Win a Free Copy of “A Baron for Becky!”

Picture1I am so pleased to present this interview with Jude Knight, a talented writer who is sharing some pearls of wisdom. After a career in commercial writing, editing, and publishing, Jude has returned to her first love, fiction. I’d like to wish Jude a happy birthday and wish her every success in her writing career.

Leave a comment and you may win a copy of Jude’s wonderful new book, A Baron for Becky.

When did you know you wanted to be a professional writer?
I don’t remember, but my mother assures me I was seven. Certainly, for as long as I can remember, my twin ambitions were to be a mother and to be a writer of fiction. For a long time, raising children with disabilities while working as a commercial writer meant putting my fiction on the back burner. I greatly admire people who can do both. I couldn’t. Now that I’m in my 60s, I’m putting all I’ve learned in a lifetime of reading and writing into short stories, novellas, and novels. And I’m having so much fun!

What do you think a person needs to do or to have in order to be a professionalSnoopy Typing writer?
I think determination and persistence are the greatest assets a writer can have. Craft can be learned. Story ideas are everywhere. But setting a goal and going for it; keeping going when it means dragging each word kicking and screaming from your bleeding brain—that’s what makes a writer. I also think it important to strive for perfection: high quality editing, proofreading, and covers make the difference between an amateur effort and a professional one.

Do you have any long term writing goals?
I have a ten year plan. I have enough plot ideas to do three novels a year for 10 years. Since I keep having more ideas that need to be fitted in, that’s going to be a lot of novels. I would like to think that in ten years time I’ll look back at what I’m writing now targetand see a thousand ways to improve it. My overall long term goal is to keep improving.

When you’re not writing, what are you doing?
My family would probably tell you that I’m thinking about writing, but I do pay attention to them from time to time, honest! I have the best husband in the universe, and I try to spend some time with him each day. And I have wonderful children and grandchildren, a friendly and sociable church and village community, and many friends at work. So I socialise. I also like to sew and to garden, but both have gone by the board since I began Farewell to Kindness about this time last year.

Who should buy A Baron for Becky and why?Book Cover-A Baron for Becky
People who love stories of a happy ending against the odds should buy A Baron for Becky. Becky has the cards stacked against her. Only obscurity will give her a respectable future.

Thank you Jude, for your wonderful interview!

See all of Jude’s contact information below. Here is a lovely excerpt from A Baron for Becky:

Aldridge was early. She crossed to the sideboard where she kept his favourite brandy, and was pouring him a glass by the time she heard his steps in the hall. Two sets of steps? Who did Aldridge have with him?

The other man was as tall as Aldridge, but dark to his fair. He must once have been stunningly handsome, and one side of his face was still carved by a master; subtle curves and strong planes combining in a harmonious whole that spoke of strength and, in the almost invisible network of lines at the corners of his eyes, suffering.

profileOn the other side, dozens of scars pitted and ridged the skin, as if it had been torn and chewed by an animal; an animal with jaws of flame by the tell-tale burn puckers. Thankfully, whatever it was had spared his eye, which, she suddenly realised, was glaring at her.

“Well,” he demanded, and she was shaken anew by his voice, rich and mellow. She had been staring. How rude. But for some reason, she didn’t apologise as she should, but instead blurted, “I was just feeling glad that what injured you spared your eye.”

He looked startled, and suddenly a lot friendlier. “Thank you. I am glad too.”

That voice! He could charm bird from the trees with it. Becky wondered if he sang.

Take a look at Jude’s other fabulous works: Farewell to Kindness and Candle’s Christmas Chair.

Buy links:Candle's Christmas Chair Cover Farewell to Kindness
Amazon UK
Amazon Aus
Barnes & Noble

Visit Jude Online!
Visit Jude’s Website
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Subscribe to Jude’s newsletter
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Carole Avila Receives “Perfect Ending Award” in Micro Fiction

VC Reporter CoverHow wonderful to receive an Honorable Mention for my micro fiction story, One Way Out, from the VCReporter for their 2015 Fiction 101 writing competition. The contest requires that a story contain all the elements of a regular full length novel, including plot, main character, and setting in 101 words or less. I thank my friend, Patty Guerrero, for letting me know I won when she saw my story in the VC Reporter!

~ The Perfect Ending Award ~
One Way Out
by Carole Avila

On bended knee, Clive handed Becka a diamond ring. She pressed her lips together and glanced about the café.

“Uhm, I’ll gladly accept your proposal, Clive, but not until you’ve developed a firmer resolve to fulfill your own desires.” He frowned. “Don’t be that way. It’s just that you’re sort of wishy-washy. I’m sure you can change your shortcomings and be the man I know you are. And I’m always here for you to help inspire your needed transformation.”

“You’re right, Becka,” he said.

Clive threw the ring into the gutter, paid the bill and took his lunch to go.

J.J. DiBenedetto’s Latest Release: Fever Dream, Book 9 of the Dream Series!

Cropped photoI’m pleased to have J.J. “James” DiBenedetto as my guest. Book 9 of the Dream Series, Fever Dream, is now available, and I’m sure you’ll find the author just as interesting as his book.

James, did your dream series literally begin with a dream? How did the idea come about?
The idea came from asking a question.  Why do people in mystery stories always try to solve a crime themselves, when most sane people would just go to the police?  The answer I came up with was: if the only evidence they had was in their head.  If they were seeing the crimes from inside the mind of the criminal.  What could you tell the police then?  If you wanted to stop the crimes, you’d have to investigate yourself, at least to find some physical proof you could then go to the authorities with.  And the main characters – Sara, the heroine, and Brian, her boyfriend (and husband as the series goes on), sprung fully-formed from that idea.  The setting of the first book (a very thinly veiled version of where I went to school) also came to life right away with the initial idea. 

rose [2]Men aren’t normally known for romance adventures. To what do you credit being able to write good romance?
I don’t know, honestly.  I just try to be true to the characters.  Writing in first person, I’ve had to try and get into Sara’s head, and after nine books, I know her better than I know myself (which is sort of frightening, but I’m sure my fellow authors can relate to that!).

When did you first know you wanted to write?
Ever since junior high school.  But I didn’t finish the first really long thing (the initial draft of Dream Student) until after college, and then it sat on my computer for years because I didn’t know what to do with it.  In 2012, a friend sold her first novel to a small publisher, and I thought, “why can’t I do it, too?” and I dusted off that draft, rewrote it from the beginning, and all of a sudden I’ve got nine books now!

handwritingWhat is your writing process? Do you have a special place to write, are you alone, do you have a favorite drink by your side?
I don’t have any special process.  Basically, since I have a full-time job, I write whenever I can find a free moment (this is being written while my wife is getting ready for church, for example!)  I write on my desktop PC – I’d love to use my iPad, but I can’t work for any length of time on the virtual keyboard.  And I know some writers use a notebook and write ideas down longhand, but that would be pointless for me – I can’t read my own writing! I usually have music (classical, so it’s familiar and not distracting) and if I have any drink, it’s water.

What are your preferred methods for promoting and marketing your books?
Writing more books!  That’s the first thing – keeping the series going and providing new material for people who’ve discovered it.  I’m on social media (mainly FB and Twitter – I still have yet to really understand Pinterest), I advertise regularly, and just anything else I can think of.  I’ve had the books recorded for Audible audiobooks, I’m having them translated (so far there’s an Italian version of Dream Student, and there are Portugese, French, German and Spanish versions in the works, too).

Thank you, James, for visiting my blog!

James has quite a collection of adventures in the Dream Series that start with the question: What if you could see everyone else’s dreams?

Dr. Sara Alderson can. And her gift–or curse–will lead her on an extraordinary journey. Follow Sara as her newfo und ability leads her into adventures she never imagined while she finishes college, becomes a doctor and falls in love.

In book 9, Sara isn’t used to her patients dying for no reason. She refuses to accept thatFeverDream Smlaller her young patient succumbs to a mysterious illness that defies all efforts to treat him. She probes into the boy’s background and soon discovers a greater threat to even her own life. Enemies she didn’t know she had, powerful people who don’t want their secrets uncovered, threaten her career, family and freedom. Time is running out as Sara must act fast before anyone else falls victim to the mysterious illness or before she falls victim to those who want to stop her.

Enjoy an excerpt from Fever Dream:

     “Laurie, calm down. Just tell me. Whatever it is, it can’t be that bad.” I try and push calm thoughts through the line, across a few hundred miles to her down there in Washington. I don’t succeed.
      “They were – he doesn’t know. There were two of them, a man and a woman. They showed him badges, and they threatened him. They wanted – he said they wanted all my financial records – everything for the practice, going back to when we first bought it. He said they told him to make copies of everything, give it to them, and not to say a word to anyone else about it.”
      “Obviously he didn’t.” I see why she’s upset. What happened to Craig is illegal. It has to be. If whoever came to his house – if they do have real badges, if they are police – they have to have a warrant. And there’s nothing to find in the records anyway. At least, I know for sure there’s nothing as of the spring of 2002 when I left the practice. And I can’t believe Laurie would ever do anything illegal or even slightly questionable.
      “That’s not all,” she says. “He said they were asking about legal problems we’ve had. Criminal matters.”
      I pinch my arm as hard as I can; I don’t want to drift back to what happened almost a decade ago. That has to be what she means – what these mysterious people, whoever they were, meant. I ask, in a small, faraway voice, “Did he get their names?” but I already know the answer.

The Dream Series by J.J. DiBenedetto! Book #9, FEVER DREAM, is available now at these retailers:

Amazon (Kindle or Paperback)

Barnes & Noble (Nook or Paperback)
Apple iBookstore

Box of Dreams CoverThe first five books in the Dream Series are collected in one Kindle Box Set, and it’s on sale Memorial Day weekend for just $0.99!

Barnes & Noble
Apple iBookstore
Google Play

The first five novels and a short story are all available on Audible. Books #6, 7 and 8 are all available at Amazon, too!

J.J. DiBenedetto is a native New Yorker and has lived in the Washington, DC area for the last 20 years. He loves the opera, reading, photography, science fiction, fondue, travel and the New York Giants. He lives with his lovely and talented wife and amazing cat, Danny. Visit James at his website, on Facebook, on Twitter and at his Amazon Author Page.

Your Opinion–Please! YA or Adult Fiction?

Bloody knifeI need to walk away from my current work to get a fresh perspective, so in the mean time, I started to write a new book, a serial murder story. At first I thought it was too violent for young adult readers, but then when I thought of all the death and blood and gore in Hunger Games and Harry Potter, it didn’t seem so bad.

 My question is, should I keep this for a Young Adult audience or switch it up to a mainstream adult thriller?

 Here’s a brief excerpt from the first page. 

* * * * * *

“Hey, the elevator is going down to the basement! Did you press the wrong button?”

“Oh, crap!” Jenna’s eyes flew open, and her confidence dropped with the elevator.

“I hate the basement. It’s so creepy,” Carley moaned. “You know they don’t like us going down there.”

Jenna punched the number two button, but the decrepit elevator continued its descent.elevator buttons “It’s not like anybody wants to go down there in the first place.” She tore her eyes from the lit-up button marked with a one and stared at her friend. “I know I pressed two when we got on the elevator.”

“That means someone must have called for it from the basement!” Carley said. “Who do you think did that?”

“Calm down. It’s probably just Mr. Fieldsgate. That old janitor is no one to be afraid of.”

“I don’t know…”

“You sound like a baby. Just like Abigail. There’s nothing down there!” Jenna said.

The elevator shuddered to a stop, and Jenna gulped at the lump in her throat. She tapped the button for the second floor several times in quick succession.

“They think we might get hurt tripping over something in the dark. That’s all,” Jenna whispered, and her bravado faded into nothing as the doors slid open.

Each girl pinned herself back into the corner, and Jenna slowly reached out and pressed the ‘Close Door’ button. Nothing happened, but then the doors finally started to slide close. The girls exhaled, but two large hands, gnarled and bloody, reached into the elevator and pushed the doors apart. Jenna and Carley gaped wide mouthed, but neither could utter a sound. Carley glanced at her friend, whose round fearful eyes mirrored her own.

Scary SkeletonThe hands disappeared, but not a second later, from the black engulfed basement a carcass tilted forward. Crimson covered the back of its knotted gray hair, and the body splattered halfway inside the elevator onto the floor. Guttural sounds gargled up the girls’ throats, and screams finally let loose at the sight of the old school janitor.

His bulging eyes stared up at Jenna, as frightened in death as she was in life, and his mouth had dropped wide open to his chin, just like Carley’s. Blood saturated the front of his pine green one-piece uniform. Carley held both hands fisted prayer-like against her mouth, unable to speak.

The doors slid closed but bounced open as they hit the legs of the graying corpse. The moment the doors fully retracted, they drew toward the janitor’s body again. This time, battered hands latched onto the metal edges of the doors and pushed them open. Carley wailed and tucked herself hard inside the corner as a man peered at her with red facial scars curving like a chaotic map over half his face. Only one eye moved as he dragged it over Carley, then he glared at Jenna, who pressed her back into the handrail.

He growled when he spoke, more like an animal than a man.

“Well, well. What the hell do we have here?”

* * * * * *Question mark

What do you honestly think? Should this be written for a young adult or adult audience? Other murders in the story will include adults, both male and female, maybe another student. Please feel free to comment on the content, too. Thank you!

7 things I wish someone had told me when I was binge-eating

Carole Avila:

Excellent reminders on eating disorders!

Originally posted on Happy Eating Happy Living:

To honor this year’s Eating Disorders Awareness Week I’d like to share a few insights that would have really helped me while I was binge-eating. If any of this sounds familiar, please know that you’re not alone and the best thing you can do for yourself is to reach out to me or anybody else for help.

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Eating Feelings

Carole Avila:

Healing from sexual abuse at my blog, Healing Through Awareness and Self-expression. Today it’s about Eating Feelings.

Originally posted on Healing Through Awareness & Self-Expression:

My father died close enough to the holidays which made it easy to justify eating lots of homeCookies baked treats, primarily carb laden scones and cookies as I dealt with the emotional experience of loss and grief.

All my life, food has been a twisted psychological solution to stuffing my emotions and protecting my body from abuse, but of course stuffing never worked. Instead of insulating me from problems and keeping me safe, the fat was like the lid on a pressure cooker with a valve that kept me on the brink of exploding with negative self-talk and self-defeating behavior.

So knowing this, why do I keep returning to the negative and destructive behavior pattern of stuffing my body with food it doesn’t need or want?

ChildrenAside from the obvious—that food addiction is what I know and must somehow make me feel comforted—I think I convinced myself that to not have food meant deprivation…

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Nana Prah takes Love Undercover

I am pleased to promote a new release by my author friend, Nana Prah. Her book, Love Undercover, is thoroughly entertaining & is ON SALE for 99 cents!

LoveUndercover_BannerLove Undercover by Nana Prah
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Women’s Fiction (Sweet, Multicultural)
Publisher: Black Opal Books

NanaPrah_LoveUndercover_800About Love Undercover:

The last thing she expects is to fall in love with a prison guard…

Hotshot Secret Service Agent, Sarita Cerez is thrown into a medium security prison—for work. Her job is to protect the daughter of the president of South Korea. She never envisioned making friends with illegal immigrants or falling head over heels for one of the guards. Now the clandestine activity, which is integral to protecting her charge, may destroy her only chance at love.

He’s never fraternized with the inmates—until he met her…

Matthew Carter always plays by the rules, which includes maintaining a strictly professional relationship with the inmates in his charge. But when Sarita saunters onto the unit, all bets are off. Her status as a deportee with a permanent ticket to Columbia means they can never be together, but try as he might, this doesn’t stop him from risking his career for her.

He’s a man who values honesty above all else, and she lies for a living. Can two people from such different worlds find any common ground?

BookExcerptAs they walked down the first flight of stairs, Sarita’s breath caught when she glanced at him. She missed her footing and would have gone head-over-ass down the steps if he hadn’t grabbed her.

The heat emanating from Matt’s body seeped into her. “Thanks. You saved me from a nasty fall.”

“You are so beautiful, Sarita.” His whispered words feathered over her cheek.

She moved forward as his lips came down on hers in a crushing kiss. The impact brought tears to her eyes and a whimper to her throat. He eased the pressure. She took the light pecks as his apology.

She desired his passion over such teasing gentleness. Her hand moved to the back of his head and held him against her mouth, opening for him as his tongue thrust in. She hung onto him for fear of tumbling down the stairs.

Swinging her around, he lifted her onto the railing, wrapping her legs around him. His hardness met the juncture of her thighs. The need to feel more of him suffused her. She rocked her hips and squeezed him closer when he moaned.

The sound of whistling broke through the haze. She eased her feet to the steps and they continued down the stairs as if she hadn’t been about to rip off his shirt.

She held onto the railing so her wobbly legs wouldn’t slide out from under her. She chanced a glance up and saw the camera. How could she have forgotten where they were?

He looked back at the space they’d just vacated and raised an eyebrow. “Blind spot,” he whispered. “Didn’t you know?”

All Romance:

AuthorBioAbout the author
Nana Prah is a multi-published author of contemporary, multicultural romance. Her books are sweet with a touch of spice. When she’s not writing she’s reading, indulging in chocolate, and enjoying life with friends and family.

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GiveawayNana is giving away a $44 Amazon or Smashwords Gift Card!