Friday, August 24, 2012


I bought a set of these, aren't they darling?

My guest today is the amazing Beth Ciotta. I say amazing because Beth has accomplished much in her lifefor a quirky daydreamer. She pursued a career in the arts, first as a professional singer, then as a variety performer, character actress, and dancer. Finally, she remembered her early love of writing and started writing contemporary romance and has been published since 2002. 
I have yet to read a story from Beth that I haven't loved. She's a gifted storyteller and I'm sure her background has helped in crafting such entertaining stories. 
Her latest sinful release, is A FOOL FOR LOVE, from the Cupcake Lovers club series. It's set in a charming little town called, Sugar Creek, Vermont. Oh, I had lots of fun with this story and I'm looking forward to THE TROUBLE WITH LOVE (with two characters I loved in book one). 
I asked Beth what drew her to a small town setting for story.  

Nirvana is one of my new favorite words. A place or state of oblivion.  Bliss. Heaven. Who wouldn’t want to live in a place or state of bliss?  Of course, like everything in life “nirvana” is subjective. My idea of heaven is the small fictional town of Sugar Creek, Vermont. The small community featured in my new series: The Cupcake Lovers.
Chocolate Porter Coffee cupcakes
recipe by Raspberryeggplant RECIPE
At its conception, I knew the Cupcake Lovers series would take place in a small town. But where? My first thought was Indiana. I grew up in a small town in Indiana. I know the area. The folk. The rhythm. It wouldn’t take much research to create an authentic community.  But then my husband reminded me that I’d already set a few of my books in the Hoosier State. True, true. Time to go somewhere new.
First choice: Vermont.

I’ve never been to Vermont, but I’ve always had the urge to go. I’m entranced by the scenery. The stunning mountains. The lush valleys. The vibrant foliage of the autumn season. I thought about the Sugar Maple trees. Maple syrup. Vermont maple syrup.  I had this vivid image of a small boy pouring syrup into an ice cold creek to make the water sweet for his girlfriend.

Sugar Creek.

In that moment I knew my town would bear the same name as the creek, which would forever spur the distinction between locals—“The creek, not the town.” Or… “The town, not the creek.” I envisioned a Mayberry-like setting comprised of buildings that stood no more than three-stories high. Some of the building were converted, brightly painted barns.  Every business was independently owned. Lots of local artisans, antique stores, a family operated department store, and an old-fashioned General Store where everyone shopped for groceries and gossiped about the latest going-ons. Sugar Creek exploded in my mind, as did the people who populated the quaint tourist town year round.
Chloe Madison, the heroine in the launch book FOOL FOR LOVE, moves to Sugar Creek to start a new life. I got to learn my way about town right alongside her. Together we delighted at the camaraderie and creativity of the Cupcake Lovers club. We marveled at the complex and tightly-knitted relationships between friends and family, the secrets and rivalries, and the budding and failing romances. A community that celebrated the best of times and pulled together in the worst.

Like Chloe, I felt as if I’d found a new home. Imagine my glee knowing I wouldn’t be leaving Sugar Creek any time soon. There are at least three more books in the Cupcake Lovers series. Next up: The Trouble with Love, coming out March 26, 2013. And, as my amended cliché goes, the plot (and the cupcake batter) thickens.  Nirvana! 

  • Do you like cupcakes? Beth has a collection of cupcake recipes on her blog and she shares in her book.




Beth Ciotta
Call her a fool, but chef-in-training Chloe Madison wants to have her cake and eat it too. So when her boyfriend dumps her for some French tart, she decides to start over from scratch—with a new life and job in Sugar Creek, Vermont. What could be sweeter than cooking for an eccentric lady who’s crazy for desserts? What could be more tempting than joining a club called the Cupcake Lovers? Just one thing: local business-hunk Devlin Monroe…
Although he’s the grandson of Chloe’s fun-loving boss, Devlin Monroe is all work and no play. Micro-managing the family business, he doesn’t have time to indulge in life’s sweetest pleasures—until he meets Chloe. How can he resist such a vibrant, beautiful woman who brings so much passion to the table? But when old grudges and secrets threaten to destroy the Cupcake Lovers, Devlin must decide if his feelings for Chloe are a recipe for disaster—or a sinfully delicious ever after… Excerpt

You can read my review of A Fool For Love here. 

Storytelling comes naturally to award-winning author Beth Ciotta. Dubbed "fun and sexy" by Publisher's Weekly, Beth specializes in writing Romantic Comedy with a Twist of Suspense and is published in contemporary, historical, steampunk, and paranormal romantic fiction. "I can't think of anything more fulfilling than writing stories where everyone (except the villain, of course) gets a happy ending!"
Beth lives in NJ with her husband, two zany dogs, and a crazy cat. A retired professional performer, Beth now pours her artistic passion into her writing. To learn more about her colorful life, visit her website. You can also find her on her blog, Facebook, Twitter

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Please welcome historical romance author, Mary Wine, to Over Coffee. Mary has written and published over twenty books. Her latest is a historical steampunk romance. I love the cover.
I recently had a chance to chat with Mary about writing and her latest book. Mary, welcome back to Over Coffee and with what looks like a fun book!

Hello Everyone!
It’s great to be here to celebrate the release of A Lady Can Never be too Curious. I really enjoyed writing this one. At least when I wasn’t tearing my hair out! LOL.

  • Mary, what drew you to write a historical romance with a focus on steam punk elements of the era? Was it the gadgets? People's attitudes toward science and discovery?
It was the challenge. I'm the first to admit that my imagination runs hog wild. When I first noticed the idea of Steam Punk, it was a match made in heaven. I can merge my two favorite things...writing romance and making historical costumes. Just as there is paranormal romance, sot too can there be romance Steam Punk. I love writing historical and Steam Punk offered me the opportunity to world build inside a historical setting. It took all my knowledge of combining research with utilizing my imagination to incorporate elements from outside the pages of history. Some of our greatest movies were hybrids that shocked and confused before they delighted.
  • It doesn't matter how many books you have published, you're still going to face difficulties. What’s the hardest thing you've had to face as a writer?
I think the answer to that is twofold. The first thing you must do as an author is deal with your own demons. Weather they take the form of lazy, unfocused writing habits…really, I just need to start a load of laundry before I sit back down and finish that chapter or maybe you’re stuck in an endless ‘rewriting’ cycle. I do understand the need to polish and refine work. But there is also a point where you just need to send it off to another set of eyes. Sometimes, that’s much harder than you’d think. It’s hard to understand that if you want to be a writer, you need to produce a product. You have to find the time to put it all down, polish it and then, make yourself send it off.   

  •  Who was the most supportive of your writing career?
This is an easy one for me. I've  been very blessed to have a wonderful husband who has supported me through thick and thin. Ten years ago I decided to write a book. That’s right, I was going to write my own romance novel. It wasn't the first time such a thought had rolled through my mind. When I was in my early teens, I often entertained my younger brother with stories. This time though, I was going write a book and I did. Boy was that a learning experience. But I absolutely loved it. Honestly, I was hooked. Oh…I had a great deal to learn but I did in fact sell that book, it became ‘Dream Shadow’. Through it all, my husband always supported me and I count that blessing every day.

  • What do you still struggle with as an author?
I believe the answers to this question are the same no matter what it is you are doing. My grandmother used to say….if a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing right. This is so true with writing. I hope I never get to a point where I don’t feel like I have things to learn about the craft. Story telling is one of the oldest art forms in the history of man. Perfecting my delivery of this art form is something I plan to polish with every book I write. It’s still easy to become distracted. But there is nothing like holding one of my titles and that makes it worth the investment.

I hope you’ll agree. My newest title is a Steam Punk but it’s also a wonderful historical romance.

Mary, I'm looking forward to reading this one. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to chat with me a bit!


A Lady Can Never Be Too Curious (Steam Guardians #1)

Steamy sexual tension and secret societies fuse together in Mary Wine's first Steampunk romance.

Janette Aston is fascinated by all things scientific, and couldn’t care less that her thirst for knowledge is regarded as unladylike by Victorian society. Enthralled by the Illuminists, a group of individuals committed to scientific discovery, she sneaks into their headquarters and is caught by Darius Lawley, an Illuminist Guardian. The attraction between the two is instant and magnetic. 

When the Illuminists realize Janette is a rare Pure Spirit who can harness the power of crystals, she’s targeted by a rival society, the Helikeians. It’s up to Darius to protect her for the sake of science and love. Excerpt

Mary Wine has written over twenty novels that take her readers from the pages of history to the far reaches of space. Recent winner of a 2008 EPPIE Award for erotic western romance, her book LET ME LOVE YOU.

When she’s not abusing a laptop, she spends time with her sewing machines…all of them!  An avid history-buff and historical costumer, she and her family enjoy participating in historical reenactments. Mary lives with her husband and two sons in Yorba Linda, California. 

You can find Mary: Facebook,  GoodreadsTwitterWebsite

The cool expresso picture was sent to me by a friend who buys the neatest gadgets!

Monday, August 20, 2012



Many of you know I do book reviews. I read a lot of books. I love reading a good story and those stories aren’t confined to strictly traditionally published authors. Many of the books I do review are from traditional publishers. I also read books that are published by small indie publishers, and self-published. I’ve reviewed them.
I'll be honest and say that I tend to approach some of the Indie and self-published with reservations—especially for reviews. Not because it's self-published or from a small press, but because so many, while having a good story premise, haven't been edited as well to overall story presentation.
I’ve upset a few by refusing to review a book. I have many reasons why I may refuse a book. The number one reason is my schedule is full.  But there are books that I’m not the target audience for and I don’t feel I can do it justice in a review. I don’t read horror and I don’t watch it either. I occasionally read YA—and that depends upon the genre. I’m not a big erotic and kinky sex stories fan, although there are a few erotic romance authors I enjoy because they tell a compelling story and not just loosely connected graphic sex scenes. I rarely read memoirs. If you write in those genres you want to find those who can read and appreciate the story you’re telling. They’re the best reviewers for your work.
Then there are those books that are just not ready to be published, but they are. They should be going to a good critique partner not a reviewer. I know this because I’ve read or attempted to read some sample chapters. Sorry, I’m not writing a review for it.
Because I know the effort and hard work that goes into writing and completing a manuscript, I’m not going to trash your poorly edited or written book—especially when I see potential for a really good story in it. I’m not fond of snarky, wise-assed reviewers. They make fun of books-whether they are well edited or not, or ridicule the author. That’s not professional behavior on the part of reviewers or review sites, in my opinion. Better to have your book turned down for a review than have a reviewer fill twitter feeds with ridicule or drop a 2 star review on Amazon or Goodreads.
This brings me back to my reservations for some small press or self-published books.
Some small presses don’t have the money to employ diverse enough editing staff to successfully edit their books. That is especially true of self-published authors.
A properly edited book is more than reading for misspelled words and improper grammar usage.
The story also needs an editor who knows fiction. This type of editor enhances the story because they know the genre and the market. They pay attention to word usage (does it fit the genre and characters?), plot (is there enough plot for the length of the story?), building the proper tension for each chapter and scene, and they look at conflict (internal and external) is there enough in each chapter and the overall story?
Fiction editors are particular when it comes to story elements—character point of view, character voice, does the story start in the right place (or is the first chapter all back story?), they check to be sure there is a good balance between dialog, action, and narrative. Does the ending fit with the beginning’s promise? Is the middle sagging and going nowhere?
For the self-published, this means having a good set of honest beta readers who can read for story content and spot the those weaknesses. This allows the author to catch it the story glitches and fix them before sending it to a good fiction editor.
This is why you hear authors who are traditionally published moan and groan about edits and rewrites. Most of those edits have to do with story content, not grammar and spelling. Ask them. They’ll tell you about the chapters cut or slashed because they detracted from, or didn’t fit, the overall story. Ask them about the list of story elements that need reworking. They’ll tell you. They’ll also tell you about the glitches that were caught by their beta readers before the finished manuscript even reached their editor.

Whether employed by a publishing house (small or large) or a self-published author, a good fiction editor is worth their weight in gold. Fiction editors take a good story and make it better.
And that’s the kind of story I want to read or review.