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Monthly Archives: June 2019

Targeted by Beverley Bateman

Can you believe we’re almost half way through this year? Where are you in all the goals you set? Or did you set any? Me? I’m not doing as well as I had hoped. You know, that darn life thing keeps interfering. I have done my June’s newsletter and it should be out by now and I’m giving away a copy of Hunted. If you’re not receiving my newsletter and would like to, go to and sign up. 


I’m busy doing my blog with lots of great authors and some interesting topics. Click on my blog and check out my blog site. 


I finished reading my Daphne books and found a couple of great reads. I’m not sure I should make any recommendations but Loreth Anne White has new book out “The Girl in the Moss’ which is terrific. 


I am finally getting more organized. I got my garden in (not writing orientated) and I’m busy trying to eat healthy. I’ve decided I’m a flexitarian, eating less red meat and more vegetarian and having fun trying out new recipes. And I’m catching up on all those writing extras. I’m also getting back into writing mode, which I said last month.


I’m still working on two books at the same time, The Foundation series and the stand alone, Death Southern Style. And I keep thinking about Gabe’s Story – an abused woman who finally escapes her husband. 


Here’s another short excerpt from the second book of The Foundation series, Liability Wife Lydia’s story.  Hopefully you’ve read Book one of The Foundation series, The Fourth Victim Sara’s Story. If not and you’d like to check it out, there are a couple of links below – and you can also win Amazon gift cards. 


If you have read The Fourth Victim Sara’s Story, remember Lydia? Lydia is another member of the team. She’s the wealthy Florida socialite married to a doctor. It’s her money but he wants it and if they divorce he gets nothing. So he’s hired a hit man.  She’s still part of her team and they’re off to South American to save a woman. Here’s a short excerpt (draft).  

Hidden in the shadows they watched the guards change. The heavy under growth prevented any sun shining through but keep the humidity locked in, giving the air a sauna-like feel.  
"Ready?" Lydia whispered.  
Sara nodded, moving toward the path. She got the assignment because she spoke fluent Spanish. With her dyed black and make up darkening her skin she looked Peruvian. Mac had helped her dye her hair and use the skin darkener. He really had come a long way. With a quick glance at her team she pulled a scarf over her head and sauntered towards the prison gate.  
Maggie moved with her, sliding into the undergrowth near the guard.  
The guard stopped her,  
"I'm working in the kitchen today. Maria is sick."  
He nodded and waved another guard to escort her.  
"Scuse." Sara bumped into him as she passed, pocketing his gate key. She dropped into Maggie's hand as she proceeded into the prison.  
In the kitchen Sara removed her scarf and pulled on an apron. The head cook shouted at her in Spanish to make the soup.  
Sara swallowed a smile. The soup was perfect. As she added bouillon and water she pulled out a slim container from her pocket and dumped a large portion of the powder into the cauldron. Continuing to stir, she hummed a melody from her childhood. This had been easier than they expected, but would the rest of the plan work as smoothly?  
When she finished the soup Sara checked the coffee, adding more water and a generous dump of powder.  
A few hours later, after finishing the menu for dinner Sara left the prison. Maggie returned the key to her form a hidden post in a bush near the gate.  
Sara smiled at the guard, running her fingers up his chest s she returned his key. Then, smiling, she swaggered down the trail, hips undulating, as she headed toward town. Rounding the corner she slipped off the trail into the darkness of the jungle where her team waited.  
"They should sleep well." Sara grinned as they crept through the underbrush to the temporary camp they had set up.  
Several hours later, in the pitch black of night, the four women made their way back to the prison gate. Dressed in fatigues and black face the women waited outside the prison gate for the change of guards.  
Lydia nodded and they crept forward to the gate. Inside a guard slumped to one side, leaning against the pillar, snoring loudly.  
Maggie pulled out the key and opened the gate, just enough for the women to slip inside.  
Once in the courtyard Maggie grabbed the guard's keys. Sara led the way through the prison, at a fork she turned away from the kitchen and toward the cells. As they searched for Dr. Miguay a few inmates woke, shouting to be released. Most slept soundly.  
Dr. Miguay had a cell to herself near the end. Opening the cell door, Sara found the woman sleeping soundly. "Damn, she must have eaten the soup. Quick, Maggie, the antidote."  
Maggie dug into her pack and handed saran a syringe. Sara shot it into the doctor's upper arm and waited.  
She remained asleep on her cot for several more minutes. Finally her eyes flickered open. She stared up at the four women.  
Speaking in Spanish Sara said, "We're here to rescue you. We're Americans. We're taking you to the United States."  
Dr. Miguay tried to sit.  
Sara helped her reach a sitting position and swing her legs over the edge of the cot and stood up slowly, stilling staring at Sara. Sara grabbed the woman's hand and pulled her forward, slinging her over her shoulder.  
Outside the cell Sara dropped the doctor to the floor. Maggie took the doctor's other hand and  
The doctor nodded as they plunged through the dense underbrush, Diane hacking away at roots between them they pulled her down the corridor between the cells toward the front gate.  
"This way," Sara said in Spanish as they charged into the underbrush. "We have about an hour until we get to our plane."  
The doctor nodded. "I speak English. Why are you doing this?"  
"We don't like to see women abused." Diane gave a curt laugh. "You do good work."  


Targeted by Beverley Bateman

U.S. Cover

This month I have  the Book of the Month spot. Check it out at


And check out The Fourth Victim Sara’s Story on Rafflecopter,  You could win a $50 Amazon gift card. 


Also check out The Red Carpet for The Fourth Victim Sara’s Story at to win 2 Amazon gift cards 


June 12th I’m at Mary Schmidt’s 


June 14th – It’s the 500th Anniversary at I Love Romance Blog  And I’ll be there. 


June 22 – It’s group blog on my blog site - And we’re discussing “Has an event in your life, or that of someone you know, or one covered in the news, ever worked its way into one of your stories?” 


And my June newsletter is out. You can check it under More on this site 


Don’t forget to check out my blog and some great authors with their new books and other information at


Have a great summer. 

My name is Mary Schmidt, and I write under the pen names S. Jackson and A. Raymond. A. Raymond is a pen name for my husband, who has a lot of input into our books. I am a retired registered nurse, a member of the Catholic Church, and I have taught Catechism. I have worked in various capacities for The American Cancer Society, March of Dimes, Cub and Boy Scouts, (son, Noah, is an Eagle Scout), and sponsored trips for high school music children. I love all forms of art but mostly I focus on the visual arts; as amateur photography, traditional, and graphic art as my health allows. I have an online art gallery, and I am currently finishing up a screenplay from my first memoir (there will be a sequel someday). More recently, we both love to devote precious time with our first grandson, Austin.

Beverley: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

Mary: I have written bits and pieces since grade school. I hung up my registered nurse hat in January of 2013, and I found myself with time on my hands. My youngest son, Sam, had a cancer battle and passed at age five in 1990. Since I had journal notes that detailed this part of my life, and my boy’s lives, I decided to put my journals into electronic form for my living son, Gene. A multi award-winning memoir came from that, When Angels Fly , written using pen names of S. Jackson & A. Raymond, and changing of all names and places. That was a huge project and is an epic length book, on sale right now for $0.99. Then I thought ‘now what to do next’ and illustrated children’s books came to mind.  From that another multi award-winning book, The Big Cheese Festival , a book about bullies was written and a book dealing with good touch/bad touch, Suzy Has A Secret , was written. From that point, we went to books involving squirrels and a small dog. We have wild squirrels come into our backyard, and my husband started to leave them walnuts and bell seeds. One squirrel, Stubby – aptly named as he had just a stub of a tail and he became brave when the nuts were all taken. Stubby took to standing up on his hind legs on a ledge outside a picture window. He let us know he wanted more nuts! The squirrels are still wild, as we would never dream of taming one, but they did become fodder for an illustrated children’s book series, Shadow and Friends, and each book is fine as a stand-a-lone. Shadow was chosen as our daughter has a small dog so we decided that dog and the squirrels would have many adventures .

Beverley: What is your typical work schedule when you’re writing?

Mary: Once I’ve had my first cup of coffee, I turn on my computer, check my email and respond accordingly. I then spend about one to two hours on social media, mainly Twitter and Facebook, and work on my author brand, tweet book sales and new releases, and I reply to all my messages. Then I settle in to my work in progress. I designed my own cover yesterday, and now I’m touching up each paragraph for each page of the fully illustrated book. I will start individual page graphics and design today and these take some time as I want the illustrations to be the best they can be, so I allow time for that to happen. I’m editing a book for a relatively new author with great potential so I can go back and forth as needed when I need to take a break or do something different. I love being able to teach this new author what I have learned in during my writing career thus far. I check my email again around noon and respond back to questions on my blog. If I just finished a book, I will post my review and all four- and five- star reviews are also posted on my blog. Early afternoon is time for my husband and me. We connect and relax before he heads for work and I show him my latest illustrations for his approval or necessary changes. I respond back to emails and such after he leaves and then I make some dinner, usually fresh fruit and veggies, and I read or watch a show. Evenings are reserved for my downtime and to relax with a book or a show or both. That is a typical day. Atypical days happen often so I go with the flow of what needs to be done first. Some days I don’t write or illustrate at all, but I read every day.

Beverley: What is your quirky thing you do?

Mary: I think I’m simply quirky all around. The biggest one is that I won’t even turn my computer on before I have one cup of coffee and breakfast as I function much better in this manner or it could be the fact that when I’m driving ideas come to me and I can’t write them down.

Beverley: What do you look ahead to when you’re not writing?

Mary : I’m always looking ahead, every day and throughout the day. I have self-imposed deadlines since I publish my own books through M. Schmidt Productions (except for two books) which is part of my brand. However, the only books published through M. Schmidt Productions are mine and that is how it will stay. I have zero interest in publishing others works. I do offer eBook cover design and promo graphics to the writing community. I’m always working in out of state trips for doctors and new adventures, family time get-togethers and holiday planning. As for future books, I have a nice list of book ideas that I keep adding to – most will never be written by me during my lifetime.

Beverley: Can you explain yourself in one sentence?

Mary: I’m a registered nurse, reader, writer, play-write, traditional artist, digital artist, blogger, photographer, traveler, wife, mother, grandmother, and daughter.

Beverley: What period of life fascinates you most to write about?

Mary: My memoirs are contemporary and my imaginative children’s adventure books are current so that is basically what I do. I’ve yet to try my hand in writing during a different time period but I do love to read a good Victorian romance. I’m from and in the USA but I can picture myself in London as a debutante with a family house in Mayfair or in Ireland along the coast. Does it seem strange to prefer reading fascinating historical romance books but not write in that era?

Beverley: What are some of the most surprising things you learned while writing your books?

Mary: You can pour your soul and heart into a memoir, such as my first one, When Angels Fly , and not everyone will like it. First book, first time authors find things out fast after publication. Not every reader will like you or your book. Just move on and try to develop a thick skin. For the children’s books, reading to a class and obtaining feedback from the kids is a boost. I know what they like and what they don’t like. That is a huge plus when writing and illustrating future books for kids.

Beverley: Which literary work is your favorite?

Mary: I truly don’t have a favorite literary work. Is this a legal question to ask an author? LOL I honestly don’t have one favorite piece unless the Bible counts. I love my Bible. I love many great historical romance authors and books as well as some contemporary works. I grew up with mysteries and suspense books and all the fairy tale books. It is easier for me to answer what I don’t like which is erotica and satanic. I see that I am rambling here so back to the question my favorite book is my Bible.

Beverley: What do you think is the hardest part of your writing process?

Mary: Editing is by far the hardest part for me. That isn’t a problem for my children’s literature, but it is for two-hour short reads and full-length books. Especially my first book, a memoir, and a hard book to write, as I lived each day of that nightmare, and I will never have ‘fresh eyes’ for edits regarding When Angels Fly . I lived and relive this memoir daily and the story behind it is such that it is all consuming – a living nightmare so to say. It is also my best selling, multi-award winning, real life, soul baring story and it’s not like a travel memoir or those types of memoirs. Mine is gut-wrenching, honest, and true – except for names, locations and such to prevent libel. I simply can’t edit this book. Recently, I read a wonderful novel from another author. She has tremendous potential and I let her know that. I also told her she needed a good editor. Money is tight for her just like it is for me, and so I’m editing her books for her . This is easy for me. I make sure her tense is the same, she ends no sentence with a preposition, great flow, grammar and punctuation basics, and I catch glitches here and there; I do this for free as she shows tremendous potential. I also explain to her why such and such is changed, or what she left out, other words to use in place of ‘said’ and things like that and she is happy to be learning. She is grateful and her writing has improved. All I asked her for in return is take her new knowledge and help another author in the future – a paying it forward kind of deal.

Beverley: What are your methods to emotionally connect with your characters?

Mary: I don’t think this question applies to me since I don’t write novels. I imagine the author needs to be able to put themselves into a character for that character to evolve and flow emotionally and all. This doesn’t apply to my picture books for kids. As for my memoir, and my new release, Sammy: Hero at Age Five, I still live those emotions day in and day out.

Beverley: Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

Mary: That is an easy question. My memoir necessitated the use of a pseudonym, so I chose S. Jackson and A. Raymond. Those two names represent my husband and myself. I wrote my memoir alone, though. For the other books, I write the paragraph for each page and I design all the illustrations. My husband helps creatively with what we want to teach kids in each book and how to make the story pop out and grab kid’s attentions. Most recently, my new release, Sammy: Hero at Age Five is authored by me as M. Schmidt and my son as Gene D. Donley since nothing libelous was written in this short but powerful story.

Beverley: How many unpublished and partially completed books do you have?

Mary: I have five works in progress and one I am doing illustrations for now. It will publish this month, May 2019. I have a third addition of my memoir coming out this month as well.

Beve rley: If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?

Mary: If I couldn’t write, and since I’m disabled, I would focus myself on oil painting, photography and digital art.

Beverley: How do you flesh out your characters? By just writing them or do you outline who they are and what they want?

Mary: Shadow is one character, and we have named many backyard wild squirrels as each one is unique in their own way. Stubby due to his tail, Little Whitey as he is the baby squirrel of Big Whitey, who loves Foxy, a mama squirrel. We have Cutter, he has a cut in one ear, and Nibbler, who has one cut and two holes in one ear, the list goes on. Our characters literally come to us, to the patio for walnuts. Therefore, we have all the characters we need for this series.

Bev erley: Do you outline your plots?

Mary: Yes. Each story gets a basic outline using the focus we choose. For instance, we wanted the squirrels and Shadow to have a European adventure, so the outline listed the places to visit and how they would get there.  That was a fun one to write. We like to have kids laugh and be amused, while teaching them important things such as safety, travel safety, what to do when lost, and the like.

Beverley: What makes your stories unique? In other words, why should a reader choose your book over the thousands of others?

Mary: “When Angels Fly ” has impacted people worldwide. The book has three parts, and it needed three parts. Hope, love, and inspiration comes forth from the darkness of abuse as a child, a bad marriage and the devastation of cancer and child loss. I’ve been able to help other parents with child loss, being an advocate for their child in the hospital, picking their battles with hospital staff so to prevent alienating staff, and more.

The “Shadow and Friends ” series uses many of the same characters, and new ones added in during specific visits and adventures. One example is they spend Christmas in New York . Full title is “Shadow and Friends Spend Christmas in New York ” – Central Park actually. They meet up with Stubby’s twin, Shorty, who is married to a grey squirrel and kids learn the different squirrels in the area of each story. In this one, Stubby is the nutcracker king. Gingerbread men and decorations are abundant, and they have a Christmas Squirrel Parade through Central Park, they take carriage rides in the park, Foxy goes shopping at Saks, they have a grand time.

Beverley: Tell us about your other services—digital artist etc.

Mary: I love art. I love art in all forms since being a child. I would draw my own paper dolls, and anything that came to mind. I also love to paint in oil as oil paint is more forgiving than other media, and I’ve being doing digital media works since around 1996. I make my own illustrations, designs for book posters, and my own covers. I offer to make book posters as single and 3-D, animated and eBook covers on my blog at and examples are provided. Thank you for asking.

Beverley: What about book promotion? What works best for you?

Mary: With my health, I can’t do it all. I have a team of two PA’s who handle the Facebook side of promos, and some Instagram. They are good at what they do and reasonable in price. I do my own Twitter, and some Instagram. I send out a monthly newsletter to those who have signed up, and they receive a free eBook when each new book is live. We are satisfied with the results.

Authors starting out must do this on their own. I suggest they start a foundation on at least Facebook and Twitter promoting their soon to be released book. They should also have a blog or website.

Beverley: What do you do towards branding yourself—making your name recognizable to readers?

Mary: I’m known worldwide due to the books that have won many awards, and the events attended to receive medals hung around our necks. Once you have a quality book, enter book competitions. The medals and badges will help you and your brand.

Beverley: Do you have any last words?

Mary: Glad you asked this! A new release just came out the end of March! $1.99 and written by M. Schmidt and Gene D. Donley.

Buy Links:






Blurb for Sammy Hero at Age Five.

“Kids can get hungry sometimes while on chemo,” says five-year-old Sammy, having a good day despite the malignant tumor invading his brain. Based on true events from the 1980s, Sammy’s story is imagined by his mother and brother as if the young boy might tell it himself. The result is gripping. Told in two parts, Sammy’s account first invites us into the everyday middle-American lives of a mom and her two boys. Sammy is a sweet, good-hearted kid, even as he faces the most difficult challenges in Part 2: “Cancer Arrived.” Here Sammy talks us through hospital trips and procedures, the hardest parts as well as moments of simple joy. It is not always possible to survive such a grim diagnosis, so Sammy and his family must embrace the smaller victories from one day to the next. Finally, our young hero is given one last opportunity to find his own unique path toward triumph. Listen closely as Sammy tells us all what matters most.

Mary’s Social Links:




Art Gallery:

Amazon Author Page:

You Tube Channel:

Pinterest: https://www.


Summer has officially arrived – although it is dragging its heels in my locale.

But with all the extra things that have also arrived, like yard and garden, I’m finding myself also dragging behind.  I’m taking a couple of writing classes this month as well. One is Writing Round Up and I’m learning all sorts of new things about using programs and short cuts I didn’t know before. Do you take classes or workshops – online or in person?

Here are a few writing classes coming up if anyone is interested.

Thrilling Summer COFFIN Workshops

The College of Felony and Intrigue (COFFIN ) offers two tracks,  Murder One  and  Killer Instinct , of monthly online workshops at an incredibly low price. All classes are via an email thread and open to anyone.

To register go to:

July 1-31

Killer Instincts: Marketing Tactics for Authors

Instructor : Monica Schroeder

Murder One: How Fire Departments and EMS Work in the Real World

Instructor: Joe Collins

August 1-30

Killer Instincts: Diversity in Fiction

Instructor: Eliana West

Murder One: Criminal Fun with E-Devices

Instructor: Ann Zeigler

Workshop Descriptions and Instructor Bios  

Marketing Tactics for Authors

An intensive on how to set up a long term marketing strategy which requires little daily effort, while offering an author’s work up to new readers every day.

Instructor Bio:  

Monica Corwin is a New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author. She is an outspoken writer attempting to make romance accessible to everyone, no matter their preferences. As a Northern Ohioian, Monica enjoys snow drifts, three seasons of weather, and a dislike of Michigan football. Monica owns more books about King Arthur than should be strictly necessary. Also typewriters…lots and lots of typewriters. You can find her on Facebook at: , on Twitter at: , on the web at: . Monica Corwin is also on Instagram:  http://www  and Bookbub:

How Fire Departments and EMS Work in the Real World

We’ve all seen, in TV, movies, books and sometimes even in our own community’s fire apparatus and ambulances. But telling the difference between a “Fire Engine” and “Fire Truck” are often difficult for those who don’t understand the ever-expanding roles all of those in the fire service and EMS are now performing in their communities. This course will cover a multitude of subjects including: fire/EMS apparatus and what they are used for, what actually happens on a fire scene, how EMS, PD’s and the fire service work together, dealing with hazardous materials, arson investigation, auto extrication, technical rescue and anything else anyone has questions about.  

Instructor Bio:  

Joe Collins is a 20-year veteran on the busiest volunteer department in the county and a 20-year veteran paramedic. As an instructor for much of his life, he has taught a wide variety of subjects ranging from Aikido all the way through to EMS and Fire Department subjects. His most recently published books are in “The Black Hand” series including “The Black Hand: Arsonist” which touches on many of the subjects to be discussed. Currently, he’s working on a Military Science Fiction series.

Diversity in Fiction

Have you wanted to write more diverse characters but have been afraid? I’m going to give you the basic tools to write characters from different backgrounds without falling into many of the common pitfalls that create characters that are stereotypes instead of real people. Tap into this growing new market and potentially add new readers by adding diversity to your story. Writing Diversity in Popular Fiction is a workshop focused on how authors can create realistic multicultural characters. Topics in this workshop include:

o     How to describe skin tone, hair and physical traits without using stereotypes or using food.

o     Creating your character’s multicultural backstory.

o     The Legend of Bagger Vance Effect – how to avoid the stereotype of the “wise black friend

o     Terms to describe someone of mixed race – psst, it’s not Mulatto.  

o    Current terminology to describe different disabilities.

This will be a closed door session with honest thoughtful dialogue, all questions are welcome and there will be no censure for any questions asked, in other words you can’t offend me! This is a safe space where you can ask questions about race that you may have been afraid to ask.

Instructor Bio:  

Writing contemporary romance with diverse characters. Founder, Writers for Diversity

 Criminal Fun with E-Devices

Electronic devices are our friends-except when they’re not. Laptops, cellphones, jump drives-every mystery/suspense writer knows that a former friend or unrecognized enemy is always a great character. In  Criminal Fun with E-Devices,  you’ll learn how to use both white-hat techniques and black-hat techniques with e-devices. Computer forensics is a wide-open field, including hackers (black hats) and computer forensics experts restoring “deleted” files and “crashed” hard drives (white hats). You’ll hear about people doing stupid things to cover up or destroy evidence, and what judges have to say about that-yes, it’s called obstruction. It’s called lots of other things, and you’ll hear about some other non-profane names for it. Then there are devices in the hands of the innocent (okay, ignorant) character who lets bad things happen (remember those hackers?) by inertia (you did freeze your credit report accounts, right?) or plain ignorance (credit report?). Theft of electronically-stored information is big business on the dark web (but your SS# is only worth $1 when black hats buy in bulk). You’ll explore the many ways individuals and companies make theft easier, along with the ways they try to cover up electronic evidence when things go wrong. “Hold” will have a new meaning for you after this class, and someday you’ll need it in your own life. Because, stuff happens while we’re busy writing about it, or worse, doing our e-banking on the sidewalk. To say nothing of who’s got your phone call log.  

Instructor Bio:  

ANN ZEIGLER’s book, Preserving Electronic Evidence for Trial, was named 2016 New Mexico / Arizona Book Awards Best Business Book. Zeigler also has three mystery books in progress, featuring a female archaeologist and a male international business consultant. The first in her Inadvertent Detectives mystery series, Hobby of Corpses , was a finalist for the 2017 David Morrell Prize in Fiction. Zeigler is a long-time member of SinC and MWA, and was program chair for MWA Southwest (Houston) from 2008 to 2013. She was 2017 President of SinC’s Croak & Dagger (NM) chapter, a co-perpetrator of the 2015 SinC/RMMWA Mystery Roundup, chief perpetrator of the ongoing Croak & Dagger Great Library Adventure (showcasing C&D authors at libraries around New Mexico, and a chief perpetrator of “Evidently,” the 2018 writers’ workshop on evidence, headlined by Jan Burke. In addition to an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Montana Writers Workshop, Zeigler is a graduate of the University of Houston Law School, and the Houston PD and FBI (Houston) Citizens’ Academies. She practiced federal law in Houston for thirty years, and was a citizen volunteer at HPD’s juvenile sex crimes unit for five years. She received the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award in 2018 from Marquis Who’s Who, after being listed in its highly-competitive contemporary international biographies series annually for more than 25 years.  

Not only is COFFIN the educational wing of the RWA® Kiss of Death chapter one of the first of its kind in the country, it remains today, one of the most respected .

Understanding Pacing

Sponsor: Outreach International Romance Writers

Fee: OIRW Member $25 | Non-Member $35

Dates: July 9-August 1, 2019

Presenter: Laurie Sanders


Course Description:

Whenever I teach about any topic, but especially showing versus telling, deep point of view, and writing emotion, one of the things that I often hear is the concern that showing versus telling, using deep point of view, or showing emotion will slow down the pace .

What people often don’t understand is that pacing isn’t a rush to the finish line.

Pacing is about managing the reader’s focus so that the reader is always concerned about the things that the writer wants them to be thinking about, wondering about, worried about, caring about. Good plotting ensure that there is always a focus…always something for the reader to be wondering about, worried about, or caring about.

In this class, we’ll work with this new definition of pacing and explore ways of planning our novels that ensure that we have a focus and that we are managing the reader’s focus. We’ll explore the ways that using techniques involved in showing versus telling and deep point of view to strengthen the reader’s focus and improve the pace rather than detracting from it so that the reader remains glued to the story, fully engaged, and turning pages.

Instructor Bio:

Until July 2014 Laurie Sanders was the founder, CEO, and editor-in-chief at Black Velvet Seductions. In 2014, after almost 10 years as CEO and editor-in-chief, Laurie was ready to take a step back to enjoy some time with family and to engage in her other long neglected hobbies. She sold Black Velvet Seductions to longtime Black Velvet Seductions cover artist Richard Savage who now heads the company.

Laurie now keeps busy teaching online writing workshops for a global community of writers who attend her classes online through various RWA chapters and through her own site at  She maintains an active role at Black Velvet Seductions as a member of the company’s acquisitions team and continues to edit many of the manuscripts the company publishes through her popular Yellow Highlighter Classes.

Laurie teaches on a diverse range of topics covering subjects that caused the most rejections during her years as editor-in-chief at Black Velvet Seductions. 

Read more about Laurie and check out her writing tips at her website at   Contact her through the contact button in the upper right corner of the site or by leaving a comment for her on the site.

All workshops are open to everyone. You can register for these on-line classes through July 8th .   Or, contact  Campus Coordinator .

To subscribe to OIRW Online Workshop Notifications,  Click Here .

If you know of any other workshops, please share.

Thanks to Rhobin this group has another interesting topic to discuss. Has an event in your life, or that of someone you know, or one covered in the news ever worked its way into one of your stories? I can’t wait to see what the other authors have to say.

As for me, yes, events have worked their way into my books. Usually they’re small events and sometimes it’s something I do specifically for research in a book. For example, when we were on a Caribbean cruise I decided to write “A Cruise to Remember.” I made notes about the ports we stopped at, the stores and taxis around the port, and some of the events on board. I also visited the ship’s infirmary and asked for a tour so I’d know what the medical resources were like. All of that was used in the book. Maybe that’s more like research, but I didn’t decide to write the book until we took that first cruise.

When I was writing Hunted, I stayed at The Empress hotel in Victoria, BC. for a writing workshop. It’s a very old hotel, beautiful inside and a major, expensive tourist attraction. Wandering through the hotel and I looked down into the lobby from the mezzanine and I suddenly visualized my h/h there and went back and wrote the hotel lobby and mezzanine in the first scene of the book.

Dog walkers were becoming more popular so I got an idea for a plot and made my heroine a dog walker who walked in on a murder in an early book. I’ve had people that I met or worked with that I have used in stories, usually as villains or unlikeable characters.  

And there are other incidents that I remember in my life that will be included in future books. Now to check out what other authors have to say on the topic. Please check out the following authors.

Victoria Chatham

Skye Taylor

Judith Copek

Dr. Bob Rich

Connie Vines

Margaret Fieland

Anne Stenhouse

A.J. Maguire

Diane Bator

Fiona McGier

Rhobin L Courtright

Hi everyone, My name is Kelli Wilkins and I write romances. My books cover nearly every genre and vary in heat level from mild to super-spicy. People have different reactions when they learn what I write. (Sometimes they gasp and pretend to be horrified, and then ask me if I “act out” my love scenes at home. Uh, no. I write fiction—that means I make stuff up!)

But when people find out that I write gay romances—that really gets them going! “Why would you write one of those ? You’re not a man or gay.” (Here’s my turn to gasp and act surprised. Really? You’re kidding!) I generally respond with: “Why shouldn’t I write gay romances? I wrote a vampire romance, and I’ve never been a vampire.” (That usually quiets people down for a while.)

I get a lot of questions about “why” or “how” I write gay romances. Here are the top four, along with my answers.

#1: You’ve written lots of straight romances. Why write gay romances?

Why not? I’m a writer. And as a writer, I write whatever romance book comes to me, whether it’s a contemporary, historical, paranormal, or gay romance. My stories are about people who meet, fall in love, and overcome obstacles to be with each other.

This basic philosophy applies whether the characters are same-sex, different sex, or space alien and earth girl. Love is love and romance is romance. I’m not married to one specific genre or heat level. I go where the story and the characters take me.

When I wrote Four Days with Jack , A Secret Match , and Killer in Wolf’s Clothing I trusted my instincts and wrote the story that was in my head. Although all three books are contemporary gay romances, they’re very different.

In A Secret Match , a big part of the storyline centers around Everett dealing (or rather, not dealing) with his sexuality, and his (un)willingness to be open about who he really is. Ev has been in a committed relationship for years and is afraid that if he doesn’t come out, he’ll lose the love of his life. He’s also worried about his career. How will the world view a gay wrestler? Will there be backlash if he comes out?

Conversely, David, from Four Days with Jack , has never come to terms with his sexuality. He’s been lying to himself for years about his orientation and hiding his true desires. David has always loved his gay best friend (Jack) and has fantasized about being his lover, but he lacked the courage to admit his feelings—until now.  

The main characters in Killer in Wolf’s Clothing are comfortable with their sexuality, but have other issues to deal with (like shapeshifting and a serial killer). This super-hot paranormal is a fun look at the werewolf legend and blends romance, mystery, danger, humor, and sizzling love scenes.

#2: How do you write the gay love scenes?

I approach a same-sex love scene the same way I would if I was writing about a hetero couple. When I write a straight romance, about half of the scenes are written from a male point of view. So I have experience thinking about scenes from a male perspective anyway.

There’s not much difference in writing a story from two male points of view. Writing a love scene isn’t only about the gender or the anatomy of the characters—it’s about creating a believable, intimate scene where two people express their love for each other.

Each character in each book is unique, so the love scenes are always approached from different directions. In Four Days with Jack, David is introduced to a world of new experiences. Everett and Josh’s first kiss in A Secret Match was a tender and sweet moment; while the first time readers meet Deke from Killer in Wolf’s Clothing they realize he’s anything but shy.

#3: What’s the hardest part about writing a gay romance?

The answer to this is quite surprising, and no, it has nothing to do with bedroom activities. The hardest part about writing a same-sex romance or love scene is pronouns.

As I’m writing, I’ll dash off something like: “He ran his hand down his chest and…” Wait, what? He ran his own hand down his own chest? No… I have to pay extra close attention when revising or editing a same-sex scene. Too many “his” references and the reader doesn’t know who is doing what. Better to say: “He ran his hand down Kevin’s chest and…”

#4: Are you concerned about what people will think about you writing gay romances?

Not in the least. People will think whatever they want. I realize that not everyone wants to read the same type of romance. Some readers love historicals, others only read contemporaries or paranormals, and that’s fine. But if readers are turned off to me as an author just because I write gay romances… well, that’s too bad, see ya.

When I wrote my first gay romance, I considered “what people would think” about the book and me writing it—for about three seconds. Then I reminded myself that I’m a writer, and I create the characters and scenes that make up the book.

I don’t worry about what people might think of me writing about two male characters kissing, going to bed, or making dinner. Basically, the story needs to be told, and I’m the one telling it. As a writer, I’ve made up all sorts of things: an erotic Bigfoot story, a historical Viking tale, detailed ménage scenes (in all combinations), and a first-person vampire love story.

Writers need to turn off their internal editors and forge ahead with the story as it should be (and needs to be) told. If we constantly worried about what grandma would think about our writing, or if we were afraid to open up and let the characters (and the story) take us into the bedroom, we’d never write anything except G-rated fables.

I once read a blog where a woman was “confessing” to writing an erotic romance, even though she couldn’t tell anyone about it and wouldn’t “dare” put her real name on the story. I got to wondering…why? Why hide your writing? And if you’re “ashamed” to be writing in a particular genre, why invest the time and energy into something you’re not going to stand behind?

Now more than ever, I’m just as proud/PRIDEful of my gay romances as I am of my straight romances. Why? Because I’m a romance writer—and in my books, everyone deserves to be in love and live happily-ever-after with whatever partner they choose.

And that’s the way it should be… in fiction and in real life. Here’s the book summary to my first gay romance, Four Days with Jack . I hope you’ll check it out. I fell in love with the characters, and I hope readers will too. It’s got a good blend of humor, drama, and plenty of sizzling love scenes!

Enjoy & Happy Reading!


When David invited his best friend on vacation, he never expected them to fall in love…

Spending four days in a tropical paradise with Jack is a dream come true. For years, David has lived a lie and denied his romantic feelings for Jack. Now that they’re together in an isolated Caribbean resort, he finally admits what he really wants—to be Jack’s lover.

Jack has been in love with David for years and is encouraged by his desire to explore a sexual relationship. He’s more than willing to introduce David to the life he has always fantasized about. Their sizzling nighttime encounters confirm David’s long-hidden cravings, but what will happen when they leave the resort?

Will David come out and start a new life with Jack? Or will he go back to his old ways and risk losing the best friend he ever had?

Order Four Days with Jack here:


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Jessica James believes in honor, duty, and true love—and that’s what she writes about in her award-winning novels that span the ages from the Revolutionary War to modern day.

She is a three-time winner of the John Esten Cooke Award for Southern Fiction, and has won more than a dozen other literary awards, including a Readers’ Favorite International Book Award and a Gold Medal from the Military Writers Society of America. Her novels have been used in schools and are available in hundreds of libraries including Harvard and the U.S. Naval Academy.

Beverley: Which genre or genres do you write or prefer to write? And why?

Jessica: I live in Gettysburg, Pa., so began my career writing historical fiction in the Civil War era. I have since found a passion for suspense/thrillers because of my love for the military. My latest novel, Lacewood, is women’s fiction, and combines everything I enjoy…history, mystery, small towns, old houses, and contemporary romantic fiction.

Beverley: Who influenced you the most in deciding to become a writer?

Jessica: I began my writing career as a journalist so I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. The influence to write fiction came from the characters in my head who would not be quieted.

Beverley: What gets your creative juices flowing?

Jessica: I spent many, many days tramping around the Virginia countryside while doing research for my first Civil War novel, Shades of Gray. I find that driving down the dirt roads of Loudoun County is still good for my soul and my creativity.

Beverley: Do you have a favorite cartoon character? Why?

Jessica: Strange fact: I have never enjoyed cartoons.

Beverley: Who would you love most to meet ‘in person’ and why?

Jessica: Rick Rigsby, the author of “Lessons from a Third Grade Dropout,” because I believe his father raised a great man.

Beverley : If you had an unexpected free day what would you do with it?

Jessica: That is hard for me to imagine, but maybe visit some museums within an hour’s drive that have been on my bucket list to see.

Beverley: What are you working on now?

Jessica: Still mulling over my next project, but my fans want me to write another book in my Phantom Force Tactical suspense series, so that’s where I’m leaning.

Blurb for Lacewood:

Sometimes love is just too powerful for one lifetime…

MOVING TO A SMALL TOWN in Virginia is a big change for New York socialite Katie McCain. But when she stumbles across an abandoned 200-year-old mansion, she’s enthralled by the enduring beauty of the neglected estate—and captivated by the haunting portrait of a woman in mourning. Purchasing the property on a whim, Katie attempts to fit in with the colorful characters in the town of New Hope, while trying to unravel the mystery of the “widow of Lacewood.” As she pieces together the previous owner’s heartrending story, Katie uncovers secrets the house has held for centuries, and discovers the key to coming to terms with her own sense of loss.

The past and present converge when hometown hero Will Durham returns and begins his own healing process by helping the “city girl” restore the place that holds so many memories. As the mystic web of destiny is woven, a love story that might have been lost forever is exposed, and a destiny that has been waiting in the shadows for centuries is fulfilled.

A powerful and poignant tale that vividly conveys the heartache of war, the tragedy of loss, and the fulfillment of destiny…even when souls are separated by centuries. Lacewood takes readers on a journey that connects the past with the present—and the present with eternity.

EXCERPT from Lacewood:

     Turning in a circle, Katie studied the room again. Faded wallpaper curled and peeled above the dusty wainscoting, but the walls themselves appeared sturdy. On the far side of the entryway, and dominating the wall, stood a mammoth fireplace with an ornately carved hearth. Her attention was immediately drawn to a painting of a woman in nineteenth century dress that hung prominently over the mantel.

“Who is she ?”

The sheriff turned to the dusty, sun-bleached portrait in the heavy carved guilt frame. “One of the previous owners, they say.” He shrugged. “The family history kind of got lost with the house.

Everyone around here calls her the Widow of Lacewood.”

     “She looks so sad.” Katie spoke without removing her gaze. “And so young. How could she be a widow?”

The sheriff had already started to walk away, but he turned back and glanced at the painting. “Not sure, but they say she never remarried. She’s the one out in the cemetery, too, I reckon.”

Katie’s heart suddenly struggled to beat. The anguish in the woman’s eyes kept her riveted. She could see the pain. Feel a heart ripped apart. Something was missing that could never be replaced. Katie had felt such loss before. In a way, that’s why she was here…

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Summer is almost officially here. I’d like to get a lot of reading in this year. I haven’t been reading as much as I want or should. So I’m starting with a list of books I’d like to read. Some of them are from my long TBS list, others are recent ones I’ve seen and want to read and they’re from different genres. I thought I’d share them with you and maybe you could share some of the ones on your summer list. I’d love to see what you will be reading.

Here’s my top ten so far, not in any particular order with a little blurb.

– A Dress the Color of the Sky – Jennifer Irwin For too many years, Prudence Aldrich has been numbing the pain in her life with random sexual encounters. Her marriage to cold, self-centered Nick is, not surprisingly, on the rocks. But after several dangerous experiences with strangers, Prudence finally realizes she needs therapy to stop her self-destructive behavior, and so she checks into the Serenity Hills rehab center.

– The Girl in the Moss – Loreth Anne White Disgraced ex-cop Angie Pallorino is determined to make a new start for herself as a private investigator. But first, she and her lover, newly promoted homicide detective James Maddocks, attempt a quiet getaway to rekindle a romance struggling in the shadows of their careers. The peace doesn’t last long when human skeletal remains are found in a nearby mossy grove.

This decades-old mystery is just what Angie needs to establish her new career—even as it thrusts her and Maddocks back into the media spotlight, once again endangering their tenuous relationship.

– Hit and Run – Dr. Bob Rich 84-year-old Sylvia barely escapes death when a teenage driver plows down six children and a crossing guard, never looking back. Shaken, Sylvia draws his portrait, creating a connection with this 14-year-old boy that allows the police to locate and arrest him. That night, he appears to her through a supernatural process neither understands. Can one woman’s belief in the power of love make a difference in the life of one boy who wants to change?

-Temporarily Insane – Vicki Batman No man. Bad job. And Murder. Hattie Cooks is still searching for her dream job and one might be available…in the Big Apple, far from friends, family, and Allan Wellborn, the man who still makes her heart race. In the meantime, she finds temporary employment at an accounting firm where two auditor friends turn up dead.

 – Texas Lightning – Caroline Clemmons How can two people from different eras own the same ranch? Penelope Jane Terry knows everything about ranching in spite of being a lone woman. She is determined to send to jail the rustlers who believe they can steal what is hers… until she is caught spying on their dirty works and must ride for her life.

– Cold in the Shadows – Toni Anderson CIA Agent Patrick Killion is on a secret mission to hunt down the ruthless female assassin hired to kill the Vice President of the United States. The trail leads him to the Colombian rainforest and an earnest biologist, Audrey Lockhart, whose work on poison dart frogs gives her access to one of the deadliest substances on earth—the same substance used to murder the VP.

– Hot Under the Collar – Roxanne St Claire Firefighter Braden Mahoney is devastated when his beloved Weimaraner, Jelly Bean, fails the canine arson investigator test. Faced with the challenge of raising the money for advanced training, it’s Braden’s sweet grandmother and her best friend who suggest he use the services of the new event planner in town. Not that he needs a push in Cassie Santorini’s direction. Ever since she arrived, Braden has had his eye on the sassy Greek goddess…and can’t stop thinking about getting the rest of him on her, too.

– Luck of the Draw – Sterling’s Montana #2 – BJ Daniels Garrett Sterling witnesses a murder across a ravine at his mountain retreat. Someone is dead – and the killer now knows there is a witness.                                                Even worse, a mystery woman he’s never been able to forget is a key suspect in the investigation. Now he must find out why everything she’s ever told him was a lie – while keeping them both alive.

– Personal Assignment – Terry Odell She says she doesn’t need protection. He knows better. And for him, it’s personal. This Blackthorne, Inc. action-adventure romantic suspense from award-winning author Terry Odell will keep you turning pages.  doesn’t need protection. He knows better. And for him, it’s personal. She says she doesn’t need protection. He knows better. And for him, it’s personal.

– Pecan Pies and Dead Guys – Angie Fox Sometimes Verity Long would like to forget that she lives with the ghost of a 1920s gangster. But the reluctant housemates must once again work together when a dead detective blackmails Frankie into helping him solve a Great Gatsby-era cold case. Before she can say “bathtub gin,” Verity is dragged straight into a raging, otherworldly house party. Worse, every guest is hiding something.

If you’ve read any of the books I’d love to her your comments. And please share the books you have on your list for the summer.

A few years ago, Dee S. Knight began writing, making getting up in the morning fun. During the day, her characters killed people, fell in love, became drunk with power, or sober with responsibility. And they had sex, lots of sex.  Writing was so much fun Dee decided to keep at it. That’s how she spends her days. Her nights? Well, she’s lucky that her dream man, childhood sweetheart, and long-time hubby are all the same guy, and nights are their secret. For romance ranging from sweet to historical, contemporary to paranormal and more join Dee on Nomad Authors. Contact Dee at .

Character Interview with Daniel Goodman

Beverley: What do you do and why?

Daniel: I’m headmaster of a small private school in North Carolina. For many years, I wanted to be headmaster of a very prestigious boys’ school in New Hampshire—in fact I worked hard to achieve that position. But in the end, it came down to marrying the woman I love or settling for the job. When I was honest with myself—which I admit took far longer than it should have—there was no contest. Then this great opportunity came up and we moved close to where I grew up.

My whole life I’ve loved learning, and I want to impart that same love to youngsters I have the privilege of working with. I dug into learning to escape some school bullying. I want the kids I teach and mentor to love learning for the sheer joy of it and for the excitement and options knowledge can bring in life. That all sounded a little priggish, didn’t it? Sorry! 😉

Beverley: If your life were a movie would you see yourself played like Robin Williams in The Dead Poets Society ?

Daniel: LOL! Well, yeah except with a not so unhappy ending and with a living actor. Maybe Brat Pitt or Gerard Butler. And the hero would end up marrying the world’s most beautiful woman, like I did. That would make for a great movie!

Beverley: How has your environment or upbringing affected how you do your job?

Daniel: I mentioned that I was slightly bullied in school. That’s because my mom and dad weren’t married. They lived together and they loved each other fiercely—still do, though they were married this past Thanksgiving—but they had quite the reputation in town. By that, I mean everyone liked them enormously, but we are talking the mountains of North Carolina, here, and living “in sin” was not looked upon as a proper way to raise three boys. The fact that my brothers and I weren’t legitimate made for a lot of taunts and not a few fights when we were growing up. I withdrew a certain amount into books, and focused like a laser beam on achieving my goals. Eve taught me that there is more to life than being headmaster of a school. And now we have a great little family that includes her son, Tim.

Also, I am one of three identical triplets. Being raised with two other kids who looked just like me made me want to individualize myself. My brother Jonah is a mechanic. Smart as can be, but he enjoys making NASCAR drivers successful instead of racking up degrees. My second brother, Mark, is a bona fide genius. Even with all the reading I’ve done, I can’t understand half of what he does. They each have their own stories and I hope maybe at some point you’ll invite them here to tell you about themselves.

The one thing true about any of the Goodman’s you talk with is, we love each other unconditionally. And anyone who takes up with one of us is going to get all of us.

Beverley: What do you like to do in your free time?

Daniel: Right now, we’re getting used to our new home in the Asheville area of North Carolina. There are mountains and artisan shops to explore, plus wonderful outdoor activities. I look forward to teaching Tim how to fish and do all the things my brothers and I did as kids. This winter Eve and I are going to teach Tim how to ski. This is a great place to live and I know we’re going to enjoy it.

Beverley: Do you get up early or sleep in?

Daniel: Up early. There’s too much to do to sleep in. Plus, Tim is only seven and he’s up at the crack of dawn. I often let Eve sleep in so he and I get our alone time together.

Beverley: Do you have a pet peeve?

Daniel: Bad grammar. Especially the misuse of I-me-myself. I can accept that in normal conversation people might mix them up, but when newscasters and politicians, and even teachers get them wrong, it irritates me.

Beverley: Pen or computer?

Daniel: Pen when I’m trying to build my thoughts when writing, computer when I’m ready to put everything together.

Beverley: The worst words to hear on a date?

Daniel: My brother called. He needs me at home right now. (This is worse if your date knows you don’t have a brother.)

Blurb for Only a Good Man Will Do :

Seriously ambitious man seeks woman to encourage his goals, support his (hopeful) position as Headmaster of Westover Academy, and be purer than Caesar’s wife. Good luck with that!

Daniel Goodman is a man on a mission. He aims to become headmaster of Westover Academy. For that he needs a particular, special woman to help him set high standards. Into his cut and dried life of moral and upright behavior, comes Eve Star, formerly one of Europe’s foremost exotic dancers. Her life is anything but cut and dried, black and white. Daniel is drawn to her like a kid to chocolate. Nothing good can come of this attraction. Or can it? He is after all, a good man.

Excerpt from Only a Good Man Will Do :

“Daniel, am I talking to myself, here?”

“Oh, no, I’m…” He chuckled an amused admission. “Tell me what you said again.”

He could almost hear Eve smile. “I said, you called at four-thirty on Saturday and Sunday, so I took a wild leap that you would today, too.”

“Ah.” Smiling to the empty room, he squirmed to get into a more comfortable position. “A woman of logic.”

“Absolutely. You don’t want to play me in chess. I think five or six moves ahead.”

“I’ll remember that. There’s nothing worse than seeing a guy cry when he’s been beaten at chess by a girl.”

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Newsletter (sample):

Barbara White Daille lives with her husband in the sunny Southwest. Though they love the warm winters and the lizards in their front yard, they haven’t gotten used to the scorpions in the bathroom. Barbara also loves writing, reading, and chocolate. Come to think of it, she enjoys writing about those subjects, too!

Barbara wrote her first short story at the age of nine, then typed “The End” to her first novel many years later…in the eighth grade. Now she’s writing contemporary romance on a daily basis. Sign up for her newsletter to keep up with the latest in her writing life: .

With Father’s Day just around the corner, I’m very happy for the chance to share one of my favorite fictional dads with you. I call all my books “standalones” because even in my series, each hero and heroine reaches their Happy Ever After by the end of their story. In his own words, here’s a peek at the hero dad of A Rancher’s Pride , book one in the Flagman’s Folly series:

Beverley: What’s your name?

Sam: Sam Robertson

Beverley: Where did you grow up?

Sam: Right here in Flagman’s Folly, in the same house I live in today.

Beverley: During what time period does your story take place?

Sam: Current day. I’m a contemporary rancher, content to run the place my daddy always assured me would be mine someday.

Beverley: What’s your story/back story? Why would someone come up with a story about you?

Sam: I grew up an only child in a happy family, took over the ranch after my dad died, and then I got married. . . which wasn’t the best decision I’ve ever made. Nothing exciting there. I never expected anyone would want to tell my story—that is, not until my life took a sudden and equally unexpected turn.

Beverley: What’s your goal in this story?

Sam: To adjust to the fact I’ve become a daddy myself, overnight. I never knew I had a child until my ex-wife left her on my doorstep.

Beverley: What conflicts are you facing?

Sam: My daughter’s aunt, Kayla, wants to take Becky away from me, claiming I’m an unfit father. Also, my four-year-old is deaf, and I don’t know how to communicate with her, which gives Kayla more ammunition in her fight against me.

Beverley: Do you have a plan for resolving this?

Sam: You bet I do. My plan is to keep and raise Becky, no matter what it takes.

Beverley: Is there anything else you’d like us to know about you?

Sam: I’ll never marry again but have always wanted a family. The day I met Becky, I knew she was my child. We missed spending the first four years of her life together, not by choice, and no one’s going to keep us apart another minute.

Blurb for A Rancher’s Pride

His Whole World is in Her Hands

Sam Robertson’s life just changed. In one short day, he found out that he’s a daddy; that his beautiful little girl, Becky, is deaf; and that her aunt, sign language teacher Kayla Ward, intends to fight him for custody.

There are plenty of reasons Sam shouldn’t fall for Kayla. A city girl like her has no place on his ranch, particularly when she’s his ex-wife’s gorgeous sister. But thanks to the judge’s orders, Sam’s spending a lot of time with Kayla, trying to give Becky the stable home she’s never known.

Despite their ongoing custody battle, Sam and Kayla’s love for Becky brings them closer than they ever expected, and Sam knows that no matter who wins in court, he could still lose—Kayla or his daughter.

Excerpt from A Rancher’s Pride. This is from the beginning.


The minute Sam Robertson saw his mother’s frozen expression, he knew something terrible had happened. He hadn’t seen that look on Sharleen’s face since the night his daddy died.

He tossed his Stetson onto the hook by the kitchen door and crossed the room to where she sat by the round pine table. “Mom?  What is it?  What’s wrong?”

“Sam…”   She cleared her throat and started again. “Ronnie was here.”

“Ronnie?”  He frowned. He hadn’t seen his ex-wife in five years. “What did she want after all this time?  Just stopping by to say hello?”

“She said she’s settling down again. With another man.”

“That’s what has you upset?  You should know better. And we should both pity the poor guy. So, what did she do, drop off an invitation to the wedding?”

“No.”  Sharleen took a deep breath and let it out slowly. Finally, she said, “She dropped something off, but not an invitation. She brought a little girl with her. Four years old. Ronnie left her here. She said she’s your daughter.”

“What? ”  The news rocked him back in the chair. “That’s impossible.”

“I’m not sure that it is. The child is blonde. Like Ronnie. But she’s got your eyes. Your daddy’s eyes. She looks like a Robertson, through and through.”  She waved toward the arched doorway. “See for yourself.”

After a moment’s hesitation, he rose and moved to the door. He had to brace himself before he could step into the living room.

Everything looked familiar. The pair of plaid couches facing each other. The long pine coffee table between them. The chime clock ticking away on the mantel. Everything looked familiar, except the child sitting on one of the couches.

A beautiful little girl.

The daughter he’d always hoped for, the start of the family he’d never had.

He shook his head. Pipe dreams, for sure. Ronnie had never told a true story in her life. This child couldn’t be his.

As he moved another step into the room, she looked up.

Small and blonde, just as Sharleen had said. And more.

The girl’s eyes shone in the light from the table lamp beside the couch. Silver-gray eyes surrounded by dark lashes, a perfect match to his own.

His throat tightened. He felt frozen in place.

     She gave him a shy smile.

He’d seen that half-twisted grin in plenty of his own childhood pictures. Not impossible after all. The child was his.

Somehow, after what seemed like hours, he managed to raise one hand to wave at her. “Hello.”  The word came out in a croak. He hadn’t the first idea of what to say and went for the standard opening line. “What’s your name?”

Sharleen moved up to stand behind him and rested her hand on his arm. “Her name’s Becky,” she told him. “But she can’t hear you, Sam. She’s deaf.”

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Alice Renaud was born and brought up in Brittany, Western France, her father was French and her mother British (from Wales). She moved to London, UK, in 1997, where she now lives with her husband and son. She works full time as a compliance specialist in a pharmaceutical company. She has been writing in her free time since she was 14. She got quite a few short stories published in UK magazines, before moving to longer fiction. She wrote three contemporary romance books, but didn’t find a publisher for them. She then realized that mermen, sea witches and water demons were a lot more fun than sheikhs and billionaires! Her first two paranormal romances did not find a publisher either, then she wrote “A Merman’s Choice,” which was published in January this year by Black Velvet Seductions. It is the first book in a fantasy romance trilogy inspired by the landscapes and legends of Brittany and Wales. The second book, “Music for a Merman,” will be out later this year. She’s also written a short story, “The Sweetest Magic of All,” that will appear in the BVS supernatural romance anthology “Mystic Desire,” due this fall (autumn). It’s about a sexy apprentice witch and a hot time-travelling warlock who go in search of a magical amulet… and find more than they bargained for!

Alice loves reading and writing stories, and sharing them with anyone who’s interested!


Meet Alex, the heroine of A Merman’s Choice

Beverley: What’s your name? Alex (Alexandra) Williams

Alex: Where did you grow up? When I was little, my family and I lived above my father’s cafe. Later, when my father’s restaurants started to make money, we moved to a nice house down the road. But as my parents were always working such long hours, I spent a lot of time at my grandmother’s, my Nain’s, house, by the sea. My childhood’s best memories were formed there.

Beverley: During what time period does your story take place?

Alex: The story starts when I nearly drown, and Yann rescues me. But I’m unconscious, and I don’t see him – just as well, since he’s in his aquatic shape, and the grey face and webbed hands would have given me a shock! The narrative then jumps forward 8 months, as I go back to the Morvann Islands and meet Yann again. He’s in human shape this time, and I don’t recognise him. Our story unfolds over the next few days, on those beautiful islands off the coast of Wales. I wish you could see them! They are gorgeous in spring.

Beverley: What’s your story/back story? Why would someone come up with a story about you?

Alex: I always wanted to be a photographer, ever since Nain gave me my first camera when I was 5. But my father was having none of it, he wanted me to follow him into his business. Nain and I had a project. She wanted to write a book on the Morvann Islands, and I promised I’d get pictures and stories for her. When she got ill, I knew I had to go back to the Islands to fulfil my promise, even though my near-drowning had left me with a terrible phobia of water. Why write a story about me? Well I’m the first human in centuries to marry a shape-shifting merman, I guess that’s pretty unusual. Of course I’d no idea what Yann was when I met him.

Beverley: What’s your goal in this story?

Alex: I have to overcome my fear of water to return to the Islands, and take those photographs for my Nain. My aim is to be independent, and stand on my own two feet, instead of letting my family wrap me in cotton wool. Falling in love isn’t part of the plan.

Beverley: What conflicts are you facing?

Alex: As well as my anxiety, there is Yann. He’s so hot, and so kind, I’m immediately attracted to him. But I’ve just come out of a bad relationship, so I’m not ready to risk my heart again. Deep down, I fear I’m not good enough for him.

Beverley: Do you have a plan for resolving them?

Alex: My plan is to resist Yann’s charms. I fail miserably. He had me at the fish and chips, to be honest.

Beverley: Is there anything else you’d like us to know about you?

Alex: I discover eventually that I’m a lot stronger than I think. Strong enough to overcome my fears, and reach the island of my dreams at last – the arms of the man I love.

Blurb for A Merman’s Choice Fantasy Romance – Book 1 in the Sea of Love series

For centuries the shape-shifting mermen of the Morvann Islands have lived incognito among humans. But one of them, Yann, has developed some bad habits. Like rescuing humans, even when doing so risks revealing his true nature. When he fishes Alex out of the sea, he doesn’t expect her to reappear eight months later, and turn his life upside down by asking him to be her guide.

Alex is determined to fulfil a promise to her dying grandmother, by gathering pictures and stories of the Morvanns. But she soon discovers that, on these remote Welsh islands, legends have a habit of becoming true!

Over the course of a few days, Yann and Alex grow close. But some mermen hate humans. Their hostility, and Yann’s secret, threaten to tear the couple apart just as they are discovering that they are soul mates. Can Yann overcome the obstacles in his path and make the right choice?

Excerpt for A Merman’s Choice

The girl wasn’t swimming any more. Yann’s sonar gave him a clear picture of her distress. She was flailing. Sinking.

Fear punched him between the ribs. Just a few minutes earlier, she’d been splashing in the shallows, laughing and humming to herself. That music had rippled around him, brightening his journey. Now the sea was snuffing that light out. No! He wouldn’t let it happen. His webbed hands and feet churned the water, and he shot towards her like a torpedo.

Not this one, sea. Not this time.

She came in sight, slim and lovely, with long bronzed limbs and hair the colour of sunshine. But her eyes were closed, her movements slow, hesitant, as if she were falling asleep. His fear hardened into cold, sharp dread. He poured all his energy into the last powerful strokes. He’d almost reached her, when his eye caught the shadow, beyond the crystal surface, out there in the dry world. He sent a sound wave. It came back with an image, and the icy blade inside him twisted: two-legged shapes on the beach. Humans!

If they saw him, they’d know him for what he was. His people’s secret, kept for thousands of years, would be out.

The girl’s head vanished under the waves. To hell with that . He couldn’t let her drown.

He grabbed her and dragged her back to the surface. She thrashed in his arms and coughed up seawater. Intense relief swept through him as he hugged her to his chest. He’d sworn he’d never again swim by and let a human drown, and he’d kept his promise. If the young woman’s eyes remained closed, he might even get away with it. He wanted her to breathe, not scream in horror at the sight of his dark grey face.

        He looked up. The shapes on the beach had gone. Another miracle, or perhaps he’d only imagined them. What if they came back? A fresh stab of anxiety propelled him through the surf. He lay the girl down on the sand, cushioning her head on his arm. Her round breasts, encased in the turquoise bikini top, rose and fell in a regular rhythm, but her skin felt clammy under his hands. He scanned the beach in vain for something to cover her with, and saw the motorbike. A sleek, sporty number, well camouflaged among the grass-covered dunes.

Shit. He retracted the webs between his fingers and toes, but his body would take at least twenty minutes to shift from the aquatic shape to the human form. And even when it did, what would the humans think, if they found him naked next to an unconscious girl?

They’d arrest him for indecent exposure, or worse. He touched the girl’s face with a tentative finger. The thought of leaving her sickened him. But he couldn’t stay.

Her eyelids fluttered and she muttered a name. “Boris?”

As if in answer, a male voice tore through the air, from behind the dunes. “Alex!”

Yann flew towards the waves. Help was coming for the girl. She’d be fine.

He sped into the open sea, leaving the human world and human fears behind. He’d saved her. That knowledge glowed inside him as he plunged into the depths. She was safe, and his people would remain safe too. He sang as he rode the riptide, a song full of triumph and laughter. Far away, the humpback whales heard him and picked up the tune. He’d got away with it.

For now. His euphoria abated. No humans had seen him, but his people had sharper eyes and ears. He shouldn’t even have been hanging around, in full merman shape, so close to an inhabited island, but he’d thought he’d be OK. In late September so few tourists were around, and locals had better things to do than go swimming in cold water.  He sniffed the current, tuned his sonar towards the Clans’ Islands. Nothing. With luck, no one would notice that he’d broken the merpeople’s rules. Again.

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