Hello and welcome. I trust you and your family enjoyed the Holiday Season, and all of you are ready for a brand new year. I am…I think.

Looking ahead to a New Year means I have to face a dreaded reality. Every year for the past forty years, I’ve made a New Year’s resolution to lose weight. Lots of weight. And each year, I find myself making excuses for why I didn’t lose any weight. Most years I’ve gained a few pounds….

This year I am absolutely determined to lose weight.

If anyone of you reading this would like to join me, please get in touch, and we’ll come up with a group plan…sort of like a group hug for weight loss junkies.

Meanwhile, I’ve got some really exciting things going on. So much to do, so little time…

For the first time in my writing career, I’ve got two books out at the same time. Two choices for your winter reading. But first YOU must decide what you like—Naughty….

The Art of Kissing Dangerously

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Or Nice….

The Christmas Inn

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And if that isn’t enough reading, I have a few authors you might want to sample as well.

Debra Holland’s Montana Sky Christmas: http://amzn.com/B0092XYEIK

Julianne MacLean’s A Kiss Before the Wedding http://tinyurl.com/bp6h2t9

Liliana Hart’s Shadows and Silk

http://lilianahart.com/shadowsnsilk.html

Gemma Halliday’s Danger in High Heels.

http://www.gemmahalliday.com/books_adult/Danger.html

Denise Grover Swank’s THERE

http://denisegroverswank.com/there-on-the-otherside-2/

Next up, the winner of November’s Fresh Fiction contest is Shirleen Miller. The winner of the December contest is Kimberly Field. Don’t forget to enter the January contest in which I’m giving away a copy of The Art of Kissing Dangerously.

For those of you who haven’t already entered my contest for January, click here:

January Contest

And now to one of my favorite moments….

Authors would not exist if it weren’t for readers. It’s that simple.

Today I’d like to introduce a reader who was one of my first fans—Loine Van Pelt.

Decent pic of me at Dixon Tea RoomFirst of all, Loine, can you give a short introduction of yourself? Any information you’d like to share with everyone?

I am a Senior Citizen, fully retired, and enjoying finally having time to read to my heart’s content!  I have been reading since I was 3 years old, and by age 11, was reading between 2-3 books a day.  I live in northern California, about halfway between San Francisco and Sacramento, and have no desire to live anywhere else.  I have a son and daughter-in-law, 6 grandchildren (plus 2 spouses) and 5 great-grandchildren, with #6 due any time.  I also have a sister, who is my very best friend.  All of my family lives within a few miles of me, which is a blessing.  I’m also blessed with many wonderful friends, both near and far away.

What kinds of stories do you like to read?

I love mysteries and realistic crime.  Allison Brennan , Lisa Jackson, Lisa Gardner, James Patterson are all authors whose writing I enjoy, even though sometimes their books will give me nightmares!  I also very much enjoy reading a well-crafted romance, especially one where I am learning something new as I’m reading.  I have found over the years that many books teach us about a profession, a part of the world, a disease, a definition or many other things that we might not have known about otherwise. 

What kinds of stories do you not like to read?

Silly ones!  When something is described as a “hysterical romp….,” I pass on it!  I have a good sense of humor and love to laugh, but seldom laugh out loud at something I’m reading or watching on television.  I guess humor that appeals to the masses just doesn’t appeal to me! I also don’t care for historical romances.  There are some exceptions – I’ve read a couple of time-traveler books that are well-written that I’ve enjoyed very much. 

Do you prefer the paper or ereader version of the books you read?

Can I say “both?”  I have several paperback books I subscribe to each month that I enjoy, plus I pick up hard cover books here and there that appeal to me.  There’s just something about the smell and feel of the paper!  However, I have a Kindle e-reader (soon to be replaced by an iPad mini!) that currently has over 400 books on it.  I love the convenience of an e-reader, being able to pop it in my purse when I’m going somewhere I might have to wait for a while, or taking along when I am traveling.  I do have some negative feelings towards e-reader books in that they tend to have a lot of grammatical, punctuation and spelling errors, some worse than others!  I just finished one that was terrible in all regards!

What’s the single most important part of a book as far as you’re concerned? (Plot? Character? Humor? Setting?)

It has to make sense, and from that standpoint, certainly a realistic plot is vital.

However, character development may be the most important to me, as I like to feel that I know the people involved in the storyline, and hate to say goodbye to them when I finish the book.  I want to be able to visualize them and feel that I would recognize them if we met on the street.

By the same token, depending on the plot, the setting can be vital.  For example, in “The Christmas Inn,” the setting of the Inn was essential.  The reader had to be able to visualize the surroundings, feel the chill of the snow in the air, warm themselves before a fire inside, smell the food being served in the dining room, etc. 

If you could describe the perfect hero, what would he be like?

He would be thoughtful, considerate, unselfish, with a good sense of humor and the ability to laugh at himself.  He would be a good listener.  It would be nice if he was also 6’ tall or taller, nice-looking, had broad shoulders, and eyes that you couldn’t stop looking into!  (Eyes are my undoing!) 

In real life more and more men are doing housework and childcare. Would a hero who changes diapers or does dishes be attractive to you?

Absolutely!  I raised my son to be able to do anything that I would have trained a daughter to do.  I think a man whose ego isn’t threatened by doing housework, childcare, diapers, etc. is absolutely SEXY, especially if he can/will also cook! 

Or should only Alpha Males apply to be the hero in the books you like to read?

NO

What qualities in a hero would be a total turn off for you?

A whiner, complainer, grouch, no sense of humor, bitter, unable to love others, macho,egotistical, selfish 

Now, let’s turn to the heroine of a story. What traits in a heroine do you NOT like?

“Pitiful Pearl,” weepy, dependent on others for everything, including her happiness, acts before she thinks, always getting in trouble where she has to be rescued, usually by the hero, acting stupidly!  (What was she THINKING?) 

So many articles are being printed today about women having to be physically perfect to be attractive, leaving authors feeling they have to provide attractive, sexy heroines. What is your opinion on this issue?

I do not agree AT ALL.  “Beauty is as Beauty does” as my mother used to say!  Beauty is on the inside.  Some of the most enjoyable books I have read have been about women who have a physical imperfection of some sort – overweight (fighting the battle of the bulge,) a limp, removal of a breast, chemo reactions such as losing their hair, etc.  These have been some of the most beautiful heroines I have ever found in a book.  “Sexy” is the sense of humor, the ability to love, the ability to accept others, the ability to forgive; I also find independence an extremely attractive trait.

Everyone’s talking about sex and sex scenes these days? Do you like to read books with sex scenes?

Honestly?  Yes, I do……..BUT, not too explicit, as I feel there are other sources available out there if someone wants to read about explicit sex!  I’ve actually been analyzing my own feelings about that lately, and noticing that when a book lets you know the characters have had or are having sex but not provided detail, I have enjoyed it just as much, if not more, than if more explicit detail was provided.  I’ve come to the conclusion that the ‘romance’ is more important than the ‘sex.’ 

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us today?

I would just like to say how much I appreciate the opportunity to ‘chat’ with you today and to have been chosen to help you kick off this section of your blog!  I have been a fan of you and your writing since Heart of My Heart was first made available, and I have enjoyed all of your books since then.  I wish you luck as you venture forth into your self-publishing venture, and I will be watching your career closely.

 

Thank you, Loine, and all the best to you this Holiday Season.

And may every one of you experience the best this season has to offer.

Sincerely,

Stella

Hi Readers,

This is my very first blog, part of my new website. When you finish reading this, please visit the rest of my website and leave me a message. I love to hear from you about what you read, and why you read it. It would please me immensely if you were to also leave a comment about this blog, about what I might add or delete, and whether you as a reader might like to be featured here. It is my belief that readers are a very special community, and as an author I would be delighted to hear from you and to have you join me on this blog.

The Christmas Inn has just become available and already it’s receiving great reviews. Romantic Times gave it a four and said this about the story.

“Both well-written and realistic, MacLean’s tale skillfully depicts Marnie’s emotional growth and Luke’s realization that he can love again after his wife’s death three years earlier.”

The inspiration for this story came from my experience as a mystery guest at a hotel not far from my home. I had a disappointing stay at the hotel, and voiced my concerns to the manager in an email. Shortly after that he contacted me and asked me to be a mystery guest. When you read The Christmas Inn you’ll learn first hand how being a mystery guest works.

And if you like to enter contests, here’s your chance. The Christmas Inn is featured in two contests this month.

The first one is at Fresh Fiction. This contest will run all of October, November and December.

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The November contest is up now. The winner will receive copies of all four of my super romance books, and the opportunity to be featured here.tober contest was Valeri Davila from Huntingdon Beach, California. Thank you Valeri for entering, and please stay in touch.

The next contest is on Author Sounds. It will run from now until November 12th. This contest is already garnering huge support, which is so exciting for me. The winner will receive a $50 gift certificate from Barnes and Noble.

Best of luck to each of you, and I do hope I’ll be posting your name here on my blog in the near future.

And now from the author’s corner: I had the good fortune to attend the NINC conference in White Plains New York, and even the threat of hurricane Sandy couldn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the participants, most of whom were either self-published or about to be self-published. The most interesting point being made was that this is a very challenging time for all those involved in the publishing business. Despite the challenges many of the attendees supported the idea that for authors, the world of self-publishing has added a whole new dimension to their careers. I came away invigorated and enthusiastic about the months and years ahead.

Thank you for visiting my blog, and I hope to hear from you in the coming days and weeks.

Sincerely,

Stella