Monday, February 27, 2017

Fun and news! with Abby Gordon

Absolutely gorgeous day - I've got the doors and windows WIDE open for the fresh air and breeze. Cats are in heaven - chittering as they run from window to window (using me as a launching pad on occasion) and generally exhausting themselves so I figure they'll crash in a little bit.
I've a light Italian meatball soup simmering in the crock-pot and have wheat bread dough rising to make rolls this evening.

With this spring-like weather, I feel like I should be doing my spring cleaning, but I'm restraining myself. Mother Nature has a warped sense of humor, so I'll wait. Sort of. I moved the sub-zero parka and the winter boots from the entryway coat rack to the hall closet. And did a scrubbing of the walls. Not full out spring-weekend effort, but enough where I feel like I satisfied my spring fever itch.

I'm in full writing mode - two scenes to do for IM4 - one VERY hot and steamy - Jake let's loose on Tina and ties her up, and she's loving every minute of it - and the 'here's why Allura has been doing what she's doing' - ooo, the men are NOT happy. And then there's Barden - who has a crisis of confidence. The next three for the Interstellar Matchmaker series are bubbling about in my mind - Bessie's brother, Adam, Copper Fire's police chief, does something he's NEVER done before and secrets come out of the fire. For six and seven, two of Tina's older brothers literally dance their women off their feet, but... let's just say true love's course is never smooth! And the eighth - you like time travel with a Wizard of Oz twist? Allura's last matchmaking effort sends an Andersson back to the fifties.

Annnnd, I've received a few emails about my first series - unnamed, any ideas? - and I've gone back to it - Possessing Penny should be ready for Angela, my amazingly patient editor and incredible cover artist - in a couple weeks. Plus, Claiming Claire with the menage of Claire, Paul and David and a bit of a mystery. And, in a future book - something I've never done - using people I know as secondary characters - with their permission and their input - talk about scene stealers though! I think you'll love them as much as I do though. More on that in the future.


Saturday, February 25, 2017

Tough Truth About Reviews by Cj Fosdick

Reviews are to books what “Consumer Reports” is to electronics. A book can live or die by review buzz—whether written or by word of mouth. Reviews are important for new releases, especially important for debut authors. Authors understand this; readers not so much.

     With my debut novel, The Accidental Wife, I didn’t know about marketing early for pre-orders or even that an ARC was an Advanced Review Copy. Blogging, tweeting, street teams and book tours were foreign terms and interviews were something you did only when asked—after your success was validated. Trolling for reviews and endorsements was something extroverts did, and swapping reviews was almost as uncomfortable as paying for them. It took a year of discovery and networking with other authors to learn the truth.

      For my earliest reviews, I trusted my most important Beta readers—both of whom were experienced writers and editors. I was married to one, but had lost touch with the other —a colleague who co-produced a Minnesota anthology with me thirty years ago. After reading my finished manuscript, both Betas gave me the equivalent of five star reviews.

     Could I trust them to be impartial? Hubby—not so much. More to lose there, according to his POV (point of view). Also, his left brain talent at IBM had him editing technical manuals; He never even read a time-travel historical romance, though he does love history and suspense and epic storylines in movies. Plus, he is great at editing grammatical errors and relentlessly honest in the larger picture.

     My old colleague labeled me a “helluva writer” and admitted she laughed and cried while reading The Accidental Wife. Known for her encyclopedic mind and creative fantasy, she had poems and two published books of her own: Minnesota Trivia and Growing Wings. It had been years since we touched base after she moved to another state, but I trusted Laurel Winter and loved the review she offered.

     I warmed up to inviting others to read and review IF they liked the book, but I hesitated to ask other family members to even read it. Particularly my 80 year old stepmom and my daughters, as I worried about their reaction to the sex scenes WildRose Press rated “spicy.” All were fine with the sex, but my stepmom said she did not believe in time travel. Still, she got a print copy accepted in her local library in Wisconsin. Sometimes nepotism has a silver lining.

  Though my short stories and articles were published for decades, many people knew me only as a horse trainer. Discovery and Acceptance precede sales which precede reviews. Fishing for reviews for a novel was going to be hard for a new “minnow” suddenly swimming in an ocean of writers all hoping to hook readers. Harder still for a technophobe inept at posting in Facebook and new to Twitter, Goodreads, and other social media apps and opportunities.

     I celebrated my debut by ordering “Novel CJ”—a vanity license plate for my car, then spent months of self-education, embellishing my website, writing a newsletter titled “Accidental Connections,” even distributing business cards and stocking up on print copies to sell. At a Historic Home Ec Club appearance, I laughed when an elderly member asked if I thought sex sold more books. (I side-tracked her with my cookies.) Both Accidental books have scenes involving historic cookie recipes. Armed with recipe cards and baked samples, the cookies were always a hit at subsequent Book Club appearances. I also donated a dozen copies to my local library for their book club program, reasoning discovery is more important than sales, then followed through by giving away as many debut books as I sold.

Whichever way a copy found a new reader, I couldn’t count on an instant review. Busy people took longer to read and when I ginned up the courage to ASK for a review, I sometimes got an intimidated deer in the headlights response: “You want ME to write a review?” Some readers felt unqualified to write one, some didn’t know where to post or how to navigate online. Eventually, I plugged little cards into all the print copies I sold, explaining the importance of reviews and listing the link sites. I even sent a “click list” to one reader who told me her grandchildren might be able to show her how to add a review on Amazon.

     There are three other review sources, aside from betas, family and friends:
1. Unsolicited reviews, also termed “organic.”
2. Paid Reviews.
3. Swapped Reviews.

Every writer is happy to collect unsolicited reviews, especially if they are three to five stars. Paid reviews vary in cost and value, along with results. The WildRose Press publisher warns against them.

If time is money, swapping reviews also has a cost factor beyond the fact that Amazon and other sites frown on them. I thought swapping was an inexpensive way to add reviews, even though I read as deliberately as I write. My editing eye zeroes in on errors, and faulty research. Knowing first-hand how much work the writer invests, however, I always find something affirming, and try to suppress the niggling dishonesty that gives four or five stars to a review that merits less. Isn’t it tacitly understood that getting five stars means giving the same in a swap? Wouldn’t it be less of a head game if we gave a STARLESS critique? It might increase the number of reviews with no risk to writer or reviewer, especially if they share a connection!

     Recently, I was asked by a fan to endorse her friend’s Indie fiction book for her cover. This helps to sell the book if the endorsement normally comes from a successful writer or celebrity. I was flattered into reluctantly agreeing, telling myself this was only to save a fan. It turned out the first 67 pages were an info dump. Dialog was stilted, with hundreds of he said/she said dialog tags, even with two people conversing. Supporting characters were more sympathetic than the main characters, and the ending drifted. I affirmed that she had an editor, and asked her if she truly wanted my honest opinion. Her editor also worked with Bob Woodward of the Washington Post and since Watergate, Bob has written eighteen non-fiction books. Okaaay. I emailed my notes anyway, with suggestions. For three days of work, I received NO RESPONSE back. File that under A valuable lesson learned…on so many levels!

  Endorsements and good reviews aside, ultimate best sellers—even those by well-known beloved writers seldom hit the mark with everyone. If you are counting reviews, even bad ones can be a plus. Think about the Fifty Shades Trilogy by E.L. James, which hauled in more than 60,000 reviews over the last six years Over 30% of them earned 1 to 3 stars, with even the five star reviews holding some objection. Lower ratings usually indicate disregard for subject matter or writing skill. But Fifty Shades got people talking, saved a publishing house and planted erotic books firmly into the mainstream. True then, some best sellers are the gift of public curiosity—niche readers who take a chance on a book outside their favorite genre because it has an intriguing hook and a lot of buzz. Refute the idea that only good reviews pay off. Mixed reviews mean a broader reader base penning those cherished unsolicited reviews.

     With The Accidental Stranger—the new sequel to my debut book—I’m working the review game smarter, investing more marketing time...and money while still conceding that reviews come easier to veteran writers with devoted fans and a broad base that may take years to cultivate. Unless, of course, I come up with a novel hook that flutters through demographics like a contagious flu.

     My favorite series author, Diana Gabaldon, has sold 26 million books in more than 40 countries. Outlander, her first book published in 1991, has accumulated over 22,000 Amazon reviews, with only 7% of them pulling one or two stars. I met Diana twice at HNS Writer Conferences. She has said in interviews that she won fans “ten at a time,” until she caught on. Inarguably, she may have the largest fan base of any popular author today. She is my social proof and inspiration. We both love character-driven time-travel with multi-genres in the mix. My dearest fantasy is asking her for…an endorsement!

Cj Fosdick--would LOVE reviews of her new release, The Accidental Stranger

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Naming Characters

What we name our characters, especially our main characters, can make or break our stories. An oft-used example of a poor choice is Pansy, the name Margaret Mitchell was going to give her cunning, provocative heroine until she wisely changed it to Scarlet.

Choosing the perfect name isn’t easy. It should fit the character’s personality, perhaps even his or her appearance, and it absolutely must be appropriate for the story’s time period.

While I was writing Brute Heart, a contemporary novel set in Oregon, I found names for every one of my characters, major or minor, first name as well as last name, on a map of Oregon. I was amazed at the rich storehouse of names scattered across that map--cities, towns, wide spots in the road, parks, counties, and countless topographical features. Some of the many names I ended up using were Jordan (Jordan Valley), Riley (a small town), Douglas (Douglas County), Cooper (Cooper Mountain), Annie (Annie Springs), and Jude (Jude Lake).

Take a look at a map of your own state, one that shows both topographical and political features. If you don't find good names there for your characters, spend some time with a detailed map of Oregon, a state that has a penchant for unusual names such as Boring, Shedd, Bakeoven, and Drain (all small towns). I doubt I’ll ever use those four names for characters, but what interesting names they’d be for settings.

Ginger Dehlinger

“fiction embraced by fact”

Brute Heart

Never Done

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Mystery Settings by Linda Hope Lee

What better setting for a mystery than a remote island?
That's what I thought while standing on the deck of the ferry traveling through Washington State's San Juan Islands. The archipelago includes over 400 islands, which provide a lot of possibilities!
The idea for a story did not immediately present itself until character Megan Evans appeared, seeking the truth about her beloved daughter's mysterious death. Aha, I thought, what if the clues lead her to a place where she might be in grave danger? What about . . . a remote island? And so, Gemini Island was born. Soon after that, just as I had done so many times, Meg
[i]stood on the top deck of the ferry, watching Puget Sound's Orcas Island change from a gray blob into a landmass with discernable trees and structures. . . . She would debark there. Someone from Gemini Island, which had no public service, would pick her up and take her to her final destination.
Later, after a ride in a small boat into the interior of the archipelago, Meg reaches her destination:
[i]Just before stepping onto shore, Meg felt her heart skip a beat. Once she set foot on land, there'd be no going back. For better or worse . . . she'd be stuck here on Gemini Island.
The island itself is full of mystery, from the paths that wind through the pine forests where sunlight rarely penetrates, to the desolate beaches to the mountain that has been declared off-limits. Characters add to the setting, too, and on Gemini Meg encounters the enigmatic and handsome Eric Richards, a Northwest Indian artifacts expert, who has his own hidden reasons for coming to Gemini.
The setting is important to any story, but especially so to a mystery, I believe. And yet, with the right emphasis, any setting can be made mysterious. Mystery writers, what settings have you used that have been particularly effective? Mystery readers, what memorable settings have you encountered in the mysteries you've read?

Available Now

Monday, February 20, 2017

LURCHES by Sharon Ervin

When our daughter Brandi and her friend Leslie were four-year-olds, they came into the kitchen one summer morning, their faces streaked with sweat and concern.
“What is an emergency?” Brandi asked. Leslie nodded. However it came up, the concept had caught their attention.
“An emergency is something that usually happens suddenly and needs quick action or snap decisions.” I thought that was a good response, coming on the fly as it had.
They both frowned, linked arms and left mumbling to one another. A while later, they were back.
“If there was a rhinoceros in the kitchen,” Leslie asked, her little face sober, “would that be an emergency?”
It’s hard not to crack in those moments, especially as we were standing in my tiny kitchen, but I held steady. “Yes,” I said, my sincerity matching theirs. “A rhinoceros in the kitchen definitely would be an emergency.”
“We thought so.”
They both nodded, arched their eyebrows, joined hands and went outside to swing.
At a writers’ workshop once, the leader asked if we sometimes get “in the zone,” a term most writers understand, and write merrily along, producing humdrum prose.
“What you need to remember to throw into your work from time to time,” she said, “is a lurch.”
As a reader and a writer, I knew what she meant. Surprise your readers. Surprise yourself. Lurch.
I wrote the word in block letters on a card and placed it above my computer screen as a reminder.
Brandi and Leslie demonstrated by example that morning what a lurch can contribute to a day, or a story.
Lurches come in many forms. They don’t have to be a dead body dropping from the sky to land at your feet, although that would be a good one. It can be anything out of the ordinary. Being rear-ended in traffic is a lurch. A sudden hug from a grubby child, a handsome man flirting, people at Union Station bursting into song, The list of lurches is endless. They are unexpected events, happy or sad, contagious or private, always surprising.
As I write, I try to throw in the occasional lurch, just to keep my readers––and me––paying attention. A good writer must remember to lurch. Sharon Ervin, Author of MEMORY, coming in March.

Available for pre-order on Amazon and other online retailers

Sharon Ervin

Saturday, February 18, 2017

On Writing a Series by Kate Loveday

When I finished writing my first novel, which is a stand-alone book, set in contemporary Australia, I had no ideas about writing either historical fiction or a series. However, we had moved to an area on the mid-north coast of NSW, an area that figured prominently in the early days of colonization, and I became interested in its history.

This led me to explore the attitudes towards women in the nineteenth century, and I decided that my next book must be about the life of a woman in that era, when women had few rights and were dominated by men. I determined that my character would be a spirited woman who did not take kindly to subjugation. Then I began to look at the attitudes towards women over the years, and decided it would be interesting to do a story of different generations of women – mother, daughter and grand-daughter – spanning the second half of the nineteenth century and, maybe, up to the end of the flapper era, the 1930’s. Would the patronizing attitudes of men towards women have altered? And how would women have changed? I realized it could not be told in a single book, and decided to make it a series of three books, one for each generation. So far so good.

What I did not realize was the problems posed to writers of series.

The first book, ‘A Woman of Spirit’ was straightforward. The main character, Kitty, lived her life in the book and when book one ended, she had a daughter, Joy, who was a baby. Now, I had to continue Kitty’s story in book two, 'In Search of Love', so I couldn’t just start it when Joy was a grown woman, too much time would have passed.

First problem – how to cover the years as Joy grows from child to young woman, and hold the reader’s interest? Not an easy task. She went to school. She learned to ride and developed a love of horses. Not riveting phases of her life! So book two, ‘In search of Love, continued Kitty’s story, and also covered Joy’s life from age thirteen to young womanhood.
Second problem, as time passes there is the continuation of characters, and how they would change as they were affected by the changing history of the times. It was a period of uncertainty in Australia, when there was continual debate over the decision of whether the separate colonies should join together to form the Federation of Australia or not – some for, some against. There was also a severe recession in the 1990′s. How would my characters be affected by these problems?
I thought I knew my characters well but when it came to writing scenes I realized there were so many small details to remember, particularly with places and minor characters. How exactly had I described Lady Barron? Craddock? Harry Osborne? In which hotel in Sydney had Kitty stayed? Minor points perhaps but important enough that I had to return to book one to check.

And with a series there is always the question of how much to explain in the second, and subsequent, books in case people start reading that one first. Each book must really be able to stand alone as well as being read in sequence, but it’s hard to do that without boring those who have read the first book. Finding the balance between these needs is challenging. Each book must have its own plot, its own characters, including some from previous books, and its own changing tensions. But it must still relate to the preceding story and answer the questions left unanswered at the end of that, and to have its own problems unresolved at the end, which will be answered in the next book if you want readers to be waiting for the next of the series.

Then it was time to get on with book three,'An Ambitious Woman', which is set as the nineteenth century ends, and focuses mainly on a grown-up Joy. As with all characters, Joy has become what she wants to be, a modern woman, with modern ideas. But those ideas don’t always conform to the social norms of the day, much as she wishes for it, and what happens to her will probably confound readers and leave them wishing for more.

And here is the writer’s dilemma.

Will the trilogy be enough? Or will the series keep growing? Only time will tell.

Kate Loveday

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Haunted Vacation Behind Hidden Bloodlines

The location of Hidden Bloodlines originated from a haunted vacation at the historic Stanley Hotel, registered at the time as the second most haunted hotel in the country. Located in Estes Park, Colorado, the Stanley Hotel touts itself as a hotel “7500 feet above ordinary.” As new Colorado residents, we chose the Stanley to celebrate our wedding anniversary. Little did I know, it was the start of something much bigger… a seed was planted and a story grew.

To say it was a unique experience is an understatement that started the moment we checked in. The registration desk was crowded with an excited group of people carrying unusual equipment. They belonged to a club of “ghost busters,” and they planned to use the tools of their trade to detect ghosts they felt certain resided in the hotel.

We went all out and took the Ghost Tour which was the precursor of what was to come. A few of the stops included Room 418, the most haunted room in the hotel, the infamous Room 217 where Stephen King and many dignitaries (including four presidents) stayed, as well as the staircase on the fourth floor that went to the bell tower where numerous photographic sightings of a male ghost were made. Clearly we were in for a long night. Our room was next to the fourth floor staircase and was a popular “haunt” for ghost busters. The excited whispers, clanging of equipment, and creaks kept us up long into the night.

Our bleary eyes and fatigue were short lived — the excitement of these special hotel guests was contagious. Once again, we met at the registration desk as we checked out. Although these ghost busters did not detect any ghostly residents, they were planning their next trip … certain of their success.

One year later, on our anniversary, we stayed in the most popular room in the hotel, Room 217 where the ghost of Mrs. Wilson is supposed to be a permanent visitor. She was the chief chambermaid in 1911. On the day the hotel opened for the season, the hydroelectric plant went down. Mrs. Wilson was lighting the gas lamps when she was almost killed. Acetylene was pumped into the rooms, and in Room 217 there happened to be a gas leak. When Mrs. Wilson went into the bathroom, it blew out the front of the hotel. She was blown through the floor into the MacGregor Room and survived. Almost forty years to the day, she died of a heart attack in that room. Although Mrs. Wilson is supposed to fold and put away your clothes, she must have taken a vacation the night we stayed. In spite of the fact that we have stayed many times since, we have not seen any ghosts… yet.

What is your most memorable vacation?

Karen Van Den Heuvel

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Sweet Inspiration by Stephanie Kepke

When I’m asked how I come up with inspiration for my stories, most often my answer is that a character or story line pings around my brain until I can’t help but write it—or risk going a bit insane. You & Me, my Candy Hearts Series novella, is quite unusual in the speed with which it percolated and burst forth on the page. It was also the first story I have ever written in response to a “call for pitches” (a request by a publisher for story ideas).

I was getting ready to embark on a road trip to Florida with my three children (in a snowstorm, no less) when I received the email from The Wild Rose Press requesting stories around the theme of Candy Hearts for an exciting new series. In a rush to get on the road, I snapped my laptop shut and hopped in the shower, but that pitch request whirred around my brain.

Suddenly, as I shampooed, it hit me—I had the perfect inspiration...and the perfect story. Starting when I was 16 years old my high school sweetheart sent me a box of Candy Hearts every year for Valentine's Day. He even sent me one of those iconic pink boxes for Valentine's Day for another two or three years after we broke up when we were in college. A character came to me: She's escaped an abusive relationship with the father of her child and has been on her own with her teenage daughter for five years. As Valentine's Day nears, Candy Hearts mysteriously begin arriving in her mailbox, leaving her wondering if her high school sweetheart—the boy she loved, but left—has sent them.

I even had the opening scene already written in my head—she's dropping her daughter off at school (the same high school she attended) and a love song comes on that reminds her of her boyfriend. The inspiration for that—I was dropping my son off at school (my old high school) a day or two before, and a cheesy love song from the eighties came on, spinning me back to when I was sixteen.  It was a bit surreal and I mused that it would make a great opening to a novel or novella—now I had the rest of the story to build from there.

As soon as I stepped out of the shower, I emailed my editor. I was dripping wet in a towel typing furiously on my iPhone. That was, without a doubt, the most unusual pitch I had ever sent—and it got accepted. The story evolved, along with a twist I hadn't anticipated when I pitched it—Alex, the heroine, can’t find her long-lost love, Billy. Even in this age when everyone leaves a digital footprint, Billy seems to have disappeared off the face of the Earth. But, those Candy Hearts keep arriving in the mail…Are they from Billy? Will Alex get a second chance at happily ever after? You’ll have to read it to find out!


Note: Unlike Grace, the heroine of my novella, A New Life, which is quite autobiographical, Alex and I only have those Candy Hearts in common. I’m still close friends with my high school sweetheart—he never disappeared…and I’ve been happily married to my Valentine for over twenty years. For Valentine’s Day this year, I didn’t receive Candy Hearts, but I did receive a silver bangle bracelet stamped with “I LOVE YOU TO THE MOON AND BACK” and beautiful flowers.
Stephanie Kepke
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Monday, February 13, 2017

Writing a Book--the Internal Part one

Those of us who write books/novels know it is not an easy process. Actually, it’s not a process at all; it’s a series of processes; a conglomerate, if you will.
I usually begin my conglomerate internally. I see something, or hear something, or read something that triggers a thought methodology. It begins with, “Oh, what a neat place for a murder;” or “What an interesting character flaw;” or maybe “What a perfect setting for a tryst of some sort.”

From there, my mind takes off. The embryo of an idea invades my brain, infiltrates it, snuggles into all the crevices and crannies. It leaps across synapses, exploring, roaming, and copulating so that the ideas burst into growth and permeate the sphere of my head. At times, the noise is…awakening!

At this point, my head is relentless, especially when I’m walking or going to sleep or slowly awakening in the morning. All those ideas, thoughts, plot points, concepts want their freedom. So this is when I have to assemble them in some sort of plot-line order. I do this best while I’m walking. At first, I just decide the journey of my protagonist, and often, of my main antagonist, whose journey is so frequently intertwined with my hero’s/heroine’s. As I do this, I find the need for another character or scene or conflict or any number of other issues, all to support the protagonist’s goals or to add conflict or interest or tension.

It’s rather a pyramid-building scheme. I have to keep adding ideas, conflicts, characters, situations until there is a solid foundation on which I can build a convincing story. Then, as my (still in my head) protagonist pushes through his/her life, conquering this barrier, overcoming that obstacle, I see a story blossom. I see the bulk of supporting characters, scenes, evidence and conflicts that can build into a story. And I see the denouement, the self-realization, the tip of the pyramid, and satisfactory (glorious, at this point) ending.

During this whole process, I may have jotted down names, character descriptions and backgrounds, and other minutiae in a file so I wouldn’t forget the nitty gritties. But at this point, I must begin my External part of writing a book.
That, and all its fun parts, I will discuss in my next blog.

Coming soon to Pre-order. Releasing 04-26-2017

Friday, February 10, 2017

Inspirations by Sharon Ervin

When a person on Oklahoma’s death row had an abscessed tooth, he was rushed to a dentist in town.

When another developed tonsillitis, he received immediate medical attention and antibiotics.

A deputy warden explained that convicted persons sentenced to die have to be in good health before they can be executed in Oklahoma. I thought that odd. I noticed that most of the men on death row were in fine shape physically. It seemed foolish to execute an entire person, all those healthy organs and body parts going to waste. Could those folks donate body parts?

No. The lethal cocktail prepared and delivered into executed persons' veins contaminates all their body parts: organs, retinas, blood, even skin grafting possibilities.

Inspired, fiction writers’ imaginations follow strange paths. That information and my mental progressions, combined with a little romance––which I consider to be to fiction as essential as salt to baked goods––produced my last published novel, JINGO STREET. Another, with different inspiration, is coming in March, 2017.

Available for pre-order on Amazon and other online retailers

Sharon Ervin

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

What's in a name?

Or in a book title?

There are many reasons a name—or a book title can be changed. For the first book in the Redwoods series , ‘An Independent Woman’, it was changed because the catalog already had a book with that title. So it became to ‘A Woman of Spirit’. Same story, same feisty heroine, same dashing hero and same detestable villain.
And the Five Star reviews are all for the same book.

Why don’t you pop over now and have a look—and if you read it now you’ll be just right to pre-order a copy of its sequel so you won’t have to wonder for long what happens to this independent young woman next.
I do not usually read historical romances, but after reading Kate Loveday’s contemporary Australian romance, Inheritance, I wanted to know if her other works was as good. I think there is there is a richness to her writing. She may be Australia’s answer to Barbara Taylor Bradford.

I have only one complaint, the second book in the Redwood Series is not out and will not be for a while.
Note: I seldom give 5 star ratings because I am comparing these books to the best I ever read. This is a 5 star recommendation.
Well-written and well-told, with colorful characters and finely drawn scenes, this is a book that will sweep you back to the Victorian era of 1878 and immerse you in the changing fortunes of the headstrong young Kitty Morland. Aussie author Kate Loveday's stories about independent women are wonderful stories.

Kitty became aware that Bella and Mr van Mayen had moved over by the cab where they stood engrossed in conversation, but Rufe still waited, looking down at her with the flicker of a smile on his face, his eyes twinkling.

‘An old friend, Miss Morland?’ he asked.
‘No, Mr Barron and I met on board the ship.’
‘Ah. Then I see you've made a conquest.’ He laughed.
Kitty stiffened. ‘I don't know what you mean.’
‘It's obvious that young Barron has fallen for your charms in a big way.’
‘I think you are very impolite, Mr Cavanagh.’
He laughed again. ‘Forgive me, but it's not every day we see a gentleman kiss a lady's hand in Australia. We're less gallant than those from the land of our forbears, I'm afraid.’
How dare he laugh at her? Kitty lifted her chin. ‘Surely civility is not frowned upon in the Antipodes?’
‘You'll probably find us boorish and backward. I guess most of us have been too busy trying to tame the wilderness to have much time left over for the delicate social graces.’
‘And which parts of the wilderness have you been taming, Mr Cavanagh?’
‘I go here and there, wherever my business takes me.’
Kitty forgot her annoyance as she became interested. ‘So are you a merchant?’
‘Of sorts.’
‘You must know a great deal about business then?
‘As well as most, I suppose.’
‘Then perhaps you can tell me where you think would be a good place to start a business?’
‘Good heavens. Are you thinking of going into business?’
Kitty hesitated. Perhaps she should have waited until she saw Robert before she started asking questions.
‘I might be,’ she replied.
‘What type of business?’
‘I'm…not sure.’
‘Have you been in business before?’
‘No, not really.’
Rufe looked at her through half narrowed eyes. ‘Aren't you a little young and inexperienced to be thinking of going into business, particularly in a country you don’t know? Besides, I daresay you'll be married before you have time to set up a business.’
Kitty fumed. He really was insufferable. Why had she thought him so attractive? Coldly she answered him. ‘Why do all men assume every woman is just waiting around to marry the first man who comes along?’
‘Probably because it's usually true.’
‘Well, I can assure you it's not so in my case. I have no intention of marrying any one.’
His lips quirked. ‘My dear Miss Morland, with your looks, I doubt you'll last six months. In fact, from the way young Barron was gazing at you a few moments ago, it may be very soon.’
She tossed her head. ‘Our talk has been most illuminating, Mr Cavanagh. I'm sure you’ve given me an insight into the charms of Australian men. Perhaps I should now look for a cab.’
‘There’s a perfectly good one waiting for you now. With your mother already waiting alongside it for you with my friend Jan.’
Kitty lifted her chin and without another word walked across to join Bella, with Rufe following.
‘I’m sure you’ll be most comfortable at Petty’s,’ Rufe told them as he and Jan saw them and their luggage safely inside. ‘I’m staying there myself so I hope we shall meet again.’ He tipped his hat before moving back as the driver climbed up to his seat.
‘What a charming man,’ Bella remarked as they settled themselves in the cab.
‘Hmm, perhaps,’ Kitty muttered, knowing that, in spite of his insufferable manners, she would like to get to know him, but she could not run the risk of him remembering her, the danger was too great.

Available at Amazon and all major online retailers

Kate Loveday

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Bling, Bling

 I’m Really Not a Nightingale. I’m a Magpie

Isn’t it said Magpies are attracted to shiny objects. Well, there I am. I love sparkles! My recent obsession has been large, gawdy CZ jewelry. Thing is most of it is actually beautiful – not like its real counterpart – but sparkly!

I bought a large emerald cut ring, drop earrings to match and a bling watch (Marquise cut fantasia). Now, I must STOP. My Discover card is screaming. Contrary to my original opinion, CZs are no longer cheap. Maybe the design has altered. They are very clear and (sparkly) glitter and shine. By the standards of the Olden Days, they are no longer inexpensive. The emerald cut ring wasn’t ANYTHING like a diamond price-wise, but I did experience sticker shock expecting below $20. But it is a ROCK.
I’ll be in England visiting my son, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren in May. My daughter-in-law came clean and admitted to being a Magpie. I bought a pair of glittering earrings for her. My granddaughter, a budding young Magpie, had a prom for graduation from what is elementary school here. She’s shopping for her prom dress with grandma. She’ll get some nice bling, too.
Do you like shiny things? You may be a closet Magpie. And genuine diamonds aren’t the only way to shine.

There are several good on-line marketers: Most expensive, Berricle—high quality; Mid-range: Bling Jewelry and Palm Beach Jewelry; and very good prices: Dreamland Jewelry. I now tend to shy away from eBay.

Autumn, the heroine in Her General in Gray, would like one of those rings, I’m sure.  Coming in April, my ghost story inspired by the Ghost and Mrs. Muir.  Tagline:  A Massachusetts lass purchases a southern plantation complete with the ghost of a Confederate General. Sparks fly.

Linda Nightingale - Author
Out of the Ordinary..Into Extraordinary Realms

Monday, February 06, 2017

A Candy Hearts Valentine's Day Party

Join the authors of the Candy Hearts Series for a live chat party this February 14th!
The party starts at 8pm ET.
Fun, Flirty, and Falling in Love
What do you need to do before the party?
 Visit the Wild Rose Press Candy Hearts series page, read the blurbs. We'll be having a bit of fun.
If you guess the books, you could win a prize!
(all questions will be based on the blurbs, and we'll have hints to make it fun)
Chat with the authors, win some books and
celebrate Falling in Love.
if you haven't been to a Tuesday night chat at the Wild Rose Press, you'll need to create a username and password to enter the chatroom

Friday, February 03, 2017

Margaret Sutherland's Her Valentine Romance

Back in New Zealand in 1986, my life was at a low point.

My long marriage was over, and in my loneliness a suppressed romantic longing erupted like a volcano. My diary was full of angst-ridden desires. I wanted love. I wanted roses. I wanted a white knight to carry me away to see the fireworks on New Year’s Eve.

On a whim, I arranged a nursing job in Australia and set sail, presumably for one year overseas. Friends welcomed me into their home. They belonged to a group who liked to dress up and re-enact the customs and pageants of old-fashioned times. Suddenly my fantasies surrounded me. Grown men in armor jousted in the back yard. Pages and courtiers wafted in to visit. A soulful young man gave me flowers. As the Lady Margaret, I was bedecked in a pink flowing garment and invited to join the fun.

My story took a right turn as Life shook its head at my plans. I stayed in Australia. I met a man who brought me roses—growing in a pot, “so they wouldn’t die.” We sat on the foreshore and watched the fireworks. I found my happy ending.

Once things settled down I thought I would try writing a romance, using this material. A publisher turned it down and I forgot about it. Much later, as I cleaned up my paper mountain, I found the draft. About to burn it, I flicked through the pages. I was hooked! After so long, I’d forgotten the story. The dress-ups, food and festivities were there, but what was all the insecurity, the jealousy, the fear of falling in love again? Was Caitlin and Will’s story really ours? Riveted, I couldn’t put the book down.

It needed a big rewrite but the story has a happy ending. Her Valentine Romance celebrates that most romantic of all days—Valentine’s Day. It’s my story, I love it and I hope many readers will love it too.
Buy from The Wild Rose Press, on Amazon and other major online retailers

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Groundhog Day February 2, 2017

Happy Groundhog Day! This holiday started in Europe. Originally, February Second was Candlemas, a day when priests blessed and gave out candles to last all winter. Celebrants looked to the sun and shadows to predict an early spring or a lasting winter. Later, people watched the reactions of sacred bear or a badger to shadows or cloudy skies, yet the guidelines stayed the same—if the sun cast shadows, winter was supposed hang around. When immigrants arrived in America, they found that groundhogs were more plentiful than bears or badgers and so the animal they watched changed.

According to the History Channel, the first official Groundhog Day happened in 1887 on a hill called Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.
Then as today, if the groundhog peeks out of his burrow and sees his shadow, winter continues; however, if it’s cloudy, the groundhog risks coming out to play and spring starts. To find out what season will reign over the next six weeks, you can text “Groundhog” to 247365 and Punxsutawney Phil will get back to you with his prediction.

If today, follows the National Climate Data Center statistics reported in the Huffington Post, the changes that Phil will give you an accurate weather lowdown are about 39 percent. Phil’s Punxsutawney fans claim he’s always correct.

I don’t really care if he’s right or wrong. I like the holiday because it’s about conquering fear and putting yourself out there. You know, taking a risk. This year in particular I can relate to the shadow-shy groundhog. Just days ago, after spending years as a hopeful aspiration, Other Than, my paranormal romance, became available to readers.

I’m going to share more about that soon, but first I want to mention Groundhogs Day, the movie. Bill Murray stars as a weatherman who is stuck reliving the holiday over and over again. Eventually he stumbles on the notion that if he gets things right, he’ll be able to move on. And of course, he explores all kinds of humorous possibilities of what “right” might be.

I love the idea of trying to fix previous life choices. My heroine in Other Than is trying to do just that. When unfortunate decision claims her life and she lands on an island purgatory, she vows to let nothing stop her from returning to the living. Yet her only hope of escape rests in the hands of the island’s Lord, both the man of her dreams, and her darkest nightmares. He is equally determined to see her fail and spend eternity at his side as his undead bride.
Here’s an excerpt:
He materialized in the inky shadow.
Or rather his apparition did. His ghostly frame hovered before her, sinuous and lithe. Against his shadowed form, the string glimmered like liquid silver. Slowly he unwrapped her, tossing the spectral bands to the floor until a coil lay between him and her.
Something inside her chest fluttered. “You followed me.”
An accusation.
He nodded. With a slight shrug, he spread his hands. “You shouldn’t be alone.”
She wanted to turn, giving him her back, but her betraying gaze remained fixated upon him. When he paced around her, she waved him away. “Don’t.”
He caught her hand and placed an insubstantial kiss in her palm. “Let me help you…please.”
A gallant gesture, perhaps, but her skin-slider sensitivity noted the rigidity of his stance, the twitch along his jaw, and the slight narrowing of his eyes. How could he think of helping her when he was in so much pain?
Ordinarily, she might be grateful. Might…if loss hadn’t hollowed her.
She ripped her cooling flesh from his spectral arms. “I don’t deserve kindness.”
“Good.” He gave her a rakish smirk. “Because I’m not kind.”
She shook her head, biting back the emerging smile that had no place on her countenance. She couldn’t be civil, couldn’t risk the involvement. “I can’t go on like this—stuck betwixt life and death.”
“You must. Don’t you see, sweet dove? You’re beyond both. You’re immortal. Like me.”

I wish you all a happy Groundhog Day! May we have the courage to follow our dreams.

Mia Jo Celeste Mia.Jo.Celeste