Come in. Sit down. Make yourself comfortable. Still summer in Texas, but maybe we can take our iced tea to the front porch swing and catch a cool breeze while we talk about one of my favorite subjects…Time Travel. Susan is also giving away two of ebooks, Time And Forever and Maybe This Time (love those titles, don’t you?) Post a comment with your email address and enter the drawing for a chance to read!
Susan writes second chance romances with a touch of magic as Susan B. James and children’s books as Susan J. Berger. She writes older heroines because she is chronologically gifted and enjoys creating characters who remember that change is only on the outside. Inside our older shells is a much younger psyche.
Susan’s other career is acting. In 2016, among other things, she killed Kathy Bates on American Horror Story- Roanoke. In 2017, among other things, she got stabbed by a pen on Future Man and played the victim on Major Crimes. Karma? Her 2018 began with a role on Lucifer. More to come.
TIME TRAVEL? Worst birthday present ever!
London stage star Jennifer Knight, is perfectly happy until a freak accident sends her tumbling back in time from London, 2001 to 1988, landing her at the feet of computer genius Lance Davies, the man who’d captured her heart and then stomped on it – her ex-husband.
Lance follows Jennifer back to the future, tangling time, and landing them both on the world’s missing-and-presumed dead list. Now the only hope of righting the universe is to change a past they have yet to experience. Maybe this time – just maybe – Lance and Jen will get it right.
Jen looked into the face of the man she’d adored since she was nine, and actively avoided for the last twenty years. Lance looked almost the same as the day they’d parted. A few more lines framed his hazel eyes, now sea-dark with concern. His brown hair showed no trace of gray. It was still too long, with the same stupid lock falling over his forehead. She automatically reached to brush it back. Stopped herself. Her throat was so dry. Where was a cough drop when you needed one? “You’ve aged well.” Jen’s knees buckled.
Lance kicked out a chair and sat, pulling her into his lap. “It’s okay. Whatever it is, we can fix it.”
His warm, strong hands sent shock waves shivering through her body. She shook her head mutely.
Lance’s voice sharpened. “Is it Jeremy? Kathryn? Has something happened to them?”
“Uncle Lance!” Kathryn stopped in the living room archway, eyes child-solemn. “Why are you hugging Aunty Jen?”
Jen slipped out of Lance’s arms and landed on the floor. Could this get any worse?
“Aunty Jen says you are a stupid head with a big brain and no feelings.”
Jen rose with all the dignity she could muster. “You shouldn’t repeat things grownups say, Kitty-Kat. It’s not polite.” She reached for the packet Mrs. Flannery left behind, willing her hands not to tremble. “Here are the papers, you came for. Nice to see you. Goodbye.”
Lance glanced from Kathryn to Jen. “Where’s Jeremy? I know he and Kitty-Kat went to Sussex. Why is she back without him, and what are you doing here?”
“We couldn’t get home, Uncle Lance. So we came here.” Kathryn scuffed her foot, now shod in a plastic Jelly shoe, against the wood floor. “I thought Jen would like the machine, but I don’t like being young again. My brain is too small. I want to go home.”
Lance’s hand tightened on the papers he held. “Kathryn,” he said carefully. “How old are you?”
“I’m nineteen and I want to go home.”
Lance catapulted out of the chair. “It worked. By all that’s good and beautiful, it worked. I didn’t think he could do it.”
“You knew? You knew what he was working on?”
Lance’s grin changed to the expressionless mask she used to hate so much. “Of course, I knew. I divorced you. Not your brother. I was helping him with the theory. He probably would have told you about it, had you been interested in anyone but yourself and your career.”
Jen resisted the urge to punch him. One of them reverting to childhood was enough. Too bad. Her boxing trainer said she had a fantastic right hook. She kept her tone smooth and even. “I don’t know when we are, but I turned forty-nine yesterday, Lancelot, and you don’t know half as much about me as you think you do. I am very interested in my niece, and she’s standing there listening to every word we say.”
Lance turned to Kathryn. “I’m sorry, sweetheart. Your aunty and I won’t fight anymore.” He crooked his little finger at Jen the way they used to do when they were children. “Pax?”
Resisting the temptation to break it, Jen hooked her little finger in his. “Pax,”
Kathryn curved her little finger around theirs. “Pax. Now can we get ice cream?”
Susan has consented to some of my quirky questions so we can get to know her better. Thanks!
How long have you been writing?
I started writing seriously in 1993. I began with children’s books. It wasn’t until 2009 that I thought about writing an adult romance.
Are you a plotter, a pantser or some combination of both?
I am a total pantser. My first romance, Time and Forever came about because I had written a post for my children’s book blog, Pen and Ink, about how to use NaNoWriMo. I had to sign up for that year’s Nano event to write the post properly. After I posted it I felt so guilty that I thought I had to try doing my own NaNoWriMo novel that year. I started with a question and eventually came up with a first draft. The funny thing about it is I have been told that the plot is so intricate and so perfectly worked out. I am pretty sure I pantsed my plot.
I’m a pantser too, but I’m learning to do some plotting. Makes it easier to wrap my poor little brain around the story.
Name an author or authors who never fail to inspire you.
I can’t name just one author. It depends on who I am reading at the time. My favorite authors are Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Sarah Addison Allen, Jayne Anne Krentz in all three of her identities, Robert Heinlein, Georgette Heyer, and Jude Devereux.
I love Sarah Addison Allen! A friend of mine loaned me her books and I’ve binge read all of them the past few months. Great stories!
Tell us about your current WIP.
Right now I am working on a novel that starts in Victorian England and jumps to 1940 wartime England. The heroine is a real person from history. Ada Augusta Lovelace – Lord Byron’s Daughter. Lord George Gordon Byron was a leading poet, politician and scandalous rake. His wife left him shortly after Ada was born. She saw that her daughter was given an excellent education in science and mathematics, hoping to avoid the strain of madness Lord Byron exhibited.
Ada grew up to be a brilliant mathematician. She invented the first computer language in way back in 1843 for a machine that was a mere an idea – Charles Babbage’s Analytical Machine.
Her story has fascinated me since I learned of her in my first computer history class. I wanted to time travel her to 1940 when Alan Turing, hero of the movie, The Imitation Game first made his machine to break German codes. I knew he had used Ada’s work. I’m on the third draft.
If you met a genie, what 3 things would you wish for?
I am well versed in wish lore and I know asking for more wishes is out of the question.
A castle in Scotland with modern plumbing and an elevator? (My knees don’t do well on stairs.)
One of my books optioned as a movie. (I’ll leave which one up to the genie.)
A regular role in a popular TV series. (Prefer three funny lines and off per episode.)
What is the one thing you never seem to have enough time for?
Jigsaw puzzles. I love them and it’s difficult to find time to do them.
Great answers, Susan. And I enjoyed our visit. Please come back when you’ve finished your WIP. And good luck on Maybe This Time. It sounds delightful!!!
This is what Wikipedia has to say about Labor Day. In the US, it is celebrated on the first Monday in September. It honors the American Labor movement and contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws, and well-being of the country. It is a federal holiday and is considered the unofficial end of summer in the United States.
To me, it means farewell to road trips, weekends at the lake, spending time at the beach, camping. By now, we’ve all gotten sunburned at least once, fought off mosquitoes, stayed in the water until their skin was wrinkly and eaten dozens of hot dogs.
Time to shift gears, and get ready for cooler weather, football games, and sitting out under the stars enjoying s’mores. I’m ready. How about you?
Today I’m happy to continue my Author SummerRead Exchange with Julie Howard. Join me for a glass of ice tea and we’ll get to know Julie better. (Love the background of your bio picture!)
Julie Howard is the author of the Wild Crime series. She is a former journalist and editor who has covered topics ranging from crime to cowboy poetry. She is a member of the Idaho Writers Guild and founder of the Boise chapter of Shut Up & Write. Learn more at juliemhoward.com.
Julie has agreed to do answer some of my quirky questions. These are the ones she picked.
- How often do you write?
Every day! I don’t feel quite right if I don’t pound out a few words. Sometimes, those words are a blog or implementing a marketing plan. Most of the time, though, I make sure I’m writing one of my stories – either a short story (I love writing flash fiction) or my latest novel. I love disappearing into my characters’ world and joining them on their journey. When I emerge, sometimes many hours later, I’m charged up for the rest of my day.
For me, blogging is a great way to get my creative juices flowing. I get to enjoy my stories all over again.
2. Are you a plotter, a pantser or some combination of both?
Writing mysteries turned me into a plotter. I figured I needed to know who the culprit was before I started so I could lay the clues chapter by chapter. I’m big on writing outlines, but I always let myself wander off the path a bit along the way. In my first book, “Crime and Paradise,” I wandered so far off the path that I ended up changing who the murderer was! Most writers will tell you that you have to let your characters lead the story, not the other way around. So I’ll set my characters in motion, give them a setting, and then let them tell the story.
That makes sense. I start out being a pantser, but if I don’t do some plotting, it makes more work in the end. An outline works good for me, even if I only outline part of the story at a time.
3. Name an author or authors who never fail to inspire you.
I’m an equal opportunity reader, meaning I read everything from biographies to science fiction to historical fiction and everything in between. To me, good writing and good stories come in all packages. At the end of the day, though, I always come back to the classics. John Steinbeck, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, George Eliot, Henry James, Edith Wharton. I just finished rereading Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness about the Congo and it just about ripped my heart out. There’s a reason these authors stand the test of time.
4. Describe one of your favorite characters and tell us who you patterned them after and why.
I really love the daughter of the main character in my Wild Crime series. Jamie is five years old, sassy and smart. She questions authority, stands up for herself, has endless energy and loves her younger brother to pieces. This is a girl who you just know will grow up to be a strong woman. I’m sure I’ll cry when I finish the final book and have to say goodbye to her. She’s really gotten under my skin.
How interesting it must be to watch her character develop throughout the series.
5. What is the best compliment you ever received as a writer?
“I’m looking forward to your next book.” When people say this to me, it gives me a rush of adrenaline.
6. What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
When I’m not writing, I spend time with family, reading or, as often as I can, I head to the mountains. Give me pine trees, give me a crooked path, give me the sound of a nearby creek – and I’m in heaven. Fortunately, I live in Idaho where it’s easy to indulge myself.
Blurb from “Crime Times Two” (coming Fall 2018):
Meredith knows three things: First, the man in the library begged her to help him. Second, he was afraid of his wife. Third, now he’s dead.
While the evidence first points to a natural death, Meredith is certain there’s more to discover. People are tight-lipped in this small mountain village, and the man’s wife isn’t talking either. Then a second death occurs, with remarkable similarities. It’s time to talk about murder.
As a slow-burning relationship heats up in her own life, Meredith struggles with concepts of love and hate, belief and suspicion, and absolution and guilt. Nothing is clear cut…
She must decide: Is guilt, like evil, something you can choose to believe in?
Excerpt from “Crime Times Two”:
Jowls quivered under the man’s weak chin, and Meredith noted the stained and frayed shirt of someone who spent a lot of time alone in dark rooms, sending out a better version of himself into the virtual world. His eyes were anxious and beseeching at her as though she should have a clear understanding of him and his life.
Somehow, over the past hour and a half they’d been sitting next to each other – him playing video games and sharing his life story and her ignoring him the best she could – she had become his confessor and friend.
Meredith gave him what she hoped was an impartial-though-quasi-friendly smile. She reached for her purse and papers and rose from her chair. “Well. Nice talking with you.”
The man was lost in his own train of thought and seemed only slightly aware that Meredith was leaving.
He shook his head, morose.
“To make a long story short,” he summed up, “I think my wife is trying to kill me.”
It’s been great having you visit, Julie. I hope you enjoyed my blog as much as I enjoyed yours!!
Today’s another hot summer day in Texas and I’m ready for it. I’ve got all the ceiling fans going ninety to nothing, and a big pitcher of tea in the fridge. Sit down, kick off your shoes and join me for a visit with author Kris Bock. I’m a fan of Mary Stewart and Barbara Michaels, so I’m really eager to hear more!!
Kris, tell us a little about yourself.
Who is your ideal reader?
My romantic adventures should appeal to fans of “lighter” romantic suspense, along the lines of Mary Stewart, Barbara Michaels, and Nora Roberts. In fact, Roberta at Sensuous Reviews blog said, “Counterfeits is the kind of romantic suspense novel I have enjoyed since I first read Mary Stewart’s Moonspinners, and Kris Bock used all the things I love about this genre.”
You’ll find plenty of action and a sweet love story, but not the gritty violence and explicit erotica of some modern romantic suspense. I also tried to bring the New Mexico scenery to life – gorgeous sunsets, dangerous monsoon storms, and everywhere you turn a plant or animal that wants to scratch, bite, or sting you. Armchair adventure travelers are welcome!
Does your real life show up in your writing? In what ways?
My historical novels for children don’t use a lot of real life experience, since they are set in different cultures, hundreds or thousands of years ago. Of course, I assume that people haven’t changed that much – the seven deadly sins are pretty relevant today – so I draw on my understanding of people and my general experiences with emotions. For example, in The Well of Sacrifice, the main character idolizes her older brother and is envious of her prettier sister. She’s at an age where she thinks the adults should take care of things but is realizing that they don’t always do what’s right. I think those aspects resonate with kids today, even if you’re talking about a pre-Columbian Mayan setting with a very different culture and lifestyle.
Real life experiences often give me ideas for my adult novels, written as Kris Bock. What We Found is a mystery inspired by finding a dead body while hiking. Someone in law enforcement said that people often don’t report crimes they stumbled across. That got me thinking – Why? What reasons would you have for not calling the police? The book also includes falconry, based on experiences I’ve had hanging out with a falconer.
Whispers in the Dark follows a young archaeologist who stumbles into danger as mysteries unfold among ancient Southwest ruins. That was inspired by a trip to Hovenweep National Monument some years ago. I loved that setting and had to use it in a book!
I had an idea for a series about treasure hunting adventures in the Southwest, so I read up on some lost treasures. In The Mad Monk’s Treasure, two friends search for the Victorio Peak treasure – a heretic Spanish priest’s gold mine, made richer by the spoils of bandits and an Apache raider. Their experiences in the desert are based on my experiences hiking in New Mexico, though they get more danger and drama.
What writing projects are you currently working on?
I’m about to submit a mystery about a former war correspondent who returns to her childhood home after an injury and uncovers a mystery at the Alzheimer’s care unit where her mother resides. It’s intended to be the first in a series with the same main character.
Excerpt from The Mad Monk’s Treasure
Erin wheeled the bike around the front of her house and mounted. At the corner, she paused and looked both ways. The long frontage road was dangerously narrow, with a cement wall on one side and a ditch on the other. Fortunately, traffic was normally light, and at this time of day the road lay empty. Erin pushed off, still grinning from her find. She rode on the right side, by the ditch, instead of facing traffic, because it was just too frightening to ride alongside the wall when a car passed.
She’d gone a block when she heard the hum of a car engine as it pulled out from a side street behind her. She rode along the very edge of the pavement, even though the car would have plenty of room to pass her without oncoming traffic.
Erin glanced over her shoulder. The black SUV 20 feet behind her hadn’t bothered to pull out into the road at all. Jerk. When would drivers learn to share the road with bicyclists? Erin pulled onto the two-foot wide gravel strip between the pavement and the ditch. She couldn’t stop without risking a skid, but she slowed so the SUV could pass.
The engine roared. Erin glanced back again.
Black metal bore down on her. Her heart lurched and the bike wobbled. This guy was crazy! She whipped her gaze forward, rose up in the seat, and pumped the pedals with all her power, skimming along inches from the ditch. He was just trying to scare her. She’d get his license plate and—
She felt the bumper hit her back tire. The bike seemed to leap into the air, and she went flying. The dried mud and weeds of the ditch seemed to rise up to meet her.
She didn’t even have time to scream.
Kris Bock writes novels of suspense and romance with outdoor adventures and Southwestern landscapes. The Mad Monk’s Treasure follows the hunt for a long-lost treasure in the New Mexico desert. In The Dead Man’s Treasure, estranged relatives compete to reach a buried treasure by following a series of complex clues. In The Skeleton Canyon Treasure, sparks fly when reader favorites Camie and Tiger help a mysterious man track down his missing uncle. Whispers in the Dark features archaeology and intrigue among ancient Southwest ruins. What We Found is a mystery with strong romantic elements about a young woman who finds a murder victim in the woods. In Counterfeits, stolen Rembrandt paintings bring danger to a small New Mexico town.
Fans of Mary Stewart, Barbara Michaels, and Terry Odell will want to check out Kris Bock’s romantic adventures. “Counterfeits is the kind of romantic suspense novel I have enjoyed since I first read Mary Stewart’s Moonspinners.” 5 Stars – Roberta at Sensuous Reviews blog
This has been fun, Kris. My thanks to everyone for stopping by. I’m over at Kris’s blog today, https://swarmchairtraveler.blogspot.com/2018/08/royal.html Please stop by there as well!
on Utopian Editing site:
You’ve written something. You’ve poured all your skill, creativity, and time into it. You’ve made sacrifices to reach the finish line, and you can now congratulate yourself on a job well done.
But what’s next?
You know that something needs to happen between the completed draft and publication. Trouble is, you aren’t quite sure what. There are so many types of editing:
- Developmental (substantive) editing
- Line editing
Short and sweet…good information
I’ve written before about submitting your manuscript to agents – while I don’t consider myself by any means an expert, I have had a bit of experience in sending the things out. I also attended a workshop some time back at Bloomsbury, where a couple of London agents shared their idea of a perfect submission letter, and several other agents have commented that my submission package stood out from the others (although no-one has taken me on board as yet – boo-hoo).
So, how do you structure the all-important letter? (I say all-important because it’s the first opportunity you have to make an impression, and we all know how important first impressions are). Well, here are…
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August is here, and if you’re like me, one of your biggest concerns is finding something to do indoors and out of the sun. So, turn down the AC, grab a cold drink with lots of ice and settle into a comfy chair with Brenda Sparks new paranormal romance
How strong is the blood that binds? Tatiana Bolovich is a beautiful femme fatale with a haunting history. Having recently discovered the brutish Demetri Romanoff is her heartmate, she spent the past year avoiding him, but the Fates have other plans.
Demetri commands every situation. A strong, valiant warrior he’s used to being in control, that is until he is kidnapped by demons. Forced to endure unspeakable experiments at the hands of his enemy, the Alpha discovers just how out of control life can get.
Summoned by the Alpha Council, Tatiana grudgingly helps track Demetri down, promising herself that she will disappear from his life forever once the job is done. But matters of the heart are not so easily ignored. Will she give him a chance to prove himself, or will she deny her nature and slip away into the night?
The Alpha swung a leg over the motorcycle and tugged on his helmet. “You coming anytime this century, woman?”
Tatiana pulled her helmet down over her dark hair, the blunt ends sticking out from under it like twigs in a nest.
“Hold your horses, Romanoff.” She straddled her bike.
Demetri shifted the bike from its stand and rousted the thing with a kick of his booted heel. He gunned the throttle. “My horses want to go,” he called over the roar of the sports bike.
Tatiana started the motorcycle she borrowed from Marcus with a push of a button. The black beast growled to life. “Well, what are we waiting for then? I bet I can get to the counseling center before you.”
The howl of her engine made further conversation impossible when she revved the machine.
They tore off down the gravel drive, the bikes fishtailing. Bits of gravel spit out behind them. Demetri gunned his engine and took the lead. He flashed her a brilliant smile when he passed, making it almost worth being second place. But not quite.
As they rounded out of the gated fence onto the road, Tatiana cut under him to regain the lead.
He shook his head. Life will never be dull with you, tigress warrior. You are a fierce competitor, but then so am I.
I’m delighted to have you today, Brenda. Thanks for joining me during Hot SummerRead. Good luck with Alpha Pair. It sounds like my kind of escape!
Born in Virginia, Brenda Sparks now resides in the Sunshine State. Balancing her professional commitment to the local school district with her writing is challenging at times, but writing suspenseful paranormal romances is a passion that won’t be denied. Her idea of a perfect day is one spent in front of a computer with a hot cup of coffee, her fingers flying over the keys to send her characters off on their latest adventure. Brenda loves to connect with readers. Please visit her online or stop by her website to say hi.
Facebook Fan Page: http://www.facebook.com/forBrendaSparks
Twitter Handle: @brenda_sparks https://twitter.com/brenda_sparks
Facebook Author Page : http://www.facebook.com/brenda.sparksauthor.1
Thanks so much for stopping in for a visit, Brenda. Come back anytime!!
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