Monday, April 20, 2015

Road Trip Inspiration by DeeDee Lane

When my mother and I took a road trip from Tomah, Wisconsin to Sioux Falls, South Dakota I knew it was going to be an adventure but had no idea it would be the inspiration for a series of novellas. We set out on Interstate 90 to go to the National IFYE conference. IFYE is the International 4-H Youth Exchange and both of us had participated in the travel exchange program. My mom to India in the 1950’s and approximately 30 years later I went to Italy. The conference was a chance for both of us to connect with other IFYE’s and road trip to South Dakota, with the vow to stop where ever we wanted!

To give us a theme Mom brought along the book American Pie: Slices of Life (and Pie) from America’s Back Roads. Author, Pascale Le Draoulec, drove through the US looking for great pie to eat, pie makers to interview and recipes to collect. We knew we needed to pare it down a bit so we focused on the by-ways near I-90 and apple pie. We hoped, and it turned out to be true, that looking for pie would give us the encouragement to look out for other hidden road trip gems.

By the time we reached Mitchell, South Dakota, home of the Corn Palace we were in full adventure mode, apple pie connoisseurs and frankly looking for a stop that had NOTHING to do with pie! After we visited the Corn Palace and marveled at all the creative uses of the corn plant we asked a local for recommendations. She gave us directions and a brochure to the Dakota Discovery Museum another cultural highlight of the area. The brochure described the museum: “Our engaging environment invites you to explore the traditions of Native American culture and early American settlers through artifacts dating from the 1600′s through 1940.” And with that we decided to by-pass the café advertising pie and take in the museum instead.

When we arrived I was immediately drawn to the Blacksmith’s exhibit area which was set up with many of the artifacts used by early Dakota settlers. It was so realistic I could almost hear the neigh of the horse and the clang of steel horseshoes. I remember thinking, “What would it be like if this exhibit came alive and I could just walk into it?” Outside we visited the Historic Village Complex, walking from school house to settler’s home through grassy fields, kept to look like a prairie. Again, I was struck by how amazing it would be to learn history by slipping back in time. From there my imagination took off, adding conflict of course. What if you didn’t want to go back in time? And it just happened? And what if you slipped into another time and found your greatest desire?

Several years later when I was imagining the story of MY MOUNTAIN MAN I was able to create a story that tried to answer these questions.

So my Mom and I never ate pie in Mitchell but we discovered a road trip gem and eventually made it to our conference in Sioux Falls. And on the closing banquet night when we could choose between a slice of delicious looking apple pie or a raspberry sorbet… both of us chose the sorbet.

DeeDee Lane

Coming Soon To The Wild Rose Press

Friday, April 17, 2015

My Writing Abode by Linda Nightingale

My Writing Abode

I recently moved to the Burbs—a suburb of Houston—from a condo in the Medical Center to a house. With four books out, one soon to be released by The Wild Rose Press and another under contract with TWRP, I feel like my office is now an author’s den. I have a bookcase and filing cabinet, a desk with a laptop and an additional filing cabinet on top of which is the printer. Totally out of character is an old cedar chest which belonged to my mother, housing some quilts that she handmade. Truth is, I had no other place in the house for it, but it is too dear to part with.

On the walls are colored prints of three angels done by Ruth Thompson: Michael, Gabriel, and Uriel. Long ago, I bought these at a sci-fi con. See why they can be inspiring?!

So, in this room overlooking my backyard, I write books and copy for an advertising agency. I even have a title with the agency, Content Strategist, but I have the luxury of working from home in my robe and slippers!

The book soon to be released is Love For Sale—sentient androids, completely humanlike, programmed for love. We are in edits on my book about the horsy set called Gambler’s Choice, a gothic romantic suspense. Gambler’s Choice is the name of the horse in the book, but the name comes from a class in horse shows. The class is a timed event and at the end of all the riders’ rounds, the fences are raised for those riding a clean round (didn’t knock down any fences). I’m very excited about both books and am happy to be a Rose.

Please visit my new and improved website for a continuing free read called Vampyre Interlude. You can find me on Twitter at @LNightingale. Visit my blog at . I have some interesting guests who usually give away great prizes, including gift cards.

Linda Nightingale
@LNightingale - Twitter

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Interviewing a Princess by Susan Sheehey

Interviewing a Princess
Susan Sheehey
*Originally posted on Smart Girls Read Romance on April 10th, 2015. 

In researching for PRINCE OF SOLANA, I had the rare privilege of interviewing a princess of Namibia, Ms. Nene Nwoko. I stumbled across her name from another writer in our critique group who took an acting class with her and was kind enough to share her information with me.

Who gets to speak with real royalty? Research gold for my series!

Right before our call started, I was suddenly nervous, getting to speak to a real princess. I had a list of questions written out, by topic, hoping not to take up too much of her time or ask the wrong question. I didn’t want to blow my only chance at this incredible research opportunity.

First of all, Nene was a joy to speak with, extremely personable and seemed down to earth. She had a slight accent, but was fluent in English and sounded like she grew up in the States. Nene briefly explained her family, and while drastically different than the scenario I’ve depicted in my series, I couldn’t pull the phone away from my ear.

Her father is the brother of the current king in Namibia. The king (her uncle) has more than twenty wives, and over fifty children. The family tree and dynamic she explained were fascinating.
They aren’t ultra-wealthy, like the royals of the UK or Denmark, and many of her family members live in the United States (herself included). They lead normal lives with families, jobs, and careers. Amazingly enough, she lives right in my homestate of Texas.

Though she is married, she explained an interesting custom that the eldest daughter of the king traditionally never marries. Her cousin is a representative of the royal line, and the eldest son inherits the throne. Nene is an actress, model, and entrepreneur. She formed and runs a commercial advertising and marketing firm.

When she asked about the books I’m writing, she was genuinely intrigued, especially since it was an international setting (though far from Africa).

Overall, the interview lasted about an hour, and several of my questions had her laughing. Such as were they restricted by what clothes they had to wear, or what places they could go to (much like my interpretation of the British Royal family). I felt like such a newbie, but she was more than gracious enough to answer my questions.

After the interview, I had some valuable research for my series, and I laughed at how nervous I was before the phone call. One of the biggest things I learned was that you never know who will cross your path in the simple conversations you have every day. Just put yourself out there—put your work out there—and see who’s reading. :)

Susan Sheehey

Friday, April 10, 2015

150th anniversary of Lee’s surrender to Grant

April 9, 2015 marks the 150th anniversary of Lee’s surrender to Grant at Appomattox Court House, effectively ending the American Civil War.   What not many people realize is that it was not in fact the complete end of the war, and several skirmishes and battles followed because Lee surrendered only the Army of Northern Virginia, not all Confederate forces.  General Joseph Johnson, with whom Lee’s forces had been trying to link up, presided over a very large force in North Carolina.  For a while, Johnson agonized over whether to surrender or fight on.  Many of his starving troops were eating the bark off trees and picking through horse manure for bits of oats and corn but still wanted to continue the fight.  With no hope of reaching supplies, and with soaring desertion rates, a couple of weeks after Appomattox, Johnson too surrendered. 

The passions that drove the Civil War were epic—as was the cost in lives.

If you add up the number of American men killed in the Revolutionary War, along with The War of 1812, The Mexican War, World War I, World War II, The Korean War, The Vietnam War, The Iraq War, and the War in Afghanistan, more American men died in the Civil War than in all the other wars in which America fought combined. 

The passions of that tragic war, the determination, rage, treachery, and deceit, are captured in Point Blank:  A Novel of the Civil War by Carmine Sarracino, which will be released in the future by The Wild Rose Press.  Follow Louisa March, modeled after Louisa May Alcott, as she serves as a volunteer nurse in a hospital in Washington just after the horrific battle of Fredericksburg. Idealistic and naïve, she struggles to overcome challenges of espionage, drug trafficking, war profiteering, and murder that tempt her to run away from it all and return to her comfortable home in Massachusetts. 

Her love for a war-weary, badly wounded Union soldier, however, keeps her in the hospital—and in the midst of the high drama of this most deadly conflict.  Her limits are tested every day:  first by the gruesome wounds she must tend but then by the collapsed social barriers that put her into situations of sexual temptation she could never have imagined back home in Boston.  Fiercely determined to be strong and succeed, she is challenged at every step of the way.  Only her love for Cole Morgan, a Union soldier who was nearly dead when she began caring for him, inspires her to find strength deep within herself that she did not know she possessed.  The enemies the two confront are as darkly powerful as their love for each other, especially Dr. Stephen Valentine, a drunkard, spy, and war profiteer,  and Eustace Light, an albino Confederate sniper with preternatural vision, almost superhuman marksmanship, and an unquenchable hatred for Yankees.

Colby Wolford
Historical Editor
The Wild Rose Press

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Finding humor everywhere

I'm a fan of humor. With my writing I try to put in as much of it as I can. I believe you can find something funny about everything (okay, I'm including hysterical laughter in that belief). Believing in humor can take you from crisis to comedy. It's hard to fight laughter. You can do it, but you only end up looking ridiculous. I found a perfect example of this truth when I was fortunate enough to be able to spend two weeks in Poland.

Poland wasn't somewhere I'd ever thought of going. At the time I worked for a museum and the trip was an exchange program between my museum and a sister one in Lodz. My gracious hosts took me all over the country in those two weeks. I saw castles, historical sailing ships and some of the most beautiful chapels in existence. I also saw the gnomes of Wroclaw.

Much of Poland's history is laced with sadness and oppression. The people of Wroclaw, however, found a way to lighten that burden through humor. The original gnomes were the work of the Orange Alternative Movement of the 1980s. Its members painted bright orange gnomes on buildings as a way of protesting the absurdity of the communist edicts they were forced to live under. The silliness of the paintings were a way to help the people of the city cope with their oppressors.

In 2003, the Wroclaw city council commissioned local artist Tomasz Moczek to create a memorial to the original gnomes. Moczek sculpted a series of gnomes which were then placed all over the city. They are quite popular and tourists are given a map of their locations so they can enjoy them as they stroll through the city. To me they are also a testament to the strength and endurance of the Polish people. In spite of all the tragedy they have endured as a country, they have the gnomes to put a smile on their faces.

Debra Doggett

To check out Debra's Books, click here

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

A Taste of Hope by Doreen Alsen

Where do you get your ideas?

I get this question all the time. Most of the time I have no clue. But with my latest book, A Taste of Hope, out on April 8, 2015, I can draw a map about this book beginning inkling of an idea to the words “The End” on the last page on the manuscript.

My heroine, Hope Monahan, initially showed up in Mike’s Best Bet, the first book in my At The End Zone series, set in my fictional town of Addington, Massachusetts, on the north shore of Boston. We don’t actually see Hope. She’s a caterer who works out of her kitchen and is famous for her version of shrimp in puff pastry. She also stays low key in the second End Zone book, What Ian Wants, but the shrimp puffs show up on the buffet table at a couple of gala events.

Finally, in Charming Dave, the third End Zone book, we meet Hope. Her business has grown to the point where she’s opened her own Earth to Table restaurant called Hope’s.

Even though her life progressed in the course of the books, I didn’t plan to write a book for Hope. Just wasn’t there on my radar screen.

Then I went to RWA National in 2011 and went to listen to an editor/agent panel. It came to the part of the panel when the panel talked about what they were looking for, what they’d like to see. One of the agents said that she was crazy about reality shows and competitions. That’s when Lucien Durand, the hero of A Taste of Hope tapped me on the shoulder.

He let me know that he was the Gordon Ramsey of Cajun cooking and would love to show Hope how to cook. Lucien owns several restaurants world wide, all called L’Enfer, a.k.a. Hell.

International playboy chef versus small town locovore chef? Absolutely.

Thus No Hope in Hell was born.

Hope and Lucien led me on a merry chase. I couldn’t trust a word Lucien said for like the first six chapters of the book. Then two secondary characters, Shane Baker, Hope’s sous-chef, and Angelique Durand, Lucien’s baby sister started acting up.

Since we couldn’t use Hell on the cover of the book, No Hope in Hell became A Taste of Hope.

Here is one of Hope’s favorite dessert recipes:

Rose and Champagne Sorbet

Ingredients: 2 cups of gently packed rose petals from culinary grade (pesticide free) roses – Hope grows her own.
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of caster sugar (superfine sugar)
3 cups of cold water
3 tablespoons of freshly squeezed orange juice
1 cup brut or extra dry champagne
1 tablespoon of Nielson-Massey rose water
orange zest, or thin strings of orange peel

Directions: Process the rose petals with the sugar in a food processor until the mixture turns into a smooth paste. Stop the scrape down the sides if you need to. Add ½ cup of the water and process again, about 10 seconds. Add in the remaining 2 ½ cups of water, the orange juice, champagne and rose water.

Pour the liquid through a fine sieve. Freeze the mixture in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions.

While the sorbet freezes, candy the orange zest or orange peel strings and some rose petals. Garnish the finished sorbet with the orange peel and rose petals.

Doreen Alsen
Books by Doreen Alsen

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Felicity’s Power: Coming face-to-face with a lover forty years later…

Felicity’s Power: Coming face-to-face with a lover forty years later…

Sure, meeting an old lover is a dramatic situation, all right — but Felicity Powers never shies away from drama. Sure, she’s forty years older. Sure, she’s not the auburn-haired rebel Marek Sumner once loved. Sure, their long-ago romance came to a disastrous end. But she’s never stopped loving Marek, and she wants to know if they can make their wonderful love story work again. And, for that, all she has to do is jump on a plane, cross half the world, and go to his book signing in San Francisco. Of course, it’s a mad plan, but Felicity has always believed that, if you want something, go out and fight for it. Yes…sometimes you don’t win. Nobody wins all the time.

Marek Sumner has never forgotten Felicity — how could he? She came searing into his life like a burning comet, they lived together, loved. Then, one day, the romance was over. Felicity was gone again, off to discover the world, to push life to its limits. And Marek had stayed in San Francisco to finish his degree, become a professor. How could their romance have lasted? They were so different.

Then, on this sunny evening forty years later, the door opens, and Felicity and Marek are face-to-face once again.

J. Arlene Culiner
To Purchase

Monday, April 06, 2015

Diane Burton: Fiction Fanatics Feud

Diane Burton: Fiction Fanatics Feud: Welcome to Fiction Fanatics Feud! Have fun by answering Feud questions, getting to know new authors, AND winning prizes!!! For det...