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August 2017
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A Slice of Orange


Co-writing: A Wonderful Partnership by Janet Elizabeth Lynn

August 3, 2017 by in category Partners in Crime tagged as , , ,

Authors Janet and WillMy husband, Will Zeilinger, also a published author, and I decided to come together and write a 1950’s hard-boiled mystery, the Skylar Drake Murder Mystery series.

Having a research buddy makes all the difference in the world when deadlines loom for a manuscript. Alone, research can be a bear. But with two it goes faster and more comprehensive. This can include traveling, libraries and investigating 1950s style restaurants (and food). Splitting the work up and deciding what fits in the story works better with two brains and four eyes.

The results? SLIVERS OF GLASS, STRANGE MARKINGS, DESERT ICE and SPIKE HILL (to be released 2/2018)…and yes, we’re still married.



Janet Elizabeth Lynn

Series: A Skylar Drake Mystery


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An Interview with Romance Author Maureen Child

August 2, 2017 by in category Jann says . . . tagged as , , ,

Maureen Child | Jann Ryan | A Slice of OrangeBestselling writer Maureen Child is a native Southern Californian now living in the mountains of Utah. She’s the award-winning writer of more than 150 books and novellas. A seven time finalist for the RITA, Maureen’s books have won the Golden Quill, the Prism and the National Reader’s Choice Award.

One of her books, A POCKETFUL OF PARADISE was made into a CBS-TV movie called THE SOUL COLLECTOR.

And as much as she loves Utah, she really misses her friends and the monthly meetings at OCC. For more information about Maureen and her novels please visit her on her Facebook page


Jann: Today, I have the pleasure to welcome Romance Author, Maureen Child, to A Slice of Orange—and OCC misses her as well.

Do you find yourself returning to certain themes in your stories? What? Why?

Maureen: I don’t know if it’s a ‘theme’ or not, but I do find myself always returning to humor. Even in my darker books—examples, the books I wrote for Harlequin Nocturne or the Witch books I wrote for NAL. As dark as those themes were, humor kept encroaching on the story.

I think it’s because I do believe that everyone needs laughter as much as love. And maybe in those dark moments when writing, I need the light-heartedness as much as my reader might!

Jann: What’s the best writing advice you ever received?

Maureen: Actually the very best advice was something I heard at an OCC meeting about 24 years ago! Susan Phillips was giving a workshop and while she had a lot of great information that day, one phrase stuck with me.

“There is no substitute for persistence.” That sort of became my mantra. Because at the heart of it, that’s all that matters. Persistence. The determination to never quit, never walk away. To keep trying no matter what, to reach the goal you’ve set for yourself.

I still hear a lot of people say, “Oh, I’ll write a book someday.” Those people never will. To be a success at something, you have to love it and you have to put the time in and you have to never stop trying.

Jann: Have you ever suffered writer’s block? If so, how did/do you get past it?

Maureen: Actually, I don’t believe in Writer’s Block. Are there times when the well is dry? Sure. Are there days when I just don’t think I can write a word? Absolutely. Heck, there are times I want to take a hammer to my laptop!

But you write anyway. Even if you end up deleting it all the following day, you write. Because that’s what we are. That’s what I am. Writing is a job. It’s a great job, but it’s still a job. The hardest part for me is the self-discipline and I’m still struggling with it after more than 150 books!

But I have responsibilities. Deadlines. When you sign a contract you make a promise to deliver that book. And before you have a deadline with a publisher, give yourself one and stick to it. Do your pages every day even if they suck. You can always fix them later. Having ‘writer’s block’ is not an excuse for not working. I do understand that some writers can’t work past the bad days and it’s a personal thing, true.  But not going to work because you don’t feel your best is just not the route I’ve ever gone.

Always remember that writing is your job and treat it like that.Maureen Child | A Slice of Orange

Jann: What’s the best thing about being an author?

Maureen: For me, the best thing about being a writer is that I can do it by myself in my house. Wow that really sounds unsociable. But you know, most of the writers I know ARE. J We’re drawn to words. We’re drawn to people watching, studying the way strangers move and interact so we can go home and describe it. We watch a sunset and put together words in our minds to paint a vivid picture.

So in the morning when I get my coffee and go sit on my couch with my laptop, I’m officially in my ‘office’.  I actually have an office that houses collections of awards and certificates and whatnot, but never sees ME.  J When it’s nice out, I take the laptop to the deck and write out there. I don’t have to play well with others in my job, because I am my job. It’s perfect. Even the bad days.

Jann: What sound or noise do you love?

Maureen: I love the sound of babies laughing. That deep down from the belly laughter that just bubbles up into the air and reminds you that life should be fun.

Jann: What sound or noise do you hate?

I hate sirens. They mean that someone’s in trouble, or needs help and I worry about them. J

It was great getting to catch up with you Maureen and wish to thank her for taking the time to answer our questions. If you have any questions or comments for Maureen, please use the comment form below. 

Jann Ryan


Jann Ryan | A Slice of OrangeJann Ryan grew up with the smell of orange blossoms in Orange County in sunny Southern California, where she has lived her entire life and dreamed up stories since she was a young girl. Never an avid reader, she was in her thirties when she picked up her first romance quite by accident. She fell in love with happily ever after and has been reading romances ever since.

Wanting to put pen to paper, Jann joined of Romance Writers of America®. Currently, she is working on a romantic suspense series set in Stellar Bay, a fictitious town along the California central coast to fulfill her publishing dream.



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The Dog Days of Summer, Birthdays, and Buttered Noses

August 1, 2017 by in category Apples & Oranges tagged as , , ,

The Dog Days of SummerThe Dog Days of Summer isn’t just an expression that indicates summer days so hot dogs are driven mad. It’s an actual astronomical event when, Sirius, the dog star rises in conjunction with the sun.  The Dog Days are listed as starting on July 3rd and continuing through August 11th.

In my family, the Dog Days of Summer marked the beginning of birthday season. I have three brothers and three sisters.  Then there are my children, nieces and nephews, in-laws (or as we insist out-laws) and now the grandchildren and grandnieces and grandnephews.  A significant number of them have birthdays in July and August.

Birthdays around our place was always a bit different. With so many relatives we seldom had friends to our birthday celebrations. We rarely severed cake but rather baked from scratch (including the crust) birthday pie. There were favorites – quite a few apple pies, pumpkin (made three days ahead of the feast and refrigerated to the proper coldness), lemon meringue, peach, and rhubarb for my mother.

And when my mémère (French for grandma) was alive, if it was your birthday, you got your nose buttered.  It was supposed to make you side through the year to your next birthday.

Memere and pepere | Marianne H. Donley | A Slice of Orange

Mémère and Pépère Hebert 1973

Now Mémère assured us this was an old French custom, but I never met any other family who practiced nose buttering –even the few friend of mine when we were growing up who also had a mémère and pépère.

So, a few years ago I googled it. Sure enough, other families butter noses, but the articles I read listed the custom is either Scottish or Irish.  I suspect Mémère would be upset by these claims as she was very proud of her French ancestry even though the family arrived in the New World well before there was a United States. She and Pépère spoke French at home, and my dad and his siblings didn’t learn English until they went to school.

I must admit that she frequently got things wrong.  She was also very proud of being born on June 13th and every year would tell us that she just missed being born on Friday the 13th (it happened to be a Thursday that year).  But when she died my aunts found her birth certificate. She wasn’t born on June 13th, that was the day she was baptized.  She was really born two days earlier and forever celebrated her birthday on the wrong day.

My aunts were upset, but I would like to think Mémère would not have cared if she had ever noticed.  She was happy to have a pie baked by my mom, and she would laugh her head off when we would sneak up and butter her nose so she could slide through another year.

Does your family have different birthday customs? What are they?

Marianne H. Donley | A Slice of Orange

Marianne H. Donley makes her home in Tennessee with her husband and son. She is a member of Bethlehem Writers Group, Romance Writers of America, OCC/RWA, and Music City Romance Writers. When Marianne isn’t working on A Slice of Orange, she might be writing short stories, funny romances, or quirky murder mysteries, but this could be a rumor.


If you want to know more about the Dog Days of Summer here are some links:

Featured Author of the Month: Rebecca Forster


Rebecca Forster | Extra Squeeze

She marketed a world-class spa when it was still called a gym, did business in China before there were western toilettes at the Great Wall and mucked around with the sheep to find out exactly how her client’s fine wool clothing was manufactured. Then Rebecca wrote her first book and found her passion. Now, over twenty-five books later, she is a USA Today and Amazon bestselling author and writes full-time, penning thrillers that explore the emotional impact of the justice system. She earned her B.A. at Loyola, Chicago and her MBA at Loyola, Los Angeles. Rebecca has taught the Business of Creativity at University of California Long Beach Writers Certificate Program, UCLA and UC Irvine extension. Married to a Los Angeles Superior Court judge, she is the mother of two grown sons and spends her free time traveling, sewing, and playing tennis.


Rebecca’s newest book: 



$13.99eBook: $4.99
A FOREIGN WOMAN is dead, two countries want her FORGOTTEN. Detective Finn O'Brien wants justice. More info →
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Buy from Apple iBooks





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What Does the Extra Squeeze Team Think About Prologues?

July 31, 2017 by in category The Extra Squeeze, Writing tagged as , , ,
The Extra Squeeze | A Slice of Orange

Ever wonder what industry professionals think about the issues that can really impact our careers? Each month The Extra Squeeze features a fresh topic related to books and publishing.

Amazon mover and shaker Rebecca Forster and her handpicked team of book professionals offer frank responses from the POV of each of their specialties — Writing, Editing, PR/Biz Development, and Cover Design.

What is the publisher/agent attitude towards including a prologue in a romance novel? In ALL my writing classes, workshops, etc (other than romance), the prologue is hated and absolutely discouraged, yet it seems routine with romance.  So . . .

What Does the Extra Squeeze Team Think About Prologues?

Rebecca Forster | Extra Squeeze

Rebecca Forster 

USA Today Bestselling author of 35 books, including the Witness series and the new Finn O’Brien series.

When I started my career I wrote in a genre I had never read, pitched with a partial and made simultaneous submissions to multiple editors and agents.  In other words, I broke every ‘rule’ in the book so I might not be the best one to ask about the prologue rule. That being said, I’m happy to give an opinion – of which I have many if you ask anyone who knows me.

I believe that ‘they’ are not as good a judge of your work as ‘you’. I believe that if there were hard and fast rules about what editors like we wouldn’t have books like “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” or genres like chic lit. I believe that if a prologue turned off editors/readers the following books would never have been published or become profitable.

  1. “Loving Frank” by Nancy Horan
  2. “The Piano Tuner” by Daniel Mason
  3. “Montana 1948” by Larry Watson
  4. “The Name of the Rose” by Umberto Eco
  5. “Orphan Train” by Christina Baker Kline
  6. “Water for Elephants” by Sara Gruen
  7. “The Hours” by Michael Cunningham
  8. “Shutter Island” by Dennis Lehane
  9. “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho
  10. “The Promise” by Ann Weisgarber

Yes, prologues are often skipped but if an author wishes to write one then it is the author’s job to make it a compelling piece of the whole. The question is not just is it necessary, but is it critical?

P.S. I have used prologues in three out of my 30+ books. All were published with the prologue intact.

P.S.S. Harry Potter also has a prologue.

Robin Blakely | The Extra Squeeze Team | A Slice of Orange

Robin Blakely

PR/Business Development coach for writers and artists; CEO, Creative Center of America; member, Forbes Coaches Council.


From a publicity point of view, I care an inordinate amount about the cover of your book and the description of your book; less about whether or not you have a prologue. The only reason the prologue matters to me is if it helps sell the story.

That may sound shallow and even annoying to the craftsman who created the work, but it shouldn’t offend you. The most important part of the PR job depends on the cover and the description…if the first few pages can’t make that cover and description come to life, get rid of it. The first few pages need to pull readers in and keep them engaged in the book. As a creator, if the devise you choose to do that monumental task is a prologue, I support your choice. Just make sure it works and it’s as finely crafted as you can make it. I suspect that somewhere along the way the prologue got a bad name for itself because of shoddy work by writers who didn’t know how to use the device.

If you want to use a prologue, study finely crafted prologues. I want yours to dovetail with your story and with your cover and your book description. It’s all about craftsmanship. In that way, books are like furniture…I only want drawers in furniture if the drawers are constructed properly with joints that dovetail, instead of joints that are cheaply glued or tacked together and fall apart. Books or desks with drawers, If they are made well and work, they do exactly what I need for them to do.


Jenny Jensen | A Slice of Orange

Jenny Jensen

Developmental editor who has worked for twenty plus years with new and established authors of both fiction and non-fiction, traditional and indie.

Prolog: Greek -before, Logos – word

Prologs are out of vogue. Maybe that’s because we want to jump right into a story, not mess about with seemingly extraneous details. More likely it’s because
Prologs have been abused. So often they’re just an info dump – more of a distraction than a component necessary to enjoying the story. I suspect that’s why publishers and editors dislike and discourage Prologs.

Contemporary Romances are stories in the here and now. That’s an aspect of the genre I really love. I want to walk right in and meet the players and watch the love story as it plays out. There really isn’t any need for a set up, a prolog, an information dump. I want to be living the story as it unfolds for the protagonists and the details should be woven into dialog and narrative and keep the story in the active present.

If you must include a prolog first ask yourself:
•Can the reader understand and enjoy the story without this info
•Is it compelling
•Can the info included in the Prolog be conveyed throughout the story in dialog or narrative
•And the question I think is most important for a Prolog: is the information contained so important that the reader must keep that in mind as the narrative unfolds if we are to understand the story. That’s the only reason I can see for a prolog.

But you are the author and this is your story. If a prolog will strengthen the work, then by all means include one. The creative process should not be subject to the whims of fashion. Just be absolutely certain that prolog is necessary.

Let us know what you think about prologues. Do you love them? Do you hate them? Do you read them?

This month’s extra squeeze topic was suggested by APRYL MOHAJERRAHBARI. Thank you Apryl, we hope we answered your question. 

If you have a question or topic you would like the Extra Squeeze Team to tackle, please use this contact form.

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