Harlequin Books
When I heard there was a book about statutory rape set in a Waldorf school, I sat up and paid attention. I grew up in Waldorf education. I thought it would be fun to write a few things about Waldorf that took place in the book but weren’t gone into in great detail. As someone who did not particularly enjoy or benefit from Waldorf education, I enjoyed the chance to read a book that portrayed some of the darker elements. Although of course child abuse can be found anywhere, seeing it in the classrooms of my childhood made it just a little bit more real for me.
In Waldorf schools, students create their own textbooks using fountain and calligraphy pens, and we illustrate them ourselves using crayons and pencil crayon. Every Waldorf child learns to use pencil shavings to create the sky, and to never smell the blue paint (ew). These are called our Main Lesson books. Main Lesson makes up the first part of a student’s day, and it consists of a blend of history, math, science, English, and more. All subjects are integrated. Unfortunately, my Main Lesson books are full of comments from my teacher saying “Emma, you don’t put enough effort into your books.” Art has never been an interest of mine. You can see one of my lovely pages in the photo above!
Lastly, what is Eurythmy? Eurythmy is a form of expressive movement designed by Rudolph Steiner, who also founded Waldorf education. It’s a bit like contemporary dance in that it’s the message and emotion that defines the piece. Everyone wears similar flowing robes in bright clothes and wears Eurythmy slippers, which are a bit like soft ballet flats with grippy rubber soles.


Hope that brings the setting a little bit more to life for you. I feel strange saying “I loved the book” since it shows such dark subject matter, but it truly is a book you shouldn’t miss.

When I heard there was a book about statutory rape set in a Waldorf school, I sat up and paid attention. I grew up in Waldorf education. I thought it would be fun to write a few things about Waldorf that took place in the book but weren’t gone into in great detail. As someone who did not particularly enjoy or benefit from Waldorf education, I enjoyed the chance to read a book that portrayed some of the darker elements. Although of course child abuse can be found anywhere, seeing it in the classrooms of my childhood made it just a little bit more real for me.

In Waldorf schools, students create their own textbooks using fountain and calligraphy pens, and we illustrate them ourselves using crayons and pencil crayon. Every Waldorf child learns to use pencil shavings to create the sky, and to never smell the blue paint (ew). These are called our Main Lesson books. Main Lesson makes up the first part of a student’s day, and it consists of a blend of history, math, science, English, and more. All subjects are integrated. Unfortunately, my Main Lesson books are full of comments from my teacher saying “Emma, you don’t put enough effort into your books.” Art has never been an interest of mine. You can see one of my lovely pages in the photo above!

Lastly, what is Eurythmy? Eurythmy is a form of expressive movement designed by Rudolph Steiner, who also founded Waldorf education. It’s a bit like contemporary dance in that it’s the message and emotion that defines the piece. Everyone wears similar flowing robes in bright clothes and wears Eurythmy slippers, which are a bit like soft ballet flats with grippy rubber soles.


Hope that brings the setting a little bit more to life for you. I feel strange saying “I loved the book” since it shows such dark subject matter, but it truly is a book you shouldn’t miss.

On the art of writing trilogies 
by Brenda Novak
I’m not a plotter, not one of those writers who work out every detail in advance. I don’t know what’s going to happen until the characters tell me, and they often say nothing until I’m in the middle of their particular story. So what  if I have something happen in Book 1 that I can’t live with in Book 2 or 3?
I try to accomplish this is by creating a conflict big enough to carry the number of books I’ll be writing. The conflict is what makes a book interesting. It’s what gives it that…feeling of OMG, what’s going to happen next?
Usually a trilogy or series will be either tightly connected or loosely connected. My six-book Last Stand series, for instance, is loosely connected—many of the same characters weave through the stories, but the connecting element is the victims’ charity for which they work. Each story focuses on a new case to be solved. My Stillwater Trilogy, on the other hand, is very tightly connected. It focuses on one deep, dark secret and how that secret affects several members of the same family.
As a reader, do you prefer tightly connected books? Or do you like books that focus on a new problem with each addition to the series?
For more details on Brenda’s newest trilogy, check out the Harlequin Blog.

On the art of writing trilogies 

by Brenda Novak

I’m not a plotter, not one of those writers who work out every detail in advance. I don’t know what’s going to happen until the characters tell me, and they often say nothing until I’m in the middle of their particular story. So what  if I have something happen in Book 1 that I can’t live with in Book 2 or 3?

I try to accomplish this is by creating a conflict big enough to carry the number of books I’ll be writing. The conflict is what makes a book interesting. It’s what gives it that…feeling of OMG, what’s going to happen next?

Usually a trilogy or series will be either tightly connected or loosely connected. My six-book Last Stand series, for instance, is loosely connected—many of the same characters weave through the stories, but the connecting element is the victims’ charity for which they work. Each story focuses on a new case to be solved. My Stillwater Trilogy, on the other hand, is very tightly connected. It focuses on one deep, dark secret and how that secret affects several members of the same family.

As a reader, do you prefer tightly connected books? Or do you like books that focus on a new problem with each addition to the series?

For more details on Brenda’s newest trilogy, check out the Harlequin Blog.

Influenced by Real Life
by Laura Caldwell 

In Claim of Innocence, Izzy McNeil and her best friend, Maggie, defend a woman charged with poisoning her own best friend.  I admit I’m sort of marrying my real life with my fictional life in this book.   Izzy is a redheaded Chicagoan who worked as a civil lawyer most of her career but has fallen into the world of criminal defense. Although Izzy isn’t me, that comes pretty close to my life. I used to be a civil lawyer, defending doctors who were sued. While I was writing The Rome Affair for MIRA, I called another attorney with a research question. From that conversation, I fell into a murder trial, having never done criminal work before. (That’s the easiest way to put it. The longer version is documented in my non-fiction work, Long Way Home: The Story of a Young Man Lost in the System and the Two Women Who Found Him (editor’s note: This is an awesome read!). My experience working on that murder trial with an amazing woman who is now a good friend, led me to start Life After Innocence at Loyola University Chicago School of Law with some of my law students. I never thought I’d be working with exonerees (people who were wrongfully convicted and later shown to be innocent, such as in DNA cases). They are amazing people with emotional tenacity the likes of which I’ve never seen. Because of that, there’s an innocence theme that winds its ways in way more than one scenario in Claim of Innocence. And because there’s nothing quite like the power of a best girlfriend, it was great fun to write the interactions between Maggie and Izzy during this mystery, especially because Maggie has her own mystery happening as well.

Influenced by Real Life

by Laura Caldwell 

In Claim of Innocence, Izzy McNeil and her best friend, Maggie, defend a woman charged with poisoning her own best friend. I admit I’m sort of marrying my real life with my fictional life in this book. Izzy is a redheaded Chicagoan who worked as a civil lawyer most of her career but has fallen into the world of criminal defense. Although Izzy isn’t me, that comes pretty close to my life.

I used to be a civil lawyer, defending doctors who were sued. While I was writing The Rome Affair for MIRA, I called another attorney with a research question. From that conversation, I fell into a murder trial, having never done criminal work before. (That’s the easiest way to put it. The longer version is documented in my non-fiction work, Long Way Home: The Story of a Young Man Lost in the System and the Two Women Who Found Him (editor’s note: This is an awesome read!). My experience working on that murder trial with an amazing woman who is now a good friend, led me to start Life After Innocence at Loyola University Chicago School of Law with some of my law students. I never thought I’d be working with exonerees (people who were wrongfully convicted and later shown to be innocent, such as in DNA cases). They are amazing people with emotional tenacity the likes of which I’ve never seen. Because of that, there’s an innocence theme that winds its ways in way more than one scenario in Claim of Innocence. And because there’s nothing quite like the power of a best girlfriend, it was great fun to write the interactions between Maggie and Izzy during this mystery, especially because Maggie has her own mystery happening as well.

Something You Don’t Know About Me

by Rachel Vincent

I get lots of interview questions and guest blog requests that ask me to tell people something they don’t already know about me. Turns out that’s a difficult question to answer. And it gets more difficult every time you answer it, because the next time, people already know what you told them the last time. That question sort of sets itself up for failure, don’t you think?

So, this time around I could tell you that my house is decorated with empty picture frames. For real. I never got around to putting pictures in the frames, and my husband got tired of empty frames sitting around, so he hung them up. Some still have the sample pictures from the store. So…there are pictures of perfect strangers hanging up in my dining room. My best friend is a photographer. She’s APPALLED by this. ;)

Or, I could tell you that if you see me with earbuds in my ears, I’m probably listening to nothing. I often wear my earbuds with no music playing, just to put a physical (and thus mental) barrier between my brain and the sounds going on all around me. I can’t do this with actual music, because then I get distracted and sing along, and all my dialogue comes out sounding like an Eminem song.

But the thing you might not know about me that’s most relevant to my career as an author is that I am a compulsive multi-tasker, much to my husband’s frustration. I play PlantsVsZombies on my phone between Rock Band sets, and during the guitar solos. I tweet while we watch movies. I read email at the table, in spite of the “no phones at the table” policy in my house. I get away with this because the phone doesn’t get in the way of my ability to hold two conversations at once. I talk on the phone every time I get in the car (hands-free—don’t worry). I plot novels in the shower. I get caught up on my DVR shows while I fold laundry. I hold my nose while I scoop the litter box. But that one’s really just a survival skill.

How is this relevant to my career? I seem incapable of working on only one project at a time. For instance, yesterday I did promo for If I Die, my Sept 27 YA release. And I read through second-round revision notes from my editor on Shadow Bound, my summer 2012 adult release. And I worked on revisions for the new Soul Screamers online story, which comes out in a couple of months. And I started brainstorming the adult novel that’s due in March, and plotting the two “spare time” novels always going on in my head. So, in a span of five hours, I had my head buried in six different stories, in three different genres. And that’s my constant state of affairs. My head is messier than my desk. And if you could see my desk right now, you’d be really worried.

So, you wanna hear something you may not know about me? My grandmother always told me that smart people never get bored. Well, I must be doing something right, because I’ve never been bored a day in my life. ;) 

What is Evil?
by Heather Graham
How exactly does one define evil? Well, to begin with—and this is obvious—it’s the opposite of goodness. And I’d say that to have one, you need the other. In fact, you could define evil as the absence of goodness and vice versa. Evil is a knowing maliciousness; it’s harmful, invidious, something that causes pain, injustice, agony, even premature death.  Does real evil lie in the hearts and souls of mankind? Are we born with the propensity for it? Psychologists, philosophers, students of divinity have been thinking and writing about this for centuries, for millennia. 
And then there’s evil that derives from mental illness. A psychopath is, arguably, born with something missing, lacking an ability to feel genuine compassion for others, an ability to connect with them. And that makes evil actions possible for such a person, since to a psychopath the impact on the victim is irrelevant. The results of evil are tangible, but evil itself is…I guess you could say an attitude, an outlook. 
I grew up Irish and Catholic, with evil always around the corner—but honor and goodness right there, too. Maybe the conflict between good and evil that each person experiences within his or her own nature is part of what make us human. Now wicked, on the other hand (and on a lighter note)... Wicked can be fun. As my relatives in Massachusetts are quick to say, “I had a wicked good time last night!”

What is Evil?

by Heather Graham

How exactly does one define evil? Well, to begin with—and this is obvious—it’s the opposite of goodness. And I’d say that to have one, you need the other. In fact, you could define evil as the absence of goodness and vice versa. Evil is a knowing maliciousness; it’s harmful, invidious, something that causes pain, injustice, agony, even premature death.  Does real evil lie in the hearts and souls of mankind? Are we born with the propensity for it? Psychologists, philosophers, students of divinity have been thinking and writing about this for centuries, for millennia. 

And then there’s evil that derives from mental illness. A psychopath is, arguably, born with something missing, lacking an ability to feel genuine compassion for others, an ability to connect with them. And that makes evil actions possible for such a person, since to a psychopath the impact on the victim is irrelevant. The results of evil are tangible, but evil itself is…I guess you could say an attitude, an outlook. 

I grew up Irish and Catholic, with evil always around the corner—but honor and goodness right there, too. Maybe the conflict between good and evil that each person experiences within his or her own nature is part of what make us human. Now wicked, on the other hand (and on a lighter note)... Wicked can be fun. As my relatives in Massachusetts are quick to say, “I had a wicked good time last night!”

Susan Mallery talks about competitive dating on reality TV

There’s a weird element of competition on TV dating shows like The Bachelorette. One woman intimately kissing ten or more guys. (All together now: “Ewwwwww!”) I do find these shows fascinating, though, because although the situation is totally manufactured, the emotions seem to be quite real. But are they real beyond the moment? Or are they created by the moment? The dates, set up by the producers, are wildly romantic, beyond anything the people could possibly have arranged in real life. Does the setting create the feeling? And when the setting disappears, do the emotions disappear, too? The break-up record of Bachelor and Bachelorette couples would suggest they do.

In my latest book, Only Mine, psychologist Dakota Hendrix has been hired to ensure the relative sanity of contestants chosen for a reality TV dating show about to film in Fool’s Gold, a town infamous for its man shortage. Two of the contestants who make it past her are the handsome Anderssen twins, much to their older brother Finn’s dismay. He wants his brothers back in college where they belong, and is not at all happy that Dakota won’t kick them off the show. While Dakota and Finn find love in real life, Finn’s brothers will pursue it on TV. But is love what they’re really after?

This picture is of my dog Nikki on a date with Buddy. Completely manufactured situation – they went to a dude ranch together. Since Nikki is at heart a girlie-girl, she was over Buddy the moment he rode off into the sunset.

BONUS! Extra Q&A post…with Carla Neggers!
Q: What makes for a thrilling suspense novel?
A: The great writing teacher Gary Provost once described how he creates a character he cares about: digs a hole, throws him (or her) in the hole…and then, tempted to help his character out, he instead throws dirt and rocks on him. That, to me, is the essence of thrilling suspense. I love to dive into a story with a character I care about who is forced into a difficult situation where the stakes are high, the hurdles keep coming and the outcome is uncertain. That’s guaranteed to keep me turning the pages, as a reader and as a writer.

BONUS! Extra Q&A post…with Carla Neggers!

Q: What makes for a thrilling suspense novel?

A: The great writing teacher Gary Provost once described how he creates a character he cares about: digs a hole, throws him (or her) in the hole…and then, tempted to help his character out, he instead throws dirt and rocks on him. That, to me, is the essence of thrilling suspense. I love to dive into a story with a character I care about who is forced into a difficult situation where the stakes are high, the hurdles keep coming and the outcome is uncertain. That’s guaranteed to keep me turning the pages, as a reader and as a writer.

Q&A With Colleen Gleason!
Q: What makes a character jump off the page?
A: To me, a character who jumps off the page is multi-dimensional and has a surprise or two that may or may not fit with their stereotypical archetype. For example, a Navy SEAL who is vegetarian. Or a librarian who has an addiction to video games. Or a Regency duke who likes to knit. (Well, maybe not that one. ;-) ) But something that makes the character a real person, not just a cardboard cut-out.

A character also has to have their own speech patterns, their own way of talking. For example, when I write a story with a love triangle, I work very hard to make sure the two men are different in speech and thought. I’d like the reader to be able to tell which person is talking without an attribution. And I often  mentally replace them with each other in certain scenes, just to see how the “other” one would act if confronted with the same situation. They should think, speak, and react differently.

Q&A With Colleen Gleason!

Q: What makes a character jump off the page?

A: To me, a character who jumps off the page is multi-dimensional and has a surprise or two that may or may not fit with their stereotypical archetype. For example, a Navy SEAL who is vegetarian. Or a librarian who has an addiction to video games. Or a Regency duke who likes to knit. (Well, maybe not that one. ;-) ) But something that makes the character a real person, not just a cardboard cut-out.

A character also has to have their own speech patterns, their own way of talking. For example, when I write a story with a love triangle, I work very hard to make sure the two men are different in speech and thought. I’d like the reader to be able to tell which person is talking without an attribution. And I often  mentally replace them with each other in certain scenes, just to see how the “other” one would act if confronted with the same situation. They should think, speak, and react differently.

Would you like to work in a cemetary…if you could see ghosts?

Are you taking advantage of Freebie Fridays? If you aren’t, I highly suggest you check it out today. Pamela Callow is one of my favourite thriller writers and Indefensible, the sequel to last year’s acclaimed Damaged, is today’s pick. Click here to learn how you can get it for free!

Are you taking advantage of Freebie Fridays? If you aren’t, I highly suggest you check it out today. Pamela Callow is one of my favourite thriller writers and Indefensible, the sequel to last year’s acclaimed Damaged, is today’s pick. Click here to learn how you can get it for free!