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Announcing a New Release: Bringer of Chaos: Forged in Fire

Bringer of Chaos: Forged in Fire just came out and it sounds like a wonderful read. Here’s its blurb—
Humans created the Ultras, a genetically enhanced race, to defend mankind. Instead, Ultras became their greatest threat. With the help of traitors, humans captured half a million of the immortal warriors.

Exiled to an alien world with no tech, no tools, and no resources, their leader, Pietas, must protect his people, find food and shelter and unite them. But before he can, he must regain command from a ruthless adversary he’s fought for centuries–his brutal, merciless father.

Ultras are immortal, and no matter how they die, they come back. Reviving after death isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Some wounds heal instantly and a few take time, but battered and broken trust? Immortals may heal, but a wound of the heart lasts forever.

Genre: Science Fiction with romantic elements
Rating: PG13 for violence, no profanity or explicit content

Cover artist Brumae

And here’s its excerpt–
In this excerpt, Pietas and the search party sent to find him have become lost and have walked for hours. When he realizes they’re near a summit that will allow him to see the valley they searched for, he heads for it. Joss, the telepath and warrior he loves tries to keep him from going, insisting she has a better vantage point. Pietas suspects a trick.

“Joss. The truth this time. What are you hiding?”
While she studied him, he remained motionless. The gentle prod of her mind against his shields reminded him she’d seen his thoughts despite his best efforts. Or perhaps she’d allowed him to be aware. In the past, he’d noticed such intrusion during training but never outside it.
“Pietas, if you want to see the caldera from this point, I can’t stop you, but once you see what’s out there, you can never unsee it. I’d like to spare you the devastation until you’ve had a chance to see the good side. If I take you in through the pass you can appreciate the true beauty of this place first. Maybe think of a way we can make it work here. Survive.”
According to Joss, half a million of his people lay in helpless cryosleep within lifepods on the other side of that hill. Over three thousand pods had been damaged beyond saving. The frozen immortals within them had shattered like spun glass.
A short hike above, the summit waited. In two short minutes he could see for himself. “How long would your route take us?”
“Less than a half hour.”
Once more, the short distance to the actual summit drew his attention. How many steps?
“Pi?” Six nudged him. “Is that even a blink in the life of an immortal?”
“No, ghost, it’s not.” How grateful he was for this man. “Besides, I’m patient.”
His sister scoffed. “You?” Turning to the twins, she pointed at Pietas. “That is not my brother.”
No, he was not. He was far better. His sister could see the change. Why would she not accept it? Resisting the urge to respond with cynicism, Pietas shut his mouth.
He gestured toward the route Joss wanted to take. “Let’s go your way.”
“Thank you for listening to me.” Joss took Pietas by the hand, reached up, and dragged a fingertip down the cleft in his chin. “This place is stunning. I hate that so much of it will be spoiled by our being here.”
“Why? Has Mother released environmental impact studies?”
“No, she–” More than anything, the look Joss sent his way resembled pity. “You’ll see. Not far now.”
“You’ve been saying ‘not far’ for hours. Did I not teach you to mark trails?”
“I’m sorry, Pietas. It won’t happen again.”
Oh, but it would. She wouldn’t meant to, but it would. He’d tried for centuries to teach her how to find her way, to no avail. He kissed her cheek and drew her into his arms, savoring her warmth against his body.
“Joss.” He placed his mouth near her ear. “You couldn’t find your way out of a round room with one door.”
She jerked up her head and looked at him, her eyes wide.
He drew a fingertip down her cheek and out across her full lower lip. “And I adore you for it.”

I was fortunate enough to get to talk with Bringer of Chaos: Forged in Fire’s author, Kayelle Allen. Here’s what she had to say.

How would you describe Bringer of Chaos: Forged in Fire in only three words?
Immortal, Angst, Heartbroken

Do you listen to music while you write? What are some tunes on your playlist?
I do. While writing this book I listened to numerous songs by the group Really Slow Motion. You’d be amazed how many major films they have done movie trailer music for. As an example, they did Beauty and the Beast, Justice League, Jurassic World, The Mountain Between Us, and Blade Runner 2045. Visit their website or YouTube channel to hear them. Website YouTube Their epic music inspired most of the passages in Bringer of Chaos: Forged in Fire.

What scene from Bringer of Chaos: Forged in Fire was the most fun to write?
Any time I wrote Pietas and his not-quite-human friend, Six. These guys banter with one another constantly. But my favorite scene is where Pietas’s mother misinterprets their friendship and tries to play matchmaker. Awkward! I laughed out loud writing that.

How did the book come to be? What was your inspiration to write the book?
Bringer of Chaos: Forged in Fire is the sequel to Bringer of Chaos: the Origin of Pietas. The first book brought the immortal Pietas and Six together, first as enemies, then as grudging companions, and finally as friends. In this book, Pietas reunites with a former lover, the beautiful warrior and master telepath, Joss. Pietas has been in numerous other books, and I always wanted to know what made him tick. I’ve been finding out as I write this series.

What do you hope readers take away from your work?
Pietas has a blind spot when it comes to certain people. His trust in them is absolute. While the book reveals that trust is necessary, it also shows how violating it can break a heart and destroy a life. Anyone who’s ever had a broken heart will relate to this book.

What are you reading right now?
I usually read writing craft books and novels, picking up one or the other as I have time or need information / relaxation. I’m about to start a new Michael Connelly book. He’s a wonderful storyteller. I’m halfway through Creating Character Arcs by KM Weiland.

What writing advice would you give a fellow author?
Don’t give up. No one can take away your dream but you. Keep going and keep working. Learn the craft.

How long did it take you to write this book?
On one hand, years. I have thought about this character since I was 18. On the other hand, about 6 months once I sat down and wrote the words: chapter one.

Quick Draw:
Jeans or sweats? Sweats all the way
Coffee or Tea? Coffee hot, tea cold
Chocolate or Chips? Chocolate, darker the better
Boxers, briefs or commando? You mean on guys? Commando, baby. LOL
Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate

The Mad Monk’s Treasure and an Interview with Kris Bock

When I read The Mad Monk’s Treasure, I knew it was a novel I had to add to my to-read list and I wanted to learn more about its author, so I interviewed her.

How would you describe ­­­The Mad Monk’s Treasure in only three words?

Female Indiana Jones

Do you listen to music while you write? What are some tunes on your playlist?

I use voice recognition software, and it makes enough mistakes without music playing in the background.

How did ­­­The Mad Monk’s Treasure come to be? What was your inspiration to write the book?

I’d been writing for middle grade children for some years as Chris Eboch. But I’d been reading a lot of romantic suspense, and I wanted to try something different. I love adventure stories and treasure hunting, and I love spending time outdoors here in New Mexico. The Mad Monk’s Treasure is based on a “real” legend. The lost Victorio Peak treasure may or may not still be waiting in New Mexico, but in my novel, two spunky friends find it with the help of a sexy love interest and a feisty orange cat.

What do you hope readers take away from your work?

Most of all, I want people to have fun. If reading it gives them a mini vacation, that’s perfect. If it inspires people to get outside, and maybe believe they can have a little adventure of their own, even better.

What are you reading right now?

A Brother Cadfael mystery by Ellis Peters.

What writing advice would you give a fellow author?

It’s a tough business, and it can crush a writer’s spirit, so remember to have fun – if you’re not enjoying yourself, what’s the point?

Quick Draw:

Jeans or sweats?

Sweats around the house. Jeans for “formal” occasions.

Coffee or Tea?

Definitely tea.

Chocolate or Chips?

Yes please.

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

The Mad Monk’s Treasure is free at all e-book retailers, so why not try it? If you like it, please leave a review and check out my other novels.

The Mad Monk’s Treasure
“Smart romance with an ‘Indiana Jones’ feel.”


“Like Nancy Drew for grownups.”


A legendary treasure hunt in the dramatic – and deadly – New Mexico desert….


photo courtesy of martina-misar-tummeltshammer-


The lost Victorio Peak treasure is the greatest of treasure-hunting legends, filled with riches from a heretic Spanish priest’s gold mine, bandits, and an Apache Chief.


Erin, a shy history professor, uncovers a clue that may pinpoint the lost cave. She’s ready for adventure, but when a hit and run driver nearly kills her, she knows she’s not the only one after the treasure. And is Drew, the handsome helicopter pilot who found her bleeding in a ditch, a hero or an enemy?


Erin heads into the New Mexico wilderness with her brainy best friend Camie and a feisty orange cat, Tiger. The wilderness holds its own dangers, from wild animals to sudden storms. Meanwhile, dangerous men are on Erin’s trail, determined snatch the treasure from her grasp. How far will Erin go to find the treasure and discover what she’s really made of? And will Drew be there to help her in the end?


“The story has it all—action, romance, danger, intrigue, lost treasure, not to mention a sizzling relationship….”


“The action never stopped …. It was adventure and romance at its best.”


“I couldn’t put this book down. You’ll love it.”


This book was originally published under the title Rattled.


Fans of Mary Stewart, Barbara Michaels, and Terry Odell will enjoy these stories of love in the wild, from an award-winning author.


The Mad Monk’s Treasure Excerpt:


Among all the legends, all the fact and fiction, one story stood out. The Victorio Peak legend had it all. A Franciscan priest and a swindler. Torture, murder, a government cover-up. Where was the truth, among all the stories? Erin wanted to find out. Over time, and with Camie’s encouragement, she’d started to take the treasure hunt more seriously. It wasn’t so much for the treasure itself, which would most likely belong to the government or the landowners. But it would make her reputation, open up new job opportunities – change her life in ways she hardly dared dream.


She touched the book gently. The pages were falling out; she didn’t want to risk carrying it around. Instead, Erin snapped a picture of the petroglyphs with her phone. That would be enough to show Camie for now.


The timing was perfect; she just had to turn in grades and field a few tearful last-minute requests for extensions, and she’d be done for the semester. What better way to spend the summer, than hunting for buried treasure?


Erin shook her head. Who would’ve thought that she, the quiet, studious girl who’d spent her entire adult life in academia in one way or another, would be planning such an adventure?


Erin wheeled the bike around the front of her house and mounted. At the corner, she paused and looked both ways. The long frontage road was dangerously narrow, with a cement wall on one side and a ditch on the other. Fortunately, traffic was normally light, and at this time of day the road lay empty. Erin pushed off, still grinning from her find. She rode on the right side, by the ditch, instead of facing traffic, because it was too frightening to ride alongside the wall when a car passed.


She’d gone a block when she heard the hum of a car engine as it pulled out from a side street behind her. She rode along the very edge of the pavement, even though the car would have plenty of room to pass her without oncoming traffic.


Erin glanced over her shoulder. The black SUV twenty feet behind her hadn’t bothered to pull out into the road at all. Jerk. When would drivers learn to share the road with bicyclists? Erin pulled onto the two-foot wide gravel strip between the pavement and the ditch. She couldn’t stop without risking a skid, but she slowed so the SUV could pass.


The engine roared. Erin glanced back again.


Black metal bore down on her. Her heart lurched and the bike wobbled. This guy was crazy! She whipped her gaze forward, rose up in the seat, and pumped the pedals with all her power, skimming along inches from the ditch. He was just trying to scare her. She’d get his license plate and—


She felt the bumper hit her back tire. The bike seemed to leap into the air, and she went flying. The dried mud and weeds of the ditch seemed to rise up to meet her.


She didn’t even have time to scream.


Get the book free at these ebook retailers:


Kris Bock’s Amazon page

Barnes & Noble

Apple iBooks


Google Play


Kris Bock writes novels of suspense and romance with outdoor adventures and Southwestern landscapes. Whispers in the Dark features archaeology and intrigue among ancient Southwest ruins. In Counterfeits, stolen Rembrandt paintings bring danger to a small New Mexico town. What We Found is a mystery with strong romantic elements about a young woman who finds a murder victim in the woods.


The Southwest Treasure Hunters novels follow strong characters hunting for long-lost treasures in the dramatic and deadly southwestern desert. Each stands alone.


Read excerpts at or visit her Amazon page. Sign up for Kris Bock newsletter for announcements of new books, sales, and more.

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An Interview with Beverley Oakley and a look at her new release–The Duchess and the Highwayman

The Duchess and the Highwayman
By Beverley Oakley

Beverley is giving away a $10 Amazon Gift Certificate and an ebook The Mysterious randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour. Please use the RaffleCopter below to enter. Remember you may increase your chances of winning by visiting the other tour stops. You may find those locations here.

A duchess disguised as a lady’s maid; a gentleman parading as a highwayman.
She’s on the run from a murderer, he’s in pursuit of one…

In a remote Norfolk manor, Phoebe, Lady Cavanaugh is wrongfully accused by her servants of her brutal husband’s murder.

There’s little sympathy in the district for the duchess who’s taken a lover and made clear she despised her husband. The local magistrate has also vowed revenge since Lady Cavanaugh rebuffed his advances.

When Phoebe is discovered in the forest wearing only a chemise stained with the blood of her murdered husband, she persuades the noble ‘highwayman’ who rescues her that she is Lady Cavanaugh’s maidservant.

Hugh Redding has his own reasons for hunting down the man who would have Phoebe tried and hanged for murder. He plans to turn ‘the maidservant with aspirations above her station’ into the ‘lady’ who might testify against the very villain who would see Phoebe dead.

But despite the fierce attraction between Phoebe and the ‘highwayman’, Phoebe is not in a position to admit she’s the ‘murderous duchess’ hunted across the land.

Seizing an opportunity to strike at the social and financial standing of the man who has profited by her distress, Phoebe is drawn into a dangerous intrigue.

But when disaster strikes, she fears Hugh will lack the sympathy or understanding of her unusual predicament to even want to save her a second time.

Buy Links: 
Amazon | All other buy links


Chapter One

It was an evening like any other: dull with a hint of menace and tension so thick Phoebe imagined slicing a neat hole in it and disappearing magically into a new life.
Any would do.
The company had retired to the dim, close drawing room, gentlemen included, following a gluttonous dinner. By the fireplace Phoebe worked at her embroidery, glad to be ignored though she knew that wouldn’t last for long.
The reprieve was even briefer than she’d anticipated. Brutus exhaled on a shuddering snore truncated by a yelp as he chased rabbits in his dreams; this caused James the footman, who was stooping over Ulrick in the act of offering his master a drink, to jump in fright and deposit a snifter of brandy upon her husband’s waistcoat. Not that it would concern Ulrick who was snoring more loudly than Brutus and whose waistcoat was already stained with drool.
The footman cast the mistress a sideways glance as he unwound his lordship’s stock and dabbed at the sticky mess but Phoebe held her tongue and made do with a dispassionate look. She’d never liked James. She was certain he’d conspired with Ulrick on more than a few occasions to put her on the back foot and to tarnish her name below stairs. Despite her obvious disdain, she was afraid of the power he wielded.
“That will be all, James.” She rose with a dismissive wave and the rustle of silken skirts. “I’ll attend to my husband. Please see Mr Barnaby and Sir Roderick out.”
Sir Roderick, that most unwelcome of neighbours, appeared before her, bony and wraithlike; malevolent as ever. “I believe your dog that needs more attention than Lord Cavanaugh.” His thin mouth turned up in a parody of amusement as he wafted a fastidious hand about his nose, indicating Brutus’s greater guilt than his master’s snoring.
Phoebe offered Sir Roderick a cold smile. On the other side of the room Ulrick’s two other guests conversed in low voices by the window.
She inclined her head as she ignored his attempt at levity. “Good night, Sir Roderick.”
Sir Roderick straightened his spare, weedy frame, which she saw trembled with supressed outrage at being so summarily dismissed by the lady of the house.

Phoebe refused to turn away from his challenging gaze. Sir Roderick was another who couldn’t wait until the doors of Blinley Manor were closed against her the moment Ulrick breathed his last. She’d offended his honour, having bitten his lip and kneed him in the groin six months before when he’d accosted her in a dimly lit corridor and suggested in lewd terms how he might assist in the creation of an heir for the already ailing Ulrick. An heir that would ensure Phoebe kept a roof over her head.
Author Info: 


Beverley Oakley was seventeen when she bundled up her first her 500+ page romance and sent it to a publisher. Unfortunately drowning her heroine on the last page was apparently not in line with the expectations of romance readers so Beverley became a journalist.
Twenty-six years later Beverley was delighted to receive her first publishing contract from Robert Hale (UK) for a romance in which she ensured her heroine was saved from drowning in the icy North Sea.
Since 2009 Beverley has written more than thirteen historical romances, mostly set in England during the early nineteenth century. Mystery, intrigue and adventure spill from their pages and if she can pull off a thrilling race to save someone’s honour – or a worthy damsel from the noose – it’s time to celebrate with a good single malt Scotch.
Beverley lives with her husband, two daughters and a Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy the size of a pony opposite a picturesque nineteenth century lunatic asylum. She also writes Africa-set adventure-filled romances tarring handsome bush pilot heroes, and historical romances with less steam and more sexual tension, as Beverley Eikli.
You can get in contact with Beverley at:


How would you describe The Duchess and the Highwayman in only three words?

Murder, mystery, romance

Do you listen to music while you write?

No, I love silence. With two kids, that’s a rare commodity so when I write it’s all about creating my characters in a vacuum of silence.

What are some tunes on your playlist?

I do love Norwegian band A-ha’s 1980s hit ‘Take on Me’. My husband is Norwegian and he’s not fond of them but one of my music scene highlights was when the lead singer, Morten Harket, put his hands on my shoulders to move me out of the way in the midst of a crowd when I was in Oslo seeing a live Pink Floyd concert. That was probably my own fan girl moment.

What scene from The Duchess and the Highwayman was the most fun to write?

I liked the dialogue where my hero Hugh assumes he’d addressing a lady’s maid whom he thinks is putting on tremendous airs and graces and trying to ape her betters when in fact my heroine, Phoebe, is a duchess.

How did The Duchess and the Highwayman come to be? What was your inspiration to write the book? 

I live opposite a massively grand Gothic insane asylum just north of Melbourne, Australia, and I did a lot of gazing out of my study window at the high walls and crazy Victorian architecture dreaming up the storyline. So many women were locked away in that insane asylum purely because they were an encumbrance or inconvenience to their husbands or fathers so The Duchess and the Highwayman is influenced by the helplessness of women – in this case a normally timid woman who has to be daring to save her own life.

What do you hope readers take away from your work?

Essentially the feeling that life is good and that happy endings can happen when you least expect them; but also a real understanding of how difficult it was for women to forge happiness when they were so dominated by the men in their lives. In Australia, it wasn’t until 1969 that women were allowed to work in the public service following marriage so the independence we enjoy today is relatively recent.

What are you reading right now?

Why Spencer Perceval had to Die by Andro Linklater. It’s about the shooting murder in the UK House of Commons in 1812 of the then Prime Minister, an ancestor of mine. All the boys in my family are called Spencer and when I stumbled upon this ‘true crime’ investigation that links Perceval’s death with his anti-slavery quest, I had to read it. As many of my stories are set around this time, I also thought it would be great research.

What writing advice would you give a fellow author? 

Don’t give up if because you’ll never know if success was just round the corner.

How long did it take you to write this book? 

Two years – mostly because of a disastrous ‘find and replace’ error which I couldn’t undo and which riddled my manuscript with double quotations marks everywhere!

Quick Draw:

Jeans or sweats?

Jeans – though, like my heroines, I love dressing up and have a roomful of historical costumes I’ve made.

Coffee or Tea?


Chocolate or Chips?


Boxers, briefs or commando?

Boxers or commando, depending on the mood and circumstances.

Chocolate or vanilla?

Either, depending on the mood and quality.

Thank you so much for having me!

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A Movie-Zombie Shares Her Experience

If you watch Walking Dead or Zombie Nation, it’s likely you fantasize about being one of the zombies on screen. I know I do. Recently, I met someone who was a zombie cast member in George A. Romero’s iconic film Dawn of the Dead.
I asked her about her experience in this short interview.

1. Could you share a picture of yourself as a zombie?
I don’t have a picture of myself as a zombie, although friends have claimed to see me in the parking lot seen.  I am occasionally wearing red mittens, as it was really, really cold.  While the film was set in summer we were filming in early November before the Monroeville Mall opened for business.

2. What did you have to do as a zombie? What were your scene directions?
I attacked a truck, other parts were left on the cutting room floor.  Our directions were, “Okay people…Zombie around!”

3. To look like one of the un-dead must have taken a while. How long were you in makeup? What did they do to give you that just-died charm?
Make up took about an hour for the extras.  They painted blood on us, put on a lot of scar tissue, makeup under the eyes, that brought out the hollows, and then made us watch Night of the Living Dead to get into character.  They fed us well, and we were able to take food back to school with us.  It was a long drive, so we appreciated it.

4. What was your favorite part of being a zombie?
It never got on screen.  If you look at the picture above, you’ll notice there is a road at the back.  It was about 9 degrees out here, and we had the whole scene set up, when a woman in pink curlers, a pink coat walking a pink poodle came toddling down the road and stood there.  She was right in the shot, and even though the assistant director asked her to leave, she obviously didn’t hear her.  Almost as one, we turned, zombie makeup in full view, and ran towards her and the poodle, screaming “get out of the shot, get out of the shot.”  The poor dog jumped in her arms and she ran off, terrified of 30 irate zombies chasing her.

5. Did you meet anyone famous while you were working on the movie?
Tom Savini, the great makeup artist for the film.

6. If readers watched Dawn of the Dead, would they see you? Please describe in detail exactly where we could look for you?
I am apparently quite visible in the parking lot scene, where I have red mittens either on my hands or in my back pocket.

Paola sent me this picture of the zombies in the Monroeville Mall parking lot. If you want to find her, look for the red mittens.

7. Can you describe your experience? How long was it? How many days or weeks?
We went there for about 3 weekends, got to set at about 2 a.m. on Saturday morning, and Sunday, while the mall was closed.

8.  What was a typical day on set?
We got to the mall very early. They put the make up on us, and fed us copious amounts of food.  Blood and guts were all over us, but we didn’t care, and usually had donuts and coffee, since we were well, zombies from driving at night to get there.  It was a blast.  Many of my scenes were cut, because they had a lot of them.  My hands are occasionally in shots, but I am the only one who knows those digits, and, of course, the parking lot.  Between set-ups, we all ran inside because it was really cold, and we hung out.  I do remember doing some shopping, still in make-up and getting some odd looks.

9. Tell us about your most vivid memory of your zombie experience?
I have to say the poodle lady I described above.  It stayed with me forever.

What an amazing experience, but Paola K. Amaras has done a lot of incredible things since. She writes for Thrive Global, Huffington Post, and her own writing research company while she looks for an agent for her book series The Hidden Rims Saga. If you want to find out more about her, you can find her at these links. 

Also, if you have a question for Paola, you can leave it in the comments and I’ll see she gets it. Thanks.

An Interview with Deb Werksman

It’s my pleasure to introduce my guest, Deb Werksman, the Editorial Director for Sourcebooks Casablanca.

MJC: What books have you read when you were younger that made an impact on you?
DZ:Jane Austen and Virginia Woolf were my favorites in high school and college. For about 10 years I re-read Pride and Prejudice every year, and A Room of One’s Own still resonates as a powerful feminist manifesto (manifesta?).

MJC: What are you currently reading?
DW: I’ve just finished The Radium Girls by Kate Moore, which is absolutely thrilling—it’s non-fiction, but reads like a thriller, and tells the story of the amazing women who painted the illuminated watch dials during WWI and got radium poisoning as a result. They had to fight very hard to get worker’s compensation for their suffering, and were the pioneers of OSHA. I’m also re-reading The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer, and I’ve pre-ordered Donna Leon’s new book—I love her mysteries set in Venice, Italy, with the redoubtable Commissario Guido Brunetti.

MJC: What do you like best about being an editor?
DW: I love to take an author from an unknown debut to a bestseller with hundreds of thousands of copies sold.

MJC: What percentage of new clients you sign in are debut authors?
DW: A healthy percentage—difficult to give you an exact number because of course after their first book, they’re not a debut any more. I have numerous authors who debuted with us sometime during the past 10 years and are still writing for us.

MJC: What are the qualities of your ideal client?
DW: My ideal client is deadline and data driven, and is a great team player.

MJC: How many submissions do you typically receive in a week?
DW: About 50-100 per month.

MJC: What questions do you wish authors would ask before considering a match with a publishing house or editor?
DW: I think an author needs to assess how much support she wants vs. how much control. If an author is a team player and understands that publishing is a team sport, she will be much happier.

MJC: What is most common plotting error you see in submissions?
DW: Most common is using tropes instead of original thinking, and the lack of a strong hook—it’s such a competitive marketplace that the hook is absolutely essential. Plotting errors can be fixed—lack of a hook is much more difficult.

MJC: What is on your manuscript wish list?
DW: I’m looking for a really original paranormal, a contemporary that’s emotional and heart-gripping and reminds me of Fern Michaels or Robyn Carr, and romantic suspense that’s believable and compelling.

MJC: If you could keep company with one magical creature for the rest of your life what would you choose and why?
DW: I’d like my own personal fairy to wave her magic wand and make every day a good hair day, or feed the cats instantly, or transform the laundry into a neatly folded wardrobe. Also if she could pack suitcases, that would be a plus.

MJC: What has been the highlight of your career?
DW: The highlight of my career was starting Sourcebooks Casablanca and growing it over 10 years to where we are now. We’ve launched and built many careers, have been a top 10 romance publisher since our 3rd year in business, and the future is bright.

MJC: What’s your advice to an aspiring author?
DW: 1. Hone your craft. When you figure out what category (romance? Mystery?) and subgenre (romantic suspense? Paranormal romance? Cozy mystery?) you want to write forever, then you know you’re ready to begin talking to agents and authors. Before that, just enjoy the process.
2. Publishing is a team sport. It’s important to realize that the people you’re working with are professionals and are in this for their careers. They want to help you build a career too. You’re going to have to think about your writing as a job at some point.
3. Learn your category. The time you spend in a bookstore is very valuable, because that’s where readers discover new authors.

Martial arts move: breaking a board with my bare foot (not that I’ve ever done it…)
Weapon: knitting needle
Superhero power: getting shit done
Beverage: venti iced green tea, unsweetened
Book boyfriend: Mr. Darcy
Animal: feline, any size, also the snow monkeys of Japan who spend their time in the hot springs looking blissed out
Comedy: SNL, especially lately
Comeback line: Tomorrow is another day…
Ice cream: lavender and fig or chocolate of course
Movie:  Ever After
TV show: Grace and Frankie
Drink: mimosa
Shoes: Arche
Artist: Jiri Anderle
Sports team: CT Huskies
Guilty pleasure: Vanity Fair magazine

Interview with Laura Zats

Thanks to Unsplash Maria-38582

For many authors querying is hard. If you’re shy like me, talking to an agent or an editor seems almost impossible. Your palms get sweaty. Your brain turns to mush and your tongue forgets how to form words. To make pitching or simple conversation easier, it’s good to remember agents and editors are people. One way to do that is to learn a little about them and what they’re looking for before trying to sell our stories.

Laura Zats and Jennifer Rupp

At a recent Wisconsin Romance Writer meeting, I had the good fortune to meet Laura Zats from Red Sofa Literary. I threw a lot of questions at her, which she graciously answered in hopes of helping me and other writers.

MJC: What has been the highlight of your career?
​LZ: Every time I sign an author or sell a book, it’s just as awesome as the first time. I can’t choose! It’s great having someone agree to put their career in your hands, or having an editor confirm you do actually have good taste in books.

MJC: What’s your advice to an aspiring author?
LZ: Wait until you’re ready. Use your resources to learn as much as you can about writing and the business, and don’t go into it unprepared!​

MJC: What is on your manuscript wish list?
​ LZ: Specific requests are tagged on twitter as #MSWL, but my biggest requests are feminist and diverse books.​

MJC: What do you like best about being an agent?
​ LZ: Honestly, I like everything except for saying no to people–the reading, the editing, the contracts!​

MJC: What percentage of new clients you sign in are debut authors?
LZ: Probably 80-90%​

MJC: What are the qualities of your ideal client?
LZ: That they’re a team player–they thrive on feedback (both good and bad) and want to be as helpful and as knowledgeable as possible​.

MJC: What are your top three favorite books?
LZ: Oh, I definitely can’t answer that! I have no idea!​

MJC: What are you currently reading?
​ LZ: Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy and The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas​

MJC: If you could have any superpower what would you choose?
​ LZ: When I was a kid, I would have said flight, but I’d like to stop time so I can get all my work done and perhaps a few naps as well. ​

MJC: How many submissions do you typically receive in a week?
​ LZ: Anywhere between 100-200 queries.​

MJC: What questions do you wish authors would ask before considering a match with an agent?
​ LZ: There’s no one specific question, but I’d love it if authors asked agents about their long-term career traject​ories. It’s important that authors sign with someone they think will take them where they want to go!

MJC: What is most common plotting error you see in submissions?
​ LZ: Most of the errors I see don’t quite make it to the plot, but for fulls I stop reading, the most common reason is that it lags in the middle–the pressure of the climax needs to feed the book all the way through!​

 MJC: What trends are you seeing over and over again in your slush pile?
​ LZ: Angels, demons, shifters, vampires, superheroes, empaths, bucket lists.​

MJC: Do you evaluate submissions with the Mako Mori test? Why or Why not?
​ LZ: I actually have the Bechdel and Mako Mori tests as requirements on my submissions list!​

MJC: Do you consider yourself a hands-on, editorial type of agent?
 LZ: Definitely! I love getting in there and discovering plot holes and brainstorming with my authors.​

Laura Zats

Favorites Flash Round:
Martial arts move:
​Roundhouse kick​
​ Beer​
Book boyfriend:
​ ​I plead the fifth. Don’t want to make the other boyfriends sad.
​ pit bull​
Comeback line:
​That’s what she said​
Ice cream:
​balsamic strawberry​
​The Princess Bride​
MJC: Mine, too.
Video Game:
​Old school Sonic​
TV show:
​also beer​
​Fluevog knee-high boots​

MJC: They look awesome.
Sports team:
​ ​Twins
Guilty pleasure:
​Mac n cheese​