Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Donna McDonald Interview


Donna McDonald is an Amazon best selling author in Contemporary Romance and Humor, and lately has been climbing the Science Fiction list as well. 

Science Fiction reviewers are calling McDonald “a literary alchemist effortlessly blending science fiction and romance”. Contemporary and humor reviewers often write to tell her that the books keep them up reading and laughing all night. She likes both compliments and hopes they stay true forever. 

McDonald’s idea of success is to be sitting next to someone on a plane and find out they are laughing at something in one of her books. Ideally, this would be happening while she was heading off on her next adventure to feed her creative soul.

Anyone who knows me (Leanna) is fully aware that I am a bit of a literary stalker with Donna McDonald; doesn’t matter what she’s written, I’ve read it and love it!   Whether she’s portraying a divorced and retired father’s second chance at love or a futuristic space romance opera, she’s on point and on fire!  Donna has graciously accepted our offer to chat a bit about what makes her tick - so let’s give her a huge TLR welcome!

TLR: Would you describe your writing style in three sentences or less?

DM: I’m a total “pantser”. My usual mode is to write in a near panic state while driven by the urge to get down that scene playing over and over in my head. I talk to myself as I’m writing. I talk about my characters like they are real people.

TLR: What would you say was the deciding factor in becoming an author?

DM: I have a been a writer all my life and made a living as one several times. However, publishing my books and becoming an “author” was the really hard decision. I lost a job through downsizing and spent the following year taking care of my daughter who died of cancer. After spending several months staring at walls and doing nothing, I decided life was too short not to take a chance with my writing.

TLR: Once you made the decision to take the plunge, how long did it take from your completion of your first novel to publication?

DM: I count that time in terms of what happened. I put in six or seven months of hard writing work to perfect a couple titles, suffered through five rejections of them from agents and presses, and researched long enough for me to absorb everything Mark Coker of Smashwords was saying to authors who had good books and no one willing to market them.  Quick answer is about a year from finishing my first marketable title and putting it up.

TLR: Being successful in two genres (Contemporary Romance and Science Fiction) is no mean feat.  That being said, is there genre that you’d like to tackle in the future?

DM: I need multiple genres to be a happy writer. When I started writing romances in the early 90’s, ‘paranormal’ was the only category for everything different and I loved those stories. In the future, I’m going to be writing more work that will fall into the newer paranormal categories. Next year, I’ll work on a ‘dragon’ book. I might try a romantic suspense one day.

TLR: One thing I’ve really enjoyed about your work is that your heroes/heroines are for the most part nearing or at middle age (or older).  Was that something you consciously chose to portray and why?

DM: Yes, it was intentional. My children are the ages of the younger heroes and heroines typically found in romances, and those stories are needed. My writer voice was meant to be used for the ones closer to my age. I feel blessed that so many readers have responded well to those books, but I think that’s because I’ve had the nerve to talk about love, sex, and romance happening after 35--lol. Since that statement always make me laugh, I taught myself to write comedy because it fills a great need in me to make readers laugh. I save every note I get where a reader tells me that they laughed out loud over something I wrote.

TLR: With the recent exposure (if you’ll forgive the pun) of erotica and erotic romance, how do you manage to keep your scenes sexy and engaging without being excessively

DM: At a recent reader-author conference, I was on a ‘sex in romance’ panel. While I don’t have any ‘throbbing members’ in my books, I also don’t have any ‘cocks’ either. I personally have no problem with any term that is applicable for the story, but language is being used to judge books these days. I assure you that most writers could write anywhere along that spectrum. I chose my ‘middle road’ language for my sex scenes for the comfort level of the reader audience I imagined in my head. Okay and because of friends from old day job teasing me about my sex scenes. They used to look up terms and I vowed that they wouldn’t find them again in my books. So maybe I owe them for my workarounds.

In Dating A Cougar II, I had a dirty joke going on between Walter and Harrison, so I got by with using a term I haven’t used in other books. Honestly though, I’ve had some reviewers call some of my work erotic. I’ve had others who say the sex scenes are mild and boring. I’ve had reviews that say the scenes are ‘hot enough to be interesting’. All these comments make me laugh. I personally describe my scenes as explicit because I intentionally describe sexual acts. This kind of judgment is very subjective. I write what feels right to me. There are different levels of sexuality in each of my books. To me, the sex between a couple is an aspect of each relationship. Dating A Metro Man has the most sex because Seth used it as a way to keep Jenna connected to him. Dating A Cougar II and Dating A Silver Fox have the least amounts--maybe. I never think about it in those terms. I let it evolve as part of the overall character development in every novel.

TLR: What are the perils and joys of writing series books and stand-alone titles?  Which do you find easier/more difficult to write?

DM: I love to read series books, so I naturally write them. If I love characters, I want to see them again in subsequent books. I want to know that their happily-ever-after is working out for them. In the Never Too Late series, I wanted the friendships to be in every book. In the Art of Love series, I wanted the family to remain a family that shows up on each other’s doorsteps. This just seems normal to me. To date, I only have one or two single title books (The Right Thing and Quickies Volume 1). They have their place among my titles, but I tend to think of the future in terms of series or at least trilogies.

TLR: In your “Art of Love” series, you’ve really fleshed out the creative personalities of each main character.  Do you have any creative pursuits in addition to writing?  How do you think that’s helped you write this series?

DM: I am glad you asked this question. I love art, but am not greatly talented at all the things I admire, such as painting, drawing, sculpting, and so on. I made the characters artists because in the process of seeing my titles published I came to see myself as an artist. I now think of what I do as creating and see each book as a work of art. It makes me feel very good to describe my work this way.

TLR: Speaking of your AOL series, will we ever get to read Drake and Brooke’s story?

DM: <sigh> Yes. You will. I promise. I started the book in 2012, and tried to write it earlier in 2013. It just wasn’t working for me. I would sit and stare at the screen day after day. Finally, I decided it just wasn’t time to write it. So I set it aside and finished DAC II. Now I’m working on Book 5 of the Forced To Serve series. After that though, I’m going back to Covered In Paint until it is done. Brooke’s issue is hitting a little too close to home for me in terms of storyline conflict. Yet I still feel it is the story I need to tell. I am waiting until the Muses and I get into agreement about it. I love that series too much not to finish it. There’s actually a book after Brooke and Drake’s story.

TLR:  I’ve noticed that the first book in the AOL series, “Carved In Stone” is currently being offered for free at many online retailers.  Do you find that this has made a noticeable difference in your sales on subsequent series installments?

DM: I’m a free book advocate. It is a great way to let readers try your work. If they don’t like your book or your writing, then they have lost nothing. If readers do like the free book, then they will buy the others. A lot of my fellow authors do not agree with this strategy, but I remember buying my first romances at used book stores or checking them out of the libraries. I realize now that these did not make the authors of those books any or much money. When readers have to be careful with their buying dollars, like I used to have to be with small children in the household, this kind of thing matters. Maybe I would not feel this way if I thought I only had one more book in me, but I have dozens still to write. Having a few books free has helped me get them into reader hands.

TLR: Tell us, who’s books are on your TBR list?

DM: Wow. Well, you don’t have enough room here for me to list them. I read JD Robb, Janet Evanovich, Jennifer Cruise (her old books), and am tapping my foot waiting for the next Darynda Jones book. I read across genres and recently finished Aramus by Eve Langlais which is book 4 in her excellent Cyborgs: More Than Machines series. She’s awesome. Shortly before that I read Thea Harrison’s Elder Races series—the whole series. I don’t get a lot of time to read, but when I do, I read obsessively if the books are good. I read everything by Robyn Peterman—beta read for her sometimes—she is incredibly funny. I also read JM Madden’s and Teresa Reasor’s military romances. I recently added Sharon Hamilton to that list. I also read Liliana Hart—her dragon book hooked me. I met Julie Ortolon at a conference and realized that I have 3 of her books on my ereader—lol.  I read what interests me and look for unique stories. I’ve started a paranormal book listing site called Risky Readers. It is bringing a whole bunch of new books to my attention. My TBR pile is as daunting as every other reader’s.

TLR: If you could choose to have a career other than being an author, what would it be? Why?

DM: I have cleaned houses, worked for a newspaper, waited tables, been an account clerk, and then put in 18 years in a technical field. I’ve done plenty of other things for money--lol. Writing fiction is the most fun, interesting, fulfilling work I’ve ever done. I love talking to readers and writing books that I think will entertain or make them laugh. I truly cannot imagine doing anything else.

TLR: Do you have any guilty pleasures?  How do they figure in to your creative process?

DM: I am learning that massages, facials, and exercise classes are not luxuries, but necessities to keep going. Writing demands a lot of hours in the chair and takes a toll on my body, especially those long obsessive days. Bruce knows I like romantic getaways with walks, fireplaces, and wine. I love going to the beach. All these things rejuvenate me. But when the worries of the world push in too hard, I revert to what has always worked. I go to my ereader and pull up a favorite book that I know will take me to a place where I can really escape—lol.

TLR: What do you hope your readers take away from your books?

DM: I hope they put down my books and smile for the rest of the day. I hope they think of something funny that happened to the characters and laugh. And I hope they realize that I’m writing about people just like them who have the courage to take chances and really get to live a full life.

TLR: Do you have a favorite among your stories? Which one?

DM: Wow. This is another nearly impossible question to answer. Each book means something special to me. I have reasons for loving each. Over all, I would say Captured In Ink was the most fulfilling book in terms of storyline. It is a highly uplifting story. I also think fondly of Dating A Saint because after I finished its complex storyline, I felt like a  real writer. I remain proud of Dating A Cougar because it is a story of my heart and continues to create controversy with its sexy 50 yr old. Dating Dr. Notorious taught me that writing can be fun. I wrote the entire novel in 2.5 week and rarely slept or ate, but I laughed the entire time I was writing it. The entire Forced To Serve series is challenging and entertaining to my writing mind with its fight scenes and bad guys. I can feel myself growing as a writer in each one of my paranormal books.

TLR: Which of your characters would you say you most resemble?

DM: Regina Logan from Dating Dr. Notorious is my alter ego and I like her bravery. Her character voice is a reflection of my writer’s voice. Like her, I don’t mind shocking people. I want everyone to worry a little about what I’m going to say next.  Readers of the series know that I have to have Regina appear in a every book—lol.

There are bits and pieces of me in every single character I create, but Jane’s reaction to Walter’s advances in Dating A Cougar II is the most auto-biographical I have gotten in a novel. I was 41 when I met a 28 yr old male who kept pursuing me. I finally married him this year—lol. It took me a decade to believe it had any chance at all of working out long term. He never doubted it and never wavered about staying in my life. So I feel very qualified in writing my ‘cougar’ stories. Like Walter, my husband was mature for his age and I was youthful for mine.

TLR: What was your biggest surprise about the writing process?

DM: My biggest surprise is that each and every book I publish causes me the same amount of nerve wracking angst as I turn it over to the readers. Even with 18 original titles out there, I still had crazy butterflies when I pushed the button to release Dating A Cougar II. I don’t think this is going to change.

TLR: Please share with us your upcoming releases and projects.  What twists/turns do you see your writing taking you in the future?

DM: Putting the books into audiobook format has required me to tweak my writing style a bit. It’s taking me a little longer these days to put the words down on the page, but they read better when I do. Upcoming releases? Dating A Cougar II was late September. The Demon’s Change will be out in the next month or two. The Demon Master’s Wife and Dating Dr. Notorious will be out in audiobook before Christmas. Covered In Paint doesn’t have a release date, but I promise I will be back to working on it soon. Next year I’m going to be finishing both Next Game I Play and Next Move I Make. Then later in 2014, I will be doing something new I think—maybe the dragon book.

TLR: Where can readers learn more about you and your work?

DM: They can go to my website at www.donnamcdonaldauthor.com. They can go to my Never Too Late for Romance blog at www.donnamcdonald.blogspot.com and/or the Demons, Dragons, and Space Opera blog at www.donnamcdonaldparanormal.blogspot.com. My books are available at most ebook retailers. I have an Amazon author page and a presence on Goodreads. I’m on Facebook at Donna Jane McDonald and Twitter (@donnamcdonald, @scifiwoman13, and @riskyreaders). They can email me at email@donnamcdonaldauthor.com.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Master Class

Zara Chase is a British author who spends a lot of her time travelling the world. Being a gypsy provides her with ample opportunities to scope out exotic locations for her stories. She likes to involve her heroines in her erotic novels in all sorts of dangerous situations—and not only with the hunky heroes whom they encounter along the way. Murder, blackmail, kidnapping and fraud—to name just a few of life’s more common crimes— make frequent appearances in her books, adding pace and excitement to her racy stories.
Zara is an animal lover who enjoys keeping fit and is on a one-woman mission to keep the wine industry ahead of the recession. 

Buy Now From:

In the small, independent European resort of Nevella, Hadleigh’s is the après-ski hangout of choice. Run by six hunky American ex-pats, the club has a very exclusive private side that’s strictly invitation only.
Tanya Novac and Melanie arrive for a week’s skiing. Melanie—slim, beautiful and full of confidence—sets her sights on their instructor, Ward Shannon. But Ward prefers slightly overweight Tanya, recognizing in her a need to be dominated that she doesn’t know exists. He takes her to Hadleigh’s BDSM club, and they embark upon a steamy Master/sub relationship.
Melanie can’t accept being second best and forces Tanya to confront unresolved issues from her past. Ward’s feelings for Tanya compel him to re-examine his reasons for hiding in Nevella and giving up on a promising career in journalism. Can Ward and Tanya help one another to fight their demons and find happiness in one another’s arms…

Ward thought she might actually turn him down, which hadn’t happened in a while and was probably a timely lesson in humility. Mind you, he didn’t normally take women where he was about to take Tanya. He really did want to talk to her and hadn’t thought beyond that point. Seeing the way Melanie led her around like a poodle irritated the hell out of him and he wanted to understand why she put up with it. He wanted to understand a lot of things about this oddly compelling woman. For the first time since he couldn’t remember when, he wanted to be with a female for reasons other than sex. Not that sex didn’t feature high on his list of priorities, but he wasn’t looking for a long-term relationship and something told him Tanya wasn’t into casual sex.
So what the hell do I want from her?
He punched a four-digit code into a doorway at the back of the bar. It swung open, and Ward stepped back to allow Tanya to step through it first, making sure it closed firmly behind them. Tanya looked around the large, comfortably furnished room and blinked. There were overstuffed sofas, a blazing log fire, a fully equipped bar and, mercifully, no blaring music.
“What is this place?” she asked.
“It’s where Leo and the rest of us come for privacy.”
“It’s your lounge? You live here?”
“Well, what does that mean? Either you do or you don’t.”
Ward laughed. “We’ll get to that. First, what would you like to drink? More beer?”
“No thanks. I don’t like beer much.” He wanted to ask why she’d been drinking it in that case, but refrained. It wasn’t so very important. “A glass of white wine would be good, though.”
“Coming right up.”
Wade handed her a glass, opened a beer for himself, and joined her on the settee beside the fire.
“Tell me about yourself,” he invited.
“I’d much rather talk about you. Why a half dozen Yanks call this place home has to be a more interesting story.”
He wagged a finger at her and then ran one arm along the back of the sofa, his fingers within striking distance of her neck and all that gorgeous hair. “I asked first.”
“Okay, but there’s not much to tell. I had a wonderful childhood, great parents who loved one another, and me and my brother and sister. We weren’t beaten, or abused, or neglected, or any of the other things it’s fashionable to complain about nowadays. Mum and Dad are still together, still in love.”
“You were lucky.”
“I know.”
“Whereabouts were you raised?”
“I was brought up in Brighton, which is on the south coast of England. I still live in the area. I have a flat—what you’d call an apartment—close to Mum and Dad’s place. I run my own business. Website design. Hadleigh’s site could use some work, by the way.” Her smile lit up her features and they lost their reserve. She feels confident talking about something she understands, Ward realized, glad she was starting to relax. “No offense, but I checked it out and it’s…well, dull.”
Ward laughed. “Leo isn’t into all that stuff.”
“It shows.”
“He does so well here that he doesn’t really need an online presence anyway.”
“Everyone does. Hello, welcome to the twenty-first century.”
“Does your business do well?”
Her smile vanished. “I’ve got a good client base, more than I can cope with actually, but I hit a few problems recently.”
Hmm, Ward would like to know what they were but sensed now wasn’t the time to ask. She’d clammed up on him again and he could feel tension radiating from her. “What sort of clients do you have?”
A grin tugged at the corners of her mouth, telling him he was back on safe territory. “All sorts. One writes erotic romance, which is…er, interesting.”
“Nothing wrong with erotica.”
“No, but she writes BDSM. It gets pretty wild.”
“Does it now.”
Her eyes sparkled, a mixture of autumnal colors that mesmerized him. “I do think she gets a bit carried away sometimes. I mean, I just posted an excerpt for her, but the woman was in an impossible position.”
“Define impossible.”
She blushed, presumably because she realized what she was saying to him, a virtual stranger. It was interesting that she felt safer talking about this than about herself.
“Well, the woman had her feet…sorry.” She clapped a hand over her mouth to stop herself from giggling. “She had her legs over her own shoulders and her feet almost flat on the bed. She must have to have no bones in her body.”
“No, she could do that.”
Tanya’s eyes flew wide—very wide. “You know about this stuff?”

Monday, October 21, 2013

Sanctuary Montana

12 Determined Heroes
6 Steamy Love Stories
1 Family Feud That Could Destroy Everything.

New Collection from Bestselling Authors:

Enter for a Chance to Win All 6 Books in the Sanctuary, Montana Series!!

October 21, 2013
By Lara Valentine

Six lucky women will find out that when men fight hard, they love even harder.
Aubrey Maxwell has had it with her men, Noah and Riley McLean. They’ve made promise after promise and broken every one.  She has no choice but to lay down the law and hope they toe the line.
Noah and Riley know they’ve screwed up, but they love Aubrey with all their hearts. It’s time to cowboy up and act like men. Old habits die hard, however, and soon they’re back in the dog house begging for forgiveness.
When Aubrey’s threatened by an admirer, keeping her safe becomes paramount. She’s not thrilled they’ve swept in and taken over her life, but they’re not taking no for an answer. Aubrey wants to believe her men will be there when she needs them, but she’s been burned so many times. It’s going to take a miracle to get her to trust them again.

October 22, 2013
By Alicia White

Sophie Miller has lost hope.
She’s on the run from her violent ex-husband with her thirteen year old daughter, Alice.  They end up heading to Sanctuary, Montana hoping that her ex won’t be able to find them. With money tight and feeling uncertain about the future, Sophie turns to the only person in town she knows and trusts… her cousin. 
Mason and Alex McLean come from a wealthy family.
When Mason spots Sophie and Alice at the grocery store in town his protective instincts surface. There is just something about the sad woman that calls to him. Becoming her hero is easy, Mason does everything is his power to turn her frown into a smile, even offering her a job at his ranch.
Will Sophie be able to let go of the pain from her past? Will she ever be able to trust and love again or will her ex-husband run her out of another town.

October 23, 2013
By Melody Snow Monroe

Six lucky women find out that when men fight hard, they love even harder.
When veterinarian, Dr. Hailey Hunter, takes a two-week stint in Sanctuary, Montana, she never expects to meet the men of her dreams. Ranch owner, Jackson Baldwin, not only is to die for sexy, he’s a man in control—that is until he finds out his father has cancer and his roommate, Tanner Crenshaw, has a thirteen-year-old son he just learned about.
Tanner is shocked to learn he has a son, but he’s determined to raise him and love him. Because the boy’s mother just died, the eleven-year-old attaches himself to Hailey. While she adores the boy, when her stint is up, she must find a full-time job as she has college loans to pay off. When she’s offered a job in another state, all hell breaks loose in Sanctuary, and she’s torn between earning money and being with the men she loves. 

October 24, 2013
By Corinne Davies

 As a forensic genealogist, Jocelyn Richards spends all her time delving into other family’s histories as a way to avoid dealing with her own. She’s quietly hired to find the information needed to put an end to a centuries old feud between the Baldwins and McLeans but never expected to find her future while investigating the past.  

Eric and Matt Baldwin are cousins, who have grown up like brothers. Life in the fire department hasn't been risk free. After an accident that almost claimed Eric’s life, they both moved back to their home town to build a future and train a new generation of firefighters.

Matt grew up with the firm belief in love at first sight. When they meet a woman in town to do research on a book, Eric is tempted to believe it too. But, there are more secrets to Jocelyn Richards then he first believes and when the feud flares to life again she is caught in the middle.  Will the history behind a centuries old feud drive them apart before they can create a future?

October 25, 2013
By Jane Jamison

 Six lucky women find out that when men fight hard, they love even harder.
Tatum Baldwin has loved Josh and Will McLean since high school. But the feud between the Baldwins and the McLeans means they’re off limits. When the McLean men come back into town, Tatum’s ready to make the move and claim them as her own. But what if her family finds out?

Will and Josh McLean are tired of sneaking around to be with Tatum. Yet family and the feud make it hard to go public. Just as they’ve finally convinced Tatum to take the risk, an unexpected discovery throws their world and their families into turmoil.

Will they keep their secret? But secrets have a way of coming out, especially when they’re buried in treasure.

October 26, 2013
By Zara Chase

Farah McLean is driven from Sanctuary, Montana, by the dispute that has raged for years between her family and the Baldwins, keeping her from the love of her life, Drew Baldwin.
A detective in nearby Billings, she returns home, having been shot in the line of duty, to find Drew is also back in Sanctuary, along with his buddy Isaac Kincaid. When she discovers that Drew left Sanctuary because of his feelings for her, their love for one another can no longer be suppressed.
Drew and Isaac share everything—including Farah—but their relationship can’t go anywhere without destroying their families, unless…with time and determination on her side, Farah uses her detection skills to delve into the origins of the dispute.
Will she be successful, and will the stubborn patriarchs of the two clans accept her findings, even if she is…