Thursday, 30 September 2010

Author Spotlight week - Celia Yeary shares her favorite author

My favorite author’s books are the only ones I collected. Her name is LaVyrle Spencer, and she wrote twenty-two books, and then retired. I ran across one of her books in the early nineties, just as I had discovered romances, and became hooked. For the next few years, I struggled to find all her novels, for they were already ten to fifteen years old when I discovered them.
In recent years, a publisher has re-released all the books with new, more modern covers. I have some of the old ones, mixed with some new ones.

Each novel is vastly different. By that, I mean she didn’t write one genre, but wrote a general kind of story that we probably couldn’t specifically categorize. She writes with an unmatched style, with much angst, longing, and yearning. Her characters are the most unique, yet common people who could easily be real. I have read one several times.

One sentence examples:
A young man who loses his wife, and his two young daughters’ teacher, a young nun who wants to give up her vows, eventually marry.

A bum during the Depression marries a “crazy widow woman” who turns out to be quite sane and provides him with a home and family.

A seamstress with a lame leg works next door to a saloon, and confronts the sexy saloon owner when he tries to hang a painting of a nude woman over the bar.

When her husband dies, a woman in her forties once again becomes involved with her teenage lover, and she is horrified by his drinking, whoring ways. (This is the best of the lot—titled The Hellion.)

Opening lines from: The Hellion:
“It was well know around Russellville, Alabama, that Tommy Lee Gentry drove like a rebellious seventeen-year-old, drank like a parolee fresh out, and whored like a lumberjack at the first spring thaw.”

I recommend reading some of her books and see a master in action.

Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas
New Releases
Texas Promise-eBook-Desert Breeze Publishing
Making the Turn-print & eBook-Wings ePress

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Author Spotlight Week - Celia Yeary shares her favorite movie

I’m not a huge movie fan, and abhor much of the violence, silliness, and downright stupidity of many of today’s movies. Movie-goers do not know what they missed. One wonderful movie they probably missed is PICNIC, a 1955 romance, starring William Holden—a very young, very virile William Holden—lovely Kim Novak, and Cliff Robertson. “Small town lovers who face many complications because of his drifter background and her wealthy important background.”

The plot takes place over a Labor Day weekend. William Holden—Hal—drifts into town riding the rails and looks up a college buddy, Kim Novak’s brother. But Hal never finished college and ended up “no damn good.” But he is good—just misguided and lonely. Kim falls for him, but keeps it to herself, knowing she’d upset everyone in town, especially her parents.

Kim’s brother pretends to welcome Hal, hoping he’ll go away. But Hal ses Madge (Kim) and hangs around, involving himself in the activities of the day—a river parade in which Madge is the queen, a town picnic, and Madge’s family in general.
This move is filled with poignant longings and yearnings, jealousy, hatred, loneliness, embarrassments, angst, and deep sadness and hurt.

A good romance author would recognize the external conflicts, the internal conflicts, and the inappropriate attraction between Hal and Madge. In a confrontation with Madge’s brother, Hal learns he is really despised, and that the family had made a supreme effort to tolerate him. Damaged and devastated, Hal speaks to Madge alone and entices her to run away with him.
I’ve watched this movie numerous times over the years, and if it came on AMC or TCM, I’d drop everything to sit and watch it.

Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas
New Releases
Texas Promise-eBook-Desert Breeze Publishing
Making the Turn-print & eBook-Wings ePress

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Author Spotlight Week - Celia Yeary shares her passion for Westerns

Romance? Didn’t read it. None, zip, nada. Too trite, I’d heard—the novels always ended the same way—happily-ever-after. Same plot, boy meets girl, they fall in love, have a falling-out, make-up, get married. “What’s wrong with that?” I asked a cynical friend who only read literary works.

Then, one day in 1990, I visited a used-book store and bought a paperback by Janet Dailey titled
This Calder Range. I couldn’t put it down. Remember, I love Westerns, and this even had a HEA. I fell in love. I searched the used-book stores and eventually the library until I’d found and read all ten in the Calder series. Her latest, I believe, was released a couple of years ago. From there, I discovered LaVyrle Spencer, a master of romance writing, Dorothy Garlock, Maggie Osborne, Linda Lael Miller, and Jodi Thomas—plus many more. I still search for new authors who write exciting, satisfying Western Romance.

In 2004, I sat down and began to write a story. And yes, it was a Western romance—a historical. Probably I’ll never be in the same category with my favorite authors, but each one has been an inspiration and a benchmark for me.

Why do I write the West? I find it difficult to put into words.
The Last Frontier, perhaps? That’s the name for space exploration and Star Wars.
Romance in Sweeping Vistas with a love story set in a different time, perhaps? That’s how we describe novels set in early Scotland.

The Era of the Strong, Silent type who always gets the girl while he brings justice in full measure, perhaps? That’s how we describe Indiana Jones adventures.

See? I cannot exactly describe my feeling when I begin a new Western Historical novel, either reading one or writing one. Oh! Now I know Why I Write the West! It’s like falling in love.

Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas
New Releases
Texas Promise-eBook-Desert Breeze Publishing
Making the Turn-print & eBook-Wings ePress

Monday, 27 September 2010

Author Spotlight Week - Q&A with Celia Yeary

I'd like to welcome author Celia Yeary to the blog day. Celia is a dear friend from the Book Spa and I'm tickled pink to have her here today.

STEPH: I don't know much about Texas Promise. Can you tell us a little about the story?

CELIA: It’s the first in a two-book series called “The Cameron Sisters,” which developed from the first novel about their father Jeffrey “Buck” Cameron and their mother, Marilee Weston, titled TEXAS BLUE. In the end of that first novel, there were two daughters—Josie and True. So, I wrote a novel for each of the sisters and the two became The Cameron Sisters: Books I and II.
TEXAS PROMISE tells the story of the older daughter Josephine Cameron who married her childhood sweetheart, Dalton King. But as adults, they don’t get along as well as they did as children, resulting in Dalton leaving after three weeks to join the Texas Rangers. The plot is complicated when he is presumed dead, but returns just as Jo is packing to leave for the New Mexico Territory to meet her birth father.

STEPH: What was in the inspiration for the story?

CELIA: I wanted Jo to meet her wicked birth father, but I needed a way for her to get from Austin, Texas to the wilds of the New Mexico Territory to do so. Also important was for her to marry Dalton, so I made him a Texas Ranger so he could lead her to her father and protect her at the same time. The rigorous journey gave me the opportunity for Jo and Dalton to become reunited and fall in love, for real this time, instead of childhood love.

STEPH: How long have you been writing?

CELIA: About six years. I’m still considered a newbie, I guess, but I’m a fast learner and very motivated when I learn something new. I never wrote a thing in my life before 2004.

STEPH: How do you create your characters? Do you cast them? If so, who are the leads?

CELIA: This question always stumps me. The characters just appear. I can’t explain “creating” them, can you? Sometimes I do cast characters, but not often, and if I do, I don’t remember the actor I used. Dalton is tall, dark, a little somber (unlike his sunny personality as a child), a good man who wants to do the right thing. Jo was an isolated child, which made her a little timid of the outside world. But when she did break out, she blossomed into a courageous, bold, independent woman.

STEPH: What attracts you to writing westerns?

CELIA: So many possibilities to write a story! I can include danger, adventure, hardships, Western vistas, horses, and a way of life that made our country great.

STEPH: How did the story find a home with Desert Breeze?

CELIA: Finding a publisher with an open mind to a two-book series ready to go isn’t as easy as you’d think. I heard “let’s do the first one, then we’ll see about the second one.” I could have gone that way, but I held on to them, and just as I wouldn’t separate sisters, I couldn’t take the chance I might not get the second one with the same publisher. But Desert Breeze stated in the guidelines the exact words I looked for—that they were interested in series, especially if they were fully developed. Yessss!

STEPH: Do you have any hobbies you'd like to share with us?

CELIA: Reading and writing—now—takes up much of my time. Before writing, I learned how to play golf at age 40, and played hard and fast for years. I had to give that up for various reasons, and I cast about looking for something else. In my younger adult years, I did crewel embroidery and created some very pretty things, mostly as gifts. When I tired of that, I made wreaths—for gifts. When I wore that one out, I painted t-shirts—to give away. After that, I made scrapbooks—as gifts! In between all that, I earned two degrees and taught high school biology.

SETPH: What's your favorite place to visit in Texas? A festival? A town? the coast?

CELIA: I have visited all over Texas, and lived in almost every corner. My favorite is Big Bend National Park, and the towns close by—Alpine, Marfa, and Marathon. Very interesting and unique and wild.

STEPH: Fun question: If you were a NASCAR driver, who would you want to sponsor your car?

CELIA: American Airlines and maybe they’d let me always fly First-Class and Free!

Friday, 24 September 2010

Author Spotlight week - Excerpt from Conception

Having Shaw teach me the sword may have been a bad idea. I was alone, in this lovely forest clearing, with the most breathtakingly handsome man I could ever have imagined. The fact that the sun was starting to set certainly didn't help, either. With the light fading and twilight creeping in, the whole scene felt romantic. It was going to be hard to learn when the only thing I could truly concentrate on was him.

"Here," Shaw said, handing me one of two sticks that he broke off of a nearby tree, "we can practice with these."

"A stick? Really?"

A playful grin spread across his face. "Well, it's the safest thing we can use. I wouldn't want you to get hurt."

"Maybe you're afraid I'll hurt you." I joked.

"I doubt it," he laughed, looking me over with a skeptically raised eyebrow.

"Now wait a second, you're the one who thinks I have powers. You should be afraid." I smiled and waved the end of my stick at him.

"Alright, come here," he laughed again, and gestured for me to go to him.

My stomach jumped up into my throat as nervousness flooded my body. I tried to convince myself that I simply wanted to do a good job. That had to be the only reason I was nervous. Trying to control my growing attraction toward Shaw was getting increasingly difficult. I took a tentative step forward. He reached over and took my hand in his. Pulling me ever so gently, he moved me to a spot directly in front of him.

"Stand here with your feet about shoulder width apart. Keep your knees slightly bent." I followed his instructions while reminding myself to breathe. It was a meager attempt to stem my nervousness. My heart pounded like a jackhammer in my chest as he circled around behind me. "The type of sword you use will really dictate your fighting style. I use a broad sword, but something more slender would be better for you. I have a nice rapier sword that I might let you have."

I nodded, very aware of his presence just inches behind me.

"Hold your sword in your right hand."

"You mean stick," I corrected. I hoped that joking would ease my nerves.

"Right, but that stick is a formidable weapon," he agreed with a laugh. The moment of levity felt nice, and my anxiousness eased. Until he touched me.

Placing both of his hands on my waist he moved my body into the proper position. All of my muscles tightened from the contact. Then, one of his hands glided up my body and down my right arm, leaving a tingling trail of heat in its wake. "Don't hold your arm so stiff, you want to have a little bit of give in your elbow."

"Is that better?" I asked, making an adjustment. I tried to look over my shoulder at him, but my thick, wavy hair obstructed my view.

He moved his hand off of my arm. Pushing my hair away from his face, he let it drape down my left shoulder, exposing my bare neck. An electrified chill shot through my body when I felt his warm breath on the skin of my neck. Our eyes met and he smiled at me.

"Yes, that's better," he said, holding my gaze, which only left my eyes for a quick second to look at my mouth before returning to my eyes. A long moment passed. Then he cleared his throat and moved in front of me, "Your left hand can do several different things. If you use a rapier, you won't need to hold it with both hands so your left hand can hold a shield. Or, if you don't have a shield, you should probably keep it behind your back, at least until you're more practiced. This way your opponent can't cut it off."

"Hmm," I snickered, "that would be a sight, 'the one-handed savior'. I doubt Leticia would be afraid of me then."

"Ha!" Shaw exclaimed, "Probably not. Okay, the first move I'm going to show you is a simple defensive counter move. Please keep in mind that this move most likely won't work if you only have one hand, but we'll do the best we can."

I chortled with laughter. "I certainly will try, but it will be hard with this stump." I tucked my left hand inside the sleeve of my shirt and raised my arm to show him. Sure it was juvenile, but I couldn't help myself. I was really enjoying this fun, playful side of Shaw.

"I'm so sorry for your loss," he said with mock concern. He held a serious expression for a moment and then we both broke down with laughter.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Author Spotlight week -Jennifer Hartz shares her favorite authors

Author JRR Tolkien, 1916, in uniform during World War I

Today I'm supposed to talk about my favorite author and how they influenced me… Yikes! How do I pick just one? I guess the best way to answer this is to look at the author's who directly influenced Future Savior. I have always been an avid reader. Back in my pre-teen years it was The Babysitter's Club. I have always enjoyed reading books in a series. I like following the lives the characters I've grown to love and watching them, and the story, grow and evolve over a long period of time. I think this early exposure to series helped to lead to my own stories falling into series form.

Another major contributor to Future Savior would be The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. Tolkien is truly the father of all fantasy stories and all fantasy writers need to tip their hat to this genius. Right alongside Tolkien, C.S. Lewis was a major influence of Future Savior. The Chronicles of Narnia is an amazing example of a Christian fantasy series which helped spur many of the ideas in Future Savior.

I would be remiss if I didn't pay homage to J.K. Rowling. Harry Potter is arguably the best speculative series ever written. Rowling created a fantasy world so intricate, elaborate, and amazing that it will capture hearts for generations to come. However, this is not what I took from Rowling, what I loved was how Harry was a seemingly normal boy thrust into not so normal circumstances only to find out that he was anything but normal. Christina Vaughn from Future Savior takes a similar journey.

Taking a look back at my favorites, one thing is abundantly clear, I should change my name from Jennifer Hartz to J.L. Hartz!

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Author Spotlight Week - Jennifer Hartz shares her favorite movie

What is my favorite movie? Well, where can you find a movie that has a rag-tag group of misfits searching for pirate treasure, while being chased by bad guys, all to a Cyndi Lauper enhanced soundtrack? Only from the mind of Steven Spielberg, of course! My favorite movie of all time is The Goonies and you can see bits and pieces of this if you look closely at Future Savior. The most obvious connection is the idea of ordinary people being thrust into a not so ordinary adventure.

Closely following The Goonies on my favorite movie list would have to be Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings. Of course both stories are very high in the speculative aspect, but they are also a series, which I love. I think I am so drawn to a good speculative series because I like the idea of really digging in deep with an imaginary world (or galaxy) and learning a ton about it. Just glossing over the surface of a speculative world doesn't really connect you to the story. You need all of the details of the world to really feel like you are a part of it. With a series you really get to know the world and the characters in the world which, for me, leads to a greater enjoyment of the story. Perhaps this is why my own speculative stories contain at least three books each… or at least they will when I finally find time to write them!

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Author Spotlight Week - Jennifer Hartz shares her passion for Fantasy

When I was about six years old, I wrote and illustrated my first story, an epic adventure about a group of fairies who had their magic wands stolen by an evil troll. A simple story to be sure, but even at that young age I was all about the dramatic ending. On the last page of the fairy book the wands were stolen again and the caption read, "Here we go again." Who doesn't love a good cliffhanger? Fast forward to today and Future Savior. Conception, the first book in the series, has only been available for a few weeks and already there's some buzz about the ending. As much as I might enjoy going into detail about the ending of Conception, I'm not going to talk about that today for two reasons. First of all, I don't want to give anything away, and secondly in today's blog I'm focusing on genre. Which brings me back to the fairies.

I have always been a lover of all things speculative. Fantasy, science fiction, paranormal and even time travel I have always enjoyed stories that stretch the imagination and take people to places we cannot go. I'm not sure where this love for speculative originated, perhaps from my dad. People who are into the speculative genres are usually labeled as dorks and geeks, but my dad was far from that. He was an ex-football player and ex-Marine who loved Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings. This made speculative cool for me.

Now, all of the stories I have floating in my brain have some sort of speculative spin to them. I have about thirteen books stored in my head that I really hope I find time to write. This includes the series I plan to start as soon as I get a bit farther ahead on Future Savior which is a YA urban fantasy.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Author Spotlight Week - Q&A with Jennifer Hartz

I'd like to welcome fellow Desert Breeze author, Jennifer Hartz, to the spotlight this week.

STEPH: I don't know much about Conception. Can you tell us a little about the book?

JENNIFER: Hey Steph! Thanks so much for having me on the blog this week. The series of Future Savior is a combination of all the stories I love. Whether they came from books, television, or movies, little elements from my favorite things crept into my own fantasy story. "Write something you would love to read", that's the advice I followed while developing The Future Savior Series and I'm glad I did because I love the results.

The story of Conception, book one in the series, revolves around Christina Vaughn, a seemingly ordinary person who is thrust into an extraordinary situation only to find out she's not as ordinary as she assumed. She is sent to a fantasy-like world and as Christina makes her way through her amazing adventure, she learns a great deal about her unbelievable past. She discovers that she has unimaginable powers which she must quickly learn to harness. She falls in love during a journey that has her battling horrific monsters and struggling with her remarkable destiny, a destiny that involves saving the people of this world.

STEPH: What was the inspiration behind the book?

JENNIFER: The Future Savior Series is the byproduct of a ridiculously long commute. I have an hour and a half drive… one-way. That's three hours in the car! One day, while driving, I started to daydream about interesting characters and the fantastical land of Meric. I would let my mind conjure up different storylines for my mystical characters, pulling out the things that really worked and filing them away in my memory bank. For three months these daydreams continued until I finally realized I needed to sit down and write.

STEPH: I see that it's a fantasy. What attracts you to that genre?

JENNIFER: I love anything speculative, I always have. Even when I was a little kid my favorite stories involved fairies and unicorns and leprechauns… things that you just don’t see every day! Stories, in any medium, that are normal bore me. Why would I want to waste my time reading or watching a story about someone that does the same boring stuff I do every day? No thanks. I want my imagination stretched to the limits, wrapped around a couple of Saturn's rings, then brought back and plunged right into the heart of Mordor.

STEPH: How many books do you have planned in the series?

JENNIFER: The story of Future Savior that is milling around my brain is huge. One book simply couldn't hold all of the ideas so naturally it became a series. However, there is so much that happened in Meric before Christina ever arrived that I could easily produce two or three prequels. But for now I'll stick with Christina's story which is the five books in The Future Savior Series that will be coming out over the next few years.

STEPH: Do you have a certain process to develop your characters? Do you cast your characters? If so who are the leads?

JENNIFER: I think it is important to make characters as realistic as possible, that way people can find something in them to relate to and connect with. Even fantastical characters need to have realistic actions and emotions otherwise no one would want to read about them. Sprites are really cool because they have wings and fly, but would anybody care about Luka if she didn't have her snappy quick wit? Probably not. Many of my characters have personalities similar to people I know in real life. This helps me to keep them as realistic as possible.

As for casting my characters, I did not have particular actors in mind while writing Conception. It was only after the story was complete, and I started milling around author loops and writing chat rooms, did I start to think about who would be great in the roles.

Hands down, without a doubt, and no questions asked Shaw would be perfectly portrayed by Kellan Lutz. If you don't know who he is, he plays Emmet in the Twilight Saga.

I've had a slightly harder time casting Christina, but my mind keeps bouncing between either Allysa Milano or Kate Beckinsale. I guess it depends on my mood, but both of these ladies are fabulous.

Charis is such an interesting and intriguing character that I'm not 100% sure who I would place in that role, but Carla Gugino, the Pocahontas guru in Night at the Museum, keeps popping into my head.

Finally, I place Zak Efron in the role of the obscenely handsome Elf Prince Jonus.

STEPH: How long did it take you to write Conception?

JENNIFER: Like I said, I had been daydreaming about the story for about three months before I placed my fingers to the keys. When I finally sat down to write, having such a structured skeleton in my mind to work with was very helpful. I was able to pound out the entire first novel in just under two and a half months.

STEPH: Do you have any hobbies you'd like to share with us?

JENNIFER: Well, writing is my hobby. I work full-time as a teacher. I also coach softball and volunteer at my church on the child care team. But above all of that is my wonderful family. I have a great husband named Chris and an amazing two-year-old son, Vaughn. They were gracious enough to lend their names to the lead character of Future Savior, Christina Vaughn.

STEPH: You know I'm a Stephenie Meyer's "Twilight" fan, right? Team Edward or Team Jacob?

JENNIFER: The girls I teach at school always ask me this question and I can't help but answer, "Team Emmett!" Obviously I love Kellan Lutz since that's who I would cast as the lead in my own novel, but if I had to pick between Edward and Jacob, I've got to go with Edward. He's Bella's true love and poor Jacob just won't take the hint! Get over it Jacob, she's in love with someone else!

Thanks so much for having me on Desert Breeze Publishing's blog today! I had a blast! If the readers out there would like to learn more about Future Savior, they can swing by my website.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Author Spotlight week - Excerpt from Beyond Summer

"Who's the girl?" Bailey Adams nodded in Carly's direction.

The urge to just say 'mine' flashed through his brain. That was wrong. "She's keeping Daniel for me this summer." Nanny sounded so formal.

"Nice." Bailey grinned at him. "So, are you two..."


"Good. That leaves the field open for the rest of us."

He wanted to shout 'she's married'. But that wasn't his story to tell, so he crossed his arms over his chest. It didn't sit well, letting Bailey think the field was open.

But what would Zane do if the field was, in fact, open? He wasn't really thinking about dating Carly, was he? She wouldn't be married forever. When the field was open would he competing for her? Hadn't he promised himself he wouldn't get involved with another senseless beauty.

Problem was, Carly wasn't senseless. She'd been nothing but considerate and caring for the last two weeks. But still, there would always be competition for her heart, and if things got rough, it would be easy for a girl like Carly to find something better.

Daniel canon-balled into the group of playing kids. It broke Zane out of his downward spiraling thoughts. Before he could get to the edge of the pool, through the milling crowd, Carly had Daniel in her arms in three foot of water.

His son's legs were wound around her waist, and their foreheads pressed together. He took a step closer so he could hear what they were saying.

"You have to be careful when there's this many people, okay? You could accidentally kick someone or hit them." Carly's voice was soft, and she smiled as she spoke to him.

"I didn't hit nobody, Miss Carly."

"I know. Remember when we talked about jumping into the deep end instead of the shallow part so you would be safe, too?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"That would be better. And try to find a spot where nobody else is at, okay?"

Daniel's smile was a mile wide. "Yes, ma'am." Daniel laid his head on Carly's shoulder and squeezed. "I love you."

Carly held him just as fiercely. "I love you too, Daniel. You are a good boy."

Standing at the edge of the pool, Zane gripped the railing until his hand ached. Two short sentences had changed everything.
Daniel swam off to the other end of pool, happy to comply with her soft request. Zane was stuck, couldn't move as she walked to the edge and started up the stairs. She caught his stare. Her eyes blinked up at him in surprise. She shouldn't be just as pretty without all the paint on her face as she was with it.

But she was.

His hand reached out to help her from the pool. "Thanks for handling Daniel. I was just on my way to talk to him and I saw you."
She smiled and her cheeks got a little pink. "No problem. I guess I should've let you talk to him since you're here."

"No, you did good." He released her hand. "Why don't we get you a drink? You have to be thirsty from all of the lifeguard work you're doing."

Her glance went back to the kids. "It is hard, sitting there soaking up the sun." She said it with a straight face.

He liked her sense of humor. "They'll be fine for a minute. There's plenty of adults to make sure Brie's head's still up."

His hand went to the small of her back and for the first time he just enjoyed the little zap he got from touching her.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Author Spotlight week - Carie Lawson shares her favorite author

This is a hard one. I love, love, love to read, and there are just so many talented writers. One of my favorite new finds is Deanne Gist. I read A Bride Most Begrudging and had to find another one of hers to read immediately. It had been a while since I'd read a historical novel, and she really pulled me into the time. She'd obviously done much research about early American history before she began writing. It was honest, the characters were believable. I love to learn something while I'm being completely entertained by a story.

In contemporary fiction, I'm blessed to be in a writer's group with Tamara Leigh. I ended up going home from a meeting with one of her books. It was so fun, lighthearted and smart. I was hooked, so now I can't pass up one of her books without reading it. She shared with us her use conflict in her books, and you bet I was taking notes that day!

There are lot of others that I love to read too. But those two have been fun finds recently.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Author Spotlight Week - Carie Lawson shares her favorite movie

Well, I have to admit I my favorite movie of all time is You've Got Mail. It makes me happy because I love the two main characters and want them to fall in love.

BUT, I have a new "favorite" movie I just recently got the chance to see, Facing the Giants. It was on TV the other night and my husband turned it on as I was working on something, so I was half listening, not too interested. But it captured me. What an awesome message it carries! God really used that movie to change my perspective on a few things in my own life where I had developed a bad attitude. The message that I took away from it was's ALL about God. Nothing else we do is going to have lasting impact. Our job is to do our best and let God bring a harvest.

It's changed the way I handle my kids complaining about others because I was reminded that God has told us to pray for those who don't treat us well. It had made me look at all of our activities and ask again, "How can this bring glory to God."

This lesson was something I knew, but had conveniently forgotten in some aspects of my life. I was inspired to relook at these areas to see how our family could improve.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Author Spotlight Week - Carie Lawson shares her passion for Inspirationals

My writing career was inspired by the question, "What can God do with your greatest weakness?" The first time I heard the questions, I shrugged it off. I have so many flaws, how do I pick just one for God to use. A couple of months later, the same questions came around and I got honest. My biggest weakness is my love to read romances. I love them all and would read to the exclusion of spending time doing the things I need to do. Not just the exceptional book that was too good to put down. I really spent a lot of time curled up with a book.

So when the question came up that second time, I spent some time thinking about it. What could God do with my love of reading? God planted a seed in my head--I could try to write. As it turned out I loved to write just as much as I loved to read. When I sat back and was honest, God had been fertilizing the soil for a long time, I just hadn't been aware. I'd started a book in a spiral bound notebook while I was in high school, then threw it away when I headed off to college.

Because of the way God introduced writing to me, there was no way I could write anything but inspirational. If I was going to use this weakness to glorify Him, then I'd better make sure He was solidly in the stories.

When I was creating my website,, I was trying to find a simple statement that would reflect what I write. I came up with "Messy Middles, Blessed Ever Endings" because I think most people's lives are messy, but when we learn to rely on the Creator he can turn a jumbled mess into something wonderful. That's what I hope my stories reflect to the readers.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Author Spotlight Week - Q&A with Carie Lawson

STEPH: I'd like to welcome author Carie Lawson to the Spotlight this week. Carie's latest release is "Beyond Summer," Book 2 in the Twisted Roots Series. Carie, I don't know much about Beyond Summer. Can you tell us a little about the book?

CARIE: Beyond Summer is Zane McCord's story. He's a single father who has good reason to mistrust a pretty face. So when his family goes to Africa and he needs help with his son for the summer, the last person he'd want in his home is former beauty queen, Carly Peterson. Add to her beauty a hefty stash of secrets and Zane is sure falling for her is a bad idea.

STEPH: What was the inspiration behind the book?

CARIE: One of the early criticisms I received from the first book, Beyond Africa, was that Lilly was too perfect. Well, I wanted to write about two people in the second book who were anything BUT perfect.

STEPH: How does it fit into the "Twisted Roots" series? What's the tie to Book 1?

CARIE: The Twisted Roots series centers around the McCord siblings. There's four of them Case, Zane, Haven and Jude. The first book was Beyond Africa and it told Case's story. The second, Beyond Summer, is Zane's story. One of the things I love the most about this series is getting to go back and "see" old friends from the previous books.

STEPH: How many books do you have planned in the series?

CARIE: There are four, one for each sibling. It was also fun to plant "clues" into each book as to the character of the next hero.

STEPH: Do you have a certain process to develop your characters? Do you cast your characters? If so who are the leads?

CARIE: I don't cast characters because the imagining is half the fun. I guess I kind of start with one character trait and build around that. Beyond Summer's, Zane, is stubborn. Carly is sassy under a thick layer of gloss.

STEPH: How long did it take you to write Beyond Summer?

CARIE: It got almost complete rewritten in about four months. The shell of the story was there, but I'd learned a lot after I'd originally wrote it, so I wanted to make it better. I was very happy with how the story turned out.

STEPH: How did the book come to find a home with Desert Breeze?

CARIE: I actually submitted the third book in the series, Beyond Ever After, to Desert Breeze and got an e-mail back that they were interested in the series. When I got the email, I walked calmly down the stairs, into my room and asked my husband to follow me (woo, this could be the start of a really interesting story;). Back up the stairs we went and I pointed at the computer and asked, "Do you think this is for real." Once I got over the shock that someone was interested in publishing my books, I was hopping up and down happy!
STEPH: Do you have any hobbies you'd like to share with us?

CARIE: This is it. Reading and writing. Once upon a time I scrapbooked, I had good intentions of learning to make jewelry, occasionally I reupholster something. They're all fun things, but right now time is very limited. My motto is "someday I'll..."

STEPH: Fun question: If you were a NASCAR driver, what sponsor would you want on your car?

CARIE: Steph, I have to tell you the question is hilarious because any time I'm in the car with my husband, I'm constantly saying to him, "Slow're following that car too close...stop changing lanes." I think the NASCAR guys are safe from me! BUT, the question remains so I'd say Baskin and Robbins so I could have an unlimited supply of chocolate and peanut butter ice cream.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

My favorite movie - By Stephanie Burkhart

I have an embarrassing memory. I hate to admit it. When I was about 7 or 8 I was hanging out with my cousin Kim and Aunt Lillian and Aunt Lillian wanted to take us to the 10 year anniversary showing of "The Sound of Music." I voiced my unhappiness. That movie was no fun. My Aunt Lillian scolded me and that was that.

In 1988, I discovered Salzburg, Austria and The Sound of Music for the first time. I was shamed. *grin*

My army friend, Mary, said, "Let's take a week leave and go to Berchesgarden, Germany. We can visit Salzburg."

"Sure. " I said. Berchesgarden was an Army Rec Center. "What's in Salzburg."

"That's where the Sound of Music was filmed. Haven't you seen the movie?"


Mary invited me over to see it. And I fell in love!
For one, I'm a sucker for a good setting and the setting was gorgeous. The town, the Mirabell Gardens, everything had a small town European charm to it. Julie Andrews had a great voice and the Captain was handsome. The children were so sweet and my favorite was Liesel. After all, I was only 3 years older than her at the time.

That first trip in 1988 was so much fun. Salzburg, at the time, had not changed much from when the movie was filmed 25 years prior. I was amazed. I thought I was stepping back into time. Mary and I visited the Mirabell gardens and found the fountain that Julie Andrews stuck her hand in. I wanted to put my hand in it, but I was too short. And Mozart Krugels! Like pistastio candies in chocolate. Sigh...

Of course, I fell for the love story between Maria and the Captain. The head strong governess wins over the children, and in time, their father. Sigh.... For me, there's nothing more romantic than a man falling in love with the woman who cares for his children.
In 1990, when I met my husband and we were talking about our favorite movies, I immediately showed him The Sound of Music. We had to watch it a couple of times. *grin* Then in 1991,(September, I believe) when we both got 3 day passes, we took advantage of the rec trips to Berchesgarden and visited. It was his only visit, but I had to take him to Salzburg and show him the sites of The Sound of Music. The air was breezy, the flowers were in bloom, and we held hands walking through the Mirabell Gardens, teasing each other, smiling, giggling to the tune of "Do-Ri-Me." The Sound of Music became our own personal romantic movie.

The Sound of Music will always be my favorite movie. I fell in love against the backdrop of Salzburg, Austria. Just like Maria did.

My husband and I at a formal military dinner, 1990.

In my short story, "Matchmaking A-muse-ment," in the Be Mused Anthology, that was released in April with Desert Breeze, muses Tristan and Isolde travel to Berchesgarden where they fall in love. And of course, one of their visits was Salzburg. It was such a nice to treat to work my love of Berchesgarden and Salzburg into a romantic short.

Anyone else want to share their thoughts about the Sound of Music or their favorite movie?

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

The Reviews are in!! Recent Desert Breeze Reviews

By: Carie Lawson
A thank you goes to the author for providing me with this complimentary review copy! Great Job Carie!!! Can't wait for Beyond Ever After!"

Love 2 Read Novels Blog
Rating = 4.5 Tickets

I highly recommend this and also the first in the series, “Beyond Africa”. You won’t be disappointed."

Janet's Treasures


By: Tina Pinson
Ms. Pinson explores it deftly in this book... The answers lurk in the manor of the ghost -- waiting to be drawn out."

Naomi Musch Blog Book Reviews

This is a novel you will want to read again and again, so be sure to get a copy for yourself and let your friends know about it as well!"

Latawnia Kintz Reviews


By: Melanie Atkins
hosen Target is a pulse-pounding page turner."

Stephanie - Classic Romance Revival Reviews
Rating = 5 Wings


By: Tami Dee
"Beyond a Viking Horizon" is rich in love, hope, and family."

Stephanie Burkhart - Author of The Hungarian (Posted at Amazon)
Rating = 5 Stars

By: Janice Zick

For all their quirkiness, the characters in this story are well-rounded, enjoyable to spend time with and have you yearning to ensure they all get what they deserve. This book is a keeper."

Fennel - Long and Short Reviews
Rating = 5 Books - Nominated for BOOK OF THE WEEK!


By: Gail R. Delaney

This is a gripping saga that any sci-fi fan is guaranteed to enjoy. My only complaint is that I didn’t know about this series sooner.

Kirra Pierce - Just Erotic Romance Reviews
Rating = 5 Stars

With rich characterization and great world building, END GAME is a highly recommended science fiction romance.

Marlene Breakfield -- ParaNormal Romance

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Featured September Release - Portrait of Murder by Faye Daniels


Erin Martin has just come home to the beach-side community of Del Mar, California to care for her sister, Kayla, a troubled teen dealing with the cyber bullying of the Queen Bees at her trendy high school. Little does Erin know that the killer who murdered her sister, Jillian, fifteen years earlier is not safely behind bars at San Quentin but still on the loose and has taken a deadly interest in her.

Former FBI profiler Mark Wesson has been hired to look into the case, and sparks fly until he convinces Erin that the man incarcerated for the crime is innocent and the murderer still at large. Together, they must piece together the clues to find the true identity of the killer before he can put Erin's portrait next to her sister's on his trophy wall with those of all his other victims.

Erin sat on the sofa looking out the huge plate-glass windows, and she opened her eyes wide to watch a dark cloud roll across the back lawn immersed in dense fog. She rose unsteadily and wove her way through the living room and kitchen, letting herself out the back door. The rush of the wind engulfed her, and her long dress billowed out behind her in undulating waves. She felt a rush of freedom and euphoria as the waves broke and splashed on the shore below, the air redolent with the smell of the sea. She kicked off her shoes and walked barefoot on the sodden grass toward the edge of the bluff, forgetting about the cloudy figure she'd seen in the fog until she heard a whisper in the wind, a name spoken with a sibilant undertone of menace.

She turned around.

A form clothed in black, blurry and undefined, shrouded in the snowy cloud of haze, and then she saw a glint of silver in the moonlight. Did it move toward her, or was she imagining it? She didn't even know if she were dreaming, or awake, as she backed away to the very edge of the bluff, her heels at the end of crumbling sandstone. She remembered a tourist died last summer underneath an avalanche of a sandstone bluff, and this was her last thought as the water-weakened earth gave way beneath her. It collapsed sending her down into a torrent of age-old sediment, rock, and stone.


Writing and I are old friends, and much the characters in my books, we often have a rocky relationship. Like the characters in my books, hopefully, we resolve our differences long enough to create something fulfilling and memorable. My objective is to take you on a journey of escape for just a little while. When I'm engaged in the tribulations of a character I can identify with because she's a mother, a working woman, or simply because she's a female falling in love, I can forget for a little while that I've actually been waiting in the dentist's office for my daughter for an hour and a half when it was supposed to be a quick half-hour appointment. Something I learned early on in motherhood -- you don't go anywhere without a good book. (I keep a back-up in the car just in case.)

I reside in San Diego with my family, live close to the beach and enjoy many of the amenities of living in a sand and surf city. We have three cats, all with various infirmities, (but we love them anyway). I hope you go along with me on my 'journeys' and enjoy them as much as I do.

Desert Breeze congratulates Faye on her latest release!

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Featured September Release - Beyond Summer by Carie Lawson


Zane has a theory in life: Beautiful women are more trouble than they're worth. So when he's coerced into spending the summer with the very beautiful Carly as his nanny, he expects the worst. But she changes his opinion, one good deed at a time. Until he gets a little too close and finds out his beauty queen is nothing more than a liar and a thief. Theory proven.

But the pretty liar has two little girls who've stolen Zane's heart. He's going to have to wade in and untangle the mess Carly's made of her life for her daughters. Can Zane ignore the theory Carly's proven, forgive her, and accept that beauty is sometimes more than skin deep?

She should let go of him. But to let someone else carry the weight of her world, even if just for a moment, seduced her. A sigh escaped and she tightened her hold.

"Look, your Daddy is hugging Mommy." Brie chirped, breaking the trance.

"Maybe they're going to kiss." Daniel belly laughed at his own joke.

It was enough to make Carly back up. She pushed away and wiped her cheeks where a few disobedient tears had trailed down.

Zane's hands moved to her shoulders. "Better?"

She nodded, still unsure of her voice.

"How long was she missing?"

"Not long. Maybe five minutes."

He started rubbing her arms. "You're still shaking."

At some point this story would be amusing, so Carly tilted her lips upward. "But then she screamed for the next hour because she wasn't going to get any candy."

Pressing his lips to her forehead, he murmured, "You're a saint."


Carie Lawson home schools her four kids, drives the soccer van --- complete with dirty socks and McDonalds bags scattered throughout --- and tries to sneak away to her computer whenever possible to write. She is an active member of a local writer's group, Middle Tennessee Christian Writers, and received third place in the North Texas Romance Writer's Great Expectations contest in the Inspirational Romance category.

Desert Breeze Congratules Carie on her latest release!

Friday, 3 September 2010

Featured September Release - Texas Promise by Celia Yeary


After two years, Jo King’s life as a widow abruptly ends when her husband returns home to Austin. Unable to understand her angry and bitter husband, she accepts a call from the New Mexico Territory to meet her dying birth father whom she knows nothing about. Her plan to escape her husband goes awry when he demands to travel with her.

Dalton King, believing lies his Texas Ranger partner tells him about Jo, seethes with hatred toward his wife. Now he must protect Jo from his partner’s twisted mind, while sorting out the truth. Jo’s bravery and loyalty convince him she’s innocent. But can they regain the love and respect they once shared?


"You're going? Tell me you're not making this trip. Who's going with you? Surely you're traveling with someone." His voice rose once more.

Now, she really did fly off the handle. There was no reasoning with him, no normal conversation. All he could do was accuse, question, and demand. Well, she'd had enough. She slammed out the back door into the twilight.

In instant motion, Dalton slammed out right after her.

"You come back here and answer me!"

She whirled around and leaned from the waist. Pointing a finger at him, she said, "You... you can go to... perdition!"

He came close, spread his legs, and hooked his fingers on his hips. Thrusting his head toward her, he said, "What? I've never heard you talk like that. And the word is 'hell,' lady, 'hell!' Say it! Tell me to go to hell!"

"You... you can go to... hell! There, I said it! That's the only place for you now! It's certainly not with me! You... you abandoned me! And, and you humiliated me! Furthermore... you--" The tears bubbled up from the crack in her heart, spilled over, down her cheeks, and into the corner of her mouth. Sobbing and shaking, she made one last attempt at getting her point across. "I... I h-hateyou!"


Celia Yeary is a eighth-generation Texan, and her life revolves around family and friend --- and writing. San Marcos has been her home for thirty-five years. She has written three romance novels for a small press, essays for Texas Co-op Power magazine, and several different topics for her weekly blog. She also writes women's fiction and hopes a publisher comes along who likes these stories, too.

The author is a former science teacher, graduate of Texas Tech University and Texas State, mother of two, grandmother of three, and wife of a wonderful, supportive Texan. Celia and her husband enjoy traveling, and both are involved in their church, the community, and the university as retired faculty.

Desert Breeze congratulates Celia on her latest release!

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Featured September Release - Conception, Future Savior, Book 1 by Jennifer Hartz


"I do not think it is a question of where, but when." were the words that Charis left my mother with thirty years ago when I disappeared from Meric…before I was born.

Shortly after being sent back I've been attacked by man-eating Vaipes. I've learned that my father was a power wielding Guardian. I've discovered that the silvery-blue eyes intriguing me my entire life belong to my Watcher, Shaw who is without a doubt the most handsome man I have ever seen. And somehow I need to stop a war mongering tyrant who can manipulate people's thoughts.

So my question isn't where or when. It is how? How can I help the people of Meric when I can't stop myself from falling in love?

Shaw faced me and the frightened men. His incredible pale blue eyes narrowed, and burned with such intensity they were nearly silver. "Stay back. I can handle this."

A brilliant flash of lightning framed his perfect physique in an illuminating beauty. A resounding crack of thunder pounded the air, and I jumped. How did the storm happen upon us so quickly?

The five men backpedaled until they were behind me. Then Shaw spun to face the beasts. He tossed his bow and arrows off to the side and ripped out his long sword from its sheath. Neither Shaw nor the Vaipes attempted to strike. They assessed each other, trying to ascertain a weakness, I supposed. The Vaipes on either end of the pack were trying to slowly loop around behind Shaw and surround him. This was the scene from my premonition! The lightning and thunder continued. Shaw's muscles tensed. He prepared to attack. Looking around me quickly I realized that the five men were gone. I stood back myself, watching Shaw, not knowing what to do. I had my sword raised, but I had no clue how to help him.

Apparently he didn't need my help.


Jennifer Hartz wrote and illustrated her first novel, an epic tale featuring winged fairies losing their magic wands to evil trolls, back when she was six years old. She has been a fan of fantasy and science fiction ever since. From the land of Mordor to a galaxy far, far away, Jennifer loves it all.

Born in Pittsburgh, but currently living in northeast North Carolina with her amazing husband and beautiful son, Jennifer spends her days teaching at a small private school in Norfolk, Virgina. Other than reading the Bible, Jennifer loves to read (and now write) Speculative Christian Ficion that has wonderful romantic storylines and exciting twists and turns.

The Future Savior series is Jennifer's first crack at a novel since the early days of fairy wand heists and she couldn't be more thrilled with its quick success.

Desert Breeze congratulates Jennifer on her latest release.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Featured September Release - Immortally Yours by J. Morgan


Chase Michaels thought being cursed to live forever was a pain in the butt, until he finds himself on the trail of a runaway bride. When the lovely Mrs. Belle Gardner puts three shots right into his chest, he discovers pain in the butt doesn't even begin to cover the trouble he's let himself in for.

Learning that his client lied to him and that his trace is really the client's stepdaughter, Chase's rusty conscience gets the better of him. He agrees to protect her, only to find himself sinking into a deeper mystery that somehow connects Belle to his curse. Thrown headlong into a dark world where fairytales walk the earth, he must fight to keep them both alive. As a war of apocalyptic proportions breaks out around them, Chase struggles to discover if he can stand being immortal if it means losing the one thing he's never had -- love.


Sobs welled in her throat. Dammit to hell, they were too late. He was dead. Tears flowed down her cheeks, as she gazed into his face. Despite her earlier thoughts, he had been her knight in shining armor. Now, he was gone. She bowed her head unable to look at him anymore. The pain of seeing him like this made it all too real.

"Belle, I can't look that bad," Chase coughed. "Now, if you want to see bad, turn around. Caern's sorry mug is something worth crying over."

"Chase!" Belle's head popped up. "You're not dead."

"And you're real this time." He smiled into her face.

"What?" He was delirious. They hadn't gotten here a moment too soon.

"Nothing, it doesn't matter." Chase winced, as a smile cracked his face. "You're here now."

Belle scrambled to catch him as he collapsed into her arms. "Chase!"

Caern rushed over and helped her lay him on the ground. Raiz reached over her, gently placing his jacket over Chase's body. Belle straightened it above him, until only Chase's head poked out from under the massive fur coat. She ran her hand down his blood crusted cheek. His skin so cold to the touch, her hand flinched back involuntarily. Death crept through his body. Her tears fell onto his face, tiny tornados of steam to rise from the frozen flesh. She leaned forward, praying for some sign he was still with them.


Surviving a long bout with sanity, J. Morgan found a muse willing to work cheap and began work on his first book.

Since then, his imagination has been seen running wild on several occassions. Luckily, the straight jackets have been limited to his time away from the computer.

When not writing, 'Jmo' can be found in front of the TV pretending to write while really watching endless hours of drivel and laughing at the voices in his head who are constantly feeding him plotlines. While the voices may not be in total control just yet, one day they hope to have a book deal of their own.

Until the, J. Morgan will continue to get to spend the royalty checks.

Desert Breeze congratulates J. Morgan on his latest release!