What’s coming next?

Isn’t Summer Grand?

I’ve been very busy since the beginning of June. But summer is always a busy time!

My sons have been involved in a Performing Arts Camp for a number of years, and I thoroughly enjoy volunteering to help with the costumes because it lets me get to know the kids and the other parents. Fortunately, there are many people who help with the costumes, so I was able to maintain a fairly rigorous writing schedule… until around July 10th. After that, the frenzy of summer vacation overtook us. We traveled to San Diego and then on to Costa Mesa for my niece’s wedding. We visited my mother-in-law, and spent time with various relatives we haven’t seen in ten years. My kids seemed to enjoy the trip. I say “seemed to” because they are teenagers. Those creatures are notorious for either hiding their feelings or showing disdain for most things. Fortunately, my sons were fairly enthusiastic throughout the trip, and we all had a great time. My older son learned to boogie-board, and my youngest son went paragliding (while my husband and I tried not to freak out).

After we returned home, we visited University of Pittsburgh so my older son could see if he might want to attend college there (he might), and I had to deal with some medium-to-large sized emergencies. But I am mostly in one piece (except for my toenail, but that’s an entirely different story.)


The good news is that my editor is reviewing two of my books. She is about to complete her final pass on my novella “It Takes a Spy…,” and she just sent me her first round of edits for “Lady Catherine’s Secret.” Once I have her final stamp of approval, I’ll begin working with the cover artist for both books. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with! I absolutely LOVED the cover of “Gambling on a Scoundrel.”

Should I do a big cover reveal? Definitely!

Stay tuned!

My son goes paragliding at the Torrey Pines Gliderport in La Jolla, CA

My son goes paragliding at the Torrey Pines Gliderport in La Jolla, CA


Where did Tempy Bliss come from?

Where did Tempy Bliss come from?

Since Gambling on a Scoundrel was released, a number of people have asked me about my inspiration for my heroine, Temperance Bliss, or, as I affectionately call her, Tempy.

An Idea
Tempy started out as an idea. I wanted a heroine who was confident in her abilities, but not about her relationships with other people, because I wanted to write a Pygmalion type story. To me, the only way this sort of story made sense for a strong-willed character would be if my heroine could only get her heart’s desire by making fundamental changes to herself. But how could my heroine truly be strong if she is willing to change to please someone else?

A Toehold
Trying to wrap my head around this character was a bit of a challenge, because until I could understand her motivation, I couldn’t write her properly. One of the first things that helped me pin her down was through naming her Tempy. It helped me focus on the fact that while the changes she would make to herself would be temporary (Tempy-orary?), at the core, my heroine was strong and would inevitably revert to her former self (but perhaps with a bit more polish).

While I was still trying to figure out what Tempy’s story would be, I was talking with a friend of mine who is a food blogger. She told me about some problems she was having with a particular fan who was constantly contacting her. The communications had become so frequent and felt so personal that it was beginning to make my friend feel as though she was being stalked. This gave me the idea that Tempy could be a journalist (bloggers didn’t exist in 1861!) who was being harassed by someone through the newspapers. That’s the moment when the shadowy Earl E. Byrd was born. (Journalists who wanted to disguise their identity often wrote under obvious pseudonyms such as these in the Victorian era.)

Women from that time period

There were very few female journalists in 1861, so the mere fact that Tempy was pursuing a career was enough to make her an outcast. As I got to know Tempy, I realized what a strong and determined woman she was. She knew what she wanted and she wasn’t afraid to go and get it. She was fortunate that she didn’t have someone controlling her life and that she had enough money to allow her to follow her dreams.

Nellie Bly
As far as real-life people are concerned, Nellie Bly was quite similar to Tempy Bliss, but Nellie’s career began a couple of decades after Tempy’s fictional story. Nellie began her career as a journalist in Pittsburgh in 1880.

H. J. Myers, photographer - This image is available from the United States Library of Congress's Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID cph.3b22819

Nellie Bly, from Wikipedia


Eliza Lynn Linton
A real-life contemporary of Tempy’s would have been Eliza Lynn Linton. She was a novelist, essayist, and journalist in England. I’m not certain, however, that if Tempy and Eliza had met in some alternate dimension where fictional characters and real people meet and talk, that they would have seen eye-to-eye on many topics. I’m fairly certain that Eliza would have publicly disapproved of Tempy’s belief that women should be able to do anything men could do.

I loved learning about these inspiring women as I wrote about Tempy.

So there you have it. How Tempy Bliss came into being. I hope you love her as much as I do!

How to Write Your Back Cover Copy for Your Romance Novel

How to Write Your Back Cover Copy for Your Romance Novel


Getting that back cover copy exactly right is an essential step in preparing your novel for publication. Don’t skimp on this. It is your biggest marketing tool.  Think about it, do you ever buy a book without reading that bit on the back that tells you what you’ll find inside? If it doesn’t catch your attention, you’ll put it back on the rack and move on to the next book.

It’s important to describe the essence of your book in about two paragraphs at most, with about three sentences per paragraph. Make them powerful and punchy, and don’t waste space by asking obvious questions. The “Will these two ever get together?” type questions can be omitted. After all, this is a romance, so they’d BETTER get together, right? Use the space for something more relevant that makes your book stand out from the others.

In your first and Second paragraphs you need to introduce the hero and heroine and describe the conflict that keeps them apart. In a romance, this is typically an interior conflict (something emotional), but in more plot-driven romances, such as Romantic Suspense, there is often an exterior conflict that keeps them apart as well. The true journey in a romance novel is, however, the internal journey. How will she, with her baggage from the past, ever come to love and trust him? And how will he, with all his commitment issues/unresolved trust issues/ other baggage ever come to trust and commit to her? Those are the internal conflicts we need to address in our back cover copy.


Would You Like a Formula? Here’s a Formula for You!

A basic formula is:
Paragraph 1: Heroine, who has THIS internal conflict, has this goal.
Paragraph 2: Hero, who has this (probably CONFLICTING) internal conflict, has this (probably CONFLICTING) goal. (We need conflict here people, basic fundamental conflict.)
Paragraph 3: (There can be more variation here.) They are ATTRACTED to one another, but must first RESOLVE this difference. And this PLOT POINT gets in their way, complicating matters.
(Or perhaps they don’t want to be attracted to each other but are forced together by circumstances.)
One more thought:
If you’re selling an ebook on Amazon, the search spiders will pick up words from your description, so it is a good idea to add another paragraph or two which you will only post on the Amazon site. Make sure those paragraphs include key information that a reader might search on. If your book takes place in a certain locale, you might want to add it in these extra paragraphs.

When Amazon posts your back cover copy, those added paragraphs won’t initially be displayed. The reader can only see them by pressing the More button. So, make sure the first couple of paragraphs pack all of your punch.

Here’s an example from Gambling on a Scoundrel:
In 1861, lonely railroad heiress Tempy Bliss, a budding journalist, is elated that Charles Dickens wants her to write an article about gambling for his newspaper. But when casino owner Lucien Hamlin bans Tempy from his gambling palace once he learns of her profession, she begins to suspect a much bigger story is at hand. Lucien’s secretive behavior goads Tempy into uncovering the real story.

Lucien is a hard-driving businessman whose life is about to be upended by his unexpected inheritance of an earldom. It’s a fact he’d rather not have announced, and certainly not in newsprint, until after the sale of his casino.

With Tempy’s career goals progressing, as well as her dreams of becoming a part of her fiancé’s family, she refuses to accept defeat even when Ernest sends her a letter from Paris breaking their engagement and informing her he’s fallen in love with a Frenchwoman. Tempy resolves to win him back while simultaneously conducting her research at the sumptuous Hamlin House casino.

And the “below the fold” paragraphs only on the Amazon are:

When Ernest returns to London with his new fiancée, Tempy witnesses their open affection for one another and is heartbroken. This inspires her to transform herself into the kind of woman Ernest seems to want, and she makes a deal with Lucien Hamlin to help her. Tempy isn’t at all interested in a loner like Lucien, and Lucien wants to avoid the complications swirling around Tempy Bliss, the notorious “poor little rich girl.”

In Tempy’s quest to transform herself she learns to walk, talk, drink…and even to kiss like a courtesan. Her journey takes her from London to Bath and across Somerset County to the town of Porlock. She learns a great deal about the seedier side of casinos and gambling. She also continues to conduct research for her article, meets a reformed gambler, and works with both Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins.

Released April 1, 2014

Released April 1, 2014

Times, They Are A-Changin

It’s springtime, my first book is out, my son went on his first round of college visits last week, and my kitten just came in heat. Times, they are a-changin.

I’m thrilled that my book, Gambling on a Scoundrel, is out. Thank you to everyone who supported me and purchased a copy. You’re my angels!

Released April 1, 2014

Released April 1, 2014 Available on Amazon and through your local bookstore

I absolutely LOVE the cover, and I must thank Su at Earthly Charms for making it look marvelous! There’s nothing quite like holding your very own book in your hand.

Yes, my son is beginning to investigate colleges. Fortunately, he doesn’t want to travel far from home, so that makes the prospect of him leaving infinitesimally easier for me to face. At least he isn’t trying to move to the other side of the country.

And my sweet kitten Leia turns a year old this month, so I won’t be able to call her a kitten much longer. She’s been a wonderful addition to our family and I’m thankful that I decided to sit on the porch one day last summer to write and heard her cries of distress. She was such a wee little mite of a thing when I coaxed her out from under our woodpile. It’s amazing that a predator didn’t decide to swoop down and eat her for lunch! With her white coat she’d stand out in the dark woods.

Leia - March 2014

Leia – March 2014

I’m busily polishing my novella, It Takes a Spy. It will kick off my Secrets and Seduction series and will be out this summer, so watch for it! What sort of cover do you think Su will manage to create this time? Something stellar, I’m certain! I can’t wait for the cover reveal!