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Author Laura Drake releases The Road to Me

March 24, 2022 by in category Jann says . . . tagged as , ,

Laura Drake is a New York and self-published and author of Women’s Fiction and Romance. Her debut, The Sweet Spot, was a double-finalist, then won the 2014 Romance Writers of America® RITA® award. She’s since published 12 more books. She is a founding member of Women’s Fiction Writers Assn, Writers in the Storm blog.

Laura is a city girl who never grew out of her tomboy ways, or a serious cowboy crush. She gave up the corporate CFO gig to write full time. She realized a lifelong dream of becoming a Texan and is currently working on her accent. She’s a wife, grandmother, and motorcycle chick in the remaining waking hours.

Author Laura Drake is a woman of many talents. In addition to being a wife, grandmother and motorcycle chick who loves to flyfish, she’s my friend. Her books reach in and grab your heart and soul. Let’s see what Laura has to say about her latest book and her love of writing.

Jann: How important is the setting, themes, plot in your stories?

Laura: VERY! I’m writing Women’s Fiction now, so themes really resonate there. I’m so not a plotter, but so far, I’ve managed to bumble through. Settings – especially important in my Western Romances.

Jann: Congratulation on the April 19, 2022, release of your Women’s Fiction book, The Road to Me. I love the tag—Trouble with the Curve meets Peace, Love and Misunderstanding. Did you have this tag when developing the book or did it come to mind after?

Laura: After – and it’s the first book I’ve had a tag for!

Jann: Tell us about your characters, Jacqueline Oliver and her grandmother, Nellie, and their story. What major conflicts do they need to work through?

Laura: Oh my gosh, so many. See, Jacqueline was raised by her barely functioning alcoholic mother. Her grandmother would sail in, shower them with love and gifts, and then sail out, a few days later. Jacqueline thinks it’s because her grandmother didn’t care…but she’s wrong.

Jann: You were introduced to the rodeo world and Pro Bull Riding. You sold your Sweet on a Cowboy series after several years of submitting to agents and editors and finally to Grand Central(Forever). I remember how excited you were to receive a three-book contract. And to top it off, the first book in the series, The Sweet Spot, won the 2014 Romance Writers of America RITA for Best First Book. What a thrill it must have been for you. Tell us about the book and your experience winning the award.

Laura: The agony of defeat – until the thrill of victory! I was rejected 417 times over the course of 3 books (but who counted?). I was so desperate, because I knew this book was special. It wasn’t until an editor came to town, and I think it was YOU that asked me to pick her up at the airport and bring her to a scheduled dinner. She was stuck with me on the Orange Crush for TWO HOURS. Eventually, she asked what I wrote, and I pitched her my book. She asked me to send the beginning to her. I reached in the back seat and handed it to her (hey, I said desperate, right?) She was a bit surprised but promised that she’d read it on the plane home. Sure enough, Monday, she contacted me and said, ‘The first thing we need to do is get you an agent.’ Yeah, like I hadn’t thought of that…

I was stunned when my name was called…my agent and I just screamed for it seemed like minutes. Nora Roberts presented it to me (squee!) and whispered in my ear, ‘This is the best RITA.’ I sure wasn’t arguing! One of the best memories of my life.

Jann: Did winning the award advance your writing career?

Laura: You know, I was shocked. I was sure it would be the start that would launch my career. So after, I contacted my editor and said, ‘Okay, now how do we take advantage of this for marketing?’ She told me that the award mattered to authors, but didn’t mean anything to readers. Wow. But sadly, she was right.

Jann: You have published five more western romances and four small town romances. Your first Women’s Fiction, Days Made of Glass, published in November, 2015. Would you tell us about the history of this book?

Laura: I self-published it, because though all the editors who read it loved it, they said that there wasn’t enough of an audience for a Western WF. They were right – but I didn’t care. It’s the book I wrote for my sister, who I lost at 32 to cancer. Nothing in the book is autobiographical, but the sisters’ relationship ours. Many readers have told me that it’s their favorite of all my books, and it has the highest star rating. That’s all I care – that it touched them.

Jann: What do you want readers to come away with after they read your books?

Laura: ALL the feels. Laugh, cry, and everything in-between.

Jann: Love the picture on your website for The Road to Me. Is it a road somewhere on Route 66? It reminds me of California Highway 395 on the way to Mammoth Lakes. 

Laura: It’s not 395 (I so love that road), but somewhere in Arizona, I think.

Jann: What are you working on now? Can you tell us about your next project?

Laura: I just turned in my next Women’s Fiction to my editor. Tentatively titled, Amazing Gracie, it’s about a woman soldier returning from Afghanistan with heavy guilt. She takes her nine-year-old sister on a road trip to save her from the mother’s boyfriend, but her sister ends up saving her.

Jann: I know you love road trips on your motorcycle and fishing? Do you have any adventures planned this year?

Laura: Always! I’m lucky to now live within 15 miles of two lakes and a river and am fishing at least once a week (weather allowing). We’re planning on several motorcycle trips this year.

Jann: What kind of writer are you? A page a day or a burst writer?

Laura: My daily word count goal is 500. Yeah, not much, I know, but I work until they’re good words. I write every day, so they add up. It takes me 7 months to write a romance, 9 to write a Women’s Fiction.

Jann: Are there any words of inspiration on your computer, in your office or in your mind when you write?

Laura: I have a chunk of fossilized dinosaur poop on my desk. It reminds me that anything I’m worried about today won’t matter in a million years. And, not to write crap.

 Jann: Do you have a website, blog, twitter where fans might read more about you and your books?

Laura: I have a Facebook group that is full of snark, wisdom and interaction—come join us! It’s Laura Drake’s Peace, Love & Books. Twitter & Instagram – @lauradrakebooks  and my website is Laura Drake Books

I love doing Author Q&A’s and doing one with a good friend is great. Thanks Laura for giving our readers a peak into your writing, books and life. Good luck on the release of The Road to Me!!

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Chatting with Nikki Prince by Jann Ryan

January 2, 2022 by in category Jann says . . . tagged as , , , , ,

Jann Ryan is taking a much earned break. We’ll be running some of her past interviews while she’s off. Hope you enjoy this chat with Nikki Prince as much as we all did.

Today, I’m happy to be chatting with author, Nikki Prince. Nikki is a mother of two, who always had a dream to be a published author. Her passion lies in raising her children, gaming, reading and writing.  She has two Masters, one in English and the other in Creative Writing concentration in fiction.

Nikki’s a multi-published author with several publishing houses. She loves to write Interracial romances in all genres but wants to let everyone know to not box her in because there is always room for growth.  Nikki believes that love should truly be color blind and for all.

Nikki’s a member of Romance Writers of America National, DARA, and several online chapters.

Author Links

Website 
Instagram
Facebook Page 
Facebook Group
Twitter

Bakersfield Romance Writers Links

Facebook Group
Facebook Page
Instagram 
Twitter 
Website: coming soon


Jann Ryan: Since 2012, you have published seventeen books, earned a BA and MA in English and Creative Writing, active in several Romance Writers of America chapters, moved twice all while raising two wonderful children. Wow—how did you do it all?

Nikki Prince: It’s actually about 25 books and I earned another Masters in Literature during this time frame.  My two teens have been a great help as well as inspiration for me because I want them to know that anything is possible in their life as long as they go for it. 

I went back to school in 2014 and garnered the BA, and two MA’s in a 3-year span and have maintained a 3.9 GPA.  I’ve been wanting to write since I was 11 years old.  I finally made that dream a reality when I turned 43 and realized it is never too late to do what you’ve always wanted to do.  Writing and reading has been a passion for since I first found romance books at age 11.  Before finding my grandmother’s romances, and Johanna Lindsey on my father’s dresser I hated to read. 

Reading helped me in so many ways, you see I had a learning disability.  However, once I found romance books and started reading that all changed for me and the only inkling of a disability that I still have is in math which is another part of the brain.  Reading and writing saved my life in so many ways and knowing that I can bring joy to someone else from reading the worlds and characters that I build is so satisfyingly wonderful.  Another shining part in my writing and real life is belonging to RWA it is a wonderful community where writers of like minds can be together to nurture one another.

Jann Ryan: It’s Complicated debut in April of 2018. A reviewer declared it was a “steamy, intriguing romance.” Another said it was “friends with benefits until it goes sideways.” You have two great characters, Ashton Locke and Keiko Jarrett. For our readers who may not have found this incredible book tell us about it.

Nikki Prince: I’ve had this thought of creating a bunch of friends for who all intents and purposes are the best of girlfriends with great guy friends.  Three sets of friends and the desire to be together and yet there is something holding them back.  Ashton and Keiko’s love story has a few twists along the way to get to the HEA, because everyone deserves a happy ever after.

Jann Ryan: When can we read the next Nikki Prince novel?

Nikki Prince: The last story that I had come out is a short called Blurred Lines, and it came out June 2019.  I am working on edits for the second book in the Undeniable Series with  Áine Reid and Darian Tisdale in a story called “It’s Work” and following that the next story which is Emmerson Collins and Royce Hanson’s story called, “It’s Real.”  Beyond that I have a lot of stories still left in me to write.  Stories that may be paranormal, contemporary and love between the same gender, opposite gender, interracial mix or same racial mix as I believe everyone’s story should be told.

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

Nikki Prince: Indeed, I have.  I know there are some that say that writer’s block is imaginary.  In some ways I think that is true because there is inspiration to write everywhere.  However, there are times when the brain doesn’t want to function and let you put out the stories as you have before.  Because let’s face it, life can be messy it is one of the reasons most of us read romance is because it lets us get out of our own heads, our own lives and for a moment in time live a life of beauty. 

How I get past it is I game (I play World of Warcraft have since 2006), I spend time with my children, Travel somewhere different , read something else and sometimes a nap will rejuvenate the mind and spirit.   When I moved to Dallas last year in 2018 it was hard to get a chance to write and for me that was a block, however if it is in you to write and to create it never goes away so here I am.

Jann Ryan: What are you doing now between writing and life?

Right now I am working on putting together a writing community here in Bakersfield, California.  I knew when I moved here that RWA wasn’t represented here and I want to change that.  So far I have about 7 other people within the group.  I hope to gain more so that I can apply for Bakersfield Romance Writers to be a full chapter of the Romance Writers of America.  I am also in grad school for a third Masters.  This is a Masters in Marketing and Social Media.  I’m taking my time with this MA as I already have two and there is no rush, besides I have plenty of stories within me that I want to share with the world.

Jann Ryan: What’s your writing day like?

My writing day really depends.  Between having two teens in High School, being in grad school and looking for a full-time job here in Bakersfield (I’ve only been here since June), I write wherever and whenever I can.  That has always been the way of it since 2012.  I love writing and creating so I will write at night, in the afternoon, and in the morning.  Whatever it takes to get the stories done, I’ll do it.  One of the ways to do that is I love to do National Novel Writing Month (NanoWriMo) every November so that I can just immerse myself in my stories for a whole month.


A Few Books by Nikki Prince

#Me Too

Buy now!
#Me Too

IT’S COMPLICATED

Buy now!
IT’S COMPLICATED

ON ANGLE’S WINGS

Buy now!
ON ANGLE’S WINGS

SWAGGER

Buy now!
SWAGGER

PURE ADRENALINE

Buy now!
PURE ADRENALINE
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Historical Author Alanna Lucas–Romance, Adventure, and Happily Ever After!!

November 2, 2021 by in category Jann says . . . tagged as , ,

Bestselling, award-winning author Alanna Lucas pens Regency-set historicals filled with romance, adventure, and of course, happily ever afters. When she is not daydreaming of her next travel destination, Alanna can be found researching, spending time with family, volunteering, or going for long walks. She makes her home in California with her husband, children, one sweet dog, and hundreds of books.

Just for the record, you can never have too many handbags or books. And travel is a must.

Today the delightful Regency romance author Alanna Lucas is with us. Will be talking about her journey to publication and her latest releases.

Jann: Why did you become a writer?

Alanna: For as long as I can remember, I’ve had stories swirling through my thoughts. It seemed natural to write them down and share HEA’s. The world needs more Happily Ever Afters, right?!

Jann: Tell us about your journey to publication. How many books have you published?

Alanna: My book, Face to Face won a contest wherein I was offered a contract. It was really exciting! Face to Face was the first in a six-book series. I enjoyed my time with my publisher but found self-publishing more fulfilling. I suddenly was in control of who my editor was, cover design, and deadlines (an important detail when you have kids at home). I have self-published eleven books!

Jann: Historical romance readers look for accuracy from the author. What are your favorite sources for research and how much time did you spend on research? Do you research before, while you write a first draft or after?

 Alanna: Gosh, my favorite sources? Where to start… I have the Beau Monde to thank for the wealth of knowledge sitting on my bookshelves. The classes and material they have provided always is a great starting point. I love to research and probably spend way too much time falling down the rabbit hole looking for some tidbit to satisfy my curiosity. Lol!

Jann: The Redemption of Heathcliff, made its debut in January 2021, and How To Steal A Lyon’s Fortune, in April, received wonderful reviews by readers. Do you read reviews?

 Alanna: Thank you! I’ve been so pleased with the reception of both books. I do read some reviews (and try not to let the bad ones get to me). Authors put a lot of themselves into their writing and it’s nice to read that our stories resonate with readers.

Jann: On November 12, A Marchioness for Christmas makes its debut. What major conflicts do your leading characters, Antonia and Dracon, have to work through on the way to their HEA?

Alanna: Communication—or lack of—and family responsibility are things both Antonia and Dracon struggle with. Both have a strong sense of duty that have dictated their actions, and not always in their best interest.

Jann: When starting a new book do you think of character, plot or theme first?

 Alanna: Plot never comes first. Lol! I am a pantser all the way! Usually, the hero and heroine come to me with an idea. I spend a lot of time getting to know them in my head. Each book has its own journal for me to record thoughts and ideas.

Jann: What are you working on now? Can you tell us about your next project?

Alanna: I am working on a new series about three sisters who are gifted with charm, grace, and beauty, who are not only determined to marry for love and make advantageous matches, but plot to assist other ladies of Society to do the same. Let’s just say, they are not your typical debutants.

Jann: You wrote a couple of Historical Westerns. Will you be writing any more in the future?

Alanna: I hope so, but no cowboy hero has rushed into my thoughts lately 😉

Jann: Your book covers are fabulous. Are you the designer?

Alanna: Thank you! I think they’re fabulous, too! I have an amazing cover designer, Dar Albert, who really understands my vision, usually on the first go around.

Jann: What is the one thing you’ve never been asked, but you wish someone would?

 Alanna: This one stumped me a little. I guess… Have you ever acted out any of the scenes in your books? The answer is yes, but I won’t say which ones 😉

Jann: What’s the funniest (or sweetest or best or nicest) thing a fan ever said to you?

Alanna: “You look just like your author picture!”

Jann: You like to travel. Do you have a favorite location that you find yourself going back to? Do you have a bucket list of future destinations?

 Alanna: I LOVE to travel, especially to the Netherlands. I try and go once a year—I have family there and the little ones are getting so big, so fast! I’m always plotting the next travel destination. Next trip (fingers crossed that the world behaves, and travel is possible) is to see the Northern Lights in Norway.

Alanna, it’s been great to spend time with you today. I love reading Regency romances and yours are wonderful. Can’t wait to read A Marchioness for Christmas! You also have  Christmas Kisses, which is part of a Regency Holiday Romance Anthology with ten authors that is available now which I’m reading. Have a wonderful holiday season!!


Books by Alanna Lucas

(Click on the cover for more information. Hover over the cover for buy links.)


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Author E.J. Williams–Marriage, Mystery and Other Stuff!!

September 2, 2021 by in category Jann says . . . tagged as ,

Published authors, Janet Elizabeth Lynn and Will Zeilinger wrote individually until they teamed up and wrote the five book Skylar Drake Murder Mystery series. Janet has published seven mystery novels and Will has three in print, plus two short stories. Their world travels have sparked several ideas for murder, crime and thriller stories. This creative couple has been married for 49 years.

For their new International Crime File series, they are writing as E.J. Williams. The first novel is titled STONE PUB: an Exercise in Deception.

We’re here today with the mystery writing dual who write under the name of E. J. Williams. We’ll be talking about picking it up fresh after a delay, writing as a couple and other stuff.

Janet and Will:

We are a married couple who have written the five book Skylar Drake Mystery Series together and yes…we are still married. After finishing the series, we planned another series of international mystery thrillers. Unfortunately, we’ve had several medical issues occur during 2020-21 for both of us. Hence there was an eighteen-month period where we couldn’t work on our new book. After this long absence in writing we’ve decided to try and “get back into the saddle again.”

Jann: What are the positive and negatives of writing as a couple?

Will:

Positives: collaboration. Having a sounding board for your ideas. Coming up with fresh new ideas (two heads are better than one).

Negatives: Difficult to take a new idea and run with it. You must always check in with co-writer first. A couple’s vision is going to be different than an individual’s vision.

Janet:

I find it wonderful to share the ideas and brainstorming session with someone. Before starting our first book, Slivers of Glass together, we made a rule that we check our egos at the door before we do anything with the book we are writing. The most difficulty we have is trying to schedule meetings around two hectic and existing schedules. We manage but it can be a pain.

Jann: Do you share the editing and publication process for your books.

Will:

Yes. We share both the editing and publication processes for all our books, including cover design and back cover blurbs.

Janet:

We split our “duties” according to our skills. I like to outline and he is a “panster”. So I outline the story, he adds to the outline then we start writing any of our Skylar Drake books. With editing we read the manuscript to each other 3-4 times before sending it to the editor. Regarding publishing, Will is the expert in formatting and publishing so he is in charge of that. I take care of Public Relations.

Jann: What if you hate what you wrote before?

Will:

Personally, I save everything. Even if I can’t stand what I wrote previously, there will always be something in it that can be used in the future. If you are talking about previous works, I don’t shine a spotlight on the ones I don’t like…but someone will like it. Writing is an art and art is subjective. Never apologize for your work. Writing is a creative process and everything will not be a masterpiece.

Janet:

Someone once said, “You can’t edit a blank page”. And I have to admit my first drafts are embarrassing when I read through them. But they are not supposed to be pristine. All writers will tell you writing a book, short story, etc. is a process.

Jann: Do you ever chuck what you did and just start a new project?

Will:

No, but I have begun some short stories or outlines for a novel after a few lines that just did NOT work. Yes. In that case, I crumple up the paper and start over.

Janet:

I have never thrown away anything I have written. If it doesn’t work after two tries, then I remove it from the manuscript and keep it. I can’t tell you how many times I needed scene and looked through my “dump” folder and found the perfect scene.

Jann: How do you keep the excitement alive for an old project?

Will:

As a visual artist, I’ve looked at works I made decades ago and thought…I’ve learned a lot since then. The same goes for writing. A fresh look at an old project can be exciting because NOW you know what to do to make it come alive. I look at old projects as a challenge and that is exciting!

Janet:

It is hard to pick up a project again after an absence, but I look at it as a fresh piece longing to be touched again. I have to admit, I do have an old manuscript, my first, that has been under the bed for eleven years. I probably will not pick up again. I keep it around to remind me to stay on task and finish all project as I write them or as soon as possible.

Jann: Did the story run through your mind even though you were away from it?

Will:

Yes. The story will rattle around in my brain. Especially after all the research I’ve put into something. The story will run through my mind during the time I’m not actively writing it and has even reminded me of some stories I’ve put on hold.

Janet:

The book was always on my mind in many different ways. Being on pain pills my thought meandered away from the outline and I came up with some amazing thoughts. So, I kept in depth notes when I came to. As outlandish some of them were, it helped me think outside the box.

Jann: What advice do you give to author who must take a break from their work or lose their mojo?

Will:

Your work will still be there when whatever caused you to stop has been resolved. Losing your “mojo” could mean writer’s block or a change of focus. Remember why you were writing the piece. Maybe your reasons have changed. Look at this time as a landing spot-–a place to rest your creative mind for a while. Recharge and take a deep breath.

Janet:

Take a break from your writing. When you can’t take a break, join a writers’ group. We had severe writer’s block after eleven books (we write separately and together). For five months we couldn’t get anything down—nothing! Desperate, we joined a writers’ club. That forced us to write something every week. It took about three weeks but suddenly we broke out of it.

Jann: What advice do you have for new authors and returning published authors to the craft after being away for several years?

Will:

Remember that some of the most well-known authors have had to do something else for a while. If you love to write, then getting back in the chair will be like riding a bike. Your writing is your world. You have the opportunity to change anything you want. There is no right or wrong. It’s your creative piece. No one else controls it but you.

Janet:

For new authors, join writers’ clubs, especially in your genre. If not, join several critic groups. After a few weeks of submitting and listening a to their advice. See which one is most helpful. There are critique group and there are critique groups.  for seasoned authors once you start writing again, your “juices” will flow again, I promise. Someone once gave a formula for writing books: Butt + Chair = Books. This formula works!

Jann: What do you like the most about writing?

Will:

Having been trained and spending my career as a visual artist, I found writing fiction to be a creative art, as satisfying as any visual art.  While it can be a solitary endeavor, I like to see a finished project that started out as a blank screen (or sheet of paper.) I get engulfed in my writing. When we decided to write the Skylar Drake mysteries together, I loved being able to go back in time and recreate places and environments. That was a complete hoot!

Janet:

I enjoy the research that goes into each book. The Skylar Drake Mystery Series takes place in 1956, Los Angeles. All books take the reader from LA to another city. Our first book, SLIVERS OF GLASS. Starts in LA and goes to 1956 Santa Rosa. We happened to be in Santa Rosa for a wedding when we decided to have the book take place there. Since we didn’t know the area, I asked people “Where would you dump a dead body?” I was amazed how people were giving us directions and landmarks to good body dumps (we had 5 dead bodies to put some place). As two of the gentlemen were giving us directions, one wife turned to the other and said, “They seem so normal!”

Jann: What is E. J. William’s working on now?

Will:

Janet and I began our work on our long-awaited International Mystery series which takes place in 1962. The first book STONE PUB takes the reader to Ireland. We were finishing the last of the Skylar Drake Mystery series and had to wait to start STONE PUB. We finally got to it but we both faced health issues. We tried to pick it up and work on it periodically but just couldn’t focus. The book is coming along nicely with lots of changes we hadn’t thought of originally

Janet:

We got the idea for an International Mystery series in 2014 after someone said to us, “You guys travel all over the place!” STONE PUB came about three years ago after a visit to Ireland. The country is truly “magical” and really spoke to us. Everywhere we went, ideas floated into our heads, and we found some great body dumps! Since we are now feeling better, and off pain meds we can think clearly. We’re both still in Physical Therapy and doing much better.

Thanks Janet and Will for spending time with us today and sharing your ideas for picking it up fresh after a delay. Can’t wait for Stone Pub to make its debut!!


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