Thursday, September 26, 2013


My guest is historical romance author, Victoria Roberts. She's the author of Bad Boys of Scotland series and her current release is To Wed A Wicked Highlander.

Many writers look at those who have made the cut, gotten the agent, or the contract, as lucky. In some ways, yes, they are. They were in the right place at the right time and with the right story. Of course, they worked their butts off to get there and probably have enough prior rejections to paper a room or two in their house, but they had the courage and tenacity to follow their dream of being published and got the brass ring. A writer's life does change when they sell and chances are they have now added writing deadlines, editors, and promotion to their already busy lives of juggling jobs, kids, and life. 

Victoria talks about her life as an author before and after getting the contract. 

Thank you so much for having me today. It’s great to be back.

Being an author isn't easy. Really. Most of us aren't fortunate enough to be J.K. Rowling or Nora Roberts. I have a full-time day job, husband, two kids (8 and 12 years old) who have homework every night and who are both involved in sports. I’m a laundress, taxi service, cook, wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt—yep, I think you get the point. When in the world do I find time to write?

I make time.

It all starts with goals. I used to scoff at the idea of setting them. I didn't have enough time in the day to even figure them out. When I started my writing career, I knew setting a personal target was a must. In fact, it took me a week to figure out not having a goal was definitely not working in my favor. Without goals, I wouldn't have much of a word count. Without a word count, my story took forever to finish. So how do you pick a reasonable goal?

Start small.

Everyone is different and we all have craziness in our lives. Figure out what you can easily handle and then gradually increase your writing goal. For instance, I used to have my goal at 500 words/day or 2,500 words/week (no weekends.) As my kids got older and my day job changed a bit, I was able to increase that goal to 1,000 words/day or 5,000 words/week. If I did not meet my goal by Friday, I worked the weekend until I reached the mark. You want your goal to be challenging but not overwhelming.

I also found that surrounding myself with supportive writer-friends helped me to plug along. How many times have you tried talking shop to a friend who is not a writer? It’s quite difficult. I've lost track of how many times those friends gave me the “deer in the headlights” look. No one understands your struggles and personal triumphs better than a fellow writer because we've all been there. Heck, we still are there! This job is not easy, but writing stories is our passion. It’s something we choose to do. And that’s the basis of what makes a story great.

Writing the book is only the beginning…

At least 25% of time is spent marketing, promoting, blog tours, interviews, guest posts, book signings, etc. Don’t forget, this is all done while you’re still writing the next book! Oh, yes, word counts still apply. I don’t think they ever really go away. 

So why write?

If you have to ask yourself that question, this is not the job for you. Write. Your. Passion. Believe me, I wanted to be traditionally published in the worst way, but even if I wasn't  I would still be writing. At sixteen, I remember pounding out stories on an old typewriter. There was nothing like that feeling of being so engulfed in the story that you could feel it, taste it. This is your baby. You have all the power. Tell your story to the world. And if you keep knocking, one day someone will answer.

I’ll leave you with my favorite quote.
“All dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.”—Walt Disney

Thank you so much for having me today. Now back to the darned book. 

  • Name your passion whether it’s writing, reading, music, etc. 

Sourcebooks will give away one copy of To Wed a Wicked Highlander to a lucky commenter. (US and Canada only, please)


She always wanted to be one of the boys...

Sybella would do anything to prove she's just as valuable to the MacKenzie clan as her brother is. She'd go on any hunt, take any dare. But her father has a different sort of mission in mind: marriage. It's simple, he explains. All she has to do is marry Alexander MacDonell and report back on his family's secrets. It will be easy, he says, as long as she doesn't do anything fall in love.

Until she got a man

As laird of the MacDonells, Alex has a duty to produce an heir. It's a duty he won't mind with the lovely Ella as his wife―even if she is one of the dreaded MacKenzies. He's wooed and won many ladies, but Ella is a challenge like no other. He can tell she's holding something back. But not for long. Because inch by inch, he plans to expose everything she's been hiding and claim the ultimate prize: her heart.

“Roberts has created the baddest boy of the Highlands for her third in her series. This action-packed romance has everything Roberts’ fans adore: a strong heroine who meets her match in a to-die-for hero, deception, betrayal, love and redemption..." 
―RT Book Reviews Reviewer Top Pick


Victoria Roberts writes Scottish historical romances about kilted heroes and warriors from the past. She was named by RT Book Reviews as "one of the most promising debut authors across the genres" and was also a 2012 Reviewers Choice nominee for Best First Historical for Temptation in a Kilt. X Marks the Scot and To Wed a Wicked Highlander (Bad Boys of the Highlands #2 and #3) were reviewer TOP PICKS, and the first of Victoria’s new Royal Rebellion series is scheduled for release fall 2014. 

Represented by Jill Marsal of the Marsal Lyon Literary Agency, Victoria is a member of Romance Writers of America®, Celtic Hearts Romance Writers, several local chapters, as well as a contributing author to the online magazine Celtic Guide.

Victoria lives in western Pennsylvania with her husband of twenty years and their two beautiful children—not to mention one spoiled dog. When she is not plotting her next Scottish romp, she enjoys reading, nature, and antiques. She also drags her clan to every Scottish festival under the sun. You can find Victoria:
 WebsiteFacebook, GoodreadsCeltic Guide

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


My guest is Teresa Burrell. legal suspense author of The Advocate series and her latest release, The Advocate's Ex Parte.  She's talking about her high maintenance character, Sabre Orin Brown and her cohorts and their penchant for wanting to tell their story their way. 
Hi Sia. Thanks so much for having me back here at Over Coffee. 
My pleasure Teresa. 
By the way, I’ll have a medium, decaf, hazelnut mocha with non-fat milk, and extra chocolate. Could you make that extra hot. It cools so quickly. And in a mug, please. I hate drinking coffee from a paper cup. Thanks. 
Decaf, hazelnut...? Right. Decaf?  [Sia smiles graciously and hurries away. What's the point of drinking coffee...sheesh, where is my stash of Ghiradelli...and my chocolate doesn't come in non-fat...what does she think this is? Starbucks? Sheesh.]                                     
Oh wait, that’s not for me.  It’s what Sabre, my character in The Advocate Series, drinks. She’s high maintenance when it comes to ordering drinks or food. Lots of “on the side” stuff.
Ahhh...I see. Tell me about her. 

Sabre knows what she wants. She’s a hard-working, caring juvenile court attorney and advocate for abused children. She takes charge and gets the job done, except when it comes to her love life. Then she’s a mess.

I’m often been asked if the character of Sabre Orin Brown is really me. (Her initials, by the way, are S.O.B.) I can say unequivocally, she is not me. She’s younger, richer, thinner, smarter.... She does, however, have the same job I had in my real life. Of course, I didn't spend my time solving so many murders and getting shot at, as Sabre often does.

I think it is impossible to write without putting some of yourself into your characters, so you will see elements of me in Sabre. I didn't do that intentionally. Sometimes, though, I will put a character trait that is so opposite or so unlike anything I would do, just to give her depth. At least I used to. Now, after five books with Sabre, Bob (Sabre’s best friend and colleague), and JP (her handsome cowboy PI), I don’t have as much leeway. They decide how they’ll act, what they will say, and how they’ll solve their dilemmas. I’m sure you've heard many authors say that before. It certainly is true for me. I’m guided by their personalities and if they do something odd, I think the reader has a right to know why. You would think that would make the writing easier, but in a way it’s harder. Sometimes I have an idea in my mind for certain events to take place and my characters won’t let me. They turn me in a totally different direction.

I spent twelve years practicing law in San Diego Superior Court, Juvenile Division. I loved the work, but it was draining. The background information in my novels and many of the incidents that take place in court in my novels are very true to form. Some of my ideas for my books come from actual cases, but the characters are all fictional. I start with just a single line or event and then create from there.

By the way, Sia, do you have any scones? I love scones with my coffee. So does Sabre.

I no longer practice law. I just write novels now and my life is much simpler, no where near the stress I used to deal with every day. Now, I only stress when I have a deadline for a book release. This last week was pretty crazy getting ready for the launch of The Advocate’s Ex Parte, the fifth book in The Advocate Series. It just came out last Sunday. As you know, it’s a legal suspense mystery series. I write legal suspense because someone once told me if I want to be a writer, I should write what I know. There’s a reason why I don’t write romance!



Attorney Sabre Brown is summoned into Judge Lawrence Mitchell chambers for an ex parte hearing. When the judge attempts to discuss one of her cases, she refuses to listen without proper counsel present. 
Later that evening, Judge Mitchell is murdered.

Sabre’s shock at his death is only surpassed by an attempt on the life of Dr. Carolina Heller, a psychologist she employs on a regular basis. Sabre now fears for her own life. 

Sabre enlists her private eye JP, and they begin to comb and scrutinize her cases, searching for connections between the two crimes. But Sabre’s life is in danger from someone much closer to her. 

Sabre and JP’s roads diverge. While JP infiltrates a twisted world of greed and corruption, Sabre is caught up in a domestic crisis fueled by obsession. As each is forced to fight their own battles, the question soon becomes, can they find a way to save one another?



Teresa Burrell is semi-retired and living in California, Burrell continues to educate groups about social issues impacting children and write novels, many of which are inspired by actual legal cases. She is the author of The Advocate Series which now contains five novels, The Advocate, The Advocate’s Betrayal, The Advocate’s Conviction, The Advocate’s Dilemma and The Advocate’s Ex Parte. 

You can find Teresa: Website, Blog, Facebook,  Goodreads, and Twitter.

Monday, September 23, 2013


One thing I've learned over the years is everyone tells a story differently. Writers build their stories differently, too. One size, one way, does not fit all.
Who the hell says it has to?

I've learned a few hard lessons about writing and myself.

1. Screw perfection and the horse it flew in on.
There are no flying horses, you say? That’s my point.

2. Recognizing how I write and how to work with it.
I tend to be spare when I’m starting a story or a scene. It’s a quick sketch to capture what I’m seeing in my head. I don’t have the time to layer every sensory bit I see and feel. That’s allowable. Layering the sensory is for later.

3. Once I’m done with the day’s writing
Go back and look what I've written and take a little time to add some reaction/emotions/description. I do this while it’s fresh in my mind.  I check my scene to see if I've hit my mark because the scene has to have a goal and a reason exist. If I think its backstory or knowledge I (but not necessarily the reader) need, to move the story forward, I leave it there but I make a notation.

4. I've learned good writing is a series of repetitions
I’m going to be repeating #3 again and again and again as I write each scene and chapter. Even when the scene or chapter seems good initially, I’m going to have to beef up reaction/emotions/description. Perhaps add some tantalizing detail, strengthen some foreshadowing for actions to come.  Or conflict, character strengths and weaknesses. Or a bit more research.

5. I can’t edit or shade what I haven’t written.
To be honest, I haven't written much fiction lately. I'm getting back into it. The spirit is willing but the process is...rusty. I'm doing writing 'sprints'. I have to shut off the inner critic and write it. I have to let the joy of the adventure flow from my mind to my fingers and worry about the logistics later. 

6. I’d like to say I've conquered this perfectly but...I refer you back to #1.

  • How about you? What have you learned on your journey about your writing?