After All



The Wild Rose Press


Two years after lifesaving surgery left her infertile, Molly Hernandez is running full steam toward her goal of becoming a DEA Special Agent. She won’t be distracted by falling in love with an Army veteran who’s focused on settling down and making babies.

Drew Atwater delayed marriage and family until his Army career ended. Now, he has a one-year plan to find the woman of his dreams. Unfortunately, the only woman he wants is a spirited cop determined to leave their peaceful town.

While working with troubled teens, Molly and Drew discover they make a powerful team, but their opposing goals threaten to pull them miles apart. Can the power of unselfish love prove their future together will surpass any dream they could accomplish alone?

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tea-riffic giveaway image

Congratulations to Lori Holcroft for winning the prize package!


In celebration of the release of HOME FIELD on June 30th, I am offering a tea-riffic giveaway! I’ve put together the ultimate cozy, custom-made package for one lucky reader. Contest ends June 29th at midnight.

  •  A beautiful, custom Alice in Wonderland inspired tea cup and saucer, inscribed with the words ‘DRINK ME‘ on the inside on the cup. (pictured above)
  • Crocheted fingerless gloves made by Primrose Craft & Decor of Green Bay, WI. Perfect for wearing while reading on cool days and nights. (pictured above)
  • A box of my favorite tea – Yogi Calming blend.
  • A $10 Amazon gift card to purchase another book to read after you’ve finished with HOME FIELD

How to Enter:

Preorder HOME FIELD and email me a proof of purchase (photo of receipt or forward an email receipt) to with ‘HOME FIELD’ in the subject line. It’s that easy! I will randomly select a winner on release day-June 30th.


Buy Now- Amazon

Buy Now – B&N

Buy Now- Paperback, The Wild Rose Press

also available in the iBooks store

  • Giveaway open to individuals with US mailing addresses only.
  • Entering drawing does NOT automatically sign you up for my newsletter. Although, if you’d like to be, just let me know!
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A New Balancing Act


What do publishingand running have in common-


Why can’t someone create a day between Sunday and Monday? An extra day to get caught up on all the little things that continue to get pushed back onto the to-do list.

Recently, I’ve made writing a priority in my life. Which means that pesky things like cleaning the house and doing laundry often become secondary to finishing my word count for the day.

Now that I have three books contracted for publication, I’m really finding it a struggle to find balance. There’s a lot of behind the scenes work that goes into getting a manuscript ready for publication. Then, there’s the marketing and promotion an author needs to do months in advance of the book’s launch. And during this time I have to have faith in the stories I’ve already written, along with all the ones yet to come.

So that extra day…probably not something I’ll see anytime soon. I’ll just have to continue to squeeze in a load of laundry in between editing sessions. And always remember to close my laptop when it’s family time.

What’s your secret to finding a good work/life balance?


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How I Write


There’s no magic formula for writing a full length novel. It just takes time…lots and lots of time. Time to plot, time to research, time to write…review, revise, etc. Each writer has their own method for how they spend that time, getting from a plot bunny to a finished manuscript. I thought I’d share the method that I’ve developed after writing four manuscripts (until I learn something new and change it up).

Every book starts with a plot idea, the beginnings of a story that won’t leave you alone. I spend hours daydreaming about my potential characters before I put anything down on paper. Once my characters become more real, like they could potentially star in their own story, I start writing down details in a notebook. Over time, my notes become more detailed, and I really flesh out who these people are: names, ages, backstory, family, motivations, good characteristics, bad habits, character arch, what’s standing in the way of them reaching their goal.

I plot very loosely. Basically, I break my story into four acts, then figure out the important plot points I want at the end of each section. It’s kind of like riding a wave, up and down, and the waves get higher and more significant as you reach the end. An example would be that half way through the MS (based on word count) I write an emotionally explosive scene, that usually involves kissing! I also start my research when I plot, but most of that comes during the writing phase, since I don’t start out with a detailed plot. I discover what I need to research along the way.

Once I have a loose plot, I start to write. I use daily word count goals and I write every day. When I was working full time, I’d write 1000 words(1.25 hours) on a week day and 2000(2.5 hours) on Saturday and Sunday. Of course, there’s wiggle room for life events. Some days I set a higher goal and others I would lower it. So for a 75,000 word MS, it takes me about two months to write the first draft. The crappy first draft. It is unpolished and full of errors, but I don’t care. I have the solid bones of a story.

Then I let it sit for at least two weeks. I don’t touch it, don’t read it, don’t open the file. It creates some objective distance between myself and my writing. Once I’m ready to work on it again, I print out a paper copy and read the whole thing within two days. I make notes about plot issues or any other issues I see. Next, I start writing my second draft. Up until now, I’ve rewritten my second draft from scratch. My first drafts are that bad. For this next MS, I think I might be in good enough shape that I don’t have to scrap the first draft, but work off it to improve.

After I’m satisfied with my second draft, usually after six weeks of working on it, I send it out to beta readers and critic partners. They have different points of view and can read the MS with objectivity. At this point, it’s a waiting game. This can be black hole of time, but I use it to start another manuscript. Believe it or not, I can write an entire first draft of my next story while I’m waiting for reader feedback.

So, it can be up to two months before I have enough feedback to start revisions again. I read the entire MS once out loud. It’s amazing the small mistakes you find when doing that. I go over it again, and again, and again. Maybe send it out to a few more people for more feedback. This usually takes another month or so, then I finally have a finished manuscript.

If you’re keeping track, you can see that it takes me about 6 months from start to finish. Yes, in that time I write the first draft of another story, but still…that’s a long time. I consider it an investment in a solid book.

That’s the method I found works best for me. If you’re a writer, how do you write?


Book Tour – Bound by Blood

Bound by Blood banner
This is my stop during the book blitz for Bound by Blood by Scott Springer. This book blitz is organized by Lola’s Blog Tours. The book blitz runs from 21 till 27 April, you can view the complete blitz schedule on the website of Lola’s Blog Tours.

bound by blood coverBound by Blood
by Scott Springer
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Age category: Adult
Publisher: Anaiah Press
Release Date: September 23, 2014

Julia has accepted the Lord and is busy returning her life to order. She is not ready for love, especially when the new site foreman at work stirs up forgotten feelings. She knows a playboy when she sees one, but to Rick Mercado the attraction between them is surprisingly real. Other girls no longer interest him, and if she wants to play hard to get that’s fine with him. Let the games begin!

What he doesn’t realize is that her dangerous secret is not a game.
Julia’s brother has returned from the street, strung out and in trouble with rival gangs. Loyalty to her brother draws Julia deeper into a world of drug deals and thugs. Rick doesn’t understand why Julia won’t simply go to the cops, especially once the bullets start flying. As Julia slips further into a world of violence, Rick realizes how easily his heart can be broken. His brain says to run, but his heart isn’t listening. It may already be too late.

BOUND BY BLOOD. Love and suspense, heartfelt moments and guns a blazing.
What a killer combination!

You can find Bound by Blood on Goodreads

You can buy Bound by Blood here:
Barnes & Noble

You can watch the trailer for Bound by Blood on Youtube

Scott SpringerAbout the Author:
Scott Springer spent his youth playing pretend and dreaming of being a writer. As an adult he worked as a carpenter before becoming a software developer. Having produced much, his two children remain his proudest accomplishment. His wife led him to the Lord, and he’s glad that she did.

You can find and contact Scott here:

There is a tour wide giveaway for the book blitz of Bound by Blood. These are the prizes you can win:
– $10 B&N or iTunes giftcard (US only)

For a chance to win, enter the rafflecopter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Lola's Blog Tours

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The Dressmaker’s Duke by Jess Russell

The Dressmaker’s Duke will be on sale for $0.99 from February 20th – March 6th

Jess Russell, the author of The Dressmaker’s Duke, is my special guest today. Take it away Jess!I have always been a creative person. I love make things. Give me a power tool and I am a happy gal. I am also an award winning batik artist.


I am an actress, I stage apartments, I build and tile bathrooms, I made my own wedding dress

 Wedding Dress

You get the idea. :o)

Living in 1810, the year of The Dressmaker’s Duke, there were few opportunities for women other than marriage. And even then a woman was basically the property of her husband with very few rights.

I was drawn to writing about a heroine who is a dressmaker for the obvious creative reasons but also she could be more or less independent. Still, not an easy life; Clients often didn’t pay their bills, materials were expensive, ladies could be difficult to please. The list goes on.

I also wanted my heroine, Olivia Weston, to have lived some. She is 29 and a widow. She has seen some of the world and experienced heartache and loss. She knows what independence means and she will fight for hers. I admire that.

Olivia is also fiercely loyal to her best friend and business partner, Eglantine Wiggins. “Egg” as she is affectionately called, is Olivia’s only family. The women cling together through all their trials. I wanted to write about women who support themselves in spite of it being a “man’s” world.

Olivia chooses dressmaking rather than compromise herself. Of course, being fiction and a romance, there is a “knight in shining armor”, though my Duke is rather more of a gorgeous geek who has his darkness and flaws. Rhys finds Olivia isn’t so easily swept off her feet by his ducal mansion and endless wealth. He must work for this fiercely independent woman. In the Romance genre the Happily Ever After is a foregone conclusion, but how they get there is the fun!



Book Description:

Rhys Merrick, Duke of Roydan, is determined to be the antithesis of his depraved father, repressing his desires so severely he is dubbed “the Monk” by Society.  But when Olivia Weston turns up demanding payment for gowns ordered by his former mistress, Rhys is totally flummoxed and inexplicably smitten.  He pays her just to remove her from his house, and mind.  But logic be damned; he must have this fiercely independent woman.

Olivia’s greatest fear is becoming a kept woman.  She has escaped the role of mistress once and vows never to be owned by any man.  Rather than make money in the boudoir, she chooses to clothe the women who do.  But when a fire nearly kills her friend and business partner, Olivia’s world goes up in smoke and she is forced to barter with the lofty duke.

As their lives weave together, Olivia unravels the man underneath the Monk, while Rhys desires to expose the lady hiding behind the dressmaker. Will his raw passion fan a long-buried ember of hope within her? Can this mismatched pair be the perfect fit?


     “Could you move, please?”

     Was it her imagination, or was his voice higher than usual? Then what he actually said registered.


     “Yes. Could you move across the room? I find to judge a garment, or anything properly, one must see it in motion.” Her face must have been reflecting the horror she felt, for he hastened on, “You would not expect me to buy a horse simply by looking at its lines would you, Mrs. Weston? I would wish to see it run as well. I’m sure you understand.”

     Blast him and his bloody horses. She strode forward, happy to vent some of her anger in movement; however, she realized a split second too late there was nowhere to move. The receiving room was not large and was mostly taken up with the cutting table. The only area with any appreciable room was at the far end of the shop where the huge paneled mirrors stood. He was standing directly in the path that would be her best direction. Consequently, she found herself almost flush up against him.

     She knew he was tall. Any fool could see the man was at least two or more inches over six feet, but from this vantage point—directly beneath him—he was so very tall. She could smell the starch of his shirt mixed with a faint whiff of smoke and possibly brandy? She slid her gaze over the shirt and waistcoat to his cravat—a conservatively tied Oriental—to the firm, slightly cleft chin, moving on to the lips, very swiftly past those, and finally resting on his eyes. Pure molten gold. Yes, exactly like those of the Burmese tiger she had seen at a menagerie in Paris. His bearing was just as predatory.

     “It would appear, sir, in order for me to move, as you require, you will have to bestir yourself as well.”

     She thought she saw one side of his mouth shift ever so slightly upward into what might have been the merest twitch of a smile. She could not be one hundred percent sure because, to do so, she would have to look at his lips. The duke shifted his weight and made a small bow. Her shoulder brushed the superfine of his midnight blue jacket as she hurriedly squeezed past him.

     She strode almost to the mirrors before wheeling around and giving him what she hoped was an accusatory look.

     “Well, Your Grace. I hope you are satisfied”

     “Satisfied, Mrs. Weston?” He raised that infernal eyebrow. “Oh no, madam, I am very far from satisfied. However, I am hopeful I will be, in the not so distant future.” Again his gaze raked over her.  “Yes, I do live in hope.”


Jess Russell, Multi-Award Winning and Best-selling author!

As a girl Jess escaped the world of rigorous ballet class and hideous math homework into the haven of toe wriggling romance novels. She never imagined in her dyslexic brain she would ever come to write one, but one small scene grew into 359 pages, and contest wins, and multiple contract offers. Dreams sometimes do come true, just like the happy ending in the stories she loves.

Jess lives in New York City with her husband and son and disappears to the Catskill Mountains whenever she can. She is a sometime actress, award winning batik artist, and accomplished seamstress. Along with her sewing machine, she loves power tools and, what’s more, she knows how to use them.

Jess is currently working on revamping her Manhattan kitchen as well as writing two other stories, (working titles), Heart of Glass, and Mad for the Marquess. Please check them out in BOOKS.

Jess Russell is a member of RWA, as well as the Beau Monde and the NY chapters of RWA. THE DRESSMAKER’S DUKE came in first in the Fool for Love Contest, Golden Apple Awards’ Secret Craving Contest, the Indiana Golden Opportunity Contest and the Golden Rose Contest (also winning the best of the best). And finaled in the Great Beginnings, Emerald City Opener, and the Lone Star Contests.

Author Links:





Buy Links:


Barnes and Noble


Click the link below for a chance to win an autographed copy of

The Dressmaker’s Duke

Book Club



Calling all who love to read and talk about books. With Paper Dreams Book Club, I hope to gather together a few good books and have some exciting discussions.

On February 15th, I will announce our first selection. Then, the group will have until March 31 to read the book. During the month of March, you may see an interview with the author, a guest host, giveaways and/or a chance for reader questions.

Readers are encouraged to comment, share their opinions, and answer the book club questions.

The next month, we’ll start the process again with the next selection.

What type of books will be featured? The short answer is…a little bit of everything, both fiction and non-fiction

Adult, New Adult, and Young Adult

Romance, Mystery, Crime Thriller, Fantasy, Women’ Lit

No Erotica or anything heavily sexual (think PG13)

The great thing about this book club is…if you don’t like the current month’s book selection, just skip it and join us next month.

Are you in???

If you would like to join me, please sign up to follow my blog or email me directly at


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Writing to Set the Scene

Above is a painting by Monet called The Japanese Footbridge. I saw it, along with several other original Monet’s, during a recent visit to the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC. Those beautiful Impressionist paintings got me thinking about the similarities between painters and authors. Both creative pursuits are only successful if they can build a convincing scene.

Most stories have one or two main settings, plus several minor ones. The main setting can be a town, the main character’s home, school, or anyplace you can imagine. If you don’t properly introduce the reader to the stories main setting, they are left staring at a blank canvas. The minor scenes are places where your main character moves through; a restaurant, lake, bar, etc. What you do with those places is also important. Every scene in your story should serve a purpose, so treat them accordingly.

Think of the scene your writing as an Impressionist painting. It’s created using broad strokes, yet with attention to detail.

Your writing should invoke all five senses. Is the room brightly lit or dark? How does the kitchen smell? What is the main character hearing? Is the food spicy, sweet, sour? You get my drift. A real person in a real place is bombarded with sensory information. When writing, don’t go through a laundry list, but pick out important elements that you’d like your reader to experience with the character.

Then start weaving them into the story. Tell us how your main characters view the scene. What would catch his or her attention? See it through your character’s eyes, not your own. Don’t be a Renascence painter and describe every intricate detail, i.e.- down to the last feather on the cherub’s wing. That’s a sure way to get your reader to loose interest fast.

Here’s an excerpt of a scene set in a meadow: 

They had discovered Cottonwood Field on a hot day like today. She remembered it like it was yesterday. The field  had sat at the end of a wrong turn taken during a run through a county park. It was covered in tall grass and purple wildflowers. A slow moving creek meandered through the middle, weaving back and forth like a shimmering snake. It smelled of pure nature, organic and bright; a scent she could recall to this day.

She had named it for the large Cottonwood tree that stood guard in the middle of the field. It had been late June and the tree was releasing an abundance of white fluffy Cottonwood seeds, which floated through the air like summer snowflakes. The soft puffs had filled the sky and stuck to her and John’s sweaty skin. They laughed and tried to avoid becoming covered in the cotton. John leaned in close to pull off a seed that stuck to her lower lip, which led to their first kiss.

This scene is experienced through the main character, Julie. The reader is provided with enough detail so they can imagine the setting, but still leaves freedom to fill in the rest with their own imagination.

Next time you enter a new place, pay attention to the sights, sounds, smells, and how they make you feel. Being self aware is good exercise for creative writing.

What are your favorite scenes from a novel? What can you learn from them to use in your own writing?

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I love chocolate. No, I really love chocolate. At work, there’s a drawer filled with those cute Dove bite size chocolate candies. Every afternoon, like clockwork, I come downstairs and grab one. It’s a guilt free way to make it through the rest of the work day.

This past summer, I entered my first story in the Harlequin Heartwarming Write from the Heart contest. This was the first time I had sent my work out to be critiqued by an industry professional, and I was nervous. While I was waiting to hear back if my story made it to the second round of the contest, I opened up a Dove chocolate and saw the message in the picture above – Believe in yourself.

Being plagued by self-doubt, this little chocolate inspiration really hit home. I tacked it to the wall of my work desk as a daily reminder. Believing in yourself costs nothing, but the payout can be huge.

Weeks later, I found out I had made it to the second round in the Write from the Heart contest. I ended up not winning, but I did get some valuable feedback from the Harlequin Heartwarming editors. That, in itself, was priceless.

That little piece of foil is still pinned to my desk. Along with various other fun items.

004               006             007

What are the little things you do to help feed the seed of belief in yourself?

In honor of my love of chocolate, I’m sharing a recipe for yummy Turtle Brownies.

  • 1 box German chocolate cake mix
  • 1 can (12oz) of Carnation milk
  • 3/4 cup melted butter
  • 1 pkg. Kraft caramels
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 pkg. (12oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips

In a bowl, combine cake mix, 1/2 cup Carnation milk, and 3/4 cup melted butter. Spread 1/2 mixture in a 9×13 inch greased pan. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes at 350 degrees.

Unwrap caramels and place in microwave safe bowl. Melt in microwave for 60 seconds. Add 1/3 cup of Carnation and mix well. Pour over baked dough, then sprinkle pecans evenly over melted caramels. Sprinkle chocolate chips over pecans. Spread remaining dough over the top and bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes longer.

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Sometimes, we don’t know what we don’t know. Sounds kind of confusing, right? But it’s not until we really start immersing ourselves in a particular subject of interest, that we find out how clueless we’ve been all along.

That was me when it came to becoming a professional writer. I was well aware that I had no idea how one went about getting professionally published, so I spent hours on-line reading articles on the subject. After that research, I was pretty confident that I had it all figured out.

And then I found Twitter…

I was amazed to find a wonderful, supportive, and diverse group of writers and publishing professionals who are very active in the Twitterverse. I have learned so much by following writers and Literary Agents. I’m a true hitchhiker, riding along for free on the knowledge they share. Everyday, I’m learning something new, and its all thanks to ordinary people who take the time to share their insights with the rest of us. My favorite posts are from Lit Agents who take ten anonymous query letters and give a short Twitter critique. I find these posts generally provide many examples of what not to do in a query letter!

But don’t forget the Blog…

Through links on Twitter, I have found several blogs that are super helpful for those trying to break into the published author sphere. By reading some of these little gems, you are getting a free course in creative writing. I can’t even begin to express how much useful information I’ve learned from reading blogs.

So where do I begin…

Twitter is the place to be for those in the writing community. It’s a big spider’s web, so find a few Lit. Agents that you think you may like to work with someday and start following them. It won’t take long to discover a network of wonderful people.

Find a few blogs that interest you and take the time to read them. Here are a few of my favorites:

Those are only a few of many. Do you have a good blog or website that is a go to for new information?

fire roasted tomatoes                       170                roasted jalapeno

This week, I’m sharing a new recipe…Fire Roasted Salsa…enjoy!

  • Olive oil
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1 yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 8 whole garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 3 jalapenos, sliced (use fresh for salsa with more heat, canned for a milder flavor)
  • juice of 1 lime
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • pinch of oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. dried cumin
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, drizzle 2 tsp. olive oil over the foil. Lay down cherry tomatoes, onion, garlic cloves, and jalapenos. Broil vegetables, setting the pan about 3-4 inches from the heating element, until charred.

Remove charred vegetable and their juice into a food processor. Add lime juice, pinch of oregano, cumin, salt and pepper, and cilantro. Blend and eat!