July Spotlight: Blythe Gifford

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July – August

Writing has freed me from the despair of living. ~ Anita Brookner

 

Our July Dare to SOAR participants!

 

Any one who wrote a paragraph or a page or a word on a page.

Anyone who sat their butt in the chair and put their fingers to the keys

and attempted to create something original.

Anyone who deleted words and rewrote them. Added a comma and took it out again.

Changed giggled to laughed and then laughed back to giggled.

Anyone who made any effort at all toward their dream of dreams.

Even if it was the tiniest of a tiny baby step. However big or small.

That step matters.

Dare to Dream.

Dare to Soar.

 

Author Spotlight

Blythe Gifford

After many years in public relations, advertising and marketing, Blythe Gifford started writing seriously after a corporate layoff. Ten years and one layoff later, she became an overnight success when she sold her first book to the Harlequin Historical line.

The Chicago Tribune has called her work “the perfect balance between history and romance.”

Set primarily in in England and on the Scottish Borders, most of her books incorporate real historical events and characters.  RUMORS AT COURT, her May release from Harlequin Historical, is her third Royal Wedding Story.  Like SECRETS AT COURT and WHISPERS AT COURT, it takes place against the backdrop of the weddings and marriages of the children of the medieval English King Edward III.

A long time RWA member, Blythe will be attending her 24th RWA National Conference this year.She is lobbying for a special pin in honor of her 25th!

For more information, visit www.blythegifford.com, www.facebook.com/BlytheGifford, www.twitter.com/BlytheGifford, www.pinterest.com/BlytheGifford, or www.instagram.com/blythegifford/

 

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June Spotlight: Mary Jo Burke

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June – July
 
The Dearest ones of time, the strongest friends of the soul – Books.
Emily Dickinson

 

Our June Dare to SOAR participants!
Melonie Johnson
Patricia Ruocco
Kelly Garcia
Amy Alessio
Cindy Maday
j. leigh bailey
Stephanie Scott
Chris Foutris
Katrina Bauer
R.Q. Bell
Savannah Reynard

 

Author Spotlight

Mary Jo Burke

Mary Jo is a USA Today bestselling author and 2014 WRWDC Marlene Award winner. She writes whatever pops into her head including paranormal, fantasy, romance, and mystery stories. Long ago, she decided to put the voices bouncing around in her imagination to work. She has volunteered from Girl Scout cookie mom to softball concession stand coordinator and everything in between. Being an eternal pessimist and multi-tasker helps Mary Jo put her characters in desperate situations. She reads, likes her kids, and is currently working on her next project. For more, please visit www.maryjoburke.com.

 

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May Spotlight: Shelley Tracy

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May – June

 

I cannot live without books- Thomas Jefferson

 

Our May Dare to SOAR participants!

 

Susan Gibberman
J.C. DePaul
Cindy Maday
Sherry Weddle
Katrina Bauer
R.Q. Bell
Stephanie Scott

 

Author Spotlight

 

 

Shelley Tracy

 

Shelley Tracy is a writer, mother, grandmother, and a retired teacher. She is happiest when she is spoiling her grandchildren or writing. Currently, she is working on another paranormal story.
 

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April Spotlight: Barbara Valentin

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April – May

One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood.

 

Our April Dare to SOAR participants!

Alma-Marie Graf
Denise Swanson
J.C. DePaul
Patricia Ruocco
Carmela Martino
Sherry Weddle
Katrina Bauer
R.Q. Bell
Robin Kuss

 

Author Spotlight

Barbara Valentin

 

Barbara is a corporate minion and over-scheduled parent. A second-generation journalist, her work has appeared in the Chicago Tribune and its affiliates as well as Mom.Me. Her true love, though, is writing romantic comedies. If you’re looking for fun, light stories filled with relatable characters and happy endings, be sure to check out her Assignment: Romance series!

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March Spotlight: Dyanne Davis

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March – April
They cherish each other’s hope. They are kind to each other’s dreams.
– Henry David Thoreau

 

Our March Dare to SOAR participants!

Measha Stone
Cindy Maday
Kelly Duff
Maria
Stephanie Scott
Carmela
Sherry Weddle
Katrina Bauer
R.Q. Bell
Vanessa M. Knight

Author Spotlight

Dyanne Davis

Emma Award Winning author, Dyanne Davis more than likely took her first steps toward writing when she began reading at the age of four, and imagined herself in the worlds she read about. Religion added to this. Her daily talks with God about the running of the universe influenced her writing. It took several books before she even realized that God was mentioned in each and everyone. But before embarking on a writing career she wanted to be an actress. That desire began…where else…church.  The dream morphed into writing the words that actors spoke.

Since almost every writer needs to make a living while working toward a dream she became a nurse. There were several late night calls to her pastor asking for prayers for patients.

From childhood, Greek mythology battled with traditional religion thereby fueling the creative juices and leading to an intense interest to take classes in things that were forbidden. Having several personal, unexplainable, things happen made her know that there was something more than what she’d believed in. She believed in magic. Why not? She had her own prince charming who saved her from drowning while on a family vacation. He’s never laughed as she ordered herbs and made healing potions that she was leery of trying or giving to anyone else to try, or stones that were reported to heal, or oils that were meant to do the same.  He never once mentioned that her love of  alternative healing went totally against her training as a nurse. Once during a Windy City meeting where she’d arranged for psychics and numerologist to be the guests, she was told she was a healer in a former life. It figures. 🙂

On reaching the age where you don’t really care what anyone thinks you should do, Dyanne wrote a book for herself. God’s Analyst. A struggle with traditional religion and her life long battle with it. Of course she likes to make things be the way she wants them, and is aware the book is sort of bent in her favor.

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February Spotlight: Kelle Z. Riley

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February – March

Quote: How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these.  — George Washington Carver

Our February Dare to SOAR participants!

Kelly Garica
J.C. DePaul
Jan Moretti
j. leigh bailey
Stephanie Scott
Chris Foutris
Sherry Weddle
Katrina Bauer
R.Q. Bell
Savannah Reynard
Nicole Leiren

Author Spotlight

Kelle Z. Riley

When she was growing up in a small town, Kelle imagined traveling as far as outer space, Middle Earth, and any other place a book or movie could take her. But when she left for college and decided—on a whim—to major in chemistry she didn’t know that one day she’d be visiting places just as exotic and exciting as the places she’d read about.

After a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree and a Ph.D.—all in chemistry—she moved into the world of industry where she learned the practical application of science to everyday life. Her work had her climbing about in steel-toed safety boots, hard hats and much more—including the traditional lab coats.

Soon after she discovered her passion for writing, a manager asked her about it. When discussing the genres she loved—romance, women’s fiction and cozy mystery—he asked why she didn’t write science fiction. She answered with a question of her own: “Do you really want to wonder if my lab reports are fact or fiction?”

Later, when she sold her first book, another manager asked if she was quitting her job to write full time. To date, her writing hasn’t been able to replace her chemistry earnings, and—to be honest—her colleagues and work provide inspiration. Both her right brain and her left brain need stimulation!

Through the years her activities in science, martial arts, gardening, music, decorating, travel, adventuring, crafting, cooking and just about anything else her creative mind insists she try her hand at, have given her just that type of stimulation. Check out her seminar list and see if any of her interests are of interest to you! Kelle is always happy to lead classes—in person or on-line—to share her passions with her readers.

Kelle can be reached at her website, facebook, twitter and pinterest.

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January Spotlight: Tracey Devlyn

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January – February

 

A writer–and, I believe, generally all persons–must think that whatever happens to him or her is a resource… All that happens to us, including our humiliations, our misfortunes, our embarrassments, all is given to us as raw material, as clay, so that we may shape our art.
                                                              -Jorge Luis Borges

 

Our January Dare to SOAR participants!

Carmela
Vanessa M. Knight
Denise DiLeo
A. Lynne Wall
j. leigh bailey
Stephanie Scott
Cheryl Lynn Neumann
Sherry Weddle
Katrina Bauer
R.Q. Bell
Nicole Leiren
Regena Bryant

 

Author Spotlight

Tracey Devlyn

 

USA Today bestselling author Tracey Devlyn wanted to be the next Dian Fossey and explore the wilds of Africa, but that was before she met chemistry and calculus and realized a business major, rather than a scientific degree, might be more up her alley. With a creative mind capable of bringing the nineteenth century to life and an enthusiasm for research that borders on disturbing, it was no surprise when she started penning romantic historical thrillers that have been met with high critical acclaim.  On top of all that, Tracey is a closet entrepreneur who co-founded the popular Lady Jane’s Salon-Naperville, Chicagoland’s exciting new reading salon devoted to romantic fiction. Tracey spends her evenings with her sexy practical-joke-playing husband who she has yet to pay back for the sneaky underwear trick and her weekends torturing her Regency-era characters. For more information on Tracey, please visit www.TraceyDevlyn.com.

Tracey’s latest release:

LOVING DEEP

Steele Ridge, Book 4

When passions of the heart and soul collide, these lovers are forced to make dangerous choices.

 WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE A DANGEROUS DARLING?

DANGEROUS DARLINGS is an exclusive reader group of authors Tracey Devlyn, Adrienne Giordano & Kelsey Browning.

If you enjoy ROMANCE, then come join us! Our DARLINGS are passionate and enthusiastic readers who love to spread the word about our books. As a DARLING, you’ll be the first to see our covers, read our excerpts, and vie for our giveaways! Oh, and we have a lot of fun.

Interested in becoming part of our exclusive Dangerous Darlings reader club? Are you on Facebook? Love Tracey, Kelsey and/or Adrienne’s books? Sign up HERE!

Questions? Contact Lisa at DangerousDarlingsStreetTeam@gmail.com

Dangerous Darlings Rules:

If you have any questions email DangerousDarlingsStreetTeam@gmail.com. You must be 18 years old to join. Dangerous Darlings is sponsored by authors Tracey Devlyn, Adrienne Giordano and Kelsey Browning. No purchase necessary. The authors and virtual assistant are not responsible for transmission failures, computer glitches or lost, late, damaged or returned mail.

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October Spotlight: Stephanie Scott

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October – November

A book must be the ax for the frozen sea within us. – Franz Kalka

 

Our October Dare to SOAR participants!

Robin Skylar
Cindy Maday
Lynne Wall
j. leigh bailey
Stephanie Scott
Chris Foutris
Sherry Weddle
Katrina Bauer
R.Q. Bell
Savannah Reynard
P.E. Calhoun

Author Spotlight

View More: http://simonekphoto.pass.us/stephanie

Stephanie Scott

Almost six years ago, I started my first National Novel Writing Month. I’d always wanted to write a book but never quite knew how to start. I discovered this world-wide writing event with just enough time to dive in. I had no plan. It wasn’t pretty. (But I finished! Barely.)

 

Five years ago, I joined a local writing group that met at a public library. This was my first experience with critiquing and submitting my own work. Nervewracking! I was gravitating toward writing young adult stories and knew it would never be enough to simply trade pages in the library. I wanted to pursue publication!

 

Four and a half years ago, I attended Chicago North Romance Writers’ Spring Fling conference. I didn’t write romance, mind you, but RWA came highly recommended according to blogs and industry pros. A young adult author was on the list of published authors, so I read her book prior to the conference to prepare. I ended up meeting her in the elevator and she promptly took me around to all of her local RWA friends, insisting I visit the meeting closest to me, Windy City. (Thanks, Erica O’Rourke!)

 

It didn’t take long to realize I did in fact write romance, and this discovery helped me finish the manuscript I was working on. Once I knew the relationship was a core component of the story, I used advice I learned from attending Windy City meetings and reading about romance to stitch my story together.

 

This year I’m going into my sixth NaNoWriMo (I missed one year) and it’s planned as a romance. My first young adult book is set to be published in December. My critique group of three years, formed from Windy City, is cheering me on, along with my other chapter friends and writers across the US and beyond who I’ve met from conferences. I’m proud to be a member of such a giving group who has helped me in so many ways.

 

About Stephanie:

Stephanie Scott writes Young Adult stories about teens who put their passions first. She enjoys dance fitness and cat memes, and Pinterest is driving her broke. Born and raised in Kalamazoo where there are no zoos, she’s a Midwest girl at heart. She now lives outside of Chicago with her tech-of-all-trades husband. You can find her chatting about all things books on twitter and Instagram at @StephScottYA. ALTERATIONS is her first book.

 

If anyone saw the prom boards Amelia Blanco makes on her favorite fashion app, they’d think Ethan Laurenti was her boyfriend. They wouldn’t know that all the plans she’s made for them are just dreams, and that she’s the girl who watches him from the kitchen while her parents cook for his famous alterations_fc_fnlfamily. 

When Amelia’s abuelita enrolls her in a month-long fashion internship in NYC, Amelia can’t imagine leaving Miami–and Ethan–for that long. As soon as she gets to New York, however, she finds a bigger world and new possibilities. She meets people her own age who can actually carry on a conversation about stitching and design. Her pin boards become less about prom with Ethan and more about creating her own style. By the time she returns to Miami, Amelia feels like she can accomplish anything, and surprises herself by agreeing to help Ethan’s awkward, Steve-Jobs-wannabe brother, Liam, create his own fashion app. 

As Liam and Amelia get closer, Ethan realizes that this newly confident, stylish girl may be the one for him after all . . . even though he has a reality TV star girlfriend he conveniently keeps forgetting about. The “new and improved” Amelia soon finds herself in between two brothers, a whole lot of drama, and choice she never dreamed she’d have to make.

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September Dare to SOAR – Spotlight: R.Q. Bell

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September – October

 

Whether you succeed or not is irrelevant, there is no such thing. Making your unknown known is the important thing.

Georgia O’Keeffe

 

Our SEPTEMBER Dare to SOAR participants!

 

Cheryl Huth
Cindy Maday
Katrina Bauer
J.C. DePaul
j. leigh bailey
Stephanie Scott
Robin Skylar

Author Spotlight

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R.Q. Bell

Every writer is a reader, and I have been one since I was a kid. I remember taking frequent trips to the public library and returning home with stacks of books in tow. Check-out limits even prompted me to hide books so they’d be there at my next visit!

I dabbled with writing, but competitive sports (softball and basketball) were my primary focus pretty much until I got married. Then business ownership and a growing family pushed writing off the table until early in the new millennium I began ruminating over an idea about my favorite novel, Jane Eyre.

It soon became an obsession, and I wrote disconnected scenes and dialog until one day I found myself tapping out the words, “Chapter 1.” 

That project, which eventually became my first novel Edward Rochester: The Master of Thornfield Hall, prompted me to find WindyCityRWA, a supportive place where I’ve learned so much more about craft and the real world of writing and publishing. Through WC’s help and encouragement, I’m about to set sail into the exciting world of indie publishing, hoping to have my book available late Fall /early Winter this year.

To find out when her first book, Edward Rochester: Master of Thornfield Hall is available for pre-order, add your name to her email list on her website, R.Q.Bell

 

Edward Rochester searches the world for love, but just when he believes he will never find it, an unexpected encounter with destiny in the shape of a young woman, Jane Eyre, upends his world.edward-rochester-web-medium-188x300

She is like no one he has ever met. Their acquaintance grows into friendship, and he finds her full of whimsical contrasts. Yet she listens without judgment, and in her eyes he fancies empathy, perhaps even a longing of her own? But he must resist, for the secret he harbors means nothing can ever come of his forbidden desire.

Then one night, Jane saves Edward’s life, snatching him from a horrible death. In the intimacy of the aftermath, his feelings will be denied no longer: he is desperately in love with her.

For a man whose youthful surrender to duty long ago was nearly his undoing, he is faced with a choice: will he again yield to the will of others, to the man-made laws which shackle him to one woman, while his body and spirit yearn for another? Will he defy society, the Law — and even God — to get what he wants?

 

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June Dare to SOAR – Spotlight: Pauline Gruber

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June – July

 

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Our JUNE Dare to SOAR participants!

 

Michelle Blackstone
Sherry Weddle
Stephanie Scott
R.Q. Bell
Savannah Reynard
Kelly Garcia
Chris F.
Cindy Mayday

 

Author Spotlight

Pauline - Color (3 of 6)

Pauline Gruber

Pauline Gruber is a self-professed music junkie, cat wrangler, and travel nut. She went to Paris in the 90’s where she discovered a love of three things: croissants, old cathedrals, and gargoyles. Deciding that the paranormal world could use a new kind of hero, Pauline translated her fascination with the protective gargoyle into a suspenseful love story. She is the author of the series: The Girl and the Raven, The Girl and the Gargoyle, and the forthcoming novel, The Girl and the Demon. By day, Pauline is a legal assistant for a Chicago law firm where she steals identities and incorporates them into her books. If you tell anyone, she’ll deny, deny, deny.

Pauline lives outside of Chicago with her precocious black cats and impressive gargoyle collection.

For more information about the author, her novels, and book signings please visit: www.paulinegruber.com.

The Girl and the Raven Cover

Why do I write paranormal fiction?

I write what I like to read, watch on TV and at the movies!

As a kid I remember watching a Dracula movie on TV (my aunt was babysitting and fell asleep on the couch). It scared the bejeesus out of me, so I hid under the coffee table with my hands over my ears while I squeezed my eyes closed. Then I crawled out to watch a few more minutes, before diving to my “safe” place under the table again. This went on until the credits rolled. That’s when my fascination with scary stories began.

Over the years I would add more movies, such as: The Exorcist, The Omen, The Fog, and Poltergeist. And it wasn’t just about movies. I devoured scary books, too! The Shining by Stephen King? I couldn’t put it down—then proceeded to read Christine, The Stand, ‘Salem’s Lot, and Firestarter.

It wasn’t until I read Interview With a Vampire by Anne Rice that I became enthralled with vampires (stoked, no doubt, from watching my first Dracula The Girl and the Gargoyle Cover copymovie so long ago). After Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, there was Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse novels, the Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer, Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead, and The Morganville Vampires series by Rachel Caine.

Vampires aren’t your thing? The paranormal world has so much more to offer. I’m a big fan of the mermaids in Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown, Cole Gibsen’s novel, Katana, about a teen girl harboring the spirit of a five-hundred-year-old samurai warrior, and the story of angels and monsters as depicted in Laini Taylor’s lush novel, Daughter of Smoke and Bone.

Confession time. I read realistic fiction, too. Have you heard of Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell or Voyage of the Defiance by S.E. Smith? They’re very different books, but equally wonderful. Once I finish writing my current series, I’ll switch gears with my new YA series which—while chock full of drama, dysfunction, and wackiness—has no supernatural elements. Stay tuned!