Monday, February 25, 2013

Could I Be The Next Big Thing?

Everybody wants their fifteen minutes of fame. Writers want theirs every single time they've got a book release. So with book 2 in my Aisle Bound series releasing on March 11, I'm really hoping I could become The Next Big thing. Can't do it alone, though. We authors all help each other promote because we so deeply care about supporting each other, and the wonderful world of books. So thanks to Misty Waters for thinking of me for this blog hop! Now, onto my questions:

1. What is your working title of your next book (or story)?
The title is A Fine Romance, which also happens to be the name of the romance store featured in the story. So glad my publisher let me keep it!
2. Where did the idea come from for the book?
When I lived in Chicago and saw the vibrant downtown neighborhoods open with every sort of retail day and night, I got the idea for a romance store. I was a wedding planner at the time, and thought it would be terrific to have a place people could duck into to grab a picnic basket full of treats, a card, and a heart shaped blanket to turn a ho-hum Wednesday into a special date night. Creating the store in my book required a lot less start-up capital than creating it for real.
3. What genre does your book fall under?
Contemporary romance, with a strong bent toward romantic comedy.

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
How did you know that I can't start writing until I've got physical models? My hero Sam is the darkly brooding and gorgeous Dylan McDermott, who I've lusted after ever since I saw his sexy chest in The Practice. My heroine Mira is based on Olivia Wilde.
5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Will she turn her back on a life of wealth for a sexy chocolatier – when she doesn’t even like chocolate? 

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
This book was part of a 6 book deal I executed with Carina Press prior to signing with my wonderful agent, Nephele Tempest of The Knight Agency.
7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
See the above question - when I signed that deal, I only had one completed book, and went into massive panic mode about the contracted deadlines looming in front of me. This book was nothing more than a one sentence idea at the time. So I gave myself five months to write it, but finished in a little less than four.
8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
It has the humor of Victoria Dahl, the Chicago setting of Julie James, and the overall feel of Christie Ridgway and Louisa Edwards. I think. Or, those are just authors in my genre that I'd be thrilled to be mentioned in the same sentence as.
9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Um, the aforementioned contract? No, the honest answer is that I am a sucker for romance. I'll do anything to squeeze a little more of it out into the world, because I honestly believe it makes life better.
10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Mouth-watering descriptions of bakery treats and gourmet chocolate truffles. The feel of a whirlwind vacation to Chicago. A group of friends that make you laugh and want to join their tight circle. Oh, and truly awesome (if I do say so myself) sex with drizzled chocolate sauce.....
Here's the part where I tag five other talented, awesome authors who might just be The Next Big Thing:

Joya Fields writes edge-of-your-seat romantic suspense and spooky, sexy contemporar romances with a ghost-ly twist. Hereafter, the 2nd in her Hauntings at Inner Harbor series, recently released, and is a must-read!  Follow her on Twitter @JoyaFields

Amanda Usen (oh yes, another author in my genre I'd love to be compared to!) writes fabulously sexy foodie romances. You might as well scoop up both Luscious and Scrumptious at the same time, because I guarantee you'll want to read them both.  Follow her on Tiwtter @AmandaUsen

Stephanie Draven (hang on, I have to fan myself just thinking about this book) just released her 1920s erotica collection It Stings So Sweet. Seriously, the hottest book I've read in years. You'll want to download immediately to your e-reader, AND buy the paperback to keep next to your bed. Follow her on Twitter @StephanieDraven

Kimberly Kincaid's novella  Love on the Line releases next month. It puts a whole different meaning on 'heat in the kitchen', and I can't wait to read it! Follow her on Twitter @KimberlyKincaid

Natalie Damschroder is a fellow Carina Press author who writes strong heroines with even stronger heroes in her romantic adventures. If you need a little adrenaline surge to get you through these long, last days of winter, check out Behind the Scenes. Follow her on Twitter @NJDamschroder

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Are You Truly Ready to Start Writing Your Next Book?

Last week I finished writing a Christmas novella. I had the weekend to relax and purge those characters from my mind. Yesterday, according to my calendar and to stay on-schedule with my contracted deadline, I was supposed to begin writing the 4th book in my Aisle Bound series. But as I opened a new document, I realized that deciding to start writing a new book and being ready to do so are very different things.

I'm a plotter. In order to sell this book on proposal, I had to turn in a detailed, chapter by chapter synopsis. Which is why I thought it'd be no trouble to just start writing. Boy, was I wrong/naive/overly optimistic! Yes, I had the names of the two main characters. But in the first chapter alone, I'd need names for two other characters. Minor ones, sure, but that was still something that would stop me cold by the third sentence.

When it comes to writing, whether plotter or pantser, I think we can all agree that momentum matters. When you're in a good writing streak, the words just flow. That is, until you realize you've no idea what actually goes into training for an IronMan Triathalon, which is an integral part to the story. Or that the brilliant idea you had to incorporate the wedding of the main characters from book one means actually planning said wedding. Where will it be, what does the dress look like, and the cake, and the flowers? Sure, a one sentence description of each will do the trick. But the main characters from each of the preceding three books are in the wedding industry, and actually made the flowers and the bouquets. This has to be the wedding of the century that reflects all of those characters.

In other words, I was nowhere close to ready to begin writing yesterday. Maybe for you it is researching different types of handguns, or naming every character, no matter how insignificant. Deciding ahead of time what the heroine's bedroom looks like, or what breed of dog the hero has. All the tiny details that will grind you to a dead halt in the middle of a writing sprint. Take a day or two to prep before you begin. And then you'll truly be ready to start writing!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Spectacular Stuffed Pork!

I recently had a friend over to celebrate her birthday. That called for a knock-out main dish, but one that wouldn't tie me to the stove during appetizers. I found it, of all places, in Cooking Light - a blue cheese and pear stuffed pork loin that was easy, delicious, and wowed the crowd. Good enough for a special occasion, but don't wait that long to try it!

Cheese and Pear Pork

  • Yield: Serves 6
  • Hands-on: 47 Minutes
  • Total:1 Hour, 6 Minutes           


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 4 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup chopped firm Anjou pear
  • 1/2 cup riesling or other white wine
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • Dash of ground red pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 1/3 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 (12-ounce) pork tenderloins
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt  


1. Preheat oven to 425°.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a pan over medium heat. Add shallots; cook 6 minutes. Add pear, wine, thyme, and pepper; cook 2 minutes. Cool. Stir in nuts, cheese, crumbs, and parsley.
3. Slice pork lengthwise, cutting to, but not through, other side. Open halves. Place pork between sheets of plastic wrap; pound to 1/4 inch. Top pork with pears; leave 1/2-inch border. Roll, starting with long side; secure pork with picks. Sprinkle with salt.
4. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large ovenproof pan over medium-high heat. Add pork; sauté 5 minutes, browning all sides. Bake at 425° for 12 minutes or until a thermometer registers 145°. Remove pork from pan, and let stand 5 minutes. Slice.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Introducing an Intriguing Mystery

I love to feature guest authors on my blog. Today I'd like to introduce you to Kathryn  Meyer Griffith, who shares with us in her own words the behind-the-scenes publication journey of her intriguing mystery, Scraps of Paper. Kathryn, take it away!

I’ve been writing for over forty-one years and have gone through a lot of frustrating or downright infuriating situations with publishers and editors.  Since 1981 I’ve had eight of them. I’ve suffered 4% royalties, dreadful covers, bad editing and shoddy proof-reading, confusing statements, late royalty payments (or nonexistent ones) and other near-criminal acts committed against me by publishers and editors I’d so naively put my trust into over the years. Now days I like to look back at those occasions, write about them; smile or even laugh over them, though they weren’t so funny when they were happening. This is one of those smiling times…because the conception, writing, publishing and, finally, self-publishing of my murder mystery Scraps of Paper has had such a long vexing journey.

On January 15, 2013 I self-published it as an eBook, for the first time, on Amazon Kindle Direct, after waiting ten long years as it languished beneath a terribly unfair hardback contract with Avalon Books that had a sell-off limit of 3,500 hardcopies. Ten years where they claimed it barely sold (no joke…their asking price was ridiculously high at $26.00) and that it didn’t sell one copy in the last two years of its contract–though the book was on sale everywhere on the Internet. I never received one royalty statement and had to beg in yearly emails to be told how many copies had sold that year. Of course, since the totals never got near the 3,500, , they said, I would get no royalty statements. And I never did. Not one. Ever. Last month my book was finally mine again and I was free of that atrocious contract and now, after a revision and commissioning a new stunning cover from my cover artist Dawne Dominique, I’ve released it into the world without the publisher’s shackles to imprison it. Fly little bird, fly!

Originally I wrote it be the first of a series set in this quaint, quirky little town I tongue-in-cheek called Spookie. I mean, most of my books before were horror novels and I was basically considered a horror writer, so the town’s name was the tip-of-the-hat to my horror roots. It’d be my first venture into that genre, which I’d always loved. Sherlock Holmes. Murder She Wrote. Detective Frost. Miss Marple. I wrote it and then, quickly after, a second in the series All Things Slip Away for Avalon Books. I got a modest advance up front for each one.

It was 2002. I’d come out of a lengthy publishing dry spell. My seventh paperback novel, Zebra’s The Calling, a ghost story with an ancient Egyptian theme, had come out in 1994. Then they dumped a lot of us mid-list horror writers, me included, saying horror was dying; and for eight years I couldn’t sell another book. Well, living my life got in the way during some of that time. I’d lost my long-time good-paying graphic artist job in 1994 and had to find another one. The pay was a lot less. No good for my budget or my standard of living, which really fell. I went from one of five bad jobs to another over the next six years…each worse and lower paying than the one before.  Each more demanding. I needed to make money. No longer could I live with pie-in-the-sky literary dreams. I had to face reality. So I stopped writing for a while.

When I finally came up for breath and my head was back on straight again I decided to write something different…a mystery. I’d always loved mysteries.  I began writing Scraps of Paper. About a woman, an artist named Jenny, whose husband has been missing for two years, and who’s just learned he’s been dead all that time–a victim of a gone-wrong mugging. She begins a new life and moves to a small town full of fog, quirky townspeople and mysteries. And right away she’s drawn into one of her own when she buys, renovates, a fixer-upper house and uncovers hidden in it scraps of paper written by two young children who once lived there with their mother, and who supposedly drove away thirty years before and were never seen again. The town thought they simply went someone else; began a new life. But Jenny suspects they never left the house; suspects they’d been murdered. Then she finds three graves in the back.

Of course, with her history of a missing husband she develops the overpowering urge to find out what happened to them. The scraps of paper she continues to find makes the bond, the desire, stronger. She forms a friendship with an ex-homicide cop, Frank, and together they try to solve the mystery. Only thing is there’s someone still living in the town that just as desperately doesn’t want them to. Someone who’d kill to keep the murderer’s identity secret.

When done I was proud of it. Thought it was good. I sent it to Avalon Books in New York. They loved it and bought it. I signed the contract, though I didn’t like some of the things in it. But I was desperate. I hadn’t had a book published in so long and, as my mom always said, beggars can’t be choosers.  I sold them the second in the series, hoping it’d help sell the first. They got great reviews. But I came to regret signing both those contracts more as every year went by because I never received one penny more for either book for the next ten years. I know, it sounds impossible. But it happened to me. I’m sure it happened to a lot of their authors. Probably one of the reasons Avalon Books sold themselves lock-stock-and-barrel to Amazon Publishing in June of 2012 and, without their authors’ knowledge or permission, including mine, sold away their authors’ contracts from under them as well.  I guess you live and learn. I was just lucky Scraps of Paper’s contract had run out. I took the book back.

But, all that is in the past, and my revised Scraps of Paper-Revised Author’s Edition is now available, on sale for $3.99 (much better than $26.00), at Amazon Kindle here:   And I hope people will have the chance to read it this time around and like it.


Here's the blurb for Scraps of Paper:
Abigail Sutton’s beloved husband walks out one night, doesn’t return, and two years later is found dead, a victim of a long ago crime. It’s made her sympathetic to the missing and their families.

Starting her new life, Abigail moves to small town and buys a fixer-upper house left empty when old Edna Summers died. Once it was also home to Edna’s younger sister, Emily, and her two children, Jenny and Christopher, who, people believe, drove away one night, thirty years ago, and just never came back.

But in renovating the house Abigail finds scraps of paper hidden behind baseboards and tucked beneath the porch that hint the three could have been victims of foul play.

Then she finds their graves hidden in the woods behind the house and with the help of the eccentric townspeople and ex-homicide detective, Frank Lester, she discovers the three were murdered. Then she and Frank try to uncover who killed them and why…but in the process awaken the ire of the murderer. ***

***This book is the first of a series. The second book, All Things Slip Away, where Abigail and Frank’s sleuthing adventures continue is also for sale on Amazon.
About Kathryn Meyer Griffith...
Since childhood I’ve always been an artist and worked as a graphic designer in the corporate world and for newspapers for twenty-three years before I quit to write full time. I began writing novels at 21, over forty years ago now, and have had seventeen (ten romantic horror, two romantic SF horror, one romantic suspense, one romantic time travel, one historical romance and two murder mysteries) previous novels, two novellas and twelve short stories published from Zebra Books, Leisure Books, Avalon Books, The Wild Rose Press, Damnation Books/Eternal Press and Amazon Kindle Direct.
I’ve been married to Russell for almost thirty-five years; have a son, James, and two grandchildren, Joshua and Caitlyn, and I live in a small quaint town in Illinois called Columbia, which is right across the JB Bridge from St. Louis, Mo. We have three quirky cats, ghost cat Sasha, live cats Cleo and Sasha (Too), and the five of us live happily in an old house in the heart of town. Though I’ve been an artist, and a folk singer in my youth with my brother Jim, writing has always been my greatest passion, my butterfly stage, and I’ll probably write stories until the day I die…or until my memory goes.