#WriteTip - Writing the American Way by @Diane_Saxon, spotlighting her @HartwoodBooks #Romance

As a transplant to America myself (yes, I still type "colour" and "odour"...MS Word fixes it for me), I totally sympathize with Diane Saxon's difficulties when writing the American way. Being a perennial expatriate, my manuscripts often return with a few question marks over phrases I find second nature (do people really not say "potable water" on a regular basis?). Since misery loves company, Diane and I are going to commiserate for a bit, before introducing you to her newest release from Hartwood Publishing


Writing the American Way

by Diane Saxon

When I sent my first manuscript, Loving Lydia, out to publishers, little did I know that it would be a U.S. publisher that picked it up and ran with it, and me. Since then, I have learnt so much about writing, but one of my first lessons was how to write in U.S. English and not U.K. English.

I’ve read predominantly American authors for as long as I can remember. I love my Nora Roberts, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Karen Rose etc, these are the authors who fill my bookcase and I’m quite comfortable with reading U.S. English.

So, you’d think it would be easy, wouldn’t you? Change the Word dictionary from U.K. to U.S. and away you go. Don’t forget to take out all of the extraneous ‘u’s – e.g. color, not colour, odor, not odour and change learnt to learned, dreamt to dreamed. Not so very hard really. The dictionary can help me there.

But then I received my manuscript back from my editor and I realised just how wrong a girl could be. Word dictionary doesn’t tell you to replace wardrobe with closet, pavement with sidewalk. Car boot is a trunk, car bonnet is a hood. Well, heavens, whoever would have known?

Even now, a few years on, I still have hilarious conversations with my editor when she says “Diane, what do you mean by this..?”

I have found though that I’ve started to naturally produce U.S. English when I’m writing a manuscript, because I still have a cowboy in my head and his language skills have developed along with my own. So when he talks, it’s in American.

And when I write articles and blogs? Well, the English in me just jumps straight back in.

Barbara's Redemption

Disarmed and Dangerous Book 2

by Diane Saxon

Black Hawk pilot Captain Barbara Lynn Perry is running scared. Witness to an event too horrible to think about and too dangerous to talk of, she finds herself alienated from a world she has always had faith in.

With her Special Forces brother missing, she has only one other person to turn to. When her friend Flynn Swann isn’t available, Barbara is left with no choice but to trust the man Flynn sends to save her.

Psychiatrist Dominic Salter’s information from her superior officer’s file is that Barbara has gone rogue. Despite the damning evidence, every instinct tells him he’s dealing with an honorable woman, one who single-handedly saved Flynn from torture and a sure death. Dominic’s challenge is to delve his way beneath her tough, defensive attitude and coax the truth from a woman who’s too frightened to reveal her dark secret.

In his brand new facility containing a state of the art Dreampsych Transcender he’s experimenting with, a machine far beyond a simulator, Dominic has to gain the trust and confidence of Barbara while he resists the hard pull of attraction to this kick-ass woman.

Betrayed by a member of his staff, events take a sinister turn, and the pressure is on in a fight against time for Dominic to persuade Barbara to put her trust in him and reveal the truth before matters are taken out of his hands.

Amazon | Amazon UK | Kobo | iTunes


She raised a shaky hand to rub her fingertips over taut lips and tried to swallow, but her tongue was too thick to allow it, her mouth too dry to comply. She held the same hand horizontally in front of her face and watched the vague tremble. The tremor that threatened her sharp shot. The shake that no longer allowed her to pick up a glass of whiskey without being a dead giveaway.

She needed help.


Flynn could help.

She’d saved his life, goddammit. Of course he would help.

So she waited in the silent twilight for Flynn to come.

Pitch black descended and still no sign of the man. So dark she could no longer see the trembling hand in front of her face, but the sweat still formed in the creases along her palm, making her hand slip as she tightened her grip on the gun. She swapped it over from right to left while she rubbed the damp onto the leg of her black yoga pants. It made no difference, she could shoot as well with one hand as the other. Not that she could see to shoot, but she hadn’t imagined for one moment Flynn would have kept her waiting this long, and dark would close in before he arrived.

She’d hunkered down in the comfort of the straw, her mind filled with visions of blood and gunshots while night descended faster than she’d realized.

She’d kept Flynn waiting three nights previously. God only knew how long he’d waited for her, but she’d listened to her sixth sense, believed someone else was there at the meeting point, and she’d hightailed it out of there, leaving Flynn to his own devices. He was still a tough cookie. No point in her hanging around to save him. She’d already saved his sorry ass once before.

The dim light of the stables flickered on and filled the place with a dull buzzing sound. Cautious, she straightened and moved toward her target. The cowboy seemed to be the right height, but it looked like Flynn had gone to seed since leaving the Special Forces three years earlier. She’d heard rumors he hadn’t coped well with civilian life. Probably more to do with having half his face carved up. She twitched her nose in distaste. The voices of the men who had tortured him filled her head, the vicious sound of their hyena cackles as they cut Flynn with glee. It hadn’t been the prettiest of sights, but she’d seen worse. She’d even killed men herself, but never for fun. Only out of necessity, duty, and a desperate desire to live.

It was the pleasure they’d taken out of torturing a man that had turned her stomach. Not that anyone knew. She’d die before she allowed anyone to see her eakness. It looked like she may have to, after recent events. She’d thought she’d never witness anything worse than Flynn’s torture. But she had. 

About Diane Saxon

Diane Saxon lives in the Shropshire countryside with her tall, dark, handsome husband, two gorgeous daughters, a Dalmatian, one-eyed kitten, ginger cat, four chickens and a new black Labrador puppy called Beau, whose name has been borrowed for her hero in For Heaven's Cakes.

After working for years in a demanding job, on-call and travelling great distances, Diane gave it all up when her husband said “follow that dream”.

Having been hidden all too long, her characters have burst forth demanding plot lines of their own and she’s found the more she lets them, the more they’re inclined to run wild.

Website | Blog | Facebook  | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon Author

#WriteTip - Rosanna Leo (@LeoRosanna) Explains the Joys of Plain, White Paper (and shows off NIGHT LOVER, her @HartwoodBooks #PNR)

I'm delighted to welcome Rosanna Leo back to my blog today. She's developing a reputation as quite the paranormal romance guru, and she's also one of the more prolific authors I've met to date. As such, this writing tip has my rapt attention (along with her newest paranormal romance from Hartwood Publishing). 

The Joys of Plain, White Paper

by Rosanna Leo

Thanks very much to Tara for hosting me today. I love her writing tip segments and am honored to be featured in them.

Today’s writer has so many resources. There are programs out there that help you plot your book online, that will dictate your work to you and God only knows what else. Of course, I’m sure we all use our trusty Microsoft Word to the pointwhere our laptops want to give up the ghost. My own keyboard is so well used some of the letters are rubbing off. It’s a good thing I know where to find ‘S’ because it disappeared long ago.

However, there is a tool I use frequently and I sometimes wonder who else still makes use of this archaic resource. I’m talking about plain, white printer paper. Yup. Your basic 8 ½ x 11 stock, the kind you find in offices and homes everywhere. It’s not fancy. It doesn’t write for me but when it comes to those crucial early days of plotting a novel, it’s invaluable.

I always plot initially on paper. Why? Well, because I change my mind about a hundred times or so. I never have a complete picture when I set pen to paper and for me to start creating Word docs at this point seems ridiculous. I prefer to set out several sheets of paper, one that documents my hero and heroine in detail, along with their histories. Others may chart the course of the action in the novel. Others still may detail certain motivations or the background of my villain. Once I see it all on paper, and it makes sense, then I feel ready to move it into a soft copy.

Does this seem old-fashioned in this age of technology? It probably is. It may not even be the most efficient use of my time. However, it makes sense to me. My brain likes it and whatever makes my brain happy during the plotting process, makes me happy.

I would urge other writers to explore their options as well. Gadgets are fun, but sometimes tried-and-true methods streamline our thoughts. Writing on paper allows me to disconnect and concentrate on the task at hand. It frees up my thought process. If it’s been a while since you’ve written “old school,” I would encourage you to try it.

Like Harold and his purple crayon, sometimes all you need is a pen, a clean surface and your imagination.

Night Lover

by Rosanna Leo

Canadian soprano Renata Bruno is tired of waiting for her big break. Unfortunately, her boss, the conductor of a chamber ensemble, sees her as little more than background material. When she learns of an opportunity to sing solo with a different troupe in England, she knows she must seize it. Especially when she hears the group is to perform Mozart's Requiem, her favorite work.

As soon as Renata decides to make her move, a strange, sultry presence invades her life. She begins dreaming of a man, one who makes love to her, bewitching her. It isn't long before her night lover leaves startling proof of his nocturnal presence, making her doubt her senses.

To compound her discomfort, she learns her new conductor is the college boyfriend who broke her heart years ago. As Renata grapples with old hurts and renewed passion, she must also fend off the increasingly fervent advances of her night-time visitor. She realizes she is under the influence of an incubus, a sexual demon.

It becomes harder to resist the incubus when she learns he has a name and had a tragic history. The more she discovers about his past, the more she realizes they are linked in more ways than one. Renata begins to rediscover love and her sense of faith, but will it be enough to save her night lover from an evil curse? And will it destroy her in the process?


When I saw the face in this painting, I gasped, feeling as if someone had punched me in the gut.


It was the portrait of a man, much in the style of a Gainsborough painting. Full-length, it displayed the man in Regency dress. Tall Hessian boots reached up over his pants, accentuating his height. A waistcoat peaked out from under his soft blue riding coat. I looked up to the face above the coat, clean-shaven and somehow boyish with its round features. His hair was the color of honey and quite curly, with long sideburns travelling down his cheeks. Although he bore a fashionably serious countenance, his blue eyes smiled.

 It’s him.

The man from my recurring dream, the man from the theater mezzanine in Toronto. I blinked several times, not believing my eyes.

I couldn’t move. I returned the stare of the man in the portrait. A friendly face, it still managed to unnerve me. The artist must have been a master because its subject seemed to be looking right at me. His pale eyes bore into mine. As I continued to gaze at my dream man, other objects in the background began to blur. The portrait frame and the wallpaper behind him dissolved into nothingness. I could only make out the man, and his gaze seemed to issue me a challenge, daring me to look back at him. My head swam. My tongue grew thick. Pain shot through my stomach and I clutched it so I wouldn’t keel over.

Lizzy came out of nowhere and bounded up behind me. “What's up? Ooh, he's cute.” She, too, had noticed the portrait. She also saw how intently I stared. “Hey, are you okay?”

“No.” I couldn’t look away from him, couldn’t stop myself from raking my gaze over every painted inch. “It’s him. The man from my dream.”

“Yeah, right.” She frowned.

Finn walked up to us and put a hand on my back, oblivious to my shock. “So you’ve found the lord of the manor.”


“Hugh Dawlish, scion of Dawlish Manor. The women in the ensemble love this portrait because they think he’s, ah…easy on the eyes. So, shall we rehearse?”

I let him lead me away, but I couldn’t stop looking back at Hugh Dawlish’s portrait.       

He was real. Not a wraith from my imagination.

Real. And dead.

Lizzy elbowed me. “You look like you’re going to pass out.”

“I’m fine.”

As we left the room, I looked back once more. The eyes of Hugh Dawlish followed me. I shivered.

A slight smile played on his lips.


Rosanna Leo is a multi-published, erotic romance author. Several of her books about Greek gods, selkies and shape shifters have been named Top Picks at Night Owl Romance and The Romance Reviews.

From Toronto, Canada, Rosanna occupies a house in the suburbs with her long-suffering husband, their two hungry sons and a tabby cat named Sweetie. When not writing, she can be found haunting dusty library stacks or planning her next star-crossed love affair.

A library employee by day, she is honored to be a member of the league of naughty librarians who also happen to write romance. Rosanna blogs at www.rosannaleoauthor.wordpress.com

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#WriteTip - How to Be a Pantser by Diane Saxon (@Diane_Saxon), a @HartwoodBooks #SciFiRom #Author

Diane Saxon just finished off a brand new science fiction romance. In addition to snagging an excerpt as well as an up-close-and-personal look at her stunningly geeky cover, I also coaxed her into giving me a writing tip. Drawing from her experience seven books ago (yes, this her SEVENTH book), she imparts advice on pantsing your first manuscript. 

How to Be a Pantser

by Diane Saxon

This is an article I wrote way back (well actually only May 2013) when I first started writing. I’ve left it as it was, but I’ve added a little now to the end, in hindsight and with experience…

When I told friends and family that I had signed a contract for my first book, Loving Lydia, apart from the obvious congratulations, one of the most frequent questions they all want the answer to is: “Was it easy?” And I found myself saying yes.

Yes, because to me it had been easy. Easy, because I am a workaholic. Easy, because I did my research which took weeks.  I approached the publisher that I wanted to publish my books. I followed their submissions advice to the letter. Every single publisher has a different requirement and if I was too lazy to adhere to their requirements, why should they look at my manuscript?

Now essentially, I am from a business background, so, that is the part I understand and therefore, to me, it was easy.

But guess what? Before all of that, I actually wrote a book. With a storyline that I love and that I’m proud of.

Here comes the second most frequent question:

“Did you take lessons?”



I didn’t know you were supposed to. I made a decision, I wrote a book.  And loved the process. Then I wrote another one, Bad Girl Bill.

And the lessons?  Well I consider that most of them come from years of reading. Hundreds of books in the genre that I love – Romance.  I remember the first one was read to me when I was ten, by my sister, Margaret. It was The Princess Bride. I’ve never stopped reading since.

When I wrote Loving Lydia, it took me two weeks. The skeleton of the book was formed. The storyline already existed, start to finish in my mind, and the characters were bursting forth. Then, I went back, and layered in the heart and the stomach, the veins and the pulses, the muscles and the skin.

So there we have it. Not much has changed, except now I’ve just released my 7th book – Short Circuit Time (see below) and am waiting for word on another contract.

Have my techniques changed? Yes, yes they have. Because they had to. Essentially you can write a book or two like I did, but at some point, especially in a series of books, and certainly when you start a new series, or even a one-off you need to start to plot, and track and trace. Make sure you don’t get your characters mixed up. I’ve developed a system as I’ve gone along and I’m working on it. Maybe I’ll be ready to tell you about it next year.

Meanwhile as they say – I #amwriting!

Short Circuit Time

by Diane Saxon

In the year 2086, Zaphira is alone, the last survivor of biological warfare on Earth. Before he died, her scientist father promised other survivors would come. Nobody has. So when a horribly mangled android shows up claiming to be her father’s assistant, Aiden, who has been sent through time to rescue her, she’s both frightened and astounded.

The last time she’d seen Aiden, she’d been sixteen, head-over-heels in love with him and had literally thrown herself at him, leaving her devastated by his rejection and him running for the hills. The following day, she’d been told of his death.

Eight years later he’s miraculously back, this time asking for her help. Without it, he won’t survive. But can she really put a dead man back together with tweezers?

For Aiden, everything has changed. There are no other humans, no government, and time travel has left his new android body unexpectedly weak and suffering from inexplicable genetic changes in eye and hair color, brought about by his molecular shake-up. Unbelievably, the scientist who sent him is dead, and he must rely on the scientist’s daughter to help him. A woman who he’s not so sure has his best interests at heart.

The last time he’d seen her, Zaphira had been a sixteen year old with a dangerous crush on him and he’d been rocked by the turmoil of his own feelings. Now she’s twenty four and literally holds his survival in her hands. Too bad everything he does and says seems to annoy her.

Trusting her might be his undoing. But he is left with no choice.

For Zaphira, getting used to the transformation of old Aiden to android Aiden requires a large mental leap. But when android Aiden starts to rebuild his human form to a new and improved standard, things start to get tricky.

The Aiden she loved as a little girl was her father’s nerdy assistant. The new Aiden is hot. But are her feelings as strong eight years later or are they simply a cherished memory?


She narrowed her eyes and squinted at the skinny geek stumbling backward out of the passenger seat of her father’s car. She’d waited all day for the rumble of the engine of her daddy’s convertible. The old car had a distinct stutter and a sly rev she fantasized was because it had a mind of its own.

She smiled awkwardly, her mouth pulled tight across her braces and she pressed her fingers over her top lip to stop it from catching on the edge, rolling and making her look like a feral cat. Her face ached. They’d tightened the braces again and it hurt so much more this time. The smile dropped from her lips only to ping back up again as the geek caught his shoe on some piece of equipment in the foot well of her daddy’s car. He flipped backward, his gangly arms pin wheeling until he landed on his ass on the floor, minus his shoe.

He whipped his head up and she stepped back from the window hoping he hadn’t heard her girlish giggles. He wouldn’t be impressed. He was so much older and more mature.

Not many would believe he was twelve years her senior. Not with his thick russet hair falling in a boyish flop over his forehead, his fine gold-rimmed glasses perched right on the end of his nose.

Her heart fluttered in her chest as she chanced another peek.

His arms full of equipment, flushed to his hairline, he staggered toward the front door of her home. Adrenaline pumped hot through her veins. She took a few skips toward the hallway, ran back to the window to see her father’s car pulling away from the curbside. Her mother was out. She was the only one there to open the door. She darted back, hesitated, her pulse thrumming in the base of her throat.

A dull thud shuddered the door in its frame and she shot forward, wrenched it open before he did any further damage. His shoulder slid across the oak panel and he shot sideways through the entrance, his skinny limbs racing to keep up with the speed of his body, but to no avail. His foot skidded and down he went. The clatter of laboratory equipment skidding across the wooden floor filled her ears as did his quiet Irish curse.


Stifling another snigger, she crouched to help, casting furtive little glances at him as he came to his knees, straightened his waistcoat and touched his fingers to his bow tie, ensuring it was still there.

“Hi Aiden.”

His deep frown almost made her stutter, but she knew he couldn’t sustain his annoyance. His small nervous cough made her smile.

“Hey.” The sound of his soft, smooth voice made her light-headed and she stopped what she was doing to gaze deep into his eyes.

He pushed his glasses further up his nose and glared at her. Unperturbed, she met his beautiful gaze with a lovesick one of her own.

“Do you need a hand down to the lab?” He dropped his gaze to her mouth. Her speech lisped embarrassingly through her clenched together teeth. She hated her braces, couldn’t wait to have them removed.


Not wanting him to go yet, she piled another few items on top of the ones already in his arms and resisted the urge to stroke her fingers along the sleeve of his tweed jacket.

“Can I get you a coffee?”

“Zaphira…” he sighed, “Thank you, but no. I have work your father wants me to complete. I don’t want to be disturbed.”

Her chest ached. Just a little. The same as it always ached when he rejected her offers.

She bent to pick up Paco, her new puppy, snuggled her face into his thick fur and took comfort from his squirming, plump body as she hugged him close and let him lick sweet kisses across her chin.

Aiden paused at the lab door then glanced at her over his shoulder and her heart hitched again. There. It was there, the glint in his eye. The one that told her every time she was about to give up that there was a spark of interest. There was hope.

Buy Links:   Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk | Kobo | Barnes & Noble | All Romance Books

About Diane Saxon

Diane Saxon lives in the Shropshire countryside with her tall, dark, handsome husband, two gorgeous daughters, a Dalmatian, one-eyed kitten, ginger cat, four chickens and a new black Labrador puppy called Beau, whose name has been borrowed for her hero in For Heaven's Cakes.

After working for years in a demanding job, on-call and travelling great distances, Diane gave it all up when her husband said “follow that dream”.

Having been hidden all too long, her characters have burst forth demanding plot lines of their own and she’s found the more she lets them, the more they’re inclined to run wild.

Website | Blog | Facebook  | Twitter | Goodreads |Amazon Profile Page

Previous BooksLoving Lydia -Atlantic Divide Book 1, Bad Girl Bill – Atlantic Divide Book 2, Finding Zoe - Atlantic Divide Book 3, Flight of Her Life, Flynn’s Kiss – Disarmed & Dangerous Book 1, For Heaven’s Cakes – Paranormally Yours Anthology