Archive for November, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a time of friends, family, and sharing, so Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.


I’ll be back on Sunday with Sunday News, and the winner of the title contest. I hope to see you then.

Warm regards,


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I’m on Karen’s Killer Books with an excerpt of The Secret Life of Miss Anna Marsh and a give away today. Look where I am today!! http://bit.ly/1fITmYB. But I thought you’d enjoy this as well.

Writers In The Storm Blog

Happy Turkey Day Eve!

No time to talk turkey today – I know most of you need to get back to the last lap of NaNoWriMo. I am just going to jump right in with one of my favorite quotes about fiction writing from On Writing Horror, a book put together by The Horror Writers Association. Don’t click away if Horror isn’t your genre!  I’ve found many gems within the pages of this book that could be used with ALL genres.

Horror fiction deals in aberrations—aberrations of nature and circumstance, of fate and destiny, of the cosmic and the exquisitely human. Of these facets, the most memorable and compelling are the humans who populate the writer’s fictional world. Through their eyes, the reader is able to behold existence from a unique and unexpected perspective. The reader is able to live another human’s endeavor in order to understand, avoid, or…

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Monday Excerpts will be back next week. Today I’m honored to be on Karen’s Killer Book Bench with a giveaway of The Secret Life of Miss Anna Marsh!! Please come by and visit!

The Secret Life of Miss Anna Marsh

The Secret Life of Miss Anna Marsh

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This has been a pretty quite week. I’ve not received the names of the winners from the blogs I’ve been on, and, due to a cyber glitch, my editor has not selected a title yet. We do have one book winner though!!

CongratulationsMelissa Keir won Anne Cleeland’s book!! Congratulations, Melissa!!

Except for a wonderful day spent with fellow author, Amy Pfaff, when she came in on a cruise ship, I’ve spent most of the week working on my Christmas novella for 2014. This is Georges and Madeleine’s story. If you’ve read The Secret Life of Miss Anna Marsh, you’ll remember the not always very likable, shadowy French guy. Having to limit my word count to 25,000 is a real struggle for me, but it will get done. I also foresee lots of editing.

Here is an excerpt. Tell me what you think.

September 1814, Beaune, France

Madeleine, Comtesse du Beaune, laid her pen down on the old cherry desk. Thank the Lord she had a head for numbers. Each vineyard, even the ones that held only one or two rows were accounted for. If only the central government had allowed her to completely take her father’s position as négociant. Better a wine-trader than a dead Aristo or a pauper, papa had said. Mamma had begged him to take the family to England, but he would not leave France. Yet now he was dead, and no one could explain how it had come about. After all, a man who did not ride horses anymore could hardly fall off one and break his neck. What was worse was Monsieur Coupe, the person who had been assigned to oversee Madeleine’s work.

A knock sounded on the door, and it opened. “Milady, Monsieur Coupe”—her butler, Durant’s, lip lifted in a sneer—“is here to see you.”

She’d like to cut Monsieur Coupe’s male parts off and feed them to the pig.

This time of year Magen’s gets every north swell going. It makes walking a challenge, and paddle boarding not much fun. So, I’m taking you to Secret Harbor on the East end of the island.

Secret Harbor

I wasn’t the only one paddling. People paddling

I love seeing the boats.


So what do you think of the new beach?

Have a wonderful week,


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Please welcome Anne Cleeland to the blog today. Anne is giving away a copy of her book, Murder in Thrall, and talking about secondary characters, one of my favorite topics.

Here is the cover.



And the blurb.

From Anne Cleeland comes the first in a captivating new mystery series, following the perilous exploits of two Scotland Yard detectives as they track down London’s most elusive killer.  .  .

First-year detective Kathleen Doyle and Chief Inspector Michael Sinclair, Lord Acton, are a most unlikely pair. An Irish redhead of humble beginnings and modest means, Doyle is the antithesis of Acton, the British lord who has established himself as a brilliant but enigmatic figure with a knack for solving London’s most high profile homicides. But Acton senses something exceptional beneath Doyle’s awkward naiveté and taps her to help him with his investigations. And her spot-on intuition is just what he needs to solve a chilling string of murders.  .  .

When a horse trainer is found dead at a racetrack, Doyle and Acton begin interviewing witnesses and the victim’s associates, but the killer continues to strike and they’re left with more questions than answers. Their investigation is further muddled by their colleagues at CID Headquarters, whose career-driven jealousies and workplace blunders could jeopardize the case–and their nosing into the nature of Doyle and Acton’s after hours relationship could lay bare the most classified information of all.  .  .

Perhaps the trainer was the target of a jilted lover on a killing spree. Or maybe the victims were collateral damage in a political coup gone awry. As the murders pile up, Doyle and Acton uncover something far more sadistic than they could have imagined, and now that they know too much, they’ll find themselves squarely in the crosshairs of a cold-blooded killer.  .  .

Buy link: Amazon

Scheming Rivals and Deplorable Relatives: How Minor Characters Enrich a Romance

            Although opinions may vary, a list of the best romances of all time would probably include these four stories near the top:  Pride and Prejudice, Outlander, Jane Eyre, and Twilight.

What do these stories have in common?  The heroine has a Deplorable Relative as well as a Scheming Rival.  But that’s not all; the heroine also has a Kind Friend to confide in, a Despicable Villain to best, and at least one acquaintance who seems impossibly good.

Notice that—while the heroine is usually a complex combination of character traits—the secondary players all tend to fit into time-honored roles, almost as though they are placeholders.  There’s a reason for this, and it’s been the same reason since fairy tales were first recited: it makes for a very satisfying story.

In Pride and Prejudice, Lizzie and Darcy’s happily ever after is made all the more sweet because we know Caroline Bingley is gnashing her teeth in frustrated rage somewhere.  Ditto for Blanche Ingram in Jane Eyre who is—when you think about it—the same character as Caroline Bingley, and the same character as the Baroness von Schraeder in The Sound of Music, and the same character as either of the wicked stepsisters (take your pick) in Cinderella.  We get an extra measure of satisfaction when the union of the lovers also thwarts the Mean Girl, who didn’t deserve the hero in the first place.

Another staple character is the Deplorable Relative—which probably strikes such a chord because everyone has one.  The heroine is related to someone she’d rather not be related to, and it serves as another source of hardship.  Again, there is a fairy tale aspect to this element; Mrs. Bennet may not be wicked, but she is an embarrassment to Lizzie and one more reason she is ineligible as a potential bride.   Mrs. Reed is downright wicked to Jane, even after her promise to Jane’s dead uncle.  Bella’s mother sets all events in train by marrying someone unsuitable, and Dougal MacKenzie is not exactly what you would call a supportive uncle-in-law.

Of course, there are always exceptions to these placeholder roles—in Gone with the Wind, the Scheming Rival is the heroine of the story, after all—but in general, the addition of these tried-and-true characters helps to make a story three-dimensional and in a satisfying way, predictable.  As soon as we realize there is a Scheming Rival, we happily settle in to await her inevitable comeuppance.   When we are introduced to the Deplorable Relative, we are immediately aware that he or she will contribute to the conflict in the story—because that’s what Deplorable Relatives always do. And although we weep when the Impossibly Good Person dies, we saw it coming from a mile away.

In Daughter of the God-King, one of the secondary characters is the heroine’s companion, Bing.   Before I sold the story, an agent was very taken with this character, and suggested that I concoct a “story arc” for her.  I respectfully disagreed; Bing is the placeholder for the Staunch Supporter and in my view has no business competing with the heroine’s storyline.

The classic romance is all about the heroine—the heroine and her journey to happily ever after.  This being said, the storyline is enhanced many times over when along that journey the heroine interacts with interesting secondary characters—whether they be Staunch Supporters,  Vile Betrayers, or Kindly Benefactors.  It’s no coincidence that many of our favorite stories have a large, well-drawn supporting cast, and the heroine becomes a stronger and more compelling character because of it.

Who are your favorite secondary characters, and why?

Anne CleelandAnne Cleeland is the author of Murder in Thrall, the first book in a new mystery series featuring Acton and Doyle, two Scotland Yard detectives.   She is an attorney living in California, and also writes a historical fiction series.  Her website is http://www.annecleeland.com.

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As all of you know, I’m very fond of WITS posts. They’ve helped me quite a bit. If you like them as well, here is your chance to help.

Writers In The Storm Blog

Jenny Hansen here, popping in to share some topics we’ve been buzzing about behind the scenes at Writers In The Storm.

First of all, this is our 500th post. That is so unbelievable to me. Four years ago, when we started this blog, we had no idea where it would go, or that we’d find nearly this much to post about. THANK YOU for taking the journey with us!

This milestone brings up a second one on our list of goals:

Write To Done’s yearly contest, the8th Annual Top 10 Blogs For Writers Contest 2013 is happening right now! They’re soliciting nominations for the Top 10 Blogs for Writers of 2013 and I’ve had Laura breathing down my neck about it.

(She’s that way, you know…why do you think she has 3 books out in a year?)

I’ll tell y’all what I told her:We’re not in charge here. Our…

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Due to the blog tour, I missed last week. So today, post any excerpt of 500 words or less. Keep it PG-13. I also invite you to post your buy links and social medial info.

The Secret Life of Miss Anna Marsh

The Secret Life of Miss Anna Marsh


Here is mine from my new release, and Amazon bestseller, The Secret Life of Miss Anna Marsh.

Anna was at the table with her breakfast plate and had poured a cup of tea when Rutherford walked in.

She blinked. “What would you like?”

“Tea and food?” He smiled, charmingly.

“Help yourself to the dishes on the sideboard.” She waved her hand in the direction. “I’ll serve you tea. Are you early, or am I late?”

“I’m early. I awoke at dawn, and rather than bothering my staff, I came here. I knew you’d be up. Besides, I rather like the idea of eating breakfast with you.” He’d like the idea even more if he’d woken up with her. Anna blushed as if she’d heard him. “Where would you like to ride this morning?”

She tilted her head first one way then the other. “Hmm, I don’t know. Where would you like to go?”

He studied her face. “Not really fair turning the question back to me. I haven’t ridden the beach in a while. What do you think?”

A smile dawned on her beautiful face and grew broad. “The beach it is.”

Less than an hour later, they entered the shoreline from the opposite end of the one he was on last night. They walked their horses for a while, before nudging them faster, galloping down the beach. Rutherford tried to look for any changes since the last time he’d been here, but it was too long ago.

He hung back a little to watch Anna ride. A creature of nature. She infected him with the same desire to be free.

Race,” he called.

She urged Thunderer faster. Her horse was a good seventeen three hands. He’d been there when Harry had bought the horse for Anna and had tried to talk Harry out of giving such a large horse to his little sister. Harry had remained firm, saying Anna rode as well as either of them, and that she deserved the same type of horse. It occurred to Rutherford his friend had been right. Anna reached the end of the beach with Rutherford behind.

She turned, smiling. “Did you let me win?”

“No. You did have a head start though. I should have called the race when I was even with you.”

Anna glanced narrowly at him, as if she didn’t believe him.

“I was thinking about when Harry bought him for you.”

“Ah. Did you approve?”

He smiled ruefully. “Not at the time. I can see now why he did it.”

She grinned. “I’ll let you race me back.”

“You call the mark.”

“Very well, on three. One, two, THREE!”

She took off at full pelt. It was all he could do to come in on her tail. They walked the heaving horses into the surf to cool them down and then back up the path to the cliffs.

“I love it here,” she said. “I love the wildness, the sea, the air. I love everything about it. I want to stay here forever.”

Buy links:

Amazon US ~ Amazon Canada ~  Amazon France  ~  Amazon Germany ~ Amazon UK Barns & Nobel ~ Kensington * iTunes

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