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And our next virgin is…(drumroll)…SUSAN M. BOYER!

Susan has been making up stories her whole life. She tags along with her husband on business trips whenever she can because hotels are great places to write: fresh coffee all day and cookies at 4 p.m. They have a home in Greenville, SC, which they occasionally visit. Susan’s short fiction has appeared in moonShine Review, Spinetingler Magazine, Relief Journal, The Petigru Review, and Catfish Stew. Her debut novel, Lowcountry Boil, is a 2012 RWA Golden Heart® Finalist and a 2012 Daphne du Maurier finalist.

Susan is generously giving away one copy of her award-winning debut to one lucky commenter—in the format of the winner’s choice: Kindle, Nook, or Trade Paperback. So please come on by, read her wonderful post about her journey to publication, then go check out her mystery—Lowcountry Boil. It sounds like a wonderful read: here’s a taste…

Private Investigator Liz Talbot is a modern Southern belle: she blesses hearts and takes names. She carries her Sig 9 in her Kate Spade handbag, and her golden retriever, Rhett, rides shotgun in her hybrid Escape. When her grandmother is murdered, Liz high-tails it back to her South Carolina island home to find the killer. She’s fit to be tied when her police-chief brother shuts her out of the investigation, so she opens her own. Then her long-dead best friend pops in and things really get complicated. When more folks start turning up dead in this small seaside town, Liz must use more than just her wits and charm to keep her family safe, chase down clues from the hereafter, and catch a psychopath before he catches her.

Doesn’t that sound like a great read? Now go check out her post, then answer the question about how song lyrics trigger our imaginations, and maybe you’ll win a copy! And thank you so much, Susan, for dropping by today—and good luck with your debut!

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Susan M. BoyerKaki, thank you so much for having me here on Virgin No More! I’m so excited to share with y’all how I lost it.

I’ll give y’all the abbreviated version of the backstory. I was that child who tried to get the school librarian to let her check out six books when the limit was two per week. I started college as an English major, but plenty of people were happy to tell me the odds against ever making a living as a writer.

Four major changes later, I took a long detour through corporate America, which came to an abrupt halt in 2004, when the company I worked for went out of business. My husband, who knew how long I’d dreamed of writing, looked at me and said, “Why don’t you give the writing thing a try.” So I did.

We had lived in the old village area of Mt. Pleasant, SC, for eighteen months while my husband was working on a contract in the area. Mt. Pleasant is just across the Cooper River from Charleston. Cross the Intracoastal Waterway on Ben Sawyer Bridge and you’re on Sullivan’s Island. I used to ride my bike across that bridge and down the beach every morning.

I loved living in the lowcountry. It spoke to me. And I probably ate my weight in lowcountry boil, a regional dish of shrimp, sausage, corn, potatoes, and whateverLowcountry Boil else the cook wants to boil in beer and spices. Moving back to Greenville when my husband’s contract was up was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Sidebar: Greenville is awesome in her own right, but this isn’t Greenville’s story.

One day, shortly after we’d decided I was going to live my writing dream, I was listening to that old Eagles song, “Last Resort,” on the radio. The ending of the song is, “They call it paradise. I don’t know why. You call someplace paradise, kiss it goodbye.” (Don Henley) Anyway, the word “paradise” sent me back to the lowcountry, and a story started percolating in the back corner of my brain.

Several drafts, a few conferences, a critique group, several rounds of “revise and resubmit” with agents that didn’t work out, and another pass of edits later, I started querying agents in earnest. After forty-nine queries, and maybe fifteen requests for the full manuscript, I signed with an agent.

But, just as she started submitting, she fell ill and went on medical leave. Thankfully, I had signed with a well-known, reputable agency. They re-assigned me to another agent, and I am convinced that he did his best to sell my manuscript to several New York editors. Most of the rejections I was getting sounded like great reviews until you got to that last sentence that said something like, “Unfortunately I’m just not passionate enough about it to make it a must-have for our list at this time.”

I started thinking about small presses about the same time someone I knew from a writers’ group decided to start her own. For many, this would be a risky venture, but I knew things about this lady that maybe everyone didn’t—like she was a successful entrepreneur in another business, and had been a freelance editor and cover designer for years.

Lowcountry Boil CoverI signed my contract in late March, and Lowcountry Boil has just been released. This was the right path for me. I’m absolutely thrilled to be with Henery Press. It’s small enough to be nimble. We hope to have the second book in the series out in spring. I have forward momentum, which was necessary for my continued grip on sanity.

Thanks again for having me, Kaki! Y’all please come see me when you can. I hang out in all the usual places—my website, Amazon, B&N, & Fiction Addiction

Hey, before I go, I was wondering, do song lyrics ever inspire stories for y’all? Even if you’re not a writer and never wanted to be, do you sometimes start imagining what happens next to the people in the song?

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VIRGIN TIME!   Please welcome our next debut author, Beth Yarnall!

 Beth Yarnall headshot

Beth writes romantic suspense, mysteries, and the occasional hilarious blog post. A storyteller since her playground days, she published her first piece in high school with a spoof of soap operas for the school’s newspaper. She hasn’t stopped writing since.  Now living in California with her husband, two sons, and their dog, she’s hard at work on her next novel.  After you read her guest blog here on how important a name is, pop over to her website, www.bethyarnall.com, and learn more about this fabulous new author and her book, RUSH, which hit the shelves yesterday! 

RUSH cover

RUSH, book 1 in the Please at Home Series

Someone is stalking Miyuki Price-Jones.

As the host of a very successful home shopping TV show that sells adult toys, Mi has become the object of an ex-con’s obsession, requiring the services of ex-Navy SEAL turned bodyguard, Lucas Vega. As the attraction between Lucas and Mi grows, Lucas has a difficult time keeping his feelings for Mi separate from his mission to keep her safe. A mission that is more challenging than anyone could have predicted.

Damaged by their pasts, Lucas and Mi find more in common then they could have imagined and secrets they thought would tear them apart could be the ties that bind them together forever. But with the stalker growing bolder, Lucas and Mi must learn to trust each other or risk losing more than their hearts.

One of them could lose their life.

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What’s In a Name?

Your name says a lot about your family, the era you were born in, your nationality, and who you are as a person. It marks you. If you’re a parent you understand the importance of choosing just the right name for your bundle of joy. I imagine there are some who wish they had a different moniker than the one on their birth certificate. And then there are those who have taken it a step further by legally changing their name to something they feel better suits them.

Names are important.

Heck, it took forever for my family to settle on just the right name for our dog.

Naming a character for a novel can be just as stressful to come up with, just as vital to the story as the setting and conflict. A character’s name says something about them sometimes before they even appear on the page. One of my favorite authors, Janet Evanovich, had this to say about naming characters in her book on writing HOW I WRITE~

‘Whenever possible a character’s name should suggest certain traits, like the character’s social or ethnic background or something unusual about that character. When I started writing the Stephanie Plum series, I searched for a long time to find the perfect name for my heroine. I wanted something that was kind of voluptuous and juicy—like a plum!

All character’s names are important, not just the main characters’. And once you hit on it, you’ll know it.’

When I first imagined the heroine for my debut romantic suspense novel, RUSH, I knew she would be of mixed Japanese heritage and that her name should start with an M. I’d been searching for the right name with no luck when I decided to ask my Facebook friends for suggestions. Miyuki was one of the suggestions. I loved the way it sounded when I said it (Mee-yew-kee) as will as the shortened version- Mi (My).

Miyuki, was named after her paternal grandmother and she needed a last name that would reflect her mixed heritage. I liked the idea of her having a hyphenated last name, Price-Jones. Her life is complicated and I felt her name should exhibit that. Miyuki Price-Jones has a lyrical sound to it that worked for me.

My hero, Lucas, as he does in the book, revealed himself to me slowly. I knew he’d be an unusually large man of Hispanic heritage. He’d been in the military, but was now at a crossroads in his life. He needed a strong name with hard and soft sounds. I tried out several until I found what I though was the right combination, Lucas Joaquin Vega. Lucas was also named after a grandparent, his maternal grandfather.

Miyuki’s and Lucas’s names became very important to the story. For one of them, their name gives them a sense of belonging and family. It ties them to a past they wish they could revisit. For the other, their name is a heavy burden and a reminder of events that continue to impact and haunt their life.

What does your name say about you? Have you ever wished for a different name and if so, what name would you choose?

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WINNER!  Congrats to Christi Corbett, the lucky winner of Moriah Densley’s debut, SONG FOR SOPHIA.  Thanks, everybody, for your wonderful comments and for showing the love to our newest virgin.  Her book sounds amazing, and I hope to see more from her in the near future.  Thanks for participating!

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Two chances to win my latest release, Bride of the High Country! Visit Romcon.com to join the discussion and enter to win your copy.

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WINNER!

CONGRATULATIONS to Quilt Lady who has won a copy of Theresa Romain’s debut regency, SEASON FOR TEMPTATION. Please send your mailing address to kaki@kakiwarner.com and we’ll get your book out ASAP. And thanks everybody for participating.

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WINNER!

Congratulations to Christina Lasswell who has won a copy of LOVE CHOSEN, Marne Kirk’s debut fantasy.  Thanks to everyone who came by.  And be ready for Monday, when Donald E. McQuinn tells us all about his venture into e-pubbing with his award-winning, best-selling back list.   See you there!

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CONGRATULATIONS to Mariann of Belle’s Book Bag and Genevieve Graham, whose names were randomly drawn to win a copy each of Tes Hilaire’s debut paranormal romance, DELIVER ME FROM DARKNESS.  Thanks to all of you who participated.  And be sure to check in on Monday, April 9th when Marne Kirk will be chatting with us about her debut fantasy, LOVE CHOSEN.

Thank you, Tes, for visiting and good luck with your fabulous debut.

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