Saturday, December 31, 2011

Have a Blessed & Creative New Year!

May Your 2012

Burst with Creativity!

to help stay relaxed and creative
throughout the New Year.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Christmas on Wherever Island - Why not?

Fly Off to a Caribbean Island for Christmas?

Christmas on Wherever Island by Amber Polo

A Magic Santa brings Caribbean Christmas Joy!

Marti Bell is facing the prospect of a very unmerry Christmas. Reluctantly, leaving her married lover she travels toward ice, snow, and judgmental family until a magic Santa sends her to a surprise destination in the warm waters of the Caribbean.  

Wherever Island would be a winter paradise except the only place to stay is the beachside cottage of romantic globetrotting photographer Cliff Holmes. Cliff wants to unwind and treat Marti to a little romantic Caribbean Christmas fun but she’s determined to stay in the warm ocean and out of hot water. 

  “Not only is the setting sensational, the hero will sweep you off your feet…this is one story I can read every Christmas season. …a great happily ever after story.”
A “You Gotta Read” from You Gotta Read Reviews. Reviewed by Roberta

Novella in ebook only

Saturday, December 3, 2011

A Review of Donna Boyd's Renegade, at last!

Ten years is a long time to wait, but fans of Donna Boyd's “The Passion” (1998) and “The Promise” (1999) waited not so patiently for the third in the Devoncroix Dynasty series. Now there is “Renegade” - published by the author whose real name is Donna Ball and whose other names include Rebecca Flanders, Donna Carlisle, Leigh Bristol, and Taylor Brady.

I discovered her work when I first shared my fantasy manuscript filled with shifter dogs and a few werewolves. A dog trainer friend told me I must read “The Passion.” I found not the werewolves of scary movies, teens from “Twilight” (2005), or the children’s fantasy world of Harry Potter (1997). Here was a race of creatures living among us - our business leaders, sports stars, and glittering celebrities - like us, but more gloriously beautiful and intelligent. They embodied the best and the worst of humanity. I believed in that possibility as I imagine did many of her fans.

Step into the world of the Devoncroix werewolves and look at the world differently. I loved returning to the castle in Alaska and leaning more about their lives in Italy. “Renegade" like the others is an exciting, well-crafted mix of urban fantasy, suspense, mystery, romance, shapeshifting werewolves, and historical fiction.
Writers will want to read her story of why her well-reviewed, popular series was canceled by a major publisher and how “Renegade” is out in print and ebook along with many of her earlier books in eformats. 

And writers will want to read “The Passion” for the shifting often missing in many shifter stories. 

“The Passion” and “The Promise” are, sadly NOT in ebook format. If you want to read it in eformat

Click on “Tell the Publisher! I’d like to read this book on Kindle”  on both Amazon pages to let them know.

More please, Ms. Boyd. Don’t let the lupinotuum keep you from sharing their stories.


For more about Donna Ball and her books visit her website.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Dragons Are Forever - Kari Thomas thanks Anne McCaffrey

Anne McCaffrey, The "Dragon Lady," "Mistress of Pern," and the first woman author to win the top two science fiction writing prizes, the Hugo and the Nebula award for Dragonflight, passed at age 85 on November 2st. Her book The White Dragon became one of the first science fiction novels to reach the New York Times Best Seller List.

The first time I picked up Dragonflight I was already devouring books and getting the seed of an idea to write my own. I immediately became happily lost in the world of Pern. No fairy tales here. No fantasy dragon story. Anne McCaffrey immersed me in a complicated science fiction world with more depth than I, at first, comprehended. I have to admit that I skipped over a lot of stuff and concentrated on the dragons' stories.

Ahh, the dragons! Incredible flying creatures of all shapes, sizes and colors. I couldn't get enough of them. I couldn't choose a favorite because I loved them all

I sat down to write my own dragon stories. Lucky for the reading world, those stories were eventually filed away in the garbage (LOL). But they were FUN to write! 

I never lost that fascination with Anne's dragons of Pern. I devoured ---er---read all her books, and still dreamed of writing my own. Years, and eight published books, later, I’ve set aside my cat-shifters (temporarily) and written my own dragon story. Inspired by Anne, in Surrender Her Touch I created a clan of dragon shapeshifters in a mountain compound, who mingle with humans in the city below, but keep their heritage secret.

A heartfelt thanks to Anne McCaffrey who gave readers a world of dragons that will live forever and inspired so many of us.

Happy Reading HUGS!

(Release date: 
Dec. 7, 2011 - 
Paranormal Romance 
from Eternal Press). 

Sexy dragon-shifter Slade has to convince Summer, the only woman capable of healing dragon-shifters, to save his dragon ruler's life from a mysterious illness. Summer’s horrific memories convince her she would rather see them all dead. 

A sensual love-hate romance filled with dragons, danger and death.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Secrets for Successful Paranormal Writing

Secrets for Successful Paranormal Writing - Kris Neri

Crossing paranormal with other fictional categories — be they romance, mystery or general fiction — couldn’t get any hotter. But there are pitfalls those new to paranormal writing can easily fall into, which can doom a manuscript. Here are some tips to help you avoid those pitfalls:

1. The worst mistake newbies can make is thinking the supernatural elements are just tack-ons. The paranormal aspects must an integral part of the storyline. If you can imagine removing the magical elements, while telling the same story and having it turn out the same way — you’re not using it right.

2. Readers need to understand the rules governing the magical aspects of the world you’re depicting. You can explain those rules — and whatever consequences might result — either explicitly or by allowing the reader to absorb their essence by showing them at work. Most writers use a combination of both. Some can be accomplished by including a character that encounters the paranormal for the first time. The reader can learn how these rules function as the character does, and the reader can share her surprise. That’s what I did in my magical series, by having fake psychic Samantha Brennan encounter the true paranormal for the first time and sharing her shock with the reader.

3. You need to decide whether the magical aspects are known to the general populace of your world, or not. Either way works, but there is a built-in level of conflict if your paranormal beings have to struggle to hide their natures. In the Harry Potter novels, the muggles — non-paranormal beings — are generally unaware of the wizardry being performed in their midst, which provides lots of opportunities for conflict and plot direction, as well as humor.

4. Characters who possess supernatural abilities must be seen using those abilities, or we need to know why not. For instance, Annabelle Haggerty, the Celtic goddess/FBI agent protagonist of my Magical Mystery, MAGICAL ALIENATION, needs to be careful how much magic she performs at the FBI, where she must hide her secret nature. But I once worked with a writing client who described her protagonist as telepathic with animals, yet the character never displayed any telepathy in her frustrating interactions with animals, until the three-quarter point of the novel, for no reason that was ever explained.

5. Magical characters must still be real characters, as richly developed as those not possessing paranormal abilities, yet not be perfect beings, either. Your novel should contain challenging personal growth arcs for these characters, too, even if they also have some extraordinary abilities. Sharing in character growth is why we read fiction.

6. Just as everything comes together in the climax of any other novel, it must in a paranormal work. The solution your protagonist employs to meet her goal must rely on both her natural and supernatural abilities, to bring about a solution that works on both levels. She should also overcome her personal challenges, achieving personal growth as she achieves her story-objective.

7. Most importantly, even magical beings have to earn their successes. If you allow your protagonist to finalize the action in the climax with the effortless waving of a wand, or some solution not inherent within the storyline, you will lose your reader’s respect. If you change the magical rules you’ve already established to allow your character an effortless solution, you’ll also lose that reader. For the reader to continue to suspect disbelief, she must trust in the integrity of your novel. If you want to get around some generally accepted paranormal beliefs, find a realistic way to do it. In the TWILIGHT series, for example, Stephenie Meyer circumvented the belief that vampires can’t go out during the day without burning up by choosing a locale that’s heavily overcast.

Writing paranormal can be extra challenging because so much has to be integrated, and it must work equally well on multiple levels. But it’s great fun to write, and these tips should speed you on your way toward writing paranormal cross-category success.

Kris Neri writes the Samantha Brennan and Annabelle Haggerty Magical Mystery Series, HIGH CRIMES ON THE MAGICAL PLANE and MAGICAL ALIENATION, as well as the Tracy Eaton Mystery Series. She can be reached through her website

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Why I Write Fantasy - Vonnie Winslow Crist

Welcome Vonnie Winslow Crist, fantasy author artist, and friend of fairies.

Amber: Why do you write fantasy?
Vonnie: First of all – it's fun to write. Secondly, writing is a form of communication. I send out a message, and hope beyond hope, that there are people out there who read my stories and poems, and say: “Yes! I've felt that way before.” or “Wow! I want to be a part of that world.” or maybe even, “Thank you. Your words were just what I needed on a bleak day.” In my new collection of fantasy stories, The Greener Forest, I hope readers will not only have fun reading the tales, but maybe look around themselves and spot the places where the world of Faerie might leak into their day-to-day lives. Speaking of fun, here's a link to a   FREE Greener Forest maze I drew

Amber: How do you find fairies?
Vonnie: Here's a peek at a poem that gives directions on how to findFaerie creatures – it was used to introduce the stories in The Greener Forest And here's a link to "Angels," one of the stories in the book.

Amber: What are your favorite fantasy novels?
Vonnie: The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, and other books by JRR Tolkien; The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis; Anne McCaffrey's The Dragonriders of Pern books; Neverwhere, Stardust, and other books by Neil Gaiman; the Shannara series by Terry Brooks; JK Rowling's Harry Potter books; The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins... I could list many more. I'm drawn to books where the author has worked hard at world-building and writes compelling characters.

Amber: Why do readers love fantasy?
Vonnie: The easy answer is: because they're fun to read. But I think there's more to it. Fantasy stories have been with us since our ancestors told tales about magical beings and miraculous events around a cooking fire. Humans come from a tradition of fairy stories, folktales, myths, and legends. I think it's because unlike our “real” world, in fantasy stories: decency triumphs over evil, people get their just desserts, everyone can be afraid sometimes without ridicule, there's a reason for bad things and a solution to every problem, things can be beautiful underneath an ugly exterior, complex issues can be fairly resolved, and at the end of the story, the universe is balanced.

Amber: Would you write fantasy even if no one read it?
Vonnie: Of course! It would be a lonelier life, but the need to capture with words the fantastical worlds of my dreams and imaginings wouldn't vanish because no one was listening. For me, writing and drawing fantasy are like breathing.

Vonnie Winslow Crist was born in the Year of the Dragon. Linked to fantastical creatures since then, she's written poetry, fiction, and nonfiction with a mythic or folklore tilt. She's also an award-winning fantasy artist. She enjoys gardening with fairy-friendly plants, feeding wild birds, walking beneath the trees at Wood's Edge, and making a sparkly bit of jewelry every now and again. Her motto: The world is full of mystery and magic. We just need to look, listen, and believe that wondrous things are still possible.

Vonnie's Books

To find out more about 
Vonnie and her books, Visit:

Friday, August 26, 2011

Radio Interview & Audio Adventures

Audio Adventures
I love audio almost as much as print. And I like to talk. 

Besides good book promotion, a radio interview is great practice talking about your book. And if it’s done by telephone you don’t have to dress up and go into a studio. A good interview should feel like listening in on a relaxing (and interesting) conversation. 

Recently Connie Gotsch interviewed me for her radio show Write On Four Corners on KSJE Farmington, New Mexico.  

After you get the interview what do you do?
  • Listen to at least one show to know the tone the interviewer uses – fast and peppy or laid back and casual.
  • Send the book and synopsis if you haven’t already done this to get the interview.
  • Send a few questions the interviewer might ask that might be interesting to listeners. Think talking points or frequently asked questions appropriate for the show.
  • Write out and memorize a brief synopsis (like a pitch), Be sure to include how your book can be purchased.
  • Ask how long the interview will be and what the interviewer wants to talk about and if you will be reading an excerpt.
  • Will it be live or recorded? Live means you keep going even if you make embarrassing mistakes. If it’s recorded, ask what to if you say something you want to eliminate or do over.

What I did the day of the interview –
  • Moved my desk to a quiet spot
  • Plugged in a land line. (Don’t take a chance with a cell phone connection.)
  • Poured a glass of water
  • Printed out notes in a large font and laid them to avoid paper shuffling. Copied the pages for the book excerpts I’d read aloud (as requested by the interviewer to mix into the interview.)
  • Removed clanky jewelry
  • What I forgot to do – check the time difference between New Mexico and Arizona (a state with no DST)
  • Turned off call waiting
  • Sat up straight and took a deep breath
 If you are an author writing about the southwest or living in the southwest, or both, Connie’s show may be perfect for you. Her show Write On Four Corners takes all genres, self published, traditional, and non traditional publishers. And of course no excessive cussing, gratuitous sex, or hate of any person, religion, ethnic group, sexual orientation, gender, etc. Connie is a great interviewer and makes it easy to give an interesting, relaxed interview If you think your book would be of interest to Connie’s listeners, check out her blog and email her.

For more on audio see my interview with Dana Davis  "How Authors Can Use Audio for Promotion & Publishing."

More Audio Adventures
Last week I spent time in a sound studio re-recording my relaxation CD. The new full “album” Relaxing the Writer Relaxation contains a 20 minute relaxation with tense and release instructions and another track called “Prelude to Sleep” to help listeners fall asleep. This time I also recorded two 10 minute meditations: Relaxing the Writer Hand Meditation and Relaxing the Musician’s Hand that I plan to offer as MP3 downloads.All three will supplement my soon to be published book Relaxing the Writer.

Since this was my second time in the studio, I was more relaxed and the studio owner asked if I’d like to audition for reading textbooks. Maybe is was my excellent pronunciation or my non-Lady Gaga outfit that intrigued him. Who knows, it sounds like fun and I wouldn’t have to write my own script. It even made me think of doing podcasts and audiobooks...or not. I may be too good at helping listeners fall asleep.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Why I Write Fantasy - Helen Henderson

Welcome Helen Henderson,  author whose fantasy that takes readers to visit other times and places and worlds of imagination!

Amber: Why do you write fantasy?

Helen: I've always loved to escape into other worlds, whether I became a fast-gun in the American West, an interplanetary explorer, or a fire-throwing mage. Fantasy allows me to create environments where magic lives and heroes rule. Being able to hang out with dragons or horses with a touch of magic in their souls are other reasons why I write fantasies.

Amber: How does writing non-fiction help you in writing fantasy?

Helen: I believe one of the key elements in a successful fantasy story is the believability of the world, even though winged horses or elves might inhabit it. In creating 300+ articles covering antiques and history, including military history, and two local history books, I've had to research, research, and do more research. Knowledge of the past is often transferrable to the worlds of fantasy. If the reader feels the weight of the sword dragging down the heroine's arm, smells the smoke from an inn's fireplace, or walks through an ancient culture, it brings the world to life for them. No matter what genre I'm writing, one major element carries through them all—I try to make the world I build for the characters real for my readers.

Amber: What are your favorite fantasy novels?

Helen: Although I avidly devoured the works of E. E. Doc Smith when I was younger, Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern and her books chronicling the families of the towers are my favorites.

Amber: Why do you think readers love fantasy?

Helen: Fantasy is a vacation of the mind. With a well-crafted story, the journey wings the reader to foreign worlds and lands. Regardless of whether the destination includes sword fights or magic, dragons or elves, fantasy takes readers beyond the trials and tribulations of their own lives into other times and places where heroes rule and life is simpler. As readers, we often see a bit of ourselves in the characters, and our hopes and dreams reflected in their quests, their achievements...and their romances.

Amber: Would you write fantasy even if no one read it?

Helen: This is a great question to ask an author as it could have different meanings. Many times we are driven to write, even without the expectation of publication. I have written stories to be able to spend time with the characters and in their world. So, the answer would have to be yes.

There is a different way to interpret the question, one not related to publication, but to reader interest. I would write fantasy even if times change and worlds turn and no one read fantasy any more. Although I think our lives would be the lesser for it.

More About Helen Henderson
Although I wrote fiction for myself as long as I can remember, I never pursued it for publication until late in my writing career. My stories take readers to the old West, the stars, or worlds of imagination. I often work to music. Celtic harp and flute take me to other worlds where I create science fiction and fantasy. The musical inspiration for Civil War or historical adventures is the Ashokan Farewell, and movie themes from the genre for westerns.

For excerpts  or to learn more about Helen, stop by her website. Learn more about Windmaster, her new release from Champagne Books. Available at  Champagne Books,, All Romance Books and online bookstores.

Here's a peek at Windmaster

Despite his insolent attitude, Ellspeth, captain of the Sea Falcon, is attracted to the dark-haired worker she hires to help unload the vessel's cargo. When the supposed dockhand reveals he is Lord Dal, the last member of the Council of Wizards, and her passenger, Ellspeth breaks a cardinal rule—fraternizing with the paying customers. Bringing Dal back from near-death releases her latent powers and threatens her captaincy. For to have magic she must give up the sea.

In accordance with an ancient prophecy, Dal allows Ellspeth to be handfasted to him without her knowledge or consent.  However, the prophecy doesn't state whether she will return his love. A likelihood threatened as the deception is unveiled and they are hunted by fanatical clerics bent on ridding the world of magic and those who wield it.

Trapped within the Oracle's Temple and marked for sacrifice, Ellspeth is forced to choose between survival, saving the future of magic...or love.

For variety, look for her western, Ambush Luck, in Dreamspell Goddess (August 2011), A Place at the Table, a young adult piece in A Yuletide Wish: Poems and Stories for the Extended Holiday Season from Night Wolf Publications, or the science fiction romance with a twist, Recov, in Romance of My Dreams II

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Arizona Dreamin’ 2011 - A Romance Reader Event!

Welcome Kris Tualla, creator of 

Arizona Dreamin’  2011  - A Romance Reader Event

Amber: All authors want to connect with readers and potential readers. Many conferences and events are directed at writers or those who want to write. Not that writers don’t buy a lot of books (and those that don’t definitely should) but readers who gobble books for the sheer joy are like triple chocolate cake every night. Kris Tualla’s vision created Arizona Dreamin’ -  Arizona's first Romance Reader event! 

Amber: So Kris, how did you become the Arizona Dreamin’ Queen?

Kris: I attended the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention and heard about reader-focused events in other parts of the country. I thought - why not in Phoenix? A city this size can certainly support such an endeavor!

Amber: How did you advertise to attract readers?

Kris: The vision was to bring my fans and introduce them to your books, and vice versa. So I asked each of the 24 authors to get 4 of their own fans to come. If they did, we would be full.

Amber: Did you break even the first year?

Kris: Not even close, sad to say. Half of the authors didn't generate any ticket sales at all! I learned that new authors are hungry and understand that they need to promote. Authors published four or five years ago (or more) have no clue.

Even so, those readers who did attend had a blast! I have never seen so many consistent smiles in a very long time. Everyone was talking about who they would bring with them "next year"! Not only that, but they bought $1800 worth of books and raised $315 for charity!

Amber: Anything authors who want to attend and be part of AD2012 needed to know?

Kris: Yes. First, we are expecting double the attendees. Part of that will be generated by a special incentive offered to the 2011 attendees. Another part will be generated by the authors themselves who will each purchase 4 tickets to resell at a discount, or use in raffles and contest prizes as a thank-you to their fans.

Second, I am committed to keeping the event small and intimate. We plan to cap the authors at 24, and keep the "Book Clubs" - the meetings of authors and readers - at 10 per club.

Amber: I saw some pretty yummy photos with a cover model (definitely not female). How did you arrange that and did it help the publicity?

Kris: Ah, yes. Jimmy Thomas is definitely a thing of beauty - and currently on more than 1400 book covers. He's sweet as can be and was a doll to come, plus he added a very special touch to the event! He's also a smart businessman; he stages, photographs and sells images designed for every genre of romance novel ( ). I had him on my blog last year as an example of businesses that will rise up in support of independently publishing authors.

When I asked him to come to Arizona Dreamin' he agreed. While he was here he worked, shooting covers with two different models in two separate sessions. The fun part for us is that he allowed us to watch! Then he posed with readers in exchange for a donation to our charity. Next year we'll have a special backdrop that looks like a book cover for those photos!

Amber: What about the details for Arizona Dreamin' 2012?

Kris: Saturday, June 2, 2012, Noon - 10:00pm. Tickets (probably around $30) include a delicious and bountiful buffet dinner with the authors. 

Breaking News!

Location - Windmill Inns & Suites of Chandler / 3535 W. Chandler Boulevard / Chandler, AZ 85226. Event room rates are $79 per suite for those who want to make it a girl's overnight or weekend (it's next to the Chandler Mall)!

!Subscribe to our blog to receive the latest updates

on Arizona Dreamin' 2012

Amber: What is the one (scratch that)… What are the 5 most important things an individual or group would need to pull this off?


  1. Passionate belief in the concept. I took the financial hit in 2011 because I know this event will grow!

  2. People working with me who have a passionate belief in the concept. My committee was small but comprised of some truly amazing authors, including Deena Remiel and Tami VanGurp.

  3. Energy - which plays out in commitment and follow-through. This isn't a path for the faint of heart!

  4. The understanding that no author is an island. I help you and you help me; we are stronger together.

  5. Make certain that the things which are in my control are efficient and planned to the last detail. That way when things that are out of my control go awry (and they will) we are still successful!

Amber: Thanks Kris for telling us about your event for romance readers. And good luck with next year.

Kris Tualla, a dynamic award-winning and internationally published author of historical romances, writes with a fast-paced and succinct style. Her plots are full of twists, passion, and very satisfying outcomes! Kris started in 2006 with nothing but a nugget of a character in mind, and has created a dynasty - The Hansen Series. 

Find out more about Kris and her books on her website! 

"In the Historical Romance genre, there have been literally countless kilted warrior stories told. Well, I say it's time for a new breed of heroes! 

Come along with me and find out why:  

Norway IS the new Scotland!"