Monday, October 31, 2011

KICK START MONDAYS: Recipe - Home made pastizzi

Hello world,

First off, I would like to wish everyone a HAPPY HALLOWEEN... HAPPY SAMHAIN. I love this time of year, and this must be one of my favorite celebrations. I hope you're all enjoying it to the max!

This past week has been a bad one for me (flu) but a good one for writing - I finished chapters 1 to 7 in edits for An Eternity of Roses - finally another draft nearing its end! When I look at the first draft of this book I find it's barely recognizable. It has evolved so much, and this makes me happy.

Today, I wanted to take a bit of a break from writing and give you something different - a recipe. One of the things I love to do is cook. It's a pity that it doesn't rub off on other things I'm supposed to do around the house, such as doing laundry, ironing, and cleaning up, lol. While all those things are chores, cooking is a pleasure - at least it is when I have the time for it, which is not always the case :).

PASTIZZI are very typical, traditional Maltese savoury pies made with puff pastry or phyllo dough and filled with either a ricotta or pea mixture. There is a version of this in Middle Eastern, Turkish and Greek cuisines. You can substitute phyllo dough or even regular pastry for the puff pastry, if you prefer. QASSATAT are similar pies, but in this case shortcrust pastry is used. The Maltese pastizzi one gets from the bars and restaurants here are quite fatty and the ones I make are a bit more figure friendly. Still carbs, and it's still pastry, but even if it saves 2 calories, it's better, right? Lol.

About a week ago I made some quick, home made ones at a party and they got snapped up pretty quick. My version had a twist on the original ones, which are a little more "plain" where the filling is concerned (ricotta, eggs, salt and pepper). One thing I didn't do is the dough from scratch.

HOME MADE PARTY-SIZE PASTIZZI (makes 24, serves 3 or 4)

---1 pack frozen, ready made puff pastry - make sure you have at least 2 sheets that you can cut in 12 rectangular portions per sheet.


---400g ricotta cheese (fresh is better - I used to get a pretty good quality cheese from Whole Foods).
---1 small package garlic and herb goat cheese (or garlic and herb cream cheese like Philadelphia. You can use the light or low-fat kind).
---2 eggs + 1 egg for sealing the dough
---2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

Mix all filling ingredients in a bowl. Crack an egg in a small bowl and beat. Put a teaspoon of filling in the middle of each puff pastry square. Use pastry brush to brush sides of pastry with the egg wash. Pull each corner of the pastry up on to the filling and overlap so you get small parcel shapes. I chose this shape but feel free to experiment (e.g., a half-moon or triangle shape). Seal well. Repeat with each piece of pastry.

Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius/400 degrees Fahrenheit. Place ricotta parcels on a sheet of parchment/oven paper and bake until you see them turn golden (about 20 mins).

They taste great with a good side salad dressed with balsamic cream.

Hope you try them!

This Wednesday make sure to tune in for an interview with author Julia Smith.

Until next time, live well and love deeply!

~ Angela ~
No Rules. No Formulas. Just Love.

"Mile High to Heaven" and "Mr. & Mrs. Foster" available at Whiskey Creek Press Torrid.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

SIX SENTENCE SUNDAY: An Eternity of Roses, Snippet #5

Hello world,

The weather here in the Mediterranean is settling into the winter season. We haven't much of an autumn here - the magnificent reds, oranges and browns that dress the trees in the States this time of year are practically non-existent. Drab, if you ask me. We're missing out on all the yummy goodness of the fall :-D.

So, on a day like today, nothing's better than the indulgence of Six Sentence Sunday. Keep in mind that there are many amazing authors who post their snippets today. Please check them out. It can make for a perfect lazy Sunday spent reading and relaxing.

Here's mine...

Last week I said I was going to post something relating to my hero and heroine. But, after the many comments, I realized that people were very intrigued by the mysterious Madeleine, who makes Lady Emmaline Deramore go into panic mode with merely a vile gaze in the first chapter. So, I decided to give you a little more insight into this woman's character. Do you think she's up to any good? :-D

Bound and gagged, the girl let out a muffled scream as Madeleine stopped in front of her. She continued to struggle, attempting in vain to break free from the twisted rope that bit into the milky white flesh of her wrists.

Then, when Madeleine drew the dagger from her skirt pocket and let it glint against the drift of light, the begging started.

They always begged, making her long to silence them forever.

Madeleine ignored the whimpers and pressed the sharp tip against the frantic pulse of the girl’s neck, drawing a thin trickle of blood and a trail of desperate tears that slid to the blade.

“So, where were we?”

Please have a Happy Sunday. Until next time, live well and love deeply!

~ Angela ~
No Rules. No Formulas. Just Love.

"Mile High to Heaven" and "Mr. & Mrs. Foster" available at Whiskey Creek Press Torrid.

Friday, October 28, 2011

WRAP UP FRIDAYS: Hanging tight

Hello world,

I still feel amazed at how much I learn from people just through my Rev Up Wednesday interviews. I know I say this every week - forgive me for repeating myself but I can't help it! Some of my guests open their hearts more than others, but I always take something away from the experience. Last Wednesday I had Nina Pierce with me. The lady is a fighter. Every day, she struggles with the pain of Multiple Sclerosis. She writes her way through it, because that is her wish. For her, nothing comes easy, not even sitting at a desk and typing word after word. However, what I never heard from her is complaints or commiserations. Stuff like, "I hate that this happened to me." She does it all so gracefully.

I became curious about MS so I did a little research. I found that there are several celebrities who suffer from this disease but didn't let it take over their lives. It makes me wonder how many everyday people in the world are going through it as I write this. People I will never hear about in the news or on TV shows, even though they may make tiny miracles happen in their lives every day.

This week I got the flu and spent a few days in a daze. Only a few days threw me off. How does it feel, therefore, to live in constant pain, every single day, all our lives, with no hope of permanent reprieve? The thought sobered me to the point where I stopped feeling sorry for myself. Yes, I slowed down because I felt worse for wear, but I accepted that there's a process - feeling sick, followed by feeling sicker than hell, followed by numbing misery, then eventually going on the mend. Once I came to accept, I stopped fighting it, I could at least function to a degree. I wrote a bit, worked a bit, and did a few minor chores. Nothing major and I was moving very slowly, but at least it wasn't total zone out.

I think that what happens with people who face major challenges in life yet find the strength to move on is that they have also finally learned to accept their situation. In doing so, they have taught themselves to go around the issue, find the kinks in its armor and rewire their brain to adapt to the ups and downs. They get to a better place, not simply by fighting blindly, but by tackling the problem shrewdly.

We all have something to learn from these people, like I learned from Nina. I've met others, too, who at a young age have dealt with serious stuff such as cancer and heart disease. These are smiling, happy people who live purposeful lives. From all these individuals I learned that we have a right to be happy even when life throws curve balls. I hope this lesson sticks. Would I still think the same way if I were suddenly diagnosed with something terrible - i.e., would I still be so positive? I hope so. I want to believe that I would. Still, I'm afraid of thinking too hard about this - and that's why I admire those who have taken control of their lives with such determination. It takes a lot of guts.

But, if I think about it from the outside looking in, it's all about living. What's important is to keep on living our life - and doing it right so our minds are all taken up with beautiful, beloved, or perfectly ordinary things. Like goals. Wants. Needs. Desires. While doing laundry and cooking homemade chicken noodle soup for dinner. As Emily Dickinson said, "To live is so startling it leaves little time for anything else."

Today, my dear friend Zee Monodee is also posting her progress for the week on her blog. Please take some time to check it out!

I thought that for this Friday's eye candy, it would be a apropos to post pictures of two sexy men who kick MS's butt and look fabulous doing it. Even in my flu induced daze I know sexy when I see it :-D. Montel Williams and Clay Walker.

Until next time, live well and love deeply!

~ Angela ~
No Rules. No Formulas. Just Love.

"Mile High to Heaven" and "Mr. & Mrs. Foster" available at Whiskey Creek Press Torrid.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

REV UP WEDNESDAYS - A weekly booster shot for inspiration... Catching up with NINA PIERCE

How many times in life have we given up on something we wanted to do or be? How many times do we make excuses for not completing a task? I have gone through moments when something gets so hard that I want to call it quits. The reason I hold on is because I'm stubborn and yes, a little masochistic. But, sometimes a little masochism helps, doesn't it? Or you can call it dogged determination - to get through a challenge despite any pain and discomfort it may cause because the ultimate goal is so totally worth it.

Yet, when I come across people like Nina, I realize how my everyday challenges may be petty in comparison. Six years ago Nina had to let go of a job she loved because she was diagnosed with MS. From one moment to the next, she was faced with an affliction for which there is no known cure. What did she do? Give up on her dreams? No. She found a new purpose. She started to write.

For every challenge we are faced with there is a solution. It may not be a direct resolution to the problem, but giving ourselves new goals and ambitions is always a good way to keep us in touch with the positive aspects of life. It allows us to remain connected to our innermost desires. By building new thresholds to walk through rather than let problems overpower us, we can claim a complete and purposeful existence.

So, here's how Nina celebrates life...

How long have you been writing?

I began writing in 2005 when my multiple sclerosis made it impossible for me to keep teaching. Not one to sit idle, I needed to find something I could do sitting. An avid reader my whole life, I decided to try my hand at writing romance and a career was born!

What did your family say when you told them you wanted to be a writer?

My family is very supportive and they also knew I could make a go at anything I put my mind to … I’m pretty determined that way. There are a few that aren’t happy about the genre I’m currently writing, but all of them support me.

What is your preferred genre both for reading and writing?

In both cases it’s romance, hands down, though I’m very flexible about the setting whether it’s contemporary, historical with paranormal elements in or in the future. Currently my TBR pile seems to be filled with paranormal stories.

My writing bounces around genres. I’ve written contemporary and futuristic. Dystopian societies and paranormal shifter worlds. But I always enjoy putting an element of suspense/mystery in my stories. There’s a challenge weaving it in to a great romance. I have attempted to write an historical, but I never say never. 

Did you take any writing courses or did you just sit and write a book?

My last year of teaching I took a course at the local university on “Writing Fiction”. But as I learned later the professor didn’t teach many of the basics of novel writing. I sat down to write my first story knowing nothing about point of view or story structure. But pushing through that first story was trial by fire. With the help of some more experienced authors and some wonderful contest judges, I learned the craft of writing.

Did/do you have a crit group or mentor to guide you?

Within the first year I found some newbie writers who were in the same place as me. We swapped stories and critiqued each other’s work. I continued to take classes online which really taught me a lot.

I recently moved and don’t have a crit group right now, but I’m hoping to hook up with some local writers and form a group. I need less critiquing these days and more time brainstorming. I always think it’s nice, no matter where you are on your journey, to have the support of other writers.

Do you use a/several pseudonym(s) and if so, why did you choose to have one/them?

I do have a pen name. When I first began writing I found my real name was all over the internet already and most of them were realtors! I knew I’d get lost in that if I wrote under my name. So a pseudonym was born.

Mine is actually my stripper name. LOL! I was sitting with my mom in a restaurant trying to come up with a good pen name and she kept rejecting them all. When I suggested using my stripper name … name of the first pet you had as a kid—I had a cat named Niki … and the street you lived on—Pierce Avenue … my mother jumped. We tweaked it a little and I became “Nina Pierce”. But I always tell people it’s “mother approved”. LOL!

How long did it take you to make your first sale? What was your first thought when you did?

I began sending out manuscripts the first year I wrote. Thank goodness they were all out to contests. I had some wonderful judges who gave great advice and writing tips that helped me improve my writing. I wrote three manuscripts before I sold the second year of writing.

And what did I do? I cried. Great sobbing buckets of joy. Then I told all my friends and cried some more.

Did you sell the first story or novel you wrote?

Nah. As much as I love that story and it taught me a lot writing it, I’m not sure it can be saved from itself. It’s full of clich├ęs and newbie writing mistakes. But it sits quietly under my couch. I don’t think I’ll ever get rid of it. It’s kind of like an old friend that taught me the ropes.

How many drafts did you write of your first novel before you felt you got it right? What about now - do you still write several drafts of a story?

When I first started writing and people were talking about being on their second or third draft I got very worried. I write my books and submit. I don’t generally do drafts. It took me years to realize everyone’s process is different. I can’t just spew out a first draft. I wish I could. I bleed words on to the page, fussing over every single one and continuing to tweak as I go. What many people do in their second draft, I do as I’m going.

It doesn’t work for everyone, but that’s how things come together for me. Some day I’d like to get my muse to just run away with a story. So far, that hasn’t been the case.

Did you get an agent first or did you submit directly to publishers?

I did seek out an agent at first, but then my patience wore thin as I continued to 1) not hear back or 2) didn’t get a response. At first I began researching publishers and submitting directly to them. There are many online resources of publishers that accept unagented manuscripts.

When several publishers offered me contracts for my manuscript I randomly emailed some of their authors and asked about editors, publishing staff and royalties. Authors are wonderful that way. Don’t ever hesitate to email someone with a question. I got some great advice and information and was able to make an informed decision about where my book fit best.

Did you ever get rejected? If so, how did you handle it?

Many times! Rejection is part of the world of publishing. Not everyone, editor, agent, reviewer or reader is going to love your book. It’s a kick in the pants when they do, but rare when you have a story absolutely everyone loves.

When I received a rejection I let myself be disappointed and feel sad, but I knew just because my book wasn’t right for one publisher didn’t mean it wasn’t right for another. I dusted myself off and kept sending my manuscript out until I found an editor who fell in love with the story.

What, in your opinion, do agents/publishers look for in a new author in the current market? Is it all to do with talent or with trends?

Wow, that’s a loaded question. The problem with a trend is that if you’re not the one starting it, it’s hard to find room on the train before it leaves the station.

The truth is, agents and editors want to love your story. They want to fall in love with your characters and get carried away by your story. Regardless of genre, they want to be left breathless when they’re finished reading.

What do you think of the changes going on in the book industry (e.g., e-books vs. print books, and big publishers getting involved in digital publishing)? Where do you see the industry going?

I was leery of submitting my book to an e-publisher five years ago. I thought I’d somehow “settled”. But the digital industry has exploded! The truth is, with all the readers buying electronic books I think an author would be losing a huge share of the market if their book wasn’t also available in digital formats.

Do I think they’ll replace paper copies of books all together?

I’d like to say “not in my lifetime”, but I expect to live a reeeeeally long time *flips hair and bats lashes* so it could actually happen where the big guys are no longer offering contracts for print books. That being said, they will then need to develop a new model of offering advances and change royalty percentages.

As it is right now, digital publishers don’t offer an up-front advance with a book contract, but the percentage of royalty on each sale is high. I think more authors will be looking for money up front and perhaps less of a percentage per sale in the future.

Do you think writers should consider self-publishing?

There are many public figures, John Locke and Amanda Hocking to name a few, who have made it really big on their own releasing books directly to Amazon. But that doesn’t work for everyone. It is important that an author considering self-publishing should find a good editor to edit their manuscript. There would be nothing worse than a new author publishing an unedited book and losing future readers.

On the other hand, I’m re-releasing some books from my backlist that were published and the rights reverted back to me. They have already been through the editing process. Many authors are finding great success through the self-publishing venue. It’s just another arm of your writing business IMHO.

Are your books available in print or in digital format?

My books are all available in digital format with one currently in print.

What advice do you think aspiring authors should heed today?

Write what inspires you and makes your heart sing. Yes, I do think it’s possible to write for the market, but if you’re not enjoying it, why bother?

What are you working on now?

I’m currently rewriting a book that was previously published. The rights reverted back to me and I’d like to expand the story and offer it out as a longer piece of fiction. I’m also finishing up my XTC Resort series through Ellora’s Cave and hope to have the third and final book out before the end of the year. Then there are all those other story ideas percolating in the back of my brain. Sometimes it’s a matter when I sit down, of what book is begging loudest for my attention.

What is/are your favourite book(s)? Do you read only books from the genre you write in?

My favorite book is the first one that was published “Healer’s Garden”, available now through Ellora’s Cave. I fell in love with these characters years before I actually sat down to write the book. It’s a beautiful love story between a man and a woman, but I think people are a little shy about buying it because it does have a very matriarchal society flavor.

It’s definitely some of my best storytelling to date.

Do you read when you are plotting or writing a story?

I do. I know a lot of writers don’t for fear it will influence what they’re writing, but I don’t feel that way. Reading romance was my first love before I put pen to paper. Since I write all the time, I couldn’t give that up.

Do you have a ritual that you follow when it comes to writing?

I don’t. When my children were in high school I did. I got up early and wrote until they were moving around and went back to it when they left for school. I usually wrote until early afternoon and then went on with the rest of my day.

These days with all the marketing and social networking I find I do that in the morning and then settle down to write in the afternoon and into the early evening. I have another burst late in the evening that can carry me to the early hours of them morning.

I wouldn’t recommend my method. I strongly encourage an aspiring author to find a time that works for them and write every day. You’ll be amazed how that habit catches and takes hold.

Where do you see yourself, careerwise, in 5 years time?

On the NYT Bestseller list. LOL! Isn’t that the dream of every author? Seriously, though. I’d like to be writing 2 or 3 books a year and be making a good living at this career.

What's your website URL?

Are you on Facebook?

General page:
Fan page:

How do you connect with readers?

I love to hear from readers. They can contact me through my email

About Nina:

Award-winning erotic romance author, Nina Pierce, grew up in a house full of readers. So becoming enamored with books was only natural. She discovered romance stories in her early teens, falling hopelessly in love with knights in shining armor and the damsels who saved them.
Eventually, reading about alpha males and the journey to find their happy-ever-after endings wasn’t enough. She needed to pen her own stories of fated loves and soul mates. Nina’s discovered the passionate side of romance with her sexy stories. For her, it’s all about the sweet scent of seduction mixed with the heart warming aroma of romance.
Nina resides in the northeast with her high school sweetheart and soul mate of twenty-seven years, their three grown children and several very spoiled cats who consider her “staff”.

Latest and upcoming releases:

Invitation to Ecstasy

A woman unwilling to trust…

Sara Lancaster isn’t sure accepting her invitation to a BDSM weekend at XTC Resort is a good idea—though she does have something to prove. Years of abuse at the hand of her former Master have taken their toll. Now, two years later, Sara believes she’s ready to embrace her submissive side once again and enjoy the carnal pleasures of a younger Dom.

A man testing his limits…

Derek Thomas has lost belief in his abilities as a Master. Accepting an invitation for Dom training could be exactly what he needs to regain his self-confidence. Challenged with an experienced older woman, he soon realizes wielding a flogger isn’t always enough to break down the emotional walls and heal a damaged submissive.

Two people with something to prove…

Sara and Derek sizzle with sexual heat the moment they step into the dungeon. The mind-blowing sex and physical pain may satisfy their bodies, but wounded souls and broken spirits just may require something even more intimate—their hearts.

Love’s Bounty

A woman determined to protect her heart...

Landscaping in Delmont, Maine hasn't been DEIRDRE TILLING's only passion. Up until two months ago, it had included a live-in lover. Jilted for the third time in as many years, Deirdre's decided to give up on love. With her feet firmly planted on the path of one night stands, she finds herself heating up the sheets with a dark haired stranger she met at her new employer's party. But one night with the man who is both sexy as hell and compassionate, may not be enough.

An agent hell bent on proving himself…

DEA agent, AYDEN SCOTT, has a lot to prove after a disastrous drug bust in Miami three years earlier that left a member of his team dead. Working undercover as lead investigator, he's determined to bring down an elusive drug cartel smuggling heroin into central Maine. He'll use any means necessary to complete his objective, including sleeping with the suspected drug Lord's landscaper, Deirdre. He just hadn't expected the feisty redhead to be so much more than long legs and dangerous curves.

One night neither of them can forget…

Deirdre and Ayden both thought one sexually explosive romp in the sack would be the end of their relationship. But Deirdre's arrest for heroin possession and her father's near-fatal heart attack prompts Ayden to confess his true identity. When Deirdre is kidnapped by the drug cartel and used as a pawn, Ayden is forced to choose between his heart and his mission. The question is...who will survive his decision?

~ Angela ~
No Rules. No Formulas. Just Love.

"Mile High to Heaven" and "Mr. & Mrs. Foster" available at Whiskey Creek Press Torrid.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

New Post at PopCultureDivas!

Hello world,

Happy Tuesday!

I just posted a blog at Pop Culture Divas where I write about trends in books and movies. Hope you enjoy it.

Live well and love deeply!

~ Angela ~ No Rules. No Formulas. Just Love.
"Mile High to Heaven" and "Mr. & Mrs. Foster" available at Whiskey Creek Press Torrid.

Monday, October 24, 2011

KICK START MONDAY: Report card :)

Hello world,

The first week of operating under the new schedule has passed, and I only had one day when I could stick to it to the full, yet, even that made a difference. In that one day, I rewrote a pivotal first scene, and got a clearer idea of what to do to put more zest in my first three chapters of An Eternity of Roses. Up to now, the entire process was like pulling teeth and having bariatric surgery at the same time. I was carrying all this weight around, and I required some serious alone and quiet time to start "shedding the pounds". Then, the process was painful as hell. Luckily, slotting that time for myself really got me going, even though I couldn't do it every day.

On the other days I did have some time to work, but I used it wisely to finish some freelance projects I had going on. I was always grumbling about not having time to write because I had all this other work I needed to finish. Well, at the beginning of the second week, I'm almost done with all that... at least for a while. Then on Sat I even had time to host a party for other writers, musicians and artists - good times with friends. Even the kids enjoyed it.

I'm starting this week knowing it will be so much better, because I managed time more efficiently in week 1. I had to cut on FB time, and write 5 emails instead of 10, but it all worked out in the end.

What I hope to have this week is time to crit some friends' work. I'm very much looking forward to that. I'm also getting some reading done. Thoroughly enjoying Jon Trace's The Venice Conspiracy and Zee Monodee's romantic suspense Walking the Edge (Read Chapter 1 here). Seriously, if you haven't yet purchased Zee's book from Noble Romance Publishing, you're missing out! And if you think it's only a "woman's" type of read, think again - as evidenced by Zee's recent and totally coincidental encounter with a very happy fan (that she related to me with childlike enthusiasm), even 50+ year old males can love this book.

This made me think... What are the odds of that - to meet a fan of your e-book in the flesh, and they only know it's you because they realize that your name sounds "just like" the name of an "amazing author" they just read. So cool! Can anyone say, "high on a cloud"? :-D

Anyway, today's report is therefore not "fantastic", and I have no word count to give you because I'm stuck in the revisions phase. However, I'm quite satisfied and have no doubt it will get better as I adjust to this routine. As Lynn Andrews says in Writing Spirit, "Patience is an important aspect of writing, as it is for any act of creativity."

Hope you guys had a wonderful weekend, and please don't forget to check in this Wednesday for an interview with another great author, Nina Pierce.

Until then, make sure to live well and love deeply!

~ Angela ~
No Rules. No Formulas. Just Love.

"Mile High to Heaven" and "Mr. & Mrs. Foster" available at Whiskey Creek Press Torrid.

Friday, October 21, 2011

WRAP UP FRIDAYS: Info recap... what every author should know

Hello world,

The last REV UP Wednesday interview with Rowena Cherry ended up being an information mine so big and winding that it was hard to keep up! So, today's blog is all about gathering the data that was kindly shared by Ms. Cherry and listing the links provided in a more convenient format. She had a lot to share, and although there is A WHOLE LOT MORE info on the original interview blog (including 80 plus comments and counting, consisting of more useful insights posted by the author), this list will keep you busy for a while. I think it's really great when someone takes the time to share all the information they've accumulated over time because research is so much work! When we're trying to find the key to a problem, to "unlock" the "secret" to something, it can take countless hours, days and even years. When someone shares their efforts without even being asked, they are saying that they want to make things easier for someone else, and they don't expect anything in return. Therefore, I wish to sincerely thank Rowena for being so generous and helpful.

I hope you get something out of these links as I'm sure I will!


---Jacqueline Lichtenberg and Rowena Cherry's blog

---Jacquie Rogers and Ann Charles (mostly on marketing)

---Agent Kristin Nelson's blog (check sidebars on this blog – chock full of incredibly useful links and writers’ resources, such as critiques)

---Richard Curtis's blog

---Brenda Novak for the Cure

---Jexbo, alternative to Amazon

---BookLocker, alternative to Amazon

---Muso (service to locate and take down illegally shared files; discounts apply if accessed through

---Shayna Englin (PR & Social Media)

---AuthorsAgainstE-BookTheft, Yahoo Group

---OCILLA, Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act

---Marilynn Byerly (on copyright)

---Copyright Alliance (join the One Voice team for free)

---Angela Hoy

---AARdvark, AAR Digital Rights Committee


As it's Friday, I'm sure that my bestie Zee Monodee has come up with something totally cool and cheeky. Please go check out her blog!

And for your Friday eye candy, since I mentioned him last Wednesday in the blog comments, I give you my next hero for the Valthrean series...

Until next time, live well and love deeply!

~ Angela ~
No Rules. No Formulas. Just Love.

"Mile High to Heaven" and "Mr. & Mrs. Foster" available at Whiskey Creek Press Torrid.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

REV UP WEDNESDAYS - A weekly booster shot for inspiration... Catching up with ROWENA CHERRY

Hello world,

This REV UP WEDNESDAY gives centre stage to another amazing talent: ROWENA BEAUMONT CHERRY aka ROWENA CHERRY. Rowena has a lyrical, aristocratic sounding name I'd love to give one of my characters! She is a lady with enough class to sell, a full reserve (and a half) of smarts; a cartload of dry and subtly irreverent humor (that can fly right past you if you don't stop and think about it); a few dozen gallons of useful information to share; and a sexy passion for chess. She also has another passion, or perhaps one can call it a mission: to advocate for authors' rights and to use social media to fight book piracy, tooth and nail. She is a stickler for privacy and "doing the right thing", and there is no doubt in my mind that she walks the walk. In fact, she's taken the wrongdoers on with the tenacity of a pit bull, and with the satisfying goal of exposing them to fellow writers and the public. It seems like a thankless, unending job - but some are doing it, and Rowena's one of them. In the meantime, she writes and puts her imagination to work. She has an agent, was published with Dorchester, and has quite a story to tell... but I'll let you be the judge of that.

How long have you been writing?

I've been writing since 1993, but I've only been published since 2004. It took me ten years to convince an acquiring editor to buy my first manuscript, but in that critical tenth year (2003) I sold Forced Mate to two different publishing houses almost simultaneously. Just so you don't start questioning my morals, let me say that they knew about each other; one was e-book and POD only, and the other was mass-market only.

When did you decide that you wanted to write for a living (that "aha" moment)?

I assume that writing for a living is the dream and the goal of everyone who has written a work of fiction. In my case, I didn't consider writing for a living until sometime in the late 1980s when a publisher-friend of my husband's told me that I ought to write. Obviously, the publisher did not mean that I ought to write for his publication!

What did your family say when you told them you wanted to be a writer?

I don't remember telling my family that I wanted to be a writer. I told an aunt that I intended to write Science Fiction Romance about highly sexually motivated aliens, and she promptly suggested that I ought to write a sweet mystery Romance set in Europe during World War II instead. Another family member was also acutely concerned about my subject matter, and would have preferred me to write sweet stories about neutered cats.

I know that I used "sweet" twice. Pardon the monotony, but "Sweet" is an industry term for a story that looks away at the bedroom door.

Perhaps you should have asked what my Tax attorney said....

What is your preferred genre both for reading and writing?

Those who know, advise writers to write what they know, and to write what they like to read. I'm a natural contrarian, so I ignore that advice. I like to write facetious Futuristic Romance, or Science Fiction Romance, or non-traditional Fantasy Romance. However, I like to read Mystery, Regency Romance, accurate Historical Romance ("accurate" is the operative word), and non-fiction scientific magazines.

Did you start by writing full time or did you have a day job?

I'm a kept woman.

Did you take any writing courses or did you just sit and write a book?

I sat (and lay) and wrote. Obviously, the autodidact route is a long and winding road, full of potholes and pratfalls and other perils. I did purchase a few How To Write Romance books, but never bothered to read them. Just as I buy household cleaning things and hope that their very presence in my home will deter dust and mites and skid marks.

I wrote draft after draft, and got to the point of being publishable (eventually) thanks to the judges of numerous Romance Writers Of America contests who critiqued my opening chapters repeatedly and sometimes ruthlessly until I took note, extrapolated what to do with the bulk of the book, and made changes.

Did/do you have a crit group or mentor to guide you?

The trouble with crit groups is that one has to not only receive crit, but also crit back. That is time-consuming and a distraction, particularly if a writer is on a creative roll. I suspect that many crit groups are the blind leading the blind. After all, the only opinions that count are going to be that of a writer's editor and her agent. Not necessarily in that order.

That said, there are excellent on-line, by-genre crit groups and special interest chapters that focus on non-simultaneous critiquing and mentoring. One was Outreach International, and its The Whole Thing program. Their system was that one gave or committed to give a certain number of critiques to other writers in one's own genre, and in return, and at a different time, one received one or two critiques.

Did I have a mentor? Not one. Many.

Romance writers are amazingly generous. At various times, several authors who were higher up the ladder took an interest in my progress and gave me advice, guidance and either a hand up or a much needed kick in the pants.

Did you sell the first story or novel you wrote?

Yes. It was Forced Mate, and possibly, if I'd been smart, I would have written two or three more stories instead of fixating on selling that one. It did not help that when I started writing it, paranormal/futuristic was out of fashion.

How many drafts did you write of your first novel before you felt you got it right? What about now - do you still write several drafts of a story?

I cannot remember how many drafts I wrote, but every time I wrote a draft, I felt that I had got it right!

I probably wrote at least 500 drafts of the first 50 pages. One of my temporary mentors ran a regional RWA contest. I sent in my first 50 pages, and one of the more outspoken judges told me that I ought to ditch the first 60 pages of the book. I had real trouble with that advice. The next year, I entered again having made some revisions and cuts. I did not expect to be blessed with the same judge again. I was blessed. The third year, I started my book at the point where the heroine's life changed, but I dreaded entering and almost didn't in case that same brutal contest coordinator decided to judge my story again.

She did. However, I'd pretty much ditched 50 pages. It was a much better story, and I think the other judges agreed.

Yes, I still write several drafts of a story, but I don't take two years to recognize good advice when I receive it. Let me admit, I envy authors who can plot out a story, write it right first time, and never have to do a second draft... and who are asked for minimal or no revisions by their editor!

Do you read industry or writing related blogs? If so, can you share some useful links?

I share a blog with Jacqueline Lichtenberg. She gives great advice on writing and technique,

Jacquie Rogers and Ann Charles have a superb website of writers' advice to other writers, mostly on marketing,

I enjoy agent Kristin Nelson's blog, http;//

Don't forget to check the sidebar for the blogs Kristin follows! Seriously. Kristin lists links to websites that inform and protect writers (3 of them), to blogs she finds cool, to other agents who blog, and to her "Agenting 101" blogs, and her critiques of query letters that she has received, and more!!!

Another industry blog worth following is Richard Curtis's - - blog.

Did you get an agent first or did you submit directly to publishers?

Getting a good agent can be harder than finding an editor. Moreover, if you cannot find an agent, an Intellectual Properties attorney can negotiate a contract for you. You will pay them up-front, which is expensive but tax deductible, but they will not have a claim on 15% of your royalties for that book for the rest of the life of your copyright.

In my opinion, one of the best ways to submit is to become a finalist in a contest that is being judged by an editor or agent of your dreams. The other shortcut is to meet an editor by appointment at a convention, and request permission to send your proposal. Or.... look out for Brenda Novak's Diabetes charity auction next May, and place a bid (this will cost you, too) on a reading by an editor. Be sure that you have your manuscript polished and ready before then, because there is a published time limit for the winning bidder to submit.

My current agent is Robert G Diforio. I signed up with him after I was contracted with Dorchester Publishing.

Did you ever get rejected? If so, how did you handle it?

Did I ever...? Laughing. Of course. Dozens and dozens of times. In fact, I received what I thought was the definitive rejection from one editor at Dorchester a month before I entered the Romantic Times/Dorchester "New Voice In Romance" contest. Winning a place in the finals was how I came to be offered a contract with Dorchester, albeit with a different editor.

I only had the nerve to enter their contest (after said definitive rejection) because Susan Grant told me that I would be an idiot not to enter.

The only writers I know of who haven't been rejected, ever, are those who submitted to a Vanity Publisher.

What, in your opinion, do agents/publishers look for in a new author in the current market? Is it all to do with talent or with trends?

I honestly don't know, but I recommend taking a look at Kristin Nelson's blog, http;// However, I suspect that talent and trendiness may be two legs of a three-legged stool. I've heard that editors and agents take a look at a candidate's online personality and following. (I intend every one of the implications that you might read into that last comment.)

What do you think of the changes going on in the book industry (e.g., e-books vs. print books, and big publishers getting involved in digital publishing)?

I think the Big Publishers are riding a tiger.

Where do you see the industry going?

I think that the "royalty" method of compensating authors is doomed. With print, there were a given number of copies created at one central printer. Someone knew how many that was, where those books were, and who had them. It was possible to calculate sales and therefore the percentages of sales (royalties) owed to the author.

With e-books, any licensee can sub-license the creation and distribution of perfect copies. Infinitely. The entire royalty system relies upon honesty and scrupulous book-keeping. I don't see how it would be possible for an author to audit it.

I suspect that digital theft, aka piracy, aka forgery is already much more of a problem than most people in the industry want to recognize, and I believe that it will get worse. Huge amounts of money are being made off e-books, music, games, and movies, but the copyright owners are out of the loop. PayPal doesn't pay copyright owners, big business advertisers don't pay authors, search engines don't, file-hosting sites don't, blogsites don't.

Now, if every author could digitally fingerprint her own name, so that every time her name showed up in a Google Search (or any other search engine's search) as part of an url to a download, that author was automatically paid a tiny royalty, that would be progress. However, one would still have to trust the ethics and morality of the search engine, but I see possibilities in Google's Adwords software.

Do you think writers should consider self-publishing?

Now, that is a question. I am considering self-publishing, so are a lot of my colleagues. Most of us are self-publishing "backlist", that is, books that were traditionally published, and to which we have had our rights returned by the publishers (or we never licensed electronic rights in the first place).

Anyone can self-publish and has the right to self-publish, but I confess to a nagging feeling that writers owe paying readers a professional level of quality. There are freelance editors and so forth whom writers can hire to ensure that the book is as polished as possible. That is expensive, of course. One should budget for at least a couple of dollars per page, possibly more.

I have heard that there are readers who automatically assume that any e-book costing less than $1.00 is self-published. I don't know this for a fact. It would probably be very helpful if all publishers (self- and otherwise) developed a system so readers could tell at a glance whether or not an e-book has been professionally edited and professionally proof-read.

How do you feel about so many bookstores closing across the US? Do you think this trend is similar in other countries?

I think that it is a great pity that so many bookstores are closing, and it is certainly happening in other countries, too: Waterstones in Britain, the Borders branches in Britain and Europe. I'm afraid that bookstore browsing is being replaced by online copyright infringement. I'd much rather readers browsed in libraries and bookshops, and either left empty handed or else with a legal loan or purchase, rather than creating unauthorized copies online.

The bookstore model was unsustainable. It was completely illogical that publishers should pay bookstores to shelve new releases, and then pay them to return books, or worse, to return the stripped covers of unsold books while the body of the books got sold to the paper recycling plant.

I felt that bookstores ought to become more like book-related internet cafes, with lots of wifi and computers for browsing online and sampling online, and with POD machines and CD burners so customers could print a trade paperback or copy an ebook onto an mp3 or DVD or CD and check out at the cash register. The technology exists. The will doesn't.

Are your books available in print or in digital format?

At the moment, I have four titles.

MATING NET by Rowena Beaumont Cherry is a very short novella (58 pages) which is available only as an e-book for around $2.50 from New Concepts Publishing. It's not available in print, unless someone sells a print ARC that I once gave away for contest prizes or to reviewers. That's their right. I hope they wouldn't sell such a rarity for less than $20 because that is what it cost me to have a print ARC made up. Obviously, no one would pay anywhere near $20 for 58 pages, so Mating Net will never be available as a stand alone print book.

FORCED MATE by Rowena Beaumont Cherry is a full length e-book that I now sell myself through and occasionally on EBay. It is pirated. It is included in a lot of the EBay-fenced "collections" of multi-thousands of Romance e-books burned onto DVDs and CDs and falsely described as "public domained" or GNU-licensed. It is not in the public domain. It is not legally GNU-licensed.

There are trade paperbacks that occasionally show up on reselling sites, but this version should not be confused with the mass market paperback once published by Dorchester's LoveSpell imprint. The editor was different. The publisher was different. It was aimed at a different demographic.

FORCED MATE by Rowena Cherry ought only to be a full length paperback. I believe that LoveSpell put out 3 print runs. Booksellers around the world still have the right to sell off their old inventory of new copies and also to re-sell any used copies. I also have a stash that I will sell personally once the market clears out all the deeply discounted remainder copies. I would not be surprised to learn that there are some illegally created e-book versions, but I have no official knowledge of them.

I will be developing my own e-book version, but with a different cover.

INSUFFICIENT MATING MATERIAL by Rowena Cherry ought only to be a full length paperback. Booksellers around the world still have the right to sell off their old inventory of new copies and also to re-sell any used copies. I also have a small stash that I will sell personally once the market clears out all the deeply discounted remainder copies, but when the Dorchester warehouse was selling off boxes of old inventory, I was unable to buy any copies of Insufficient Mating Material.

There may be a few illegal e-book versions that were created from scans.

I am working right now on my own, self published e-book version of Insufficient Mating Material, with a cover of my own.

KNIGHT'S FORK by Rowena Cherry has never been anything but print. Some booksellers still have a few copies. I purchased everything that was left in the warehouse. I have no plans to self-publish it as an e-book at this time.

What advice do you think aspiring authors should heed today?

A few years ago, I advised aspiring authors to secure their own name and their pseudonym (if any) and possibly the titles of their books or their genre as .com domain names before they become famous.

For instance, I own ; ; ; (and a few others)

Aspiring authors who plan to write erotica should seriously consider whether or not it is worth it to lock in the new .xxx domains these days. If you don't, a cyber-squatter could grab your name first. Look what happened to the Amy Winehouse Foundation. Look what happened to Dara Joy! (Dara Joy's website is still,

These days, I recommend that aspiring authors should also get a Muso account at shortly before they start to send out electronic ARCs and promote their debut novel. Muso is an efficient service that costs $15 per author name, per month to locate and (with a click of the author's mouse) take down illegally shared files.

If you decide to self publish, take your time and read every online contract and print off and understand the Terms Of Service statements before clicking "I Agree".

Wherever you go online, remember that you never know who is watching you and reading your posts, ratings, rants, or reviews. Editors and agents have been known to Google the writers who have submitted proposals. You only get one change to make a good first impression.

Enter contests for the advice that the judges will give you, and for the possibility of future cover quotes. They will be volunteer judges (unpaid) and although not all of their observations will be on target, if two or more agree on something they consider a flaw in your work, take it seriously. Usually, the contest coordinator will forward thank-you notes to anonymous judges. It is always worth thanking kind strangers. For instance, the anonymous judge who wrote how much she loved your original premise might turn out to be famous, and one day, with her permission, what she wrote on your manuscript might become your first cover quote.

Above all, persist, network, say "thank you" often.

What are you working on now?

I am working on Grand Fork, which is a spin off from the "Mating" books, but, I am in no hurry. In the past, I've always split my rights, and it looks as if any publisher would probably want digital and print rights. I am also developing Forced Mate and Insufficient Mating Material (as previously mentioned) as e-books.

Do you read when you are plotting or writing a story?

I tend not to do so. I have a horror of plagiarism. It's tricky enough that "great minds think alike", without inviting the possibility of being subconsciously influenced by someone else's solutions to impossible dilemmas. I strive for what one of my English professors used to call "thusness" and which might also be termed "surprising, dramatic inevitability." In other words, the solution to a problem ought to astound the reader, but at the same time be absolutely plausible for that particular character in that particular circumstance.

How do you juggle work, writing, chores and family/personal life? Do you have a secret to time management that you want to share with readers?

NO. LOL Time management is not my forte.

What's your website URL?

I have two...


Are you on Facebook?

My Mission Statement:

My goal as a Romance author is to give good value. I expect to provide my readers with six to eight hours of amusement, at least a couple of really good laughs, a romantic frisson or two from the sensual scenes, a thoroughly satisfying Happy Ever After, and something to think about when the book is finished.

~ Angela ~
No Rules. No Formulas. Just Love.

"Mile High to Heaven" and "Mr. & Mrs. Foster" available at Whiskey Creek Press Torrid.

Monday, October 17, 2011

KICK START MONDAY: Getting on the highway

Hello world,

Welcome to another Kick Start Monday! So, what's new for me? This week I'm going to test a new schedule that will allow me to work on both my writing and freelance projects for at least 4 hours in the morning. Before all my time was so broken up that I would give up on "getting in the zone" and just waste time surfing Facebook, Twitter, sending emails and all the other fun stuff that keeps me away from my writing. In the meantime, I'd work on different parts of the manuscript but the process became excruciatingly slow.

In a nutshell, this system just wasn't working for me. Although I forced myself to squeeze in writing every day into my busy schedule, at the end of the day it felt like I hadn't done anything. That just didn't add up. So I'm turning a new page and starting on this new schedule. I'll be blogging at night and scheduling the blogs, so that will leave time for straight up writing in the morning. Even if I do two hours of hardcore writing, it will still be so much better than what I was doing before. Only catch - less or delayed "social networking" time; that's the price I'll have to pay. I know that there will be days when working the schedule is not going to be possible because of other work commitments - but I will jump that hurdle when it comes.

Time management is not for the faint hearted. Everyone I know who is successful with their time is a person who is great at setting a fixed routine and sticking to it. Without this disciplined approach, it is very difficult to reach goals. It's why I'm taking a stand and knocking the old routine to kingdom come. I'm leaving the access road and veering right into the fast lane on the highway. This change feels good - it's long overdue. I'm glad of one thing - I'm not one to make excuses, and I've always tried to at least spend 30 minutes with my WIP each day. I just want to up the stakes and have more quality time with my characters.

So... how do you manage to fit in everything you need to do in a day without breaking a sweat? I'd like to know how other people make it work. Incidentally, I was talking about this to my new friend, writer and fellow SSS poster Guilie Castillo, and she confessed she's blogging about the exact same thing today! Great minds, eh? So please do visit her blog to check out her take on this very important aspect of life.

Side note: My bestie Zee Monodee is also blogging about writing and publishing today over at the Pop Culture Divas. I hope you'll make time to give it a read.

Before I leave you to your chores, please remember to tune in this Wednesday to meet up with the formidable Rowena Cherry, who will be answering some questions about her writing career.

Also, and I know this has nothing to do with reading or writing - not the faintest bit - but I wanted to tell you: please, be kind to children, animals and those who gave you life not only physically but also emotionally, with their caring. Feel compassion for those who cannot express their pain in words. Love them - because they are capable of loving you unconditionally. I heard some gruesome, devastating news last night about an extreme animal cruelty case that happened outside our doorstep. The thought kept me awake for most of the night. My heart is so heavy today. Goodness, it was a poor, defenseless puppy!

So as much as you can, be a good human being today, and in future days. Do something nice for someone. I'm going to try. We need positive energy in this world, to balance the bad.

Until then, live well and love deeply.

~ Angela ~
No Rules. No Formulas. Just Love.

"Mile High to Heaven" and "Mr. & Mrs. Foster" available at Whiskey Creek Press Torrid.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

SIX SENTENCE SUNDAY: An Eternity of Roses, Snippet #4

Another week is over, and a new one around the corner. I find myself at my computer at 2:30am, unable to sleep. Perhaps it's because I crashed a bit too early last night. I was so tired after chasing the toddler around the house that I couldn't keep my eyes open. I woke up around 1am, and by 2am I was sick of lying still, staring at the dark ceiling. Ergo, I decided to be a bit more productive. I got up to write this blog and schedule it to post in the morning.

Six Sentence Sunday is becoming an indispensable part of my routine and I'm having so much fun sharing my work with you. If you want to read some amazing snippets from my talented SSS accomplices, please click here. You'll find tons to enjoy and mull over...

So, where were we? In the first 3 weeks I delved a little in the legend of the Valthreans that underlies my entire series of The Valthrean Legacy. Today, I think it's time that I jump into the core story of An Eternity of Roses. As I mentioned in my first SSS post, the main gist of the novel is the quest of Lady Emmaline Deramore for her lost mate. Emmaline is madly in love with Adrian Segrave, Viscount Bournemouthe, and is set to marry him in a few days.

But someone is throwing a monkey wrench in these best laid plans...

Here's Emmaline's first inkling of trouble in Chapter 1:

Lady Emmaline Deramore swallowed hard while trying to calm her racing heart. She stood in the crowded ballroom at Belvoir Hall, three days before her wedding to Adrian Segrave, Viscount Bournemouthe, feeling like a trapped fox. A powerful pang of unease stung the hairs on her nape and sliced through her lungs.

Something was dreadfully wrong. Her eyes darted around until they settled on the figure of a tall, breathtakingly beautiful woman with crimson hair and an emerald gown that showcased ample translucent white cleavage. Her blood froze.

It was her.

I hope you enjoyed this mini excerpt. See you next week for another fabulous Six Sentence Sunday!

~ Angela ~
No Rules. No Formulas. Just Love.

"Mile High to Heaven" and "Mr. & Mrs. Foster" available at Whiskey Creek Press Torrid.

Friday, October 14, 2011

WRAP UP FRIDAY: What car do you drive?

Hello world,

Here comes another Friday ending another busy work week. It's been a hectic week, one also full of distractions for me, but also quite productive. For one, I really enjoyed having Chicki Brown over this Wednesday. All the authors I interview inspire me in sometimes not so little ways. Like Chicki said, she's had some close calls that almost landed her on the lap of a New York publisher. I believe that once she told me she had an agent (or two), who took her so far on her career, until finally she had her epiphany and found her path.

I remember once reading an article about how women can tell a bit more about the type of man they've just met by looking at the car he drives. I think that rather, an equally important factor is to see HOW he drives it. The car, in a writer's world, is the novel, perhaps the book of the writer's heart. It's important to have a neat looking, easy flowing book that strikes a reader's attention. If it's all messy, convoluted and repulsive, it's not going to go down well.

Once you have the car, however, you have to know how to drive it. So you have the book, and you've just written THE END on the last page. What now? How will you take off with it? Where will you take it?

Chicki made her decision after years of agonising and focusing on the big New York dream. What writer doesn't dream of seeing "NY bestselling author" printed across the front cover of their novel? What author doesn't dream of holding their book, with their name stamped on it, in their hands?

But there are many kinds of dreams - and those that succeed most are those that are firmly planted in the real world. I think that sometimes we lose sight of the forest for the trees. It's not about holding a physical book, after all, it's about being read and enjoyed by many across the globe. How that happens is not important - it's just crucial that it does.

The world is changing. Perceptions are shifting. Lifestyles are evolving. Some events create sadness and nostalgia - Borders closing business, traditional bookstores struggling. But not all changes are bad. Technology has insinuated its far-reaching tentacles into practically every sphere of our existence, including reading. Writers must keep their fingers on the pulse of these changes and recognize when they are supposed to adapt to something altogether different than they expected. No matter how they feel, they must walk with the times or they'll be lagging so far behind that the ultimate goal will always remain a speck of light in the distance.

I think that all of this is exciting because a writer's options are so many today. Avon, Harlequin, for instance - big name publishers are understanding this and trying to ride the wave that so many indie e-publishers have roused before them. Writers are taking the wheel and getting in the big race - they are standing up for themselves. They are saying, "Formulas, genres, trends? Who cares? All we want to do is write a book someone will enjoy reading." Before this revolution, publishing was a deep well with a pitch black bottom that no one could ever see or fathom. Not any more.

Self-publishing is becoming a perfectly respectable option - and if publishers want to survive they must revise their business models and expand their vision to see outside their box. Luckily, there are certain publishers who are already attempting to break the mold by asking writers to submit works that are "different". They are trying to offer more to authors - marketing packages, support post-publishing, etc. It's the way it should be. It will be interesting to see how all this pans out. Because writers, these days, are climbing to the helm and making some surprising moves.

Traditional publishing, e-publishing, self-publishing... it's all good! The only thing that mustn't be compromised on at the end is the quality of the product. A good book will put a writer on the map, however slow that process may be. Good writing and editing skills are absolutely essential to the success of a book, no matter the mode of publishing. It's one of the advantages of having a publisher - but some authors are showing they can swing this "solo" rather well.

Before I wrap up, I'd like to invite you to visit my sister of the heart, Zee Monodee, who has something to say on her blog as well.

Until next time, live well and love deeply... and enjoy the Friday eye candy (and muse for my upcoming WIP as some of you already know :-D). Heck, this man deserves two pics...

~ Angela ~
No Rules. No Formulas. Just Love.

"Mile High to Heaven" and "Mr. & Mrs. Foster" available at Whiskey Creek Press Torrid.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

REV UP WEDNESDAYS - A weekly booster shot for inspiration... Catching up with CHICKI BROWN

Today I'm spending some quality time with Chicki Brown, who was just voted 2011 New Author of the Year and whose book, Have You Seen Her? was voted the 2011 Fiction Book of the Year by the readers of Shades of Romance Magazine (SORMAG)

I first met Chicki when I became a new member of the Georgia Romance Writers Association. I was a little nervous about what to expect but Chicki made me feel right at home by inviting me to sit at her table. With five feet of bubbly energy, a smile that makes her eyes sparkle, and a soft voice that draws you right in, Chicki became the one I always sought out at every meeting after that. Then came the most heartwarming thing ever - when I got pregnant with my Cole and told Chicki I'd be moving to Europe, she showed up at the last RWA meeting I attended with a gift for the baby, showing me her kindness and thoughtfulness. She didn't have to do that - but there's no denying that Chicki is a "mother hen" type who loves family above everything else. She wanted to let me know that she already cared about my son - that really moved me.

That's why her capacity to observe and empathize, her wisdom and character shine through in every story she pens, in every challenge her characters are faced with. She manages this without being preachy. I realized how true this was immediately after reading her first book, Have You Seen Her? Chicki's personality and outlook on life are reflected in stories that are so real, down-to-earth, yet packed with emotional punch. Every woman - and man, I think - can relate to many of these feelings, even if they don't share the same story. Because Chicki writes not only about love - she writes about the wonder of life, hard decisions, and moral dilemmas that we've all experienced at some time or other in our lives. What's most important, however, is that no matter what we go through, determination, faith and hope are always there to guide us and lift us up.

Here's more about Chicki, the little woman with a lot of inspiration...

1. Did you start by writing full time or did you have a day job?

When I first started writing, I was working full-time as an administrative assistant. I got laid off and asked my husband if he wouldn’t mind me giving the writing a chance. Every six months or so, I would check with him, and he’d say, “Let’s give it a little while longer and see how it goes.” That was eleven years ago. :-)

2. Did/do you have a crit group or mentor to guide you?

During the past eleven years, I have been a member of three online critique groups and two local writer’s groups. The ladies in my current group have been together now for five years. Having them to examine my work is essential. Even though we are spread all over the globe, they have become my friends and a priceless sounding board.

3. Do you use a/several pseudonym(s) and if so, why did you choose to have one/them?

I use a pseudonym because I felt my real name is boring and not at all memorable. I think it sticks in your mind. Chicki Brown is my nickname and maiden name. Most people with whom I grew up don’t know me by anything else.

4. Did you sell the first story you wrote?
Not hardly! My first published novel, Have You Seen Her? was the fifth manuscript I’d written. Even though Lyrics, my maiden voyage into the literary world, was the book of my heart, it was a jumbled mish-mash with a convoluted plot and confused points of view. It will never see the light of day!

5. Did you ever get rejected? If so, how did you handle it?

While I was submitting to editors and agents, I got rejected so many times I lost count. For years those rejections only served to make me mad enough to keep on writing. I believed that if I didn’t give up, eventually I would create a work someone in the publishing world would love. I had some close calls, but in the end I didn’t sell to New York. Finally I decided to stop banging my head against the wall and take my writing career into my own hands.

6. What do you think of the changes going on in the book industry (e.g., e-books vs. print books, and big publishers getting involved in digital publishing)?

Just about the time I’d become weary of the whole traditional submission process, I started reading author Joe Konrath’s wonderful blog, A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing. Joe seemed to be fascinated with’s new gadget, an electronic reader called the Kindle. In the fall of 2009, he embarked on an experiment to publish some of his books directly through Amazon to the Kindle, and he documented every aspect of the experiment on the blog.

After a year of reading about Joe’s amazing success with e-publishing, I was convinced that if he could sell tens of thousands of e-books, I could sell a couple of hundred.

I spent about two months just studying everything I could get my hands on about e-publishing then began formatting my manuscripts for Kindle. Have You Seen Her? was released in June 2010. Needless to say, I think the dramatic changes in the publishing industry are wonderful. For for the first time in recent history, authors are in the driver’s seat and are making 70% royalties while they’re driving! We now have the ability to bring our work to the public and let them, rather than editors and agents sitting in their ivory towers, decide whether or not they like our work.

7. Do you think writers should consider self-publishing?

Self-publishing isn’t what it used to be even five years ago, and every month that passes the respectability of being an independent author increases. I strongly believe the only writers that should consider self-publishing are the ones who have taken the time to learn the industry and are willing to work like dogs to promote their books to the reading public. Self-publishing is a tremendous amount of work. It is definitely isn’t for the faint of heart and surely not for the first-time author. Cyberspace isn’t the place to toss your initial offering. Readers and reviewers will devour you and spit you out.

8. What advice do you think aspiring authors should heed today?

Get as much critical input on your writing as you can from people who aren’t invested in your work. Hearing what’s good or bad about your writing prepares you for what readers will think and it makes you grow up. Join a local or online critique group and listen to what they say. Never think your words are golden. If you are too sensitive to take criticism from writing partners, then you’re not ready to be published. Developing a thick skin when it comes to our writing is a necessity.

The last thing is to decide what kind of marketing you plan to do before you publish the book. Also join online indie author groups where you can chat with other authors about marketing and promotion. If you wait until the book goes live to figure out how and where you’re going to promote it, you’ll be way behind. Start building your online presence before you finish writing the book. Research the top e-book promotion sites and determine if you will pay for advertising or focus on free promotion.

9. What hero/heroine/character was the most fun or challenging to write for you?

Taylor Villanova, the hero in Have You Seen Her? He’s so masculine and sexy. I loved getting into his head and his background and uncovering what made him the man he was.

Kinnik Watkins, the video vixen in Hot Fun in the Summertime was the most challenging to write, because I couldn’t stand her at the beginning! My intention, when I first started writing the book, was for one of the other female housemates to be the lead, but Kinnik and her volatile personality, took over the story. I had a ball watching how she took over the story and how she grew and changed in the process.

Where to find Chicki:

Personal Blog:

~ Angela ~
No Rules. No Formulas. Just Love.

"Mile High to Heaven" and "Mr. & Mrs. Foster" available at Whiskey Creek Press Torrid.

Monday, October 10, 2011

KICK START MONDAY: When life wants to be a tease

This morning I woke up ready to totally kick ass. I had it all planned. I'd spend an hour with my son, get breakfast ready, clear up the kitchen, then settle to two full hours of writing without interruption. Boy, was I off track! As I write this in the late morning, I've managed the breakfast and the hour with my son. I also prepared a lentil and vegetable soup for lunch. But the writing? Nada!

Life happens often to me - in fact, it happens every day. Lol. There have been times I was so frustrated that even when some time did clear up for writing, I'd just throw in the towel and not do anything. Then, I'd add to the stress just by doing that - because all I've done is let myself down. But then I realized that it's not about the planning, or making it all work perfectly. It's really about making the most of those minutes (sometimes this is all we have :)) that we have available to do the things we want. So I started to make an effort. I'm not saying I get it right all the time - but I'm learning to. I see others who are just as busy or busier than I and they make it work. So why can't I? Of course I can, as long as what I do works for me.

Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else. ~ Judy Garland

There are countless books about time management, that aim to teach one how to get things done, avoid stress and never miss a step. I'm sure these books are very useful. I've read a couple myself. What I learned is that everyone has their own routine and their own way of accomplishing things... and sometimes it may seem like what others do and the way they do it works better than whatever we're doing. However, the honest truth is that only we know how to make our lives work because we can't live someone else's life.

Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation. ~ Oscar Wilde, De Profundis, 1905

The most important thing in all the chaos is that we don't make excuses for ourselves. If we have a goal, we must attempt to reach it, even if we can only take a half-step at a time; otherwise we're only in love with an idea, not with the process.

You can't say, I won't write today because that excuse will extend into several days, then several months, then… you are not a writer anymore, just someone who dreams about being a writer. ~ Dorothy C. Fontana

This is so true of anything we do. It's not easy sometimes to stick through something, but the feeling you get after doing that... priceless!

So as soon as I post this I'm rolling up my sleeves and squeezing in some writing - even if it's only 30 mins of it! It's still worth it.

How do you make it work?

Have a Happy Monday and until next time, live well and love deeply!

*** (Top photo courtesy of

~ Angela ~
No Rules. No Formulas. Just Love.

"Mile High to Heaven" and "Mr. & Mrs. Foster" available at Whiskey Creek Press Torrid.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

SIX SENTENCE SUNDAY: An Eternity of Roses, Snippet #3

It's that time again - Sunday. Have a chicken to roast, a bedroom to tidy up, and dishes to clean. Isn't it exciting? LOL.

So what do I do to relieve the boredom? Six Sentence Sunday, of course! Six Sentences from a current work-in-progress or published work. This is my third time and it's what I look forward to it at the end of a hectic week! A big part of the fun is to find out what my fellow Six Sunday authors have in store today by making the rounds and reading all the exciting snippets they're posting. So please check them out as well - you'll find a bunch of excerpts that will reel you right in :D.

So, back to my WIP, An Eternity of Roses. The backdrop of the romance consists of a legend that goes back to the Kashmir of 300 B.C. I think it's important to explore this legend before jumping into the story itself.

The Snake King, Aravala, is very angry that Valther has found a group of lost artefacts that he's always wanted - the lost Seven Chalices of the River Demon, reputed to have the power to grant immortality to humans. Aravala himself is immortal, and he has many powers, but this is one that eludes him. Until he finds the Chalices, he won't be able to create an invincible army that will defeat all his enemies and establish him as undisputed ruler of all their territories.

Aravala's soldiers catch Valther in possession of one of these Chalices so now he faces the ultimate punishment for "stealing" from his king - death. The man is resigned but fears for the life of his friends - Nila, his younger brother Candaka, and their kinfolk - who had taken him in after he'd spent years traveling across continents. In a short time, he came to love them as family.

Nila and Candaka are now faced with tough choices. Aravala presents a threat they cannot ignore. The carefree days of enjoying their youth are gone, instantly replaced with the grave realization that so many other people - their families and loved ones - are relying on them. What will they do?

In this final scene, Nila and Candaka have just witnessed their brother Valther's death. They are heartbroken, but have no choice but to move on.

What will happen now?” Candaka asked. His voice cracked at the second question.

Nila threw one last look at their despicable monarch and said, “The cobra is now our worst enemy,” before he steered them both outside.

“Will we ever return home?”

“Mayhap one day is all I can say. But never forget, brother, home is in here,” Nila replied, pointing to his brow, “and in here,” he finished, placing a closed fist on his pounding heart.

And this is how the Valthreans are born. Thanks for stopping by! Hope you enjoyed the read.

~ Angela ~
No Rules. No Formulas. Just Love.

"Mile High to Heaven" and "Mr. & Mrs. Foster" available at Whiskey Creek Press Torrid.