Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Meet Regency Romance Author Susan Varno

Posted by Susan B James on 3:00:00 AM with No comments

Please welcome Susan Varno, author of the Regency Romance A Rebel and Her Rogue . 
Susan, please tell us a little about yourself.

I was born and raised in Chicago. I’ve had imaginary friends from as far back as I can remember. These included “Barbara” who lived in California. I could only talk to her on my pink plastic phone. Another was my Betsy Wetsy doll Annabelle, who I believed was wiser than myself. I often asked her for advice. Meese, Box, and Temp were three gnome-like fellows who lived in the radiator above my bed. Radiators have now disappeared from most homes, but in the 1940s they were everywhere. Our family lived in a basement apartment, so the radiator was flattened out and spread part way across the ceiling. I imagined the trio lived in the rounded corners and traveled down the pipes to visit each other. When the heat was on, the pipes hissed and banged. To me, that explained their wild parties. I told my father about this village above my bed. His imagination was as vivid as mine. Delighted, he asked me for more stories, and he retold them to anyone who would listen. Based on my descriptions, he even drew pictures of my overhead friends. His encouragement made me realize you could get attention by making up stories. I love thisIn my 20’s, I wrote and published romance short stories in women’s magazines. Later I wrote columns and movie reviews for Video Views Magazine. After my husband and I retired to the Arkansas Ozarks, I interviewed more than a hundred people for feature articles and columns in magazines and newspapers. My focus was Ozarks people, culture and history.

I love firsts, so tell me about the moment when a publisher told you they wanted to publish your book.

 I can tell you the exact day, Wednesday, January 22, 2020. I had entered A REBEL AND HER ROGUE in several Romance Writers of America contests. I was a finalist in the Cleveland Rocks contest. Debby Gilbert, editor in chief at Soul Mate Publishing, was one of the final judges. On September 7, 2019, she asked to see my manuscript. I replied that I hadn’t finished writing the novel. She agreed to wait. I sent her my finished manuscript on January 13, 2020. Nine days later, she e-mailed me, “Great news! I enjoyed THE REBEL AND HER ROGUE so much we'd like to publish your book.”

At best, I’d hoped she would say, but we need the following revisions. But she was satisfied just the way I’d written it. I danced a little. My heart palpitated most of the day.  I started calling people to tell them the news. My sister who had proofread the manuscript, my two sons who had seen me writing since they were children, several writer friends. Then I realized I had to write another book, preferably a sequel. More about that below.

 If it isn’t too nosy. How about the first time you kissed your true love?

This is a little embarrassing. When Richard Varno and I had our first date, he kissed me at the end of the evening. Nice kiss, but disappointing. I’d been kissed by a few men and boys before. Always a deep French kiss. Richard did not French kiss. When I knew him a little better, I invited him to kiss the French way. He stuck his tongue part way out at me. That seemed a little rude.Then he said, “That’s as far as my tongue will go out. I’m tongue-tied. It should have been clipped when I was born, but I was born at home and the doctor forgot.”Richard could speak as clearly as anyone. He just couldn’t go real deep with a kiss. However, he was good at everything else.     When our two sons were born, he instructed the doctors to make sure to check their tongues. Both of our children’s tongues needed to be clipped. 
That's fascinating. I never realized tongue-tied was a real thing. 
What is your favorite pastime, other than writing?
Volunteering, which I haven’t been able to do much lately. In the past, I’ve volunteered at a domestic violence shelter, at three not-for-profit thrift stores, a historical society, at several churches, through my homeowners association, in political campaigns, and through writing clubs. Currently I’m a commissioner on the Bolingbrook Historical Preservation Commission, a member of the United Methodist Women’s organization, and I was helping with Community Outreach at our local school district. Most of the friends I’ve made in life came through volunteering. My mother was a great volunteer. When I was five years old, she started taking me with when she volunteered at the church thrift store and at church luncheons. When I volunteer, I receive so much more than what I give. 

Tell us about A REBEL AND HER ROGUE 

Sherwood Forest, 1815

Cassiopeia Valient storms, “Sir, is this any way to conduct a kidnapping?”
When Blake Forester rescues her from her crashed carriage, Cassie mistakes him for “The Gentleman Bandit,” the outlaw she hired to kidnap her and then split the ransom. Blake is her intended victim.
Blake should be outraged! Instead, he’s intrigued. Since he returned from the War, he suffers terrifying memories. So many died. Why did he survive? This diabolical damsel may be the distraction he needs to get back to living again.
After Blake reveals who he is really Lord Rayneford, Cassie’s life shatters. She vows to cease her wild, reckless behavior. This time her actions went beyond dangerous. If she has to bite back words and squeeze out smiles, she will act like a proper lady.
Thwarting her resolve, this lord dares her to join him in glorious adventures. She can’t avoid the rascal. He’s lending her father money to repair their flood-damaged estate. Demanding his cut of the cancelled ransom, the real Gentleman Bandit threatens blackmail and kidnapping. Blake and Cassie fend off the culprit only to discover the most dangerous adventure is falling in love.

What’s your current WIP?

The tagline for my next historical romance POSING AS A PRINCESS is “She’s a professional thief, and he’s the Sheriff of Nottingham.” Awesome!

     To raise money to save her brother from hanging, Ruth Fitzhenry, who is the daughter of the “Gentleman Bandit” in A REBEL AND HER ROGUE, masquerades as a German princess. King George IV has ordered the newly appointed Sheriff Weston Chandler to escort the real princess from Nottingham to London. If he finds out she’s a decoy, will he arrest her? Danger,  intrigue, some fun, some humor, some mystery. Maybe too much, I’m editing out the excess right now. Sounds like it's going to be a very fun read.

And finally, where can we find you?

Amazon book page https://www.amazon.com/Rebel-Her-Rogue-Susan-Varno-ebook/dp/B08C7ZXQT2/

website http://susanvarno.com/

G-mail svarnoauthor42@gmail.com

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/SVarnoauthor

Thank you for being here, Susan. A Rebel and Her Rogue is available for free on Kindle Unlimited. And you can buy it for 3.99. Stay safe, all. And happy reading.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Life After Covid - Rachel Sharpe

Posted by Susan B James on 3:00:00 AM with 2 comments

Please welcome my guest blogger Rachel Sharpe.

It’s hard to believe that we are almost to Halloween. Halloween. Somehow, we’re nearing the end of 2020. This year has flown by at light speed while also moving at a snail’s pace. It’s been a year of firsts in many ways, making those simple, routine moments all the more precious.
What I’ve found most precious is having more time with my family. And what I’ve found most inspiring is the true depth of the human spirit. In spite of all the hardships and challenges, people from around the world continue to rise up to the challenges posed in this life after COVID-19 and make the best of situations, for the betterment of their families and their communities. As Mr. Rogers used to call them, “The Helpers.”
From the numerous essential workers like doctors, nurses, and grocery store clerks, to pastors, teachers, and entertainers, people are working together to help others get through this and using creativity to do so.
Years from now, I hope when my children look back on this time, they will not think of the virus and the suffering, but instead on our endless backyard summer days, family movie nights, and Zoom Charades with grandparents and cousins.

Thank you, Rachel. I hope so too. Stay safe. Keep writing. Rachel is giving away one copy of each of her books. I am using Rafflecopter. Happy Reading, my friends.
Rachel Sharpe is the author of Cold Ambition, Lost Distinction, Bitter Retribution, and Simple Misconception, all part of the Jordan James, PI series, a mystery series with sweet romance. Although born and raised in the South, “Yankee” relatives first led Rachel to historic New England, which she has come to consider her second home and is the setting for the series.

Rachel currently resides with her husband and children in the Greater New Orleans area where she and her children work together to maintain a simple garden.

Check Out Rachel’s Sites to Keep Up with Jordan James!!!

Twitter: twitter.com/RachelCSharpe

When Jordan James decided to embark on a career as a private investigator, she never could have imagined that a chance encounter would lead to her staring down the barrel of a gun on the roof’s edge of a high-rise building. As she begins to investigate her first case, the puzzling murder of a prominent businessman that has left Boston’s finest mystified for more than two decades, she finds herself suddenly immersed in a treacherous underworld brimming with betrayal, raw greed, and political subterfuge of international proportions. In the midst of this, she discovers she is falling for her mysterious client despite the hints of his dark past. Can this feisty Southern girl with a penchant for trouble solve this baffling case, or is she doomed to become another tragic chapter in an international conspiracy? 

COLD AMBITION, Available Now on Amazon!!! http://www.amzn.com/B00L2OLQPG/

"It all started with a favor . . ."

When private investigator Jordan James agreed to search for the missing son of a U.S. Ambassador, she didn’t realize she was walking into a case one hundred years in the making. The deeper she delves into this unusual assignment, the more shocking, and the more dangerous, it becomes. With time running out and lives at stake, Jordan must race to identify the culprit of an elaborate plot while also uncovering a far more personal truth too intimate to ignore . . .

LOST DISTINCTION, Available Now on Amazon!!! http://www.amzn.com/B00Q5OGCS4

"What started out as a star-studded vacation has turned into a sensational avalanche . . ." When private investigator Jordan James decided to join her best friend on the set of her hit television series in the Rocky Mountains, she had no idea she would become a key player in a murder mystery more suited for the big screen than the slopes. With one actor dead and a killer on the loose, can Jordan uncover the culprit before another victim makes headlines on Hollywood Minute?

BITTER RETRIBUTION, Available Now on Amazon!!! http://www.amzn.com/B015YS0O94

A Trip to the Big Easy Turns into a Big Nightmare…”

When private investigator Jordan James returns home to New Orleans for Christmas, she never imagined her holiday could end with kidnapping and death. As she begins to investigate the mysterious disappearance of a childhood friend, she unwittingly stumbles upon a dangerous, international syndicate. With lives at risk and time running short, Jordan must find a connection between these seemingly unrelated events if she ever hopes to find her friend.

SIMPLE MISCONCEPTION, Available Now on Amazon!!! https://www.amazon.com/ B07D6W244X
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Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Return to Virgin River with Robyn Carr: Review and #giveaway

Posted by Susan B James on 3:00:00 AM with 2 comments

 Robyn Carr's newest book is a return to one of my favorite destinations - Virgin River. And I have a hardback ARC to give away.

Blurb: Mystery writer Kaylee Sloan has a deadline and a case of writer's block caused by her grief over her mother's death. Determined to escape distractions and avoid the holiday season, Kaylee borrows a cabin in Virgin River. She arrives to find her sanctuary has just gone up in flames. Devastated, she heads to Jack’s Bar to plan her next steps. The local watering hole is the heart of the town, and once she crosses the threshold, she’s surprised to be embraced by people who are more than willing to help a friend—or a stranger—in need.

Kaylee’s world is expanding in ways she never dreamed possible. And when she rescues a kitten followed by a dog with a litter of puppies, she finds her heart opening up to the animals who need her. And then there’s the dog trainer who knows exactly how to help her. As the holidays approach, Kaylee’s dread turns to wonder. Because there’s no better place to spend Christmas than Virgin River.

This is vintage Carr with a return to the place her readers love best. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Puppies, Kitten and more. It's all there along with the cast of characters we've come to know and love.

Here's the Goodreads link to the book: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/52854998-return-to-virgin-river?

 A great treat before you binge the first season of Virgin River on Netflix  Here's a preview of the series. I think it looks like a heartwarming good time

In the back of the book, Robyn talks about her experience of seeing her town come to life on Netflix. Happy Binging. Or Happy Reading. Or both. Here's the Rafflecopter.

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Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Nancy Thorne's Debut Novel Is a YA Time Travel Romance. Review and #giveaway

Posted by Susan B James on 3:00:00 AM with 1 comment

Please welcome Nancy Thorne and her debut novel, a YA Time Travel Romance, Victorian Town 

Abby Parker had a life plan: finish her last year of school, go to college, move away from her insane family, and stay best friends with Jessica. 
That was before she broke into the nearby tourist attraction and unwittingly answered a call from a centuries-old spirit who dragged her into the 19th century. 
Now she must solve the Victorian mystery of a missing girl without getting herself killed, or worse, spend a lifetime trapped in the past, leaving behind everyone she loves and altering their lives forever. 
But when she meets gorgeous Benjamin, the future looks a lot like wreckage. . .

I copied this image of an excerpt from Nancy's Website.

Here's the Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39085555-victorian-town?

I am a big fan of time travel and Abby is a delightful character. The author created a wonderful plot device to go through time. I loved the story, the voice, the plot, and the very accurate details of the 1876 Victorian town setting. And I loved the decision Abby made at the end. This feels like a younger YA, but it's no less fun for that. I asked Nancy to be on my blog. And she is giving away 4 paperback copies of the book. If you don't read young adult, think Christmas Gift. The Rafflecopter is at the end of the post.

I was raised in what was then a suburb of Toronto although now is considered part of the city itself. If you had asked me in grade five or six what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would have thought to myself at that moment that I already was a writer. However, back then girls didn’t ever wish out loud to be a writer – they wished out loud to be a nurse or perhaps a teacher. What girl would ever say they wanted to be a writer?

My love of words never abated. As the years passed, I heard many people state that they wanted to write a book. No one ever did. So I decided that was me as well - that I would never write a book and should simply disregard this dream of mine. But through the years it was impossible to get the feeling that I WAS an author out of my head. It gnawed at me and presented as a major, annoying itch I couldn’t scratch away, no matter how hard I tried.

When my family and I moved into our home in 1998, there was one spare room, decorated with wallpaper of realistic books lined on realistic shelves. It felt as if the room was telling me to “get in here and do what you are supposed to do!” So I did.


To not give up. To know going in that it takes time to hone your writing skills. Learn from other writers who have the experience you still need, whether by joining a writing group or attending virtual lectures or researching articles on the Internet. If you can, get some feedback from others who aren’t in your family. There are editors who may be starting out who can critique your work for a good price. Be patient, keep writing and know that you will feel less than others at the beginning of your author journey. Still, don’t compare yourself to anyone but who you were last week, or the week before, as you learn. All writers go through these initial struggles.


When I was in grade school, I felt comforted by small porcelain animal figures of mine that I took to school with me, one each day, hidden in a pocket. Throughout the school day, I’d comfort the figurine, which was actually comforting myself. I’d tell the cat, rabbit, or dog that it was only a few minutes until recess or lunchtime. I made sure they knew they were cared for.

Actually, I now have two most exciting moments. The first was eight years ago, not too long after I’d finally admitted to myself that I was meant to be an author and had taken a night school course in creative writing. I’d just arrived home from a wedding reception and the time was around two in the morning. Still, I decided to check my email in my book-wallpapered writing room before getting ready for bed. I opened the email from the first publisher of the first short story contest I had sent my first short story to. The email stated that I was one of thirteen winners and that my story would be published in an upcoming anthology.
On went the lights in the house! I hopped around! I woke up my two sons! It was thrilling, to say the least.
The second exciting moment came just this month, when my young adult novel Victorian Town won First In Category for the Dante Rossetti Award. The winners were announced virtually. My hands were shaking. When my name was announced, I didn’t hop around, I cried. Happy tears. That's wonderful. Congratulations.

My current work is a young adult novel titled The Somewhere I See You Again. Set over one year, it tells the story of seventeen-year-old Hannah who will resort to anything to save her family from financial ruin, including blackmail. But first, she must overcome a near-death experience and face her own mortality. It’s set for release May, 2021.

I have to say, not really. I suffer more from procrastination at times. But once I’m in a regular phase of writing every morning (although I write night scenes at night when darkness has set in) I pretty much stick with it and continue on. 

I would love to hear from readers! You can find me at:

Thank you for being here, Nancy. I look forward to your next book.

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