Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day Open Book Blog Hop

First, I apologize for the crummy quality of the following picture. It's the only one I could find on line.

See that memorial in the background?  The brick wall with the flags in front of it? And the metal marker on it?

I went by that location every day on my way to school and home again. Before the the wall to honor those who died in the Vietnam conflict ever existed, the town I grew up in had its own version to honor those who died serving our country. It was a limited version, and only listed those from our local city. It honored those who died in WW I, WW II and Korea.

 As we went by in the school bus, I'd often look out the window and try to make out a name or two. I was rarely successful. But I never stopped to read the list on the rare occasions when I walked by the location.

Sometime after I left the area, a separate memorial with the names of those local residents who died in Vietnam were added. Why the separate marker? I don't know the official reason, but my rational mind tells me there were too many names to add to the existing plaque.

So when I think of the real reason for Memorial Day, my first thought is always that lonely marker sitting at the end of a bridge. I don't know that I ever saw anyone there, but it was always neat. And I like to believe, that as long as that marker exists, we will continue to honor the sacrifice those men made.

Added: I found a second picture of the WW II marker. It's not a better picture, but it will give you more of the detail. A humble remembrance to those who served and died.

To see what other authors have to say, follow the links below.

May 30 Memorial Day (US) - If you're not American, you can participate (I promise). This could be how you spend Memorial Day. It could be a tribute to the military fallen (which is Memorial Day in the US). It could be the history of Memorial Day. It could be a tribute to someone in your life who has passed (which is what Memorial Day started as). See, nobody gets left out.
1. Link your blog to this hop.
2. Notify your following that you are participating in this blog hop.
3. Promise to visit/leave a comment on all participants' blogs.
4. Tweet/or share each person's blog post. Use ?#?OpenBook? when tweeting.
5. Put a banner on your blog that you are participating.

Custom Blog:

Code for Link:

get the InLinkz code

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Meet Talia Johnson And a Giveaway!

This week I'm presenting the second in a series of character interviews from the Sun, Sand and Sea anthology. It's Valerie J. Clarizio's turn, and she's here with her character, Talia Johnson.

First, a quick note about Talia. Talia grew up on a dairy farm in Door County Wisconsin. Her love for the outdoors guided her to her career as a Park Ranger in Peninsula state park. She's twenty-five years old. Her hobbies are hiking, biking and drifting away to alternate realities with good books.

1. What is your biggest fear? What frightens you the most?

My biggest fear is love lost. My mom died several years ago and it broke my heart, and it nearly killed my dad. They were so in love.

2. Where do you see yourself in five years?

I see myself as the head ranger for either Peninsula Park or Newport State Park. I want to be in charge of my own park.

3. What is your favorite guilty pleasure?

Dark chocolate–I crave it daily.

4. What did you want to be when you grew up?

When I was young my parents would take me to the stock car races every Saturday night in summer. I was convinced I should be dirt track racer. As I got a bit older I thought roller derby might be the way to go.

5. What is your favorite pet?

I grew up with German Shepherds, they're awesome dogs–smart and protective.

Talia Johnson is the main character in Pandemonium on the Peninsula which is a short story set in Door County Wisconsin and will soon be released in a romance anthology featuring 11 beach stories. The anthology is titled Stories of Sun, Sand and Sea…11 Beaches where anything can happen.

Valerie J. Clarizio Bio

Valerie Clarizio lives in romantic Door County Wisconsin with her husband and two extremely spoiled cats. She loves to read, write, and spend time at her cabin in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

She’s lived her life surrounded by men, three brothers, a husband, and a male Siamese cat who required his own instruction manual. Keeping up with all the men in her life has turned her into an outdoors enthusiast, of which her favorite activity is hiking in national parks. While out on the trails, she has plenty of time to conjure up irresistible characters and unique storylines for her next romantic suspense or sweet contemporary romance novel.

Connect with Valerie:

Website blog

And now for the Giveaway! Help us reach our goal for pre-orders, and enter to win prizes, including PayPal money and signed paperbacks by the contributing authors. See details and links to pre-order the book here Giveaway

Monday, May 23, 2016

Outlining A Story — #OpenBook Blog Hop

Welcome to anyone new dropping by, and welcome back to anyone who has dropped by before. For those of you who don't know, each week a group of authors talk about a common subject. It's wonderful to see how alike and how different we are week to week!

This week we're talking about how we outline a story. For those of you who don't know, authors tend to fall into two groups: plotters or pantsers. Plotters are those who outline their books, and know the complete plot (for the most part) and everything about the characters before they begin writing Pantsers, on the other hand, are those who write by the seat of their pants. They may have a general idea of what the story is about, but fill in the details as they write.

And I'm a pantser. I may have a beginning and an end to my stories when I start writing, but I rarely know what's going to happen in the middle. I listen to my characters as I write. Yes, my characters talk to me and no, I'm not crazy.

That means outlining isn't really a "thing" for me. And occasionally my characters surprise me and I have to go back and rewrite a chapter or two. For example, in my last book, Wolves' Knight, my main character had a very different idea about where she wanted her love life to go than I did. We had a discussion—okay, we argued about it—and naturally Tasha won. It was her life, after all, and her story.

That doesn't mean that I allow my characters to completely take over. I've had to override Gavin Fairwood, the alpha of the Fairwood pack, a time or two. He's still not happy about it.

The book I'm currently working on, the next story in the Oak Grove series, was a little more structured when I started. I had a general outline for the main plot—in my head, but not on paper—when I started. I'm about 3/4ths of my way through the first draft, and I've been able to stick to the main plot. Some of the subplots, on the other hand, have ended up going places I never expected.

I'm looking forward to seeing what the others on this hop have to say. You can find out too, by following the links below

May 23, 2016 - Your process for outlining a story.
1. Link your blog to this hop.
2. Notify your following that you are participating in this blog hop.
3. Promise to visit/leave a comment on all participants' blogs.
4. Tweet/or share each person's blog post. Use ?#?OpenBook? when tweeting.
5. Put a banner on your blog that you are participating.

Custom Blog:

Code for Link:

get the InLinkz code

Sunday, May 22, 2016

11 Beaches, Anything Can Happen

Want to win a Money, Books, Money & Books? Help us hit our pre-order goals.
We’re so excited about this limited edition box set that it’s only .99 cents! We want as many people as possible to enjoy these stories, and we’re offering some great prizes as we hit our preorder goals.
No purchase necessary in order to enter to win. On June 28th, when Stories of Sun, Sand and Sea, 11 Beaches – Anything Can Happen releases (shortened to #11Beaches), we’ll see how many preorders we’ve received and give out the prizes accordingly.
Here’s what you can win!
One winner will win the box set (you can gift this if you’ve preordered it already!)
If we hit 1,500 preorders: One lucky winner will win $25.00 in Paypal money.
If we hit 2,500 preorders: One lucky winner will win a $50 Paypal money plus 10 signed paperbacks from the authors participating in #11Beaches.
If we hit 3,000 preorders: One lucky winner will win $100 plus 10 signed paperbacks from the authors participating in #11Beaches.If you would like to help us reach our preorder goals, you can grab your copy for only .99 cents on:

Disclaimer: *Emails may be distributed to the nine participating authors for them to add to their mailing lists.*

I have joined together will ten fabulous authors to bring you Stories of Sun, Sand and Sea – 11 Beaches, Anything Can Happen.

These are short stories by best-selling and award winning authors pulled together for your beach reading enjoyment. The collection includes a bit of suspense, mystery and yes, romance. Available at all major retailers, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Kobo.


A summer breeze, sandy shore, and sparkling waters. Is it the perfect setting for love or something more dangerous?
First loves, second chances, mystery, and intrigue, even murder.
Drift away with this collection of stories about Sun, Sand and Sea to 11 beaches…where anything can happen.

The individual stories and their authors are:

Whispers in the Wind by Angel Sefer
Blackmailed by a ruthless mastermind, Emily Stone finds herself on the Greek island of Alonnisos, impersonating the golden heiress of a luxury beach resort. Seductive Captain Andreas Aliveris is torn between his irresistible attraction to the stunning imposter and his need to protect a loved one. Can passion overcome suspicions and regrets in this game of danger, betrayal, and greed?

Amanda’s Revenge by Julie Sarff
One Hollywood heartthrob, one happily married woman and one very vindictive ex. Amanda is back looking like Winged Victory in a business suit, and Lily Bilbury is the only one who can stop her from ruining her husband’s career. Join Lily as she travels to sunny Miami and loses a very important missive that could get her husband fired. But that’s okay, because she has a plan to get the letter back.

Beach Baby Blues by Stephany Tullis
When bride to be, Honor Elin Mattison, threatens to boycott her Caribbean cruise bachelorette party, matron of honor and older sister Shelby dismisses her sister's idle threat reminding her that the cruise is her last chance to let loose and live it up.

Celebrating her last few days as a single woman with a bikini clad bridal party that could make a professional model feel like an ugly duckling depresses Honor even more than the family made decision to include her father's love child, (her 18 year out of control step sister) in all the wedding festivities.

A mystical ambiance permeates the LaMagnifique cruise ship that not only transforms the bridal party but infiltrates old, newly formed and promised relationships.

In the midst of the sublime, an unexpected malady called blues on the beach, infiltrates the ship.

Will older sister Shelby's promise that what happens on the ship stays on the ship hold true?

Or are some secrets too dangerous to keep?

Beach Blanket Murders by Judith Lucci
Kat had been counting the days until her beach reunion in the Outer Banks of North Carolina with her college friends from New Orleans. It would be the first time she’d seen major heart-throb Liam Cross since Christmas. She dreamed of a diamond engagement ring as she tucked her new bikini into her suitcase. Little did she know that in a few hours her life would change forever. Fire and Ice, Love and Murder. The Ocean can be Deadly.

Love Notes in the Key of Sea by Anna Celeste Burke
Georgie Shaw and Detective Jack Wheeler have a second chance at love—despite the fact they met during a murder investigation. Decades earlier, Georgie lost the love of her life in an attack on the beach that left one man dead and two others missing including her fiancĂ©, Danny Farrell. When Georgie returns to Corsario Cove, more than memories haunt her as a song Danny wrote just for her echoes in the air: Love Notes in the Key of Sea. Who else, other than she and Danny could know that song? A new mystery brought Georgie and Jack together, will an old one drive them apart?

Pandemonium on the Peninsula by Valerie Clarizio
Talia Johnson is living her dream in Door County, WI. But, being a Park Ranger comes with sacrifices.
Deputy Ryan Larson loves his job but worries about the attraction he feels for the surly Talia Johnson.
When pandemonium breaks out, Talia's life becomes endangered. Ryan races to help her. Will her stubbornness prevent Ryan from saving her?

Copper Moon – The Meeting by PJ Fiala
The Artist…
Brie Spencer is in need of solitude and scenery to help her heal from the loss of her sister. Feeling she will never be able to move on from this heartache, and the torment of the night her life changed forever, she makes the trip to Copper Moon, to paint and heal.

The Biker…
Hank James has always wanted to win the coveted Copper Moon Cup. But having the fastest time has eluded him, that is until this year. Having spent every waking moment tinkering on his baby, he thinks he's finally going to bring home the elusive trophy.

The Problem…
Looking to capture the perfect sunrise, Brie tumbles into the path of Hank James - literally. Making final adjustments on his bike before the race begins, Hank heads to the beach for a trial run. Almost running over a woman and dumping his bike is the last thing he needs.

Love on the Rocks by P.J. MacLayne
Carena Galloway has big city ambitions and a broken heart, and men have no place in her agenda. Aiden Wade is only in town to help his grandmother and his schedule doesn't include the local ladies.

But Fate, it seemed, had other plans.

The Art of Getting Away by Nicole Sorrell
When her SUV leaves her stranded, Carlos helps get it running again, then can’t stop thinking about the sassy girl with the blue-green eyes. After discovering she’s in the cross hairs of the most violent outlaw motorcycle gang in the Midwest, Carlos is in way over his head when he tries to help her get away.

After the Storm by Kinsey Corwin
Charlene "Charlie" McCann isn’t looking to repeat her mistakes and all Beck Holland wants is to tear down the walls she’s built. Can they survive what comes after the storm?

Dead End Beach by Cherime MacFarlane
The last beach at the end of the road and the last party of the summer. Some people are leaving when the embers die. He wants to stay. Will she welcome him into her life?

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Meet Blake Duncan #11Beaches

Some of you know that I've been working with a wonderful group of authors to put together a collection of short stories for your summer reading pleasure. What made it a challenge is that we "borrowed" each other's characters and worked them into our own stories. I'll be hosting a series of interviews with some of those characters. Here's one that isn't in my story, but that I'm looking forward to meeting.

1. Q. What's your super power?

A. That's easy. Can't believe you haven't guessed. My charisma. My charm. Women and men alike are dazzled by my good looks . My looks are like honey to bees...fragrant, tantalizing and sweet. People are drawn to me by my looks and bewitched by my charm. I've never lost a friend.

2. Q. On what occasion, do you lie?

A: I need to clarify before I answer this question. In my business, I negotiate. I manage five bands. My job is to get my peeps the best gig I can get. Representing them well can be tough especially at times when they may be competing for the same tour date. Getting that best deal is not always easy. I have to do what I have to do. I hate it especially when I have to undercut one of my bands for another. It can get tricky. You just have to understand the business. And I do.

3. Q. When and where were you the happiest?

A. Strange you should ask. If I had been asked this question last month, I don't believe I would have had an answer. Just recently though...a few weeks ago, I ran into a childhood friend on a cruise ship. She was hosting her baby sister's bachelorette party. Hadn't see her in years--since high school. We had a few drinks on the ship. Some late night conversation. I had such a great time. Makes me wonder what my life would have been like, if I'd settled down with Shelby. Hmmmm.

4. Q.What is your biggest regret?

A. Wow! You're not going to believe this but my biggest regret is not having children. Of course, with my life style, it's probably for the best. But I use to imagine myself with twins. A girl and a boy. Blakely and Duncan. They're beautiful. Curly , deep copper colored hair and hazel eyes. And of course, they both love music. She loves to sing and has such a range. And Duncan dominates the keyboard--like a Brian Culbertson.

5. Q. What is your motto?

A. Love this question. I have a wall hanging in my music room that says: "For all of you who gossip about me: Thanks for making me the center of your world." I don't know to whom I should attribute the quote but I use it all the time. It's the story of my life. I love what I do. I love my artists. Music. And traveling. I love cutting that deal. I mind my business and wish those who speculate about my success, to leave me the H alone--pardon my French.

6. Q. Clothes in the hamper or on the floor?

A. My clothes go from the dry cleaner, to my suitcase, to my body and then, the floor. How's that?

7. Q.Where do you see yourself in five years?

A. Five years older. Still charming. Haha. I'd like to think I'd be ready to settle down. Find me a special somebody--who loves music and maybe travel. Without the somebody, I see myself doing more of the same...traveling with my bands.

Stephany Tullis Bio

My spirituality is the force behind my being. In my world, there is no life without writing, traveling, family, music and my love of politics. My loves and interests are central to my writing.

I published my first novel The Master's Plan, A Novel About Purpose in November 2013 and my first Christmas novel, 48 Hours 'Til Christmas, in November 2014.

BLUE LADY (a short story), published in February 2015, launched my first series, The Angelica Mason Series. The first full installment in this series, entitled BLUE LADY'S Sweet Dreams is scheduled for release June 2016 to be followed by BLUE LADY'S Mission Impossible in the Fall 2016.

Beach Baby Blues is a part of the Anthology entitled, Stories of Sun, Sand and Sea...11 Beaches where anything can happen.

You can find me on:

Stephany Tullis Website




Take a peek at Stephany's cover for Beach Baby Blues.

You can pre-order the collection


Barnes & Noble

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Hobbies & Writing— #OpenBook Blog Hop

Welcome to another edition of the Open Book Blog Hop, where a group of authors discuss a variety of topics. This week we're exploring how a hobby has made us better writers.

When I first saw the topic, I thought this post would be tough to write. I couldn't figure out how needlepoint made me a better writer. Then I realized I was overlooking the one thing that most people consider a hobby that I see as a part of my life—reading.

I'm one of those people who will read at the table—but not if I'm in the company of other people. Heck, I used to read cereal boxes growing up. I wasn't the only one, my sister and I used to swap boxes when we got done with ours.

During grade school and high school, I read all the time, and I was a fast reader. So fast, my mother didn't believe I could read a book as quickly as I did. I'll admit, I may have skimmed over dry, boring parts, but I was retaining the important parts of the stories. And it wasn't just fiction, I loved biographies.

So, I hear you asking, that's nice and all, but how did that make you a better writer? Well, let me tell you.

All those books I read as a kid were more than entertainment, as are the books  I read today. I may not be thinking about it, but subconsciously I was learning how to write—and how not to write. I've read everything from classics to erotica, from dinosaur romance to Dr. Zhivago, from a child's biography of Betsy Ross to the Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time to Ivanhoe. (Only one dinosaur themed story, I promise you! And I barely made it through the whole novella! And then promptly erased it from my Kindle!)

And all that reading and all those lessons impacted my writing. I have an idea of what works and what doesn't work for me, and what will work and won't work for my readers. I understand the chances I take if I choose to break an unwritten (or written!) rule. While I'm writing, I look at what I've put on paper from the eye of a reader—would I keep reading?

But not only has my style of writing been formed by all those books, they've also helped to shape what I write about. For example, Harmony Duprie, the main character of my Oak Grove books, was influenced by James Bond. And my favorite alpha wolf shifter, Gavin Fairwood, has roots in several heroes written by Barbara Cartland.

So yes, my writing has been improved (I hope!) by my reading. To find out what other authors have to say, follow the links below.

"May 9, 2016 - How a hobby has made you a better writer.
1. Link your blog to this hop.
2. Notify your following that you are participating in this blog hop.
3. Promise to visit/leave a comment on all participants' blogs.
4. Tweet/or share each person's blog post. Use ?#?OpenBook? when tweeting.
5. Put a banner on your blog that you are participating.

Custom Blog:

Code for Link:

get the InLinkz code

#JamesBond #BarbaraCartland #Reading #Books #Writing

Monday, May 2, 2016

Failing—What's Next—#OpenBook Blog Hop

It's happened to all of us. Something didn't work out the way you wanted, the way you hoped, the way you planned. It might not have been your fault, but it's still a failure. And it hurts.

The big question is, what's next? Do you give up or try again? Or do you switch to a new goal?

I'm not a big fan of giving up. But I'm also a believer in picking my battles. Experience has taught me that I can't win at everything. So I examine the problem, seek the advice of others, and try to determine whether the gain is worth the effort. Not everything is.

But if I decide to try and still fail, now what? I've also learned that I have to allow myself to feel bad. I don't have to be bright and sunny all the time. Sadness is a valid emotion. I embrace it, but don't let it control me. Now it's time to take a second look at my original goal.

What did I do wrong? Or did I do anything wrong?  Maybe it wasn't my fault that things didn't work out the way I'd hoped. Circumstances beyond my control might have caused the failure. The garden I was going to plant this weekend? I bought the seeds and the garden soil. And then it snowed. (Yes, we had snow Friday and Saturday.)

So the plan failed, but I didn't. There's a difference. The seeds and the soil will wait until next weekend.

Or maybe I'll change the plan. Analyze what went wrong and revise based on experience. Knowing the local weather, we could get hail several times during the month of May. So instead of planting the seeds outside, I'll start them in pots in the house. That way on nice days I can set them outside, and on bad days I can bring them in for protection. Once I'm pretty sure it's actually summer, I can transplant them I want to.

Not all failures are as easy to fix as flowers. If you've heard of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) you know the goal is to write a book in one month. 50,000 words or more. The first year I tried, I failed. I only got 49,000 words written before I hit the end of the story and the end of the month. ( I think I've shared this before.) But I don't really count this as a failure, because I accomplished something I'd never tried before. I wrote most of a novel. And I went on to revise and expand and finish that story, although I doubt I'll ever publish it. (It's not that good, folks.)

But occasionally I've had to give up on a goal. And giving up hurts worse than failing but knowing you'll try again. Depending upon how important the goal was, it can feel like losing a piece of yourself. It can be hard to pick up and keep going.

But that's what I had to do. Mourn and move along. Find a new goal and try my damnedest to make it happen. Maybe start small and allow myself something easy before tackling another large goal. Allow myself the satisfaction of a small glory before going after a  large one. Because giving up isn't an option. Not according to my rules for myself.

To find out what the other bloggers have to say, follow the links below. And feel free to tell me about how you deal with failing in the comments.

"May 2, 2016 - What to do if you've failed at the goals you set?
1. Link your blog to this hop.
2. Notify your following that you are participating in this blog hop.
3. Promise to visit/leave a comment on all participants' blogs.
4. Tweet/or share each person's blog post. Use ?#?OpenBook? when tweeting.
5. Put a banner on your blog that you are participating.

Custom Blog: