Return to Rio


THC BookCoverPreview (2)                          Elizabeth Meyette

Today I’m truly excited to have Elizabeth Meyette here at Return to Rio, talking about her brand new release, The Cavanaugh House. Elizabeth also writes historical fiction and promised to give readers some insight into her personal journey along This Writer’s Road.

Elizabeth, before we talk about your books and your new release, The Cavanaugh House, please tell us a little about yourself:

Leslie, it’s so nice to visit with you and your readers today. My husband, Rich, and our kids are very supportive of my quirky writerly ways. The kids are on their own now, but Rich puts up with my dazed condition on writing days when all brain power is focused on my work. When I retired from teaching a few years early to pursue my writing career, I dusted off my manuscript for Love’s Destiny which had languished on my closet shelf for all those years.  Crimson Romance picked it up and published it to my delight! I had written it as a stand-alone, but my readers clamored for more, so I wrote Love’s Spirit and have plans for a another book in the series. I have just published my third book, The Cavanaugh House, which is a cozy mystery with a strong romantic element.

When I was checking out Love’s Destiny and Love’s Spirit, two things came to mind—I have to read them, because I love the Revolutionary period, and they’re epic.  How important is history to you, and how do you research particular time periods?

I’m so glad that you’re going to read them! I love history, and the Revolutionary period is my favorite. My research is very thorough—I’m a bit of a perfectionist (did I just hear Rich chuckle in the background??) Research for Love’s Destiny was pre-Google; that’s right I actually went to the library and pored over books and primary documents! I read an entire book on ships to make sure my description of Jonathon’s ship, the Destiny, was accurate. Having the Internet at my fingertips as I was revising it was so wonderful! Love’s Spirit was much easier since I could access great websites such as the Colonial Williamsburg website and find remarkable resources. One of my favorite compliments was from my big brother, a career Army man, who said my history was “spot on.”


I know that The Cavanaugh House is not, in your words, “purely romance.”  The cover strikes me as intriguing and a little brooding—maybe a little dark. Tell me about the tone of The Cavanaugh House, and maybe what inspired it.

I’m so pleased to hear you say that the cover struck you that way. Yes, the story is dark; my protagonist, Jesse, is recovering from a very public broken engagement and wants anonymity and peace. What she ends up with is the opposite when she moves into the Cavanaugh House in a small town. This house that she inherited from an aunt she never knew becomes a place of danger rather than a safe haven. But her BFF Maggie (aka Sister Angelina), Officer Marty D’Amato and Joe Riley support her and her risky investigation of her aunt’s death. Sparks fly between Joe and Jesse, but stung by her recent breakup, she fights their mutual attraction. My characters’ interactions and dialogue provide comic relief as well, and I enjoy their banter.

The cover of The Cavanaugh House is a photo that my husband Rich took. When the inspiration for the story came to me, a very distinct image of the house came to me. We were visiting family out of state and as we travelled a two-lane state road, we came upon an abandoned old house that was the house in my mind. I couldn’t believe it. I yelled, “Rich, that’s my house!” So we stopped and took a bunch of photos. Other pieces of the story fell together in a rather supernatural way (I discuss these on my blog Meyette’s Musings – “The Cavanaugh House Has Arrived!) and voila, my book was born.

It’s amazing to me that you should find the cover shot in such a chance encounter–and fascinating.  Elizabeth,  Love’s Destiny and Love’s Spirit capture the story of Emily Wentworth and Jonathan Brentwood, and their fight to love each other in spite of conflicting allegiances and the horrors of war.  Which characters in The Cavanaugh House are most like Emily and Jonathan, and will we see any characters from The Cavanaugh House in future works?


What an insightful question, Leslie. You must be an author! A friend just told me she likes that my female characters are strong, and yes, Jesse is another strong female protagonist. I see many similarities between Jesse and Emily, but I think Jesse is more independent. That could be the influence of society at the times of each book. While Emily has broken through some of the restrictions colonial America has placed on her, Jesse is riding the wave of the new Women’s Liberation movement. Joe and Jonathon are quite different though. Joe is laid back and unthreatened by Jesse’s quest for equality; Jonathon is used to shaping his world and those around him. Both, however, deeply love and support their women.

Yes, my Cavanaugh House characters are still talking to me, and a sequel will very likely appear.

I love the differences you see among your characters.  And I’m not surprised there may be a sequel–characters we love are just hard to let go.  On another note, I read that your husband is really and truly supportive—even prohibiting you from cooking on ‘writing’ days, which I imagine must be most days.  How important is it to have that kind of support, and could you give advice to writers who lack that honest and enthusiastic support?

Rich is amazing! I am very blessed to have the love and support of my family, and my heart breaks when I hear of writers who are not as lucky. At first it was hard for me to identify myself as a writer, because as all of us know, people don’t always take that seriously. But the more I said it, the more I convinced myself it was true. And then the challenge was to carve time out of my other responsibilities to make time for writing. I actually put my writing time on my calendar as I would any other important meeting, appointment or activity. Then I make it sacrosanct—nothing else trumps it. I think the major thing for all writers is to take themselves seriously or no one else will. Whether you have another full-time job, small children, aging parents or other important responsibilities, you are important, too. I think of the advice we always get when we fly: put your own oxygen mask on first or you’ll be no good to anyone else. I don’t think of this as selfish—I think of it as self-ful.

 Wow, Elizabeth–as a writer who doesn’t always manage time wisely, your advice gave me goose bumps.  Especially the analogy to the flight instructions! What can readers look for as The Cavanaugh House launches?  Do you have blog visits you’d like to mention, or other opportunities for readers to learn more about you and your books?

My original launch date was April, but my husband had unexpected, and very serious, surgery in April, so I put my book off so I could focus only on Rich. He is recuperating well, so I am gearing up for some blog visits and I am talking about the Cavanaugh House on my blog, Meyette’s Musings I have a book signing, class at a local university and keynote & workshop at a writers’ conference coming up in the near future. Keep an eye out for a Goodreads giveaway in the near future.

Finally, tell me something you want readers to know—funny, outrageous, serious—just something you’d like to say that I didn’t ask.

I discovered a secret sales weapon at one of my first book signings. Soon after I published Love’s Destiny, Rich was helping me at the author table at a woman’s expo where vendors had all sorts of products including wine. He had listened to me engage people as they walked by and talk to them about my book throughout the afternoon. I left for a few minutes to use the restroom, and when I returned Rich was laughing and talking with two ladies who were standing at the table enjoying their wine. It looked like a cocktail party. When I approached, he introduced me as his wife and the author, and we chatted for a while. They were delightful and one bought my book. When they sauntered off to visit other tables, Rich said, “They were walking by, and I said, ‘Hey, ladies, want a little romance in your life?’” He beamed. “They came right over!” “No doubt!” I laughed. I bring him to all of my events now—my secret sales weapon!

Thank you so much for inviting me to be a guest on your blog, Leslie.roses2

You’re welcome, Elizabeth!  Good luck to you and hang on to Rich–a lot of writers are likely to be jealous of that secret weapon of yours.  You can find Elizabeth Meyette and her works here:

The Cavanaugh House is available at Amazon.

Visit Elizabeth at













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His Temporary Wife is Book Two in my Texas Heart & Soul Series, and sure–you can read it first, then read Book One, Wildflower Redemption, later.

Just to play devil’s advocate, though–why not read Wildflower Redemption now, and His Temporary Wife tomorrow?

Wildlife Redemption features odd animals, Texas spring, aka bluebonnets, a RONE Award nomination, a USA Today co-favorite book of 2013 by columnist and author Deborah O’Neill (whose co-favorite was my first Crimson Romance title, Unattainable) and a heart-warming romance between Aaron Estes and Luz Wilkinson.

Then–move up I 35 from Rose Creek to tiny Truth, Texas, and dive into summer in the Hill Country with Esmeralda Salinas and Rafael Benton, country music, and more unforgettable characters demanding that their stories be told, too.






Love country music?  Love bad girls who might be good girls, or vice versa?  His Temporary Wife is Esmeralda Salinas’s journey from tiny Rose Creek, Texas to tinier Truth, Texas.

His Temporary Wife will be released March 31st.  Watch for pre-order info coming soon!

Some of the songs that helped…provoke Esme’s transformation?  Lady Antebellum’s “All We’d Ever Need,” Trace Adkin’s, “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk,” Toby Keith’s recent discovery (to me) “Too Drunk to Karaoke,” Whitney Houston’s cover of that Dolly Parton classic, “I Will Always Love You,”  and so many more–gotta love the variety of country artists and their wares.

Meanwhile, why  not check out Book One of the Texas Heart & Soul, Wildflower Redemption,  the story of Luz and Aaron and the love Esme wants for herself?

An excerpt will follow here soon!

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D’Ann Lindun can be counted on for the best in Western writing, from romance to suspense and beyond.  Pick up Shot Through the Heart today at its re-release special price!

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Blurb: Laramie Porter has tried to get her drug-addicted brother help, but he’s refused every time. When Laramie finds his wife—and her best friend—murdered, she vows to have him convicted. Before she can flee, her brother takes Laramie and his wife’s body into the mountains and throws them from a cliff. Somehow, Laramie lands on a ledge. After what her brother has done, Laramie doesn’t want to ever believe in another man, but Derrick earns her trust when he protects her from the man who would see her dead.

To cover up the evidence of his crime, Lawrence starts a wildfire

 Derrick Garrison is through with women after he learns his ex-wife was a bigamist who only wanted his money. Believing a lightning strike has started a wildfire, he’s pushing his cattle out of harm’s way when he discovers a woman huddled on a cliff side. Derrick can’t believe the same sheriff who helped bring his ex to justice murdered his wife. But when the cocaine addicted lawman tracks Laramie through a raging fire, attempting to kill them both, Derrick becomes a true believer. His protective instinct kicks in and he falls in love with the woman in danger.

Together, they survive the fire, the attempts on their lives and a bounty on their heads…to see justice served. And fall in love.

Bio: Falling in love with romance novels the summer before sixth grade, D’Ann Lindun never thought about writing one until many years later when she took a how-to class at her local college. She was hooked! She began writing and never looked back. Romance appeals to her because there’s just something so satisfying about writing a book guaranteed to have a happy ending. D’Ann’s particular favorites usually feature cowboys and the women who love them. This is probably because she draws inspiration from the area where she lives, Western Colorado, her husband of twenty-nine years and their daughter. Composites of their small farm, herd of horses, five Australian shepherds, a Queensland heeler, two ducks and cats of every shape and color often show up in her stories!

I love to hear from readers! Please contact me at




Award-winning author Deborah O’Neill Cordes breaks new ground with her sci-fi time travel release Dragon Dawn.

The buzz continues to grow around Dragon Dawn, shooting to the top of Amazon charts even before its formal release.  I loved Ms. Cordes and Carey Frates , collectively writing as Morgan O’Neill, in their early Italian time travel series, and together they have garnered countless awards with their Roman time travel series.  As interest in Ms. Cordes solo venture into a realm where dinosaurs and humans are thrown together through time reached fever pitch, I was a little in awe over how ambitious and intricate the premise is.  I still am in awe, so I’m going to turn Return to Rio over to Dragon Dawn author Deborah O’Neill Cordes and let her explain Book I of the series.

Deborah’s bio:


Deborah O’Neill Cordes is a screenwriter and novelist of historical and speculative fiction. She is the author of the sci-fi time travel novel, Dragon Dawn, Book One of the Dinosaurian Time Travel Series. She is also the co-author of the Morgan O’Neill time travel novels, which she writes with Cary Morgan Frates. Three of Deborah’s works have been optioned by Hollywood, while many others are award winners, garnering finalist placements in the Pacific Northwest Writers’ Conference Literary Contest, semi-finalist wins in the William Faulkner – William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition, and the Metro Goldwyn Mayer Finalist award in the Seattle International Film Festival’s Perfect Pitch Forum. She resides in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two West Highland White Terriers, who, alas, are precocious terriers and therefore never white.


Please visit Deborah at:


Dragon Dawn book blurb:


Time snakes between alternate universes.  Ever watchful, an alien intelligence survives on Mars, waiting to be found by spacefarers from Earth.  The alien’s ultimate goal is to send human astronauts back in time, where they will alter the past and thwart the extinction of the dinosaurs.  A race of intelligent dinosaurs, resembling the alien’s extinct species, subsequently evolves to rule the world.  But a human female astronaut, through a strange twist of fate, survives the change in the space-time continuum.  After finding herself in a dinosaurian body, she must race against time – and the formidable alien – to restore the universe to its rightful course. Book One of the Dinosaurian Time Travel Series.


More titles by Deborah O’Neill Cordes writing with Carey Morgan Frates as Morgan O’Neill:
After the Fall thm Love Eternally thm

MelindaDozierAuthor  I’m excited to have Melinda Dozier back, undoubtedly to break a few more rules.  In fact,  since Melinda’s a little irrepressible anyway, she just offered to take over for me and explain her favorite addictions.  If she’s talking addictions, I bet her addiction to writing and her current romances, Breaking the Rules and Love and Other Games will come up.  So I’ll just  step aside and let Melinda take over for me.  Enjoy! 

Hi Leslie! It’s great to be at your blog today. It’s been a year now since I officially became a “real” romance author and I’ve learned so much along the way. Want to know what my favorite parts have been? Check out my crazy list!

My Favorite Top Three Author Addictions

1.   Twitter

 I never thought I’d love Twitterverse as much as I do. Not only is it fun, but it is also educational. Anytime I have a question, I can update my status and – BAM – an author friend has an answer. The amount of knowledgeable romance authors on this social network is amazing.

Twitter also has a wealth of chat parties where I’ve met amazing people or had the best laughs. A few chats you might want to check out are THURSDAY night’s #ChickLitChat , or my favorite MONDAY night’s #ManCandyMonday.

I also love to “stalk” my favorite celebrities –ahem— Ryan Gosling – cough cough – Chris Hemsworth – grin.

The amount of possible activities you can find on Twitter is insurmountable. You can do anything on Twitter, but my favorite part of it has been the relationships that I’ve formed.  Are you on twitter? How about following me… @melindadozier


2.   Hunky Men

Okay, I’m blushing at this one, but it’s true. With romance writing comes the inevitable hunky men. It’s a tough life, but somebody has to do it. **wink – wink ** A romance writer must do research and with that research comes the photos.

Be it Pinterest, Twitter, Google, other blogs… hunky men are everywhere. And yes, I am working hard at finding the perfect heroes for my readers. You can thank me later. J

My not-so-secret crushes have been Ryan Gosling and David Beckham. You can find their own private boards on my Pinterest account:

3.   Coffee

Late nights (or early mornings) go hand in hand with caffeine. Without coffee, I wouldn’t be able to survive. I have to admit that I’ve always been addicted to coffee, but now I have the perfect excuse: “I’m tired and need to write.” My favorite coffee? I love a good combination of strong dark roasted coffee with a bit of creamer. Starbucks anyone? My faves are Cinnamon Dolce Latte or White Chocolate Mocha. Yum!

I love talking to readers! You can find me at:



My blog:


Now it’s your turn to share. What is your favorite addiction? Leave a comment below! 

Thanks, Melinda.    To find out more about Melinda and Breaking the Rules, read on.



A forbidden love affair in the past has led Hope Robinson, a middle school principal, to Harbor Bay, Florida, where she commits herself to play by the rules. This can be difficult for a perpetual klutz, who—even strapped in a cast—has to uphold a competent attitude at all times.

Luckily, she has Dr. Colin Calaway on her side, a widower and father of a student, who is ready to give love another try. When Colin convinces Hope they should explore the connection between them, a steamy romance develops, though it could destroy them both. They must decide if their jobs—and their hearts—are worth the risk.

Sensuality Level: Sensual



Crimson Website:








Melinda Dozier lives in Guatemala, Central America, with her husband, three boys and German Shepherd.  She enjoys being the queen of her household and dreams of being pampered fully by her boys once they’re grown. Learn more about her at


He shook his head. “I can’t believe we’re doing this.”

“Doing what?” She looked around, confusion in her eyes.

“Talking about the weather.” He scooted closer to her, making her back up toward the railing.

“Colin—” A warning came from her mouth.

He scooted her all the way back. “You can’t go around saying stuff like you did back there and just pretend nothing’s happening.”

“I’m sorry, Colin. I didn’t think before I spoke.”

He put his arms around her, holding onto the rail. “Sometimes it’s better to just speak what’s on your mind.” He lifted one hand and caressed her cheek. “Damn it, Hope. Life is too short to ignore the truth and the truth is that we are extremely attracted to each other.”

She opened her mouth, then closed it before saying anything. He was right, but she didn’t know what to do about it.

“Don’t deny it.” He brought his thumb down and touched her bottom lip.

Leaning into his touch, she said, “Remember we’re just friends.”

He shook his head. “To hell with friends, Hope. I haven’t felt like this in so long.” He placed his forehead on hers and leaned in more. Enough that she could feel his quickened breath on her chin.

“Me too.” She sighed. Leaning back, she looked in his eyes. “I know it’s not fair, but we can’t.”

“I’m not going to lie—this is freakin’ frustrating.” He scraped his hand over his face. “I mean, I haven’t been on a date in months, because I just don’t feel it with anyone. Then, when I do feel ‘it,’ I can’t do anything about it.”

She looked down. “I feel the same way and I’m frustrated, too.”

“Then why are we ignoring it? Even the tarot card lady said we should be more than friends.”

She rolled her eyes. “Oh, and she is a knowledgeable source to trust.”

“Just hear me out, Hope.” He stroked her hair, causing her heart to beat faster. “We’ve had an amazing afternoon together.” He pointed back and forth between them. “This is who we really are. You. Me. Hope and Colin. Just two people having an incredible time together. See how much fun we can have if we forget all the labels? No principal, parent, doctor bull crap. Just us.”

She sighed and looked into his eyes. “It has been a great day.”

“You need to just stop thinking about all the reasons why we shouldn’t be together and look at the one reason why we should.” He held her chin up. “Us.”

And for more Melinda Dozier, why not take a peek at Love and Other Games, showcasing love at the Winter Olympics?

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Robyn (2)  Today I’m excited to have Robyn Neeley visit us here along The Writer’s Road.  Robyn’s romantic comedy caught by eye in part because the hero has a brother–a twin brother–and who doesn’t find twins endlessly fascinating?  One of Robyn’s answers in particular caught my attention, because ‘day’ jobs, even when they represent financial survival and personal satisfaction, often do put some of our dreams on hold.  How do you work around them or include them in your own quests to meet your goals?  Meet Robyn Neeley, and please be sure to check out Rio Round Up more about Destination Wedding to meet her characters in an excerpt.

What has been the most persistent and troubling obstacle on your journey so far? 

Not troublesome, but I have a pretty demanding full-time job managing a national program. There are certain times in the year that are just impossible to concentrate on my writing. I’ve accepted this and now set realistic goals for word count, editing and promotion during these busier months. I dream of the day I can retire and write full-time, although that’s many years away!

You mention that ­­­­­­­­­­your ‘day’ job has been a stumbling block towards going where you want on this journey.  What have been the perks, the rewards, the kicks in the proverbial pants that keep you moving on anyway?

Simply the idea that somewhere in the world someone may be reading my book that they either purchased or checked out at a library always puts things in perspective and makes me happy.

Destination Wedding sounds like crazy fun to me—identical twins on their way to one’s wedding, a mix-up—and a kiss!—ensue and the rest is a romp in paradise that everyone can love.  How were the characters for Destination born?

I wanted to write about handsome twins and mistaken identity.  I love all of my secondary characters, too. Drew’s fiancée, Lauren and Kate’s assistant, Miles, are two of my favorites. It’s a romantic comedy and some of the funniest lines are by Miles.

I think that many of us who aren’t twins share a fascination with twins.  Your hot and successful twins, Luke and Drew, are not going to lessen that interest a bit!  Do you know twins, have them in your family—or?

Sadly, I really don’t know any twins well. Writing Luke and Drew wasn’t hard. I knew that I wanted them to be complete opposites but both good and likeable men at their core. Since its release, I’ve had a number of comments about Drew’s happy ending. That’s been my biggest surprise. Of course, I’m delighted that readers loved Drew just as much as I do . . . although, what he did on the beach with Kate still has me shaking my head, and I wrote it!

Can we anticipate Drew and Lauren having their own destination in a future story?

Drew’s begging for it! He recently had words for me on the Crimson Romance blog. I tease him that maybe the next title will be Shotgun Wedding!

Writers all set out on their respective writers’ roads with hope, courage, and determination.  Some get farther than others.  Some are never sure where they’re going, but figure they’ll know when they get there.  Where do you think you’re going, if you know, and how would you judge your progress?

I enjoy writing romantic comedy, and I’ll continue to write as long as I have funny stories to share. This isn’t a popular answer, but for me this is a hobby and a lot of fun.

Please share something personal and important to you that I didn’t know to ask—about your writing, life—whatever would mean the most for you to tell us at this moment in your journey.

For aspiring authors find a mentor and surround yourself with people you trust to offer their knowledge and support. Romance authors are known for being supportive, but don’t be surprised if you run up against pettiness and jealousy by other authors along the way. Shake it off and keep writing. On social media, always be professional and think twice before you divulge too much. You never know how you’re being perceived.

Robyn, thank you so much!  I think your advice on finding mentors is extremely important to those who want to pursue writing as a hobby or a career. I suspect our readers are eager to meet all your characters, and look forward to spending a little time in paradise with them!   I want to thank all of you who stopped by, and remind you that you can find out more about Robyn and Destination Wedding on the Rio Round Up page.

Destination Wedding

Purchase on Amazon.


   MJ profile pic (2)        How do writers get where they’re going?  And, how does the destination change as an    author’s      AbandonHope_CVR_SML (2)           journey continues through time?

Today, I’m thrilled to welcome romance writer MJ Schiller, author of Trapped Under Ice and the                brand new release  Abandon All Hope–a book that only sounds like it chronicles my housekeeping effort.


  1.  What biographical information is important to your writing journey?   Well, my father was the best storyteller! He used to always talk about the Bedtime Band, which played at Mrs. White’s Party every night. The band was conducted by three brothers, Horatio Marcedes, Marcedes Marcedes, and…dang it! I don’t remember the third brother’s name. (I phoned-a-friend and am waiting for a sibling to call back.) You got to choose which instrument you would play in the Bedtime Band (which was pretty limited because I think I only knew drum, piano, and guitar at that age). And there was a song, too. Bum-da-da-deedle-deedle-bummer, bum-bum-bum-bum-bummer, bum-deedle-deet, bum-deedle-doot, bum-bum-bum-bum-bum-bum…I could go on, but Leslie is threatening me and it’s much better in person anyway. Any of my siblings could jump in with me, although I don’t think we all remember it quite the same way.

Dad would also make up stories about the Tangles when he would comb out our hair. I remember we used that Johnsen & Johnsen No More Tears stuff. Do they still have that stuff? I digress. But there were plenty of tears and plenty of tangles. Perhaps because my dad didn’t own a hairdryer (my parents were divorced) and he would buff our hair dry with a towel until it stood out like we’d stuck our fingers in an outlet. For any males reading, NOT a good method of hair styling. Anyway, he would make these little squeals when he’d fight a tangle out. “Ohhhh, no! There goes Tommy Tangle! And his sister, Tina Tangle!” He was awesome! I think I get some of my imagination from him. Although, ironically, he was a statistics guy, did marketing research for some major companies, (Kodak, Hallmark, Anheiser Busch, Hershey).

~By the way, for those of you just overwhelmed with curiosity about the Marcedes brothers—my older sister called back and said there were only the two brothers, but I’m pretty sure there were three by the time my little sister and I were born. My little sister was of no use to me (sorry, Chridder) and my brother didn’t even bother to call back, probably thinking I was off on another one of my crazy tangents, and it was best not to engage.~

2.  In your bio, I read that you were born “in the heart of tornado alley,” and thus are “a little twisted.”  Do writers need to be “a little twisted?”  And, since we have both been teachers and know the drill, why or why not? Ahh! You’ve done your research. I’m impressed! I can’t speak for anyone else, but twisted works for me! My son and I, my best friend, we’re cut from the same bolt of idiocy, and we feed off each other, which makes us either hysterical, or annoying, depending on your personality. Twisted helps, I think. It means that you look at the world slightly off-kilter, but that makes your observations new, fresh.

Or annoying.

3.   What has been the most persistent and troubling obstacle on your journey so far? E.A.S.Y!!! Lack.of.time! I lack the time (because of my husband’s silly insistence that I help financially with the raising of our four children) to do this job right! What I would give to have time to read other’s romances, read books and articles on writing, explore different avenues of marketing, go to conferences, and just WRITE! To be fair, if I was more organized, and less easily distracted by social media, I would do far better. Sigh.

4.  You mention that lack of time and being forced to work have been stumbling blocks towards going where you want on this journey.  What have been the perks, the rewards, the kicks in the proverbial pants that keep you moving on anyway?   Another easy answer. Reader feedback. I guess that makes me egotistical, or egomaniacal, take your pick. I just can’t explain how good it feels when you create a “person” (again, sounding egomaniacal) and someone else “gets” them and loves them as much as you do. But, even without that, the writing is so rewarding itself. When you create this really cool person and you can make them do your bidding…okay, clearly I have control issues and a need for the world to revolve around me.

Writing is fun, end of story. ; )

5.  Couldn’t help but notice (since I teach first graders) that you have taught AND been a lunch lady.  So I’m curious—which of those two jobs a) gave you more to write about and b) made you lose more sleep and pull more hair out over? Love the way you create your interviews! Umm…the teaching was, without a doubt, more stressful. You have the kids’ future in your hands. Right now I have the kids’ lunch in my hands. If I mess that up, there’s always dinner.

But more to write about, probably being a lunch lady.  Teaching is, in a way, a very solitary effort, at times. On the other hand, in the kitchen, we work very closely together. I’ve worked with the same core group of people for over ten years and my one best friend/coworker has given me volumes to write about all by herself! Love you, Kel!

6.  We all set out on our respective writers’ roads with hope, courage, and determination.  Some of us get farther than others.  Some of us are never sure where we’re going, but figure we’ll know when we’re there.  Where do you think you’re going, if you know, and how would you judge your progress? Wow! I can tell you where some people think I’m going, or at least where they wish I’d go. No. I feel like I’m making progress. It’s hard not to compare yourself with others’ success and find that you’re coming up short, but this is a business where it really takes time to build a readership. Luckily, I feel like every time I get low, I’ll hear from a reader or reviewer and it will pick me back up and give me the fuel to keep going forward.

7.  Please share something personal and important to you that I didn’t know to ask—about your writing, your life—whatever would mean the most for you to tell us at this moment in your journey.   Okay, this question was so hard I had to take a bath so I could contemplate the answer, but I think I’ve come up with something. I guess what I’d like to do in summing things up is let people know what they are in for when they read an M.J. Schiller novel.

I had the honor and privilege of being invited to a book club Thursday evening and a sweet lady asked me about “all of the research” that I put into my writing. My answer to her, and I say it in jest, but on another level I’m not kidding, I don’t want you to learn anything from an M.J. Schiller novel. Not a darn thing.

Life is hard. I have four teenagers, believe me, I KNOW life is hard. I want to provide you with a means of escaping from all that for a while, the house, the kids, the spouse, the demands of your job, ailing parents, illness…whatever your situation is, I want you to be able to lay it down for a few hours and just feel, laugh, cry, get turned on, and experience that magic moment of falling in love all over again. For those two hours I don’t want you to think about the dishes in the sink, the report due Friday, the son failing algebra. Sure, those things are important, and you’ll get to them, but maybe after running away with a  rock star for a while you’ll be able to handle them a little better.

Let me share with you a piece of one of my favorite reviews. A reader from San Marcos, Texas said that TRAPPED UNDER ICE was “the amusement pill that I needed after reading some dry Greek narratives” and a “dark…trilogy.” Reading to learn and to challenge yourself is important, but I believe it is equally important to give yourself a rest from time to time and let a book take you someplace new, some place where you just don’t even have to answer to your name for a while.

That, Leslie, was a good time! Thank you for allowing me to talk your ear off for a while!

On the contrary, MJ–thanks for dropping by and visiting here on the Rio!  Loved your humor and I think you message about what’s important will appeal to readers and writers! 

You can find MJ Schiller at, MJ on FB, twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

You can find ABANDON ALL HOPE at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

For more on MJ Schiller, Abandon All Hope (can you say ‘rock and roll’!) a blurb and  an excerpt, click on Rio Roundup.


Tag, I’m it!  English historical romance author Amanda L. V. Shalaby, author of Audra (Crimson        Romance), among others, took part in a traveling interview and caught me up in the game.                    So—here   are 10 questions, and the answers. 

  I cheated on the first one, a little—the working title of my next book is Like a Horse Saddled but           I really want to brag about my debut romance from Crimson Romance!


1) What is the working title of your next book?


2) Where did the idea come from for the book?

           In a college poetry class, a classmate wrote a poem about another classmate, calling her ‘inalcansable’            —unattainable—in love. The title stuck in my head for twenty years.

3 ) What genre does your book fall under?


4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

          Maybe a hybrid Antonio Banderas crossed with Mexican soap opera star José Colunga.  Haven’t seen exactly the                    right actress yet…maybe my former classmate’ available…

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? 

          Jovi Treviño finds himself in one last unwinnable war—trying to prove disowned heiress Dell Rosales’ guilt or                          innocence in drug trafficking—without destroying their fragile hopes of finding a future together.

6) Who is publishing your book?

         Crimson Romance

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

        Maybe a year—but marketing it took much, much longer!

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

        Don’t know that I’d compare it to a specific book, but hopefully it achieves at least something of a Jean                                          Brashear work in emotion and depth.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

       As mentioned, the title came from a brief encounter in a college class.  But the interaction of families with life’s                      best  and worst situations also intrigued me.

10) What else about the book might pique the readers’ interests?

      Unattainable provides a glimpse of south Texas border culture, a heroine trying to stay at a distance from a           world that left her without family, and a man who might have to choose honor over love—if his heart and  his       enemies let him.

Don’t forget to join Amanda L. V. Shalaby, myself, and other Crimson Romance Authors as we celebrate our publisher’s first anniversary!  Join us for the Crimson Romance A Year in Love Anniversary Blog Hop.  Great people, books–and prizes!  June 4th-25th!

      How do wSara Barnard, Author smallriters get where they’re going?  And, how does the destination change as an author’s journey continues through time?  After thinking about my own road to my most recent publication, I thought I’d like to find out from other writers what road they traveled, and what obstacles and rewards propelled them onwards.
Today I have the distinct honor of kicking off  “This Writer’s Road” with historical and children’s best-selling author Sara Barnard.  Author of the  An Everlasting Heart historical series, Chunky Sugars, a counting book for children, and her chart-topping ABC’s of Oklahoma Plants, a children’s guide to lure kids away from video games and into the outdoors.
Sara’s work caught my eye because the Civil War period is of particular interest to me, and because she carries her characters’ love story forward through time–don’t we all aspire to that soul-deep kind of commitment and contentment?
Sara Barnard is a military mom, mother of four, and the proud author of A Heart at Home, released today as Book 3 in the Everlasting Hearts series.
Hello, Sara! Congratulations on the release of A Heart at Home.  Glad you could make a stop here at Return to Rio and share a little about your writing road up to now. Let’s get started!
Your “Heart” historical series follows a love story over time.  How did it come to you, and why is it important to you?
I wrote my very first novel, A Heart on Hold, when my husband was deployed to Afghanistan. So there I was with my history degree and just waiting around by the computer for him to come online all the time, so I decided to take what he was going through and what I was going through and throw our experiences back in the 19th century, my favorite time period. Over the rest of that deployment and the following year, A Heart on Hold was born. Unable to let the characters go, when I signed my contract with 5 Prince Publishing, we went ahead and did it for 4 books. A Heart on Hold is just the beginning … it takes us through the Civil War and immediately after while A Heart Broken (book 2) chronicles the tumultuous time period immediately following the Civil War. A Heart at Home (book 3) takes us into the young wild west when our characters, Sanderson and Charlotte, try to find where they fit in in this life. Book 4, coming later this year, ties everything together about in the Gold Rush years.
What genres do you write, and are there any you prefer not to write?
I love historicals and in my experience, life revolves around that one emotion called love. So historical romance is the most fun genre to write — especially with lots and lots of real period people and events. That gives my stories just enough plausibility so that the reader comes away questioning, “Was that actually true?” I also write children’s books … I have written one for each of my four children. They are such an inspiration!!! I also like regional nonfiction for younger people. My very first book, The ABC’s of Oklahoma Plants, is actually a bestseller right now. I plan on doing one of the ABC’s books for each of the states … Texas is complete, Alaska is almost done, as is New Mexico and Arkansas. I steer clear of horror and stuff … there is enough of that in the news. I don’t want sad — I don’t like to be sad. I like happy endings because I ultimately believe in happy endings even in the gloomiest of situations. There is always a silver lining in my books.
What projects are you working on now?
Oh so many irons in the proverbial fire. I am finishing up book 4, A Heart Forever Wild. Again, I am not sure if I can let these characters go. There may be more of Charlotte and Sanderson in the future, but I haven’t decided for sure. I have all of my ABC’s books that I am working on as time allows, and I am here to tell you that nonfiction is so much more time consuming to write than nonfiction. I love the research aspect, but it is the indexing that kills me!! It is all worth it though and the purpose of the ABC’s books is to get kids outside and discovering their neighborhood nature. I have a Christian western I am totally loving, and another western romance — though it is a bit atypical. I also have an 18th century Scottish romance that I began writing when I discovered the story in my family tree! Truth in this case is far stranger than fiction! Oh, and an Amish romance, as well! Plus the plethora of kids books that are either complete or in the works …
You are a military wife and mother, so I imagine that your time and your emotions must be stretched to the limit sometimes–I can’t imagine dealing with deployment, for example.  Are you characters born out of the emotions you cope with, or can you separate them completely?
No, I am a horrible separator. The emotions and most of the experiences are real in my books, so in essence you are seeing into my soul when I write — especially my historicals. I try to put a piece of myself in all of my work, but sometimes I put in huge chunks of my emotions and when I read it, it feels more like I am reading my diary. Which is embarrassing. Things can get stressful around here which is why I carry my laptop with me everywhere. I write when it is slow at work — and if I can’t seduce the muse right then for fiction, I research facts for the ABC’s series. If the internet isn’t available, I will edit some long forgotten project etc. As you can probably notice, laundry isn’t high on the list of priorities … I save it for once a week 🙂
Laundry once a week?  Sounds fair!  Your writer’s road is an inspiration to me, Sara.  Anything else you want to share with us?
Fun facts about the An Everlasting Heart series:
Sanderson’s character is based on the real life Confederate Soldier Captain E. A. Adams.
Sara had family who fought on both sides of the Civil War.
The An Everlasting Heart series is suitable for younger readers, too. There is nothing in there I wouldn’t want my eight-year old girl to read.
Watch for animals in Sara’s work. They are usually based on a real furry family member.
Here are a few of the milestones along Sara’s already remarkable road:
A Heart on Hold (Book 1)
War. Devotion. Deceit. Death. How long can a heart hold on before it breaks?
Most women would carry on with their lives after being thrust into widowhood, but not Charlotte Adamsland. Upon learning that her husband, Captain Sanderson Redding, was killed in a botched escape from a Confederate prison in Illinois, she clings to his promise to return to her no matter what, and quickly heads north through a war-ravaged country with only her faith in God and her beloved horse to bring her beloved Sanderson home—one way or another.
A Heart Broken (Book 2)
The war is over, Sanderson is home, and life is good … until the Army comes knocking. They’ve charged Sanderson with murder and in order to clear his name, he’s been ordered to track down the notorious outlaw, William “Bloody Bill” Quantrill — or face the hangman’s noose. Meanwhile, Charlotte is left to endure a complicated pregnancy alone and battle a rash of hydrophobee that threatens the countryside, her Sanderson included.
A Heart at Home (Book 3)
Gold. Massacres. Soldiers. Indians. Can Charlotte survive life on the trail or will the wildness of the west tear her family apart?
With Sanderson’s job as an Indian Agent beckoning from California, Charlotte must leave behind her life in Arkansas to follow the man she loves, and whose child she is carrying, in search of a place they can call home.
 From Quanah Parker to Wyatt Earp, Charlotte and Sanderson rub shoulders with some of the American West’s most notable characters as they stumble into Government conspiracies, endure a hard pregnancy, and survive nature’s fury — all while struggling to remember what truly makes a home is love.
Chunky Sugars
Mommy and baby fun filled with kisses and counting!
The ABC’s of Oklahoma Plants
From stinky trees to sparkling bushes, this book has one interesting plant for each letter of the alphabet!  The ABC’s of Oklahoma Plants is geared toward getting middle elementary readers outside in the Sooner state and discovering awesome bushes, trees, flowers, and grasses right in their own backyards!Complete with one stunning photograph per chapter, each featured plant also includes hunting information, plant history and traditional uses, its Latin name, and insightful backcountry wisdom.
Sara, thank so much for sharing your journey with us, and I wish you much success as the trip continues!

NOW AVAILABLE AT!  Get your copy today!

Historical Romance and Children’s book author
A Heart at Home (An Everlasting Heart #3, June 2013)
A Heart Forever Wild (An Everlasting Heart #4, December 2013)
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