Q+A with TJ Kline

The last time T.J Kline visited Plain Talk she opened up about coping with PTSD. Click here to read more.

Q: Name one thing you won’t leave home without.

Easy! My cell phone. I live on it. I made sure the last time I upgraded that I purchased one that would serve me, and my writing, on the go. I do everything from it – reading, emails, texts, appointments, even writing. I can even set my home alarm from it. I even use it to set up playlists for while I’m driving. I’d be lost without it (which is why it has frequent backups!)

Q: What do you like best about being a writer? What is the most challenging part?

The best? The fact that, most days, I don’t even have to brush my teeth if I don’t want to. I do, every day, I swear! But I don’t HAVE to. I have the freedom to style my hair or not, wear PJs all day or dress up. I can set a doctor’s appointment whenever I want to rather than in limited “free” time. I work around vacations and trips, around my kids’ schedules and when I want to. Being a writer has given me more freedom than any job I could ever imagine.

The most challenging? The freedom. When you don’t HAVE to do anything, you have to be self-disciplined to still get up every day and do what needs to be done. There are times, under deadline, when I’ve planned poorly and forgo a trip to the movies. Or, even more difficult, when I’m not under deadline to actually sit in the office chair and put words on the page knowing no one is keeping tabs and I have an entire season of Hart of Dixie waiting for me on my DVR.

Q: What do you do when you are not writing?

When I’m not writing, you can either find me hanging out with my husband and kids (two- and four-legged). If I’m not out working with my horses – is it work if it’s something you LOVE to do? – the family loves being outdoors. We’ll take off and go to the beach for the day, hiking in the mountains, or playing in the snow. Living in California, we can pick from all three, in the same week even, and I’ll be taking pictures the entire way. If weather doesn’t permit, you can find us watching movies together with popcorn, pizza, candy and sodas.

Q: Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?

Be prepared for the “real” life of writing. It’s not all fun and games, pajamas and book signings. Most days, it’s ugly, hard, gut-wrenching work. You will doubt yourself, listen to people rip your work apart and feel like you are crazy for attempting to make this your life. It’s okay…we all live there. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve written one book or nearly twenty, writing is always hard work. But, as I said earlier, is it really work if it’s something you love to do? Never give up on what you love to do, whether it’s writing, painting, acting, debate, mathematics, history, woodworking…do what you love and it will show in the results.

Want more T.J. Kline? Head over to our website to catch her Book Talk interview.

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Top 10 Bad-ass Fictional Moms

Moms are supposed to be sweet, right? Warm, cuddly, like grandmas but younger. In a perfect world, they are all sunshine and kisses on the noses.

In the fictional world moms can be real bad-asses, and who could blame them. Writers, (myself included) put them in situations which bring out the worst in them, making them a hell of a lot of fun to write and watch on screen… but not meet behind the bleachers on the playground.

Here are my top ten fictional bad-ass moms

Helena Henstridge

Helena Henstridge | Photo: Royals Wiki

10. Helena Henstridge (Elizabeth Hurley) – The Royals (E! Entertainment)

Helena Henstridge, Queen of England slept with her daughter’s boyfriend, lied about the paternity of her children so that she could remain Queen Regent after her husband died, did her very best to one-up her daughter at a fashion show. Eventually, Queen Helena saw the error of her ways and decided that her son was worthy of being king so she backs him, but before he could take the throne, she switches her allegiance and decides to yank the throne from him.

9. Harlee Santos (Jennifer Lopez) – Shades of Blue (NBC) 

Last season when we left Harlee Santos, she’d killed her baby daddy because he tried to lure her teenaged daughter away from her. Not to mention he was violent, and just got out of jail. Had he watched Enough, he would have known he didn’t stand a chance.

8. Daenerys Targaryen (Amelia Clarke) – Game of Thrones (HBO) 

Daenerys Targaryen is the mother… the mother of dragons, that alone makes her a bad-ass. But seriously, when we first met her she was abused and sold off to the savage Khal Drogo, who often raped her. As the series progressed, Daenerys came into her own, she learned how to tame her husband and captured many nations while freeing slaves and empowering women in a time when women were treated as sex objects or child-bearing vessels.

7. Norma Bates (Vera Farmiga)Bates Motel (A&E)

Norma Bates

Norma Bates | Photo: Bates Motel Wiki

With a mother like Norma Bates, Norman Bates didn’t stand a chance at normalcy. Norma has lied, killed and stole to protect Norman. I always wondered why Norma hated her eldest son, Dylan until it was revealed that he was conceived when her brother raped her. That said, you could kind of understand why she borders the edge of crazy town.

6. Savannah Nicole Rose DaCosta (Savi) – The Family Portrait Series (Books 1, 2, 3, 4)

Savi is one of the most hated female characters I’ve ever written! Blackmail and mental torture are her weapons of choice. Below are some of the comments readers have shared about this bad-ass mom.

“How a woman like Savi could ever have two amazingly gentle and caring daughters I will never know!” Rachel B.

“Savi was a terrible selfish mother and reading about her really made me hate her. So Gillian really wrote in a way I could totally imagine Savi being a real person. And boy would I have loved to slap her in the face.” Maureen B

“I am kind of happy how things turned out for Savi. I really hated her especially when she planned on ruining other people’s life.” Fayanne Continue reading

Behind the Scenes with LT Shade

LT Shade blog tourToday I’d like to welcome L.T. Shade. Shade is the author of the romance novel Under Her Authority.  Below she talks about the behinds the scenes of her book. Enjoy

If you could spend time a character from your book whom would it be? 

Hmm, this is a hard question because I want to spend time with all my characters! But if I had to narrow it down to only one, I would love to spend time with Rose’s best friend, Olive. Olive is just so much fun to be around. I really enjoyed writing scenes with her. She’s great at making people laugh and helping Rose get through tough situations. She’s a genuine friend. I think everyone should have a [someone like] Olive in their lives.

What character in your book are you least likely to get along with and why?

Oh, this is easy. Simon, Rose’s ex-fiancé. Simon is one of the antagonists in the story. His motivations for doing what he did (*no spoilers*) aren’t as clear as say Matthew Moreno’s motivations, who acts as the main blockade in Rose/Shane achieving their goals. With that being said, and maybe I’m sticking my foot in my mouth confessing this, I can’t help but feel sympathy for Simon. He did something unforgivable, and Rose was right to be angry at him and take certain actions because of it. But, at the end of the day, situations are never as black and white as they seem. Rose realizes this once she confronts Simon for the last time and it helps her move on.

Tell us about your book cover and how it came about.

I’d like to think my book cover is somewhat unique in a genre where most covers are of openly suggestive. Erotic romance usually isn’t subtle in its book covers, and they’re mostly male-focused. Not that I mind. I love some eye-candy and those covers make for great marketing. I just wanted to go with something different, subtle, where the female can shine. Both characters are obscured on UHA’s book cover, the female especially, but anyone who sees it knows who is in charge. Rose. Thus the title Under Her Authority. That’s why I chose the cover photo with a background of Charlotte, where it takes place. I have the amazing cover artists at Totally Bound to thank for putting my idea into something tangible.

How do you choose the names of your characters?

My brother. No, seriously. I asked my younger brother to pick two names he liked and that is how the names Shane and Rosemary came about. You could say it’s my way of giving tribute to him and putting a piece of myself into the story.

If you could cast your characters in the Hollywood adaptation of your book, who would play your characters?

Wow, I haven’t even thought about it. No one comes to mind when I think of the actors/actresses I know.

I think I wouldn’t be so focused on appearances (i.e. who plays who) as I’d want the embodiment of the characters’ personalities to be spot on. For instance, whoever plays Shane needs to be able to have his same country-boy gone city charm. He’s cocky and arrogant but at heart, he still holds onto those small-town, gentlemanly, principles. Rose is a special character. She is someone who takes a huge risk and opens herself up after falling down again and again. Her courage to face her obstacles, even her own confusion, and doubt, is endless. Whoever plays Rose has to be as special as her. Continue reading

The Characters, The Fashion, The Boys, The Royals

With so many choices in what to watch, it is hard to find a show that’s truly binge-worthy, that’s why I am so glad I found The Royals.

I cannot remember where I first saw the preview for E! Entertainment’s first scripted drama, The Royals. You see, I don’t have cable, and I barely watch regular TV, so how I found out about this show is a bit of a mystery in my world. Anyhoo, I saw a preview somewhere and thought I would love to see this, it looked like a fun show.

It wasn’t until my sister bought me an Amazon Fire Stick to replace my aging Roku that I was able to see The Royals. That, coupled with Amazon’s free month trial of Prime put me on the path to my next obsession.

The Plot

From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_royal_family

The Royals Cast

Photo: Fan Pop

Helena is the matriarch of a fictional contemporary British royal family who must struggle with both common and atypical family dramas while in the public eye.

Twins Prince Liam and Princess Eleanor enjoy the hedonistic pleasures available to them as royals, knowing that their older brother Robert bears the responsibility of being heir to the throne of England. But when Robert is killed, the family is thrown into disarray and a grieving King Simon fears for the future of the monarchy.

Unexpectedly next in line for the throne, Liam must adjust to his new role while navigating his attraction to Ophelia, the American daughter of the royal head of security. His self-destructive [twin] sister, Eleanor finds rock-bottom when her bodyguard turns out to be a conman.

Trying to preserve the status quo and keep the royal family under her control, Queen Helena allies herself with Simon’s brother Cyrus to preserve their way of life at any cost.

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Chatting with Jennie Marts

Jennie Marts photoJennie Marts is the USA Today Best-selling author of award-winning books filled with love, laughter, and always a happily ever after. Readers call her books “laugh out loud” funny and the “perfect mix of romance, humor, and steam.” Fic Central claimed one of her books was “the most fun I’ve had reading in years.”

She is living her own happily ever after in the mountains of Colorado with her husband, two dogs, and a parakeet that loves to tweet to the oldies. She’s addicted to Diet Coke, adores Cheetos, and believes you can’t have too many books, shoes, or friends.

Her books include the contemporary western romance Hearts of Montana series, the romantic comedy/ cozy mysteries of The Page Turners series, the hunky hockey-playing men in the Bannister family in the Bannister Brothers Books, and the small-town romantic comedies in the Lovestruck series of Cotton Creek Romances.


Q&A

Describe yourself in five words or less. 

Funny, tender-hearted, hugger, kind, positive

Can you tell us a little about your book?

Skirting the Ice is the story of a buttoned-up accountant and a wildcat hockey player. Jack lives an uncomplicated life until his teenage crush moves back into the house next door–all grown up and sexy as hell. Murphy Ryan is still wild and reckless, and danger has followed her to Colorado. Jack will do whatever it takes to protect her, even it means letting her go…again.

Murphy is focused on building a new NHL women’s hockey team. But staying on her game is hard with the distraction, and the memories, of the hot nerd in the house next door. Jack Bannister had been her first kiss, and she wants him to be her last. With his dry humor and sexy glasses, being smart never looked so good.

Jack’s been given a chance to win back the one that got away, but worries this gorgeous hockey player is still out of his league. He’s kept his heart on ice, but now that Murphy’s back, she might be the one to finally thaw it.

If you had a theme song, what would it be?

My current theme song is Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song”. I just love the spirit and the power behind it. And it’s a great one to turn up loud in your car and just belt out those lyrics and they make you feel strong just by singing along.

Name one thing you won’t leave home without.
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On the Road to Becoming a Best Selling Author

Cate Beauman tourAuthor Cate Beauman shares her tragedies and triumphs on the road to becoming a published author.

I often hear others in the industry mention their love of the written word or how they knew they wanted to write stories for as long as they can remember. In my case, neither of those statements quite rings true. I hated reading as a young girl. It wasn’t until I was twenty that I had any desire to pick up a book and read for pleasure. I also never knew I wanted to be a storyteller until five short years ago.

For most of my adult life, I worked with children with moderate to severe special needs. I loved it. Then we moved to a new state and the career I had chosen turned into a nightmare. My new job was awful and I resigned after a month of coming home in tears every day. For about two weeks, I binge ate chocolate and reread my favorite Nora Roberts novels. And then an idea clicked. I decided I was going to be a writer and tell fascinating stories just like my most favorite author.

My husband came home from work and I shared my new ambition. I think he thought I had lost my mind, but he supported me anyway and has continued to be my biggest champion.

For weeks I sat at my computer, typing away, having no real idea of what I was doing, but I loved it and how hard could it be, anyway? For a long time, I thought I was a storytelling genius—that one person who could write down their words and would instantly be picked up for a writing contract as soon as I got my work into the right hands. Wrong!

I finished my first draft and joined an online writing community where I could trade critiques with other writers. I learned so much and realized I had a long way to go to improve my craft. I rewrote my novel twice before I sent it off for professional editing. And the editor emailed me the next day to tell me not to give up my day job and refused my manuscript.

For a good two weeks I went back to the chocolate and Nora books and was ready to give up, but my champion reminded me that an editor is just a human being with an opinion. Thankfully, I resubmitted my work to a new editor and he got started right away. While my editor helped me clean up my project, I got started on the next story, then the next. Within a year and a half, I had three completed novels on my hands and wavered on what I should do with them. Continue reading

Q&A with Chioma Nnani

Chioma NnaniOne of Africa’s most fearless storytellers, Chioma Nnani is the 2016 CREATIVE AFRICAN Awards finalist in the category of “Best Fiction Writer”, and a DIVAS OF COLOUR 2016 finalist.

Chioma has also been nominated twice for a UK BEFFTA (Black Entertainment Film Fashion Television and Arts) Award in the “Best Author” category.

A talented ghost-writer who is known for “being able to get into your head and under your skin, before writing down exactly how you’re feeling”, Chioma has been named “One of 100 Most Influential Creatives in 2016” by London-based C.Hub Magazine.

She holds a Law (LLB) from the University of Kent and a Postgraduate Certificate in Food Law (De Montfort University, Leicester).

She is the founder of THE FEARLESS STORYTELLER HOUSE EMPORIUM LTD (a premium storytelling outfit based in the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria, where she lives), typically contributes to lifestyle and literary publications, and runs the “Memo From A Fearless Storyteller” blogazine at http://www.fearlessstoryteller.com for which she won the 2016 BEFFTA (Black Entertainment Film Fashion Television and Arts) Award.

What is your writing process?

Work is easier when I do stuff in bite-size pieces. I do have lists of stuff that I need to achieve quarterly, monthly, then daily. I put writing into these lists and try to focus.

It’s funny, there are sometimes when I write with a deadline in mind and times when I don’t actually have a deadline … I’m going more with feeling it. I’m actually working on a collaborative autobiography and although we have a date by which we aim to launch, I’m writing it in pieces – so, I’ve written certain chapters, but I’m not sure which chapters they are; like chapter 1, 4, 7 or whatever.

At the moment, I write when I’m feeling it. But because there is a deadline, there will come a time when I have to be more cold and clinical and go, “Right, get this done now!” (laughing)

Describe your journey as an author so far.

It has been amazing. From my first novel, I’ve actually solidified a brand. I’m called “the fearless storyteller” and this book has given me credibility in ways I couldn’t imagine and opened doors and possibilities I didn’t even realize, existed.

Because of Forever There For You, I was offered my own radio show; it’s called “The Fearless Storyteller PowerXtra Show”. It’s with a London-based radio station, even though I am based in Nigeria and it’s on every Sunday from 1900 – 2000 hours GMT.

I have also launched my own storytelling company – The Fearless Storyteller House Emporium Ltd – through which we create, package and market quality reading, viewing and listening material for audiences across the globe. I have a blog called “Memo From A Fearless Storyteller” and we won the 2016 BEFFTA (Black Entertainment Film Fashion Television and Arts) award for “Blog of the Year”. The BEFFTAs are called “the Black Oscars”, so that … I don’t think I’ve gotten over that, yet. (laughing). I ghost-write as well, and I am working on more books so … yeah, definitely worth it.

How do you stay motivated? Continue reading

Kailee Reese Samuels Shares Juliet

The Initiation Juliet iconA young woman’s devastating reality ends up with her uncovering a world she never knew existed. While the submissive school poses as a backdrop, Juliet is a coming-of-age story. New adult elements of romance and suspense with an erotic BDSM flair set the stage for Iris Kettles to have the journey of a lifetime.

Wanting the primary focus to be the growth arch through the eyes of twenty-somethings, I built the Juliet world and cast to allow transparent relationships that ring true. I wanted to examine that phase where you don’t know who are or even really what you want.

In the pivotal meeting of Sal Raniero, Iris begins to question who she truly is and what she desires. Iris is new to the world of Juliet; Sal is an experienced alpha-sub morphing into a Dominant. Sal knows who he is meant to be, but the path to getting there is continually met with resistance.

Starting off as friends, Sal and Iris quickly find attraction in each other’s differences, but those different levels in experience and maturity unravel, triggering a chain of events. At very different points in their lives, they soon understand wanting one another does not guarantee survival of the relationship as they each need to mature.

Sal and Iris fight not only to thrive together but to survive those psychological and emotional challenges of a D/s relationship. The changes their love endures puts their romance in the spotlight beyond the collar.

What ensues is a roller coaster of a ride, filled with highs and lows as Sal and Iris navigate their way through the rough terrain of each other’s mental landscape. Examining their perceptions and misunderstandings helps to paint the picture of what it means to choose to be present and aware in finding true love.

Juliet is the beginning of an epic love story and the journey two people go through to find their truth in one another. Relationships are not always simply tied up with a bow; sometimes, they are quilted, piece by piece, forming the love affair to remember.

A love story doesn’t always go the way it should. Sometimes the path to forever is a twisting, spiraling, and flying ride. Come experience the heartache and pain, joy and intimacy that is Kailee Reese Samuels Juliet. Continue reading

Q&A with Lele Iturrioz

Lele author YASeasons Within, author, Lele Iturrioz joins us for our first session of the new series Book Talk. Plain Talk was part of Lele Iturrioz’s blog tour with Xpresso Book Tours.

When you develop characters and plot, do you already know who they are and what’s going to happen before you begin writing or do you let them develop as you go?

I’m a major planner. I have a huge binder with all the planning, ideas, outlines, characters, and everything for all of the five books. I plan everything and everyone ahead because if I know where my characters end up, it becomes easier for me to know how to get them there.

How did you get inspired to write your antagonist?

I got inspired by all those men who believed in something good that within time made them obsessed and turned radical.

Out of the protagonists you’ve written about so far, which one do you feel you relate to the most?

Everyone has a piece of me, even when I didn’t plan for it.

If you could spend time a character from your book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?

Veter (the wind wielder) and Priyam. I would fly and joke around all day.

What character in your book are you least likely to get along with?

Synthia… it even stresses me out each time I write about her. Continue reading

Southeastern Virginia Vs West Virginia

Robert Downs The Convenient EscapeAuthor Robert Downs shares his experience of moving from West Virginia to Southeastern Virginia; two towns we don’t hear too much about. Thanks to Robert we know a little more about them. Enjoy!

Southeastern Virginia was the first time I had ever lived on my own for more than just a summer or the college experience. It was my first introduction to the real world, and it’s such a beautiful place that I knew I would write about it someday. It’s often referred to as the Hampton Roads or Tidewater area, and it has a rather large military presence with Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and Air Force all located there. It’s filled with diverse cities and communities lined up next to each other like dominoes, and in many cases you’re never far from Chesapeake Bay or the Atlantic Ocean.

Bridge-Tunnels that dive beneath the water as well as rise above it fascinated me, as I had never seen anything like that before, and this was my first time living in a rather large metropolitan area.

The warm weather and rich history appealed to me, and living near the ocean was an entirely new experience. It’s also the longest I’ve lived in one area, since I migrated away from West Virginia. Independence has always been important to me, and that’s when I first truly began to write my own story. It also feels a bit isolated, because you’re over an hour from Richmond and I-95, and you’re also about three and a half hours from Washington, DC. It really feels like it’s own self-contained universe, and I have great memories of my time in that area, so it was easy for me to want to revisit it.

Growing up in a small town in West Virginia, I enjoyed the mountains painted in green, the open space, and interstates that had been carved from between the rocks. The Hampton Roads area had none of this. It was flat and filled with people, and the sand ran right up to the water’s edge. This was such an interesting world for me, and I haven’t read many novels set in Southeastern Virginia, so for a variety of reasons you could say the area appealed to me. Before I even realized it, the location became almost as important as the characters, and I couldn’t have set The Convenient Escape, or my previous three novels anywhere else. Continue reading