Tuesday, March 26, 2013

AMBER LEA EASTON - Spotlight Author

Today, it is my great pleasure to introduce Amber Lea Easton. I know I'm going to make her blush when I say I think she is an amazing person. I don't know if I could go through some of the things she has endured and come out with a smile on her face as show left. But I also hope I make her smile when I say she is an extremely talented author, crafting stories you'll want on your keeper shelf and characters you'll both love and identify with. 

Please take time to leave love here and to drop by her website to check out her books. http://www.amberleaeaston.com/

What draws you to writing Romantic Suspense?
I’ve always loved a page-turner and that’s what romantic suspense is for me.  I began reading Nora Roberts years ago.  She truly turned me on to the genre.  I love the elements of a great love story up against great adversity--often life and death scenarios.  The intensity is both fun to write and read.  

I’ve heard we put a bit of ourselves into our characters. I have also read Riptides has a powerful emotional connection with you. What do you draw from yourself when creating your characters?  And how did you work past the really deep stuff without losing the realism?

Good question.  I pour my emotion into the characters, which usually means becoming vulnerable myself.  I believe all good characters are flawed and raw.  I’ve been lucky (or unlucky depending on your perspective) to have lived a full life so far.  I’ve taken risks that have resulted in heartbreak, trauma, despair, wonderment, bliss and love.  When I think of a character, though, I don’t consciously say “this is me”; rather, I see the character and pull whatever emotion I’ve experienced that mimics his/hers into their hearts.  It makes them more human.  Yes, Lauren Biltmore, the heroine of Riptide, is more like me than any other I’ve written to this point, but she isn’t me.  She is both the best and worst of me...but is innately her own creation.  

It’s true that I experienced some pretty dark things in my life.  The key, for me, was distancing myself through time before attempting to adapt any of it into fiction.  When going through a traumatic experience, it’s hard to gain perspective so any writing about it--outside of a journal--becomes riddled with pain and a distorted viewpoint.  By allowing myself time to heal before attempting to wrestle the experience into a fictional format, I’m able to write about it from a genuine place that is both observation and compassion.  

You have a knack for getting to the core of your characters’ conflicts and emotions more than anyone I’ve read. I think you’re doing it again with your next book. Can you tell us about Reckless Endangerment? And do you have a projected release date?

First, let me say that I’m humbled by your compliment.  It means a lot.  I love emotional stories.  

Reckless Endangerment is one of the most emotional yet.  I cried not only when writing some of the scenes, but during revisions as well.  Don’t let that deter anyone, though!  Michael and Hope are some of the most profound characters you’ll ever know.  

Colonel Michael Cedars is a wounded marine returning home from Afghanistan.  He’s partially paralyzed with his left leg, unsure how to fit into civilian life again after being career military and questions whether or not he’s fit to be married to his wife, Hope. 

Hope Shane is a natural wild child.  She met the Colonel while working as a war correspondent, watched him get blown up and returned to Denver, Colorado to bring him home. She’s working as an investigative reporter in Denver and becomes tangled up in a human trafficking story.  As far as Michael wanting a divorce and giving up on life, she’s not one to surrender the fight. That goes for the helpless victims in the story she’s chasing...nothing will stop her until she has truth and justice.  

As the danger of Hope’s story intensifies, Michael is tested more than he ever imagined.  Is he capable of being the husband she needs?  Will he hold her back or, worse yet, get her killed?  Is Hope and her penchant for finding trouble a liability he can’t risk? Or is he still the hero she claims him to be?  

Heroes come in many forms and range from the woman trying to hold her marriage together to the marine battling even after he’s come home.  That’s what the story is about...heroes.  Heroes and love--with a whole lot of danger, both emotional and physical, thrown in for fun. (I’m sadistic, aren’t I?)  

It will be out by June of this year.  

You have given great advice to writers (go HERE to see links to other interviews with Amber). What is the most helpful piece of writing advice you ever received and how has it helped you?

To know when to compromise and when to stand firm.  There needs to be give and take without losing your own vision.  I visualize a palm tree that stands firm in its roots against a storm but bends with the wind so it doesn’t break.  I’ve learned through a lot of trial and error that there are people out there who know more than me and I’m grateful to learn from them.  I take what works for me and disregard the rest.  That’s probably why I value editors so much.  I do appreciate another perspective, am open to listen, but I never lose sight of my purpose.  

From the place you live to your dream place to retire… they are so different. What do you find may be their common factor in attracting you?

Tranquility.  I live in the mountains above Denver and long to be near the sea.  Both places are peaceful to me.  I love nature, always have.  Although I enjoy the mountains, it’s a hard existence in regards to snow and summer forest fires.  I’ll be old one day, even if I don’t act like it.  My dream is to simplify...walk along the beach every night and every morning, soaking up tranquility. 

You can unwrap a Starburst with your tongue, you love seafood and make a killer omelet. What is the one thing a GUY could cook for you that would melt your heart?

I’m impressed with your research.  Ha! You know what?  A guy who can cook anything melts my heart. My late husband was an excellent chef and I miss chilling out in the kitchen with a glass of wine while watching the man work his magic.  I’m easy.  If he can cook, laugh, kiss, and hold a great conversation, I’m IN!  

A brief blurb about Riptide:

Attraction sizzles beneath Caribbean sunshine on an island masking betrayal and murder beneath its swaying palm trees. Noah Reynolds and Lauren Biltmore, two loners scarred by their not-so-sweet pasts, discover that together is better than solo when being caught up in a riptide of deception. 

Brief excerpt of Riptide:

He braced his hands over her head. The only thing he wanted to do was kiss her slowly and make her beg for more. He looked into her eyes. “You’re making me forget all of the reasons this is a mistake.”

“A sexy mistake.” Her fingers touched his chest in a feather-like caress. She licked her lips. 

“Good point.” He smiled. “We’re headed into the danger zone.”

“You have no idea how dangerous.” She tugged on the towel, a wicked grin in her eyes. 

Oh, he had an idea about the level of danger. He’d thought of nothing else for the past forty-eight hours and ranked this situation a solid Level Red. Despite that, all he could think about was how good it would feel to have her long legs wrapped around his hips while her nails clawed against his back. He needed to pull the emergency brake. Slow, he reminded himself. Slow.

Author Bio: 
      Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published fiction and nonfiction author. For twenty years, she's worked in the fields of journalism and advertising with a brief detour into the financial industry.  Although she holds a BA in Communications & Journalism, she is a perpetual student of life who enjoys taking classes on a wide variety of subjects when time allows.
       Smart is sexy, according to Easton, which is why she writes about strong female characters who have their flaws and challenges but ultimately persevere.  She currently has two romantic suspense novels out in the world, Kiss Me Slowly and Riptide, with four more slated for publication in 2013.
         In addition to fiction writing, Easton also edits and freelances and speaks on subjects ranging from writing to widowhood.  Current radio appearances are linked via this site and her blog Kisses, Caresses & Whispers in the Night.
      Easton currently lives with her two teenagers in the Colorado Rocky Mountains where she gives thanks daily for the gorgeous view outside her window. She finds inspiration from traveling, the people she meets, nature and life’s twists and turns. At the end of the day, as long as she's writing, she considers herself to be simply "a lucky lady liv'n the dream."

Amber Lea Easton’s novels are available through Bookstrand, iTunes, Amazon, AmazonUK and Barnes and Noble.  All of the links are available on her website, http://www.amberleaeaston.com 

Thursday, March 14, 2013


Thanks again to Gae-Lynn Woods guesting for us last week. If you failed to email me a request for a copy of her Excel Sheet, please do so.... AngelaDrake (at) webname (dot) com  She has put a lot of thought into it both from a CPA perspective and a writer's needs.

Our Tip for today is:

BUSINESS: Log Everything.
Keep track of your time spent writing, research, networking
Expenses such as conference, travel, meals (if more than 50 miles
from home) hotels.

I keep a 5x7 spiral next to my mouse pad. Whatever I do that is writing related, I write it down. This not only lets me know if I've taken care of something or not, but at the end of the day, if I've spent all day at the computer, I better have something to show for it. This is a BUSINESS, after all.

The Expenses part gets a bit trickier. I'm following Gae-Lyn's guidelines for keeping receipts. I know that not ALL of my meals are deductible. Neither are ALL my book purchases (darn-it) unless I can directly link them to a project I'm working on. So I make note of WHAT I bought and WHY in my little notebook so I have the documentation should the IRS ever have questions about a deduction. 

My tax preparer Ian Atkins, (Atkins Tax Service) gave me a mileage log book that isn't as big as a check register and fits in my wallet. I can write down Odometer Readings to and from, purpose, parking, etc. Easy Peasy to transfer to my log sheet at the end of the month (year) hehe.

If in doubt, write it down and keep the receipt. 

And that's your Writers Tip Thursday!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


I'm getting back on track with this week's Wednesday post about Conferences and Contests. The Arkansas Writers Conference offers both.

Held May 31 - June 1, 2013 in Little Rock Arkansas, this conference is celebrating it's 69th year. Arkansas Writers was founded and is hosted by The Arkansas Pioneer Branch of the National League of American Pen Women. Thanks to the generosity of benefactors, patrons and sponsors,  AW is able to provide top quality speakers and a wide variety of contest categories.

Although I've not been able to attend the conference yet, I have entered the competitions over the past several years. I know when I enter these contests I am up against some of the best writers in the country. I also know sometimes I win (last year I placed in two money categories), sometimes I take a couple of Honorable Mentions (as I did in 2008 and 2009) and other years I don't place at all. That's just how it works.

Contest Categories (scroll down to Literary Contests) are divided into three categories:
#1-#5 categories are limited to those who will be attending AT LEAST one day of the conference.
#6- #28 categories are open to anyone
#29-#40 are limited to Arkansas Residents only.

So if you take out the first 5 categories and the final 11 categories, that leaves you with 23 contests you can enter.... ALL FOR ONE $15 Entry Fee! And ALL offer Cash Prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place entries.

PLEASE read the guidelines carefully. One thing I see as a contest judge with other contests is entrants being so focused on the Perfect Entry they fail to follow the guidelines... resulting in their hard work being disqualified.

I have looked over the Speakers for this year and the roster is one of the best I've seen that matches MY particular interests. For now it's all about time and cash flow for me. But I'm still thinking on it. If anyone is going and would like a roomie, it might move my marker to the GOING side of the line a little closer.

In the mean time, I have some entries to start working on!
Happy Writing!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

J.D. FAVER - Guest Author

Today, my guest is my friend, J.D. Faver.

You will want to read her post all the way through for a special FREE GIFT especially for my readers. Thanks J.D.!

J.D. Faver lives near Houston, Texas. She writes steamy contemporary romance and romantic thrillers/mystery/suspense. She loves to kill people...on virtual paper, that is. Although she writes daily, she still finds time to enjoy family and friends. She is a foodie and an adventurous cook. Determined to preserve generations of family recipes, she is publishing a series of cookbooks entitled A Texan in the Kitchen.

Gardening is another passion (and linked to the food thing) since she has an orchard of fruit trees and berry bushes/vines in her back yard. Tomatoes and other veggies round out her kitchen garden. All other interests (painting, drawing, sewing, quilting, crocheting, weaving, stained glass and pottery) have taken a back seat since they require hands-on participation which is difficult if your fingers are always on the keyboard.

An active member of several Houston writer's organizations, she belongs to National RWA and is a member of Houston chapters. She is owned by two cats and a small, yappy rescue dog. As a former educator and healthcare professional, she is an advocate for children, animals and elderly/disabled individuals. She would rather be sailing or on a beach somewhere, but if not, you can probably find her with her fingers on a keyboard, pouring word images onto the virtual films playing in her head.


Hi Angela! Thanks for inviting me to be your guest today.

I wanted to share some insights with your readers about my experience with writing series.

As a reader, I can remember waiting impatiently for Sue Grafton and Janet Evanovich to turn loose of the next Kinsey Millhone or Stephanie Plum adventure.  Likewise, James Patterson was very pokey in cranking out Alex Cross mysteries.  I truly couldn’t understand why these authors were so maddeningly slow with their writing. Or so it seemed at the time.

When I finished writing my novel ON ICE, which wound up at 102 thousand words, I found myself feeling depressed. After the dark moment… after the villain had been vanquished…after good prevailed over evil….I realized I had to say goodbye to the characters I had grown so fond of. After all, they shared their deepest inner feelings with me. Their most intimate moments. And I was supposed to wave goodbye as they moseyed off to their happily ever after? Never to be heard from again?
The antidote was to write another book, and another after that…

Finally, when I wrote BAD MEDICINE, I figured it out and planned the next book in the series while writing the first.  Choosing the lower Gulf coast of Texas for my setting was like going home. I had spent quite a few years visiting there for catamaran regattas. I knew the setting so well, I could feel the fine sand under my feet, with gentle waves lapping at my toes. I could smell the tangy scent of the water and feel the offshore breezes lifting my hair.

The characters sprang into my brain fully fleshed out, with flaws and strong personalities. Indeed, they were born as a result of my first foray into the wonderful world of NaNo (National Novel Writing Month) I was a NaNo virgin. I read all the rules and signed up with an army of my writing buds. Being a Virgo, with a tad bit of OCD thrown in, I wanted to be sure I was prepared. I wrote an outline. I had character sketches and conflict guides. And on the stroke of midnight, Texas time, I flexed my fingers and wrote…an entirely different story.  Without benefit of outline or character sketches, these larger than life individuals came bounding into my brain and took over. Yes, possessed is probably the best explanation. I wrote like a mad woman and came out with a completed 56 thousand word novel in the first 18 days of NaNo. I was so hyper, and all my friends were still writing, so I found another partially written work and completed that one in the last 12 days. Wild woman writing.

Eventually, the 56 thousand words became 94 thousand and the story was revised, edited and polished. But, at the same time, the second in the series, BAD KARMA, was being written. I just couldn’t let go of those characters or leave that beautiful dark paradise behind. By the time BAD MEDICINE was published, I had BAD KARMA polished and was finishing the third one, BAD VIBES. Each of the books is a stand-alone, but they are linked in setting and characters.

What I’ve learned is that readers are just impatient for the next adventure in The Edge of Texas series as I was for my next Stephanie Plum fix. I treasure the emails and Facebook messages asking me what’s next. I do have a gift for your readers today, Angela. The second book in the series, BAD KARMA, is FREE on Amazon today, March 12 only. Here is the link to download it: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0081SGPZW

• Book 2-BAD KARMA
• Book 3-BAD VIBES
• Book 4-BAD DREAMS (coming soon)

Please visit me on my website at http://www.jdfaver.com/
Amazon author page:  http://www.amazon.com/J.D.-Faver/e/B0050KEWMM/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/j-d-faver?store=allproducts&keyword=j.d.+faver

Monday, March 11, 2013

WEEKLY PLAN - March 11


I've had a really long weekend. I crammed right up until late Thursday night trying to make sure most of the work was done before we headed to Nashville to see our daughter, her SO and our two granddaughters. We had not seen them since Adrian's 5th birthday back in November. That's a really long time to be away from my girls.

While I was gone, I tried to let my brain rest but between my love for music, being in Nashville and having so many people to watch at Opry Mills Mall, it was really hard. To top it off, I got a really good visual on a guy perfect for Daniel. I knew what he looked like in my mind, but to actually see him in the flesh... well, my heart went pitter patter. Did it help the guy kept flirting with me? While my husband was right there? Oh baby, bring it on!

Okay, back to boonies reality. I've spent today setting up blog posts on two blogs for tomorrow... including this one when we will be joined by Texas author J.D. Faver. J.D. is a dear friend who is incredibly talented. She's going to talk about writing a series. Oh... and she has a SURPRISE for everyone who drops by. How cool is that?

So pop in tomorrow to say hey to J.D. and see what she has in store for us.

In the mean time, I'm not doing anything for the next 15 hours but enjoying time with hubby. He heads back out tomorrow for three weeks. Then my fun really begins!

Happy Reading

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

THOSE PESKY TAX ISSUES - with Gae-Lynn Woods

Gae-Lynn Woods

I don't know a single person who enjoys Tax time. I would rather write a synopsis than think about taxes as a self-employed filer. Okay, so that's not the best example since I don't mind writing the synopsis, but you get my drift. Last year I came across a blog by someone 'in the know' when it comes to taxes. Gae-Lynn Woods is a talented author and a CPA so she understands how this all works from both points of view. If you have any questions, please leave them in the comment section. Also, feel free to share a link to this and any of my posts.

Thanks so much to Angela for letting me stop by The Writers Studio to chat! Getting ready for tax season is a chore most of us dread. But as an author, you’re running a small business with all the privileges and responsibilities thereof. I know, I know! You’re an artist, not a grubby businessperson. But once you put your work out into the world for sale, you need to know how much income (or loss) you’re generating. It’s not as hard as it sounds. Really. All you need is a little discipline. And anyone who can produce a book can master the fine art of tracking income and expenses.
The tips I’m sharing apply to all sorts of businesses. We run four: my husband is a musician; we raise beef cattle; and I have an accounting business and a writing business. Regardless of your professional focus, there are two important reasons to track income and expenses during the year: the first is to provide you with a means to monitor your business performance. The second and most practical is to make tax time easier. If you’ve ever shoved your paperwork into a drawer only to cry when you dig it out during tax season, you’ll dance with glee when you pull your organized paperwork out!

There are oodles of ways to achieve these goals – this is my process, but use that creative brain of yours to massage it into something that works for you. Because we run four businesses, I try to update our records at least twice each month to keep the paperwork from getting out of control. You may find that monthly or even quarterly updates are frequent enough for you.
Confession time: this isn’t the most enjoyable part of my life. In fact, I whine a bit before getting started. But once I’m into the process – well, once I’m done – I feel great. I hope you will, too. So, grab a coffee (or something stronger), let loose with a few groans, and let’s get started!
I use a few simple tools to track our expenses:
1) We keep a small notebook in each vehicle. If we’re driving somewhere for business purposes, we note the date, purpose of the trip, and starting and ending mileage.
2) I transfer the details from each of our business related trips to a desk calendar and follow the same form in the notebooks: trip purpose, starting and ending miles, and total miles travelled during that trip. I also note any important work related events in our calendar (cow sales or purchases, hay cutting, gig income, etc.).

3) On each work related receipt, we note which business it’s for and then toss the receipt in a basket on my desk. When it’s time to update our records, I dump the basket and start sorting.
4) I enter all information into a spreadsheet to capture expenses by category. Each business has its own spreadsheet, but they all follow the same general format, explained below. This is the place where we keep an eye on how each business is doing, and come tax time, it’s a matter of ensuring each column adds correctly and then clicking the print button. Yes, it really is that easy!
5) I separate the receipts by business, clip one month’s worth of receipts together, and stick them in a legal sized envelope. This clears my desk and helps me keep track of what I’ve completed. It also keeps the receipts in the same order that I’ve used to enter them onto the spreadsheet, in case I have questions later.
The Spreadsheet
 One of the most challenging aspects of filling in tax forms is figuring out which number goes where. To ease the process, I follow the categories the IRS has set out on Schedule C, the form you’ll file at tax time (see it here: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f1040sc.pdf). I only include the categories I use, and each has its own column. Each row represents a separate transaction (income, expense, and / or mileage with no related expense).
Some of your receipts won’t fit into the existing Schedule C categories. For example, if you subscribe to a writing magazine, you might need another column called “Publications”. Add it to your spreadsheet include these items on page two of your Schedule C.
Your spreadsheet will look like this:

NOTE From Angela: I was unable to actually put the picture in this post. But if you email me: AngelaDrake (at) webname (dot) com I'll email the attachment to you immediately. I am in the office all day (Tuesday)

I hope this has been helpful, and that the paperwork aspect of your writing business feels a little less daunting. Questions are certainly welcome!

Avengers of Blood (A Cass Elliot Crime Novel) – Blurb
A deadly game of cat and mouse is playing out in Forney County…

Detective Cass Elliot is still on suspension after killing a fellow officer and Sheriff Hoffner refuses to sign her release papers. But when four people are murdered in one night, one with the exceptional brutality of a lynching, the Medical Examiner side-steps Hoffner to hire Cass and loan her to Forney County’s overstretched police department.

As Cass and her partner investigate, they realize that three of the murders were committed by the same person but find no connection between the victims. Their frustration intensifies when another victim survives and disappears instead of coming to the police.

Sheriff Hoffner is frantic about anonymous letters claiming one of his star officers is dirty, and Cass suspects a link to the current crimes. The pieces fall together when she uncovers the true identity of the man who was lynched, revealing connections between the victims, the killer, and an unpunished crime committed nearly fifty years ago.

Author Bio:
Gae-Lynn Woods is a Texan who has traveled the world, lived overseas, and come back home. She and her husband, British jazz guitarist Martyn Popey, share a ranch in East Texas with a herd of Black Angus cattle and one very cranky donkey.

THE DEVILOF LIGHT and AVENGERS OF BLOOD are the first two books in the Cass Elliot crime series. When she's not playing the roadie, tending to cows, fixing fence, or digging post holes, Gae-Lynn is working on the third Cass Elliot novel.

You can learn more about Gae-Lynn at her WEBSITE and her BLOG

Thanks for stopping by The Writers Studio!