Michelle Franklin’s Blog Tour

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Today I’m pleased to host Michelle Franklin for this stop on her blog tour. I’ve read,  enjoyed and recommend The House Guest. It’s a wonderful tale for the young and young at heart.
When winter comes early to Frewyn and the first snowfall of the year traps a young mouse in her home, fate brings an old mole to her door, but is the young mouse prepared for all the challenges that catering to a fussy house guest can bring?


Buy the book atAmazon | Smashwords
 

Children’s Books That Inspire Me: Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

It was one of the first books I read by myself once I was old enough to do so, and though I can remember enjoying it, I can certainly say that at the time I had no idea what it was really about. Black Beauty, like most classical literature, is often grouped into the children’s genre and I cannot really understand why. The book was not written for children; Sewell wrote it as means of helping readers to understand the torment that horses underwent in the Victorian Era, and while readers sympathized with the character of Black Beauty and the book revolutionized the way many Victorians treated their horses, the book became marketed as a children’s story. Of course Black Beauty can be read by children, and what young child obsessed with the idea of having her own pony doesn’t want to read a story of a horse who is saved from torture, but there are lessons in Black Beauty beyond just being good to animals that might be lost on a younger audience. There is a deeper meaning to the text which is missed by the average nine-year-old. To a young child, it’s nothing more than a very good story with a moral, but to the adult it’s an exquisite tale of cruelty, abuse, redemption, and the power of true friendship. It tells the story of Black Beauty, a carefree colt who is bought, sold, and traded several times over the course of his life. He is called by many names and is many different things to his various owners: a cab driver, a conveyer, a steed, sometimes a friend, and other times a mere beast of burden, but always valuable and always a companion to the other horses he is paired with. Though Beauty endures much suffering throughout his life, he is always hopeful and thinks the best of men, even of those who mistreat him most. Given the overall dark tone of the book, beginning with the death of a rider, and the gravity of the prose, I cannot understand how Black Beauty is still being considered as a children’s book, but so it is. My love of the story has inspired me to write from an animal’s perspective on numerous occasions, encouraging me to express how they might think and feel. If you have only read Black Beauty as a child, I urge you to go back and read it again, and I can guarantee that the text will have much more meaning the second time around.


About the Author: Michelle Franklin is a small woman of moderate consequence who writes many, many books about giants, romance, and chocolate.

Follow the author at: Website | Facebook | Twitter

HollyMichelle Franklin’s Blog Tour

The Chain-Letter Blog Tour

Holly adapting, author, Author interview, Blog tour, Dreams, Friends, Fun Social Network, Indie YA Books, inspiration, Jade Kerrion, New world, Paper Crane Books, Patience and writing, persevere 3 Comments

1.edgy Holly PhotoA while ago I was tagged by my friend and fellow indie author Jade Kerrion to participate in a chain letter / ongoing blog tour. The idea was to have fun and to pass that convivial moment forward. So without further ado…

What am I working on?

Just a few days ago I finished Sunstone. It is a sci-fi / steampunk / thriller. Where my Sage Seed Chronicles series flowed fairly easily out of my fingertips and were written quickly, Sunstone and I have played ‘Twister.’ (Anyone remember that old game?) It started as a futuristic sci-fi piece with elements similar to a few in SSC. Those were ripped out and, taking the remaining threads, I bent and braided it into the early industrial steampunk time frame with strong parallels to our contemporary world. Sunstone is currently with its second beta reader. When it comes back to me in a few days I will finish my edits and send it on to Paper Crane Books. It may get out late this year.

Currently I’m mentally plotting a fantasy short story which will complete my multi-genre collection called Tendrils.

How does my work differ from others of this genre?

My writing has been somewhat hard to classify. Basically I write crossover between genres and age categories.

I like to separate my stories from the here-and-now because I’d like the reader to see the story with fresh eyes instead of slipping into a predisposed mind set. I invent a fictional world to do that, complete with believable science and mechanics. That makes it a soft sci-fi. I also add elements that are not necessarily possible which puts it in the fantasy genre.

In the SSC series most of the characters were adult but my protagonists were seventeen. To be classified as Young Adult fiction usually means most of the characters are in their teens and dealing with teen related issues inside the story. Primarily my lead characters are dealing only with adults and at the tail end of the growing-up-and-finding-themselves process. So technically the Sage Seed Chronicles can be classified as YA but it also has appeal to people of all years. Crossover.

Sunstone, and my short story anthology, Tendrils, won’t be YA.

Why do I write what I write?

I write what appeals to me. When I was a teen I needed to deal with adults. I also moved around a bit so anchoring my middle and high school experiences with one set of friends was impossible. I write stories of all ages working and blending together as I think that’s closer to reality. At least it was mine. *grins*

The stories come from inside me and have different layers. For instance I live in a beautiful area and am very conscious of eco balance, niches….. My publisher says my voice is green. That doesn’t necessarily mean wacko tree-hugger. It means that I weave eco themes with things that are on the news or that concern me. Have you ever watched the news and wanted to throw something at the TV set? I have, so I make my own worlds and I fix things my way.

How does my writing process work?

It starts with an image or an idea. If it intrigues me I examine it from all sides and see if I can stretch and embellish it. I build layers for the world to work. Then I add the adventure, thriller aspect. I weave in memories, concerns and liberally mix with my imagination. I do this until I have at least half of a story in my head and on an outline.

I mentioned that Sunstone mutated as it grew. There were a few scenes that were the early kernels of the idea for the book. I liked those and kept them even as everything else changed. It was a bit of a mess for awhile as I filled and refined around those disparate pieces. I really hope I don’t write another book that way again or you may find me committed to a padded room. Whew! Tough going!

So the short answer would be that inspiration comes from my core beliefs, my concerns, my memories and imagination. *smiles*

Now I’m suppose to tag three authors. I would rather the writers tag themselves and answer these few questions. Just reference me so I can see who passed this baton.

So those writers who read my blog posts, I’m throwing down the challenge. Have fun!

HollyThe Chain-Letter Blog Tour

GEM: Linda Lee Williams

Holly author, Colorado, Dreams, Friends, GEM Feature, Linda Lee Williams, Paranormal romance 2 Comments

Today’s GEM is Linda Lee Williams. She is an author that has become a friend and she writes Paranormal Romance. I’d like to share an excerpt with you from her book Elsewhere. Linda

First here is the blurb to set the scene:

When Errol Fleming moves in across the hall from Andie McNaughton, her life takes another unforeseen and perilous turn.  Sweet, shy, and a bit reclusive, Andie has enough phobias to confirm that she’s “crazy.”  Beautiful but imperfect, Errol bears his own disability.  Despite the challenges their relationship faces, they decide to take a chance on each other.

Their future is threatened, however, when she hears a voice and dreams about “Noah.”  She begins having visions of the handsome stranger and traveling in her mind to a mystical tropical island.  Errol’s haunting dreams about the island and Noah’s obsession with Andie only add to the mystery of what’s happening…

Is Noah a figment of Andie’s imagination?  Or does he exist in an alternate reality?  More important, can Errol save Andie from Noah and the idyllic world she’s escaped to?  Or will he lose her to her phantom lover?

EWFinal-smallElsewhere by Linda Lee Williams

He leaned over to kiss her lips.  They were dry and cool, not at all the way he remembered them.  Her fair skin, which normally blushed at the slightest provocation, was colorless, as if the life had already been drained out of her, and her spirit wasn’t far behind.  It made the deep bronze hair that framed her face seem even darker.

“Andie,” he whispered, close to her ear.  “Andie, please hear me.”

Errol sighed in frustration.  He had to find the right words.  Words that could break through the barrier of the other world she had escaped to in her mind.  Something he could say that would convince her she belonged here, not there.

His grip tightened on her arm, as if willing her to pay attention.  “Andie, wherever you are, wake up.  Wake up and listen to me.  You can’t leave me, Andie.  You can’t.  I need you, more than you ever needed me.  I know I’m not perfect, like he is…but I’m real, and what we have together is real.”

For a moment, he thought he detected movement behind her eyelids.  He kissed her lips again, more firmly.  “I’m here, Andie, and I love you.  I love you, just the way you are.  You’ve heard voices in your head before.  Damn it, hear mine.”

Intrigued? Contact or find Linda at these links:

http://www.lindaleewilliams.com

https://www.facebook.com/author.linda.lee.williams

https://twitter.com/williamslindal

https://www.amazon.com/author/williamslindalee

http://indielindy.blogspot.com

linda@lindaleewilliams.com

lindalee.author@gmail.com

 

HollyGEM: Linda Lee Williams

GEM: Jennifer Theriot..& 7 more

Holly A Special Deal, Aubree Lane, author, Blog tour, Cherime MacFarlane, Diane Rinella, Dreams, Friends, GEM Feature, Jennifer Bryan Yarbrough, Jennifer Theriot, Kelly Cozzone, Linda Lee Williams, personal heros, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Romance, Sammie J, Uncategorized, Veterans 2 Comments

Today I’d like to feature a great author that I met online. Jennifer Theriot writes in the romance genre and when I first approached her with the idea of this feature she gave me information for Out Of The Box Regifted which is the second of her series. I will share that with you BUT since that time she has joined with seven other authors in a wonderful effort. For 30 days eight authors are bringing you 8 novels in Love, Honor, & Hope. All proceeds benefit The United States War Veteran’s PTSD Foundation….and some of those days are up. This is a phenomenal opportunity to pick up eight books together for 99 cents AND give money to help our veterans with PTSD. On this week where we celebrate our independence day it is truly the time to help our veterans.

LHH

The authors who have contributed their books to this Love, Honor, & Hope volume are: Jennifer Theriot, Aubree Lane, Jennifer Bryan Yarbrough, Diane Rinella, Kelly Cozzone, Linda Lee Williams. Cherime MacFarlane and Sammie J

You can get this great e-boxed set at: http://amzn.to/1lq9kEw

Please help our veterans. Check out this book. Meet new authors and build your summer reading library.

Now to share with you more about Jennifer Theriot’s sequel to the book (Out Of The Box Awakening) she is offering in the above set.

Jennifer Theriot has given us the next chapter of Olivia’s journey as she discards the meek, obedient wife role and morphs into the free spirited, determined woman who not only deserves to be loved, but commands respect from those in her life.  Can she maintain her courage to seek what she needs to be free from the past, while clinging on to what Ash offered her as a future?

Here is the blurb for Out Of The Box Regifted:J

Betrayal, Lies, Loss, Truth, Secrets…..

With a new beginning for Olivia and Ash on the horizon, what could possibly stop them from finding their happily ever after?

In order to move on, Olivia must face the haunting demons from her past life with Alan, her ex-husband. Demands and more betrayals will force her to come to grips with things she couldn’t change and practice forgiveness not only for those in her past, but for herself as well. 

Faced with his own hidden secrets, will Ash allow Olivia to stand by him?  In the midst of happiness, this blended family will find they will also have to trust in the love and family bonds to get them through what is coming next or they will self-destruct. How long can Ash keep parts of his life hidden from those who love him?

Will Olivia be able to gain the confidence she needs to explore the new life Ash is offering while staying true to herself?  Can she let go of the need to know the whole truth and be willing to trust what she’s building with Ash? 

You can find this book on Amazon.com: Out of The Box Regifted eBook: Jennifer T…

And there is a blog tour coming up also:https://www.facebook.com/events/613517405422118/

HollyGEM: Jennifer Theriot..& 7 more

An Interview With Author Will Macmillan Jones

Holly author, Author interview, Chocolate, chocolate-toffee, comic fantasy, dragons, Fantasy creatures, Friends, hobgoblin beer, humor, inspiration, interview at the pub, Summer Reading, Taste bud delight, Wales, Will Macmillan Jones, YA Leave a Comment

bio photo

Todays author interview is with comic fantasy writer Will Macmillan Jones who lives in Wales. My virtual airplane and flight crew are ready and as we taxi down the runway I pull out my notes.

I met Will online in some writer groups and was charmed with his humor and irreverence. It is a delightful and healthy way to view the world that few master. (I’m sure he will outlive many of us.)

Wales is a lovely green, verdant land with a rich cultural heritage. He tells me he does his best to support this heritage by drinking the local beer and shouting loud encouragement whenever International Rugby is on the TV.  A fifty something lover of blues, rock and jazz he has just fulfilled a lifetime ambition by filling an entire wall of his home office with full bookcases. (An admirable goal I can get behind.)

Will has asked that we meet at a pub he frequents: The Uplands Tavern, Swansea. He says it has a small band with two guitars and one harmonica.  I just hope I can hear his answers but I’m game and it sounds like fun.

My virtual plane touches down a few hours early and I use the time to see some of the sights in the beautiful countryside. Living in the Pacific Northwest of the U.S. I fully appreciate his lush green world.

I make it back to the pub by early evening and find Will at a corner table. This is a busy place with a lot of people around the bar, talking and laughing. There are photos and portraits of Dylan Thomas hanging about the place, with some famous lines painted on the walls at an angle as decoration. Nice spot!

Will had his favorite Hobgoblin beer in front of him. We had talked about the brew before I came. I’m not a beer drinker. The various American beers I’ve tried have left me less than ambivalent to the drink but I googled his Hobgoblin and it sounded quite tasty. It’s brewed with special malts and hops to produce “a full-bodied, Ruby beer that delivers a delicious chocolate toffee malt flavour, balanced with a rounded moderate bitterness and an overall fruity, mischievous character.  Yum, right? I get one too and soon we’re comfortable and enjoying the atmosphere. We manage the interview by adapting to the ebb and flow in the friendly din. During a break between sets we begin:

What experience do you want for your readers?

I think of myself as an entertainer, Holly.  I can’t sing, can’t dance, and have been accused of sending my guitar tutor into depression.  So I write to entertain.  Not to move my readers to deep emotions, but mainly to make them laugh, and sometimes forget their cares for an hour.  I know a lot of ‘serious’ writers who win proper prizes and stuff who frankly forget that bit of the craft: but for me it is the whole point of writing.

Are any of your character traits or settings based on real life?

I’m bone idle, Holly.  That’s not a boast, but an acceptance of my character.  So all my settings are based in real life, and all my characters are people I know, or have met.  I may be a fantasy writer, but the very best fantasy is based on real life, don’t you think?  Who knows what might happen if you take that small turning in the road that you haven’t seen before… where you might go…who you might meet… every day can be an adventure and every turn lead to a fantasy if you keep your mind and eyes open.

What are you currently working on?

I’ve presently got five different projects I’m playing with.  There’s the sequel to Snort and Wobbles, my first book for children: the second in my paranormal/horror series about half finished, and of course I’ve always got a Banned Underground novel – or two- on the go.  I also have a YA fantasy work with a cracking first chapter to finish.

Do you have any writing advice you would like to share with aspiring authors?

Yes: do NOT do what I did.  My first release, The Amulet of Kings, was initially written over 30 years ago now.  Once it had gained an inevitable and enviable collection of well-deserved rejection slips it lay mouldering under my bed for 30 years.  What a waste.  I could have become driven, exhilarated and frustrated  (the normal gamut of emotions per day for most writers) much, much earlier if I had stuck at it instead of giving up.

But I would also advise writers not to rush to self publish.  There’s a reason many manuscripts ( not all, of course) get rejected – and often it’s because they are awful.  Mine was.  Three rewrites later, it got me a contract, but it needed those three rewrites.  And now I’d give my eye teeth to be able to rewrite it again, and make it so much better than it is.  Be patient and practice .  I don’t pretend to be any good at this, but I know that I’m better than I was three years ago.  Keep writing, and you’ll get better too. 

Tell us about your most recent release.

The most recent is Snort and Wobbles.  This is aimed at children, aged 8 – 10 who love having bedtime stories read to them and are becoming confident at reading for the first time themselves. The story is about a young girl who loves dragons, and then meets one living at the bottom of her garden.  I envy her every day, which is probably why I wrote her in the first place… There’s dwarfs and Goblins in the story, and a big brother to be rescued.  It’s a traditional childrens’ fantasy, and seems to go down very well with the target audience.  Possibly because there’s a little bit inside me that is still eight years old and looking out every day in the hope of seeing a dragon at the bottom of my garden.

When did you decide to become a writer and why?

I didn’t.  It just sort of happened.  I started writing stories and poems when I was eleven, and never really stopped.   After I had left school I did a lot of writing at work, although of a more technical nature.  Thinking about it, since I worked as a taxation advisor, I suppose it was mostly still fantasy even then. And of course I wrote the first draft of Amulet of Kings in my mid twenties.  One thing I do regret: I made up a lot of stories to read to my kids at bedtime, and never wrote them down.  I’ll have to try and recover them from memory some day.

What inspires you in your writing?

Places, mainly.  I love the Lake District in England.  If you have never been, google it – it is one of the World’s most beautiful areas.  In fact the characters for the fantasy collection (The Banned Underground) came to me one day when I was lying in the sunshine on top of a rather large hill called High Street. Actually, the highest Roman Road in the UK runs along the top of the hill, as a matter of interest.

I do a lot of solo hill walking, and being in the wild places, alone with your thoughts and a notebook: well that’s a brilliant place for any writer to find themselves.

Who is your favorite author?

Sir Terry Pratchett.  Not just a great author, but an immense human being and an inspiration to anyone who picks up a pen or opens a laptop.  His books shine with his humanity and warmth, and the way he has dealt with the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease is astonishing.  Interviews are pretty much beyond him now, but I once read a piece in which the interviewer asked him why his later books dealt with themes not present in his early books: his reply – When I first started writing I didn’t have the tools to do what I can do now.  Who would not want to be blessed with his talent and his humility? 

What is your favorite movie and why?

The Rocky Horror Motion Picture Show.  Why? It’s irreverent, hilarious and anarchic.  Perfect.

Describe yourself in three words.

A bone-idle dreamer.

Do you ever wish that you had an entirely uncreative job, like data entry or working in a factory?

I still earn money as an accountant.  Will that do?  Writing is an escape from the mind-numbing boredom of accountancy.  Without writing as an escape, I might have easily grown up.  What a tragedy that would have been.

How much impact does your childhood have on your writing?

It’s huge.  My father started reading Enid Blyton books to me when I was young.  He loved the stories about elves, goblins and wizards as much as I do. The Magic Faraway Tree, for example. Still available now – and why? Because it is a lovely childrens’ fantasy book, of course. I guess I started reading fantasy by the time I was six, and just never stopped.   One of the very few regrets I have for my life is that my father died whilst I was still young, and he never got to see my published books.  That would have been something he could have really understood.

Do you admire your own work?

No.  I know I can do better, in fact one reason the books take longer to write than you might imagine is that I’m always trying to do better.

What’s the most blatant lie you’ve ever told?

Yes, I’ll have the next book ready for the deadline. (My publisher knew I was lying though, so it’s all right.)

Do you research your novels?

You do know I’m a fantasy writer, right?  Of course I research my work.  Normally in my dreams, with the help of late night cheese or a glass of Merlot.

Actually I research the locations quite carefully.  Everywhere my characters go, I’ve been.  Since I write about musicians, that means I have to go into loud pubs and clubs to listen to a wide variety of bands play whilst drinking alcohol.  Which is research. And hence tax deductible, right? Right!

While Will and I enjoy our Hobgoblin beer and the fun evening I’ll let you read a bit about BASS INSTINCT : The Banned Underground 1V

(Break is over and the band begins the next set. Companionably we sit back and savor the brew and the music.)

willBass Instinct is the fourth book in The Banned Underground collection of comic fantasy books.  Each is a stand-alone novel, needing no previous acquaintance with the characters.

The Banned Underground are a dwarf rhythm-and-blues band, led by a luminous green, saxophone playing bog troll with a passion for mushrooms, beer and pizza … and more beer … and for playing jazz, blues and rock ‘n’ roll, of course.  The latest addition to the group is a bright red Welsh dragon that plays bass guitar.  But he’s in trouble.

Dai the Drinking Dragon has been kidnapped by the Dark Lord for nefarious purposes, and by the Dark Lord’s dragon receptionist for even less reputable reasons. Without their bass player, the Banned Underground are now in deep trouble with their record label. They have to produce a set of recordings for an album, and someone has stolen the tapes from the last gig. Can they make some more recordings, or will Freya, the renegade dwarf bass player hired by the Dark Lord, distract the boys whilst the Dark Lord’s evil schemes come to fruition?

The Dark Lord has found some thugs to help him in his latest plan to invade the underground Dwarf Mansion he would like to own (as an alternative to his garden shed as a place to hide from his wife), but they have other things on their minds – like looting and pillaging the locals – and it’s all going wrong for him again.

~

Review:Described on The Guardian newspaper’s book review pages as ‘Lord of The Rings as written by stand-up comic Milton Jones to the soundtrack of Led Zeppelin IV’, The Banned Underground series is an underground hit, full of both crackling one-liners and more subtle jokes.

Links:

http://www.amazon.com/Instinct-Banned-Underground-Macmillan-Jones-ebook/dp/B00C44C3UU

http://www.amazon.com/Snort-Wobbles-Will-Macmillan-Jones-ebook/dp/B00J4JY1YO/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1397eywords=snort+and+wobbles

www.willmacmillanjones.com

 

HollyAn Interview With Author Will Macmillan Jones

Author Interview with Maria Bradley

Holly author, Author interview, England, Fantasy creatures, Fletcher Moss Park, Friends, Fun Social Network, humor, Indie YA Books, Innocent Victims, inspiration, persevere, squirrels and jays, strength to overcome, Summer Reading, suspense, Vampires, YA Leave a Comment

MariaToday I’m interviewing Maria Bradley, author of the Only Human series. Maria is eight hours different from me so I boarded my virtual plan for a red-eye flight to Manchester, England. There is nothing like snuggling down for a peaceful sleep on your own virtual plane and wake refreshed in another country!

We touched down in Manchester on a sunny spring morning. I had a virtual car waiting for me, complete with morning tea for two. We’re going to pick up Maria and spend the day at the lovely Fletcher Moss Park. It has to be one of the prettiest botanical displays in the Manchester area!

I had her two books with me: Only Human and The Blood Wars: Crystal Secret. These are stories of a human girl who lives in a vampire world and must conceal her humanness to survive. Interesting, huh!

Our ride to the park takes only a few short moments as there is nothing faster than a virtual car. There is barely enough time to drink a cup of tea! Between here and there Maria tells me a bit about herself.

“I have always wanted to be a writer but have never really had the confidence to do it before now. Not that I’m in any way confident now, it’s just that I’ve realized that time is running out and my children are of an age where they can look after themselves to a certain degree.

“I have worked as a Finance Clerk, Merchandiser, Sales Assistant, and Carer; more recently I’ve worked with special needs children and young adults. I love them all and continue to volunteer, but my real passion is for writing.

“Writing a story opens up a world which is entirely controlled by the writer; it can be happy or sad, down-to-earth or mystical, heart-warming or terrifying. It is the most exciting and captivating use of time and is full of possibilities. A good story consumes the reader absolutely and leaves them bereft when they get to the end. I have read many stories like this and I hope that one day my stories will have the same effect. That is when I will feel that I have succeeded as an Author.

“Many writers take their characters with them wherever they go and I’m no exception. To explore their personalities and their reactions to certain situations I imagine them in various scenarios throughout my day. The more rounded the character, the more believable the person is within the story. Your characters must be as real to you as you want your reader to believe in them

“Now that I have finally ‘bitten the bullet’ and dived into the writing world, I can’t see myself doing anything else. I would say to any aspiring Author, and in fact, to everybody who is too shy or lacks the confidence to try and achieve their dreams, ‘Go For it! Don’t waste any time worrying if you are good enough or worry about what anyone else thinks, just do it now, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain!’”

We arrive at the park and get out to stroll. It is absolutely gorgeous on the trails and I struggle to keep my mind on my interview questions. “What experience do you want for your readers?“

“I want the real world to completely disappear from their minds, so that they believe that my characters are real people, creatures or bloodsucking evildoers! My favourite books, and The Founders by Holly Barbo is one of them, transport me to another dimension, and give me relief with their escapism; gas bills, overflowing ironing piles, and my children’s questionable table manners cease to exist! 

“Are any of your character traits or settings based on real life?” 

“In my first book Four’s A Crowd Teen/Sci Fi, Chairman is a real life lovable, upper class tramp I once knew in another life.

“With the Only Human Series, Aecia has many character traits similar to my daughters in that she is funny without realizing it, even when she is in life-threatening situations. One instance, when Aecia has been captured and is being taken to the Vampire Palace Laboratory for interrogation, all she can think of is how devastatingly attractive her captor Elder ‘Cato’ is, and how God has wrapped up evil in a beautiful and irresistible package. She yearns to resist him all the way to a live grenade and explode the living daylights out of him! My daughter has a similar conflict of emotions with her Math teacher! Maybe not quite as violently dramatic and murderous! My son’s personalities come into play with ‘Garok’ who is Aecia’s love/hate boyfriend, and Bill (adorably yet ugly, tiny, and failed clone result of the vampire experiments).  Bill and the other ‘Watchers’ are crazy clever, loyal, brave and with an acerbic wit. The ugly part is, of course, nothing like my boys, but the intelligence, adorable and comedic traits are my boys through and through! And NO, I am not biased! “

“What are your most significant challenges when you write?” 

“Persuading someone else to make the dinner! Trust me, it’s so hard to get a few hours with no distractions so that I can travel into my own world and be with my characters! You need tunnel vision, as a writer, in order to create a believable, interesting and captivating setting, and be able to get your readers empathizing with your heroines and heroes.  

“Another challenge for me is the promotion and marketing aspect of being a published writer. With no experience I naively presumed that somehow, some way, the world would just know that I had written a book? I have improved with that lately simply because I now have a solid group of Authors whom I am privileged to call my colleagues and friends. Their expert advice has given me confidence, knowledge and incentive to put myself out there! You my have heard of them Holly?  ;-) Indie YA Books? Coolest website for teen and young adult reading enthusiasts EVER!”

I grin. It’s always nice to have my books recognized. I hadn’t been aware she had read any. I had, of course, heard of the FaceBook group Indie YA Books which focuses on great indie published books in the YA category. “Tell us about your most recent release.” 

“The Blood Wars – Crystal Secret is Number 2 in the Only Human Series, and Aecia’s refuge on her Uncle’s island is discovered by the Vampires. Her Uncle Kasen has been captured and the Elder’s mind tricks have opened a doorway into his mind revealing the secrets within. Aecia is once again on the run with her party of Watchers, rescued clones, rebels and Vampire sympathizers, and now she is about to discover that she is so much more than Only Human!”

I slip the books that I’ve been holding back into my messenger bag. There is a pretty spot on the trail that has a bench. I had brought some acorns for the wild critters and we watch a red squirrel argue with a jay over the nutty treat. Maria and I can’t help but laugh at their antics.

“So when were you last involved in a real-life punch-up?” 

“Ooooh, without doubt, my favourite question! I was 12 years old, my sister was 14 and a curly haired beauty. On the park, she was the big attraction with the pubescent boys brigade, and one day I heard her screaming when I was studying frogs in the park’s pond. Pure instinct obliterated fear and common sense, and I raced over to find her pinned down by three teenage lads who had the strangest way of trying to appear attractive to her. I launched in with my brand new trainers and kicked and punched all three protagonists like a disabled Ninja. In the ensuing chaos I accidentally kicked my sister too, right in the head! As we staggered home together, she could barely see, and between sobs, she uttered the words I will never forget when she said “Next time I’m in trouble, I don’t care what kind, please, please don’t help me Maria.” Ooops!”

The squirrel chases the jay who blithely flies away with an acorn. While that uneven chase is going on I continue with my next question. “What do you want to be when you grow up? “

Without any hesitation Maria answers,“Harry Potter!” 

I grin then change topic directions. “Do you believe in a deity?” 

Maria gestures to the beautiful gardens around us.“Absolutely! The intricacies of a car are a complete mystery to me but I wouldn’t say it appeared from thin air, and nobody had designed it? How much more complex are we, and our world, and nobody designed us? Even if we evolved from one cell into a billion other things, who created the first cell?”   

“Do you laugh at your own jokes?” 

“Nobody else does, so yeah, all the time! My humour will not be extinguished!!”

We finish our leisurely walk and get back in the car. Maria signs her books for me which was an unexpected treat. I hate to say good-bye to this fun woman but my virtual plane beeps my phone that it’s ready for takeoff. I give Maria a hug and depart for the airport. If you want to read Maria Bradley’s books go to these links to find them.

http://www.onlyhumanbook.com

http://www.amazon.com/Blood-Wars-Crystal-Secret-Only-Human-ebook/dp/B00H7GHSHI

http://www.amazon.com/FOURS-A-CROWD-Maria-Bradley-ebook/dp/B00A6TG9PU

 

HollyAuthor Interview with Maria Bradley

GEM: Kelly Cozzone

Holly author, Dreams, Friends, GEM Feature, Kelly Cozzone, Memorial Day, Readers, Romance, Summer Reading, suspense, Tropical Dreams 1 Comment

kellyToday my GEM (Guest Excerpt Moment) features Kelly Cozzone who writes in the romance suspense genre. I first met Kelly through an author group and am part way through reading her book: Tropical Dreams. Here is the blurb:

Betrayal and death permeated Tiana Alexander’s past and threatens to rip apart her future. She can’t escape the devastation of anger and pain. Bringing Tropical Dreams to life is the culmination of facing all life has dealt to her. The same life that taught her trusting someone carried dire consequences. Until David Murphy walked into her club. He made her want to trust again, made her want to love again. What she didn’t know was someone wasn’t about to let that happen. They wanted her dead!

Can David keep her alive long enough to find out who is after her? Can he put aside his own demons for her? Can they overcome deceit, betrayal and more death? Or will life finally take its toll!

It’s a perfect for summer reading! See for yourself. Here’s an except:

CHAPTER TWO

Tiana Alexander was a beautiful woman, with long wavy hair that was a sparkling shade of gold. Soft-spoken and carefree, she was at times childlike in the enjoyment of things she loved. Her driving force was Tropical Dreams and her desire to make it more than just a nightclub. She had lived and breathed the club every single day of the four years she had been planning the opening. Tropical Dreams represented years of hard work finally coming together.

Peering around the club, Tiana pictured the building as it was when she’d first made the purchase. Old and run down, shabby was the first word she’d used to describe the building. Her friends had tried desperately to talk her out of buying the “shack” as they had named it. However it was oceanfront and the ocean had seized her clear down into the depths of her soul. It soothed something in her as nothing else ever had. She’d known from the moment she’d laid eyes on it that she had to own it.  It was her little slice of heaven, her dream just waiting to come true. We’ve come a long way baby, she thought with a chuckle as she examined the almost finished product. Who would have thought an abandoned warehouse could emerge this beautiful? Like a butterfly that had come out of its cocoon.

Consider this for your summer reading list. I’m making it easy for you and including the links.

Amazon:  http://amzn.to/M4srcT

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1q8GUF4

Books-A-Million:  http://bit.ly/1e3gUSO

You can connect with Kelly at the following places.

Facebook: http://on.fb.me/1daf81H

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1i0pFRO

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/1fIpImz

Twitter:  @KCozzone

Columnist for Examiner.com

Published author www.therelationshipscafe.com

 

HollyGEM: Kelly Cozzone

Interview with Author Grace Augustine

Holly adapting, author, Author interview, balance, flowering garden, Friends, inspiration, Iowa, Mature romance -over 50, Patience and writing, the creative process 4 Comments

GraceA few weeks ago I had the opportunity to do a “GEM“(Guest Excerpt Moment) with Author Grace Augustine and featured her second book in the series. At that time she was extremely busy where she works and couldn’t do an interview. Today I boarded my virtual plane and flew to Iowa to meet with her. She took just a moment away from designing and creating the most beautiful flower arrangements, corsages, wedding bouquets and other expressions of floral love. We met in a coffee shop just down the street from the flower shop.

I give her a hug when she arrives. I would know here anywhere and have so looked forward to meeting her. She laughs and hugs me back. We settle at a small table by the window. I have her book with me and lay it on the table.

“Hi Grace. I feel as if I know you. This interview is a treat for me.” The coffee shop offers some healthy snacks and I decide we both could use the treat. “What’s your favorite fruit?”

“Well, before I was diagnosed with Atrial Fib and put on medication for it, ruby red grapefruit was my favorite.  Now, because of other issues, the only fruits I enjoy are berries….but I do enjoy a glass of wine now and again.  lol”

I grin. Okay. Berries it is!

I come back to the table and we relax with our coffee and fruit. Since I live near Seattle, I have a latte. “Tell me…what are your current writing projects?”

“The Acorn Hills series continues with book 3, Sultry Sensations. This is Denise Berrie’s story. Denise comes from the “wrong side of the tracks”,  over comes many obstacles and in so doing is a successful business owner. There will be 2 more books following, Book 4…Richard’s Relics and Book 5…Special Occasions. I have plans for a 2nd generation series as well.”

“I have both of your books in my To-Be-Read pile. I find it interesting the special niche you are writing in. Have you ever read or seen yourself as a character in a book or a movie?”

She takes a long sip, enjoying the warmth before answering. “Truthfully, Holly, the issues in these books are real issues that I’ve struggled with. I’ve been on the end of a relationship where my partner had to have multiple other women to be satisfied. I was a victim of physical and sexual abuse as a young teen. I’ve dealt with the loss of good friends in Vietnam, aging/dying parents, being a business owner, having children who march to different drummers. Each character in each book is a facet of me, with a whole lot of imagination tossed in as well.”

It’s interesting how every writer’s style is as unique as we are. My heart warms with her honesty.

“Grace, what do you consider your biggest failure?”

“I think my biggest failure has been the insecurity of never being enough. After having it drilled into my head for so long that I wasn’t enough in any area of my life, it’s been a challenge to take that concrete block off my back and confidently stand on it in victory…but I’ve done it….even though there are shards of concrete that fall on me now and again.”

My smile is a bit sad as her answer resonates inside me.

I lean forward. “Are you making some influences on the world or constantly being influenced by the world?”

“I certainly hope I’m influencing. I believe it is my life path to encourage and love and help as many as I can to see their life paths. I wouldn’t change a thing in my life or a time either….everything I’ve seen, everything I’ve experienced make me who I am today…and that allows me to speak with knowledge and wisdom (contrary to what my children would tell you!   lol) I want others to see that life doesn’t end at 50 or 60….it continues….it is rich and filled with hope and possibility..”

She has to go back to work and I need to board my virtual plane and get back to my work and my own writing. I give her a long hug. “Grace it has been a joy meeting you. Thank you so much for sharing your time with me.” She waves and disappears back into the floral shop.

Here is an excerpt from Bittersweet:

The town of Acorn Hills nestled snugly at the base of the Cascade Mountain Range with the Klikatka River meandering through the middle of town. It was a community that was booming with businesses; top ranked schools and friendly, welcoming people. The economy was stable. Dairy and fruit farms dotted the land and the citizens, for the most part, took pride in what their town had to offer. The welcome sign at the entrance to the city summed it up well… “Acorn Hills, home of 35,000 amazing residents with a few nuts mixed in for good measure!”

Jake Evans had driven past that sign so many times in his life. Now that he was home again, he’d drive by it a couple times a day, at least. He smiled as he remembered more of why he was back in Acorn Hills.

Living on the East Coast opened Jake’s eyes to a lot of differences between the big city and his home town, but now he had to return to Acorn Hills. The death of his father brought him back.  Because of that fact, he now not only owned a business but also ran a business; he a new life to live, new people to meet. And, this would allow him to check up on Jillian Halloran, the woman of his dreams.

Jake’s mind had wandered back to the day they had first met. He had taken a few vacation days and had come home to visit his folks. His dad, John, invited him to attend a Chamber of Commerce luncheon and Jillian was also in attendance.

He couldn’t take his eyes off of her. From the moment he entered the Oakdale meeting room where the luncheon was held he seemed to watch her every move. There was something so wholesome, so pure and unexplainable about this woman. Jillian Halloran. His dad had told him she owned and operated a floral shop in the new district not far from Austin and Evans. He made a mental note and would definitely have to explore that further.”

http://amzn.to/1n8aE6c

FB LINK……www.facebook.com/pages/Grace-Augustine-Author-Romance-With-a-Touch-of-Grace/1396718353891536?ref=hl

WEBSITE…..www.graceaugustine.weebly.com

HollyInterview with Author Grace Augustine

An Interview with Author Linda Fulton

Holly author, Author interview, Dreams, flowering garden, Friends, humor, inspiration, Louisiana, Paranormal romance, Patience and writing, pet, playful kitties, southern hospitality, strength to overcome, the creative process 3 Comments

2LindaTodays interview is with author Linda Fulton. From my corner of the U.S. I boarded my luxury virtual plane and flew to northern Louisiana near Arkansas. I was able to sleep well, tucked in amongst the fluffy clouds and the flight crew was great, getting me there for a morning visit.

Approaching Linda’s home was a visual treat. I swear there were flowers everywhere and the fragrances?…ahh just wonderful! Linda greeted me with a warm hug and offered me a seat in one of the rocking chairs on her front porch. With iced tea on the small table between us I sat back and breathed in the atmosphere. Several kinds of mint bordered that small veranda and there were gardenia and jasmine in bloom. (Linda identified it as confederate jasmine, a beautiful variety I was unfamiliar with) Scattered around the yard were vivid splashes of red in the roses and geraniums and against the fence was a luxuriant row of day lilies in purple and yellow with white fringe. All the beautiful splashes of color were stunning accents for the warmth of my hostess.

Getting out my notebook I began the interview. I placed two books on the table. Each book had a different name stated as the author yet I knew that Linda had written both.

“Tell me about your pen names.”

Linda smiled. “I make distinctions between the genres with different names. With my humorous short stories I use L. Walker. That author name is separate from my paranormal romance books which I use L.W. Browning. I’ll explain more about that in a bit.”

I nod. This is a common practice. “Tell me about your writing habits. Do you plot out your novels in advance or do you write on the fly?”

“I only wish I could plot. I have a set of scenes that I see for the characters. I also have an overall idea of how the story will go. I know what I want the reader to take away from the stories. How and why the characters will grow, etc. My job is to tie those scenes together from one to the next while getting the primary theme of the story across. Since I am writing a series, the characters don’t do all their growing in one book. I see the whole thing in my mind and how I want each one to progress for the entire series as well as each story that is told in a book. 

“One of my favorite authors is Patricia Briggs. In an interview she once said that they wanted her to give them the outline of the story. She said if she did that, she would know how it ended and then she wouldn’t even want to write it. I love that answer.”

“When did you decide to become a writer and why?”

“I always wanted to write. I have told people for years that when I retired I was going to write. Many of them did not believe me. When I was young I bugged my maternal grandparents, aunts and uncles to tell me stories of the “olden days”. I was sure they had hidden treasures in their attic and wonderful stories to tell. They promised they had nothing in the attic and no stories to tell. My paternal grandfather had lots and lots of stories and he seemed to love to share them.

 “One of my married in aunts was telling a very interesting story once that had been handed down from her great aunt about riding the train during the war. When she finished, I said… why don’t we have any stories like that. She said it was because my family did not have a storyteller. I decided I would be the storyteller. All those wonderful little tales that give us insight into the personalities of the people we come from, what a shame if all of those little stories are lost. 

 “The desire to be the storyteller has been strong with me as far back as I can remember. I love paranormal romance. I read a lot of paranormal romance. I read a couple of books where I was disappointed in the hero or thought the heroine should not have done something. So I decided, I’d just write my own paranormal romance and the hero and heroine would do what I wanted. Little did I know, the characters take on a life of their own. Sometimes after I write something, the character in that scene will haunt me. It’s the character’s way of saying… “I would not do that” so I have to go back and change it. I write the paranormal romance stories under the pen name, L. W. Browning. Yes, there’s a story behind the pen name too.

 “I also write funny and true short stories of my adventures and life. I have been blessed with a funny life. I have told many of these stories to friends and co-workers through the years. A fellow I worked with asked me to publish them. He had cancer and wanted to read them while he took his chemo treatments. I have published the first book. I have two more on the way. Those are not Pulitzer material. The short stories are meant to make people appreciate that some of those things never happened to them. And maybe they’ll find it funny that some of those things did happen to me.  I write those under my maiden name, L. Walker.”

As I take a sip of tea I spot a small grey cat stalking an unseen prey amongst the day lilies. I had heard that Linda loved animals and I would bet there were more living about the home. “Where is your favorite place to travel?  Where would you like to go?”

“I love to travel. My husband and I go to Colorado as often as we can. I’m the kind of person who would rather travel to Death Valley than Las Vegas. I love scenery and I take many pictures. I come home and paint those pictures. I think most artists are trying to capture something when they paint or draw, a beautiful flower, an ocean wave, a feeling. Life is fleeting and artists spend a lot of time trying to capture it. It cannot really be done, but sometimes… sometimes the artist gets lucky and when people view their art, they can pass on the feeling, the beauty, the portrait or landscape. 

 “I draw inspiration in everything I see. People, mountains, landscapes, sky… I truly love life and everything that is beautiful about it.” 

“Any advice for aspiring authors?“

Linda chuckles and gives her chair a couple of rocks before answering. “There is no such thing as an aspiring author. Okay, there may be a time between writing a story and finishing it. I guess that person might be an aspiring author then, but only for the first book. If you need to write, if it’s the desire of your heart, write. Read a lot then write. Read a lot more, then write some more. 

 “If someone tells you that your writing is bad, ask them why and/or how to fix it. If their suggestion has merit, then fix it. I re-wrote my first book about 30 times. I have been out of school a long time and all I did was technical writing for 30 years. I did not understand Point of View, active versus passive voice and a lot of other things writers need to know. Heck, they even changed the rule about how many spaces followed a period. Whenever someone told me I had this problem or that problem, I got a second opinion. Then I found out how to fix it, and I went through the entire story, again. 

 “Get some great beta readers, people you trust who know what they’re talking about. Get an editor, yes, you need an editor. Even if you have a degree in English, get an editor.  

 “What did all that trauma and drama teach me? I love my story and I love my characters. Now, I’m a lot more in tune with the characters and their personalities. 

 “Read books you like and ask yourself what makes you like them. Do what you like. I’m not a big fan of cliff hanger endings. Karen Marie Monning is. I love her Fever series, but there are no cliff hangers in my books. Don’t try too hard to please everyone, remember that ultimately, you have to please yourself.”

 The grey kitty has now emerged from the Day lilies and is sitting with concentration focused upon a shadow in the hydrangeas. Only the tip of it’s tail is twitching. “How much impact does your childhood have on your writing?“

“A lot. My stories tend to be about people who don’t fit in. They have to overcome prejudice and their own feelings about themselves because of that prejudice. Each of us has to tap into our own inner strength and I think we were meant to share. We all have to know where our self-worth comes from. We have to share our stories and our thoughts and our ideas. The world is a fascinating place. Life is amazing. People are nice and not nice. We all have unique and wonderful experiences. I use mine to tell a story and I hope people who read those stories take away a little something that can help them to know and understand themselves even though the stories are pure fantasy.

“When I was young, my family moved every 2 to 3 months. We were pipeliners, a rare breed. I notice MS Word does not even recognize the word ‘pipeliner’. Funny. We ‘strung’ those huge 30 and 36 inch diameter pipes that bring natural gas to cities all over the country. Moving every 2 to 3 months meant 3 or 4 schools per school year. Now that was fun, and I was in the National Honor society. We made very good grades despite the fact that we moved so often. We would either be way ahead or way behind when we started a new school. The books were always different. My first library was textbooks from all those schools where we had to buy our books. I was the new girl a lot. My record for least number of days at a school was Hohenwald, Tennessee. I only went there 3 ½ days. It was one of those huge school buildings that everybody from kindergarten through high school from 3 or 4 counties attended. I had just found my way back to my room from recess and the cafeteria, but it was time to go. 

“I also have a love of reading. If we moved to a new town during the summer, we did not have any friends there, we didn’t know anybody. We always made three stops at every new town, the bank, the post office and the library. We checked out as many books as they allowed and as soon as we read those, we got to go back and get another stack. My parents were depression-era kids. My daddy only finished 6th grade before he had to leave home for CCC camp when his family could not afford to feed him. I think he must have been brilliant because he performed complex mathematical functions in his head. I did not inherit that. My mother’s father sold a cow to buy her graduation ring when she finished high school. He sold a cow for every one of his six children so they could have a ring. Education was important to my family. I was taught that education was the only thing that no one could ever take away from you. My parents placed a high value on education. My daddy went to several schools in the army and several that he paid for himself when he got out of the army. He was a very smart man and we frequently discussed the books I read, especially the ones about WWII, which he was in.

“I was also taught that every person, yes, every one of them has something valuable to offer whether he is the janitor or the college president. 

“I am still a voracious reader today. If there was a 12 step program for readaholics, I’m sure my family would have found it by now. If you know of one, please don’t tell them. I am clinging to my reading addiction and you know what they say about an addict, if they don’t want to quit…”

I took another sip or tea. “What are books for?”

“Books are for us escape, to grow, to learn, to enhance our lives and those around us. Books allow us access to all the accumulated knowledge of everyone who has gone before us. And most of that is free at the library. Books open up the universe to us. Not just the universe we live in, but the fantasy worlds that others have built for us to escape and enjoy. 

“Books build us as people. They inspire us. Sometimes they make us laugh and cry. And on rare occasions, we learn something from reading a story that we would not otherwise have known about ourselves or others. A sentence or a word can have a profound impact on our lives, on who we are, on our self-worth. Books can be powerful motivators or just powerful. 

“There is no knowledge that is not power. Ralph Waldo Emerson.” 

Linda points and for a moment I’m distracted by orange tiger kitty coming from behind a rosebush. Silently he stalks the twitching grey tail near the day lilies. I can’t help but grin but go on. “Are you jealous of other writers?”

“No. My all-time favorite series is by Karen Marie Monning. I love her Fever series. I am glad she’s had success with it. She has written some fantastic stories that I truly enjoy. I’ve read her stories multiple times. She has already written those people and what happens to them. My people are different and they have a different set of obstacles to overcome. I could never write her stories better than she has already written them. 

“I am excited that she’s doing well with that series. I hope she writes several more books for those characters because I love to read about them. 

“Writing is a subjective art form. I have been fortunate to take art lessons from a world renowned painter. He is a very eccentric fellow who lives in the woods in Louisiana. Go figure. The Rockefellers have some of his paintings in their private collection. His work is amazing and I have seen many of the paintings he’s done through the years. He did one a few years ago that stopped me in my tracks. I just had to have it. He gave me a special student discount and we bought it as an investment. Also, I think he wants his students to have some of his work. The painting I got is not technically any better or worse than many of his others, but this painting, touched my heart. Looking at this painting does something to my soul. I cannot even explain it. It’s completely subjective. He entered a contest with it. The other two won awards, this one did not, but this is the one of all his work that I’ve seen that spoke to me. 

“Some people will enjoy my stories and some will not. I am writing for those who enjoy my stories. We all take a chance when we buy a book by an author we haven’t read before. Sometimes, we are pleasantly surprised. Sometimes, we’re on fire about the story and cannot wait for the next one. Sometimes, we put it in the ‘do not read again’ stack. It’s like my daddy always said, “you pay your money and you take your chances”. I have found that applies to a lot in life. 

“Jealous of another author… never. I am thrilled when other authors do well and I offer encouragement whenever I can. There are a lot of different people out there and we like different things. I cannot, could not ever, write a story that appealed to everybody. So I write a story I’d like to read, for people who like the stories I write. I am very happy with that.” 

At that moment the orange kitty pounces on the twitching grey tail. There’s a surprised RAOW and the two tumble about until the matter is settled. The grey cat looks into the day lilies and with a feline shrug walks to another part of the garden. Linda and I both wipe the tears of laughter from our eyes. It seems natural to ask this, my last question “What makes you cry?”

She chuckles at the timing of my question but pauses in thought before answering. “Some days, I cry at dog food commercials. The one where that little dog chases the chuck wagon into the cabinet and he doesn’t get the food… that can do it for me sometimes. Other days, nothing could bring a tear to these eyes. I have no explanation and I don’t care. Emotions are there for us and we need to have them and enjoy them.” 

I thank Linda for the memorable time and her willingness to answer my questions. Please check out her buy links for her books and if you wish to get to know Linda Fulton better visit her at her blog:http://lalouziane.wordpress.com

http://www.amazon.com/Warlords-Honor-Krystile-Warriors-Browning-ebook/dp/B00H30I99O/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1398627503&sr=8-1&keywords=warlords+honor

 

http://www.amazon.com/Adventures-Southern-Girl-Linda-Walker-ebook/dp/B00AUYINB4/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1398636970&sr=1-1&keywords=Adventures+of+a+southern+girl

HollyAn Interview with Author Linda Fulton

GEM: Simone Beaudelaire

Holly author, GEM Feature, Readers, the creative process 2 Comments

Music EndsFor this interview I boarded my virtual plane and flew to Texas to chat with Simone, a charming author of romance whom I’d met online several months ago. Before I knew it I was standing before her door just a bit nervous about meeting my friend in person. The door opened and I was swept into a home fragrant with baking…muffins? Simone, a slender woman with a gamin hair cut and winsome charm led me past the mouthwatering aromas of the kitchen to a covered patio. I settled into the proffered chair and looked around at the charming spot while Simone ducked back into the house. There was a waist-high wall of red bricks all the way around and above was a wooden lattice. Red and pink roses grew on it and I could hear bees buzzing around the blossoms. Amongst the roses were vintage gasoline signs, including a HUGE Mobil horse. It was a delightfully interesting spot.

Simone emerged from the shadows of the house with a tray. Oh my! Warm berry muffins fresh from the oven and iced tea. I’m in heaven! I take a bite. Mmm!

(Okay. Back to work.)

“Simone tell me about yourself. What’s your favorite fruit?”

She smiled, looking at the warm muffin in my hand. “Raspberries.”

I dust the crumbs off my fingers and concentrate on my job. “I see you brought out one of your books: When Music Ends. Can you tell me about it?

She lifts the book and reads the blurb from the back. “What is the sound of a broken heart? How does a fated love rise from a pleasant note to a passionate symphony? 

Budding musician Erin James knows all too well the noise of neglect and tragedy, and that her infatuation with her best friend Sheridan’s older brother, Sean, is doomed never to blossom into something more. 

Young builder Sean Murphy isn’t really in the market for a relationship. He’s more interested in helping build his father’s construction company. Even if he were, his sister’s best friend isn’t even on his radar. 

That is, until Sheridan plays matchmaker. A pity date quickly flares into irresistible passion. But as their love reaches a crescendo, personal tragedies and impossible decisions threaten to end their harmonious, unlikely romance. 

When the music ends, will these troubled lovers find a way to compose a life together?” 

I swallow a sip of iced tea  “Wow. I read online that this is a series?”

She nods. “ My next new release, which I hope to have live in late May, is called “When the Heart Heals.” It’s book 3 in my contemporary romance series “The Hearts in Winter Chronicles. When the Heart Heals tells the story of Drew Peterson (half-brother of Michael Burke, for those who have read books 1 and 2) and his long-time on again off again relationship with Alyssa, his high school sweetheart.”

“I haven’t read all of your books but they aren’t all sweetness. As an author how many people have you done away with over the course of your career?”

Simone’s gaze drifts to the roses on the trellis as she thinks through her stories. “A few. I’ve lost a foster mother and a dad to cancer, a mom to liver disease, and a brother to a band of train robbers. There have also been a few extras, of course. Oh, and there’s the man who attacked Rosalind in Beautiful Rose. No one ever admitted anything, but I’m pretty sure her lover, Vidal, did that one in himself. If those bloodied knuckles were any indication, he did something he shouldn’t have, but under the circumstances, who would blame him?”

I blink at the way she phrased her answer. I can tell her characters are real three dimensional people. I understand that as mine are that way to me, too. “Ever dispatched someone and then regretted it?”

She reached for a muffin. “No, but I did change the end of Keeping Katerina because I couldn’t stand to do away with the person who was supposed to die at the end.”

“Are you ever jealous of other writers?”

“I used to be jealous of other writers, but no more. Now that I’m able to tell my own stories, I feel a sense of pride. I don’t care if I’m ever famous. That’s not what it’s about. I get to tell my stories. For me, that’s enough.”

I pick up another muffin and wonder if I should…but they’re so good! “Do you ever wish that you had an entirely uncreative job, like data entry or working in a factory?”

A smile touches the corner of her eyes. “Ooh, I’ve done data entry.  I liked it. I listened to books on tape and had a lot of fun. I miss that.”

Just then a couple of small finches swoop into the patio. One trills from the brick wall but the brave one lands near my chair looking for crumbs. Both of us grin at his antics.

“Do you laugh at your own jokes?”

She shakes her head with wry humor. “I’m probably the only person who laughs at my jokes. Everyone else gives me a blank look. I don’t usually joke in books. It doesn’t work.”

“Simone, let me include an excerpt for my readers. I’d love to have them sample your writing.”

Here is an excerpt from When Music Ends:

“Walk with me, Erin. Let’s talk, okay?”

“Yes, let’s.” She took his hand in hers; lacing their fingers together the way they used to do, they left the building.

Outside, the autumn air was rather chilly, and Erin shivered. She remembered suddenly that their relationship had begun the same way, with a shiver. Sean released her hand and wrapped his arm around her shoulders instead. She snuggled into his warmth.

There was a bench in the courtyard, in a patch of feeble sunlight, and they sat, ignoring the piles of cigarette butts on the ground around their feet.

“Okay, Murphy, spill it. Just what the hell were you hoping to accomplish by making me fall madly in love with you and then dropping me like a rock? Was I just an easy lay after all?” She tried to sound playful, but it wasn’t really that convincing.

“Of course not. Don’t cheapen what we had like that. I loved you and you know it.” He sighed. “I’m sorry Erin. I know I hurt you. I didn’t want to, but I didn’t see another way. I didn’t want to get in the way of you pursuing your dreams.”

“Sean, you were my dream, you and our life together. The symphony, the music lessons, the family…”

“It’s too small. You could achieve whatever you want.”

She laughed, and it sounded bitter and ironic. “Funny, isn’t it, how people say that when it’s so clearly not true. Did you ever stop to ask what I wanted? I never asked to be famous, to be in some high powered orchestra and deal with all the internal politics and backbiting. I just wanted to play my instrument, make music, be part of a group and make people happy. And I wanted to come home to you every night. I told you that, but you didn’t listen. You were so sure you knew me better than I knew myself. What I wanted was to get my degree and come home. I certainly didn’t achieve that.”

“You almost have your degree. A few more months will do it.”

“But now I have no home to go to.” She let that sink in, wondering if he would finally understand.

“Erin, if what you’re saying is true, why didn’t you insist I talk to you? You just let it go, didn’t ask any questions, didn’t protest. I thought you were done with me, glad I stopped meddling in your life.”

Erin shook her head. “I didn’t want to bother you. I guess I figured you were done with me, that you were sick of your silly adolescent girlfriend and wanted to move on, find someone else, someone not such a baby, not so…I don’t know…boring.”

“How could you think that? You’re not boring. You’re amazing. Didn’t I keep telling you that?”

“You know what they say, Sean, about actions and words. No one has ever really wanted me. I was glad you did for a while. I didn’t expect it to last. I dared to let myself hope, but then you did what I had expected. You got over me.”

“I never did. I thought you were over me.” Sean’s voice turned a bit irritated. “Oh, this is ridiculous. You know, both of us have been doing a fair bit of assuming. I think it might be a good idea for us to stop second guessing each other and just say what we feel.”

“That’s hard.”

“It is, but isn’t it time to be honest?”

“Yes.” Neither of them spoke for a long moment as they pondered their words. At last, Erin said, “Can I start?”

“Of course. Ladies first.”

“Sean, from the night you took me to homecoming, and kissed me in the parking lot until this day, the love I have for you has never wavered, never changed. I love you. You’re my one and only, Sean, forever. If I can’t have you, I don’t want anyone. Why, when I’ve already found my perfect love, would I even attempt to replace you? I would rather have your memory than any other man. And to this day I still want you as much as I ever did.”

She was very close to him, and the temptation was too great. He kissed her, rewarding her sweet words with a tender wet touch of his lips.

Buy links

US: http://www.amazon.com/When-Music-Hearts-Winter-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B00DCZU12M/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1398133354&sr=8-1&keywords=When+the+music+ends

UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/When-Music-Hearts-Winter-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B00DCZU12M/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1398133426&sr=8-1&keywords=when+the+music+ends

HollyGEM: Simone Beaudelaire