Call me Brat!

Navy Brat that is.
I’ve lived all over the United States, mostly in small towns, and it’s those small towns that I remember most vividly.
While I live in the South now, and have for decades, I was born in Idaho, only because mother made it to the hospital.  They didn’t have one in Clarkston, Washington, so she went across the Snake River to Lewiston, Idaho.  Clarkston was also a small town with a Main Street.  My fondest memory there was the drug store, as you could order fountain drinks there, and for some reason I loved Lemon Phosphates.
One of my favorite places growing up, was Northeast, Maryland. Northeast was where I learned to sing ‘Dixie’…it was a small town, with a Main Street much like the picture on the blog. It was wonderful growning up there. We lived there from the fourth grade to the seventh, then moved to Long Beach, California. Talk about cultural shock.
But California is where I met my hubby while I danced with an USO troup at Camp Pendleton.  We’ve been married forever, and have six kids.  The first batch of five were born less than seven years apart, then seventeen years later, my ‘late’ baby arrived.  My kids are still amazed that I raised five small kids at one time…I’m rather amazed myself.  But at the time, you did what you had to do.
I started out as a reader.  My mother promised me I’d learn to read when I went to school, so when school started, we lived in Boston.  After lunch, I walked home, took out the key that was tied around my neck and let myself in.  I guess they called her at work, and she found me at home and when she asked me why I left school, I told her that they didn’t teach me how to read so it was a waste of time.  LOL  When I hear the phrase ‘latch key’ kid, I always think of that key around my neck, and how in world did I remember the way back home?
When in Northeast, Maryland, I haunted the small library.  I read every book in my age group that was on the shelves.  I can still remember them.  The soft pink fuzzy cover on “Pollyanna,” the “Adventures of Toby Tyler” seemed exciting as every kid wanted to join the circus, and my favorite author, Lois Lenski, who wrote endearing stories of children from different parts of the United States, “Strawberry Girl,” and “Indian Captive” were my favorites.
I was about twelve and had read everything on the lower shelves, when I reached up and pulled down “Anne Frank,” a slim black book with gold lettering.  When I handed it to the librarian, I remember that she looked at the cover, then looked at me, and for a moment there I could see a question in her eyes, and then she stamped the book and handed it to me.  When I returned the book, she asked me how I liked it, which I thought was odd as she never asked me that before.  Later on, when I read the book when I was fifteen and in high school, I realized that the book held topics that didn’t resonate with me when I was twelve, but at fifteen, it was a whole different book.  I appreciated that librarian, and still do.
Books are my friends.  They take me around the world and let me forget about the dishes and the dusting.  Writing them is even more fun.  The world I create is filled with people I want to be around, characters who I wish could come over for dinner, who could be my best friends.
When my hubby and I first came to his ‘small town’ in Louisiana I was startled when every new person I would meet would ask me, “Who’s your daddy?”  My hubby would always answer for me, “She’s from California.”  When I asked him about it, he told me that they were trying to find out where in the ‘pecking’ order I was.  Since I wasn’t from here, it seemed to me like I didn’t exist.  When I did my hubby’s family tree, I finally realized the dynamics of what small towns really are…who are you related to?  Being a Navy Brat, I was always a newcomer.  But when you come from a small town you can trace your roots back for generations.
My book, “The Devil Has Dimples” is about the subject of ‘Who’s Your Daddy?’…my heroine has found out that she was adopted and wants to find out who her birth father is…but she realizes that it’s not that easy to find that information and exactly why did her birth mother give her up for adoption?

The Oddball

After reading introductions by the fabulous authors of this blog I wonder how to present myself. Most of you are small town girls who really belong to Main Street in Quaint County. I’m the odd ball here. Are you sure you want to keep me?

Born in a foreign capital, I grew up in a big city on the Mediterranean Sea, lived in too many places, and traveled to more countries than you could discover on your map. Ten years ago while I was still working as a Director of Chemistry in an International Environmental Company, I drove to the airport at least twice a week. Boarding a plane was as easy for me as taking the bus for any of my neighbors.

Someone mentioned that we were “international” on this blog. Sweetie, you came to the right person here. If you need advice on how to pack a suitcase in ten minutes, don’t hesitate to ask. If you want to learn how to say good morning or I love you in French, Italian, Spanish, Greek, German, Russian, Arabic, don’t hesitate to ask.

During my trips abroad, I toasted with vodka in Russian countries (See my contemporary romance, TO LOVE  A HERO); exchanged a romantic kiss with my husband on the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris (See RIGHT NAME, WRONG MAN); slept in a chateau in the Loire Valley (See my romantic suspense FRENCH PERIL); strolled overdressed in bathing suit along a nude beach in Greece (HER GREEK ROMANCE); rode a camel around the pyramids and sphinx in Egypt and fed giant turtles in Seychelles Islands (included in my hilarious paranormal OSIRIS’ MISSING PART).

I experienced more exciting adventures that I plan to incorporate in future books: sailed through the Norwegian Fjords; photographed the penguins in Chili; swam with baby sharks in Tahiti; smoked the narghile in Tunisia; and many more…

And yet, this big metropolis girl has always longed to be part of a group, or a place where people know your name, say hello, and recognize you, where you’re not an unknown entity, a blank face they pass on a big avenue. Yes, my secret wish has always been to belong to a cheerful neighborhood. So I hope you’ll keep me and I’m here to stay.

But with such a background is it any surprise that I use international settings for my romances? My heroes are: French count who gives bisous and perfect French kisses as in RIGHT NAME, WRONG MAN; Greek mogul who takes you on a sun-set cruise on his yacht in HER GREEK ROMANCE; Russian general who toasts with vodka in TO LOVE A HERO; Egyptian god from the mythology who treats his heroine as a goddess, in OSIRIS’ MISSING PART.

Even when set in Washington, DC or in Cincinnati, OH, the heroes are a hot Puerto Rican doctor in BABIES IN THE BARGAIN or a charming French psychiatrist in NO MORE LIES.

www.monarisk.com

www.monarisk.blogspot.com

Welcome from Georgia

Hi, I’m Carol and send you a big Southern welcome to Authors of Main Street!

Authors of Main Street photo at the top of this page reminds me of the town in Tennessee where I grew up. The town was so small; Main Street was about all we had for shopping. I loved our town and its warm friendly people. Of course we had challenges like any other small town across America. Many of the characters I write about could come from any range and mixture of possibilities.

The local drugstore was two blocks from our high school, where a group of us often slipped away for lunch when we didn’t get caught. Ah, the swiveling stools, cherry cokes, milkshakes and hamburgers were worth the risk, because we were getting away with something. The theatre was next door and probably held a whopping 100 people, max. No, we never  gained access to the theatre during school hours. Think Andy Griffith on this one. The manager was a tough guy, nice, but tough. Half the time I wondered how my mom knew where I was and what I did. Well, her knowledge came from the small town family. I will admit, sometimes their interest was a blessing. Other times I wasn’t so happy eyes followed me around and reported back to my mom.

I love my characters. I love basing them on the good and the bad personalities that make up life. That’s what makes them real. I visualize characters and jump right on the page with them. Often the theme I write about is forgiveness. Whether planned or not, forgiveness sneaks its way into my stories. That’s okay, because I believe forgiving others is an important part of living.

A Smoky Mountain Christmas was set in The Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, a favorite place of mine. There’s something about the cool crisp air and the feeling of freedom associated with mountains and being caught in a snowstorm with a handsome gentleman. This book was a lot of fun to write, because it’s filled with humor and the heroine finds herself completely out of her element.

Perfect Match was set in the Tennessee mountain fictitious town of Crossroads. There, in my minds eye, I found quirky characters that make up most small towns. I almost didn’t finish this book, but the characters kept calling me to complete their story. Two characters at odds with each other, must decide if they can work out their problems and learn to forgive and fall in love again.

My books are available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Sony, Kobo, Apple, Diesel and Smashwords.

You can find links to check them out at http://caroldevaney.weebly.com/my-books.html

I’d love you to visit Authors of Main Street again to see what we’re up to. Please don’t forget to comment all month for a chance to win the big prize at the end of the month.

Who is Stephanie Queen?

(Not quite up there with “Who is John Galt?” as far as literary references go, but give me time.)
To begin with, my literary career began with an elephant story in second grade inspired by nuns back when nuns used to wear those very intimidating—I mean inspirational—habits.
You could say that I’ve had enough time already (to become as famous as John Galt) (I see many of you scratching your heads wondering who the heck is John Galt— that’s the point), but I’ve done a few other things between second grade and now, XX years later (XX refers to a forever undisclosed number who’s divulgence is punishable by…something—maybe I’ll consult with those nuns on that).

The story goes like this:
Long ago and far away (not too far, but not down the street either), little Stephanie princess, who wore pink and ruffles…and also liked to climb trees and beat up the neighborhood boys (she was a renaissance princess), didn’t necessarily feel like she fit in. Actually, she thought she was a real princess, misplaced. So she created her own royal world inside her head. And thus it began.

Flash forward XX years later (once again, do not even spend a molecule of curiosity on how many years XX refers to because you will never, ever, never know. By royal decree.) and Stephanie Princess has grown up to Stephanie Queen and has been thanking her lucky stars and those nuns for her landing in this Queendom of story writing for her career.

What did she do in all those XX intervening years you ask?
She did plenty. After all, she needed some experiences to write about, even though she makes all her stories up. Wait, that makes no sense. What was all that experience for anyway? Oh, you say maybe the emotions are real. Sure. I’ll go with that. I/She had to go through life and experience emotions in order to share them on the page with her readers.

So here are some of those emotional experiences:
Stephanie Queen was a college co-ed at UConn (go huskies!). She loved this experience so much she would have stayed there forever, except it’s not the kind of role you can do on a permanent basis. But she did take her college co-ed legacy with her. You’ll recognize her enthusiastic tone and her upbeat storylines with happy endings born of the relentless cheerfulness honed as a UConn cheerleader. (Go Huskies!)
Stephanie got married and had two robust handsome sons who are now fabulously take-over-the world-ambitious (but not in an evil villain way). Her sons help with concocting the “flawed” heroes in her stories.
Stephanie held many different jobs and careers ranging from Keebler elf/cookie sales girl to Math teacher (I was voted the least serious math teacher ever to factor a polynomial).

One thing Stephanie is not into: routine. Not even when I want to be. The only routines I can handle are dance routines. The only schedules I can follow are marked by loud bells via intercom. But that’s a good thing. My compulsion to mix it up in life translates to lots of plot twists in my stories and a dearth of boring middles—so someone told me. Okay, it was my editor who mentioned this.

And here I am.

The Throwbacks

Welcome to the Queendom of Stephanie Queen where lighthearted romance mixes with mystery in story worlds you never want to leave (but I will let you leave—it’s not a prison or anything). I’m lucky to be one of the storefronts at Authors on Main Street, a neighborhood of fabulous and kindly tolerant romance authors.
p.s. I do NOT write fairy tales about princesses and frogs. Where would anyone get that idea anyway?

Check out The Throwbacks, book 1 of the Scotland Yard Exchange Program series, a romantic comedy mystery available now at Amazon or Barnes and Noble. Book 2, The Hot Shots, will be out this summer.

Sex, Romance, & Mozzarella Cheese

Old Enough To Know Better by Joan Reeves

Old Enough To Know Better, a romantic comedy, by Joan Reeves

I have a confession to make. I love books—reading and writing them. I also love food—eating and cooking it.

According to my family, I’m a good cook. I’m the kind of wife and mother that I always—okay, just about always—have dinner on the table in the evening. The downside of this is that the family likes what I cook better than restaurant food so I’ve created my own enslavement in the kitchen.

Connecting Food & Romance Novels

You may be wondering what this has to do with romantic comedy which is the genre for which I’m known. Well, food provides a sensual experience, and so does sex. There’s something downright sexy about many of the male chefs on TV, don’t you think? (My daughter and I call them food studs.) I won’t even get into all the scenes in books and movies that pair food and sex!

As an author, I was published first in print. In my print books, I usually ended up editing out the food parts of the stories, leaving just minor references to what people were eating.

When I embraced ebooks—and, happily, ebook readers embraced me in return—I decided to start leaving in those food parts. After all, I didn’t have an editor saying, “Take that out.” I mean, you’ve all heard the old saying, “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.”

(I have to interject here that I have a character in my romantic comedy JANE (I’m-Still-Single) JONES quoting that aphorism, and then saying that anyone who believes that doesn’t know much about male anatomy. But, I digress.)

In my last romance Old Enough To Know Better, which I call a cougar-licious romantic comedy, my heroine is Stormy Clarkson, and her hobby is making artisan cheeses.

Men Love Cheese

I chose cheeses specifically because my husband thinks he can’t live without cheese. I mean it’s fattening so what man doesn’t like cheese? When we were in Italy, we had some of the most delicious fresh cheeses. I told hubby then that I’d learn how to make a cheese like that. Naturally, if I want to learn something, I write about it. Thus Stormy’s talent was born. She became an artisan cheese maker. I guess you could say she taught me how to make mozzarella. In the opening scene, she’s demonstrating how to make this cheese.

As I was writing this book, I procured all the ingredients and cooked up a few batches of cheese to see how it was done. I mean, how can I tell others, in a scene, how to make mozzarella at home if I haven’t done it myself? Naturally, I included the recipe as one of the Bonus Features in Old Enough To Know Better.

Want Stormy’s Recipe?

I’m not going to be mean and say buy the book (only $2.99 this month!) if you want to learn how to make mozzarella. Of course, I’d love for you to buy Old Enough To Know Better, available at all major ebook sellers, but I’m easy. I’d post the recipe here, but that would make this blog post way too long.

If you don’t want to buy the book to get the recipe and instructions, just send an email to me: Joan at JoanReeves dot com (In the Subject box, put Real Live Person – Stormy’s Recipe). I’ll send you the recipe by return email.

Post Script

I love writing. I love including Bonus Features in all my books. And I love this cheese I learned how to make. So does my darling hubby!

Defy Not The Heart: A Recipe for Life

I erased the first line of this blog three times before settling on this one. Not much of a first line, you might say, and that would be true if it weren’t a commentary on who I am and why I love writing romance. I read my first romance: DEFY NOT THE HEART by Johanna Lindsey in the summer after my first year of law school. My husband and I were heading out to the Rockies to camp and get away. It was the only novel in the gas station I hadn’t read that wasn’t about how to save my soul.(Which arguably I could have used.) We got stuck in a dust storm in Nebraska and had to stay in the back of the pick-up for the night. I finished that book by flashlight.

That was twenty-three years ago. I never looked back. Devouring romance kept me sane through law school and during the twenty-one years of practice that have followed.

After my first week practicing law, I joined a karate school because I wanted a way to exercise my mind, body and spirit that had the added benefit of allowing me to punch and kick without being arrested. I think it’s fair to say that advocacy, romance and Okinawan Shorin Rhu keep me balanced and whole.

In January I left the full-time practice of law. At that point I’d published SPARRING PARTNERS Book 1 of the Dojo Chronicles and SECOND CHANCES. I also had a major portion of FIGHTING FATE Book 2 of the Dojo Chronicles completed (available June 2012).

All of my stories feature strong heroines who are at a point of transition in their lives, whether by choice or circumstance or both, they are really in the soup of uncertainty. I love writing about the flawed yet heroic ways they get themselves out. My heroes help or hinder my heroines on their journey, most of the time as in real life, they do both. I love funny, poingnant and steamy romance, so that’s what I write.

This is a wonderful time to be a reader. There are so many wonderfully written books out there to enjoy and so many magical places to visit within them. It’s also a perfect time to be a writer. The marketplace is exploding, demand is more accessible to those of us with product, and cost is low, especially for indie books. With great products, low consumer cost and wide distribution outlets the world just became a more magical place for all of us who love to read and write romance.

I’m happy to be here and I can’t wait to share this writing, reading, and living journey with all of you. This is a great group of authors. I hope in the posts to come we will all entertain, inform and add a little magic to Main Street.

Peace and Happy Spring,

Leigh Morgan

Made in Canada

I’ve lived in Ottawa, Ontario, most of my life – but when I began writing romance novels, intending to submit them to mainstream publishers, I thought setting my stories in the United States or England would improve my chances. Over time, though, I’ve realized that my own country is a more comfortable fit for the stories I want to tell.

I find the setting often inspires the tone and flow of the story, and once I’ve chosen a location, the rest seems to fall into place much more easily. The true challenge comes in conveying the visual appeal of the setting in my descriptions.

My daughter Emma & me on a B.C. ferry

I set Divided Hearts in the western province of British Columbia, feeling its lush, unspoiled coastline provided an ideal backdrop for a love story. Immersing myself in the location as I wrote, I could easily envision myself there; I could almost feel the wind in my hair and smell the ocean air as I described Faye’s afternoon on Simon’s sailboat. I’ve been to Vancouver many times, and never tired of gazing up from the beaches of Spanish Banks toward the mountains rising across English Bay.

My husband John & me at Chateau des Charmes

Wine & Roses was in large part inspired by a trip to beautiful Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, where my husband and I toured several wineries and dined at a reputedly haunted inn. I knew I had to use these two elements in a novel, while incorporating the town’s history involving the War of 1812.

My latest novel, Healing Anna’s Heart, is set in Nova Scotia, a coastal province that is as stunning as B.C. but offers a unique East Coast atmosphere. Though most of the action takes place in the city of Halifax, I couldn’t resist having the characters venture down to Peggy’s Cove, a small fishing community famous for the lighthouse perched on its rocky shoreline.

From the breathtaking natural coasts to the diverse small towns and big cities between, Canada has endless amazing locations to choose from, and I look forward to exploring more of them in my future writing.

Please visit my website susanrhughes.weeby.com to learn more.

Hi, my name is Jill.

Okay, not really. Jill James is a pseudonym. My husband is a career (28 years) police officer and when I started getting onto the internet and trying to get published he asked me to use a fake name. Since my real name was already a published romance author (in Ireland) I said okay. So this conversation followed:

Me: “Okay, if I’m not Amanda, what name do I look like?”

Him: “You look like a Jill.”

Me: raised eyebrow “A Jill?”

Him: “Yeah, what’s wrong with Jill?”

Me: thinking, ‘Does he know how long we think about names for our characters? And this is for a real person, me?’ “Okay, so Jill it is. And I can add my dad’s name since he just died and it would be nice to honor him.”

So, Jill James was invented. Pretty much like my whole decision to be a writer. I was not one of those girls who wrote diaries and journals and angsty poetry. Okay, a little angsty poetry in my teen years. LOL But I was going to do BIG things. I didn’t think of writing as a career, just something for fun. I was going to be a doctor, no a brain surgeon, a lawyer, no a Supreme Court judge, no, wait, the first female astronaut(that one came from watching Neil Armstrong step onto the Moon as a kid). Something grand and glorious. Fortunately, life has a way of hitting you upside the head when you start making plans. Life had to hit me many times before I realized that I could be anything I wanted…..inside a book.

Now I can write about lawyers, doctors, or astronauts; of both genders. I can research the past, dream of the future, or invent bold new worlds. Maybe life knew what it was doing all along. Maybe life had a better plan for me.

Life sent me two high-maintenance children I thought would be the death of me and rewarded me with a grandson I adore more than life itself.

Life sent me not the guy I thought I wanted but the husband I needed. Someone strong enough to want me to be all I could be. Yet gentle enough to know when I need a hug and a shoulder. He may not be the guy we see on our romance novel covers, but to me he is definitely romance novel hero material. He saw a single mom and little girl and thought, ‘just what I want and need’.

Someone once said, “A message is a mess that has aged.” Yep, that about sums up my life.

Jill James

author of Tempting Adam and
The Second Chances series
Divorce, Interrupted and Someone To Trust available now
A Family Again coming soon.

www.jilljameswrites.com

Writing about Texas, Y’all

Welcome to the Main Street Authors’ blog. My name is Tori Scott and I’m from Texas. Could you guess from the title of this post? I love being a Main Street author because I live outside of a small town in East Texas that is designated a Main Street Town. The town itself only has 3700 residents and the nearest big city is Dallas, more than fifty miles away. Out here in the country, you tend to do a lot of your shopping on Main Street. You get to know the store owners, and they get to know you. We have the pharmacy that’s been around since the 1880’s, the local insurance guy, the barbershop that still has a striped pole. We had the oldest family owned theater in Texas, but it finally shut down a few months ago. I miss it. The guy used to count people as they came in with one of those hand-held counters.

I could go to Dallas to shop, and I do occasionally when what I’m looking for can’t be found in town, but I like the intimate feel of shopping locally, and I like supporting local business. If I (and others like me) don’t support them, they’ll go away and soon I won’t have many shopping choices. That’s also why I support Indie authors by buying their books and sharing tweets and Facebook posts about them with my friends. I don’t want to see the Indie authors go away. Most need my purchase (and the purchases of many others) so they can afford to keep writing, to keep bringing me stories that the big New York publishers swear won’t sell. Well, shows how much they know because I’ve seen many Indie authors who sell very well, and there are many whose stories I love.

I’m a very critical reader because I’ve been around the writing community for a while. I’ve taken classes and workshops on writing, and I even have 12 master’s-level hours in Creative Writing. But even as a critical reader, I’ve found that many, many of the Indie authors are as good as, and some better than, the traditionally published authors. They don’t self-publish because they aren’t good enough. They self-publish because it’s the fastest and easiest way to bring their stories to the marketplace, because it gives them control over their stories, their book covers, and their career.

Just like being a business owner in a small town doesn’t mean you couldn’t make your business successful in Dallas, being an Indie author doesn’t mean you couldn’t be successful in New York. Some of us just prefer to be a big fish in a small pond rather than a small fish in a big pond.

So what about you? Do you live in a small town, big city, or out in the country like me? Do you prefer to shop at the malls and big box retailers, or do you like shopping in a small privately owned boutique?

Lone Star Justice is set in a fictionalized version of my small town.

Judge Madelyn Cooper never shows signs of weakness, but when
a killer threatens her daughter’s life, Maddie does what any mother would do. She runs to the one place where her daughter will be safe. That place is her home town of Greendale, Texas, where everyone knows their neighbors. But do they, really?

Rand McCade is determined to keep Greendale safe. As
Sheriff, he promised there would be no repeats of the horrible day when his
parents were murdered. Now Maddie is back, bringing trouble with her once
again. And this time, she has a daughter. His daughter.

As a psychopath sets his sights on Maddie, Rand and Maddie
must figure out who is after her, and why, before someone else ends up dead.

You can find Lone Star Justice or any of my other books on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Apple, Sony, Kobo and Diesel. There are buy links on my blog at http://toriscott.blogspot.com or you can go to my author page at amazon.com/author/toriscott

We hope you all will keep coming back to see what’s new on Main Street. Don’t forget to comment all month for a chance to win the big prize at the end of the month.

Why I Write Romance

Dr. Seuss was my first love. When my mom left me in the children’s section of the library I’d find Horton and the Cat. My mom hated the good doctor and refused to checkout his books. He was my secret, guilty pleasure. Eventually, discovered Narnia, Oz and Green Gables.

 When my mom grew too sick to visit the library, a friend brought her a stash of romances which she kept in a big box beside her bed. Weekly, this good friend replenished the box. My mom didn’t know I read her books; it was like the Seuss affair, only sexier. Reading became my escape from a horrific and scary situation. Immersed in a story, I didn’t have to think about the life and death drama taking place on the other side of my bedroom wall. Books were my hallucinogenic drug of choice. In college, I studied literature and fell in love with Elliot, Willa and too many others to mention. (This had no similarity to my dating life)

 I’m no longer a child living with a grieving father and a dying mother, nor am I the co-ed in search of something or someone real and nonfictional. I’m an adult blessed with an abundance of love. I love my God, my husband and family, my dog, my friends, my neighbors, my writing group, the birds outside my window.

 Because I’m a writer, I also love my characters. I adore their pluck, courage and mettle. I admire the way they face and overcome hardships. But as in any romance, I sometimes I get angry with them and think that they are too stupid to live. At those times, I have to remind myself that they live only in my imagination, unless I share. Writing for me is all about sharing–giving back to the world that has so generously shared with me—because I learned a long time ago that the world is full of life and death dramas. Sometimes we need a story to help us escape.

And we need as much love as we can find. That’s why I write romance.