Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Tina Russo Radcliffe talks Indie publishing and her new romantic comedy, The Rosetti Curse! With free ebook giveaway!

Hello, everybody! Before we get to our blog guest today, let me just wander down memory lane for a moment. (Don't worry, I'm almost forty and memory lane is a lot shorter than it used to be.)
I love a romance.
I really do. I love the sweet blushes of new love, the high of knowing you're loved in return, the heartbreak of thinking all is lost, and the triumph of love conquering all.
Oh, swoon!! I could just read sweet romance ALL DAY.
Except... sometimes it starts to all sound the same. Sometimes we get a little bored with the cookie-cutter romances and wish we had something different. We can't live on vanilla cupcakes and chocolate chip cookies. Sometimes we need a little lemon granita. Maybe some cannoli. A few biscotti.
Maybe a big slice of tiramisu with an extra shot of espresso and some dark rum for good measure.
(Great. Now I need dessert. And not just any dessert. I need ITALIAN dessert! I need some biscotti! And espresso!!)
Anyway, my point is that Tina has written a romance that promises to be the tiramisu to the usual chocolate chip cookie. (Not that there's anything wrong with chocolate chip cookies. I make them all the time. But tiramisu is one of a kind and something you don't forget in a hurry. Do you remember the last chocolate chip cookie you had? Yeah, me either. And I'm sure I've eaten some in the last month, maybe even the last few weeks.)
So, that's my bloggy bit. Tina made it easy on me by having a blog post all written up so I'm just going to cut and paste it. Read on down... and then hop over to check out her new book. She's offered (so kindly!) to give out a free copy to anyone interested, so leave a comment and a way for her to contact you.
When I first heard murmurings of a Tina Indie book I was curious.... then I saw the cover and I perked up. And then I read the blurb and I did a little Jersey fist pump. I love me some tiramisu writing. Enjoy and thanks for stopping by!

Are We Having Fun Yet? By Tina Russo Radcliffe

Here’s a newsflash. Writing is work. I keep an Excel spread sheet for my fiction, just so I can monitor exactly how much work it is. There are 426 entries on the spread sheet. The first entry is 1996. The last entry is my fourth sale to Harlequin Love Inspired books. Last week!
426 entries over seventeen years is not all that impressive. It rounds out to about twenty-five per year and that’s two a month. But it is consistent. I consider myself a working writer. I write, I edit, and I ghostwrite.
My spread sheet doesn’t include my non-fiction writing jobs: editing gigs, writing real estate reports for an environmental engineer, blog posts (medical, educational, and B2B), some with bylines, and some without. I’ve typed out menus for restaurants, and done many other assorted writing grunt chores. At one point I was writing forty blog posts a month for pay. If it exists, and I can get paid for it I’ll do it.

So you get my point here. I’ll do pretty much anything within my moral code for a check.  I admire writers who say it’s fun. It’s never been fun for me. Writing is work. It’s my job.
Something magical happened when I began working on my first Indie project.
I had fun.
I’m just now trying to figure out why. I do know that one big difference was that I wrote for an audience of one.
I was no longer writing for the readers, or the writers or the editors, the reviewers, and the contest judges. This project was for me, so expectation disappeared. The only expectation was mine. There’s nothing wrong with expectation. In fact meeting reader expectation is necessary to be a commercially successful author. But for this one project everything fell away except the writing. I don’t know what will happen with future books.
I do know that I’ve learned something valuable and Mr. Vonnegut sums it up nicely:

“Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.” Kurt Vonnegut
Writing my romantic comedy, The Rosetti Curse was magical and freeing. The internal editor disappeared. Of course the book had a developmental editor, and two Beta readers, but I was the publisher. The moment I realized I was responsible for every single comma and em-dash, I did have a panic attack. But I got over it and subscribed to The Chicago Manual of Style online, then immediately hired a copy editor.
And while it was still work- hours and hours and hours of work- this story was different.
From designing the cover with my cover maven, Rogenna Brewer to typing ‘The End,’ this project was my vision.
     I became empowered.
    I became overwhelmed.
    I was learning, and I still have so much more learning to tackle that it terrifies me.

    But I was having fun!

     I also gained a new respect for my traditional publisher and editor and all the behind the scenes people who produce my Love Inspired books. BTW, traditional and independent publishing should be considered apples and oranges. Don’t compare the experiences.
     There’s a healthy thing that happens when you Indie publish. You’re competing against yourself. Challenging yourself to be the best you can be in a new publishing modality, as author and publisher and marketer. It’s exhilarating. And because the birthing period is shorter, gratification occurs faster.
      Indie publishing isn’t a quick fix for your writing woes. There are no guarantees of success, financial windfalls, peer recognition or fame. But there is a satisfaction and yes, fun. Maybe you should think about having fun too.

Tina Russo Radcliffe writes romantic comedy as Tina Russo and inspirational romance as Tina Radcliffe. From Western New York, she’s lived in Massachusetts, Alabama, Germany, Oklahoma, and Colorado. She now lives in a cave in Phoenix, Arizona and comes out for coffee and writing supplies. A former Specialist 4th Class in the U.S .Army, Tina has been a registered nurse, a library cataloger, a pharmacy clerk and now writes full-time at home. You can reach her or  Her first Indie release, The Rosetti Curse, is available on Amazon for Kindle this week right HERE!

(Hi there, it's me, your hostess with the mostess. I know you already saw the cover, but I'm putting it up again because it's so nice... and it's good to have it right above the blurb. So, don't blame Tina for being repetitive. It's all my fault!)

A Romantic Comedy of Italian Proportions…
She may look good in black, but Tessa Rosetti is not testing the family curse again. Three generations of women buried the men they love and confirmed Tessa’s belief in the Rosetti Curse.
Los Angeles cop, Thomas Riley, arrives back home in Silver Ridge, Colorado, to settle his grandmother’s estate, but while he's there he stumbles into trouble in the night. If his suspicions are correct, someone's cooking up more than biscotti at the local cookie factory.
Together, Riley and Tessa renew their old bond and battle a curse that leads them on a journey of destiny to the love of a lifetime.
"The Sopranos Meets Fried Green Tomatoes. Loved this book!" Sharon Sala - author of GOING ONCE - Mira Books - October 201
If you’d like the opportunity to have a free Kindle copy of The Rosetti Curse, leave a comment and a way to contact you!



Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Again, A Cover Reveal! And Christina Rossetti and heroes and heroines and romance and...

Happy Tuesday!!
This? This is just for fun. It's a stock brownie picture that I leave on my hard drive because with all this blogging (hahahaha, I hardly ever blog) I need to throw out some culinary bling now and then.
 I know, it seems like every time I post, I reveal another cover, but I'm writing my brains out here. Now that I've figured that time writing= actual books, I'm committed to writing  on a firm schedule. Well, I mean committed in a "if there's nothing good on TV and everyone's asleep and I've read every stupid article on Yahoo news" sort of way.
So, without further ado (which always makes me think of Much Ado About Nothing, which has been made into a film by Joss Whedon!!!!) here's the new cover:

Oh, pretty! Now, we went around and around a few (hundred) times and this is what we got. I'm happy. I think the designer working for Kim Killion is currently on a 5150 hold but that has NOTHING TO DO WITH ME. (Kidding. She seemed very sane during our last e-mail exchange. Very relieved to be done with me, but sane.)

 Honestly, when I first saw this cover I thought, "she looks SO WHITE". I mean, ghostly white. Pale like the dead. And then I smiled. Because the heroine has been kept in an ivory tower for most of her young life, being pampered and spoiled and coddled. Then one day she discovers the ugly underbelly of her city, and everything changes. She changes. Her ideas of beauty and truth and wealth and honor, they all change. So, the more I look at this cover, the more it makes me smile. First impressions can be so wrong. At first glance, she's a rich white woman without a care but at heart, she's fighting a losing battle for Chinese laborers on the railroad, who were treated worse than cattle or dogs. It's not a pretty world she's thrown herself into, and it won't be pretty when she reveals her biggest secret.

The title? "It makes no sense" you say? Well, it comes from an old poem, just like the title of the first in the series (All The Blue of Heaven). 'A Royal Princess' by Christina Rosetti is about a (yes) princess who is lonely and afraid. You can read the entire thing here.

 It starts like this:

"I, a princess, king-descended, decked with jewels, gilded, drest,
Would rather be a peasant with her baby at her breast,
For all I shine so like the sun, and am purple like the west.

Two and two my guards behind, two and two before,
Two and two on either hand, they guard me evermore;
Me, poor dove, that must not coo—eagle that must not soar."

I love Rossetti's poetry. We know exactly what this girl is feeling. She's draped in velvet and jewels, but has no one. She has guards to protect her, but can't make a sound. She's a dove. Wait... she's an EAGLE.

Here's the thing about eagles: they do soar. But they are also fierce, powerful, intelligent. You don't want to cross a mother eagle protecting her nest, or any eagle in a controlled dive for prey. Christina Rossetti has given us a glimpse into the heart of our princess. She's a beauty, but she's smart and observant.
I love a powerful heroine. I love a woman who has all the cards stacked against her and still comes out swinging. There are fierce and powerful women everywhere, throughout all of history. But how do we make our heroine, the love interest in a romance (which this book is, of course!) also tender? Because our princess is seeking LOVE, too.

More from the poem:
"Alone by day, alone by night, alone days without end;
My father and my mother give me treasures, search and spend—
O my father! O my mother! have you ne'er a friend?"

When does it change? When does her loneliness turn her vision outward, to the suffering world around her? Well, in the poem, the princess observes her father's callous practices, ordering men around, sometimes to their deaths. She also overhears a conversation between servants, laughing over the famine that is killing the people of the kingdom.

"My father counting up his strength sets down with equal pen
So many head of cattle, head of horses, head of men;
These for slaughter, these for breeding, with the how and when.

Some to work on roads, canals; some to man his ships;
Some to smart in mines beneath sharp overseers' whips;
Some to trap fur-beasts in lands where utmost winter nips.

Once it came into my heart, and whelmed me like a flood,
That these too are men and women, human flesh and blood;
Men with hearts and men with souls, though trodden down like mud."


Now she knows. Our pampered princess knows what's happening and who's causing it. What does she do? What CAN she do?

Remember, she's not just fierce and fast, but she's intelligent and observant. She comes up with a plan. At least, in MY story she does.
Christina Rossetti's princess doesn't really have a plan. The people are rioting:

'Sit and roast there with your meat, sit and bake there with your bread,
You who sat to see us starve,' one shrieking woman said:
'Sit on your throne and roast with your crown upon your head.'

Yikes. They're torching the castle. So what does she do? She walks out of the castle, holding all her jewels, hoping...

"With a ransom in my lap, a king's ransom in my hand,
I will go down to this people, will stand face to face, will stand
Where they curse king, queen, and princess of this cursed land.

They shall take all to buy them bread, take all I have to give;
I, if I perish, perish; they to-day shall eat and live;
I, if I perish, perish; that's the goal I half conceive:

Once to speak before the world, rend bare my heart and show
The lesson I have learned which is death, is life, to know.
I, if I perish, perish; in the name of
God I go."

Hm. Now, I love the sentiment. I know she's going out there to help, to give up everything she has so that the starving people can eat. But she's walking into a rabid mob that's trying to burn her where she stands.

Smart? Maybe not.
And I do love a smart heroine. I would love it if our Rossetti princess could have come up with a better plan in the weeks between her realization and gathering up her jewels and sacrificing herself.  A 'goal I half conceive' is pretty much a half-baked plan. It could use some work. Some scheming. Some thought.
Part of the poem's power is that we're pretty sure she's just ended her life while trying to right some wrongs. But this book is a romance and I'd rather not write a death scene for my fierce, intelligent heroine. Someday I may write an ending like that, but not this time, not this book.

Sometimes even fierce, intelligent heroines must resort to a little subterfuge. Sometimes they must work behind the scenes. Sometimes they have to look sweet, dainty, pristine, and pampered on the outside, while battling murderers and bullies.

Now, Christina Rossetti's poem ended in the princess walking to her death, without ever finding someone to call her own, without ever finding a kindred spirit. But our heroine, Margaret, finds someone just like herself. She doesn't see it right away, because she's got her eye on the prize, where it should be. But that's the thing about walking the hard road, fighting for justice, doing the will of God: you end up right next to people just like yourself.
In the midst of battle you glance to the left or the right and you see... a friend. A person who is as passionate about fighting the bullies as you are, a person who has been working in their own way toward the exact same goal, for the exact same reason.

A heroine doesn't just happen. She's made. By her decisions, hopes, fears, prayers, and dreams. And a hero doesn't fall from the sky. He's right next to her, working for the same goal.
And then no matter what it looks like on the outside, whether you're dressed like kings and queens or ragged paupers, your heart is one. Which is the most important part of all.

So, thanks for wandering through the inspiration for the title. (That was just the TITLE, ha!) This book should be tidied and ready to go... oh, sometime soon. I'd like to say in the next few weeks but editing is a bear and we know editing can make or break a good book. So, I'll drop a line when it's out. In the meantime, you can always come visit over on my Virginia Carmichael facebook page.



Friday, August 2, 2013

RASPBERRIES AND VINEGAR blog tour and giveaway !! Locavores unite!

Hello everybody!

 Have you all had a lovely week?? I thought this week was going to be same ol', same ol' but it ended up being something else, something else! We went to the drive in, then the water park, then had sleepover friends... You know the drill. Summer time and kids= rocketing around like there's no tomorrow!

 It fits right into my super fun week to be able to bring Valerie Comer's new book to the blog. But first, let me say she's having a fun facebook virtual party, and it's not the usual fb virtual party. This is a LOCAVORE party.

(Now, locavore doesn't mean crazy eater. It means LOCAL eater. As in people who make a conscious effort to eat natural, local food. I've been interested in local eating since I read
this book a few years ago. If you haven't read it, you should. And then you'll love Valerie's book even more because the main characters in this fun, contemporary love story are all about the local eating... and the local loving. I've always been a romance reader, and this story combined two of my biggest passions.

You can get a hint from the "Farm Fresh Romance" part of Valerie's cover that this is going to involve the freshest, most delicious food AND love!   I loved this cover as soon as I saw it and I asked VALERIE if she would share how the cover came to be made. This is what she said:

2 Seconds to Catch a Reader's Attention

"That's the job of a book cover designer/artist. How many times have your eyes glossed over a cover, not engaged? Maybe a friend says, "Oh, you have to read that one!" and you say, "But I don't like the cover." And you assume, rightly or wrongly, that if you don't like the cover, you won't like the story, either.

So…does this cover catch your attention? What does it make you think the story is about? The words "A Farm Fresh Romance" should give you a clue. Does the cover art enhance those words, in your opinion? Most of all, does it make you want to give the novel a chance?


I wrote a novel several years ago with the working title of Domino's Game. Domino is the name of a Border collie puppy, and he's important to the plot all the way through. My daughter, Hanna Sandvig, read a draft of the story. Being a digital artist, she couldn't help creating a mock-up cover for it. (This is the woman who, as a teen, was going to write a novel herself but couldn't get to it until she'd drawn all the characters. In various costumes. And the setting. And the…you get the idea.)


When Choose Now contracted this novel as their debut release—with a lead time of about 10 weeks—I suggested my daughter as the cover artist. Although the initial mock-up had been created on the fly, my publisher saw something in it that she liked and contracted my daughter to create the final cover.


Hanna realized that a young couple in her church fit the profiles of the novel's main characters fairly well and invited them for a photo shoot. Thankfully they thought it would be great fun and obliged, though it was only a few days before their wedding and I'm sure they had plenty of other things to do!

My daughter narrowed the selection down to her favorite poses and sent them to the publisher and to me. We agreed easily on our favorite and Hanna proceeded to create the digital art for the front, then added the layout and text for the spine and back cover as well. She doesn't have the program or skills to render it in the format required by the printer, so a graphic designer stepped on board to fine-tune the file at the final stage. Hanna blogged about the process HERE.

I'm so thrilled to share the fun of my first solo novel release with my daughter's first book cover. No one else has a cover like mine, and it's sure to catch attention simply by being so unique. I hope it's done its job on you!"

Thank you, Valerie!

Here's her bio:
Valerie Comer’s life on a small farm in western Canada provides the seed for stories of contemporary inspirational romance. Like many of her characters, Valerie and her family grow much of their own food and are active in the local foods movement as well as their creation-care-centric church. She only hopes her characters enjoy their happily ever afters as much as she does hers, shared with her husband, adult kids, and adorable granddaughters.
Valerie writes Farm Lit with the voice of experience laced with humor. Raspberries and Vinegar, first in her series A Farm Fresh Romance, released August 1, 2013. Visit her at

   Okay, you guys, I hope you check this out. I thought it was such a lovely debut novel! You can go to Valerie's publisher's site and check out a taste of what's in store for you. Sample chapters available here!!

  And here's the book blurb...
   Choose Now breaks ground in the Farm Fresh Romance series, in which Josephine Shaw and her friends renovate a dilapidated farm with their sights set on more than just their own property. Transforming the town with their sustainable lifestyle and focus on local foods is met with more resistance than they expected, especially by temporary neighbor, Zachary Nemesek. Jo needs to learn that a little sweet makes the tart more tasty.

Looking at her publisher's site, I see you can order the book personalized and signed! That would be a great gift for the romance-loving gardener in your life. There is also a GOODREADS GIVEAWAY an while you're over there you can see my starzzzz I gave. :D