FRW Halloween Contest Winners!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Congratulations to Sabrina Shields and Rebecca Lord! They're my winners in the FRW Halloween Contest!  Thank you to all who participated. I hope you had as much fun as the authors did!
Here's a photo of the prizes:

I also had a blast at the Murder on the Beach Mystery Bookstore on Halloween Night. Here's a few photos.  :) Carol

Halloween Spooktaculuar

Sunday, October 28, 2012

FRW Cyber Spooktacular
Join me and other authors of Florida Romance Writers for a Boo-tastic Online
Halloween Celebration. You don't even need to dress up. From Oct. 28 - 31
visit author Websites & Facebook pages to collect your Witches Brew
Ingredients and win great prizes!

Participating authors: Demi Alex, Heidi Lynn Anderson, Nancy Cohen, Linda
Conrad, Shelley Freydont, Heather Graham, Traci Hall, Joan Johnston, Karen
Kendall, Marcia King-Gamble, Sandra Madden, Kathleen Pickering, Mona Risk,
Carol Stephenson, Cynthia Thomason & Bonnie Vanak.

For complete details and to enter, visit

In honor of this contest, I have spooked up the cover of my book HER DARK PROTECTOR, a 2013 EPIC finalist in Romantic Suspense! [woot, woot!] 

Also here's a picture of my prize contributions, Halloween jewelry!

Coming up in terms of the blog, I will be talking about my vacation of a lifetime: my road trip across the heartland of United States and posting photos of both the gorgeous and the eclectic. Here and there I'll throw in bits and bobs of my new passion scrapbooking.
Enjoy the Halloween Spooktacular by FRW authors and good luck!
:) Carol Stephenson 

Escape to Healdsburg, CA

Sunday, June 17, 2012

I'm really excited about an upcoming road trip to Grand Tetons National Park, WY. I've been really fortunate to travel to amazing places during my lifetime along with fabulous photos, most on film/print. However, I got a photo scanner for my birthday so I plan on sharing my adventures and stories.

One of my fav places is Healdsburg, CA. I discovered it on my first trip to Napa Valley. My friend and I traveled over to Sonoma Valley. At one vineyard someone mentioned the beauty and wines of northern Sonoma so on impulse we drove up and explored Healdsburg. Not only did I love the beauty of the town but also I fell in love with Sephesio zinfandels.  When we returned to the wine country last year we had to make the journey up there. 

The town's population runs a little over 11,000.  Three wine-producing regions (Russian River, Dry Creek and Alexander Valley AVA's) converge in Healdsburg. Towering redwoods ring the 19th century plaza. I love the shops and boutiques, especially the Powell's candy store with every treat imaginable from nostalgic to current favs. The wine tasting rooms are straight-forward and reasonable, but the one I have to visit is the one for the 100 year-old Seghesio winery. The first time I visited I tasted a peppery zinfandel that received a high ranking by Wine Spectator. 

I hope you enjoy these photos of Healdsburg.  :) Carol

The Adventure of Learning

Sunday, June 3, 2012

“I am learning all the time. The tombstone will be my diploma.” ~Eartha Kitt

My first memories are of the joy of learning. My parents read to me every night, taking me on trips of the imagination. By age four I devoured books.  Kindergarten was okay, but come first grade, I found enlightenment.

I loved school, couldn't wait to go to class and generally was the person who sat in the front row [yeah, throw spit balls at me]. Every day presented an opportunity to learn something new and exciting.

That love of learning permeates my writing.  No matter how many books on writing I've read, workshops I've taken or books I write, I don't think I'll ever learn all that there is to know about writing.  That's why I'm excited this week to start a new online workshop with Laurie Schnebly Campbell: The Alpha Female.

As I work on my next Justice Hunter book about a woman on a journey to discover herself, I look forward on interweaving points of illumination from the class.

:) Carol

The Power of Friendship

Sunday, May 6, 2012

When I was a girl scout we would gather around in a circle and sing:

Make new friends,
but keep the old.
One is silver,
the other is gold.

Little did I truly comprehend at that young age the true scoop of friendship.  After all, family is blood and those connections are complex, but ultimately a family's duty, loyalty, tolerance and love flows from being related.

A friend, however, can choose to walk away at any time and not look back.  The connection is based on that mysterious karma of simply liking another person. A tenuous thread that could snap at any time or strengthen over the years.

With the loss of my parents and no immediate family living close by, I've been blessed with circles of friends who are my family.  Some people I've been friends with for over a quarter of a century; others within the past year.  They're all precious; they all enrich my life beyond comprehension.

This fabric of my life is reflected in many of my books. The three law school friends in the Legal Weapons series who form a criminal defense law firm [Courting Danger, Courting Disaster, Courting Death]; Emma-Lee Dalton's relationship with her ailing college girlfriend in Chasing The Truth; and Gail Malloy's bond with Angela Rivera in Her Dark Protector.  Although the women may differ on many things, they have each other's back. They listen, give comfort or a kick when needed. For them friendship is thicker than blood or water.

Make new friends but keep the old.  What is your favorite story of friendship?


Brenda Novak's Online Auction for the Cure for Diabetes

Sunday, April 29, 2012

On May 1, author Brenda Novak's Annual Online Auction for the Cure of Diabetes.  Since this fight began, the auction has raised over 1/3 million dollars to find a cure for diabetes.  One has to register in order to bid, but it's an easy process:

Once more the literary community has joined in the effort and you'll find many wonderful items up for auction. Carina Press authors have loaded a Kindle, Kindle Fire and Nook with their books [including yours truly with Her Dark Protector]. The link to our page is:

Nora Roberts is offering a one night's stay at her Inn Boonsboro; you can lunch with Steve Berry. Grab an autographed copy from your fav author or name a character in an upcoming book.  Find birthday and Xmas presents that are unique.  There are even daily 'blue plate' specials so you don't need to wait until May 31 to get a special item.

Diabetes can be a cruel, debilitating illness.  For my mother, it all began with her stepping on a needle and the wound becoming affected.  That's when we first learned she had diabetes and began a nightmare of endless doctor visits.   Eventually the never-ending complications took her.  I wouldn't wish what she went through on anyone.  That's why a cure is so important.  With your support of Brenda's auction, the research can continue.

Join the fight during the month of May by bidding.  And I thank you.  Carol 

Remembering Dick Clark: Dancing to the Music

Sunday, April 22, 2012

It would amuse my friends who know I listen primarily to country music that Dick Clark's American Bandstand was my first musical love.

I would race home from school to watch the show from Philadelphia.  And dance.  How I loved to dance.  I yearned to be one of the dancers on the show.  That dream later moved on to wanting to dance on Shindig! and Hullabaloo.

Alas, the desire to be a dancer faded as I grew older, but Dick Clark introduced me to singers from Pat Boone to Chuck Berry, from the Four Seasons to Buddy Holly and the Crickets.

To me the early days of American Bandstand was a rich, idealistic period when rock & roll exploded on the scene with experimentation and excitement.  And Dick Clark was right there in the middle, as he often sat among the members of the audience.   

When Dick began rocking in the New Year, I was right there with him, including this year dancing in 2012 with my Shih Tzu Maddie. 

May heaven hum with music, Dick.  


Writing Process: West Palm Beach settings

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

It's almost an annual tradition, my receiving a jury summons. Once more I cooled my jets in the jury assembly room the entire day and was never called up on a panel.

However, during the lunch break, I took a few pictures as so many of my books have centered around downtown West Palm Beach. Years ago my office was in a buiding along Clematis Street, which is featured in both COURTING DANGER and COURTING DISASTER. I remembered all too clearly the smells emanating from the alley that ran behind the buildings on the north side of Clematis.

Here's a shot of the alley by the parking garage showcased in the first chapter of HER DARK PROTECTOR where Gail Malloy is in trouble when the mysterious Jason Hawke first appears.

I wrote in a frenzy to get COURTING DANGER out before the renovation of the old Palm Beach Courthouse was completed.  Here's the outside of the restored building, which now serves as a museum, and the view from the balcony of the double-decker courtroom where the heroine Kate Rochelle hides during a climatic scene.

Finally here's the Palm Beach County Courthouse where the Legal Weapons team of the Courting series--Kate Rochelle, Carling Dent, and Nicole Sterling--try cases and appear for hearings. 

:) Carol

Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Easter doggie Maddie here.  Carol tells me chocolate isn't good for dogs so I can't share in her basket of goodies. However, she promises me a special treat so I'll give her a thumb's up.

She'll be spending the day with friends, but we'll start the day out with a long walk. What she doesn't know is I plan to sniff every blade of grass. Heheheh.

We wish everyone a Happy Easter and special day with family, friends and fur babies.  


The Writing Process: How Bits of a Writer's Life Come into Play

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Weekly I play on a trivia team so obviously I love information, from the well-known to the obscure.  When developing the character of Jason Hawke, the hero in HER DARK PROTECTOR, I wanted him to have a hobby that would reflect his involvement in a secret justice society as well as reflect his wealth.  I took a look at sports memorabilia and collecting fighting implements, but then Jason ‘told’ me he preferred fighting with his hands.  Then I researched the world of boxing.  There’s quite a world of collectors, from autographed photographs to fight worn gloves championship belts and trophies.

It should come as no surprise that Muhammad Ali’s memorabilia transcends all others. However, as I dug deeper, I came across the name of heavyweight champion Marvin Hart.  Hart held the championship from 1905-06, but was not a favored champion and reportedly signed few autographs.  As a fighter Hart was described as tough, determined, but he followed a very popular champion and held the HW championship only briefly.   Consequently, a simple signed piece of paper from Hart sells for $8,000-$15,000 and is considered one of the rarest signatures to collect.  

[photo from Chicago Daily News}

So here’s how the trivia played out in the scene from HER DARK PROTECTOR:  

The length of at least three bedrooms, the workout room contained the latest state-of-the-art exercise equipment. A punching bag hung from a beam. Rolled mats were stacked along the sides. Another wall fitted with brackets held an assortment of poles, batons and chains that caused her to swallow. Some serious martial arts training could go on here. Jason stood by the bank of windows speaking on his phone. He gave her a brief nod but continued talking.

However, it was the line of glass display cases that drew her attention. She wandered to the nearest one and studied the ragged piece of paper with a faded autograph on a black velvet stand.

Pocketing his phone, Jason approached. “Marvin Hart held the heavyweight boxing championship from 1905 to 1906. However, he wasn’t a very popular champion and consequently his autograph is scarce.”

“You collect boxing memorabilia? With all the martial arts gear, I was expecting swords or other weapons.”

His mouth quirked. “No, but you’ll find one in the third case down that was used by Bruce Lee in a movie.”

He slid his hands into his front pockets. “As I trained with the Alliance, I became fascinated with the history of boxing and other hand-to-hand fighting along with the various philosophies.”
J Carol

HER DARK PROTECTOR: My newest release is here!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Without justice courage is weak. — Benjamin Franklin.

A state attorney with a death wish; a business mogul haunted by tragedy. Together they must find incredible courage in order to fight the highest levels of corruption in the justice system.

In my latest Carina Press release, HER DARK PROTECTOR, I introduce the Justice Hunters and a hero and heroine who are both deeply scarred by loss.

Hero Jason Hawke is devastated when his wife, pregnant with their first child, is a bystander during a drive-by shooting and is killed.  When he learns the identity of the killer, an enforcer for a drug gang, Jason’s determined to exact his revenge until a long-time friend and mentor convinces him that there is a different way. 

A shadow society, the Justice Alliance for centuries has guarded justice and the rules of laws.  Whenever chaos threatens to reign, the organization steps in.  Calling themselves the Justice Hunters, the members come from all segments, from pawn shop owners to world leaders, but most have something in common: they have lost a dear one to violence.  As opposed to vigilantes, they strive to protect witnesses, find evidence and otherwise help to maintain order.  They have eyes and ears everywhere from the courtrooms to the streets. 

However, Jason’s initial sense of renewed purpose fades as the killer continues to evade being charged and instead rises in the drug world until he is a power kingpin.

Jason learns that a rising star prosecutor is building a case against the drug lord, but orders have been issued to kill her.  Jason’s mentor warns that the case is too personal for him, but Jason takes on the role of guarding the prosecutor at all costs.  She becomes the instrument of his revenge...if he can control her reckless ways.

Scarred by a childhood tragedy with the loss of her parents and brother, the heroine Gail Malloy grows up haunted by survivor’s guilt.  The guilt continues as other loved ones are killed or die.  She channels her restless, tortured spirit into becoming a state attorney who relentlessly brings criminals to justice.  But rather than bringing her a sense of accomplishment, little by little she is dying inside.  Not even relationships with men bring her back to life...until a hooded stranger in a dark alley sparks something more dangerous than she’s ever faced before: all-consuming desire.  Can she survive long enough to show Jason there’s a different path than revenge?   

I hope to keep you on the edge of your seat with this thriller.  What do you love about reading romantic suspense?

Happy reading!

Carol Stephenson

Congratulations to Mary, Ona & Traci! Maddie looked at the 3 names in the pot & decided all of you should get a free copy! 

To celebrate the release of HER DARK PROTECTOR, two lucky commenters will win a digital copy.

Giveaway ends 9 p.m. EST on March 30. Please supply your email in your post. You may use spaces or full text for safety. (ex.: j lunchbucket at gmail dot com). If you do not wish to supply your email or have trouble posting please email with a subject title of HER DARK PROTECTOR giveaway to be entered.


Her Dark Protector-The Art Fact Sheet

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Authors complete an art fact sheet to help the marketing and art deparments in placing the book and creating the cover. I've raved about Carina Press covers before as I loved the film noir quality of COURTING DISASTER and COURTING DEATH covers. However, to me the cover for HER DARK PROTECTOR is my best one ever. Did the Carina Press teams pay attention to the art fact sheet I submitted?  You be the judge.

VISUAL HOOK/MOOD: action-packed, suspenseful, dark; Justice Hunters

STORY LOCATIONS:  At night the heroine encounters the hero in an alley where she is to meet a snitch.

SETTING COMMENTS:  Most action occurs at night.
Gail Malloy, suspended state attorney:

Jason Hawke, crime-fighting business tycoon:

So there're the elements, and here's the cover.  I think they captured the essense. :) Carol


Movies, here's to storytelling

Sunday, February 26, 2012

As I watch the Oscars, I think about the first movie I remember seeing. While I know I saw several Disney movies before, the one that first made an impact was the original 'King Kong'. I don't even recall how I managed to swing seeing it since I stayed up waaaaaay past my bedtime to finish watching it on the television.

I suspect my parents figured I would learn a lesson about begging to see it.  Noooo, Mom. Of course I won't be terrified. The movie won't give me nightmares.
Right.  Even then I didn't like to watch frightning movies. 

And scary didn't even begin to describe how 'King Kong' came across to a young, impressionable girl.  Although technology is now leap years beyond the 1933 film, then the ape was pretty darn impressive.  Still the Empire State Building scene was traumatizing.

My parents were right. I began to have nightmares with King Kong chasing me.  Finally one night I decided I was going to change the dream.  I made the ape my friend, and we suddenly were going on great adventures in my dreams with me riding on his shoulder.

This was the start of my storytelling albeit in my dreams.  As I experienced more  and more movies, I would replay them in my dreams and change those bits I hadn't liked.  I would make them mine.

Later I would write my own stories, but I still imagine riding on King Kong's shoulder as we swept across my dreamscape.

:) Carol



Not Your Usual Suspects

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I'm blogging today about theme braiding and writing light bulb moments on Not Your Usual Suspects.

:) Carol

Grammy Trivia

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Grammys
As I write this I’m watching the Grammys since so many trivia questions are about music.  As I only listen to country, I always look at my team mates with a blank expression.  [Except last week when the DJ asked what is the drinking implement featured in Toby Keith’s latest hit (answer: Red Solo Cup)]
I admit much of it the program’s isn’t thrilling me so I decided to look up trivia. I smiled when I found out that the Grammys were originally called the ‘Gramaphone Awards’…that name certainly wouldn’t cut it with the current audience.  I wonder if the kids even know the gramophone once was used to play records.   Likewise do the winners know they’re latching on to a ‘stunt’ trophy because the real one, which is handmade, is too delicate?
I like the fact that the person who has won the most Grammys at 31 awards is conductor Sir
Georg Solti, who led the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for 22 years.  Alison Krauss comes in 2nd with 28 awards.
Age doesn’t matter in this peer-based award: LeeAnn Rhimes is the youngest to win at age 14 while Pinetop Perkins is the oldest at age 97.
The most Grammys for consecutive albums honor goes to Pat Metheny and his band at seven while Jimmy Sturr [18 out of 24 Best Polka Album before the award was discontinued in 2009] and Bill Cosby [6 years running for Best Comedy Album] have won the most consecutive awards in the same category.
Someone who doesn’t want to be confined to any particular music genre is Béla Fleck, who has been nominated in more categories than any other musician, namely country, pop, jazz, bluegrass, classical, folk and spoken word, as well as composition and arranging.
With respect to the song of the year, the only multiple winners in this category include Henry Mancini 1962 and 1964), James Horner (1988 and 1999) and the band members of U2 (2001 and 2006) winning two times each. On the other hand, songs written for Andy Williams and Roberta Flack have received this award twice.

Has a song in a foreign language ever won song of the year? Oh yes, “Volare” in 1959 by Domenico Modugno in Italian. Best music memory ever for me…listening to ‘Volare’ while gliding along the Venice canals.  
:) Carol

Sketching a Book

Sunday, January 22, 2012

I don't often post about the writing process as there are a lot of blogs with inciteful posts about writing. However, as I slide back into a writing frame of mind, working on a new book, I am aware of one different approach I use: sketching a book.

I already have an OneNotebook [electronic notebook] in process for HIS DARK GUARDIAN with GMC'S in process, research growing, etc. Over the weekend I curled up with sketch pad in hand and jotted notes. I started with one central plot idea in a corner and drew from there. Nothing has to make sense or be sequential as the sketch is not a chart. They're thoughts. 

They may trigger notes to research; they may lead to taking a second look at a character. What they mean is the book starting to mesh together.  I am a visual person and need to 'see' the ideas laid out. For a while I toyed with changing the hero's occupation but when I saw the fleshing of the theme, I knew I'd been right with the original decision.

My next step of the process is to draw columns for each major character and start listing various incidents and possible reactions to them.  As I braid the events in the columns, the characters' themes emerge. In my latest release 'Her Dark Protector', the themes were justice is society's glue, law of the jungle, 'I am above the law', justice has failed. Depending on his/her theme, a character's going to take a certain action in response to a situation. Their reaction may cause another character to react, again in accordance to his/her theme, etc.   :) Carol