Presenting Janet Lane Walters

Today I am delighted to welcome Janet Lane Walters to my blog. I’ve known Janet for many many years, and she is a special mentor to me. In fact, when I hit some dire straits writing-wise a few years back, she was one of the ones who talked me down from the ledge.

Janet’s taught me a lot – I appreciate her honesty and her willingness to help (not just me, but everyone she sees that spark in), and the time she has devoted to supporting so many of my fellow authors. I can honestly say I would not be where I am if it weren’t for Janet’s support, encouragement and guidance. If you’ve never read one of her books, you are seriously missing out. Janet writes in just about every genre – I think science fiction and horror are the main genres she doesn’t write in. But you can find Janet’s name on anything from YA fantasy, to erotic romance, to romantic suspense (Code Blue has one of the creepiest villains EVER!), to cozy mysteries, historical romance, well, you get the picture.

I’ve got Janet in the hot seat today – and don’t forget to check out her latest releases, a fantasy romance trilogy set in an alternate Ancient Egypt. Books 1 and 2 are out now I believe, with Book 3 soon to follow. Here’s the cover of Toth’s Priest:

When did the writing bug first hit?
Hard question to answer but I’m sure the bug was always there. From the age of six or so, my friends and I spent hours on the porch making up ghost stories. In high school I learned to write by reading and often tried my hand at stories. The real surge to write didn’t come until after marriage and was living in a small town in Oklahoma where the library was scant. I read every Zane Gray in their library and began searching out books on writing. I took some courses and finally had a short story published several years later. I’ve been published for 46 years and still cranking out the stories.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I am a plotter but I also do a bit on free writing. I start with an outline that is rather scant more topics with information on what should go into the scene. Then I do the rough draft and if surprising things happen, I look at my outline again and make the changes. My rough drafts are usually about a third of what the book ends up becoming wordwise.
Do your characters come first, or the story?
This is a hard question to answer. Often the idea for a plot comes first but sometimes there are characters who leap into view and I know they need a story. My process is sort of an amalgam of the story and they come together in a kind of rush. I really don’t think the two can be separated. And though the characters and plot come together until I finish the rough draft I really don’t know what the final parts will end up being.
What was the most valuable piece of advice you received when you first started your pursuit of publication?
When I began writing centuries ago, I went to an all day conference with a writer who said. “First you must finish the book. Then you must rewrite and revise as many times as it takes.” I wish I could remember the name of the writer but I can’t. That’s the advice I give to others. Until you finish the book you can’t know what to keep and what to delete.
What’s the same mistake you still find yourself aggravatingly making from your early days?
There are a lot but the main one is forgetting to put in all the details of setting. The first editor comment I ever received was “Your characters are living in a vacuum. I always have to do a draft that makes me look at setting, setting setting.
When you hit that brick wall (as all writers eventually do at some point or another), how do you get through it?
I’m not sure I ever hit this wall. That may be because I work like a painter and keep layering the story with four or five re-writes and make changes as I go along There are times when I start a story that is going nowhere. I just put it aside and may come back to it again or not, depending on what I want to do at the time. I will worry a story until it’s finished unless I decide I don’t like it.
What was the first book you loved so much that to this day, you can still pick it up and read it and savor every word again?
Actually there are a lot. I’m a re-reader and have read many books again and again. Have read Pride and Prejudice many times. Every time a new book in a series comes out, I start from book 1 and read up to the new one.
A giant asteroid is about to hit the planet. What do you want to be doing at the moment of impact?
Writing, what else?
What was your favorite childhood game/toy? What happened to it?
There were a number but one of them was playing football with the boys. Growing up where there were 2 girls and fifteen boys on the street meant one had to play boy games. The boys didn’t want me to play after I began to develop. Snowball fights were another fun game with building forts and planning war strategy. Grew up during WWII so life was much different then. Unfortunately one has to grow up and the body ages.
Do you believe in ghosts and other supernatural creatures (vampires, witches, werewolves)? Have you ever encountered any?
Perhaps I believe in witches. Perhaps I am one. I’ll never tell. Once heard a ghost running down the street in front of our house. She stopped running when the man she was running after died.
Coffee or tea?
Love coffee if it has lots of cream and chocolate. Rum is my choice of alcoholic beverages but I’ve been known to drink many things. Do not like Scotch one bit but that’s another story. I can do both chocolate and vanilla, depends on where it’s to be found.
What was the craziest out-of-character thing you’ve ever done?
A very hard question and I’m not sure I should answer this since my character changes from day to day. I’ve lived a long life and have done many things that might seem out of character but since my character changes who knows if they were crazy or just reacting to the moment.
What’s the one thing you had the chance to do but didn’t, and wish you could go back and do it this time?
I have always wanted to visit Egypt but have never had the time or the money.
What was the worst vacation you’ve ever had and what caused it to be the worst?
My honeymoon. We were strapped for cash so we went camping. Unfortunately my husband had no idea about camping. The first night we ate our meal cold since the fire never got started. The second night he pitched the tent in an area were there were springs. I ended with pneumonia and the rest of the trip was miserable.

Here’s where you can find Janet and her books online:
Twitter: @JanetL717

Welcome Elizabeth Shore!

Today I am very excited to welcome Elizabeth Shore to my blog. I’ve known Elizabeth for several years now and she’s a very good friend as well as one of my most excellent critique partners. In addition, she is a fellow 2014 Golden Leaf finalist for her erotic contemporary romance, Hot Bayou Nights. Today I’m putting her in the hot seat to answer a few questions – about her, writing, and just about anything else you can think of. 
And don’t forget to come back tomorrow to read a steamy excerpt from Hot Bayou Nights! Now, on with the show!
When did the writing bug first hit?
I can’t remember ever not liking to write, so I guess the answer is that the writing bug hit me in the womb. Haha! Seriously, I do remember when I first had the idea for writing romance. I was listening to a talk radio show and on it was a discussion about writing. The host of the program had brought up something about the romance industry and how those editors are always looking for new writers. It was a lightbulb moment, really. I suddenly thought, I could do that!
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I’m a plotter. I think about my characters, and the story around them, and how their relationship develops, and then eventually I come up with an outline. However, it’s not at all chiseled in stone. I firmly believe that if you know your characters well enough they’re going to tell you where they want to go and whether or not you’ve taken a wrong turn. It’s perfectly fine to stray from the outline when your characters lead you that way. But I like having an outline just to remind myself what I’m thinking about for any particular story. I can’t write every day because I have a full-time “day job,” so when I can write I don’t want to spend huge amounts of time reminding myself where I left off and what I’m intending to do.
Do your characters come first, or the story?
I’ve had it go both ways. I’ll see or hear about an interesting person and start thinking, “I wonder how she’d react if this or that happened” and suddenly I’m thinking about a story. Alternately, I’ll envision some kind of story and think about fascinating characters that will add dimension to the plot.
How much of your personal life inspires your writing?
My personal life is pretty unassuming, which is why I find myself thinking up fun stories! But certainly one’s own life is influential in writing. We authors all bring something of ourselves in every story we write, I think.
What (else) inspires you to write?
I’m really pretty fascinated by people. Everyone has a story, and the more time you spend getting to know people the more you find yourself inspired by stories you could write. So, without wanting to sounds like a bad cliche, I’m pretty much just inspired by life. 
What was the most valuable piece of advice you received when you first started your pursuit of publication?

Join an RWA chapter!
Where’s your ideal writing space?
In my office, fingers on keyboard, cat on lap.
What’s your average word count per day/week/month?
I try to aim for 3,000 words per writing session, but there are many times when the words just don’t come. So I really just try to focus on writing something that I think won’t end up in my virtual trash heap.  
What’s your favorite time of the day for writing?
I’m definitely a morning person. Everything is so fresh and filled with promise in the morning. My mind is clear and I’m ready to go. I love the nighttime, but not for writing … 🙂
How do you set your writing atmosphere – with music, lighting or something else?
I have to have something to drink by my side at all times, generally coffee. Sometimes I don’t even drink that much, but there’s something comforting about having the steaming cup there, like a faithful friend. I like my office to be filled with light, and filled with music. Depending on what kind of scene I’m writing, it’s either soft classical or really loud metal. Hey, I’m a Gemini.
What’s the same mistake you still find yourself aggravatingly making from your early days?

Wordiness. Why write one sentence when a paragraph will do?
When you hit that brick wall (as all writers eventually do at some point or another), how do you get through it?

One time when I was young I refused to eat the food on my plate at dinner. My mom, in an effort to make me understand about not wasting food, wouldn’t allow me to get up until I ate at least some of it. I kind of apply that same effort toward brick walls when I’m writing. I just sit there, refusing to get up, until I’ve written at least something. That something more often than not leads to something more and I start knocking away at those bricks.
If you had the chance to do one day in your life over again, which day would it be? Why?
I wouldn’t re-do any days because I like to live in the present. That said, it would be lovely to have the chance to speak to my mom again. We were very close and she died before I got published. I’d love to show her what I’ve been up to and hopefully know that I’ve made her proud.
A giant asteroid is about to hit the planet. What do you want to be doing at the moment of impact?

Spending time with someone I love and who loves me while eating Ben & Jerry’s peanut butter cup ice cream without one single twinge of guilt.
Coffee or tea?

Coffee. Lots of it.
Beer/wine or hard liquor?
Beer. Gotta make my home state (Wisconsin) proud.
Chocolate or vanilla?
I’ll stick with the aforementioned peanut butter cup.
What was the craziest out-of-character thing you’ve ever done?
Modeled nude for a sculpture artist.
How would you react if you lost your cell phone?
Egad. Even the thought of it makes me twitchy. So, I guess I’d get twitchy!
If you had the chance to offer advice to yourself as a newborn baby, what would you tell yourself?
Treasure this gift of life you’ve been given and leave the world in a better way than it was when you entered it.
What’s the one thing you could never live without? (besides air, water, food)
Great interview, Elizabeth! Thank you for coming by this week. I gotta tell ya, some of your answers surprised me – and inspired a few more! lol But I knew damn well what you would say for some of the other questions! (cough – cell phone – cough)  😉 
And of course, congratulations on being a 2014 Golden Leaf Finalist. I’m looking forward to celebrating with you. 
Here’s where you can find Elizabeth and Hot Bayou Nights:
Hot Bayou Nights Buy Links: 
The Wild Rose Press:
Elizabeth’s website:

Welcome Angela Aaron!

<!–[if !mso]>st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } <![endif]–>Today, I’ welcoming Angela Aaron to my blog. She’s the author of some yummy books, The Fire of Beltane (one of my favorites!) and Pleasure Island, as well as her newest release, A Mediterranean Affair. I’m grilling Angie a little bit and she’s also sharing a bit about A Mediterranean Affair. So take it away, Angie!

Hi Gianna and blog guests.  I’m so very excited for the chance to visit.  Thanks so much for having me and for giving me the space to tell you a bit about myself and to promote my latest steamy romance, “A Mediterranean Affair.”
When did the writing bug first hit?
Believe it or not, I was really young, ten years old.  I remember watching a TV show called Here Comes the Brides (I know, I just dated myself- ugh) where Seattle logging men were looking for brides from a group of women from the East coast who settled in their town. Bobby Sherman was the teenage heartthrob actor that played Jeremy Bolt. He fell in love with “Candy,” and of course, every week there was something that kept them apart and their relationship from developing. I would write page after page of “happy ever after” endings to the episodes, creating my own stories for these characters.   Even earlier than this, I was fascinated with the characters of Don and Judy from “Lost In Space.”  Funny, but I seem to always have been attracted to the “will they ever get together” aspect of stories whether they be TV, books or movies. Even to this day, this is what continues attracts me. Yes, I am still a hopeless romantic.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
When I write, I usually have a rough outline of major points in the story, but I refrain from putting down too many details on how to get to those points.  I don’t want to lock myself into a place I can’t get out of.  So many times, as my characters develop, they begin to act or do things that I hadn’t expected and if I’ve mapped the story out too tight there isn’t room for changes or growth.
How much of your personal life inspires your writing?
“A Mediterranean Affair” (my latest) and “Pleasure Island” really have nothing to do with my life and are pure fantasy feel-good romance stories. My big novel, “The Fire of Beltane” and my current work in progress, “Shadowtone Legend: The Guardian” are most definitely influenced by my Irish and Scottish heritage, my art background and by my love of history and all things ancient- and of course my adoration of big, beefy, alpha males. I often wonder what it would be like to be a modern woman confronted with the past. This is where the ideas for both of the novels came from.
What inspires you to write?
I am inspired to write because I love romance. I’m in love with the idea of romance and love. I love the feeling of being in love and I love creating characters that are destined to be together or over come insurmountable obstacles to be together. I love that breathless feeling when hero and heroine are finally able to be together.  **Sigh** I get sucked into the story the same way the reader does and I have to keep writing to see how it ends.
How do you set your writing atmosphere – with music, lighting or something else?
I have kind of an odd writing pattern because I have a full-time job and have to write when I can in between work and family obligations. I have my own space on the dining table with a view out a window that overlooks our backyard. In a music dock on the shelf behind me I have my ipod which has over 6000 different songs and playlists.  I have everything from Celtic, to bagpipe to 60’s, 70’s and 80’s rock, to medieval, to Nora Robert, to classical, opera, to independent music from Sweden and Germany- you name it, I’ve got it. Music is essential for my writing. I mostly write on the weekends.  I love to get up early, put the coffee on, pick out a playlist that matches the scene I need to write and type away. 
What was the first book you loved so much that to this day, you can still pick it up and read it and savor every word again?
As a child I remember being fascinated with two books that even to this day still really stand out in my mind: A Big Ball of String by Marion Holland and Go Dog Go by  P.D. Eastman.  As an adult I have read “Miranda’s Viking” by Maggie Shayne repeatedly.  There is just something about that book I love.  Again, it’s the idea of the past coming to the present day I find very fascinating.
What was your favorite childhood game/toy? What happened to it?
This is such a fun question.  I have three toys that I love and still have.  A Spirograph, my Gumby and Pokey and my Troll Dolls.  I’m such a 60’s child.
Coffee or tea?
Coffee.  Any flavor.
Beer/wine or hard liquor?
You pouring?
Chocolate or vanilla?
Are you kidding?  CHOCOLATE!
How would you react if you lost your cell phone?
If I ever lost my “phablet” I would be totally lost.  Not only would I lose my contacts, but my writing notes, work for my job and my levels on Candy Crush.  I would be devastated. I really do use my phone/tablet in every aspect of my life. I would probably turn into a creature you would not want to know.
Which childhood memory is your favorite? Why?
When I was a young girl, I used to babysit for a family that had a wonderful dog a Bouvier des Flanders.  This dog had puppies and I used to go down the block to their house every day to play with the puppies. Another neighbor across the street from my family adopted my favorite puppy.  They allowed me to come every day after school to play with this puppy since they were at work and couldn’t give it all the attention it needed.  I would run home from school every single day to play with this pup right up until bedtime and then again on the weekends. This pup and I were inseparable. One day, when the pup was about 9 months old, I learned the family was going to move away just after Christmas and was selling the puppy. I was devastated. My heart broke thinking I’d never see this dog again. I can’t begin to tell you the times I cried over losing the dog. Christmas day came and after all the presents were open, I was in my room with my sister playing a game and heard my father calling me, telling me there was another present I forgot to open.  He came in my room, and in his arms was the puppy, decked out in a red Santa hat and huge green bow around her neck. My parents had purchased the dog from the family knowing how much I loved it.  Missi was my best friend and companion for fourteen years; a huge part of my life. I have had four rescued Bouviers, and several other smaller dogs since then that have all taken my heart, but Missi will always remain the first and most special.
If you could work less, or do more work that you actually enjoy, which would you choose?
I love my career.  I love getting up in the morning. I love what I do.  I also love writing.  I have the best of both worlds. What I would love is more of a balance so I could do more writing.
What’s your favorite color? Why?
Green.  The color of nature and earth. 
What’s the one thing you could never live without? (besides air, water, food)
I cannot live without my computer.  Period.  Everything I do, I do on a computer.  As much as I spend a lot of time out-of-doors, camping, boating and such, I always am connected via my computer or phone.
List 5 things that people don’t know about you.
I love bagpipes, I met Donny Osmond when I was a teenager, I love to swim and be in the water, I played clarinet from 5th grade through college, I hate winter- although I don’t think this is much of a secret anymore.
Thanks so much, Gianna for giving space on your blog.  I’d like to extend the invitation to your readers to feel free to contact me with any questions or comments. I love to meet new people and enjoy great conversation.  We can talk books, history, dogs or any old thing.
Thanks for coming by Angie. Donny Osmond?!?! I am so jealous, he was one of my most intense childhood crushes! 😀 My mom was great – she and my aunt got tickets to see all the Osmond Brothers at MSG for me and my cousins! Cool, but not as cool as meeting him in person!
Here’s a bit about Angie’s latest release, A Mediterranean Affair. And an excerpt for your reading enjoyment!
A Mediterranean Affair
By Angela Aaron
A sizzling romance on the high seas!
 When Andrea’s boyfriend presents her with a romantic cruise through the Mediterranean on Cupid Cruise Lines, it seems just the inspirational backdrop needed for him to finally pop the question.  However, when her boyfriend is a no-show and sends yet another consolation gift to make up for his absence Andrea knows any hope for romance is extinguished.
      Lorenzo has better things to do than play delivery boy to a spoiled cruise ship passenger.  
      Returning to his native Italy, after swearing off love, he spends his time in solitude working at the vineyard. Nevertheless, when his grandfather asks him to make the special delivery, he can’t refuse. From the moment he walks in on the scantily clad American woman he knows his life is about to take an unexpected turn.  
      Now Andrea and Lorenzo must each let go of their past to make room for each other. Can they accept the lure of Cupid’s arrow despite the miles that separate them?
**Content warning.  Explicit Scenes.
Available at Amazon, Nook, Smashwords (iTunes, Sony) and Kobo
Soon to be available in print at Amazon
Enjoy this sexy sample from A Mediterranean Affair:

             Lorenzo slammed the car door with too much gusto. He had better things to do than deliver gifts to some spoiled Yank, even if the gifts were the best bottles of vino produced at his winery. His job was the vineyard and the grapes, not playing delivery boy to spoiled cruise ship passengers.
Despite his displeasure at the prospect of driving all the way into town and to the crowded docks, Lorenzo couldn’t turn down his grandfather when asked to make the delivery. He’d seemed rather distraught at the message he brought with the wine and had asked Lorenzo to pick up a bouquet of flowers to accompany the delivery. Though he hadn’t revealed the details of the message inside the envelope, Lorenzo guessed it wasn’t good.
            “Just perfect.” Lorenzo mumbled under his breath, spying the volume of passengers he would have to wade through to reach the ship. Letting out a huff, and tucking his hair behind his ears, he trudged forward into the crowd, weaving his way in and out and around until finally reaching someone who could help him. In his haste, however, he nearly knocked over the crewmember as he approached. It was the quick action of a man who dodged out of the way that prevented a collision.
            “My apologies, signore, but I have a delivery for one of your passengers.” Lorenzo held up the bottles of wine he juggled and waited for directions to the delivery area. The young crewmember looked at him curiously for a moment before an impish smile graced his boyish face.
            “And what passenger are you here to see?” he inquired, rather hastily, scanning the sea of remaining passengers who needed to board.
            Lorenzo shifted the bottles of wine into one arm and dug into his pocket. He pulled out a slip of paper. “Signorina Andrea McDonald. An American.”
            Half expecting to have the wine and flowers taken from him, Lorenzo was shocked when the man instead referred to his tablet, jotted something on his clipboard, took papers out of his pocket, and handed them to him.
            “Well, Mr. Robinson, your lovely lady has already boarded.”
Lorenzo looked at the number on the paper.
            “It is your cabin number and ticket stub.”
            “But I thought…. Wait…. I’m not…. Don’t I just give this to someone who will see she gets it?” Even Lorenzo knew he couldn’t just wander about the ship.
            “Just go to the left over there and look for the elevators. I’m sure Signorina McDonald will be very glad you have arrived and pleased with your gift.”
            “Wait. This isn’t my gift….” Lorenzo’s protest went unnoticed by the young crewmember who turned his attention to another person. Lorenzo threw a glance to the heavens then scanned the number on the papers before stuffing them in his pants pocket and heading in the direction the crewman had instructed him to go.
            “This is ridiculous.” Lorenzo grumbled, rounding one final corner, halting in front of a door with the same numbers as on the papers given him. He sighed, shifted his packages, and knocked on the door. He waited, tapping his foot impatiently. After a moment, he knocked again.
            “It’s open,” called a female voice from the other side.
            Bena. He thought Good. He was anxious to finish this task. Lorenzo turned the handle, pushed the door open with his toe, and stepped inside,
            Much to his astonishment, sprawled out before him on the bed, wearing nothing more than the skimpiest lingerie, was a beautiful auburn haired woman, posed very provocatively.
            “Oh merda!”
            His eyes raked over the luscious vision an instant before decorum had him spinning around, turning his back to her, but not before noting her long legs and ample breasts that were barely contained by the silky material. Bella donna.
            “Oh!” came the woman’s surprised squeal. “Oh no. I’m so sorry.”
            Lorenzo could hear fabric rustling and assumed she’d covered herself. He glanced over his shoulder unable to resist one final look, smiling to himself at all that lovely flesh hastily concealed by a thick terry robe.
            “I’m so sorry. I thought you were someone else. I expected….”
            She was flustered, blushing and extremely embarrassed, judging by the red stain on her cheeks.
            “Oh never mind,” she mumbled.
            Lorenzo cleared his throat. “I have a delivery for you.” He lifted the bottles of wine and flowers and held them out for her.
            “For me?” She took the bottles from him, still wearing the blush from her indiscretion. “Oh, my favorite wine.” She giggled setting the bottles on a nearby table. “And are the flowers for me, also?”
            “Si.” He held out the bouquet.
            Lorenzo watched as she held them up to her nose and inhaled, smiling at the aroma. While she fished in the bouquet for the card, Lorenzo turned to make his exit. That was, until he heard the wine bottles crashing to the floor. He spun around, finding she had swept them off the table. Her expression revealed her anger and what he recognized as dejection. He turned again ready to make a hasty exit when he heard her speak.
            “He’s not coming. My dream trip to the Mediterranean and I’m on the cruise alone.” The woman flung the card and envelope to the floor.
            Lorenzo watched as tears brimmed in her eyes and spilled over her cheeks as she sank down on the edge of the bed. Utter despair now replaced the sexy, sultry, playful look that only a moment ago graced her sweet face.
             Time to get out of here, he thought, reaching for the doorknob and jerking open the door, not attempting to hide his apprehension. This was exactly why he didn’t like to make deliveries. He didn’t have any inclination to involve himself in other people’s drama. He’d had enough of his own not that long ago and wanted to avoid anything remotely similar for a very long time.
            Against what every instinct told him, he halted when she called out to him, and despite his best intension not to, he turned toward her. She wiped at her eyes and haphazardly reached for her purse. The sadness on her face undid him. His chest tightened then, as a flood of memories assaulted him. In his unexpected disarming, he realized she thought she had to tip him.
            “No. Bella.” Before she even looked up, he fled from the room.