Archives for February 2015

Writing Retreat, anyone?

Seriously, I’m so jealous. I wish I could go on a writers retreat. My retreats consists of the hour of blissful silence when my children are napping. Other times (like now) I’m trying put this blog post together with a dog whining in the background, my two sons tied to their highchairs against their will, and my daughter running back and forth in front of the dogs crate taunting her that she is out and the dog is not. Never a dull moment! But, I have MJ Compton here to tell us about her wonderful experience at her writing retreat.


summer in Erie

I am a firm believer in writing retreats. I’ve been going on retreat twice a year for a decade or so. The weekend-long event started out at a friend’s house while her husband and children were away over the Martin Luther King Day weekend. Eventually, we moved our action to Homewood Suites (we tried several different suite-type facilities, but found Homewood to be the best). After one of our core members moved away, we invited another author friend to join us. We held one or two more retreats at Homewood before the new member mentioned her mother’s country house in the woods about 4 hours away. Her mom would let us use it for free in exchange for dinner one night. We decided to try it.

And we haven’t looked back. The four drive? Perfect for brainstorming.

Over the years, our process has evolved to what works best for us.

Meal plan: Everyone is on their own for breakfast.

We each sign up for a meal—lunch or dinner. That person is in charge of menu, all prep, serving, and clean up for her meal. Then she is done. Lunch on the final day is always leftovers.

We sometimes have to tweak the meal agenda depending on the number days and number of people attending. This past August, lunch was a salad & sandwich bar, with all of us working together for set up and cleanup. Frequently, our summer retreat coincides with a nearby festival, so we attend that and eat there before enjoying fireworks over the lake. Except for fireworks night, every night is movie night (we bring our own DVDs with us).

Besides eating and watching movies, we write. I have never had an unproductive time on retreat. I average 20 pages a day of new material or cut through revisions like a hot knife through soft butter. Of course, the lack of Internet access helps

August means we sit on the deck and write. Bliss! In January, we curl up around the fire with our laptops. Cozy!

I think every author deserves a writing retreat at least once a year.

My newest book, And Jericho Burned can be purchased at:

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And Jericho Burned Cover

What the . . .?

Everything appeared to undulate behind the waves of heat swathing the shabby motel room. Pressure built in Lucy’s head, her ears rang, and something odd happened to her vision. But not spots. And it only affected Stoker. Maybe she was staring too hard.

She blinked several times, trying to clear the mirage of hair sprouting, of Stoker’s lean height compacting shorter, squatter. His hideous pastel paisley shirt floated to the floor.

Her knees gave out. She dropped to the carpet, her heart racing, and her mouth dry. “Oh my God.”

Stoker looked like . . . he wasn’t pretending. Or else she’d fallen into some kind of Idaho reality-warped rabbit hole.

Stoker wasn’t role playing!

He–or a facsimile thereof–approached her warily, as if unsure of his reception.

Well, duh! No wonder he’d warned her not to scream.

Lucy tamped down both her fear and her stunned delight as her fingers dug into luxurious black fur.

Stoker Smith was an honest-to-goodness werewolf.


MJ Compton Author PhotoMJ Compton grew up near Cardiff, New York, a place best known for its giant, which turned out to be a fiction so incredible, PT Barnum himself borrowed it. That’s a tough act to follow, but MJ tried—by composing her own stories.

Although her 30-year career in local television included such highlights as being bitten by a lion, preempting a US President for a college basketball game, giving a three-time world champion boxer a few black eyes, a mention in the Drudge Report, and meeting her husband, MJ’s urge to create her own stories never went away.

MJ still lives in upstate New York with her husband. She’s a member of Romance Writers of America and Central New York Romance Writers. Music and cooking are two of her passions, and she enjoys baseball and college basketball, but she’s primarily focused on wine . . . and writing.

Erin Bevan

Do you believe in ghosts?

Isn’t this a cool cover? I think so. When I first saw this cover revealed a few months ago, I knew I wanted to read the book. Now that I’ve seen the book trailer, I want to read it even more! Author Claire Gem is here to tell us a little about how the process of Phantom Traces unfolded.


I’ve always loved history, libraries, and a good ghost story. So two years ago, on the first day of November I toted my Macbook to a local old library and found a secluded corner. Day one of NaNoWriMo = day one of Phantom Traces.

I wrote the first two chapters of the novel in three hours that day, and made it to “The End” by November 30th. Of course, the story has come a long way since then, after liberal fleshing out, subplot injections, and rigorous and sometimes painful editing.

In addition to “romance with a ghostly twist,” my thematic inspiration arose from my own Happily Ever After situation, over 36 years with a man 15 years my senior. May-September romance. Age difference between partners can work like magic, or can spell complete disaster. I wanted to illustrate the various courses such a romance might take.

Finally, since I’ve always been a fan of dual-time stories, I wanted to include one in Phantom Traces. To put forth the idea of devotion that withstands time—over 100 years, and how true love leaves marks on the now, even after the lovers pass on.

Traces of true love, even if they are, to the living, seemingly Phantom.

Claire Gem writes women’s fiction and contemporary romance, sometimes with a paranormal twist. A voracious reader, she’s an avid fan of strong but sensitive heroes, spunky, sexy heroines, and a ghost story worth at least a few goose bumps.

Claire’s vision is to transport her readers into another place and time, maybe spooking them along the way. She loves creating characters so real, readers miss them when the book is closed.

After achieving her MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University, Claire settled in central Massachusetts with her husband of 36 years (yes, happily-ever-after really does happen). Always fascinated by the paranormal, she holds a Certificate in Paranormal Studies from Duke University’s Rhine’s Research Center.

By day, she works for Tufts University. Every other waking hour (even those when she should be sleeping) she spends exercising the creative side of her brain by flexing those ten digits glued to her keyboard. Chased by those pesky ghosts, Claire writes for her life.

You can find Claire here:




She loves to hear from fans – drop her a line.

And! Check out this super cool book trailer here!

Erin Bevan

Tell Me About It Thursday-Kim Hotzon

Hey guys and gals! I’ve received word this week from sources much higher than me that my debut novel, Cupid’s Angels has been bumped. Yep, I said bumped. Bumped to a May release date instead of August. Isn’t that fantastic? I thought so. But, while I still have a few months for my debut to come out, my good pal Kim Hotzon just released her first novel Hands Full of Ashes. Go Kim! 


Hands Full

Olivia makes a promise to her dying husband. It is a promise that will take her on a journey to Africa, where love, hope and betrayal will shatter her heart, like ashes in the wind.

Olivia promises to fulfill her dying husband’s wish – to scatter his ashes around the world. Wading through grief and depression, she journeys to a remote orphanage in Uganda. Living amongst the children in their threadbare surroundings, she vows to fight for the children’s lives as she begins to fight for her own. While Olivia develops a passion for humanitarian work, the lonely director of the orphanage develops a simmering passion for her.

Just as time begins to heal the wounds of Olivia’s fragile heart, her world is shattered when she is involved in a violent encounter with an armed rebel group in the picturesque mountains of Uganda. Olivia flees to the safety of Rwanda, where she learns the truth of her husband’s unimaginable betrayal.

As Olivia hovers on the brink of an emotional collapse, her broken soul is reawakened with a startling new love – but her life is about to take another dramatic turn as she struggles to survive in a region left torn apart by civil war. It will take every ounce of Olivia’s courage to hang on to those she loves the most but it may come at a great cost to all of them.


Kim Hotzonauthor photo

Born in beautiful British Columbia, Kim developed a passion for writing at an early age. Her interest in people led her all over the globe, including a two-year stay in Japan and a humanitarian trip to Rwanda.

She loves to write romance stories with a twist, usually involving a dangerous and dramatic backdrop. Her first novel, Hands Full of Ashes, was inspired by her trip to Africa.

Kim spent many years teaching young adults with learning disabilities at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, and she currently resides in the sunny Okanagan with her husband and two children. When not writing, she can be found plying the local ski hills, or getting lost in her kayak in the surrounding lakes.

You can get in touch with Kim by visiting her website or following her on Twitter or Facebook.

And you can purchase this lovely read, here. 

Have a great Thursday everyone!


Erin Bevan

Carly Jordynn on Rejections

I’m happy to host Carly Jordynn today. I’ll admit, I haven’t read her book yet, but from the cover, I’m definitely adding it to my “To Read” list. Yes, I too, judge a book by it’s cover!


Rejects . . . I’ve had a few   

We’ve all been there. You get an idea for a great story and think, “I’ll write a book.” You sit at your computer for long hours typing away until one day, you have a finished novel. You run it through spell check, do a quick read through, and you send it off just knowing that you will land an agent/editor immediately. Your book is that fantastic. You wait on pins and needles for the phone call, with a gushing agent on the other end of the line, begging you to let them represent you. You just know you will be offered a six figure deal right off the bat. Right? This is where you shake your head sheepishly because most of us have been this writer.

I hate to admit that this was me a couple of years ago. I was so sure of my book and writing abilities that I did all of the above. I sent it to some of the top agents in the industry. I had no idea how to write a query letter. I didn’t bother to research to see what an agent wanted. My first crack at a synopsis was laughable. I was still wrapped in my happy bubble of imagined success. Then came the rejections . . . “Thank you for your inquiry. Your book is not for us.” I received several of those that left me scratching my head. What did that mean? My book, my baby, it’s perfect. They must not have looked at it. I sent out more queries and received more rejects. Again, I couldn’t imagine why agents were not fighting each other to get my book. Then I entered a contest. THAT was an eye-opening experience. One judge absolutely raked me over the coals. She hated my heroine. She told me to take some classes in basic composition. She hated my plot. The list went on-and-on-and-on. OUCH! The other judge was much kinder, but essentially said the same thing. She did offer some pointers though.

After that experience, I thought it might be a good idea to join a writer’s group. I found the RWA on the internet and joined immediately. Now this is how hard-headed I can be. I looked over all the contests, workshops, and conferences the RWA had to offer and still didn’t bother signing up for anything. I had myself convinced that all agents and editors were busy and would look at my MS with wide-eyed enthusiasm when things calmed down for them. In the meantime, I decided to enter my MS in the RWA’s Golden Heart contest. I did check for spelling and grammar errors before sending it off.

I was shocked when I didn’t win——even more shocked that I wasn’t a runner-up. I sat the book aside and attended my first RWA National Conference. I learned so much at that conference. That is when I got off my self-fixated behind and really read my MS. OH. MY. GOSH. It was bad. The storyline itself was good, but there were spelling errors that spell check didn’t catch. There were sentences without punctuation. There were no visual cues as to when a point of view was changing, there was a ton of telling and not so much showing, I was the queen of back story.

After I pulled on my big girl panties and realized the problems with the MS, I started to rewrite. I rewrote that first book three times before I was offered a contract with a small publishing house in New York. Then my Editor put it through the wringer until we finally got a book worth publishing.

When I submitted that reworked book to my publisher the first time, it was over 108,000 words. When my editor got done with me, it was down to around 80,000. I have learned a lot through my publisher and from the RWA conferences. The bottom line is to not let the rejects control you. Take those few comments offered and take a good, hard look at your MS. You may conclude that those editors/agents knew what they were talking about all along.

Keep Writing .


You can reach Carly at these places:

Erin Bevan