Posts Tagged With: MFRW

First Kiss Opps! HEARTSTRINGS… SALE $0.99 #MFRWHooks



I’m joined the Marketing for Romance Authors weekly meme BOOK HOOKS.  

Here’s my first entry from my Heartstrings, book 1 of the Singing to the Heart series.  Now on sale for $0.99 across all vendors….


Heartstrings, Singing to the Heart, Sara Walter Ellwood, Contemporary Western Romance, Cowboys, Texas Romance, Native American Romance, Lyrical Press, Kensington Publishing


They both froze at the softly spoken word. When she looked past his shoulder toward the door, Emily stood there peering at them with her mouth hanging slightly open, eyes wide.

Abby immediately untangled herself from him and tried to shove him away. “Seth is helping me with the horses.”

Seth and Emily gawked at her with nearly identical expressions of bemusement, and she shoved at him harder. He let her down, but positioned himself behind her and held her close. She glanced questioningly at him. He raised an eyebrow, grinned, and leaned in to whisper in her ear, “I don’t think you want me to move right now.” She closed her eyes and trembled at the low rumble of his voice. “I’m hard as a rock.”

“Oh. Don’t move,” she whispered and made sure she was directly in front of him.

Swallowing hard, she turned to face her daughter, feeling very much like a teenager caught by a parent. Who would have thought the same embarrassment could be inspired with the reversed situation?




EBOOK on Sale for $0.99


Available in EBOOK and PRINT

.lyrical press    amazon b&nitunes     Kobo   


He’s determined to set things right, no matter the cost.

The last person Abby Crawford wants to face down is country music superstar Seth Kendall. Last time she did, she flat-out lied so he’d go to Nashville without her. She’s never understood why their mutual best friend proposed, but she went with it so her baby wouldn’t be fatherless. Now she’s a divorced mother of a teenager, and secretly Seth’s biggest fan.

Seth is home in McAllister, Texas for his father’s funeral…and a chance to meet the daughter he’s never known. He’s willing to face the music of his own making and admit he’s known about his little girl all along. For fifteen years he’s kept his distance because Abby told him to follow his dreams without her, insisting she didn’t love him. But now he won’t leave until he knows his daughter and she knows him, even if it means facing the woman who broke his heart for good.

Confessing she’s lied about her daughter’s paternity all these years won’t be easy for Abby, especially with her ex blackmailing her to keep the secret. And Seth doesn’t know the hardest truth of all: Every love song he plays on his guitar still plucks her heartstrings.



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MFRW, book hooks

Categories: Blog Hop, Heartstrings, Singing to the Heart | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Biggest Dream….. #MFRWauthor



As an author who hasn’t made it “big” yet, this topic for the blog challenge is a bit of a no-brainer. I think if you ask any writer, published or not, and they’d tell you they want to their names at the top of the best-seller lists and make money at writing–a lot of money.

I would say this is my biggest dream, but it’s not the only one I have.

I hope for a better future and I pray for peace.

One of my other hopes, since it’s spring and I’ve been planting, is that my garden (both vegetable and flower) do well.

Now, that my children are young adults, I hold their dreams for the future in my heart.

My son is finishing up his second year at Penn State as an engineering student. I hope he is able to, not only finish school doing as well as he is now (he’s an Dean’s List student), but also is able to find a good job, doing something he enjoys.

My daughter, who will be a high school senior in the fall, wants to become an environmental scientist with an emphasis on ecology and wild-life conservation. We’ll be looking at colleges this summer. My hope for her is that she continues to excel at everything she sets out to do and achieves her dream of travailing the world. Of course, she better take me along on some of her adventures…. <grin>

What are your dreams?
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Categories: Insights | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Hanging Out On Social Media #MFRWauthor

take by me in my garden

This week’s blog topic is an interesting one.  Social Media.  I’m not a “social butterfly” by any stretch of the imagination. I actually dislike most of the social media platforms out there. With that being said, I do love Facebook. I’ve reconnected with so many old friends from high school, past co-workers, and even a few long lost cousins. I’ve even remained in contact with several of my old pals from the Star Wars forum I’d posted fan fiction on back in a day.

So, with that being said, where do you find me fluttering around….




I will usually friend anyone on my profile–if the person has at least a few friends in common and their profile doesn’t look fake (ie: no friends or an obviously fake profile picture)


Not my favorite hangout simply because it changes so fast and because of the limit on words…. I’m a wordy person and 140 characters just ain’t enough!


I mostly lurk on here. I love getting gardening ideas from the boards I follow.

What’s your favorite social media sight and why?

Check out other authors in the Challenge here:






Categories: Marketing | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

There Are Story Ideas Everywhere…When I’m Paying Attention #MFRWauthor

Have you ever wondered where authors get some of their plot ideas? It isn’t as mysterious as you might think.

Inspiration can come from just about everything. Some of the most common are from events that happen in real life, dreams, songs, phrases from other books, and a thousand other places or things can spark a story idea. For example, it’s no secret Stephenie Meyer got the idea for The Twilight Saga from a dream. Then a single line in Eclipse (book 3 of the saga) inspired me to write A Hunter’s Angel, a paranormal romance about a small town police chief and vampire who is an FBI agent so that he can hunt vampires.

My first contemporary western romance Gambling On A Series was sparked when I watched a butterfly hatch from a cocoon. But my hero is an accumulation of things I’ve learned from the soldiers I’ve worked with over the years. While the idea for the rags-to-riches, ex-prostitute heroine, at least partly, came from a Rachel Gibson novel I’d read a few years ago.

I’ll also tweak things that actually happen to create subplots in my books. On such inspiration from real life (as real as reality TV can get anyway) shows up in Heartstrings, but the main idea came from a song. At least somewhat from a song. Let me explain. About six years ago I wrote a Star Wars fan fiction novel using the country song “God Blessed the Broke Road” by Rascal Flatts as my inspiration. The story was about a female who had been in love with two men, who were friends, at different times in her life and who ended up married to one of them, and then to the other after her first husband was killed. Her second husband then raised her daughter to her first husband as his own.

Fast forward two and a half years later. After I wrote the first book of The Hunter’s Dagger Series, A Hunter’s Angel, I got the idea to write a story about a country singer coming home for his father’s funeral to find out he had a daughter. The original story plot, then titled “The Long Road Home” (a sort of play on the song “God Blessed the Broken Road”) was a little different then the story that eventually became Heartstrings. Despite the fifteen or so revisions and rewrites I’ve done to “The Long Road Home” to create Heartstrings, the main plot is still loosely inspired by my old fan fiction and the country song “God Blessed the Broken Road.”

For Heartsong, I got the idea of a country singer married to his much older manager and the marriage failing in part from the real-life

tabloid candy story of Randy Travis and his first wife and manager. In Heartsong, the heroine’s rise to fame at a young age, and eventual fall due to drugs was inspired by several real-life young actresses and singers.

In the second Cowboy Up anthology (which is currently out of print), my story A Cowboy’s Heaven, was inspired by a news article I had read a few years ago. The story was about a man and woman who never believed they’d find love again. Both had been widowed soon after getting married to the person they’d believed to by their soul mate. But thanks to a friend, they met. A friendship grew out of their mutual loss, then after a few years of dating, they realized they had fallen in love and were married. It really was a true-life romance and I knew I had to write a book to pay homage to this beautiful story.

But really, inspiration for me can come from anywhere or anything. If you are a writer, where do you find inspiration?

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Categories: Insights | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

My Greatest Weakness–Procrastination @MFRWauthor

Last week the topic for the challenge as to describe my greatest strength. This week prompt is to talk about my greatest weakness, and as with naming my strength, coming up with my less desirable trait was hard. But I think figured it out as I’m typing this article late Thursday night to go live in the morning. Despite determination to succeed being my strength, I have a tendency to put things off until the last moment. I’m a procrastinator.

Believe it or not, this weakness is getting worse as I age. I never put things off when I was in college. I studied for tests days before the exams. I did my papers as soon as they were assigned. Now, I don’t even think about a project until it’s down to the wire. I’m better with my stories, but the day job or something like this blog challenge–not so much. I wait until the last possible moment. Part of the problem I know is I’m juggling so much: day job, housework, family relationships, and just time for me.

Even with writing, I’m able to concentrate better if I have a deadline. If I know I have to get something done in a limited time, I’m able to buckle down and ignore most of the distractions. But even then, I get angry with myself for putting things off; however, I still do it.

So what is your one weakness?
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My Greatest Strength–Determination to Never Give Up #MFRWauthor

Have you ever thought about your greatest strength? What makes you…well…you? This is also a very hard question to answer. After a lot of introspection, I think my greatest strength is my determination to not fail.

If any of you have followed me for any time at all, you know I’m dyslexic. My learning disability was discovered when I was in third grade after a reading teacher noticed I tried to sound out words backwards and my eyes wandered all over the page. I spent the rest of my elementary grades in special education classes to learn to read.

In junior high, I was delegated into the lower tract and spent two miserable years with bullies who called me names and picked on me. For the most part, all of my friends were in the highest tract. Now when I look back, I think this was the best thing that ever happened to me. It was my need to prove these people I was nothing like them and my new found love for history (a subject I’d never had before seventh grade) that made me determined to succeed.

During the second half of seventh grade, a new spirit awakened in me. I studied in a way I never had and my hard work–and believe me it was hard–paid off. By the end of eighth grade, I had As in every subject with several of them being 100%. I was determined to prove to, not only my classmates that I would make it, but to myself that I’d get to where I want to be. I elected the college prep curriculum for high school and by the time I graduated, I was in the top quarter of my class.

I went to college and made the Dean’s List all but two or three of the nine semesters of my years at Penn State. But then life happened and with it a major setback. I couldn’t find a full time teaching job and my dreams were crushed. Not for long though, I changed gears and went back to school where I ended up graduating at the top of my class, simply because I wouldn’t accept anything less.

This spirit of never giving up and of unadulterated determination has severed me well during my writing career. I’ve nearly given up more than once, but this need to persevere despite the odds or how difficult it is has forced me to continue. My calling on this inner strength has helped me swim out of the deepest pools of despair and disappointment. I won’t deny it gets harder and harder, but I refuse to ever say “what if I hadn’t given up” because I will give it my all. I will tackle every obstacle with the determination that helped a girl who couldn’t read in the fourth grade, a teenager who hated to read until she discovered Civil War romance in ninth grade, to become a writer of published books. And hopefully this same stubbornness will help me become a best-selling author.
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Categories: Insights | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

Plotting….A Pantser’s Guide to Writing #MFRWauthor

As a reader, if a story doesn’t have well executed character goals, motivations, and both inner and external conflicts, then most likely you aren’t ever going to finish that story. All writers use the GMC formula in some way to craft a story. Finding these GMCs is a important part of plotting. Some writers use elaborate methods to plot a story, to the point of practically writing it before they write the first draft. But today I’m going to explain my process, something I call a pantser’s guide to plotting.



An oxymoron for sure. Since the definition of a pantser (a nickname for “writing by the seat of the pants”) is someone who DOES NOT plot. Anyone who knows me knows I define myself as a tried and true pantser. Most of the time I never know what my next scene will be. I don’t do mind maps; I don’t have bulletin boards with index cards of every action; I don’t like Scrivener, and I don’t have an outline. I like to let the story unfold before me as I fill the blank page with words. However, I always know how the story will end.  I know what has to change in my characters’ lives to bring them to the end, but I don’t always know how they get to that happy ending.  What I do know is something changes in their lives to bring them to this point. I know their character arcs, and what they had to overcome to have that HEA. The hows and whys of them getting to the end comes to me as I write.

Okay, now you’re scratching your heads. Trust me I’ve done that more than once myself.  I may not plot a story, but I do learn about my characters. How I do this is by making sure I have a clear understanding of what makes them tick. Once I decide on an idea for a story, I soon figure out who the key players will be—the hero/heroine and antagonist/s. I figure out what their back-stories are. What led these characters to find themselves in this story idea? Then I think about where I want them to be at the end of the story.  How do I want them to be different from the characters I’ve created from their pasts? I don’t do character interviews, but I write down everything that I can think of about the characters—descriptions, personalities, jobs, relationships, what would bring fear to them, what would bring them joy. I figure out what their goals are, what motivates them, and what would bring them conflict and how they might respond to that conflict. I even decide on the quirks in their personalities, and more importantly, why are these quirks important. I do this for every major character. I still have no idea how their stories will enfold, but I do know that I, indeed, have a story.

The only thing left is to figure out how the characters best want to tell it and let them do the talking.

Of course, I do occasionally take this process a step further and jot down a simple two page synopsis of what the story might be. I still don’t consider this true plotting, since I simply figure out what the turning points are and write them. How the characters get to each turning point is totally a mystery until I start writing. But as an established author, my last two novels were sold on proposal, and I just submitted a third proposal, for which I’m waiting to hear back. For Heartsong, I had a blurb, synopsis and first four chapters. For Heartland, I sold it on a blurb and a very skimpy synopsis.

My process has changed somewhat, but for the most part, I am, and forever shall be, a pantser.
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Categories: Writing | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

My Seven Guilty Pleasures… #MFRWauthor

We all have ’em. The things we do that make us happy. Little things that put a smile on our face as we’re doing them.
Here are the seven things that I love that always make me happy when I do them:
1. Taking long, hot, sudsy baths.
2. Sitting on the deck in the summer in the warm sun, just enjoying the outdoors–with or without a glass of wine.
3. Speaking of wine….Enjoying a glass of my favorite–Moscato.
4. Eating chocolate… Anything chocolate.
5. Shopping! I love to shop, especially with my teenage daughter, who actually likes shopping with me.
6. Spending lazy afternoons reading a book or listening to one.
7. Binge watching Netflix or On Demand.
There you have the seven things I consider my guilty pleasures.  Name one of yours.

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Categories: Insights | Tags: , , , , | 8 Comments

The Things that Make Me Crazy When I Read… #MFRWauthor

Today’s blog challenge topic is to write about the words that make you go “ick.” Since I don’t like to write about these words–most of them are vulgar or just plain awful–I’m not about to spell them out on my blog….. Yes, I’m a prude. And proud of it! Well, at least you should be able to use your imagination to figure out what those words are with that confession.

Anyway, I’m going to change the prompt a little and talk about the things that pull me out of a story I’m reading and make me go “WTF?!?” There isn’t much I won’t tolerate, story-wise. I don’t mind if people die or animals are killed–IF it’s absolutely needed to drive the plot or is essential for character growth. But these things listed below will pull me out of a story quicker than anything, and unfortunately I usually can’t get back into it.

**I hate when a historical novel is too politically correct, meaning the author colors the characters’ actions/words with today’s standards. A great series of books that has never fallen victim to this is the Outlander series. Jamie Fraser is an amazing hero, but he acts and talks like a 18th Century man. And although Claire (the time-traveling WWII nurse heroine) probably gets away with more than most women would if they were married to anyone other than Jamie, he still views a man’s role in a marriage in what we’d consider archaic by today’s standards.

**Another thing that destroys a story for me is when details get messed up. I have nearly a photogenic memory when it comes to reading. My comprehension is my strongest skill. I don’t forget much. Someone told me once it’s because I actually read every letter and word due to my dyslexia which helps my brain to form a better picture of the story. Anyway when an author screws up their details, it yanks me out. For example, one time I read a book by a best selling author published by one of the big houses when the heroine changed clothes while walking along a road… No, I don’t mean she stripped and changed. I mean she started out her walk wearing a pantsuit and when her friend picked her up a  page later, she was wearing a skirt. It was so jarring because the author seemed to make her wearing pants matter by mentioning how much she despised that the dust would ruin them. Then only to have her get in the truck and fussing with her skirt because it’s short length made her uncomfortable. I was like “uh??” and reread the passage. That scene bothered me so much, I couldn’t forget the flub. I don’t think I ever finished that book.

**Head hopping! This irritates me to no end. I don’t mean a point of view change after a section of a scene. I mean paragraph one is in the hero’s POV and the next is in the heroine’s POV, then jumps back to the hero’s. Every beginning author is clobbered about this and are taught not to do it. But some authors seem to get away with it… Well, I’m not buying their books. even though most of them some of the oldest and biggest sellers.

**Stupid, lazy, poorly written characters and/or a paper-thin plots–I actually think these two things go hand-in-hand in most cases. I will admit, I don’t read many self-published books by newbie authors. I’ve been burnt too many times with buying a book or downloading a freebie because the blurb sounded good and the reviews may even be good, but the story wasn’t up to snuff. But I’ve read a few stories by established authors published by New York houses that have this distinction as well.

**The last thing that will make me stop reading is if the heroine is weak and mousy and/or the “hero” is a jerk. If he can’t say or think anything nice about the heroine and treats her badly–he isn’t a hero in my way of thinking. Being a jerk doesn’t make him an Alpha male, it makes him an asshole not worth the time of day of any woman. But usually the heroine is too enthralled by him, because she has no backbone, to see she should run the other way, not be daydreaming about how handsome he is and if only he’d look at her. I usually just want to shake the girl and tell her to go find someone else because he sure as hell ain’t worth it.

So, you tell me, what makes you toss a book across the room or hit the delete key on your Kindle?

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Categories: Insights | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Welcome to the World Baby Book–Your Title Is… How I Choose a Title #MFRWauthor

Titles are tricky.  They represent your story. And more importantly they need to hook a reader enough to read the blurb, if not buy your book.

I really don’t have a process for picking titles. Mostly they come to me as I’m coming up with the story. Some of my titles weren’t chosen by me initially for the book, but evolved either by suggestion from an editor, or from the need to redirect my thoughts.

Gambling On A Secret, Sara Walter Ellwood, contemporary western romance, romantic suspense, cowboy romance, Texas romance, small town romanceMy book Gambling On A Secret had been  originally submitted with the title of “Butterfly.” In the story, the metamorphosis of for the two main characters is an important theme of the story. Heroine even mentions this to the hero when she describes what her vision for the broken down ranch is. She wants to turn the ugly into something beautiful. Like a caterpillar that turns into a butterfly. She even calls her ranch the Butterfly Ranch.

But when I submitted the book, the acquiring editor asked me to change the title since it didn’t sound “western-y” enough. I don’t regret this. In fact, I’m glad for it. The title we came up with worA Hunter's Angel, The Hunter's Dagger Series, A Hunter's Demon, A Hunter's Blade, Cera duBois, Sara Walter Ellwoodks just as good if not better for the book and it allowed me to have a similarity in the titles for the other books in the series, which up until then had been untitled because I could never think of anything that worked with “Butterfly.”

With my title for Heartsrings, I chose to change it when I did the final rewrite of this story. At the time I didn’t know I’d turn it into a series, but I knew the working title of “The Long Road Home” just didn’t feel right for the story. This idea of coming home, is still a major theme in the story, but it seemed stale. I did some brainstorming and came up with the title Heartstrings. Then when I decided to create a series by adding books Heartsong and Heartland to the mix, I was glad I’d decided to change it.

A Hunter’s Angel got it’s title before I even knew what the story would be. This title came to me at the same time as I got the idea of a vampire who hunted vampires out of a need to redeem himself. Only it wasn’t doing good that would redeem him. It was the love of a woman.

A Hunter’s Blade got its title in a similar fashion. The newly turned vampire hero of that story, who we first meet as a cocky human in A Hunter’s Angel, only wants one thing–the right to carry a hunter’s dagger or blade.discovery-of-witches-web-1

One of my favorite books that I’ve ever read, I was attracted to simply because of the title. The novel is called A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness and is the first book in the All Souls series.  I read the title in a blog comment about four years ago and it sparked my imagination. The blog commenter didn’t say much about the book, only the author’s name and that he liked it. I was piqued and looked the book up. Next, I bought it and devoured it. Then I bought the second and pre-ordered the third and went on an amazing ride. The books are a jumble of my favorite genres–fantasy, history, paranormal, time travel, and even a little science fiction. I recently read that the story will be made into a TV series–I can’t wait to see it.

Do you have any books that you’ve read simply because of a great title?
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Categories: A Hunter's Angel, A Hunter's Blade, Gambling On a Secret, Heartstrings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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