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.
Continue reading

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

Teri Anne Stanley shares her family’s Whiskey Sour Recipe

Author Teri Anne Stanley shares her family recipe for Whiskey Sour; a cocktail made from bourbon.

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Teri Anne Stanley Whiskey SourMost true bourbon aficionados would say that you should only drink Kentucky’s best with a little water, if you have to add anything at all. Some wouldn’t even condone ice. But seriously…how many people can drink straight whiskey without making that face? You know the one. The “HOLY CRAP, MY ENTIRE BODY’S GOING TO CATCH ON FIRE!” face.

And if the bourbon industry turned their nose up at the cocktail mixers of the world, they wouldn’t sell much liquor, would they?

Besides, there are so many awesome cocktails that include bourbon, that it would be very wrong to ignore them.

There’s the Old Fashioned, which is made with whiskey, bitters, simple syrup, a twist of orange and a cherry. The Manhattan, which has bourbon, vermouth (bleh!) and a cherry (I detect a theme!). Don’t forget about the Mint Julep…mint, sugar, bourbon…

And my old family favorite, the Whiskey Sour. I remember getting to have a tiny bit of this on special occasions when I was younger. It was sure better than the beer we’d maybe possibly try to sneak out of the garage refrigerator! The traditional recipe calls for fresh lemon juice, sugar, and whiskey, but here’s the Big Dick version (Big Dick was my dad, Richard. Not a commentary on the character or man parts of anyone):

1 can of frozen lemonade

Dump the contents of the can into a blender

1 can of bourbon

Use the lemonade can. It will help rinse all the lemonade into the blender.

Add a bunch of ice and grind the heck out of everything, until you have a slurry.

1 can of Sprite

Give it a quick mix.

You gotta do that part last, because 1), if you add the Sprite after the bourbon, you’ll be sure to rinse out any residual liquor that would otherwise go to waste stuck to the inside of the can, which would be wrong, and 2) the fizzy in the Sprite would go whizzy if you added it before you blenderized it.

Pour into glasses, give to guests, and watch Mom start to act silly.

Cheers! Continue reading

12 Questions with Lisa Hahn

I got the opportunity to interview author Lisa Hahn. Thank you, Lisa for visiting Plain Talk!

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

Cat (the heroine) and her best friend Abby are cool girls. When they hang out, they keep things quiet and low key. That’s what I like.

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

Marcy is the resident mean girl in the Bretton Falls Ballet Company. I had little tolerance for girls like her when I was dancing.

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

My sister-in-law designed the cover for me. I typically have a difficult time picturing what I’d like on the cover, so I give the artists I work with a fair amount of freedom.

4.      How do you choose the names of your characters?

I almost always consult a census to be sure the names are appropriate for the time period. Ultimately, I try to pick names that reflect the characters and the families they came from. After all, in the real world, their parents would likely be the people responsible for naming them.

5.      What book do you wish you could have written?

I’m finishing Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Boys series right now, and I often find myself feeling envious of her beautiful prose.

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

Questions like this are always so difficult to answer because I know so little about pop culture and contemporary Hollywood. Milo Ventimiglia or Kit Harrington would be good candidates for Dmitri. I’m stuck on who would play Cat. The actress would have to be quite petite, as Cat is a waiflike woman who barely clears 5’0’’. I know Natalie Portman has already played a ballerina, but maybe she’d be interested in giving it another go. Continue reading

Q&A about Seasons Within by Lele Iturrioz

Lele Seasons Within authorWhat genre are your books?

Seasons Within is a YA fantasy book. It has romance, adventure, and quirky humor.

How did you get interested in writing this particular genre?

I love fantasy. I like the idea of new worlds and possibilities beyond what we can achieve. I like stories where anyone ordinary can become extraordinary.

What is Seasons Within about?

It´s about a teenage redhead with unusual markings on her wrist that goes by the name of G.

Unlike most teenage girls, G doesn’t know her real name, she doesn’t know where she came from and she doesn’t know who she’s meant to become. G’s life before the age of six has been a mystery to her.

Each night for the last twelve years she’s been haunted by the same nightmare—a war. Horrendous beasts, warriors able to wield the four elements, and a boy who saves her by means of blue fire taunt her memory. But on her eighteenth birthday, G’s life begins to unravel. When she meets her new Chemistry professor, a man with.

How did you come up with the idea?

One day I was walking around with my headphones while listening to Breath of Life by Florence and the Machine (Awesome song!). The street was covered with hundreds of leafs and when the wind came, it made all the leaves fly. In my perspective and with the headphones it looked as if they were dancing, so I lifted my arms and danced among the flying leafs. Besides the fact that I looked like a crazy person swinging my arms to the sky, for a moment I felt like I was the one moving them.

And that’s how G, my main character was born, a girl who had the power to move Nature in a world that was possible.

How did you come up with the title?

The title is based on two things, the first one is that G has the power to wield all elements, she has the four seasons within herself and the second one is that the seasons represent the year she has before her Resurgence.

How old are your characters?

G turns 18 at the beginning of the book. The rest are between 15 to 24 years old. Continue reading

Smart is the New Sexy

Jennie Marts photoAuthor Jennie Marts gives us 5 reasons why smart got sexy.

In Skirting The Ice, the third and newest book in the Bannister Brothers series, a hot nerd meets his match with a wildcat hockey player. Sparks fly in this second chance romance where opposites attract and a cute nerd gets a chance to win back his teenage crush.

Buttoned-up accountant Jack Bannister 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.

This story is a wild ride that will make you smile and root for the underdog, which in this case is a hot accountant with glasses, asthma, and great abs. But brains can overcome brawn and here’s 5 Reasons why Smart Just Got Sexy: Continue reading