Thursday, October 30, 2014

Elizabeth S. Craig - An Author Interview in the HBS Author's Spotlight

Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Author Elizabeth S. Craig. She is the author of the Myrtle Clover mysteries, the Memphis Barbeque mysteries (as Riley Adams), and the Southern Quilting mysteries.

Author Genre: Mystery & Thrillers

Website: Elizabeth Spann Craig
Author's Blog: Elizabeth Spann Craig
Blog: Facebook: Riley Adams Author
Twitter: @elizabethscraig
E-Mail: elizabethspanncraig (at) gmail (dot) com
Goodreads: Check Out Goodreads
Google+: Check Out Google+
Facebook: Check Out Facebook

Author Description:
Elizabeth writes the Memphis Barbeque mystery series for Penguin/Berkley (as Riley Adams), the Southern Quilting mysteries for Penguin/NAL, and the Myrtle Clover series for Midnight Ink and independently. She blogs at Mystery Writing is Murder, which was named by Writer's Digest as one of the 101 Best Websites for Writers for 2010--2013.

A lifelong resident of the South, she enjoys finding inspiration for her mysteries in the beautiful states of North and South Carolina.

SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author

Congratulations on your book: Shear Trouble. What do you have on the drawing board next? Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?

I'm currently writing "A Body at Bunco," which is a Myrtle Clover mystery. Since the holidays are coming up, I gave myself a little extra time with this one and am saying it will be a spring 2015 release. But it could come out earlier, depending on how much I can get done during a busy time. I've got the back cover copy:

Octogenarian sleuth Myrtle Clover has never heard of the dice game Bunco. Regardless, she steps in as her daughter-in-law’s sub and reluctantly puts her game face on.

Bunco turns out to be child’s play. But when a body is discovered, Myrtle realizes another game is afoot. Before long, she’s playing cat and mouse with the killer.

Can she track down the murderer before the game is up? Or, with the killer playing hard to get, will it end up being “no dice?”

You have a great following on twitter. How important have your social media relationships been? How did you build your following in your niche? Do you see a carry over to your writing success?

I think most writers find social media a mixed blessing. I do have a large following on Twitter and a good following on both Google + and Facebook....but these are primarily other writers. Since I tend to be a bit shyer around readers, I decided early on to use social media in the way I felt most comfortable. For me, this was sharing information and resources with other writers and networking with them. The benefit to this approach is that 1) I would actually keep up with social media instead of dreading/avoiding it and that 2) I built up a nice platform for my name and my books that has provided more visibility for readers to find me online.

Do you maintain a reader list? What are the methods you use to find your readers and create the list and the relationship? Do you use social media, forums, newsletters and/or support groups to build your list?

I do maintain a reader list but I was very, very slow to get on that bandwagon. In fact, for years I had readers email me requests to get on a non-existent newsletter list. In the last year I started sending out a newsletter, though, and it's been very helpful to me. I only send out when I've got a release, but that's still several times a year. I was amazed at the jump on the charts in sales that the newsletter provided for a newly launched book. The only way I add readers to my list is if they sign up specifically for the newsletter. I'm very passive in gathering names...I have a button on my website. I figure if readers are interested, they'll find it. It's a quiet marketing approach that seems to be working well.

You have great covers. They carry a theme and your brand with them. How does your book cover creation process work? Do you hand over the basic theme or do you have more of a hands-on approach? Do you get your readers involved in its development?

Thanks! I have varying degrees of involvement in these covers. For the Memphis BBQ series (written under the Riley Adams pen name), I have had absolutely no involvement at all. For the Southern Quilting series, my editor asks for suggestions for cover design elements and specific quilts that have been mentioned in the book. For the Myrtle Clover, self-published, series, I'm much more involved. But I'm constantly amazed how I can just suggest a few design elements and the designers do such a great job taking those and creating an appealing cover.

Several of you novels have been converted into audio books. What has been the impact on your regular sales? Has the audio books gained a new audience? Do you recommend new authors going this route to get more exposure?

I'm able to explore audio with one of my series--the self-published Myrtle Clover series. With the two Penguin series I, unfortunately, don't own the rights to take that route. But I've been very happy with my audio experiment for the Myrtle Clover series. I have an older reader base and many readers have contacted me saying that audio is the only way that they can enjoy my books with their failing eyesight. Additionally, I've picked up younger readers this way--readers who commute or like to listen to audiobooks when they exercise. I think this is a completely separate platform and may not tie into my regular sales...unless readers decide to try out my other series based on their enjoyment of that one. I don't have any evidence of this potential crossover, unfortunately.

I do recommend this route to new authors simply because it doesn't have to cost you a dime to open up to a potential new market. Although in general I'm wary of royalty-share options, I felt this was the way to go with audio (through ACX). My narrator and I split the royalties evenly, so I paid nothing to her up front. The income I make monthly from the audiobooks is pure profit since I invested nothing.

Between your book writing, blogging, marketing, family and all the other things that can get in your way, how do you manage your time? Do you have a set schedule or do your sort of play it by ear?

I always start out with a set schedule, yes. But I’ve found that it’s most important to be prepared to be flexible in case something comes up. Between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m. is pretty easy to maintain since no one is really awake or trying to email or phone me. After that point, though, anything can happen. If I commit to the writing and expect interruptions while staying committed to the goal, I get a lot more done…even if that means writing in the carpool line at the middle school.

What has been your experience in giving your books away free? Have you been involved in any other type of giveaways and how did that work out? What was your main goal in doing this? Did you run into any obstacles?

I’ve had a great experience giving my books away for free. To me, it’s almost like advertising…except that, instead of paying for an ad, I’m simply losing money on royalties. I have had many readers to email saying that they found my series because one of the books was free. I’ve also done Goodreads giveaways with ARCs (advance reader copies) of my Penguin books. Those resulted in higher sales when the books launched and more reviews right out of the gate.

Obstacles…sure. Now I put a note on my calendar to remind myself to assess the free book. As sad as it sounds, my memory is such and my life is so busy that I may forget and leave a particular book on perma-free. I’ve found, in my experience, that it’s better to switch up the free book and switch between titles. Additionally, I would carefully consider the cost of postage with the Goodreads giveaways. Are you sure you want to pay international postage? I’d suggest limiting it to the US, unless you’re specifically trying to target a wider audience. Make sure you save those postage receipts for your taxes the next year.

You are published under two different names (Riley Adams also). Does changing hats create any problems? Any tricks you can share with us? Doing more than one project at a time create any problems?

I’d caution everyone to carefully consider whether they want to have a pen name since it can be a tremendous time suck. I was required by my publisher to have one for the Memphis Barbeque series, but I went the wrong direction initially with my promo and opened up social media accounts in that name. If I had it to do over again, I’d just keep everything on my Elizabeth Craig page and link to the series that way. I was too confident in thinking that I could handle social media for more than one name.

Writing more than one series at once can be tricky! Once an editor wrote me and said, “Elizabeth, I don’t know who this character is.” I’d actually written in a character from another series into that book—sort of an accidental guest appearance. Now I outline the next book in that book’s series immediately following completion of a story before jumping into a different series. That also is a great time-saving trick since it means your head is still in that story’s world when you’re outlining.

You have a great blog. You do a great job keeping readers informed, marketing your books and providing useful information to other writers. What is your primary goal? And where in the world do you find the time to create great novels, take care of the social media and maintain your blog?

Thanks! I have several goals with my blog. One is sharing resources and information with other writers and having them share back in the comments. Another is connecting with other writers, since writing can be an isolating business. A third would be, frankly, channeling traffic to my blog, which is hosted on my website. Since my website benefits from the traffic, I gain more visibility on Google and other search engines, making my content and books easier for readers to find.

I’m sort of nerdy when it comes to managing time—I time everything. I discovered a while back that if you Google “set timer for…. minutes,” you can have Google give you an alarm after the set amount of time. So I’ll set a timer for 15 minutes and look for writing links, set one for 20 minutes and write a blog post, set a timer for 20 minutes to write…you get the idea. It helps me stay focused during those short spurts of time.

Also…I don’t sleep much. :)

What is your method of getting reviews for your novels? Do you seek professional reviews, use social media or do you rely on your reading audience to supply them?

With my self-published books, I’ve done nothing to get reviews on the books, actually, except for run sales. The reviews followed the sales spurts.

With my Penguin books, I’ve tried Goodreads giveaways and also tried connecting with Amazon’s top reviewers in my genre and offering them free books. These methods have worked fairly well.

Penguin sometimes sends my books for professional reviews in magazines, Kirkus, etc. Honestly…I don’t really think those reviews make a bit of difference to readers. I think we can get more mileage and visibility from a book blogger, although I haven’t approached any bloggers for a long while. Mainly I think the trick is to write appealing books for a specific, targeted genre audience, focus on series writing, and then wait for the reviews.

Author's Book List
Death Pays a Visit - Myrtle Clover Mysteries Book 7
When psychic (and hubcap retailer) Wanda Alewine pays a late-night visit to Myrtle Clover, she urges the octogenarian sleuth to head straight to Greener Pastures Retirement Home. But Wanda doesn't want Myrtle to consider the Home's dubious amenities--she wants Myrtle to prevent a murder seen in a vision.

Reluctant Myrtle investigates with sidekick Miles, who seems a lot more interested in Greener Pastures than she is. As the duo digs, they uncover more than just Sudoku and Scrabble—they discover a sinister undercurrent… with murder as its outcome.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - KOBO
Shear Trouble - A Southern Quilting Mystery
As the leaves begin to fall in idyllic Dappled Hills, someone puts too fine a point on a local ladies’ man. Fortunately, the detective skills of quilter Beatrice Coleman are a cut above the rest....

The Village Quilters of Dappled Hills, North Carolina, are desperate to finish their quilts before an upcoming show. To help, fellow member Posy has opened the back room of her shop, the Patchwork Cottage, for everyone to use. But the ladies are less than thrilled when Phyllis Stitt and Martha Helmsley—members of their rival quilting guild, the Cut-Ups—ask to join them.

Phyllis is hoping to leave the Cut-Ups and join up with the Village Quilters now that Martha’s dating her ex-fiancĂ©, Jason Gore. She’s not pleased when he visits the shop and even more upset when her new shears disappear. After offering to search for them, Beatrice discovers Jason with the shears buried in his unfaithful heart. Now she must sharpen her sleuthing skills to find a killer before someone else’s life is cut short.…

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
A Body at Book Club - Myrtle Clover Mysteries 6
When octogenarian sleuth Myrtle Clover discovers Naomi Pelter’s dead body during a book club meeting, the other members seem shocked. But Myrtle can read between the lines. Naomi had riled everyone up by flirting with other people’s husbands, arguing with neighbors, and generally making a nuisance of herself. Murdering troublemakers is the oldest trick in the book.

The book club members seem too sweet to be killers, but Myrtle knows better than to judge books by their covers. Myrtle’s investigation into the murder will take a more novel approach than her police chief son’s by-the-book methods. Can Myrtle and her widower sidekick uncover the killer…before he writes them off for good?

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - KOBO
Quilt Trip - A Southern Quilting Mystery
As a quilter, retired folk art curator Beatrice Coleman likes to have all the seams stitched together—but her plans keep getting tangled up in unexpected ways…

Beatrice has never crashed a party but now her fellow quilt guild member, Meadow Downey, is driving them to a Victorian mansion in the mountains beyond Dappled Hills, North Carolina. Muriel Starnes, an elderly eccentric, has organized a meeting of quilters to pick someone to administer a quilting scholarship. The fact that the Village Quilters weren’t invited isn’t enough to keep Meadow from speaking her piece.

But once the quilters arrive at the mansion, it seems they may never leave. An ice storm sends an old tree crashing across the driveway, leaving them stranded for the night. And by the next morning, they are one fewer—for Muriel has been sent to meet her maker. With everyone in the house a suspect, it’s up to Beatrice and the Village Quilters to figure out who has a guilty conscience before someone else gets tied up in knots.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Death at a Drop-In - A Myrtle Clover Mystery Book 5
Cosette Whitlow is a society matron…if tiny Bradley, North Carolina, has one. She kindly volunteers for all the town's charities, but isn’t nearly as kind to her own family, neighbors, and friends. In fact, Cosette is emphatically disliked by much of the town—including octogenarian Myrtle Clover. And Myrtle knows that dislike in Bradley can quickly turn deadly.

No one seems surprised when Cosette’s body is discovered during a party she’s hosting—she was struck on the head with a croquet mallet. Wanting to restore order to the small town, Myrtle resolves to track down the killer—before the killer strikes again.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Knot What It Seams - A Southern Quilting Mystery
When former folk art curator Beatrice Coleman retired to Dappled Hills, North Carolina, for peace and quiet and quilting, she never expected that murder would disturb the peace...

Dwindling membership has the Village Quilters hanging by a thread, and group leader Meadow Downey is desperate to recruit some new folks. With Beatrice’s blessing, she attempts to weave frequent quilt show judge Jo Paxton into their fold. As the town’s irascible mail carrier, Jo delivers trouble wherever she goes. And with all that mail at her fingertips, she knows everyone’s business. Soon Beatrice wonders if they’ve made the right choice.

After a car accident sends Jo to meet her Maker, it’s discovered someone tampered with her brakes. Meadow believes someone’s out to eradicate the Village Quilters, but Beatrice isn’t so sure. Now she and her fellow quilters will have to piece together the clues, or a deadly killer might strike again.…

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - KOBO
A Body in the Backyard - A Myrtle Clover Mystery Book 4
It’s just an ordinary day for octogenarian sleuth Myrtle Clover—until her yardman discovers a dead body planted in her backyard. This death isn’t cut and dried—the victim was bashed in the head with one of Myrtle’s garden gnomes.

Myrtle’s friend Miles recognizes the body and identifies him as Charles Clayborne… reluctantly admitting he’s a cousin. Charles wasn’t the sort of relative you bragged about—he was a garden variety sleaze, which is very likely why he ended up murdered. As Myrtle starts digging up dirt to nip the killings in the bud, someone’s focused on scaring her off the case. Myrtle vows to find the murderer…before she’s pushing up daisies, herself.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - KOBO
Quilt or Innocence - A Southern Quilting Mystery
Retired folk art curator Beatrice Coleman knows everything there is to know about quilts, except how to make them. But with her recent move to Dapple Hills, North Carolina, she’s learning all sorts of new things—including how to solve a murder…

As the newest member of the Village Quilters Guild, Beatrice has a lot of gossip to catch up on—especially with the Patchwork Cottage quilt shop about to close. It seems that Judith, the landlord everyone loves to hate, wants to raise the rent, despite being a quilter herself…

But when Judith is found dead, the harmless gossip becomes an intricate patchwork of mischievous motives. And it’s up to Beatrice’s expert eye to decipher the pattern and catch the killer, before her life gets sewn up for good.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - KOBO
A Dyeing Shame - A Myrtle Clover Mystery Book 3
When Beauty Box beautician Tammy Smith is discovered with a pair of hair shears in her back, there are suspects and secrets aplenty in her small Southern town.

Octogenarian Myrtle Clover, bored by bingo and bridge, is intrigued by the crime...and her neighbors' secrets. But discovering, and blabbing, secrets got Tammy killed and Myrtle soon learns her sleuthing isn't just's deadly.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - KOBO
Progressive Dinner Deadly - A Myrtle Clover Mystery Book 2
Retired octogenarian schoolteacher Myrtle Clover is fit to be tied when her book club votes to change to a supper club. Who wants chips and dip when they can have Dickens and Twain?

The first supper club is a progressive dinner...where Myrtle loses interest during the hors d'oeuvres. But when a body is discovered during the main course, the evening quickly gets interesting. Myrtle pits her sleuthing skills against her police chief son's to find the killer....if the killer doesn't find her first.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - KOBO
Pretty is as Pretty Dies - A Myrtle Clover Mystery
No one in Bradley, North Carolina, is exactly crying into their sweet tea over the murder of Parke Stockard. Certainly not retired schoolteacher Myrtle Clover. Upon discovering the corpse, Myrtle is struck-not with grief, but a brilliant idea! Solving the crime would prove to everyone (especially her son Red, the police chief) that this eighty-something-year-old is not ready to be put out to pasture just yet.

The victim, a pretty but pushy town developer, had deep pockets and few friends. Myrtle can't throw one of her gaudy garden gnomes without hitting a potential suspect. Even when another murder takes place, proud Myrtle forges on, armed only with a heavy cane, a venomous tongue, and a widower sidekick.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - KOBO
Author Recommended by: HBSystems Publications
Publisher of ebooks, writing industry blogger and the sponsor of the following blogs:
HBS Author's Spotlight
eBook Author’s Corner
Top Shelf Author Advice
Mystery Reader’s Circle

Check out the index of other Spotlight authors. Spotlight Index.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Alicia Dean - An Author Interview in the HBS Author's Spotlight

Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Author Alicia Dean. She is the award-winning, bestselling author of the Reapers of Boon Series, The Isle of Fangs Series and The Northland Crime Chronicles.

Author Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, Romance, Horror

Website: Alicia Dean
Author's Blog: Alicia Dean
Twitter: @Alicia_Dean_
Goodreads: Check Out Goodreads
Google+: Check Out Google+
Facebook: Check Out Facebook

Author Description:
I live in Edmond, Oklahoma. I have three grown children and a huge network of supportive friends and family. I write mostly contemporary suspense and paranormal, but have also written in other genres, including a few vintage historicals. I have three stories coming out in 2014; Without Mercy, a standalone suspense thriller, available September 26th, Caster's Unfriendly Ghost, a paranormal romance short story, available October 6th and Ruined: Martini Club 4 - The Twenties, available toward the end of the year. I have written a vintage romance short story set in 1957, End of Lonely Street, that will be available January 8, 2015 (on what would have been Elvis Presley's 80th birthday). I am working on Books 3 in both the Isle of Fangs Series and The Northland Crime Chronicles series. I expect both to be released in early 2015.

Other than reading and writing, my passions are Elvis Presley, MLB, NFL (I usually work in a mention of one or all three into my stories) and watching my favorite televisions shows like Vampire Diaries, Justified, Sons of Anarchy, Haven, The Mindy Project, and Dexter (even though it has sadly ended, I will forever be a fan). Some of my favorite authors are Michael Connelly, Dennis Lehane, Lee Child, Lisa Gardner, Sharon Sala, Jordan Dane, Ridley Pearson, Joseph Finder, and Jonathan Kellerman…to name a few.

I love, love, love my readers and cannot thank you enough for your support.

SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author

Congratulations on your book: Without Mercy. Rumor has it that you have another book on the horizon called Ruined: Martini Club 4 - The Twenties. Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?

Thank you! And thank you for having me on your wonderful blog. Yes, that rumor is correct. :) Tentative release is early February, 2015. Ruined is part of an anthology I am writing with three of my author friends. Each story features a different heroine, one of a group of four friends who flee to New York City from England in 1924. In Ruined, my heroine, Eliza, flees after the new Earl of the manor where she is employed attempts to force himself upon her and make her his mistress. Unfortunately, once she arrives in the Land of the Free, she finds herself in an even more calamitous predicament.

You have a good following on twitter. Since you started before the social media buzz, what impact has social media relationships had on your current success? How did you build your following in your niche? How much has it changed your book launch process?

Social media has increased my exposure and I have gained new readers from my activity on Twitter and Facebook. But the thing I love most is that I can interact with my readers through social media. It's opened up a whole new world. Some of the ways I have built my following are socializing on Twitter and Facebook, making guest appearances on blogs, and sponsoring contests, to name a few. It has changed my launch process quite a bit. As part of my process, I now compose tweets to share, including lines from my book, I create Facebook announcements, I schedule blog spots, etc.

Do you maintain a reader list? What are the methods you use to find your readers and create the list and the relationship? Do you use social media, forums, newsletters and/or support groups to build your list?

I do not maintain a reader list, per se, but I have compiled a list of email addresses of people to whom I send announcements about my new releases, sales, etc. The way I built the list was simply to add email addresses over the years as people requested that I keep them updated on my releases. Sometimes these requests came via fan letters. Additionally, I have a form on my website where those who wish to be updated can input their information, and I will add them to my email list. I wouldn't say I use social media or newsletters or support groups to build my list. It's more of an 'as requested' basis.

You have great covers. They carry a theme and your brand with them. How does your book cover creation process work? Do you hand over the basic theme or do you have more of a hands-on approach? Do you get your readers involved in its development?

I hand over the basic theme and a short blurb. I also give ideas about the 'vision' I have for the cover. I have been very blessed as far as cover artists I've worked with. Usually, the cover they create is even better and more accurate than what I envisioned. The only hands-on approach I would say I have is that I review the covers and make minor suggestions about changes. A few times, I have asked for reader opinions between a few cover choices. I have found readers love getting involved in that part of the process.

Several of you novels have been converted into audio books. What has been the impact on your regular sales? Has the audio books gained a new audience?

I can't say that the audio books have noticeably impacted my sales, nor have I become aware of gaining a new audience. I have had a few readers contact me to say they were pleased to find my stories available on audio books.

You have written several short stories and novellas. Can you tell us if they had an impact on the sales of your novels? Are shorty’s one of your styles of writing or are they created to give readers a sample of your work?

It is difficult to measure the impact of short stories and novellas on novel sales, so I can't really say. However, that isn't the intention of the shorter works. Yes, they are a style of writing, and sometimes a story can be told in a shorter word count and I feel that if a writer stretches it into a novel, they are probably leaving in a lot of boring parts. I will say, though, that some of my short stories and novellas were created as part of a particular anthology or project with a limited word count. Some of them might have been better had they been more fully developed.

I like the idea of bundling a series of novels. You have put together a set of your novels called Killer Love Boxed Edition. What was the impact on your other sales? What was your main objective in bundling your novels?

I believe that there was somewhat of an impact on my other sales, although again, that's difficult to measure. A bundle is a great way for a reader to get a discount price on more than one title by the same author and therefore, determine if this is an author they would like to start reading. They will then seek out other titles by that author. My main objective was reviving some older titles. The stories in Killer Love are my earliest works, and they are all similar to one another in that they are Romantic Suspense. I thought it would be a good thing to draw some attention to the older stuff, even for new fans who'd only read my recent releases.

Between your book writing, blogging, marketing, editing service, family and all the other things that can get in your way, how do you manage your time? Do you have a set schedule or do your sort of play it by ear?

That is an excellent question to which there is no precise answer. I manage my time the best I can by simply trying to focus on whatever needs my attention most at any given moment. No, I do not have a set schedule. I most definitely play it by ear.

What has been your experience in giving your books away free? Have you been involved in any other type of giveaways and how did that work out? What was your main goal in doing this? Did you run into any obstacles?

In the past, I have made a book free from time to time, for a limited time, in hopes of bringing in new readers. My main goal was to expose my books to a different audience. I didn't necessarily run into obstacles, but I have determined that free books are not really all that advantageous to writers or the industry as a whole. I think that readers have come to expect free books, and many times, do not even read them. I'm afraid it has made our work as a whole slightly devalued. I never say never, but I do not intend to make any of my books free in the future, other than for some kind of contest/giveaway.

Yes, I have been involved in other giveaways, such as a contest for a Kindle Fire, Amazon gift cards, Free books, etc, and I find them a good way to give a little something back and hopefully catch the eye of new readers. This is different than simply making a book free, it is a fun way for readers to become familiar with you and hopefully win a prize. As a matter of fact, some author friends and I have a Facebook game called Fiction Fanatics Feud where we post three 'Family Feud' style questions each week and allow readers to guess the answers. We provide our website links so readers can visit and find out how to enter to win our monthly contest. Each month, we draw two names. The first place winner receives a $50 Amazon Gift Card and the Second place winner receives one free ebook by each of the ten authors. It has been a great way to meet new readers, and everyone seems to have a lot of fun.

One of the most sought after services for indie authors is editing and you provide a Freelance Editing Services. Can you tell our readers how they can get involved with you and your service?

Yes, they can email me at And/or they can visit this link where I provide details of my process and my fee, and a contact form:

I offer low rates, and a sample of a 10 page edit so that writers can see my work and decide if we would be a good fit. I enjoy freelance editing. It has allowed me to meet some great new friends and discover some fabulous stories.

Author's Book List
Without Mercy
How far will a mother go to protect her child?

When an apparently random bank robbery turns out to be a sinister plan, single mother China Beckett is thrust into a nightmare.

A group of mercenaries take over her life, threatening her young daughter and everyone they love. Each time China makes a mistake, someone dies. She’ll fight to the last breath to protect her child, but with no idea what move will be the wrong one, that might not be enough.

As the lives of China’s loved ones are jeopardized, she must take action, although she has no idea where to turn—and time is running out. But then, a startling truth is revealed and China discovers that the only person who can save them might be a ghost from the past.

*** Warning: Explicit language and graphic violence ***

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Caster's Unfriendly Ghost - Hauntings in the Garden
A year after her husband’s death, Emily Tillman is ready to start dating again, and hopefully, find what she’s always wanted—marriage and children. But the man who broke her heart five years ago is back. And he’s anything but the marrying kind.

Confirmed bachelor Reese Caster is perfectly content with his life—and he’s finally over Emily, the one woman who almost made him commit. Now, his world is rocked when her dead husband shows up, demanding that Reese pursue Emily to keep her out of the clutches of her latest suitor—a jerk who is only after her money.

Being around Emily again has made Reese reconsider his bachelor life style. But now that the threat of the other man is gone, the pesky ghost wants Reese to break things off. Can he and Emily find the love they were denied, or will the ghost of her dead husband destroy their chances?

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - KOBO
Liberty Divided - The Isle of Fangs Series, Book 2
A young girl is murdered on Sang Croc Island and the only eye-witness claims a Vampire was responsible.

Desperate to keep the news quiet and local tourism alive, Island Authorities insist Liberty and Eli join forces to find the rogue vampire.

Liberty has worked hard to put Eli out of her thoughts.

Eli knows claiming Liberty as his own would end the Van Helsing line of Hunters.

When a second victim is found, half-alive, all evidence points to a past Eli can no longer evade and a truth Liberty can no longer deny.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - KOBO
Liberty Awakened - The Isle of Fangs Series, Book 1
Liberty Delacort doesn't believe in Vampires. Then she meets the father she never knew, just before his death, and learns she's the last of the Van Helsing bloodline.

Eli, a 300 year old Vampire, doesn't believe Liberty has what it takes to stand between the humans and the Evil Ones on Sang Croc Island, and orders her back to the mainland.

Ryan, a friend of Liberty's late-father, disagrees and insists that Eli provide the promised training.

Now the Full Moon has come and Liberty must stand in the gap. But unbeknownst to her--she's fallen for the wrong vampire.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - KOBO
Death Notice - The Northland Crime Chronicles, Book 1
A killer is using The Northland Chronicle to announce his victims. When Monroe Donovan, former crime reporter busted down to the obit desk by her boss and ex-lover, receives another obituary with a "wrong" future date, she sees a story.

Detective Lane Brody sees a suspect in Monroe, accusing her of hiding her connection between her ex-lover and the latest victim, while Monroe can't deny the attraction between herself and the unhappily married Detective. The same kind of attraction that landed her in obits.

Then Monroe walks in on her former lover and his girlfriend, half-naked and being held at knifepoint by the killer.

Now Monroe can only hope Detective Brody stops suspecting her and starts looking for her—before her name appears in the obits.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - KOBO
Death Offerings - The Northland Crime Chronicles, Book 2
Detective Lane Brody and Monroe Donovan, The Northland Chronicles' newest female crime reporter, are face-to-face with a chance for happiness. Then Brody's wife—incarcerated in a mental institution after murdering the man she took as a lover—begins to recover.

Now Monroe wants to put distance between herself and Brody, but Brody is under orders to keep Monroe close in order to nab the Penny Killer who leaves macabre gifts on his victims in Monroe's name.

As the body count rises and the Penny Killer grows more enamored with Monroe, Brody decides if he can't spend the rest of his life with the woman he loves, he'll gladly die to protect her.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - KOBO
The Vampire Diaries: Divine Enemy - Book Two
This title is Book 2:

Elena Gilbert is no longer a vampire and is now trying to learn to live with the grief over her brother, Jeremy’s passing. There is also the sobering knowledge that in her previous incarnation she caused so much suffering and death. On top of all that emotional baggage Elena experiences another frustration: A strange, alluring woman arrives in Mystic Falls; the kind of sorceress who can enslave men with a single knowing glance. Is she simply a seductress or someone -- or something -- more threatening? Yet another evil threatens Elena’s hometown. A mysterious psychopath is stalking Caroline.

Suddenly powerless, a mere human being, Elena reaches out to the dark side, imploring Stefan Salvatore for guidance and help. But he’s with Rebekah now. And Elena begins to understand that she’s probably lost him forever. Complicating matters, Tyler and Klaus are prepared to fight over Caroline’s safety. Perhaps even fight to the death. With Mystic Falls suddenly a cauldron of furious, exploding passions, Elena must somehow summon the human strength and cunning to protect friends and banish newfound enemies.

An urgent, at times breathlessly suspenseful mystery, Divine Enemy is an exciting story inspired by the bestselling Vampire Diaries series. Start the series with Book 1 (What the Heart Wants).

Order the Book From: Amazon
The Vampire Diaries: What the Heart Wants
This title is Book 1:

Golden girl Elena’s dark side takes over and Stefan and Damon struggle to keep her from the destruction that will surely come from loving to her ravenous heart’s content. Now the former prom queen knows what so many girl ghouls before her came to understand: Life sure can suck when you’re a teenage vampire. One more complication that makes nightlife in Mystic Falls an intoxicating brew of heartache and longing: on one hand, Damon is quite happy that vampire Elena is no longer suffering from her brother Jeremy’s cruel death. On the other hand, he’s crushed to discover that, when he turned off her humanity, the act seems to have killed whatever feelings Elena had for him.

But is Jeremy really dead? Not if Elena’s best friend, the obsessive, scheming Bonnie has her way. Fans of The Vampire Diaries books and People’s Choice-winning television series will be thrilled to discover there is way more life (and love) after death in Mystic Falls. Follow the series with Book 2 (Divine Enemy).

Order the Book From: Amazon
Cupid's Beau
Ivy Pierce is a Cupid who prides herself on doing her job well. Except when it comes to a certain human male, Grant Crawford. Although she doesn’t understand why, each time she’s supposed to shoot her arrow into his heart, her stomach hurts, her chest hurts, and she feels….sad. Cupids are never sad.

Humans who are not looking for love only get three chances to find it. And after Ivy sabotages Grant’s last chance, her boss, Aphrodite, sends her to earth to right her wrong. She has until Valentine’s Day to help him find his soul mate.

But the more she’s around him, the more she wants him for herself, even though she knows that can never be. A Cupid and a human? Unheard of.

As V-Day draws closer, can she sacrifice her own happiness to help the man she loves find his?

Order the Book From: Amazon
Soul Seducer - Reapers of Boon Book 1
She spent her entire life fighting death. Now she’s falling in love with him…

Audra Grayson became a nurse in order to help save lives. But one night after a brutal beating, she almost loses her own. The near-death experience opens a door between the world of the living and the world beyond. Two Grim Reapers invade her life. One is charming, with the angelic blonde looks of a saint and the black soul of a psychopath. The other is dark, dangerously attractive and, in spite of her distaste for his reaper duties, she finds herself inexplicably drawn to him.

When Audra's patients begin to die unexpectedly and her loved ones are threatened, she will risk her life—even her soul—to save them. But can she risk her heart to an inhuman being whose very purpose is to take those she is trying to save?

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Thicker Than Water - Tales of the Scrimshaw Doll
Sometimes, secrets refuse to stay buried--

A ten-year-old accidental killing and an ancient cursed doll are only part of Julia Bennett's problems. When she returns to her hometown of Covington, Oklahoma for an old friend's funeral, she's thrust into the middle of a murder case--and discovers she never stopped loving her high school sweetheart.

Jake Devlin is now the sheriff of Covington and faced with solving a murder. He isn't surprised to find Julia in the middle of things. She still seems like the troublemaker whose reckless mistake caused a man's death years ago--and who broke his heart when she left him without so much as a goodbye.

Jake makes it clear he's over her, and Julia can't wait to leave Covington behind. But when another friend dies, she knows she must stay. Can they put the past behind them and stop a killer before he claims another victim?

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - KOBO
Tears of the Wounded
Can their love survive a hostile teenager and a madman bent on revenge?

After a violent incident in her past, Abby Bishop wants nothing more than to live in peace. She wants it so badly, she ends a relationship with the man she loves to avoid conflict with his resentful fourteen-year-old daughter.

Wil Garrett gave up his career as a bomb squad officer for his daughter, who needed him safe and alive, after losing her mother to suicide. But when evil invades their small coastal town, Wil is plunged back into the violent past he left behind. Now, he must break the promise he made to the two people he loves most in the world…in order to save their lives.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - KOBO
A Knight Before Christmas - The Three Kings
The Three Kings, Book 2

The last thing Heath King wants is to return to Kansas City for the holidays. Being in his home town holds too many bad memories, and now there are new bad memories in the making, among them a sister he never knew about--proof that his father was unfaithful. But the most difficult thing he’ll face is running into Nicolette, his best friend’s widow—the woman he’s loved since the day he met her.

Before Nicolette Morgan has time to fully grieve over her husband’s death, a blackmailer enters the picture, demanding she pay him or he’ll ruin the lives of everyone she loves. Nicolette sees no way out until she unexpectedly encounters Heath King. When she turns to him for help, old feelings are rekindled and she realizes she never stopped wanting him.

As Christmas approaches, Heath must find a way to stop the blackmailer…but can he also rescue the love he lost fifteen years ago?

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - KOBO
Find the Magic - How to Plot a Story in 10 Easy Steps
How to write a novel? That is the question. There are probably as many answers to that question as there are people who ask it.

Wanting to write and actually doing it are two very different things. I am well acquainted with the sometimes grueling process of churning out a story. Over the years, I have tried many methods for creating and completing manuscripts, and have tweaked and honed it down to a workable (for me) process.

Using specific examples from one of my own novels, Without Mercy, I share my method in this mini how to book. The first eight steps actually deal with plotting while the last two are designed to help expand your outline into a well-developed draft. There is no one, perfect way to create a story, but there will be a method, or methods that work for you. I’m not sure if this is the one, but it works for me. Only you can decide if it also works for you. Fingers crossed that it does!

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Nothing To Fear
Jade DiMarco?s dreams of `happily ever after? are shattered the night she discovers her husband is a psychotic criminal. After his attempt on her life is thwarted by an unlikely rescuer...the mysterious `El Lobo?...Jade is forced to begin a new life in the Witness Protection Program. Terrified that even the US Marshals can?t stop her husband from finding her, she takes up martial arts and shooting lessons while living under a false identity. Just when she starts to feel in control of her destiny, FBI agent Luke Butler appears, throwing her off balance with questions that sound suspiciously like accusations.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - KOBO
Author Recommended by: HBSystems Publications
Publisher of ebooks, writing industry blogger and the sponsor of the following blogs:
HBS Author's Spotlight
eBook Author’s Corner
Top Shelf Author Advice
Mystery Reader’s Circle

Check out the index of other Spotlight authors. Spotlight Index.