Archive for the ‘Humor’ Category

Indie Saturday – Author M. C. Soutter on his Great Minds Thriller Series

July 21, 2012 Leave a comment

Today, we have author M. C. Soutter featured on the blog’s ‘Indie Saturday‘ for his Great Minds Thriller series – Charcot’s Genius and Undetectable.

In M. C. Soutter’s universe (Great Minds Thriller Series), a scientist has developed a device with which he can unlock fantastic mental abilities in his test subjects. Charcot’s Genius deals with an asylum inmate and a first-year Dartmouth student who discover powers after receiving treatment. And in Undetectable, a private-school teacher becomes a test subject of the new neurological technique called scrubbing.

M. C. Soutter writes :

First things first: Undetectable is FREE today in honor of my visit to Indie Saturday. Obviously it will not stay free for long (a man has got to eat), so get it quickly and then come right back.

A non-writer friend of mine recently asked me, in tones both respectful and perplexed, where I found the discipline required to produce novels. The clear implication – that writing was an unpleasant process – did not surprise me. I have been asked the same question in various forms many times over the years. What did surprise me was the follow-up. This same friend asked if I could give him some advice on how he might take up writing as a profession.

“What does it take?” he asked.
“Loving it,” I answered at once.
He rolled his eyes. “Fine, but what are the actual steps?”
I did not press the issue. He wanted a checklist, a sort of writer-recipe, so I fed him the standard stuff: carve out some time every day; write what you know; find someone willing to give you honest feedback; persist.
“Okay, got it,” he said.

I almost laughed. I wanted to grab him and shake him. You’ve got nothing, I thought. This is not like learning how to dance the rhumba.

I know writers who work at all hours of the day. Many (myself included) take advantage of the 4-6AM shift, that brief window when your head is clear, you don’t have to be at your regular job for another few hours, and the rest of the family is not yet awake. If you find yourself cringing at the idea of working at four in the morning, then you are on your way to seeing what my friend could not, or just would not. I do not know if anyone cares, but since you are here I will tell you: I loved writing every book I have written, even the ones that did not do anything special when it came to actual sales. And I am not talking about love like the way you feel about a beautiful day, or fresh-baked cookies or Labrador puppies. Because that is a soft love. That is a weak love. No, this is a frantic, wild-eyed, obsessive thing, a thing that I call love simply because it is the only socially acceptable term I can come up with.

Consider: If I showed up in your bedroom and shook you awake at four in the morning, you would glare at me as if I had poured a bucket of cold water on you.

“No, it’s okay,” I would say. “I’ve got a bunch of Lab puppies out back. They’re ready to run around and play.”
“Get out of here,” you would say. “I need sleep.”
“But I thought you loved puppies.”
“How’d you get into my house? I’m calling the police.”

Now try to picture what I could say to you instead of puppies, what I could offer that would make you sit up, rub your eyes, and nod happily.

It would have to be something incredible.

So if you ever hear someone talking about wanting to become a writer, feel free to insert yourself into the conversation. Tell them the first step is to develop a fixation, a cultivated disorder that will make people whisper and point when they leave the room. That guy has a problem, they will say.

And they will be right. It is a problem, and all writers suffer from it. But nobody seems willing to get up at four to stage an intervention with any of us, which is probably why so many writers keep happily working away into their seventies and eighties, and beyond.

I know that is my plan.

So by now I hope it is obvious that I enjoyed writing both Charcot’s Genius and Undetectable (the first two books in the Great Minds Thriller series), and that I am having just as much fun working on the third, which will be ready by the end of the year. I have been especially taken with the preparation involved; research is, for me, an indispensable part of the writing process, and neurology has become my favorite fictional playground. It is an endlessly fascinating subject, made more so by the enormous gaps of understanding that still exist in the field. The more you read about the human mind, the more you realize how little we really know about the fundamental mechanisms at work inside our skulls. We can look at MRIs and point and nod, but we are really still just feeling around in the dark.

And that is what makes it exciting. Most of what I have put into these books about mental processes is true, and the rest may be true.

Could be true.

You might be amazed to find out what your own brain can do.

Enjoy the read.
– M. C. Soutter

M. C. Soutter was born and raised in New York City. He studied Computer Science and English at Dartmouth, received his Masters from Cornell, and now teaches high school and writes in Boston, where he lives with his family.

The Great Minds Thriller series are available in Kindle format: Charcot’s Genius and Undetectable. Check out M. C. Soutter’s Amazon author’s page for more info!

To learn more about M. C. Soutter, follow him on his website: Drop by and say hi!


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Indie Saturday – Author Catherine Stine on “Fireseed One”

July 7, 2012 5 comments

Today, we have author Catherine Stine featured on the blog’s ‘Indie Saturday‘ for her SciFi futuristic thriller novel Fireseed One.

Amy Kathleen Ryan, author of Glow (the first novel in The Sky Chasers series), describes it as “so full of startling ideas that I couldn’t stop reading! Recommended for fans of science fiction, thrillers, or for anyone looking for a story full of big surprises.

Here’s some great reviews by Book Bloggers:

5 stars from The Magick Pen: “I found myself caught up in Fireseed’s futuristic world with characters that made me laugh and cheer them on… Stine’s illustrations really helped put a picture to all the beautiful descriptions… the romance between Varik and Marisa was sweet… a fast-paced read, filled with action and adventure.

5 stars from 909 Reviews Never Lies: “Fireseed One will have you on the edge of your seat… Stine is an author to look out for, and shines brightly with this stunning thriller.

5-stars from Electrifying Reviews: “Fireseed One is an action-packed, emotional thrill ride that focuses on the characters and their journey.

Catherine Stine writes :

I’m thrilled to share my new sci-fi thriller, Fireseed One.

I’ve always liked weird science, particularly unusual hybrids, which abound in Fireseed One. I’m an avid gardener and follow Pharming and GM crop news, so when I did research into transgenic hybrids these last couple of years and found out that there were already lots of actual transgenic experiments going on I got very inspired.

Transgenic hybrids are hybrid plants that don’t exist in nature and must be bred in a lab, for instance, blue roses. But it gets much deeper. Biologists have combined tomato and fish DNA to produce blight-free tomato crops! They’ve also combined mothers’ milk and wheat DNA to create baby cereal and formula that will protect babies in third world countries from fatal diarrhea. Pretty cool, huh?

So, in the creation of Fireseed One, I kept asking “What if?

What if the year was 2089 and all of the Arctic ice had melted, and what was now the USA was a lethal Hotzone? What if there were a digital border wall that separated the two zones and hungry terrorists hacked the border, and stole all of the agar — an algae type plant that the whole world lived on? What if, in the meantime, Professor Teitur, a marine biologist had invented a transgenic hybrid — Fireseed — an edible giant red flower with almost magical breeding properties that could thrive down in the Hotzone with no water in the killer heat?

But what if that marine biologist turned his back on the refugees after one of them stole his wife’s flycar and left her in the desert? And what if a beautiful and shrewd terrorist from the Zone Warrior Collective named Marisa, broke into that marine scientist’s seed vault, trying to find Fireseed, but destroyed all of the agar instead? And what if this Professor Teitur had drowned five weeks prior under mysterious circumstances and his eighteen year-old son, Varik Teitur was left to deal with Marisa, the sea farm, in fact the fate of the entire known world?

Varik, with Marisa his sworn enemy, must hunt down Fireseed One — a supposed plant with an undetermined mash-up of DNA. The catch? The world is now starving and Fireseed, the last hope may have never even existed off of the drawing board!

Is there any comic relief?

Ah, but of course. Gallows humor is a specialty of mine.


Yes, I’m also a published illustrator and have nine drawings in Fireseed One.


Yes, a fire and ice romance that rivals the Arctic’s polar winter and Hotzone summer!

Catherine Stine has held some colorful jobs, including a stint as a sail-maker, a solar-heated swimming pool cover designer, and as a designer of children’s fabrics and watch-faces. As an illustrator, she has done work for Penguin-Perigee, Learning Strategies and Lantern Books. Writing, illustrating and teaching creative writing are her favorite gigs ever.

Fireseed One by Catherine Stine is available at Amazon in Kindle (on sale for $0.99!) and illustrated Paperback formats. The ebook is also available on Barnes & Noble.

You can also check out Catherine’s Amazon Author’s page for a listing of her other books!

To learn more about Catherine Stine, follow  Catherine on her website:, Facebook page: Fireseed One, Goodreads page and Twitter: @crossoverwriter. She also blogs on Drop by and say hi to her!


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Indie Saturday – Author Elaine L. Orr on her Jolie Gentil Cozy Mystery Series

May 26, 2012 Leave a comment

Today, we have author Elaine L. Orr featured on the blog’s ‘Indie Saturday‘ for her Jolie Gentil Cozy Mystery series which currently has three books out – Appraisal for Murder, Rekindling Motives and When the Carny Comes to Town – and a fourth, Any Port in a Storm, out soon.

Elaine L. Orr writes :

Cozy mysteries are as much fun to write as they are to read. You get to create and solve a puzzle, but if there is a description of a murder victim it generally does not involve gory autopsy details or discussion of the life cycle of maggots. For the writer, there is more flexibility than in police procedurals, where officers cannot stray too far out of bounds without jeopardizing a case. No one worries about a warrant when an amateur sleuth is listening at the keyhole.

The less rigid structure does not mean I ignore authenticity. For example, the Jolie Gentil cozy mystery series, which I self-publish, is set in a (mythical) New Jersey beach town. When there is a hearing it had better use terminology that would be heard in a New Jersey courtroom. I found a book entitled You and the Law in New Jersey, which has a general discussion of the state’s criminal justice system and is geared to issues the average person could face. It’s perfect for what I (and my characters) need. Authenticity is important for the setting, too. The characters cannot refer to a rocky shoreline — that’s Maine. Think of how annoying it is to see palm trees and mountains on the NCIS television show. They supposed to be in Washington, DC and Virginia, not California! Readers have the same reaction when authors are sloppy.

Most authors consider one of their books a favorite. Mine (so far) is Rekindling Motives, the second book in the Jolie Gentil cozy mystery series. The idea — having Jolie discover a skeleton for a man who had been missing since Prohibition days — percolated for a long time. I’d write a few thousand words, take a big consulting assignment for my day job, write a couple months later, and so on for more than two years. Eventually I decided to stop thinking of writing as a reward for other work and tackle the series as if it were a job. Then it was even more fun.

I issued the first two books in the series in October and November 2011. I could pretend that I deliberately held Appraisal for Murder until Rekindling Motives was complete, but that would be an exaggeration. After a point I stopped trying to market the first book and was pleased it had not sold — I could do more foreshadowing in the first book, and Jolie, Scoobie, Aunt Madge and the other characters went through some changes that led to a better first book in the series as I worked on the second.

You never know when something will influence your writing. At the 2011 Midwest Writer’s Conference in Muncie, Indiana, I took a one-day course with Mike Lawson, who writes the Joe Demarco political thriller series. Several times he referred to the importance of the first sentence and paragraph. Ok, we all “know that,” right? Probably, but something about listening to how he put it led me to write an entirely different first paragraph for Appraisal for Murder. It is much better and draws a reader more directly into the story. That’s always the tradeoff, when is a book done? No wisdom here, just a willingness to stay open to more ideas.

Writing a series can be the height of vanity. Why should I assume readers will want more of a group of characters in a New Jersey beach town? Because the Jolie Gentil series combines a whodunit with friendship and humor. While there is nothing remotely autobiographical in the series, it marks the first time I decided a couple characters could have a sense of humor similar to mine, so the writing is more natural for me.

Now comes the bigger challenge. When the Carny Comes to Town came out in February and I’m working on the fourth book, Any Port in a Storm. Time, as in the passing of it, is a question with which I have not fully grappled. The first few books take place over time, but if time keeps passing some of the older characters will either have to die or spend time in the local nursing home. That could be a setting for another murder — just have Aunt Madge help investigate crimes in the nursing home kitchen. Kidding aside, I have to decide to make my characters stay in one point in time (as Sue Grafton did with the Kinsey Milhone series) or age. It’s a tough question.

There are lots of things to consider in growing a series, including an ending point. So far, I enjoy the characters enough to keep working with them, and reader feedback indicates they want to know how much trouble they can manage in the next book. I would love to hear your thoughts on Jolie, Scoobie, Aunt Madge and the other residents of Ocean Alley.

Elaine L. Orr has been writing fiction for more than 20 years, and began “seriously” publishing in 2010. She is a former analyst and finds those critical thinking skills are handy when she is developing plots. Characters speak for themselves. The first mysteries she read were the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boy series, and she graduated to Mary Stewart after seeing the movie “Moonspinners.” Her favorite mystery authors are Margaret Maron, Robert Parker, and Sue Grafton. Her books are with all major ebook retailers and paperbacks are published by Create Space. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and regular attendee at the annual Midwest Writers Conference in Indiana.

Appraisal for Murder (Jolie Gentil Cozy Mystery Series #1) is available at Amazon in Kindle and Paperback formats. Rekindling Motives (Jolie Gentil Cozy Mystery Series #2) is available at Amazon in Kindle and Paperback formats. When the Carny Comes to Town (Jolie Gentil Cozy Mystery Series #3) is available at Amazon in Kindle and Paperback formats. Check out her Amazon author’s page for more info! Elaine’s books are also available at Barnes & Noble and Smashwords.

To learn more about Elaine L. Orr, follow Elaine on her website: Elaine also regularly blogs on Irish Roots Author and you can also follow her on Twitter: @elaineorr55. Drop by and say hi to her!


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Indie Saturday – Author Bernadine Fagan on “Murder by the Old Maine Stream”

May 19, 2012 2 comments

Today, we have author Bernadine Fagan featured on the blog’s ‘Indie Saturday‘ for her cozy murder mystery “Murder by the Old Maine Stream” which stars a smart and funny ‘out of her element’ heroine in the amateur sleuth Nora. Bernadine is presently working on a sequel which should be out this summer.

Bernadine Fagan writes :

Several summers ago I drove up to Maine to visit my cousin and her husband in their new home. It was in the woods. While I loved the wild beauty of the place I also found it a bit intimidating. I could see myself getting lost. I once went through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel three times on my way to the Statue of Liberty.

I pictured being attacked by wild animals. I was once bitten by my friend’s German Shepherd because I ventured too close to his food bowl. I have a vivid imagination so it was only one step farther to picturing someone (not me, of course) stumbling upon a body in those woods. The idea for MURDER BY THE OLD MAINE STREAM was born on that visit.

My writing experience prior to “the visit” consisted mainly of romances, which never seemed to take off, possibly because they weren’t me. With my first mystery, I decided to write the way I think, which leans more in the direction of humor than hearts and flowers.

Here’s a short description Of MURDER BY THE OLD MAINE STREAM:

When computer analyst and city woman Nora Lassiter loses her job and her fiancé in an incredibly short period of time (same day), she heads north to visit relatives in the Maine woods that she hasn’t seen since she was ten years old and her father up and moved the family to New York City. She never understood that and figures this is an opportunity to find out the real story.

She gets involved when she stumbles upon a body in the woods. She tracks a murderer, gathers evidence on a friend’s cheating husband and gets reacquainted with family she hasn’t seen since she was a child.

And yes, in a nod to my former career as a non-published romance writer, there is a little romance in this book. Our Nora meets and falls “in like” with handsome and manly Sheriff Nick.

Bernadine Fagan is based in New York, and has worn several hats in her life – Writer, Former Science Teacher, Former English Teacher. She counts Susan Elizabeth Philips, Janet Evanovich, Jennifer Crusie, Lee Child, Vince Flynn, David Baldacci, Harlan Coben, Hank Phillippi Ryan among her favorite authors, and is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and Long Island Sisters in Crime (Vice-president).

Murder by the Old Maine Stream by Bernadine Fagan is available at Amazon in Kindle and Paperback formats. The ebook is also available on Barnes & Noble.

To learn more about Bernadine Fagan, follow Bernadine on her website: Drop by and say hi to her!


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Indie Saturday – Author Susan Santangelo on her Baby Boomer Mystery Series

May 12, 2012 Leave a comment

Today, we have author Susan Santangelo featured on the blog’s ‘Indie Saturday‘ for her cozy Baby Boomer Mystery series – Retirement Can Be Murder (Every Wife Has A Story) and Moving Can Be Murder.

Susan Santangelo writes :

I’m frequently asked at book talks, why do you write a Baby Boomer mystery series? My answer is, why not? There are 78.2 million Baby Boomers in the United States, according to the latest census figures. And many “senior” Boomers, myself included, are starting to hit the magic age of 65. There’s so much written about the financial piece of growing older – taking care of your IRAs, 401Ks, etc. – but nobody seemed to be taking a look at the emotional piece. By that I mean, how do couples who have been married for years, raised a family, and been leading fairly independent lives, now cope with the fact that the husband and the wife are no longer going out to a 9 – 5 job every day? Instead, they often get into each other’s way as they struggle to re-define their roles. Of course, nothing like that ever happens in my house! (smile.)

I’ve always loved the mystery genre. I was hooked on Nancy Drew books when I was a child, then I graduated to Agatha Christie, and I’ve just keep on going. I love what is traditionally called the cozy – no blood and gore for me. I like to be entertained. And, especially, I like to laugh!

I was diagnosed with breast cancer years ago, and that was a real wakeup call for me. I’ve been a freelance writer, editor and drama critic for years. I’ve also had my own p. r. company and done special events for a variety of clients, including Carnegie Hall. Writing press releases, articles, brochures – I did it all. But I’d always wanted to write a mystery. After the cancer diagnosis (I’m fine now!) I thought, why wait? Who knows what other curve balls life might have in store for me?

The original idea of the series was that my husband and I would do it together. He’s been writing non-fiction professionally for years. But it didn’t work out that way.

The series deals with typical Boomers Carol and Jim Andrews as they navigate the rocky way toward their golden years. In the first book, Retirement Can Be Murder, released in April 2009, Carol dreads Jim’s upcoming retirement more than a root canal without Novocain. She can’t imagine anything worse than an at-home husband with time on his hands and nothing to fill it, except interfering in the day-to-day activities and driving her crazy. Until Jim is suspected of murdering his retirement coach. The second one in the series, Moving Can Be Murder, was released May 1 2011. This one deals with Carol and Jim selling the family home and downsizing, with one dead body thrown in to keep things interesting. Book 3 in the series, Marriage Can Be Murder, includes a destination wedding on Nantucket, and will be released in 2012. There a total of 7 books planned for the series.

My books are written in the first person, so many people think I’m Carol. I’ve even been introduced at book talks as Carol! We’re both sarcastic and like to be in charge. We value our family and our close women friends. Oh, one more thing – we both love English cocker spaniels. There are two English cockers in the books, Lucy and Ethel.

My characters have become my best friends. The more I write about them, the more I want to write about them. And I have a sneaky suspicion that when I’m not keeping an eye on them, they get into trouble. Or, maybe it’s the other way around?

The subhead for each book title is, “Every wife has a story.” The more women I connect with, either at book talks or via the Internet, the more I realize how true that is!

I’ve been a feature writer, drama critic and editor for daily and weekly newspapers and magazines in the NY metro area. I’m a member of Sisters in Crime and the Cape Cod Writers Center, both great resources for writers.

I’m also a 13-year breast cancer survivor, and a portion of the sales of all the books goes to support the Breast Cancer Survival Center, a non-profit I founded in 1999 to provide post-treatment education and support for survivors.

Thanks for the opportunity to make some new cyber friends. I always love to hear from readers. I can be reached at

Retirement Can Be Murder is available at Amazon in Kindle and Paperback formats. Moving Can Be Murder is available at Amazon in Kindle and Paperback formats. Check out her Amazon author’s page for more info! Susan Santangelo’s books are also available at Barnes & Noble and a number of independent book stores

To learn more about Susan Santangelo, follow Susan on her website: Drop by and say hi to her!


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Indie Saturday – Author Joan Reeves on “JANE I’m-Still-Single JONES”

February 25, 2012 4 comments

Today, we have author Joan Reeves featured on the blog’s ‘Indie Saturday‘ for her romantic comedy “JANE I’m-Still-Single JONES” (Available on Amazon). Do you ever wonder about ‘the one that got away?’ Well, you might want to check out what happens when our heroine Ms Jane Louise Jones goes home for her ten-year high school reunion and meets the first love that got away …

Author Joan Reeves writes about ‘JANE I’m-Still-Single JONES’ (and where she gets her ideas a.k.a LIFE’S IDEA BOUTIQUE!):

For some reason, readers are curious about how we authors get the ideas that result in books. I’ve never taken part in a book signing or given a presentation to readers without being asked: ‟Where do you get your ideas?

I always want to say, ‟At the Idea Boutique of course!” Instead, I earnestly reply that my book premises come from everything I see, hear, or experience. Ultimately, the serious answer is the same as the flippant one because Life may be like a box of chocolates, but it’s also like a gigantic Idea Boutique.

A case in point is my popular romantic comedy JANE (I’m Still Single) JONES. This book bears the distinction of being one of only two of my traditionally-published novels that retained its original title.

Last year, I expanded and updated JANE and published it as an ebook available at all the popular ebook sellers. In the fall, I was contacted by an editor for Bragelonne, one of the largest French publishing houses. She had obtained a digital copy of JANE (I’m Still Single) JONES, read it, loved it, and contacted me immediately to purchase French World Rights for it!

I was blown away that my southern humor brand of romantic comedy spoke so clearly to a Parisian editor. In the end, Bragelonne contracted for JANE (I’m Still Single) JONES, JUST ONE LOOK, and STILL THE ONE, for print and ebook.

The idea for JANE, the story of a high school reunion and second chances, came from my own high school reunion that I attended a few years ago. In the book, Jane Louise Jones, formerly the most popular girl in high school whose heart was broken by her secret love aka the high school’s biggest geek, attends her high school reunion.

When she gets her welcome packet, she’s mortified that she’s expected to wear a name tag that reads, ‟JANE (I’m Still Single) JONES.”

You see, at MY twenty year high school reunion, a friend who had never married had taken her own name tag and written on it: ‟I’m Still Single.” (Out of discretion, I won’t tell you her name since her career is in the political arena.)

I took one look at that name tag and a whole world of ‟what if’s” popped into my head. That was the idea I grabbed that night from Life’s Idea Boutique. When I returned home, I wrote that one phrase, ‟I’m Still Single,” on a sticky note and stuck it on my monitor. Then I created a fictional world and characters to tell the story inspired by that phrase.

As an ebook, that story and those characters continue to attract readers all over the world. Everyone seems to identify with Jane and her first love that got away. They also like Morgan Sherwood, the hero of the story who is a nerd no longer. Now he’s a man with the looks of George Clooney, the genius of Steve Jobs, and the money of Bill Gates.

Readers all seem to like the wacky old ladies of the Vernon Ladies Bridge Club–where none of them know how to play bridge–as well as Jane’s father who is the local Sheriff. I’ve had so much email about the funny old ladies that I’ve got a series of short stories in the planning stages that will star them and their meddling ways. (Think seven women like Betty White!)

So where do I get my ideas? From life, with its exquisite diversity of absurdness, comedy, and drama.

Joan Reeves is an overnight success – and it only took her 25 years to achieve that status! She’s a best selling Kindle author of Romance. In her spare time, she’s a mild-mannered reporter for the Daily Planet who – no, wait, that’s someone else. Seriously? Okay, if we must be serious….

Joan Reeves is a multi-published print and ebook author who is published all over the web under her own name, various pseudonyms, and as a ghost. She’s the writer and publisher of the long-running blog SlingWords. On her blog are subscription forms for free newsletters: Wordplay for readers and Writing Hacks for writers.

JANE I’m-Still-Single JONES by Joan Reeves is available at Amazon in Kindle format. The ebook is also available on B&N, Smashwords, All Romance eBooks, iTunes and Xin Xii. You can check out her Amazon author page or her website ( for a list of all her books. You can also find Joan Reeves’s books on Barnes & Noble.

To learn more about Joan Reeves, go to or follow Joan on Twitter: @JoanReeves. Joan also blogs at Drop by and say hi!


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Indie Saturday – Author Talli Roland on “Build A Man”

February 18, 2012 5 comments

Today, we have author Talli Roland featured on the blog’s ‘Indie Saturday‘ for her romantic comedy “Build A Man” (Available on Amazon). Perfect for Chick lit readers looking for an uplifting read marked by tongue-in-cheek humor (while tackling such ‘heavy’ topics as  the perils of cosmetic surgery and the ugly side of tabloid journalism). The sequel Construct A Couple will hopefully be set for release soon!

Author Talli Roland writes about ‘Build A Man’ (and why she loves writing about strong female characters):

I enjoy sweetness and light as much as the next gal, but sometimes it can get a tiny bit irritating to watch female characters spin in hopeless circles as they eat their way through cupcakes and trot off to buy high heels. Where are the successful, professional women who stand up for themselves and don’t fall to bits when faced with hunky men? Where are the protagonists who aren’t afraid to speak their mind, who drink whisky not spritzers, and chow down on potato chips not chocolate?

Don’t get me wrong: I’m a big fan of romance and love. But I want to see a couple come together as equals, after the woman sorts out problems herself – not because the hero has swooped in, snapped his fingers and made everything fine. I want the woman to be a person in her own right; I’ve never understood the attraction of the sentiment ‘you complete me’. In our modern times, women do it all. Why shouldn’t our chick lit protagonists represent that?

In my novel Build A Man, main character Serenity Holland doesn’t hesitate to pursue her ambition of being a top tabloid reporter, despite many obstacles in the way. She’s far from perfect – in fact, she takes quite a few wrong turns! – but she certainly isn’t dithering or ditzy. She makes firm decisions and follows through. In spite of her flaws and the fact that she unwittingly hurts others, I can’t help but respect her drive. By the end of the novel, she’s learned what’s really important . . . and found love along the way, without sacrificing who she is to get it. After all, isn’t that true romance? Two people who don’t need each other, but who choose to share their lives because they want to.

And that’s why I love writing strong female characters!

Bestselling novelist Talli Roland has three loves in her life: chick lit, coffee, and wine. Born and raised in Canada, Talli now lives in London, where she savours the great cultural life (coffee and wine). Her debut novel, The Hating Game, was shortlisted for Best Romantic Read at the UK’s Festival of Romance, and her second, Watching Willow Watts, was selected as a 2011 Amazon Customer Favourite. Build A Man is her latest release.

Build A Man by Talli Roland is available at Amazon in Kindle format. You can check out her Amazon author page or her website ( for a list of all her books (also romantic comedies). You can also find Talli Roland’s books on Barnes & Noble.

To learn more about Talli Roland, go to or follow Talli on Twitter: @talliroland. Talli also blogs at Drop by and say hi!


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Indie Saturday – Author Elle Lothlorien on “The Frog Prince”

February 11, 2012 11 comments

Today, we have author Elle Lothlorien featured on the blog’s ‘Indie Saturday‘ for her romantic comedy “The Frog Prince” (Available on Amazon). I’m personally fascinated by “common-born” girls who end up as Royal Princesses or close to one (i.e. Mary, Crown Princess of Denmark; Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge; Grace Kelly, Princess of Monaco) So, how could I resist a feel good romantic comedy featuring a quirky heroine – a self described ‘social misfit’  – who captures the heart of an “almost royal” Crown Prince of Austria (owing to the monarchy being abolished in 1918)?

Author Elle Lothlorien writes about ‘The Frog Prince(with an introductory hilarious anecdote!):

Let’s talk about my pants. No, seriously.

Last Wednesday afternoon, I was in New York City to speak on the “Successful Self-Published Authors” panel at Digital BookWorld Expo. Last Thursday morning, I was standing in my friend’s New York City living room in a blind panic, with only an hour to make my flight home, wearing nothing but a form-fitting “sweater dress” (I use the term loosely; the thing was so short you could almost see my vulva), thigh-high tights, and high heel lace-up booties, looking for all the world like the kind of escort whose boss has the title of “The [fill in the city] Madam.”

I normally wear this lovely ensemble with a pair of skinny jeans and a long-sleeve cardigan of the same color. The problem? I can’t find my pants. And without pants, this outfit won’t fly. Literally.

Of course, I do have two other choices: 1) The outfit I flew to New York in, which now boasts an impressive kung pao chicken stain on the front; 2) The outfit I wore to the conference the day before, which involved thigh-high boots with four-inch heels and a hidden two-inch platform. These are fine for tottering a few feet straight to an awaiting cab; they’re no bueno for hiking through miles of airport—well, not if I want to have feet rather than bloody stumps when I get to Denver.

So I quickly improvise. Instead of wearing the long-sleeve sweater, I tied it around my waist, and closed the gap in front with a hair clip. Voila! A makeshift “sweater skirt” if you will. To the rest of the world, this looks perfectly ordinary.

Unfortunately, “the rest of the world” doesn’t include the TSA.

In the security line at La Guardia, I was still silently congratulating myself on my “fly by the seat of your pants” sartorial skills, when I heard a loud, impatient voice on the other side of the walk-through metal detector: “Take off the sweater around your waist.” I froze. “Ma’am,” he barked, “I need you to take off the sweater around your waist.”

Instead of beating around the bush (so to speak), I said point-blank: “I’m not wearing anything underneath it.”

This caused quite a ruckus as I got ushered into the rectangular enclosure a few feet away while they scrambled to find a female TSA ass-grabber. (I love these little enclosures, I really do. I mean, what are the chances that your fellow-travelers are going to be able to see your body cavity search through all that glass, right?)

A female TSA employee joined me in in the see-through barn stall almost immediately, and said, “I’ve been told that you aren’t wearing any pants.” She used the same ultra-formal, serious-as-a-heart-attack tone a CIA agent might use when interrogating a spy: “I understand you were sent here to steal our nuclear launch codes.”

By this time, the plastic trays containing my laptop, purse, medications, liquids/gels, and full-length coat had reached the end of the roller belt. My carry-on rolled along, crashing into the bins and pushing some of them off the belt onto the floor. I was trying very hard not to scream in frustration (screaming in the middle of airport security is a poor idea), so instead of answering her I simply hiked up the wraparound sweater enough to show her that between the top of the thigh-high tights and the bottom of my crop-top sweater, there was nothin’ but birthday suit.

She took a startled step backwards, holding up her hands in front of her to shield herself from the horror of my thigh. “Ma’am!” she shouted. “No one’s asking you to do that!

At this point, I’m certain this debacle’s going to end with me missing my flight and having my name added to the No Fly/No Pants List. But apparently the sight of my thigh was enough to convince her that I wasn’t a threat to national security. Not only did she not frisk me, she and the other TSA officials had a good laugh at my expense (I’ve so rarely seen TSA employees smile that I wasn’t certain that they even had teeth). They actually helped me gather and repack my belongings, with one of them calling ahead to the gate to let them know that I’d been held up at security, and that I was making a run for it.

Thanks to them, I made my flight. I’m not sure if those people make great airport security, but I think with the right training, they’d all made fantastic bellhops. Maybe even valets.

Now. Let’s talk about frogs. No, seriously.

By May of 2010, I’d finished a book I’d titled The Frog Prince, which is about a Denver sex researcher who meets the man who would have been the king of Austria—if the monarchy there hadn’t been abolished in 1918. I thought I had a pretty good book, but I also had two problems: 1) I had no idea what kind of book it was; 2) I had no graphic design skills.

Perhaps these require more explanation.

Point 1: When I originally started writing novels, I wrote thrillers. I’d read thrillers since I was a kid, I read them as an adult. I “got them.” Chick-lit, contemporary romance, rom-com—these were mysterious genres I knew nothing about. Sure, I’d seen movies like Bridget Jones Diary and The Devil Wears Prada (and enjoyed them very much), but hell, I didn’t even know those movies were adapted from books until about two years ago!

So I asked a friend to read the first few chapters of The Frog Prince and tell me what kind of book she thought it was. Her email was short and to the point: “It’s a romantic comedy, you dumbass.”

Point 2: After a failed attempt at traditional publication with my novel Virgin (A Thriller) a few years before, I was seriously considering self-publishing The Frog Prince. Of course, when you self-publish, all the things a traditional publisher would do for you is now your job—including designing a book cover. A reasonable person at this point would’ve researched rom-com, chick-lit, and contemporary romance book covers to see what readers of these genres expected, or to find out what kind of cover “sold.”

You’ve probably figured out by now that I am not a reasonable person. I may not even be clinically sane. So I did what any author stumbling into the world of self-publication with no graphic design skills would do: I used my mad PowerPoint abilities to design a book cover.

I wish I was kidding.

If you were browsing chick-lit titles in the Kindle Store in July of 2010, you may have run across The Frog Prince. If so, you would’ve seen this cover.

If you were browsing chick-lit titles in the Kindle Store in February of 2012, you may have run across The Frog Prince. If so, you would see the same cover.

Almost without exception, every email I’ve received from fans in the last year and a half contains a variation on the phrase “I love that little frog on the cover!” Fans send me frog lawn ornaments, lighters, candles, bath soap. I’ve even received a crocheted frog tea cozy.

They take pictures of frog statues and tag them on Facebook with my name.

It wasn’t until The Frog Prince became an Amazon best-seller in December of 2010 that I really took a look at other book covers in the contemporary romance genre. And what I saw was a lot of variations on the following: pink, pink, pink, followed by hearts, wedding cakes, wedding dresses, wedding rings, and pink.

Which is not to imply that these covers aren’t good! In fact, one of my favorite covers is self-published author Beth Orsoff’s Romantically Challenged, and contains both pink and hearts! (By the way, her chick-lit novel, Disengaged, is now an Amazon best-seller).

So why am I telling you this, and what does this have to do with traveling half-naked? It’s simple: Sometimes cobbling together a solution in a state of well-meant ignorance is the recipe for a better outcome than you otherwise would’ve had if you’d put a little more thought into it.

If I hadn’t been so frantic to make my flight on time, I wouldn’t have rigged up a barely-there solution to my missing pants problem. And without the TSA repacking my stuff and calling the gate, I almost certainly would’ve missed my flight home.

You know that little ribbon on an Amazon product page that reads “People who bought this book also bought…”? In the case of The Frog Prince, that little green frog on the cover stuck out like a sore thumb in a sea of pink. Readers probably clicked on it thinking, “What the…” expecting to find out that it had simply been miscategorized. When they read the book description, many were intrigued enough to buy it and read it. And they told their friends, and they told their friends…

If I’d done what I now teach aspiring self-published authors at workshops to do—namely, research book covers in your genre before you design one—The Frog Prince might have ended up as just another pink rom-com cover, lost in shades of pink. Instead, The Frog Prince made its way onto three Amazon Top 100 lists: Comedy, Contemporary Romance, and Humor, staying on the Humor Top 100 list for ten months!, and it enabled me to leave my job and write full-time in June of 2011.

With a better understanding of what constitutes the typical rom-com book cover, what are the chances that I caved to convention when designing book covers after The Frog Prince?

About as likely as me trying to fly again without pants.

A “military brat,” Elle Lothlorien was born in Germany, and spent her childhood in such far-flung places as Puerto Rico, Charleston, S.C., Italy, and Washington, D.C. Sadly, the only language she ever became semi-fluent in is English. An early mid-life crisis propelled Elle Lothlorien to take a Lindy Hop swing dance class at a Denver bar. Three years (and a few ankle and knee braces) later she does a mad Charleston and can pancake like nobody’s business.

Elle lives in Denver, Colorado, and keeps two dachshunds around the house to provide comic relief.

You can find Elle Lothlorien’s romantic comedies The Frog Prince and Sleeping Beauty on Amazon. Her third romantic comedy, Rapunzel, will be released in the spring. You can read more about her and her upcoming novels at, Facebook, and by following her on Twitter.


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Read an embedded sample of “The Frog Prince” after the jump!

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