Friday, March 6, 2015


Today I welcome the Small Town, Large Hearts tour with three great authors. Small town living is a whole different environment but a fun place to set a story. Grace Burrowes, Samantha Chase, Andrea Laurence share some special moments in the life of their characters.

  • What can you tell us about the small town setting of your new romance?

Samantha Chase (author of RETURN TO YOU): The south shore of Long Island had always been my heroine Selena’s home. Born and raised minutes from the beach, she always dreamed that it would be where she’d find love, raise a family and live happily ever after. The small coastal town really hadn’t been part of James Montgomery’s plan for his own life, after meeting Selena, it’s suddenly a very appealing part of his future.

Grace Burrowes (author of KISS ME HELLO): Damson Valley lies in rural Maryland, about an hour away from both Washington, DC, and Baltimore. The Appalachian Mountains give the town a protected, bucolic feel, despite the proximity of big city lights. My hero attorney MacKenzie Knightley loved growing up with his brothers on a farm right outside Damson Valley, and was all too happy to go into practice with both James and Trent. The Knightley farm is now owned by foster mom Sidonie Lindstrom, who has moved away from Baltimore to give her foster son a better start in life. Sid has no patience for small town life, though before too long, the scenery does catch her interest…

Andrea Laurence (author of FEEDING THE FIRE): If you’re willing to turn your car off the highway and venture from the beaten path, you might be lucky enough to run across a town like Rosewood, Alabama. Steeped in southern charm and the traditional values of God, Family and Football (although not always in that order), Rosewood is like a time capsule preserving everything modern cities have lost. Here, you’ll find homemade pies, perfectly brewed sweet tea, and beauty parlors filled with lively gossip. It’s the kind of town where everybody knows everybody – and everybody knows your business whether you like it or not! Thanks for stopping by. Sit a spell and tell us what you know.

  • What is the most romantic spot in your small town? 

Samantha Chase: There are many beaches on the south shore but not all of them are public. Back when they first dated, James and Selena would go to one of the private beaches that was located close to her house. They chose it because there were never really any crowds and they could go and spend the day without an audience and feel as if they had the world to themselves.

  • Shopping in a small town can be limited. What’s the best gift your hero gave your heroine that he picked up locally?

Andrea: Rosewood has a couple great little boutiques on the square. Dressin’ Up has the latest fashions for ladies and the antique shop is a good spot to find those one-of-a-kind pieces. Flowers from Petal Pushers are always a good choice, too. True to Grant, however, he chose his gift for Pepper at the hardware store. He bought her a ‘bouquet’ of tools and essentials for every homeowner, including a screwdriver, level, measuring tape, caulk, plastic sheeting, an extension cord and well… vodka!

  • What is the heroine’s favorite memory of the town? 

Grace: Sid is a city gal, recently arrived to the Maryland countryside, and at first she misses everything about Baltimore—the hum and bustle, exotic cuisine, the Inner Harbor, the endless things to see and do. As she sees that Damson Valley is a good place for her foster son, she appreciates the natural beauty. She becomes especially fond of the peepers, tiny tree frogs that sing on chilly spring evenings to attract a mate. Her first kiss with Mac happens to the serenade of the peepers, and every time she hears them, she smiles.

Do you enjoy reading stories set in small town? What's cool about your small town?
You can win a copy of one of these book here

About the books:

He loves her, she loves him not...? 

In the third novel of The Sweetest Kisses series, single mom Sidonie Lindstrom has her hands full with a troubled foster son, an abrupt adjustment to country living, and an unforeseen lack of funds. When her taciturn neighbor, MacKenzie Knightley, repeatedly offers practical help, Sid reminds herself she's not interested in the neighbor-despite his kindness, pragmatism and quiet charm. MacKenzie sees the vulnerability beneath her pride, and he's determined to change her mind...

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Grace Burrowes' bestsellers include The Heir, The Soldier, Lady Maggie's Secret Scandal, Lady Sophie's Christmas Wish and Lady Eve's Indiscretion. The Heir was a Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2010, The Soldier was a PW Best Spring Romance of 2011, Lady Sophie's Christmas Wish won Best Historical Romance of the Year in 2011 from RT Reviewers' Choice Awards, Lady Louisa's Christmas Knight was a Library Journal Best Book of 2012, and The Bridegroom Wore Plaid was a PW Best Book of 2012. Her Regency romances have received extensive praise, including starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist. Grace is branching out into short stories and Scotland-set Victorian romance with Sourcebooks. She is a practicing family law attorney and lives in rural Maryland.

She will never forget their past...               
                       He can't stop thinking about their future...

James Montgomery has achieved everything he'd hoped for in life...except marrying the girl of his dreams. After a terrible accident, Selena Ainsley left ten years ago. She took his heart with her and she's never coming back. But it's becoming harder and harder for him to forget their precious time together, and James can't help but wonder what he would do if they could ever meet again. 

New York Times and USA Today Bestseller Samantha Chase released her debut novel, Jordan's Return, in November 2011. Although she waited until she was in her 40's to publish for the first time, writing has been a lifelong passion. Her motivation to take that step was her students: teaching creative writing to elementary age students all the way up through high school and encouraging those students to follow their writing dreams gave Samantha the confidence to take that step as well.
 When she's not working on a new story, she spends her time reading contemporary romances, playing way too many games of Scrabble or Solitaire on Facebook and spending time with her husband of 25 years and their two sons in North Carolina.

Pepper has no interest in Grant Chamberlain…until she accidentally wins him at a school auction and finds the mega-hot firefighter impossible to ignore. Find out what happens next in the second playful and sexy ebook romance in the Rosewood series!

Living in the small town of Rosewood, Alabama, hairdresser Pepper Anthony has one rule—never date a Chamberlain. She’s always said, “the only thing worse than being ignored by a Chamberlain is being dumped by one.” But Grant Chamberlain, town fireman, isn’t used to rejection, and Pepper has consistently turned him down since high school. She isn’t intimidated by his family; she’s one of the few who refuses to take their crap.

When Grant volunteers at the charity bachelor auction, to his surprise, Pepper buys him. She hadn’t meant to, but Adelia Chamberlain dropped a cold drink in her lap, sending her leaping into the air at precisely the wrong moment. Suddenly she had a massive bill to the town and Grant at her disposal. Since the money has to come from her “restore the house” fund, she decides to use Grant for manual labor instead of romantic dinners. Grant is happy to help, sweaty and shirtless, because one way or another, he’s going to get Pepper to admit she’s attracted to him. All it takes is a small spark, and soon they’ll be fanning the flames.

Andrea Laurence has been a lover of reading and writing stories since she learned to read at a young age. She always dreamed of seeing her work in print and is thrilled to finally be able to share her special blend of sensuality and dry, sarcastic humor with the world. A dedicated West Coast girl transplanted into the Deep South, she's working on her own "happily ever after" with her boyfriend and their collection of animals including a Siberian Husky that sheds like nobody's business.

Monday, March 2, 2015


The last two articles I’ve talked about things I’ve learned on my writing journey. The First Draft Is Not 'The End' and Need for Critiques and Edits.  Today I’m talking about some of the things I’ve learned about giving a critique.

When giving critique of another’s writing what’s involved? That depends upon what I’m being asked to do. Is it a critique for content? Or spelling and grammar or both? Is this an early draft or the final draft?
The dictionary defines critique: the art of evaluating or analyzing works of art or literature.
A careful judgment in which you give your opinion about the good and bad parts of something—such as a piece of writing or a work of art.

So when I give a critique I’m paying close attention to problems that stop the story or pull me out of the story. I make a note each time I spot something whether it’s a scene or word choice or character doesn’t ring true or a reaction that doesn’t feel right. Sometimes I ask questions and other times I may offer a suggestion to make it smoother or even suggest this scene would have more impact if X, Y, or Z was done. Or if, in my opinion, a scene would be better if it was in a different place.

Always I keep in mind the tone I use when asking those questions or making those suggestions. I keep in the forefront of my mind that this is someone else’s story so I need to get a feel for their voice and style of writing as well as their vision of this story. I show respect for that vision and voice by not intruding my voice or how I would write it or present it. I want to show respect for and have a care for the feelings of the writer, who is usually a friend, but I also want a good story to be the best it can. I want to see the writer succeed. To do that I have to be honest but I don’t have to be brutal.

Critiques should be constructive criticism. What does that mean?
The dictionary defines constructive criticism as promoting improvement or development.

In other words my job is to help the writer to develop or improve the story.  My comments are designed to encourage the writer to do that. I can’t do that if I take a sledgehammer to the project. Then the critique becomes destructive. It tears down the writer and their work. It’s hurtful. It’s not building up and encouraging improvement; it’s destroying.

Things to keep in mind when giving or receiving critiques.

  • Critiques take time to do. Unless there is a deadline involved, which is usually stated up front, turnaround may be a couple of weeks. Patience is needed. 
  • No matter how tactful the critique, it may still sting the ego or hurt feelings.
  • Critiques are the opinion of the person evaluating the piece.
  • You don’t have to agree with everything said and probably won’t. Use what works with your vision and disregard the rest.

  • Problems identified in a critique doesn’t mean you or your wringing are being attacked so don’t respond as if you are (and that includes slamming the person in thinly veiled blog rants or on social media. Writers live in a really a small world).

  • If someone takes time out of their busy schedule to critique your work at least have the respect to consider the comments even if you have to walk away for awhile and come back to the critique.

  • Be professional, honest, and tactful in giving critiques.

I don’t do a lot of critiques, lately, but they have taught me a great deal about writing.

  • What about you? Do you do critiques? What have you learned?

Wednesday I won’t be blogging as I’ll be taking my son to the airport and from here that’s an all day thing and depending upon the weather, that might mean going up the day before and staying overnight at my sister in St. Louis.