You Know Her – the author of The Merchant of Venice Beach

Hey there! Glad you could join us. I’m excited to introduce you to (for those of you who don’t already know her) Celia Bonaduce. If name recognition doesn’t hit you between the eyes, then you’ll know of her through her work on TV shows, like say, Extreme Makeover Home Edition.

I met Celia five years ago at Jodi Thomas’ Writer’s Academy. We keep track of each other on Facebook through our Writer’s Academy alumni group—Jodi’s Pioneers. Last year, when Celia was producing an HGTV show—House Hunters—in Atlanta, I caught up with her at Flip Burger.

Celia shared with me that she’d signed with an agent. (Yes, I made her post the breaking news for the group so her success could inspire all of us.) This year, she has more great news! Her debut novel The Merchant of Venice Beach is a new “must” read.
The Merchant of Venice Beach eBook1

Giveaway time!
Here’s the deal. At the end of this interview, you’ll find a two minute clip: Celia Bonaduce’s 2013 Director’s Reel. Leave a comment about this post (you have until Friday at midnight Eastern time) and tell me WHERE in the clip you see Celia. Your name will be entered to win a Kindle version of Celia’s debut book, The Merchant of Venice Beach. One of you will be a lucky winner!
(Folks, this is a USA deal only and I’ll need your email address.)

What, you ask, is the book about? Let me introduce Suzanna Wolf ~

The Rollicking Bun—Home of the Epic Scone—is the center of Suzanna Wolf’s life. Part tea shop, part bookstore, part home, it’s everything she’s ever wanted right on the Venice Beach boardwalk, including partnership with her two best friends from high school, Eric and Fernando. But with thirty-three just around the corner, suddenly Suzanna wants something more—something strictly her own. Salsa lessons, especially with a gorgeous instructor, seem like a good start—a harmless secret, and just maybe the start of a fling. But before she knows it, Suzanna is learning steps she never imagined—and dancing her way into confusion.

Now on with the show!

Celia BonaduceLJ: When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Celia: I can’t think of a time when I didn’t consider myself a writer. My parents were both professional TV writers, so writing never seemed exotic or unusual – it was there in the house, like peanut butter. I always did well in writing in school and of course, my parents took an interest in helping me (and my brothers) turn in the best essays!

LJ: What inspired you to write?

Celia: I’ve had a roller-coaster professional life. Currently, I’m a producer on HGTV’s House Hunters, but I decided to tackle my first novel (The Merchant of Venice Beach) a few years ago, when my career was, shall we say, stagnant. I was looking for something new to do that utilized my skill set, but, in case I was done with TV or TV was done with me, was outside of entertainment. With my familial background, writing a novel seemed like something I could tackle.

LJ: What is your writing process?

Celia: I work on the story in my head for months…it’s just always with me, rattling around. I figure out my characters and some of the plot lines. It’s sort of like walking through a maze, collecting bunch of stuff here and there to build something – but I’m not a sure what I’m building. Suddenly, I come across that clue that makes everything fall together and then it’s time to hit the keyboard.

LJ: Is the book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Celia: My sister-in-law was home for the holidays a few years ago and she was telling me that after years of dance lessons, her instructor had left town without saying goodbye. She was so upset she went into therapy. I found this fascinating. I mean, my sister-in-law is a paralegal – it’s not like she is a flightily person. So I started noodling around with a story revolving around a woman and a dance instructor.

LJ: What books have most influenced your life most?

Celia: Many Lives, Many Masters, by Brian Weiss, M.D. – a provocative book on reincarnation and Progression Therapy shook me to the rafters. I never felt as if I were on a spiritual quest, but this book seemed to answer so many question I didn’t even know I had.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, books or plays by super smart, hilarious people always inspire me–Nora Ephron, Neil Simon, Steve Martin, P.J. O’Rourke. I remember seeing Biloxi Blues, by Neil Simon at the theater when I was a teenage and thinking “I would love to write like that.” (What I really thought was, “Wow, I’ll never be as funny as this guy, why even try?”–but I make a valiant attempt not to think that way any more.)

LJ: What book are you reading now?

Celia: I’m reading The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan. It’s set in Paris in the 1890’s, when Degas was working on his famous “dancing” series of paintings and statues. I read for pleasure, but I am really studying this novel, because it is written in two voices–and the novel I am writing now is told in three.
LJ: What about writing challenges you?

Celia: Everything about writing challenges me. That’s why I took it on. I needed to shake things up–and boy, did that ever work!

LJ: What was the hardest part of writing your book?

Celia: I hide behind humor, so the hardest part of writing the book was getting into my characters’ deeper emotions. Unless you’re doing stand-up comedy, you can’t always go for the joke.

LJ: What did you learn from writing a book?

Celia: That I wanted to write the next one!

I hope you enjoyed learning some of Celia’s secrets. Here are places to find Celia:

Instigram: Yocelia
Amazon to purchase The Merchant’s of Venice Beach

Happy Reading!

Linda Joyce


Posted in Author Interviews, Links, Writing | Tagged , , , , | 25 Comments

Author, Playright, and Artist. Who is she?

The woman behind the curtain. Who is she?

I started my writing career when I still lived in Kansas, therefore references to The Wizard of Oz are to be expected. When my debut novel, Bayou Born, was in production, an artistic wizard created a beautiful cover for the book. I loved it from first glance. Later, when the book hit the market in February, I heard lots of “ohhhs and ahhhhs” about the cover. So as Dorothy followed a path to reach the Wizard in Oz, I decided to reach out to Kim Mendoza, the cover artist of my book.

I’m sure Dorothy envies me. When I pulled away the curtain, I discovered far more than I expected.

Please allow me to introduce you to Kim Mendoza.


LJ: Welcome Kim! Let’s start with the simplest questions first. Your name. What’s your writing pen name? Do you use another name for your artwork?

Kim: As an author, I am Kimberlee R. Mendoza. As an artist, people know me as Kim Mendoza.

LJ: When did you start writing?

Kim: I wrote my first “book” (and I say that loosely because it was like 5 pages but stapled together) when I was 7. I really got into it when I was 13. The book I wrote then was published by Wild Rose Press a few years back.

LJ: What is your genre and is there a reason you chose that genre to write?

Kim: I tend to lean towards speculative and YA romance. I love writing about things that are “out of this world,” so to speak. Most of the books that I haven’t published yet are because the publishers don’t know what to do them (how to classify them). They are supernatural in nature, but different than those on the market. I also love YA because of the innocence of it all. I work with youth and I just love the way they think. I love seeing them fall in love as well. It is just so pure.

LJ: What is your writing process?

Kim: I come up with a title first. That is initially my outline. I then just start writing. I follow the code outlined in the movie Finding Forrester… “Write the first draft with your heart, and the second with your head.” I have this incredible imagination, so I just let it play out in my head as I type.

LJ: What part of writing is the most challenging for you and why?

Kim: Having explained my writing process, this may seem like a strange answer…but the first draft. I won’t think too much, so if I start to think too much, I stop the process. I much prefer to write the second draft where the outline of the book is in place and I just need to tightened it.

TheForgottenOnesLJ: What inspired you to write THE FORGOTTEN ONES.

Kim: I had just heard of this ministry called, “The Invisible Children.” It’s this organization that tries to help African kids who are kidnapped and trained to be soldiers. Shortly after, I watched the movie “Nikita” which made me start playing with the idea in my head…what if America trained orphan teenagers to become assassins. What’s funny is that in my critique groups, they wouldn’t comment on the writing, just the concept. That it wasn’t realistic. But from the research I’ve seen, it’s not all that crazy. Sad, but true.

LJ: What is your favorite book? Why?

Kim: Wow, how does one pick one? I really liked My Life as a Doormat by Rene Gutteridge, mainly because it deals with playwriting and romance. I’m also a published playwright, and theatre is a big portion of my world. But to say my favorite…there are just so many.

LJ: And the woman behind the curtain shows even more of her amazing self. Author, Artist, and Playwright. Fabulous! So how did you get involved in book cover art?

Kim: I had just been published by TWRP (I think they were months old back then), and saw an old post on their forum about needing a cover artist. I’ve been a graphic artist for years, so I wrote them about my interest. It was an old post, so they said they would hang onto my information. About 6 months later, they brought me on as their 2nd artist. I’ve been there since.

LJ: How do you go about creating covers?

Kim: I read through the spec sheet and then begin searching for artwork. I pull probably 10-12 pictures onto my desktop and then begin tossing them onto my “virtual canvass” to see what works.

LJ: What kind of information do you need to create a cover?

Kim: The four main things I want to see is: The color of the hero/heroine’s hair, the location, the genre (& mood), and a sample of what they like in other covers. If I have those four things, I can usually get pretty close. Not always, but most of the time.

LJ: What do enjoy most about developing covers?

Kim: The creativity expressed.
LJ: Of all the covers you’ve ever created, do you have a favorite? Which one and why?

Kim: I think my first cover I ever created (in 2007) is my favorite to date, Logan’s Redemption. But it has since been republished, and the cover changed. I think my next favorite would be No Second Chance by Maggie Toussiant. It won a bunch of cover awards. So it was with me for a while. You can see it here:

LJ: What goal are you still pursuing connected with writing and art that you see as a pinnacle of you career?

Kim: My biggest goal (or maybe more of a dream) is to end up on a bookstore self. My plays are in catalogs. My books are on the web. But I want to walk into a store and see my books sitting on a self (center aisle would be ideal). I just keep writing and creating…Someday…

LJ: Kim Mendoza. Kimberlee R. Mendoza. Thank you for sharing your story and about your stories.

If you haven’t read Kimberlee R Mendoza’s book, please give it a try. If you need art work, take a look at her portfolio. Here are links to connect with Kim:

The Forgotten Ones – at The Wild Rose Press

Kim’s Website

Kimberlee R Mendoza on Facebook

Posted in Author Interviews, Books, Links, Writing | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments

What is an “Echo?” Tips To Axe These Repeat Offenders

I found this post helpful. The links are interesting, especially after reading a blog post by the Editors of the Wild Rose Press about “nails on a chalkboard” phrases. One editor said she made an author remove “that” from a manuscript. The word count decreased by 1000.

I’m going to check my over-used words, what about you?

Linda Joyce

What is an "Echo?" Tips To Axe These Repeat Offenders.

Posted in Learning, Links, Writing | Tagged , | 7 Comments

And the Winner Is… YOU

Do you see yourself as a winner? Do you feel energized and engaged in your daily adventure? What gets you out of bed each morning? Does it bring you joy? How do you become the Star in the movie of your life?

Do I have all the answers to these questions? No. However, like my GPS, I am going to share with you some ways to “recalculate” and bring new direction and joy into your life.

Here’s what triggered my need for self-examination.

I’m not a crier. At least not in public. Yet recently I wept. Yes, openly for all to see, the kind of crying that ruins makeup and produces red splotches on my face. Most unattractive, but what could I do? There was no holding back.

Cathy MaxwellLast Thursday at the Romance Writers of America Luncheon, author Cathy Maxwell’s keynote speech made me sniffle, then tears dribble from the corners of my eyes. She shared the story of her writing journey, including her first conference where she brought bread and peanut butter to keep food expenses low.

That folks is true dedication to learning craft and pursuing competence. Cathy invoked the battle cry, “Don’t give up!”

I wondered how she knew about the growing voice of my self-doubt. I cried because she passionately challenged me to believe in myself. Even now, it brings tears to my eyes seeing her at the podium raising her fist in solidarity. Thank you, Cathy, for your inspiring words.

Higgins KristanOn Friday, Kristan Higgins took the stage as the featured speaker during the Awards Luncheon. She started out very funny. But then she spoke of the power of words. Kristan read letters from her readers, dark stories of painful lives–abuse, death, despair–made brighter by reading her books. I know the pain of some of those readers…and that is a story for a different post.

I contemplated what I would write about this week, especially in the wake of hearing the journeys of such accomplished writers. How would I squelch my self-doubt? Could I push the darkness away and join Cathy’s Maxwell’s charge? How could I learn more about writing so that I might, someday, touch people’s lives as Kristan Higgins has?

Embracing my fears and flaws, I am recalculating my path, seeking joy and self-acceptance.

You don’t have to be a writer to embrace triumph in your life.

MP900302988 Keys

Here’s what I believe is important ~

Passion. Yes, I am a romance writer, but I’m not referring to ardent affection, instead I mean the intense driving feelings that urge us onward in life. I am passionate about writing. Nothing brings me greater joy that to bring a story to life on paper. Passion can inspire great courage and provide us with a vision of what we can be.

Focus. Directed attention to accomplish goals. This follows the Law of Attraction- what we bring focus to, we can manifest in our life.

Learning. Develop the knowledge needed to reach your goals. Continue to grow as a person.

Perseverance. Continued efforts that merge your passion, focus and learning. Never give up.

Integrity. Be honest with yourself and others. Be yourself. Live your principles. Walk your path with perseverance.

I believe in these keys to success for all aspects of my life. There’s nothing wrong with reevaluating where you are in the moment.

I can hear my internal GPS squawking, “Recalculating. Recalculating.”

What about you? Are you living with passion, focus, learning, perseverance and integrity? You can, you know. And the winner of your efforts will be You!


Linda Joyce

Posted in Authentic Living, Learning, Writer's Life | 14 Comments

National Attraction!

Welcome to my sunny corner of the south. I’m off to RWA Nationals today.

Before I depart, I want to leave you with a tasty read ~ the Tasty Summer Reads blog hop hosted by Avon Romance.

Here’s how it works. Each author answers five questions about their latest release and current WIP, and posts a delectable recipe pertaining thereto. Then each author invites five more authors to participate and links them all.

Thanks for inviting me to play Juli D. Revezzo

My current book: Bayou Bound is in the final production stage. I don’t have a cover to show you yet, but I promise it’s coming soon.

Author of Santorini Sunset, Claire Croxton said this about Bayou Bound: As if the bayou needed more heat and steam! Step aside Shakespeare. Linda Joyce adds southern charm, and a much happier ending, to this modern day Romeo and Juliet.

Here’s a peek into the journey of Biloxi Dutrey and Nick Trahan.
Bayou Boardwalk

Photographer Biloxi Dutrey aches from missing home and grounds her jet-setting career to return to Mississippi. She has a plan save Fleur de Lis, the family home, from financial ruin by scooping up the job of Keeper, the one she’s always wanted. Only her family isn’t cooperating.

Veterinarian Nick Trahan is new in town and wants his clients to stop playing matchmaker. He won’t settle for just a pretty face. He wants the perfect woman, one who believes deeply in family and lifetime commitments.

Nick rescues Biloxi during a storm, but it’s tame compared to the tempest between them. Soon they experience the backlash of the long-standing clash between their families. If Biloxi surrenders her dream to be Fleur de Lis’ Keeper and tows the line with tradition, will she also be forced give up on a ‘forever love’ with Nick over hate their families still harbor for each other?

For a look at the cover of Bayou Born, book one in the Fleur de Lis series, Please scroll down to see it.

Here’s insights into me ~

1) When writing are you a snacker? If so, sweet or salty?

MP900314309  popcorn

Snacking! It hits me about 3 pm most days. Crunchy is what I love. Dark chocolate with nuts. Potato chips. Cheese curls. Popcorn. Salty or sweet, matters not. My requirement is crunch.

2) Are you an outliner or someone who flies by the seat of their pants? Are they real pants or jammies?

Hmmm, just as I’m bicultural, Asian-Cajun, I’m also a writing plotter and pants-er. I know my characters. I know their crisis, conflict, and concerns. I know how the story ends. BUT, in between…my characters drive the show, which I think causes me to rewrite more. (I hope to refine that process and to include more humor into my stories.) Pants or Jammies? It’s summer in the south, I’m wearing shorts.

3) When cooking or baking, do you follow the recipe exactly or wing it?

I do not bake. I repeat, I do not bake. It requires precision measurements to make things rise, or make crusts flakey, or have the right about of crunch verses chewy. Lucky for me, my husband does a bit of baking. He is famous for his sweet potato pecan pie. I cook. (I was much better than I am now- use or lose it…and I’m losing it.) I enjoy cooking. I make big batches of things like gumbo or pesto and freeze them for easy reheats.

4) What is next for you after this book?

I am working on two projects. I’m writing book three of the Fleur de Lis series-Back to the Bayou. It’s about Branna’s sister, Camilla (Branna is book one, and Camilla makes an appearance late in that book) who struggles to redeem herself and is trying to get home to Fleur de Lis.

I’m also working on a story about three women, once childhood best friends, their friend forged by a secret. They grew apart after high school, and then are reunited when a pivotal man in their lives dies. Jane, Suzanne and Maggie come together as the ex-wife, sister, and widow of Mark Maucele. Only now, when they need each other the most, the secrets the hide from each other threatens to their friendship apart forever.

5) Last Question…on a level of one being slightly naughty to ten being whoo whoo steamy, where does your book land?
This is always a hard question for me because I think the determination ultimate rests with the reader. I have a friend who thinks the intimate scenes in my stories are really hot, but then, she doesn’t read erotica…so trying to be objective, on a 1-10 scale, I’d say my stories are a 6, maybe 7 in the heat scale.

Now for some bayou heat!
Photo taken from Cooking with Elise


This is my Shrimp and Andouille Jambalaya

Serves 4-6

1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 lb andouille sausage, cut into 1/4 inch slices
1 onion, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 small green bell pepper, diced
1 small red bell pepper, diced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 cups rice
1 (14 ounce) can tomatoes, chopped,with liquid.
2 cups broth – vegetable or seafood
8 ounces medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
3 green onions, finely chopped


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large pan or Dutch oven, add andouille, onion, celery, bell peppers, thyme, oregano, paprika, salt, and cayenne pepper. Cook and stir until onions are tender, about 5 minutes.

Add rice, tomatoes with juice, and broth; bring to a boil.

Place rice mixture in a greased baking dish; cover (foil works) and bake at 350 degrees F for 40-45 minutes, until rice is done.

Stir in shrimp, parsley, and green onions; cover again. Cook 5-8 minutes more until shrimp and turn bright pink (cooked through), then serve. Additional Crystal Sauce may be added for more heat.

**If you’re looking for a crock pot recipe, I’m suggesting this one at Food Renegad:

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Randomness…or not? Farewell to Miss Gladys

Linda Joyce Contemplates is the title of my blog. The name is intended to capture my musings of different aspects of life. I am more than a wife. I am more than a daughter. I am more than a writer. As a woman, there is much I contemplate.

Today, I’m looking for patterns in what feels like randomness in order to process the changes rolling in waves into my life.

Miss Gladys House Miss Gladys’ house restored after Hurricane Katrina. It took five years.

A week ago, my father called to deliver some sad news. He said, “I’m sorry to tell you this, but Miss Gladys’ granddaughter just called. Miss Gladys passed away on Sunday.” He proceeded to provide Keandra’s address and phone number. She’s Miss Gladys’ granddaughter.

This morning, I put a condolence card in the mail to Keanda and her family. She and I have never met; however, I know much about her. You see, my grandmother and Miss Gladys, despite their 20-plus age difference (and a host of other differences that include race, religion and political preferences) were best friends. One house separated them on Wingate Drive in New Orleans. These two women talked about everything, including the life and times of their grandchildren. Therefore, I’m sure Keanda knows as much about me as I know about her.

My father told me that Miss Gladys must have risen on Sunday morning and ate a bite, a few dishes were found neatly stacked in the sink. She went back to bed to read her Bible.

Several people called that day, but she never answered the phone. Her cousin, the one who lives across Filmore and down a few blocks, went to check on her. Miss Gladys was found in her bed, on her side, with her Bible open looking peaceful, as though asleep.

Did she have a pact with God, and this was the time they’d planned?

Miss Gladys celebrated her birthday in February, snuggled between Fat Tuesday and Valentine’s Day, and I was there to commemorate the occasion. The timing worked out perfectly when I was home visiting for Mardi Gras.

I brought a gift to Miss Gladys. A Japanese doll. I had made it when I was ten and living in Japan. I sent it to my grandmother and the doll resided in a prominent place in the living room curio cabinet. The doll came back to me when my grandmother passed away. It seemed only right to return it to New Orleans, on the same street, a door away from where it had lived for so many years.

My husband and I took Miss Gladys for a birthday lunch at the place she selected—Dooky Chase’s Restaurant in Tremè.

At eighty, she dressed in grey slacks and a red leather jacket, always the stylish one, whereas my grandmother used to dress like bag lady, after working for twenty years on New Orleans Police force she lived in constant fear of being mugged. Miss Gladys was the optimist to my grandmother’s constant pessimism.

Linda's iPhone 2 25 13 005

After a lunch of fried chicken, greens, and macaroni and cheese at Dooky Chase, we headed over to Magazine Street to Sucrè for dessert. Rich and decadent sweetness. Afterward, we walked down the street to Fleurty Girl so I could buy some bling and SWAG for my then, upcoming debut novel release.

It was a perfect day!

I know Miss Gladys had a deep abiding faith. I’m happy she’s gone on to streets of gold and angels singing…but I shall miss her dearly.

In general, I don’t believe in coincidence. I do believe that there are lessons to be learned at every turn in life. I’m contemplating that concept while allowing my tears of grief to flow.

Gladys and I Me and Miss Gladys.

It’s summer now, a time for making memories. I hope you’ll make happy ones, like the ones I made on the last day I spent with Miss Gladys.


Linda Joyce

Posted in Authentic Living, Family, New Orleans, Writer's Life | Tagged , , , | 16 Comments

Anytime is Party Time

7 2 13 007Anytime is Party Time, especially in Louisiana.

My short story, Behind the Mask, features Mardi Gras and pirates and a love. The story is in the July edition of Hidden Desires Romance, a sixty-page magazine with short stories, poetry, and articles about beauty, pets, and lifestyle. There’s also an advice column, Ask Aphrodite. The best news? The magazine is free and only a click away: Hidden Desires Romance

The mask in the photo hangs on the wall in my office. It’s one of my favorites.

One of the most frequent questions I’m asked about writing is, “Where do you get your ideas?” I enjoyed writing Behind the Mask, and I won’t keep you guessing about the inspiration for the story. It’s set in the imaginary town of Ascension on the banks of the Mississippi River in Ascension Parrish, Louisiana. Nearby is the actual town of Donaldsonville where a pirate ship remains sunk in the river.

(photo credit- Harfang)

Taken from :
(Information from: The Advocate Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.)

Le Pelican was a full-sized wooden reproduction of a 1697 warship commanded by Pierre le Moyne, Sieur d’Iberville, on Hudson Bay in Canada.

The city bought the replica in May 2002 with $55,000 from the Donaldsonville-based Fort Butler Foundation. It sank that November and again in March 2004.

Several years ago while still living in Kansas, my husband surprised me with a trip for Valentine’s Day–plane tickets to Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans, then a short drive west to Bittersweet Plantation for a long relaxing weekend. Some of you may be familiar with the renowned Chef John Folse, but did you know he owns Bittersweet Plantation, a bed and breakfast that caters to guests’ every whim?

How do you get there? The map gives the best visual.

We wandered around town during our stay. Inspiration came to me like waves pounding a beach during a storm. I have a shipload of photos that will provide details when I begin the story I’m going to set in Donaldsonville. But I digress. While there, town still buzzed with the news of the sunken ship. I saw framed photos of it at a local gift shop. One picture in particular captured my attention. Early morning mist on the Mississippi River shrouded the water and the ship appeared to rise up from the mist.

Very magical.

So the now-sunken pirate ship, intended as a tourist attraction, became the anchor for my story, along with the laissez les bons temps rouler of Mardi Gras, and of course, the unbreakable connection of true love between Chalise and Chaz.

Happy Reading!

Linda Joyce

Posted in Mardi Gras, Romance, Writing | Leave a comment