Thursday, 31 March 2011

Author Spotlight Week - Carie Lawson talks about books

I recently have read several books by Elizabeth Rolls, who writes Regency romance. I haven’t read any historicals in quite a while, but enjoyed her. She does a good job adding a suspense element to her stories that hooked me as a reader.

I also recently read your book, The Hungarian, and really enjoyed it, Steph. You did a great job with building the tension and the suspense of who the Hungarian really was. I’m looking forward to the reading, The Count’s Lair. I’ve also recently read and highly recommend Tamara Alexander’s book, The Inheritance. The story gives a tremendous amount of meaning to the struggles in life. You know those moments when you can’t help but ask yourself, Why me, God? I won’t say it was an easy read, but it was a book that has stuck with me since I read it.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Author Spotlight Week - Carie Lawson shares her passion for Inspirationals

Why do I write inspirationals? Mostly because I couldn’t write anything else. Showing God’s goodness to his children is the reason I started writing. One of my favorite verses is James 1:17, Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. The romance part of my books is fun to write… and hopefully read. There’s nothing quite like the flirty, fun, falling-in-love feelings that romance brings. But the hope that’s there is because God is present in all of our lives.

I hope that my books are examples of God’s goodness to his children, those who have always know him and faithfully seek His will and those who are just coming to know Him and need his presence to help them find their way.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Author Spotlight Week - Q&A with Carie Lawson

STEPH: I don't know much about Beyond Ever After. What's it about?

CARIE: Beyond Ever After is the story of Haven and Brody McCord, a couple who were high school sweet hearts. After being married for five years, they wonder if their marriage will make it one more day. When Haven takes a trip to Africa, Brody knows he has to go to protect her. During that trip they find the friendship that they once shared. But Brody has a secret that will change everything before they leave.

STEPH: Where did you get the inspiration for it?

CARIE:The inspiration for this book was all the might-have-beens in life. Brody and Haven just couldn’t seem to get their relationship right from the first kiss to the last. Even when they did everything wrong, God worked things out for the good when they finally put their trust in Him.

STEPH How long did it take you to write?

CARIE: It took about nine months to write and another six months to revise. When the idea for this book hit me, I couldn’t get it out of my head. I couldn’t wait get to my computer to write more. Doing the revisions was like sitting down with an old friend and hearing more of her life story than I had known before.

STEPH: Did you use a working cover? If so, share.

CARIE: I didn’t have a working cover.

STEPH: Cast the movie. Who are the leads?

CARIE: I have to tell you this is the hardest question for me. I rarely watch anything that isn’t animated. And the leads don’t resemble anyone on Phineas and Ferb☺ I had to search images and here’s what I came up with… Brody looks like Jensen Ackles. Haven looks like Charlize Theron in a pony tail. You know he’s the scruffy beard and worn out blue jeans guy and she is the girl next door.

STEPH: What song would you use to describe the mood/tone of the story?

CARIE: Garth Brooks, Unanswered Prayers

STEPH: Tell us a little about the place you live.

CARIE: We live outside Nashville, TN. To get to our house you have to pass a dairy farm and a little Methodist Church. We have a pool and lots of toys stuffed onto an acre of land. I keep telling my hubby, if we want to put anything else in the yard we have to find some property. But we love living in a neighborhood where the kids have lots of friends and everyone looks out for one another.

STEPH What's your writing space like?

CARIE: I have a little laptop desk that I use while I sit in my bed. There’s always a pot of coffee nearby and preferably some chocolate to keep the imagination flowing.

STEPH: Fun question: What country haven't you gone to yet, that you would like to visit.

CARIE: There are so many places I’d like to see. Greece and Ireland are probably the top two.

Steph, Thanks so much for having me. You came up with some fun questions. You are always wonderful to talk to!

STEPH: Thanks for being here, Carie. It's always fun to have you on the blog!


Saturday, 26 March 2011

Spring Flowers by Melanie Atkins

Spring has sprung. At least, it has here in the Deep South. I love it! The fruit trees are flowering, leaves are filling out the hardwoods, and the azaleas are blazing with pink flames. We had whale of a storm a couple of weeks ago, and now the air is filled with pollen. I've had a time with it this year. My white car has a yellow tint – and so does my white cat after rolling around in the layer of the stuff on the back porch. My nose has been dripping, and for a while I couldn't stop sneezing. Thank heavens for antihistamines!

Thanks to the gorgeous weather, I already have Spring Fever – a strange ailment I get every year. I love to hang out on the porch and enjoy the warm, fresh air, so I write and edit out there. It's time for me to start another book… and that means work, work, work. But I’m ready for it. I’ve been editing a lot, and now it’s time to start something new. Can you think of a better way to spend the spring?

Check out my latest Desert Breeze release, UNWILLLING ACCOMPLICE. In this story, Marcy Moretti believes that anyone can be redeemed, until she witnesses a murder at the hands of her ex-husband and is forced to go on the run with her young son in order to survive. The only person who can help her is Joe Riso, her former brother-in-law, a detective staggered by the loss of his wife and daughter. If he's going to protect both Marcy and her boy, he must first find a way to unfreeze his icy heart -- and along the way find his own redemption.

In April, I have yet another title coming out – the first book in my new Keller County Cops Series, MARKED FOR MURDER. In this book, Detective Jonah McKee is forced to juggle caring for his rowdy three year-old son and protecting a beautiful amnesia victim who was targeted by a vicious serial murderer… or was she? Brooke Wilson finally remembers her own name -- and the name of the man trying to kill her -- and the terrifying memory sends her on the run again. Jonah is forced to hide his son and go with her in order to protect her, and along the way they fall in love.

And in June... PERFECT PARTNER, the last book in my New Orleans Detective series, will be released. Wahoo!

Friday, 25 March 2011

Author Spotlight week - Excerpt from West of Heaven

Hi all - enjoy this excerpt from Barbara Scott's upcoming novel, "West of Heaven." The novel will be released on 15 APR. Leave a comment and Barbara will chose 2 lucky posters to win either a PDF of "West of Heaven" or "Listen With Your Heart." (poster's choice) Also, comment on one of Barbara's other posts this week and your name will also go in the hat for the drawing to win her novels. Winners will be announced here - on this post on Monday, 28 MON. Please leave an email in your comment so it will be easier to get ahold of you.

Read. Enjoy. Leave a comment.

Tom brought up a hardy mousey brown horse that should suit her. He had a sleekness to him and a wise look. He stood solid while Jean Luc saddled him. Marcella came up to take his reins, stroking the horse's nose and talking to him in soft reassuring tones.

"Does this one have a name, Tom?" Marcella asked.

"Redemption they called him."

"Redemption." From her mouth, the name whispered through the morning air like a word of endearment. The critter ate it up like sugar lumps.

"You got a way with horses." Jean Luc pulled the cinches tight. "Sweet-talking might be all you need to keep you seated. Maybe he won't buck at all. He ain't puttin' up a fight now, but, just in case, try to sit back and catch his rhythm and ride with it."

"Until I land in the dirt with the best of them." She whispered something else to the horse as Jean Luc came around to give her a leg up.

"Have a good ride." He stepped back to clear the way.

Marcella steered Redemption toward the center of the corral, taking an easy pace, showing a confidence that let the horse know he was in good hands. He responded with a cooperation that thrilled Jean Luc. They walked the boundary of the corral without a bump or a bother. A mumble of appreciation rippled through the townsfolk who'd been attracted by the unusual Sunday morning goings-on.

When she looked up, Jean Luc signaled his encouragement by snatching off his hat and waving it in the air. Ezra and Tom nodded enthusiastically. She urged Redemption into a post trot, raising herself in her stirrups so she was half-sitting and half standing, her body bobbing up and down in perfect rhythm to the horse's gait. On this go round she beamed at Polly's barely contained excitement and at Glory with her hands on her hips, no doubt puzzling out why she hadn't drawn Marcella's horse instead of the one she'd chosen.

In truth, Jean Luc suspected it was Tom's horse sense that had reserved this mount for her. Not too shy to show off, Marcella directed Redemption into some quick turns and stops before taking him one more time around. She brought him to a smooth stop in front of Jean Luc and dismounted.

Tilting back her hat, Marcella took off her bandana and used it to dab at the sweat on her brow. "I don't know, Jean Luc, do you really think I had to change clothes for that ride?"

Jean Luc rubbed his chin. "Well, how else do you think that horse knew you meant business? Now, ready for some breakfast? Or should we start right in on ropin' and tyin'?"

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Author Spotlight Week - Barbara Scott talks about her favorite author

Reading was the road to writing for me. Even very young, I remember making up stories I hope would be as good as the ones in the books I read. Consequently, I am grateful for the requirements of the yearly reading lists imposed on us in both elementary and high school.

It was through one of those lists that I was introduced to Charles Dickens at an early age, I loved reading Dickens so much that I had a crush on him (yes, I knew he was dead; I was weird) and was disappointed when he appeared on a Ponderosa episode as a completely unlikable character.

Though Dickens died in 1870, his work still remains as a source of Dos and don'ts for the modern genre writer. Here are some I've learned:

Do write to entertain your reader. Dickens wrote many of his books in serial style, often not completing later chapters until the earlier ones were on sale in the street. This method kept him aware of and adaptable to the needs of his audience.

Do create memorable characters and settings. Hero, heroine, villain, ghost and scullery maid alike were given a distinct personality. No cardboard characters fill out the background of a Dickens book. Settings also took on a life of their own. From the debtor's prison in Little Dorritt to the Cratchitt's humble home, settings become almost another character.

Don't get lost in details. What keeps most time-strapped readers from Dickens today is his overindulgence in detail. Back when there was little competition for the readers' attention such detail may have been welcome. Writers can't get away with it today.
Finally, do write with a strong theme in mind. Much of Dickens work spoke to the need for social justice, the dignity of the poor, the possibility of redemption. Theme is what separates the book or story that generates a satisfied sigh when the last page is turned and the one that leaves the reader empty.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Author Spotlight Week - Barbara Scott talks about her favorite movies

When it comes to choosing favorite movies, it's hard for me to pick just one. Today though, I will limit myself to three that have influenced me as a writer. I don't know about other writers, but gone for me are the days when I could just lose myself on a movie for pure pleasure. Now I have to analyze them for strengths and weaknesses, for plot points ,and characters. (The Pirate of the Caribbean movies excepted; I love them but they defy my analysis.)

I don't remember whether I read the book or saw the movie of The Princess Bride first. It doesn't matter. Though neither should be missed, the move stands on its own. As both a parody and a tribute to the fairy tale romance, The Princess Bride has everything: a beautiful, spoiled heroine, Princess Buttercup, her devoted and scorned admirer, later turned hero, Westley, the evil Prince and his henchman, and the unforgettable sidekick, Inigo Montoya. The plot is a wild, fast-paced series of improbable events, and the climax is absolutely satisfying. It's no wonder this 1973 film has become a cult classic. As a writer, it teaches me to free my inhibitions and let my imagination take flight.

The original Star Wars is a movie that needs no description or explanation. It's plot is the supreme example of the hero's journey. A improbable hero is called to adventure and goes through a series of obstacles to achieve his goal. Most popular fiction follows this pattern. You can't find a better embellishment of a bare bones structure than Star Wars.

Finally, You've Got Mail is a romantic comedy that I will watch whenever it is on. Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan) loses her beloved bookstore due to the opening of a mega-bookstore owned by Joe Fox (Tom Hanks.) With everything against them, these two still find their way to each other. Whenever I think to take it easy on my hero and heroine, I try to remember this movie and go for the harder odds.

Barbara's upcoming release, "West of Heaven" will be released 15 APR with Desert Breeze.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Author Spotlight Week - Barbara Scott talks about her love for westerns

I think if I followed the advice to "write what you know" none of my books would ever be written. West of Heaven is my first historical Western romance, and I had fun writing it. Certain conventions of this genre make it very appealing. Who can resist the iconic cowboy, the girl who tames him, the vivid settings, and the colorful secondary characters filling the background of most Westerns? All of these combine with classic stories of white hat vs. black to make this genre attract devoted followers.

Historicals of many eras appeal to me. My first book for Desert Breeze was an historical, Listen With Your Heart. It was also set in 1871, but started at the Chicago Fire and moved east to New York, Connecticut, and eventually Ireland. I've written a Civil War ghost story trilogy and a YA historical set during the pre Civil War Kansas-Missouri border wars. I love the research involved. Usually something I come across researching one book is the spark for the next. I guess the consistency is the American focus.

The opportunity to go larger than life with characters is more acceptable in historicals than contemporaries. (Where would a swashbuckler fit in the twenty-first century?) I am very much a character focused writer. If I can redeem a disgraced trail boss who is also a murder suspect, or take a bunch of fallen women and send them on a cattle drive I'm happy.

One of the difficulties with Westerns is their familiarity. With a cattle trail book, you have to expect the difficult river crossings, the stampede, campfire talk, and rustlers. Making these fresh and memorable in West of Heaven was my goal, made easier by the cowgirls that make up the outfit.

I love reading and writing historicals, but I can't help but dabble in contemporary romance as well. In fact, my October book from Desert Breeze, Talk of the Town, will be a contemporary.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Author Spotlight week - Q&A with Barbara Scott

STEPH: I don't know much about West of Heaven. What's it about?

BARBARA: West of Heaven is a Western romance set on the cattle trail. Assumed orphan, Marcella McGovern comes to Texas for the reading of the will of her unknown benefactress, Sophie Castleman. To her shock, she discovers that not only was the woman her mother, but the owner of the local house of ill repute, Sophie was killed along with Marcella's secret father, a cattle baron.. Marcella inherits the bawdy house and all her father's marketable cattle. When her father's widow issues the ultimatum to take the cattle or pay an outrageous price for their keep, Marcella turns to disgraced trail boss Jean Luc Desloge and Sophie's unemployed "ladies" for help.

STEPH: Where did the inspiration for the novel come from?

BARBARA: The characters inspired the story. Jean Luc (Lucky) came to me while I was writing Listen With Your Heart. He was a cowboy so I had to write a Western for him. Marcella and Sophie's girls are based in the work life I had. No, I did not work in a bawdy house, but I did work with mostly female middle school educators. I thought it would be fun to cast that teamwork and spirit in a totally foreign environment.

STEPH: Where is it set? How important is the setting to the novel?

BARBARA: West of Heaven starts in the fictional south Texas town of Onion Creek where cattle is king. It them tales the cattle trail north to Abilene, Kansas. The year is 1871, the year which marked the peak traffic of the historic cattle trail, The setting dictates the plots progression, but it's what happens between departure and destination that's all important.

STEPH: Did you have to do a lot of research?

BARBARA: I enjoy researching so it was no burden, but, yes, I had to start from scratch on this one, I've never lived in the West, never been near a longhorn, and I've seen one rodeo in my life. The last time I was on a horse was in Girl Scouts. Consequently, I had to research everything for cowboy clothes to grub, to horse terminology. I tend to research before and during a project. This time I researched up to the copy edit. A question asked by this final editor lead t a discovery that changed a big scene near the end of the book.

STEPH: How long did it take you to write?

BARBARA This book was written in bits and pieces, but the last two-thirds was written in three months.

STEPH: Cast the movie. Who are the leads?

BARBARA: I love casting my books as movies. My problem is the actors keep getting older. The longer the book takes to write and get published, the more often you have recast the roles. At this point, I see Jason Ritter as Jean Luc, Marcella could be played by Alexis Bledell, Rose McGowan could be Polly, and I see Sara Rue as Queenie. I'd cast Eriq LaSalle as Jasper and Nate Corddry as Charles.

STEPH: What's your writing space like?

BARBARA: I used to have a spare bedroom to myself, but we moved and my space is now part of the family room., I had to cut back half my book shelves, so I had to donate a ton of books . I'm down one set of file drawers which has made me think twice about what I keep. Working in the family room, I'm less isolated, but I've always been able to work with distractions. I think that ability comes from growing up in split grade classrooms where you never worked in complete silence

STEPH:. Do you have an ebook reader? If so, which one?

BARBARA: I read ebooks my iPhone and computer.

STEPH: What was the last book you read?

BARBARA: Strangely enough, it was Moby Dick. I'm toying with the idea of writing a book called Ahab's Daughter.

STEPH: For Fun: What country would you like to visit that you haven't all ready?

BARBARA: I have to pick Ireland. Both sides of my family have roots there. I researched locales for Listen With Your Heart that I would love to see in person.


Barbara's book, West of Heaven, will be avail from Desert Breeze on 15 April. Here's a link:

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Our Writing Space - by Sadie & Sophie Cuffe!

Sadie and I have an office in the daylight basement of our mom's log cabin, where we've been staying since our dad passed away two years ago. The windows look out on our pasture, over a brook to wilderness - not another house in sight. Our writing space is surrounded with handmade bookcases, desks, and filing cabinets crafted by our dad and our grandfather. Our chairs are back-to-back, so we can easily spin around and view each other's screens. Our mostly-Australian shepherd dog, Henry, has a bed in front of one bookcase, and our cat, Emeril, has an empty-cardboard-box bed on Sadie's desk. Our other cat, Harriet, feels free to noodle around either desktop, intent sometimes on having her own say on the keyboard. Unfortunately neither one of us is skilled in translating cat to English. Besides, it's already been done. LOL.

Our atmosphere is always light hearted with much laughter, usually resulting from misinterpretations of what we're saying to each other due to our age-related hearing issues. Part of which must be genetic, as our dad thought "There's a bad moon on the rise" was "There's a bathroom on the right," and "Sound of Silence" was "South of Thailand."

We take our writing seriously, though, and we are so blessed to be able to work from home. We love the long Maine winters with the woodstove cranking out the heat as we can devote more time to writing. We squeeze in writing whenever we can during the summer days which are devoted to haying and maintaining our farm of goats and chickens. It's a wonderful life!

what's your writing space? Tell us!
Moderator Steph

Friday, 18 March 2011

Author Spotlight week - Excerpt from Changless as the Heavens

It's excerpt Friday and Barri has left us with a great excerpt from Changless as the Heavens.
Leave a comment here on the blog and I'll pick one winner on Monday to win a PDF copy of Barri's book. I'll announce the winner and on the Connections Loop.

Moderator Steph

Cara did understand and that was the problem. "Oh, but I do. I understand perfectly."

Rand's lips twisted scornfully. "Then you're one up on me because, once I was gone, you made a choice that I don't understand."

He left her with no options. She was forced to carry on without him as best she could. "What choice?"

"The choice to cut me out of your life completely and permanently. You never once, during the first year I was gone, tried to find me or get in touch with me."

Cara's heart gave an uncomfortable lurch. "How do you know that?"

Rand asked, sharply, "Did you?"

She hadn't, mainly because she'd been too busy trying to survive. "No."

Rand nodded. "And later, even though you had no proof I was dead, you chose to think of me that way, why Cara?"

He was raising questions that even now, were too painful and too revealing for Cara to face, let alone answer. "I... don't know."

"My boots, my clothes, my guns, books, tools, fishing gear." Rand spread his hands. "All the personal belongings I left when I went away, where are they now?"

"We moved. The farmhouse was crowded." Cara was making excuses and not very good ones. "Why do you want to know?"
"I'm trying to assess where I stand."

So he was looking for an excuse to make another quick exit. She would make it easy for him this time. "Nothing in this house belongs to you. You have no ties here at all."

Rand's jaw tightened. "Except for my sons, I'm beginning to think you're right. What did you do with my worldly possessions?"

Cara sorted through old memories. "I sold most of your clothes. What I couldn't sell, I gave away. Elaine was getting rid of Baron's things. She said there was no point in holding on to the past when you needed money for the present. I decided she was right."

"The tools, the fishing gear, the books, my guns, did you sell them, too?"

He was forcing her to recall painful events she'd rather forget. "I sold the tools and the guns a few months after you left. I needed the money. The next summer I traded the fishing gear to Fred Thompson for some work he did on my car. When we moved to the farm, space was limited. I gave the books to the library." Her chin came up. "Things were rough in the beginning. I did what I had to do."

Rand ran his fingers along the sides of his hair. "The money I left should have more than taken care of you and the boys for that first year."

Cara gasped, "You didn't leave me a red cent. I never got any money from you." That wasn't quite true. "Except the allotment I received after you joined the army."

Rand's voice dropped to a whisper. "I left the money with Dad." Realization caused his features to harden. "He never gave it to you?"

"Your dad never gave me one thin dime."

"All this time you've believed I walked away and left you with no income, a pile of debts, and two children to support? I'm beginning to see why you preferred to think of me as dead." He was a man in obvious pain. "Did you sell your wedding ring, too?"

Cara looked down at her bare finger. "No."

"Then where is it? Why aren't you wearing it?"

"I put it away." Sometimes forgetting was as painful as remembering. "It's in my bedroom, in my jewelry box." It was time she stopped dodging the issue. "If you want a divorce I won't fight you. We can reach an amicable settlement."

His eyes were two blue magnets. "I don't want a divorce."

Cara gasped again, this time in amazement. "What do you want?"

"I want another chance."

Cara asked, oh so cautiously, "To do what?"

His words seemed to levitate and hang in the tense air, "To make our marriage work."

Confusion and a host of polarizing emotions left Cara speechless.

Perspiration beaded Rand's top lip. "I know you have reason to doubt me. All I ask is a chance to prove to you how wrong you are and to make up for any past mistakes, be they real or imagined."

He spoke with such sincerity. "I don't know what to say."

"Say yes." Standing, Rand walked toward her. "I'd like to set things right." Pulling a chair with him as he advanced, he stopped directly in front of her. "Will you listen to what I have to say?" He sat in the chair and waited for her response.

What did she have to lose other than her heart all over again? "Okay."

Rand took her hand in his. "When I was first approached to do undercover work, it was to be a one-time, short-term mission. I thought I'd complete the assignment and be home with you by the following spring. My country needed me. A few months out of my life didn't seem too much to ask or to give." He closed his eyes then opened them again, slowly. "I have to admit also, the idea of having a little adventure in my life appealed to me."

So he had craved excitement, even then. And he hadn't found it with his oh-so-ordinary wife; all the more reason to be wary about taking him back. "Were you that bored with your life?"

"I thought it might help if you and I spent some time apart." He lifted her hand to his lips and kissed her fingertips. "I know now I was wrong. What you and I needed was more time together."

How time could alter perception. Once she would have agreed with him, not any more. Without some outside interests, Rand would have bolted long before he did. He thrived on diversity, excitement and adventure. Cara on the other hand, needed the peace and security of stability and routine. What a wise fool she was. Knowing what a chance she'd be taking, letting him back in her life again, she was still tempted to say yes. "There are so many problems, so many things to consider..." Her voice trailed away on the end of a little sigh.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Author Spotlight Week - Barri Bryan shares one of her favorite books

When I got my Kindle, I decided to read some of the older romance novels. I knew next-to-nothing about the authors of the late nineteenth the early twentieth century. I have had a great time reading some of the romances of that era. The last book I read was titled The Judge. It was written my Rebecca West. I didn’t know it at the time, but Ms. West was a very popular author in her day. She was also a very controversial figure. I had read her first novel titled The Return of the Soldier and I loved it. It made me rethink the whole concept of romantic love.

The Judge is too long, too wordy, has too many flashbacks, and is told from too many points of view. It lacks that happy ending that, for me, is a must in a romantic story. Despite all the obstacles that I perceived as flaws, I enjoyed the book. The story has an intriguing plot. The hero, from one point of view, is dashing, handsome, and accomplished. From another point of view, I’m not sure the poor boy doesn’t suffer from an Oedipus complex. The heroine is pure, sweet and alternately naïve and wise beyond her years. The mother in the story is a complete enigma. I, in turn, liked her, hated her, felt pity for her, and wanted to give her a good kick in the rear. Too often I didn’t understand her motives or her actions. Some of the dialogue borders on the ridiculous. Would I recommend the book? I would, it’s interesting and it’s different, and if you don’t like it you haven’t wasted anything but your time. It’s a free Kindle download.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Author Spotlight Week - Barri Bryan shares her favorite TV shows

I don’t have a favorite TV show. I do have some favorite TV channels. I love the Turner Classic Movies channel. I especially like old ‘30s and 40s movies. I know that they’re always dated, sometimes sappy, and often politically incorrect, but I love them just the same. I am a big fan of Bette Davis movies. I also like Ann Harding and Merle Oberon. I have had a crush on Clark Gable since I was eight years old and saw him in a movie titled It Happened One Night. I absolutely love old 30s and 40s musicals, especially those that star Alice Faye, Judy Garland, or Ginger Rogers.

If I don’t care for the movie that is showing, I turn to the Cooking Channel. I like to watch Paula Deen cook all those delicious recipes that are loaded with butter or mayonnaise, or both. I like to watch Rachel Raye cook too. If there is nothing I care to watch, on either of these channels, I turn to a news channel. If the news is too depressing, I turn the off button and read a book.

I have recently begun watching old reruns of Star Trek with my grandson, who is a big Trekkie fan. And I must say that even though I didn’t think at first that I would like them, I find I’ve become a fan too.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Author Spotlight Week - Barri Bryan shares her passion for 20th Century Historicals

I like writing 20th century historicals because it’s always a challenge to mix history and fiction into a romantic tale.

I have lived long enough to know a great deal about the culture, mindset and events of a good part of that period. I choose a decade and look at some important trends such as transportation, inventions, social movements and developments, politics, and sexually related trends and movements. The better I understand how these things fit together, the better I can understand the mood and attitude of that era.
Then I find an episode or a chain of events and build my plot around that. In my story titled Bridget’s Secret, I took the rise of the KKK in 1922 and built my story loosely around that event. In A Long Shadow, set in 1955, I chose the integration of public schools as a basis for my plot. Changeless as the Heavens has as its background the end of a global conflict, returning soldiers, and economic conflict.

I draw many of my characters from the people who populated my world in earlier days. Scores of them were colorful, most of them were interesting, and a few were downright dastardly

When writing historicals, originality does not always mean making something from nothing. It can also mean making interesting changes in what has gone before. I look at the material already in existence. I can then enter into a world that previously existed, and by innovation and imagination, try to make it interesting and exciting. In so many ways, writing historicals is rewriting, it comes from the writer’s reading and then synthesizing new ideas with old experiences.

To paraphrase T. S. Eliot, The immature writer borrows from the past. The mature writer steals from the past.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Author Spotlight Week - Q&A with Barri Bryan

STEPH: I don't know much about "Changeless as the Heavens." Can you tell us a little about the story.

BARRI: Changeless As The heavens is set in 1946. It is the story of a woman who, has for four years, believed that her husband, Rand, is ‘missing in action, and presumed dead’. As World War Two draws to a close she learns that not only is Rand very much alive, he’s coming home. So many things have changed since he went away. Most of all, she has changed. She’s not the same person she was when he left without saying so much as a good-bye. Then she was a shy little housewife. She is now the head of a prosperous corporation. She also has formed both a business and a personal relationship with Rand’s cousin, Evan. Now she is faced with trying to cope with a situation that threatens to overwhelm her and to destroy the safe world she has spent the last four years building for herself and her children.

STEPH: What was the inspiration behind the story?

BARRI: I was a teen-ager during World War Two. I have so many memories of that time. I wanted to tell of what it was really like when the war ended and servicemen came home to a world so different from the one they left behind, and when the women who stayed at home to manage on their own were suddenly faced with being thrust back into the role of the ‘little woman’.

STEPH: How long did it take you to write?

BARRI: I don’t really know how long I worked on this story. I worked on other projects too, so it was a work-awhile, stop-awhile process. In all, I probably spent something like a year. Although I have many memories of that time, I also found it necessary to do a lot of research.

STEPH: How did you 'craft your characters?" Did you do character bios? Research? What made these characters personal to you?

BARRI: Before I start a project, I always make character bios for my characters. I used my mother as a model for my heroine in Changeless As the heavens. My mother was a strong, capable woman who met each challenge that faced her during those war years with courage and determination. I admired her tremendously. I modeled my hero after my father. He was very much the military man. Of course I took many literary liberties. Neither of my parents was as daring or as colorful as my hero and my heroine, but they served as models for me to construct people whom I hope come across as both bigger than life and believable.

STEPH: What did you say when you first saw the cover art from Gwen Phifer?

BARRI: I was very please with the cover Gwen did for Changeless as The Heavens.
I thought she captured the spirit of the story very well. The airplanes in the sky on one side and the buildings on the horizon on the other, to me, depicted the fast moving and changing world the heroine found herself caught up in. To have her standing alone, in an open field, facing them, was a picture of her isolation and of her determination to meet and conquer what lay ahead.

STEPH: What's your writing space like?

BARRI: My writing space is a small bedroom I’ve converted into an office. It is off limits to everyone but me. You definitely need an invitation to enter. Maybe you’d need a shovel too. It has a lot of ‘stuff’ crammed inside, my favorite books, my computer and printer, a granny rocking chair, two file cabinets, my radio and CD player, a chest, a couple of small tables. . . It’s probably what most people would consider messy, but I think of it as organized chaos.

STEPH: Do you have an ereader? If so, which one?

BARRI: Yes, I have a Kindle and I love it. My daughter gave it to me for my birthday. I had a old Franklin Rocket eBook but it’s nothing to compare to my Kindle, plus I can shop around in a bookstore everyday, and I do.

STEPH: Tell us a little about the state you live in.

BARRI: I live in the great state of Texas. I suppose everyone knows Texas is big, Texans tend to be braggarts, and that the state has two languages, East Texas drawl and West Texas Twang. They know of Texas’s rich history. They have read of The Alamo, Texas under six flags, and colorful characters like Jim Bowie and Sam Houston. What they may not know is its state flower is the bluebonnet, never mind that in the truest sense of the word, a bluebonnet is a weed. Its state tree is the pecan, its state bird the mocking bird and its state song is Texas Our Texas. But most of the old Texans I know think our state song is The Armadillo Song. It’s not, and that’s not even the true title. The real name of this anthem to Texas is The London Homesick Blues. It was written by Gary P. Nunn. By the way, Cotton-eyed Joe is not the official dance of Texas either.

STEPH: How important was setting to the story?

BARRI: To me, setting was very important. It touches on and colors every other aspect of the story. I like to think of a fictional setting as a framework. All details related to time, place and action fit within this framework. Properly understood and applied a setting becomes the under girding for your story.

STEPH: What state would you visit that you haven't been to?

BARRI: That’s a tough question, and one I’d never thought about until now. After some consideration, I think I’d like to go to Virginia. I’d like to see Williamsburg because of its colorful history. I would love to visit the area around Chesapeake Bay. I’d like to spend some time in Virginia Beach and go to Arlington National cemetery.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

The Myth of the Leprecahaun - By: Stephanie Burkhart

When we think of the Leprechaun what's the first thing that comes to mind? For me – it's the Lucky Charms cereal leprechaun. He embodies everything I think a leprechaun should be – happy go lucky and always trying to find that pot at the end of the rainbow.

But how did the myth of the Leprechaun get started? The earliest reference to them was in a medieval story called "The Adventure of Furgus son of Leti." In the story, King Ulster falls asleep only to be dragged into the sea by three leprechauns. When he awakens, he turns the tide on the leprechauns and captures them. They grant the king three wishes for their release.

Of course, the most well known myth is that a leprechaun hides their pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. The trick? A rainbow is an optical illusion and will always move farther away as one walks towards it, so finding the end of the rainbow isn't as easy as it seems.

The poet, Yeats has an interesting description of leprechauns. They are "solitary fairies, wear red jackets, whereas the "trooping fairies" wear green.

Leprechauns are solitary nature, unfriendly, and they are said to live in remote places. They like to pass the time making shoes. They're generally quiet, but if you listen close, you might hear them hammering as they make their shoes. Leprechauns are tricky fellows to catch, but if you do catch one, perhaps you can persuade him to reveal the location of his pot of gold. Don't look away though; if you take your eyes off a leprechaun, he will vanish in an instant.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Author Spotlight week -Excerpt from Light of the Heart

Enjoy this excerpt from LIght of the Heart by Regina Andrews. Post a comment and Regina will pick one lucky winner to win a copy of the novel. Smiles

The afternoon class at Tanglewood Women's Prison was a spectrum of tension, as separated and splintered as a beam of light refracted through a prism. Cascade Preston held her student's template assignment up to the light overhead, and spoke carefully on the quality of the stained glass project.

"With two lights, or openings, Brenda, I would say your idea of a church window for this one would be correct."

Sighing, the student replied, "So you think I'm making progress?"

"Of course." She tossed her honey-colored curls behind her shoulders. "Don't you?"

Brenda snorted. "Heck, no. I'm in here for domestic assault. What do I know about progress? My life is over."

This stopped Cascade in her tracks. "Look, we all make mistakes. God has told us that sinners should flock to him. What do you think? "

Brenda shrugged. "God has his own agenda. We'll see what the parole board says about mine in two weeks."

"For now, let's focus on next week's class. Bring me a flower for that one.”

"Where are we supposed to get a flower?" someone muttered.
"Draw one, stupid," Brenda answered.

"Bye, ladies. Take care."

"See you." Sad-eyed, Brenda gave her a high-five as Cascade walked past her.

Cascade's heels clicked efficiently with her every crisp step, and she made sure to shuttle as closely as possible alongside the beefy guard who escorted her from the holding room. Getting into her Corolla, she whispered a prayer. "I don't think I'm doing any good here, Lord, but I feel you telling me to stick with it. So I will. Maybe this is the kind of thing that saved my mother." She tried to block the images of her mother's bruises from her mind, but they wouldn't go away. They never did.

The drive back into Boston passed by quickly, without too much traffic. "Lean on Me" blasted from her audio system, and she sang along with all her heart. At twenty-seven, she knew it was technically an oldie, but to her, it was fresh and filled with meaning. Cascade wondered as she sang what it would feel like to have someone to lean on, because she had always been alone.

"There's only one thing that could make tonight perfect," she mused as she pulled into the parking area for her condo complex, "and that's not going to happen, for sure."

Images of her long-gone fiancé, Kevin, came into her mind and heart. Where was he this fine June evening? More importantly, why were things so much better for him without her in his life?

A form crossing her path brought her back to reality. Her eyes narrowed as she noticed someone walking towards her car. A guy -- a big guy she did not recognize.

She shaded her eyes from the late day sun. Dark hair and outdoorsy looks. Work boots. "Nope,” she murmured to herself, “I don't know him."

Hopping from her car, she said, "Can I help you?"

"If you're Cascade Preston, you sure can."

He folded his arms across his chest. With all those muscles moving, Cascade could only imagine the stress put on the seams of his light blue cotton shirt.

"And you are..."

"Dan McQuay." He extended his arm towards her. "From the site."

"Hi." Cascade pumped his strong hand, lost in his sky blue eyes. "What site?"

He tilted his head. "The construction site."

"I'm not following you."

He looked at her steadily. "I'm project manager for the retrofit on the church in Sterling Lakes. The one that you're doing the windows for."

Cascade’s heartbeat quickened. Just hearing the name of the town where she grew up made her anxious and tense. "It seems there's been a misunderstanding. No way am I working on anything in Sterling Lakes." She started to bustle past him. "Now if you'll excuse me?"

"Don't run away, Ms. Preston. There's a problem here."

His tone of voice got her attention. He sounded like he cared... about her. That was crazy. She was a total stranger to him.
She nodded. "Apparently there is a problem, you're right. I don't know what you're talking about. Like I said, I'm not doing any work in Sterling Lakes, and I never will. That's the last place in the world I ever would go."

He gave a slow whistle. "Well, that's a loaded speech if I ever heard one."

In spite of herself, she smiled. "I didn't mean to get all hot and huffy, but it is how I feel, and I have my good reasons."

He eyed her intently before he finally spoke. "Understood. The thing is, your name is on the plans that I have, and my crew is ready to get going. We haven't heard from you, and we need to have a job meeting. Mostly, we need your specs."

Cascade noticed the strong line of his jaw when he spoke, and oh, those bluer than blue eyes of his were so easy to get lost in. She swallowed.

"I don't know what to tell you. I'm not contracted for that job. Your project executive should be able to answer your questions."

She toyed with the zipper on her oversized leather shoulder bag as she watched thunderclouds roll across his handsome face.

"Look, why don't you give me his name? I'll check things out at my studio in the morning and get in touch with him. Maybe I can get to the bottom of this."

"Yup." He took his hands out of his pockets. "Here's my business card, and here's his. Try and remember, every day is money to me."

"Okay, I know. I'm in business, too, so I get it. I know every job I'm on, and this one is not on my list. Let me see if I can find out why I'm on the list of subcontractors... if I really am."

"You are."

"I shouldn't be, so there's a mistake. I never even sent in a bid."

"At least we found out something tonight," he said with a shrug. "Other than you being a whole lot prettier in person than in the pictures all those magazine articles and newspaper stories print about you."

Cascade’s face warmed up at his compliment. "Now you're trying to butter me up."

"Just stating the truth, plain and simple like I always do, Ms. Preston. That's my way. Thank you for your time."

"You're welcome."

He started walking over to his truck. "Talk to you tomorrow."

"Right. And there's one more thing."
He questioned her with a wondering look.

"Please call me Cascade." Her smile lingered as she watched him drive off into the Boston twilight. Too bad this job was in Sterling Lakes. It might not be that bad to do a job with Dan McQuay. Not bad at all.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Author Spotlight Week -Regina Andrews shares her favorite book

What a great question, thank you for asking! But to answer that question is a real paradox. I would have to say the era of Nathaniel Hawthorne, in the 1850’s is my real fave! This was a time of great artistic and literary enlightenment in the US, particularly in the Northeast. In fact my heroine in “In Good Faith” (2009 Awe-Struck is named Haley Hawthorne.

But above it all for naming my favorite author, I have to go back to the Bible. Now I know that’s not one author, - we are listening to many voices, all of one heart. And that’s what I love!

I have a Bible, it was my father's, not, mine, and I treasure it more than anything. I remember him on his knees every night before we went to sleep, deep in prayer, and this Bible was always by his side. There was never a question I had that he couldn't address, relating it somehow to the Bible in a kind and loving way. He was always understanding. It was always a message of love, and happiness and acceptance.

And believe me, his life was not easy. But he gloried in God's love, and loved his family and my mother and us (kids) more than anything. To think that he found solace in the Word of God makes me live every day with this same awareness and humility – in His service.

As an author, it’s important to me that the context of our work is as understood as the words we are conveying. So the ‘authorship’ question is really interesting! To me, it’s a real source of glory that not just one voice could ever convey the human experience: just like a choir needs bass, tenor, alto and soprano to make the music whole, God included more than one voice for us all to be able to hear His message in this wonderful work of Literature.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Author Spotlight Week -Regina Andrews shares her favorite movie

I love the movies so much! I'm always looking for the ones with happy endings, though
:-) That being said, 'Sound of Music', over and over.

First of all, in 1930's Austria, how romantic (!), a young woman named Maria is failing miserably in her attempts to become a nun.

Okay, what “IW” aspirant would not identify with her? ☺

Then, Navy captain (yikes, hunk!) Georg Von Trapp writes to the convent asking for a governess that can handle his seven mischievous children, Maria is given the job.

The Von Trapp children, resentful over the loss of their mother, have managed to run each of the prospective governesses off, one by one. When Maria arrives, she is initially met with the same hostility, but her kindness, understanding, and sense of fun soon draws them to her and brings some much-needed joy into all their lives -- including the Captain's.

Eventually he and Maria find themselves falling in love, even though Georg is already engaged to a Baroness and Maria is still a postulant. The romance makes them both start questioning the decisions they have made.

This is the best conflict, the best test of faith, the greatest story of moral character! Add to this story the backdrop of Nazi Germany and their urgent need to escape…as well as the incredible score…sigh!

Honestly, this is one to watch over and over again!

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Author Spotlight Week - Regina Andrews shares her passion for writing Inspirationals

Writing inspirationals, is, I think, an outgrowth of my wonderful childhood and background. In that context, we always found a ‘happy ending’ together as a family unit with a heart filled with faith.

That being said, most of what I address is based, somehow, in personal experience. I do believe in ‘write what you know.' It would be hard to write about something that I'm not passionate about; so any of my themes - poverty, Alzheimer's, greeting cards, nurses -would have to mean something to me.

I have a manuscript about families dealing with a loved one with Alzheimer's disease. I was honored and blessed to stay home with my mother for over six years when she had dementia, and I know what caregivers go through. I would like to do that. Also, I would like to write about my experience with breast cancer. But that's two topics, and only a tangent to your question about being an inspirational writer.

Thank you for asking about being an inspirational writer, because I have always wanted to be able to share a mission of God's love through writing uplifting, inspiring books in His honor. It's so basic, to me -- to gladden people through reading, and to bring the Word of God to their lives in another way, and to reinforce the love of God in their hearts. How come there's so much unhappiness? It seems like there's a vast expanse waiting to be brightened!

Perhaps the most wonderful aspect of being an “IW” is that you never know where the path will take you – as a writer or as someone who, as a writer, might have brightened someone else’s world. We might never know, but wow, how fabulous is that to contemplate? ;-)

Monday, 7 March 2011

Author Spotlight Week - Q&A with Regina Andrews

STEPH: Tell us a little about you. Where do you live? How long have you been writing?

REGINA: Hi Stephanie, thank you for having me today on your fabulous blog! A resident of Providence, RI, now, I grew up in nearby Barrington. The Ocean State has a lot of appeal for me!

My wonderful mother read to me as far back as I can remember and I am sure that’s why I love reading so much. Loving reading, and being a natural talker, I think writing became the next logical step. It came in handy when I didn’t have an audience to tell my stories to, I could just keep going, and write everything down. That began early on, and I just never stopped. The publishing came later.

STEPH: I don't know much about "Light of the Heart." What's it about?

REGINA: “Light of the Heart” deals with the effects of a difficult childhood on the heroine, Cascade Preston, now a very successful stained-glass artist. As a child she knew her father was abusing her mother but was powerless to stop it. She was aware as a child that the town knew of the trouble in her house, yet did nothing to stop it. Her anger and resentment are so intense that she refuses to return to Sterling Lakes. However, circumstances take a turn and the project to redo the stained-glass windows in the town church becomes hers. As she is challenged to let the light of God’s love shine into her heart, she also meets the hero, Dan McQuay.

STEPH: What was the inspiration behind the story.

REGINA: That's an interesting question. I have always written pretty 'safe' Inspirationals, and I searched in my heart to hear a story that might needed to be told. Many years ago, I knew the hero and heroine of this story (in my mind) but Cascade's back story only came to me recently. I was not sure about it when I stopped and thought about the theme, it seemed so I didn't stop, I just kept writing what was in my heart. After all, I had waited a long time for Cascade to tell me her story! I'm so glad the story incubated and now has the depth and substance her story really deserves. Sometimes, a writer has to be patient, and wait for the story to get to them. I'm not patient, at all! But I am so glad I waited!

STEPH: How important was the setting to the story?

REGINA: Oh, setting is always critical to my stories. Here, it is an absolute 'must'! Sterling Lakes, with all the problems the town has had in the past, and all the natural gifts they enjoy, typifies the dichotomy of the human experience: it's beautiful and ugly, good and evil all at the same time...just like the human soul.

STEPH: If you could cast the movie, who would you cast in the lead roles?

REGINA: OOOH! Okay, Cascade Preston: Amy Adams and Dan McQuay: Let me get back to you, Steph!!

STEPH: How long did it take you to write?

REGINA: Well, it's funny, I really ruminate...and I've been 'hatching' this one since way back when lol! The real work for me is thinking, plotting and envisioning the book. Once I sit down, it does not take too long. This was done in a few months, then delivered to a great editor who I must say really seemed to 'get it' quicker than I did, sometimes! Bless her!

STEPH: Do you have an ebook reader? If so, which one?

REGINA: Yes, I have a Kindle that I love love love!!

STEPH: Do you belong to any writing groups or writing afflilations? How helpful have they been to you?
REGINA: In the past I belonged to RWA and was in the NE chap of RWA, in fact, I was the librarian for a while. I can't tell you how wonderful that was! What a great group! I am still friends with lots of the writers and count their encouragement as one reason I ever had the confidence to send my work out to publishers!

STEPH: Can you tell us a little about the state you live in?

REGINA: Shakespeare asked "What's in a name?" in Romeo and Juliette and Little Rhody is a good example of a really powerful answer to that query! Rhode Island is the smallest state in the country, but nestled into a section of ocean, mountains and forest, it has incomparable natural beauty. On top of that, we are the nucleus of several world-renowned Universities and Colleges, so our intellectual community is vibrant and ever-evolving. An outgrowth of that is the Arts community, with museums, theaters and -yay - restaurants. Plus, we are a real cultural crossroads, with folks of all nations finding their homes here and propelling the life of the entire community into ever-enriched levels of shared experiences.

STEPH: If you could visit one country, what country would be on your bucket list?

REGINA: In a heartbeat, I'd go back to Greece. I had a trip to Egypt booked for May...I will get there some day!

Friday, 4 March 2011

Featured March 2011 Release - Through a Viking Mist by Tami Dee


Two enemies left standing on a blood drenched battlefield. Who will take the as yet unclaimed land for their own?

Ofeig Nabboddrson, a warrior from his youth up, is determined to claim the rich land now stained with blood as his. The only thing standing in his way is a magnificent Valkyrie, a woman who he has seen only in battle and who is called ‘The Protector’.

Eva Samsdottir, an extraordinary woman who singlehandedly saves the children of her village from slavery amidst a deadly raid. Unbeknownst to her a bigger battle awaits her in a Time not her own. Will she have the courage to survive the future?

Ofeig walked Eva to her door. It was a long walk, due to a local drug dealer having set up shop in the elevator. He refrained from breathing the first few flights of stairs, but as he had the first time, by the fourth floor, he had to breathe or pass out.

Yet unlike the last time he made this trek -- what, just four or so hours ago -- he now knew why she lived in squalor.

Every penny she earned went to her schooling and to the women's shelter.

Kat would love Eva should they ever meet, he mused, for they were kindred spirits.

She peeked at him through thick lashes. "You really don't have to walk me all the way to my door." He wanted to kiss her so bad he ached.

It was clear that she was nervous, her hand shook as she fumbled with the keys. He took the heavy key chain from her and slipped the key into the first lock, the next key into the second, and lastly the third key and he turned the knob, pushing open the door.

As soon she stepped over the threshold, he gave into the temptation and kissed her.

Her response was instant and passionate.

Firm curves melted into him and had his body tighten like a bow ready to be loosed. Heat, his, hers, seeped through clothing and seared skin.

He relished the taste of her, the scent, and the feel. Of their own accord his hands caressed the slim column of her neck, inching their way into her hair, upsetting the pins holding it in place. Silken gold locks slipped through eager fingers as he gently held her head within the palms of his hands.

She sighed into his mouth and it was almost his undoing.


I am a member of Romance Writers of America, Desert Breeze Connections, and Celtic Hearts Romance Writers.

My hobbies include reading, writing, going to the movies and taking weekend trips to Half Moon Bay, CA. I love reading time travel romances and writing one myself has been very enjoyable.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Featured March 2011 Release - Light of the Heavens by Regina Andrews

A stained-glass artist based in Boston, Cascade Preston’s world is a kaleidoscope of color and beauty. She has overcome a dark childhood, deeply shadowed by domestic violence, in the town of Sterling Lakes. When she is approached to design new windows for a refurbished church in Sterling Lakes, she ignores the request. But when the no-nonsense Project Manager Dan McQuay appears looking for the window plans, the project takes on a whole new light. Will Cascade be able to keep the dark, protective cocoon she has built around herself intact, or will McQuay break through and shine new light into her heart? Is it possible that God’s plan for Cascade will lead her to forgive the town that ignored the situation her family?

Cascade Preston held her student's template assignment up to the light overhead, and spoke carefully on the quality of the stained glass project.

"With two lights, or openings, Brenda, I would say your idea of a church window for this one would be correct."

Sighing, the student replied, "So you think I'm making progress?"

"Of course." She tossed her honey-colored curls behind her shoulders. "Don't you?"

Brenda snorted. "Heck, no. I'm in here for domestic assault. What do I know about progress? My life is over."

This stopped Cascade in her tracks. "Look, we all make mistakes. God has told us that sinners should flock to him. What do you think? "

Brenda shrugged. "God has his own agenda. We'll see what the parole board says about mine in two weeks."

"For now, let's focus on next week's class. Bring me a flower for that one.”

"Where are we supposed to get a flower?" someone muttered.

"Draw one, stupid," Brenda answered.

"Bye, ladies. Take care."

"See you." Sad-eyed, Brenda gave her a high-five as Cascade walked past her.


A resident of Providence, Rhode Island --- Regina grew up in nearby Barrington and still belongs to her church family in that town. After graduating from Providence College she attended the University of Delaware, eventually earning her Master's Degree in American Civilization from Brown University. She is inspired by the seashore and the song of the birds... anything to do with nature. She and her husband enjoy visiting nearby Cape Cod.

Regina's hobbies include Travel, Museums, Theater, Classical Music, Choral Singing and Gardening.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Featured March 2011 Release - Changeless as the Heavens by Barri Bryan


For three years Cara Williams's husband has been missing in action and presumed dead. She¿s moved on with her life to form new relationships and make new commitments. As World War Two draws to a close, she is shocked to learn that her husband is not only very much alive, he's coming home.

How does she justify to him that she has turned his old homestead into a business site? How can she explain that she now has a darling little toddler who calls her Mommie? What does she tell him about her relationship with his cousin Evan? Most of all how does she deal with the resurrection of emotions and passion she had thought dead and long since buried?

Can it be that Rand is alive?

Cara Williams sat in the back seat of a military staff car and stared at the passing autumn landscape. Leaves were falling from the post oaks. Birds collected along fence rows, gathering for their flight south. Ahead and to the left junk yards came into view.

Three years ago -- had it been only three years? It seemed like a lifetime -- on a day not unlike this one, she'd received that terrible telegram that read: We regret to inform you. Her husband was missing in action and presumed dead. Now, the army was telling her that he was waiting for her at Fort Sam Houston? This has to be a mistake.

Colonel Daniels, the military liaison who had brought those tidings to her earlier in the day, addressed the driver who sat next to him. "Turn left at the next intersection."

The young soldier nodded, "Yes, sir."

Colonel Daniels shifted in his seat to face Cara. "We're nearing Fort Sam."

The longer Cara was in this man's presence, the more she disliked him. "So?"

"So you will soon be reunited with your husband. Do you have any questions?"

Cara had many questions, but none Colonel Daniels could answer. "I can't think of a thing."

"You're not curious about where he's been or what he's been doing for the past four years?" Of course, she was curious. She was also doubtful. "Are you sure the man at Fort Sam is Randall Williams?"

"We're sure." The colonel dropped his brisk military manner. "That doesn't mean he's the same man who left you four years ago. I trust you will bear that in mind when you see him."

"Rand was my husband. I can cope."

Barri Bryan is the pen name for Billie Houston. I acquired a pseudonym at the behest of my adult children when they discovered a steamy excerpt from one of my romances at the web site of a publisher.

I am a former teacher and educator. I like poetry, George Strait's music, old movies and Earl Grey tea. My hobbies are reading, quilting, sewing, knitting, crocheting, taking long walks, and growing house plants and herbs.

I'm four-time EPPIE winner and a published author with over twenty novels, four books of poetry, numerous essays, several short stories, and one non-fiction how-to-write-book to my credit. I have been writing since 1990. My first romance was published in 1998. I write the kind of books I enjoy reading --- romantic tales about relationships; stories that explore feelings and probe emotions. The plots revolve around ordinary people caught in extraordinary circumstances and faced with difficult decisions.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Introducing Beyond Ever After by Carie Lawson

Haven Castlin is married to the boy she fell in love with as a teenager, Brody. After a series of mistakes, their marriage isn't working any more. When she asks Brody if she can go to Africa on a summer mission alone, he offers her the one thing she didn't expect -- a truce. In Africa they find the friendship they lost after making too many mistakes.

Brody can't figure out how to make Haven happy and doesn't deserve her, but he just can't let her go to a dangerous country alone. He'll let her go soon enough.

Of course she could go. How could he deny her helping a child she loved? "I'll go with you." Had he really just said that?

Surprise flashed in her eyes and then acceptance. He desperately hoped happiness would come in its wake. But she closed her eyes again, and when she opened them there was a sad sort of resignation.

It cut deep. She didn't want to spend the summer with him. She wanted to go alone. Letting her go might be easier than spending the summer with her, when she didn't want him. But fear of the infinitely dangerous possibilities overrode his pride. He couldn't let her go with no one to watch out for her. Despite what she thought, he couldn't imagine a life without Haven.

"Don't look so excited, honey." Anger fired out the words.

"Stop." The single, broken syllable held his tongue better than rage would have. "I can't... I can't do this. Please, Brody. No more." Her dry eyes were empty. "I'll do anything to help Eliya, but I can't spend the summer fighting with you. Not here and not in Africa. I need a break."

Brody sat in silence, staring at the drops of water running down the side of his glass. Maybe they were crying for Haven, because she didn't and wouldn't. Maybe they were crying for him, too, because he couldn't figure out how to make her happy.

There was no way he could let her go alone. He had to either go with her or tell her to stay. Because he couldn't stand the unhappiness he saw on her face, he clutched desperately to the one thing that came to his mind. "A truce."

Her head jerked backward.

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.