The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop is a chance for authors to respond to ten questions about their latest book. The author tags the person who first tagged them, plus a few other authors who will post on their blogs the following Wednesday.First, I’d like to thank author, Elke Feuer, for tagging me. Click the links below to find out more about Elke and her debut novel, For the Love of Jazz, a contemporary romance with a ghostly twist.



Twitter: @ElkeFeuer


Here is my Next Big Thing! Please feel free to comment and ask questions.

1: What is the title of your book? Hot Off the Press

2: Where did the idea come from for the book? I studied journalism and worked at the Kingston Whig-Standard which was owned, at one time, by renowned author (novelist, playwright, critic, journalist, and professor) Robertson Davies.  I always thought the small town newspaper would make a great setting for a romance novel.  And when Robertson Davies died in 1995, it got me thinking about what it might be like to inherit a newspaper from your much beloved, celebrated father and how difficult it would be to live up to such a legacy.

3: What genre does your book come under? Contemporary romance

4: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? I originally patterned my heroine after a young Geena Davis, but if I were casting a movie today I would probably want Lauren Ambrose as Leigh Cameron and Adam Beech as David Stone.

Adam Beech

Adam Beech

Geena Davis

Geena Davis

Lauren Ambrose

Lauren Ambrose

5: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? Following the death of her father, Leigh returns to the sleepy seaside town of her youth, where, she’s shocked and surprised to learn she’s inherited the family paper.

6: Is your book self-published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agency? My book is published by Crimson Romance.

7: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? I spent about two years writing the first draft of Hot Off the Press during evenings and weekends.

8: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? One reviewer said of Hot Off the Press, “Readers who love Susan Elizabeth Phillips or Jill Shalvis will not want to miss this book.” And another added, “A true tapestry of characters, story, and a richly detailed setting reminiscent of early Nora Roberts.”

9: Who or what inspired you to write this book? I wrote the book after moving to Toronto for a job as a television reporter.  This story was, in many ways, love letter to print journalism and to the friends I left behind.  That said, despite sharing some physical attributes with some of my dearest friends, Leigh, Geoffrey, David, Andrea and Bruce are all fictional characters.

The Watford Sun, the small independent paper where my story is based, was inspired by a Canadian daily newspaper called the Kingston Whig Standard that was privately owned until very recently.  I interned there as an Arts and Entertainment reporter some years back and I found the small town and its charming old buildings very romantic.  The fictitious town of Watford, MA, where the story is based bears some similarities with the town of Kingston, Ontario where this paper is located.

10: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? It’s a beautiful, sensual read with a fire escape sex scene my critique group still raves about some six years after I first read it to them.

Below are the links to the next chain of authors who will be posting next Wednesday.

Please show them some love by bookmarking their sites and adding their new releases to your calendars. Happy Writing and Reading!

  1. Kaye Dacus is the author of humorous, hope-filled contemporary and historical romances with Barbour Publishing, Harvest House Publishers, and B&H Publishing. Find out more at  Find her on Twitter @KayeDacus
  2. Heidi Ruby Miller uses research for her thrillers as an excuse to roam the globe.  Find out more at  Find her on Twitter @HeidiRubyMiller

Do You Judge A Book By Its Cover?


A colleague recently remarked that she was relieved that our publisher, Crimson Romance, does not use “classic” romance covers for its cover art.  You know the kind I mean – the ones featuring a woman with long flowing hair in the throws of passion with a gorgeous, shirtless Adonis.  Well, I have a confession to make.  I love those “classic” covers.  I mean, come on.  Who among us hasn’t wished for long, beautiful hair or fantasized about being in the arms of a dark, muscular, larger than life, hunk of a man?


Hot Off the Press Actual Cover

So I was a little disappointed when I saw that the cover of my debut novel, Hot Off the Press, was definitely more modern than classically hot.  No bodice ripping here. No, sirree, Bob. Now granted, my novel does deal with serious issues like discrimination in our prison system but it also contains a beautiful romance and really great and hot sex.

Alternate Cover

Hot Off the Press Author’s “Classic” Cover

My research on the impact of a book cover revealed that in fact, your book cover may very well be the single biggest piece of marketing that book will receive.  For first time authors and writers that have not yet built up a big following, the cover may be the only thing that gets a reader or reviewer to physically pick the book up.  Talk about pressure.

According to a survey, covers play a decisive role in 21% readers’ decision to purchase a book. Moreover, 60% of readers say a cover has been the sole driving factor in their decision to purchase a book.

So although we’re all taught never to judge a book by its cover, many of us still do.

What about you? Do you judge a book by its cover? Let me know, leave your email address and enter to win a $100 or $50 Amazon gift card!

Here’s how it works:

To celebrate romance and the classic covers I love, I’ve joined the Crimson Wonderland Blog Hop. I invite you to visit the other fabulous Crimson Romance authors and also enter to win on their site. The more you visit, the better your chances of winning a prize! And, the more authors, sexy covers and amazing stories you’ll find to entice you.

Find the entire list of participants to the blog hop here:

Good luck!

10 Questions with Galen Rose

“I don’t think I’d be able to sleep at night if I didn’t write.”

ImageContemporary romance writer, Galen Rose, dropped by to chat about writing, romance and her biggest influences.   Rose lives in the Santa Cruz Mountains, with her husband, son and 3.5 cats. She’s an avid cook, gardener and loves to travel.

MN:  Writers are often told, “Write what you know.” How much of what you write stems from your experience?

GR:   Some of it falls under location, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Ireland. Places I have lived and traveled. I choose occupations I am familiar with for my characters too. But that doesn’t mean I won’t go further and delve into research for a new work. Like taking shooting lessons to learn more about guns.

MN:  Once you have your premise, what’s your process?  Are you a plotter or a “pantser” going with your instincts as you write?

GR:  I am a pantzer all the way. A story line will pop into my head and I’ll run with it till the end. Then I’ll go back and see if where I started is really the beginning. My book, A Place to Rest My Heart, had a vastly different and darker opening than what eventually went to print. The opening that I cut out could very well inspire a new book.

MN:  What or who inspires you to write romance?

GR:  Writers like Nora Roberts, Jennifer Crusie and Janet Evanovich inspire me but mostly I hate unrequited love and combined with a vivid imagination, I write. I don’t think I’d be able to sleep at night if I didn’t write.

MN:  What is it about an alpha male that makes your heart melt?

GR:  Strength and truth.

MN:  Which of your characters is your favorite?  Why?

GR:  My favorite is a secondary character, Mason Storm (that one day may get her own book). She is a former assassin that chucks it all to try and live a normal life.

MN:  What else do you do besides write?

GR:  Garden, photograph flowers, travel.

MN:  Who are you reading right now?

GR:  I am reading quite a bit by Carla Neggers right now as well as trying to get through the stack of books I got at the RWA convention.

MN:  What’s your ideal writing environment like?

GR:  My office. It is at the back of the house and for the most part quiet. I can open the door and hear birds and this week I got to hear our first rain of the season. Plus if I can leave the door open, the cats will quit demanding I open the door for them!

MN:  Celebrity crush?

GR:  Wow, that’s a tough one, but probably Chris Pine.

MN:  Who are the biggest influences on your work?

GR:  My friends first, they read my writing and demand more, and also my fellow RWA Monterey chapter members.

MN:  Thanks for dropping by!!

ImageAbout GR’s A Place to Rest My Heart:

When Laney Murphy walks into Muldoon’s Pub in San Francisco, she has no idea her life is about to change forever. Laney has always believed that Murphy’s Law was written with her in mind. The offer of a job and a place to stay from the Muldoon family seems too good to be true, but when she meets Sean Muldoon, the suspicious and distrustful son of the pub owners, she wonders if she was right—he clearly detests her.

Sean is on the fast track as a body guard with Woo Security, and he isn’t going to allow some grifter to get in his way or to mess with his family.

But he soon discovers that Laney is not all sharp tongue and sarcasm, and he finds himself wanting to kiss her more than deck her.   But soon, Laney’s past comes back to haunt her and it will take her putting her life on the line to save Sean and the family she has come to love.

To get in touch with and/or follow Galen:

Crimson Wonderland Blog Hop!

ImageDon’t Miss the Crimson Wonderland Blog Hop!

When you read a book, do you feel like you’ve escaped to another world?

Do you love to go back in time, travel to exotic places or be swept away to fantasy lands? Does your escape bring the heat of a desert sun, a tropical beach, a western range? Do you prefer vibrant city lights or the intimacy of small towns? Or depending on your mood, all of the above?

The authors at Crimson Romance offer a wonderland of romantic worlds, and we’d love you to visit!

From Nov. 17th to Nov. 21st we’re celebrating our wide spectrum of romances with the first Crimson Wonderland Blog Hop! Dozens of authors will entice you to their worlds and offer prizes to lucky visitors.

A wonderland of worlds and prizes too!

But that’s not all. As well as dozens of giveaways, there will also be a grand prize!! You won’t want to miss any of these fabulous authors, so be sure to follow each and every blogger! Exciting details will follow.

See you in November!

Five Questions with Samantha Holloway a.k.a. Plum-Kitten Baroque Rose

Samantha Holloway

Samantha grew up all over the world and still travels whenever she can. She lives in the corner of a living room in North Carolina with a neurotic cat and a stack of books. She’s currently revising her first novel, due to be shopped next spring. She reads too much, reviews books for The New York Journal of Books, reviews TV sporadically and commits random acts of academia.

Current Project:
The working title is Married to the Wind, and I hope I get to keep it when it goes to editors! It’s an epic fantasy about a twinned princess, each half with its own destiny, a boy who falls from the sky and must return there, a walled country with an entire history based on a lie, and what happens when gods get tired of waiting on humans and start moving around the world on their own.

Samantha took time out from her busy schedule to answer my Top 5 burning questions. Here’s what she had to say:

MN: Writers are often told, “Write what you know.” How much of what you write stems from your experience?

SH: I write fantasy, so, well, I don’t have a lot of experience with magic or dragons or first-hand interactions with old resurrected gods, but I do know a lot about how it feels to grow up displaced, which works well with stories about people who have to rise above uncertainty to save the world. And I know a lot about mythology and the systems of myth and legend inform stories that come later–which, again, works well in Fantasy. I grew up in Turkey, Italy, Japan and Scotland, so I’ve got a pretty wide view of cultures that I can draw on, and I’ve lived them, so I know the little details you might not get from research–what the air smells like at different times of the year, what plants are there, how outsiders and natives deal with the same things differently.

And I always thought ‘write what you know’ was more like ‘write what you know about what it feels like’ or ‘write what you would want to be if you were in this position’ anyway.

MN: Once you have your premise, what’s your process? Are you a plotter or a “pantser” going with your instincts as you write?

SH: I refuse to formally plot, and cling tenaciously to the idea of being a pantser. To me, once a story is already told–say, though mapping it out–I don’t need to tell it again, and there’s always a new idea I could be chasing down. And, there’s the issue that I never really know what I think about something until I write it down anyway, so the few times–like in a writing class or something–when I’ve been forced, kicking and screaming, to plot something first, the final product is always a totally different story, even if the first paragraph or first page is the same.

But I will admit this: Since beginning school at SHU, I’ve taken to mini-plotting. I’ll take notes and brainstorm along the way to clear up fogginess or solve problems, and I’ll end each day’s writing with three or five things I want to do next. But mostly, I’m writing the first draft to see where it goes, and I’m always surprised!

MN: What or who inspires you to write fantasy? Science fiction?

SH: Everything inspires me! But what inspired me originally was a combination of boredom, needing new books to read, and my dad’s bookshelf. See, I was about eleven or twelve in the cold dark years before YA had blossomed, and I was bored after reading about sixty chapter books in a row–Babysitter’s Club, The Boxcar Children, a few children’s novelizations of a show I used to watch when we were in the UK. Mom told me I’d used up my weekly book allowance and I was home sick and restless, but I knew I dad had this big bookshelf full of classic SciFi–Bradbury, Asimov, Clarke, a little Heinlein. And Anne McCaffrey. I picked up Dragonflight. I read it cover to cover faster than I’d read anything over 120 pages in my life, and when it was done, I wanted more. I started writing before I realized there WAS more–about ten more at that point, and she was still writing them!

From there, I devoured everything I could find with her name on it, and I read through the rest of the shelf, alternating dragons and telepaths in towers with the Bradbury anthologies–written by him and edited by him–and some of the Asimov and a big swath of the Clarke. On my own, I consumed all the Robin McKinley I could find. And comic books. And 80s fantasy movies. I was amazed that books existed that were like those movies!

McCaffrey is a good jumping-off point for both Fantasy and SciFi because the Pern series walks the line between them, especially at the beginning, and I didn’t make much distinction between them anyway, when I was a kid. I started out writing fantasy, went through a SciFi phase that was primarily inspired by TV and movies, and came back to Fantasy before I joined the program. Now, my thesis is Epic Fantasy, and my next project is Urban Fantasy, so we’ll have to wait until after that one to see how I do with SciFi!

MN: Plum-Kitten Baroque Rose – that’s an incredibly inventive and usual name. Please tell us how you got it.

SH: Haha, that’s a silly story. My real name is Samantha. I was looking for a neat name that I could put on Facebook to separate my personal page from my writing page, and I’d already started writing under Samantha Holloway, so I changed my personal name instead! It’s the name of a shoe that one of my friends used to sell in the shop he worked at–not even all that interesting a shoe, but I love the sound of the name. I think, if I ever need a new penname, I might write under Plum-Kitten Baroque Rose; think of how awesome the stories could be coming from her! Or, you know, I could write under that name if my editor or agent insists I pick a more interesting one…I’d have to do a lot of rebranding, though…

But it IS a great name, so now you’ve got me thinking…

MN: George Clooney or Brad Pitt. Why?

SH: George Clooney. He’s endlessly charming, and he seems like he’d be more fun to just be around; Brad Pitt has gotten so serious these last few years…

Thank you! This has been great!

To get in touch with and/or follow Samantha:


Blog: Writing – and Personal –

Twitter: @pirategirljack


Chatting with Molly Kate Gray

Romantic suspense author, Molly Kate Gray, dropped by for a chat about writing, the appeal of southern men and her favorite way to waste an afternoon.  A fan of things that go bump in the night, Gray writes romantic suspense with a Southern drawl.  Here are her answers to my Top 5 questions:

MN: Writers are often told, “Write what you know.” How much of what you write stems from your experience?

MKG:  I’m from a small town, so I think that gives an authentic feel to my setting.  I’m familiar with the “everyone knows everyone else’s business” aspect of small, country town life.  Other than that, most of the story’s from inside my head….except for Tara’s creepy ex-boyfriend – a high school boyfriend of mine provided the inspiration for a few of his character traits.

MN: Once you have your premise, what’s your process?  Are you a plotter or a “pantser” going with your instincts as you write?

MKG:  I really don’t fit exactly fit either category.  My first two scenes I write are always my finale and the climax for the story.  If I don’t know who’s going to be in those two scenes and how they’re going to happen, I don’t know what elements I need to introduce along the way.  After that, I plan out the rest of my “five big scenes” that will be the guideposts along the way for the story.  Beyond that, I don’t do a lot of extra planning.  I’m not one for character interview sheets or sketching out how each act will unfold.  I like to let the story itself lead me as I write.

Since I work with romantic suspense, though, it is important to know what elements are vital to a story’s end.  I think pulling a rabbit out of a hat in the “who done it” scene is cheating and unfair to the reader.  Everything that will be important in the ending of my story will be mentioned (or hinted at) at least once along the way.

MN: What or who inspires you to write romantic suspense?

MKG:  I think romantic suspense is kind of an adult version of Nancy Drew. When I was a teenager, we had a very reclusive woman who lived next door to my house.  “Dana” was probably in her early 30s, but I never saw her outside and no one ever seemed to visit her.  One night, I was home alone, and something made me look out the window.  Dana’s house was pitch black – except for what appeared to be beams from multiple flashlights sweeping through the house.  I watched for a while before closing the blinds.  A day later, a team of FBI agents came to my house and wanted to know if I’d seen anything unusual at Dana’s house, and then I realized that something was very wrong.  My dad and I went to peek in Dana’s windows that weekend, and I’ll never forget how completely torn up the house was.  Every drawer had been emptied onto the floor – holes were in the walls – something…not good had happened there.  We never saw Dana again.  I always wanted to be the person who could put all the pieces together and solve the crime.  Writing romantic suspense gives me the chance to live out that fantasy.

MN:  What is it about southern men that makes your heart melt?

MKG:  Um, I’m married to a Californian, so….  I think that I write about Southern guys because they’re what I know.  I also like the idea of a genteel Southern man – polite, honorable, would run into a burning house to save his dog, etc.

MN: George Clooney or Brad Pitt.  Why?

MKG:  Looking guiltily from side to side – Ian Somerhalder.  Sorry, the other two guys are attractive, but nothing beats Ian’s blue eyes.  The fact that he seems to be a true Southern gentleman, loves animals, and is passionate about the environment – he’s just all kinds of perfect.

MN:  What’s your favorite way to waste away an afternoon?

MKG:  I’m a mom of a middle schooler and a high schooler.  I don’t really have a lot of time to waste. If I had an afternoon where I didn’t have any commitments, I have to admit that I’m a huge Vampire Diaries fan.  I’ve watched a few episodes until I can practically quote them from memory – it’s a nice way to relax.  Also, I love it when I have the chance to sneak in some time on Twitter to chat with my friends.

MN:  And, (only if you’re comfortable revealing this) – Is Molly Kate Gray the name you were born with? If not, why did you choose it?

MKG:  As you might have guessed, Molly Kate Gray is not my given name, but Gray is a family name.  I think I’ll leave it at that, after all, I do write suspense.

MN:  Thank you!

About MKG’s Small Town Secrets:

Miller’s Grove’s most eligible bachelor, Josh Owens, could have a different date every night of the week, so he doesn’t understand why he’s drawn to Tara since she’s obviously not interested in him. Tara Sullivan is angry that he’s stolen the coveted prime-time anchor position she’d been promised.

A stranger begins preying on the single young women in Miller’s Grove, and the story’s assigned to Tara. As the number of victims grows, Tara reluctantly accepts help from Josh. As he researches his top suspect in the assaults, he unearths events in the past that more than one resident of Miller’s Grove wants to keep hidden.

Together they discover a web of conspiracy and lies involving the most powerful family in town. Josh and Tara put their reputations at risk in the hope of exposing the truth and, perhaps, finally bringing Tara peace.


Buy Small Town Secrets:  Amazon

Barnes and Noble: