Author Archives: JHarte

Blogging is Murder: Author Interview with Gilian Baker

Gilian Baker is the author of Blogging is Murder, the first in the Jade Blackwell Mysteries series, which is now available. She stopped by today to talk about her debut book.

Tell us a little about your first book, Gilian.

Blogging is Murder introduces readers to Jade Blackwell, a former tenured English professor who left the rat race behind to start a blog. She’s a vivacious reader of classic mysteries and is lovably nosy.:)  In the first scene she learns that her friend and fellow blogger, Liz Collins is being cyber-stalked by a crazed fan. Things escalate quickly— the stalker is murdered and Liz is the prime suspect. To help her friend, Jade sets out to prove she didn’t do it. Unfortunately, Jade’s “help” ends up making matters worse, and Liz is thrown in jail. Full of guilt, Jade enlists her friend and lawyer Gabrielle Langdon to take the case. After many false starts, plot twists and mishaps, Jade accidently breaks the case wide open while putting herself in harm’s way.

Where did you get the inspiration for the book?

Jade started to develop in my mind about 15 years ago when I got the idea that maybe I could write cozy mysteries like the ones I loved to read. But it took years before I had the nerve to start putting it on paper. Jade never gave up though. She was like a ghost appearing occasionally to remind me that she wanted me to tell her story. She eventually got her way.

The impetus to write Blogging is Murder was NaNoWriMo 2014. I needed a creative outlet for the stress and frustration of life as a blogger. Many of the issues Jade deals with in her home office are things that drove me crazy when I blogged.

As for the murder weapon, I’d always wanted to kill someone with an old-fashioned poison. The idea started percolating when I first saw Arsenic and Old Lace on stage in college. I love the idea of using the natural world as a murder method instead of one of the man-made chemicals we have available to us today.

Cyber-crime and stalking is something that’s always a worry for bloggers, so I chose that to be the disruption to Jade and Liz’s ordinary lives. From there, the plot and characters took on a life of their own. As I wrote, they revealed themselves to me.

Are you a plotter or pantser?

I’m mostly a pantser, although pantsing has its drawbacks. I had to go back to add in a lot of details that weren’t in the original story—clues, red herrings and characters. For example, originally Jade had a different sidekick. But after I’d written myself into a corner, I realized her sidekick needed to be someone who’d have a strong motivation for investigating and who’d have access to information she couldn’t get. Gabrielle Langdon was already a small character in the book, so I made changes to her profile and wrote her in as the sidekick.

When I first started writing the book, it was just for fun. A creative outlet. But once I decided to publish it, I had a lot of changes to make. I cut around 40,000 words from the first draft because it was a lot of internal dialogue. I as the writer needed to understand Jade that well, but it would’ve bored the reader to tears! I tried to outline the rest of the book a few times, but all I did was stare at the page. I didn’t know what was going to happen next until the characters told me. So I just stuck with pantsing, even though I had to go back later to change things around.

What is the biggest surprise that you experienced after becoming a writer?

The biggest surprise has been that the writing process is the same no matter what you’re writing. Like Jade, I was a college English professor for years, so I “get” the writing process. But somehow, I thought writing fiction would require a different type of process. Yet I find myself using the same one that I used when I was writing literary criticism. I find that concept fascinating and exciting.

Since you’re writing cozy mysteries, you’re planning out a series, right? What’s next for Gilian and Jade?

Absolutely. I’ve already started working on the second book in the series, A Time to Kiln, which will be released in May 2017. In Blogging is Murder, Jade realizes she needs to have a better work-life balance, so in A Time to Kiln, she takes up pottery as a way to get out of the house and have some fun…until another murderer strikes.

You can pick up Blogging is Murder at Amazon and/or visit Gilian’s website.

Blogging is Murder Cover

Want Free eBooks?

Free ebooks from Jenna Harte

Who doesn’t like free?

I’ve long offered free ebooks to my newsletter subscribers and SweetHarte street team, but now several of these books are available to everyone on all major platforms including Amazon, iBooks, Nook and Kobo.

Check out my free ebook page for complete list of free ebooks.


Deadly Valentine

deadlyvalentinet128If you’ve been thinking about trying out the Valentine mysteries, now you have no reason to since you can get Deadly Valentine for free. You’ll meet Tess Madison, a chocolate and couture lingerie-loving lawyer making a new life in a small town, and Jack Valentine, the man from her past she never could quite forget. There is sizzle and suspense as they hunt down a murderer.

Ebook Versions of Deadly Valentine are FREE!

Amazon Kindle

Barnes and Noble Nook



Worth the Risk

worthriskcover150Looking for a short, quick romantic adventure? Worth the Risk available free on the major ebook retailers or through a subscription to my newsletter. In fact, subscribing to my newsletter not only gets you Worth the Risk, but the second book in the series, Endangered, as well.

Ebook Versions of Worth the Risk

Amazon Kindle

Barnes and Noble Nook



Wed to You Facebook Party Author Lineup

Wed to You Facebook Event

It’s that time again…

I’m thrilled that the final installment of the Southern Heat series, Wed to You, will be released January 24, 2017! Even better, many of my author buddies have agreed to help me celebrate it over at the Facebook Wed to You Release Party on January 24, 2017, 12 noon to 6 pm eastern*. I hope you’ll be there too.

Below you’ll discover the authors and times of their appearances on January 24, so you can drop in, say hello. They’ll have fun activities and even cool giveaways.

* The event will remain open through midnight so if you can’t make it between noon and 6 eastern, you can still come by and enter the giveaway contests. Authors will select and announce their winners January 25, 2017 unless otherwise noted by them when they post their giveaway.

In the meantime, visit my publisher, Penner Publishing, to learn more and check out pre-order links (Amazon, iBooks and Nook)

Or grab all three Southern Heat books at Amazon and discover the angst and passion that occur when North meets South in a small Virginian town.


Jenna Harte

Jenna Harte

I’ll open the festivities from at noon. You’ll want to stop by to see what giveaways are in store and get some insights into Wed to Her. And at 5:30, I’ll be back to close out the event.

Noon Eastern, 3-3:30, and 5:30-6:00 pm eastern

Bianca M. Schwarz

Bianca M. Schwarz

Stop by to meet Bianca, learn about A Thing of Beauty, an intriguing, historical romantic/suspense that is like no other,  and more. Visit Bianca’s author page to learn more.

12:30-1:00 pm eastern

Jen Gilroy

Jen Gilroy

Don’t miss Jen Gilroy’s visit, where she’ll share her heartwarming, small town romance, The Cottage at Firefly Lake. Visit Jen’s website to learn more about her and her works.

1:00-1:30 pm eastern

Gillian Baker

Gillian Baker

Don’t miss Gillian Baker’s visit to learn about her upcoming debut cozy mystery, Blogging is Murder. Learn more about Gillian at her website.

1:30-2:00 pm eastern

Sharon Struth

Sharon Struth

Stop by to learn about best-selling romance and non-fiction author Sharon Struth and her books, including her most recent release, The To-Do List. Learn more about Sharon and her musings at her website.

2:00-2:30 pm eastern

Ellen Butler

Ellen Butler

Ellen Butler will be stopping by to share fun and information on her Love California Style series. Visit Ellen’s website to learn about her books.

2:30-3:00 pm eastern

c.J. Fosdick

c.J. Fosdick

C.J. has been writing since the age of ten and will be stopping by to share some of her brand new releases and other fun stuff. Visit C.J.’s website to learn about her books.


C. H. Armstrong

C. H. Armstrong

C. H. Armstrong will join us to share The Edge of Nowhere, and other interesting goodies. Visit C.H. Armstrong’s website to learn about her.

3:30-4:00 eastern

Kelly Cain

Kelly Cain

Looking for some new adult fiction? Kelly Cain will be stopping by to introduce her novel, Altered, and other fun stuff. Learn more about Kelly at her website.

4:00 to 4:30 pm eastern

Megan Ryder

Megan Ryder

Stop by to meet Megan Ryder and learn about her Knights of Passion series, and other treats she has in store for you. Visit Megan’s website to learn more about her and her books.

4:30-5:00 pm eastern

Heatherly Bell

Heatherly Bell

Stop by to say “hi” to Harlequin contemporary romance writer, Heatherly Bell, and learn about her upcoming release, Breaking Emily’s Rules.Visit Heatherly’s website to learn more.

5:00-5:30 pm eastern


At 6:00 pm, I’ll be closing down the party, but the event feed will stay open through the night, so you can come in late to enter giveaways and join in on the fun. Authors will announce winners January 25, 2017 unless otherwise noted by them in their giveaway post.

Where Story Ideas Come From

Where Story Ideas Come From

One of the most common questions asked of writers is, “Where do you get your story ideas?” Most authors I know answer this question with a shrug and say, “They come from everywhere.” Before I was a publishing writer, I hated that answer. Surely there was a better way to get ideas without waiting for the universe to present them.

In reality, they’re right; story ideas are everywhere. But finding them isn’t a matter of waiting for them to present themselves. Instead, it’s in noticing them because they’re always there. When asked where he got his ideas for his quirky characters and odd-ball situations, Carl Hiaasen said they were from the local newspaper. Stephan King said he got the idea for Mr. Mercedes after reading about someone driving their Mercedes into a crowded McDonalds. Suzanne Collins of Hunger Games fame got the idea for her series from reality TV. These authors where reading the newspaper, watching the news or reality TV and from that ideas formed.

My ideas come from unique places as well.  I just figured out the idea for book three in a cozy series I’m working on while searching Google on the equivalents between fresh and ground nutmeg. I got hooked on the show Airplane Repo and knew I had to have a character that was an airplane repo man. Recently, I had an entire short story come to me in a dream, but I think the trigger was a Facebook question about romantic Christmas gifts.

Sometimes I already have a kernel of an idea or I know I need to come up with the next idea for a series, but I don’t have the important details needed to create a full-fledged story. For example, in the Valentine series, I know each book needs a murder mystery that takes place in Tess and Jack’s circle of acquaintances. Using my cast of characters, I pick one for each book and try to figure out a plot. The idea about who’s murdered and why often comes from things I see or read in the world. I linked Tess’ first engagement ring to the Hope Diamond right around the time it was revealed that the blue stone was first the French Blue. This was helpful because at the time, I didn’t have a compelling reason for the ring to be so valuable that the bad guys would seek it out and kill to have it.

In the second Valentine book, Old Flames Never Die, I was stuck on how to make the crime work until I saw an episode of a forensic show on ID TV. Thank goodness I saw it, because it was the idea that made the whole plot work.

The idea for book four of the Valentine series (‘Til Death Do Us Part), came from the fascination fans have in the love lives of celebrities, especially those who have great on-screen chemistry. Luckily, I’d mentioned a celebrity friend of Jack’s in the first book, so I had a way to use this idea.

I’m fascinated by the prohibition era and have an idea of a cozy series set during that period. Interestingly enough, that idea started as a romance featuring a different couple set in contemporary times. Over time, it has morphed from the influence of watching Miss Fisher and Boardwalk Empire.

While some ideas show up while you’re busy living your life, some arrive while you’re writing. I have an idea for a vampire story, but the unique details of my vampire world came from my research on Romanian folklore. That research also helped me create a character for a new cozy I’m working on who loves fairy tales and folklore.

The point is, that while stories are developed, that initial spark of idea often comes from unusual and unexpected places. The unique plot twists and turns in stories often come the same way. If you’re a writer, the trick is to recognize and remember these ideas. That’s where keeping a notebook or having a note taking app on your phone can help. After that, it’s about asking questions to see where the idea can lead so you can flesh it out into a story or fit it into a book you’re already working on.

Worth the Risk is FREE at Your Favorite Ebook Store

Who doesn’t like free ebooks? Especially if you don’t know the author. I’ve given free and low-low cost ebooks out for some time as a way to introduce myself to readers or as a gift to my email subscribers and SweetHarte street team.

Now, I’ve made one of those books available for free at the top ebook retailers.

In Worth the Risk, Max and Madeleine meet, but it’s not love at first sight.


There isn’t a woman in the world who wouldn’t want to get up close and personal with sexy, self-made millionaire bachelor, Max Delecoeur, except Madeleine Hainsworth. Madeleine knows all about men like Max; rich, arrogant and willing to do anything and hurt anyone to achieve profits.

Max is initially intrigued by Madeleine’s disdain of him, until she accuses him of business practices that involve child labor. He demands Madeleine show him her proof and then enlists her as a guide to the silica mines of Nigeria.

Together they put their lives in danger as they trek through the jungle to expose child labor abuse, but as attraction and respect draw them together, will a chance at love be worth the risk?

Worth the Risk is free at Amazon, Nook, iBooks and Kobo! Grab your free copy now.





If you like getting free ebooks and other cool stuff, consider signing up for my email subscribers and/or joining the SweetHarte street team.