Link Below For 
-Facebook Party-

Be sure to play for a chance to win! 
Enter - below the excerpt

Lucas watched as Adrianna gave her head another vigorous shake, glaring at the paramedic. He  instinctively moved toward her to see what was wrong. She’d been through enough and he didn’t want this guy making her more upset.
What am I doing? She’s not my responsibility. That thought didn’t slow him down for an instant. He came to a stop in front of the paramedic, narrowing his eyes on the man. “Is there a problem here?”
The paramedic scowled, not appearing intimidated by Lucas’ surly attitude in the slightest. Pretty damn brave of him, Lucas admitted with grudging respect, given that the guy was no taller than Adrianna, and almost as skinny.
“She refuses to go to the hospital to get checked for a concussion,” the paramedic complained. “Maybe you can talk some sense into her.”
Lucas frowned at Adrianna and her stubborn chin jutted forward, a kiss-worthy pout pursing her mouth. Did the woman have no sense whatsoever? First, she shows up at a strange house late at night, then stuck around when she should have been hauling her fine ass out of there. Although there was a good chance he’d be dead if she hadn’t, which ticked him off further. It was his fault she’d been injured, and dammit, she was going to the hospital to get checked out if he had to carry her there.
“I’ll take her.”
She gave him a look of exasperation. “I’m not going.”
“Yes . . . you are,” he returned, his annoyance rising. What the hell was wrong with this woman? Stubborn didn’t even come close to her attitude.
She crossed her arms and tapped her slender bare foot, irritation marring her pretty features. Her alluring eyes flashed a deep shade of green. “No. I’m not.”
She shifted her gaze to the paramedic in a look of reproach, then spun around and headed for a blue Ford Focus parked in front of the house.
“She can’t drive,” the paramedic snapped.
“Right,” Lucas agreed, sprinting after her. “I’ve got this.”
He came up behind her just as she neared the Focus, her steps slowed, then came to a complete stop by the driver’s side door. But she didn’t open it. Instead, her shoulders drooped and her head fell forward as she tugged the blanket more tightly around her. When a tremor shook her shoulders, the need to comfort her nearly undid him. She was due for a meltdown after what she’d been through.
His annoyance fell away at the sight of her distress. “You okay?”
“My car’s broken,” she said, her voice no more than a whisper. A chill nipped the air as a slight misting rain fell on them.
He reached for her and slowly turned her around, placing a finger under her chin and tilting her face up. Her eyes were glassy with tears. “What?” he asked softly.
She blinked moisture from her lashes and squinted up at him. “I had an accident”—sniffle—“on the way here and now it won’t start.” Her bottom lip trembled.
His gaze fell to her mouth and an urge to press her back against her car and taste those full pouty lips coiled inside him. He swallowed hard and forced the image out of his mind, but it was harder to force the desire from his body. “You weren’t hurt?”
She hadn’t appeared injured when he’d seen her peering inside the dirty window. His eyes dropped back over her body, accessing her injuries. His body tightened, noting the way her conservative outfit, still damp, clung to her soft curves.
His mouth pressed tight. Since Susan’s death, he’d taken less than a handful of women to bed to scratch his itch. All one-nighters who knew the score. This woman had ‘long-term’ written all over her. Lucas didn’t do long term.
Adrianna continued. “I just need my purse.” Her voice shook and two fat tears leaked from her eyes. “And I—I lost my glasses when that man hit me,” she ended on a wail.
The thought of Ellis touching her, hurting her, made Lucas want to do some damage to the guy. His nostrils flared and his spine stiffened. Too bad the bastard was already dead. The anguish he heard in her voice bothered him. On pure instinct, Lucas found himself leaning in to comfort her. Inhaling her sweet floral scent reminded him of everything good in the world and the reason men like him fought to protect innocence.
Two more tears rolled down her face, one dripping off the end of her cute nose. An emotion that could only be described as tenderness flickered to life inside him. An emotion he’d sworn never to feel again. An emotion he sure as hell didn’t want. One he did his best to tamp back down, as the need to claim and protect her smoldered, like a low burning fire. Then she sniffled again, the sound soft and feminine, as two more tears fell.
Like throwing gasoline onto a flame, the emotion exploded, raging out of control.
Ah, hell!
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June 23, 2014

Please Give a Warm Welcome To Susan Berger

Welcome to Cheryl’s place! I’m thrilled to have you here.

Please tell us a little about yourself.

I am a chronologically gifted human being who has worn many hats. Actress. Wife. Mother. Grandmother. Bookkeeper. Bookaholic. Children’s book writer and now Romance Writer. I am a firm believer in HEA.

I feel so lucky because so many of my dreams have come true.

I fell in love and got married. I got to be on Broadway in a musical. I never dreamed of having children, but my sons turned out to be my best dreams of all.

I had a taste of what it was like to get famous when my husband, Barry Corbin, was one of the stars of Northern Exposure. Watching that cast handle sudden fame was an education.

Barry and I are no longer married, but we still are good friends. Right now he’s in town because he is a regular on Charlie Sheen’s new series, Anger Management. We play trivia together on Tuesdays. And meet up other times for shows or dinner.

My first book, Jamie’s Dream, written with my younger son, Christopher when he was ten, was accepted for publication and published on Chris’s 25th birthday. Since then I’ve had two other children’s books published. In 2011, I signed a contract with Beach Lane Books, Allyn Johnston’s imprint at Simon and Schuster, for my Great American Novel, Log on Log. (My Great American Novel is sixty five words long. Big change from romance writing.)

I got my first television series at age sixty six. Warren The Ape. I didn’t run long, but the rush of being informed I was a regular is indescribable. Last year I celebrated my 70th birthday with a trip to Ireland and Scotland with my sister and brother in law. Not only did I have a wonderful time, but I got a setting and plot for my next romance. The adventures just keep coming.

What is your favorite pastime, other than writing?

Well. I love doing jigsaw puzzles and beach walks. Right now my other prime obsession is improvisation. I have been taking classes at Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB) for the past year. This is because my son Chris has decided we need to be the first mother/son improv team. This year I started taking classes in long form musical improv. It’s a six or eight person form accompanied by a keyboardist and I LOVE it. Chris changed his mind and decided we will be the first mother son musical improv team. He says in ten years we will be good. I like long term goals.

Any advice for new writers just starting out?
Revise. It’s a wonderful part of the process. Get a critique group you trust. Join Wattpad. Get a fabulous editor like I did.

As your editor, Susan, thank you. It was a great pleasure working with you on this story. 

What genre or genres do you write?
Romance and children’s picture and mid grade books.

Tell us about your latest release.
Time and Forever, my debut novel released in January is a contemporary time travel romance.
The reviews so far have been very positive. I think I’m up to seventeen of them.

I got one from a woman I never met. 
Margaret C.
This was a very special book that I can resonate with at the age of 65. The pace was wonderful and took you through the twists and turn of a terrific story without letting you get lost.

Time travel seemed a real possibility due the way in which the author told the story, I only wish it was, perhaps we could all go back to meaningful and happy times or at best, have a greater appreciation for where we are now!

I sent a copy of the book to anyone at Soul Mate and Guardian Angel Publishing who said they would be interested in reviewing it. This is from a GAP author. Terry C
Pour yourself a glass of wine, turn on the tap and add the bubble bath salts, dry your hands and then grab Time and Forever. Slide down into the froth and read, read, read. Let your children eat cereal for dinner but keep reading. You will love this world Susan Berger has created and you will not want to return. Truly lovely.

I was worried that it might not appeal to younger readers but then I got an email from a colleague of my son’s. Stephanie is in her early thirties and loved it enough to want to record it.

Wow!!! I absolutely loved your book and couldn't put it down! Great job!! I really got into the characters so quickly and had such emotional ties to them right away. I'm very impressed and thank you so much for sending it to me! Having had such a real positive experience reading it, I would love to narrate this book for you if you'd like me to!

Please share an excerpt of your book!

“Birthdays bite,” Sherry muttered.
“Hey, in two more years you’ll be sixty-five.” Lorena raised her glass. “Here’s to Medicare. The best present ever.”
“Cute.” Sherry stabbed Mr. Chow’s chicken satay with an ebony chopstick. “Do you ever feel like something’s missing in your life?”
“All the time.” Lorena expertly chopsticked a mixed water dumpling. “This morning I found my car keys in the fridge under the cottage cheese.”
“I’m not talking about senior moments. Heaven knows I have enough of them. I meant do you ever feel you should be taking another path?”
Lorena glanced around the celebrity-filled restaurant. “Jen Aniston’s waving at you. She probably wants to know why Now and Then is closed.”
Sherry returned Jen’s finger wave. “Halloween tapped us out. We have to restock.”
Lorena smiled back at Meg Ryan. “Ever since that piece on Entertainment Tonight you and your vintage clothing store are more popular than me, and I’m the celebrity.” She offered Sherry a dumpling. “Why would you take another path? You’re rich, thin, and you’ve got a great business. What else do you need?”
“Someone to share it with. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life alone.”
For a moment Lorena’s eyes looked empty. She blinked and the mask returned. “There’s a lot to be said for being alone. You get to eat crackers in bed and you have total control of the remote. If you’re lonely, get a dog.”
“I feel like there has to be more.” Sherry cursed herself for making Lorena think of David and changed the subject. “I got a birthday card from Brittany and Bill.”
Lorena’s eyes frosted over. “How are the Bimbo and the Bore? Still wildly in love with each other.”
“Yeah,” Sherry said morosely. “They want to get together for dinner.”
“Sherry, I get you staying on good terms with Bill for the boys’ sake, but dinner à trois is going way beyond the call of duty. Tell them you have a date with George Clooney and you’re too busy to bother.”
“Yeah. Right.” Sherry inhaled the marzipan aroma of her Almond champagne. Normally she never had a second glass, but it was her birthday and she loved the feel of the bubbles tickling down her throat and forming a pool of liquid courage in her stomach. “You know what? I’m tired of having the only male companionship in my life come from daydreams and romance novels. I want to be loved by a real person. I’m thinking of trying online dating.”
“Are you crazy?”
Sherry rolled her eyes. “I knew you’d say that.”
Lorena's sharp tone attracted the attention of the diners at the next table. “Look! It’s Marley, the secretary on Looking for Love,” the woman informed her companion. She beamed at Lorena. “Hi, Marley.”
Lorena flipped back her streaked blonde bob, and gave the tourists her trademark ditzy smile.
Both women lifted their phones for a picture.
Lorena turned back to Sherry and continued in a lower voice. “You just cued the horror movie music in my head. When it comes to clichés, online dating is right up there with the let’s investigate moment where the heroine takes the flashlight and runs around the creepy house in the dark.”
“That’s ridiculous.” Sherry tried to lift one eyebrow and failed. “Lots of people are finding great matches online.”
Lorena shuddered. “Lots of people are not you. Honey, look at yourself. You’ve got lollipop green eyes and a sweet smile that says Take me. I’m vulnerable. You’d be Little Red Riding Hood inviting in the Wolf.”
“Stop that!” Sherry hated fairytale comparisons. She’d been dealing with them her whole life. “You’re putting me off and I want to be encouraged. I want a chance at true love.”
Lorena passed her hands over her glass. “I am looking into the future and I see . . . You and a Corgi. It’s a perfect match.”
“I don’t want a dog, I want a human,” Sherry retorted.
“I don’t get it. You’ve gone twenty years without anyone. Why now.”
“I was okay alone when I still had the boys at home, but now . . .” Sherry’s smile wobbled. “Now there’s no one to hug me anymore. I miss being touched.” She saw the echo of pain in Lorena’s eyes. Damn! She’d done it again. Sherry downed the rest of her champagne. “The kids are off having their adventures. It’s time I had an adventure of my own.”
“Why don’t you start with a little adventure? One which doesn’t involve the risk of coming home in a body bag.” Lorena pulled out her iPhone. “There’s this place Darien, my trainer, told me about called, The Castle. They’ve got themed restaurants, but their specialty is virtual reality adventures.”
Sherry shook her head. “I’m not into video games.”
Lorena called for the check. “Me neither, but Darien says this is different. It’s a virtual world. And while you’re in it, you have the ability to walk around, eat food, buy stuff, and do pretty much anything you would do in your actual life.” She looked at the email on her iPhone. “A world that seems so real, you won’t believe it’s virtual,” she quoted.
“What kind of world?”
“Whatever you want, I guess. Darien said he and Carl picked Los Angeles in the eighties.”
“Now that’s just gross. Nobody in their right mind would revisit the eighties.” Sherry took the iPhone and studied the email on the screen. “Any era? You know where I’d love to go? London, 1969.”
“It was my first adventure. I had a job with the Marketing Exchange for six months. London was so alive and I loved the clothes and the music, and . . .”
Lorena leaned forward. “How ‘bout the people? Any special person?”
Sherry felt her face flush. She couldn’t tell Lorena about Jeremy. What would she say? I once kissed a total stranger on the tube. And it was magical. “There almost was, but it didn’t come to anything.” She handed the phone back to Lorena. “I’m in. Let’s go to the sixties.” A bubble of fun coursed through her. Or was it the champagne? “Two grown women going on a VR adventure. You think this is the first sign of second childhood?”
“Honey, I never finished with my first.” Lorena scribbled her autograph on the check. “Come on, let’s go.”

What’s your current WIP?

It’s Called Kate’s Hero. It’s a contemporary romance with a touch of magic. I finished the first draft during NaNoWriMo (National Writing Month which takes place in November) Now comes the fun part. Revision! Lots of it.

I also have a children’s non fiction book called How They Wrote it about how famous authors wrote their books. Working on getting permissions for the pictures before I can shop it. I have a mid-grade novel I am still working on called Tasha the Magnificent. It’s about two girls who find a statue in Gramercy Park that they’re convinced is magic. But they can’t get into Gramercy Park without a key.

And finally, where can we stalk you?

Well, I blog with my children’s critique group at the Pen and Ink Blogspot
I tweet at @susanjberger
I write romance as Susan B. James. This is my Facebook author page:
I have two author pages at Goodreads
Romance Susan B James
Children’s books Susan J. Berger

As soon as I manage to get a blog up and running for Susan B James, it will appear on my Goodreads page.

If you live in earthquake country or are interested in them, is my website for Earthquake! which won an honorable mention in the 2008 Green Book Festival.
I update the earthquake Facebook page with new earthquake information.

Thank you so much for this opportunity to appear on your blog. I wish you many sales and many more books.

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June 16, 2014

Please Give Eris Field a Warm Welcome

At 19, a registered nurse, married to a Turkish doctor, and working as a surgical nurse in a cancer hospital, I seized spare moments to write short stories—all rejected. As time went by, I accumulated children, five permanent ones of my own and five exchange students who came during summers. During this time, I read extensively about the history of the vast Ottoman Empire and was a founding member of a Turkish-American family group in Western New York. My husband, Dogan, and I researched the book that we wanted to write in honor of his parents. Finally, Legacy of Change: The Saga of a Turkish Family from Empire to Republic was published in English by Istanbul-based ISIS Press. Unfortunately, ISIS assumed that authors need no editing. 

               When the youngest child left home, I returned to the University at Buffalo to study for my master’s degree in psychiatric nursing and later taught psychiatric nursing there. When I discovered that there was no current textbook to use for a new psychiatric nurse practitioner program, I thought, I can do that. I refer to that writing time as the dark ages, but my textbook, Psychiatric Advanced Practice Nursing: a Biopsychosocial Foundation for Practice, with its startling pink cover was published by FA Davis in 2012. FA Davis did not assume that authors need no editing.

               After I recovered, I went back to an early love--romance novels. My first publication in that field was The Gift of Love that tells the story of the grandson of a Father Baker boy--a rather prickly psychiatrist who learns to adapt, but slowly-- and a heroine who had survived the foster care system. Thankfully, Soul Mate Publishing believes in editing.

               Now, my writing centers on contemporary, multi-cultural novels. The first one, Lattices of Love, is scheduled to be released by Soul Mate Publishing on June 11th. It is the story of a Turkish-American psychiatric nurse, Emine Wheeler, and a Dutch psychiatrist, Marc van Etten. When Emine broke a long engagement and then refused an engineered marriage, her actions threatened her family’s honor. To prevent disgrace, Emine, who believes that there should be love in a marriage and that her love will be enough, accepts Marc’s offer of marriage, a marriage that would solve his problem of providing care for the troubled four year old he calls his daughter. Emine falls in love with her reticent husband who sees himself as a consummate replacement man, unworthy of love. Fighting for his love, Emine uses the weapons available to her--the fragrant soaps of Edirne, the magic of Turkish baths, ancient recipes for Turkish dishes such as ladies’ curves and ladies’ navels, the mysterious gleam of Zultanite gems from Anatolia, and the crimson silk garments of every Turkish bride—but only Marc can vanquish his demons that stand in the way of happiness.

 A second novel, For Love of the Circassian, is about a beautiful refugee and the three men in her life: one who has her, one who wants her, and one who loves her. It is in process. Future plans include combining my interest in psychiatry and my love of writing in a non-fiction, self-help book for authors that will provide the information needed to create credible backstories for troubled characters.

Emine Wheeler, a 26 year old Turkish-American professor of psychiatric nursing, wants to be free. She does not want to live any longer behind the lattices of old harem rules. Despite pressure from the Turkish grandmother she adores and her brother to accept marriage to a Turkish man they have approved, Emine is determined to marry for love, like her American father. She vows there will be love in her marriage.

At a psychiatric conference in Amsterdam, she meets Marc, a reticent Dutch psychiatrist who, believing that his colleagues blame him for his wife's suicide, restricts his life to the safety of work and family that includes a troubled four-year-old he calls his daughter. However, when Emine encounters a problem with registration, he finds himself offering to help her.

Recognizing that Marc is the man of her dreams, Emine turns her back on the harem rule to avoid contact with men outside the family and accepts his help. Later, when Emine is faced with the choice of marrying a man she does not love or damaging her family's honor, Marc offers a solution, a marriage of convenience. She will have the protection of marriage and he will have a mother for his daughter. Believing that her fierce love for Marc will be enough, Emine accepts only to discover that it is not, and when Marc falsely accuses her of betrayal, she flees. Marc realizes belatedly that he loves Emine beyond everything in his life but will his love be enough to entice her back?

Target line: To seek love requires courage but to let love own you requires risking everything.

Eris Field Perese (I write fiction as Eris Field)

May 29, 2014

Please Give a Warm Welcome to Author, Lauren Linwood

When You Simply Have to Give in to Your Characters

As an author, I’ve tried both pantsing and planning when getting ready to start a new novel.

I’ve figured out that pantsing—author-speak for flying by the seat of your pants—doesn’t work for me. If I don’t have any firm direction to go, things spin out of control fast. I get backed into corners, or I find myself in the midst of a saggy middle, or I run out of ideas for the plot. Believe me, sitting at my keyboard, floundering, is not a fun way to pass the time.

Yet intense outlining doesn’t work for me, either. I met a New York Times best-selling author who was so anal to the nth degree that she wrote 40-50 page outlines for her books. Sure, after all of that detail was done, it made her writing job a breeze—but part of what I enjoy is the spontaneity that comes with creating characters and seeing how they’ll maneuver around whatever I throw at them. I feel like outlining in that amount of detail takes out all the joy for me when I write.

So I’ve hit on a cross between these two methods. I always do character sketches for my hero & heroine (and sometimes the antagonist). I come up with their back story, their physical description, and their personalities. I think about their internal and external conflicts and directions to go with both of these. I really put quite a bit of thought into these creations, and I know my people very well by the time I begin writing their love story.

And the plot? Well, I do outline—in very broad terms. I have anywhere from half a page to a page on a single yellow legal pad sheet. I list some of the events that I want to occur in the novel. That way, I have an idea of the direction, but it leaves plenty of room for creativity to blossom and events to change along the way. I start my characters hustling down the interstate to the finish line, but many times (okay—every single time) they get off at the state highways or farm-to-market roads. They do whatever they need to do there. I let them get it out of their systems. Then they meander back and return to my master plan.

I don’t mind them doing this. When I travel I enjoy the speed of an interstate highway, but I have taken time every now and then to slow down and get off the super highway. I might eat at a tiny diner with amazing pies or find a cool antique shop to peruse or see some breathtaking scenery that way. I always make my way back to the interstate and reach my destination, so all is well in the long run.

In my latest western historical romance, Written in the Cards, I decided to have dime novels play a part in the story. With public education growing by leaps and bounds and the literacy rate rising in the US, many people were hungering to get their hands on anything to read. Dime novels were fun, quick reads and very inexpensive.

I decided my hero Ben Morgan would be the popular author of a dime novel series, and he would somehow anger a gunslinger and have to make a run for it. But before I could begin, my heroine Maggie Rutherford totally objected to those plans. She was a bit of a tomboy from a wealthy New York publishing family.  She told me—no, actually demanded—that she be the dime novel author. She believed a woman could be just as good a writer as a man.

So here I hadn’t even put my couple on their road to romance, and the heroine was already balking at my plans!

But do you know what? Maggie was absolutely right. She’s smart and creative, and it added a great twist having a female be the author of these exciting adventure tales. First, I could bring into the story information about how many women wrote under male pen names in this era. Also, Maggie’s family owns a publishing house. I have her submit her manuscript under a male name to Rutherford House, and they choose to publish her. So it’s her big secret that she’s one of their authors, and they have no idea! More importantly, it’s the catalyst that gets Maggie to the West. She decides she needs to visit the places she writes about and experience them in person.

And Ben? Oh, he became a gambler who calls out a man who’s cheating at cards. When the man whips out a gun to kill him, Ben shoots him in self-defense—and then Ben discovers the cheater is the brother of the meanest gunslinger in Texas. Black Tex Lonnegan swears revenge on his brother’s killer, so Ben still gets to go on the run from the killer. Problem solved!

In the long run, I’m glad I listened to my character. She knew best, and it made for a fun story to write!

Date: whenever you have a slot available. This just came out May 21, so I’m open to whenever.

Prize:  a couple of copies of Written in the Cards


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May 19, 2014

It's My Birthday - Please Stop In For The Party and Welcome My Special Guest - Liza O'Connor

Today is Cheryl’s birthday, so the characters of Climbing Out of Hell want to throw her a party. 

Here’s how it went down.

Characters involved in this silliness:

Liza: Hey guys, today is Cheryl’s Birthday, so let’s fix her a really nice cake.
Dani: I’ll bake the cake.
Trevor: I know a great recipe for turtles. All we need is some safe chocolate.
Dani: What is ‘safe chocolate’?
Trevor: Chocolate that is really chocolate and doesn’t have some lunatic Russian mobster following it about.
Dani: Okay, just so you know, you’re not making any sense.
Sam: No he made total sense, and I’m with you, Trevor. Here’s my contributions to Cheryl’s birthday.
Dani: What is it?
Sam: Pure Pot Whiskey. Cost nearly $200,000 a bottle.
Dani: *chokes* Sam! That’s crazy! You spent $400,000 on two bottles of whiskey? I’m pretty sure Cheryl would have preferred you paying off her mortgage instead.
Sam: Hey, it’s my money. I’ll spend it like I want.
Trevor: It’s the thought that counts.
Dani: Does Cheryl even drink whiskey?
Liza: Nope. She likes Tequila.
Sam: Not a problem. My source has a bottle of the best tequila for $1.5 million.
Liza: Okay, I have to object. I am a frugal person and you are my character. You cannot spend $1.5 million on one bottle of tequila.
Sam: I’m a billionaire. I make that much in interest in a day.
Trent: Not quite. You probably earn ten thousand a day, which means it would take about 5 months to pay for bottle.
Sam: What are you? A math genius?
Liza: *chokes* Doesn’t matter, I find it incomprehensible how characters in my head could think of paying $1.5 million for a little bottle of tequila.
Sam: Then don’t make us billionaires. I’ve more money than I could ever spend. You heard Trevor. It only takes me 3 days to exceed the average salary in this town. 3 days! And I don’t even have to work a single minute to do it. My money just self-propagates. And still, I’m the one who gets all the tax breaks. Go figure! Cheryl will have her Tequila, end of discussion.
Dani: Tequila is Tequila. How can someone possibly justify selling it for so much?
Trevor: Most of the cost is in the bottle. While they use 100% agave and age it for 9 years, it’s the bottle that justifies the price. It has 6,000 diamonds sprinkled into the hand blown glass which is dipped in platinum and silver.
Sam and Dani speak at once: How do you know that?
Trevor: *shrugs* I must have read it somewhere. It kind of hard to forget.
Dani: Yea, I’ll have nightmares about it.
Sam: Good thing I’m giving it to Cheryl then.
Dani: Yes, it is. I wouldn’t be able to sleep with that bottle lying about. So answer me this. If you can afford to buy ridiculously priced bottles, why won’t you pay for the beers you drink in my bar?
Sam: It’s a beer. I don’t pick up pennies either.
Trent: Sam, you digging another hole. Why don’t you help me load this cake in the pickup?
Liza: Oh, sorry, I just learned Cheryl doesn’t like cake.
Dani: I know. So instead it’s a cardboard cake fill with bars and bars of dark chocolate.
Trevor: But not the Russian mafia type.
Sam: Did I tell you that story?
Trevor *laughs*: Yeah and now I’m terrified of chocolate.
Liza: Well Cheryl isn’t so let’s get it on the way.
Hours and hours later…
Dani: I can’t believe how long it took to drive here.
Sam: Trevor drives like an old lady.
Trevor: I was going 55mph
Sam: I would have driven 90. *Bangs on door* Sheriff Lancaster. Open up!
Dani: Sam behave! The neighbors are staring out their windows now.
Cheryl: *Opens door*
Dani and Trent: Happy Birthday!

Sam: *Hands her bottle* I’ve brought you tequila, but I’ll want the bottle back.
Dani: Sam, that’s rude.
Sam: I never said I was polite.
Cheryl: *grabs tequila and lets them enter* Didn’t Liza tell you I don’t like cakes?
Dani: It’s not a cake. It’s three hat boxes filled with dark chocolate and turtles.
Cheryl *turns and frowns* Not Carrie’s turtles…
Sam: No, this is quality real dark chocolate.
Trevor: And I pasted all your book covers on the hat boxes.
Cheryl: *Laughs* This is going to be the best birthday yet.
Sam: We can drink whiskey with tequila shots.
Trevor: That will give you a terrible hangover.
Sam: That’s with the ordinary crap. We’ve got $200,000 whiskey and $1.5 million tequila.
Dani: Oh dear, Cheryl fainted. What are we going to do?
Trevor: Let’s talk about Liza’s book until she recovers, then we’ll have turtles and tequila. I’ve never actually eaten a turtle before.

Climbing Out of Hell
Book 4 of the series
A Long Road to Love
Romantic Comedy

Billionaire Trent Lancaster has destroyed his relationship with the only woman who ever loved him. Now we discover the full truth of what happened.

He actually had reasons for his behaviors.
Still, there is no going back. Trent has lost Carrie forever, but he would rather die than marry Coco, so he does just that. Trent gives away most of his possessions, fakes his death, and starts over with a new face and a better attitude in a small town in Iowa where his half-brother Sam is sheriff.

Losing his true love has fundamentally broken Trent to his core. His only chance for happiness is to become the better man Carrie had always seen inside him.

True change is not easy. Can Trent grow up and become a man we can love?

Sam burst into the kitchen, frowned at Trent, then focused on Dani. “Leroy is at it again. I thought you said you were going to hide the damn thing?”
“I did. But there aren’t many places one can hide an AK-47 rifle.”
“Well, you hid it worth shit because it’s raining lead again at the downtown square!”
She gripped her head as if it might explode.
“What’s the problem?” Trent asked.
Sam rolled his eyes. “Iowa passed a law allowing blind people to carry guns in public. So her grandfather, who is blind as a bat, sits on a bench in the square and shoots his AK into the trees.”
“What’s he trying to shoot?”
“Pigeons,” Sam and Dani answered at once. She glared him into silence and continued her reply. “He likes pigeon soup. A Pakistani doctor told him it would prevent strokes.”
“Well, he’s giving me a stroke,” Sam snapped. “You have to make him stop!”
“I’ve talked to him until I’m blue in the face. He won’t listen to me. Most of the time he thinks I’m three-years old. Who listens to a three-year-old?” She threw her hands up in frustration and turned back to the grill.
Trent didn’t care for the way Sam pushed Dani. Grandparents were impossible to boss around…at least his had been. “Why don’t you talk to him?’
Sam released a hurricane of air. “Because the mayor told me to stay away from him, since he is not breaking any laws, and any attempt on my part could result in a lawsuit against the town.” He eyed Trent. “You should talk to him.”
“Sam, Trevor’s been in town an hour. You know Gramps doesn’t trust people right off.”
“Neither do you, yet here he sits, like an old friend, watching you cook him dinner.”
She rescued the burgers off the grill, slapped them both on buns, and shoved one at Sam. “This is your hamburger. Trevor is holding out for braised lamb.”
“Point still stands. Look, I think he can do the job. I intended to hit him with a ticket but he was so nice I sent him to you instead. He’s a likable guy. Let’s send him out and see if he can stop this madness.”
“Then I’m shutting this bar down for safety violations.”
She stared at him in shock. “What violations?”
“Don’t worry. Mr. Olsen will find something. He owes me big time after last night’s poker game.”
Trent stood up. “Sam, you’re digging yourself into a hole. Your initial solution was excellent, and frankly I’m honored you think so well of me. I’ll go talk to him right now. Just tell me how to get to Pigeonville.”
Sam grinned and slapped him on the back as he led him out of the kitchen. “Way to man up. Seriously, I’ll owe you one if you can get the gun away from Leroy and bury it six feet under.”
Trent just hoped being a nice guy didn’t get him buried six feet under as well. 

Just Released May 1, 2014
Book Four of the series:
A Long Road to Love
Climbing out of Hell

Other books in the A Long Road to Love series:
Book One
Worst Week Ever
“Love this book and couldn't stop laughing from beginning to end.” 5 stars – Alves - Amazon

Book Two
Oh Stupid Heart
“Be warned though, this book is completely different from The Worst Week Ever. Yes, there is still humor, dry wit, situations that you would think...NOT AGAIN but this one humanizes Trent more.” 5 stars - Brian’s Mom – Amazon

Book Three
Coming to Reason
Once again, Ms. O’Connor has written a brilliant book about the complexities of relationships, good and bad. Again, to me, the book is the best break up book EVER and it left my heart singing in the end. Best.Book.Ever…

Other Books by Liza O’Connor
Saving Casey
Ghost Lover

Liza O’Connor - Author Bio:
Liza lives in Denville, NJ with her dog Jess. They hike in fabulous woods every day, rain or shine, sleet or snow. Having an adventurous nature, she learned to fly small Cessnas in NJ, hang-glide in New Zealand, kayak in Pennsylvania, ski in New York, scuba dive with great white sharks in Australia, dig up dinosaur bones in Montana, sky dive in Indiana, and raft a class four river in Tasmania. She’s an avid gardener, amateur photographer, and dabbler in watercolors and graphic arts. Yet through her entire life, her first love has and always will be writing novels. She loves to create interesting characters, set them loose, and scribe what happens.


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Worst Week Ever
Oh Stupid Heart
Coming to Reason
Ghost Lover

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