Friday, October 8, 2010


“There is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt.”

My guest is women's fiction author, Leanna Ellis. Her forte is handling subjects and emotion with humor.

We all hit different forms of writer's block. I think it comes with the territory. How we deal with it is also individualist. I'm a firm believer that God never allows us to face an obstacle alone. He always makes the way out for us. The secret is to see the path provided and then have enough trust to follow it, especially given the fact that humans tend to have *eye* problems. You know what I mean;  I think, I feel, I want?

I love Leanna's article of running out of words, dealing with grief and grayness of spirit. It resonated with me as I have faced similar issues this year. Leanna was provided an unlikely hero, Hilo. But I'll let her tell you all about that.

What happens when you run out of words? Recently I came back from a writer’s conference, and I was frankly all talked out. Usually I sit in the quiet (or near quiet, except for my barking dogs, meowing cat and children coming and going, okay not-so-quiet) of my house and write my books. But what happens when an author runs out of words?

This happened to me not too long ago. Right when I was supposed to begin writing my book, FACELIFT. No words. They just wouldn’t come. You see, my father had just passed away. To make matters worse, I write books with a big dose of humor and I frankly didn’t feel very humorous. Erma Bombeck once said, “There is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt.” Those words are so true, and actually describe my writing pretty well. I write about deep subjects, difficult subjects, deep in the heart subjects, and package it all up in humor. But after my father died, humor was hard to come by. And the well of words I’d been drawing from for almost twenty years was dry.

What’s an author to do? First of all, I tried to be patient with myself. When I could only write ‘Chapter Five’ one day, not the chapter, just those two words: chapter five, I breathed deeply, tried not to panic, and said, “Maybe tomorrow.” Cue in the music from Annie here, right?

The words still didn’t come. Day after day I had no words to put on the page. But I was busy helping my children through their grief and as they finished up the school year. There were lots of activities to keep us busy and kept me moving even when there were days that I didn’t want to get out of bed.

But the one thing that really got me moving was my crazy labradoodle, Hilo, named after our favorite vacation spot on the big island of Hawaii. She was a puppy, not quite one year old, and she had more energy than all of my other animals and children combined. I’d raised several animals in my time but never had I experienced a dog like this. Think Marley and Me…but worse! She could jump in one bound onto my dining room table. And she did regularly. She also ate everything in sight, including ten pairs of eyeglasses. She ate half a turkey, a pound of butter, a bunch of grapes, nine spicy chicken wings (bones included), numerous boxes of tissues, rolls of toilet paper, shoes and who knows what else. So to start each day, in my pathetic effort to wear her out (at least for a while) I would take her for a walk. But I soon realized that the blue sky, sun, and soft breeze blew away the gloom I often woke with in the mornings. Now, walking wasn’t an easy task, Hilo liked to bark and lunge at anyone and any dog or cat she saw. She reminded me a bit of Tramp in Lady and the Tramp, the way Tramp could stir up those chickens was the way Hilo liked to stir up the neighborhood. She also loved to go after cars and school buses. But those exhausting walks (more so for me than her) took my mind off my sorrow for a few minutes at least.

I began writing about Hilo’s antics on my Facebook page (still do!). Then one day, I thought maybe I would write her into a scene in my novel, Facelift, just for the fun of it. Of course, I had to change her name to protect the not-so-innocent. So she became Cousin It. And soon words were flowing more easily. Suddenly scenes were coming together for me.

Through the humor of Hilo, I was able to face the heartache in my own heart but also in my characters’. I don’t think it was a coincidence that FACELIFT was about finding hope and joy in spite of painful circumstances and situations.


A ‘can do’ kind of woman runs her own business, raises her teenage daughter, and takes care of her ex-mother-in-law after a botched facelift. But Kaye learns a facelift is more than skin deep. Joy is more than tacking on a happy face. It's relying on her sovereign God who has a plan for her life. Download first chapter excerpt. Trailer
BUY:  Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books a Million, Borders, IndieBound 

  • In Facelift, Kaye feels like her life is out of control. Have you ever felt that way?

I’ll be happy to provide a book for a giveaway. Please limit to the U.S. Thanks!

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Winner of the National Readers Choice Award, Leanna Ellis writes women’s fiction and is known for her quirky characters and wacky plots as in her current novel, FACELIFT. But don’t let the quirkiness fool you, Ellis probes the heart and plucks at the heart strings. Next year will debut FORSAKEN, the first of an Amish/vampire series. Now that is wacky!

You can find Leanna: Website, Blog, Facebook 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A Glutton For Punishment

A chance to win a copy of Skating Around The Law.

My guest is comedic mystery author, Joelle Charbonneau. Joelle has worn several hats in her career; performer in a variety of Operas, Operettas and Musicals, teaching acting classes and private voice lessons, wife, mom, and now author. Joelle is still teaching voice lessons and sings for the occasional professional event.

Performing made her very familiar with rejections and how to handle them as well as learn lessons from them. She talks a bit about that with us.

I must be a glutton for punishment. That’s the only explanation for my career choices. I’m a professional singer and actress. I might even dance for you if you pay me enough. All are fields filled with rejection. So, of course, I decide to pursue the next obvious choice - an author.

What was I thinking? Well, to be honest I’m not sure I was thinking at all. Becoming an author was never one of my childhood dreams. I was a reader not a writer. Then one day, I sat down one day with an idea for an opening line for a novel in my head and I started writing for my own pleasure. To see if I could. To see what would happen next.

What happened next was that I learned I liked the challenge of filling a blank page. (Yep, there’s that ‘glutton for punishment’ theme again.) So, I decided to try to write a real book. Once that book was done I decided to start submitting it to editors and agents. That’s when the rejection started. I wrote another book. More rejections.

Funny, but my other professions made me ideally suited to the rejection that inevitably comes along with writing. Sure, there are some writers who get their first manuscripts published. (This was so not me. It took me five attempts to finally get the call.) But even those published-out-of-the-gate writers get rejections on later manuscripts or in the form of bad reviews. Rejection is something that comes with the territory. And I traveled lots of that not so happy territory.

I am not one to count or keep all my rejection letters, although the idea of creating a bonfire with them and roasting marshmallows to soothe my wounds was more than a little tempting. It is hard being told that your work isn’t what someone is looking for. In fact, it hurts. A lot.

Funny, but I’m really grateful for those rejections. (Go ahead and throw tomatoes. I’m good at ducking.) They made me a better writer. They also gave me time to figure out what kind of stories I really wanted to write. See, when I started writing, I decided I was going to write emotionally driven women’s fiction. Perhaps because some of my favorite books are ones that tug at my heart strings and make me cry. Well, I tried. I really did. I wanted to make people sigh and weep and feel as if the author was a close friend who understood their problems. Some of my best author friends are fabulous at making me read with a box of tissues close at hand. I wanted to be them when I grew up.

Instead, I wrote about a dead body in a roller rink toilet, an ex-circus camel that wears hats and a grandfather that is looking for love in all the wrong places. Yeah – so much for growing up into a hard-hitting women’s fiction writer. Trying to become one was like putting a triangular peg into a round hole. A miracle girdle hasn’t been invented yet that could squash me enough into the right shape and size. The agents and editors who read those attempts probably understood that.

Today, I sit behind my computer screen and write whatever off-the-wall thing pops into my head and I enjoy every minute of it. I am also proud of every rejection that I got along the way. They created the writer I am today.

  • What's the best advice would you give an aspiring writer?
Write an entire book. That seems simplistic, but it isn't. It is the very first step in the process. If you have an idea for a story, write it. Get to the end. Then you can figure out what your strengths and weaknesses are. Many writers get so caught up in making their writing perfect that they never get to the end of a novel. They are too busy revising the beginning. Often, once the novel is written, the beginning changes or gets cut. You won't know if this is true for you until the book is written and you know where the story is going. Once you have the book finished, I recommend joining a professional writing group like RWA to help improve your writing and help you learn the business.

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Goldilocks Zone

Win a copy a new erotic series of sexy warriors and magical heroines.

My guest is historical romance author, Christina Phillips. She hails from Western Australia (by way of the UK) and writes about sexy Romans and Druids.

The road to being published is not an easy one. Somehow there is the thought of you write a book, query it, and it's published. The reality is much different. It's fraught with many rejections, perfecting your writing, and finding a story that excites both you and publishers. 

Christina tells us a bit about her road.

Thank you, Sia, for inviting me to Over Coffee today!

I was very excited to read the other day that a possibly habitable planet has been found orbiting a nearby star. Well, nearby in astronomical terms – twenty light years or roughly 190 trillion kilometers away from Earth. So I don’t think we’ll be visiting any time soon!

The scientists had been observing the red dwarf star Gilese 581 for eleven years before they discovered this planet in the system, which they’ve called Gilese 581g. With a hundred billion stars in our galaxy, and having studied in detail a couple of thousand stars, I can only imagine the excitement when a planet was discovered with the capability of having water on its surface – a prerequisite for life as we know it.

Two other planets had already been discovered in this system – one too near the sun so it was too hot to sustain life and one so far away it was way too cold. Gilese 581g is just the right distance away from its sun – in the so-called Goldilocks Zone.

Eleven years. That got me thinking. It was eleven years ago that, after immigrating to Australia from the UK, I decided to get serious about my writing. I started off without a clue about the craft, my efforts boomeranging into deep space (aka the slush pile and form rejections). After a few years I graduated to personal rejections on my work and then onto revisions. The black hole receded. I was finally entering a solar system!

But like so many solar systems in this breathtaking galaxy, just because it looks right and feels right doesn’t necessarily mean it is right. My efforts at writing contemporary romance hovered in the cold zone. My paranormal romances caught the attention of several agents, but ultimately none led to representation. I like to think of these as incinerating in the too hot Zone!

Eventually, after nine years, I sold two erotic novelettes to a small e-press. I had written them as an experiment to stretch my writing muscles, but it was as if a mini-supernova illuminated my muse. I discovered I loved writing the darker, erotic stories. I would write a full length erotic romance with the aim of hooking an agent!

Vampires, demons and bad-ass angels were hot. I would write an erotic paranormal romance. And into my imagination stormed a Roman warrior searching for his Druid princess lover.

Uh, what? No, that would never fall into the Goldilocks Zone! But it was no good. My hero, Maximus, refused to leave. And within five minutes I didn’t want him to leave, because who on earth was this Roman Centurion and why would a princess – a Druid and, as such, one of Rome’s bitterest enemies – have fallen in love with him?

It took me nine months to write FORBIDDEN, my debut ancient historical romance and a genre I hadn’t written about since high school. There was an honorable warrior, a brave princess and an insane villain, and threaded throughout a fantasy element involving vindictive gods and goddesses.

I loved writing this book. I knew it was a long-shot because of its unusual time period – AD 50 – its protagonists – a Druid princess and Roman Centurion – and even its setting – ancient Wales.

But within a month of first querying agents, I was offered representation. And while I know signing with your dream agent and discovering a possibly habitable planet are hardly comparable, I’m not convinced the scientists who found Gilese 581g could have been much more excited than I was the night I realized I had finally found my very own Goldilocks Zone :-)

  • What about you? Have you had an idea storm into your imagination and not want to leave?
~ * ~ * ~
Forbidden Blurb

He was a master of seduction - but no match for the magical allure of the woman he wanted most...

Carys knew from the moment she first spied on Maximus in his naked barbarian glory that he was a dangerous Roman centurion - his taut, battle-scarred flesh marking him as a fearless warrior. But her desire for him was as undeniable as it was illicit.

Charged by his emperor to eliminate a clan of powerful Druids in Britain, Maximus never expects his mission to be thwarted by the clan's ethereal princess, Carys, his daring voyeur. Falling under her spell, he doesn't realize her true heritage - until he captures her heart as well as her body.

As Carys's loyalties are twisted, and freedom is no longer her single-minded obsession, an avenging former lover threatens to crush Maximus's people into oblivion. Now Carys and Maximus must overcome the devastation of war and face the ultimate sacrifice if their forbidden love is to survive. EXCERPT

"Set in the time of the Roman Empire, Phillips' wonderful story of the romance between a Roman soldier and a Celt is more than entertaining"
Romantic Times Review, 4 Stars

Christina Phillips has always loved writing, and while her efforts in eighth grade usually involved space ships, time travel and unfortunate endings, as soon as she discovered romance novels a whole new world opened up. She now writes ancient historical romances about strong heroines and gorgeous warrior heroes who, no matter how torturous the journey, are guaranteed their happily-ever-after. Christina was born in the United Kingdom, but now lives in sunny Western Australia with her real-life hero and their three children.

Visit Christine:  BlogFacebook, Website