my theme illus from istock

I once read that every writer has a signature theme, a theme that shows up in almost every book.

Your theme, the article said, can probably be expressed in one line, if you dig deep enough.

At first, I thought that couldn’t possibly be true. Not about me! My stories may all be romances, I assured myself, but within that they are diverse, as different from one another as winter from summer, dawn from twilight. I’m special. ;)

Oops…not so fast. As I was writing my Bell River Ranch series, I realized I do have a recurring theme. I even know a single line that expresses it perfectly.
The line is from an old country song about a man who wants to help a broken-hearted woman find happiness, but she won’t forget the past. He compares it to rescuing a drowning person.

rescue drowning from istock

“If I’m ever going to save you,” he says, “let go of the stone.”

This is my theme! Maybe it just took my Bell River Ranch series to make me recognize it. The theme is front and center for all the Wright sisters. They were traumatized years ago when their father killed their mother, and they haven’t trusted men – or love – since.

But, when I looked at my other books through that prism, I discovered it everywhere. I guess that’s because, bottom line, I believe all of life is really a variation on that theme.

The humiliations, the insecurities, the failures. The strict father, the smothering mother, the mean girl, the boy who broke our hearts… The mistakes, the regrets, the missed opportunities… The shy years, the wild years, the lost years…

broken heart istock

We carry them around like a ball and chain, often letting our past get in the way of moving forward. Even if we’re lucky enough to meet the perfect person to love us back to happiness, they can’t help us if we don’t let go of the stone.

What about you? Either as a reader or as a writer, is there a theme you are drawn to, over and over? Is there a line, from a song or a book or a friend, so full of wisdom you can’t forget it?

Secrets of Bell River cover front only

I’m giving away a copy of my upcoming SECRETS OF BELL RIVER, a May Superromance, to two random commenters today.

Our spam filter is a bit touchy lately, and we’re working on that.  In the meantime, be assured that Jaunty P. Quills will liberate your comments!

The Jaunty Quills are excited to welcome author Brooklyn Ann back to the Jaunty Quills! Brooklyn Ann has a new book out. It’s titled Wrenching Fate.

Shana: Welcome back, Brooklyn Ann! Tell us about Wrenching Fate. Is this your first indie published book?

Brooklyn Ann: Wrenching Fate is the first book in my paranormal romance series, Brides of Prophecy.

Here’s the blurb:

“Silas McNaught, Lord Vampire of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho is elated when he finds Akasha Hope, the woman his psychic visions revealed to him centuries ago. To his surprise, Akasha is infuriated when Silas interferes with her life. Furthermore, she is nothing like the sweet woman he’d envisioned. Instead she’s a foul mouthed mechanic and, due to being the accidental result of a military experiment, she possesses the strength of ten men ….and government agents are looking for her.

Matters are further complicated when Silas’s vindictive ex lover spurs the Elders to investigate Silas in hopes to destroy Akasha and gain control of her friends, which are the key to an otherworldly prophecy.

As government conspiracies and vampire politics collide, Silas teaches Akasha the meaning of trust…and love.

Cover 1

And yes, this is my first Indie published book. I’d been wanting to experiment with Indie Publishing for quite some time and WRENCHING FATE already had a small cult following from all the beta reads it’s had over the years, so it was the perfect choice.

So far, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the hype it’s already generated with my fan base, so hopefully it will do okay.

Shana: Is it difficult to write in two different genres or a nice break?

Brooklyn Ann: It’s mostly a nice break. I actually write in three different genres but they’re all romance and that ties it all together. Of course I do have to watch out for having modern rock stars talking like nineteenth century British nobles, but for the most part, the more worlds I get to explore, the better!

Shana: I noticed the book is set in your hometown, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Did you enjoy writing a book set in your own backyard?

Brooklyn Ann: I loved it! Aside from admiring how well Anne Rice and Stephen King bring their own hometowns to life, I really believe that Coeur d’Alene is a unique and versatile setting. One can be downtown at a club or golfing on the floating green and be on the lake fishing in twenty minutes or up in the mountains hunting or berry picking within an hour.

Shana: I enjoy those same qualities in Anne Rice and Stephen King’s novels. Tell us about your next Regency Bites series book. When is One Bite Per Night releasing?


 Brooklyn Ann:  One Bite Per Night releases in August and here’s the blurb for that one.

The Dowager Countess of Morley asks Vincent Tremayne, Lord Vampire of Cornwall, to become guardian of her American granddaughter. Vincent honors the agreement and plans to get his new ward married and off his hands as soon as possible. 

When Lydia Price arrives, she soon turns Vincent’s gloomy castle upside-down, and he decides he wants Lydia for himself. But if Vincent can’t protect Lydia from her entanglement with scandalous portrait painter Sir Thomas Lawrence, the vampire community will make sure that he—and Lydia—face dire consequences.”

Shana: Finally, tell us what you’ve been working on lately.

Brooklyn Ann: Currently I’m working on a heavy metal romance series and working on edits for both my 3rd Regency Paranormal series and IRONIC SACRIFICE, the sequel to WRENCHING FATE.


Readers, now it’s your turn. Last week I did an event at a library and had a copy of Brooklyn Ann’s historical to give away. Everyone wanted it. Do you love vampires in your novels or would you rather stick with humans? One commenter will win an e-book copy of WRENCHING FATE!

I’ve always liked “Where Are They Now” shows and TV segments. It’s fun to see an actor or actress you watched for years but who disappeared from the public eye and catch up on their life now. There’s a few I wonder about and now. For example, whatever happened to Mark Hamill?

mark h

He seemed to rocket to stardom with the Star Wars movies, but whereas Harrison Ford made a career out of acting, Mark Hamill was never more than a blip on the radar. I heard recently he signed to come back for the Star Wars VII movie. Fingers crossed it’s true.

Another actor I loved was Andrew McCarthy. When I looked him up online, it seemed as though he’d been in a lot of films, even recent films. I just hadn’t seen any since maybe Pretty in Pink or Weekend at Bernie’s. I’d like to forget that second one, by the way.


Now let’s talk authors. One of my biggest influences and favorite authors is Marsha Canham. I read all of her books and then she seemed to disappear. But when I checked Amazon and her website, I saw that she does have books in the work and new books on sale. Like so many other authors, the ease of digital publishing has made it possible for us to keep reading her fabulous books.

Elizabeth Elliott was another historical author I adored. I must have read her 1995 release Warlord half a dozen times. When I looked her up for this blog, I saw she also has a new book out—well, newer. In fact, I had it on my Kindle app. One of my readers had told me about it, and I’d bought it and forgot to read it. Guess what I’ve been reading lately?

Finally, whatever happened to Elizabeth A. Vaughn? She was a guest on the Jaunty Quills years ago (February 2007—read the interview here), and I loved her Chronicles of the Warlands series, especially Warprize. She also published another series, but I can’t see that she’s published anything else recently. Anyone know what she’s been up to?


Are there any authors you wonder about?


Halloween—that special time of year when people love to dress up as deranged murderers, evil demons, blood-dripping zombies, and indulge in their love of horror by wallowing in movies that pretty much scare you stupid.  When it comes to experiencing the thrill of fear, some folks just seem to thrive on it.

Me?  I’m a wimp, and I’m happy to proclaim it loud and proud.  Sure, I loved Buffy and Angel as much as the next gal, but that’s as far as I’m prepared to go in testing the boundaries of my wimpiness.  Full-on horror movies?  Forget it.  I saw The Exorcist on the big screen—and when I say saw I mean I pretty much watched it with my hands over my face—and it made me afraid to be alone in the house for months.  And Texas Chainsaw Massacre…don’t even get me started.

Dark cellars?  Avoid whenever possible.  Strolls through cemeteries after dark?  Please!  Watching a rerun of The Ring with my stepson and his wife?  In your dreams, baby.  For me, the best part of Halloween is definitely the candy.

So trust me when I tell you that working on Lethal Confessions, the romantic suspense I wrote with my husband as VK Sykes, was a true challenge.  That’s because hubby, who wrote the first draft, created a villain so creepy I was practically whimpering with fear while working on those parts of the book.

Nothing says terror like a serial killer, IMHO.  Fortunately, the heroine of Lethal Confessions has courage to spare when it comes to tracking down creepy villains, as does the hero.  It’s one of the reasons I much prefer romantic suspense to horror–in horror novels and movies evil too frequently seems to triumph, while romantic suspense and thriller novels usually see the triumph of good over evil.  For wimps like me, it’s a reassurance that’s sorely needed.

How about you?  Do you love to be scared–and by what–or are you a wimp like me?  One person who comments will win a print or Kindle copy of Lethal Confessions (North America, only).

Lethal Confessions

ImageI’ve been on a blog tour for my most recent release, A Little Bit Scandalous, and I had set up this blog for a certain spot that I thought required original blog material, but as it turned out, they needed an interview. But I’d already taken the time to do this blog so y’all get it today. Without further ado, here are the first five…

Prologue - Monroe Grisham, Sixth Duke of Chanceworth, paced the front parlor of his country estate. If he didn’t get back to London soon he would go mad from sheer boredom. The soft butter-yellow of the room was annoyingly cheerful, and all the furniture felt small and dainty, making him keenly aware of his size. He wasn’t quite as tall as his brother, but Roe’s shoulders were broad enough to make him look as if he sat upon children’s furniture. So he found the largest piece to sit on, the settee. He’d sit in a different room, but damned if his mother hadn’t decorated them all roughly the same.

Chapter One - Caroline Jellico pulled on the trousers over her drawers and fastened them. She slipped the linen shirt over her head and straightened it, then tucked it into the waistband of the tweed pants. Her bound breasts felt strange against the strip of linen that held them tightly against her. She pulled up the suspenders and then donned the coat she knew she wouldn’t take off. Even if it proved to be hotter than Hades inside the gaming hell, she’d leave it on.

Chapter Two - Caroline swallowed the lump in her throat.

Chapter Three - The brown eyes staring back at him were rounded in surprise. Roe cocked one eyebrow. Reggie was doing her best to tempt the boy into some sort of reaction, but Grey sat stone still. “Reggie, I don’t think the boy is interested,” Roe said.

Chapter Four – Caroline did her very best to focus on her cards and the ones coming out of the deck. She felt certain she had an accurate count, but damnation if Roe wouldn’t stop talking. And damnation also that the lighting in his study was so much clearer and brighter than it had been at Rodale’s. She could see his features all the more, which meant he could see her features as well. He was still as bloody handsome as she remembered him being, if not more so. And just as cavalier.

So how about it, do y’all follow blog tours? What’s your favorite type of post on a blog, an excerpt, something personal, a recipe? 

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