27 February 2011

Review ~ Be Mine Valentine

By Authors:
Krista Ames; Suzanne Barrett; Elizabeth Chalkley; Marissa Dobson; Janet Eaves; Margaret Ethridge; Jennifer Johnson; Amy Le Blanc; Tracy March; Nancy Naigle; Cat Shaffer; Bobbye Terry

Publisher: Turquoise Morning Press
Release Date: January 2011
ISBN: 1935817477
Book Genre: Contemporary Romance, Historical Romance
This Review was first posted at The Romance Reviews on February 11th

REVIEW:There are many kinds of love and, for many people, Valentine's Day focuses the mind on the heart-stopping forever kind of love. But in this collection of stories, you will come across love in all its facets. I hope you enjoy these timeless stories as much as I have.

Valentina: The Untold Legend by Jennifer Johnson
We quickly learn the setting is not modern day, and in this story the word sketches offered by Ms Johnson are both deft and have depth. The world Valentina and her husband live in is crystal clear, their purpose in life despite the personal risk to them garners the respect of the other characters in the book and the reader. The backstory weaves through the present conflict and keeps the reader in suspense to the last line. It is a beautiful story that brought tears to my eyes.

The Red Dress by Amy Le Blanc
A vetinary's life is never dull, and on the eve of Valentine's Day, Sarah comes face to face with the local fire chief and his nephew, Charlie, after the boy's dog becomes the victim of a hit and run accident.
This charming story is about hope and believing in the future, and Ms Le Blanc does an inspiring job with it. Her characters are delightful, and if you read Turquoise Morning Press's Christmas Anthology, BELIEVE, you will recognise some of them. This particular Valentine's day story leaves the reader full of the ‘feel-good-factor'.

The Gift by Cat Shaffer
This is a tearjerker in the best possible way. At a time when too many marriages dissolve before the ink is dry on the certificate, Cat Shaffer introduces us to eighty-two year old Al Mason who, despite all the setbacks he's currently facing, sets out to make sure he and his beautiful wife Ellie spend Valentine's Day together. She may not always remember him, but Al has no intention of missing his time with Ellie this year, and overcomes the obstacles placed in his way to ensure he and Ellie are together on this special day. This is a beautiful story of true love.

The Letter Suzanne Barrett
There are dreams, then there are dreams. The ones you know will never come true and the ones you are too afraid to wish they would.
Mary Maureen Brennan is a carer, and like most people who care about others, there's a streak of insecurity beneath her dreams. So when she receives a letter from her long-time Irish pen friend, her dreams clash with reality. To find out what happens, you'll just have to read this touching story.

Love Takes The Cake Krista Ames
Love may take the cake in this story, but will pride come before a fall? Josh and Annie have some major issues to deal with and this story takes you through their journey from break-up to make-up. It is the way Ms Ames deals with the issues and conflict between them that adds depth and passion to her tale.

The Legend of the True Love Angel Bobbye Terry
This charming story gently takes the reader through a wonderful Irish legend and painstakingly tells us why it wouldn't work between Gabby and Dane. In six pages, Ms Terry turns everything on its head. It is how she does this that creates the feel-good factor for the reader.

Forever In My Heart Nancy Naigle
This story is all about love surviving the final cut and the importance of anniversaries. In a few pages, Ms Naigle jerks the tear ducts when she lets her readers into a day in Derek's life. For those that are jaded by love gone wrong, this beautiful story will persuade them that love can last.

Be Mine Margaret Ethridge
We all dream about being perfect when we meet that someone special, but for Ellie and Jack it is one disaster after another. Ms Ethridge's quirky story brings the reader down to earth and faces them with the reality that love isn't perfect, nor does it seek perfection. But can Jack and Ellie learn that lesson in time?

Secret Valentine Marissa Dobson
Sometimes we don't see what's right under our nose, and sometime we have to turn full circle to find out. It takes a failed marriage for Ashlyn to return home to her roots and find a new love. It is the route Ms Dobson takes her characters down to find each other that makes this a fascinating story, and one that makes you sigh with satisfaction when you come to the end of her story.

Bittersweet by Tracy March
With one word Ms March encapsulates this story. Old life, new life and current life all entwine in this powerful story that carries across the generations. For Granny Lil Brady is the bridge that spans the past and the future, and on Valentine's Day he proves to her he already knew all about the power of love.

A Mother's Heart Janet Eaves
A past loss turns into a wonderful discovery. But Jimmi, Ms Eaves' heroine, worries that by uncovering past secrets she may alienate herself from the two people that matter most to her. This heart-warming story holds few surprises but is full of ‘the-feel-good-factor' and warms the heart.

His Other Valentine by Elizabeth Chalkley
Mystery, suspense, tension, this story has it all, plus a wonderful twist that has you laughing with Dana and her mother. There is wisdom and love and caring and sharing, and it takes Dana's husband to show her what is important in life, and for Dana's mother to unwittingly verify Dana's lessons.

Turquoise Morning Press offers a wonderful mix of stories all wrapped around Valentine's Day. I have revisited some familiar authors and met others for the first time. They all offer stories of depth and passion to one degree or another. All will move you, and when you come to the end of the collection you will probably want to start reading them all over again.

Available at:
Amazon Kindle
Powell's Books

24 February 2011

Please welcome Melissa McClone's Niko and Lizzie

Thanks for having me on your blog today. I brought along His Royal Highness Crown Prince Nikola Kresimir and Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Isabel Poussard Zvonimir Kresimir of Vernonia from Expecting Royal Twins! for a little Q&A session.

Are you ready to get started, Your Highnesses?

Princess Isabel: Please call us Niko and Izzy. We're not that big on formality and protocol around here.

Niko: At least not anymore.

Izzy: He used to be a lot stuffier.

Niko: That implies I'm still stuffy, Highness.

Izzy: Only a little, my love. So what questions did you have for us today?

Can you please tell us a little bit about where you come from?

Niko: Vernonia is located in the northeastern part of the Balkans, near the Romanian and Serbian border. We've been rebuilding following an internal conflict that ended five years ago. Our hope is to be invited into the European Union, but we have many projects still to complete before that becomes a reality. Natural gas is our most prized natural resource. Anything you care to add, Izzy?

Izzy: Vernonia is a charming little country surrounded by snowcapped peaks. It's full of dense forests and lush valleys. Many of the villages dot the mountainsides. A change for me coming from Charlotte, North Carolina aka NASCAR country. But I've fallen in love with the land and the people. Vernonians are loyal and passionate.

Niko: Izzy is also a Vernonian. She was just raised in America.

What's been the biggest challenge in going from a mechanic in Charlotte, NC to a princess of Vernonia?

Niko: Keeping the grease off her designer clothes.

Izzy: He's only half-right. I still enjoy working on cars, but I've learned to wear coveralls when in the royal garage. I'm still trying to get the hang of wearing high heels. I much prefer flats. Never twisted my ankle wearing my steel-toed work boots. All the make-up, hair product and jewelry have taken some getting used to, but there are days when I don't bother with any of that.

Niko: You look beautiful no matter. Izzy has redefined what being a princess is all about. She's a breath of fresh air to the monarchy.

Izzy: Tradition is deeply woven into the people of Vernonia. It goes beyond shooting off fireworks at the Fourth of July and eating turkey at Thanksgiving as I did when I lived in America. At first I didn't understand that, but now that I do it's made things easier for all of us.

Niko: We can move forward and respect the past at the same time.

Izzy: Exactly.

Niko: Tell them about your princess lessons.

Izzy: Well, Princess Julianna of Aliestle taught me what I needed to know about being a princess. At least she tried. She was so patient. I wasn't always the best student when it came to posture and protocol or how to eat properly at dinner. I always want to eat the entire dish of sorbet when you're only supposed to take a bite to cleanse your palate. But I did master the wave.

Niko: She's got the princess wave down.

Izzy: It's much easier to master than wearing heels. And dancing in them! Torture devices, I'm telling you.

So anything else you'd like to tell us?

Niko: Vernonia is the perfect place to visit if anyone is looking for an escape.

Izzy: Oh, yes. Please do! I never thought I'd wind up with a happily ever after there. Who knows what you'll find?


Suddenly a Princess...

It's not every day that a tall, dark, handsome prince strides into your workshop and announces he's your husband! Mechanic Izzy nearly drops her wrench. Never in her wildest dreams did she imagine that she'd become a princess!
Independent Izzy struggles with exchanging her oil-stained overalls for silken gowns, let alone becoming responsible for an entire country! Yet her attraction to Prince Niko tempts her further into the fairy tale. And then two small surprises change all the rules of the game....

Inside Bay #2 at Rowdy's One Stop Garage in Charlotte, North Carolina, a Brad Paisley song blared from a nearby boom box. Oil, gasoline and grease scented the air. Isabel Poussard bent over a Chevy 350 small block engine. The bolt she needed to remove wouldn't budge, but she wasn't giving up or asking for help. She wanted the guys to see her as an equal, not a woman who couldn't make it on her own.
She adjusted the wrench. "Come on now. Turn for Izzy."
A swatch of light brown hair fell across her eyes so she couldn't see.
Darn ponytail. It never stayed put. If she had any extra money, she would get a short hairstyle so she wouldn't be bothered any more. She didn't dare cut it herself. For years her Uncle Frank had chopped her hair with whatever was handy, scissors or razor blades. She'd grown up looking more like a boy than a girl. Not that any dresses hung in her closest today.
Izzy tucked the stray strands behind her ear. She struggled to turn the wrench. Her palm sweated. The wrench slipped.
Frustrated, she blew out a puff of air. "No one is going to let you work over the wall in the pits during a race if you can't loosen a little bolt."
She imagined the start of the Daytona 500. The roar of the crowd. The heat from the pavement. The smell of burning of rubber. The rev of engines.
Excitement surged through her.
Being on a professional pit crew had been Uncle Frank's dream for as long as Izzy remembered. An aneurysm had cut his life short. Now it was up to her to turn his dream into a reality. He'd spent his life caring for her and sharing his skill and love of cars. More than once he'd had the opportunity to be on a pit crew, but he hadn't wanted to leave her. This was the least she could do for him.
As soon as she saved enough money, she would enroll in pit crew school. She wanted to put her days at dirt tracks and stock car circuits behind her and take a shot at the big leagues. For Uncle Frank and herself. She had bigger goals than just being on the pit crew. She wanted to be the crew chief. Izzy would show those kids who laughed at her grease stained hands they were wrong. She would do something with her life. Something big.
She adjusted her grip on the wrench and tried again. The bolt turned. "Yes."
"Hey, Izzy," the garage owner's son and her closest friend Boyd shouted to her over the Lady Antebellum song now playing on the radio. "Some folks here to see you."
Word of mouth about her skills kept spreading. She could not only fix old engines, but the new hybrids, too. Her understanding of the computer and electronics side of things coupled with a gift for diagnostics drew in new clients daily. Her boss Rowdy was so happy he'd given Izzy a raise. If this kept up, she could enroll in school in a few months.
With a smile, she placed her wrench and the bolt on the top of her toolbox.
Izzy stepped outside. Fresh air filled her lungs. Sunshine warmed her face. She loved spring days better than the humid ones summer brought with it.
In front of her, a black limousine gleamed beneath the midday sun. The engine idled perfectly. Darkened windows hid the identity of the car's passengers, but uniformed police officers stood nearby.
Not simply "some folks" wanting to see her. Must be a VIP inside the limo if police escorts were needed.
Izzy couldn't imagine what they wanted with her since the car sounded like it was running fine.
She wiped her dirty hands on the thighs of her cotton coveralls. Not exactly clean, especially with grease caked under her fingernails, but cleaner.
One of the police officers gave her the once over, as if sizing up her danger potential. A good thing she'd left the wrench in the garage.
A chauffeur walked around the car and opened the back door. A blond man exited. He wore a designer suit and nicely polished black dress shoes. With a classically handsome face and short clipped hair, he was easy on the eyes. But his good looks seemed a little bland like a bowl of vanilla ice cream without any hot fudge, whipped cream and candy sprinkles. She preferred men who weren't quite so pretty, men with a little more…character.
"Isabel Poussard?" the man asked.
She stiffened. The last time anyone used her real name had been during her high school graduation ceremony when she received her diploma. She'd always been Izzy, ever since she was a little girl. Uncle Frank had taught her to be careful and cautious around strangers. He'd worried about her and been very protective. She knew he'd be that way now if he were here.
Izzy raised her chin and stared down her nose. The gesture had sent more than one guy running in the opposite direction. "Who wants to know?"
Warm, brown eyes met hers. The guy wasn't intimidated at all. He looked almost amused for some strange reason. "I am Jovan Novak, aide to His Royal Highness Crown Prince Nikola Tomislav Kresimir."
Jovan's accent sounded European. Interesting since this was NASCAR country, not Formula 1 territory. "Never heard of him."
"He's from Vernonia."
"Vernonia." The name sounded vaguely familiar. Izzy rolled the word over in her mind. Suddenly, she remembered. "That's one of those Balkan countries. Fairytale castles and snowcapped mountains. There was a civil war there."
"Hey, Izzy," Boyd shouted from behind her. "You need any help?"
She glanced back at the bear of a man who stood with a mallet in his hands and curiosity in his eyes. A grin tugged at her lips. She appreciated how Boyd treated her like a little sister, especially since she had no family. Of course that made things interesting the few times she had a date pick her up after work. "Not yet, Boyd, but I'll let you know if I do."
Jovan looked like he might be in shape, but she could probably take him without Boyd's help thanks to Uncle Frank. When she was younger, he used to barter his mechanic skills for her martial arts class tuition. Now she worked out every day to get in shape for the work necessary by a pit crew member during a race.
"Isabel. Izzy." Jovan's smile reached all the way to his eyes. He bowed. "It is such a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Your—"
"Is this about a car repair?" He acted so happy to meet her. That bothered Izzy. Most customers limited their interactions to questions about their cars. Some simply ignored her. The men who went out of their way to talk to her usually ended up propositioning her. "Or do you want something else? I'm in the middle of a job?"
Not exactly the most friendly customer service, but something felt off. No customer would know her real name. And the guy smiled too much to be having car trouble.
"One moment please." Jovan ducked into the limousine.
Time ticked by. Seconds or minutes Izzy couldn't tell since she wasn't wearing a watch. She used the clock hanging in the garage or her cellphone to keep track of time while she worked.
Izzy tapped her foot. She had to get the Chevy finished so she could work on the Dodge Grand Caravan. Somewhere a frazzled mom with four kids was waiting to get her minivan back. It was up to Izzy to get the job done.
Jovan stepped out of the limo finally.
About time, she thought.
Another man in a dark suit followed. Izzy took a closer look.
The thought shot from her brain to the tips of her steel-toed boots and ricocheted back to the top of her head.
The guy was at least six feet tall with thick, shoulder length brown hair and piercing blue-green eyes framed by dark lashes.
She straightened as if an extra inch could bring her closer to his height. Even then the top of her head would barely come to his chin.
But what a chin.
Izzy swallowed a sigh.
A strong nose, chiseled cheekbones, dark brows. Rugged features that made for an interesting—a handsome—combination in spite of a jagged scar on his right cheek.
Talk about character. He had it in spades.
Not that she was interested.
Spending her entire life surrounded by men, car mechanics, gave her an understanding of how the opposite sex thought and operated. The one standing in front of her wearing a nice suit and shiny shoes was trouble. Dangerous, too.
The limo, expensive clothing, personal aide and police escort meant he lived in a completely different world than her, a world where she was seen as nothing more than a servant or wallpaper or worse, a one night stand. Having to deal with mysterious rich people intimated her. She wanted nothing to do with him.
But she didn't mind looking. The man belonged on the cover of a glossy men's magazine. He moved with the grace and agility of an athlete. The fit of his suit made her wonder what was underneath the fancy fabric.
Everyone else around her seemed to fade into the background with him around. She couldn't remember the last time she'd had this kind of reaction to a guy. No doubt the result of working too much overtime. Time to take a night off and have some fun. That would keep her from mooning over the next gorgeous guy who crossed her path.
"You are Isabel Poussard." His accent, a mix of British and something else, could melt a frozen stick of butter.
She nodded, not trusting her voice.
His assessing gaze traveled the length of her. Nothing in his eyes or on his face hinted if he liked what he saw.
Not that she cared. Not much anyway.
A hottie like him would never be interested in a grease monkey like her. Still he was a yummy piece of eye candy. One she could appreciate.
Izzy raised her chin again, but didn't stare down her nose the way she'd done with Jovan. She wasn't ready to send this one on his way just yet. "You know my name, but I don't know yours."
"I am Prince Nikola of Vernonia."
"A prince?"
She supposed a prince would have a police escort as well as an aide, but this was just the kind of prank Boyd would pull and kid Izzy about for the rest of her life. She glanced around looking for a camera. "Am I being punk'd?"

Melissa's website: http://www.melissamcclone.com/
You can by Expecting Royal Twins at Amazon

Thank you for joining us today Melissa and introducing us to Nikola and Izzy. And best wishes with your latest book :-)

23 February 2011

The changing faces of books

Currently, almost wherever you go, you come across discussions about ebook readers and which one is best, and it got me thinking about the origins of ‘books’.
History attributes the Babylonians and Assyrians to the origins of books. They created flat plates of wet clay – known as tablets - and then used sharp-pointed tools to punch wedge-shaped(cuneiform)characters into the wet clay before it was fired. The information sometimes covered several tablets which were kept together. Certainly we would not recognise them as books today.

As far back as the third millennium BC the Eypgtians made a kind of crude paper from a reed called “papyrus”. They created flat sheets by hand and then pasted the long strips together the wound them round cylindrical rollers of either bone or wood to press them smooth enough to write on.

They enjoyed sharing the legends and stories and soon they found they had to stitch the papyrus together to keep the complete story together.

The demand for several copies of these stories created an industry of ‘replication’. Slaves were trained to copy the originals and their masters then sold these copies on to the public. You could say it was the beginning of publication as we know it today.

Parchment and velum followed. Both were less prone to disintegration than papyrus and became widely used from CE 800.

A courtier named Ts'ai-Lun, from Lei-yang in China, was the first recorded inventor of paper circa 105 A.D. The use of paper spread from China through the Islamic world and entered production in medieval Europe in the 13th century, where the first water-powered paper mills were built and mechanization of papermaking began. And so books we’d recognize today became accessible to the masses.

And so a widespread love-affair with reading began. Books! They became smaller and more manageable. Easier for people to carry around with them as they move from one place to another.

At each stage of change, I’m sure, there must have been those who decried the advancements. Not a lot has changed in the intervening centuries. Now it is the advent of the ereader that is causing a furor in the printing and publishing world. Many and loud were the voices proclaiming the downfall of the latest reading gadget. And now…? A new device is not only changing the way we read but it is rocking the old publishing establishments. It is changing our reading concept. It is smaller and contains not just one story but hundreds. 

It is hard to conceive what could replace the ereader but someone out there will soon be thinking of how to improve the concept of sharing a story.

My website: www.sherrygloag.com
My Blog: http://sherrygloagtheheartofromance.blogspot.com/

22 February 2011

Heartsight ~ Blurb & Excerpt plus more

Author bio:
Kay Springsteen grew up in Michigan but transplanted to the south about 10 years ago and now resides in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia with her five small dogs. Two of her four children live nearby, a married son who has a daughter of his own, and one of her twins. The other twin lives just outside of USMC Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. Her oldest daughter still resides in Michigan. When she's not writing, she is transcribing and editing medical reports. Besides being an avid reader, hobbies include photography, gardening, hiking and camping, and of course spending time with her terrific G-baby. She is a firm believer in happily ever after endings and believes there is one out there for everyone; it just may not be exactly what you expect or think you want.

Heartsight by Kay Springsteen

On a secluded beach in North Carolina, three lonely people find hope in each other.
Trish Evers is an artist and single mother, who has inherited her grandmother's Bed and Breakfast in a North Carolina coastal town. Though she must sell the house, she decides to bring her daughter to the beach for one last summer vacation in her childhood town.
Bella is a six-year-old girl who has Down syndrome. Rejected by her father, Trish, is the only parent she's ever known. Bella likes to explore the beach and has a tendency to wander off. One day, Bella goes exploring on her own, and Trish finds her in the company of an intriguing stranger.
Dan Conway is a U.S. Marine, who had been born into a family of Marines. Now blind as a result of combat injuries and unable to "suit up," he feels he no longer has a purpose in life. He's come home to the beach, where he spends his days in solitude. Dan must learn to believe in himself and to love life again, which he begins to do through his interactions with Bella and Trish. When a hurricane strikes, and Bella wanders off again, her only hope for rescue is Dan.
Working within the confines of his blindness, he must overcome his fear of failure and recall his training in order to search for the little girl and bring her to safety.

Excerpt (Dan):
Using the sound of the surf and the sun's warmth for orientation, Dan sat on a large rock facing east and enjoyed the sunrise. The kiss of waves on sandy shoreline became louder, more insistent, as the gentle predawn breeze turned into an early morning wind. The air around him warmed rapidly, and the beach life started to awaken as well.
The cries of gulls in the distance held an eerie, human-like quality, which could as easily have been the delighted squeals of children playing or the terror-filled shrieks of children dying.
Dan breathed slowly in then out, and re-oriented himself to his surroundings. The sand beneath his feet was the foot-sucking grain-like consistency found on the beach, not the diamond-hard dust he'd grown used to in the desert. The air surrounding him was humid, not arid.
Beach grasses whispered, stroked by the onshore ocean breeze. Nearby, scuttling ghost crabs bulldozed the sand, each tumbling grain sounding like a rockslide to Dan's sensitive ears. The air smelled a bit of midsummer rain, hinting of possible relief from the early summer swelter by mid-afternoon.
His hand rested on the old guitar, unmoving, the instrument silent, as he considered a future in the dark. He had few options and limited time to make a decision that would affect the rest of his life. Did he try to maintain a semblance of the life he'd once planned for himself? Or leave all that and carve a new niche elsewhere?
Who was he kidding? No one wanted a wounded warrior, let alone one who could no longer see.
He caressed the low E string with his thumb, frowning at the dull, not-quite-in-tune sound. Automatically, he adjusted the string until he was pleased with the pitch, repeating the process for the rest of the strings.
Leaning over her, Dan hugged the guitar to him in the manner a man should embrace such a lady. She'd been his best friend since he was a kid, had never failed to bring him comfort and healing through the secret language they shared.
Dan played a few soft chords, walking his fingers up and down the fretboard, not playing anything specific, the tones coming more easily than he'd expected them to. He stopped to adjust the G string, then played a few more chords, falling into a slow rhythm, one good for thinking.
Without conscious thought, he inserted a simple, impromptu melody, making love to his lady in earnest now, expressing the deepest, most vulnerable aspects of himself through the movements of his fingers. The lonely sound drifted across the beach to join the cries of the gulls, as he laid bare the layers of pain for the audience of his solitude.
As he lost himself in the haunting music, Dan felt the first stirring of a curious sense of freedom. Recent memories were pushed to the rear in lieu of less troublesome ones from his boyhood, when scuttling crabs had held him enthralled, and thoughts of where driftwood came from had fascinated him. The music swelled under his hands as he revisited that time of innocence.
At his feet, Jack stirred and whined. Dan stopped playing, abruptly pulled back into the present. Barely a second later, he heard something shuffling through the beach grass behind him and the scents of caramel and cotton candy wafted into his awareness.
His private beach had been discovered.
The air next to him stirred softly as whoever it was took a seat on his rock. Dan was about to ask if the intruder had noticed the private property sign at the entrance to the beach, when sticky fingers were thrust against his palm. Startled by the sudden invasive touch, Dan nonetheless instinctively closed his fingers about the delicate hand that had placed itself into his.
"Well, hello." Dan listened for the sound of someone else approaching but heard nothing. "Is your mom or dad around?"
The only answer he received was a tiny contented sigh. He could feel the rhythmic movement of the child's feet swinging over the edge of the rock on which they sat.
Available at astraeapress

Purchases made through the Astraea Press website between March 1 and June 1 will generate a $2 donation to the USO for the Wounded Warrior Program.

For more information, please read on:-
A Place In the World
Have you ever felt out of place? Most people have at one time or another. An awkward social situation, a feeling of just not belonging. Can you imagine feeling that way about your entire life? What if everything you ever worked for was suddenly ripped away? What if the pages of your life were no longer already written but were suddenly blank and you had no idea how to fill them?
My hero in Heartsight was born into a family of Marines. His entire life was geared toward serving in the USMC. But a tragic incident in Afghanistan robs him of his sight. Not so much call for a wounded warrior, let alone one who can no longer see. This story is 100% fiction, but, like most stories, it imitates real life. War injuries happen.
I can think of no more painful outcome to serving in the military than for those who were wounded to be forgotten, to feel that because they may be missing limbs, or not have the ability to walk, or see, or carry out business in the way of non-injured people, they have no productive place in the world. All persons have value and worth, something to contribute to the world. Sometimes it just takes a little push to find our purpose.
If you’re a veteran or you know a vet who needs a hand, please reach out. The help is there. If you can offer a hand, please show our vets that you care.
We are still working out the details, but a portion of Heartsight sales through the Astraea Press website, from March 1 to June 1, 2011 will be donated to the USO.

To find out more details you can find me at:-
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Kay-Springsteen-Author-of-Romance/143469035711422
Blog: http://kayspringsteen.wordpress.com/

Thanks Kay, for joining us here for the last few days, Kay.  best wishes with your debut novel and your new venture.

21 February 2011

Meet Kay's heroine today.

Today I am talking with my heroine, Trish Evers:

Kay - Thank you for agreeing to talk with me today, Trish, I'd like to start with the question;what do you consider your greatest achievement?
Trish smiles warmly - Ongoing, raising my daughter

Kay - What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Trish - Spending time with my daughter and new neighbor and no worries intruding.

Kay - What is your current state of mind?
A frown replaces Trish's smile - A little overwhelmed and sad at closing up Gran's house. Intrigued by my new neighbor.

Kay - What is your favorite occupation?
Trish - Painting but also teaching art.

Kay - What is your most treasured possession? 
Trish with tears in her eyes- Gran's house that I have to sell.

Kay - What or who is the greatest love of your life?
Trish smiles at her daughter and looks over at Dan - Bella. But my neighbor is looking pretty good.

Kay - What is your favorite journey?
Trish - The journey of learning I'm taking with Bella.

Kay - What is your most marked characteristic?
Trish heaves a heavy sigh. - My "maternal" bustline , slightly rounded stomach – these are the things my ex never let me forget about.

Kay - When and where were you the happiest?
Trish - The day right before Bella was born when I didn’t know the baby would have life-threatening health problems.

Ka y- What is it that you most dislike?
Trish - People who pretend they care but don't really.

Kay - What is your greatest fear?
Trish - Losing Bella, letting her down, not protecting her.

Kay - What is your greatest extravagance?
Trish grins - Art supplies. Oh, and also bath beads and scented candles.

Kay - Which living person do you most despise?
Trish shrugs - I don't hate anyone but am hurt and angry and a little intimidated by my ex-husband. I don't like "looks" of sympathy from strangers.

Kay - What is your greatest regret?
Trish shakes her head - That I didn’t try harder in my marriage, that I didn’t try to convince ex-husband to stay for Bella.

Kay - Which talent would you most like to have?
Trish - The one I have, painting watercolors that other people like enough to buy.

Kay - Where would you like to live?
Trish sighs wistfully - I wish I could stay in the beach house.

Kay - What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Trish - Feeling any kind of self-pity.

Kay - What is the quality you most like in a man?
Trish smiles at Dan - Compassion.

Kay - What is the quality you most like in a woman?
Trish - Integrity.

Kay - What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
Trish - Sometimes I take on too much and get burned out.

Kay - What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Trish - Being phony.

Kay - What do you most value in your friends?
Trish - Loyalty.

Kay - Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
Trish replies without hesitation - Laura Ingalls Wilder

Kay - Whose are your heroes in real life?
Trish thought for a moment before responding - All the U.S. First Ladies.

Kay - Which living person do you most admire?
Trish - Never thought of it.

Kay - What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Trish - Sympathy; it's often false.

Kay - On what occasions do you lie?
Trish shakes her head - I don't. No matter how tempting, because I don't like being lied to.

Kay - Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Tirsh chuckles and smiles at Bella - Let mommy help.

Kay - If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Trish - Being afraid all the time.

Kay - What are your favorite names?
Trish - I named my daughter Isabella because I liked the meaning, "devoted to God."

Kay - How would you like to die?
Trish - Old age, and at peace knowing Bella will be okay without me.

Kay - If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?
Trish tilts her head and thinks - A kitten

Kay - What is your motto?
Trish - "It won’t seem so bad tomorrow."

Sherry - Kay, thank you for sharing your interviews with your hero and heroine.  It seems they are both very strong characters who have definate opinions.  I bet the sparks flew when they came together :-)

Heartsight is available at Astraea Press website
* * * *

If you want to know more about Kay Springteen's characters and to read the blurb and excerpt of her debut novel, please come back tomorrow.

You will also discover where and how Kay is spending some of the income from Heartsight.

20 February 2011

Today Kay interviews her hero

Kay explains 'This questionnaire was invented by the noted French author Marcel Proust'

Interview with hero, Dan Conway: 

Kay - What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Dan Smiles - Making Captain with USMC

Kay - What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Dan - To be worth something, able to contribute in a positive way.

Kay - What is your current state of mind?
Dan frowns thoughtfully, rubs jaw - Confused, unsettled, lonely, contemplative, frustrated.

Kay - What is your favorite occupation?
Dan leans forward a bit - I've been a Marine my whole adult life.

What is your most treasured possession?
He sighs and gives it some thought. Grandfather's dog-tags, mother's box of recipes.

Kay - What or who is the greatest love of your life?
 Dan - It was being a marine. shrugs - Currently . . . my dog and being alone.

Kay - What is your favorite journey?
Dan - Was always a tossup between leaving for deployment and coming home, with all the missions in between.

Kay - What is your most marked characteristic?
Dan sighs and takes a moment to consider - Afraid it's blindness, so do anything not to be noticed.

Kay -When and where were you the happiest? 
Dan - As a marine.

Kay - What is it that you most dislike?
Dan - That slightly helpless feeling when I can't do something sighted people take for granted—that I always used to take for granted. Like see a sunrise or seeing someone you love in the distance. He offers a sad smile.

Kay - What is your greatest fear?
Dan shrugs - That I will never be worth anything/make a contribution again.

Kay - What is your greatest extravagance?
Dan - Computer equipment for things like reading mail, going on internet.

Kay - Which living person do you most despise?
Dan - It's not worth despising others. Takes too much energy and clouds your judgment.

Kay - What is your greatest regret?
Dan turned a fierce glane in my direction - That I couldn't save the little boy who had the bomb strapped to him.

Kay - Which talent would you most like to have?
Dan - Don't know.

Kay - Where would you like to live?
Dan - If I have to put down roots, I like my beach house.

Kay - What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Dan shifted in his seat - Failing someone...failing to help them when they are in trouble, being helpless when they need you.

Kay - What is the quality you most like in a man?
Dan - Honesty.

Kay - What is the quality you most like in a woman?
Dan - Honesty and understanding/empathy.

Kay - What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
Dan - Moodiness but can't seem to change it. 

Kay - What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Dan - Pity toward me.

Kay - What do you most value in your friends?
Dan - Unconditional friendship

Kay - Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
Dan leans back in his chair and crosses his legs - Captain America, other superheroes. Especially like superheroes who have no superpowers.

Kay - Whose are your heroes in real life?
Dan sits taller, straighter - U.S. Marines

Kay - Which living person do you most admire?
Dan - Marine commandant General James T. Conway

Kay - What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Dan - Bravery, especially in context of just performing my job, or being brave because I handle being blind so well—I mean, do I have a choice? How does that make me brave?

Kay - On what occasions do you lie?
Dan - In order to protect someone else or keep them calm (as in telling the little boy with the bomb "it's going to be okay.")

Kay - Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Dan chuckles - Probably "okay."

Kay - If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Dan - I wouldn’t brood as much.

Kay - How would you like to die?
Dan gives my questions some thought before replying - Assuming it's not from old age after a productive life, then let my death have meaning.

Kay - If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?
Dan - Pit bull

Kay - What is your motto?
Dan, without hesitation and a grin - Semper fi

You've met Kay's hero. Come back tomorrow and meet her heroine.

Heartsight is available at the Astraea Press website

To read the blurb and excerpt come back on Tuesday 22nd
and learn more.
Don't forget to come back for Kay's interview with her heroine tomorrow.

19 February 2011

Debut Author Spot ~ Meet Kay Springsteen

For the next four days I am turning over the debut author spot to Kay Springsteen.  Please come by and give her your support.

Hi Kay, Welcome to THoR. It is lovely to have you here.
Thank you very much for hosting me on your blog. It's nice to be here.

Please will you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into writing?
When I was a kid, there were no digital cameras and film was very expensive. My parents gave me a camera but then we were limited in how many and what kind of pictures they could afford me to take. When we would go on vacations, I wanted a way to remember every little detail, not just the handful of vacation photos of us standing in front of landmarks. So I began to write about our vacations. Then I wrote about special events, Christmas, and so on. I didn't keep a daily diary or journal but did record the things most important to me, the writing bringing to my mind those inner pictures that helped me hold onto the fond memories. When I was in fifth grade, I shared some of these with my teacher and she liked them enough to tell my parents that I should pursue writing.

Release Day for your debut novel, Heartsight, Astraea Press, is magical and special, how are you feeling right now at March 1st draws closer.
It doesn't feel quite real yet. I see the cover art and my name above the title and get chills but I keep wondering if I will wake up and find my rejection notice waiting in my email after all. It's not that I don't believe in my story--I truly do. It's just that it's so hard to get noticed in the publishing field. The closer the day gets, though, the more real it becomes, and the more those butterflies fluttering in my stomach dance!

From what you’ve learned so far on your writing journey, what advice would you give to other debut novelists awaiting their first release date?
If you've already been accepted for publication, relax and enjoy it for a day, let it sink in, tell all your friends and family. Then start looking into methods of marketing. These days it's really all about social media. I recommend they start following other people's blogs before they are even published, and if they don't have a Facebook account, or Twitter, and don't have a blog, they need to work on getting these things. The market is competitive and you have to get your name out there. Follow people like Kristen Lamb (she's on Facebook), who has the most social media savvy I've ever seen. Start building your network of friends. They will be a major key in getting the word out for your work.

What drew you to write in your chosen genre, and do you do a lot of research for your books?
One summer when I was 13, I was bored. All my friends had gone on prolonged vacations or to camp. I went grocery shopping with my mom and there at the checkout was a Harlequin Romance. It had a blue top and a picture of a horse - that's all I remember about my first Harlequin lol. My mom, knowing Harlequin's reputation for quality clean reads (this was 1970), bought me the book and I fell in love with falling in love. I tried historicals back then but they were the "bodice-rippers" and not really a good fit for me. Since then, I've read some historicals I really like. But I keep coming back to contemporary romance and contemporary romance with elements of suspense. I like reading it the best and so I like writing it the best. 
 As far as research, I do pretty extensive research for everything I write. I often set my stories in fictional towns but in real geographic areas. Heartsight takes place on the North Carolina Coast in a fictional place called Lookout Island. Harkening Point, where the lighthouse is located in the story actually came from the name of a mountain that is local to where I live called Harkening Hill. But the other elements of the story, the blindness of my male lead, I did extensive research on what blind people are capable of - many might be surprised they can do anything. I interviewed a couple of people who have been blinded, and I read stories on blind participants in extreme sports (rock climbing, swimming, triathelons, etc.). My research on Down syndrome, for my little girl's character was a bit easier, as my first child was born with Down syndrome in 1984. I needed only to tap into my feelings as I recalled them from back then to understand the feelings of Trish in my story. Unfortunately, my own daughter never lived to be six, the age of the girl in my story, so I did some research into what children with this disorder are capable of, how they learn, and all the positive and negative things I could find on the subject. 

What do you love most about writing?
The absolute best thing for me is when I type that last line and know that I've nailed the basic story. I know it's not completely finished; there will always be editing--I write in layers, getting the basics then adding the details. But when I know I've captured the basics of how the hero and heroine get from point A to point B, there is no greater satisfaction.

And what do you like least, and why?
The scariest is the actual submission, pushing that SEND button. I'm a perfectionist and I always worry, even after SEND, whether the MS is right. Are there errors I missed or my critique partners missed? Did I capture the emotions well? Did I leave a huge plot hole no one noticed in my extensive editing process? That sort of thing. In other words, is it really good enough to send off? My hand hovers over that SEND button for a long time and several deep breaths before I actually push it.

 What draws you to your favourite colour?
My favorite color has always been blue. I don't even know what draws me to it, but certain blue things can really make me feel great - the color of Lake Superior in Michigan on a summer day, a cloudless spring sky over the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Who or what is the greatest inspiration/influence in your writing?
Inspirations for various stories can come from any source at any time. I don't know when or where they will hit, but when they do I am instantly aware of them and must start to develop them, even though I don't actually dive on in -- first it's research and character development, plot development, and then writing. I'm not saying that my inspiration is prophetic or anything but I do feel that my best work is when I pay attention to the things God shows me and follow His lead. My greatest supporters really are my children. They believe in me and encourage me, and they appreciate that I put my dream of writing on hold while I was raising them. Now they're grown and they give back in big ways -- helping with marketing, running to the store for me, helping me plot my stories.

What kind of car do you drive?
I drive an older Dodge Neon, red, with a 5-speed standard transmission - holds the curves well and fun to drive in the mountains near my home.

Who are your favourite authors?
I have a few authors I will always buy - Tori Carrington, Nora Roberts, Jill Shalvis. But I love, LOVE discovering new authors. I read a great story by new author Lisa Vance this past December about losing love and second chances. And there is this book I plan to order right away called "The Brat." :-)

Where do you get your characters from?
They are all inside me somewhere. But sometimes I need a little extra something, so I go people watching. I pay attention to quirks I notice in people around me as I sit or stroll anonymously through a crowd and often expand on these. A lot of my characters end up with "theme songs," which I play while writing their specific scenes.

If you were a flower, what would you be?
A daisy--sturdy, hard to get rid of and pleasant to look at with their heads bobbing in the wind.

Are you a plotter or a ‘pantser’?
Mostly a plotter but I take the best of pantster personalities as well, meaning I know where my characters are going, I know most of the plot twists they will encounter, but I do NOT always know how they are going to react to those twists until we get there. Sometimes that changes the way the story goes but the ending is generally going to be the same.

Do you have any pets, and what are they?
I have five small dogs - mixed breeds (terrier, yorkie, chihuahua) who go on hikes with me in the mountains and keep me company by lazing all over me while I write, read, watch TV...

If you could give a gift to anyone, who would you give it to and what would it be?
Okay, this is probably the toughest question of the day. I would love to say I have some great altruistic answer but I don't. I've joined friends and family in the fantasy of winning the lottery and thinking of the charities I would share with. But if I could give anything to anyone, I would probably give the knowledge of how to reach inner happiness to each of my children, my daughter-in-law, and my granddaughter. It took me a long time to learn that it's not about what you have, where you are, or ever who you are with. It's about how you let yourself feel inside.

Do you have another novel in the pipeline?
I just resubmitted a novel to another publisher after making changes at the suggestion of an editor there. She was very interested in the work and loved the writing but showed me where I could make it better. From what I understand this is not often done, so I paid attention to her advice...and I really liked the outcome. Even if it's not ultimately accepted by that publisher, I have no doubt it will be placed somewhere.

What are you working on now?
I'm currently working on a novel set on Mackinac Island in Michigan. If readers don't know this place, I truly suggest a virtual trip there - really just google Mackinac Island and check it out. This WIP is another sweet romance that is being written to the high standards of Astraea Press. 

Heartsight is available at astraeapress    
Purchases made through the Astraea Press website between March 1 and June 1 will generate a $2 donation to the USO for the Wounded Warrior Program.

Please come back tomorrow when Kay interviews her hero in Heartsight

15 February 2011

An interview with romance author Linda Morris

Today, it's my pleasure to welcome fellow The Wild Rose Press author, Linda Morris.  Thank you for joining us today, Linda.

Please will you tell us a little bit about yourself and your latest book?
Sure. First off, thanks for having me. My novella, Montana Belle, has just been released as an ebook by the Wild Rose Press. It tells the story of Augusta Springer, whose father summons her back to their Montana ranch and orders her to marry a childhood friend, Joshua Bradley. Augusta, never at home in her father's world, has been making a life of her own at school in Boston and isn't eager to return.

What is your favourite colour and why? 
Red. It's flattering and always cheers me up.

Words have power, few people would argue with that, but do you believe numbers carry the same power influence? 
I don't think so. Words have moved me, made me laugh, made me think . . . that's a tall order for numbers to live up to!

Do you find your job as a technical writer makes creative writing fiction easier?It's a whole different ballgame. Actually, the ability to shift gears and exercise a whole different part of my brain is part of why I love writing fiction. (And the ability it gives me to pay bills is part of why I write technical materials!)

Does your job as an editor of technical writing help you when it comes to editing your own work?
Sometimes, because grammar and punctuation are the same no matter what you're writing. The concerns of fiction editing are very different though and much more demanding. With fiction, accurate spelling, grammar, and punctuation are just the beginning of what you need to worry about during editing. You also need to eliminate weak sentence construction, overused words, dialogue tags, etc. With a technical work, clarity is the most important thing. You don't have to worry about pacing or keeping the reader from getting bored--the reader will keep reading because they need to know how this programming language works or whatever. And nobody ever scolded me for "showing instead of telling" in a book about computer programming! 

Do you have a writing routine?
I write each morning after getting my son off to school, usually for about 1 or 1 1/2 hours. After that, I have to move on to my "day job."  

Do you have a special writing spot?
I'm lucky enough to have a home office overlooking the pond outside our backyard. In the summertime, I love to listen to the birds and bullfrogs while I write. 

 Do you enjoy cooking, and if so, what is your favourite recipe? Will you share it with us?
I do love to cook, although I'm better at baking and entertaining than I am at everyday cooking. I get a bit bored with putting supper on the table every day. I fall back on soups a lot, especially in winter. They can simmer away downstairs while I'm writing and they make the whole house smell wonderful!
I've included a recipe for minestrone:-
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 1/2 to 2 cups potatoes, chopped small
Salt and pepper
6 cups vegetable broth
1 16-oz can diced tomatoes
1 1/2 to 2 cups green beans
1 16-oz can beans (such as kidney, cannellini, white, or chickpeas)
1/2 to 1 cup small pasta such as orzo
1 tsp minced garlic
Grated parmesan cheese for serving (optional)
Put 3 Tbs. olive oil in a Dutch over and heat over medium. When hot, add the onion, celery, and carrot. Cook, stirring, until onion is soft, about 5 minutes.
Add the potatoes and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook stirring for 1-2 minutes. Add the stock and the tomato. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.
Add the green beans, canned beans, parsley, and pasta. Increase heat if necessary to maintain a simmer. Cook about 10 minutes more. Stir in chopped garlic and cook for 5 minutes. Add the remaining olive oil and serve with grated parmesan cheese.
My mouth is watering, I'm gong to try this out tomorrow.  

Who, or what, has been the biggest influence in your writing?
I love Jane Austen--she's my favorite writer--but my biggest influences were probably the writers I read when I was a little girl: Louisa May Alcott, Carolyn Keene, Margaret Mitchell. And Kathleen Woodiwiss's "Ashes in the Wind" got me addicted to romance.

Do you base you characters on friends or family? And if so, do they know and what is their reaction?
No, not really. Oddly, none of my friends are a good fit for a romance novel heroine from the Old West! (Or hero, darn it.)

How long did it take you to write Montana Belle?
About three months (it's only a novella), but that was only the beginning. I got interest from the second editor I sent it to, but she wanted some changes. I had to go through several rounds of revision before finally making the sale. That process took longer than the initial writing.

Please will you share the blurb and an excerpt from Montana Belle?

Sent to Boston for a proper education after her mother's death, Augusta Springer loves her cultured life there, helping the headmistress and planning a teaching career. But when her brother dies unexpectedly, she is summoned home by her headstrong father and ordered to marry the only man for whom she has ever cared— Joshua Bradley.
Joshua has planned for years to win Augusta's heart. Building a life to share with her has been his ultimate goal, but she has learned to despise ranch life and all that goes with it. Can he persuade this independent woman to stay and share the dreams he has for both of them?

Here's an excerpt:
drink I might be ever so slightly...thunk,” Augusta confided, laboring to pronounce every word correctly, and then giggled when she realized her mistake. She struggled to regain a serious mien. Miss Levon denounced giggling as unladylike.
Joshua reached to pull her wineglass away from her. “You’ve had enough,” he said, his gaze warm. “We have a long ride back in the dark, so you’d better keep your head. Of course, you’re welcome to spend the night here, if you like.” He made the outrageous offer calmly, as if it were quite unexceptionable.
Augusta, well aware of the impropriety of his offer, fixed him with a stare. “I am an adult, and not totally inex-, inexper-...I have drunk spirits before,” she corrected herself finally, with careful enunciation. She reached to pull her glass back, and her hand brushed against his on the stem. His palm, warm and roughened, sent a thrill of awareness up her arm—for a businessman, he still spent a good deal of time outdoors. His hand bore the marks of sun, wind, and leather.
“A regular tippler, are you?” he asked with a smile, his eyes lingering for a moment on the daring d├ęcolletage of her gown, and she felt a surge of warmth through her body that had nothing to do with alcohol. She tried to pull the glass toward her, but somehow found that her hand caught in his.
“Miss Levon believes that young girls should experience all of the social graces,” she said faintly, awed by the gleam of his dark eyes. He wanted her. She could not doubt it. Shockingly, she wanted him very much in return.

You can buy Montana Belle at the Wild Rose Press Web site -- http://tinyurl.com/5tadfcs -- or Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/4cx7qcj.

Do you have any other books coming out?
Yes, I have a romantic suspense novel called Forget-Me-Not to be published on Feb. 18th, in print and ebook. It's about a heroine trying to regroup in a remote cabin after a personal and professional disaster, and the mysterious man who seeks her out there. When he suffers memory loss after a head injury, they work together to find out who is and why he has come looking for her.
It will also be available at Amazon.com 

Here is a very short teaser from my forthcoming romantic suspense, Forget-Me-Not, available on Feb. 18th from the Wild Rose Press. 

Lara Crosby moves to a remote cabin in the Minnesota wilderness to regroup after a personal and professional disaster. One night during a violent storm, she begins to fear her past may be catching up to her:

Lara hadn't had to use this generator yet during the year she'd been living up here. She only hoped it still worked, and that she still remembered how to start it. Lara had just found the pull start on the generator when a noise she hadn't been aware of before reached her. The sound was alien in these deserted woods. It wasn't from an animal, and it wasn't a lingering sound of the storm as it petered out. It was definitely manmade.