Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Author Spotlight - Nike Chillemi talks about her passion for writing crime/romantic suspense



Without getting too philosophical, long ago I discovered the murder mystery genre originated in the Christian west. From the very beginning murder mysteries, who-dun-its, and detective stories have been about the fight between good and evil. The history of the murder mystery has been that of solving a moral dilemma (a deadly crime) -- and the guilty party, no matter how smart or cunning, is caught and punished.

Mostly I read hard-boiled mysteries, where the villains are indeed vile. Many call this noir fiction because of it's darkness. I think an author can go over the top with darkness and it can get, as my daughter would say, creepy. There has to be a balance.
I try to make my heroines and heroes into capable, three-dimensional characters, who are not dummies. I want my main characters to show some brainpower and have the ability to deal with different situations. They need a worthy opponent for a bad guy who's really bad. Otherwise, Barney Fife could solve the crime. My villains are serious contenders, often demented, always shrewd.

In my debut novel, BURNING HEARTS, the most difficult character to craft was Erica Brogna, my heroine. I had to make her spunky, capable, smart, obstinate, and determined enough to have her go after a truly demented killer. She's the youngest of my three heroines in the Sanctuary Point series, so she also had to be cute, vulnerable, and sweet. She also had to be independent enough to get into trouble, yet be able to love and depend on others, especially that hunk of a hero I created for her, Lorne Kincade.

I present pretty heinous crimes in my novels, but what I'm trying to get across is that Love, with a capital "L" always wins. There is a love imbued in the human soul that comes from God. It makes people better than what they are, makes them capable of doing greater things than they can do. It's this Love that triumphs over evil. All people are capable of feeling and acting on this type of love, but the closer in relationship we come to God, the more we are able to Love as He does.

Purchase links…
Desert Breeze. http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/-strse-167/Nike-Chillemi-Sanctuary-Point/Detail.bok
Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/Sanctuary-Point-Book-One-ebook/dp/B0050PJSTY/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_1

Barnes & Nobel. http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Sanctuary-Point-Book-One/Nike-Chillemi/e/2940012411747/?itm=1&USRI=nike+chillemi

Monday, 30 May 2011

Author Spotlight Week - Q&A with Nike Chillemi


STEPH: I don't know much about Burning Hearts. Can you tell me a little more about it?

NIKE: OK, let's see. I think if I give you a short synopsis that might help…
BURNING HEARTS (arson/murder, action, and romance in equal measure)
 
Can a sheltered young seamstress, disillusioned by the horrors of WWII, escape an arsonist/murderer who has killed her employer and mentor, while trying to decide if she can trust the dashing war hero who’s ridden into town on his Harley—who some say is the murderer?

Erica Brogna’s parents doted on her and taught her to think for herself. Many boys she grew up with have fallen in the war, shaking her childhood faith. In rides a handsome stranger, at the hour of her most desperate need. A woman who is her best friend and mentor is trapped in a burning house. After making an unsuccessful rescue attempt, Erica stands by as this man rushes into the inferno and carries her friend’s lifeless body out.

Lorne Kincade can’t out run his past on his Harley Davidson WLA, the civilian model of the motorcycle he rode in the war. He’s tried. He’s been a vagabond biker in the year since the war ended. His Uncle Ivar bequeathed him a ramshackle cottage in Sanctuary Point, on the Great South Bay of Long Island, NY and now he’d like to hope for a future again, repair the miniscule place, and settle down. The only problem is, a young woman with hair the color of mink is starting to get under his skin and that’s the last thing he needs.

 
STEPH: How long did it take to write?

NIKE: I started writing seriously for publication four and a half, five years ago. Didn't know what I was doing. I bumped into Steeple Hill (now Love Inspired) authors Cheryl Wyatt, Margaret Daley, and Janet Tronstad among others and they cheered me on, tirelessly. First I wrote a really, really bad novel which I keep around for laughs. I started work on BURNING HEARTS two years ago. It's been an interesting journey.


STEPH: Did you do a lot of research for the novel?

NIKE: I researched everything from 1940s fashion and the women's hairstyles to the make and models of cars they drove to the brand of washing machine. Erica's mom had, a Bendix, by the way. I learned Lorne's the motorcycle back in the states, a Harley Davidson WLA, was the civilian model of the one he would have ridden in France when doing undercover work as an Army Ranger. I had to research to find out if there were Army Rangers in WWII. There were. I also researched the political situation in Europe at the close of the war, particularly what was happening in the eastern-bloc nations.


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

NIKE: I wish I had something exotic to say about this. The truth is I keep a file of possible plotlines. I add to a storyline as something comes to me. I tossed around ideas for a novel and the image of fire kept at me. From that BURNING HEARTS was born. I wanted there to be evil. Wanted a real fight between good and evil and, well, arson is premeditated. I wanted something that would upset my main characters to the quick. So, an inferno in the opening scene started to take shape in my mind.


STEPH: If your story was going to be made into a movie, who would you cast as the leads?

NIKE: This took a Google search as I don't watch enough TV or see enough movies to know actors young enough to play these roles. For Erica who is about 23, I'd pick Ellen Page. She starred in the movie Juno a while ago. For Lorne, who is about 27, I'd have to do with Ryan Reynolds, Canadian actor who's career took off after his movie National Lampoon.

Ellen Page Movie Juno

Ryan Reynold Canadian Actor, Movie National Lampoon


STEPH: What is the theme of the novel?

NIKE: The main theme is the fight between good and evil. A sub-theme in the entire Sanctuary Point series is the idea of seeking justice for the victim. I guess that's a sub-theme in all my work. I try to show the human condition as I see it. My main characters have all the frailties and weaknesses of any human, and the flaws. Then I pit them against some of life's tougher situations and issues. I try to show that it's not cleverness, or brawn, or financial gain or power that triumphs over the tragedies in life. It's love that triumphs.


STEPH: What do you want readers to take away from the novel when they finish it?

NIKE: I want to show how ordinary people can rise to great heights in standing for what is right and against evil. I hope my readers can see the "natural nobility" unpretentious people can display when against all odds they do the right thing. I hope my main characters Erica and Lorne come off in this way. As we've talked about in the earlier questions, there is great ugliness in the world. I don't want to deny the ugliness, but want to show there is greater beauty. I hope my readers come away knowing the greatest, most powerful force on earth is love.


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

NIKE: I have a Kindle and I love it. I was one of those who said I'd never give up print books. Well, my husband got me a Kindle for Mother's Day last year and that was it for me. I read almost exclusively by some electronic method now.


STEPH: What's the last movie you saw?

NIKE: The Lincoln Lawyer, starring Matthew McConaughey…pluck my eyes out. The book was written by Michael Connelly, one of my fav authors. Connelly was the crime beat reporter for the LA Times for 25 years before he started writing crime fiction. He definitely gets his police and court procedure right, which I appreciate. The book was better than the movie, but the movie was terrific. I highly recommend both to crime fiction fans.


STEPH: What's your writing space like?

NIKE: I sit at my desk (a cramped computer desk crammed with papers) for a few hours every day and try to write something I can use in a novel. I have several folders saved in my PC with ideas for upcoming works. I love that I can have many windows open at the same time, as I'm also a homeschooling mom. So, I spend many hours searching for homeschooling material, then get an idea and switch to a writing window an get the idea down in concrete form. Then, there's also the business of publishing that takes some time. I'm now finding that out as I get my cover and have to look into setting up author pages on Amazon and Goodreads after the official release. The most important thing, so far is to be organized.

BUY LINKS:

Desert Breeze. http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/-strse-167/Nike-Chillemi-Sanctuary-Point/Detail.bok

Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/Sanctuary-Point-Book-One-ebook/dp/B0050PJSTY/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_1

Barnes & Noble. http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Sanctuary-Point-Book-One/Nike-Chillemi/e/2940012411747/?itm=1&USRI=nike+chillemi

Friday, 27 May 2011

Author Spotlight Week - Thoughts from JoAnn's Journal


Children... I don't know if you have any children of your own or not, but it never ceases to amaze me how much I can learn from them. Today, I hope you don't mind, but I'd like to share with you some thoughts I pulled from my journal last year.

Last week I was caring for a boy who has seveer disabilities. This fellow only has one arm, his vocabulary consists of about four words, he has health issues and... he has the most beautiful smile in the whole world. The look on his face when you play "peek-a-boo" with him--well, the only equivalent I can think of would be like me being offered a million dollar contract for a book. Such joy!

On the 4th of July, we headed over to a friends house for a BBQ. All the children we're splish-splashing in the pool. A mother came up to where I was standing and asked if the water was cold. She went on to explain that she won't get near a pool unless it's bath temperature. The kids however, didn't worry about the temperature, they are so resilient. When and why did we lose that?

Then this morning, my husband, one of my sons, and I went jogging. Now you need to understand, here in Vermont, our summers are very short and heat is not something we need to deal with on a regular basis. But...yesterday my husband dug out our window unit air conditioner to deal with this "heat wave." Need I say more? OK...so back to today. I stepped one foot out of the house and saw the haze across the sky and thought to myself, This is NOT going to be fun. Off we go-- down around the bend, up a hill and wham... I felt like I was trying to stuff a brick wall into my lungs. The humidity was just too much! That's when I looked at my son next to me who turned and gave me a bright grin. "It's a little hot today, huh?"

I groaned, "I little?!"

Kids don't let things zap their energy. There are so many other great lessons to learn as we watch the children around us, but even just these few made me stop and think of the passages in the Bible where it says how we need to embrace the simplicity of life to understand it. Matthew 18:2-6; Mark 10:15; Luke 18:17



(The Message) Matthew 18:2-6 "For an answer Jesus called over a child, whom he stood in the middle of the room, and said, "I'm telling you, once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you're not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in. Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God's kingdom. What's more, when you receive the childlike on my account, it's the same as receiving me. But if you give them a hard time, bullying or taking advantage of their simple trust, you'll soon wish you hadn't. You'd be better off dropped in the middle of the lake with a millstone around your neck. Doom to the world for giving these God-believing children a hard time! Hard times are inevitable, but you don't have to make it worse and it's doomsday to you if you do."

Mark 10:15 "The people brought children to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus was irate and let them know it: "Don't push these children away. Don't ever get between them and me. These children are at the very center of life in the kingdom. Mark this: Unless you accept God's kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you'll never get in." Then, gathering the children up in his arms, he laid his hands of blessing on them.

Luke 18:15-17 People brought babies to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. When the disciples saw it, they shooed them off. Jesus called them back. "Let these children alone. Don't get between them and me. These children are the kingdom's pride and joy. Mark this: Unless you accept God's kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you'll never get in."

Perhaps today you're feeling the weight of the world on your shoulders. I'd like to encourage you to remember the beauty in simple pleasures and joys that the Lord surrounds us with everyday. Today, lets look at things with the wonder, joy, energy, and of a child--a child of God.

Question of the day: What have you learned from children?
--
JoAnn Carter lives in Vermont with her wonderful husband of 18 years, four children and Ginger, the best dog in the world. She enjoys being with her family & friends, writing, reading, and cooking.
In the past JoAnn has worked as a Licensed Practical Nurse, an apple orchard guide and as a substitute teacher. She is available for speaking engagements to book clubs, reader groups, library groups, women's ministry events, school events and church retreats.
--
You can find her at: http://home.comcast.net/~jo.glenncarter/site

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Author Spotlight Week - Question of the Day with JoAnn Carter


What's coming up next for JoAnn Carter & why this is writing as a YA novella?


It's great to be back on the DBP blog again today. I hope you're enjoying this week as much as I am. (Don't forget to sign up for the contest! See Monday's post)

Many folks have asked me what's coming up next. Well, the big thing is... a Mission trip to Mexico!
Yes, you read that right. This summer, our family is headed to serve in Mexico.

Writing wise, in the middle of our time away, The Floating Palace ~ A Historical Inspirational Romance will be released. (July 15, 2011) You can check out the premise here~ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDcuTF8v9bg

Then in December, Hidden Paths another Young Adult Inspirational Romance. What a great way to finish 2011, huh?

God has been so faithful.

Another question you may be wondering is why is this listed as a Young Adult Novella. Lilly is 21 years old -- older than the typical main character in a YA story.

It is because people of any age often wrestle with that Lilly struggles with. We fall into the trap of believing we need to earn God's favor, and as I mentioned earlier this week, that couldn't be further from the truth. I want to encourage young, old, and in between to really think about what motivates us.

Another big issue in her life is past regrets. Even young women can become lost and caught up in mistakes she has made. Sometimes even wishing she could live someone else's life. Therefore, I dedicated the book as follows

DEDICATION:
To every young woman who ever questioned why she was made the way she was and wished she could be someone different... Please know you are beautiful the way you are!

Okay, so here is you Question of the day: If you were going to write a story (or perhaps you have) what age group and genre is your favorite?

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Author Spotlight Week - Excerpt from Paradox


Product Description
Lilly Holland's passion is flowers-not people. All she's ever dreamed of was a peaceful life surrounded by the beauty of God's creation. The exact opposite of what life is like at the touristy Holland Lodge in the small town of Paradox. So, why does she feel like God is nudging her to go? He, if anyone, should know better than ask this of her.

Ric Walker, Holland Lodge's grounds keeper, is Lilly's only link to sanity. His steady presence and strong faith encourages her through this trying situation. However, that sanity is threatened as she realizes her feelings for him are changing into something more, something deeper.

Will Lilly learn that Paradox is more than a town's name, but rather a divine place where God can reveal His power, bring healing, and love, just when she thinks all hope is gone?
--
EXCERPT:

It was only Tuesday evening... a few days on the job, but it already felt like a few years. The last thing she wanted to do was drive Sharon back to her condo in Jericho, but she had promised. Ric rapped twice on the office door before popping his head in. "Hey."

"Hey, yourself."

He came in and leaned up against the doorframe. "The truck's loaded up."

Lilly shut down the computer. "Great, thanks for helping Sharon get her stuff out there."

"No problem." Ric looked over his shoulder and then back to Lilly. "I don't have any plans for the evening. Would you like me to help you ladies get Sharon's stuff unloaded?"

Lilly shook her head and looked at him -- really looked at him for the first time since he came into her office. His broad shoulders filled the doorway. The sheer breadth made her wonder if he could easily carry any burden life handed to him, physical or emotional. Tempted though she might be to share some of her concerns, she couldn't afford to grow to depend on him -- or anyone for that matter. Granted, it was nice to spend time with Ric and get to know him more. She valued his friendship and looked forward to the times when she could be with him, but this was only a temporary situation. There was no way she would ever let herself forget it. If she did -- she might lose sight of her own dreams -- dreams that didn't include Paradox when all was said and done. "You don't need to worry about us, Ric. We'll manage."

"Are you sure? It's no problem and it might be nice to have some company on the way back."

Lilly sighed. "You're right. It would be, but honestly I'd rather take care of this myself."

Ric stood up and took a few steps into the room. With him came the smell of clean soap and shaving cream. "It can be a mighty lonely life if you never let anyone get close to you, you know."

Shoot, he saw right through the walls that she was trying to erect to protect herself. "There are people I'm close to."

"Oh yeah, who?"

--
A review from Amazon states ~

"This story combines a powerful message, endearing characters, and humor, making it a memorable and very enjoyable read. Paradox touched my heart on so many levels...I'm just thankful I picked up this story when I did. It came at just the right time in my life, and gave me the encouragement I needed...reaffirming what I've always know to be true...God's timing is perfect!"

Question for the day ~
Is there a book that you have read recently that touched your heart in a special way?

--
Purchase Link: http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/-strse-168/JoAnne-Carter-Paradox/Detail.bok

A CONTEST TO CELEBRATE:
Win a gift box filled with goodies! (A paperback copy of Teacher's Plans, a gift certificate, a mug filled with a package of Green Mountain Coffee, pen and a Tee-shirt.)
How? Help me spread the word about Paradox by sharing the link to this post on your FB, Twitter, blog, etc. then e-mail where you posted it to joannwrites@gmail.com with "Blog Blitz" in the subject line. A winner will be drawn 9pm today (Eastern).

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Author Spotlight Week - Lilly's song


Give a-way details for the end of the week & a note to the readers...

A few months ago, after I had written this story, I heard a song on the radio by Mercy Me, called Beautiful. The lyrics astounded me -- it was as if Lilly's story came to life in this song.

Perhaps today, you're feeling stuck in a rut and listening to the lie that you're not worth anything and what you've done in your past defines who you are today. Don't believe it. No matter where you are, what you've done, or who you are, your heavenly Father loves you -- dearly. Some days that feels like such a paradox! I love Merriam-Webster definition of that word, "a statement that is seemingly contradictory or opposed to common sense and yet is true"...such is the love of God. Why He loves me so is beyond my comprehension. Yet He does and it is my prayer that each person who reads this book will be challenged to consider that and what it means for your life.


Would you help me spread the word about Paradox by sharing the link to this post (or any post this week) on your FB, Twitter, blog, etc.? Then let us know where you posted it and your name will be entered into this contest drawing for gift prize package. Details are available on my web-site http://home.comcast.net/~jo.glenncarter/site

Thanks again for having me here today. I'll see you again tomorrow~

Monday, 23 May 2011

Author Spotlight Week - Q&A with JoAnn Carter


STEPH: I don't know much about Paradox. Can you tell me a little more about it?

JOANN: I'd be honored to... Paradox, an inspirational romance novella (for any age including young adults) was released May 15th through Desert Breeze Publishing. Here's the premise ~ Lilly Holland’s passion is flowers-not people. All she’s ever dreamed of was a peaceful life surrounded by the beauty of God’s creation. The exact opposite of what life is like at the touristy Holland Lodge in the small town of Paradox. So, why does she feel like God is nudging her to go? He, if anyone, should know better than ask this of her.

Ric Walker, Holland Lodge’s grounds keeper, is Lilly’s only link to sanity. His steady presence and strong faith encourages her through this trying situation. However, that sanity is threatened as she realizes her feelings for him are changing into something more, something deeper.

Will Lilly learn that Paradox is more than a town’s name, but rather a divine place where God can reveal His power, bring healing, and love, just when she thinks all hope is gone?


STEPH: How long did it take to write?

JOANN: You know, I'm not sure. This was a fun story that I wrote in between larger projects that had tons of research and such. Paradox was my breath of fresh air. Since there was no pressure and no time frame that I needed to finish it by I never kept track.

STEPH: Did you do a lot of research for the novel?

JOANN: No, not for this story. The only thing I really needed to look into was the protocol for police when they are confronted with finding drugs in a car.

STEPH: Is the setting inspired by a real life town?

JOANN: Yes and no. We live in Vermont, but our extended families are from in New Jersey. Whenever we go back to visit, we drive through a tiny little town in New York, that if you'd blink—you'd miss it—called Paradox. The name always made me wonder about the town's founders and such.

However, the name is the only thing in common that the actual town of Paradox has with the fictional town that Lilly grew up in.

STEPH: Do the flowers Lily works with represent something? A motif or metaphor?

JOANN: Flowers are beautiful, peaceful, comforting. These are all attributes in life that Lilly craves for, yet feel so elusive to her.

STEPH: What is the theme of the novel?

JOANN: Hmm. I think I would say that the main theme is that God couldn't love us more than He already does. (We don't need to work for His love. Yet sometimes we feel like there's something that we have "to do" to earn His favor.)

STEPH: What do you want readers to take away from the novel when they finish it?

JOANN: I hope you don't mind, but I'd rather not answer this question, but rather let each reader discover that for him/herself.

Would it be okay if I shared something that happened while I was preparing for the release of Paradox instead?

I was awoken in the early pre-dawn morning by a bird singing out a beautiful melody. Normally, this would make my heart happy, but then I'd just turn over and try to catch a few more moments of rest. But not on this particular day—this day was extra special. Why? Because crazy as this may sound, this little birdie was lifting it's sweet praises in the midst of a thunderstorm. Amazing!

God used two rather "ordinary" things to create and extraordinary experience for me—God showed me something awesome and real—a perfect picture of peace. Thunderclouds rolled in, lighting flashed across the dark gray sky, and rain teamed down the windowpane yet this bird was secure. In fact, it was more than secure, it was full of joy, willing and wanting to sing.

To me, that was a true, clear, beautiful picture of a Paradox. In the same way, I want to be like that bird and sing His praises through life's storms.


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

JOANN: No, unfortunately this is still on my wish-list. For right now, I just use my lap top to read e books.


STEPH: What's the last movie you saw?

JOANN: Let's see... I think it was about a month ago. A few friends and I watched BLIND SIDE. That was the second time I saw it. Great movie! (I was hoping to see Soul Surfer, but I haven't had the chance to yet.)

STEPH: Any words of wisdom for aspiring writers?

JOANN: In keeping with the theme of this story, I'd like to leave these verses with any aspiring writers, Luke 12:27-29 (NCV)
Consider how the lilies grow; they don't work or make clothes for themselves. But I tell you that even Solomon with his riches was not dressed as beautifully as one of these flowers. God clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today but tomorrow is thrown into the fire. So how much more will God clothe you? Don't have so little faith! Don't always think about what you will eat or what you will drink, and don't keep worrying. All the people in the world are trying to get these things, and your Father knows you need them. But seek God's kingdom, and all your other needs will be met as well.

Seek God's will for your writing, cast all your concerns and fears on Him, and ask Him to direct your paths—to the right critique partner, or writing group, or publisher. .

BUY LINK: http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/-strse-168/JoAnne-Carter-Paradox/Detail.bok

Friday, 20 May 2011

Author Spotlight Week - Cast the Movie: The Wolf's Torment

A story is all about characters and a writer must get into "character" so they can live and breath and entertain. To do that, I use character bios to help me round out my character's personality. I also cast the characters. I find that casting the characters really give me a strong visual of them and the actors style also gives the characters an added depth.

I'm going to share my casting choices with you for The Wolf's Torment. These actors are in no way affiliated with the story and their images have been used for inspiration only.

Enjoy!

Mihai
The initial inspiration for Mihai was actor Jon Hensley circa 1985-1986. He's best known for "Holden" on As The World Turns. I love Hensley's look during this time. He's tall, well defined, has that thick ebony hair and his character at the time had a bit of an edge to him.
















However, if casting Mihai for a movie right now. I just might select Daniel Radcliffe from Harry Potter. Daniel is young, well defined and has the eyes I envision Mihai has.

Theresa
The initial inspiration for Theresa was young Julianne Moore. She has the eyes and hair I envision for Theresa. However, if I was casting Theresa for a movie right now, I'd cast Jennifer Ferrin. She's best known for her work as "Jennifer" on As The World Turns, but she has that look that is completely Theresa.



















Viktor
Oh, Paul Walker is perfect for Viktor with his blue eyes and blond hair. I just melt when I see him.














Sonia
I love Jennifer Love Hewitt for the role of Sonia. She captures that delicate femininity that Sonia embodies.


















King Stelian:

Michael Douglas has that older look to him and I can imagine he'd pull off Stelian's "saltiness" with ease.

Bane
Christian Bale is perfect for my heartless werewolf, Bane. He's got the grit and hard edges that Bane needs.

Hecuba
Young Hecuba is Emmy Rossum. Emmy has that young, exotic look I envision for Hecuba. For Old Hecuba I'd cast Olympia Dukakis.

Beatrice
Keri Russell is perfect for Beatrice. She's got that auburn hair and winsome smile that embodies Beatrice's personality and makes her look convincingly like a sister to Ferrin's "Theresa."


















REVIEW FOR THE WOLF'S TORMENT

From The Pen & Muse:
A complete werewolf story through and through, Burkhart does it again with an amazing cast of characters, entertaining dialogue and plot. Lovers of historical paranormal romance will enjoy this read, the first in the Moldavian Moon series.

Link: http://thepenmuse.net/archives/2720


ENJOY THIS EXCERPT:

A knock on the door shook her out of her musings.

"Come in."

Mihai entered wearing breeches tucked into riding boots and a simple white linen shirt with long sleeves. "Do you have a minute?"

She put the brush on her bureau and motioned for him to sit on her bed. "What, no 'good morning?' Where are your manners?"

Mihai flashed her a quick smile, but paced the length of her bed instead of sitting on it.

Something had made him anxious. "Good morning, Sonia."

"So, what has you so full of vigor this early in the morning?" she asked.

"I had a dream last night."

"Do tell."

He stopped and looked directly at her, his eyes dancing with confusion. "Theresa came to me in a dream. She wanted to wish me a Merry Christmas."

Sonia raised an eyebrow. She knew he was sensitive to the emotions of those around him and his dreams were exceptionally vivid. Their mother was a witch and they suspected these sensations were inherited from her. Sonia was good at reading others' expressions, but she wasn't as sensitive to those around her -- not like Mihai.

"Say something," he said.

Sonia smiled, the imp in her unable to resist teasing him. "Did you wish her a Merry Christmas back?"

"Sonia, do not joke!"

"What do you want me to say?"

"I...I don't know. What's she like? Did you see her in September?"

"I did, and in fact, she sent you a gift for Christmas. It's under the tree. I sent her one back from you."

"What did you send her?"

"An ornament for her tree."

He clasped his hands in front of him. "Thank you for being so thoughtful."

"You're welcome, but why are you so anxious? It was just a dream."

His shoulders tensed and she knew he was in turmoil. "Does she have auburn hair? Hazel eyes? Is she slender?"

"Yes."

"She's very pretty," said Mihai. It was more of a statement than a question.

"She has attractive features, I suppose."

"She's pleasant? Has a nice disposition?"

"Yes. Why are you asking me all this? What did your dream tell you?"

"I've been dreaming of her since I was five. She was a girl then. My last dream was several years ago, before I left for England. I stopped dreaming of her while I was away."

"How unusual. You don't just dream of the same person over and over."

"It's our mother's blood working in me -- I'm convinced of it."

"So...are the dreams good or bad? They don't sound harmful. Are they perhaps enlightening?"

"No, they aren't harmful. Theresa is a lovely young woman and I fear I might have ruined things for her."

BLURB: Mihai Sigmaringen has a secret – he's a witch. Will love give him the courage to save his family from a destructive werewolf.

Visit the Book Trailer on You Tube and give it a 'like' at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FzHE2spBeeU

The Wolf's Torment is available as an ebook only on Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and Sony Ereader. Formats include: PDF, html, and epub which can be found on the Publisher's Website at: http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/-strse-163/Stephanie-Burkhart-Moldavian-Moon/Detail.bok

About the Author: Stephanie Burkhart is a 911 dispatcher for LAPD. She also served as an MP in the US Army. Multi-published, she has a children's book, "The Giving Meadow" with 4RV Publishing. She's an avid reader , loves coffee in the morning, and her favorite Harry Potter movie is "The Prisoner of Azkaban."

You can find me at:
Website:
http://www.stephanieburkhart.com
Blog:
http://sgcardin.blogspot.com
Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Stephanie-Burkhart-Author/149938795021166
Tweet me at:
http://twitter.com/StephBurkhart

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Author Spotlight Week - The Power of Love, a character interview with Theresa von Kracken

Actress Jennifer Ferrin, inspiration for the character "Theresa"

A Character interview with Theresa von Kracken Sigmaringen

Gael: Hi all, I'm Gael, the owner of MUSEum, a bar where many a muse come to relax. I'm here today with Princess Theresa Sigmaringen from "The Wolf's Torment." Welcome, Theresa. Would you like a drink?

Theresa: Thank you for having me, Gael. It's nice to step out for the day. Do you have any tea? I find that wine or tuica upset my stomach.

Gael: Tuica?

Theresa: Romanian plum brandy.

Gael. Ah, well, I'm sorry to hear it.

Theresa: I'm expecting, you see.

Gael: Congratulations! But weren't recently married?

Theresa: Um, yes.

Gael: You naughty girl, you!

Theresa: An engaged couple in my religion is allowed all the rights of a married couple and Mihai and I…well, we enjoyed a night.

Gael: What religion are you?

Theresa: Romanian Orthodox. I converted so I could marry Mihai.

Gael: Mihai must be something special if you were willing to convert.

Theresa: He is. He's very kind and sweet, but he works long hours.

Gael: Is he good looking?

Theresa. Lord, yes. I only have eyes for him. What really makes him special though is that he's a witch.

Gael: A witch? Really? He told you that?


Theresa: Yes, he did. There's an energy about him that makes my body come alive. He's so passionate about the things he believes in.

Gael: Was converting to Orthodoxy a big change for you?

Theresa: No. I was raised Protestant, but I find the Orthodox faith very spiritual. There's a lot of symbolism involved.

Gael: So what's an Orthodox wedding like?

Theresa: It's very involved. Once the bride enters the church, she meets her bridegroom in the vestibule. The priest blesses the rings and the best man exchanges them rings between the couple. Then we enter the church. We're given a candle by the Priest representing the light of Christ and we have to hold it throughout the mass. After the mass, we crown each other and walked around the altar 3 times. Then the priest pronounces us husband and wife.

Orthodox Wedding Crowns


Gael: Gosh, I would have fainted!

Theresa: I almost fainted when Mihai kissed me.

Gael: Where did you go on your honeymoon?

Theresa: To Varna, in Bulgaria. It's a spa town. I enjoyed it very much.

Gael: Sounds like fun. I enjoy a nice, relaxing spa day myself. How do you keep busy when Mihai is working on the railroad project?

Theresa: Aside from painting, I like to visit the children at the orphanage. I've given it my patronage so the children there have it a little easier. It's so rewarding to visit them. They're so giving and honest. It's refreshing to me to spend time with them.

Gael: Does it bother you that your husband is a witch?

Theresa: Not in the least. It's a part of him. I accept him for what he is, but I frustrated at times. He's very busy with the railroad project. I must have more patience.

Gael: It sounds like you're very patient to me.

Theresa; Well, thank you.

Gael: Thanks for visiting today.

Theresa: You're welcome. If you're ever in Romania, try the tuica.

Gael: I will.

BLURB: Mihai Sigmaringen has a secret – he's a witch. Will love give him the courage to save his family from a destructive werewolf?

REVIEW FOR THE WOLF'S TORMENT

From The Pen & Muse:
A complete werewolf story through and through, Burkhart does it again with an amazing cast of characters, entertaining dialogue and plot. Lovers of historical paranormal romance will enjoy this read, the first in the Moldavian Moon series.

Link: http://thepenmuse.net/archives/2720


Visit the Book Trailer on You Tube and give it a 'like' at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FzHE2spBeeU

The Wolf's Torment is available as an ebook only on Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and Sony Ereader. Formats include: PDF, html, and epub which can be found on the Publisher's Website at: http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/-strse-163/Stephanie-Burkhart-Moldavian-Moon/Detail.bok

About the Author: Stephanie Burkhart is a 911 dispatcher for LAPD. She also served as an MP in the US Army. Multi-published, she has a children's book, "The Giving Meadow" with 4RV Publishing. She's an avid reader , loves coffee in the morning, and her second favorite movie witch is Emma Watson's "Hermoine" from Harry Potter.

You can find me at:
Website:
http://www.stephanieburkhart.com
Blog:
http://sgcardin.blogspot.com
Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Stephanie-Burkhart-Author/149938795021166
Tweet me at:
http://twitter.com/StephBurkhart

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Author Spotlight Week - Creating a Paranormal World, Setting


Growing up as a girl in the 1970's, I remember some of my favorite books were the Hardy Boys mysteries. The best part were the settings – the spooky caves and dank manors. I could just close my eyes and I'd be there in the scenes. As a teenager, I fell in love with Victoria Holt. She revitalized the gothic romance with her 19th Century settings, dark, spooky mansions, and imperiled heroine. What else do the Hardy Boys and Holt have in common? Secrets.

All those elements attract me to paranormal writing – dark, haunting castles, exotic locales and secrets. In "The Wolf's Torment," I blend all of these elements to establish my setting – Delfin Castle in Constanta, Moldavia, a town snuggled up next to the Black Sea.

Delfin Castle is the ancestral estate of the Sigmaringens, the ruling family of Moldavia. I envision a castle similar to Bran Castle, on a hill, with several towers, which are different sizes, each providing a majestic view of the Black Sea. The castle has secret passages, dark corners, and hidden balconies. You have to live in the castle with Sonia and Mihai in order to navigate the maze within.

Romania implies exotic. While the climate and seasons are very similar to the mid-Atlantic states in America, the food, customs, and even religion are different. The Romanian people are very superstitious and witching in Romania is a recognized profession to this day. The food consists of wine, meals such as lamb and pork, oatmeal, crepes, and vegetables such as cabbage, onions, and peppers. Fish is also a big part of the diet as is cold soup.


While Romanians are generally a friendly people, their customs mean a lot to them. From religious customs to superstitious customs, Romanians embrace them with a passion. In "The Wolf's Torment," I blend them together when Mihai, Viktor, Sonia, and Theresa color Easter eggs. The first egg colored must be blue and given to children for good health and luck. When Sonia cracks the egg Viktor gives her, she believes she's brought down bad luck on them. When Sonia's father can't continue on Martisor, she takes it as a sign of bad luck as well.

For me, every paranormal story must have a juicy secret. In "The Wolf's Torment," both Mihai and Viktor have secrets to keep – Mihai is a witch and Viktor is a werewolf.

Setting is so important to a story because it establishes a mood – a tone. A paranormal is perfect for shadows and secrets and that's a big part of the appeal for me.

REVIEW FOR THE WOLF'S TORMENT

From The Pen & Muse:
A complete werewolf story through and through, Burkhart does it again with an amazing cast of characters, entertaining dialogue and plot. Lovers of historical paranormal romance will enjoy this read, the first in the Moldavian Moon series.

Link: http://thepenmuse.net/archives/2720




ENJOY THE EXCERPT:

"Come." He gestured to the door and she walked out. Mihai slipped in front of her and they took a hall that led towards the servants' area of the castle. Just before they reached the servants' living quarters, he opened a door that was disguised as part of the stone wall and went inside. A small table with a candle in a pewter holder stood near the door. Mihai lit it and closed the door. Theresa followed him as they ascended the stairs. Thank goodness her dress had a thick crinoline under it, keeping her fairly warm. The staircase was cold and made of stones, yet Theresa was thrilled to learn of this secret passage.

They climbed for several minutes. They must have been high up in the castle by now. Mihai passed two wooden doors in the staircase until coming to a third at the end of the staircase. He opened it and Theresa walked into a darkened room illuminated by a small sunbeam coming in through dirty glass doors. Mihai walked over to the fireplace, placed wood and kindling in it, and started a fire. While he did that, Theresa walked around the room.

It was compact, yet cozy. There was a shelf with blankets, pillows, books, maps, and writing tools. A huge telescope mounted onto a metal tripod rested in front of the glass doors.

The fire blazed to life and Mihai grabbed a blanket, throwing it in front of the fireplace. He motioned for Theresa to sit down and she did. Mihai sat next to her. His expression appeared intense, and then softened.

"I bet you're wondering why I brought you here."

"I am curious."

"Well, I would have preferred to show you the winery or even take you out on the royal yacht, but it's still winter and too cold for those things."

"I understand."

"This is my escape when I can't leave the castle."

She arched an eyebrow. "Oh?"

"I like to look at the stars. My mother acquired the telescope." He paused and pointed to a stack of papers on a nearby shelf. "Those are my homemade star charts."

"You're an amateur astronomer?"

"I am." He paused again, and drew in a breath. "I brought you here because this place is private and special to me, and I know we could talk without being spied on."

She giggled. "Us? Spied on?"

"I case you hadn't noticed, my father is very keen that I...like you."

"I did notice." His expression stilled and grew serious. Granted, she was nervous too, but she tried not to show it so much.

"So, do you?" she asked.

"Do I what?"

"Like me?"

He rubbed his hand across the nape of his neck. "Well, I would like to learn more about you."

BLURB: Mihai Sigmaringen has a secret – he's a witch. Will love give him the courage to save his family from a destructive werewolf.

Visit the Book Trailer on You Tube and give it a 'like' at:

http://www.youtube.comwatch?v=FzHE2spBeeU


The Wolf's Torment is available as an ebook only on Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and Sony Ereader. Formats include: PDF, html, and epub which can be found on the Publisher's Website at: http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/-strse-163/Stephanie-Burkhart-Moldavian-Moon/Detail.bok

About the Author: Stephanie Burkhart is a 911 dispatcher for LAPD. She also served as an MP in the US Army. Multi-published, she has a children's book, "The Giving Meadow" with 4RV Publishing. She's an avid reader , loves coffee in the morning, and her second favorite movie witch is Emma Watson's "Hermoine" from Harry Potter.

You can find me at:
Website:
http://www.stephanieburkhart.com
Blog:
http://sgcardin.blogspot.com
Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Stephanie-Burkhart-Author/149938795021166
Tweet me at:
http://twitter.com/StephBurkhart

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Author Spotlight: Divine Inspiration: Q&A with author Stephanie Burkhart, her muse Juliet & Gael from MUSEum!

Author Stephanie Burkhart

Welcome to a chat with Author Stephanie Burkhart, Gael, the owner of MUSEum, and Juliet, Stephanie's pixie muse from New Galatia.

Gael: Welcome ladies to the Desert Breeze Spa. Barbie will be here in a minute for your nails. Any coffee before we start?

Steph: I'll take some.

Juliet: (wrinkles nose) Lemon water for me, please.

Gael: (snaps fingers) Gus! Coffee and lemon water.

Juliet: (plops down on Stephanie's shoulder) I'm ready Gael, fire away.

Steph: She's a go-getter.
Gael: I can tell. How does she do it if she doesn't drink coffee?

Steph: Energizer Bunny Batteries.

Gael: Okay, let's talk about your latest release, "The Wolf's Torment." This is a paranormal romance with werewolves, witches and a vampire thrown in for good measure. Where did you find the inspiration?

Juliet: I told Stephanie she had to write an epic.

Steph: We compromised with a 3 book series.

Juliet: No seriously, Stephanie wanted to write a fairytale in reverse so she wrote "Twilight Over Moldavia" first. Poor Prince Stefan was cursed to be a werewolf. Can the beautiful princess' kiss lift it?

Steph: From there I wanted to know about Stefan's parents – Mihai and Theresa. How could they curse their son to become a werewolf? "The Wolf's Torment" was born.

Juliet: I helped. Thank Odo for pixie dust and Sandra Sookoo.

Gael: Mihai sounds like a very romantic name. How did you choose it?

Steph: I wanted a distinct Romanian name.

Juliet: She pulled it out of a hat. Trust me.

(Gus passes out the coffee and lemon water)

Gael: Where does the story take place? In Romania or Moldavia? What's the difference?

Juliet: Romania could use a little modernizing if you ask me.

Steph: (swats at her ear) Moldavia is a Romanian principality on the coast of the Black Sea. Romania was actually united in 1859, but for the story I fictionalize it.

Gael: Why pick Romania?

Steph: I wanted a place were you would believe these creatures might actually exist.

Juliet: Did you know that being a witch in Romania is a legitimate work profession? Check this out:

Juliet, the Pixie Muse
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-12126670


Gael? How important is the setting?

Steph: Very! It helps to set the mood and feel of the story.

Juliet: And let me tell you the Black Sea is very creepy. There's an Ukrainian folk tale that tells how a destructive arrow was thrown into the Black Sea. When the sea is violent or has a real turbulent storm, its blamed on the arrow.

Gael: Sounds like you did a lot of research.

Steph: I read up on the Black Sea, Orthodoxy, and Vlad the Impaler.

Juliet: Orthodoxy! There's a beautiful religion. They crown each other when they get married.

Gael: What's "The Wolf's Torment" about?

Steph: It's a coming of age story for Mihai. He has a secret – he's a witch. He must embrace his witching heritage to save those he loves, but he doesn't find the courage until Theresa steps into his life. Love is a very powerful motivator.

Gael: How does the character of Viktor fit into the story?

Steph: Viktor struggles with demons that are too feral to control. Can he master the beast?

Gael: Sonia is Viktor's wife and Mihai's sister. How important is her character?

Steph: Just when Sonia thinks she's found happiness it's snatched away from her. How she deals with it shows true courage.

Gael: Sonia gets sick, doesn't she?

Steph: Yes.

Gael: How does Theresa come into Mihai's life?

Steph: It's an arranged marriage, but Mihai and Theresa have been dreaming of each other since they were children. What they share is very similar to the "kenning", which you read about in romantic Scottish historicals. Theresa is really help-mate for Mihai. She loves children as much as he does. She's perfect for him, but her patience is tested like it never has been before and I think that's what makes readers connect with Theresa.

Gael: You frame events in the story around holidays. Why?

Steph: To show the passage of time. There's Christmas, the start of Lent, Martisor, Easter, weddings, deaths…

Gael: I've never heard of Martisor. What's that?

Steph: A Romanian holiday held on 1 March to celebrate the start of spring.

Gael: Is Mihai a skilled witch?

Juliet: He gets witching lessons from Theresa's sister, Beatrice.

Steph: I love Bea! She tells it like it is.

Juliet: I think there's a little of Steph in Bea. –wink—

Gael: Spill! What's the most pivotal scene in the novel?

Steph: Viktor's decision to switch the babies.

Gael: A baby switch! How awful!

Juliet: Well, he is a werewolf. What do you expect from him?

Gael: One last question: In the movie, who plays Mihai?

Juliet: Daniel Radcliffe! He makes my wings flutter. And he's over 20.

Steph: But he's played a witch before.

Gael: Who plays Theresa?

Steph: Jennifer Ferrin. – but honestly, Jon Hensley circa 1986 has the perfect look for Mihai.

Gael: Thanks for popping in ladies. I see Barbie is here. Enjoy your spa day.

Steph: Thanks for having us, Gael.

Juliet: I'd like hot red roses for my nail polish…

BLURB: Mihai Sigmaringen has a secret – he's a witch. Will love give him the courage to save his family from a destructive werewolf.

REVIEW FOR THE WOLF'S TORMENT

From The Pen & Muse:
A complete werewolf story through and through, Burkhart does it again with an amazing cast of characters, entertaining dialogue and plot. Lovers of historical paranormal romance will enjoy this read, the first in the Moldavian Moon series.

Link: http://thepenmuse.net/archives/2720


Visit the Book Trailer on You Tube and give it a 'like' at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FzHE2spBeeU

The Wolf's Torment is available as an ebook only on Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and Sony Ereader. Formats include: PDF, html, and epub which can be found on the Publisher's Website at: http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/-strse-163/Stephanie-Burkhart-Moldavian-Moon/Detail.bok

About the Author: Stephanie Burkhart is a 911 dispatcher for LAPD. She also served as an MP in the US Army. Multi-published, she has a children's book, "The Giving Meadow" with 4RV Publishing. She's an avid reader , loves coffee in the morning, and her favorite movie witch is Daniel Radcliffe from Harry Potter!

You can find me at:
Website:
http://www.stephanieburkhart.com
Blog:
http://sgcardin.blogspot.com
Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Stephanie-Burkhart-Author/149938795021166
Tweet me at:
http://twitter.com/StephBurkhart

Monday, 16 May 2011

Author Spotlight week -Dreams and Divination by Stephanie Burkhart



I'm excited to announce my latest release, a historical paranormal romance called, "The Wolf's Torment." Set in the 1860's, the story takes place in Constanta, a Moldavian city nestled next to the Black Sea. Crown Prince Mihai Sigmaringen has a secret – he's a witch. Can he accept himself for who he is and save his family from a werewolf who threatens their lives?

"The Wolf's Torment" has an exotic locale and fantastical creatures, but Mihai, Viktor, Sonia, and Theresa are all too human and the story is about their humanity – with a little bit of dreams and divination peppered in, of course. –wink—

For witches, it's about feelings and their ability to sense the feelings of others. And Mihai and Theresa have been dreaming of each other since they were five. Why is this important? It speaks to the power of divination – the ability to "see" the future, but instead of using tea leaves and crystal balls as Professor Trewley does in Harry Potter, Mihai and Theresa use dreams. It's a concept close to the "kenning" in Scottish romantic historicals.

"Heart of Moldavia" is the FREE prequel to "The Wolf's Torment" and is one such dream. Theresa braves grave danger to give Mihai a Christmas gift as a werewolf recklessly purses her. Mihai realizes his intended is a woman – brave, clever, intriguing, and beautiful. Dare he allow his heart to love again? Will love give him the courage, strength, and resolve to save his family and a nation?

Visit Moldavia and let the characters humanity touch your heart.

You can obtain "Heart of Moldavia" free at the following link:

http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/-strse-130/Stephanie-Burkhart-Moldavian-Moon/Detail.bok


REVIEW FOR THE WOLF'S TORMENT

From The Pen & Muse:
A complete werewolf story through and through, Burkhart does it again with an amazing cast of characters, entertaining dialogue and plot. Lovers of historical paranormal romance will enjoy this read, the first in the Moldavian Moon series.

Link: http://thepenmuse.net/archives/2720


Visit the Book Trailer on You Tube and give it a 'like' at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FzHE2spBeeU

The Wolf's Torment is available as an ebook only on Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and Sony Ereader. Formats include: PDF, html, and epub which can be found on the Publisher's Website at: http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/-strse-163/Stephanie-Burkhart-Moldavian-Moon/Detail.bok

About the Author: Stephanie Burkhart is a 911 dispatcher for LAPD. She also served as an MP in the US Army. Multi-published, she has a children's book, "The Giving Meadow" with 4RV Publishing. She's an avid reader , loves coffee in the morning, and her favorite movie "werewolf" is David Thewlis, Lupin from Harry Potter.

You can find me at:
Website:
http://www.stephanieburkhart.com
Blog:
http://sgcardin.blogspot.com
Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Stephanie-Burkhart-Author/149938795021166
Tweet me at:
http://twitter.com/StephBurkhart

Friday, 13 May 2011

Author Spotlight week -Excerpt from Forgiven



Gray got in her way, when Nikki stepped into the willow garden, keeping her from going directly to Mercy Grace's marker. She reached down to grasp his collar to turn him aside, but something in the big dog's eyes made her shiver and pause. She saw Brock move past her and turned to watch him.

His legs wobbled a little. His shoulders hunched, just enough to be noticeable. He clenched his fists.

"Oh, please," she whispered.

What bothered her more? The tears that touched her eyes as she realized this moment hurt him? Or her anger? What right did he have to hurt for their murdered child? He had ordered her to abort when Mercy Grace was little more than a handful, not even visible inside her mother's body. He had slapped her and tore up the Gideon Bible she had found in the nightstand and devoured, begging God for guidance and strength.

"I'm sorry, baby," Brock whispered, and bent over, reaching out as if to touch the bronze marker and the new carpet of cherry blossom petals strewn across it.
A tear fell off the tip of his nose, sparkling in the afternoon sunlight as it tumbled down to the marker.
Lord, please help me forgive him. I can't accept Your forgiveness to me, for all the stupid, selfish things I did, until I can forgive him.
Nikki choked on mixed laughter and tears as her prayer echoed through her mind and heart. How many times had Joan and Vincent and the Carters counseled her on being forgiving and accepting forgiveness during her year of training at Quarry Hall? So many times, she had lost count.

She thought she had forgiven Brock, until she saw him again.

"How did you get out of prison so soon?" she asked. Her voice creaked a little, startling her.

"Good behavior." He shrugged and knuckled his eyes before turning completely to face her. Gray strands in his hair gleamed in a single stray sunbeam for a moment. "I was already working with the authorities when everything went down. I testified against Ringo. Gave them a lot of people in the organization, a lot of contacts. And I just wasn't high up enough in the organization to be worth the trouble."

"They let you out because they were afraid someone would kill you inside," she guessed, listening to the shiver that ran up her spine. Nikki tried to blame the suspense novels she had read, on Joan's recommendation.

"That, too."

"Shouldn't you be in Witness Protection or something?"

"Probably. But Ringo got himself killed two months ago -- territory fight inside the prison -- and things are so shredded, with people fighting over what's left of his territory, I'm more of a benefactor to the winners than an enemy. If it wasn't for me, they wouldn't be on top now."

"That's sick."

"That's the world I was living in." He took a deep breath, let it out, jammed his hands in his pockets. "Nikki, I swear, I tried to protect you from that. Keep you sweet and innocent."

"Ignorant, you mean. And I guess I'm grateful," she added, her voice cracking.

"I really did love you."

"Brock--" Nikki shook her head. She had to get out of here. She had to head back to Tabor and get to work, focus on her reasons for being home, not dwell on the past. Learning from the past was one thing. Regretting it and trying to change it was something else altogether. "You know how to get here now. I have to get going. I have work to do..." She stared at him for a few racing heartbeats, wondering why in the world she was telling him all this. "I'll -- I'll probably see you again before you leave town, huh?"

"Invitation?" He tried to smile. At least he didn't try to approach her again. Gray stood as a barrier to them both, Nikki realized.
"No. More like giving in to the inevitable."

"I don't want to hurt you anymore, Nikki."

"Thanks," she whispered.

For a few more seconds she watched him, seeing the moisture in his eyes, the aching that pressed on his shoulders. She could imagine him clenching and unclenching his fists in his jacket pockets. Brock kept so much inside, she knew. It was his habit. She had always admired his self-control. It had been more shock at the sudden violence than pain when he hit her, and that shock had prompted her to run away.

Nikki nodded, unable to say good-bye for some reason, and turned to take the long way around the estate to get to the parking lot. The last thing she wanted was to run into anyone and have to explain what she was doing back, when she had driven to Tabor Heights only three hours ago. Worse was having to explain what Brock was doing there. Gray pressed against her leg as she walked. She welcomed his warmth even as he nearly knocked her off balance with every step.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Author Spotlight week -Michelle Levigne tells us the latest book she read


Actually, I'm in the process of reading through the Cedar Cove books by Debbie Macomber. I think I'm in #4 right now -- can't remember, because I had to put my "fun" reading aside to read/judge for the YA category of the new Grace Awards, and I'm also doing revisions of the next Tabor Heights book, White Roses (yes, the conclusion of the serial killer story that was introduced with Common Grounds almost 2 years ago...). So I'm kind of busy.

Anyway, the Cedar Cove books are interesting in that while someone's story gets some resolution, there are other stories that just keep going, kind of like background music. Or maybe themes that keep popping up during a movie. There's the judge and her romance with the newspaper editor. And the people who run the B&B. And the Navy wife. And the girls in the beauty parlor. And the woman whose husband vanished in one book, and his body was found several books later. And the girl who runs the art gallery, who is the daughter of the woman whose husband vanished and ... See what I mean? I like the books. They're shelved under romance, but they're more small town life and growth and friendship than strictly romance.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Author Spotlight week -Michelle Levigne tells us how she found Desert Breeze


Gail posted an announcement that she was starting Desert Breeze on an author's fan loop. I knew her name from "around" e-publishing, knew she had a good reputation -- and I think we had some contact when we were both with another publisher that shall remain nameless. It didn't take much thinking, after reading the submission guidelines, to decide this was a good place to submit!

Monday, 9 May 2011

Author Spotlight week -Q&A with Michelle Levigne


STEPH: I don't much about FORGIVEN. What's it about?

MICHELLE: Readers met Nikki in previous books, or at least heard about her. She's the foster daughter of Dr. Holwood at the university, and is basically the good girl who backslid, and is now making good. She works for the Arc Foundation, a philanthropic organization with some hints of cloak-and-dagger, and in this book, Nikki comes back to town to assess the Mission, an outreach of Tabor Christian Church, to see if the Arc Foundation wants to come on board as a sponsor.

Brock, our hero, romanced Nikki into running away from home with him when she was barely 17. He was the front man for a drug kingpin, but started doing some serious thinking about his life, thanks to her influence. By the time Nikki got pregnant, Brock had started going undercover work with the DEA. He basically drove Nikki away to protect her. When the dust finally settled, Nikki was on her way home, found by her half-sister and rescued by the Arc Foundation. Brock's boss kidnapped her to use as a human shield in his flight from the authorities -- and nearly killed Brock in the process. Nikki was injured in the car chase/accident and gave birth prematurely, and then her baby died from her injuries. Brock went to jail and Nikki joined the Arc Foundation.

NOW ... Nikki is back in town, facing down all the people who knew how badly she messed up. She has a job to do. It wouldn't be so bad, except Brock is out of jail and he's determined to win her back. Plus, there's the boy who broke her heart in high school -- he's a single father and decides he and Nikki will get back together to become a happy little family. So she's trapped between two guys trying to win her heart. And then Brock's former drug-running associates show up and start putting the pressure on him. Should he leave to protect Nikki? Is she going to let him leave? And who's making false allegations against Brock and attacking the Mission?


STEPH: How long did it take it to write?

MICHELLE: Years. I've done so many revisions, I couldn't tell you. I do know I wrote it in 3 different word processing programs. I actually wrote Nikki's "rescue" by the Arc Foundation long before I wrote her Tabor Heights story -- and in the first draft, Nikki and Joan aren't even sisters. This story has gone through a lot of revisions. And in transferring from one computer to another, I know I've lost notes and drafts and scenes -- which I had to recreate for this book. For instance, Vincent, the chief of security for the Arc Foundation, comes to town to check up on Nikki. I had notes for changes to the Vincent scenes -- but I didn't have a draft where he actually showed up. Frustrating!

So the easy answer is: It took years to write this book. But I think it's worth the wait.


STEPH: How does this story fit into your Tabor Heights Series?

MICHELLE: It actually overlaps several books -- bits and pieces of scenes. Nikki is in the background or has a small part to play in the events of Firesong and Behind the Scenes. Calendar-wise, the story takes place in March, April and May of Year One. Events in this book have ripple effects on future stories. For instance, in A Quiet Place, Pastor Wally is in slightly worse health because of trouble that happens in Forgiven -- so he's more vulnerable when Jeannette's vicious ex-mother-in-law attacks. And Nikki shows up in one of the short stories in the Seasons anthology.


STEPH: Where does the inspiration for your writing to come from?

MICHELLE: The easy answer is "everywhere." After you've been writing long enough, and you have something that's ongoing, like the Tabor Heights series, you're constantly subconsciously looking for details, ideas. The "ah hah!" moments hit because you're looking for them, waiting for them, and because your subconscious knows it needs something. Does that make sense? You're driving along and you hear a song on the radio, or you hear about something weird and funny that happened at the Sunday School picnic, and you think, "Ah hah, I can have Pete Thomas do or say that," or you realize that no, Lori wasn't working at the bakery, she was working at the florist, which would let her do or say (fill in the blank) which would move someone else's story along." Little bits and pieces come all the time, and you write it down, and it has absolutely nothing to do with anything else at the present moment. But months or years later, you're searching through the files looking for that one little piece to fill out a character, or provide background for something else, and it all comes together.

For instance, we were driving back from Florida last weekend -- these wonderful ideas always come when you can't stop and write them down! -- and I got this title idea: Beowulf -- Beo-Ralf. Okay, I have the title -- now what is the STORY?

I'll figure it out in a couple years. Maybe...

STEPH: What's your writing space like?

MICHELLE: Right now it's a wretched mess. I have my former bedroom in the basement. There are bookshelves at the far end, just lining the walls. Where there aren't bookshelves, there are posters, and my maps of Tabor Heights, Neighborlee, a game I'm trying to create (and haven't worked on in years) for my Commonwealth Universe series. I have a drafting table at one end of the room next to the windows -- that's where my notebook computer sits. It's covered in papers, files, some DVDs/TV series I want to watch, a big bucket of pens, books that I've read and haven't entered in my computer, and some computer equipment. On the opposite wall is my computer desk with my desktop computer, which is covered with papers, software, etc. Plus there's my NordicTrak, and an exercise ball and these 20-pound dumbbells that I hardly ever lift anymore. (Bad girl!). And there are PILES of things on the floor, projects I'm in the middle of, promo material I'm either unpacking from a booksigning/book talk, or experiments in promo material I'm still putting together. Somewhere under there is a carpet. And a stereo.


STEPH: If you could name a song which embodies the theme of FORGIVEN, what would that song be?

MICHELLE: Honestly, I never thought about it. I usually play movie soundtracks when I'm writing. Although, I have to admit, I've been playing a lot of my old LPs -- now that I have a turntable again. All my old Imperials albums, like going back to the early 60s. Ah, the good old days of signing in front of my mirror, with a hairbrush for a microphone.......

Maybe the chorus from an old Gaither song: I'm not what I wanna be, I'm not what I'm gonna be, but thank God I'm not what I was.

Or pieces from Rich Mullins' song: It's about as useless as a screen door on a submarine. Faith without works, babe, it just ain't happening.... Gotta be active if it's gonna be alive, you got to put it into practice, otherwise.....


STEPH: Cast the movie. Who are the leads?

MICHELLE: You know, I really can't say. Haven't thought about it. I've been working on this story for so long, they are their own people, not wearing someone else's face.


STEPH: What's the one thing you'd like readers to take away with them after reading FORGIVEN?

Happy endings take a lot of work, and will continue to take work, but they're more than worth it.


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

MICHELLE: I started with a Palm. Then in 2009 I bought one of the first Nooks -- and my Palm died 2 days before it arrived. I needed an MP3 player, so I bought an iPod. I have Kindle, Nook, Kobo, iBooks, E-reader and Stanza on it. My Palm partially resurrected, so I have Acrobat Reader, Mobipocket and Palm Reader on that.

So, 3 ebook readers. And I use all of them! Sometimes at the same time.


STEPH Chocolate, Vanilla, or Strawberry?

MICHELLE: If it's milkshakes, vanilla.
If it's ice cream, either vanilla bean or chocolate-peanut butter.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Author Spotlight week -Excerpt from Blitz


Enjoy this excerpt from "Blitz." Thanks Sue for being in the spotlight this week!
Smiles
Moderator Steph

*****

"What's the matter, love?"

For a moment Velma didn't speak. If she didn't talk about Jack leaving, maybe it wouldn't be true. Then the thought of the lonely months ahead overwhelmed her.

"Everything. Oh Gladdie, Jack's had to go back to camp. I don't know when I'll see him again."

"I'm so sorry, Velma." Gladdie sat beside her and put her arm around Velma's shoulders. "This doesn't mean the end of things, does it?"

"No. He's promised to write and asked me to write to him. He's going to tell his mother about me and arrange for me to visit her when Florence goes with her family. If we can work it, he'll be there at the same time. It's not far from Aldershot to Hayling Island so we'll have more time together."

"Well, that's good news isn't it? Come on Velma, chin up. Even though you've only known him a few days, Jack seems to be serious about you. How do you feel about him?"

"Oh, Gladdie. I love him. I didn't know I could possibly feel like this. Every time I see him it's like someone has let off fireworks. When he touches me my legs start to tremble and my insides feel like a volcano's erupting." Velma flushed as she confessed her feelings to her friend.

"Sounds like you've got it bad." Gladdie grinned. "I guess so." "Cheer up. It might not be too long before you see him again. I'd find out all you can about his mother from Florence. What she likes and dislikes, that type of thing. You need to be prepared in case she gets funny about her youngest son finding a woman to love."

Velma saw the wisdom of Gladdie's words. She should tell the truth as much as possible so she visited Florence on her way home from work.

"I hear you're not well and want help with Sam," she said with a weak grin as she walked into her sister's kitchen. "So what seems to be the problem?"

"You and Jack will get me in hot water making me part of your lies," Florence scolded. "Remind me to thank Mrs. Harris for her kindness next time I see her. Did Jack get off all right?"

"I think so." Velma ducked her head and took a deep breath. "Florence, I need your help."

"What, again? What is it now?"

"Jack says he's going to tell his mother about me and then he wants me to go with you, George and Sam next time you visit her. He's going to arrange for leave at the same time."

"That's right. He mentioned it to me. I think it's a wonderful idea. Does this mean youand I will be sisters and sister-in-laws?" "I hope so, but it will be sometime in the future. Jack and I have to get to know one another properly first." Despite her unhappiness, a surge of excitement raced through her at the thought of spending her future with Jack.

"I don't see how you need my help with any of that. You and Jack seem to have it all worked out."

"Except I have to meet a woman I don't know, who will probably think I'm not good enough for her son. I want you to tell me all about his mother and the rest of the family."

Florence's laugh rang through the kitchen. George came through the door from the hallway and looked questioningly at his wife.

"Oh, George. Listen to this." Florence completely ignored Velma's frantic hand signals to be quiet. "Velma is worried about meeting your mother. She thinks Ma will think she's not good enough for Jack."

George grinned.

"Now, Florence, it's not nice to laugh at Velma. She probably doesn't remember my mother." He turned to face his sister-in-law. "Don't you worry about a thing Velma. Ma will love you. All she's concerned about is seeing her children lead happy lives. You could be a hunchback with a squint and it wouldn't matter. She'll be so pleased Jack's found someone to love, she'll love you for his sake."

Velma still couldn't convince herself Jack's mother would like her.

Over the next few weeks she made Florence tell her everything she could remember about the elder Mrs. Stanley. Eventually Florence called a halt to the questions.

"Enough, Velma. You're working yourself into a state about meeting Ma. She's a lovely woman. Now stop pestering me with all these questions, I'm not going to answer any more."

*****

Over the following months letters from Jack came frequently. Velma treasured each one, putting them away in a wooden jewellery box she'd received on her last birthday. She replied with equal fervour. And then the letters stopped.

At first she told herself he'd been too busy to write. Everyone talked about the European situation and no doubt the armed forces were preparing for the inevitable. Unsure of the reason for Jack's silence, Velma waited several days then wrote one more letter to him. Days passed and she still didn't hear from him.

"Velma, whatever's the matter with you?" Gladdie sounded exasperated. "You're forever snapping my head off. You're so moody nowadays."

"I am not moody," Velma stated tersely. "You're just being oversensitive."

"You're doing it now." Gladdie looked suspiciously at her. The two women were in Central Park. The ocean of green grass provided a pleasant place for a Sunday afternoon walk in the sun. They'd stopped for a rest and were sitting on a grassy mound enjoying the sunshine.

"It's Jack isn't it? What's he done -- or not done?" Tears sprang to Velma's eyes and Gladdie put her arm around her. "Don't cry. It can't be that bad. What's wrong?"

"He hasn't written to me for over a week now Gladdie. He's changed his mind about me, I know he has." Now the words had been spoken at last, Velma allowed the tears to flow.

Gladdie pulled her close and patted her back until the sobs subsided to hiccups. "Silly goose." Her friend offered a clean handkerchief. "It's more likely he's busy and doesn't realise how long it is since he wrote." Velma blew her nose and then shook her head. She leaned forward and hugged her knees.

"I knew things were too good to be true when I met him. As soon as I saw him I knew he and I were meant to be together." Velma sniffed and dabbed at her wet eyes. "When he said he wanted to marry me I couldn't believe the man I loved had the same feelings for me. He's had second thoughts now, I know it."

*****

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Author Spotlight week -Sue Perkins share her favorite authors

Author J Morgan

There are so many authors I love to read it’s difficult to choose only one. I think Terry Pratchett or Anne McCaffrey would tie for first place. The humor in Mr Pratchett’s books enhance the words and depth of the story. He has an uncanny knack of twisting words so they not only tell the tale but also make the reader laugh. Ms McCaffrey’s Dragons of Pern series have been on my bookshelves for many years. I also have her less well known books of Petaybee and The Ship Who Sang books. However there are several up and coming authors whose books have caught my interest. Some of them I’ve read, others I have on my new Sony reader to dive into when I have time.

One of these is J. Morgan. I love the quirky way he brings humor to his vampire series. It’s very cleverly done. Wish I could introduce humor like that. He makes it look so easy. Naomi Novik is another reasonably new comer to fantasy. I’ve read all but the last of her Temeraire series and found them fascinating.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Author Spotlight week -Sue Perkins share her favorite movies


Depends on how far back you want to go. My favorite movie of all time is “Gone With the Wind”. This romantic story shows the lengths a woman will go to for the man she loves. The background of the American Civil War provides a tugging of the heartstrings. Rhett (as played by Clark Gable) is gorgeous and although Scarlet drives you mad she is acting exactly as a woman who will do anything to get what she wants. Vivacious, maddening, everyone thinks she is tough but inside she is a scared little girl. I really believe this is the film that got me interested in romance, well that and Georgette Heyer.

As for recent releases - that would have to be Avatar. It’s amazing. The softness of love mixes with the hardness of the Pandoran warriors. The people have to save their planet from ravaging humans or they and the creatures who inhabit this fantastic world will perish. The military base and human side is a bit plain and utilitarian although there are a few out of this world machines. The marines protect a scientific team. Not the best place to find love. Some of the scientists and one marine inhabit Avatars to better communicate with the people of Pandora. The marine gets lost and is found by a Pandoran who believes the spirit of the planet wants him to help her people. I found the beautiful scenery (as seen through Pandoran eyes) to be absolutely gorgeous, fairylike and fantasy orientated. The love scenes are tender and romantic. Altogether an action based romantic film.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Author Spotlight week -Sue Perkins share her passion for writing early 20th Century Romance


I like reading romance and fantasy books so it’s only natural to me to write what I enjoy. Blitz is a 20th Century historical romance. Not really a suspense, more a tale of love during wartime. Set in England it reflects some of the hardship and strain put on relationships when the men were away fighting and the women were trying their best to “keep the home fires burning”.
I love writing about things I know. My knowledge for this book comes from my parents vague talk of the war. To be quite honest I found out more about my father’s wartime endeavors when he met my future father-in-law. They talked about the war and my father spoke about being at Dunkirk. I was twenty-one at the time and had no idea my father had been anywhere near Dunkirk during the evacuation.

My other contemporary romance books with Desert Breeze (Three Hearts and Broken Heart) are set in New Zealand. I have lived here for twenty-five years and love the country. The books are set in Timaru in the South Island. I used to live there and it seemed natural to set the story in a place I knew.

Fantasy on the other hand leaves me free to soar the heights. I can invent a world, a people, animals and anything else I desire to populate my new world. The stories for the fantasy books come to me as I write, no I don’t plot. I get the idea, write the first page and then let it stew for sometimes up to several months before I attack it again. Seems to work for me.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Author Spotlight week -Q&A with Sue Perkins


STEPH: I don't know about Blitz. What's it about?

SUE: Love that bloomed before the war and how the war affected that love. Couples meet, fall in love and plan their future together. What happens when that future is blown apart by events of the world? War affects not just those fighting, but those left behind to carry on as best they can. Individual lives are thrown into chaos and the best laid plans disintegrate in the face of two forces opposing each other. Love has a tough time surviving under these circumstances. Velma and Jack’s story is only one of many heartbreaking romances that had to come to terms with this disastrous environment and try to make the best of hard times.

STEPH: Where did the inspiration come for the story?

SUE: Blitz was inspired by my parents own romance. They fell in love but war came and they had to cancel their white wedding and rush through a registry office wedding instead. By the time they left this life they’d been married nearly 60 years so I know their love was the real thing. Blitz is fiction inspired by their personal experiences and the stories they told of their families and how they survived. Neither of them spoke much about their actual duties during the war. I realise they wanted to put their horrible experiences in the past and look to the future.

STEPH: How did you come up with the title to the story?

SUE: My mother survived the bombing of Plymouth in Devon. She was a member of the WRENS (Women’s Royal Navy Service) and they transferred her to Liverpool. She’d no sooner got there than this city was also bombed. These extreme bombing raids were called the blitz, hence the name. Mum always reckoned Mr Hitler was after her personally and that he followed her wherever she went.

STEPH: How long did it take you to write?

SUE: About four to six months. Unlike my fantasy stories I had to do a lot of research. I had to make sure things I knew as a child were there before and during the war. Also I hsf yo track where I wanted the hero Jack to go. This meant researching which battles took place and when. Then there were the spoken words. Some words came into England with the American GIs during the war. For instance “Okay” was not in popular use until after World War II. Even during the final edits I found the odd word that needed replacing.

STEPH: If you could cast the movie, who would be leads?

SUE: Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. I’m not really a fan of theirs but recent movies have shown how versatile they are and I think they’d be perfect for the plot. They’re big superstars who would make the film famous. The faces I see when I think of Jack and Velma are my parents. To me they were mum and dad who looked after my sister and I and brought us up to be responsible adults. Children never think of when their parents were young and what they had to go through. Writing this book has made me think more about their youth and survival.

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

SUE: If you’d asked me this a month ago I would have said no. New Zealand is a bit behind the rest of the world. The only reader available was the Kobo. Amazon has now decided it will sell its digital devices to us via Amazon.com so I’ve downloaded the Kindle app for Mac. I’m visiting my children and other members of my family in England at the moment and have to admit I’ve treated myself to a Sony Ereader complete with cover and light. It is so brilliant. Some books I’ve had on my computer for ages and not gotten round to reading have now been read in an amazingly short time. Wonderful investment.


STEPH: Tell us about the place you live.

SUE: New Zealand? It’s the most beautiful place in the world. I know I’m biased, but honestly that’s the comment of most visitors to our wonderful country. We have everything from tropical to snowy mountains. Geysers to rain forests. The sky is a beautiful shade of blue which makes English skies look pale and washed out. I live at the top of the South Island near the beautiful Marlborough Sounds. Only 500 metres from the sea, our 3 acre block looks out on wetlands. My husband has planted all sorts of trees and shrubs. Most relaxing place to live. I love visiting my children in England but I also long to go back home.

STEPH: What's your writing space like?

SUE: You’re going to laugh at this one. I have an office but I never use it. My husband bought me a Stressless chair complete with footrest. Along with this I have a computer table which slides in front of me and my laptop fits on there and off I go. As I’d have to deprive my husband of computer time if I worked on the main computer, it works out well. I toddle off to get the dictionary occasionally, but for actual writing when I lose myself to my surroundings, then my Stressless chair is where you’ll find me.

STEPH: For fun: What country would you like to visit that you haven't yet?

SUE: Does it have to be a country? I would really love to visit New Orleans, but I’ve already been to America. As a young mother I read a lot of Frances Parkinson Keyes books on the plantations and river boats of the late 19th century. Ever since then I’ve wanted to go and see what it’s like. If it has to be somewhere I’ve never been then Australia’s Murray River. Although New Zealand is close to Australia, I’ve never been there. Maybe someday soon.

STEPH: What's the last book you read?

SUE: That’s a difficult one. I’m trying to remember the last book I had beside my bed but it won’t come to mind. How about the one I’m currently reading? This is J. Morgan’s “Were Love Blooms” the first in his Southern Werewolf Chronicles. Once again he has brought humor into what is normally a horror situation. A modern southern belle falls for a gorgeous man. The result is that from that time forward Maddy takes a hairy form at the height of the moon. A year later her Romeo in hidden wolf’s clothing returns to her life to put money in her father’s failing business. Unfortunately he’s followed by werewolf hunters who are determined to wipe werewolves off the face of the earth. Well written and fun to read. I’m enjoying every minute of it.