Thursday, October 19, 2017

Christmas Sweaters - A Heartwarming Holiday

I'm very happy to host Cheryl Harper today. Cheryl is part of A Heartwarming Holiday, a boxed set of 10 sweet romances written by Harlequin Heartwarming authors. And all this for only .99 cents! My friend Liz Flaherty from the Word Wranglers blog is also part of this group, so I'm especially happy to spread the news about their new boxed set. Welcome, Cheryl!

Time to Don Your Christmas Sweater by Cheryl Harper

I admit that that extra cheer in the air around Christmas leads me to make some otherwise suspect fashion choices. That pair of bright green earrings roughly the size of saucers? Gotta wear ‘em, even if they clash with my Monday-Friday business casual. Cartoon reindeers with red noses make perfect sense on the front of my sweater. Holiday dogs work on socks and ornaments and office supplies. And there’s no other time of year that I wear that many jingle bells, you know?
Tell me about your favorite festive fashion. Got a beloved sweatshirt that enters regular rotation the day after Thanksgiving?

Something about the season changes hearts and fashion. My heroine, Dara, in Finding His Fiancée by Christmas is not immune to the call of the Christmas sweater, even if her preference is for a little edge and a lot of black attire. The town’s spirit is softening her heart…just in time for the man responsible for the hard outer shell to roll back into her life. Here. Meet Dara for yourself:


 “Excuse me. What time do you open?” a harried elderly man shouted from his spot on the sidewalk. He was standing so close to the door that his breath created a fog on the glass. He fidgeted in place as he waited for her answer.

Spreadsheets were never that pushy.

“Nine o’clock.” Same as always. Dara turned to look pointedly up at the antique clock hanging over her shoulder. “Fifteen minutes.”

He didn’t nod. Or wave. Or in any way pretend that he cared that she should be setting up the register or enjoying the last few minutes of peace and quiet in the store before the frenzy hit.

This was what she deserved for falling prey to the Christmas spirit. She’d been the one to approve three different requests for time off. Lucky people who wanted to spend time with their families were doing that while she faced down pushy shoppers.

Today the frenzy was worse, thanks to the amount of snow in the forecast.

Her gusty sigh echoed through the first floor.

 “Not long now,” Ren Monroe said as she breezed past with a handful of designs for her corner of the store. “Want to help me get these set up before you open the door?” As Ren paused in front of the cash register, a woman marched up and banged on the glass, her face intent and set in “I can see you in there” mode.

“Or you and I could both go out the back door and let them have the store.” Ren held up a hand at the crowd that now included two women with strollers. “I’m too young to die.” Over their heads, Dara could see the store’s best salesperson and both of the college students she’d hired as seasonal help approaching.

“We aren’t alone.” Dara marched over to the door. “We have backup.” And all of them were smiling as if the crowds were good news. That was why she’d stuck it out here in Christmas Town, those smiles. Slowly, they were changing her. She’d bought two more sweaters with bells on them last week, and the quiet music she made as she marched through the store made her happy.

Were both sweaters black? Yes. She hadn’t forgotten who she was.


Dara Allen has retreated to Christmas Town in order to hide from a broken heart. Life there has softened some of her edges without changing her style. When ex-NYC cop Carter Howe follows her, they’ll have to come to terms with what’s true, what matters, and messages from a friend.

About the Author:

Cheryl Harper discovered her love for books and words as a little girl, thanks to a mother who made countless library trips and an introduction to Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House stories. Now she spends her days searching for the right words while she stares out the window and her dog snoozes beside her.

This holiday season, warm your heart with 10 connected sweet, clean & wholesome holiday romances set in Christmas Town from 10 Harlequin Heartwarming authors who are USA Today bestselling authors.

This collection of PG-rated holiday romances are all set in Christmas Town, Maine, a location introduced in the 2014 Harlequin Heartwarming release Christmas, Actually.

A Heartwarming Holiday will bring you laughter, tears, and happily-ever-afters (no cliffhangers), for more than 1000 pages.

Santa's Secret Heart by Anna Adams
Merry Christmas Carol by Melinda Curtis
Miracle on Joyful Street by Liz Flaherty
Finding His Fiancée by Christmas by Cheryl Harper
The Christmas Window by Tara Randel
Mistletoe and Holly by Leigh Riker
Gingerbread Girl by Carol Ross
The Christmas List by Anna J Stewart
A Case for Christmas Magic by Amy Vastine
Jingle Bell Love by Cari Lynn Webb


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Spotlight on A WIDOW'S WALK

Today the book spotlight is on A WIDOW'S WALK: CATHERINE'S DILEMMA by M.S. Spencer. She's offering an excerpt from the book, a romantic suspense set in Maine and Florida. Take it away, Ms. Spencer!

Snow and Whiskey

Thank you so much for having me at your fabulous site, Jana. I’d like to talk about A Widow’s Walk, my latest romantic suspense from I Heart Publishing and regale you with an excerpt that I hope makes your readers dream of red velvet curtains, northern snow, and great bears of men.

Catherine Killean is a woman on a mission. When her new husband disappears, leaving a suicide note, she is determined to find out why. She follows his tracks first to the North Woods of Maine, then to Florida, and back again to Maine. Along the way, she meets the tall, dark, gruff Holden Taggart, a Maine guide. 

In her doubt and loneliness she is drawn to Holden, leaving her confused and adrift. What will happen when her questions about Jonathan are finally answered? Will old loyalty or new love triumph?

A Widow’s Walk: Catherine’s Dilemma
I Heart Book Publishing, June 6, 2016
Ebook: words; Print: 227 p.
Contemporary romantic suspense, M/F, 2 flames


For days, despite all their best efforts, the sexual tension has built between Catherine and Holden. Tonight, the last night of her tour of the North Woods of Maine, Catherine sleeps fitfully on silken sheets in the madam’s boudoir of a former brothel. She will be awakened twice this night, once by a stranger, and once by a lover.

Excerpt (PG): Snow and Whiskey

A soft pawing at the door roused her. “Yes?” She caught her breath. Please let it not be Al again.

“It’s me.”


“Me, Holden! Open the door for God’s sake.”

She went to the door, but hesitated. “What do you want?”

The growl came low. “Open the damned door, Catherine.”

She opened it. He stood there massively, leaning on the door jamb. He smelled of snow and fire and whiskey. She took a step back. He took a step forward into the room and closed the door gently behind him.

“Holden, you’re drunk!”

“I am not,” he retorted with careful dignity. “I had a shot before coming here. For warmth.”

Catherine was too busy worrying about the precarious nature of his verticality to absorb his words. To steady him, she repeated, “What do you want?”

He stared at her, his eyes hungry. Her heart flip-flopped. Holden took another step toward her. She tried to move backward and stumbled. He caught her and crushed her in his arms, his mouth coming down on hers with savage desire. She put both hands behind his head and pulled him closer. His tongue began to explore, palpating her teeth, her lips, the sensitive little inside corner of her mouth. They rocked back and forth, tasting, touching.

Suddenly Holden pulled away and staggered to the window. “I am so sorry, Catherine. It’s true, I am a little drunk. I’ve been thinking about this all day, of you—” He turned. “I’ve never felt this way about any woman. Women are—”

He was not allowed to finish. Catherine took his hand and led him to the bed. She pulled his sweater off and unbuttoned his flannel shirt. She could not resist kissing the chest as it appeared, dropping kisses down as each button came undone. Holden stood stock-still. Catherine continued to his belt. She was determined not to think about the consequences of her actions. She just wanted it. Is that so awful?

She unzipped the jeans and followed the zipper down with more kisses. She could feel him trembling. Just before she made landfall he took her arms and lifted her up.
“Not yet. I want to see you first.”

He dragged the flimsy negligee over her head. She was too aroused to care that he would see her belly and her wrinkles. She waited, empty of conscious thought. A rushing sound and then, without apparent effort, she found herself on the bed clinging to Holden, hands roaming, squeezing, lips stuck to lips, eyes glued on each other.

She felt him enter her. She tried to stop caressing him so she could focus on this new and delicious sensation, but her need was too great. It had been so long since she made love like this. That first time—after the bear—it had been satisfying, but not earthshaking. He had been no more than a body, the instrument of gratification. This time, with Holden’s fingers, lips, skin on hers, thrusting inside her with a great, deep, elemental force that almost shattered her spine, the passion swept through her like a fierce wind through Key Largo. Then it was over.

No, it wasn’t. An instant only, before he resumed his delving into her body, driving in again and again until she couldn’t stand it anymore and her body escaped her, bucking uncontrollably against him.
They slowed imperceptibly, both loath to end it. Finally Holden came to rest on top of her, his lips still cemented to hers. When he let go and rolled to one side, Catherine reached for him, panicking. He’s going to get up and leave. She knew it. Like all men. Like Jonathan.

Jonathan. Oh my God. Where did all that passion come from? What had she let herself in for? It’s not the time or the place. Holden’s eyes were closed. She thought she would close her eyes too—just for a bit—and then they would think this out together.

Buy Links:





Barnes and Noble:

About the Author:

Although M. S. Spencer has lived or traveled in five continents, the last thirty years were spent mostly in Washington, D.C. as a librarian, Congressional staff assistant, speechwriter, editor, birdwatcher, kayaker, policy wonk, non-profit director and parent. She has two fabulous grown children and a perfect granddaughter. Ms. Spencer has published ten romantic suspense/murder mystery novels, and currently divides her time between the Gulf coast of Florida and a tiny village in Maine.

Social Media Links:  




Google +:



Linked in:

Author Pages:

I Heart Book Publishing:

Romance Books 4 Us:

Amazon Author Page:

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Defining Moments

This week on Word Wranglers we're talking about defining moments in our lives. I talk about a couple of key moments in my own life, and also defining moments for a couple of my characters. Please drop by Word Wranglers and let us know what moments have defined you.

Friday, October 13, 2017

ESCAPE FROM BEHRUZ - #99centsale

After taking some time off in September for some well-deserved holidays with my husband, I'm happy to be back hosting guests. Today's guest is Judy Meadows and she's here to tell us about ESCAPE FROM BEHRUZ, which is on sale at .99 cents for two weeks beginning today. Best of luck with your sale, Judy!


A trek through the mountains with her sick puppy, her baby, her secrets, and the man she is forbidden to love.

To escape the violence in Behruz, Rashid will escort Olivia and the baby through the mountains to Iran , but he won't let Olivia near his heart. Not again. Not after the way she trampled it two years ago.

Olivia accepts his help, but she has no interest in his heart. She's never forgiven him for abandoning her when she needed him most. Still, she has to be careful. He mustn't learn that the baby the world thinks is heir to the Behruzi throne is actually her son. And Rashid's.

Can they make it through the trek, sharing a tent each night, without giving in to the attraction that has always drawn them together? Can Olivia hold in the secret that could destroy her?

Set in the Middle East, but not a desert sheik story at all. A true-to-life contemporary romance featuring a young American woman living in the Middle East.


Walking toward the tent of her “husband,” Olivia felt like a bride. The mantle framed her face and fell down her back like a bride’s veil, and the long skirt swayed with every step. Rashid stood in front of the tent talking to Saddiq. He was wearing a long shirt and a wool vest like those worn by the other men. He was holding up a rifle, sighting along the barrel. He said something to Saddiq and handed him the rifle; then he turned and saw the procession of women approaching. Time stopped for several heartbeats when his eyes fell on Olivia. He seemed to straighten up, to become taller, and everything about him became very still.

She met his gaze boldly. The petticoats swished around her legs when she walked. She felt the swing of her arms, the sway of her hips, even the slight bounce of her breasts. All the women stood behind her, waiting for Rashid’s reaction.

“Spin around again like you did for us in the tent,” Fatima whispered to Olivia.

Rashid’s nomad clothes made him look primitive and very male. His eyes were intent on her, like the eyes of an animal watching its prey. He was motionless except for a slight quivering of his nostrils.

Olivia lifted her arms slowly, and the women stepped back away from her. Then she began the
pirouette. She moved as if in a trance. Everything seemed to happen in slow motion. But still the skirt rose, its colors blurring as she spun, and she felt dizzy and flushed when she stopped. She gave Rashid a smile that came from some new knowledge.

“You are a temptress,” he said in English. His eyes were dark pools that beckoned her to tempt and be tempted.

“The ladies are waiting to see what you think of their handiwork.”

He stepped toward her and reached his hand up to touch her face at her temple. Then he slid it down until it cupped the nape of her neck. A shiver of response rippled through her, but she didn’t move.

“She is very beautiful,” he said in Farsi. “The costume is perfect. She is perfect.” He kissed her lightly on the lips. The speculations and remarks of the nomads hushed. A crow cawed in the distance, and then it was silent too. She was mesmerized. She felt possessed.

Author Bio:

I grew up in a small town in Minnesota and now live in a small town in Oregon. Between then and now I've lived all over the world, including two years in the Middle East and over a year in Mexico.

I've had a few careers--computer systems engineer (New Jersey), fruit farmer (California), domesticate violence advocate, doula (460 births), and childbirth educator (Oregon).

I'm a wife, mom, grandma, cat lover, gardener, embroiderer, traveler, and now (yay!) writer.

Social Media Links:

Website -
Twitter -  @judymeadows44
Goodreads -
Facebook -  (Judy Meadows Romance Writer) -


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Character Interview with Jennifer Wilck

Today's guest is Jennifer Wilck, who's interviewing Dan Rothberg, her hero from ADDICTED TO LOVE, her latest release from The Wild Rose Press. Let's find out what makes Dan such an interesting character. Take it away Jennifer!

So, Dan, tell us about yourself:
Well, I’m a single dad with a teenaged daughter. We live in Hoboken, NJ and I work as a forensic accountant.

Wow, teens are tough:
[laughs] They are, that’s true. But eye rolls aside, we have a pretty good relationship. It’s been just the two of us for about eight years now, ever since my wife died.

Oh, I’m so sorry:

Do you date?: 
I haven’t in the past. I didn’t think I had time between work and taking care of Tess. But recently...[he shifts and rubs his hand across his neck]

You met someone?:
I did. Her name is Hannah and she lives nearby with her grandmother. We met at a concert—actually, she met Tess first. And despite my concerns about being able to take care of Tess and work and date, it seems to be working out so far.

Well, Tess is a teenager, so it’s not like she needs the same oversight as a young child:
[He bristles] No, but she still needs me. And the last time I put something ahead of her, well, it went really badly. I won’t do anything to risk her well-being.

That’s what makes you a great dad:
[His shoulders loosen] I try. And she and Hannah get along great, which makes things easier.

That’s terrific. Tell me about your first date with Hannah:
Our first date or our first official one?

There’s a difference?:
Well, we ran into each other, literally, at a hot dog stand. After holding up the line and doing an impromptu awkward dance, we sat and ate together. I liked her. She made me laugh. But I didn’t get her phone number. So when I decided I should ask her out, I had to Google her. Luckily, I knew enough about where she worked to find her and she agreed to go out with me. So our official date was lunch at a great restaurant where we talked and got to know each other. And even though I’m woefully out of practice with women, she didn’t seem to mind my awkwardness and we’ve been seeing each other ever since.

What do you like about her:
[His blue eyes sparkle] You mean, other than everything? She’s smart—she works in PR and is gunning for a promotion, which I’m sure she’ll get. She’s beautiful—auburn hair, blue eyes. And she’s funny. She makes me laugh and she’s teaching me not to take things so seriously. She’s in her late twenties, so she’s about ten years younger than I am, but it’s been so long since I’ve had an adult to share things with. I love talking to her and getting her perspective on things, and I love how she values my opinions and confides in me. Did I mention how great she is with Tess? Taking on a teenager isn’t for everyone, but she seems to just get her and includes her seamlessly whenever possible.

Wow, she sounds amazing:
She is. [He frowns.]

I haven’t been able to be completely honest with her.

Why not?:
Because I’m afraid if I tell her about my past, she’ll leave.

What happened in your past, if you don’t mind my asking?:
[He draws a deep breath, holds it, and lets it out slowly] The car accident that killed my wife injured me. [Points to his cane] I was addicted to painkillers for a time, until I saw how I was putting Tess at risk. I broke my habit, but I’m afraid to tell her about it.

You don’t think she’d understand?:
Her brother is a drug addict.

Oh, that’s rough:
I have to tell her. I know we can’t have a relationship until I’m completely honest with her, but...

So how do you envision your future:
I’d like to say it’s with her. I just don’t know if she’ll have me once she knows the truth.

Well, good luck, Dan. I hope things work out with the two of you. You sound perfect for each other: 


Dan Rothberg struggled after an accident killed his wife and he nearly lost custody of his daughter. He can no longer allow himself to get attached to anything or anyone. Until he meets Hannah.
Hannah Cohen is a young executive with a meddlesome grandmother and a troubled brother. She’d like nothing better than to find her own Mr. Right, after too many Mr. Wrongs. A sexy older man with a teenage daughter was never in her plans.

As they navigate their relationship through adolescent attitudes and grandmotherly interference, they realize age is just a number and love can be right in front of them. But when the terrible truth of Dan’s former struggles is exposed, Hannah must decide if she can get past his deception and allow love to conquer all.


“What are we looking at?” She whispered out of the side of her mouth, pursing her lips together and giving him an insane urge to kiss them.


 “I assumed since we’re standing here you must be looking at something, and I wanted to join in the fun. Or did you not realize we weren’t moving?”

Her nostrils flared and she bit her lip, and Dan realized she was trying not to laugh. Now he really wanted to kiss her, to capture her mouth with his, to make her his own. Before he could act on it, his stomach growled.

“Was that yours or mine?” She looked over at him, eyebrow raised.

His lips twitched. His breath hitched. He couldn’t keep his amusement to himself any longer. It bubbled in his chest and he let it out as he shook his head.

“Okay, while I am older than you, I’m not old enough to be senile. Yet. So yes, I did know we weren’t moving. But thanks for that. And yes, my stomach growled, because I’m hungry. Except I think I need to put eating on hold for a moment, because what I need, more than anything else right now, what I’ve needed all night long in fact, is to kiss you.”

Buy Links:

The Wild Rose Press:


Barnes & Noble:


Jennifer Wilck's Biography:

Jennifer started telling herself stories as a little girl when she couldn’t fall asleep at night. Her favorite stories to write are those with smart, sassy, independent heroines; handsome, strong and slightly vulnerable heroes; and her stories always end with happily ever after.

In the real world, she’s the mother of two amazing daughters and wife of one of the smartest men she knows. When she’s not writing, she loves to laugh with family and friends, is a pro at finding whatever her kids lost in plain sight, and spends way too much time closing doors that should never have been left open. She believes humor is the only way to get through the day and doesn’t share her chocolate.

She writes contemporary romance, some of which are mainstream and some of which involve Jewish characters. All are available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Social Media Links:

Monday, August 28, 2017

Caris Roane and A TOUCH OF FLAME #newrelease

Caris Roane is my guest today. She's here to talk about her latest paranormal romance, A TOUCH OF FLAME. She also has a RAfflecopter giveaway, so be sure to enter below for your chance to win a variety of prizes. 

A Touch of Flame
Flame Series 5
By Caris Roane

Caris is giving away A Purple PNR bracelet (International Winner Receives Gift Card), A $25 Amazon Gift Card, A $15 Amazon Gift Card. to 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

WOW! Something extra from Caris Roane! 
Just leave a comment for a chance to win!
Caris Roane here and I'm so glad you're touring with me. Be sure to visit as many blogs on my tour as you can and leave a comment at each one to be entered into this WOW giveaway! Don't worry if you miss a couple of blogs, visiting every blog isn't required, it just increases your chances of winning! I'll be creating a second bracelet for the WOW giveaway (International winner receives gift card) similar to the bracelet in the Rafflecopter. I will choose the winning blog then choose the winning comment some time after midnight, September 5th, Arizona time. I will use Random dot org to make the selection. Let's support our bloggers who give us so much! Hugs, Caris

A powerful alpha wolf. A gifted witch. Each haunted by death. Can passion drive them to an everlasting love? Or will the enemy forge a hopeless chasm? Braden should have died in the Graveyard, but the witch, Maeve, saved him. The call of his wolf is on him and he wants her. She can be his alpha-mate. But she has powers that can destroy him and a disrupted memory that holds the answers to his wife’s murder. Can he ever trust a woman who can kill with the power she streams from her bare hands? Maeve has known only horror, death and destruction since her arrival in Five Bridges as a transformed alter witch. She goes to the Graveyard nightly to rescue those left for dead by the evil rampant in all five territories of her new world. She fears the power she possesses and the gaps in her memory frighten her more than anything else. But when she rescues Braden from an attack in the Graveyard and she realizes she’s drawn to the handsome wolf, the nightmare really begins.

~*~*~*~*~*~ EXCERPT:

Chapter One
The Graveyard was not the place Mark Braden thought he’d breathe his last. He was sure he’d die in the pine forest of Savage Territory, chasing a drug-runner and getting hit by a spray of bullets.

Instead, he’d been ambushed.

He lay face down on the hard, rocky ground. Blood streamed from a deep gash in his skull and pooled in the debris beneath him. The rogue wolves kicked him, but he barely registered the blows anymore. One or two of his ribs had snapped and punctured his left lung. He had a deep stab wound in his abdomen. His heart felt like a bird fluttering wildly in his chest, nothing more.

The Graveyard was a cess-pit, a central place in Five Bridges used for dumping bodies at night. In the morning, Tribunal clean-up crews would arrive to cart off the dead, catalog them with unfailing carelessness, then send them to the crematory.

“He’s gone.” Ely Gammet, a powerful warlock, stood over him. The bastard had been one of six who’d drawn him to the Graveyard with the promise of information about his wife’s killers.

A few more kicks, and the crew started walking away. He had a dim view of their boots and heard the crunch through the loose rocks. Braden flared his nostrils to take in the warlock’s scent. He catalogued it in his shifter brain for future recall.

He almost laughed. What future?

His breaths were shallow now, small jolts of air he brought into lungs that barely worked anymore.

Maybe it was for the best...

Author Info:  Hi, Everyone! Caris Roane here! I'm a NY Times Bestselling Author and I write super-sexy paranormal romance books. With every book I create, my goal is to take you away ~ far, far away ~ from the difficulties and frustrations of your life. I began my career with Kensington Publishing and wrote Regency Romance as Valerie King. In 2005, Romantic Times Magazine honored me with a career achievement award for my Regency work. To-date, I've published eighty-nine books. Thirty-nine of those are paranormal romances, some self-published and some with St. Martin's Press. Though my stories conjure up hunky PNR warriors, like vampires and wolf-shifters, the romance is everything, including a satisfying Happily Ever After. My hope is that you'll become engrossed in the lives of my tortured heroes and my worthy women as they wage war, as they make love, and as they face the tough issues of life and relationships!  I live in the Phoenix area, in the city of Buckeye. When not writing, I’m a real homebody. I love gardening, sewing, and cooking. (Um, cleaning, not so much!) I also enjoy creating jewelry and I frequently offer my handcrafted, PNR bracelet giveaways to my newsletter and blog subscribers. You can sign up for both on my Home Page. My motto: Live the Fang! Caris Roane

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, August 25, 2017

#AuthorInterview with Bernard LoPinto

Today I'm taking a break from romance to focus on something completely different. Bernard LoPinto is a new author over at The Wild Rose Press. We met recently online in one of TWRP's weekly chats. His new release, CONSENT OF THE GOVERNED, a political thriller, sounds like it was ripped from the headlines. Please welcome Bernard LoPinto!

Where did you get the idea for CONSENT OF THE GOVERNED?

The American political scene of the past two years got me asking, “What if?” I always start with that question. This time, it was “What if a president came into power and greed and incompetence, suspended the Constitution?” The rest was riffing off that idea, trying to answer that question.

Was there anything unusual, any anecdote about this book you’d like to share?

In the early 1970s, I was teaching in a high school. I overheard a conversation in which a sixteen-year-old-student told her teacher about the sexual abuse her parents subjected her to. In those days, there were no hotlines to call, though the teacher told me he later notified the guidance counselor who was supposed to know what to do. Months later, I had some minor contact with the girl’s mother who proved to be pretty much crazy. That incident became my character Annie’s backstory.

What was the most difficult thing about writing this book?

The most difficult part of writing this book was not letting real events take over. I was writing fiction, not reporting the news.

What do you want readers to come away with after they read CONSENT OF THE GOVERNED?

I hope that readers come away with the understanding that we are responsible for the type of nation we live in, the type of world we live in. Our government can do nothing without the consent of us, the people; hence, the title, Consent of the Governed. If we consent to give up freedom for the sake of security—real or imagined—we “deserve neither and will likely lose both.”

Do you have any words of advice to beginning writers?

As a teacher of composition, I tell my students that writing is learned first, by reading. Everything, anything. I would advise beginning writers to read books in and out of their chosen genre. Next, don’t wait for the muse to give you the perfect idea. Grab her by the throat and force her to give you something, anything, on the page, or screen. Even if it’s drivel, it can be fixed later. Even if it’s all about not being able to write, it’ll work later on.  Read. Write. Repeat.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

I stink at planning. I start with a “what if” question and hang it on a theme, my philosophical statement. Then I describe some characters. Finally, I outline until I get too antsy. Then I jump in and let the characters take me where they want to go. I’d have to look back, but I don’t think I outlined Consent of the Governed at all.

How many books do you have under the proverbial bed? Will they ever see the light of day?

I have four stories in my head. I will write at least three of them.

Tell us a bit about you. Where do you live, and how long have you been writing?

I live in Northeastern Pennsylvania. The window behind my computer looks out over hills that are now green, but in a few months will be orange, yellow, and red. And I can’t see a neighbor’s house, just a thin strip of road.

I think I’ve always been a writer at heart. When I was thirteen, I wrote a poem to help advertise my uncle’s supermarket. Somewhere, there’s a play I wrote in elementary school. I didn’t stick with it because I didn’t know how to continue. I had an idea that I wasn’t any good at writing. I didn’t get the idea that I could write until I started learning how to teach writing to high school students. Even then, I didn’t get serious until the late nineties.

Do you have another occupation, other than writer? If so, what is it? Does it help you with your writing?

I work as an adjunct, teaching writing, critical reading, and literature at Lackawanna College. The work is great for my writing for two reasons. First, it gets me to look as deeply as I can into the craft of writing. Second, my constant harping on my students to take care with their writing forces me to do the same. Taking care with our writing—word choice and sentence craft—are the difference between “writing” and “typing,” to paraphrase Truman Capote.

How do you think your life experiences have prepared you for writing?

My seven years as a Pentecostal minister inform my writing about the absurdity, greed, and power lust of present-day American Christianity. My eighteen years in correctional education have given me a wonderful cast of evil characters to weave into my stories.

Name two authors we might find you reading when taking a break from your own writing.

Jonathan Kellerman showed me how slow down and give description a chance. He uses description of a character’s movements, expressions, to draw psychological profiles that clue in the reader.
Charles Dickens’s anger at selfish, self-serving Victorian society gives me inspiration to attack many of the same institutions he railed against:  the phony social welfare system and the greedy, sanctimonious church.

What do you like best about your hero from CONSENT OF THE GOVERNED?

Ans: A recurring character in my work  is the old warrior, past his prime but still strong and vibrant. My protagonist Stan Winthrop is one such character.  He is many years retired, but—without giving too much away—runs up an impressive body count.

What do you like best about your heroine? 

Annie Winthrop, Sid’s wife, remade herself at a young age after leaving her abusive parents. For an old lady, she is strong, sexual, and the driving force behind Sid.

How do you choose the names and physical characteristics of your characters? Do you base them on real people?

None of the characters in Consent of the Governed resemble anyone I’ve ever met. This is a departure for me because usually, my characters are composites of people I have come in contact with or have read about. The names usually come from my imagination or something I’ve read. I’m not above pulling out the Scranton, PA, phone book.

How can readers reach you or find you online?

Readers can find my book at  It will be available September 1, 2017. You can pre-order at Amazon:

Tell us a little about your current work in progress.

I’m about 55,000 words into a new novel I’m calling No Such Thing as Enough. It’s about a young minister who gets everything he wants: pastor of a mega-church, money, position, power. Then he realizes what it has cost him. When young people in his ministry die because of the local drug trade, he realizes how isolated he is and how unimportant his accomplishments really are. He finds he has to make serious choices to redeem himself and win back the woman he loves. This is the second in my independently-published mystery/thriller series featuring Rev. Timothy Rathbone.

What’s your tagline for CONSENT OF THE GOVERNED? Why did you choose it?

“Sworn enemies until the truth brought  them together.”  I chose this tagline because it shows how two couples, one old, sworn to avenge the murder of their son, the other, young, sworn to support the oppressive government, find a common bond as they learn the truth about each other.

If I was a first time reader of your books, which one would you recommend I start with and why?

I would recommend starting with Power in the Blood, the first in the Timothy Rathbone series. Besides introducing Tim; his girlfriend, Freddi Pringle; and her hitman father, Jimmy, the book also presents the village of Dayton Crossing, NY, itself a character in the series.

Tell us about your current release.

Consent of the Governed presents an America ruled by a president whose blundering has thrown the nation into economic depression, where citizens are threatened by international terrorists and Red Shirts—government thugs—who keep the populace in line. In the state of emergency, the president has declared martial law and suspended the Constitution and free elections. Sid and Annie Winthrop are an elderly couple who have sworn to take revenge on the Red Shirts for murdering their son. Victor and Brooklynn are Red Shirts, true believers who are confronted with the dark underside of governmental control. When these couples are thrown together, they both come to understand what is real.

Thanks for being my guest today, Bernard!


It’s 2026 and the United States has fallen under the sway of an oppressive government where all citizens’ rights have been stripped, Red Shirts platoons patrol the streets, and people die for voicing opinions. Into this chaos step Sid and Annie Winthrop. The elderly couple set out on a murderous journey of revenge against the Red Shirts who murdered their son.

Red Shirt members Victor and Brooklyn have devoted their young lives to the cause of the president in protecting the nation. When attacks on their home town leave dozens of Red Shirts dead, Victor must help his superiors find the vigilante.

At their darkest moment, each couple finds a common bond in their suffering and must decide where their loyalties lie.

Author Bio, Bernard LoPinto:

In writing Consent of the Governed, as in my other work, I draw heavily upon my years in Pentecostal ministry and my background in correctional education.  It may seem strange that religion and prison are closely linked in my psyche, but both experiences have taught me to value freedom of thought and expression.  Both prison and religion set about stunting one’s individuality and personal growth.

Besides prisons, the bulk of my career has been in education, teaching in the inner-city and Job Corps, the suburbs, and a few rural areas.  In between, I’ve spent time in retail, professional photography, and any other side hustle I could pick up.  Along the way, I’ve earned a Master’s in Education and a Certificate of Advanced Study in Education Administration to go along with my BA in English.

I write from a place where the “good” people aren’t so good, and one’s best friends can be the “worst” people in town.  I don’t trust the ones who put their spirituality up front; those people make for some of my best comedy. I look for the ones who live the spirituality they don’t flaunt around town; they aren’t many, but they’re the real people. Between a two-bit saint and a stand-up sinner, I’ll take the sinner every time.

Social Media Links: