Ice cream and True Love: What a Combo!

Hosting author Darlene Fredette on Write Despite was a no-brainer. The woman has written a novel about an ice cream entrepreneur who finds true love. I wouldn’t mind hanging out in this world for a while.

Darlene’s new novel, Cherry Red debuted earlier this month, published by The Wild Rose Press. With a strong female protagonist and a cool leading man, you almost don’t need the ice cream backdrop. But then again, ice cream does make everything better. Or as Darlene puts it, “Who doesn’t love ice cream?”

As you may have guessed, Darlene is something of an ice cream connoisseur herself. Her top-ten flavors:

1. Cherry Red … of course!

2. French Vanilla

3. Strawberry

4. Coconut

5. Butter Pecan

6. Pineapple

7. Strawberry Cheesecake

8. Peanut Butter Cup

9. Maple Nut

10. Pina Colada

This summer, ice cream entrepreneur Carly Redd’s only focus is expanding her business—until she’s coerced into attending her ex’s engagement party. Showing up without a date is unthinkable. She reluctantly agrees to be escorted by her brother’s co-worker, although doing so breaks her rule of not dating firefighters.

The daughter of the town’s fire chief should wear a Do Not Touch sign, but firefighter Noah Harding’s interest blazed the moment he saw Carly. Agreeing to be her fake boyfriend is a no-brainer, but convincing Carly to trust him with her heart is harder than extinguishing a fire.

Overstepping the platonic-only rule is as dangerous as fire and ice swirling into a tempting combustion.

Learn more about Darlene  on her blog, on Twitter or Amazon

One week until launch! Join us via Zoom

Hello All,

ARBORVIEW releases in just seven days! Look what arrived in the mail, my author’s copies. How I love my cover artist.

       

To commemorate the release, my local library is hosting a Zoom launch event on September 29 at 6 p.m. I’m hoping some of you can attend. Just register on the library’s site, and they’ll send you the Zoom link. 

We’ll have a short reading and then a Q&A session. It promises to be a lot of fun. Come, armed with questions for me.

More events are planned, and ARBORVIEW will be popping up on multiple blogs and book sites. Here’s an early guest spot  with some good excerpts. Feel free to Google the book’s title and my name to catch more.  My website will share larger events, as well as the ARBORVIEW buy links.

Can’t believe we’re almost there. It isn’t often you get to see a dream materialize before your very eyes. I’m walking on clouds, feeling blessed. See you on launch day!

–Karen

Dying for the right swimsuit?

Hello All,

The topic today: the hidden and not-so-hidden angst of ladies swimwear.

Please welcome author Susie Black to Write Despite. Susie is a ladies swimwear sales executive, who has cultivated a serious side gig as a mystery writer. Her debut novel, Death by Sample Size, was published this year by The Wild Rose Press.

As a ladies apparel expert, Susie’s got a good handle on what women feel when they stare into that fitting room mirror, and her work is the better—and the funnier—for it. She’s even created a choosing-the-right-swimsuit tips primer. Reach out to Susie, if you’d like one.

Let’s hear a little more about Susie’s journey to publication and what she learned as a pioneering woman executive in an industry long dominated by men.

Take it away, Susie:

I had always envisioned a career as a journalist, but life had other plans. Right after my college graduation, our family had an emergency while my apparel sales rep Dad was at a trade show in Atlanta. When no one from the companies he represented could cover for him, dad asked me to help. Despite having absolutely no background or interest in his business, this was my dad, so of course, I said yes. After a half-hour crash course in how to sell ladies’ apparel, dad left me alone to muddle through running the trade show. When dad returned three days later, he was stunned by the huge number of orders I’d written.

To my astonishment, he offered me a job as a sub-rep. Graduate school didn’t appeal to me and the opportunities for women in journalism were few and far between. So, I accepted dad’s offer, and the adventure of a lifetime began. At the beginning of my apparel career as a sales rep in the deep southern states, I was the ONLY woman traveling a territory. I had to prove myself daily to an industry that doubted a woman’s ability to do the job or last more than a season.  I proved all the doubters wrong and broke every glass ceiling.

Like the protagonist in my Holly Swimsuit Mystery Series, I am a ladies swimwear sales exec in the greater Los Angeles area. From the beginning of my career, I have kept a daily journal chronicling the interesting, quirky, and sometimes quite challenging people I have encountered, as well as the crazy situations I’ve gotten myself into and out of.

My daily journal entries are the foundation of everything I write. I came to write in the cozy mystery genre because I love solving puzzles. My parents would certainly confirm I have always asked a lot of questions, and I am naturally curious (some narrow-minded people say I am nosy…go figure…LOL). So, writing mysteries was the natural next step for me to take. The bonus is that it was an excellent way to knock off some people on paper who I would have loved to eliminate in real life and still not end up in prison. Extremely therapeutic. I highly recommend it.

One thing I learned during my career is that the type of clothes we choose says a lot about how we see ourselves and how we present ourselves to the world. Our wardrobes speak legions about whether we are followers and go by the trends or are we leaders who are the trendsetters. This insight was invaluable when I became an author and was a major influence on the way I write.

As a female who has succeeded in a historically male-dominated industry, it was important to me to write about the apparel business from a woman’s point of view. All of the characters in the Holly Swimsuit Mystery Series are based on real people, and the central characters are all strong, successful women who have beaten the odds and broken the glass ceiling. Holly Schlivnik, the main character, is based on me with some poetic license taken, of course. All my stories take place in the fast-paced ladies’ Los Angeles apparel industry. The premise behind my debut cozy, Death by Sample Size, is an apparel industry buying office exec was so universally disliked that when she was murdered, that it wasn’t a question of who wanted her dead, it was a question of who didn’t. 

Things rarely turn out the way you think they will, but I am living proof that things do happen for a reason. Life is indeed a circle. I got into the rag biz because I was destined to write about it

More about susie

Born in the Big Apple, Susie Black now calls sunny Southern California home. Like the protagonist in her Holly Swimsuit Mystery Series, Susie is a successful apparel sales executive. Susie began telling stories as soon as she learned to talk. Now she’s telling all the stories from her garment industry experiences in humorous mysteries. 

She reads, writes, and speaks Spanish, albeit with an accent that sounds like Mildred from Michigan went on a Mexican vacation and is trying to fit in with the locals. Since life without pizza and ice cream as her core food groups wouldn’t be worth living, she’s a dedicated walker to keep her girlish figure. A voracious reader, she’s also an avid stamp collector. Susie lives with a highly intelligent man and has one incredibly brainy but smart-aleck adult son who inexplicably blames his sarcasm on an inherited genetic defect. 

Looking for more? Reach Susie at mysteries_@authorsusieblack.com

You can also find Susie on her social media channels: Twitter

Linkedin

Pinterest

Facebook

Instagram

Pastry, divorce, and some good advice

Hi Friends,

As Arborview’s September 29 publication date draws near, I’m sharing another snippet from the novel. Here, Ellen ponders the state of her life and what—if any—advice she should give to her student Rosa.

Because both Ellen and Rosa are pastry chefs, dessert plays a big role in Arborview. Visit me on Instagram,where I’m sharing snapshots of some of the dishes featured. Please follow, like, and share!

The Kindle version of Arborview is already available as a pre-order on Amazon and elsewhere.

Cheers,
Karen

Here’s today’s excerpt:

This was how she had come to think of herself: a divorced person. She disliked “divorcée,” which Alice liked to throw about suggestively. The word had the faint stink of misogyny, of finger-pointing, the whisper of failure—more so a woman’s than a man’s. Why was that? American men were simply “divorced,” a neutral proclamation. No cutesy French name had been borrowed to designate their failed-marriage status.

And in truth, if Ellen had failed anyone, she had failed herself. This stinging little insight had come to her in Arborview, lying in dappled sunlight, where she was free to look at things and creep near the truth. The truth was she had fallen like a stone to the earth after all these years, and the voice she had learned to ignore had only grown louder. She had abandoned, or at least shelved, herself long before Zach worked up the courage to do it.

She really should tell Rosa: “Don’t worry about what your mother thinks, or your brother, or anyone else. Choose, or the world will do it for you.” This was what the girl needed to hear. 

Publication date announced!

Hi Friends,

At long last I have a publication date for Arborview: Sept. 29.

It’s coming up quickly, and we have a ton of work to do to get ready. Please check here or at www.karenguzman.com for updates, availability, reviews, and other perks.

For fun, I’m going to post some of my favorite passages from the book during the days leading up to publication, hopefully to whet everyone’s appetite for the whole thing.

I’m so grateful to have you all on this journey with me.
–Karen

Baking, and food in general, play a big role in Arborview. The heroine is a pastry chef. Here’s the first excerpt:

From finance professional to published fiction author

Hi Friends,

Please welcome debut author Mark Jones to Write Despite. After “retiring,” Mark has stumbled upon a new career!
–Karen

Take it away, Mark:

My first novel with the Wild Rose PressPeculiar Activities, includes a dedication to one of my high school literature teachers. I enjoyed writing in high school, especially when our school district created an “English” track course with an emphasis on it.

Still, writing was not something that followed me into college or my banking career, or later, my work in the world of higher education finance.

Then after thirty-three years, I retired from the financial services and budgeting departments at the University of Oklahoma and the University of Central Oklahoma…and thoughts of writing returned.

I developed a concept for a mystery/detective/international intrigue story and began putting my thoughts on paper. Two writing classes at a local career tech center, plus local and state writing conferences, offered a great deal of knowledge, as well as several invaluable contacts.

The Peculiar Activities manuscript then won the mystery category in the Oklahoma Writers’ Federation annual contest in 2019, and it finished as a finalist in the U.K.’s Page Turner Awards in 2020. In February 2021, I signed a contract with the Wild Rose Press, and the book is now in the final stages of production—while I wait for a release date, probably early this fall.

It’s hard to believe this is happening. I think literature teacher will be proud. My suggestion to other aspiring writers? Never give up, have faith in yourselves, and work, work, work. Publishing is a challenging and sometimes harsh business. But keep writing.

Follow Mark to learn more.

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/mejbooksllc

Twitter: @mejbooksllc

Instagram: markjones_author

Pinterest: @mejbooksllc

A touching, thoughtful novel for the end of summer

Hi Friends,

As summer winds down, I want to put in a plug for a fantastic story that I think will touch many of you.

The Liability of Love, a new novel from my friend and fellow Connecticut author Susan Schoenberger, is now available. Please check out the buy link on Amazon. There are more links on Susan’s website.

Here’s what Kirkus Reviews had to say:

“In matter-of-fact prose studded with pithy observational gems. . . the various players can only get what they deserve by speaking their own truths. A keenly observed, compassionate, and absorbing work.”
                                                            —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

I read an early version of this manuscript when Susan and I were part of a “First Chapter” critique group. The finished novel exceeds what any of us imagined this book could become.

Please join me in congratulating Susan and enjoy this read.

–Karen

Tying a trilogy together

I don’t know many (read: any) authors who’ve written trilogies. In fact, the mere notion amazes me. Then I met Jean M. Grant. A fellow author at The Wild Rose Press, Jean’s trilogy boxset, The Hundred Trilogy is now available. While each is a terrific standalone read, picking up the set invites you into the distinct world and sweep of history that these novels create.

Scotland, 1263 – 1322

The MacCoinneach family is gifted but afflicted. Deeply rooted powers of healing, feeling, and prophecy run in their bloodline. Descended from the Norse and mystical Ancients of the Isles, they must each face the curses associated with their ability…they must each find the path to love. Norse invasions, Scottish fights for independence, and the plights of the mystical isles’ people come together in “The Hundred Trilogy.”

So, if you’re looking for a good beach read to transport you, in time and place, this summer, check out Jean’s trilogy.

–Karen

A little from Jean on her creative process:

What seemed ages ago, but in the grand scheme of life, only about six or seven years ago, I sat down to write another manuscript. With three “practice” novels written but shelved, I dug into a new story. I changed my time period from 12thto 13th century during the Scottish Wars of Independence, wove a mystical element into the story line, and on some invaluable advice of an agent, worked the heck out of that story to give it twists and turns to excite my reader. In 2017, A Hundred Kisses was born with the publishing house The Wild Rose Press. 

The backstory of the heroine’s parents nagged at me. And guess what? When I looked at the history thirty years prior to the first book (which was 1296, and I looked back to 1263), lo and behold, it was a time rife with Norse-Scottish turmoil. The end of the Viking reign to boot. That story came forth in a flurry, and I found myself contemplating the third book in what was now becoming a trilogy. A Hundred Breaths (the prequel, and book one) released in 2019. Fast-forward to 1322, a time after the Scottish Wars of Independence, and A Hundred Lies was born, wrapping up my trilogy. 

Each story is a standalone, but they can be read in or out of order. Each story tells a tale of a MacCoinneach family member “gifted but afflicted” with a mystical ability that comes at a cost: to heal but lose your own breaths in return, to feel auras/lifebloods but to feel others’ pain, and to see the future but to be unable to prevent the visions unless refraining from touch. Conquering Norse, Scottish lore, Ancient mystics, and invading English…the trilogy has a bit of everything. Can our mystical family hone their gifts for good, escape curses, discover mercy, find home, and find love?

Jean’s background is in science, and she draws from her interests in history, nature, and her family for inspiration. She writes historical and contemporary romances and women’s fiction. She also writes articles for family-oriented travel magazines. When she’s not writing or chasing after children, she enjoys tending to her flower gardens, hiking, and doing just about anything in the outdoors. Follow her on Twitter  Facebook  Goodreads  Bookbub  Instagram.

Jean’s Top 10 Things to See in Scotland

What to see if you visit Scotland? Here is my list of must-sees, which might be biased because of my love for nature and history. I visited most of these places while on a trip to Scotland in a rainy September…

  1. The abbeys
  2. The isles
  3. Lochs
  4. Crags & Glens
  5. Standing Stones
  6. Scottish Folk & Pubs
  7. The Lowlands
  8. The Highlands
  9. Highland Games
  10. Castles

The Book We Need Right Now

–From Cathy

You guys, Karen’s new book “Arborview” just got a wonderful endorsement from NY Times bestselling author Michelle Richmond:

“Told with Karen Guzman’s trademark compassion, ARBORVIEW is the book we need right now: poignant, hopeful, and full of heart. A beautiful story about the relationships that shape us and the dreams that save us.”

As an early reader, I can tell you this novel is all this and more–a story of two women from vastly different backgrounds struggling to achieve their dreams and reimagine themselves. And it has pastry! Please keep a lookout here for the big release date and presale information. Congratulations, Karen!

A debut novel dream comes true

Friends, please welcome Lynn Griffin to Write Despite. Lynn’s debut novel comes out this month, courtesy of The Wild Rose Press. Lynn’s journey to publication has been long, but her dedication and passion—and the courage to finally take the submission plunge—have paid off.

And don’t you love her cover?

Take it away, Lynn:

Thank you for allowing me to share a little bit of me. A granny of five who retired expecting to go trekking across the world, only to find herself with a whole new career. This is the Life of Lynn, a project in the making, which by the way is not the title of my debut novel, which is: Secrets, Shame, and a Shoebox. A romance with bite and intrigue.

If you don’t mind, I’m going to start out by taking you back to January 2020, when the new terrible, invisible, big bad wolf began to emerge. (COVID-19.)

I was in Spain and about to come home to the U.K. I’d finished my novel, which certainly wasn’t perfect, but it was complete. I’d already decided it would stay in a dark, dusty corner and cogitate its fate. Just like everything else I’ve ever written. My poor, long suffering but supportive husband couldn’t understand why I not only took my laptop away with me, but also had no intentions of sending my work to a publisher. He said, throwing his hands up to the heavens, “What, after all that effort?”

Well, he hadn’t read it for starters. So, what did he know? Plus, who likes rejection? My response was: “It’s a hobby, a passion, I don’t know. What I do know is that I am a compulsive writer.”

I have always written around my full-time paid jobs. Help pay the bills, bring up the family, but I need to write to give the little devils doing a dance in my head the chance to get out and tell their story. 

The other truth behind this mask is that I’ve never had enough confidence to get going. I guess, for fear of a professional reading it and then dying laughing. I didn’t want to be sued for manslaughter! Plus, who likes rejection?

Anyhow, when I came home from Spain, a friend said something that stuck. Please know this is not a direct quote, but in my head it was pretty much: “Get it out there before you pop your clogs, mate!”

I thought about that for a quite a while and wondered, did I want my epitaph to read: “woulda coulda shoulda?”   

Now here’s the thing. I never believed anything would come of it. But I got my ancient Writers Year handbook and began to research appropriate publishers, then checked that they accepted submissions. Here’s a real tip: There is nothing worse than doing a whole heap of work trying to promote your gorgeous baby, when the publishers are not accepting submissions. Even if you think you are the next JK Rowling or Stephen King, they won’t change their minds. It wastes your time and theirs.

Back to the dreadful process, I had to write the smartest, shiniest interview on earth. That’s what submission are. Interviews. I hate them. And none of the requirements are the same! Plus, they prevent you from writing the stuff you really want to write. It’s also important to note that publishers generally tell you not to send your work anywhere else or let them know if you do!

Anyway. Months passed, and rejection loomed. Then something stirred in my gut, and I decided to nudge this one particular publisher again. I was polite and to the point, especially as they didn’t state, like some do: “If you don’t hear back within three months, clear off.” That’s so harsh. Not taking the time to let you know. Leave you in limbo. Oh, and yes, I know they’re busy. 

Anyhow my email went something like this: 

“Did they receive my enquiry. If they were not interested, could they please let me know so I could move on. Thank you.”

Yup, as simple as that.

I couldn’t believe it when an email bounced back, almost instantly, bearing in mind the time difference, Eastern Standard Time, New York, with something like: “No, didn’t receive, can’t find it, can you resend? President/Editor-in-Chief” 

Can you imagine! Seriously? I didn’t send it? What a plonker. Was it still floating around in the ether? All this time wasted, wondering! And YES, I know my IT skills are rubbish! Hey ho. Of course, I’ll resend. I wasn’t about to argue now, was I?

Another email arrived shortly after – again from the President/Editor-in-Chief : 

“…will pass on to Editor!” Surely that couldn’t be right? I thought it must be a scam. I had to check them out again. But here I am almost twelve months later, contract in hand and a July 21, 2021, release date for my debut novel.

So, that’s part of my story. But there is so much more. I’ve started a blog. Just a little hints and tips along the way, with the aim of supporting and encouraging budding writers. If you are published, you know how hard the journey is. If you don’t already, I encourage you to support other budding writers. If you are new to all of this, please know that I had a dream that before I died, I would get a book out there. If I can do it, then so can you. Have faith in yourself, you can do it, and thank you for reading.

From Secrets, Shame, and a Shoebox:

“Harriet felt the tell-tale gust of wind from the ink-black cave. The train was coming. A strand of hair came loose from her plait, flicking her face as debris skittered along the dais. The train was imminent. People throw themselves in front of trains all the time…

Also available through Barnes and Noble.

Follow Lynn on her blog, on Instagram, and on Twitter.