Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Book Promo by Toni Sweeney

Sometimes Love Doesn’t Have to be Put into Words…

Sign language…

Most people are aware of it today…the graceful twirling of fingers and hands representing words and phrases so those unable to hear or speak may communicate. How many have seen an interpreter signing as someone makes a speech or a pastor gives a sermon?

Modern science has enabled many deaf persons to hear again and also to speak, but signing is a boon to those who can’t be helped.  Think of being in a room full of people, all speaking at once, yet none making a sound.

This wasn’t always the case. Once having a deaf child, and subsequently one who was also mute because he couldn’t hear, was considered retribution from God for some transgression.

Though sign language had been known in Great Britain as early as 1570, there were no set methods for teaching those who couldn’t hear, Parents communicated with a few gestures which the stricken one came to learn meant specific actions. Occasionally the child would grunt an acknowledgement, not real words, but something showing it understood.

That changed in 1760 when Thomas Braidwood, a teacher from Edinburgh, founded Braidwoods’ Academy for the Deaf and Dumb. This was considered a highly-startling endeavor since it was the first school for the deaf in the kingdom. In fact, some people thought it a scandal since a good many families believed to try and change the deafness of a child was an affront to the Diety.

Braidwood managed to change that opinion by teaching the children of some very influential people. Soon the Academy was thriving and giving hope to many youngsters and an occasional adult. Several of the people coming to be taught stayed to be trained as teachers and later went back to their homes to open their own schools.

One of the men trained by Braidwood was Joseph Watson who became the headmaster of the first public school for the deaf.

That’s the theme of Love is Silent

…and here the story of Anna Leighton, teacher of the deaf, and David, Baron Mayfield, begins.

In my novel, Watson trains the fictitious Rupert McAdam who returns to London to open the McAdam Academy. The school uses the method called sign-supported speech, which incorporated both speaking words aloud while simultaneously signing them.

When Dr. McAdam receives a letter from the Right Honourable Eleanor Wood, asking for a tutor for her younger brother who has been deaf since the age of five, following a carriage accident in which his nanny and parents were killed, the doctor suggests his best teacher of young children.  Anna Leighton came to his school to learn signing so she could teacher her younger sister who lost her hearing after a bout of red measles. She’s such a good teacher, he hires her to help other youngsters.

Anna will be the best person for the young baron, he decides.

What he doesn’t know is that the baron is no child. He’s a young man approaching his majority, and his lands and title are threatened by a cousin wishing to have him declared incompetent so he can inherit.  David Woods’ entire future depends on what Anna can teach him, and she has only a few months to do so.

Because he lost his hearing at age five, David can still speak a few words and has rudimentary reading skills as well as the remnants of near-forgotten manners. He has a habit of asking embarrassing question in public places, however, and, from his association with young men in a nearby village, a most crass sense of humor.  His only friend is his horse and the two are nearly inseparable. In fact, David spends most of his day out riding who-knows-where.

Nevertheless, Anna senses an inquiring intelligence behind his undisciplined exterior. David reveals he’s eager to learn…unfortunately the things he wishes most to know can’t be found in any book, and they involve Anna in a very intimate way.

More unfortunately, Anna finds herself responding to his earnest but often crude overtures…

Love is Silent is a romance set in a period of manners and artifice, when young men were well-mannered, well-spoken, and expected to have survived a series of affairs before settling into marriage.  David has experienced none of that, though with Anna’s help, he’s quite willing to do the latter.

The only question is…will Anna survive the scandal if it’s discovered what she and her pupil have done?

Love is Silent is available from Class Act Books in both electronic and paperback forms.


Find out more about Toni V. Sweeney and her pseudonym Icy Snow Blackstone at:

Twitter: @ToniVSweeney

Monday, January 25, 2016

This week author Irene Vartanoff joins us with her tip
Irene Vartanoff is a U.S. writer of women's stories, including superheroine adventure, contemporary romance, and women's fiction.

Writing Tip: Salty Language: Yes or No?

Recently I've seen several online discussions about the use of what is euphemistically referred to as salty language. This can mean both profanity (taking the various names of God in vain) or obscenity (using f-bombs and other words that historically the FCC has not allowed on the air waves and the New York Times has not deemed "fit to print"). Also, words that usually get caught in porn spam catchers. In between, there are words like "damn" and "hell" and "crap" that lie uneasily on the spectrum. Are they profane or obscene? No, but they could be called vulgar. Then again, to actually curse, old school, you have to say something like what Monterone says to Rigoletto in the opera of the same name: "Sii maledetto!" ("I curse you!") So there's a lot of ground covered by these words we casually throw into—or out of—our stories.

There are two basic extremes of reaction that readers tend to express. On the one end are the people who identify themselves as wanting to read "clean" books. They object to everything, flat out. No, you can't say "Jeez" or "God," and no, you can't say "Eff you and the horse you came in on." Also, no, you can't say, "Where's my damn coffee?" but you might, just possibly, get away with a heartfelt, "May you rot in Hell!"

On the other end of the spectrum are the people who say they would laugh at a novel featuring, for instance, a military character who didn't use vulgar words and "curse like a sailor." To them, a story is not true or realistic if everybody in it watches their language. Unless your story is all about teatime at Aunt Edna's, tame language will not go over well with them.

What's a writer to do? How do we make our stories accessible and acceptable to the widest variety of readers, yet still write characters who come across as true to life?

One choice is to go ahead and use whatever "bad words" you want, and post warnings on your blurb copy. Then let the chips fall where they may, and if some people give you one-star reviews based on language alone, so be it. Another option is to not allow certain bad guys in a story to talk much at all. In many stories, they don't have to. Their role is to move the action along, not to engage your James Bond style hero in witty repartee. A third choice is to use euphemisms such as "eff you," which I at first attempted to do in my latest novel, Saving the Soldier. This fell flat to the beta readers. They advised me to go with a fourth option, circumlocutions such as "he cursed." I really wanted my hero to attempt to shock my heroine, but I realized in time that I'd only end up shocking my readers. Saving the Soldier is a sweet contemporary romance, one I'd like readers at both ends of the realism spectrum to enjoy reading. So I skated around the edge. Let me know if you think it works.

Here's a Saving the Soldier excerpt to show what I did:
“Why don’t you start living your life again?” Paula Barton spoke sharply to JD Selkirk as he lay in a Veterans Administration hospital bed in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
She had a helluva nerve. Paula was his sister Tess’s friend, not his. Paula often tagged along on his family’s daily visits. Today, she was his only visitor.
He asked, “Where’s my family? They’re usually here by now.”
Paula put her hands on her generous hips. “Would you stop trying to change the subject? When are you going to get on with your life?”
Why Paula came to bother him, day in and day out, he didn’t get. She was a good-looking woman, if you liked the pushy, no-nonsense type. Which he didn’t. Probably came from her father owning half of Oregon. She was always brimming with self-confidence, with easy solutions to tough problems. She didn’t even bother with makeup the way other women did. He wouldn’t call Paula plain. She had big, dark eyes and pale skin that contrasted well with her dark hair. She had an attractive full figure, too, though she did nothing to show it off.
“Why don’t you wear jewelry like other women?” He didn’t feel like chitchat. Why was she here at all?
Paula’s expression froze. She crossed her arms—defensive gesture for sure—and gazed at him, taking his measure and making it clear from her expression that she thought he stunk. He did, too. He felt like dirt today and Paula being here annoyed him, so tough on her.
“JD, what I look like doesn’t matter a hill of beans to you. You pick on people to push them away. Not playing that game.”
He cursed her out, but the words that usually drove Tess to tears had no effect on her friend.
“Filth mouth doesn’t move me,” she said caustically. “You’ve been rotting in this VA hospital for nearly a year and a half. It’s past time for you to get on with your life.”
He tried a few more choice words, ending with “and who are you to tell me what I should do?”
“I’m a friend. You got a raw deal from your Army service, but that’s the past. Now it’s time for you to help out your family.”
“Why don’t you just leave?” he said sourly.
“Why don’t you make me?” she asked, fire in her dark eyes.

Buy link (Saving the Soldier is an Amazon ebook and available in paperback at):
U.S. Amazon

You can find Irene at:

Thanks Irene for dropping by and sharing that great marketing tip.

Don’t forget to check back next week for another author’s tip or tweak.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Goals; Obstacles; Where are you 3 weeks into the New Year?

Rhobin came up with a great topic for our group this month. What are one (or two) writing projects you want to accomplish this year? What will be any obstacles you might encounter?  

Okay so two projects I’d like to accomplish this year. Number one is to advertise. So far I haven’t done any paid advertising. I was advised to write, publish and when you got four or five books, then advertise. I think I’m there. Now I need to research ads and cost, and cost effectiveness. Then budget for the year and plan the ads for the books and new releases.

Number two project is to start writing novellas. Novellas apparently are good advertising and people buy them.

So, besides the novellas, I also want to edit and publish a minimum of two more books. I’m sure I can manage that.

As for the obstacles, I’m already behind. The biggest ones right now are – I’ve had a cold, sinus, cough that’s lasted four weeks; sporadic wi-fi; and I’m still struggling with Windows 10 after my motherboard crashed and I had to but a new laptop. I’m already way behind. Also there could be budget constraints. The biggest challenge is everything is in US dollars. I’m Canadian and the Canadian dollar keeps dropping, so that could affect my plans for the year.

But I have a positive attitude. My health will return, my wifi will work and the Canadian dollar will improve.

I’m looking forward to the goals and challenges of or other authors and if anyone has suggestions for advertising, I’d love to hear them.
Check out the other authors for their goals and obstacles.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Promo - Liberty Empowered

I am so pleased to share my latest release, LIBERTY EMPOWERED, Book 3 in the Isle of Fangs Series.

I love a good vampire story, but I am aware the market is saturated with them. Although I am a huge Vampire Diaries and True Blood fan (not so much, Twilight, no offense to Twlight fans), I never thought I would write a vampire story of my own, not unless I could come up with something that would inspire me and would be a unique take on vampires.   When the idea for vampires on a tropical island, a (female) Van Helsing descendant, and going back to traditional vampire lore occurred to me, the series was born. :) Books 1 and 2 have done pretty well, and I am thrilled to now have Book 3 available. Hope you enjoy!
She’s striving to embrace her nature…he’s fighting to restrain his.


Vampire hunter Liberty Van Helsing is responsible for protecting the humans living on Sang Croc, a tropical island in the French Polynesia. While striving to improve her recently acquired hunting skills, Liberty wrestles with her attraction to vampire, Eli Barkley, estranged son of Rupert, leader of the Evil Ones. 
Then the grandparents of a young girl—who Liberty has befriended—is snatched by the Evil Ones, and Rupert offers Liberty a deal: herself for the hostages. 
Rupert is certain his son will, in turn, voluntarily trade himself to save Liberty. Liberty has a better idea. Launch a rescue into Rupert's stronghold. But first she must tap into the elusive Van Helsing strength, and convince Eli he's not like his father... not anymore.


A few hours later, the restaurant cleared out, giving Liberty her opportunity to speak with Ryan. She approached as he was wiping down the bar.

"Hey, how's it going?" A hint of pain hovered in his brown eyes. She wished she could take it away, but giving false hope was just as cruel. Besides, he'd hurt her too. She wasn't ready to give him another chance. "Crazy night, huh?"

"Yeah. Crazy." She shook her money-stuffed apron. "But, cha'ching, right?"

He laughed. "That's what it's all about." He threw the towel over his shoulder and leaned his hands on the bar, revealing the Australian flag tattoo on his muscled forearm. "What did you need to talk to me about?"

She jerked her gaze away from the sexy tattoo and slid onto a barstool. "I need you to tell me where Rupert's compound is."

He narrowed his eyes. "Eli knows where it is. Did you ask him?"

"I can't ask him. I don't want him to know I'm looking for it."

"You're not planning on doing something stupid, are you?"

"It's not stupid."

"If you're planning to try to rescue the Rankins, then yes, it's stupid. Eli will be mad as a cut snake when he finds out."

She blew a breath out between pursed lips. "I have to help them. All I need you to do is tell me where I can find them."

"Are you nuts?"

"Do you think I can stand by and let those poor people be slaughtered?"

"You can't save everyone, Liberty."

She let out a sigh and tucked a hank of hair behind her ear. "Of course not, but I've looked into Hannah's face. If it were my family, I'd want someone to save them."

"You can't do this on your own. You need to let Eli help."

"No way. He'll just try to stop me. He doesn't give a damn about her grandparents. Tell me where the compound is."

Ryan rubbed his hands over his face and shook his head. "On one condition."

"And that is?" She had a feeling she wouldn't like his answer.

"I go with you."

"No, no way. I won't let you take that kind of risk."

His jaw tightened. "I get it. You're the big bad hunter, and I'm just a bloody deadhead."

"Well, I don't know what that is." She spoke lightly. "But I'm pretty sure you aren't one." She laid her hand over his. "Please. I just can't risk anyone else."

He pulled his hand away and crossed his arms over his chest. "Sorry. That's the deal. Take it or leave it."

"Ugh... okay, fine. You can go." She glanced around the bar, spotting Bianca stocking condiments on one of the tables. "But your sister will kill me if anything happens to you."

"You don't have to worry about that." He grinned. "We'll probably both die. If the EO's don't kill us." He leaned forward and whispered in her ear. "Eli will."

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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Tuesday Tips and Tucson

I had a cancellation so I thought let’s do a little traveling. Setting is very important in a book. You can set your book anywhere these days with the internet, but if possible it’s fun to visit the location you choose. In Hunted I set the beginning of the book in the Empress Hotel in Victoria, BC where I had visited many times. I moved the setting to Montana where I have visited, but not on a ranch, so I had to do more research there.

A Cruise to Remember is mostly set on a cruise ship and I had done a few cruises through the Caribbean at that time.

Right now I’m in Tucson. I haven’t set a book here, but I’m considering it. The sunsets are amazing. I love the desert and the cacti, when they are blooming, are gorgeous. Did you know there are 51 species of cactus in this area?
Do you ever visit a setting when you're writing a book, or maybe write the book and set it someplace you've visited or know well?

And here's a quick and easy recipe for you to try.
Tucson Guacamole
1 8oz package soft cream cheese
3 very ripe avocadoes – peeled and pitted
½ cup chilies
1-2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
Dash of pepper
½ teaspoon salt

In a bowl, beat cream cheese with an electric mixer until smooth. Add 2 avocados, chilies, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper; beat until fairly smooth.
Gently mix in remaining avocado, leaving it a little chunky. Serve immediately or store in refrigerator.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

New Book - the Cats of Cullaby Creek

Today’s new book, to be released January 21, 2016 is the Cats of Cullaby Creek.

Think The Animorphs” Grown Up

RELEASE DATE: January 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62135-483-3






Love is in the Air, something else is in the water
Kelly and Kyle
These two shared some sort of history. And now I was in the middle of their story.
Sparks flew through the air. But, they didn’t seem to notice—or maybe they just didn’t care how uncomfortable they were making the rest of us.
I scanned the room. The terribly odd thing was that while they stood in the center of the cafeteria—arguing—everyone’s eyes were on me.
What is so interesting about me?
After a few seconds, I heard whispered accusations slammed back and forth, like a ping-pong ball. My name, muttered in odd and angry tones. No one seemed to mind staring at me, but only the bravest few were sneaking sideways glances over at Kelly and Kyle, hoping no one noticed.
This wasn’t what I needed on my first day at a new school. I hadn’t come here looking for instant enemies, but I knew I’d accidentally stirred a private pot and things were already starting to boil.
I needed to do something and quick. From the sounds floating around me, if they got into an actual argument, I was going to get the blame.
I spit out the first words I could think to say, “What’s a new kid to do, after school, around here… for fun?”
Kyle sighed and chuckled, “That depends on what you’re hoping to find and what you think is fun.” He stepped back away from Kelly for a moment. “You big city kids always think something needs to be going on. But in real life, in a small town, not much ever happens.”
“We could ask my Mom to drive us into Astoria to do some shopping,” I suggested. It was a little too obvious—even to me—Kelly wanted me out of the picture and was trying everything she could think of to keep me away from Kyle. I almost felt sorry for her—but only for a second.
“Or,” Kyle sat down and nodded for me to join him. I could feel a warm rush of air and his scent worked its way up inside my head. I barely heard him finish, “We could go for a run.”
“What?” Kelly demanded, clenching her hands into tight-balled fists at her side.
“Savannah,” Kyle lowered his voice and said my name slow, putting an emphasis on the last syllable, like it was a soft sigh, ‘ah’. And, for the first time in my life, I loved the sound of my own name. “Is a runner. And she’s fast. Aren’t ‘cha?” He nudged me and moved even closer. I could barely think. His smell overpowered my senses; it was the sweet woodsy scent of him that took me by surprise. I closed my eyes and drank it in.
When I opened them back up, Kelly’s eyes were shooting red flames of rage straight at me.
I gazed at Kyle and felt a warmth in my stomach again. It was working its way up into my chest. “That’s not what you said this morning,” I laughed then spun away.
“You two went running this morning?” Her voice came out in a squeak that broke into a high-pitched screech, like fingernails on a chalkboard.
“Yeah,” Kyle said casually, then back to me he added, “And, I’d like to see how fast you are.”
I wondered if everything he said was going to have a double meaning but I wasn’t ready to question his motives. He was my only real friend in this place, and it looked like I was going to need a few because I was making more than a few enemies, without even trying.
“I could use the exercise,” I nodded, looking around the table at the other kids’ faces and wondering why no one else had said a single word. “Plus, you could show me around the town.”
“No problem,” Kyle agreed, and I couldn’t help looking forward to it, even though I knew Kelly wasn’t going to be happy about my running off with Kyle. “But I only think it’s fair to warn you, there’s not much to see—so don’t get your hopes set too high.”
“Great—I mean about the exercise,” I smiled, and without even thinking how it might sound, I added, “Then it’s a date.”
Kelly only heard one word and it was like I’d pulled back a rubber band—hard—and snapped it against her forehead.
She wailed like a wounded animal, “Agghhh!” and spun around on her heels, stomping out of the room.
Kyle shrugged and started to walk toward the exit, then he twisted around to call out, “I’ll meet you out by the flag post after seventh period.” His lips curled softly, throwing me a quick backwards nod, “And, remember, it’s a date.” The last thing I saw was his warm, sensual grin, as he glanced around the room before he gave me an exaggerated wink—meant more for everyone else to see than for me, and then he disappeared out into the hall.
I wished he would have used a different word because he didn’t need to rub it in.
I shrugged. Who cares? I told myself, he’s been the nicest person in the entire school. If it weren’t for Kyle, I wouldn’t want to ever come back to Mist High.
The rest of the day dragged on and on. All I wanted was to see Kyle again, with his sleek body and powerful frame. But what I found fascinating was the casual way he had about himself. He said whatever he wanted, while I worried about everything I said, how it would be taken, and what people would think of me.
Somehow, Kyle was working his way into my system, like a powerful drug. And I was beginning to feel addicted. I couldn’t wait for our meeting out by the flag post.
Finally, after what seemed like absolutely for…ev…er, the bell rang.
I rushed out of class, down the hall, and out the front doors of the school to meet up with Kyle.
But as I got closer, my spine tingled. Something was wrong. I could feel it. Then I knew why.
Kyle wasn’t standing underneath the flagpole; someone else was there, waiting for me.
“Kelly,” I muttered under my breath.
She stood beneath the red, white, and blue banner with an enormous grin carved into her face, like a giant jack-o-lantern beaming up at me. But this look was way more sinister and gloating. My knees suddenly felt weak and my throat went dry.
This girl just kept surprising me.


When Savannah meets Kyle, its love at first sight. And why wouldn't it be? He's perfect, as far as she can tell. But Kyle appears whenever things go wrong. Maybe he isn't everything she thought he was. It's a complete mystery until she discovers the water in Cullaby Creek is being bottled and sold as vitamin “infused” water. Mistic Water promises the impossible. And then, like a magical elixir, it delivers. People who drink it feel younger, smarter, faster...healthier. But it doesn’t take long before side effects hit. Literally. The secret has to be in the water…or is it something more?


Monday, January 11, 2016

Tuesday Tips and Tweaks

This week author Tami Sinclair, joins us with her tip. Tami writes about the strange, the spooky and the sexy.

Tami’s Tip on Writing

Hi everyone,
Thanks for having me be on the blog today. I just wanted to share a tidbit or two that I've learned I this grand process of writing and publication.

The first would be: never give up. I know that sounds trite and overdone, but it's seriously the only way sure way you can fail.

The second tip I learned last September: diversify your writing for success.

Are you someone who has been beating on the door of the NY publishing industry with no one answering? Consider indie publishing. The ability to self-publish and the audience for self-publishing has changed dramatically in the last ten years. Even the last two!

You can always do both, should your dream contract show up. But if you want to be a storyteller and get your stories in front of an audience, then indie pub.

This is a huge topic, so why not shoot some questions over for discussion?

Blurb for The Alpha Takes A Mate

Blaze Erickson is the sexy alpha male of his pack. The time has come for him to take a mate. After discovering a lone female who doesn't know what she is, or what he is, he's got to figure out how not to scare her away. She needs his protection and he needs a mate. When he reaches out to her, he intends to make her his mate. If she doesn't accept him, he will walk alone forever.

Bar owner Tina Black doesn't know she's part werewolf. She only knows that every time a man by the name of Blaze comes into her bar, she's drawn to him. There's something compelling about him she can't resist. Her body reacts when she gets close to him, and she doesn't want to stop it, doesn't know if she can. Is it the sacred wolf's tooth he wears around his neck that lets her know he's a man, but something else? She doesn't know. She just knows she has to find out. Something has been missing from her life until the moment when Blake comes through her door.
This is a sexy werewolf romance intended for mature audiences who enjoy reading about the fantasy of werewolf lore. If you like sexy books, this one is for you.

Buy Links:
You can find Tami at:
Amazon Author Page:
Twitter: TamiSinclair1

Thanks Tami, for dropping by and sharing that great tip. Hopefully we’ll hear from other authors on the pros and cons on self-publishing.

Don’t forget to check back next week for another author’s tip or tweak.