Writer Wednesday: Meet Genie Bernstein!

ggtreesitWoo-wee, people. We had two feet of snow this past weekend. How about you? The good news is, the power never went out, so I had light, heat, and internet! Hallelujah! The bad news, I also had one heck of a virus, and was worried #WriterWednesday might not make an appearance this week, but huzzah, I have rallied in time to bring you writer of romantic intrigue, Genie Bernstein! (Be sure to check out her site and visit her fan page – I love it!)

Read on for a bit about Ms. Bernstein and her first published romance, Act On The Heart!

Which type of romance do you love most, and why?

I love modern day romances that blend past with present and have a dash of intrigue. Love blossoms, hope abounds, and malice festers, just like it does in real life.

Name one interesting thing you learned in researching/writing your last book:

In Act on the Heart, the initials of modern day lovers are carved beside those of a past generation. I thought carvings grew up tree trunks, but not so. Trees grow from their tops. Thank goodness for a sharp editor who told me to check this fact.

Name two things people don’t know about you:

Unless they’ve read my bio, people wouldn’t suspect I landed an airplane whose engine failed, and they wouldn’t peg me as a lap swimmer.

What one piece of advice do you wish you’d had when first starting out?

To use a calendar. It doesn’t matter from what year, but a calendar shores up the structure and gives logic to the story as it unfolds.

What’s your favorite romance novel of all time, and why?

Jane Eyre – Every emotion you can name is in this sweeping love story, intimately told in first person.

[ML: I love how many romance authors pick Jane Eyre!]

And now, a bit about Act On The Heart

actontheheartAct on the Heart takes its title from the definition of “courage.” As this contemporary love triangle plays out between the glitter of Hollywood and the rolling hills of Georgia, three people are mired in grief and pain. They face the hard choice of walking away, losing everything that matters, or acting on their hearts.

Kathryn Tribble is grieving the loss of her husband and child, and just wants to be left alone…

On the brink of depression, she abandons her New York editing career and flees home to Athens, Georgia, but she’s pursued by major client/celebrity author Joe Butler. He insists she edit his first fiction novel. Kathryn agrees until she reads the manuscript and finds the story mined from her personal misfortune. Her peace is shattered and she is once again pushed to the brink.

Joe, hiding a sham marriage and caring for a seriously ill child, desires much more from Kathryn than her editing skills…

A descendant of Hollywood royalty, he first wrote a biography of his family. His editor, Kathryn recognized his talent and challenged him to write fiction. He creates what promises to be a blockbuster heroine based on the raw courage he admires in Kathryn’s efforts to reclaim her life. His hard work backfires when she refuses to have anything to do with the book – or with him. Heartsick at the pain he has caused, Joe abandons the project. But, his mega-movie-star cousin, Colton Bennett, is determined to make it into a movie. Even worse, Colton becomes infatuated with Kathryn, convinced in his world of make believe, he can anchor himself to reality by making her his wife.

Interested? Find Act on the Heart here!

Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B011ZBK1OM

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/act-on-the-heart-genie-smith-bernstein/1122431641?ean=9781626943070

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/561430

KOBO: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/act-on-the-heart

ARe: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-actontheheart-1870122-149.html

BOB: http://www.blackopalbooks.com/shop-our-store/blackopalstore/act-on-the-heart

Scribd: https://www.scribd.com/book/274119213/Act-on-the-Heart

writingGenie Smith Bernstein began writing by falling out of the sky. She was unable to talk about the trauma of landing an airplane whose engine failed until she captured her feelings about the experience on paper. From that exercise came her ability to infuse writing with emotion, which led her to the romance genre.

Bernstein is beginning her sixth year as a featured columnist for Georgia Connector, Georgia’s premier regional quarterly magazine. Her short story “Southern Hospitality” won South Carolina’s Carrie McCray Literary Award for Non-Fiction. Four volumes of “O, Georgia!” anthologies of Georgia’s most promising writers, included her stories.

Originally from Eatonton, Georgia, Genie writes with the authority and authenticity of a southerner. Swimming to keep fit, she makes her home in Athens, Georgia, and shares with her husband their joyously combined family of six children and fourteen globe-trotting grandchildren.

Act on the Heart is Genie Smith Bernstein’s first novel of romantic intrigue. An exploration of relationships defined by courage, it was published by Black Opal Books, Inc., and released August 1, 2015. Her works in progress include a contentious, mystery-solving couple who fall in love, and a children’s book about acceptance.

Thank you so much for joining us, Genie! It was a pleasure getting to know a bit about you! 

Meow, Woof, Purr: Animals in Romance Novels – Yes Or No?


I admit it. I’m a total Crazy Cat Lady in the making. We have two, a darling, über-friendly tuxedo named Scilla, and a gorgeous but true scaredy-cat Maine Coon mix, Presley. I’d have more, but it’s either get more cats or keep the husband, and I’m rather fond of the husband. So, our tally remains at two.

Presley, Elvis's inspiration.
Presley, Elvis’s inspiration.

However, I decided one way early on to indulge in my love for animals would be to include them in each of my novels, just for fun. They don’t and won’t necessarily play a main part or be central to any plot, but I feel most humans benefit from having a furry creature around, and how people interact with animals sheds a lot of light on a person’s character, don’t you think?

Einstein. I still miss him.

In A Man of CharacterI mention two cats. One, Elvis, is the Maine Coon-esque cat that Cat and Eliza own. He is unashamedly patterned (and named) after my own Presley. And I figured since I had one of my cats thrown in there, might as well throw in another: Einstein, my first cat from when I was younger, also a Maine Coon mix. If you’ve read A Man of Character, you’ll notice I didn’t even change the name! William Dawes mentions his childhood cat, Einstein, and yes, they are one in the same.

English Foxhound Puppy, from Aboutdogenglishfoxhound.com

When it came to A Matter of Time, it seemed only natural to move from cats to dogs, not only because household cats were somewhat rarer in that time (though I’ve seen portraits of cats, so clearly people did keep them as house pets), but because a Duke’s estate was bound to have hunting dogs, and likely lots of them. So what better to include in a story than English foxhound puppies, especially an adorable one-eyed pup named Pirate?

In my current work-in-progress, A Scandalous Matter, I’ve given our hero a cat named Ada, after Ada Lovelace, the daughter of Lord Byron and one of the pioneers of computer science. Because there’s something about a man who loves a cat…

The then-boyfriend, now husband with Chazzy.
The then-boyfriend, now husband with Chazzy.

Speaking of which, for all my husband claims not to be a cat person, when we were dating and he first visited my apartment, my cat at the time, a little muted calico, Chazzy, promptly came out and sat right next to him and purred. This was a cat who didn’t come out for anybody. I decided then and there that was a vote of confidence in my boyfriend’s favor, so I married him. Okay, yeah, there were a few other elements involved, but I do love to tell that (true) story.

How about you? Do you like seeing pets or other animals included in romances? Or could you do without?

Writer Wednesday: Meet Scarlet Darkwood!

scarletWoo hoo! Wedneday! WRITER Wednesday. Today we’ve got Scarlet Darkwood, writer of avant garde fiction in the genres of erotica, romance, paranormal, horror, Gothic, thriller. Yup, a little bit of everything, and a whole lot of spicy fun! So settle in with that candy cane and cup of yummy Christmas chai, and learn a bit more about Ms. Darkwood.

Name one interesting thing you learned in researching/writing your last book.

I learned about Venetian carnivals and how it had started out as a festivity, only to become a way of life for nearly a hundred years. The beauty of the original carnival was that it leveled the playing field between social classes because everyone wore a mask when they went out in public. All kinds of clandestine trysts went on, deals were made, and noblemen mingled with scoundrels without knowing it.

scarletdarwooWhat one piece of advice do you wish you’d had when first starting out?

I wish someone would have said write a few books and publish them all at once. I think it’s better if a reader can read more of you if they enjoyed you the first time. The other thing I think new authors need to do is take a personality assessment of themselves and determine if they like writing by themselves or if they enjoy a more collaborative type of publishing, such as co-authoring or writing for anthologies.

Name two things people don’t know about you.

I adore bats. I own a retail shop.

[ML: I suddenly want to know if the two things go together!]

And now, a bit about Ms. Darkwood’s Taming Bad:

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000037_00013]Is biology a friend or foe? This question plagues Newton Grenfield daily. He believes that a man’s virility is the key to his masculinity, his identity. One man’s abundance is another’s curse. Newton discovers how cursed he really is when his libido refuses to shut down, spurring him on in the continual search for the right woman who will welcome his advances in the bedroom. Overeager attempts at finding love fall flat, earning him not only a cold shoulder from the ladies, but an angry father who decides treatment at The House, the local asylum, will do his son good. There’s one catch to this treatment the father demands of Dr. James, The House physician. He wants Newton’s antics stopped—for good.

The doctor has a radical, fail-proof plan that will cut to the core of his patient’s masculine ideologies in more ways than one. Above all, Newton’s attendant must ensure he’s as much of a man when he leaves The House as when he entered it, by helping him hone his lovemaking skills in order to secure the lady of his dreams. One night, Newton meets a young woman wandering the halls of The House, and his life changes forever. He thinks he’s found the right one for him. When he experiences the ultimate change at the hand of Dr. James, he’s left with answering to a confused lover, and wondering if the treatment made a bad situation worse.

Buy Links:

Amazon: http://goo.gl/K2VjwG
B&N: http://goo.gl/zWZxY6
iTunes: https://goo.gl/Y8uJDp

About Scarlet:

writingScarlet Darkwood is an author with Booktrope, as well as an indie author publishing other material. For more information about the latest concerning Scarlet and her work, sign up for her newsletter: http://eepurl.com/Rt5HP

Writing in several genres allows her to unleash her imagination in different directions, creating stories for different audiences. Always preferring avant garde themes, her stories will take the reader on an unusual adventure, exploring the darker parts of the human psyche. From a young age, she’s enjoyed writing and keeping diaries, but didn’t start creating novels until 2012. She’s a Southern girl who lives in Tennessee and enjoys the beauty of the mountains. She lives in Nashville with her spouse and two rambunctious kitties.

Connect with Scarlet:

My Blog: http://www.scarletdarkwood.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/ScarletDarkwood
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/scarletdarkwoodauthor
Amazon: http://amazon.com/author/scarletdarkwood
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/scarletdarkwood
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/scarletdarkwood/
StumbleUpon: http://www.stumbleupon.com/stumbler/scarletdarkwood

Thanks so much for joining us, Scarlet! Wishing you a happy holiday season! 

Award-Winning author Beth Trissel Talks Her New #YA Young Adult Series!

Author Beth TrisselWow, am I excited to feature Beth Trissel today! Beth and I live in the same town (we’ve yet to meet in person, but it will happen!), and she’s been a great support to newbie me, so I’m so pleased to feature her here.

I managed to sneak in a few short questions of my own for a mini-interview of sorts, and then Beth tells us all about her NEW book, The Hunter’s Moon, the first volume in her brand-spankin’ new YA Secret Warrior series. But before you get to read about that, there’s this:

Beth says: Thank you, Margaret, for hosting me today!

What are your top three favorite romances of all time?

Katherine by Anya Seton, The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy, and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I favor the classics. 🙂

Why do you write what you write?

Well, I’m all over the place with historicals, ghost stories, time travels, and YA fantasy romances. Every story has a historical basis, so that’s a constant, even if they are set in the present day. I have a strong draw to the past. I’m also a romantic, so each story is a romance, whether sweet or a bit spicier. 

What’s one piece of writing advice you’d wished you’d had earlier on?

Think in terms of series.

And now, the Secret Warrior series: 

huntersmoonAlthough The Hunter’s Moon (Book 1, Secret Warrior Series) is my first venture into the young adult genre, I’m an award-winning, multi-published author in historical, paranormal, and time travel romance. I was inspired to create this new series partly by my teenage nieces and younger daughter. We’ve watched a lot of YA movies and TV programs together and had book discussions, during which they urged me to take the plunge.

I pondered the concept behind Secret Warrior for years as it gradually took shape in my mind. My love of history, fantasy, and fascination with the mountain people and Native Americans is at the heart of the series. Living in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia surrounded by mountains veiled in mist and mystery lends itself well to creating the characters and setting for YA fantasy romance, The Hunter’s Moon, and the stories that will follow. Some of the characters and creatures are based on lore I’ve learned. Others appeared to me, as characters have a way of doing. A great deal of research and intuition went into writing The Hunter’s Moon. Next in the series is Curse of the Moon (release date TBD). I purposefully kept these stories to novella length so they would come out faster, which means eBook format only. The Secret Warrior series is published by The Wild Rose Press.

Pre-order links for The Hunter’s Moon are up at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. The official release date for the story is December 14th.

Here’s the blurb:

Seventeen year old Morgan Daniel has been in the witness protection program most of her life. But The Panteras have caught up with her and her younger brother. Her car is totaled, she’s hurt, and the street gang is closing in when wolves with glowing eyes appear out of nowhere and chase away the killers.

Then a very cute guy who handles a bow like Robin Hood emerges from the woods and takes them to safety at his fortress-like home.

And that’s just the first sign that Morgan and her brother have entered a hidden world filled with secrets.


ghostmoon“Should we stay, or go while the smoke lasts?” The cloth muffled her voice.

“You can hardly walk.”

She couldn’t argue that point. Neither could they wait to be found. “The Panteras won’t give up until we’re dead.”

“Maybe they think we are,” he argued under his breath.


She suspected Mateo would demand a body, even a charred one. Make that two. She and Jimmy didn’t have much choice, though, other than to crouch in dread while the fire crackled.

“Next birthday, I want an AK-47.” He nudged her. “Look.”

She fixed her blurry gaze on what appeared to be a black wolf emerging from the trees. The creature was larger than she’d thought wolves were, and she’d understood none remained in these mountains. They were all farther north or west. Somewhere else.

Apparently, she was misinformed.

Judging by its size, she guessed this was a male. He stopped before their hideout. Eyes the color of red coals surveyed them before he turned and darted down the trail she’d spotted.

“Holy cow, Batboy. Did you see that?” she whispered.

Jimmy didn’t reply. He prodded her again.

She stared at the big brown and gray wolf that took the black one’s place. Where on earth had he come from?

The beast turned its furry head at her and Jimmy. His eyes shone with a luminous light, like fireflies…

A bit about Beth:

Married to my high school sweetheart, I live on a farm in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia surrounded by my human family and furbabies. An avid gardener, my love of herbs and heirloom plants figures into my work. The rich history of Virginia, the Native Americans, and the people who journeyed here from far beyond her borders are at the heart of my inspiration. I’m especially drawn to colonial America and the drama of the American Revolution. In addition to young adult fantasy romance, I also write historical, time travel, and paranormal romance, plus nonfiction.

For more on me, please visit my blog, One Writer’s Way: https://bethtrissel.wordpress.com
Like me on Facebook: Author Beth Trissel
Follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/BethTrissel
Visit my Amazon Author Page where all my books reside: Amazon Author Page



Wait – #Merlin in #Regency England? It was just A Matter of Time…

From BBC's Merlin
Colin Morgan as Merlin in the BBC’s The Adventures of Merlin.

In November of 2013, I was madly scribbling my way through a National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) draft of my second novel, A Matter of Time, anxious to hit that 50,000 word goal in the 30 days allotted. I was also high off my recent trip to London, in which I’d not only gotten to visit many famous Regency places I’d read about, but in which I also met and received a high-five from Colin Morgan, the British actor who played Merlin (brilliantly, I might add) on the BBC show of the same name.

I’d had, uh, more than a passing infatuation with the show and its two lead characters, Merlin and Prince Arthur, for nearly a year. I was neck-deep in a fandom, and loving every minute of it. I still do, and still hold great admiration for the acting talents, and yes, the visual appearance of Colin Morgan and Bradley James. So it only seemed fitting, as I typity-type-type-typed my way through chapter after chapter, that I add in characters that might bear more than a passing resemblance to those two fine men. I put them in as a lark, figuring it would amuse my best friend, who was reading what I wrote as fast as I sent it to her. I’d take them out later, surely.

Bradley James as Prince/King Arthur in the BBC's The Adventures of Merlin.
Bradley James as Prince/King Arthur in the BBC’s The Adventures of Merlin.

But…but…instead of whittling the characters down, I expanded them. Made them the perfect foil for the occasionally-a-little-too-broody Deveric Mattersley. I gave them names: James Bradley, the Duke of Arthington, and Morgan Collinswood, the Marquess of Emerlin. I added in a few Merlin Easter eggs for anyone who’s seen the show. And I fell in love with them all over again.

They are minor characters, to be true, showing up only occasionally in A Matter of Time. But never fear – each will, at some point in the future, star as the hero in their own book. Because I love them too much to let them go. Here, just for the fun of it, is a small excerpt in which Eliza James meets the Duke and Marquess for the first time:

After a few moments, two gentlemen—one a tall, lanky fellow with a mop of black hair, the other a bit shorter and more muscular, with sandy blonde hair and a square jawline—approached.

“Lady Amara,” the blonde one said. He nodded toward Deveric’s sister, but his sky-blue eyes fixed on Eliza.

Wow, they really knew how to grow them in the Regency.

His exquisitely carved lips parted into a snaggle-toothed smile that somehow rendered him even more appealing; men with perfectly straight, obsessively white teeth always seemed unnatural to her.

She peeked at the taller one. He was perhaps not quite as classically handsome as the blonde, but his wide-set blue eyes crinkled as he greeted Amara, his lips cracking into a grin that revealed dimples to die for.

amatteroftimesmallSo – what do you think? Did I do them justice? And if you read A Matter of Time, I’d love to hear what you think – and what kind of women you feel the two men ought to end up with (sorry, Merthur fans – in my future novels, they’re getting the girl!).

Here’s a very brief blurb:

A modern-day Austenite’s dream comes true when she lands in the arms of a Regency duke, only to discover some fantasies aren’t all they’re cracked up to be when he proves less than a Prince Charming. 

I hope you love it!