Friday, March 30, 2012

TBR welcomes Charmaine Gordon

Charmaine Gordon here. I’m relatively new to the solitary business of writing after a long professional career as an actor. Acting means audiences, people you meet at play’s or movies end. Applause, hugs and greetings. Now there are my imaginary characters to keep me company. All wonderful. All different. Life is sweet.
RECONSTRUCTING CHARLIE , contemporary Romance/Suspense published by Vanilla Heart. Available in print and e format:


In 1996 I killed my father.
Dear old Dad was great with a belt. A belt of whiskey. A belt from around his waist unbuckled when you least expected it and later I knew when it was coming and some of us escaped. Not me, not Mom. Never Mom. I’m the oldest. I didn’t want the little ones to see the okay dad turn into a monster on payday.

Chapter 1
I heard the television turned up loud before I opened the door. Mom always hoped for a distraction. Maybe this time instead of beating up on us, he’d watch the Minnesota Twins beat the hell out of the Boston Red Sox. 1996. Not a great year so far for the Twins. On this payday, after I dropped the kids off, I raced home just in time to be with Mom.
The front door banged open hard enough to rattle dishes in the cabinet. Mom’s treasure—a painted porcelain egg—rolled to the edge, teetered for a second and fell end over end to the hardwood floor. The small egg cracked with the force of a bomb. Mom stared at broken pieces from a life she had long ago. Her face turned white, every freckle showing, and my fists clenched.
He staggered around waving a tire iron in the air; muscled from working a jackhammer for the city all his sorry life and ugly drunk. Flowers flew off the table with sprays of water and shattered glass. Cursing, he went after Mom. This time I was ready. I wrestled it out of his filthy hands and hit him good. He lay torn up, didn’t move, blood everywhere on Mom’s clean kitchen floor. I stood there looking down at my father and thought how hard it was going to be for Mom to get the blood up. And how come he was the worst father in the world scaring all of us, hurting Mom and me. I breathed too fast and almost threw up. We were safe now because I’d done this terrible thing and I didn’t know how I could live with it.
Mom’s thick auburn hair came loose from her bun and she looked so pretty bending over him, a finger pressed to his neck as if she was a cop. On tiptoes, she pulled the ceiling fan chain and her sleeve rolled back. Black and blue marks covered her arm. I counted them. Mom had a lot more than I did. The breeze felt good. Then she wiped my fingerprints off the tire iron and replaced them with hers.
I watched Mom change from quiet refined Liz Costigan to someone I didn’t know.
“No more sweltering in my house,” she said.
She reached in his pants like a pickpocket and came up with a handful of dollars and coins. Handing me the money, Mom said, “I guess he drank the rest of his pay. Sorry it’s not more. Let’s get you packed.”
She was in charge, this new mother, and I didn’t question her. Icy cold inside myself, Mom dragged me along to my bedroom. I kept looking back expecting him to come after us.
“Reach up high on the top shelf, Charlie. Bring the suitcase down.”
Mom’s hands caressed the leather case I’d never seen.
“I packed my clothes and ran away sixteen years ago,” she said. “I was wild, out-of-control.”
“Were you ever sorry, Mom?”
“I have you and Jimmy, and my little girls. Take a shower. I have things to do.” She pushed me toward the hall.
I heard Mom opening and closing drawers, knew she’d be too busy to worry about me for a while and crept back to the bloody mess to make sure he really was dead. His dark eyes had turned to an empty stare. Shivering, I ran for the bathroom. Even a hot shower couldn’t warm me and blood refused to wash off. Words spun around in my head. ‘Out, out, damned spot.’ I scrubbed ‘til it hurt. Lady Macbeth, that’s me.
Wrapped in a towel, I watched Mom empty my clothes into her suitcase. I couldn’t move. He’s dead in the house and she packed my clothes for what? Mom added a dress hanging at the back of the closet, folded and placed it on top. The sound of the zipper closing on the suitcase startled me into action. I pried up the board in the closet, removed my money, and secured it into a money belt I’d bought in a second hand shop. Mom nodded approval.
“Wear this,” she said, handing me jeans and a long sleeved tee shirt. I dug some underwear out of the suitcase and dressed. “Take a windbreaker. Air conditioning on the bus.”
Unfastening a gold locket on a long chain she wore around her neck, she said, “Hold up your hair, my girl.”
We stood face to face, her hazel eyes looking into mine. I heard a tiny click when the clasp was in place around my neck. She kissed the locket and let it slide under my shirt.
“What’s in the locket, Mom?”
 “Two sisters, my dear Charlie. One wise. One foolish.” Mom smiled the saddest smile. She held my face in both hands.  “Yes, I have a sister, your aunt Eleanor. Now listen hard. Money and education. Most important.  And one more thing, precious girl, don’t let boys catch your scent. Keep clean. That’s something I forgot.”
Scared and bewildered, I wasn’t used to her making fast decisions. Any decisions.
“I’ll call the police after you’re gone. It was self defense. There are hospital records of abuse for years. The Union will take financial care of us. Your job is to make a new life. Catch a bus to Chicago. My sister is there.”
She pulled a box out from a drawer in my small desk and opened it. Fancy stationery paper, the old fashioned kind with the scent of flowers. Taking a deep breath, mom wrote in her perfect handwriting. I always believed mom had a lot of secrets. Now I got a peek at some just before I was leaving. Not fair and I felt like my little sisters when they stamped their feet against the world. I didn’t want to leave. She tucked two sheets of paper in a matching envelope and added an address.
“Don’t lose this, Charlie. It’s your passport to a new life.”
I couldn’t speak. Somehow words got stuck in my throat so I read the name Mom had written. Mrs. Stuart Alfred. I unzipped a side pocket on my backpack and placed the envelope in with care.
“Don’t let her turn you away. She’s my older sister. She hated your father.”
Panic set in. “What if she’s not there?”
“She’ll be there, same as always. I’ve kept in touch with her. Not often. Just enough.”
So sure of herself, this new mother.
 “Charlie,” Mom looked in my eyes so deep as if she was taking a picture, “don’t call. I’ll call you when I have something to say. Now hurry. It’s not too late to catch the bus.”
Mom hugged me and I ran.

I always write about mature women who must survive and thrive. Charlie came to me in the night and there I was, stuck with a teenager after raising a batch long grown.
Flying by the seat of my pants, the characters push and pull, directing me as I write.
While writing my first book, I was surprised to find how much of me fell onto the pages. Phrases, experience woven in, and finally I gave in and just let it happen.
Maybe because I worry about my fictional friends as if they’re real. I wake at night, scenes running through my head, make it better, stronger.
Next up is the third in a series titled A Sin of Omission. Shelley Jackson learns that it’s better to be open with your best friend and your lover than to keep secret something that will change everyone’s life.
My first with Vanilla Heart was TO BE CONTINUED, Romance/Suspense. Next came STARTING OVER, Romance/Suspense; NOW WHAT? Romance/Suspense with a touch of paranormal; HAVEN, my first novella second in a series after RECONSTRUCTING CHARLIE.
            For me, what’s the most challenging is conflict and when it works through, I’m relieved.
            Robert B. Parker, John Sandford, Elmore Leonard are big faves and my Vanilla Heart family write wonderful books. I love Chelle Cordero’s writing, Smoky Zeidel, Janet Lane Walters, Melinda Clayton and S.R. Claridge. TBR are books by Anne Albert and Malcolm Campbell and all the other core authors of VHP.

You can find me here:!/CharJGordon     

I’m giving away an ebook copy of RECONSTRUCTING CHARLIE at the end of this week. 

Thanks for visiting TBR, Charmaine. Best of luck to you.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

TBR welcomes Katherine Grey

Writing Short

by Katherine Grey

Last summer my publisher, The Wild Rose Press, invited me to contribute a short story to their Love Letters line.   I didn’t hesitate to accept. I even had a hero at the ready – Blaine Hobson, a secondary character from my debut novel, Impetuous. I had wanted to write his story ever since he first appeared in my mind so this seemed like the perfect opportunity. 

While I usually write stories that run between 350 to 400 pages, I figured writing a short story consisting of 80 to 100 pages would be so much easier.  After all, I had written a short story in the past.  Yep, one short story, really short consisting of 4 whole pages. Don’t get me wrong, it was a complete story having a beginning, middle, and an end and even placed as an honorable mention in a contest. Writing it was very easy, the story came to me fully formed, I just had to put it down on paper.  The short story for the Love Letters line not so much.

Even though I had a fully formed hero and the heroine came not too long after, I found myself struggling to stay within the parameters of the page count requirement.  I would find myself adding a subplot here and a subplot there only to have to go back and take them out because it would have put me well over the maximum of 100 pages.  This led to multiple scenes and chapters being written and rewritten and rewritten again.

I never realized how hard it would be to “write short” as many of my fellow writers who regularly write short stories call it.  I have to admit to having a bit of a snobbish attitude toward them, thinking they wrote short stories because their plots weren’t developed enough to sustain a full length novel.  Boy, was I wrong.  Their stories have to be very tightly plotted with all the necessary details intricately woven into well constructed paragraphs. They have to have concise word choices saying in one or two sentences something I might take a paragraph to say.

So I have just one thing to say to anyone who writes short stories – Wow, you guys rock.  I’m very happy to eat humble pie given my former attitude.  And let me stress it is a former attitude.  In the future, I’ll be the first to say how hard it is to write a fully developed story in less than 100 pages.

I learned a lot from this experience and would probably try writing short again in the future.  I hope you’ll check out my short story titled The Muse to be released on May 30, 2012 from The Wild Rose Press

Katherine Grey

At the age of four, Katherine pestered her mother to teach her to read. From that point on, she spent the most of her childhood lost in the pages of one book after another. Soon she began writing stories of her own, populated with characters doing all of the things she was too shy to even contemplate doing herself.

A chance meeting with another writer led Katherine to seriously pursue a writing career. Her debut novel, Impetuous, was released by The Wild Rose Press in August 2011.

Katherine lives in upstate NY with her family though she threatens to move south at the beginning of each Winter season.

You can find her on Facebook at

Or on her blog at

Or on Goodreads at

Monday, March 26, 2012

TBR welcomes Christine Warner

TBR: Welcome to TBR, Christine Warner. Will you share a little bit about yourself?
Christine: Thank you so much for having me here!  I live in Michigan with my husband, 3 children, 2 dogs and 2 cats.  A couple of my favorite things to do are laughing until my sides hurt, cooking, traveling, reading (though I don’t get to indulge as often as I used to) and of course writing.

I started writing seriously about 3 years ago at the prodding of my sister and haven’t looked back since!

But of course, like most other authors I started writing way back in elementary school.  I won a few essay contents and was hooked.  I even won a short story contest in middle school and my book “How Frogs First Turned Green” was printed, bound, illustrated and shelved in the school library.  I still have my copy J  I think that’s when the writing bug truly bit me.  

TBR: Tell us about Some Like it in Handcuffs and where it's available.
Christine: I like to describe Some Like it in Handcuffs as a light-hearted romantic suspense with humorous elements. 

Here’s a blurb:
Sunny Kennedy, the only female in a family of blue blood male detectives, is determined to prove testosterone isn’t the only qualification required to solve a cold case. Handcuffed while undercover then taken to the precinct by an attractive detective, her domineering family demands she work with Detective Judson Blackwolf, or she’s off the case.
Judson Blackwolf thinks women in law enforcement should work behind the scenes. The prospect of working with his Captain’s sexy daughter doesn’t thrill him. He only agrees in hopes of solving the murder of his one time mentor’s daughter. Once the case is over, he’s moving to Montana to heal his wounds from the loss of his last partner.
But when their investigation takes a dangerous turn, Sunny and Jud soon realize their feelings for each other cannot be denied.

TBR: Please tantalize us with a story blurb or excerpt.
Christine: I’d love to!

“This isn’t how I wanted it between us.”  Judson grabbed the neckline of her sweater, dragging her body to meet his with a solid thump.  Sunny licked her lips in answer to the question in his eyes.  He lowered his head to move his mouth over hers. 
Sunny closed her eyes, a small whimper escaping her lips.  She didn’t want it like this either, but that wasn’t possible.  Unable to resist her attraction she accepted it wasn’t an affair, or a long distance romance she craved, but for him to love her back.  It was all or nothing for her.  Her heart sank.  She accepted this as their goodbye kiss.
With no thought to what was happening upstairs, Sunny rose up on her toes demanding more.  Her lips pulsated against Judson’s.  When his hand trembled against her cheek in a soft caress she lost touch with reality. 
“Judson.” Sunny’s weakened body drifted farther into Judson’s as his fingers glided down her arms, pulling them to her sides where their fingers intertwined.  He forced them behind her before his tongue thrust into her mouth. 
Their bodies molded together, she heard her own heartbeat and his as well when he curved his fingers around her rear and squeezed. 
That’s when the click of the handcuffs against her wrist connected her to the handle of the locked cupboard. 
“What the hell…Judson?”  She looked up at him, her knees shook, her body still inflamed with fever. 
“Like I was saying, you wait here and I’ll go upstairs to check it out.  Backup’s already been called, so you’re safe until your brothers arrive.”  Judson winked before walking toward the steps to the third level.  Once he reached them he turned toward her and smiled.  “Gotcha,” he whispered with his notorious grin.

Some Like it in Handcuffs is available in print and digital format at:

TBR: What inspired you to write about the theme?
Christine: I actually came up with the story—now this might sound odd—by coming up with the title first.  The title popped into my head and then Sunny’s character was born, along with her family dynamics, a mouth-watering hero—Judson—and everything else right down to the setting and plot. 

I love watching and reading true crime and most of what I wrote was based on that, but I had to add a bit of humor in there too.  J

TBR: Are you a plotter or pantser?
Christine: I refer to myself and having one foot in and one foot out.  Part of me plots, but I don’t go to in depth.  Basically I write up a rough outline of the story which features a timeline and basic plot chart, then I do a character sketch.  From this outline I write my story and it also helps me write my synopsis at the end.  As I’m writing I follow that rough outline, but of course things might change in the storyline so I’ll adjust it as I go.  If I’m having a difficult time with a story, I like to have that rough outline along with smaller outlines per chapter to keep me on track.

That way I feel like I’m still being spontaneous but organized.  lol

TBR: Did any music inspire your book? Do you have a playlist?
Christine: I wish I could listen to music as I write, but I can’t.  Peace and quiet keep me focused.  About the only noise is my two dogs snoring at my feet or the cats purring beside me :)

TBR: Which of your characters would you most/least like to invite to dinner, and why?
Christine: Definitely Sunny.  I love her humor and sass and her ability to make fun of herself.  I think we’d have some great conversations and she’d be a lot of fun.

TBR: What's next for you?
Christine: I have several new projects in the works.  I’m in the process of finishing up 2 manuscripts that I hope to submit shortly. 
I also have a second book coming out this year with The Wild Rose Press titled Two-Timing the Boss and another book titled Blind Date Billionaire coming out with Entangled Publishing, The Indulgence Line.  I don’t have a release date yet for either, but feel free to visit my blog or follow me on facebook and twitter to stay tuned J
TBR: What’s the most interesting comment you have received about your books?
Christine: Most people who’ve read Some Like it in Handcuffs have told me they loved the humor and really connected with Sunny and Judson’s story.  How they met and how their relationship grew.  I’ve also been told readers enjoyed the interaction between Sunny and her brothers, which is good to hear since I’m working on writing the stories for each of her four brothers.

TBR: Who are some of your favorite authors and books? What are you reading now?
Christine: I wish I could pick just one author.  There are so many out there it’d be hard to choose.  I love reading romance and mainly read contemporary, but vowed this year to expand my horizons.  So, I’m learning about even more fabulous authors. 

I stated above I enjoy true crime and I love author Ann Rule.  Since this is a smaller genre, it’s a bit easier for me to choose a favorite author there. J 

Unfortunately I don’t get to read as much as I used to.  L  Since I’m currently working on finishing up 2 books of my own, I don’t have a book that I’m reading.  I prefer not to read when I’m writing.  But as soon I finish, I’m taking a break and am going to indulge with one of the many books filling my Nook, or in the pile beside my bed…lol.  

TBR: Where can readers find you on the web?
Christine: You can find me at:
My blog/website:
Twitter under ChristinesWords:!/ChristinesWords
My Facebook page…stop by and give it a LIKE to keep up on what I have coming up:
I love to hear from readers and other authors J 
TBR: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
Christine: What’s your favorite type of hero and why?

TBR: Thanks for visiting TBR, Christine. All the best to you!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

This week on TBR

Wow, it's the last week of March already. I'm thrilled that TBR has grown so rapidly in just three months! Thanks to the wonderful authors who helped it grow, and to all the followers. You guys rock!

Three very cool authors are visiting this week:

Monday, March 26  - Christine Warner
Wednesday, March 28  - Katherine Grey
Friday, March 30  - Charmaine Gordon
The last week in March means it's the last week to visit the March Featured Author - the fantastic Kitty Keswick! Don't miss out! Kitty's latest is part of a very cool anthology, Spirited, and Leap Books is contributing the proceeds to 826 National, an organization that does free afterschool tutoring and teaches kids to write. By purchasing this book, you'll enable kids to put their creativity to good use.

A second "wow" for this weekend's SciFi Blurb Fest. 34 authors posted amazing blurbs, and more than 120 visitors came to check 'em out. A huge success. I hope we can get as many authors for the Mystery Blurb Fest on April 14.

I'm adding a shameless plug for my dark paranormal erotic romance, Dancing With the Devil. See the cover up there on the top left? The ebook will be free on Amazon from Wednesday through Saturday. I hope you'll download a copy! And help spread the word.
Thanks, as always, for your support!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

SciFi Blurb Fest this weekend!

Authors who wish to share their blurbs, all you have to do is paste your book's title and blurb into the comments section, and provide a link back to the point of sale. 

It's very simple, but please adhere to these suggestions:

Blurbs only - no excerpts, please. All heat levels welcome, but please be sure the blurb's suitable for general audiences - thanks!

One blurb per author (regardless of how many pen names you have)

The Blurb Fest will end Sunday night, so please don't post after that. Until next time, of course. :) Mark your calendar for April 14 for the Mystery Blurb Fest, and April 28 for the Western Blurb Fest. Yee ha!

Looking forward to reading some great scifi blurbs today! Post away!


Friday, March 23, 2012

TBR welcomes Lorrie Unites-Struiff

TBR: Welcome to TBR, Lorrie. Will you share a little bit about yourself?
Lorrie: Sure I will since you asked so nicely. I live near Pittsburgh, PA. I’ve been writing now for a little over ten years and have several stories and a novella with varying publishers. Mind you, I have no college education.
What surprised me the most, I guess, is I’m a person who loves to learn. I’ve always been an avid reader and honestly,*laughs* it did look soooo easy to do. Wow, easy my fanny!
I had a lot to learn, so the first few years were all about learning the process and then learning to use it.
Bless all of you authors out there. Now I know how much time and hard work goes into putting out a story. And shame on you for making it look so easy when I read all your wonderful books. I shall never take you for granted again.
I also find that I love dabbling in different genres and just writing a story that I feel readers will enjoy.

TBR: Tell us about your latest release and where it's available.
Lorrie: My latest are really two short stories while I await the release of my next novel later this year. Wild Blackberries and The Last Dance

TBR: Please tantalize us with a story blurb or excerpt.
Wild Blackberries
Morgan is researching on an Indian reservation in Prescott, Arizona, for her new paranormal novel. She doesn’t believe in the paranormal, but writes it for the trend and the nice royalties. That is until her soon to be divorced husband tries to kill her, and she survives by her wits and a little “strange” help.
Buy site

The Last Dance
Bren is in love with a troubled boy named Rip, and she hopes he asks her to his senior prom. The most popular girl in school, Jean, plays on Rip’s tortured soul. Does Bren get her revenge?
Buy site

TBR: Are you a plotter or pantser?
Lorrie: Definitely a panster. I start with rolling a story around in my head for a week or so, then sit down and start writing. Of course, I run into major plot holes, but my main characters always manage to find a way out. Believe me, no easy feat with all that burning of my brain cells.

TBR: How do you develop your characters?
Lorrie: I never base them on people I know. They come right from my imagination, and the characters build themselves. I like to put odd characters together and have fun seeing how the story will turn out. The one novel due out his year is a western/ romance/action/humor. I wondered how a sheriff who is afraid of critters would get along with a ringtail monkey that decides to adopt him. Would the critter interfere with his love life? Better yet, let’s make the monkey a thief and
boil the pot a little. I had a lot of fun writing it.

TBR: Did any music inspire your book? Do you have a playlist?
Lorrie: I like absolute quiet when I write. I love music. I once was a gold medalist ballroom dance teacher and manager of a famous name studio. If I turned music on while I’m writing, I’d probably end up listening to the music and not writing. So give me silence.

TBR: Which of your characters would you most/least like to invite to dinner, and why?
Lorrie: Matt Boulet from Gypsy Crystal. He is intelligent, witty, and knows what he wants. Ah, did I forget to mention he’s a hunk?

TBR: While creating your books, what was one of the most surprising things you learned?
Lorrie: *Laughs.* How much hard work it is. How much time it takes to write. How much a fantastic critique group can help the story. How many rewrites then touch-ups you have to do. But the most wonderful thing I have learned is how many authors out there are willing to help you on your journey.

TBR: Tease us with one little thing about your fictional world that makes it different from others.
Lorrie: I’d say the weird characters I mix together. A gypsy with a vampire. A sheriff with a monkey. An elderly woman who speaks to the dead before they are buried and her buddy Fat Phil.

TBR: What's next for you?
Lorrie: “A Heap of Trouble” from Muse will be released this fall.
I’m working on the last in a five short story series of Winnie and the COD (Call on the Dead) Club. Winnie is quite the character. I haven’t submitted them as yet.

TBR: Any other published works?
Lorrie:Instead of listing them, I think it would be easier to check out my website at

TBR: What’s the most challenging aspect of writing? Most rewarding?
Lorrie: The most challenging for me, and don’t laugh, is punctuation and hyphenated words. The most rewarding is when readers like my stories. It gives me so much satisfaction.

TBR: What’s the most interesting comment you have received about your books?
Lorrie: “How can you think up so many stories and different characters?”

TBR: Who are some of your favorite authors and books? What are you reading now?
Lorrie: Wow, that is a loaded question. There are too many to name. As I write in different genres, I also read in different genres.
I love Nelson DeMille, Nora Roberts, David Baldacci, Peter David, etc, etc.

TBR: Where can readers find you on the web?
Lorrie: My website again is Also on Face Book, appearances on several blogs and the bookstores on Amazon and B&N. Probably more places but I can’t think of them off the top of my head.

TBR: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
Lorrie: Yes. What is the first thing, other than your preferred genre, do you look for in a book?

TBR: Readers, Lorrie will give away a PDF of either short story to one lucky commenter (winner’s choice). She'll pick a winner next week and announce the winner here. Be sure to leave your email address so s/he can contact you.
Thanks for visiting TBR, Lorrie. Best of luck to you.