Annette's blog

It’s time to be honest

Yesterday, I bought a romance ebook from one of my favorite writers. It was on sale for $1.99, and years ago I read and loved her other books. I started reading it last night, and bam! The hero raped the heroine on their wedding night. Foolishly, I kept reading. And bam! He accused her of being a whore and assaulted her. I made it to maybe 15% of the book, and I was done. I couldn’t finish it. This morning I asked Amazon to return my money. I’m tempted to write to the author and ask, “What were you thinking?”
So, as a writer, this makes me question my own boundaries. Do I write rape scenes? Am I willing to have one of my characters physically or emotionally abuse another? I mean, those books sell, right? Didn’t E.L. James make more than $90 million on Fifty Shades of Grey? Give the reader what they want, right?
Nope. Not for me. I will never write a book where the hero rapes, assaults or verbally abuses the heroine. Never. I will not write scenes like the ones that tortured my eyes last night. As for Fifty Shades of Grey, I do not write erotica. I never shall. I don’t write scenes where men bully women or if I do, it’s because he is the villain. I think many women, myself included, make enough bad decisions on our own. We don’t need an “alpha male” to create obstacles for us. We can do that just fine on our own, thank you.

I made this chocolate cake last night. Yes, there is a slice or two missing. My husband and I cut into it last night while watching Downton Abbey.
I made this chocolate cake last night. Yes, there is a slice or two missing. My husband and I cut into it last night while watching Downton Abbey. Speaking of honesty: would you like to know the calories and fat grams for one slice? No. Me neither. I’ll take my honesty in measured doses.

I’m going to come clean with you: after studying the genre as I write my Celebration House trilogy, it’s time to confess: I don’t write romance. I don’t. Because the definition of romance – “the core story is the developing relationship between a man and a woman*” – isn’t really what my books are about. My books are about, well, a lot of things, but my heroines’ happiness doesn’t hinge on a successful romance. It’s more of the frosting on the cake, rather than the whole dessert. It’s time to be honest: I write women’s fiction.
And there’s one more thing I’ve recently come to realize: I really enjoy writing for children. Earlier this month I attended a Romance Writers of America (RWA) conference. It was held at a hotel where I attended a children’s writing conference in 2010 and 2013. I sat in that classroom, desperately fighting to stay awake, and I remembered past conferences where I felt alive with the idea of writing books for children. This gave rise to the idea of Louisa, a little witch who is allergic to cats and afraid of flying (we share this attribute). It’s a series of chapter books meant for first and second-grade readers. Louisa feels like she’s a misfit. I get that.
Hands and arms inside the cart. Next: Sharing an “aha” moment.

*Quote from Leigh Michaels’ book On Writing Romance: How to Craft a Novel That Sells

Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours

Happy Homicides 2: A collection of cozy mysteries


Love can be deadly. As proven by these traditional mysteries, cunningly crafted by thirteen bestselling and award-winning authors. Nearly 500-pages of heart-warming, brain puzzling, and character-driven reads. Your purchase includes a free gift, a file with recipes and craft ideas sure to put you in a romantic mood any time of the year!

Author Teresa Trent answers the question:
Does It Take a Police Detective to Solve a Mystery?
Absolutely Not.
I have had the great pleasure to collaborate with eleven other authors in Happy Homicides 2: Crimes of the Heart. What amazes me is the variety of characters and stories we all bring to the table. I was fascinated with some of the jobs the various sleuths in our series do.  Between all of us, we have hundreds of books published, so I couldn’t get every occupation, but here are just some of the professions our sleuths work at in our individual series.

Helpful Hints Writer
My main character, Betsy Livingston Fitzpatrick is a helpful hints writer for a local newspaper. She can solve the crime while using cold water on that nasty blood stain in the Pecan Bayou Mystery Series.

Beach Décor Store Owner
Joanna Campbell Slan writes about Cara Mia Delgatto, the owner of a store filled with recycled beach-themed decor, The Treasure Chest.   I love the name Cara Mia and now I know what to do with all those old seashells!

Adjunct English Professor
Neil Plackcy writes about an adjunct English professor Steve Levitan aided by his golden retriever, Rochester.  This is really a buddy series because yes, dogs can solve crimes.

Mystery Shopper
Elaine Viets  comes up with a clever idea for a series that centers on mystery shopper, Josie Marcus.  Haven’t you always wanted to do that? Shopping and mysteries! Two of my greatest weaknesses.

Quick, try to remember your periodic table! It’s a mystery, right? Camille Minichino writes a series about retired physicist Gloria Lamerino who lives in an apartment above a funeral home.  She must have received a pretty good deal on the rent.

Flowershop Owner
Annie Adam’s Quincy McKay has them pushing up daisies all around her!  Quincy owns a flower shop and finds herself deep in the compost pile in three different mysteries.

Gardening Columnist
Nancy Jill Thames writes a series about Jillian Bradley and her cute little dog Teddy. So you would think she would spend all of her time in the garden, but this lady leads an incredibly exciting life going everywhere solving mysteries. I hope she has a timer on the sprinkler.

Tea Shop Owner
Linda Gordon Hengerer gives us a mystery in a tea shop. Do you take milk with your tea or arsenic?

Kathi Daley creates the character of TJ Jensen, a high school teacher and coach in the alpine town of Serenity, Nevada. I love the idea of a coach solving mysteries. So why does the locker room smell that way?

Southern Belle
I’m from Texas and can tell you that, yes, this is an actual occupation around here. (Pronounced ‘round hare). Carolyn Haines writes the Sarah Booth Delaney series where her belle finds herself not only with a murder mystery to solve but living in a haunted house.

Private Eye
Randy Rawles writes about Ace Edwards, a private eye he dreamed up while on a bike ride outside of Dallas. Actually, the character’s name is Arthur Conan Edwards. Which is yet another great thing about him! Ace solves mysteries in Texas, a hotbed of crime for us mystery writers.

Anna Celeste Burke writes Jessica Huntington, a woman who took a beating in her marriage and dusted off the old law degree. I just love a woman who knows the judicial system and can take revenge on a cheatin’ man anytime she wants.

A Landscaper With Big Dreams
Maggie Toussant writes about a psychic landscaper Baxley Powell who gets insights through dreamwalking. One of my favorite titles of Maggie’s is “Bubba Done It”.  Why have we not picked up this phrase around my house? Who left that mess in the living room? Bubba done it.

new happy-homicides-cover

Visit to buy your copy. The collection is on sale for $2.99.

Annette's blog

Amazon blocked my book. Why? I don’t know.

Last Monday, I logged onto my Amazon author’s page and much to my surprise, I learned that my book, BONE GIRL, was blocked. Amazon refused to sell it.

BLOCKED2I immediately emailed the company and received no response. I sent a second email on Tuesday and again, I received no response. Meanwhile, BONE GIRL could not be bought in e-book form on Amazon. It was and is still available at Nook, Kobo and iBook. Smashwords, the distributor I used for my books, had no qualms with BONE GIRL.

On Wednesday, I received an email. Amazon demanded I prove I am the author of BONE GIRL. Okay. No problem. I publish the book via my own small press, Baskethound Books. I sent them an image of my business license. On Thursday, I sent them a copy of the copyright for BONE GIRL. This is the only book I have bothered to seek a copyright for, and I did it only so that I could submit it to a writing contest.

On Thursday, I made the mistake of publishing my experiences to a writer’s board called KBoards. I asked if other authors had the experience of Amazon suddenly and without warning blocking their book. The replies soon came and with them, the venom of my fellow writers. Here’s what those writers had to say: Of course Amazon blocked your book: it has the word “bone” in the title; it must be erotica. Of course Amazon blocked your book: you are copy-catting the best book of 2014: GONE GIRL. It’s obvious: just compare the movie poster to your cover. How dare you? I expressed my innocence: I’ve never read GONE GIRL. I didn’t even see the movie. My book cover features a horse; the movie poster features Ben Affleck. How similar are those? In the end, I asked that my profile be removed from KBoards.

Some writers think Amazon doesn’t help anyone but itself. I don’t know if that’s true. But, I’m foolish enough to wonder if Amazon blocked BONE GIRL with no warning and no explanation, what is to stop them from blocking A YEAR WITH GENO or any of my other books? Will I just log on one day and see that they are not for sale? Maybe.

Some authors publish their books only on Amazon, and I have chosen that route on occasion in the past. But now I’m asking: is it possible for me to publish my books without using Amazon at all? Well, maybe. For example, my readers love print books. Okay. What if I choose – and I do love that word – to publish CELEBRATION HOUSE and its two sequels only in print? I could do it via Ingram Spark. Then, if readers want a copy, they visit Barnes & Noble in person or online and buy one there. Or they could go to their local independently owned bookstore and request the book. It’s not like I’m a bestselling author. Not yet.

As for ebooks, what if I publish with Smashwords only? Readers could buy it from Kobo, iBook or Nook. It’s still available, just not on Amazon. This idea intrigues me: is there life without Amazon?

One last thing: what really bothers me about Amazon and its decision to block my book is that there’s no accountability. I queried them three times to ask why. Why did they block my book? But they do not tell me. They have no phone number. I have only the option of sending emails. It’s kind of like KBoards. The people who post there, especially the venomous ones, do not have a public profile. They like to remain anonymous. That way, they can say whatever they want and there’s no accountability. Hmm. Does that seem like cowardice? I don’t know. What do you think?

Hands and arms inside the cart: Next, still trying to learn how to manage an event venue

P.S. I forgot to say: Amazon removed the block yesterday. Why? I don’t know.

Annette's blog, Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours

Gone By Midnight by Joyce and Jim Lavene

header for Gone by MidnightToday, I welcome Joyce and Jim Lavene to talk about their collection of mystery short stories, Gone by Midnight. Take it away, Jim!
Author photo for Gone by MidnightWhy do you write fiction?
I wrote for a local newspaper, that was a format that was “Just the facts.” I’m an avid reader of fiction of many genres. The idea of just writing non-fiction was kind of boring. I wanted to write something like my favorite authors: Carole Nelson Douglas and others like her.

Please tell us about your book. What ideas or images inspired this book?
This book is a collection of short stories that my wife Joyce and I wrote over the years. Most of them are in the fantasy genre. I guess the inspiration would be some of the fantasy books we read by various authors.

Do you have an ideal reader in mind when you write? If so, please describe that reader.
I think every author has an image of an ideal reader. It would be someone who loves to read all genres like we write and can’t wait to read the next one.

Please describe your writing routine.
First thing I do when I get up is review what I’ve written the day before, adding to it to stay focused for the day. Then I take the grandkids to school. I come back and make a latte then start writing again until lunch. After lunch I edit and do promo work. That pretty much sums it up.

What advice do you give new writers just starting out?
Write what you really care about and don’t let anyone tell you that it can’t be written like you want to do it. The next thing is persistence. Keep after your goal.

More about Gone by Midnight:

Fans of Joyce and Jim Lavene will thrill at this collection of thirteen short stories. Many are set in the worlds of their national bestselling mystery series, including the Missing Pieces Mysteries, the Renaissance Faire Mysteries, the Retired Witches Mysteries, and an upcoming mystery novel!
Cover art for Gone by MidnightThese stories contain the elements of mystery and fantasy the Lavenes are famous for, as well as some new things their readers have never seen. Several stories feature characters interacting with ghosts, magic, and the supernatural—the healing woman in “Courtship;” the Civil War widow in “One with the Darkness;” the city girl who summons a wizard from the past in “The Magician and the Sorceress/Accountant;” and the young introvert in “Aunt Edna” who finds her calling with help from a ghostly visitor.
Poignant, charming, and captivating, Joyce and Jim Lavene bring their characteristic wit and heart to these stories and introduce each one with a passage about its origin or how it ties into the universe they’ve created. Gone by Midnight is a treasury of tales that will delight the mind and touch the heart from one of the most prolific writing duos of our time.

Joyce and Jim Lavene write award-winning, bestselling mystery fiction as themselves, J.J. Cook, and Ellie Grant. They have written and published more than 70 novels for Harlequin, Berkley, Amazon, and Gallery Books along with hundreds of non-fiction articles for national and regional publications. They live in rural North Carolina with their family.

How to contact them:

Amazon –

Annette's blog, Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours

Janice Peacock talks about her new cozy mystery, A Bead in the Hand

bead in the hand large banner640

Today, I welcome author Janice Peacock to talk about her cozy mystery, A Bead in the Hand.

Janice headshotWithout further ado, here’s Janice!

Can we talk about romance?
Many readers have asked me if the main character in the Glass Bead Mystery Series, Jax O’Connell, is much like me. I must admit, we have a lot in common.  We’re both glass beadmakers and jewelry designers, love cats, and live on the northwest coast of the United States—Jax is in Seattle and I live near San Francisco—oh, and we both adore espresso drinks.  One way that we’re not alike is our love lives. Since it’s so close to Valentine’s Day I thought I’d write about that today.
Let’s start with me.  I’ve been happily married for some twenty-odd years, and believe me when I say that some of them have been pretty odd!  But, I digress. My days of juggling boyfriends are long past—that never really happened much.  Okay, not really at all, I must admit.
Jax, on the other hand, having reached her mid-forties, is still unattached.  This doesn’t seem to bother her, nor should it. She had been in a long term relationship with a man named Jerry who ignored her, except when she was too slow to order take-out food for dinner—that is, if he even turned up for dinner. After Jax inherited her great-aunt’s bungalow, she left Jerry and moved to Seattle. That was a challenge for her, giving up not only her partner, but her home and her livelihood, so she could live a life of creative passion with people she loved.
In Seattle, she hadn’t found anyone she wanted to date until she met a newspaper reporter named Allen Sinclair.  Handsome and a bit preppy, he seemed genuinely interested in Jax.  That is, until her cat, Gumdrop, launched himself into Allen’s cocktail, leaving him and everything else a sticky, sopping-wet mess. You’ll have to read High Strung, A Glass Bead Mystery, to find out what happens with Jax and Allen, and Gumdrop’s high dive. Here’s a hint posted by a reader in a 5-star Amazon review: “I… doubt I will ever look at a mojito the same again!”
In A Bead in the Hand, the second book in the Glass Bead Mystery Series, Jax is back with a new set of challenges.  Other than finding a dead body, which is certainly a difficult experience, she also has a pleasant surprise.  A handsome security guard named Ryan Shaw wants to protect her from harm as she tries to find a murderer in the Red Rose Hotel in Portland.  But what he’d really like to do is get his hands on her and show her a really good time!  Jax is attracted to this hunky guy, but also has no idea how deal with someone who is in hot pursuit of her. Adding to the complexity of the situation, a stern detective who Jax met in Seattle during a murder investigation a few months before likes to stop by Jax’s house unannounced.  Jax has discovered that this serious and stiff man transforms from Clark Kent to Superman any time he removes his glasses, much to her delight.
As Valentine’s Day approaches, Jax is left wondering:  Ryan or Zachary?  You can find out the answer (at least for now!) in Be Still My Beading Heart, A Glass Bead Mini-Mystery. The short story, released just in time for the most romantic holiday of the year, is available free on Amazon at

About The Author
Janice Peacock decided to write her first mystery novel after working in a glass studio full of colorful artists who didn’t always get along. They reminded her of the odd, and often humorous, characters in the murder mystery books she loved to read. Inspired by that experience, she combined her two passions and wrote High Strung: A Glass Bead Mystery, the first book in a new cozy mystery series featuring glass beadmaker Jax O’Connell.
When Janice Peacock isn’t writing about glass artists who are amateur detectives, she makes glass beads using a torch, designs one-of-a-kind jewelry, and makes sculptures using hot glass. An award-winning artist, her work has been exhibited internationally and is in the permanent collections of several museums. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, three cats, and seven chickens. She has a studio full of beads…lots and lots of beads.

How to contact Janice:
Twitter: (@janpeac)

More about A Bead in the Hand:
BEAD IN THE HAND cover artA bead bazaar turns bizarre when jewelry designer and glass beadmaker Jax O’Connell discovers a dead body beneath her sales table. Suspected of murder, Jax and her friend Tessa scramble to find the killer among the fanatic shoppers and eccentric vendors. They have their hands full dealing with a scumbag show promoter, hipsters in love, and a security guard who wants to do more than protect Jax from harm. Adding to the chaos, Jax’s quirky neighbor Val arrives unexpectedly with trouble in tow. Can Jax untangle the clues before she’s arrested for murder?


High Strung, the first book in the Glass Bead Mystery Series, will be 99 cents from Feb 7th through 11th and $1.99 from Feb 12th through 15th.
Be Still My Beading Heart, A Glass Bead Mini-Mystery short story is free on Amazon and iTunes. A Bead in the Hand is available for the discounted price of $2.99 through February 15th.

Amazon –

B&N –

Annette's blog

What’s my legacy?

Last week, as I was leaving my day job after a particularly difficult shift, I shared an elevator with a fellow nurse. She asked me how my day went, and I told her it had been a rough one. I queried her in return, and she told me hers had been challenging too: one of her favorite patients died at the age of 48. I’ll be 48 on my next birthday.

Her simple words quickly reminded me of how lucky I am to have my health, a good-paying job and a clean, safe home where my small family waits for me.

I thought a lot about that elevator conversation, and it spurred me to think more about my legacy as a writer. Recently, I stumbled upon a website about Victoria Holt, a romance writer who died in 1993 and wrote more than 200 books. Her fans built the website as a tribute to her after her death. Can there be any higher praise?

As a writer, I spend a lot of time – dare I say waste? – looking for validation by either selling lots of books or collecting five-star reviews. But, really, is that what matters?

I write because I have stories I want to tell. I have characters whose voices I hear loud and clear, and if I don’t share their stories, then those characters wane and fade away. And I believe each of my books has one reader it’s meant for – either to entertain or to reassure that they are not alone in their struggle. I don’t write about popular girls; I never was one. I don’t write about wealth; I’ve never known it. I write about working-class heroines who struggle to make ends meet and build a home for themselves and those they love. Not a lot of glamour in that.

There are certain things I can control on this journey. I control the quality of my storytelling. As an indie author, I choose my cover art and hire an editor and proofreader. I choose the actors who record my audiobooks, and I schedule the date my books publish.

But there are certain things I cannot control. I’ve queried numerous agents and editors and received many no-thank-yous. I’ve submitted my books time and time again to the biggest promotion site available, and I hear no. I refuse to pay for reviews, so my books will never be featured in Publishers Weekly or RT Magazine. None of that matters.

What matters to me is this: I want to be known as a writer who helps other writers. I want to be known not for the bucket loads of books I sell but for the encouragement and boost-up I give to my fellow wordsmiths.

So, with that goal in mind, I signed up to host other writers on Great Escapes Book Tours. On Friday, I share a post by Janice Peacock, who writes A Glass Bead Mystery series. She talks about romance and her newest book, A Bead in the Hand. On Sunday, I host Joyce and Jim Lavene, a husband-and-wife team who wrote Gone by Midnight, a collection of short mystery stories. If my meager efforts help these authors sell a few books, that’s great. If those sales encourage them to keep writing, that’s even better.

I can’t think of a better legacy.

Hands and arms inside the cart: Welcome, Janice Peacock.