Monday, May 30, 2016

Research Adventures

Posted by Susan B James on 10:17:00 PM with 1 comment
View from my window on East 116th St
I am in New York City, staying at an Air B and B in East Harlem.
To celebrate my 91-year old cousin Ansley's brand new Master's degree and to do some research for my book.
I am working on two separate novels, both of which have New York scenes. When I started to describe Kate's street and her apartment, I realized I was going on sights and sounds from the time I lived in New York city in the 1960's and 1970's.
Things change.
West 86th with it's sounds of Haitian drums is a memory. It is rich people territory now. Alphabet city in the East Village (Avenues A- D,) used to be a slum. Now it's a ritzy address. My cousins' 4-story brownstone on East 8th street between Avenues C and D which they bought in the 1960's for 24,000, recently sold as four separate units for 1 million dollars per floor.
My fifth floor walk-up on Cornelia Street in the West Village has gone condo.
Was there anywhere a bookkeeper/struggling author could still live in New York? Where? Were there any rent control buildings left in the city? I needed to find out.
Wonderful banister on West 45th
My cousin's graduation celebration gave me a great excuse to come and walk the city and see for myself.

I started by trying to find an affordable place to stay. I was lucky enough to find an AirBnB room in East Harlem in a building with an elevator. (My knees are not fond of 4th floor walk-ups.)
Maybe East Harlem is the answer. Not this building. My room is perfect and my hosts hospitable. But this building is too fancy for Kate.  However the black garbage bags piled up on the curb are just right as is the babble of Bangali at my local Dunkin Doughnuts. As I walk cross the street, the patter of rap from an open car window competes with the mariachi music floating out of the Mexican bodega on the corner.
From my window I hear the rumble of the overhead train,  the occasional siren, and the ever present swish of traffic.
I want Kate in a fourth floor walk-up. In a brownstone with a front stoop,  Maybe with a railing like the one I spotted last night on 45th street above Ninth Avenue. I could always transpose it to another building. All I have to do is find the address.

Tonight I went down to West 17th street to meet my cousin, And I got lost. My head made an arbitrary decision that they were staying on East 17th street. I thought that between Broadway and East 17th street, I might find Kate's perfect brownstone.
After I walked the 1.5 miles to East 17th street, grumbling all the way cause Goofle told me it would be a ten minute walk, I realized my mistake. Since I was now more than thirty-five minutes late, I decided to take a cab to the right address. I learned 17th Street, East or West is far too fancy for a struggling bookkeeper/writer to afford.

I did fine one beautiful place which I might use in another story. Love the Tudor detail. The paneling is smoke blue. To be continued,

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Cheryl Yeko's journey to author and Editor with Soul Mate Publishing,

Posted by Susan B James on 3:00:00 AM with 1 comment
 I am delighted to welcome Cheryl Yeko whose latest romantic suspense novel  Between Midnight and Dawn was released last week. I have no idea how Cheryl accomplishes everything, but she is also a fabulous editor with Soul Mate Publishing. She accepted and edited my book, Time and Forever and I am forever grateful that I've gotten to work with her.
 Hi, Susan. Thank you for having me over. I thought I’d talk a little about how I became an author. My wonderful husband bought me a Kindle for Christmas one year and changed my world. I started reading romance novels and fell in love with them. The first year I read so voraciously that I spent over a thousand dollars on e-books. It was crazy!

After a bit, I decided to write one myself. I disappeared into my room over a long Wisconsin winter and wrote my debut novel, Protecting Rose. I submitted my manuscript to a few publishing houses, and was offered a contract with Soul Mate Publishing, which I quickly accepted. Protecting Rose went on to win the 2012 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence in the romantic suspense category.

Well, I was hooked. Within a year I quit my job as a legal secretary and began writing full time. That was nine books and two anthologies ago. I’d like to say I was an instant success, but that’s not the case. Like any career, it takes hard work and patience. Although my books sell well, only since last summer have I felt I had my first real ‘success.’ The Notary, hit No. 4 on Amazon in the romantic suspense category. I sat on the top 100 bestselling author’s list for a month. So exciting.

But, success or not, writing is in my blood, and I live and breathe all things writing. After the first year with Soul Mate, Debby Gilbert, the owner and Senior Editor approached me and asked me to come onboard as an editor. Such a whirlwind couple of years. I have over 50 edited novels under my belt, and my inbox is jammed with more to edit. I’m lucky today if I get the chance to read one book a month. But sometimes I just say to heck with it, and stop everything I’m doing to just relax and recharge with a good story . . . on my Kindle of course. lol

I feel fortunate to have the chance to pursue my creative endeavors. It helps that I have such a supportive husband, and I couldn’t do this without him. He’s my rock and, other than my mother, my biggest fan.

Mostly, I write romantic suspense. Although I dabble in contemporary here and there, and recently began writing under the pen name CiCi Cordelia with my BFF, Char Chaffin. We are currently working on a dragon shifter romance for Soul Mate, and have plans for a paranormal series that we plan to self-publish. So much fun!

My newest release is with Soul Mate Publishing, Between Midnight and Dawn . A romantic suspense with a serial killer plot. This story is a bit darker than my other novels. I wanted to write a truly nasty villain, and spent a few days researching serial killers. Probably my toughest research yet. Even now, some of what I read still haunts me.
Here’s a promotional trailer I put together that tells about my writing journey in little over a minute

Between Midnight and Dawn 

 Kyle Wade has spent over half his life seeking justice for his mother’s brutal murder at the hands of the serial killer known as C.H.K. His efforts lead him to Nicole Chambers, a woman he quickly develops strong feelings for. Now he’s torn between keeping Nicole safe, or using her as bait to capture the monster stalking her. 
Cheryl does her own book trailers and I am awed by her skill.


Nicole paced nervously, waiting for Kyle to return. She’d thrown on her workout clothes; a black pair of Capris, a long purple T-shirt with large cut-out armholes, and a black sports bra peeking out from underneath. She was covered practically from head to foot, so why did she get so nervous thinking about Kyle seeing her in the outfit?
Because he’ll be touching me, that’s why. And though not as daring as what a lot of the women wore at the club, it still showed far more skin than Nicole was used to, except when she was working out. Did this qualify?
This is a bad idea.
Her doorbell rang.
She took a steadying breath. Too late to back out.
When she opened the door and Kyle saw her, his eyes lit with a smoldering fire. But all he said was, “Ready?” as he walked past her, greeting her dog, “Hey, Charlie.”
Taking a moment to close the door, and calm her jittery nerves, she turned back to him. The desire she’d so clearly recognized in his heated stare, had lessened to a more neutral expression.
He nodded toward the living room, where she’d pushed the furniture out of the way, clearing a large spot in the middle. “You should have waited for me to help.”
Nicole rolled her eyes. “Please. I do vacuum, you know. The furniture doesn’t move itself.”
A slightly crooked smile curved Kyle’s lips as Charlie headed over to his dog bed for a nap. “Suppose not.”
Her stomach fluttered. He was too charming for his own good. How in the hell was she supposed to resist him? No men rule, remember. Gah! What a dumb rule. What had she been thinking?
Maybe that your taste in men is crap, and you needed a good long break after the last guy you dated almost killed you.
Oh, yeah. That was it.
Kyle moved to the center of the room, looking all too fine in a pair of tight jeans. He waved her over with two crooked fingers. Her cheeks flamed, hoping he hadn’t caught her checking him out. But by the smirk on his face, she figured he had.
“Now,” he said as she approached, his tone shifting to all business. “If someone tries to grab you, whatcha gonna do?”
“Um. Run away?”
He nodded. “Might work. But, let’s say he manages to get a hold of you. What then?”
She licked her dry lips, nerves rolling around in her stomach. “Is this a trick question?”
The smile that split his face stole her breath. Gone was the serious tenant-slash-police officer from her backyard cottage. The man who stood before her now was a total, flat out, hands-down, no-question-about-it, hottie. His sex appeal exploded into the room like an atomic bomb filling up every nook and cranny.
And in just a minute or so, he was going to put his hands on her.
Ohmygod. Trouble. Seriously.
Maybe this really wasn’t such a good idea—
Nicole screamed when she was suddenly grabbed and her back brought up against Kyle’s chest. One arm clamped around her waist, the other across her throat.
Her natural instinct was to struggle, but he had one leg wrapped around her shins, totally immobilizing her. The heat from Kyle’s body burned her up, and she wasn’t unaware of the rising bulge against the small of her back. Excitement tickled through her.
Charlie let out a little bark, but only lazily watched them. She scowled at him. Some guard dog!
Mouth pressed against her ear, Kyle murmured in a seductive drawl, “If I were the bad guy, sweetheart, your pretty little ass would be mine right now.”
Sounds great. You can pick up Between Midnight and Dawn from Amazon for just 2.99 (Unless, of course, you are a Kindle member. Then it's free.) If Romantic Suspense is your read, click on over.

Cheryl’s Amazon Author Page:

Cheryl also writes under the pen name, CiCi Cordelia, with her BFF, Char Chaffin. Writing From The Heart. Find us on Amazon:

Cheryl is also a Senior Acquisitions Editor for Soul Mate Publishing. As an Editor, she welcomes Romantic Suspense, Paranormal, Sci-Fi, and Erotica. You can reach her at
Here are some fun trailers:
Book Trailer Playlist:
Audio book playlist:

Author Social Links:Where Love Always Wins:
The Power of Three:
Soul Mate Publishing:
The Power Of Three, BFFs:

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Meet Addie Jo Ryleigh

Posted by Susan B James on 3:00:00 AM with 9 comments

Addie Jo Ryleigh writes Regency romance with a splash off suspense. Her second novel in her Men of Circumstance series comes out tomorrow, and to celebrate, she is giving away a copy of the first novel in the series.
A Duke. A Runner. An Earl.
Three men, each born into different circumstances. Each fighting to overcome their own adversity.
All striving to change their past. 
Addie, please tell us a little about yourself.

Hi Susan! Thanks for having me today. When I’m not writing, I’m a financial coordinator at an orthodontist office. While working toward my bachelor degree in accounting many moons ago at St. Cloud State University (Go Huskies!!), I never thought there would be a day when I would have any knowledge of orthodontics ;-)  I’m married to the same man who took me to my junior prom (I never went to my senior prom since I took classes at the college my senior year of high school).
We have been blessed with three amazing boys who are the center of my world. They’ve turned me into a hockey mom (minivan and all) who has resorted to writing books and working on edits in cold hockey arenas. But I found I love every minute of it. Our family also includes my favorite writing partner, my yorkipoo Bella, and our latest addition, my oldest son’s black lab Max. My writing is often interrupted by fits of reading . . . I have a serious addiction.
Me too! Not the hockey, but the reading addiction.
I love firsts, so tell me about the moment when a publisher told you they wanted to publish your book.
I received my offer to publish my debut novel, THE DUKE’S TEMPTATION, from Soul Mate Publishing after placing second in the 2014 Melody of Love contest through the Music City Romance Writers. My editor Char was a judge and I was fortunate that she saw something in my writing that had her taking a chance on a newbie and offered me a contract. Entering the contest ended up being one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I won’t even tell you how long I’d been working on The DUKE’S TEMPTATION before this day (but if you ask my kids, they’d tell you).

What is the most exciting moment, so far, in your writing career?
Publishing my first book is by far the most exciting moment in my writing career. Releasing THE DUKE’S TEMPTATION last fall fulfilled a goal I’d aimed for since I starting writing stories as a kid. But a very close second is the support I get from my three boys. They are always checking in with me to see how things are going. If I’ve finished writing whatever I’m currently working on. If I’m excited for my second book to be released. How I think it will do. What I’m writing next. Even though they don’t like mushy love stories, they support every publishing step I take (even borrowing their names to create my pen name). Seeing their excitement for me, amplifies any excitement I have.

What is your favorite pastime, other than writing?
When I’m not writing (or at a hockey event or school function or simply spending time with my boys…husband included), I usually have a book in my hand…and a cup of coffee not far away. I have a serious reading addiction that has just fueled my need to write. Other than writing and my kids, I love to take photos. If I had endless hours in the day, I would spend more of my time pursuing this. For now, I’m content torturing my boys with more pictures than they want to pose for. Thankfully they have cousins who often stand in for them ;-)

How do you motivate yourself when inspiration takes a vacation?
I recently saw a video montage of various movie scenes where authors have writer’s block. I couldn’t help but laugh because there were plenty of moments when it could have been me in the video. Staring blankly at the computer screens is a pose I’ve often had. For me, there isn’t a magical formula I use to motivate myself. I just know that writing is what I want to do and as much as I love my “day job” I would love nothing more than to reach a point where I can write full time. And the only way I’m going to get there is to continue to push through the moments when my characters don’t want to work with me. I just have to help nudge them along. And when that doesn’t work, I take a step back, maybe grab a book to read and wait for inspiration to strike . . .  usually in the middle of the night. 
I saw that video too. Loved it.

Any advice for new writers just starting out?
The best thing a new writer can do is write. The more you write, the more you learn. And a huge part of writing is about learning and expanding your craft while finding your voice.  If it isn’t written, it will never be published. Also, branch out. Meet others tackling the same obstacles you are. Join a writing group that has available learning opportunities and support.

What genre or genres do you write?
I write historical romances, mostly Regency (or time periods very close). In the future, I might branch out into contemporary romance but for now, my heart is in the past :-)

THE RUNNER’S ENTICEMENT (which will be releasing tomorrow, May 18th…YAY!!) is the second book in the Men of Circumstance series. This book is Nate’s story. For anyone familiar with the series, Nate is first introduced in THE DUKE’S TEMPTATION as Gabe’s brother. 
Nathaniel Frederickson, bastard brother to the Duke of Wesbrook, has reinvented himself by becoming London’s leading Bow Street Runner. But no matter his success or his charm, he never seems to be good enough.

Lady Annabel Baines, self-professed bluestocking, has one goal in life. To ensure the success of her deceased mother's school for young ladies. Even if it means being beholden to a man intent on ruining her life, forcing her to make impossible, heartrending choices.

Assigned to recovering stolen artifacts, Nate is thrust into Anna’s privileged world. To make matters worse, he is forced to protect her from a mysterious threat she refuses to acknowledge. While fighting Anna’s stubbornness—and his unwanted fascination with the spoiled chit—Nate becomes the renewed target of a blackmailer thought to be destroyed .
While a killer sets his sights on Anna.
Will the well-born bluestocking ultimately save the bastard Runner?
Sounds like a great story.  

What’s your current WIP?
I currently have two projects on my plate. I was deep into working on the third book of the Men of Circumstance series, THE EARL’S UNDOING, when I signed on to be part of a novella series with my publisher. My focus has turned to finishing my very first novella. I’m still trying to determine how I will fit an entire story in a fraction of the words. It is an exciting project I can’t wait to share more information on when I’m able. Once I have the novella completed, I will be returning my attention back to book three and Marcus’s story. And I can’t wait because Marcus has himself in a situation he never planned on and I can’t wait to see how he manages it ;-)

And finally, where can we find you?
I can be found all over social media and love to connect with new people.

Thanks for stopping by, Addie. Addie giving away a copy of her fist novel in the Men of Circumstance Series.  Enter below. Happy Reading

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Gabriel St. James, Duke of Wesbrook, desires any birthright other than being the son of a hideous man. Unfortunately, Gabe knows the exact moment he became like his father—a night that has haunted him for seven years. Resigned to his future, he is unprepared when his illegitimate—and more importantly unbeknown—young daughter appears on his London doorstep. With no one to care for her but him.

Lady Elizabeth Blakely has loved only one man—her brother’s longtime friend, Gabe St. James. Not even his rakish and, oftentimes, wicked behavior dissuades her. Yet it all seems hopeless as he continues to overlook the woman she has become.

When Elizabeth learns Gabe is in need of assistance with his daughter, she seizes the opportunity. Gabe, less than thrilled with the situation—mostly due to his fierce desire for his best friend’s sister—has no option but to concede. Besides, a more sinister threat lurks; someone is blackmailing Gabe with his darkest secret. Through it all, Gabe vows to resist Elizabeth, no matter how tempting.

Sometimes it’s better to surrender . . .

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Filming An AFI Short

Posted by Susan B James on 3:00:00 AM with 2 comments
SAG Conservatory partners with AFI to let students have access to professional actors. This is my fifth AFI film and I have been so blessed with each of them.
June Star (Dana Koops) Grandma and John Wesley (Gunnar Koelher)
This one was an adaptation of a Flannery O'Connor Short Story, A Good Man is Hard to Find.
It takes place in 1953 and we filmed at the Diamond M Ranch in Santa Clarita in kind of sparse conditions. Living up to the film's name the location was hard to find on the first day. No running water. One porta potty for forty people.
2 of the bad guys. Edward Dalmas and Keith Barber who plays The Misfit.

Actually this picture was taken after her murdered me.
(The crew far outnumbers the cast on any picture.)
On the plus side. The script by the director Charlie Pollinger was wonderful. The Costumer, Jenna Smolina, was beyond amazing. The makeup people Bree Amanda performed miracles in getting six of us ready in forty-five minutes.
The whole crew was wonderful. After a twelve hour day (fourteen if you count travel) I am beat, but I wanted some kind of post up. Perhaps you will find the pictures interesting.

From the AFI website:The filmmakers at the world-renowned AFI Conservatory learn by doing. Here, tomorrow's storytellers are placed in a hands-on, production-based environment and are trained by a group of dedicated working professionals from the film and television communities.

Located in the heart of the entertainment community in Hollywood, the AFI Conservatory places a strong emphasis on narrative visual storytelling and personal expression. This film program instills the tools that help filmmakers practice their craft and become better storytellers. Classes are broken up into teams that mirror a real production environment. Those teams collaborate on and produce more films than any other graduate-level film school. Upon graduation, about 81% of our graduates report that they are working.

Cinematographer Yair Halper

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Backstage at Netflix Series The Ranch

Posted by Susan B James on 1:31:00 AM with 6 comments
I asked in a previous post what you would like to read and the answers came back -Personal details. So . . .I thought you might like this cause there are hot guys in the pictures.
My wasband, Barry Corbin is playing the local vet on Netflix's new series The Ranch.

Sam Elliot, Chris, sleeping child

Chris, Walter & Ashton 
Needless to say, we were all thrilled, not only because it is a funny show, but because it tapes live at Warner Brothers Studio in Burbank.
And getting to watch the taping from Barry's dressing room is way more fun than sitting in the audience. And we could not have sat in the audience because our son Chris, and his wife Melanie had the baby with them.
(This was Walter's second trip to a soundstage.
Chris & Walter with Justin Baldoni and Yael Grobglass
The first was at five-days-old when his dad took him to the set of Jane the Virgin.) Last November and December we went to three tapings.
Best things about being backstage:

1. Barry's dressing room was a twin of the one I had when I did 2 Broke Girls last September. It had a sofa and a bench and a bathroom and a live feed of the taping.
Barry and his Fiancee, Jo Montana

Danny Masterson, Melanie,baby,  Chris. Kelli Gloss 
2. When you are backstage, you meet the other actors. I already knew Sam Elliot and Deborah Winger from the old days when Barry and I were still married, but Chris and Melanie hadn't met them. And none of us had met Ashton Kucher or Danny Masterson.
3. The food is great. Catering feeds you like there's no tomorrow.

Barry and Ashton

The Ranch has a Facebook page. They've been picked up for a second season. So Barry will be doing more episodes. Sadly, they beefed up security so we can now only sit in the audience. The first ten episodes are now on Netflix.
 Happy Week to all of you. Happy Mothers Day to those to whom that applies. 

Winner of Giveaway is The Word Warrior.