Interview with Author Lisa Rayns

One of the great benefits of writing for a publishing company is getting to know other authors underneath its canopy. And The Wild Rose Press has such a wonderfully diverse list of authors and novels, finding something of interest shouldn’t be a problem for most people.

I was fortunate to attend one of their retreats back in 2011. From it, I took away many things, none more important than the friendships and connections developed while there. (If you get a chance to attend one, I’d highly recommend it.)

But if you can’t, I’ll try to bring some of my writing ‘friends’ to you — starting with today’s featured author, Lisa Rayns.

Renee: Lisa, I discovered the spark of writing presented itself to you when you were only ten years old and penning a poem for your family at Christmas. How did it develop from there?

Lisa: From there, I wrote journals, stories for school projects, and spent years reading and indulging in my love of books.

Renee: What was it about writing that made you want to explore it further and eventually turn it into a career?

Lisa: Two words – Romantic Suspense. I started reading romantic suspense, and I fell in love with the genre. Then, once I started writing in 2007, I realized writing suspense was a lot of fun. It became my dream job rather quickly.

Renee: As the mom of four boys, how on earth do you find time to write?

Lisa: My boys are older and self-sufficient. They are also very understanding when I tell them I need time to write.

Renee: That’s good. Do you still maintain another full-time job, or have you managed to find a way to focus entirely on writing as your career?

Lisa: I had the opportunity to focus entirely on my writing for the last two years, but I’m recently divorced so I’m working full time again.

Renee: When I vacationed out west, I was extremely taken with South Dakota. I see you call it your home state now. What do you like best about living there?

Lisa: I like everything but the winters. The air is fresh, and the cost of living is not as high as it is in other areas.

: Curse of the Egyptian Goddess is a delightful read. I left a review on Amazon, but sometimes they don’t show up. We’ll see.
Where did your interest in Egyptian lore come from?

Curse of the Egyptian Goddess

Lisa: Thank you! Reviews are so important.

I’ve always had an interest in the ancient Egyptian culture since I first learned about it in school. I’m also a huge fan of large cats.

Renee: Another of your novels, Wanted: Vampire — Free Blood, was nominated for Best Vampire Book. What was it like to receive that news about your work?

Wanted Vampire

Lisa: That was amazing, the best I’ve ever felt.

Renee: When did you become interested in paranormal literature and what spurred you to write your own tales about the world beyond?

Lisa: I think it was the twelfth draft of my first romantic suspense book when the idea to turn it into a paranormal romance hit me. Everything that wasn’t working in the book then clicked into place, and I started to have a lot more fun writing.

Renee: Name the best and worst thing that has happened due to your publishing career.

Lisa: Having a fan and knowing at least one person is anxious for the next book is really the best thing that’s happened to me. I guess the worst thing would be a one star review, but I didn’t take that too badly. Everyone has different tastes, and no one will ever please everyone.

Renee: What are you currently working on?

Lisa: I’m currently working on the second book in my Egyptian Duet.

Renee: Well, I’m looking forward to that one! Yay! What is the one piece of advice you would give aspiring writers?

Lisa: Write for yourself. Write what you like because you can’t please everyone. Also, never give up on your dreams.

Renee: Thank you Lisa. That sounds like good advice. I know you are busy and I appreciate the time you have given us to get to know you a little better.

For those interested, links to purchase her books are listed below.

Curse of the Egyptian Goddess

A Destined Death

Wanted: Vampire – Free Blood

Wanted: Vampire – Bad Blood

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The Galley

The galley — or an advanced reader’s copy minus the cover — of my novel Acquisition is here.


This is an exciting time for any author, but especially for the debut novelist. We get to see how the pages will align, how the chapters will lay out.


You’ve seen the cover before, but I’m adding it again because I like it, and I can. *wink*

I know some of you have expressed concern over my thinning presence on the blog, and I do apologize for that. But every time I have had the chance to go over the manuscript during the many editing processes a novel goes through before it reaches this stage, I’ve taken it seriously and re-read the entire thing from first word to last.

It’s impressive to follow an editor’s way of seeing the words from your head in a different light than you may have intended. Future readers will also bring their own perceptions and life experience.

In order to make it as clean and as thoroughly thought-through as possible, I’m going over it again. Although I can’t make changes directly to the manuscript at this stage, I can make a list of suggestions if I find errors. So this isn’t a step to skip.

I hope you will all cheer me on as I go over the galley — first word to last — as I have done before. But that means I will be noticeably missing for another stretch of time. I’ll be checking in on your blog posts as often as possible.

So now that you know what my summer project is; what is yours?

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On Disappointment

my-shadow-against-rocks-doughton-parkPosted a few thoughts on disappointment at writingfeemail. Would you check it out?

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Special Offer from T. B. Markinson

Most of you know our blogging friend and author T. B. Markinson. She guest posted for me in December, giving us all a taste of her journey as a writer.

Well she has a special offer right now and I’m pleased to extend it to all of you.


Sale Details:
Normal price: $2.99
Sale price $0.99 June 5th to June 11th
Normal Price: £1.99
Sale price £0.99 June 5th to June 11th

Elizabeth “Lizzie” Petrie has it all. She’s rich, beautiful, intelligent, and successful. None of this matters to her mom. Les-Bi-An. That’s all her mom sees.
Even though Lizzie insists her mom’s antagonism does not bother her, Lizzie distances herself from her entire family. When her brother, Peter, calls her out of the blue to announce he’s getting married, Lizzie’s entire life changes drastically. Peter’s fiancée wants to bring the lesbian outcast back into the family. Will this desire cause Lizzie to lose everything dear to her?
Sarah, Lizzie’s girlfriend, is ecstatic about this change in Lizzie’s personal life. Sarah, the hopeless romantic, wants it all, including settling down with the fiercely independent Lizzie.
Can Lizzie be tamed? And can she survive her family and all of their secrets?

Author Bio:
T. B. Markinson is a 40-year old American writer, living in England, who pledged she would publish before she was 35. Better late than never. When she isn’t writing, she’s traveling the world, watching sports on the telly, visiting pubs in England, or taking the dog for a walk. Not necessarily in that order. A Woman Lost is her debut novel.
My Blog:
Mailing List:
Links for purchase:
Amazon (US):
Amazon (UK):

Excerpt One:

“I’m getting married.”
“I’m getting married.”
“Peter, it’s”—I rolled over in bed and looked at the clock—“five in the morning, on a Sunday. I’m not in the mood for a prank.” My entire body ached; I’d been awake most of the night.
“It’s not a prank, Elizabeth. I am getting married.”
I sat up in bed.
“We’re flying in next week to have dinner with Mom and Dad. She wants you to join us.”
“What?” I rubbed my eyes, wondering if I was dreaming. My brother and I were not close in any way. I didn’t even know he had my home phone number. Was my number listed? And I was shocked that he’d admitted to his bride-to-be that he had a sister.
“Madeline wants to meet you. Oh, and bring Meg.” He sounded upbeat. It was four in the morning in California, an hour later here in Colorado.
“We broke up.” I tried to keep my voice calm and quiet.
“Oh, my gosh. When did that happen?”
“Two years ago.”
A long, awkward silence followed.
“Oh … wow … that’s too bad. Well, is there someone else?”
I wanted to tell him that girls, let alone love, just didn’t fall from the sky. Instead, I looked over at the naked woman in my bed and chuckled. Well, maybe girls did fall from the sky. Good grief, she could sleep through anything. She always said her mom was intentionally loud during naptime so she would be a sound sleeper; apparently, it worked.
“I’m not ready for that.” I didn’t mean I wasn’t ready to date. Obviously, there was a woman with me, but he didn’t know that on the other end of the phone. I meant I wasn’t ready to introduce anyone to my family … again.

Excerpt Two:

I grabbed my chai from the barista in the coffee shop, and announced, “Peter called.”
“Who’s Peter?” asked Ethan, and poured an insane amount of sugar into his coffee before we sat down at the table. He always ordered the special of the day, never a fancy drink with a shot of this or two squirts of that. He loved coffee with sugar and none of the hoopla.
“My brother, you ass.”
“Oh, my god! How is God?” He straightened his starched shirt. To say he was fastidious would be an understatement.
“He called to tell me he’s getting married. Oh, and get this: he wants me to join him, his fiancée, and my parents for dinner.” I blew into my steaming cup of chai. The vapors fogged up my contacts, and I had to blink several times to see again.
“You said no, didn’t you? Tell him you have a violent case of the clap and if you sneeze they’ll get it.”
“I’m meeting them Monday night.”
“Jesus! You do like your public floggings.”
“He asked me to bring Meg.”
Ethan giggled as he stirred his coffee. “Talking to you about your family always makes me feel better about my own messed-up situation.”
“Yeah. When I told him we broke up, he actually said, ‘Oh, my gosh.’ Like he gives a crap.”
“He did not! He always was such an ass. C’est la vie. So bring the new girl.”
“Sarah? Are you kidding? She’s not ready to meet the family. And besides, I insinuated I wasn’t seeing anyone, so I can’t bring her now. It will seem desperate.”
“Don’t you mean you aren’t ready to introduce her to the family, and other things, I might add?” He gave me a knowing look.
“That could be the case.” I smiled and took a huge gulp of my chai.


Let’s all go out and support one of our own while we can do so at such a great bargain!! And thanks to T. B. Markinson for allowing me to bring this special offer to all of the readers of this site.

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BIG ANNOUNCEMENT — One of my Novels is Getting Published!

Cue the fireworks and the marching band. Sing hallelujah and beat the drums!


One of my novels has been contracted by The Wild Rose Press!

Yes, my friends, one of my little children (as writers often think of their novels) is about to go out into the world.

Simultaneously exciting and scary, isn’t it?

I have known for some weeks, but hoped to have a release date when I announced it here on the blog. And then word started getting out and I wondered what I had been waiting for. After all, you guys are part of the journey.

And I have so much to share with you about how it is coming together. Of course, I’ve been extraordinarily busy with the business end of rewrites and edits, working with a cover artist, formatting a biography, writing blurbs and taglines and all of the other little loose ends that accompanies publication.

Hopefully I’ll have a release date soon. For now, let’s pop the cork on the champagne and share a toast!

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Writing Sample at the Ready

The rules are clear. You must complete all information blocks. You’ve had no trouble so far…name, address, email.

And then it appears.

That empty white square. They are requesting a writing sample with a word limit or file size.

You begin to swear…I mean sweat. Most likely both.

The deadline is tomorrow. Is there time to write something now? Will the page hit a ‘time out?’

You grab something…anything. Does it fit? You make it fit. And then you click on submit. It’s irretrievable now.

Later you read over the actual rules. The writing sample must be original and never before published. Or they want the rights to that piece which you no longer own. What do you do?

I recently entered a contest with such a scenario. I had a sample which I thought both met the scope of what they might be looking for and the word limit. But what has surprised me was the number of people complaining on their website about not knowing a sample would be necessary or that they sent a sample they no longer held the rights to or some other such issue.

Can they reenter? Can they send another sample? Can they enter and keep their rights?

One entry per person. It’s too late to do anything about it. Even if one of those people (complainers) win, they forfeit.

Although I’ll be the first to admit I often don’t read the rules and terms of agreement on everything I participate in, the writing sample represents the writer. And if we are being offered something in exchange for our work, then we shouldn’t be surprised if it comes with an attachment to the sample.

It’s important to have a few sample essays on hand. Hopefully ones not written under the duress of a swiftly passing deadline and whose content reflects us and our writing styles.

Then, when we get to that blank white square we’ll be prepared!!

Have you faced such a challenge? Were you ready? Or did you have to scramble at the last minute?

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Head Cleaning? What?

I’ve tried to go wireless with all of my computing needs. You know what I mean – keyboard, mouse, printer.


Is there really such a thing? I know they claim it to be true, they might even work the first time you get the thing connected, but after that…good luck!

My first one was HP. It worked for a few days. Then the ‘offline’ message kept coming up. I went through the tutorials, the troubleshooting lessons, etc. Nothing worked. In desperation I called in the big guns – a ‘geek’.

Yes, even though the thing was under warranty, I made the assumption I had done something wrong. Apparently not. $$$ later – still no wireless printing. He – the ‘geek’ – made the executive decision to connect via cable and so it remained until I had a paper feeding issue about two years later.

I searched for the best wireless printer in my price point and Epson was highly recommended. So I sprang for a new one and it arrived all sparkly new and shiny with a different ink cartridge for every variety of color. I hooked it up – not difficult – and it worked marvelously. I even added my laptop and could send items to be printed from the first floor to the printer on the second floor. Yay!!

That was about a month ago.

Today, it went offline. No reason. Two hours of trying to troubleshoot and still no printing could be accomplished. The black ink looked a bit low. I had bought replacement cartridges – Epson as well. Yes, I sprang for the name brand as a large caution notice keeps popping up explaining other brands might not work as well or – horror – harm the printer.

Even though it appeared I might have a small percentage of ink left, I thought maybe that was the problem. I sacrificed the remainder in the old cartridge and connected my brand new one. Then, of course, there’s the alignments to be printed off. The black ink wasn’t showing up well, so I kept printing one after the other, trying all of their helpful tips. (Yes it would copy and print from the commands on the printer itself, just not from the computer.)

I finally cut the power to the whole system, rebooted, and got the printer back online. But then the pages I tried to print had suddenly developed skips and breaks. Why?

Troubleshooter said my head needed cleaning. Really? My mother used to say she’d clean my mouth out with soap if I said a dirty word. And yes, I’ve said a few of those during this process. Is that the same thing?

In this case it would appear they were referring to some sort of process within the printer. Great. More things to do, more copies to make. They are getting better, but not quite right yet. More aligning, more copies.

Nozzle check?

That’s recommended too. Of course it needs copies printed to be sure it is working properly. Once everything appears to be getting clearer and cleaner, I have to print some documents and see if troubles still exist. They recommend cleaning up to four times. Of course, each time needs more printing.

I’ve finally gotten it right. The printer is back online and is spitting out readable copy, and I’m only down half the brand new ink cartridge from all the darned printing and checking – not to mention a ream of paper. No wonder they want me to buy their brand of ink. I’ll likely use half a cartridge every time I reload. Guess I’d better buy the XL for extra long life.

Is it a conspiracy? Must we waste half a cartridge every time we try to replace one? Have you found a wireless printer which actually works – all the time? Or are you as frustrated with technology as I sometimes am?

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The Portrait of Wanda Smithey

It was during the lull preceding WWII when my uncle went to Roaring River, North Carolina to stay with his uncle (my grandfather’s brother). There he met a beautiful young woman named Wanda Smithey. (I may be misspelling her name as I have only heard it spoken and not seen it written down anywhere.)

They were fond of each other and she gave him a portrait of herself, one professionally taken in the Paul Harvel Studio in downtown North Wilkesboro, North Carolina. I’m sure it wasn’t inexpensive for that day and age.

Wanda Smithey

Then Pearl Harbor was bombed and my uncle joined the military, as did most of the young men in that community.

Uncle Dwight Military 2

He was sent to England and France and I even have a picture of him with his unit at the Arc de Triomphe. He drew an arrow to himself – the ‘me’ in the picture.

Uncle Dwight in Paris 2

I don’t know what happened to Wanda Smithey after that. My uncle went to work for a company in Louisville, Kentucky. There he met and married and made a good life for himself until his untimely death several years ago.

Since my mother’s death, my sister and I have been going through her belongings and sometimes that has turned into the belongings of our grandparents as well. In one of those boxes was this portrait of Wanda Smithey. We knew her name because our mother found the picture after her mother died and often commented about her desire to return it to Wanda or to her children and/or grandchildren. My aunt, the last survivor of the three siblings, also verified the name.

I assume Wanda Smithey got married and had a wonderful life. She was certainly a lovely lady with a warm smile and shining eyes. She would be close to ninety now, give or take a few years. I would love to return this to her or to her family. If she is still living, sitting with her and talking over that time in history would be terrific.

I have searched the local paper archives, but I don’t have a married name for her, so nothing shows up in her name. If you know her, suspect you know her, or someone in her family, I’d love your help.

Have you ever found someone by a picture? If so, what did you do and what was the outcome?

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It’s Valentine’s Day. Romance, hearts, flowers, bubbly drinks, chocolate, aromatic bath oil, candlelight, poetry; and all of that is just to set the stage for my favorite novel category – romance.

Don’t roll your eyes. You know you are reading them. And here’s a secret – we’re not alone.

Romance novels sweep the industry in sales right now. According to the Romance Writers of America – better known by its initials: RWA – it accounts for more than a billion dollars a year in sales.

RWA reports 2012 as having more than $1.4 billion in sales, and 2013 has been estimated to exceed $1.3 billion. This isn’t too shabby for an industry being batted around by all of the publishing changes and bookstore closings.

Two more statistics from RWA:

•Romance was the top-performing category on the best-seller lists in 2012 (across the NYT, USA Today, and PW best-seller lists).

•74.8 million people read at least one romance novel in 2008. (source: RWA Reader Survey)

And why not? Even Oprah has posted an article about it titled: ‘Why People Love Romance Novels’. There’s sure to be a subgenre within the romance category that will pique your interest.

There are so many subgenres within the genre labeled – ROMANCE. Mystery/suspense, contemporary, futuristic, science-fiction, historical, paranormal, inspirational, young adult, fantasy, and erotic are a few, with LGBT on the rise.

Think romance is something new?

Think again. According to Wikipedia – and I’m quoting directly here – “one of the earliest romance novels was Samuel Richardson’s popular 1740 novel Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded, which was revolutionary on two counts: it focused almost entirely on courtship and did so entirely from the perspective of a woman protagonist.”

Wow. Who knew?

Jane Austen has an entire following still swooning over Mark Darcy and the nineteenth century mores of the day. Authors keep rewriting versions of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ – ‘Bridget Jones’ Diary’ by Helen Fielding to name one, which is currently on its third book of the series. Many of us know it from the movie, made popular by Renee Zellweger, Colin Firth, and Hugh Grant.

courtesy of Wikipedia

courtesy of Wikipedia

Excuse me while I nibble chocolate and conjure images of their fight in the fountain to the tune, ‘It’s Raining Men.’ Mmmm. Oh yeah, back to work.

I recently watched Austenland, the movie based on a novel by Shannon Hale, which is another of the retakes on Jane Austen’s work. (That’s what you do when laid up with knee injury – rent movies and read books in between interesting events of the Olympics, but I digress.) I thought it was a fun movie, but I’m taking medication. Rent it at your own risk.

Charlotte Bronte gave us ‘Jane Eyre’ and Mary Ann Evans, writing as George Eliot, gave us ‘Middlemarch.’ In the early twentieth century we got D. H. Lawrence’s ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover.’ Although it was published in Italy in 1928, the language was too risqué for mass publication. It didn’t become mainstream until the sixties. Of course, there was the private printing of it and it was kept as a ‘dirty little secret’ in many a boudoir. Sound familiar to any ‘Fifty Shades’ fans?

courtesy of Goodreads

courtesy of Goodreads

The British have given us many great romance authors. Georgette Heyer is haled as the forerunner of the historical category. Dame Barbara Cartland (can we think of her without conjuring the color pink or the fact that she was Princess Diana’s step-grandmother?) wrote more than 700 romance novels, which were translated into 36 languages. And my personal favorite – Victoria Holt – transported me to many Welsh moorlands, Scottish highlands, and old English castles where danger lurked for a heroine with little going for her except spunk.

courtesy of goodreads

courtesy of goodreads

Another statistic about romance novels – and my last, because who wants to ruin Valentine’s Day by reading a bunch of statistics – according to Wikipedia, romance novels are the most popular genre in modern literature, accounting for 55% of paperback books sold in 2004 and appears in ninety languages.

But going a bit further back in history is another Englishman, Shakespeare, whose ‘Romeo and Juliet’ has come to epitomize the tragic love story. We can’t give him the official title of ‘romance’ novelist, since he was a poet and playwright, and didn’t adhere to the HEA – happily ever after – contract with the reader. He was more of a ‘death becomes her’ and ‘leave them in tears’ kind of guy.

And even further back, the Bible is full of romantic tales. King David and Bathsheba to name one. And The Song of Solomon is full of romance and intimacy. Don’t believe me? Read a bit of it again. Here’s one passage. “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth; for thy love is more delightful than wine.”

But what is a valentine without a gift? Here’s mine to you. The Weather Girls with ‘It’s Raining Men.’ Click and enjoy! The men in this video are so hot, I swear they’re melting the snow off the porch rails!

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When words aren’t enough

A stack of magazines waited patiently for their turn to be read.  Most still  had their protective covers attached.  Many times I lifted them to toss out, but hesitated.

How could I throw out publications I hadn’t even glanced through?

Somehow I felt the day would come when I’d have a few minutes to just kill time.  Then, surely then, I would open them and peruse the pages between the covers still glossy from being safely secured without danger of dust.

**If you have read my post at writingfeemail, you know about my recent knee injury.  If not, hit the link if you are curious about why I suddenly had that time.**

My office is upstairs and I wasn’t about to try to maneuver the steps on crutches.  And my laptop wouldn’t sit straight across the leg stabilizer.  I finished the ‘must read’ books on my kindle and then started digging through the magazines which had been piling up for about six months.

I ripped interesting articles from their spines as if tearing out hair by their roots.  Some gave easily, while others resisted, wrinkling up like a pleated skirt.

Three recipes later – as well as an agent looking for new clients, and a recommended tour route from Charleston, South Carolina to Murrels Inlet – I felt successful in my search for buried treasures among the offending pile.

But it was the July 2013 “O” – The Oprah Magazine, that had me thinking about my blog.  In it was an interview with Natalie Goldberg; author, speaker, and teacher. 

Natalie Goldberg picture courtesy of Wikipedia

Natalie Goldberg
picture courtesy of Wikipedia

You might recognize her name in connection with her retreats in New Mexico, or her 1986 book; Writing Down The Bones; as it sold more than a million copies.

In this article she was introducing her new book, a follow-up to the previous one, titled The True Secret of Writing, and sharing a few of her tips to tease out the writer within.  There were six, but it was number five that spoke loudly to me.

Practice silence.

She said, “Behind writing, behind words, is no words.  We need to know about that place.  It gives us a larger perspective from which to handle language.  Silence can be the door to listening, which is one of the great cornerstones to writing.”

It felt as if she was in the room with me, speaking only to me.  I had been silent on my blog since my mother’s death, as if adding one more sentence would somehow indicate I was through mourning and all was normal again.

The title of the last post I had published was No Words...”

There was a symmetry to these two articles – hers and mine.  It went beyond coincidence.

J.K. Rowling often talks about her mother and wishing she could have lived to witness her success as a writer.  But then she inevitable adds it was her mother’s death that gave her the depth of emotional empathy to write so convincingly about Harry Potter’s grief over losing his parents and the scenes with the ‘deatheaters’ which she describes achingly as the cloud of depression.

The saying: “Nothing is ever lost on a writer,” is attributed to Donald Sinclair, though we have all heard that phrase repeated many times with many authors.  We store even the smallest of tidbits away in the locked vault of our souls which we will mine time and again for just the right emotion we are trying to communicate through our words.

I suppose the time will come when I’ll give a voice to the grief in my heart.  For now, I’ll stick with Natalie Goldberg’s advice and just crack the door open a wee bit, listen beyond the wall.

For the full article from Natalie Goldberg which appeared in Oprah’s magazine, click here.

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