Sunday Snippet with Tessa Stokes

All About Tessa Stokes

Where are you from?  I was in born in the United Kingdom but I have lived in many places in the world, because of my work. I have lived all over Europe, North Africa, and nearly all States in Australia.

What is your favorite quality about yourself?  I can bounce back quite quickly from disappointments and events that are not entirely pleasant. I will keep trying.

What is your least favorite quality about yourself?  I think I do lose patience with things and people a bit too soon.

What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why?  And what does a comma do, a comma does nothing but make easy a thing that if you like it enough is easy enough without the comma. A long complicated sentence should force itself upon you, make you know yourself knowing it and the comma, well at the most a comma is a poor period that lets you stop and take a breath but if you want to take a breath you ought to know yourself that you want to take a breath. It is not like stopping altogether has something to do with going on, but taking a breath well you are always taking a breath and why emphasize one breath rather than another breath. Anyway that is the way I felt about it and I felt that about it very very strongly. And so I almost never used a comma. The longer, the more complicated the sentence the greater the number of the same kinds of words I had following one after another, the more the very more I had of them the more I felt the passionate need of their taking care of themselves by themselves and not helping them, and thereby enfeebling them by putting in a comma.

So that is the way I felt about punctuation in prose, in poetry it is a little different but more so …Gertrude Stein from Lectures in America

I like it because it sums up editing and all the subjective things about editing.

What is your favorite color?  Purples, violets, lilac, blue purples

What is your favorite food?  Raspberries and cherries together

What’s your favorite place in the entire world?  That’s a hard one, as I love so many places. I can’t have a favorite, which about sums me up LOL I will choose the ocean.

Tessa’s Journey into Writing

When and why did you begin writing?  I have always had a writing component to my work, and then became tired of writing commercial and academic ‘stuff’ (e.g. of the academic stuff, and went back to fiction. Designed, wrote, researched and produced the whole lot of the brochures. Now I write romance and love it.

How long have you been writing?  All my life

What inspires you to write and why?  Something I see will spark an idea. A place, a person, a signpost and wham I’m writing the story in my head so then I have to get it on my laptop.

What genre are you most comfortable writing?  I used to think it was paranormal romance/urban fantasy romance type blends but now I think romance in general is my thing.

What inspired you to write your first book?  A ruined Abbey.

What do you consider most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general?  Marketing. Getting your book noticed. Finding the places where the readers of your particular genre blend might hang out.

Did writing this book teach you anything and what was it? Stone Kisses?  Well if so, that I could write more in depth love scenes.

Do you intend to make writing a career?  If people read my books

Have you developed a specific writing style?  I experiment and the story and the characters usually dictate it as I write.

What is your greatest strength as a writer?  Resilience, I think because there are some cruel blows in the writing field and you have to be able to cry for a day and get back at it.

Have you ever had writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?  Actually no, and I am waiting for it to happen as other writers say they get it. If it happens I will take a break and visit lots of wonderful historical places. Sacred stone rings, barrows, medieval castle ruins, flower gardens, that will perk me up.

Stone Kisses by Tessa Stokes

Stone Kisses by Tessa Stokes

Can you share a little of your current work with us?  Stone Kisses (Not long published.)  It’s a genre blend romance, fantasy. Lots of real life meets fantasy.

There’s this ordinary girl. She has her own graphic design business but she has to work hard to pay her mortgage. She has no family and it’s been a long time since she had a man in her life. It’s summer and she seems to be surrounded by couples. The sun and her loneliness makes her long for love or at least kisses. She looks at her house from her garden and knows it needs painting but she can’t afford that so she decides to visit the nearby garden store to buy flowers for her garden.

There she meets Justin who is naturally gorgeous and enigmatic. He finds her attractive and decides to pursue her.

Down the road live two gods left over from ancient times, and Stella our heroine gets caught up in a game they play, love relationships develop, and the whole game is upended.

How did you come up with the title?  Stella longs for kisses but if I say more I could blow the plot twist.

Can you tell us about your main character?  Stella is ‘every girl’. She finds herself left behind with not many outings because her friends all have men in their lives. She works hard. She wants to be love and give love. She’s brave.

How did you develop your plot and characters?  I had the tory in my head after visiting a stately home garden and then I just started writing and it flew onto the page. I did consider a different ending but I like the one I have as it’s the happy ending and I must have that in my stories.

Why did you choose to write this particular book?   I saw something in a public garden which inspired the start of the book and then when I began to write it the characters as usual took over.

What was the hardest part about writing this book?  Drawing readers’ attention to it. It’s had a couple of good reviews and I think if romance lovers would give it a try they would find it a lovely read.

How can we purchase your book? Available as an e-book on Amazon and Amazon UK

The Writing Life of Tessa Stokes

Do you write under a pen name and why?  NO

Who is your favorite author and why?  I read so many books and always have so I do not have a favorite author. I don’t have a favorite genre as it just depends on the book. I read Science fiction, paranormal romance, historical romance, general fiction, romance, crime stuff such as detective series or stories, mystery…. Something will catch my eyes, and I read the blurb, or sample, and if it appeals I read the lot.

Can we expect any more books from you in the future?  I have two paranormal romance books out at the moment. Both are available on Amazon – Drew Ruthin and The Blood of Changes Volume Two of The Ruthin Trilogy and Devon Ruthin and A Vampire in Love Volume One of The Ruthin Trilogy. Volume One can also be found through Barnes and Noble and Smashwords. I am writing book three of this trilogy.

How do you deal with bad reviews?  Weep, take any positives from them, forget them.

Do you have any advice for writers?  Just keep at it and write if you want to don’t let anything at all ever put you off.

Do you have any specific last thoughts that you want to say to your readers?  Thank you for giving me a go, and trying my books. I like to hear from you. My Facebook pages have posting facilities, and the blogs have comment features.

The “If” Answer by Tessa Stokes

If you could have any supernatural power, what would it be and why?  Being able to heal by touch.

Thanks Tessa for visiting and Happy Writing!

Sunday Snippet with Shewanda Pugh

I am so pleased to have Shewanda Pugh visiting with us and talking about her debut novel, Crimson Footprints.

All About Shewanda Pugh

Shewanda Pugh

Shewanda Pugh is a native of Boston’s inner city, though she now calls Miami, Florida home. She has a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Alabama A&M University and a Master’s in Writing from Nova Southeastern University. Fueled from a young age, her passion for crossing societal boundaries like race, class and culture, is the inspiration for both her cluttered bookshelf and her writing. When she’s not busy obsessing over fiction, she can be found traveling, nursing her social networking addiction or enjoying the company of loved ones. Only months after the debut of her novel, Crimson Footprints, she was a finalist for the AAMBC Reader’s Choice Award and the NBBF Best New Author Award.

Shewanda’s Journey into Writing

When and why did you begin writing? I began writing in elementary school. Back then I had a typewriter (my age is showing, I know) and made an order sheet, where fellow classmates could have tailor-made stories with them as the star for $0.25 a piece. I was never very good at math.

I abandoned writing in college, where I thought to take up more serious pursuits. So, I studied Political Science and made plans for law school. I enrolled, showed up, and changed my mind shortly after. That’s when I took a second look at writing.

Asking a writer what makes them want to create is an odd question of sorts. Creativity is the result of some innate need that I make no pretense of knowing anything about.  Simply put, I’ve always felt compelled to create. I’m simply glad people take interest in the final project.

Crimson Prints by Shewanda Pugh

Crimson Footprints by Shewanda Pugh

Can you share a little of your work with us?  Sure! Here’s a quick description of my debut novel, Crimson Footprints:

When an insecure, bi-racial woman begins a cloak-and-dagger love affair with a Japanese American man, she is intent on keeping her bigoted family in the dark albeit with devastating consequences. On the night of her brother’s murder, Deena Hammond stumbles upon Takumi Tanaka, lost and on the wrong end of a .32. After rescuing him from the certain fate driving through the hood in a Porsche will bring, a sweet kind of friendship begins. A balm for her grief. Maybe, Deena likes to think, it happened the day her white mother killed her black father. Or maybe, it was always a part of them, like DNA gone bad. Whatever the case, Deena knows that her family would never approve, hell, never acknowledge her fast-growing love for Takumi. And had he never made love to her that way, in that unraveling, soul-searching sort of way, she could’ve done the same. But love’s a devil that way. So, their game begins. One where they hide what they are from everyone. Anyone. And Tak understands this for now. After all, Deena’s career hinges on the favor of her mentor and boss, his hard-ass of a father. And the Hammond family is already stretched thin with grief. Yet, each step Deena takes toward family and career brings her closer to an acceptance she’s never had. And away from him.

Essentially, Crimson Footprints is the story of a brilliant, biracial architect who suffers from insecurity. Life has been a matter of endurance from her, until she meets a certain man with an easy smile and easier hold on her heart, it turns out. But the expectations of  family, juxtaposed against what she’s always believed was important, make for a complicated, yet no less steamy, romance.

How can we purchase your book?  Crimson Footprints is available as an eBook through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords and by direct download on most eReaders. It will be available in print on July 17th online and in stores through major retailers.

The Writing Life of Shewanda Pugh

What books have most influenced your life?  The single book with the most influence on me would have to be Amy Tan’s Saving Fish From Drowning. I was pretty young when I purchased it, and it marked the transition from my obsession with horror to my branching out into literary genres.

Can we expect any more books from you in the future?  The sequel to Crimson Footprints is expected this winter.

Have you started other books yet?  I’m hard at work on a 6 book series about an African American girl and an Asian Indian boy. Their families are the best of friends until the two begin to fall in love. As you can see, I love mixing the dynamics of family life and love, and more importantly, I love exploring the ways love can change everything around you.

Are there any new authors that have sparked your interest and why?  I’ll admit that I’ve developed a recent obsession with YA dystopian romance. It began with the Hunger Games and now extends to anything that even remotely broaches the genre. So, I’d say Lauren Destefano and a few others.

Do you have any specific last thoughts that you want to say to your readers?  I absolutely love to hear from readers. Should you read Crimson Footprints, do look me up on Facebook, Twitter and/or Goodreads and say hello. I’m always open to chats about the book, questions, etc. 

You can find Shewanda on Facebook at Shewanda’s Author’s Page and on Twitter @ShewandaP

The “If” Answer by Shewanda Pugh

If you could star opposite any film actor in an onscreen love scene, who would it be?  Oh my. On the one hand I’m loathe to admit this, and on the other, I relish the question just the same. I’ll go with Bollywood star, Hrithik Roshan, for the Daily Double, Alex. (View a pic of Hrithik here! So hot, so very hot!)

Contest Entry!

Shewanda is holding a contest on her Goodreads blog, stop by and enter to win one of five autographed print copies of Crimson Footprints!

Thanks Shewanda for visiting and Happy Writing!

Betrothed – An Update

Inspiration for Abby Jacobs of Betrothed

Here is a very raw snippet of Betrothed, an interracial historical romance short story:

The smell of hard liquor assaulted him at once. It was barely past noon.  A few men had ventured out, locked inside for too long after the heavy rains and in need of the relief that only the dimly lit rooms could provide. Some were kissing women on the various settees throughout the parlor. Anna Belle was entertaining the rest in a card game near the bar. Bastille had begun playing his revelry. And she was nowhere in sight.

He had brought her here – to this place that had once sheltered him when his longing had become unbearable. Armed with the knowledge that he had betrayed her countless times throughout the years while she had waited patiently for him, he had brought her here. He had been a fool.

“Monsieur McDaniel, give her un moment. Hmm? A little time? She will come home. And Jacques is watching her.” Though dulled by a life in the sporting houses, the old man’s faded gray eyes still danced against his pale skin. Honoré had been a good friend over the years, drinking late into the night as he talked of Dover and Abby. Clancy took the tumbler from his hand and downed the fiery liquid, wishing to the heavens above that it would still the tumultuous beat of his heart.

Un moment. And should she not return? As a free woman of color, she was no longer bond to him.

“Another, mon ami.” He held the empty glass out to Honoré, who smiled like the sage of sporting houses.

First of all, I’m very excited about combining my love of genealogy and my love of writing.

Then there is the business aspects of this venture. I have  read a lot lately about valuing your worth. So I will have to decide the worth of this piece and that is not an easy decision.

I really like the story. I really like the characters. I’m as much in love with Clancy as Abby. So I don’t think paying less two dollars to read a novella is a lot to ask.

On the other hand, I really like this story. I want to share it with everyone. So free comes to mind.

Then there’s my hubby who says that I only sleep five hours a night when I’m writing  and I say – Yes! I will charge.

And fewer people will get to know about Clancy and Abby. So then I say – No! It will be free.

Are you seeing my turmoil? In any case, I’m editing and looking for a cover artist. If you know any cover artists you like, let me know.

Happy Writing!

Sunday Snippet With Deneice Tarbox

Healing Inc. by Deneice Tarbox

Today’s Sunday Snippet features an interview with Deneice Tarbox, author of Healing, Inc. and she’s offering a giveaway!

All About Deniece Tarbox

Where are you from?  I was born in a small town in Mississippi, but moved to Worcester, Massachusetts when I was very young.  My time in the Army has taken me all over, but I now reside in Maine.

Tell us a bit about your family.  I come from a large family, three girls and three boys.  We used to call ourselves the Black Brady Bunch.

What is your favorite quality about yourself?  My favorite quality about myself is my ability to make people laugh, something I love to do myself.

What is your least favorite quality about yourself?  I am the most stubborn person I know.  I actively try to be more compromising when working with others and think I do a pretty good job of it.  My husband would probably say different.

What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why?  “Be prepared to take on your opponent, no matter what size they are.”  That quote is from my mom, who taught me I should always go for what I want out of life and to never let anyone intimidate me.  To date it has gotten me far in life.

What are you most proud of accomplishing so far in your life?  Raising my son.

What is your favorite color?  Lime Green.

What is your favorite food?  I love Seafood.

What’s your favorite place in the entire world?  The world that I escape to when I’m running is the best place ever.

Deniece’s Journey into Writing

What inspired you to write your first book?  I was inspired to write my first book after going through a major disappointment in my life.  I had been working on my master’s degree and realized that I had spent the last seven years working toward a degree in a field that I no longer wanted to be in.  The problem was I didn’t know what I wanted to do.  I literally woke up one morning and decided to write my first book.

Healing Inc. by Deneice Tarbox

BlurbHealing Inc. is about two people who overcome tremendous circumstances through the love they develop for one another.  It has romance, suspense, and humor to name a few.


A few hours later, Evy lay sideways on the two chairs that she had pulled out for them to sit on.  She was laughing so hard that she was barely able to keep from peeing on herself.  When Tyler had asked to help out she knew it was going to be a good day.  How often did one get the chance to boss a high profile millionaire around?  But this, she had not expected.

“Oh, hon-ey pa-lease tell me. Tell me! This is not my co-lor.” Tyler stated with an exaggerated lisp while holding a multicolored floral dress over his person.  He then twirled around, batting his long dark eyelashes and striking different poses.  “Oh, girrrl!  I should die my hair harlot red to match this. That would set it off in he-yah!” He made a big circle in front of himself and completed the gesture with a snap of his fingers.  This put Evy over the edge.  She fell off the chairs onto the floor roaring with laughter. 

“Wah so fun-ny now?  Don’t be waving your jealous eye a-round me, girlfriend!” he stated with a roll of his head and more attitude than necessary. 

That did it for Evy.  She sprang from the floor, running for the bathroom.  Tyler gave chase, catching her just before she made it into the small restroom.  She was shocked when he started tickling her.  She struggled not to wet herself; ignoring the tingling sensation that shot through her everywhere his fingers touched her skin.

“Aaaaaggg!” she screamed in between fits of laughter.  “Pleas…pleas…pleaasse” was all she could get out. 

He was laughing so hard himself that he finally let her go.  He started rubbing tears from his eyes and wrapped his free arm around his midsection.  Evy seized the opportunity to rush into the bathroom and take care of business before it was all over the both of them.

What was the hardest part about writing this book?  As strange as this may sound, the hardest part of writing Healing Inc. was controlling the characters, particularly when I was trying to sleep.  I would wake up laughing – and sometimes crying – because of an idea that I dreamed up.

How can we purchase your book? Healing Inc. is available in e-book or paperback at Amazon Electronic Version or CreateSpace Paperback Version

The Writing Life of Deneice Tarbox

Can we expect any more books from you in the future?  My next book, Finding Love For A Cynic, will be out at the beginning of July 2012.  It’s about a young woman who gives up on the concept that romantic heroes really exist.  I am also working on another Moriatti male story that I hope to have out by the end of the year.

Do you have any specific last thoughts that you want to say to your readers?  To the readers – thank you.  I’ve enjoyed sharing this story with others more than I enjoyed writing it.  I hope those of you who decide to check it out like it.

The “If” Answer by Deneice Tarbox

If you could have a book signing anywhere in the world where would it be and why?  A book signing in Los Angeles, CA would be my place of choice because I have always wanted to visit there.  The atmosphere seems so carefree and the weather perfect.


Deneice is graciously offering two complimentary copies of Healing Inc. to the first two posters who mention her appearance on the Vallory V ~ A Romance Author Blog on her FaceBook page at Stop by, post and like her page!

Thanks Deneice for visiting and Happy Writing!

His Proud Inclination of the Flesh


So I got sidetracked last weekend and wrote a historical romance short story. Now that I have this piece, it is time to revise and rewrite and research.

Plantation Life during the Civil War in Mississippi: As a family historian, I have collected newspaper clippings, copies of letters to and from soldiers and copies of diary entries of plantation owners from this time. I have a fairly decent idea of the effects of the war on everyday society. I also have read many slave narratives and studied the migration patterns of former slaves to get a feel for their state of mind as well. So for the purpose of the short story, I’d thought I just need to brush up on my facts.

The Language of Love: This kinda threw me. What would you call a penis in 1865 Mississippi? Having no clue, I consulted the writing community of She Writes and was given this website – A treasure trove of information! This site contains over 24,000 sexual terms and expressions some with histories. For instance because I was looking for 19th century words:

  • Proud Inclination of the Flesh: Erection, British, 19th Century
  • Gentlemen’s Appendage: Penis and I think this sounds very Southern
  • Yards of Personality: A large penis (I don’t think it fits in the story, but one day!)
  • Matrimonial Peacemaker: Penis, 19th Century

I had a lot of fun on this site, check it out if you need some new words to spice up your writing. And thanks again Diane for the link!

Sunday Snippet #6 – Betrothed

Happy Sunday Snippet Day – my favorite day in the blogosphere! Today my snippet comes from a short story that I started when I was supposed to be outlining. It just poured out yesterday and now needs editing and revising, so here is a pretty raw snippet:

For all the fine silk and imported lace adorning the ladies attending the Dover Plantation Planter’s Ball, none had been so lovely as Abby in a cotton slip, lifting back the covers and sliding her slender body into the feather bed next to his. He brought her thin fingers to his lips; a hint of the perfume he’d brought from Paris had mixed with a day’s work of cooking in the nearly empty kitchen and settled into her skin, sweet corn and lilies. Heaven would smell like this or he wanted no part of it.

“Are you tired, Love?”

“I’m not the one who should be tired. By my count you had six dances with Miss Ellen Sommers and plenty more with others. You should be tired.” She pulled her hand away, pursing her lips and turning her face away so that wisps of light brown curls swept into her face hiding her almost green eyes.

He chuckled at her coyness. It had been a month since he had taken her to his bed. A virgin. But he had been imagining himself with her for a lifetime.

Historical Interracial Romance – Can It Be?

I spent a few hours yesterday working on my family history. I am one of those strange people that get excited by receiving old death records in the mail. And stranger still because I started thinking about historical interracial romance.

The record for Mahala Hathorn, my third great grandmother, stated that she was a mulatto in her eighties. She had been born a slave and though the details are murky, I’ve gleaned a bit of a story. Mahala’s owner, Samuel Hathorn, dies in 1854. Leaving no will his property is sold except for Mahala and her children. They remain with his son, Nevin Hathorn, while a court case concerning Nevin’s rights to her go on until the end of Slavery.

Mahala is given one acre of Hathorn land for herself and each of her five children by Nevin Hathorn. She marries Isaac, my third great grandfather, and he takes the surname Hathorn.

Add this to an email I received several months ago from another researcher which detailed the life of Sanco Hathorn. The slave son of Nevin who remained with his White family after the Civil War until his death and was called Uncle Sanco by the children. Sanco is listed with Mahala as having received an acre of Hathorn land.

What’s all this have to do with love and romance? Something cleaved this man to Sanco and Mahala and her children. The records can’t tell me the whole story and can’t prove or disprove my theories, however the romantic in me began to spin a tale. An interracial historical romance set during the Civil War – can there be such thing? Hmmm…

Happy Writing!

The Half Year In Review – Romance and Mystery

View from Portia’s balcony

It’s hard to believe, but 2012 has reached her halfway mark. I began this year with the plan to live out my childhood dream of becoming a writer. It has been quite an undertaking and oh so much fun! I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to give up my day job, but I am so thankful for the opportunity to share my work and to also say, “This grande cup of white chocolate mocha was bought with my writing money!” (Cause you know my husband looks at me funny when I come in with Starbucks.)

These are the pieces that have brought me much joy during the first half of 2012:

Calendar GirlPUBLISHED! by Amira Press and currently (at time of writing) the #1 Bestseller on the publisher’s website. Wow! I am still jumping around with excitement about this. Also for a hot minute, Calendar Girl was #65 on Amazon UK under the category of Calendars. Sorry for the confusion, but that was funny!

In The Moment – This is a self-published work available on Smashwords and for the Nook. I love the emails that I get about this short story because there is an audience out there that loves Kevin Miller as much as I do. And one of the search engine terms that I occasionally get for the blog is – cowboy stories Kevin or interracial Kevin.

After Party – What a surprise! This is a flash fiction piece that I wrote for Smashwords and it has more downloads than anything I’ve ever written. It truly was a flash of an idea from seeing this huge man and his little pregnant wife.  I kept staring at them thinking about the mechanics involved. But I digress, thanks for reading!

What’s next?

Music For Her Soul – An interracial sensual romance has been submitted for publication. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Holiday Shorts – I have two holiday themed short stories in mind and I am busy for the next few weeks with writing and editing and deciding what to do with them. Self-publish or submission?

Upon An Oyster Shelled Path – This is not a romance, but there is romance in this cozy mystery set in Algiers Point, New Orleans. Algiers Point is a historic neighborhood that lies across the river from New Orleans proper. The photo above, is the view from Portia Andrade’s balcony window. She’s our amateur sleuth, the daughter of a Black mother and Afro-Cuban father. Her Watson if you will is Dr. Naeem Mounier, the son of an Egyptian mother and French father. I have completed the first draft and work continues. I’ll let you know how this goes as well.

Happy Writing!