Friday, October 31, 2014

Five Secrets From Mystery Author Marilyn Leach

Five Secrets From Mystery Author Marilyn Leach, 
who has a wicked sense of humor

I met Marilyn at a writer's meeting and have been laughing ever since. But I didn't
know all this about her: At the age of nine, Marilyn wrote her first play with a childhood neighbor, “The Ghost and Mr. Giltwallet”.  It was a mystery.  And she’s been writing, whether hobby or livelihood, since.  

A graduate of Colorado State University, she has worked in domestic missions and taught both English acquisition and art in underserved populations. She’s had the opportunity to co-author several plays that have been performed on both church and secular stages, as well as two screenplays, one of which was a semi-finalist in the John Templeton Screenwriting Competition.  

Marilyn’s Advent of a Mystery, was released in September of 2010, Candle for a Corpse in 2012 and Up From the Grave in 2013, all part of a series called Berdie Elliott Mysteries. 

She has written numerous Biblical meditations and essays printed in various publications including Guideposts, Big Dreams in Small Spaces, and Quiet Hour.   Marilyn is a dyed-in-the-wool British enthusiast and it colors her work.  She lives lakeside in a cottage on the outskirts of Denver near the foothills.  

Hi Marilyn, please tell us Five Secrets we may not know about your newest Berdie Elliott British mystery, Into the Clouds, or you, but will after today!

1)   Thanks so much for having me here, today, LA.  This is so fun.  First secret?  Into the Clouds is based on a long-ago English mystery series that was filmed in the seventies.  As I watched one of the episodes on the DVD several months ago, it became evident that the mystery itself was timeless if you could see past the Beatle haircuts and plaid trousers!  I took the germ of the primary idea and made it into my own twenty-first century mystery.  Voila.  Into the Clouds was conceived.

2)   I plot my mysteries with great attention to detail and seldom take ‘bird trails’.  When writing Into the Clouds, an invitation is given for Berdie, my sleuth, and her vicar husband, to enjoy a swim at a private sports club.  It was simply a means to accomplish a certain plot detail.  But, by the time I got into writing chapter nine of fifteen, I found the Seabrook Sports Club had become a major player in the mystery, and a hoot to use as a setting.  So I went back to the beginning of the book and added clues along with red herring bits to feed the plot line.  Anyone up for a swim?   

3)   Here’s secret number three.  The description for a character that appears in Into the Clouds came from a former principal I worked with when in the teaching field.  Mr. Broadhouse, my character, is handsome, big shouldered, silver-haired, and rather charming.  If you may have any idea who I could be talking about, you didn’t hear it here.

4)    Few know that when I was a student at Colorado State University, I took a wilderness survival class with the Colorado School of Outdoor Living.  Our final for the class?  On a November day, instructors took us to the base of Longs Peak, dropped us off in staggered locations, and told us to “survive” for the week end.  We were allowed to take nothing more than a tiny cook tin that was attached to the belt and filled with compact survival materials, plus a sleeping bag. I’m here to tell you about it, so obviously I got on just fine, thank God.  I must say, as I’ve aged, I’ve found The Broadmoor five star hotel more of a preference than cold, hard, ground.

5)    Finally, I really love England.  My travels there and friends I’ve made have greatly enriched my life and influenced my writing.  That’s no secret.  But, when I’m really missing “the lovely isle”, I surf my bookmarked webcam sites.  Whether it’s the picturesque town center in Reading, Berkshire, or Weymouth Harbor where we spent a spring holiday, or the bustling Union Street, in Aberdeen, Scotland, after a few moments of “being there”, I find myself refreshed, inspired.  And that’s a secret only you and I now share.

Blurb :  Ascension Sunday balloons are not the only things disappearing in the English village of Aidan Kirkwood.  When the villagers celebrate the first Ascension Sunday Procession in fifty years, someone goes missing.  A well off widow who was amongst the crowd has vanished into thin air.  And she’s not the only one who’s nowhere to be found.  

Berdie Elliott, the local vicar’s wife, goes into sleuth mode as eccentric cat lovers, a secretive informant, Portuguese holidays, an enigmatic “tree” house, and tangled family dynamics all add to the perplexing affair.  In the end, Berdie rises to the occasion and solves the case.  

You won’t want to let this mystery out of your sight.

Buy Links: 
Barnes and Noble

Find Marilyn: 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Screenwriter Robert Gosnell on What It's Really All About

What It's Really All About
Ever been to Disneyland, or Walt Disney World? They call them "theme parks." Uncle Walt's theme for his parks, which turned out to be what is possibly the world's greatest marketing tool, was simple. Life is a fantasy.
It isn't, of course, but isn't it wonderful to step into a world where we can pretend, just for a little while, that it really is? Even when we have to spend two hours standing in line for a five-minute ride, it's worth it. Really, how can you put a price on living a fantasy, even for five brief minutes? They do put a price on that experience, of course, and a pretty hefty one, but as time has proven, Walt built it, and we continue to come.
Every story has a theme, and stories written for the screen are no exception. Otherwise, we wouldn't have theme songs, would we?In the handsomely crafted "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," the song "Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head" expressed Butch's theme, reflecting his persistently upbeat, positive attitude in the face of adversity.
The characters we create in our screenplays have a theme, as well, or at least, a position on a theme. They don't simply serve to connect the dots in the plot. In order to be well-developed, they must have virtues and flaws, thoughts and opinions, values, prejudices and agendas. Based on these characteristics, they will take a stand for, against, or somewhere in the middle, when faced with the issues presented by the story's theme.
Themes aren't always easy to pin down, but they are always present. Always. That's why it's so important to acknowledge and honor them in our writing.
In my book, "The Blue Collar Screenwriter and The Elements of
Screenplay," I break down the theme puzzle into three parts, the first of which, "The Master Theme," I present in today's excerpt. In my next two blogs, I will offer up the second and third parts of my exploration of theme: "The Active Theme" and "The Character's Take on the Theme" as they apply to the screenplay form.
The Master Theme
As simply as I can state it, the Master Theme is what your story is about.
Yet, when I ask a new writing student what his story is about, this is generally how the reply starts:
"Well, it's about this guy...."
Gotta stop ya!
No, it isn't! It's about a value. It's about love, revenge, redemption, greed, power, honesty, fear, sacrifice, bigotry, fame, faith, hope, depression, addiction...and the list goes on.
It is about a quality which is pertinent to the human condition. "This guy" is simply the character responsible for carrying out that theme.
"Rocky," for example, is not about boxing, it is about redemption.
"Saving Private Ryan" is not about war, it is about sacrifice.
“Gone With The Wind" is not about the Civil War, it is a love story.
Most disaster films are about survival, although "Titanic" is a disaster film which is actually a love story at its core. The disaster threatens the relationship, as the Civil War was an obstacle for Rhett and Scarlett.
Most courtroom dramas are, by their nature, about justice. "Twelve Angry Men," "Judgment at Nuremberg," "Inherit The Wind," "And Justice for All" and "A Few Good Men" are all classic examples. Yet, "The Verdict" was a courtroom drama which was actually about redemption, and "To Kill A Mockingbird" was a courtroom drama with a Master Theme of bigotry.
Now, I know, we've been relating stories by starting with "It's about this guy..." for centuries, but that's telling me the story, not telling me what it's about.
From a writer's perspective, I need to know where the emotion is coming from. I need to know what's at stake. I need to know why I should care. And, I need to know it without hearing someone recount the entire story in a thirty-minute dissertation and letting me figure it out for myself.
There is a simple exercise I learned in my early days in the craft, and it's particularly helpful in finding the Master Theme of your story. It goes like this:
Tell me your story in a page.
Now, tell me your story in a paragraph.
Now, tell me your story in a sentence.
Now, tell me your story in a word.
Once you've narrowed it down to that one word, you've found your Master Theme. That's what your story is about.
At this point, you might be asking yourself, "Do I really need to know this, before I write?"
The answer is, you probably already know it, instinctively. When you formulate a story in your head, your Master Theme is inherent to the story; built in.
When we get hit with that flash of inspiration, it's never,"I know! I'll tell a story about love!"
I get that. It starts with a concept, a character, a situation, a bit of action, or the visualization of a great scene that reaches out and grabs you from the recesses of your brain.
What I am advocating is that there is value in identifying the Master Theme, and in keeping it at the forefront of your mind, as you develop your story. Why? I've already told you.
Everything in your story relates to the Master Theme.
When that inspirational moment that triggers your story drives you to the computer, that's when you have to sit down and fill in the blanks. One flash of inspiration does not a story make. You now must start constructing beginning, middle and end; setups, complications and climax, characters, plot and subplots.
You need a common thread to guide you, something that links all of the elements of a story together, and that is the Master Theme.
For me, it's my security blanket, when I'm developing a story. It's the theme that determines the message, and the message that determines the ending. All it really takes is to be aware of your theme and apply it to your story elements. It just makes things easier.
Robert's book, "The Blue Collar Screenwriter and The Elements of Screenplay" is currently available at:
Amazon digital and paperback
Barnes & Noble
Find Robert at:
Website (with information on classes)

A professional screenwriter for more than thirty years, Robert Gosnell has produced credits in feature films, network television, syndicated television, basic cable and pay cable, and is a member of the Writers Guild of America, West and the Writers Guild of Canada.
Robert began his career writing situation comedy as a staff writer for the ABC series Baby Makes Five. As a freelance writer, he wrote episodes for Too Close for Comfort and the TBS comedies Safe at Home and Rocky Road. In cable, he has scripted numerous projects for the Disney Channel, including Just Perfect, a Disney Channel movie featuring Jennie Garth. 
In 1998, he wrote the Showtime original movie, Escape from Wildcat Canyon, which starred Dennis Weaver and won the national "Parents Choice Award." Robert's feature credits include the Chuck Norris/Louis Gosset Jr. film Firewalker, an uncredited rewrite on the motion picture Number One With A Bullet starring Robert Carradine and Billy Dee Williams, and the sale of his original screenplay Kick And Kick Back to Cannon Films. Robert was also selected as a judge for the 1990 Cable Ace awards, in the Comedy Special category.
In 1990, Robert left Hollywood for Denver, where he became active in the local independent film community. His screenplay Tiger Street was produced by the Pagoda Group of Denver, and premiered on Showtime Extreme in August of 2003. In 1999, Denver’s Inferno Films produced the action film Dragon and the Hawk from his script. In 2001, Robert co-wrote the screenplay for the independent feature Siren for Las Vegas company Stage Left Productions. His feature script Juncture was produced by Front Range Films in March of 2006.
Robert is a principal member of the Denver production company "Conspiracy Films." He is frequently an invited speaker for local writers organizations, served on the faculty of the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Conference in 2002, and in 2007 was chosen to participate as a panelist for the Aspen Film Festival Short Screenplay Contest. Robert regularly presents his screenwriting class "The Elements of Screenplay," along with advanced classes and workshops, in the Denver area.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Five Secrets From Author Amanda Cabot

Today We Learn Five Secrets From Multipublished Author Amanda Cabot

I've been lucky to know Amanda for several years. She is the bestselling author of more than thirty novels including the Texas Dreams trilogy, the Westward Winds series, and Christmas Roses. A former director of Information Technology, she has written everything from technical books and articles for IT professionals to mysteries for teenagers and romances for all ages.  Amanda is delighted to now be a fulltime writer of Christian romances, living happily ever after with her husband in Wyoming. 

Hi, Amanda, please tell us Five Secrets we may not know about At Bluebonnet Lake but will after today!

1)  At Bluebonnet Lake is not the original title. In fact, all three books in the series have new titles.  My working titles were Chasing Rainbows, Dreaming of Fireflies and Searching for Stardust.  Although I still like those titles, the marketing gurus at Revell suggested a different approach for this trilogy.  Their logic made sense, so we’re using locations rather than gerund phrases.  (Doesn’t that term make you think you’re back in high school English class?)  At any rate, the Texas Crossroads books will be named At Bluebonnet Lake, In Firefly Valley and On Lone Star Trail.

Big Horns
2) It’s not just the title that changed.  So did the location.  I had originally envisioned the series set in Wyoming’s Big Horn Mountains and had even selected a specific site.  But the reality is that that part of Wyoming is difficult to reach during the winter, since some of the highways are closed for the season.  That limited my story line, so I returned to the Texas Hill Country – also beautiful but easily accessible year-round – for these books.

3)  And then there was my hero’s last name, which also changed.  After telling you about all these changes, I’m beginning to think this should be called “The Little Book That Changed.”  When I first started plotting the story, my hero was named Greg Vichenski, but since I’ve had readers tell me they prefer names that are easy to spell and pronounce (and since my own name is sometimes mispronounced), Greg’s last name became Vange. 

4) All right.  All right.  Here’s a secret that doesn’t involve a change.  I chose my heroine’s profession as an advertising executive because I once had a consulting assignment at a wonderful ad agency in Manhattan.  The work there was so fascinating that I wanted to use a tiny part of it as Kate’s background.

5) If you’ve read the “story behind the story” on my web page, you know that Rainbow’s End was inspired by a less-than-perfect resort in the Adirondacks.  What I didn’t reveal there was that the best aspects of Rainbow’s End were inspired by a very different place, a family-oriented Christian country inn in the Smoky Mountains.  Having dinner at their lazy Susan tables was such a good experience that I couldn’t resist having the same tables at Rainbow’s End.

Blurb :
Her life is set to warp speed. His is slowing to a crawl. But love has its own timing.

Marketing maven Kate Sherwood’s world is fast-paced, challenging, and always changing. The last thing she wants to do is grind to a halt at Rainbow’s End, a dilapidated resort in the Texas Hill Country. Still, she cannot deny her ailing grandmother’s request to visit the place where she and her deceased husband spent one glorious week fifty years ago. There, Kate meets Greg, who appears to be the resort’s unassuming handyman. But there’s more to Greg than meets the eye—billions more, in fact.

Kate isn’t looking for romance, but she can’t deny the sparks of attraction that fly every time she and Greg are together. Could there be a future there? Or will Kate’s long-sought promotion take her back to the big city?

Amanda Cabot invites you to step into a place away from the pressures of the day. You might be surprised by what you find at Rainbow’s End.

Buy Links:

Find Amanda:

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Five Secrets From Author Cynthia Woolf

Today you learn five secrets about Cynthia Woolf or her book!  

I've known Cynthia for a long time and it's been a pleasure watching her career sky-rocket upwards. She is the award winning and best-selling author of nine historical western romance books and one short story with more books on the way. She was born in Denver, Colorado and raised in the mountains west of Golden. She spent her early years running wild around the mountain side with her friends.

Their closest neighbor was one quarter of a mile away, so her little brother was her playmate and her best friend. That fierce friendship lasted until his death in 2006.

Cynthia was and is an avid reader. Her mother was a librarian and brought new books home each week. This is where young Cynthia first got the storytelling bug. She wrote her first story at the age of ten. A romance about a little boy she liked at the time.

Cynthia loves writing and reading romance. Her first western romance Tame A Wild Heart, was inspired by the story her mother told her of meeting Cynthia’s father on a ranch in Creede, Colorado. Although Tame A Wild Heart takes place in Creede that is the only similarity between the stories. Her father was a cowboy not a bounty hunter and her mother was a nursemaid (called a nanny now) not the ranch owner.

Cynthia credits her wonderfully supportive husband Jim and the great friends she's made at CRW for saving her sanity and allowing her to explore her creativity.

Hi Cynthia, please tell us Five Secrets we may not know about SEDUCED BY A SINNER or you, but will after today!

1)    I’ve worked in lots of different professions. I’ve been a waitress, janitor, deputy assessor, appraiser, accountant, store manager, tourist booth manager

2)    Seduced by a Sinner and the other Destiny in Deadwood series were inspired by the DEADWOOD television series on HBO and a trip to Deadwood itself

3)    My husband and I have been together for 38 years but only married for 18 of those.

4)    I was eight years old before we got indoor plumbing. I took baths in a long metal tub in the kitchen on Saturday nights. The kids bathed first and Dad bathed last. Seems to me, it should have been the other way around, I’m sure we were dirtier.

5)   I want a miniature horse for a pet. I’ll put in a horsey door and everything.

Zach Anderson is a desperate man. He needs to find a killer before the man destroys Zach’s entire family. He also must convince one Lily Sutter, the woman he loves, that she loves him and wants to marry him.
Neither task is an easy one.

Lily Sutter is a sinner. Just ask anyone in Deadwood. She had a baby out of wedlock and she doesn’t deny it. She was seduced and left by one man; she refuses to be taken in by another. The fact that Zach makes her blood boil and her heart race, just by being near, has nothing to do with anything.

Buy Links:

Find Cynthia: 


SEDUCED BY A SINNER (Book 3, Destiny in Deadwood series)    
HEALED BY A HEART (Book 2, Destiny in Deadwood series)
REDEEMED BY A REBEL (Book 1, Destiny in Deadwood series)
CAPITAL BRIDE (Book 1, Matchmaker & Co. series)
HEIRESS BRIDE (Book 2, Matchmaker & Co. series)
FIERY BRIDE (Book 3, Matchmaker & Co. series)
TAME A WILD HEART (Book 1, Tame series)
TAME A WILD WIND (Book 2, Tame series)
TAME A WILD BRIDE (Book 3, Tame series)
TAME A SUMMER HEART (short story, Tame series)

Monday, October 6, 2014

Monthly News From My Guests ~ Keep Informed

~Elizabeth Rose New Release: Saving Simon, Book 5 in the Tarnished Saints Series. The Taylor Twelve are sons of a preacher but far from saints. They are nothing but trouble! Amazon

~Elaine Cantrell New Release:  Rest Thy Head. Two sisters find love in a haunted inn. 5* Review:" completely involved in this story that I just couldn't put it down. It is a wonderful romance with a mystery that will keep you guessing and a ghost thrown into the mix." Amazon

~Kim McMahill New Audio Book Release: Marked In Mexico is now available in audio audible from Amazon, and on I-Tunes.  When paradise turns deadly, flee into the jungle and fight for your life! Amazon

~Racheline Maltese and Erin McRae Reading: Join us October 7 for an evening of LGBTQ romance and erotic fiction upstairs at the historic Stonewall Inn in New York City. For Details

~Karen McCullough Sale: Guardian of the Grimoire, an eerie, novella-length autumn tale, is on sale for just $.99 for the month of October. Buy

~Polly Iyer New Release: Backlash, the third book in the Diana Racine Psychic Suspense series, has Diana's search for a killer lead right back to Lucier's employer, the New Orleans Police Department. Amazon

~Stacy Juba Editing Special: I've launched Crossroads Editing Service for writers. I  do content editing & line editing on hard copies for 1 low price. Special: $25 per 50 pages. Editing Services

~Beverly Ovalle New Release: Triple D Dude Ranch One look, one touch, fed the flames, sparking a conflagration that nothing can stop. An erotic western romantic adventure.  Secret Cravings Publishing

~Lois Winston New Release: BAKE, LOVE, WRITE: 105 AUTHORS SHARE DESSERT RECIPES AND ADVICE ON LOVE AND WRITING. The answer to your holiday gift list. Available in print & ebook. Amazon

Friday, October 3, 2014

New Column ~ How To: Practical Help For Writers, Bloggers & You!

People have been asking for help with a problem, a program, or just what does some term mean. So I decided to add a column dedicated just to giving solutions, cool programs or tips I've learn.

I'd love everyone to participate, so if you have a favorite program or help tip, please use my contact me link above and let me know.

These step-by-step directions on Networking your blog comes from Alanna Moses.

Thanks so much Alanna for your help in solving this problem of getting my blog on both my Facebook sites.

  • Go to
  • Click the “add your blog” button
  • Click the “grow my blog followers – add it on Networked Blogs” button
  • Click the FB login button
  • Enter your FB information
  • Click the “grow my blog followers – add it on Networked Blogs” button
  • Under the Register a new blog page, enter the blog web address
  • The next tab that comes up will have your blog link and blog name already. Enter any topics you want and change the language to English. You also need to click the bottom button for terms of service
  • You should then see a screen that says your blog is registered
  • You will be asked if you are the author of the blog. Click yes
  • You then need to get confirmed as the author
  • Click “install the widget”
  • Enter the html code under a new gadget on your blog design
  • You should now see the networked blog item on your blog
  • Now click “verify now” on the page that says install the widget on networked blogs
  • The next page will have a section where you can invite people to follow your blog. From here, you could send out an email or a FB message.
  • This same page should list your most recent blog posts
  • On the left side of this same page, there will be a link that says “syndication” – click this
  • Choose the blog name you want to syndicate. Then choose where you’d like to publish the posts to
  • Click add facebook target and then select your FB profile
  • Click the publish test post link
  • You should now be able to go to your FB page and see your most recent blog post show up in your FB timeline

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Five Secrets from Author Karen Docter

Today you learn five secrets from Karen Docter, who writes two different kinds of romance novels.

K.L.'s romantic suspense novels are filled with romance, although the dangers the hero and heroine face are intense, usually because a serial killer is bent on ending one or both of their lives before they can fall in love. Karen's contemporaries are cute & spicy romances. She loves writing about real men and women with dreams and goals that don't allow for a relationship just so she can throw them in each other's path...with a tickle and a smile.

Karen is an award winning author, four-time Romance Writers of America® Golden Heart® finalist, and winner of the coveted Kiss of Death Romance Writers Daphne du Maurier Award Category (Series) Romantic Mystery Unpublished division.  

When she's not saving her characters from death and destruction or helping them fall in love, she loves camping and fishing with her family, reading, gardening & cooking. If she can do most of those things over a campfire, all the better! 

Hi Karen, please tell us Five Secrets we may not know about Killing Secrets (Thorne's Thorns Series, Book 1) or you, but will after today!

1) My desire to be a police officer as a youngster led to my romantic suspense career. When I was nine years old, an incident occurred that shaped my strong sense of justice. Two policemen responded to a domestic situation that went tragically wrong. They’d settled the dispute and were leaving the scene when a neighbor, who’d been drinking and took exception to their presence, shot and killed one of the officers. The situation deeply affected me when I learned the details of the incident and that the slain officer left behind a pregnant wife. It was all so senseless. For the longest time, I considered becoming a police officer. It's not the direction I eventually headed but, when I began writing romance, I found a lot of suspense elements creeping into my stories. Now, I dispense justice in my thriller novels.

2) Killing Secrets is the first book in the Thorne's Thorns series about six foster brothers. Police officer Ross Thorne, and his wife, Evelyn, had only one biological son, Patrick. But they raised him with five foster brothers –Jack, Ben, Cole, Sam, and Joe. All in some kind of trouble at one point or another, they became known as “Thorne’s Thorns”. The six brothers are now strong, sexy men, and each book in the series is about one of them, the danger that enters his life, and the woman he falls in love with and must protect. Killing Secrets is Patrick’s book.

3) I love misdirection and surprises in my romantic suspense. There are two antagonists in Killing Secrets. The hero, Patrick, and heroine, Rachel, don't know where the danger is coming from one moment to the next. Everyone has a secret to keep, silence, reveal or kill's up to the reader to uncover them all.

4) The heroine's four-year-old daughter hasn't spoken a word since her father went to jail and the heroine doesn't know what her ex-husband did or said to silence the child. It tears her up not to be able to help her.

5) I was an executive assistance to a project manager for a mall developer at one time in my life learning, first hand, about construction and project management on a big scale. My experiences helped me to understand Patrick, who is a major contractor in Denver.


Some secrets are better left dead.

Rachel James’ ex-husband is released from prison determined to reclaim her and her little girl — the child is his key to controlling the James fortune. Frightened, Rachel flees to Denver with the child who hasn’t uttered a word since her daddy went to prison.

Contractor Patrick Thorne wants nothing to do with another of his parents’ charity cases. He failed his own wife so abysmally she took her own life as well as his unborn son’s. After two years, it’s time to concentrate on the bid he’s won and the saboteur trying to destroy his construction firm.

There is no room for trust in either of their hearts. But trust is all that will untangle the secrets that dominate their lives, free a little girl of her silent prison, and save them all from a serial killer who stands too close.

Buy Links:
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