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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Interview of Author J. C. Conway

Today I'm pleased to present an interview of romance author J. C. Conway.

Latest Book: HEARTS IN RUIN

Buy Link:
Amazon Paperback Print Edition
Kindle Edition
iTunes Store
Barnes & Noble Paperback or Nook Edition
Liquid Silver Books All E-Book Formats
Kobo Edition Formats

Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kveqOm-jieg



BIO:
J. C. Conway writes romance, science-fiction, and fantasy stories for adults, young adults and middle-grade readers. He is a long-standing member of Romance Writers of America, Yosemite Romance Writers, the World Science Fiction Society, and Mystery Writers of America. He is also a complex-litigation attorney, a former high-school math and computer science teacher, a family man, and a fan of great fiction that stretches the imagination, probes the depths of the human condition or otherwise illuminates the unknown or the misunderstood—best done with a touch of humility and humor.

Q: What’s your writing schedule like? Do you strive for a certain amount of words each day?
A: My writing schedule varies a great deal. I have a demanding day job and a family. So I have to choose carefully what tasks I'm working on at any given time. When I'm working on a novel first draft I try to average about a thousand words a day, putting in a couple of hours each weekday evening, and a good ten to twelve hours on the weekends. I don't do that all the time. Lately I've been editing and revising. That also involves weekday evenings and some weekend days. But I haven't found a good way to measure my progress in that regard, so I trust my gut. If I feel I'm making headway, I'm satisfied and stay the course. If I'm feeling frustrated and non-productive, I strive to schedule my time better. If everything seems to be falling apart around me, well, that's a good time to lighten up on the righting a bit and pay more attention to the life that is, ultimately, the source of all inspiration in any event.

Q: How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?
A: For people that know me really well it's not that well hidden. They can see me here and there in pieces of good guys, bad guys and side characters. But that's not so much intentional as it is completely unavoidable. I see the world through the filter of my own eyes. If I adopt a character that is someone I know, they tend not to see that because my mental image does not match anyone else's self-image. It's one of the things that make fiction so diverse and fascinating.

Q: Of all your characters, who’s your favorite, and why?
A: At any given time, the answer would be the protagonist of the work in progress. Today, that is Dr. Haley Marx, the protagonist in Silent Sky. She is a brilliant mathematician and multi-dimensional code designer. She has a strong independent streak and an unshakable faith in her interstellar probes and their ability to find intelligent life (something she finds somewhat lacking on Earth). Life isn't easy for Haley and things go horribly wrong. She locks horns with most people she encounters and those that love her give her great latitude.

Q: Do you eat comfort food/listen to music when writing?
A: I have a soundtrack running almost all the time while I write, and I adjust it to find the mood of the piece. My current mix includes some moody 70s rock (Pink Floyd, certain Led Zeppelin tunes), a lot of instrumentalists (including Pat Metheny, Buckethead, Marc Benevento, Bryan Beller and others), and a hodgepodge of specific songs that strike a chord with me, from Spice Girls to Hawkwind.

Q: How do you choose names for your characters?
A: If possible, I approach character names as a form of poetry. It's a combination of sound and meaning. More often than not I start with meaning. I want to find a name that reflects the character. I run through names in my head. I search baby-name websites. I scan last names and first names at work, in the newspaper and in the mail stack. At some point I find something that has meaning and a nice ring to it. So long as that wonderful name also feels right for the character, away we go. Sometimes things hit immediately. Other times a name changes endlessly.

Q: If you could give a younger version of yourself advice, what would it be?
A: Learn the craft now. Don't wait. When I was younger I felt I had something in the neighborhood of forever to absorb enough life and finally get down to writing seriously. I didn't study the craft. I felt it would just come to me. So that combination of youthful immortality and arrogance kept me from writing and finishing works I could have created at that time. I'm stuck now with that idiotic timeline I lazily created in my early twenties. So that would be my advice, maybe delivered with a quick slap upside the head.

Q: What genre would you like to try writing that you haven’t yet tried?
A: Maybe thriller. I generally bring the pace of a thriller to my stories without the maniacal antagonist or actual catastrophic time bomb driving the plot. So it might be good at some point to tone down either the romance or science fiction (my two main genres) and put down a heart-thumping race against death.

Q: Have you ever used an incident from your real life into one of your books?
A: Oh, definitely. Not to the letter, mind you. I extrapolate, tone it up or tone it down, fit it to the story. But without tapping into actual life events from time to time in the course of a story, I don't know how anyone could generate a feeling of authenticity.

Q: Any part of a book that drives you crazy as you write: beginning, middle, or end?
A: The end—especially the last line. That is where I remain indecisive the longest, and sometimes I have to put a story away for months or years before coming back and finally finding the precise ending it needs. It reminds me of composing music. The really great pieces end on a sound that fits the piece and satisfies. To shift metaphors, the best writers stick that landing every time. That's what I want to do.

Q: How many stories are swirling around in your head? Do you keep a mental list, a computer file, or a spiral notebook filled with the ideas?
A: There are about twenty that are at least a little further along than just being ideas. Those I remember only because I keep track of them in a computer file. As far as actually floating around in my head and being actively considered, mulled over, thought about and pounded at on a daily and weekly basis, there are about three stories sucking up most of my mind's attention, with one story taking a clear lead.

Fun Stuff:
Q: What is your favorite holiday and why?
A: I honestly do not have a favorite. My family tends to get together on holidays. I love that. I guess I might say that anyone else's favorite is my favorite, because it feels good to me when people are enjoying themselves that much.

Q: What are two things people might be surprised to know about you?
A: That I am a romance writer surprises a lot of people that know me as an attorney, father, scout leader or math teacher. I enjoy explaining the genre to them and drawing them in. People are often also surprised to learn I'm an active mental health advocate. I'm the vice president and webmaster of our local NAMI affiliate and I do what I can to help families find resources and come to understand what they are (and are not) dealing with. Mental illnesses can be difficult. But they are not the end of the world, help is available, and people and families do pull through.

Q: As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A: An elephant. At least that was my first choice when I was about three according to my parents and many chuckling relatives. After that I rotated between wanting to be an astronaut, a writer, a teacher, or a millionaire. I didn't manage the astronaut part (although I pretend in my writing) and I never found out where to apply for the millionaire job. But otherwise, I think I did okay. Becoming an attorney was something that came up much later, and it's been rewarding. And I'm glad I held on to the goal of being a writer.

Q: Favorite food.
A: Grilled steak, well-seasoned, medium rare.

Q: Favorite happy memory.
A: Oh, there are many. Let's say, my children dressed up for the Renaissance Faire.

Q: Favorite drink.
A: Woodford Reserve, chilled with frozen rock cubes. Although it's been years.

Q: Hot summer days or chilly winter nights?
A: Hot summer days, but keep my pale skin in the shade.

Q: What is the top thing on your bucket list?
A: My next novel.

Q: If you could have a super power, what would it be?
A: I need to slow time. There's too much I want to do, so much I want to learn.

Prologue BLURB:
Hearts in Ruin a romantic archaeological mystery published by Liquid Silver Books. It involves a groundbreaking discovery in the New Mexico dessert. Despite strong opposition, Daniel and Andrea investigate a dig that uncovers clues to a Paleolithic past more ancient than current theories of humans in the Americas permit. Woven throughout the story of Daniel and Andrea are scenes of two lovers that lived in the past Daniel and Andrea have discovered. The following scene is the prologue to Hearts in Ruin, introducing Tala and Bin, and providing the first clue as to what might have happened to their ancient culture.

EXCERPT:
Despite the warm evening wind, Tala drew her knees close and shivered. Under the starlight, below the community’s terraced crops, mastodons filled the valley, their footfalls echoing in the dirt. But above, the Fire Star grew.

Not a good sign.

“I have something for you,” said Bin. He crouched near her on the grassy hill. “Close your eyes.”

She inclined her head. “What is it?”

“Hold out your hands,” he prodded.

She complied. A cold weight pressed down upon her palms. “Can I look now?”

Her breath caught in her throat. His gift was a beautiful bowl, bright and colorful with intricate, flowery designs. Around its interior were three words.

Bin loves Tala.

“Do you like it?” he asked.

She didn't know how to respond. It was very sweet. But now? The Fire Star loomed. They faced imminent change—a shift that would unbalance everything.

Still, this simple display pierced those concerns.

“I want you and no one else,” he said.

“Bin, I…”

He frowned. “You feel that way, too…don't you?”

Tears welled. She glanced at the Fire Star.

He followed her gaze. “That's a good sign,” he assured her. “It means we will be happy.”

He extended a hand. She drew a deep, slow breath, accepted his hand, and stood. The bowl slipped from her lap and cracked against a stone.

She gasped.

His eyes widened. His Adam’s apple bobbed. An intense remorse swept through her, momentarily eclipsing her fear of the Fire Star. She had to make this right.

She placed her hand on his chest and held his gaze. “I do love you, Bin.”

He blinked.

She kneeled and lifted the bowl and a fragment that had fallen from it. “This is a good sign. The words are intact.” She then handed the piece to him and arranged his hand. She held the bowl and placed it with the shard in his hand, matching. “This is yours.” She motioned. “And this is mine. It means we belong together.”

She watched his expression shift from despair to joy. He smiled and wrapped his arms around her. His eyes sliced to the Fire Star and back. He flashed a cocky smirk. “Everything will be fine,” he crooned. “You'll see.”

She pressed her face against his chest. No, she thought. It won't.

Bin lowered his mouth toward her ear. “We have everything we need. Nothing can change all this.”

She squeezed. He was right about how she felt. She would accept him into her heart. She saw no reason to deny that. But he was wrong about everything else.

Things would not be fine.

They would not last.

At least they had each other—even if only for now.


Anything else you’d like to add?
Thank you for having me. I write a lot of short stories, and I invite folks to read them. Many are free on the internet. Remember to spend time with the people you love.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Christmas And Motherhood

My Christmas story, Matrix Crystal Christmas, isn't only about Christmas its about Motherhood.
And since May is the month of Mother's Day, I thought this is a good time to share an excerpt from my book. 



Excerpt:

Maya shook out her boots and peered inside for arachnids. They were custom-made Zeeman riding boots since her old Earth boots had long since worn out. As soon as she pulled them on, Vach settled in front of her and reached for the laces. “You’re my husband, not my servant.”
“This is how our relationship started.” He deftly tied one and moved to the other.
She blinked at him. “You’re wooing me again?”
“It seems the right thing to do.” He stood and held out his hands.
She allowed him to pull her to her feet. “You don’t have to. You already have me.”
“I’ll do whatever I feel is necessary so you’ll love me again, even start over.” He kissed her hand. “Greetings, my name is Vach Namaste of the Namaste Clan. Allow me to be your guide through this inhospitable desert land and woo you as a clan lord should.” He hugged her. “And tonight, I’ll make love to you as if it’s our first time.”
His hot breath in her ear vibrated down her body and settled into the apex of her legs. She drew in a ragged breath. They hadn’t made love in months. “You make it hard to say no.”
“Good.” He drew back and smiled at her. “I want you to think about tonight, on how
I will worship every part of your body.”
Something low swelled and begged for attention. “I thought you wanted to stop trying.”
“We’re not trying for a baby. I just want to make love to my beautiful wife.” He grabbed up the rolled sleeping bags and walked out of the tent.
She let out a shaky breath. Baby-making sex was different from regular sex. It seemed like forever since they’d made love just because they wanted to enjoy each other’s bodies.




Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Month to Remember and a Time to Move Forward by Sam Cheever

May is a month of new beginnings. It's the start of a new growing season...a reboot of the time of year when heat, sun, and the bounty of summer paint us in a golden glow. It's also a time when we honor the past and those who have been important to us. Mother's Day. Memorial Day. 

For me, this May is both a beginning and an ending. It represents a bittersweet moment in time, wherein something which has been a staple in my writing career for 8 years will become a shiny jewel in my backlist...another notch in my writer's belt. 

This May I release the final novel in my 8 book Honeybun Heat romantic suspense series. 

I started writing the series in 2008 and, like me, it has changed over the years, growing and molding to match the personalities of each Honeybun brother and his Honey. My skill as a writer has definitely changed, hopefully improved. But aside from the technical aspects of each Honeybun Heat novel, there's an emotional attachment that will probably never happen again. I've grown along with the Honeybuns, learned how important family and love and emotional support can be. Each brother has forged a spot in my heart that nobody will ever be able to replace. They're like old friends...ex-lovers...and I'll miss their self-deprecating humor and their undying devotion. 

It's been a long, fun ride. One I'll always cherish. But all things end in time and the fertile soil left behind by those endings enables something new to sprout and thrive. 

This May marks the end of an era for me. The Honeybun era. But starting next month, a new era is born. What will my next project entail? Who knows! I have some idea of the elements that will make it work: Love, friendship, mutual support and hot men. LOL But the details are still developing in my mind. The world is my oyster. And I intend to snarf it down!

Honeybun One and Done will release on May 29th. I hope you'll join me in embracing this final episode of a fun and exciting series!




 He’s a ONE and DONE kind of guy. Can she live long enough to find out if she’s the ONE?

Percy Honeybun and his honey, Brita Muldane just can't catch a break. They've danced around their relationship for years, unable to find a way to make it work. But their lives are intertwined through family and friends and they're just as unable to break completely away from each other. Maybe what they need is a life changing event to help them break through. Or maybe the life-shattering event they suddenly find themselves in, will end up breaking them instead.

~~*~~

She paced the length of the two cars and back again, her temper popping like firecrackers on hot pavement. She couldn’t believe they’d made her stay outside. Her life…her livelihood…though she couldn’t remember being a cop…were on the line. Not theirs.
She’d be recognized, Alf had said. She was all over the news, Clovis had said. They’d clam up if they recognized her, Percy had said. Hinks had added that they’d call the police and he’d no longer be able to help her.

She frowned, shoving at the niggling thought that they all made good points… But rage made reasonable thoughts churn like acid in her belly. She wanted to be in there when they talked to Mary Tyler. She needed to see the woman’s eyes, hear the tenor of her voice. She needed to either tick Mary Tyler off the list or move her up a notch. She needed to do it herself. 

She couldn’t trust anybody else to do it right. Especially a bunch of men she didn’t know. Or did she? Alone, in the safety of her thoughts, she could admit to herself that there was something between her and Percy Honeybun that transcended memory. Something warm and tangled that turned her gut to melted butter when he looked into her eyes or touched her skin.

Her body seemed to recognize him. Even if her mind didn’t.

A ticking noise had her jumping, her gaze whipping around. She waited a beat, finally expelling a soft breath when she realized it was just engine sounds from the cooling SUV. Glancing toward the asylum doors, she bit her lip, wondering how long they would be inside.

Maybe she should join them whether they wanted her there or not. The chances of the woman recognizing her were almost nil. And even if she did…

She made a sudden decision—going with it before she changed her mind. She opened the door to Percy’s car and reached inside, grasping the Colts ball cap he’d dropped in the console between the seats. She’d just give them another officer’s name.

It would be okay.

Backing out of the car she straightened, dropping the hat over her head.

A soft breeze slipped through the tree overhead, its wide branches dancing shadows over the car. A separate shape flickered through the shadows and she blinked.

There was a whisper of sound and she instinctively started to duck. Something whipped over her head, tightening around her throat and catching her right hand in its grip.

She slammed up against a body, wide and soft, whose breath wheezed past her face, thick with the scent of garlic and beer.

The wire around her hand and neck tightened, the heavy body behind her shifting to put more leverage on the garrote.

Icy fear warred with the white-hot pain of the wire slicing through skin and she fought desperately to pull air into her lungs as the thin metal compressed her throat with brutal efficiency.

Stars burst before her gaze. Her limbs weakened from lack of oxygen, eyes bulging, and her mouth opened on a silent, breathless scream. Her lungs burned. Panic softened, muted under impending death. She sagged toward the ground, her gaze skimming over an enormous pair of white sneakers as she fell. Her brain cataloged the detail, knowing as she did that it would be useless. The sneakers were nothing special. Cheaply made and colorless except for one tan shoe lace. Yet something about them triggered a memory.

Her thoughts flickered away, lost in the haze caused by lack of air.

Someone shouted in the distance and the thin band of metal holding her upright gave way, letting her slide bonelessly toward the ground.

She gasped in a breath which passed through her throat like razors, tearing and burning as it went. Another breath allowed her lungs to fully inflate and fear prickled over her skin as her mind started to clear.

Footsteps pounded closer, stopped, and a deep voice said her name, a caress…an urgent prayer.

She looked up, saw his handsome face, the dancing shadows flickering over his strong features, highlighting the worry painted there. “I…” She swallowed, coughed, her hand wrapping around her throat. “I’m okay. He crossed the street…” She lifted a hand in the direction she’d heard him go. “That way. Go…” She succumbed to a bout of coughing that had him hovering closer, pulling her into his arms.

“I need an ambulance now!”

She blinked, shaking her head, then realized he wasn’t talking to her. He was on his phone. “No, go get him! It was probably the killer.” Her voice sounded like she’d been screaming for hours while smoking cigarettes and drinking whiskey sours.

Percy grabbed the hand she placed on his chest and pulled it to his lips. He closed his eyes as he kissed her palm. “Dammit, Brit! He almost killed you.” A violent tremor worked its way through his hard, sexy form.

She nodded, laying her head on his chest. He wasn’t going to leave her. She knew that with the certainty of a woman who’d been with a man for years. He would never leave her side, even to catch a killer. Because he’d left her for just a few minutes and she’d nearly died. 

Monday, May 25, 2015

Today on @RomanceBooks4Us: Emerald Influence by PG Forte #Menage #PNR #Romance

Emerald Influence

In keeping with this month’s theme of Emeralds, I’ve decided to write about one of my favorite places in the world, The Emerald Isle…or Ireland, if you prefer. J 
 I’ve always felt a special affinity for Ireland, mostly due to my maternal grandmother.  Both of my mother’s parents came from Ireland—separately. The met here; and that’s its own very romantic story—but my grandmother lived with us throughout my childhood and was a huge influence on my life. 
The stories she told of growing up in Ireland always seemed more like fiction than fact. At times, they seemed to border on fantasy. In part this was because she was a natural-born storyteller, and, well, Irish.  Blarney. It’s an actual thing, y’all. But she was also an amazing woman who actually lived a pretty amazing, and occasionally tragic, life. 
I never got the chance to know my grandfather, other than a few bare facts. He became a blacksmith at age of eighteen to support his mother and younger siblings after his father died. He was later known as “the only honest building inspector in New York”.  He met my grandmother at a dance that they both had to be talked, reluctantly, into attending and fell in love when he first caught sight of her on the dance floor. Later in their courtship, he walked through a snowstorm to keep a date with her.  He loved antiques and travel. He was a pretty good writer and a very good artist. Naturally, he preferred writing.
I think they’d  both be properly horrified by the fact that I consider them the inspiration for my Irish-themed books, especially since said books are erotic romances.  I like to think the practical side of my grandmother’s nature would have brought her around to accepting it, eventually, but maybe it’s just as well she never knew. 
I’m happy to have passed down my love of Ireland to my daughter, who worked her way across Europe a few years back, and spent the summer on Inis Mor, the largest of the Aran Islands.  And if I had to pick a favorite part of my favorite place, it would be there.  It truly is like traveling back in time—only with all the modern amenities. My favorite combination!
My most recent Irish-themed book released in March (on St Patrick’s Day, because why not? J ).  Three of the four main characters are trees…or, well, tree spirits and shape-shifters, to be exact. And my love of trees is something else I have  to thank my grandmother for. As a child, I was awed by her extensive knowledge of plants. She grew up in the country and knew everything there was to know about growing things, or at least that’s how it appeared at the time. 
I guess I’ve wandered a little far from the original topic, but May is the month for Mother’s Day, so I guess it still fits. It’s also the month for Mary—which was my grandmother’s original name. She changed it to Maurine at the age of thirteen when she arrived in this country, having traveled here unaccompanied on a mission to get an education, then a good job, and then make enough money to pay for the rest of the family to come over as well. Which, of course, she did.
  

Purchase from Loose Id
The Oak Spring 
by PG Forte

Twice each year, Aine Murphy ventures into the woods to hold ceremonies to honor the Oak King and the Holly King, never dreaming these Lords of the Forest could be anything more than myth. When the legends spring to life in front of her, how can she help but fall for the sexy demi-gods she’s loved all her life?

From midwinter to midsummer, Fionn O’Dair rules the Greenworld as the Oak King--a role he feels is beyond his abilities, and one that dooms him to a loveless future, forever craving the one man he can never allow himself to have. How can he resist what Aine offers—the sweet devotion that soothes his aching soul, and the slim chance to live a “normal” life as her husband, if only for half a year?

Holly King Kieran Mac Cuilenn never desired a human lover—until now. Seeing Fionn and Aine together fills him with longing for the love he threw away and awakens feelings he thought he’d buried with the last Oak King. Is there enough magic in the solstice to correct the mistakes he made years ago? Or is he doomed to be forever left out in the cold?


Author Bio: 

PG Forte inhabits a world only slightly less strange than the ones she creates. Filled with serendipity, coincidence, love at first sight and dreams come true.
She wrote her first serialized story when she was still in her teens. The sexy, ongoing adventure tales were very popular at her oh-so-proper, all girls, Catholic High School, where they helped to liven up otherwise dull classes...even if her teachers didn't always think so.
Originally a Jersey girl, PG now resides with her family on the extreme left coast where she writes contemporary and paranormal romance in a variety of sub-genres.

PG can be reached directly at:



Sunday, May 24, 2015

EMERALDS--LEGENDS & MYTHS



May’s birthstone is the emerald. The green color of the emerald is a sign of spring, which is most likely why it was chosen as May’s birthstone. I don’t own one of these green and fiery gems but wish I did. Every gem seems to have myths attached to it so I did a little research on emeralds.



The word emerald comes from the Ancient Greek word for green, “smaragdus.” The Ancient Romans, including the Emperor Nero, used emeralds as looking glasses because the green was soothing to the eyes. Even now, many sunglasses have green lenses. The first known emerald mines were in Egypt dating from at least 330 BC to the 1700’s. Cleopatra had a passion for emeralds.

Peter Ustinov as Nero in the movie, Quo Vadis.


The Inca’s had been using emeralds in their jewelry and religious ceremonies for 500 years before the Spanish invaders plundered the emerald mines in the sixteenth century. Legend says that emerald was one of the four precious stones given by God to King Solomon, and that the four stones were said to endow the king with power over all creation. Another legend is that an emerald placed under the tongue gives a person the ability to foresee the future.
[Note: the above is from www.gia.edu]

          It’s said that the emerald dampens lust. Hmm! As a romance author, maybe I should rethink using emeralds in a story. Hindu legends from India state that if one made offerings of emerald to the god Krishna, they would be rewarded with Knowledge of the Soul and the Eternal. The emerald in Hindu teaching is associated with the planet Mercury, while in Western culture, it’s associated with Venus.

An emerald the size of an ostrich egg was worshipped as a goddess in the Peruvian city of Manta during the Spanish conquest.

[Note: the above is from www.gemsociety.org]

Emeralds were first known and sold in the markets of Babylon around 4000 BC. Aristotle advised hanging an emerald from the neck to ward off epilepsy.

Colombian emeralds are the most expensive, followed by those from Brazil and Zambia. Emeralds are believed to hold physical and mental healing powers. It’s believed they can lift depression, cure insomnia (if only I’d known during my six years of severe insomnia during the 1990’s), cure ailments of the heart, eyes, pancreas, backbones, kidneys, and intestines. All that and they’re beautiful too.
 
Colombian Emeralds
Emeralds are associated with love and fidelity (A contradiction. See “dampen lust” above). They are also said to provide wisdom, harmony, patience and peace. An all-around good gem to have.

Now I want to go out and by an emerald. How about you?







Another theme this month is “questions I wish I’d asked my mother.” Unfortunately, my mother and I weren’t close and I can’t recall ever having a serious discussion with her. We were so different and I believe she didn’t know what to do with me. My mom died in 2010, in her mid-80’s, from Parkinson’s and dementia. Even though we weren’t close, I do miss her at times. She gave me a precious gift I will always cherish: she instilled in me a love of books. She was a high-school dropout who I never saw read a book for herself. Yet when I was a toddler I remember going to the library with my mother. We’d check out books and she’d read them to me. Those are my best memories of her.

Since we’re on the subject of emeralds, an emerald engagement ring figures in my novel A Groom for Christmas. My heroine, Graceann, is a jewelry designer. The book's cover shows her wearing an emerald and diamond ring.

For a Christmas treat in May, here’s a glimpse of this award-winning sexy, sweet, story.



 

A GROOM FOR CHRISTMAS is a new twist on the classic Hallmark Christmas movie full of family, humor, love, and a little bit of redemption. 

Family pressure just might make her do something crazy... 

When a young woman hires her hometown’s former bad boy to be her pretend fiancĂ© for the holidays, she finds she can’t wrap up her feelings as easily as a Christmas gift. 

New York jewelry designer Graceann Palmer has two days to find a fiancĂ© to bring home to Pennsylvania for the holidays so her matchmaking mama will quit fixing her up with jerks. The Falcon, a motorcycle-riding, leather-clad former high school crush, helped her out once before. Maybe he'll do it again. 

Jake Falco, man of many mysteries, is back in town on a mission—one the people of Spirit Lake most likely won't appreciate. When Graceann presents him with her crazy scheme, it gives him something he's always wanted—a chance to get to know Graceann. It also gives him the perfect opportunity to add fuel to his project of revenge. 

But as Jake and Graceann grow closer, their engagement-of-convenience begins to feel like the real deal—until Jake’s secrets are revealed. 

Can a relationship that began with lies and secrets bloom like a rare Christmas rose into happily-ever-after? 

 Sign up for my newsletter, Food, Film & Fiction, at www.caramarsi.com



Saturday, May 23, 2015

Never Say Never to Research! Guest Blog by E. Ayers

Hi, everyone, I love being a guest on this blog because I happen to think this is one of the best blogs for readers and writers. I want to discuss that nasty little word research. No matter what an author writes, it seems at some point that author must stop long enough to do a little research. But how accurate is that research?

For the last three years, I've spent quite a bit of time doing research on the history of our "Wild" West. It all happened by accident. I wrote a contemporary romance, A Snowy Christmas in Wyoming, which is a little east-meets-west-type of story. It was loads of fun, but I had no idea that I was going to open a big can of worms. I never intended to write historical. I know several authors who do and the stuff they've had to research... Nope, not me. Never ever would I write that! Well, never say never in this business. It all happened by accident. I wrote a contemporary romance.

The contemporary that I wrote mentioned an old diary. People began to ask for the diary. When enough readers asked for it, I thought I might as well write it. So I began. But as usual, it's easy to get sidetracked. Debra Holland asked me to be part of her Christmas anthology, Sweetwater Springs Christmas, and I said yes. So I wrote about a young man who leaves Creed's Crossing, Wyoming to ask his long time pen pal, Adie Reiner, to be his wife. And as I wrote that story, I realized I had another one brewing between her older sister and a Crow Indian. That story became A Rancher's Woman.

Sounds simple, right? Quite the opposite. I was buried in research. I'd write a few sentences and then spend hours looking up something. It's been a fascinating journey for me. Having lived my life in the eastern portion of the United States, I can talk about the colorful history of the east. To make matters worse, history in school is taught mostly from the standpoint of important battles. But east is east and west is west, and I probably read three lines about the railroad being laid, a single line or two about the Pony Express, and not much more on the early settlers of the west. I had to learn everything from scratch! Plus, I hadn't been in the beautiful state of Wyoming in years. I actually managed to contact someone within the Farm Bureau who was wonderful. He was also a rancher, and he gave me all sorts of answers to the strangest of questions. Oh, yeah, I really did, I asked what color the dirt was. When he quit laughing, we had a long discussion on soil types.

I didn't want to write about pretty dresses. There are plenty of authors who do that. I wanted to write about real life. I found it in photographs, letters, and all those wonderful things that historical societies collect. Plus many companies have fabulous records. Even simple things such as pens needed hours of research. Did you know that the railroads employ historians? The Bureau of Indian Affairs was wonderful - once I reached the right people within that organization.
So after hundreds of hours of digging, and some awesome contacts, I wrote A Rancher's Woman. The Diary of Clare Coleman is still being written. That one is more difficult because it starts in the 1840's and records are sketchy.

I just finished writing A Rancher's Dream, which follows A Rancher's Woman, and that second novel should be available around the end of this month. As I wrote these, I realized that my grandmothers would have been the same age as the young teenage girls in the stories. My one grandmother and her son, my father, grew up on a self-sufficient farm. That gave me a slight edge as I’d heard all those old stories.
I know that what I've written is historically accurate, and it's a slightly different glimpse of the past than what most romance readers might expect. That's because I didn't leave out the day-to-day chores, the lack of plumbing, or all the other stuff that is not mentioned in most books about our west. And those gals who went west were tough! They had to be to survive!

What do we do when it gets a little too warm? We turn on the air conditioning. If it's cold, we use the heater. They didn't have that luxury. If it was hot, they still had to cook over a wood stove and churn cream into butter. They didn't jump in the shower to cool off! And they certainly weren't wearing corsets under silk dresses as they milked the cows. Maybe reading Roberta Gellis spoiled me. If I'm going to read historical fiction, I want it accurate. And I feel as though I owe it to my readers to write with the same care and accuracy as Roberta Gellis. (Thank you Ms. Gellis for giving me so many hours of reading pleasure and for being such an inspiration to me!)

So that dirty little word, research, has become part of my life. The diary is no longer on the back burner. It's become a labor of love. But using the Internet is tricky. I can't take a single source and assume it's correct. I try to find several sources. Wikipedia has been my friend, but I make certain I have other sources and not just the ones Wikipedia cites that will back up my info. Even photographs can have errors. They might say the photo was taken in 1880, but really it was taken in 1903. I've learned to look for those flaws.

I've had some training in working with old photos. Find something that you know is a certain color, and then, in theory, you can pick out everything else in the photo which is that color. I often felt as though I was looking for Waldo! Depending on the tribe, the white man's influence on their clothing changed. They wouldn't be wearing shirts or blouses made of flour sacks until they were confined to a reservation.
We gave them bags of white powdery stuff that had no taste. They didn't know what to do with it. They dumped that flour out and used the bags for all sorts of things. It's really sad. Plus every tribe has its own language. Some were similar and some were as different as Portuguese is from Swahili. Just toss out most of what you probably were taught or thought. Chances are it's wrong!

Creating a historically accurate book takes extra time. As an author, you must check, double check, and check the information again. And then it has to be applied to what you are writing. Sometimes that research yields hardly anything applicable and other times it showers you in useful info.
If the author is researching something for a contemporary novel, be creative! I know of an author who joined a dating service and made it quite clear she only wanted someone who could feed her information for her novel. She got lots of that and a few marriage proposals! Never be afraid to ask. Most people are more than willing to share their information.

When I wrote A Cowboy's Kiss in Wyoming, I needed medical help. Fortunately, I knew several doctors in a large sports medicine practice. I learned more about hip replacements than I would ever need. But that entire office was so willing to share information. And as a way of double-checking, I contacted a physical therapy group in Wyoming and got the same information with a slightly different slant. Apparently, those cowboys don't believe their doctors when they are told to stay off the horse for at least six weeks. Stubborn men! Why don't they listen?

Research is research. It makes our stories better. If you are an author, just jump in and don't be afraid of it. It's amazing what you will learn! And sometimes it’s fun. If you are a reader, do you prefer to read stories that are historically accurate or do you only want a romantic story that skims over all the not so glamorous aspects of life years ago?

When E. Ayers isn't busy writing, she's often doing photography. She'll be away from her desk most of the May 23 with her camera, but she's promised to respond to everyone as soon as she returns that evening. 

Her historical western A Rancher's Woman has been added to a Native American encyclopedia and is a USA Today Recommended Read. It is available in e-form and in paper. You can visit with her on her blog. Her westerns are sweeter than her contemporary stories but nothing is ever extremely hot. She writes down the middle.

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