Guest Post – “Politically Incorrect” by Jeanne McDonald

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Sex. Lies. Greed. Power. Scandal. Politics.

Political strategist, Elizabeth McNeal, has been called a lot of things throughout her career – bitch being at the top of the list – but she doesn’t let it get to her.  She’s bold, she’s blunt, and she takes orders from on one.  This is how she’s survived working in a man’s world.  She’s the master of diversion and her specialty is winning an election-no matter the cost.

That is, until she meets her new client, Democratic candidate, Congressman William Baxter.  Kind, considerate, insanely handsome, honest, and ten years her junior, he’s a unicorn among politicians.  He infuriates her.  He challenges her.  Most of all, he makes her see past the scandalous world of politics and helps her to discover the heart of the woman inside her.

With sparks flying between them and the election rapidly approaching, the last thing either of them need is to be caught in a compromising position.  Some lines are meant to be crossed and some rules broken, but for Elizabeth and Liam is it worth the cost of being politically incorrect?

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“Politically Incorrect” is the latest novel by Jeanne McDonald, and takes us behind the scenes of an election campaign, into the corridors of power, to look at what happens when passion and politics collide.  I caught up with Jeanne recently to talk a little about the story of Elizabeth and William.

Politically Incorrect is set in the behind-the-scenes world of election campaigns and political strategy and not many of us get to see what goes on in that world.  Did you have to do a lot of research for the story?  Have you worked in politics yourself?

That’s a great question. While I have never worked in politics, I’ve always been fascinated by it. When I first conceptualized Politically Incorrect I had no idea the amount of research this story would require. I had a foothold on ideas thanks to my love for politically charged television ─ House of Cards, Madam Secretary, West Wing, etc. ─ however, I soon discovered that wasn’t enough. Not only did I have to understand how politics worked, but I had to understand the jobs that each character would play. I had to have an in depth knowledge of not only Elizabeth and Liam’s jobs, but I also had to learn how Scout, Aaron, and even Harper fit into all the facets of politics. Needless to say, I had a blast and learned a lot.

Elizabeth is a strong character, and 10 years older than William, which is something we don’t often see between love interests. Was it exciting to move away from the more traditional pairings and did it present any challenges?

So often in romance novels we find characters at a precipice of their life. Something has set their world upside down and it takes that special someone to bring life back into focus. What I liked about writing Elizabeth as a more mature woman who was satisfied in herself, her life, and even her love life is that she broke free of the conventional. Her age was always a major factor for me. It’s taboo to think of an older woman with a younger man. As even Elizabeth points out, men her age want women her daughter’s age. So, it was important for Liam to see past their age difference to the brilliant woman inside. This did present a bit of a challenge writing, because I had to make Elizabeth strong yet vulnerable. I had to create a woman who didn’t back down but was also capable of giving in. If you ask my beta readers, I constantly pulled my hair out of scenes because they had to have the right amount of push and pull to make Elizabeth tick.

The book is very timely, given that it’s an election year in the US.  Do you see anything in the media coverage that mirrors Politically Incorrect?

Sadly, I haven’t, but then the media is full of Trump. I’ll keep my opinions about him to myself, but he does keep the media busy. I’m sure that makes all the other politicians in the country breathe a little easier because no matter how bad they might screw up, he always seems to TRUMP them. HAHA! See what I did there?

Your many novels cover a wide range of subjects and you tackle some challenging issues.  Do you enjoy exploring the different facets of human nature?

I really do. If I didn’t feel I would drown in my own emotions, I might’ve enjoyed becoming a psychologist. The way we humans analyze things, break them down, and explore our options fascinates me ─ even more so in the world of romance. For what is romance without the human element? It’s for this very reason I love writing romance. I get to explore the depths of emotion and desire. Two of my favorite subjects.

Do you have a set time of day when you prefer to write? Or do you just grab the opportunity whenever it shows itself?

I basically grab the time when I can. I tried that whole scheduling myself to write but found that when I did that my muse would never appear. If I just go with the flow of things, words come more naturally.

Where do you like to write?

One day I hope to answer this question with, “in my office,” but for now I have a couch set up in my living room where I cuddle up with my laptop and type away. Actually, I’m on said couch right now.

Do you have a favourite scene from Politically Incorrect that you could share with us?

Chapter sixteen, where Liam corners Elizabeth in the hallway after the rally. That scene is where this whole book started. I was struggling to write anything after I completed my last book, Compass. The words simply weren’t coming to me. So, I decided to do some free writing to clear my head. Before I knew it, I had the hallway scene almost completed. I jokingly told my beta that I was goofing off instead of doing what I was supposed to do. She asked to see what my goofing off looked like and after reading that scene she demanded I finish the story. In two days I had the whole thing plotted, outlined, and storyboarded. The rest is history.

Can you tell us about your writing process?  Do you write it all down then go back to slash and burn, or do you self-edit as you go?

Actually, I do both. I write a chapter, go back the next day and edit it, then I move on. After the book is done, I do a complete read through and tear it apart. I analyze each word, sentence, and scene before sending it to my editor. No matter how many times I read it, I always find something I feel I can improve.

Last question :)  Is there anything YOU would like to tell us about Politically Incorrect, and also, what’s happening next for Jeanne McDonald?

I think Politically Incorrect speaks for itself. The message is clear. Have faith, don’t try to rush fate, and most of all believe in yourself. As for what’s next for me, I’m now working on book 2 of the Taking Chances series. It’s slated to come out at the end of this year.

Thanks for chatting with me today. I really enjoyed myself.

Thanks, Jeanne!  It was great to talk and get some insight into your work :)

Politically Incorrect will be released on 16 August, and will be available on Amazon - click here.

And you can learn more about Jeanne’s work at her website - click here 

Guest Post – Cover Reveal for Melanie Moreland’s “Beneath the Scars”

The sound of the ocean, the crash of the waves as they kick up against the sand and rocks—these are the only sounds Megan Greene wants to hear. She wants to leave the rest of the world behind, and find some peace.
The offer of a private house on the beach, set in a small town in Maine, is perfect. Time to think—to be by herself. It’s all she wants. It’s the escape she needs.
Until she stumbles across the painting that seems to echo her own chaotic mindset.
Until she meets the unfriendly artist behind the stormy painting and discovers his secrets.
All Zachary Adams wants is to be left alone. His canvases, and the unending scope of the ocean and sand, are his life. They direct him—fill his hours. Bring him focus.
Until she enters his life.
She dredges up memories of the past—the haunting images he has hidden for years; the fears he has never shared.
A story he keeps buried below the surface.
Can she make him see what he is missing? Can he trust her enough to believe?
Together they embark on a journey where their pasts collide and threaten to tear them apart.
Will their fragile bond hold or wash away with the ebbing tide?

—o0o—

My good friend, Melanie Moreland, has written a new book. It’s called “Beneath the Scars” and I’ve been lucky enough to have a sneak peak.  It’s a beautiful story of love and trust,  about two people on a journey to discover themselves, as well as each other.  Zachary and Megan are two characters you can really care about, and their story is written with warmth and feeling, a touch of humour, and is rich with vivid imagery.  When I asked Melanie if she’d be happy to join me on my blog to answer some questions about her book, she agreed :)

 

It’s a stunning cover image.  Can you tell us a little bit about it?
The cover symbolises so much. There is a painting in the book that figures very much throughout the story and this image you see of the stormy waves is how I saw that picture.  The powerful image also represents the turmoil that is caused when Megan enters Zachary’s life.  The upheaval and chaos she stirs are like the constant pounding of the waves against the rocks, and the outside world is like a storm that threatens to tear them apart.  But within the ocean’s tumult, is beauty, and the colours that swirl in the water are the colours she brings to his life.

 

Where did the inspiration for Beneath the Scars come from?
There is so much emphasis placed on beauty these days. I started wondering what would happen if that was all you felt defined you…and that was suddenly taken away.  Could you learn to accept your real beauty was under your skin?
And Beneath came to life.

 

Do your characters ever deviate from where you want them to go?  And if so, do you try to pull them back in toline, or let them go and see where it takes you?
They usually deviate. I’ve given up trying to keep them on the straight and narrow. Now I write as they direct me and adjust my thinking to them, rather than try to adjust theirs.LOL – Because that never works.

 

Do you have a favourite place where you like to write?
I have a spot in my family room by the fire place. It’s warm and cozy in the winter, cool in the summer and when I need a break I look at the window and watch the trees sway and dance in the breeze.

 

The story is touching and emotional and makes us looks beyond the surface, to what lies beneath.  On a lighter note, after cleaning up after a party once, I found of blob of green jelly lurking beneath a sofa cushion.  Have you ever been surprised by something that lurks “beneath”?
OMG – YES! Today I was standing in the garage, talking to my husband, and something caught my eye. There right by my foot, peeking out from under the mat was a tiny frog. Scared the crap out of me and I screamed like a girl and ran. Matt laughed so hard he almost cried. Apparantly it’s been living there for about 2 months. There is a small break in the concrete and it hides in the dark, damp there.  UGH.

 

Mm…  think I’d rather find green jelly under the sofa.

Thanks, Melanie!  :)

“Beneath the Scars” will be available for purchase in October.  For info and updates, check out Melanie’s Facebook page, Melanie L Moreland

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Melanie-L-Moreland/512254118848084

“Innocence” by Elise de Sallier

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Today on the blog I’m featuring a new Australian author, Elise de Sallier.

Elise is a romantic fiction addict from way back, so writing her own historical and paranormal romances—and having others read and fall in love with her characters and the worlds she creates—is a dream come true. Elise likes to see her characters grow, experience passion and adventure, tackle some difficult issues, and find lasting love.  Eventually.

“Innocence” is Elise’s debut novel.  If you enjoy historical romance, this is a must-read :)

 

Innocence

Ignorance is supposed to be bliss, but in Anneliese Barlow’s experience, it leads to poor choices and unnecessarily tragic outcomes . . . and there is nothing blissful about either.

Forced to flee her father’s brutal heir, Anneliese masquerades as Lisa Brown, a servant in the grand, country mansion of the Duke of Worthington. Befriended by her fellow maids, she tries—and failsto avoid attention while awaiting the return of the duke, her father’s friend. Discovering her previous life of gentility was no more than a fairy tale, her new reality is a dark and forbidding place, and Lisa faces danger at every turn.

Captivated by the beautiful maid, Nathaniel Stanton, the Marquis of Marsden, decides the only way to protect the new girl is by offering her his protection. With her reputation ruined and all hope of returning to her previous station seemingly lost, Lisa surrenders her virtue to the man she has come to love almost beyond reason. Finding unexpected passion in Nathaniel’s arms, her senses are awakened to a world of sensuality she had not known existed. A world not without grave risks.

Believing it is the only way he can keep her in his life, Nathaniel asks Lisa to be his mistress, promising her a home and a future with him . . . of sorts. Despite her misgivings about its dubious morality, she accepts the position rather than be separated from Nathaniel. But her father’s heir, Lord Copeland, has not given up in his quest to have her for himself.

With her freedom, Nathaniel’s position in society, and the future of countless others at stake, she must sacrifice her future happiness and find a way to disappear forever. If her identity is uncovered, Lisa’s innocence won’t be the only thing that’s lost.

Available 17 December

for more information…

 https://www.facebook.com/elise.desallier

Guest author interview – Jacinda Buchmann

Over the past few months I’ve met some great new authors and this week for something different on the blog, I thought I’d introduce you to author of the Indigo Trilogy, Jacinda Buchmann. The first book in this YA series was published in May and had reviewers raving about its intriguing storyline and suspenseful plot.  The second book is on the way and Jacinda recently took time from writing to sit down and have a virtual chat with me :)

 

 

“Sixteen-year-old Tyler believed that his extra-sensory powers were a secret,but when his twin brother, Toby, is kidnapped by a covert government agency, he realizes that he has no secrets, and he has nowhere to hide.”

 

The premise for Indigo Incite is fascinating.  Can you tell us a little bit about the story, and where the idea came from?

JB:  Indigo Incite is a YA fantasy/adventure with a touch of romance. It’s about a group of teenagers who, unknown to each other at the beginning of the story, are pushed together and on the run from a government agency that wants them because they possess extra-sensory powers. Along the way, they find unexpected love and friendship. The idea came to me about four years ago when I told my grandmother that I wanted to write a book. She suggested that I should write something about Indigo Children because it’s a fascinating topic that not many people have heard about. Well, I tucked the idea in the back of my mind, thinking at the time that it sounded like a great idea, but not really certain about which direction I would take it. Then, a few months later, I was sitting at my desk at work, I was a school counselor at the time and it was my lunch break. I didn’t often get a lunch break free from students, but that day I found myself daydreaming and doodling on a piece of paper. And then the idea for Indigo Incite hit me full force. The entire concept and all of the characters were suddenly in my head and I couldn’t write fast enough. By the time my break was over, I had rough character sketches for all of the main characters and a general outline, for not only Indigo Incite, but the entire trilogy. The actual process to finish writing the book took a bit longer because I was working full time and had a baby, but now that the first book in the Indigo Trilogy is out, the second book is already in the works and is scheduled to be released in May of 2014.

You were a teacher in your previous life.  How much has that shaped the way you write for young adults?  Has it been a hindrance or a help?

JB:  Yep, I was a teacher and later a school counselor. I would say it helped, because as an eighth grade Language Arts teacher, I gained a general understanding of the plots and types of characters that students enjoy reading in books. As a school counselor, I was able to gain more insight into the thought process of the average teenager. (That’s insight not incite as in Indigo Incite, LOL! The title of the book is an intentional play on words that makes sense once you’ve read the story.) When I’m writing from the viewpoint of a teenager, it’s important to be able to really “be inside of the character’s head” and I think spending so many years around teenagers has helped me to gain that perspective.

What are the best, and worst, things about writing and publishing a novel?

JB:  The best thing, for sure, is that I get to share my characters with everyone who reads the story. After spending every day with them for a year, writing and editing the book, they seem very, very real. I feel like when other people read Indigo Incite, I am introducing them to my friends:-) The hardest thing is definitely trying to sell the book to other people. I love to write, that’s what I do. It’s a lot harder for me to be a salesperson and say, “Hey, go out and buy my book…please”:-) But, surprisingly, I have found that, in the advertising process, I have met so many wonderful authors, bloggers, and fans. I never expected to make so many friends, just by social networking my book, and that has definitely been the best part of the advertising process. I also love all of the outstanding reviews that I’ve received on Amazon and Goodreads. Each review that I receive brings a thrill knowing that someone else has enjoyed my book.

What was the most difficult scene for you to write?  And why?

JB:  I actually had the opposite problem. I didn’t have difficulty writing any scenes. Before I begin writing, I find a quiet place to work, with no noise or distractions of any kind, then the story forms in my head, I hear the characters voices and I write a general outline of the entire story, so when I actually begin the writing process, every scene is already in my head. The problem I did have was a huge dilemma on which scenes to delete. When I wrote Indigo Incite, I simply wrote the entire story and didn’t worry about the word count. When I was finished I had over 140,000 words. The maximum suggestion for Young Adult novels is 90,000 words, so needless to say, I was faced with a dilemma. I loved each and every scene, and yet something had to go. It took a while to determine which scenes were absolutely critical to the story line and which scenes could be considered “fluff”. In the end, however, I did cut the story to almost exactly 90,000 words. It was difficult, but on the bright side, now that I have a blog, I can post my deleted scenes :-) I posted my first deleted scene a few weeks ago, and I plan to post one new deleted scene every month until, Book Two, Indigo Instinct, is published.

Sometimes inspiration strikes at the most awkward and inconvenient time.  Has this happened to you?  Can you tell us about it?

JB:  Each time inspiration strikes, it seems like I am in the car. Probably because I don’t have three little kids talking to me at once, so the quiet time allows for the characters in my head to “talk to me”. I have had more scenes randomly pop into my head while I was in the car than any other time. When I was beginning to brainstorm Indigo Instinct, a major scene popped into my head as I was loading my daughter into her carseat. My other daughter, who was already in the car, said, “Mommy, what are you staring at?” I don’t know how long I must have been “staring into space” seeing the scene unfold in my head, but that’s how it happens. One second I’m doing every day activities, and the next it’s as though a movie is playing in my head! I guess that’s how inspiration goes, LOL!

 

Some fun, quick questions…

What’s the location for your dream holiday?

JB:  Ireland and Scotland for sure! I have always wanted to go there. I’m hoping in a few years, when my kids are a little bit older, we’ll be able to visit. My husband has always wanted to go to New Zealand, so if that ever happens, then I plan to make a detour to see my good friend Suzanne Carroll, in Australia :-)

If you could travel through time, where would you go?

JB:  I would love to go back in time to meet great-great-great(add a few more greats) grandparents. I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of studying genealogy and creating a family tree. I think it would be extremely fascinating to meet my ancestors, first-hand!

What’s the last book you read?

JB:  I just finished reading Opal, Book #3 in the Lux series, by Jennifer Armentrout, and I am currently reading Empath, by HK Savage. You can look for my review of her book on my blog very soon :-)

And finally, can you tell us what you have planned next?

JB:  Yep, I briefly mentioned Indigo Instinct. This will be the second book in the Indigo Trilogy. It is completely outlined and I plan to begin the actual writing process of the book next week. In the second book in the Indigo Trilogy, the Indigo Children will find themselves once again on the run while they are faced with deeper relationship issues. I actual have my next six books roughly planned out in my head. After the Indigo Trilogy is complete, there will be a few “spin-offs” of the story from various characters :-)

Thanks, Jacinda :)

If you’d like to find out more about the Indigo Trilogy you can check out Jacinda’s Facebook page and website.

https://www.facebook.com/IndigoIncite

http://jacindabuchmann.wordpress.com/

Let the music play. Not.

La, la, lalalalaaaa…

 

Someone asked me the other day what music I listen to while I write.  He seemed a little surprised when I said I don’t.

It’s not that I don’t like music.  I do.  But I can’t listen to it while I write.  It’s too distracting and my chair becomes a stage and my laptop the audience as I sing along, dancing in my seat, belting out Katy Perry or Pink, maybe Adele, in a, no doubt, Grammy-winning performance.  Which reminds me, I should probably put masking tape over the little web cam thingy, just in case.

Classical music doesn’t work for me, either.  I sway and hum and drum my fingers on the desk instead of the keyboard.

The gentle strains of Cat Stevens are beautiful.  I love Clannad with their haunting Celtic melodies.  I mightn’t sing and dance with them quite like I would with Katy, but there’s still humming to be done.  And swaying.  Always swaying.  Once I almost swayed the desk lamp onto the floor.

So the music stays off.  Which is probably for the best.  Or Zoe and Angus would still be waiting for me to finish their story.

And that brings me to the next picture teaser for Over the Edge.  This one is courtesy of my sister-in-law, who didn’t miss a beat when I rang her a couple of weeks ago and said…

“Um, you know that decorative pewter starfish in your bathroom?  Do you think you could take a photo of it on your living room floor for me?  With a dog leash?  Please?”

And here it is :)

 

You’re Kidding Me, Right?

What’s in a name?

Of course, I knew writing a novel would be a challenge.  I knew, from previous attempts, there’d be times when the words refused to come.  Or my characters mightn’t behave as I wanted them to.  But one of the biggest, and definitely most unexpected, challenges, was trying to find names for fictitious organisations or landmarks.

Everything’s taken, I tell you.  Everything.  I discovered this during one particular late-night writing session.

It was during an early draft of Over the Edge.  Zoe was thinking of joining an environmental group.  I’d called them The Green Alliance.  They weren’t a big part of the story.  Just a single line.  But when I did a quick check on the name, Google revealed it was already taken.  The Green Alliance is an environmental think tank in the UK.

Okay, so my first choice wasn’t going to work.  That was fine.  I wasn’t preturbed and I quickly came up with another name.  Tree Warriors.  But it turns out Tree Warriors is a stump removal company in Victoria.  And apparently Nature First is a supplier of semi-mature trees in Gloucester while Green Future offers surveillance on fibre optic cable routes in Africa.  So I took a deep breath, got myself a cup of tea and kept searching.

Project Planet, Planet Project, The Green Lobby, Eco First, Earth Watch…all gone.  I didn’t have this much trouble naming my children.

One Planet, Earth First, One Earth, Eco Warriors…the list went on.  And on.

Night slipped into the early hours of a new day and, finally, with a slightly hysterical laugh, I decided to call my environmental group Penguins for Peace. Because that couldn’t be already taken, right?

Wrong.

Penguins for Peace is part of a larger environmental group called Peace by Peace.

I nearly choked on my tea.  And that was when I decided to send Zoe to sushi classes instead.

Maybe I should have sent her on a photography course, because then I could make a smooth segue to this latest picture teaser below :)   But in the absence of such a segue, I’ll just say…. here’s the latest visual clue from Over the Edge  :)  Hope you like it.