Cupid’s Cafe: Welcome to the Creator

Hello, Through Heart-Shaped Glasses Readers!

By now you’ve enjoyed Lori’s post about the series her and I are a part of along with her amazing book, Exactly Like You, that’s releasing on June 20th. Lori and I wish we could take the credit for this fantastic idea of a series, but of course, we can’t. No, the honor belongs to the fabulous Catherine Peace and I convinced her to agree to an interview on the series.

Just a few questions mind you, Catherine is a busy woman working on her own Cupid’s Cafe story.

First up, as the mastermind behind this series, where did the idea for the series come from?

Dang, already with the tough questions! 🙂 Well, here is where we get a little deep. I’ve dealt with depression and anxiety my entire life before I even had a name for them. I hit a….really bad patch a couple years ago that led me down a rocky road to treatment, which involved group therapy five days a week. The first day in my therapy group, it was the last day of a man who was a recovering meth addict. And he talked about his ex-girlfriend who’d cheated on him and treated him terribly because of his addiction and a couple other mitigating factors, and he said, “I guess I don’t deserve to be loved.” My heart shattered, and I looked at him and said, “You’re wrong.” I don’t think he expected that, especially from the newbie, but it’s true. People deserve love by virtue of being people. It doesn’t matter the background, the road, the ups and downs and mistakes and victories. People deserve to be loved and treasured. So in a way, this series came from wanting to prove him wrong and prove wrong people who have that same thought pattern. It’s nothing more than a lie.

Wow! I remember tearing up myself when you told me that story, and that’s when I fell in love with your idea too. That being said, what is your goal for the series?

Kind of what I said in my last answer, to show that people deserve to be loved and treasured. In a way, this series came from wanting to prove the guy from therapy wrong and prove wrong people who have that same thought pattern. It’s nothing more than a lie, but it’s one of the easiest to believe. I want to show people like him, people like me, that we’re not too broken to have worth and value. And hopefully, show them–us–that we’re able to rise above the challenges if we allow ourselves to be loved. It’s not that people don’t love and care and want the best for us. It’s that we simply cannot fathom it. 

Now, the series is set where you live, do you think that make things easier from a research standpoint?

In a way, yeah. The fun thing about Louisville is that it’s SUCH a diverse city. My roommate and I talk all the time about the racial and cultural diversity just in our apartment complex, and you can find that all over the city. It has its problems with racial violence and drug abuse, but it also has opportunities to offer people. It’s a city of entrepreneurs and small business owners, tattoo shops and music stores and SO. MUCH. FOOD. Dear Lord, I could set 50 different series here and never reuse an idea. My roomie works at a health clinic that caters to the homeless, and she’s able to help them in a way she never truly expected. I love this city. It still has small town charm regardless of being a metro, a lot of opportunities, and a lot of idea fodder. 

How do you think this series differs from other matchmaking romance series out there?

To me, it’s the focus on characters with mental health issues. Considering my own, I’ve noticed a lack of representation for people like me. I’ve seen a few that touch on PTSD, but it’s mostly these gruff Alpha dudes and these badass bitch ladies, and while that has its place, there’s STILL a need to open up the dialogue about mental health. Still, a need shed light on it, especially with what’s going on in the world now and how stressful it is. The characters in these stories are people who are at the ends of their ropes, people who need One Good Thing to give them hope. To help them see they’re worthy of love, of help. These aren’t going to be fluffy stories, I know. They’re dark. They’re tough. But they’re worth it. 

If any one of these stories helps someone, they’re more than worth it.

The first two books in the Cupid’s Cafe series are coming this month. Be sure to check out Exactly Like You and Painting For Keeps. If you’re interested in writing for the series reach out to Landra at landra (dot) graf (7) (at) gmail (dot) com

About Landra Graf

Landra Graf consumes at least one book a day and has always been a sucker for stories where true love conquers all. She believes in the power of the written word, and the joy such words can bring. In between spending time with her family and having book adventures, she writes romance with the goal of giving everyone, fictional or not, their own happily ever after.

Guest Post — Anne Victory


Anne comes to us from her own company, Victory Editing. With writing sensations like Gena Showalter and Nalini Singh on her resume, she is definitely someone to have on your side. You can find out more about Anne on her WEBPAGE. Now, for the nitty gritty, get-to-know-you fun…
How would you define success as an editor?
Being a vital part of an author’s publishing process. Knowing that my contributions get a book closer to perfection is the best thing in the world. Editing is a fine line—you don’t want to change an author’s voice or their story, but you do want to polish it. Doing that and having a good relationship with my authors is how I gauge success.

What kinds of editing (or what part of editing) do you most (and least) enjoy? Why?
I like what’s called line editing. That’s not quite as big-picture as developmental editing, but you get into the language of the story more than with just copy edits, which tend to be all about grammar and making sure the book follows the chosen style guide. And I do that, too, but I love the English language (even with all its idiosyncrasies), so polishing dialog and sentence flow and structure is perfect for me. My least favorite thing—and it doesn’t have anything to do with editing, per se—is the business side of things. I’m not all that fond of administrative work, I confess. I’d rather be editing!

When someone gives you something to edit, what do you do?
Mostly I’m thankful to have a job that I enjoy. But more to the point, most jobs follow the same path—that is setting up the client, the project, completing edits, going over revisions, and answering any questions the author might have.

What made you choose editing?
I adore books. I have a background in English education and library science. Shortly after I got my Kindle, I started noticing a fair amount of typos in indie-published books. Don’t get me wrong—I occasionally spot things in traditional books too. But it seemed that in Indie Land (at that time—these days indie books often have higher production values than traditionally published work), it was more than the occasional occurrence. Seeing a need, I started doing “Oops Detection” for indie authors, which is a final-pass service before a book is published. Fast-forward a year, and a lot of my clients were asking me to edit for them. The rest, as they say, is history. The fact that I get to immerse myself in language—I love the rhythm and flow of words—every day is the absolute best thing I could have dreamed of.

What really gets your engine revving in a book? [in other words] What do you like to see in the submissions you receive?
I’m pretty eclectic in my reading preferences, and of course that applies to editing too. A good story is king. I also love clever dialog. Genre wise, Romance and Urban Fantasy are my two favorite genres, and I also adore Paranormal Romance as it’s a bit of a blend between the two.

What is one of your writing pet peeves?
Stilted dialog. Dialog is such a huge part of a story, and if it’s not right, it can throw off the balance of the entire book. That’s especially true in Romance, where the focus of the story is the interaction between two characters. We readers need to fall in love with the hero and heroine too. One thing I suggest to all my authors is to read dialog out loud. Hear the inflection. Do you want to contract something or leave it two words? What feels more natural when you’re speaking? Those are things you often can’t spot when you’re writing or just reading your work on the page, and yet those nuances can bring your characters’ exchanges to life. Another tip is when you’re reading your dialog out loud, omit the action beats. Sometimes a portion of dialog won’t match up with the response from the other characters, but that’s something you catch if you only read the spoken parts.

Do you have a favorite author? If so, who is it and how have they influenced your career?
I have more favorites than I can count, truly. Probably one who has stuck with me my whole life, though, is C.S. Lewis and his work, The Chronicles of Narnia. Such wonderful adventures and such valuable lessons. I don’t know that he’s necessarily influenced my career, but his words have shaped some of my choices, particularly when it comes to doing the right thing and striving to treat others with kindness.

Just for fun:
Leather or lace? Lace… only I want to be contrary and say cotton or linen. I’m all about being comfy
Black or red? Black… (But really green)
Satin sheets or Egyptian cotton? Egyptian cotton
Ocean or mountains? More contrariness—the woods.
City life or country life? Country life
Hunky heroes or average Joe? Average Joe
Party life or quiet dinner for two? Quiet dinner for two, preferably followed by a movie.
Dogs or cats? Cats, though I adore my poodle and two parakeets

…A big thanks to Anne for taking time to visit our blog. <3

About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

Edit a New Draft — with Brianna St. James

Inspiring us to work through our manuscripts today is the Lemon Editing Group editor, Briana St. James. Briana is a former acquisitions editor and book reviewer. She has worked in various aspects of editing fiction for the last seventeen years. Briana’s rarely met a genre she didn’t want to try reading–or editing!

After an amazing time as a twenty-something working in various facets of the entertainment industry, including celebrity wrangling, the care and feeding of musicians, and as a semi-pro concert photographer. Briana has been a full-time editor since 1997 and a published author since 2007.

She spends her spare time attending concerts, being the minion to the most pampered cats in creation, and dodging the dramatically rolled eyes of her indulgent husband.
How would you define success as an editor?

A strong partnership between author and editor is the ultimate success as an editor. When a team works together, sharing trust in each other, to see a project to fruition, that is success.

What kinds of editing (or what part of editing) do you most (and least) enjoy? Why?

My ultimate favorite thing is early developmental editing, which often includes long brainstorming sessions. Seeing ideas gel is so rewarding!

When someone gives you something to edit, what do you do?

For content editing, I read the work several times, and then form some questions. My initial approach to editing is to read a work as if I’d discovered it on the open market, approaching the readability, characters, plot development, and pacing as a reader would. Only after I have that reader mindset established do I turn the technical editor on and begin to formulate an editorial approach.

When line editing or proofing, I do my first pass starting at the last page and working my way forward. It allows me to familiarize myself with the author’s writing style without getting lost in the fabulous story.

What made you choose editing?

I think I fell into it 😉 I was working in various facets of the entertainment world, and one of my clients would ask me to proofread his interview material for typos, etc. before faxing it onward. Eventually, friends would ask me to check out their work for readability, and I couldn’t help marking up changes for them.

What really gets your engine revving in a book? [in other words] What do you like to see in the submissions you get at Lemons Editing Group?

Passion! An author with passion in a work brings so much to the table. Like everyone else, I have pet favorite genres, but passion in a work and characters trumps everything for me! I’m a character geek and love discussing character arcs and motivation at length with authors.

What is one of your writing pet peeves?

Try and rather than try to. Borrowed him/her some money. Ministrations versus menstruation—yep this one exists! An excess of exclamation points. Any character who becomes a stereotype. Who versus that when referring to humans. Erotic scenes where the female anatomy is incorrectly presented.

Do you have a favorite author? If so, who is it and how have they influenced your career?

I have too many to name, but in the interests of answering your question, I’ll single one incredible lady out.

I first discovered Joey W. Hill when she submitted a science fiction story to a publisher I was doing submission evaluation for. This was circa ’98. The book was *incredible* and I enthusiastically suggested it for publication. Several years later, we both found ourselves at EC, and I became her editor.

Joey taught me a great deal about how *not* to get lost in beautiful prose. It can be hard to not get swept away, and working with her, and learning her writing style, was an invaluable lesson in stepping back from the beauty of the words and diving into the technical aspects. We worked on over a dozen books together, and it has been a pleasure seeing both of us grow individually and as an editor/author team.

Leather or lace? Leather for sure
Black or red? Black, with red accents 😉
Satin sheets or Egyptian cotton? Microfiber!
Ocean or mountains? Both. Ocean in summer, mountains in fall. Oh, the colors.
City life or country life? City.
Hunky heroes or average Joe? Average Joes are often not so average.
Party life or quiet dinner for two? Quite dinner, preferably at a foodie-type restaurant. Maybe a party every third dinner.
Dogs or cats? Cats. I’m ruled and overruled by my feline overlords.


About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

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