Sunday, October 25, 2015

Have blogs lost their luster?

I am considering dropping this blog due to lack of interest.

With the help of Blogger tools I am able to see how many folks visit the blog on a daily basis. While I am fairly pleased to have as many as 20+ visitors per day, readers don't leave comments for authors or for me. After 380+ blogs have been posted, I'm wondering if there's anyone out there who would care if the blog folded altogether.

If you read this blog and would like for it to continue to give you information on authors and books, please leave a comment. Authors, you need to weigh in also. Has this blog helped you in any way? I'm open to an entirely new format and content if that would bring traffic.

Thanks in advance for your honest feedback. I'm offering a gift set of all five Logan Hunter Mysteries to one lucky commenter.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Susan Noel Sands: Again, Alabama

FREE signed copy of Susan's book to some lucky commenter!
Susan Sands grew up in a tiny Southern town in Northwest Louisiana near the Texas border. Calling it a town is generous, really. She graduated with a degree from Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana where the movie, Steel Magnolia’s was filmed during Susan’s time living there. There’s no more Southern, small town claim to fame than that.

Her characters and setting are pulled from those very Southern, small towns and open spaces, where the air is clean and the words are often spoken with more syllables than necessary, y’all.

Her lifelong love of reading and the realization that her children were growing up and would eventually move on spurred her to try her hand at writing. Susan lives with her dentist husband and three nearly grown children in Johns Creek, GA. She is a member of the Georgia Romance Writers and the Romance Writers of America.

Welcome to the blog, Susan.

Thanks so much for hosting me today, Susan! I grew up in a tiny town in North Louisiana, I now live in Georgia, but my novel, AGAIN, ALABAMA, is set in small town Alabama. My own small town upbringing feeds my stories with the kind of humor and situations that can only spring from first-hand immersion in this real-life setting. Small towns are crazy fun!

I am delighted to have you on the blog.

How has your environment affected your writing?

My current environment living in suburban Atlanta, not so much. My past environment was a fertile breeding ground for some whacky Southern stuff, let me tell you. I graduated high school with thirty people—in public school. We had a big class. Between the gassy well water at school and the toilets blowing up when kids sneaked a smoke in the bathroom, to my class hosting the first prom in the school’s history where there were more chaperones than students, let me tell you…

Give a short synopsis of Again, Alabama.

Dragged back to her small town to help her mother recover from surgery while rescuing the family event planning business should be a cinch. Even for a disgraced television chef, right?  Wrong.

Among the many secrets Cammie's family’s been hiding is the fact that their historic home is falling down.  Oh, and the man hired to restore the house, Grey Harrison, is the same high school and college love of her life who thrashed her heart and dreams ten years ago.  Yeah, that guy.

Grey, a widower with a young daughter, has never stopped loving Cammie, and when they are face to face once again, the chemistry is off the charts.  Cammie may be in full-blown denial, but letting go is no longer in Grey’s vocabulary, even when winning Cammie’s forgiveness and renovating their love may seem like an impossible build even for a master architect and carpenter.

As Cammie finds herself forgetting all the reasons she can’t trust Grey or love again, he finds himself remembering all the reasons he wants her to stay with him in Alabama… forever.

How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?

Um. I’m almost afraid to look at that too closely. I would say I’m more in the voice of the characters than in the actual story or behavior. I do have a good sense of humor—pretty snarky at times. So, if you know me, you can definitely hear me when reading my work.

What challenges did you face while writing this book?

This book has gone through many versions. It’s been edited half to death, then shortened and tightened. The title was changed from MISERY, ALABAMA by the publisher because it wasn’t “romantic” enough. True enough. It went from a true women’s fiction title to more of a Southern women’s fiction/contemporary romance. First I found an agent who believed in the book, and then I found a wonderful editor who believed in the story and was willing to put in the time.

What do you think is the greatest lesson you’ve learned about writing so far? 

There are so many lessons. I learned the importance of spending time learning how to write according to a set of rules, and ways to make words fit together so they tell a story and make reader’s feel.

What advice can you give new writers?

Spend time learning how to write. Buy craft books, attend conferences, and learn to take criticism with grace. Grow skin thicker than an elephants. Listen to what your trusted readers tell you. It hurts to get feedback that isn’t from your mom. And don’t give up.

We all know how important promoting our work has become. How do you get the word out both off and online?

I beg, borrow and steal. No, I don’t steal, but it’s challenging as a new author to get your name and work out there. I’ve done blog tours, been lucky enough to have published author friends host me on their blogs, share my good news on their author pages and websites, and had news articles published announcing my book release. I’ve yelled at the top of my lungs on social media every time any of those things have happened. My publisher put my book on Net Galley before it was released, which garnered many reviews by reviewers and bloggers who posted them on their websites and blogs as well as on Amazon and Goodreads. I set up an author page on Amazon, Facebook, and Goodreads, then linked my blogs and website to all of those sites. I tweet about my books and am on loops with other writers and actively tweet and re-tweet their good news and releases. It’s the hard part of this job.

Can you tell us your future writing goals/projects?

I am currently working on a connected story to AGAIN, ALABAMA.

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

I can be found in all the fun places!
Twitter: @SusanNoelSands
Blog:  Sweet Home Alpharetta at:

Are your books available in print and ebook formats? 

My books have been released online in both print and e-book formats.

Please leave a comment for a chance to win a free signed copy of Again, Alabama!

Saturday, October 17, 2015


I am a lineal descendant of a Knight of the Bath, Sir Geoffrey V Plantagenet. I read nearly forty books before I wrote Sprig of Broom, wanting to know as much about the man as possible. He married King Henry's daughter, Matilda, and fathered the long line of Plantagenet kings of England.

While history was not as kind to him as I was, I wanted readers to see Geoffrey's human-ness and understand the duress he must have had when constantly belittled and befuddled by his lady wife. I wanted readers to understand that even though he was a great warrior, he could also be remorseful and weak.

I hope I pulled it off. The novel has been released in all formats. If you are inclined to read it, please leave a review. Reviews are appreciated even if short. Please "like" it on my Facebook page and also on my author page there:

Please leave a comment for a chance to win a free signed copy of Sprig of Broom!

Here's a short excerpt to whet your appetite:

An ominous sound unexpectedly penetrated my thoughts and a cold fog washed over me like damp wool. My view disappeared as mist eddied and locked me in its cocoon of eerie dankness, alone. I reached for my blade to cut through it, hoping to open it up like a boar hog’s hide and step out into the light. No opening presented itself. I stopped in my tracks on the rocky road. I knew steep ravines were poised on each side, waiting to beat me to a pulp as I plummeted to the bottom. I could see nothing, but an unworldly and putrid smell invaded my nostrils.
“Blou? Hardouin? Paieri?”
I heard no response from my men, but a low moan grew louder. Did I hear sinister laughter? Could that be possible out here far between two kingdoms? Surely no other fools ventured out at dawn’s first light without due cause.
“Jacquelin? Is that your laughter I hear?”
Jacquelin did not respond.
There! Again I heard it. Menacing laughter. I grabbed the hilt of my dagger with determination as an ominous humming sound came closer to me. Could someone . . . or something see me through the fog? I began to shake from dampness or fear of what brought the laughter.
The cackling turned into a low groan and a hag chewing a brown plant appeared just out of my reach, wearing tattered clothes and displaying ragged and rotten teeth, ghastly wild hair, a prunish face, and foul stench.
“Listen and heed,” it warned.
More shrill laughter and another voice came from a different direction. I turned in a circle and tried to determine from which way the voice came.
“Mesh becomes chain,” a squeaky voice proclaimed behind me.
I blinked, understanding nought. I spun until my lightheadedness dropped me to my knees at the sound of yet another voice.
“Dark of moon brings realm of gloom,” a deeper raspier voice disclosed.
“Heat of broom becomes his doom,” yet another voice declared. I was surrounded.
“Gloom and doom for man of broom!” This deafening pronouncement came in unison from all the ghastly voices encircling me, making my bones creak.
“Who are you? Show yourselves, old crones,” I bellowed, trying not to display fear. But I heard no answer and the fog and the one apparition I could see dissipated. I again had a clear view of the next village, no being of any kind in sight. Where were the barons who had accompanied me from my home land and walked with me only seconds ago?
I turned when I heard a commotion behind me and saw the men running to catch me, Blou in the lead, sword drawn.
“Where did you go, my lord?”
“I have the same question for you, Blou.”
“We walked along the road with you until you disappeared into a fog. We nought could find you or hear you. We called out but no answer came.”
“You did not hear me call to you?”
“No, my lord.”
“Witches surrounded me and separated me from you,” I explained.
“For what purpose, my lord?”
“I have no answer, Blou, only riddles that made no sense.” 

Early review:

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Mary Deal on September 21, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Sprig of Broom, by Susan Whitfield, gives us a unique peek into the fertile mind of this award-winning author. While researching her genealogy she recognizes the life of the man from whom she descends, one gallant Sir Geoffrey V. Plantagenet, could be turned into a slightly fictionalized but also true accounting of his long and beleaguered life, its heartaches and satisfactions. Sir Geoffrey was the original Plantagenet who started the Sprig of Broom usage.

Whitfield’s ability to establish unique character personalities is well honed. The settings as described made me feel a part of the story, the action. I fought beside Sir Geoffrey in long and bloody battles, cringed at his wife's cruel taunting and treatment. I despised yet understood the Dowager Empress Matilda. So many diverse lives fill this story and make it an exciting and satisfying read. I am still amazed at how much history is packed in here.

Sprig of Broom is an historical novel that I didn’t wish to see end. But it had to because all of Sir Geoffrey’s life, from teen years and on is included in this exciting portrayal of life circa. 1127 in Great Britain. I don’t want to say much more about this book that wouldn’t end up being a spoiler. So, suffice it to say, I wholeheartedly recommend Whitfield’s Sprig of Broom to historical aficionados, for both the fiction and nonfiction of it. It’s difficult to tell what’s fiction and what’s not. Sir Geoffrey’s life makes it a most exciting read for any reader. Whitfield has paid a magnificent tribute to her ancestor.

Why, thank you so much, Mary Deal!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Emmy Jane

I waited on the porch, munching a crispy apple watching Emmy-Jane to ride up on her horse near Saratoga Springs, NY.

Emmy Jane was born and raised in upstate NY, where riding horses was part of her everyday life. Though time took her elsewhere, she never forgot her love of horses or the lessons they taught her. Along the way, after acquiring two masters degrees in her Field, she left her doctoral candidacy in Clinical Psychology to start a family. Over the past several years, watching her children grow has often reminded her of life lessons she learned through her pony. Those reminders and her professional background inspired Emmy Jane's first children's book series. It begins with the story of Twinkleberry Pie for My Birthday, an uplifting family tale about a girl who learns her assumptions are far from true on a day spent with a new pony.
I"m enjoying this big apple very much, Emmy-Jane. 

So glad, Susan. Thanks for coming.

My pleasure. Tell me, how many books have you written?

Twinkleberry Pie for My Birthday represents my foray into the book publishing world. Scientific and clinical writing had major roles in my previous Field, but I haven’t written any related books. This is my first published work of imaginative writing that introduces my children’s series. At present, I have submitted the second story, Twinkleberry Pie in Wizzie’s Orchard, and am working on the third.

Give a short synopsis.

The story is about a girl who believes she can ride a horse independently because she has been learning to ride since age two. She thinks her parents do not believe the same, as they have never allowed her to ride without her mother holding a safety rope attached to the family horse. On the day of her sixth birthday, an occasion she thinks her parents have forgotten, she learns her assumptions are far from true when she receives a pony of her own.

How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?

The book was loosely about my own childhood. I really did have a pony named Twinkleberry Pie and I did receive her around the time of my sixth birthday, but that’s where the true facts end. I used my background in Psychology to form a story that imparts valuable lessons via its main theme of learning from misconceptions, and its secondary theme of wanting unconditional parental support but not always feeling that support.

Do you travel to do research or for inspiration? Can you share some special places with us?

I’ve traveled for the sake of research. With the knowledge that people tend to remember more of the big picture from their distant past rather than the minute details, I decided to voyage to my hometown address and the nearby area to take pictures of things I haven’t seen daily for decades. Just as I suspected, the environmental visual cues helped me to remember some specifics from events I haven’t contemplated in over 25 years. I was then able to create colorfully descriptive fiction based on more comprehensive recall of days lived long ago.

What advice can you give new writers?

I think all authors would agree that a manuscript for any audience is only as good as its ability to keep the reader engaged in the story. Regarding the children’s book genre, there’s a notion in the general public that absolutely everyone can write a children’s story. Perhaps that’s true, but writing one that resonates with its entire audience is another matter.

If I may state the obvious conservatively, adults are very often the readers of children’s books. Therefore, those that stand out in the genre, aside from those published by celebrities, are those that appeal to people of all ages. Speaking as a parent, I can attest to the fact that many stories fall short of appealing to adults. So I ask the following of children’s story writers. What’s the point of writing something that a significant percentage of your audience gets nothing out of reading, or worse, feels like that act of re-reading it to a child who fancies it is an exercise in patience? I might add a reminder that adults are also the majority buyers of children’s books. In today’s economy, they should feel like they’re spending their money wisely.
Given the competition in the fast-growing children’s book market, I think that writers like me who are virtually unknown can’t afford to fail to consider their whole audience as much as how they’ll use their unique writing strengths to engage readers and build their brand. I’m taking my own advice by utilizing pieces of anecdotes from my life with my background in Psychology to share some of what I’ve learned personally and professionally in stories that, I hope, entertain and resonate with readers of all ages.  

Where do you store ideas for later use: in your head, in a notebook, or on a spreadsheet?

I keep sticky note pads in multiple places in my house to facilitate scribbling ideas that are unrelated to my current writing project. Over time, I add to each in no specific order except as new developments in each come to mind until I have enough collected thoughts to piece together rough outlines.

Can you tell us your future writing goals/projects?

My ultimate goal is to diversify my writing across genres through different types of book ideas that have been taking shape. For now, I’m sketching outlines for the remainder of the Twinkleberry Pie series and developing storylines for more children’s books.

Where can folks learn more about your book and up-coming events?

People can see more about my books and events on my author page within my publisher’s website, They can also find information on my Facebook and Goodreads author pages, or my Twitter page:

Is your book available in print and ebook format?

My book was just released at the end of April. So far, it is available in both print and kindle formats on Amazon at Also, anyone who shops at Chicago area Target stores can buy book copies there rather than waiting for delivery from Amazon. I’ll post announcements on my website author pages, Twitter and Google+ as the book becomes available elsewhere.

Now, how about that horse ride?

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Linda Weaver Clarke's Lost Love

Linda Weaver Clarke is from Color Country, which is located in southern Utah. It’s a beautiful area full of red mountains, which sits likes an oasis in the middle of the desert.
She travels throughout the United States, teaching and encouraging people to write their family history and autobiography. She is the mother of six daughters and has several grandchildren. Clarke is the author of several historical romances, a mystery/adventure series, a children’s book, and a cozy mystery series. All her books are family-friendly.

Welcome, Linda.
How many books have you written?

I have written 18 books and am working on book number 19. I have written cozy mysteries, mystery suspense, historical romance, children’s, and non-fiction. Each genre was fun to write but my favorite is cozy mystery.
Give a short synopsis of your most recently published book.

Her Lost Love: Amelia Moore Detective Series is the fifth book in this cozy mystery series. Amelia Moore, the founder of the Moore Detective Agency, specializes in missing persons. Julie Anderson feels a need to find the man she fell deeply in love with during her youth. When Julie went off to college to become a lawyer, she lost contact with her high school sweetheart. She now wants to know what became of Joey and why he stopped writing to her? This is an assignment that intrigues Amelia. The thought of finding a long-lost love seems quite romantic.

What challenges did you face while writing this book?

One of the challenges an author faces when writing mysteries is to not divulge too much information and make it too easy for the reader to figure out. I have to give just enough to the reader to make him want to read more, but not enough to have him figure it out too soon. So far, I have been able to fool most of my readers. One reader said an author has never fooled her before, and she was able to figure out the mystery every time. Then she went on to say that I was the first author who surprised her. This book is my fifth cozy mystery and I was able to fool her every time.

Do you travel to do research or for inspiration? Can you share some special places with us?

I travel on the Internet if I can’t go there in person. Because of the intense research I do, I have had people tell me that my descriptions were so well done that they thought I had visited that country. People who actually went to Ireland said I had portrayed it perfectly in The Shamrock Case. I not only research the landscape but the history in that area so I can bring a bit of Ireland to my reader, or a bit of Bali Island in The Bali Mystery, and so on.

Can you tell us your future writing goals/projects?

Absolutely! This cozy mystery series is going to be on audio and I’m so excited about it. The narrator is fantastic and she portrays my characters so well. The accent she uses for someone from another country is impressive. I’m so pleased. She just finished the first book in this series and is about to begin with the second one. As I listened to the audio, I could see everything unfolding before my eyes… or inside my head. Haha.

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

You can visit my website called Make Believe at to read sample chapters and that will lead the reader to a purchase page. I also have a blog where I write articles about my books at and another blog where I interview authors and have book giveaways at

Are your books available in print and ebook formats?

My books are available in print form and e-book at Barnes and Noble and at Amazon. If you go to, then that site will lead you to the correct bookstore with one click.

Best of luck with all endeavors, Linda!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

I made history!

I have submitted my first historical fiction for publication. WHEW! 
Writing this novel about a medieval ancestor was challenging and rewarding. I got to know so much about Geoffrey V Plantagenet, who married King Henry's daughter, Matilda, and fathered the long line of Plantagenet kings of England.

I researched every account of the real events I could find, and wove my imagination into the dialogue and gaps in history. I hope it will be a fairly accurate account of that time and these people.

I decided to title the book Sprig of Broom because Geoffrey wore a sprig of broom bloom in his cap whenever it was available. I designed my own book cover, letting my imagination spin away from using real broom and instead using glass and metal. I like it and I hope readers will be drawn to it.
 What do you think?

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Robert Uttaro, rape counselor and author, giving hope to survivors

I love Italian food and so does my guest, so I'm serving up chicken parmesan and a fresh romaine salad from my garden while I interrogate this cutie. LOL.

Robert Uttaro currently resides in Boston, Massachusetts and is in his eighth year of working as a rape crisis counselor, public speaker and community educator. Inspired by his undergraduate studies in Criminal Justice, Robert continues to embrace a life-long commitment to activism and advocacy for survivors of sexual violence. Robert supports rape survivors and their significant others through various health, legal, and case management issues. He also facilitates workshops aimed at education, prevention and exposure of the realities of sexual violence. He has written a powerful book titled To the Survivors.

Robert, first of all, welcome to my home. Grab a plate and some sweet Southern iced tea and let's sit on the deck.

Cool! I'm hungry and this looks delicious.

(After we settle  and have a few bites of food, I begin the interview):

Your background is very interesting. Give readers a short synopsis of your first published book. 

To the Survivors is a deeply-moving book about my journey as a rape crisis counselor with true stories of sexual violence shared by survivors. The survivors are diverse in age, gender, and ethnicity, yet each gives a similarly raw and heartfelt account of his or her victimization and recovery. The authenticity and vulnerability with which survivors speak resonates profoundly. Messages within To the Survivors are very hopeful -- to the pleasant surprise of many readers -- and I am humbled to find it continues to positively affect people’s hearts and minds.

I am so glad to know that the book offers hope. We need to get the word out and I hope everyone who reads this blog will pass on the information to anyone who needs it.

What challenges did you face while writing this book? 

I faced many challenges while writing this book, including sometimes struggling to find the right words to use, or struggling to bring myself to write at all. My biggest challenge was fighting my own insecurities around my abilities to write well about such a deeply serious topic. Thankfully, I managed to overcome all of these challenges by being patient with the process, continuing to write, and praying my way through it all.

That's probably the best response I've ever had with this question.

Now that you've been through the process, what advice can you give other new writers? 

The greatest lesson I have learned about writing is that our words can meaningfully connect with and impact people in positive ways. My advice to other writers is this: write, write, and write some more. It is imperative to not be nervous, to not fear anything, and to fight through whatever blockage one may have. Also, write from your heart. Believe in yourself and your abilities, and don't stop writing if you have the desire to write.

Great advice! It's obvious that you're writing from the heart.

We all know how important promoting our work has become. How do you get the word out both off and online? 

I get the word out about To the Survivors and issues connected to sexual assault by teaching at high schools and colleges and by spreading the word in conversations in my daily life. Word of mouth is truly a powerful vehicle as many people share the book with others. In terms of online communication, I outreach to schools, rape crisis centers, and domestic violence shelters through emails. I have also been very fortunate to be listed on blogs and magazines.  I have also shared information through interviews on national and international radio programs.

Where can folks learn more about your books and events? 

People can go to my website at or check out To the Survivors and read the reviews at

Are your books available in print and ebook formats?

Yes. To the Survivors is available in Paperback, mobi (Kindle), epub, PDF, rtf, lrf, and pdp.

I hope folks are paying attention to the content of your book and that you continue working on a second book. Now let's finish off this food and have some strawberry shortcake.

You're talking my language, Susan.