Friday, December 19, 2014

Tome Tender: The Winner of Nicci Carrera's LOVE CATERS ALL Giveaway ...

Tome Tender: The Winner of Nicci Carrera's LOVE CATERS ALL Giveaway ...

Tim Ferguson and the role of comedy in the entertainment arts

In my last post I talked a little bit about what comedy means to me, and several of you chimed in with your shared thoughts. I was amazed and pleased to discover that others enjoy the same comedies that I do and for much the same reasons. Well, it's not surprising that you liked the same comedies; after all, they were popular for a reason. I guess the thing that surprised me is how the topic struck a common chord. (Speaking of Chords, stay tuned because my next post is going to be about a wonderful romantic comedy from RoseAnn DeFranco, called The Right Chord.)

Back to the little vein of interest I've struck here talking about comedy. Maybe I shouldn't have been so surprised. As I was writing the last post, the topic reminded me of an amazing lecture I recently watched about why comedy is so important. Today I would like to share this amazing Ted Talk with you, featuring Tim Ferguson, an Australian comedian and an author whose book on writing comedy is the top prize at the free writing contest posted at the end of this post.

And here is the writing contest, open to poetry, prose, and prose poetry entries. Word count is just 500 words. If you win any of the top three places, you will win one of three very good books and gain publication on the Poetry Sans Frontieres website.

Give the contest a try, and good luck!


Monday, December 15, 2014

What Romance and comedy mean to me, plus Christmas pictures!

People who don't read Romance sometimes have some misconceptions about the genre. I don't know exactly what to say to them because I don't want to be disrespectful, but what I want to say is, people who don't read Romance really don't understand how vast the genre is (or how hard it is to write (ahem)). To me, Romance novels are about life. Sometimes they are also about fantasy. Sometimes science fiction. Sometimes about police officers, FBI agents, Navy SEALS, or cowboys. But they are always about people doing the hard work to overcome baggage and make a life. Making a meaningful life requires building and sustaining relationships with people. Romance stories examine this very human activity, always fresh because, as with life, the people and circumstances are always at least a little bit different.

My favorite kind of Romance to write at the moment leans toward the light side. With Love Caters All and with its sequel (currently in progress), I am aiming for that banter of classic romantic comedies, the ones my mom introduced to me. I love that back and forth, particularly when the strong and highly verbal woman is keeping the sweet guy off-balance. (Philadelphia Story and His Girl Friday, for example.)

Maybe my preference in writing these tales has to do with remembering all the nice times I had later in life when my mom and I watched shorter comedies. She had a lot of memory loss, and in the end the very best things to watch were comedies like Golden Girls. She had all the seasons on DVD and we'd watch them all the way through and then start over. Golden Girls had great writing, and the best thing for my mom was that the comedy was of the one-liner variety. The humor didn't rely on a long sustained comic set up. Getting that kind of joke requires memory. I would say that the writers, directors, actors and everyone else who made that show made a huge contribution to our lives. They gave us many hours of shared enjoyment.

Mom also liked Friends, but not Seinfeld. When I started watching those re-runs with her, I realized that while I liked Seinfeld a lot, the show did rely on very long comedic plots. The punch line was often at the end of the show. But Friends had physical comedy, goofy stuff, very in-the-moment kinds of humor. There was a sweetness to the character ensemble, and the actors and actresses were pretty. I loved seeing my mom laughing and enjoying that show. I gained a whole new appreciation for the artistry of Friends.

What kinds of books, TV shows or movies do you like?

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Luke's #1 Rule, by Cynthia Harrison

The characters come to life in Luke's #1 Rule, a small town contemporary romance set in Blue Lake that is brimming with realistic conflict. Chloe Richards has to move with her two adorable young sons to Seattle, very far away from her mother and the kids' father. Why? Because the father has an addiction problem, and Chloe is on her own to raise and provide for her children as a single mom. Chloe  has secured an executive level job in Seattle. Her solution makes perfect sense, but it will require taking the children away from their grandmother and father. The move will also tear Chloe from her mother, with whom she has been living since the meltdown in her marriage, and from Luke, the good, sweet man she has grown to love. 
Now she knew the rip of kin from kin, and it hurt.
Luke's #1 Rule has the feel of a true story and is riveting. There is nothing artificial or forced about Harrison's writing style. The author handles really challenging themes with clarity, accuracy and heart. It is a book to learn from, to cry over, and to rejoice in. I loved the boys in the book--they act and feel just like real-live boys. The book reminded me a lot of Brenda Novak's Whiskey Creek series, especially When Snow Falls. I love small-town contemporary romances like this because they capture the essence of strong communities and show people facing real-life struggles.

Because the book is so realistic, I had a lot of questions for the author, all of which (and more) are answered in an interview that is included at the end of Luke's #1 Rule. I was allowed to reprint the interview here for you. 

As a new release, this book is on sale for a few days at The Wild Rose Press.

Cynthia will also answer your questions, so please comment.

An interview with Cynthia Harrison 

1. You said that your husband gave you the idea for this book twenty-five years ago. Why didn’t you write your true love story?

I’m a fiction writer. I like making things up. I also wanted to protect the privacy of the real people involved in this story. Not just my husband and sons, but their father, their other mother, and their siblings.

2. Their other mother? Why not stepmom? Do you mean the character of Bettina?

I’ve always felt, from almost the first day, great respect for the woman who would help raise my children. I feel like I can talk to her about anything and she will understand. She’s very friendly and open and nonjudgmental. I love her. She took great care of my children; she is truly their other mother. Stepmom has such negative connotations in literature. She’s the opposite of that.

3. So the next obvious question is your ex-husband. Is he anything at all like Spence?

Not an iota. Not even close. Spence is the character I had the most trouble with, at first. I didn’t want to make the ex the bad guy. It’s such a cliché. So I did the opposite and that didn’t work. This is fiction, and I needed conflict. I’m a writer who teaches, and the first seven years of my teaching career, I taught at-risk high school children. I learned a lot about addictions and how they destroy families. Then there’s my addiction to chocolate and potato chips, which sounds funny but created serious consequences. I was recently diagnosed with pre-diabetes. So no more sugar for me. I have an addictive personality. Fortunately, I can’t drink more than a few glasses of wine without getting dizzy and then sick. So food has been my primary addiction, but I am also a binge television watcher, huge movie fan, and constant reader of novels. Aside from the food, these are all soft addictions, but they all gave me insight into Spence.

4. What will happen to Spence? Will he be okay? How can the reader know?

As a reader, I sometimes have questions when a story ends, too. In the literature, the relapse number is very high, but Spence has a unique supportive system in Blue Lake. We will see Spence in other stories, but I don’t know if he will relapse because he hasn’t (yet). Still, it’s true what they say: addicts will always be in recovery.

5. How many books do you plan for the Blue Lake Series?

I still have a lot of stories to tell. I like telling two thematically related stories in every novel. So Fast Eddie’s will be about the reunion of Bob and Lily, who were going off to college in Blue Heaven. They’ve graduated, and Lily comes back to Blue Lake. So does Eddie’s first love. My favorite way to write is to have a new adult storyline and a more mature romance as well.

6. Blue Heaven was more of a traditional romance, but Luke’s #1 Rule had many more characters. There are the four adults and two children, plus the meddling mothers. Why the change?

They say every writer has a “book of her heart.” Luke’s Number #1 Rule was mine. It was not just a love story, although that’s the main plotline. Using the theme of blending a family was the book I’ve always wanted to write. It was a challenge. And it wasn’t a romance. I will always write love stories because I have a romantic soul, but the larger picture interests me, too. 7. You said you’re a reader. Who are some of your favorite authors? If you came to my house, you would look at my bookshelves and know. I use an e-reader these days, but still collect my favorites in hardback. First came Jane Austen and Erica Jong, then Alice Hoffman, Louise Erdrich, Sara Lewis, Elizabeth Berg. I also love poetry and short stories, so add Margaret Atwood and Alice Munro. Also Carol Shields.

8. Do you read male authors?

I do. Raymond Carver is a personal favorite. I also admire TC Boyle and Richard Ford. There is not a book by David Lodge I have not laughed through. Richard Russo is in there, too. I don’t collect any of them except Carver. I think taking two degrees in English literature filled me up with male authors. The classics. After college, I started my own education of contemporary female writers.

9. Do you read contemporary romance?

I do. I never miss a novel by Barbara Delinsky, Pamela Morsi, or Rachel Gibson. I’m also a fan of romantic suspense and several of my fellow TWRP authors write in that line. Mysteries! Sue Grafton and Anne Perry. Lee Childs. Every book.

10. How do you find the time to teach, read, and write? Are your little boys grown up now?

Yes, my boys are grown with families of their own. When they were young, I wrote less and read less. I enjoyed my time with them. More recently, I’ve been teaching less, which gives me time to read and write. I’ve found you can do it all, but you can’t do it all at the same time. I’m also dedicated (again, I could say addicted) to Twitter and my blog. My older son suggested I start a blog in 2002. He set it up for me, and I’m still there at For ten years, I wrote about my efforts to publish my novels. Then it happened and I decided to write about other things, the concerns in my novels, but also the love and joy in everyday life.

11. Do you ever speak to book clubs?

I adore meeting people I’ve only known on the Internet. In real life, I’ve met friends from New York, San Diego, Los Angeles, and Seattle. I live north of Detroit, but, time permitting, I’d be happy to Skype with a book group from anywhere in the world. One of my favorite things to do is talk books.

Connect with Cynthia here:

Monday, December 1, 2014

Five Star Review for Love Caters All!

Blogger Robena Grant has an advanced reader copy of Love Caters all and writes about her experience here:

The book is now available for pre-order on Amazon:

Print books are already available here:

and here: