Prolific Author Alert: Sarah McNeal is Here!

Good day, friends!

Hope all is well in everyone’s world today. Please extend a warm welcome to paranormal romance author Sarah J. McNeal! 

So glad to have you here, Sarah! Start us off:

What do love best about writing?

I love the creative process.  Hanging out at restaurants and the library listening to other people’s conversations and jotting down notes in my writer’s journal makes me feel like a mystery sloth.  I love when an epiphany presses the happy buzzer in my mind and helps me pull together the story I’m working on.  Shoot, I love everything about writing including the smell of pencils and the sight of stacks of notebook paper.  I love to settle down at my computer and transfer my handwritten text onto the screen.

What do you like least?

I almost hate to say it—promotion of my work.  I hate going around begging readers to check out my blogs and visit my website.  I feel like I’m on a street corner with a tin cup of pencils to sell.

What got you started?

March 18, 1947, I took a breath and, with it, came my imagination and the desire to share it.  I made up songs when I was three years old and told “adventure stories” by the time I was four.  I wrote my first story when I was nine.  The longing to share my stories has always been inside me.

What keeps you writing? 

It is my joy and aspiration to write—and then write even better.  It’s not something I control as much as it’s something that is basic element of myself.

How has your writing impacted –or significantly changed—other aspects of your life? 

After I published my first book, everything changed including my belief in myself.  Until then, I saw my career as nursing.  Nursing was the career my father chose for me.  Because he was a Great Depression survivor, he wanted me to choose a practical career that would not be dependant on the economy—and, believe me, it wasn’t.  I have never been without a job.  So, I have gratitude in that respect.  But the deep yearning to become a published writer had finally been fulfilled with the publication of my first book.  I planned to retire from nursing the first chance I got so that I could devote myself to my first love—writing.  After a few years of saving and planning, I took an early retirement. Even in the face of a declining economy, I have never regretted it, never looked back.

(Oh to retire early…what a joy…)

Where do you get story and character ideas?

Mostly from the world around me.  I keep a writer’s journal with me everywhere I go and jot down tidbits of things I see and hear.  I wrote Bitter Notes based on a real life event.  Someone threw their baby grand piano out in the front yard and let it rot in the elements. Every day I passed it as it fell into pieces of rotted wood and despaired over it.  Why?  Why would anyone do that?  I felt driven to write its story.

I was fooling around one day playing my harmonica with my feet propped up on my Grandfather McNeal’s trunk and it made me think about the things in that trunk and what they were like when they were new.  That’s how I found my inspiration for Harmonica Joe’s Reluctant Bride.  All of my stories started with something that crossed my life’s path.  When all else fails, I play the “What If” game.

For those who write across cultural lines, how do you market or generate a mainstream, typical reader’s interest in your books?

Generating interest from any reader I believe begins with producing the best story I can write.  Good writing speaks to readers more than anything else.  I don’t write cross-culture stories unless you count fantasy cultures—not yet anyway but, if I did, I would give it my all.

Talk about current, past and future projects, upcoming releases, maybe your ‘dream novel’?

Bitter Notes is a novella published by Amira Press.  Logline: An abandoned piano heals a broken heart.

The Violin is a story about a member of my family that died too young.  I brought John back from the brink and gave him a life in this book from my heart.  Although currently in re-edits, it is contracted by Publishing by Rebecca J. Vickery for its second edition. Logline: Timeless love brought together by a violin.

Harmonica Joe’s Reluctant Bride is my latest release. (Logline: A haunted house, a trunk and a date with destiny. Below are the blurb and an excerpt.

I am presently working on the sequel based on a secondary character that I fell in love withBanjo (Logline: Deceit stands between a man’s love and his destiny.)

For those who don’t know me, they can get a couple of my free stories; download them at my website or from Amira Press.

*** For more of Sarah’s very intriguing titles click here.***

Please tell our readers how you juggle work (other than writing, assuming you work ‘outside the home,’ as a patient aptly asked me many years ago J), time to write and all that goes along with it, especially as a published author (i.e., promo, etc).

I used to have a very difficult time dragging myself away from my writing to go to work in the ER and then I finally decided to take an early retirement after I sold my first novel.  No regrets.  I do however, make time for my family.  As much as I love writing, my friends and family do come first and I make time for them whenever I need to.  It’s easy to get so caught up in writing that it takes over my life so I do have to force myself to come out of my writer’s cave from time to time and become a social being.  My sister never gets this about me.  Traveling and enjoying theater and other people are her main enjoyments so it’s hard for her to understand that writers are accustomed to being alone.

Please share the three ways you find most effective to promote your work!

1.  The number one thing a writer needs for promotion is to produce the best story they are capable of writing.  Quality writing counts more than any other thing.

2.  I do not like to go into readers’ groups and post blurbs and excerpts then take off.  I like to interact with the readers and authors on the loops.  I have a banner that tells about my books and directs them to my website.  I don’t need to hammer it down their throats every single day.  I think authors who do that, risk losing the interest of readers.  They just grow numb to the constant barrage of “look at my books.”  I’m sure that some may disagree with that point of view but that has been my experience. I think interacting with readers and other authors and always remembering to be polite, answer questions and say thank you when someone compliments me.

3.  Blogging I find is a very effective way to present myself and my work to others.  When people read about the things that concern or interest me, I think they can often relate to me better.  It’s a way of getting readers to know me and where my heart lies.  I am a person first and then I’m a writer.

    (Love this cover! Gorgeous!) 

Harmonica Joe’s Reluctant Bride

Blurb: Lola Barton discovers a warp in time in an old trunk when she falls into 1910. She finds herself married to Joseph Wilding, a stranger shadowed by secrets. Mistaken for Callie McGraw, a thief and a woman of ill repute, Lola finds her life is threatened by a scoundrel. Joe stands between her and certain death. With danger threatening all around and secrets keeping them apart, can Joe and Lola find their destiny together? Or will time and circumstance forever divide them?

Excerpt:  Harmonica music floated down from the attic—the last place in this tumble down wreck of a house Lola Barton wanted to go.  Had someone or something taken up residence there?  Lola made her way up the darkened attic stairs measuring each step as the ancient boards creaked in protest under her feet.  Her flashlight beamed a narrow circle of light illuminating the cobweb-covered door at the top of the landing.  Her heart raced and pulsed in her ears.  Hands trembled with the surge of adrenaline as she pressed forward.  She ignored her inner voice that warned, “Don’t go!”

Her cynical mind told her the rumors that Misty Oaks Plantation had ghosts weren’t true.  The tales of murder and betrayal had to be the overactive imagination of the local townspeople.  A homeless vagrant had to be the most logical explanation for the disturbance.

Once she gained the landing, she blew the cobwebs from the door and leaned her ear against it to listen for any movement on the other side.  Wisps of harmonica music lifted in the air.  Perhaps someone left a harmonica lying around and the wind blew hard enough through the cracks in the walls to make it sound as though someone played the instrument.  Just the wind.  No ghost.

With her courage bolstered by her logical conclusion, she grabbed the doorknob and turned it.


Harmonica Joe’s Reluctant Bride

By Sarah McNeal

ISBN: 978-1461087731 1461087732

Available at:

Western Trail Blazer Novels

Lulu Book Store:


Barnes & Noble

Available in print, too!

Thanks so much, Sarah, for sharing your author’s journey with us! I’m always in awe of authors who can take ideas and see them to so many complete stories. Best wishes and may you continue to experience the joy of creating!

Have a wonderful day, folks!



Dealing with Stress

Good day and welcome back to Positve Energy Mondays, everyone! So glad to be back! (Hiatus wasn’t fun but good is coming of it so I’m grateful.) Hope those who celebrated enjoyed a peaceful and joyful Easter and/or Passover. Loving all those bulbs bursting forth and screaming spring with their colorful blooms. Finally! Spring is in full force! Makes me happy 🙂


Diane Lang is in the house! Today she shares some thoughts on managing stress:

Every morning I follow the same routine. I wake up, drink my coffee and put on the morning news. It’s a ritual, I have grown to despise. Every morning, I feel brief moments of panic and anxiety. Just turning on the news makes my heart race; my head spin and my stomach feel sour. I get anxious and long for my daughter to wake up so I can get my daily dose of cartoons to lighten my mood for the day. I tried to make the decision that I would no longer watch the news but between the traffic, weather and just knowing how my IRA is doing I always get stuck watching the news. After talking with many other people, I have realized that most of us feel the same. It doesn’t matter where we live, what age our kids are, if we are stay at home moms or work outside the house- we all feel the pressure of “The Family Squeeze” – trying to save money, cut corners while saving for college, retirement, etc at the same time that stock prices are falling and food prices are rising. We all have the same fear within us that the economy will not turn around soon and that prices will keep rising.

The typical question I get as a Therapist is how can I handle all this fear and anxiety? What happens if I stay stressed out? I can’t change the economy but hopefully this column will help you deal with anxiety more effectively.

Coping with Stress and Anxiety:

Be honest with yourself – what is causing you stress? Confront the issues.

What type of stress do you have?

Is it Physiological – illness, pain, lack of proper nutrition, exercise, poor sleeping habits, excessive drinking, smoking, etc?

Psychological – Frustration, conflict, feeling overwhelmed, going thru transitional times, loss, etc

Is it school problems – test anxiety, stress at work, financial, and/or relationship?

Once you know where the stress is coming from- you can find solutions to deal with the stress.

Be realistic on what you can change and what you can’t. What can you take control of in your life right now? Control is a positive step to regaining your power. Once you take action, you gain control and you will start feeling better. Set realistic goals and priorities.

Learn to listen to your body to know when you’re too stressed out and hitting the “burnout Stage”. We receive these signs to let us know something is not right and that we need to make changes.

Physical signs of Stress and Anxiety: Stomach problems, headaches, muscle and joint pain, fatigue, low immune system – catch frequent colds, flu, panic attack symptoms – chest pains, racing heart, hot and cold flashes, dizziness, nauseous, problems catching your breath, hyperventilating even fainting.

Psychological signs: Change in appetite, sleeping patterns, loneliness, loss of focus and concentration, mood swings, irritability, little or no patience and lack of desire for socializing and hobbies.

Burnout – a state of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion.

Stop trying to be perfect – ask for help, have a support system. Find ways to simplify your life. Be proud of your accomplishments.

Be kind to yourself. Self-care. What have you done for yourself lately? Learn to relax and take breaks. Even if it’s only 10-15 minutes a day. Learn that caring for yourself is every bit as important as caring for others.

Learn to trust your instincts. You know yourself the best and you are usually right. Trust yourself.

Stop negative thoughts – monitor your self. Write down all your negative thoughts, next to your negative thoughts write down the rational,positive thoughts. Practice substituting the negative for the positive. Then praise yourself/reward yourself every time you change a negative thought for a positive thought.

If you feel your anxiety/stress is more then you can handle or you have chronic anxiety and/or panic attacks. There are the options of: Counseling and support groups.

Diane’s upcoming appearances and workshops:

Monday, April 25th – Create balance & relieve anxiety -7pm; Westfield Adult school, NJ 908-232-4050

Tuesday, April 26th – Letting go of anger -6:30pm; Mt Olive Adult school, NJ 973-691-4006 ext 7635

Friday, April 29th – How Far We’ve Come…  Learn, Laugh, Lunch – 9-3pm; Brookdale community college, NJ: We have come a long way! Celebrate the journey.
Welcome the promise of Spring Renewal with a day of inspirational speakers and energizing workshops. Fee: $65 includes morning coffee, lunch, speakers and two workshops
For more information:    (732) 224-2315  

Friday’s workshop sounds like fun–I’m almost sorry I scheduled my day otherwise. As per later this week, Wednesday I’ll be showcasing author Christopher Wills, whom I ‘met’ online when I came across an excellent article of his about designing characters. And drop in Friday for a special post that ties together some fun, life lessons and my wedding anniversary. Until then, all good thoughts to all of you,


Linda Morris: Roots of a Writing Career

Morning folks! Hope your day is a blessed one 🙂

As I thought about how I would greet everyone today it occurred to me that this little corner of cyberspace is a lot like my home. I love meeting new people and inviting them over for a visit! Came across today’s guest kind of like that. She posted a link to an appearance that caught my interest. For some reason, that link seemed broken. I e-mailed her about it and our interactions led to today’s post.

A little about our guest: Linda Morris works as a freelance technical writer and editor and lives in central Indiana with her husband and young son.

She takes over from here: 🙂

I’ve done a lot of things as my “day job” — customer service rep, airline employee, proofreader, and a variety of jobs in publishing, plus too many freelance and part-time jobs to count — but I’ve really only wanted one career: writer. Specifically, fiction writer.

I love stories for the way they show me worlds outside my own, educate me, broaden my viewpoints and perspectives, and entertain me. (Amen!) Although I’ve always liked books and remember being a quick reader in elementary school, I remember the first book I fell in love with. My sisters, both several years older than me, had moved out of the house: one into the military, one to college. They had left behind boxes of books and LPs, and on one dull Sunday afternoon, I looked at my oldest sister’s books. Most of the books weren’t interesting to me: They were novelizations of Star Trek, the original series, or bios of popular musicians. (I did eventually get around to reading one of them, No One Here Gets Out Alive, Danny Sugarman’s bio of Jim Morrison. It was very educational, and not in a way my mother would have appreciated.)

But my interest in rock and roll was still far in the future that afternoon, so I picked up The Clue in the Old Stagecoach, a Nancy Drew mystery by Carolyn Keene, featuring this iconic cover art:

I was hooked! I read every Nancy Drew I could get my hands on from then on, either at the library or at the local K-Mart. (My hometown did not possess an actual entire store dedicated to selling books at that time. Hard to believe, huh?) From there, it was a short leap to Laura Ingalls Wilder, Louisa May Alcott, and the Meg mysteries by Holly Beth Walker. I heard about Newbery Award winning books at school and, armed with a list of all the winners, set about reading them all. I never quite made it through the list, but I read quite a few great books in the process nonetheless. Books became a window to a wider world, an escape, and an ambition, all rolled into one.

I started my first novel when I was in college. It was very bad. After college, I never completely gave up on the dream of writing. When I began dating my husband, I was delighted to learn he was an aspiring writer too who had had a few short stories published. If it weren’t for him, my dream of becoming a published writer might never have come true. We’ve had many long conversations about writing, we’ve read and critiqued much of each other’s work, he’s recommended many great books about writing, and he explained POV to me! He’s been a constant cheerleader for me throughout the process, despite the fact that if he weren’t married to a romance writer, he assuredly never would have read one. (That’s OK. I wouldn’t have read very many horror stories if it weren’t for him!)

When I wrote my debut published piece, Montana Belle, a western novella from the Wild Rose Press, I sent it off to the publisher without a critique from him (or anyone else) first. Although it got positive feedback from an editor who felt it had a lot of potential, I quickly found myself in a revision loop. The editor requested changes, I made them, she felt it still wasn’t quite right, she requested other changes, and repeat. Finally, unsure I would ever get this story right, I had my husband take a look at it. He made great suggestions, and I finally understood what needed to change. I made the revisions, resubmitted it, and voila! Montana Belle sold.

What’s the moral to this story? I learned the difference that a great critique partner can make. There’s nothing like someone who is really invested in your success and can take the time to read your work and make invaluable suggestions. If you don’t have someone like that in your life, find one ASAP!

Important points to consider, Linda. Had it not been for my critique group and a couple of close friends who have no problem telling me what I need–vs what I’d like–to hear, don’t know that I’d be here either! (Wish my kids would see stories as the escape /window-to-the-world/ fun way to educate oneself. Sometimes, I can’t believe how much I’ve learned about places, cultures, history, etc from a well-researched novel. And it never felt like ‘studying’.) Okay, I’m done nattering on! Like the rest of us writer-folk, Linda loves cybercompany! Visit her online at, where you can find excerpts of her work and more information about her forthcoming books.

Linda’s brand-new release, due out from The Wild Rose Press on February 18th! Best of luck! Thanks so much for dropping in, Linda.

Just a reminder for those of you love giveaways: Yesterday’s guest, Anna Kathryn Lanier’s e-book and cookbook are still up for grabs by one lucky commenter! Drawing Sunday evening circa 7 PM. Don’t be left out. Scroll down to the previous post and leave your thoughts on the matter of backing up your irreplaceable files, photos and other virtual content.

A great weekend to all,


Back It Up!

Happy Thursday friends! Yesterday’s east-coast snowstorm doused us with enough of the white stuff to cancel school, but not paralyze us temporarily as the last dump. (Photos are on a previous post.) As I stated on one of my last posts, one of the coolest things about this author-gig/blog thing are the people I get to know in cyberspace. I’m always in the market for guest-bloggers: each brings something unique to my little corner of the web and very often exposes me to a topic I might not have considered otherwise. (BTW, I’m not necessarily looking only for writers. If someone is interested in posting an article about any topic, as long as it’s family friendly I’d love to take a look and consider it. E-mail me via my website!)

On to our guest!

Anna Kathryn Lanier started writing while still in high school. Her first novel was a futuristic Armageddon tale with romantic elements. She wrote her first romances in her early twenties, but her only submission was rejected. After putting her writing on hold for nearly two decades to raise two daughters and play housewife, Anna Kathryn picked up the pen again, so to speak—this is the computer age—seven years ago. She has completed three romance novels to date. She also enjoys writing short stories. Her first short story, Happily Ever After was published in 2005. She has since published five more short stories. The Priceless Gift, a contemporary western, was released in November, 2007, is a #1 best seller at The Wild Rose Press.

A Cowboy’s Dream, is also contemporary western, (Nov. 2008) and is a mega rewrite of Happily Ever After.  Salvation Bride, a historical western is the Preditors and Editors Reader’s Poll 2009 Best Short Romance Story. Gift Beyond All Measure (Dec. 2010) is a sequel to The Priceless Gift.  Anna Kathryn lives in Texas with her husband and three cats. She has two grown daughters and three grandchildren. She is pursuing a bachelor degree in history at a local college.

Visit Anna at her website or blog. (I stopped by the latter. Can’t wait to try the Italian Vegetable Soup recipe she posted yesterday. Sounds like exactly what one needs on an east coast snowy day :).) Her stories may be purchased at The Wild Rose Press.

And with that I turn over to you author Anna Kathryn Lanier, with sage advice for every one of us who sees a computer as a lifeline should heed…

Good morning, everyone!

The other day someone posted a question about ‘cloud’ storage sites.  I didn’t know what ‘cloud’ meant, but I understood her question: what can you tell me about the online computer backup sites?  Later that day, I came across a post on AOL Discover about that very subject. It spawned the idea about the importance of saving data and the different types available for doing that.

Even if you’re not an author, you should have a need to back up your computer files.  I know that in addition to my stories, I have photographs on my computer that I don’t want to lose.  And I have lost them.  In November 2008 my computer crashed. The hard drive didn’t self-destruct, as those tapes on the old Mission Impossible shows did. I still have the hard drive, but it’s sitting on a shelf. I’m not sure how to retrieve the information. I had a new hard drive installed, which crashed three months later. That one did self-destruct, so I lost everything I had done between November and January. Yes, the first crash should have taught me a lesson. The second definitely did.  I looked into an online storage company.

Before I get into cloud computing though, I’d like to discuss the other types of back up systems available. The one most are probably familiar with is a thumb, flash or jump drive.  According to the website Everything USB “A flash drive is a small external storage device that reads and writes to flash memory, a solid-state storage medium that’s both inexpensive and durable.”  Its small size, “portable nature and near-universal compatibility” has allowed it to replace the floppy diskette as a way to store and transfer files from one computer to another.

There are drawbacks to using a jump drive (as I call them) as your only source of backing up files. One, their compact size makes it easy to lose them.  Two, if they are broken, your files are lost.  I don’t think I’ve lost a drive, but I have had two break.  One was completely destroyed when I left it in a computer at work and someone slammed a chair into it.  It broke into several pieces. There was no way of fixing it. So, it’s a good idea to take good care of your flash drive if it’s your only source for backing up files.

Another at-home back up source is an external hard drive.  The Wise Geek website explains, “An external hard drive sits outside the main computer tower in its own enclosure…This portable encasement allows the user to store information on a hard drive that is not inside the computer.”  It goes on to explain the advantages of having an external hard drive.  It allows the user to back up important files which could be comprised by Trojan horses, viruses and spyware that a computer’s internal hard drive is exposed to on a daily basis via the Internet.  In addition to keeping files safe from online threats, an external hard drive will also free up space on a computer’s internal hard drive.  You can keep “large music files, DVD images, movies, disk images and” even backup of your computer’s internal hard drive onto it.  And like a jump drive, you can move an external hard drive from computer to computer with relative ease.

Also, like a jump drive, an external hard drive can be lost, stolen or destroyed, though I think it would be harder to destroy a hard drive than a jump drive.

So, all this brings us to cloud services (cloud refers to the Internet). IDC, a global market intelligence firm, defines cloud services as “consumer and business products, services and solutions delivered and consumed in real-time over the Internet.”  In other words, it is a business that offers computer users goods or services that are offered over the Internet in actual, current time.

I signed up for Mozy, but other companies include ElephantDrive, SugarSync, Carbonite, and DropBox.  According to the AOL article, “PC World has high praise for Mozy, describing it as a great service that ‘works in the background protecting your data.’  And SugarSync has been lauded by critics who enjoy the fact that any change they make in one of their computers will automatically appear in the others, thereby reducing the tedious need to continuously email files here and there.”

This is what happens with the Mozy account I have: I signed up for it. At first I got the free service, but later I bought a level so I could back up more information (mainly, my photos, which were too large for the free service).  Mozy then started backing up my files.  This can take, literally, days or weeks, depending on the number of files.  Just keep the computer hooked up to the internet. You don’t have to have your internet browser on during this time.  Then, twice a day (about 12 hours apart), as long as I’m hooked up to the internet, Mozy swoops in and backs up any new file I’ve created since the last back up. That’s it. That’s all I need to do.

So far, I haven’t needed to use their ‘recovery’ service at home. I did use it once at work. I couldn’t find a file, so I did a ‘search’ on the computer for it. The search program found it in Mozy’s back up. Why it wasn’t on my computer, I don’t know. I do believe the work computer has Gremlins though.

The cost for Mozy is nominal. I recently added my brand new lap top (that first back up took about 10 minutes) to the account and paid an additional fee. I think the total for the two computers is now about $15 a month. Not a high fee for peace of mind.

So, when my second, defective hard drive crashed, I lost a few chapters on a book.  On my old, obsolete, floppy diskette computer (circa 1985), I have two completed manuscripts.  Okay, they are crap, and could, in no way be published, but I can’t transfer them to another computer and are basically lost to me.

What have you lost in a missing jump drive or crashed computer?  What do you have on your computer now that you’d hate to lose?  Leave a comment and you’ll be eligible to win a copy of my newest novel A GIFT BEYOND ALL MEASURE and its companion cookbook.


Thanks for having me today, Joanna.

My absolute pleasure, Anna. What great topic matter: would never have considered it. Serious food for thought, too! (Don’t forget to leave your thoughts in comment form: two books for the price of one comment. We’ll draw it Sunday at 7 PM EST!)

That’s it for today, folks. Snow day or not, it’s a busy week in the bloglight. Tune in tomorrow when romance author Linda Morris stops in and shares about her journey.

Until then, I’ll occupy myself thinking about the NFL playoffs and the upcoming Australian Open Tennis Championships. Have a great day!


Carol Preflatish Visits Today!


                                      All images by Melisa82: 

Thanks to all of you for joining us!

Today romantic suspense author Carol Preflatish shares about her writing journey! And such a special time to do so: Carol’s debut novel, Love, Lies and Deceit, debuted just in time for the holiday season! She’s here bearing gifts, too: one lucky commenter will win an e-copy of Love, Lies and Deceit, to be drawn by Carol at midnight, December 26, 2009, EST! (Winner gets to choose the format.) Remember, comments MUST be accompanied by a name and e-mail address so that the winner can be contacted! (Did y’all get all that? Pretty sure there are spaces to leave this info when you decide to comment–as blog author/owner, my comments just go up 🙂 !)  

 Here we go:

Tell me about your writing roots: what got you started and what gave you the confidence to persevere?  

I fell in love with writing in high school. It started with working on the school newspaper and then taking every writing class they offered. My interest in fiction started in 1999 and my New Year’s Resolution for 2000 was to write a complete novel. I did it and haven’t stopped since.

How has your writing impacted other aspects of your life?

Writing has most definitely been a stress reducer for me. Entering the world of fiction lets me escape, for a little while, from the pressures of the day. It relaxes me.
             Red candles                         Christmas Gifts And Decoration Stock Photos                   

Congratulations and best wishes on the recent release of your debut novel, Carol! Tell us about that along with current, past and future projects.

Love, Lies & Deceit was released on December 17 as an e-book from Red Rose Publishing. It’s a romantic suspense about a rookie CIA officer who falls in love with her Training Officer. When he’s arrested for treason, she has to decide if she trusts him enough to risk her life and career to help him prove his innocence. Look for the excerpt on my web page,


Is there a ‘dream novel’ you’d like to write?

I’m currently working on another romantic suspense novel about a small town sheriff. He falls in love with a big city writer who comes to town to investigate a 30-year old mystery about a missing family.

So how do you juggle work (other than writing, assuming you work ‘outside the home’), time to write and all that goes along with it, especially as a newly published author (i.e., promo, etc)?

My day job is as a Human Services Consultant. I usually spend my lunch hour in the break room writing. I’m always amazed at how much I can accomplish in that hour. I also try to write for a few hours at night, but probably get most of my writing done on weekends.
Please share the three ways you find most effective to promote your work!

I think promotion is the hardest part of writing and the one thing that new authors don’t think about until they need it. When I started writing, I thought the publisher took care of that. Not true, while the publisher may do a small percentage, it is mainly the author’s responsibility.

My marketing plan includes having a web site, taking part in contests that my publisher has, distributing bookmarks and postcards, and posting on various Internet forums. I have a few blog interviews scheduled, such as this one, and I’m scheduled for a Blog Talk Radio interview on February 21, 2010 at 2:00 pm ET at

I want to thank Joanna for hosting me here today. I have enjoyed this and want to wish everyone Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

You are most welcome, Carol. I’m really enjoying getting to know fellow authors! I especially like reading and learning about promo tips. As you said, probably the most challenging aspect of being published and a job unto itself. (Doesn’t writing and revising sometimes look easy in comparison?)  Thanks again for stopping by—best of luck with Love, Lies and Deceit!

Interview with Western Romance Author Paty Jager


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Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and has recovered from Black Friday and related weekend shopping! Today, please welcome my very first interviewee, western romance author Paty Jager! Thanks so much for joining me, Paty. Let’s get to it :):                               

Tell me about your writing roots: what got you started? and what gave you the confidence to persevere?

I started out writing children’s stories for my kids and their classmates, but after attending a Highlights Children’s Writers conference, I was told I wrote too adult. Then I took some writing classes at the local college and wrote a freelance article for the local paper. They liked it and started sending me on freelance interviews. I wrote two mystery novels (which were rejected) and then I read LaVyrle Spencer’s Hummingbird and that was when I knew I was meant to write historical western romance. I joined RWA, honed my craft, finaled in eight of their contests, and racked up the rejection letters. Then I had an agent call me and tell me I had stories readers would love, but I was a hard sell to big publishers because I didn’t have a gimmick or wasn’t edgy. She suggested I try e-publishing and start making fans. A new e-book publisher opened their doors. I knew one of the editors. She invited me to send something to them, and I now have five books published by The Wild Rose Press and an EPPIE Award.         

My family, friends, and the RWA community I surrounded myself with gave me the confidence to keep at it. This wasn’t an overnight ordeal. When I took that first story to the newspaper my son was five and I’d take him with me to the interviews. He’s now in the Air Force with three kids.  If this is something you love to do, keep after it. Learn the craft, hone your story telling skills and keep after it.

 How has your writing impacted other aspects of your life?

 When I first started writing, all I wanted to do was write. Once I became published I realized there is another aspect a writer has to deal with: promotion. Especially when you are with a small e-book press. I spend a lot of time on reader loops and chats. I give workshops at conferences and writer meetings, because I want to give back to others as I’ve been given.  I’ve done two radio talk shows and my local TV station has me on when I have a new book out. All of these things have brought me out of my shell. I’ve learned that to spread the word of my books I have to get out there and do it, which for me is a VERY big step. And I feel I conquer something each time I get in front of people and speak and each time I have to say, “Yes, you’ll like this book.” I’ve never been one to toot my own horn and this has been a huge undertaking for me to be able to even hand someone a bookmark and not feel like I’m being a braggart. And just to talk to strangers.  This whole having a book published and the promoting has given me confidence I didn’t have before. A friend I’ve known for years says I’m blooming.

 Talk about current, past and future projects, upcoming releases, maybe your ‘dream novel’?

I just finished a collaborative book with another historical western author. It was requested by Harlequin so we have our fingers crossed they like it. It is about two sisters who are separated after their parents are killed while crossing with a wagon train. The story is told in each sister’s point of view as they make their way back to one another.

I have three Halsey brother books published. Marshal in Petticoats, is the story of an accident prone young woman being made Marshal of a small town by a corrupt mayor and Gil Halsey who falls in love with her. Outlaw in Petticoats is the second book with Zeke Halsey as the hero who is helping the heroine find a father who disappeared years before and proving to her his love is for the long haul. Miner in Petticoats has Ethan Halsey battling wits with a widow of two previous marriages and two children as he tries to purchase land to build his family’s dynasty. Gambling on an Angel is a historical western set along the Columbia River that has a temperance woman falling in love with a saloon owner. This book deals with acceptance. And I have a contemporary western, Perfectly Good Nanny, set in SE Oregon on a cattle ranch. This book won an EPPIE award for Best Contemporary Romance in 2008. It was written on a dare and has a twelve year-old girl and an elderly neighbor, pretending to be the girl’s father and ordering a nanny over the internet. The book starts with the heroine standing on the rancher’s doorstep and he not knowing what is happening.


My upcoming releases are: Doctor in Petticoats, the fourth Halsey brother book about Clay Halsey, the woman doctor he falls in love with and the prejudices they fight along the way. Also I’m thrilled that the first book of my Native American paranormal trilogy will be published in 2010, Spirit of the Mountain. This is set in the 1700’s in the Wallowa Country of the Nez Perce. It’s the story of an Indian maiden trying to fulfill her gift to her people and the spirit who steals her heart. And, yet to be titled, I have a contemporary western set around the world of bareback bronco riding.  This book deals with sexual abuse and the heroine’s strength to overcome her past and learn to love and be loved.

Future projects: The fifth and last Halsey book, the next two books for the Spirit trilogy, a historical western set at Christmas time, and a contemporary western suspense.

Please tell our readers how you juggle work (other than writing, assuming you work ‘outside the home,’ as a patient once aptly stated J), time to write and all that goes along with it, especially as a published author (i.e., promo, etc).

My jobs are writing, freelance editing, feeding cows and horses, and farm work. When I started writing for the newspaper I was a mother of three small children. At that time I wrote 2-3 hours a couple times a week. Then as all the kids were in school, I’d spend the morning writing and the afternoons doing my chores and errands. Some mornings I helped at the school. Then as they moved into High School, I wrote nearly every afternoon for two hours. When the last one was at home I went to work part-time for the County Extension. The three days a week I wasn’t working for them I spent all morning writing if I wasn’t doing farming chores.  Now, I get up, answer e-mails, check blogs, do promo, eat breakfast, feed animals, write until noon or one then do more chores. Edit in the afternoon unless I have to rake or bale hay. The evening is me time. An ideal week is being able to sit down and write every morning, but that doesn’t always happen. I may have to run to town, change pipes or harrow a field. So a good week is 3-4 mornings of good writing.


Blurb for Miner in Petticoats        

Shouldering the burdens of his family and the mining community, Ethan Halsey devotes himself to providing for his brothers’s growing families. However, Aileen Miller, a widow, also looking out for her family’s interests, refuses to part with the land he needs. As they battle- one to push his dream to reality and the other to prove no man will hurt her again- their lives become enmeshed and their hearts collide.

 Excerpt:  “Mrs. Miller?” he asked, extending his hand. She kept her head tipped forward just enough her so that her face was shadowed and hidden behind the brim of the hat.

 “Who be askin’?” Her voice caught his attention with its deep, lyrical tone.

 “I’m Ethan Halsey. My brothers and I have a claim just over the ridge.” It aggravated him he couldn’t see her face and register how she took his words.

 “Are ye lost?” The voice vibrated under his skin, causing his body to warm.

 He cleared his throat. “No, I’m not lost. I’m looking for Mrs. Miller. I’m assuming that is you, since you’re the only grown woman I see here.”

 “Ah m Aileen. Ah dinnae fancy bein’ called Mrs. Miller.”

 This disclosure piqued his curiosity. “Mrs.—Aileen. I’ve come with an offer.” Her head tilted, tipping the wide-brimmed hat to the side and revealing a slip of her face.

“And whit may this grand offur be?” He saw the slightest curve on one side of her lips.

“Ma’am, not to sound bossy, but I’d like to see your face as we discuss this proposition.” Her shoulders dipped slightly before she squared them, stretched her neck to its full length, and whipped the hat from her head. Copper sparks reflected off her hair as the sun lit her dark locks.

Ethan hadn’t believed the words of a cowardly man like Miles, and he was happy to see there wasn’t any kind of mark on the woman’s face, at least none put there by the devil. Her skin was abundantly sprinkled with angel kisses. That was what his mother had called the freckles on her face. Angel kisses. He’d always had a fondness for freckle-faced women and children.

“Thank you, I appreciate seeing people’s eyes when talking business.” Ethan took a step closer to the porch, waiting to be invited to the shade.

 “And whit be yer business?” The woman didn’t seem inclined to invite him any closer.

 “I’ve scouted the land all around our claim. The five acres of your land down where Cracker Creek drops in elevation is the perfect spot to set up a stamp mill. The side of the canyon has the right slope and the water is moving fast enough to power the mill.”

 “So yer business is askin’ me tae sell ma land?” She clamped work-reddened hands onto those ample hips and glared at him.

 “We’d give you a fair price for the five acres, and you could use the stamp mill to claim more gold from your mine.” The information didn’t seem to change her opinion. She still glared at him. “We’re allowing the nearby claims to build rails to bring their ore to the mill. They can use the stamp mill, giving us a small cut of their profits.” He smiled at his family’s generosity.

“So ye’re doin’ this oot o’ the goodness o’ yer heart? Takin’ yer neighbor’s land and their gold.” Her light green eyes flashed with indignation.

Paty, I thank you so much for taking the time to stop and tell us about yourself and all the exciting projects you have going on! You are a dynamo!  Contact Paty at: