Tuesday, May 19, 2015

“Take Five” with Pampered Pets Mystery Series authors Sparkle Abbey!


One of the very best things about working with a new publisher is new author friends! Since being contracted by BelleBooks (writing contemporaries as Dana Ransom for Bell Bridge Books and vampire romance as Nancy Gideon for ImaJinn) my Kindle runneth over with exciting, heart-tugging, and downright hilarious reads. 

As a lover of all things fur, fin and feather, how could I resist titles such as Desperate Housedogs, Get Fluffy and Kitty Kitty Bang Bang in the Pampered Pets cozy mystery series by Sparkle Abbey? Right off the bat, I’ll solve the first mystery – Sparkle Abbey is actually TWO writers. I don’t want to spoil everything so I’ll let the authors “Take Five” with a little Q & A.

First, meet Sparkle Abbey.



Sparkle Abbey is the pseudonym of mystery authors Mary Lee Woods and Anita Carter. They’ve chosen to use Sparkle Abbey as their pen name on this series because they liked the idea of combining the names of their two rescue pets – Sparkle (ML’s cat) and Abbey (Anita’s dog). The authors co-write the bestselling Pampered Pets Mystery Series which focuses on the wacky world of precious pedigrees, pampered pooches, and secrets in posh Laguna Beach, California. The main characters and amateur sleuths are Texas cousins, Carolina Lamont, a pet therapist, and Melinda Langston, a pet boutique owner. The first books in the series, Desperate Housedogs, Get Fluffy, Kitty Kitty Bang Bang, Yip/Tuck, Fifty Shades of Greyhound, and The Girl with the Dachshund Tattoo have received rave reviews. Midwest Book Review calls the series, “A fun and sassy mystery!”

The next installment, coming in June, Downton Tabby, is currently available for pre-order on Amazon. The authors love to hear from readers so stop by their Website or visit them on Facebook and Twitter to check out all their news.

And now “Take Five”


1. Is there a story behind your unique and uber fun series concept?

There is a story and like most authors’ stories, it begins with rejections. You see we’d both been writing for while and submitting our writing to editors/agents. We’d each had some minor successes: contest wins, nibbles of interest, but no sale. Then we were attending a conference where we had a chance to sit and talk informally with a NY agent who advised us that if we wanted to write cozy mysteries we needed a stronger hook. (Cooking, knitting, antiques, scrapbooking, etc.) We brainstormed ideas and hit a lot of dead ends. Our thinking was that if we were going to do a series it should be something we had some expertise in, and also something we truly cared about. When we hit on the idea of a series around pampered pets, it seemed natural to work together on it, as we’d come up with idea together.

2. Do readers ever catch on to a difference in Sparkle Abbey’s writing voice between Caro and Mel’s books?

That’s an interesting question, Nancy. Our publisher tells us though not exactly alike that the voices are so similar they can hardly tell the difference. At first many readers didn’t notice any difference at all in the voices. We had one or two comments but that’s about it. However, as we’ve had a chance to meet more of our readers in person, there are some who notice a few differences. Because the books have two difference protagonists, the slight difference in voices seems to work in our favor.

3. Do you ever write parts of the other’s book or is it “Step away from the keyboard”?

We edit each other’s books and make suggestions, but we’ve never actually written full sections. We’ve talked with a lot of other collaborators and it seems there’s no one way to write together. The writing team seems to figure out a hybrid that works for them.

4. Ever have stylistic or artistic differences when plotting or with character development? How are they settled?

We have very few differences and we think that’s partially a product of the way we collaborate. However, of course, we sometimes have different views on plot or characters and we’ve always settled the differences by figuring out what is the best solution for the story or character development. Collaborating definitely means setting egos aside!

5. What’s the most fun, the plotting, the writing or the promoting?

We love the plotting! We’re both plotters and love setting up the twists and turns of the story. Although it morphs and changes as we begin the writing, we love thinking through the “what if” scenarios of building a story. This often involves a plotting retreat with white boards, sticky notes, and lots of chocolate.

Extra Credit: What’s next for our daring Pet Detectives?

The next book (out in June) is Downton Tabby which is a Caro book, and up after that is, Raiders of the Lost Bark, a Mel book.

My take on the Pampered Pets series – I LOVE it! It was a toss-up whether to start with dogs or cats. The cats may have won out but I was quick to go right from there to the dogs. What delightful reads! The characters are as unique and eccentric as their pets. The dialogue is quick and snappy. You can’t read it without a smile. I adore Caro and Mel and their madcap (and wonderfully drawn!) friends who make you feel like part of the neighborhood. The clever twists and turns of plot snatch you up and take you on a hands in the air ride. A good thing you don’t have to get off – the next installment is just a One Click away. In fact, Downtown Tabby is enjoying its cover reveal today over on Goodreads.

It’s a dog’s (and cat’s) life and I’m thrilled to be a part of this one!

Friday, May 8, 2015

It’s a Big Deal! FROM THIS DAY FORWARD just $1.99!

What a thrill to have my Dana Ransom contemporary FROM THIS DAY FORWARD selected by Amazon to be part of their Big Deal promotion in May! Enjoy this original romance for only $1.99 just in time for Mother’s Day!


Amazon Big Deal!

Can two broken hearts make a perfect match?

Widowed on her honeymoon, Robyn Lee pours all her unfulfilled dreams of a happily-ever-after into her wedding planner business, hiding her own heartbreak by making perfect memories for couples beginning the loving future she was denied. The last thing she needs is for the brother of her dream client--whose endorsement will guarantee Robyn's success--to rock the boat . . . and her regimented world. 

Through the lens of his camera, photojournalist Kyle Travers has witnessed all the ugliness life can offer. Still reeling from the death of his coworker in the field, he sees the frilly job of photographer at his sister's wedding as an annoyance--until he meets the steely organizer who protects her broken spirit almost as fiercely as he does his own--making him wonder if two fractured halves can make a stronger whole. 

Because spring turns thoughts (and deeds!) to romance, here’s a glimpse of Kyle and Robyn as that first big thaw begins to warm things up . . .
“How’s the coffee?” she asked, impatiently. The nonverbal suggestion was Drink up and hit the road. Contrarily, he took a small sip.

“It’s good. Strong and black, just the way I like it. Just the way I need it to get out of bed in the morning.”

He saw her get all edgy at that reference, as if struggling not to imagine him getting out of bed. Or in bed. And he smiled at her, looking smug and lazy and as inviting as rumpled sheets. And because he had her running scared, she blurted out the next sentence without forethought.

“Last night was a mistake.”

His expression didn’t alter as he studied hers. “I’ll say.” Then, just as she began to relax, he added, “Next time I’ll put the chain lock on.”

A shiver of desperate tension rose up through her. “There won’t be a next time, Kyle.”

Who was she trying to convince with that staunch claim? He didn’t believe it, not after the way her mouth had followed him down to the sofa cushions. She didn’t believe it, either, not when he could see the way her hands clutched at the wedding photo.

He could do one of two things. He could be a gentleman and back off to a cautious distance or he could plunge full steam ahead to rock her off her safe pedestal of grief.

He was a full steam ahead kind of guy.

“Why? I know you liked it and I know you like me. Admit it, Robyn. You’re crazy about me, and it’s driving you crazy.” 

“I am not!”

“Yes, you are.”

“I’m not! I find you the most insufferable, rudely arrogant man I’ve ever met!”

“And you love it, don’t you? Come on, Robyn, you do. Because I’m not predictable. Because you can’t write me off in a nice little column in your protocol book. Because I make your heart race and your palms sweat and your mouth water.”

“I think you’re describing symptoms of the flu. That’s what I was suffering from last night.”

He laughed with more confidence than he was feeling. “I don’t think I was making you sick to your stomach. I think you’re just scared to death of what would have happened if Judy hadn’t walked in.”

“You’re wrong!”

“Am I? I don’t think so. And I don’t think you think so either. And I can prove it to you.”

He took a quick step forward and he could see her sway, part of her wanting to yield, part of her wanting to run. He’d never seen so much panic in another’s eyes. It gave his conscience a nasty yank, but it didn’t stop him. He was, after all, no saint.

The moment his head dipped down, hers ducked too, causing his nose to collide with the top of her head. The sudden, swimming pain of it caused him to hesitate, but not to retreat. His grip on her tightened even as her palms were levering against his chest, pushing. But her fingers clung.

“Kyle, don’t.” There was so much anguish in her tone. A gentleman would have relented but she already knew he wasn’t a gentleman.

“Robyn, don’t be afraid,” he said into the soft spill of her hair. “Don’t be ashamed of what you’re feeling.”

“Kyle, please . . .”

“He’s gone, Robyn. You can’t bring him back. You can’t keep hanging on.”

“I don’t want to let go.” But at that moment, she did, releasing all the pent up emotions, all the festering grief. She leaned into the soft, faded fleece of his Pistons sweatshirt and sobbed like a baby with a broken heart. Instantly, his arms enfolded her, all thoughts of passion overwhelmed by those of care. Then it hit him, and hit him hard. 

When had he fallen in love with Robyn Lee?

Happy Spring and Happy Reading! Make today a Big Deal and look for these other contemporaries under my Dana Ransom name:


  

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

IWSG: Spring Has Sprung - Renew, Revive and Rejuvenate!

Spring is the time to shake off the shackles of winter inactivity, to throw open the doors and windows, breathe deep, and start cleaning. For me, it’s going from this:


To this:


For me, the harbinger of spring has always been my Mid-Michigan chapter of RWA’s Retreat from Harsh Reality in April. For three days, we writers gather to relax, brainstorm, critique, reconnect with our friends and our projects, and refocus our energies in a laidback atmosphere that over the past 30 years has gone from dorm rooms at the local university to posh accommodations at a lakeside resort. While we’ve always featured fabulous speakers and casual workshops and events, the main attraction for me has always been a place to Retreat. To get away.

As writers, moms and dads, students, 9-to-5ers, etc. we get so busy with the busyness of day-to-day we often forget to just take a minute to step back and breathe. To let mind and body rest so we can invite inspiration back in on the next inhalation. I was lucky this spring to not only attend our Retreat, but to escape altogether for a weeklong trip to visit my critique partner in AZ. Every morning I was able to get up early (still on Michigan time) and take my coffee to a special office niche to watch the desert come alive around a trickling fountain. Can you say peaceful oasis? Because the WiFi was limited, I couldn’t download the proofs I was supposed to be doing or engage in Social Media. So I found myself pulled back into the W-I-P I’d been struggling with, and before the week was out had four chapters complete and the rest of the book solidly plotted. Amazing what the mind can do when distractions are limited to the beauty of nature. Le sigh . . .



I know we can’t all pack up our troubles and tensions to escape for a week. Sometimes finding even a few hours is difficult enough. But take time to make time. Find a quiet place in the sun to watch the world move around you and let mind and spirit wander. Seek out like-minded souls who awaken the passion in your writer’s heart. Then it becomes that much easier to not just grow where you’re planted . . . but to thrive.

Because in Spring thoughts turn to Romance, I’m excited that Amazon selected my w/a Dana Ransom contemporary title FROM THIS DAY FORWARD for their Big Deal promotion. Starting May 8, it’s available for just $1.99 (!). Take a copy to the beach or the deck or someplace you can dream and lose yourself between the pages.





Can two broken hearts make a perfect match?

Widowed on her honeymoon, Robyn Lee pours all her unfulfilled dreams of a happily-ever-after into her wedding planner business, hiding her own heartbreak by making perfect memories for couples beginning the loving future she was denied. The last thing she needs is for the brother of her dream client--whose endorsement will guarantee Robyn's success--to rock the boat . . . and her regimented world.

Through the lens of his camera, photojournalist Kyle Travers has witnessed all the ugliness life can offer. Still reeling from the death of his coworker in the field, he sees the frilly job of photographer at his sister's wedding as an annoyance--until he meets the steely organizer who protects her broken spirit almost as fiercely as he does his own--making him wonder if two fractured halves can make a stronger whole.

Nancy Gideon, writing as Dana Ransom, is the award-winning author of over 55 romances in a number of genres including historical, contemporary suspense, and paranormal. She works full time as a legal assistant in Southwestern Michigan, and when not at the keyboard, feeds a Netflix addiction along with all things fur, fin, and fowl. She's also written under the pen names Rosalyn West and Lauren Giddings.





Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time.

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Twitter hashtag is #IWSG
IWSG awesome co-hosts for the May 6 posting of the IWSG will be Eva Solar, Melanie Schulz, Lisa-Buie Collard, and Stephen Tremp!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Spring Fling Giveaway Hop!


Spring is here and it's time for a big giveaway from Laughing Vixen Lounge. 11 shops have come together to create one amazing Prize Pack ($280+) full of Jewelry, Perfume, Clothing, Vintage and much more! Many of the shops offer items perfect for any book lover along with lots of other unique, handcrafted and custom designs.


The Fabulous Spring Giveaway is open worldwide. 1 winner will win the Prize Pack. You can enter via the Rafflecopter below. Please visit the Laughing Vixen Lounge Blog and the Main Giveaway Post HERE to see the full prize list, participating shops and daily features during the giveaway.


Since Summer is right around the corner the giveaway theme is Vacation Memories. Each of our participating shops, and many of our blog sponsors, will be sharing some of their favorite vacation photos with you.
So far my spring vacation has taken me from poolside in Oro Valley, AZ (yes, that backdrop of the Catalina Mountains was hard to take!) to lakeside at our Mid-Michigan Romance Writers of America retreat at Bay Pointe Inn, Gun Lake, MI and from 89-degree cloudless skies to 33-degree snow flurries all in the space of a mid-month week in April. 





Relaxing, exhausting, revitalizing and awesome! And both provided fabulous shopping ops from wine in Tombstone to books by my favorite authors.

Even though I couldn’t take you along in my carry-on bag, I can share the Spring Has Sprung excitement via this wonderful giveway!


Giveaway runs May 4th - 18th. Laughing Vixen Lounge is responsible for all giveaway details. See full details HERE.


And Other Big News!

Because Spring turns thoughts to romance, I'm thrilled to announce that Amazon has selected my w/a Dana Ransom contemporary FROM THIS DAY FORWARD as part of its Big Deal promotion! It will be available for just $1.99 (!) starting on May 8th - just in time for Mother's Day.



Can two broken hearts make a perfect match?

Widowed on her honeymoon, Robyn Lee pours all her unfulfilled dreams of a happily-ever-after into her wedding planner business, hiding her own heartbreak by making perfect memories for couples beginning the loving future she was denied. The last thing she needs is for the brother of her dream client--whose endorsement will guarantee Robyn's success--to rock the boat . . . and her regimented world.

Through the lens of his camera, photojournalist Kyle Travers has witnessed all the ugliness life can offer. Still reeling from the death of his coworker in the field, he sees the frilly job of photographer at his sister's wedding as an annoyance--until he meets the steely organizer who protects her broken spirit almost as fiercely as he does his own--making him wonder if two fractured halves can make a stronger whole.

Nancy Gideon, writing as Dana Ransom, is the award-winning author of over 55 romances in a number of genres including historical, contemporary suspense, and paranormal. She works full time as a legal assistant in Southwestern Michigan, and when not at the keyboard, feeds a Netflix addiction along with all things fur, fin, and fowl. She's also written under the pen names Rosalyn West and Lauren Giddings.