Brandi Willis Schreiber

Sensual, Southern Romance

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Going *There*: How Author Barbara J. Hancock Conjures the Gothic

As we move further into fall and feel the days grow shorter and the veil thin between this world and the next, it’s time to stop and talk about the g-word.

And by the g-word, I mean the Gothic.

Gothic stories, with their harsh, lonely settings, troubling mysteries, high emotion, and details of death and decay are some of my very favorite to read. Frankenstein, The Portrait of Dorian Gray, and of course, Wuthering Heights are classics on my shelf whose tension I still try to emulate.

As I mention in my feature interview with Grave Tells, Jane Eyre was the first romance I read that got its claws into me.  I won’t go into a deep literary analysis here, but its Gothic influences – which were much more subtle than the Monster brought to life by lightning – and strong heroine changed my literary landscape. Very few stories have affected me as emotionally and physically as Jane Eyre, and it’s one of the reasons seeing a real moor was on my bucket list!

And just in time for October, when we start to feel the world cool and watch the shadows grow longer, I have the perfect author for you to meet:  Barbara J. Hancock.  Barbara J. Hancock writes modern Gothic romances, and they are amazing.

Read on for my fascinating interview with Barbara, and be sure to comment on this post or sign up for my newsletter by Sunday, October 8 to be entered into a drawing for a Kindle version of BRIMSTONE SEDUCTION, the first book in Barbara’s modern Gothic romance series.

It's a book that I COULD NOT PUT DOWN, and I think you'll love it as much as I did!

Author Barbara J. Hancock writes modern Gothic romances.

Author Barbara J. Hancock writes modern Gothic romances.

Barbara, I am excited to share a little bit about you and your writing on my website! For folks who may be unfamiliar with your work, tell us about yourself and what you write.

Thank you so much for having me on your blog, Brandi! I'm a survivor of a childhood with an alcoholic parent. One of the things that helped me get through those years and come out on the other side as an optimist was make believe. I took myself away from the fear and pain with books, movies, fairytales, music, name it if it...anything with a “Once upon a time …”  vibe.  Especially stories in which relationships helped people to overcome hardships. Love heals. I absolutely believe that and I write about it in every book.


How did you begin writing paranormal romance?  What was - and continues to be - the appeal for you?

Again, escapism rocks. Nothing takes me away better than fantasy, romance and science fiction and those genres come together to create paranormal romance. Even now when my environment is safe, happy and fulfilled, I still enjoy escaping from the mundane. There's a step in the Hero's Journey that's titled Call to Adventure. That's what writing and reading is to me. And that's why I so enjoy writing paranormal romance. Nothing is more adventurous to me than a heroine receiving the Call to Adventure in the form of, say, a cursed man with Brimstone in his blood or a legendary shapeshifter.


On your website, you have a wonderful post about "the Gothics" - novels like JANE EYRE which influenced you over the years - and the appeal of the Gothic hero and heroine. In your opinion, what makes a really good Gothic hero or heroine?

For the hero: Mystery. Ambiguity. Maybe even an element of danger. The Gothic hero is not Captain America. The Gothic hero is the Winter Soldier. He's usually damaged. He needs to be saved no matter how powerful he seems on the outside.

For the heroine: She's proactive. She has agency. She is not going to shy away from answers even if it puts her in danger. More than anything, even if she is physically not as strong as the hero or the villain, the Gothic heroine is the savior. She's Wonder Woman and Nancy Drew and Jane Eyre. 


How is this type of hero and heroine different than, say, the hero or heroine you might read about in a contemporary or even an historical romance?

I think the elements of mystery and ambiguity in the hero is stronger in a straight Gothic than it is in a contemporary or historical. Although romantic suspense heroes often have this quality, as well.

Gothics are primarily from the heroine's point of view. We don't know as much about the hero's intimate thoughts and motivations. One of the main differences between my Shivers Gothics and my Harlequin Nocturnes is you get more from the hero's point of view in a Nocturne. My Nocturne heroes are still dark and damaged, but you'll be taken along with their feelings and sensations as they fall in the love with the women who will save them from the darkness.

Love heals. I absolutely believe that and I write about it in every book.
— Barbara J. Hancock

JANE EYRE is definitely a book that influenced me as a writer, too. That one line in the book, when she addresses the reader for the only time, and says, "Reader, I married him ..." sent chills down my spine the first time I read it. But to get to that moment, Jane Eyre had to go through a LOT of dark moments. I remember physically hovering as I read about her time at Gateshead Hall, Lowood School, and what she endured on the miles of moors when she fled Rochester. In other words:  Bronte really put her through the wringer!  But a good author has to torture her characters to get them to earn their HEA, doesn't she? I'm curious how you "torture" your darlings. How do you know as an author what to put your characters through so that they earn their HEA?

I go *there*. What hurts? What frightens me? What would I avoid at all costs if I was the heroine? I love to explore bravery in stories. I face my fears every time I write a book! And my heroes and heroines never let me down. If I'm crying once they reach the happily ever after, I know I've taken them close enough to the possibility of losing their HEA to make the story satisfying for the reader. One thing I've learned is to go as close to the edge as I need to go and let the editors tell me if I've gone too far.


Where do you find your writing inspiration?  What do you do to "refill the well"?

Oh, this is my favorite question! Because I am a story enthusiast I'm also a rabid fan girl geek. Books. Movies. Television. Etc.  I love Youtube for re-watching all my favorite scenes from television and movies. I love Twitter for suggestions. Three or four mentions of "Olicity" and I'm going to check out Arrow to see what the fuss is about. It's always about romance for me. I "collect" 'ships and couples. Some of my favorites besides Arrow would be Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries, Battlestar Galactica, Lucifer, Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead...anything with relationships that are twisty enough to take me away!

I'm also a history buff and even though I write contemporary my interest in history and vintage *everything* usually inspires me and comes through in every book.

Let's, art, nature...all those things refill my well too.


Tell me a little bit about your process, Barbara. What does a typical writing day (or hour) look like for you?  How do you get started, and when do you know to put down the pen or turn off the computer?  Any tips, tricks, or rituals that keep you writing?

I write from 10 to 2 usually on a regular schedule. But I'm not one of those "write every day" people. I write to a deadline and I know how many words I need in a week to reach the necessary word count...with days off to recharge and renew. With discipline, you can have time off, I promise!

I'm also very active with band kids and I help to take care of my elderly mother. Basically, my process is to set goals and meet them with time off for good behavior. I will also shut everything else down if I'm suddenly inspired to crank. Occasionally, I have a Lost Weekend. Oh, look, here's 15k that wasn't there on Friday!

Pinterest is a HUGE part of my process. I liken it to self hypnosis. The book board is a place I can go to change gears from mom and daughter to author in just a few minutes.

Comment on this post or sign up for my newsletter by Sunday, October 8 to win a Kindle copy of BRIMSTONE SEDUCTION

Comment on this post or sign up for my newsletter by Sunday, October 8 to win a Kindle copy of BRIMSTONE SEDUCTION

You currently write for HARLEQUIN NOCTURNE and have sold your first YA to ENTANGLED TEEN. Congratulations! Tell us a little bit about how you landed your contracts! 

Four score and seven years journey to Harlequin Nocturne was a long one interrupted by the birth of twins many years ago. My first full for Harlequin was requested back when Silhouette Bombshell was a line! I sold my first Nocturne Bite in 2008 and my first full length Nocturne at the age of 46. I was 44 when I signed with my first agent. Believe. That's the biggest piece of advice I can give anyone. Just believe.


What were some joys and challenges along the way?

Did I mention twins? Ha! EVERYTHING you can imagine can happen and does happen. But I kept writing even when I wasn't submitting. Because story is my life. 


What advice would you give to other aspiring writers who'd like to write for these houses?

Perseverance. Learn from feedback. Stick to your voice and your vision, but still be open to wisdom and savvy people who can teach you how to convey the stories in your heart. We've all been in that place of being unsatisfied with your vision once it's on the page. Keep going. Keep learning. Those visions will get closer and closer to each other until you're finally at a place that your vision is realized most of the time. Write. Submit. Repeat. That's the key.

Also do your research. Read where you plan to submit. Follow editors and agents and publishers on Twitter and other social media sites. I connected with Lucienne Diver because I saw her Tweeting about what she liked and was looking for!

BRIMSTONE PRINCE releases in October 2017

BRIMSTONE PRINCE releases in October 2017

Tell us about your latest releases and what reader have to look forward to over the next year!

BRIMSTONE PRINCE is coming in October! It's the third book in my first Harlequin Nocturne series and it concludes the Brimstone series with a bang! Here’s a little summary:

“A match made in hell.

The adopted daughter of the daemon king, Lily Santiago has lived her life in darkness. After one glimpse of desert sunlight, she begins to understand what she's been missing.

Michael D'Arcy Turov might be heir to the throne of hell, but he has firmly rejected that legacy. All he wants is to play his guitar… Until he meets Lily, and her kiss awakens the Brimstone burn he's long suppressed.

A pawn in the war between her foster father and rogue daemons, Lily is determined to let Michael keep his freedom. But what if his desire for her is enough to take him back to hell?”

In 2018, I have three Harlequin Nocturnes in a new series, Legendary Warriors. That new series begins with LEGENDARY SHIFTER in March and continues with LEGENDARY WOLF the following summer, and then concludes with the White Wolf's story next winter. This series was inspired by Game of Thrones and Wonder Woman. It's about cursed legendary shifters and the warrior women who save them. It's set in Eastern Europe and features a lush Carpathian Mountain setting and Russian witch mythology.

From Entangled Teen, I have a YA Gothic Thriller, AFTER ALWAYS.  In this book, sometimes "I'll love you forever" is a dark promise. I don't have a release date yet, but I'm so excited about this book. It's a true Gothic with thrills and chills and a violinist heroine that is braver than I could ever be!


Lastly, a fun question:  If you could have one paranormal power in the world, what would it be and why?

I never knew how I would answer this question until I watched The Flash. I had no idea running at the speed of light would mean I could eat all the pizza I wanted without gaining weight. That power wins hands down for me from now on!


Want to connect with Barbara?  Follow her here:





"Forget Second-Guessing" - How Author Kerri Carpenter Balances Writing and Work

In case you’ve missed all the excitement, Romance Writers of America is publishing their second short-story anthology on September 12, and my story, “The Family Tree,” made the cut.

Trust me, you could have knocked me over with a feather when I found out. But more about that later.

Being a part of this anthology has allowed me to connect with some amazing writers who are successful, smart, savvy, and talented: individuals from whom I am learning a lot.

Kerri Carpenter is one such author.

Kerri and I met for the first time at the RWA 2017 national conference during a Facebook Live interview in which contributors got together and talked about their stories. And in typical Romancelandia fashion, Kerri was unbelievably sweet and generous. I got to visit with her several times during the conference, where I picked up her book, FALLING FOR THE RIGHT BROTHER on a swag table (and which I devoured in less than a week, I might add). I quickly discovered that in addition to her personality, her writing is also full of sparkle.

Kerri also works a full-time day job in the D.C. area. I'm always curious about how writers do this work (the writing bits) in addition to the day job (the work bits that tend to pay the bills), so I picked Kerri’s brain on how she balances working full-time with book contracts, and she graciously shared her insight with me. If you work full time and write in-between, I hope her advice will help you.

I am so honored to share pages with Kerri, so to celebrate her upcoming releases and our shared SECOND CHANCES: A ROMANCE WRITERS OF AMERICA COLLECTION, I’m giving away a copy of FALLING FOR THE RIGHT BROTHER to one of my newsletter subscribers on Monday, September 18!  Go to to sign up!

AND Kerri is graciously giving away a Kindle copy of FALLING FOR THE RIGHT BROTHER to someone who comments on this blog post! (Comment below!)

Kerri with her sweet dog, Harry!

Kerri with her sweet dog, Harry!


Kerri, I am excited to share a little bit about you and your writing on my website! For folks who may be unfamiliar with your work, tell us a little bit about yourself and what you write.

Hi, Brandi! Thanks for having me on your blog today! My name is Kerri Carpenter and I live in Northern Virginia with my super-adorable dog, Harry. Besides being one of Brandi’s co-anthology-authors in SECOND CHANCES: A ROMANCE WRITERS OF AMERICA COLLECTION, I write contemporary romances that are sweet, sexy, and sparkly. Currently, I am right in the middle of a three-book series with Harlequin Special Edition. The series is called Saved by the Blog and the second book, BIDDING ON THE BACHELOR, is out in paperback on September 19 and e-book on October 1!


You've written for several houses and lines: Harlequin Special Edition; Entangled Publishing, Lovestruck; and Soul Mate Publishing. Tell us about your writing path to these opportunities! Have you always written books, or did you start writing something else? How long did it take you to finish your first book and get a contract? What has your writing journey been like?

Whoa! This is a big question. Ha-ha! I’ve wanted to be a writer from a very early age, but it took quite some time to find my niche. I used to write a lot of plays and angsty teenage girl poetry. In college, my mom handed me my first romance novel (it was a Nora Roberts book) and that was that. I knew I would write romance novels.

However, the journey to get published took about 13 years from that point. I can’t even remember how many manuscripts I attempted leading up to selling my first book. I did everything I could to educate myself about the industry and romance writing.

At the end of 2013, everything seemed to come together. I had been submitting a couple different manuscripts to publishers, as well as looking for an agent. I signed with my agent (the lovely and amazing Nicole Resciniti of The Seymour Agency who I signed with due to winning a contest) the same month I was offered a contract from Soul Mate Publishing. The month after that, my agent got me another contract with Entangled Publishing. My first book, FLIRTING WITH THE COMPETITION, came out in October 2014.

I was beyond thrilled to sign with Harlequin Special Edition in early 2016. My first book, FALLING FOR THE RIGHT BROTHER, was one of the June 2017 releases.


FALLING FOR THE RIGHT BROTHER is a "combination of Gossip Girl and Sabrina."  What is it about Gossip Girl and Sabrina that created the perfect inspiration for this series?  How does another old favorite, Saved by the Bell, factor into this series, as well?

It’s funny actually. I hadn’t seen Sabrina or Gossip Girl in years! Then, one day I was walking my dog, Harry, and all of a sudden, this idea popped into my head:  Sabrina meets Gossip Girl. I can tell you exactly where I was standing. And then I could see the two main characters and the entire town of Bayside as if I’d actually been there. (Yes, Bayside is an homage to my favorite TV show of all time, Saved by the Bell.)

But honestly, I have no idea where these ideas came from. Although, my theory is that I am the most at peace when I’m walking my dog. I think being calm and happy opens up the creativity passages. That still doesn’t explain why Sabrina and Gossip Girl entered my mind. But that may be a mystery for a whole different blog!


I have to mention that Sabrina (1995) is one of my favorite movies of all time. The setting is beautiful, the music is moving, and its theme about finding beauty and seeing people for who they really are (if one only looks close enough) is classic. Plus, it's got a humor that never gets old! When I need a reminder in my writing that it's the way that people change that creates stories, I watch Sabrina.  I'm curious:  where do you find your writing inspiration?  What do you do to help connect you to your characters? Anything special that you do to "refill the well"?

I LOVE Sabrina as well! Both versions. I used to watch the 90s version with Harrison Ford all the time in high school. I loved the part when she went to Paris and found herself. In fact, that’s why I chose to study abroad in Florence. (If you’ve read my first book, you know that Elle studies abroad in Florence as well.)

In terms of connecting with my characters, I don’t write any that I haven’t connected with from the start. I find it too difficult to write them otherwise. And I refill the well (as well as find my inspiration) by spending time with my dog and some of my non-writer friends. Occasionally, I turn to coloring to clear my mind. Also, I find that bubble baths help. And manicures and pedicures. And shopping. And long walks. And pie. Lots of peach pie!


Tell me a little bit about your writing process, Kerri. What does a typical writing day (or hour) look like for you?  How do you get started, and when do you know to put down the pen or turn off the computer?  Any tips, tricks, or rituals that keep you writing?

Since I have a day job and a fairly active life, it’s really, really difficult to find time for writing. I try to utilize whatever time I can eke out: lunch breaks, nighttime, and definitely my weekends. The Crock-Pot is my friend!

A trick that I’ve learned is to challenge myself to small sprints. On the weekend, I’ll give myself 20 minutes and see how many words I can get out. Then I’ll do a load of laundry or clean something. Then I’ll challenge myself to write more. Once I start daydreaming and/or getting on social media, I know I’m tapped out.


Speaking about a "typical day," you have a full time job in addition to your writing career. So many authors work full time jobs while writing, and so many aspiring authors struggle with this! How do you balance working full time with your writing time and still manage to produce books? What advice would you offer to other writers who also have to balance the stories in their head with full time jobs?

I’m not going to sugarcoat it. It’s tough!!!!!! But I have a couple tips and tricks to offer.

Set your priorities – Day job comes first because it pays the bills. Creating amazing stories is more important than participating in every Facebook party; therefore, writing comes before marketing.

Invest in a Crock-Pot. Seriously. I already stated this once and I can’t relay how much time this can save you.

Ask for help. This is really hard for me. If you have the extra money laying around, get a cleaning person, have your groceries delivered, etc. If not, ask your friends and family to lend a hand. You might be surprised how many people will step forward to assist.

On the flipside, the good part about not having an ample amount of time to write is that I never second guess myself. I don’t agonize over every word and phrase. I just sit down and get it done. Because there’s no extra time for more than that.




Tell us about your latest releases and what readers have to look forward to over the next year, including your story in SECOND CHANCES!

My latest release is BIDDING ON THE BACHELOR, book 2 in the Saved by the Blog series. The gossipy and all-knowing Bayside Blogger is back and this time she’s hounding Jasper Dumont, who readers will remember from book 1. Book 3, BAYSIDE’S MOST UNEXPECTED BRIDE, will come out in December. After that, I will have a whole new series for Harlequin about modern weddings and six friends who are dealing with them.

Not to mention, that both of us were featured in the Romance Writers of America’s second anthology, SECOND CHANCES, which releases September 12! My story is a sweet new adult story about two lifelong best friends who have just graduated from college and return to their hometown for one last party before they depart for their lives as adults. The heroine thinks she’s going to get a second chance with her high school crush. But the hero might just have someone else in mind for her…him!


Lastly, a fun question:  Sabrina said, "Paris is always a good idea." What one place in the world would you like to visit, live in, write in if time, money, and transportation were no object? Why?

My family has been going to the same beach in North Carolina since before I was born. My dream is to someday live at that beach, take long walks with Harry, and write write write!


Kerri, it’s been so much fun picking your brain and learning about what – and how – you write!  Thank you for taking the time to answer all my questions and sharing with readers!

Thank you so much for having me today, Brandi! I’m so glad we got to meet each other at RWA’s annual conference in Orlando. For all the readers out there, I hope you enjoy my stories. Please connect with me on social media. I love hearing from you. For all the writers, don’t ever, ever, ever give up. You CAN do it!




Connect with Kerri!








Click HERE to sign up for Kerri’s Newsletter!


About Kerri’s next release: BIDDING ON THE BACHELOR

Another roll of the dice

Big news, fair readers! Bayside High's favorite It Girl is back. Would you have bet Carissa Blackwell would ever return? Ten years ago, she crushed Jasper Dumont’s heart under her Jimmy Choos and left town for a bigger, better life. Her return raises one question: What is she running from (or is it to) now?

Perhaps Jasper knows? One look at Carissa and he fell in the bay! (Rich, single and devastatingly handsome, Jasper’s our catch of the day.) That icy plunge should have brought him to his senses, yet “Casper” has been spotted together all over town. Does this mean Bayside’s legendary couple may reunite? The stakes are high, but the Bayside Blogger’s money is riding on love!


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