I love authors who touch my heart and soul, who make me think and grow with their words. One day I was hunting around the Boroughs Publishing Group’s website, checking out their products and looking for something to read, and I stumbled onto in the place where she fell by Mary Beth Bass. It being a Lunchbox® romance, it was bound to be short and at only .99, affordable.
But having bought it, I forgot about it until a few weeks later when I was perusing my Kindle, and the cover caught at me. And so I read this story on my lunch hour, and found myself so moved, so changed, that I had to write a review of it. And then I had to talk about it on my blog.
That’s when Mary Beth and I got to talking and becoming friends through Facebook, and through both of us being published by Boroughs. So I want to share my beautiful, talented, soulful friend and the magical world she inhabits.
CA: On your website, you talk about walking through the woods and memorizing poetry on an almost daily basis. How does poetry influence your writing?
MBB: When I first started hiking I used to think, this is great, but wouldn’t it be awesome if some beautiful-voiced, English-accented man was following me and reciting poetry. Kind of like a lyric lady’s maid with a voice like Benedict Cumberbatch. Needless to say I couldn’t quite make that happen. So I became my own Benedict Cumberbatch (without the butter-and-whisky voice). The cool thing about hiking and reciting is that concentrating on steep terrain and not tripping over rocks means I don’t worry that I’m doing the poem wrong. I found that I understood the poems much better than I would have from a place of stillness on the couch. Hmm, I didn’t really answer your question. Probably because I’m not sure how to answer it. I think poetry influences my writing the way everything influences writing. Something grabs a corner of your brain and makes a home there until it pops up in a book. Maude, the sister of the heroine in my young adult fantasy, everything you know, loves poetry. She was born in part from one of my favorite Keats’ poems The Eve of St. Agnes. Maude’s story doesn’t exactly follow the story of that poem but it echoes elements of it. The Eve of St. Agnes is gorgeous and sexy and deceptively dark. You should go read it right now, and imagine your voice-of-choice is reciting it. Over red wine in an old inn. In a snowstorm.
CA: I love Keats, but haven’t read him in a long time. I’ll get right on The Eve of St. Agnes, though… So, I’ve noticed on Facebook that you’re often championing local theater productions. I used to be an actress/dancer/director, and my husband is still vital in the business. How did you become so involved?
MBB: I wanted to be an actress and studied in some fancy-pants theatre schools but I realized soon after I graduated that I didn’t want that life. I love theatre. And I really love supporting other artists. Theatre is my favorite art form. It still feels like actual magic to me. I started occasionally acting again a few years ago. Last summer I was in an amazing production of The Tempest in the woods in a huge nature preserve. The show ended as night fell. Almost every actor I went to school with is a writer now. Or a lawyer.
CA: Oh, don’t I know it – acting, show biz, is a tough business and crumbles a lot of young people’s dreams, especially if they come out to Hollywood. Very few of the people I acted with 30 years ago are still doing it…okay, moving on or we’ll be here all night talking about theater! Tell me how being a parent has influenced your writing.
MBB: When I first started writing my kids were very young. On the way to the bus stop one morning my youngest son told me he couldn’t wait to see my name on a book someday. I decided then to write under my own name. People still assume if you’re writing romance you must be writing under a different name. My first book came out when my youngest was in kindergarten. He gave the book to all his teachers and his bus driver!
My daughter edited my first book when she was still in high school. (Don’t judge. If you’d seen her insightful peer-editing of her classmates’ work, you probably would have made her stay home from the Halloween party until she finished editing the manuscript you were submitting.) She interned at Soft Skull Press in college and is a freelance editor now. She also manages a restaurant in New York City and is awesome.
CA: Wow, how wonderful to get such support from your kids! Now, tell me. You call yourself a writer of “dreamy, lyrical, science fiction and fantasy romance novels for adults and teens.” The words dreamy, lyrical, and science fiction don’t usually go together. How did you come to realize that was a strength of yours?
MBB: Well, I’m pretty dreamy and lyrical by nature. I didn’t realize I was writing science fiction-ish stories until readers started pointing that out. That being said, I have a huge crush on science. My fantasy jobs are hacker or virus hunter. The hero of my work in progress, The Language of the Thread, is an eighteenth century astronomer who is working towards the discovery of Neptune, using mathematics. (Neptune was the first planet to be discovered that way.) The heroine of my first book, Follow Me, is a medical researcher and works covertly as a doctor in the early nineteenth century. I read medical journals from that time period and made up a disease. It was kind of awesome.
CAA: Okay, now I just want to sit you down with a margarita in your hand and talk science, lol! With all that going on, what is your next book about, and when will it be out?
MBB: My next book is All That We See. It’s the sequel to everything you know and picks up right where that story ends. Emma and Joe’s story continues in this book but the heroine of All That We See is Thalia Salic. I’m super excited about this book. It comes out this December.
CAA: Very cool! I have everything you know but, in my typical fashion, haven’t read it yet. I’ll be looking for All That We See. Thank you, so very much, for letting me pry into your life.
MBB: It was my pleasure. Thanks for the great questions!
Okay folks, so here’s where you can find Mary Beth Bass around the Internet. And do yourself a favor – do pick up in the place where she fell. You won’t regret it!
Hi folks! I’m turning Writer Wednesday over to Emily Mims. Settle back and enjoy her fabulous story about her publishing journey, and how things have changed since she first began, over three decades ago.
Publishing, Then and Now – My Days with Candlelight Ecstasy Romance
It’s hard to imagine, as I think back on my days as a Candlelight Ecstasy romance writer, that it’s really been thirty-two years since I got that fateful phone call from senior editor Anne Gisonny that she wanted to buy my book ‘Portrait of my Love’ for the Candlelight Ecstasy line. In a romance world where the heroines were mostly virgins and the relationships mostly chaste, Candlelight was breaking ground with career women as heroines and (gasp!) full-blown love scenes before the commitment, and I was thrilled to be a part of that liberalization of the genre. I was fortunate to be able to write eighteen books for the line in a three and a half year period, in a publishing world that was vastly different from the world we write in today. I look back on those days with fond nostalgia and no little amusement as I think about how the writing and publishing process has been reinvented since those golden days so long ago.
I was first bitten by the writing bug when I tossed a poorly written romance across the floor and announced that I could do a better job. My husband promptly dared me to do so. I wrote up what was at that time the standard virgin-falls-in-love-with-older-guy story, had a friend type it up for me, and sent it to my favorite line, Candlelight. Lydia Paglio, an associate editor, wrote me a personal rejection letter but told me that my writing had promise. Cheeky little me called her up, and when she heard it was only my first attempt she laid out exactly what Candlelight was looking for and told me to write it for her. About that time my husband brought home an Atari 800 computer, which solved the typing problem, and I wrote up another story, the kind Lydia said she wanted, printed it out on a dot-matrix printer, and shipped the manuscript to New York. Lydia called me up with the changes she wanted, I made them and shipped another manuscript, and they bought the book. Since I was a classroom teacher and wanted to keep my identities separate, ‘Emily Elliott’ was born.
And so it went. I wrote the second on spec also, but by the time the third rolled around Lydia and Anne were willing to let me write three chapters and a synopsis (I am a plotter so this was fine by me) and then we went into the synopsis and made the changes in the story that they wanted before I did the writing. Eventually they trusted me enough to buy a book based on a brief synopsis, knowing I knew what constituted a good story, but we still went through the revision process involving multiple trips to the post office. And we worked entirely by telephone, which could be tough since I was at school during the day and was a time zone behind New York. If I was expecting a call from Lydia, I would have my husband pick up our sons from day care and hurry straight home, praying I didn’t catch traffic or have a last-minute faculty meeting to attend, to take the call before Lydia left for the day.
So when did I do my writing, if I already had a full-time job and two small children? The same as any other writer who works a day job-in the evening and on the weekend. I would get home with the boys, spend time with them and make dinner, and at seven I would hand the boys over to their good-natured and doting dad and hit the word processer while he did baths and bedtime. In those days I could rough-draft ten pages in three hours and if I had a book due I did this three to four nights a week and then took a night or two to revise and polish. And summers were a god-send. I could write during the daytime and just about double my productivity and still have time to take the boys to the swimming pool every day.
One of Emily’s Candlelight romances.
Doing research for the books was a different proposition in my Candlelight days. There was no Google to consult, no mouse to push, no icons to click. We had to do it the hard way! But to me the hard way was also a lot of fun. Since I tend to spotlight men and women in various professions, I found individuals in those professions who would, over dinner in the restaurant of their choice, answer my myriad questions about what they did. Over the course of my career with Candlelight, I interviewed an MD, a Las Vegas blackjack dealer, a deputy sheriff, an Air Force pilot, an FBI agent who also took me on a tour of the San Antonio offices, an interior designer who took me on a tour of the Dallas Trade Mart and into a catalogue photo shoot, a policeman, a forensic chemist, a belly dancer, an accountant, a stockbroker, a Border patrol agent, a…well, you get the idea! And I also got to see some places and do some things I wouldn’t have otherwise, such as tour the Brooke Army Medical Center burn treatment ward and go up in a four seat Piper for a flight over the Hill Country. (Interestingly enough, I still use this approach even though I do have the Internet at my disposal. For my upcoming book ‘The Soap Maker’ I interviewed a Llano County deputy sheriff and went into the home of a soap maker and learned how to make a batch of scented soap.) I also did a lot of in-state traveling to research my settings. I would check out the area to make sure I had the geography and the feel of the town or city right and then we would have a fun family weekend together. I made it a point to have visited every setting I used in the books except for the settings in ‘Season of Enchantment’, which is set in California and Vietnam, and you better believe I carefully researched those settings, talking to people who had been or lived there, before I put a word on paper.
I could have and would have happily written books for Candlelight Ecstasy forever. Unfortunately, between Harlequin, Silhouette, Candlelight, and Loveswept there were over one hundred titles a month coming out, way too many for the market to support, and Candlelight sales fell to the point that Dell Publishing canceled the series, throwing seventy five writers out in the marketplace to find new publishers. I tried, of course, but six weeks later my husband lost his job, and although thankfully he found work quickly, he went from working a forty hour week to working sixty or more and someone had to tend to the boys. In addition, I took on an academic coaching position that pretty well ate up what little time I had left. So regretfully I put the writing career away for what I assumed would be forever and taught school and raised my children. Periodically I thought about writing again, but my friends who were still in the business were not at all encouraging-the romance market had experienced such a downturn they could barely sell a book. “Don’t bother, Emily,” one of them told me. “It isn’t fun anymore.” I listened to them-they did have a point-but I never really quit missing the writing.
Back Into the Fray
And then, several years ago, I had an experience similar to the one all those years ago. I picked up a few novels from an again busy romance aisle in the bookstore and read them, and again I had the sense that I could do better. But this time I didn’t want to write for a series and I wanted to write a longer, more complex story with the added element of suspense. So I asked myself what would be the most powerful motivating force that would bring together two people with seemingly nothing else in common and then I asked myself how I could get those two people together in a way that hadn’t been written before, and ‘Solomon’s Choice’ was born. The sailing was not quite as smooth this time-it took me a year and a half and countless revisions to find an agent with enough faith in the story to represent ‘Solomon’, and it took her awhile to find a publisher who liked the somewhat unusual premise enough to buy the book. But finally, in October 2013, Boroughs Publishing released ‘Solomon’s Choice’ and my career was reborn. And thankfully, I will not be a one-book wonder with ‘Solomon’s Choice’. I have since written two lunchbox romances for Boroughs, ‘After the Heartbreak’ and ‘A Gift of Trust’, and will have two more full-length novels, both sequels to ‘Solomon’, going live next year. And for a blast from the past, Boroughs is also going to re-issue three of my favorite Candlelight romances to a new generation of readers.
So just how different is writing today? Hugely different in some ways and not different at all in others. The technology makes a large difference, of course. I communicate with everyone totally by email. I do all my writing and revising at the computer-no printouts whatsoever, and I have yet to go to the post office. I do a lot of my research on the Internet. One personal difference is that I have retired from teaching and no longer have to hide my work behind a pen name. To me, however, the biggest difference is that today it is the author’s responsibility to reach out to the reading community and find her readers. We can no longer hide behind a label and expect the readers to buy our book based on a logo-our readers have to want to read our books, and to make our readers aware of our books we have to be out there making our presence known in the social media world. And of course the stories themselves are different, reflecting the changes in society in the last thirty years. Single parenthood is common and not a cause for shame. Women in high-powered or dangerous careers are a story line staple. Recreational sex on the part of the heroine is not particularly frowned upon and Erotica has become an accepted presence in the market. Addiction, abuse, PTSD, war injuries, flawed heroes and flawed heroines-no longer shied away from by authors, publishers, or readers. And on the other side of the spectrum, in a world of fantasy unimagined thirty years ago, vampires and werewolves and shape shifters, oh my! The paranormal world-what a fun addition to the genre!
But not everything has changed. The crafting of an interesting, compelling, believable story is the same as it ever was. The creation of appealing heroes and heroines who reach out to the readers is as important as ever. The need to draw in the reader and make her care about these people and what happens to them is still paramount. In other words, in spite of the changes that the publishing industry and the romance genre has seen since my days with Candlelight, it is still my job to tell a good story.
You can find me at Facebook of course, and at my Blog.
Wow, Emily! Thank you so much for stopping by. What a career, and how exciting that you’ve come back to writing. I’ve heard that once you start, it’s very difficult to stop and you are proof of that, my friend.
Folks, the links to each of Emily’s books are highlighted – check them out! And if you’re interested in her back titles, aside from the ones being reissued from Boroughs Publishing Group, a quick search will show you opportunities to purchase them through third parties.
AND…here’s a quick link to all three at Amazon. Click Here.
May your Wednesday be a happy one, filled with words and books and love and hugs.
It’s here, it’s here! As the day moves along and more platforms go “live”, I’ll share here. WOO! Happy Book Birthday to me!
About the book:
After a whirlwind courtship, the Christmas season finds plain-Jane-with-a-secret Elle Houston engaged to one of the brightest stars in the Hollywood firmament–and falling for the personal chef at her ritzy, pre-wedding resort.
December 19th, eveningElle Houston drew her feet up onto the couch and nervously watched her fiancé—her fiancé—finish packing in the hotel suite he called home. “Are you sure you want to get married?”Taylor Collins, Grade A movie star, stopped adding shirts to his suitcase, tipped his head to one side and smiled, that lopsided grin that caused female hearts to flutter worldwide. “Are you getting cold feet?”“No. Of course not.” She’d never thought she’d get a proposal, ever. Not saying yes to the guy who was People’s Sexiest Man Alive? She’d have to be brain-dead. “I’ve got the guy all the girls want, the guy paparazzi clamor over.” She nibbled her top lip, considering. “I guess I’m still just a bit stunned that you proposed.”
Happy Dancing here!!!
Find it at All Romance eBooks, Amazon, Smashwords
Update: For a few hours on Saturday morning, I made a list! #72 – not bad!!!
It didn’t last long, but it sure made my day.
Settle in and read about Goldie Alexander, an Aussie author of over 80 novels. Her adult romance is called Penelope’s Ghost, from Boroughs Publishing Group.
Haunted. Haunting. Redeemed.
When Lisa Harbinger takes a job as nanny to a prestigious Australian family, she gets more than she bargained for: two spoilt children, vengeful ghosts, a long-unsolved mystery and a blazing passion she and her enigmatic boss are unable to deny.
INTO THE MIST
Fleeing a humiliating end to a passionless marriage, Lisa Harbinger seeks refuge in a posh summer retreat on Australia’s lush South Coast. There she finds work as a nanny for two willful children on one prestigious estate. But behind Rangoon’s ivy and red brick walls lies a mystery: What really happened to the family’s beloved Penelope?
Even more mysterious is Richard Prescott. Cold and aloof by day, Lisa’s boss heats up her nights and awakens her soul. But to have a future they both must escape their pasts. Vengeful ghosts and a generations-old curse seek to bring ruin on Richard and his family. But if Lisa can find the answers, she—and her growing love—could be the one to set him free.
Penelope’s Ghost can be found here. OOH, sounds delish! Let’s hear a bit about Goldie herself before we find out about her YA novels.
Take it away, Goldie!
Author Goldie Alexander
“My parents migrated from Poland just before the 2nd World War. Born in Melbourne, my earliest memories are of a time when children were allowed to wander the streets without anyone worrying about them getting into trouble.
My first four Young Adult books were ‘Dolly Fiction’ novels published under the pseudonym of Gerri Lapin. My first book under my own name, “Mavis Road Medley” is a time travel fiction exploring the world of Princes Hill and my parents’ struggles to survive the Depression. Since then I have written more than 80 books, and many short stories and articles.
These days I work full time as a writer, teach creative writing and take seminars and workshops in Universities, TAFE colleges, clubs and schools. I also mentor emerging writers.
I’m very interested in the development of the ebook as ‘the book of the future’. I believe that hardcopies will inevitably disappear, except perhaps for the beautifully produced coffee table book, though I do lament their tactile appeal. But what I view as vitally important are words, stories, themes and ideas, no matter in which way they’re published. Some of my most recent books can be read in both hardcopy and ebooks.”
Here’s a bit about Goldie’s young adult books:
That Stranger Next Door In 1954, Melbourne is still reeling from WWII, the Cold War sees suspicions running high and the threat of communism and spies are imagined in every shadow. 15 year old Jewish Ruth is trying to navigate her own path, despite her strict upbringing and the past that haunts her family. A path that she wishes could include her first love, 17 year old Patrick. But the rich, Catholic boy is strictly off limits. When a mysterious woman moves in next door in the dead of night, Ruth becomes convinced that she is none other than Eva or Evdokia Petrov, a Soviet spy and wife of famous Russian defector, Vladimir Petrov. Available here.
In Hades 17 year-old Kai lives on the streets. The night Rod, his 12 year-old autistic brother, comes looking for him, the two steal, crash a car and die. Searching for Rod, Kai finds himself in Hades where he meets dead Bilby-G. As their adventures continue, these youngsters are magically transformed to what they were before Kai became a street-boy and Bilby G. became anorexic. In their efforts to find Rod, the youngsters come across some of the mythical characters as described by Kai’s Greek grandmother before she died: a multi-headed dog. A blind prophet. Twin whirlpools. Three goddesses. A dangerous sea-nymph. The powerful sea-god and his evil one-eyed son.
(This novel’s journey consisting of 47 poems that trace their journey through the underworld) is based on some of the mythical creatures from Homer’s “Odyssey.”
Thanks for stopping by, Goldie, and sharing your wonderful novels with us!
Find Goldie at her Website and her Blog.
There is snow on the mountains in Aspen, Colorado – and here in my neck of southern California, the temps are expected to hit in the triple digits (because the weather people prefer to say “triple digits” than “the hundreds”). So what to drink?
Here are two wines that are eminently drinkable, no matter the temperature outside.
Fat Cat Merlot, 2012 Napa, California Alcohol 12.5% by Volume; $6.99 on sale at Vons. 95 POINTS | GOLD MEDAL California State Fair Wine Competition 2012
On the Label: “At Fat Cat Cellers, we’re into wines that hit all the right notes, right now. Take our mellow Merlot. The deep ruby red color is prelude to a rich cherry and berry melody, accompanied by mild tannins and oak that close on a palate-pleasing, silky smooth chord. It’s a ballad in a glass. A-dee-dot, a-dew-dot, a skittley-dot-mer-lot. You dig?”
My Take: The color is good in the glass, and the taste works when the temps drop outside. The low alcohol content, however, also make it a good summer night, burgers on the barbecue-type wine as well. Or just sipping while you watch the bats come out at dusk, or while counting snowflakes as they hit the deck.
My Rating: ~ Drinkable ~ and at this price, it’s easy to share with friends for an end-of-summer barbecue or a damn-winter’s-here-early party around the fire.
Beringer Simply Sophisticated Chardonnay California, 2013 Alcohol 13% by Volume; regularly $6.99 at Vons, on sale for $4.99
On the Label: “This carefully crafted wine has subtle aromas of peach, apricot and golden delicious apples. It is balanced, juicy and layered with ripe flavors. If you enjoy our Chardonnay, make sure to try our Pinot Grigio. Serve chilled. Please visit us at beringer.com.
My Take: This is Beringer’s low cost alternative to their Founder’s Reserve selection, which runs $10 to $15 more per bottle. Frankly, this is an excellent Chardonnay for the price and the Beringer name brings a certain comfort when buying an inexpensive wine. You know you’re going to enjoy the product. This wine would work wonderfully with the chowders and soups that come along with winter, and works just as well when grilling fish on the barbecue. (I have barbecue on the brain. Does it show?)
My Rating ~ Drinkable ~ And a good value, to boot. I’ve also tried their Pinot Grigio, and enjoy it just as much.
So whatever type of weather is out there, there’s a wine for that! May your October be one of peace, prosperity, and pumpkins.
Oh – and two weeks from today, CHRISTMAS STAR releases, my new holiday short story from Boroughs Publishing Group! Yeah, I’m a tad excited…*bouncety*
My Rating System: Undrinkable; Barely Drinkable; Drinkable; Very Drinkable; and the ever-popular “Stay Away! This is MY wine, you Slut!”
Thanks so much for stopping by. Now that it’s autumn, the blog is getting up to speed again. If you like what you read, please go on and click on that “subscribe” button, up there on the right hand side. I’d love to get to know you, too, so let me know if you have a favorite wine that I should try!