Monday, December 23, 2019

Welcome Fran Thomas

When I was growing up in PA, in fourth grade we studied how the Spanish came to Florida. I never dreamed I'd eventually move here, but something about their story must have spoken to me. A classmate and I wrote a play about two children crossing the ocean. I like to joke that we only wrote it so we could play the two lead roles. I played the brother since I was taller than my co-author (I never grew much after that). Our cast included all of the girls in our class (the tallest girl was the captain of the ship) and none of the boys (we were nine years old, after all). I don't know if we had costumes, but we did have props (I was supposed to stick a knife in a door and picked up a plastic fork instead, earning me an unintended laugh). After the boys sat through our opus, we performed it for the fifth graders too. This is the first writing I remember doing. Sadly, I don't have a copy.

I wanted to write a romance for a long time and started several. I knew nothing about plotting, so every time I got stuck in the middle and didn't finish. Finally, in 2016 I was determined to complete a book. That ended up being the first book in my Calusa Town Tales. These are set on a small island in the Gulf of Mexico suspiciously similar to the real island where I live. 

Stylin' with the Art Teacher is the fifth novella in the series. I'm pretty sure it will be the last, but anything could happen. In the meantime, I'm planning to start a new series after the first of the year. Stay tuned.

Astrid Jensen loves teaching art to the children of Calusa, but she has ambitions beyond the classroom. She wants to bring her colorful designs to the attention of Florida fashionistas. No matter what it takes.
Spencer Hall is a self-proclaimed control freak. He got burned collaborating with people who valued the almighty dollar over artistic integrity.
It won't happen again.

It was the middle of hurricane season in Calusa, but not a cloud marred the bright blue sky.

   Astrid Jensen pulled her red convertible into a parking space at Calusa Town Elementary. Since school was starting the following week, all the teachers were on the small campus on an island off the coast of Florida for an in-service day. On this mid-August day, Astrid was grateful the school rooms were air conditioned.

   Just inside the front door, she was greeted by Will Thompson. The jovial principal beckoned her into his office. “All ready for a new year?”

   “I can’t wait to see the students. I’ve been thinking about all the ways I can encourage their creativity.” She loved being an art teacher. Elementary school kids were eager to draw and paint. They hadn’t yet learned to censor their innate creativity.

    "That’s what I wanted to talk with you about. I hired a new fifth grade teacher who happens to have a background in theater. He wants to start a playhouse here in Calusa.”

   Astrid nodded politely, not sure what that had to do with her. “That’s a great idea. I’m sure the town would support it.”

   “The thing is, he’s new to town and doesn’t know anybody. I was hoping you’d introduce him around. I know the golfers and fishermen, but I’m not that much into the arts. You met a lot of people by judging the painted poles, didn’t you?”

    Astrid had been on the committee to choose the designs that now enhanced utility poles all over town.  “I suppose I did. Sure, I’ll introduce him to folks.” A little shy and fairly new to town herself, she didn’t relish this idea. But Will was her boss. What was she supposed to say?

   “I knew I could count on you. He’s already in his classroom. Let’s go.”

   Will tapped on the partially opened classroom door and poked his head inside. “Gotta minute? There’s someone here I think you should meet.” Stepping to one side, he let Astrid precede him into the room. “This is Astrid Jensen, our art teacher. You mentioned you’d be looking for someone to help with set painting once you get your theater group up and running. Astrid, this is Spencer Hall.”

   Astrid’s violet eyes widened in surprise. This guy looked as if he belonged on a football field, not a stage. Even though she was tall, she had to look up to meet his gaze. His school polo shirt hugged a muscular torso. Her extended hand was swallowed up in his firm grasp. 

   “I’d be grateful for your help. I’m hoping to put something in the local newspaper after Labor Day to find out if anyone’s interested.”

   Well, he certainly had the voice for theater, smooth and resonant. His words were carefully articulated. No southern drawl, so he must be from up north. What would possess someone like him to come to little ole Calusa, of all places?

Pittsburgh native Fran Thomas never meant to move to Florida, but Fate (and her husband) had other ideas. A stint as the editor of the local newspaper gave her plenty of material for her novellas.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Welcome Cynthia Tereist!

Hello from Down Under
Recently, after a twenty-year hiatus, I took up writing again with the intention of publishing a novel. I came into the industry completely blind. I thought writing a book was just that – writing a book. How wrong I was.
I had a lot to learn. When I finished writing my novel, I did four rounds of self-editing. I googled as much as I could about what to look out for in my writing, what I should omit, what I should add. Before my research I knew nothing about the concepts of show don’t tell, redundant words and using all of the senses. I remember writing this unspectacular paragraph:
The view was breathtaking. We had a better viewpoint of the river from here and could see how it was contained between the cliffs before widening again.
When I revised it, it became this:
I sucked in a breath as I examined the view. There was a mixture of undulating hills and craggy cliffs making their way down to the river, their sharpness changing to a delicate softness as they met the horizon. Shadow and light played off the dips and curves of the hills, reminding me of paintings of naked ladies by French artists from years gone by, voluptuous and sensual. The cliff faces varied in colour from a steely grey to a rich rust. The shadows defined their sharp edges and ruggedness. The river cut its path between them, contained by the ancient layers of sedimentary rock, before widening out again.
Like I said, I had much to learn.
After self-editing came beta readers. Another concept that was foreign to me; people who read your novel and tell you where improvements can be made i.e. something that confused them, parts where they found the story slow, or a particular part they enjoyed. I studied hard, made a list of questions I wanted answered and found some readers. Their feedback was invaluable. Then came another round of self-editing.
It took FOUR months to get to this stage.
Editing Wow! Who would have thought there were so many different types and so many editors to choose from. More research was on the cards. Then came ordering a cover – in line with best sellers, writing a blurb that would draw readers in, designing a website (what a challenge), setting up social media accounts, creating a newsletter, joining promos and newsletter swaps to get subscribers, being active on all platforms, setting up a pre-order, finding a proof reader. AND THE LIST GOES ON.
I read other author’s posts and learnt as much as I can from their successes and failures. There are many great resources and a whole bunch of authors who are helpful. Some days I go to bed with my head spinning, not having written a single word.
So, when I thought all I needed to do was write a book, I was completely wrong. Being an indie author is so much more than that.
Regardless of the hard work, when someone reads your book and enjoys it, it is rewarding. What is even more rewarding is knowing that I have turned out a quality product.
If you would like to give a first-time author a go, please click on the link below.

One van. Two hearts. Thousands of kilometres.

Jesse’s a self-made billionaire who yearns to get away from his empty life and the money-hungry parasites who inhabit it. The plan? Go to Australia, tell no one about his money and find himself. Instead of finding just himself, he finds Evie, who is everything anyone should aspire to be. Now, what he aspires to be, is hers. But to be hers, he needs to tell her everything.

Evie has left her past behind. She has rebuilt herself, and her life, into one of happiness. After she meets Jesse, while volunteering at a cat shelter, memories of her past filter back in. She is stronger now and wants to trust him. But after all she has been through, is trust even possible? It feels like a never-ending push and pull battle.

The quest to find a cat a forever home leads them to travel across the country together. Can the close quarters drive them to open up to each other? Or will it drive them apart?


Cynthia Terelst is a contemporary romance writer who likes to share a little bit of history, some Australian scenery and a whole lotta love. Cynthia does not shy away from difficult topics, as she feels that they should not be ignored.

She lives in Queensland, Australia, where the sun shines at least 283 days a year.

I turned my board to the incoming waves, waiting for the prefect set. As soon as I saw it, I paddled hard. I stayed ahead of it with enough time to compose myself. 
Popping up, my feet settled firmly on the board. My stomach lurched as the momentum of the wave spurred me on. I took the right shoulder and rode the wave in. Exhilaration soared through my body, mixed with a sense of being. I was lost in that moment of becoming one with Mother Nature. All other thoughts left my mind.
The wave petered out, and I paddled back to the line-up. Sitting, watching, waiting. The constant breeze in my ears and the sound of waves breaking relaxed me. Lulled by the gentle rise and fall of the swells I thought about Evie.
She was one of the most complicated people I’d ever met. Whatever she had been through had made her strong and independent. But underneath she was all doubt. I could see her trying to be brave, but that could change in an instant as her insecurities took over. I felt like it was a fight between Nick and me, and I didn’t even know the guy. I didn’t know how to beat a ghost. But I would. I would figure it out, and I would gain Evie’s trust, bit by bit. 

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Monday, December 9, 2019

Interview with Tena Stetler

I had the chance to interview fellow Rose, Tena Stetler, for my blog. Read on to meet her!

 What do you like about being an author? Crafting tales that will sweep people out of their ordinary world into a magical, romantic fantasy with a touch of mystery and adventure.   For a few hours a day, my readers forget about their problems, worries, stress, and the real world enjoying a feel good story with a happy ending. I think we all need that these days. Don’t you?
What don’t you like about being an author? Having to put yourself out there for promo, etc. Don’t get me wrong, I’m an extrovert and love to talk to people, but sometimes reviews feel like you are being judged.  I realize writing is subjective and not everyone is going to like your work, but some revel in tearing it apart. 
Yeah, it can be tough sometimes. And some people...
What is the writing process like? I write 6 hours a day, promo two more. I am a panster, I have an overactive imagination so there are always voices in my head vying for attention.  When I start a new story, I have a 5 page character worksheet I complete, so I know my characters inside and out as well as their GMC before I begin. 
Wow, that's impressive! 
How did publishing your first book change your process of writing? What is different now, compared to then? I love to write, but promo, not so much. Rather than spending hours writing, my time now is divided between writing and promo. I’ve learned a lot about editing and what is expected too. So polishing a manuscript takes on a different bent that before.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones? I do read every review. The good ones I read and reread.  The bad ones I read once to see how I can make my upcoming books better. Then I never read them again. 
Same here! 
How long on average does it take to write a book? 3-5 months from beginning to end. Sometimes the story flows flawlessly from beginning to end. Other times it’s like pulling teeth to keep the characters on the right path. Sometimes I lose and they make their own path.
What have you put most of your effort into regarding writing? Making sure I craft a great story with GMC, vivid descriptions and characters that my readers will find interesting and fun. There is always something to learn in the craft of writing.
It shows. :)
What is the toughest criticism given to you as an author? Constructive criticism I can handle, it’s the mean spirited criticism that is tough to take. Gotta have a very thick skin in this industry.  
I'm still working on that.
What is the hardest thing about writing?  Getting my butt in the chair and keeping it there when there are so many other things demanding my attention.  And letting the book out into the world.
What is the easiest thing about writing? Living in a fantasy I’ve created. I’m not a fan of the real world. LOL I love telling my characters stories. Crafting a story for others to enjoy (of course I enjoy it too)is the best feeling in the world.
Do you write full time or part time? I’m lucky enough to write full time. Though I did write part time for a number of years as I had a demanding day job.
Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured? I get up, fix breakfast for hubby, and my furred, feathered and scaled kids. Take my dog, Mystic for a walk, then sit down at the computer around 7-8 a.m. write until lunch. Taking breaks to do laundry, vacuum, dust, load and unload the dishwasher, etc. Exercise from 10-11 a.m. or 1-2 p.m. depending on how the story is flowing. I write in the afternoon until 4 p.m. most days, that’s when I let my parrot out of her cage and we go in the sunroom. I don’t usually write on weekends, that’s family time. Of course as with anything, nothing is set in stone, and there are always rare exceptions.

Daylan, a warlock, is being haunted, but what the ghost wants is a mystery. His magical powers bring him no closer to an answer—until he encounters Josie, a Yoga instructor.
But when she is kidnapped by an ancient Fae Warrior set on revenge Daylan must rescue her before the rogue claims her as his own. During his quest, his world spirals out of control, and a devastating curse comes to light. Could the ghost hold the answers he needs?
Can he break the age-old curse to save Josie and their future, or will Daylan lose her forever?

Suddenly the wind increased and changed direction bringing a cold chill to the warm day. She tugged her sweater close around her as a thin maroon line formed along the flat bottom of a dark, boiling cloud spreading across the sky. Moments before there’d been only an occasional fluffy white cloud floating in the bright blue sky. Oh, no, not again.
The line slowly drifted to vertical and spread open to reveal a sparkling interior. Four striking creatures, sharp-angled features with fierce expressions on their inhumanly handsome faces appeared. Gleaming swords hung at their sides as they slipped out of the cloud and stepped onto the ground not more than fifty feet from her and Daylan along the tree line of the property. Holy shit. This can’t be happening.
She rubbed her eyes but when she opened them the men were still there. Dressed in heavy boots, jeans, and formfitting leather vests, shimmering silver bands adorned their muscular upper arms. Two of them had thick shoulder length blond hair, the others had jet black hair hanging in waves past their shoulders.
She jumped up and opened her mouth to scream. But Daylan reacted faster clapping his hand over her mouth while still facing the advancing creatures. To her surprise, a soft giggle escaped from her lips. They look like a group of medieval bikers. Their apparent leader, his reddish sable hair hung well beyond his shoulders in waves, paused a few yards in front of them.

Buy Links:

KOBO:  I’ll send it as soon as I have it.

About the author:
Tena Stetler is a best-selling author of award winning paranormal romance novels. She has an over-active imagination, which led to writing her first vampire romance as a tween to the chagrin of her mother and delight of her friends. 
With the Rocky Mountains outside her window, she sits at her computer surrounded by a wide array of paranormal creatures, with a Navy SEAL or two mixed in telling their tales. Her books tell stories of magical kick-ass women and strong mystical males that dare to love them. Travel, adventure and a bit of mystery flourish in her books along with a few companion animals to round out the tales.
Colorado is her home; shared with her husband of many moons, a brilliant Chow Chow, a spoiled parrot and a forty-five-year-old box turtle.  Any winter evening, you can find her curled up in front of a crackling fire with a good book, a mug of hot chocolate and a big bowl of popcorn.
Author Contact Information:
Bookbub,      Goodreads,   Amazon Author Page,  

Monday, December 2, 2019

It’s Release Day!

My Hanukkah novella, Waiting for a Miracle, releases today. It’s a sweet romance (just kissing—sorry, but it takes place over 8 days and well, that’s all I could manage), e-book only and short. I’d love you to take a look.

And if you read it, please review it!


Benjamin Cohen, widowed father of six-year-old Jessie, is doing his best to hold it together through order and routine. The last thing he needs is his matchmaker mother to set him up with her next door neighbor, no matter how attractive she is.

Rachel Schaecter's dream of becoming a foster mother is right within her grasp, until her meddlesome neighbor tries to set her up with her handsome son. What's worse? He's the father of her favorite kindergarten student! She can't afford to let anything come between her and her dream, no matter how gorgeous he may be.

Can these two determined people trust in the miracle of Hanukkah to let love and light into their lives?


Six-year-old bodies were good at many things— bouncing, hugging, and racing. Rachel was thankful they were also good at hiding her surprise. Never in her wildest dreams did she imagine her favorite student, and her student’s father, would be at her neighbor’s house the same night she was invited to celebrate Hanukkah. 
She met the hard gaze of Jessie’s father across the room. Eyes narrowed as if he suspected her reasons for being here. His broad shoulders were stiff. His jean-clad muscular legs were spread apart in a solid stance. Square hands fisted at his sides, and one of them held a menorah. Did he plan to throw it or club someone with it? 
Giving Jessie a last pat, she rose. With an arm around Jessie, she extended her other hand to her father. “Happy Hanukkah.” 
“Ms. Schaecter.”
“Mr. Cohen.”
“Oh, please,” Harriet said, “Such formality between 
you two. Rachel, this is my son Benny. I mean Benjamin.” 
Benny. Rachel filed the information away for later, along with his flushed skin at the nickname. Interesting
“And Benjamin, this is my neighbor, Rachel. We’re not at a school event. You can call each other by your first names.” Harriet pointed at Jessie, who gripped Rachel’s hand so hard, Rachel’s fingers lost their circulation. “Except for you,” Harriet added. “You have to call her Ms. Schaecter.” 
Jessie giggled. “Yes, Grandma.” 
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