Marianne Evans is a guest at The Mustard Seed today. I'm excited to feature all three of her books in The Woodland Series and tomorrow I will be posting my review of her recently released, book 3, Hearts Communion. Stay tuned...

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Let's meet Marianne...

Marianne Evans is a multi-published author of contemporary romance novels.  Her professional career began when Kensington Publishing purchased her book, Friends & Lovers.  Her second novel, Right Hand Man, followed shortly thereafter.  Her third release from Kensington, Hannah’s Heart, won critical acclaim from reviewers and in the local media.  Her fourth book is her inspirational romance debut at White Rose Publishing – an award winning novel entitled Hearts Crossing.  Hearts Crossing led to the creation of a four-book Christian romance series: The Woodland Series. Book 2, Hearts Surrender, released in late 2010 with Books 3 and 4 – Hearts Communion and Hearts Key, released in 2011. Her final secular romance, With This Kiss, was released in late 2010 by The Wild Rose Press.

A lifelong resident of Michigan, Marianne is an active member of Romance Writers of America.  She’s a long-time member of Greater Detroit RWA where she served the chapter in a number of capacities, but most notably for two terms as Chapter Treasurer and two terms as Chapter President.  She also belongs to the Faith Hope and Love chapter of RWA, American Christian Fiction Writers and the Michigan Literary Network.

Marianne loves connecting with readers, so please touch base with her at:

Marianne's Website
Marianne's Blog
Facebook Page

Let's take a look at The Woodland Series.


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Collin Edwards, a former parishioner at Woodland Church of Christ, has renounced God without apology, his faith drained away in the face of a tragic loss.

Daveny Montgomery cares deeply about her relationship with God and the community of Woodland.  But lately she's been in a rut, longing for something to reignite her spiritual enthusiasm.

A beautification project at Woodland seems the answer for them both.  Daveny spearheads the effort and Collin assists—but only with the renovations, and only because he wants to know Daveny better.

Despite his deepening feelings for her, even stepping into the common areas of the church stirs tension and anger.

Can Daveny trust in Collin’s fledgling return to faith?  And can Collin ever accept the fact that while he turned his back on God, God never turned his back on him?

Purchase Link for Hearts Crossing


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Kiara Jordan is a sophisticated modernista, but beneath an engaging personality and super-model looks, her heart hungers, and she longs for deeper meaning in her life.

Ken Lucerne is the charismatic young pastor of Woodland Church; he's adjusting to life as a widower and copes by keeping as busy as possible with his parish and missionary work.

A home-building mission in Pennsylvania brings them together, and forces them to look hard and deep at the relationship they share, and where God means for it to go. Already bound by mutual respect and caring, love dawns, a love that takes them to a life-point neither would have expected.

After all, can a chic, vivacious woman find fulfillment within the quiet, mission-centered life of a clergyman?  Can they trust God's hand strongly enough to surrender their hearts to one another...forever?

Purchase Link for Hearts Surrender


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Jeremy "JB" Edwards dreams of one thing: Having a loving wife and children of his own. Not a surprising ambition, since he was raised at the heart of a large, tight-knit family.

Monica Kittelski spends her days at Sunny Horizons Daycare Center pouring her heart and faith into other people's children. But Monica harbors one impossible dream: Having children of her own someday.

JB and Monica seem the perfect match, but what will come of their electric, sassy relationship when Jeremy learns of Monica's infertility? Hopes and reality collide when they must confront the idea of finding God's plan and following His will when a dearest hope is destined to remain unfulfilled.

Can these two loving, passionate hearts survive a communion of dreams and reality?

Purchase Link for Hearts Communion

Don't forget, I'll be posting my review of Hearts Communion, tomorrow on my blog.


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Ok, now for the fun part. Let's get to know Marianne. 

Why did you become a writer…was it a dream of yours since you were younger or did the desire to write happen later in your life?

Hmm… to be honest, I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t a writer.  Even back in middle-school I wrote stories and gave them to friends to read.  They seemed to enjoy them, so writing quickly eclipsed the rest of my actual school work!  LOL!

That's neat...I can relate to that. What was the inspiration for your latest work of fiction? 

The Woodland Series, which is my current offering from White Rose Publishing, was born from an instant when I watched people coming forward for communion at church.  As they approached the altar, I began to consider the fact that they each had stories to share, lives that included successes, failures, joys and pains, love and loss. From there, the idea dawned of centering a series of books around a church home and exploring the lives and loves of the people who worship there.  I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to see this series – my first ever – come to life in such a beautiful way!

What an awesome place to be inspired for a series. Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

Imagination.  I might draw on the circumstances I observe, or I might ‘combine’ the traits of a number of people I know into the aspects of a character, but my characters generally come to life on their own and start knocking on my door until their story is told!

Where do you go to do your research?

Whenever possible, I really enjoy the process of diving into the settings/times of my stories.  I’ll give you a case in point.  I’m just finishing up Hearts Key, which is Book 4 of The Woodland Series.  The bulk of this story takes place in Nashville, Tennessee.  I had never been to Nashville, and while the Internet is a wonderful tool, it doesn’t ‘put’ you into a setting.  So, my DH and I took a road trip to Tennessee and stayed at a beautiful bed and breakfast in Franklin.  It was, honestly, like stepping into the home and life of Tyler Brock, who is the hero of Hearts Key.  We toured Nashville, we researched parks and waterfalls and paid them a visit, because that was something I wanted my characters to do – and we discovered there’s nothing like first-hand research to make a story come to life. I loved it!!

First hand research experience is the best and the most fun! Are you currently working on any new book projects?

For the time being, Hearts Key will conclude The Woodland Series (I’m hedging here because I think there’s one more story to be told – the exploration of a Christian marriage that rides through rocky times and a couple who need to re-find their loving commitment and the joyful spark of when they first fell in love…) but after Hearts Key is turned in to my editor, I’m going to be exploring the idea of materialism, goal-seeking and professional success versus peace of soul and joy of heart. The story is called Homeport, and it’s set in one of my favorite places on earth – Northern Michigan.  I can’t wait to share it with everyone!!

Who is your favorite contemporary author?  Are you currently reading any contemporary novels?

There isn’t even a contest.  Karen Kingsbury.  Karen is so skilled it blows my mind.  I want to be her when I grow up!  LOL!  She brings faith, love and the overcoming of tribulations into beautiful focus and is an anointed story teller without being overly preachy.  Her stories are tender, emotional, uplifting and top rate.  I have yet to read a “klunker.”

I'm a big fan of hers too. Love everything she writes. For me as a reader and an author, she's such an inspiration. What’s your writing schedule like?  When do you find time to write?

I write whenever (and I do mean WHENEVER!) I get a spare chance.  I can read and write in the car, so long road trips thrill me because there’s nothing to interrupt or bother me, I can chat with the DH as he drives and work on my current project.  I work full time, so after work, I discipline myself to spend at least an hour or so on my writing.  It’s my treat to myself, and I love every second of it – except when the words don’t flow, of course! LOL!

How did you find your publisher?  What was your journey to publication like?

After a long, horrible exercise in coming so close to a sale I could taste it, my agent kept fighting for me and broke me in at Kensington Publishing.  With them I published three books.  From there, real life took over for a number of years, and my writing took a back seat.  Once my muse reemerged, I followed a dream I had always held of writing a Christian inspirational romance.  It was then that I heard about White Rose Publishing and the “Hearts Crossing” contest.  The challenge?  Write a 25,000 word novella and the best entry would be published.  I ended up winning!  What a thrill!!!  Here was my gamble, though.  As I waited to hear the results of the contest, my series idea really took form!  Secondary characters from Hearts Crossing came to life and their story literally flew from my fingertips.  After earning publication, I told my editor I had a sequel, and she not only purchased it, she asked for the remaining two as well.  From there, I am writing for White Rose on a ‘query/first few chapter’ basis of submission, so I’ve grown within their ranks, and I can’t tell you how fantastic this publisher is.  They care about their authors, and the quality of their offerings are outstanding. They’re growing by leaps and bounds, so check them out – you won’t be disappointed!

That's wonderful...so happy for you and your success. How have your friends and family received your career as an author?  Are they supportive?

In this particular area, I can only say I am abundantly blessed.  Honestly.  My entire family – from the DH and kids to the extended family near and far, get as excited as I do about new releases, new contracts, new book covers…etc., etc.  I can’t imagine taking this sometimes wacky journey as a writer without their support, because it is VITAL – and I’m so deeply grateful!

That's awesome. Support is so important. Marianne, thanks again for guesting today. I enjoyed chatting with you and featuring The Woodland Series. I look forward to posting my review of Hearts Communion tomorrow. 

Hope everyone can stay and chat with Marianne. 

 
 
William S. Shepard is a guest at The Mustard Seed today. Let's find out more about William...

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Now residents of Maryland’s Eastern Shore, William and Lois Shepard enjoy visits from their daughters and granddaughters, ocean swims at Assateague, Chesapeake Bay crabs, and the company of Rajah and Rani, their two rescued cats.

Shepard has published several books using the new EBook technology, including “Coffee Break Mysteries,” “The Great Detectives (From Vidocq to Sam Spade),” and “Maryland In The Civil War.” The last two grew out of his lectures under the continuing education program at Chesapeake College.

Shepard notes that he started researching “Maryland In The Civil War” out of his longstanding interest in the overall subject. What he discovered, however, was astonishing – the role of a largely unknown Maryland Governor, Thomas Hicks, in keeping our state in the Union in 1861. It is a story as heroic as any in Kennedy’s Profiles In Courage, and one that should be more widely known.
              
Shepard, a prize winning mystery writer, is also the creator of a new genre, the diplomatic mystery, now comprising four novels whose plots are set in American Embassies overseas. That mirrors Shepard’s own career in the Foreign Service of the United States, during which he served in Singapore, Saigon, Budapest, Athens and Bordeaux, in addition to five Washington tours of duty. These books explore this rich, insider background into the world of high stakes diplomacy and government.

Shepard is Wine Editor for French Wine Explorers Wine Tours France and is also the author of
Shepard’s Gujide to Mastering French Wines.

Connect with William online:
Diplomatic Mysteries
Facebook

                If I could time travel, what time period would I go to, and why?

My time travel would take me to France in 1788. I am an American, and have just served in George Washington’s Continental Army, with combat at Yorktown. Now France seems to be on the brink of her own eruption. There is misery everywhere – the price of bread has risen, and the wet weather during harvest has affected the rye in the wheat strangely, some say that it causes hallucinations. There are intellectuals abound talking about an ideal society, while around them the real society is beginning to collapse.

The Revolution begins with the storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789. There are only seven prisoners liberated, including the Marquis de Sade, and the soldiers on duty are massacred, but the event remains somehow in the collective memory, purified by the intentions of the people. Soon, however, a Constituent Assembly is elected, and it gradually assumes more and more power, until the Monarchy is itself toppled, with King Louis and Queen Marie Antoinette guillotined, and the fate of their son still debated.

The Napoleonic Era begins as a gifted and charismatic Corsican wins victories for France, on an ever increasing scale. Society becomes stabilized after the excesses of revolutionary terror. I hope I will, like the Abbé Sieyes, be able to say that my accomplishment during this period was to have survived it! To the Empire and imperial overreach in Russia the Grand Army perishes – and with them, the first American diplomats who die overseas, tracking the Russian campaign.

Now France is in turmoil looking for order and a measure of justice, as monarchy succeeds empire and is succeeded by a republic – then an “empire” once again. It is in this turmoil that Eugene-François Vidocq, the first detective and the first subject of my ebook, appears. A thief, convicted galley slave and possibly even a murderer, Vidocq was a criminal who realized that he would inevitably end on the guillotine. He decided to make a career out of what he knew best – crime – but to do it on the side of the police!

Gradually, he worked his way into the confidence of the Paris police, and was released from prison. However, his undeniable skills led him far. He developed an intelligence brigade of former criminals, and perfected such details as regional accents and costumes, as he and his operatives spied on criminals. Gradually, the arrest rate rose, and with it, Vidocq’s career took flight. He became the Director of the Intelligence Brigade, and the Paris police under his leadership became more effective than anything in London or New York. This former criminal was even a consultant on the formation of Scotland Yard!

His Memoirs are a gold mine of information, which guided writers from Dumas to Dickens and Dostoievsky. Balzac used him as a detective prototype, and in Les Miserables he was the model for both the pursued criminal Jean Valjean and the relentless Inspector Javert. Out of office, he even founded the world’s first detective agency! Edgar Allan Poe refers to him by name in the first detective story, “The Murders In The Rue Morgue.”

I would like to have known this rogue, and his fascinating era. Society was torn apart, and it became material for some of the world’s finest novelists. I enjoy exploring this world in “The Great Detectives (From Vidocq to Sam Spade),” and I hope more readers will share my enthusiasm.


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Where is the most exotic place you’ve ever traveled to?

I was a career diplomat, and so have traveled extensively. The most exotic place was surely the week I spent in Kathmandu, Nepal, some thirty-five years ago. I was stationed at the American Embassy in Saigon, and some of us got leave to visit Nepal. Then, the number of Westerners who had ever been there would have been a few hundred at most. I remember the Yak and Yeti Bar, where a bartender named Boris was an entertaining teller of tall stories. The temples were of wood, and their famous exotic sculptures had a function – the Nepalis believed that the goddess of lightning was a prude, and would turn away from erotic sculpture, thereby safeguarding the temples!

What was the setting for the most romantic scene you’ve ever written?

In Vienna, Austria, in my latest novel, “The Saladin Affair,” my main character, Robbie Cutler, a career diplomat, is travelling with the Secretary of State. To his surprise his wife, Sylvie, bored with life at home, flies to Vienna to join him. They have an evening free from official functions, and so enjoy a dinner in the private dining room of the Hotel Sacher. The four tables there gleam with silver under the candelabra, and the food and service are world class. (It is a dinner my wife and I have enjoyed – a far cry from our days as American students at the University of Vienna, when we couldn’t have afforded such a treat!)

Sounds like a very romantic scene. What’s your favorite childhood memory?”

I remember a Christmas when there were many presents under a huge tree. We had a cat named Peter, my first pet. I used my pocket money and bought a catnip mouse for him. To my astonishment, the next morning, of all the presents under the tree, Peter had found and “opened” his own present. I was sure he could read, and that is what our local New Hampshire newspaper reported in its article about our wonderful, literate cat the day after Christmas!

That's a neat story and a great family memory. 


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Can you tell us about your book, The Great Detectives: Vidocq to Sam Spade.

These four essays trace the birth and evolution of the detective story, from its origins in the early nineteenth century to the great American masters, Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett.

The first essay begins with Eugène-François Vidocq, a picaresque French criminal who became, by degrees, a police spy and then, the originator and Chief of the first modern police intelligence bureau, the Brigade de Sûreté. This former galley slave and convict was larger than life, so much so that his life and writings became the stuff of great literature – from Victor Hugo to Dostoyevsky. Trace him here, as modern criminology is born – and with it, the modern detective story.

We continue with the tormented writer, Edgar Allan Poe, who created the first detective story,  Murders In The Rue Morgue alluding to his debt to the writings of Vidocq as he did so. Not content with that achievement,Poe had his celebrated C. Auguste Dupin, in The Mystery of Marie Roget, solve an actual crime that had baffled the New York police.

The second essay treats three eminent Victorian writers. Charles Dickens, in Bleak House, introduces Mr. Bucket, a police detective who is probably the fictional edition of Scotland Yard’s Inspector Field. Wilkie Collins, in The Moonstone, may deserves honors as the author of the first detective novel. Both Dorothy Sayers and T. S. Eliot considered it the finest detective novel ever written.

With Sir Arthur  Conan Doyle’s immortal Sherlock Holmes, we have a fictional creation (if, indeed, he is fictional) who has clearly upstaged his creator. William Shepard is a Sherlockian, and here he reveals, amongst many fascinating details about Holmes, just where the name “Sherlock” in all likelihood first appeared to Conan Doyle. And he tackles the question, why didn’t Holmes solve the Jack the Ripper murders of 1888?

The third essay concerns a trip of great mystery writers, Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, and Georges Simenon, the creator of the great French detective, Inspector Maigret. Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot are viewed in detail, as is Dorothy Sayers’ fine creation, “half Bertie Wooster and half Fred Astaire,” Lord Peter Wimsey.

Dashiell Hammett’s Sam Spade and Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe complete the list, representing the American hard-boiled school. A bibliography, containing links to The Maltese Falcon
film errors and favorite writings of Raymond Chandler, completes your reading pleasure.

Purchase Link for The Great Detectives

William, thank you so much for guesting today. I enjoyed your visit.

If you'd like to enter for a chance to win an eBook copy of William's book, The Great Detectives: From Vidocq to Sam Spade, please comment and leave your email address on the contact form.  

 
 
Please welcome, Mary Jean Kelso to The Mustard Seed today. Let's meet Mary Jean...

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Mary Jean Kelso is the author of Cowboy James and has written many other children’s books for Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc., as well as Young Adult and Adult novels through other publishing houses.  Her books are available on Amazon.com (many for Kindle). 

All of her children’s illustrated books can be previewed at http://www.guardianangelpublishing.com. Please check out GAP’s FREE on-line magazine for children at http://www.guardian-angel-kids.com and the Andy and the Albino Horse blog spot at www.andyandthealbinohorse.blogspot.com for fun things for kids to do. Video trailers of some of the books are available at http://www.blazingtrailers.com/browse.php?txt=kelso or on YouTube.

Mary Jean is a member of Made in Nevada (www.madeinNevada.org). More information on the author is available at www.authorsden.com/maryjeankelso.

Cowboy James will be available in all media formats including digital downloads, paperback, hardback and audio DVD.
 
www.madeinNevada.org
www.wings-press.com
www.whiskeycreekpress.com
www.authorsden.com/maryjeankelso
andyandthealbinohorse.blogspot.com
http://childrensbookwinp.ning.com/profile­/MaryJeanKelso 
http://www.guardianangelpublishing.com
http://www.guardian-angel-kids.com
http://guardianangelfamily.blogspot.com/


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What is your preferred type of book to read for leisure?

Although I write romance novels, I also write (and read) mysteries.  I think the storyline is more important than genre.  A good story is a good story is a good story. My romance novels are, compared to some, bland when it comes to sex scenes.  I like my mysteries the same way – not too gory.  I am just finishing The Cat Who books by Lilian Jackson Braun having read them in sequence and only two more to read after her death this year. 

I love a good mystery novel, too. What was the setting for the most romantic scene you've ever written?

A wedding night scene in an 1850’s hotel overlooking a beautiful lake at sunset.

You write romance novels, but are you a true romantic at heart or not really?

Unfortunately, I truly am.  I say unfortunately because so many men don’t fulfill women’s ideas of romance.  But, then, perhaps the times they do are so thrilling it makes up for the times they don’t. Occasionally, you get lucky and find someone who generates romantic ideas more frequently.

True, not every man is a romantic but like you said, when they do something romantic...it's so nice! Can you share some facts about yourself?

I have been an avid reader since early childhood.

I have written all my life and decided to make it my life’s work in the 1960s.

I, like one of you recent guest bloggers, also saw a flying saucer when I was a child.  Then, and never again. I wonder if all writers have had that experience.  Maybe we should do a poll?

I am fascinated in what makes people “tick.”

I like finding the similarities in people and things and looking at patterns or “coincidences” in life. Like accidents, perhaps there are no coincidences.

Thanks for sharing these facts. I would love to hear your thoughts on trends in the publishing industry. 


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Industry Trends:

Do you know why Borders failed? It is my opinion that it is because they didn’t get on the bandwagon of e-books early enough to take advantage of the digital entry into the publishing industry.

Very early on in digital publishing, I attended a Romance Writer’s Seminar where one of the speakers, Rosalie Moore, had just had a book published.  It was on a 3 inch floppy disk. It was readable on a computer.  That was my introduction to e-books. I knew, then, that it WAS the future.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I like print books just as much as so many other people do.  However, e-books are here to stay and publishers and book stores that haven’t embraced them have fallen by the wayside.

This is not a trend. This is the reality of our time and our future.

There will always probably be some printed books.  However, the e-book market continues to outgrow them in number.

A variety of e-book readers have been developed and e-books are readable on phones, iPods, laptops, tablets – any mechanism that has a screen and download capabilities.

As for my authorship, I had several books published prior to the e-book craze. Now, most of my books are in digital formats for e-books, Flipbooks, audio DVD, paperback and hardback.

My first e-book was generated sort of by accident. A print publisher accepted The Homesteader. When she called me she said, “You have a Best Seller here!”

Music to my ears! Could she possibly be right?

Then, she died before my book was published and the company closed.

I was sad to hear of her demise.

I, also, had a book that was no longer under contract. So, I forged ahead looking for another publisher and hoping disaster wouldn’t strike again when I found one.

Within three months I had a contract with Wings Press. A recently organized publishing house, they were pioneers in e-book publishing who not only produced e-books but, also, generated print copies.

Although my “Best Seller” wasn’t on the New York Times list, it was the Best Seller for May of that year at Wings Press.

Since that time, Wings has published five of my novels both in print and e-book (most recently adding Kindle to their other digital outlets).  One of their distributors is Fictionwise.

Which gets us back to why Borders failed, in my opinion. 

Fictionwise was one of the first online e-book stores.

Within a short time, Barnes & Noble (apparently more open to electronic books than some book sellers) jumped on the opportunity to buy Fictionwise. They also offered their own e-book reader, the Nook. Later, they developed kiosks at some of their stores to download and print e-books for those bibliophiles that want to hold a “real book” in their hands.

For those people bemoaning the fact that they are faced with e-books in the future – I say, embrace them. If you don’t like them, download them and print them out in hard copy. If there is a book I just have to have in hard copy, I often buy both. Then I still have a print copy on my bookshelf as well as a convenient copy to carry with me on the e-reader or laptop on the go.

Don’t be one of those, like Borders, who gets into the game too late because you can’t turn loose of the old ways. Think of the hundreds of books you can load onto the readers. Think of your opportunity to choose what you want to read while on a long trip. And, if you finish that book, be able to choose another, or another, or another, ad infinitum at your fingertips.

Like losing my first publisher for The Homesteader
, it is sad to lose Borders. Borders has been very good to me. They have hosted many book signings in my honor over the years. They gave many people the pleasure of previewing books and sipping Mochas. Like me, I’m sure you will miss them.

I agree with your point that when publishers and bookstores haven't embraced eBooks, that they're not as successful. Can you share with us about your new book, Cowboy James


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Cowboy James Soon to be Released

Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc., Saint Louis, MO, is scheduled to release Cowboy James this month.

Most of my children’s illustrated books are in GAP’s Academic Wings Division. 

What does Academic Wings stand for? It is a Division of the publishing company which includes parent and teacher aides in the back of the books. Particularly valued by instructors and home schooling parents, the text not only has a story line but valuable information about the subject for additional learning experiences.

Cowboy James is the story about a little boy who refuses to remove his cowboy hat for any reason. He loves to Rodeo. His involvement in Pee Wee Rodeo began as soon as he could toddle after small goats in the Goat Un-decorating contest and progressed through Stick Horse Racing.  Now, he competes in Mutton Bustin’. 

            His main competitor is a little girl who wears red cowboy boots, which she also believes are permanently affixed to her feet.

            When they meet each other in the ring for Mutton Bustin’ the outcome is far different than either of them expects.

            Not only is the storyline enjoyable but the opportunity for children to learn to share is imbedded within.

Authentic illustrations created by K C Snider make the work “readable” for smaller children. 

Back of the book pages contain a reprint of an article about a real Pee Wee Rodeo Bull Rider Web links to even more information on the sport are included as well.

Cowboy James will be available in all media formats including digital downloads, paperback, hardback and audio DVD.

Mary Jean, thank you so much for being a guest today. I enjoyed chatting with you and getting to know more about you and your books. 

 
 
Meredith Ellsworth is here today to discuss her Top Ten List of do’s and don’ts for beginning writers. Hope you can stick around and chat with us for awhile. 

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1. Writing process:

Since I’ve been published I’ve followed quite a few writers’ groups, and I’ve noticed one general theme in discussions about process: everyone does it their own way.  Some rise at dawn and put in exactly two hours, then stop. Some can only write at night, some can only draft their stories long-hand.  So I would advise any ambitious writer to find his or her own technique; in other words, do whatever works for you.  Don’t feel foolish if you can only write standing up or in five-minute increments, or even in the bathtub. The key is to finish the story. Oh, and to submit it. 

2. Plots:

My first novel rose almost fully formed from a dream (a truly delicious dream).  I wrote a first draft with the dream in my head.  I shouldn’t have done it that way.  I redrafted probably fifteen times and yet still found inconsistencies on the final run-through before release. I suggest you make an outline—no, not “I. A. 1. a.” stuff (unless you like that sort of thing), but write a general summary of the story and description of the characters. Chances are that as it unfolds the story will depart dramatically from your initial outline, but at least you’ll know the general direction in which it’s headed.

3. Setting:

The old adage—write what you know—is absolutely true.  If you write about a place or topic of which you’re ignorant the reader will immediately sense it. Authenticity is paramount.  However, that doesn’t mean you don’t do a lot of research to ensure the accuracy of the details. My latest book (to be released July 27), Losers Keepers, is set on the island of Chincoteague (yes where the ponies are). I’ve stayed there probably 40 times and at all seasons, yet when I was writing the book I spent weeks driving around the island, checking out every intersection, nook, cranny, restaurant, and telephone book.

4. Research:

Do as I tell you in #3, but take advantage of the internet! I check facts constantly while I’m writing and editing, and search engines like Google allow you to do so quickly and easily.  It’s a godsend. Do NOT rely on Spell Check or the thesaurus etc. that come with your software.  They’re produced by techno-geeks.  Have you ever seen a computer manual without a typo?

5. Characters:

Do not try to rein them in.  Even their names attach themselves like leeches to your characters. Accept it with grace. The only thing you can really control are their looks.

6. Editing:

You will read this on every Submission Guideline page: “Edit your manuscript to within an inch of its life before submitting.” The acquisitions editor should not find a single spelling, grammar, or formatting error. Full disclosure: I employ the “Oxford comma” throughout this essay in protest of the recent decision by Oxford to drop it from their style guide. But when you submit your manuscript any penchant for punctuation protest should be muffled.

7. Readers:

Get any friends who write or edit—at least 2 or 3—and ask them to read and critique your nearly perfect manuscript.  What sounds cute or funny or really original in your little study cave may not stand the test of third-party scrutiny. Remember, you want people to read your book; otherwise you might as well shove it in a drawer.

8. Submission:

Just do it. And don’t forget to write down the date you sent the manuscript.  Even more important, make sure your submission has all the information in the required order and the formatting requested by the publisher. Otherwise you’re wasting your time—they sure as heck won’t waste theirs.

9. Dealing with publishers and editors. 

Remember, every actor in your little publication play has a certain expertise.  Most publishers and editors are writers themselves, but they also know what sells, what their readers want, and tend to be real sticklers for proper style.  Appreciate them: they are vital to the success of your book.  And when your editor tells you to eliminate your favorite secondary character, wait a day before you send that whiny (or screechy) reply, think it over, and do what she/he tells you.  Total rewrites can be very fulfilling. In my favorite cartoon the editor says to the aspiring writer: “We loved all the words in your manuscript, but we were wondering if you could maybe put them in a completely different order.”

10. Promotion.

Promote, promote, promote—any and all ways. If you have money, advertise, make trailers of your books, get your name and cover in every magazine, go to conventions. If you don’t have any money, there are still tons of ways to get your name out there.  I added a signature with my book information to my emails (many authors add their banners) and promote on-line on readers’ groups and through exchanges with other writers.  One avenue I discovered is to send a blurb to your college or trade magazine. Another is to join an Amazon readers’ forum. My heroines tend to be in their 30s and 40s and I joined a group called something like Readers Who Like Older Characters. Through it I found my target audience as well as other writers of the same genre. The funniest method I’ve heard of is one writer who goes into computer stores and sets all the display models to her website.  Hey, why not?

So I’ve thrown out some thoughts on what I’ve learned since plunging into the world of publishing.  I’m looking forward to comments/suggestions/addenda, but hopefully not corrections!

Meredith, thank you for sharing your Top Ten List...very good advice.


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You write romance novels, but are you a true romantic at heart or not really?

Oh, absolutely.  Even at my (undisclosed) age I still believe in romance and true love, although I’m beginning to understand that not everyone will find either one, and that not everyone even needs it.  Consider Charlotte Lucas in Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice. Elizabeth Bennet’s best friend, she married the pompous Mr. Collins and explained it to Elizabeth thus: “I am not romantic, you know; I never was. I ask only a comfortable home; and considering Mr. Collins’s character, connections and situation in life, I am convinced that my chance of happiness with him is as fair as most people can boast on entering the marriage state.”

For those of us who still dream that the lightning bolt will hit us, romance novels supply a stopgap while we wait. The vicarious pleasure of reading about a woman finding and keeping true love can fill the empty hole in our hearts until our own comes along.

What is your all-time favorite romantic movie (comedy or drama etc.)?

It would have to be Ninotchka (1939) with Greta Garbo. I believe it’s the only movie in which she laughed. I never tire of watching the transformation from repressed Soviet cocoon into freedom-loving butterfly.  I also love When Harry Met Sally because it proves that love will eventually win out no matter how long you suppress it, and Philadelphia Story, because it so cleverly displays just how complicated people can make their own lives.

Where is the most exotic place you’ve ever traveled to?

By way of introduction, I’ve lived in and traveled to countries on five continents.  There are places I still yearn to see, but of the ones I’ve been to I can narrow it down to two as the most exotic:  Morocco and Peru.  Morocco’s food, culture, landscape, and history are as colorful as any I’ve seen.  Peru’s culture and food are a romantic mix of so many civilizations, but it’s the wildlife there that’s amazing. On a trip into the Amazon I saw capybaras, tiny bats, the smallest primate in the world, parrots, toucans, monkeys, pink dolphins, piranha, tapirs, and more. One morning I walked out of my room to see a bird catch a tarantula five inches in diameter and eat it in three crunching bites. I stepped back inside.

Wow, I would love to visit Morocco and Peru...not so sure I'd like to see any tarantulas up close and personal, though. 


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Meredith, please tell us about your latest book, Losers Keepers.

eBook, 72,000 words, M/F (3 flames), contemporary romantic suspense
ISBN  978-1-936653-95-9

Buy from: www.secretcravingspublishing.com
Losers Keepers will be released July 27 from Secret Cravings Publishing. 

Set on the Atlantic barrier island of Chincoteague, it follows a beautiful writer as she becomes enmeshed unconsciously in murder and unwillingly in romance.  Here is the blurb:

Dagne Lonegan, aka Dear Philomena, advice dispenser extraordinaire, hoped that spending a year on the Eastern Shore island of  Chincoteague to write her novel would clear her sinuses, if not her heart, of any feelings for Jack Andrews, erstwhile lover and long-time jerk.  It’s just her luck that her first week on the island she’s in the right place at the right time to be involved with a murder.  Only she doesn’t know it.  Unfortunately, the murderer doesn’t know she doesn’t know.  Strange and dangerous things begin happening to her, interfering with her new romance with Tom Ellis, the handsome manager of the National Wildlife Refuge.  Complications ensue when her Jack arrives to take charge of the murder investigation.

Will Dagne stick with the tall, cool glass of a Ranger or fall back into the arms of her first tempestuous passion?

Sounds very intriguing. Definitely caught my interest.
 

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Can you share about your other novel, Lost in His Arms?

Chloe Gray, Washington writer, meets Michael Keller, CIA troubleshooter, in a world in chaos, but he appears unpredictably, leaving Chloe limp and lovelorn.  Looking for safe harbor, she yields to Emile, a dashing French diplomat. Will she embrace the luxury and comfort of Emile and his chateau or the romance of international intrigue with Michael?

Lost in His Arms, published 2009 by Red Rose Publishing
eBook, 61,000 words, 
ISBN 978-1-60435-375-0
Contemporary Romance, Action/Adventure; M/F; 3 flames

Buy link: www.redrosepublishing.com/books/product_info.php?manufacturers_id=282&products_id=17

Sounds like another interesting book! Love the plots you are creating.


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What about Lost & Found?

What do you do when David, your husband of a year, ups and disappears? If you’re Rose Culloden, a beautiful, wealthy woman in her forties who had despaired of finding happiness, you do anything to find him. The trail takes you first to the North Woods of Maine, then to Florida, and back again to western Maine. Along the way you meet James Stewart—a Maine guide—who vividly highlights the contrast between a real man and your delicate Harvard professor of a husband. Loyal to your marriage despite your powerful attraction to James, it takes the dramatic discovery that David is not just vicious and venal, but insane, to free your heart for true love.

Lost and Found, published 2010 by Red Rose Publishing
eBook, 69,000 words, ISBN 978-1-60435-707-3
Contemporary Romance, Action/Adventure; M/F; 3 flames

Buy link: www.redrosepublishing/books/product_info.php?manufacturers_id=282&products_id=654

Both books are also available at:  www.amazon.com, www.bookstrand.com, www.allromanceebooks.com, and www.fictionwise.com .

Besides romance, I am readying some children’s stories for publication. Your readers may be interested in my long story, Lila’s Island, which tells the story of the dove that Noah sent out from the Ark.  It is a parable of sorts, aimed at middle school readers (although it is eminently suitable as a read-aloud story to younger children). 

Meredith, thanks so much for guesting today. It was very nice chatting with you today and learning about your very intriguing books. You can find Meredith online at her website and blog:

http://msspencertalespinner.blogspot.comwww.MeredithEllsworth.com

If you would like to read an excerpt of Lost & Found, click on the "Read More" link below. 




 
 
I'm so excited to have romantic suspense author, Raquel Byrnes here at The Mustard Seed today to feature the first book in the Shades of Hope Series, Purple Knot, which released on June 3rd from White Rose Publishing.

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Meet Raquel Byrnes:

Raquel lives in Southern, California with her husband of sixteen years and their six children. She considers inspirational fiction a wonderful way to minister to others. She writes romantic suspense with an edge-your-seat pace. 

You can visit her at her website: www.raquelbyrnes.com and her writing blog, Edge of Your Seat Romance.


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So, Raquel, how do you relax after a long day at work?

I love to hang out with a cup of coffee and chat with my hubby. I'm also a fan of bubble baths.

I'm more of a tea fan myself, but do love bubble baths. You write romance novels, but what is your preferred type of leisure book?

I love a good romance, but I am also a huge cop procedural fan. I love the chase, I think.

Romantic suspense is one of my favorite genres too. If your book was made into a movie, which actors do you see portraying your characters?

Hmm...I kind of see Paul Bettany as James Corbeau and for Reyna...?  Someone feisty for sure.

He's a good actor. I've seen some of his movies. A feisty character...now I definitely want to read your book. What was the setting for the most romantic scene you’ve ever written?  


I think the scene at the marina is the most romantic. The sound of water lapping against the pylons and the smell of sea air all help to set the mood.

The sound of water definitely creates a romantic mood. Are you a true romantic at heart or not really?  


I truly am a squishy heart. I love happily ever after and grand declarations of forever love. So yeah, I'm a romantic at heart.

What is your all-time favorite romantic movie (comedy or drama etc.)?  


I'll watch the recent Pride and Prejudice over and over again. Drives my husband bonkers.

Loved that movie. I'm a big Jane Austen fan so I love her work and watch all the movies they made of her books. My favorite was Emma and Sense and Sensibility. What’s your favorite childhood memory?  


My family spent a week at the beach in a rented cottage. It was such a happy and playful time. All of us with nowhere we needed to be just hanging out, laughing, and napping. Awesome.

Sounds like fun. Where is the most exotic place you’ve ever traveled to?  

I would have to say the Mayan ruins on the Yucatan Peninsula. The structures are so enormous and the carvings truly beautiful. Lazing about everywhere were huge iguanas that hissed when you passed them. It was amazing.

My husband and I visited the Mayan ruins too. I agree, it was an awesome place. 


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Please tell is about your new book, Purple Knot.

A killer strikes. A love rekindled. A life-altering choice.

When her best friend, is murdered, Reyna Cruz doesn't believe the police have the whole story. An investigator by trade, she has the talent to track Summer’s killer, but when clues lead to a family connection and a vicious gang, she suddenly becomes the hunted. At the end of her rope, Reyna must decide to trust the God she believes abandoned her. 

Wanting justice for his sister’s murder, lawyer Jimmy Corbeau agrees to help Reyna—even though she’s his ex-fiancé, and their break-up devastated him. Romance is reawakened, but so are memories of their tragic undoing. Jimmy must decide if he will fight for a future with Reyna or allow their past to derail the investigation and his second chance at love.

When the investigation goes awry and Summer’s infant daughter is kidnapped, Reyna must put her life on the line. Will Jimmy and Reyna survive the desperate measures it takes to recover his niece, catch a killer, and secure a happily-ever-after for them all?

Love the cover. This is going on my TBR pile. How about an excerpt. I know we'd all love to read one.                                                                    

                                                                        * * * *
“Rain, you have to decide what kind of person you’re going to be. I have to know.”

“What are you saying, Jimmy?” Confused I looked at him.

“I’m saying that you’re racing towards a crossroads, and I want to know what path you’re

planning to take.”

“Now is not the time for this conversation, Jimmy. We’re chasing a suspect!”

“Now is exactly the time, Rain. I need to know, right now because anything you do out of anger or grief will directly affect me, too!” Jimmy said loudly.

Dread bubbled up into my chest. I tried to answer calmly but I felt control slipping. My throat ached with the words I wanted to shout at him. “Don’t make me do this, Jimmy. Not now.”

“Yes, now, Rain.”

“What do you want me to say?” I shouted. “What do you want to hear?”

“I want to hear that you won’t put your anger ahead of our future. I want to hear that you can walk away from the possibility of revenge.”

“Why…why would I do that?” I looked at Jimmy with wonder.

“Because you’ll destroy us in the process, Rain.” Jimmy reached out and caught the hem of my sweater in his fingers. He looked worried.

“Are you asking me to choose between nailing Parker and loving you?” Anger and confusion

whipped through me like a cold wind.

“No. I’m asking you to choose between the hatred boiling in your veins and the grace hanging over your head.”

Great excerpt. Where can readers find your book online?

Purchase Link: http://www.whiterosepublishing.com/Purple-Knot

Raquel, thank you so much for stopping by today. It was so nice to get to know you and your work better. I'd love for you to guest again some time. 

Hope you all can stay and visit with us for a bit. What's your favorite aspect of romantic suspense novels? Any questions for Raquel? 

 
 
Mystery author, JD Webb is here today to talk about eReader devices. Hope you can stick around for a bit. He has given us an excerpt of his book, Smudge and he will be giving away a print copy of this book to one of the commenters on today's blog post. 

Mystery author J D Webb     www.jdwebb.com

Shepherd's Pie (Golden Wings Award Winner)                                                          Moon Over Chicago (2008 Eppie finalist) 
Her Name Is Mommy (Now Available)
Smudge (available now at L&L Dreamspell.com
Stuck In Valhalla (available at Sniplits)

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I may be soon in the minority when it comes to reading books – real books. I love the feel of a book, and physically turning the pages. I drool when a book has me frantically grabbing the edge of a page ready to turn before I finish reading it, so I don’t skip a beat to find out what happens next. I have more than 2000 hard cover and paperback books I refuse to part with because I want to reread them. Even though my to-be-read stack exceeds 40, I am unable to pass up a bargain when I spy it sitting there waiting for me.

Since I enjoy new gadgets and reading, however, I have crept into the twenty-first century by purchasing an eReader. My latest is the ever-popular Kindle. I say latest because I began with the eBookwise, then the Jetbook. Since an expert is one who is experienced, I feel qualified, so I will. As an author with four books in electronic format (by the way, I have them in print as well), I gush when the news has an account about skyrocketing ebook sales. According to press reports, the only increasing area of book sales seems to be in electronic format. Granted, print books still have greater sales so the gains are tiny so far. But in such a fledgling sales area, the leaps are note-worthy.

I’ve observed that whatever eReader you purchase is summarily declared as the best out there. My friends have others: the Nook, Sony, etc. Theirs are the best, they say. Sometimes eReaders are bought because of specific features. Backlighting is a desired accessory, not available yet on the more popular readers, except for the Nook. But by the time this blog is published, the competition may have included that feature and be announcing another version on national television. This also seems to be a common phenomenon - new versions of eReaders rushed to the yearning populace by various manufacturers.

eReader prices have dwindled, allowing many more to join the electronic throngs. The only price not coming down is that of ebooks by the elite authors. I have decided to wait for the paperback version if the ebook cost exceeds paperback, and I think that will prevail with most readers. I can hold out until the paperback is released. I don’t care if the publisher insists the price has to be higher because it must make up for lost hard cover sales. Phooey. It merely means they will make more money and since I’m an author that’s good. Maybe it will trickle down to us in the trenches. Oops, I may have just put myself on several New York publishers’ blacklists. No matter, I was apparently there already.

Also I’ve been pleasantly surprised that when I fall asleep while reading, my Kindle doesn’t hurt nearly as much as a hard cover book when it falls on my face. And -- this is huge -- I don’t lose my place. The amazing machine remembers for me, then I turn it back on.

So if you’re hesitating about getting an eReader, don’t. It’s like buying a computer; as soon as you buy it, you find it’s now obsolete. But until you can justify an additional purchase of the next latest version, go ahead and dive in. They’re fun to have. Think about on vacation. Instead of dragging fourteen bulky books, one eReader can hold thousands of books. And most of the classics are free downloads. We don’t read enough of the classics anyway.

When you buy one, I bet yours turns out to be the best. 


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Thanks for the great blog post. It's always interesting to me to find out what other people think about eBooks. So, James, what is your preferred type of book to read for leisure?

I write mysteries -- my favorite genre also for pleasure reading. However it has become a learning tool. I try to dissect how the author creates suspense, develops characters, describes scenes, sustains plot, well you get the picture. I always want to improve my writing by “stealing” techniques and methods.

I’ve been in a book club for four years to expand my reading into other genres. It’s worked and I’ve enjoyed the works of many other authors.

Definitely agree that as an author it's good to read and learn ways to improve your craft. What’s your favorite childhood memory?

When I was in my senior year of high school I loved creating mischief. As a result of one of these episodes I was thrown into a creative writing class. Best thing that ever happened to me in high school. I found my love for writing, and have never been reluctant to indulge in mischief since.

I'm sure you're in the right profession then. A good way to let your creative and mischievous side get out onto the page. Where is the most exotic place you’ve ever traveled?

I guess that would be Viet Nam courtesy of the Air Force in the 60s. You didn’t require that exotic place to be fun. Hot, muggy, rainy, and a bit dangerous. Fortunately, I only spent 3 months there on temporary assignment for the Philippines. Also a very exotic place. Banana trees grew right outside our barracks. The countryside beauty rivals or surpasses anywhere I’ve traveled. 


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What is your book, Smudge about?

A small-town paralegal, Trish Morgan, wipes a smudge from an ATM screen one nasty night. It’s blood.

OK, Intriguing, I definitely want to read that excerpt now. 

                                        * * * *
Well, isn’t that amazing? A parking spot right in front of the bank.


Trish signaled and eased Jim’s car into the space, cringing at the scrape of the wheel against the curb. Thankfully, the curb didn’t gouge the side of his new Jaguar. She shivered and tried not to think of the consequences of causing damage to her husband’s newest plaything. With her Escort in the shop again, she had been allowed to borrow Jim’s car—but only for the day.

Grabbing her umbrella, she cursed as the release button refused to operate. Damn, just long enough for the rain to make her mascara run. Finally it opened, she splashed through puddles, across the sidewalk to the front of the Citizens’ National Bank of Millvale.

As usual, the light over the ATM had not been replaced, so she dug her small flashlight out of her purse and approached the open-sided kiosk. Juggling umbrella and flashlight in one hand, she inserted her card and waited for the machine to activate. She swiped a smudge off the screen with her hand so she could see to enter her PIN.

Ugh!  Wet and sticky. Dropping the umbrella, Trish rummaged a tissue from her purse and quickly scrubbed her hand. She shined the light on her palm, revealing a dark red smear.

Oh, my God!  It’s blood!  Her thoughts stalled as the ATM ate her card for the second time in two weeks.

The moan seemed to come from beneath her feet. Trish’s head swiveled left and right. Just darkness and rain drenching her good Nike sweats. Traffic trickled past. She cocked her ear, straining to hear any noise. Nothing.

“Hello? Someone there?” Silence. Maybe the sound wasn’t what she thought. Trish looked over her shoulder hoping to see someone she could call for help, but the sidewalk was deserted. She wanted to find the source of the groan, and then again, she really didn’t. Someone may be hurt and needs help. She picked up the umbrella and willed her feet to move toward the corner of the bank building, her reservations replaced by concern. Squeezing her flashlight in a death grip, she let the light play out on the sidewalk and into the darkness between buildings.

An alley ran between the bank and the drug store. Trash cans and debris littered the interior as far as she could see in the limited light. Trish listened, hoping the moan had been a figment of her imagination. She took baby steps through the wetness and strewn garbage.

“Help…me.”

The barely audible plea came from beyond an overflowing container in front of her. Trish looked behind her once, praying someone familiar would appear. No one came. She wanted to run. Get the police. But she couldn’t make herself move.

Love the excerpt. Where can readers find Smudge online? 

Purchase Link:  http://www.lldreamspell.com/Smudge.htm

James, thank you for the great blog post today and sharing your excerpt. 

Don't forget to comment and enter to win a print copy of SmudgeWhat eReader device do you own? Is there a reason why you prefer it over another kind? When you comment, please be sure to leave your email address on the comment form. Thanks!

(Copy awarded to commenters from US and Canada only)

 
 
Please welcome author, Lila Munro today.

Lila Munro is a writer of contemporary romance currently residing on the coast of North Carolina. She is a military wife and takes much of her inspiration for her heroes from the marines she’s lived around for the past fourteen years. Coining the term realmantica, she strives to produce quality romance in a realistic setting. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading everything she can get her hands on, trips to the museum and aquarium, taking field research trips, and soaking up the sun on the nearby beaches. Her works include The Executive Officer’s Wife, Bound By Trust, Destiny’s Fire, A Slower Lower Love, Salvation, Force Recon: Beacon Bayou, and Identity Crisis.

Currently she’s working on sequels to several series to be released throughout 2010-2011. Ms. Munro always works as the Director of Marketing and Public Relations for Rebel Ink Press. She loves to hear from her readers and can be contacted via her website http://lilamunro.weebly.com , her joint effort website http://www.wickedmuses.blogspot.com or through Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/Lila_Munro  You can also contact her via email at lilasromance@gmail.com   For more information about Rebel Ink Press please visit their website at www.rebelinkpress.com

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Hello! It’s a pleasure to be back here on Joanne’s blog, and I’d like to take a second to thank her. Joanne never fails to welcome me with open arms when I need a place to blog and/or promote myself. She gave me a list of very interesting topics to choose from and discuss today. One in particular caught my eye, but it didn’t really set me down the path that I think she had in mind when she added it to the list. ‘Discuss industry trends—is the e-book a trend or here to stay.’

I must say, and this will be to some on your displeasure, the e-book is definitely here to stay. Will it wipe out the paper or hard bound book as we know it? I seriously doubt it, and if that happens it will be years before the undoing of the written word is complete.  It will be well past the time that those of us that grew up without texting, computers, and acronym-ing (my own word) have left on this Earth. We are perhaps the last generation on the planet that were raised to appreciate the beauty of writing letters and reading on a Saturday afternoon instead of sexting to our “friends.” Don’t get me wrong, I love my e-reader. I’m not sure what I’d do without it now, but I still very much love my real books. It would be a shame to see them go. That being said, the train of thought that this suggested topic led me to was this. How e-books have affected the market trends insofar as genre’s and what’s available.

Now, e-books have been around for years, most people either just didn’t realize it or did and were so technically challenged they didn’t know how to get into that world without some code. It would seem that the e-book revolution really began to take off with the resurgence of paranormal interest in the world. E-books opened the door for everyone and their sister, or brother, to write a scary love story—usually involving vampires--and could put it up in a matter of minutes either through self-publishing, or by finding one of literally hundreds of cottage industry e-publishers coming to fruition. A few years ago, the flood gates opened and the industry was over-run with vampires and werewolves. No offense paranormal writers, I respect your genre as much as the rest of the genres, but I have a bit of disparaging news. Your genre is a trend. A trend that is in the process of dying I’m afraid. The Twilight-esque era is coming to a close, as do all eras. You see, this generation wasn’t the first to be entranced by sexy vampires. It happened in the days of the silent black and white films with the original Dracula, again in the 60’s with the popularity of the drive-in and the Saturday night monster mash, back to back double feature blood fest, and again in the late 80’s/early 90’s when Freddy was on the loose and Brad Pitt lit up our imaginations with what it would be like to wake up each evening with our very own vampire. Anne Rice filled our imaginations long before Stephanie Meyer did—and Anne’s vamps did not sparkle. No offense, but I’m old school that way. 

So, yes, it’s not just my opinion, but evident from past events, that romance sub-genres come and go in popularity. They are in fact trends themselves. What’s the next trend? It’s my opinion that the next trend is fairy tales and the sexier the better. With Little Red lighting up the big screen, the onslaught of fairy tale romances is sure to follow. Look at the possibilities—and by the way, they aren’t new, writers have been tapping fairy tales for years, but with Little Red leading the way, they’ll take off like wild fire now and be done to death.

What lasts? What is timeless? What makes a classic that spans the ages? The heart of it all. The story line, not the tag line. The promise of true love, its journey, and a happily ever after ending. Real love and the meat of the story will always win in the end.


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Lila, please tell us about your new book, A Slower Lower Life.

When two worlds collide,


Being the oldest of eight has never been easy for Kurt Delaney, but the pressures he’s put on himself far exceed any anyone else inflicts on him. Known as the family stick in the mud, Kurt’s pushing forty and with the heirship to the family farm hanging in the balance, he finds his hopes of a married life and children swirling down the drain. Honor and family are everything to him and a mate that doesn’t hold those things as dear as he does is unacceptable.

Deidre Maloney is a city born and bred girl. In the absence of her botanist parents, she was raised by a nanny and knows nothing of a family’s love or how being married works. Commitment isn’t a word in her vocabulary. Only concerned with finding a new job and a fling, she embarks on a trip from Chicago to Seaford, Delaware to see her best friend Cait marry her high school sweetheart. Being attracted to a Delaney brother wasn’t on her carefully planned itinerary.

the aftermath is all that matters…


With so many differences between him and Deidre, Kurt can’t believe he’s let himself fall for her. She’s looking for a prime rib guy and he knows he’s just skirt steak. When they’re in close proximity, however, something undeniably amazing happens. How does he convince her that family isn’t something to fear and love doesn’t hurt? How does Kurt show Deidre that a slower, lower life is what she’s been looking for all along?

You've got me hooked. Can you share an excerpt. I know I'd like to get a taste of this book.

Kurt rounded the final corner to find the carousel area void of passengers. Not a single bag remained on the conveyor, not a single person waited to claim anything. Where the hell did she go? Okay, where would I go if I’d just landed and had already claimed my luggage? She’s a female, dumbass. The bathroom. Kurt turned on his heel and headed back toward the blue sign he’d seen hanging overhead indicating where the lavatories were. Standing just outside the ladies’ room, he waited a few minutes. If she was in there surely she’d have come back out by now. An elderly woman in a pair of green plaid golfing shorts and a white polo shirt with a pink ball cap on her gray head popped out of the swinging door nearly striking Kurt in the face he’d been standing so close.

“Oh, excuse me,” she said in a crackly voice. “You shouldn’t have been so close to the door.”

“Yes, ma’am, I realize that,” Kurt answered, touching the bill of his Soil Service cap with his fingertips. “Did you see a woman about this tall?” He held his hand to his chest. “With black hair and gray eyes in there? At least that’s what she looked like last time I saw her.”

“Well, she couldn’t have changed that much in, what? Ten minutes?” the old woman snapped and looked at Kurt like he’d sprouted a third eye.

“No, no. I’m picking her up. I haven’t seen her in a while…”

Before Kurt could finish his sentence, a woman that he was sure was Deidre came out of the restroom wearing a strapless white sundress that only fell to the middle of her thighs and was stretched so taut across her breasts her nipples strained against the fabric. And they were apparently uncomfortable with their hindrance. His eyes followed the lines of the fabric along the rest of her body and down her tan legs to find spike heel open toe white pumps on her feet. Ten tiny perfect toes with red tips peeked out. He scanned back up with his breath caught in his throat. Big, square framed black sunglasses hid her eyes so he couldn’t see the color, but that short black hair and big gold hoop earrings. That was Deidre.

“Deidre?” Kurt said, wiping his sweaty palms along his jeans. What was wrong with him? He’d seen her before. Of course that was last fall and she was covered up in a pair of chocolate corduroy pants and a burnt orange sweater, and a cream silk scarf had partially covered her head. It was funny to him that he actually remembered that. Now that he could actually see her. Wow. “Deidre is that you?”

The woman looked up and never so much as attempted a smile. It was then that he noticed she looked a bit pale and along with the carry on she held in her left hand she dragged three enormous suitcases stacked up behind her.

“My God, woman. You are just staying a few days right?” he asked, reaching around her and taking the telescopic handle she hung on to, relieving her of the melee of bags.

“Kurt? Long time no see.” Deidre tugged the purse handle on her shoulder a bit tighter and huffed. “You’re late.”

“Well, you should have thought of that possibility when you expected someone to get here before the chickens woke up. Do you know what traffic is like out there right now?” Kurt forgot the breathless feeling he’d experienced when he first looked at her.

“Of course I do. Did you forget I used to live here? I like to travel early and with some planning the traffic should never be a problem.” She fanned herself with one hand. “I’m ready to go.” With that she stomped off toward the double doors that would take them back to the parking garage in a quick march.

“I can understand why you haven’t seen her in a while,” the old woman said and laughed. “I wouldn’t want to either.”

This was going to be a treat, Kurt thought to himself. Not only was she a city girl, she thought her stuff didn’t stink. Did she think he was nothing more than her chauffer and concierge for the week? Well, she had another think coming. He watched her perfectly round butt swishing back and forth seductively and gave the heap of baggage a tug. How she managed to pull the mammoth mess as far as she had was beyond him. Before he made it ten feet past where he’d found her she disappeared out the doors. Taking his time, Kurt made his way through the terminal all the while muttering what he really thought about her behavior quietly and smiling at the other passers-by. He took a deep breath and went out the doors.

Said Judith at Book Binge about A Slower Lower Love book one in The Delaney Brothers series:


This is one of those novels that needs to be read and re-read.  There is so much here and such depth that it will, in my opinion, take more than one read through to plumb those depths and identify all that is going on with the characters.  So I recommend that lovers of romance novels with tension, authentic emotion, and essential humanity not miss this story.  It is a full length novel and well worth the time and effort to explore. I give it a rating of 5 out of 5.


Awesome review, Lila. Congrats!

Where can readers find A Slower Lower Life online?


Purchase Link: http://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-slowerlowerlife-548987-148.html

Lila, thank you so much for stopping by to visit today and guest on my blog. As always, please come back again!



 
 
The featured book selection today is Rainn on my Parade by LoRee Peery.  Ms. Peery has graciously offered a free electronic book in a giveaway for one winner. Details at the end of this blog post.  

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A lifelong Nebraskan who has lived in the country most of her life, LoRee Peery enjoys a busy life. She's involved in the lives of her grandchildren, sings in choir, and loves contact through women's ministries in her local church. LoRee, an overcomer, has been married 37 years, and considers herself blessed.

LoRee, can you share an interesting tidbit about yourself?

I lost a diamond ring the night of my first kiss. (Why would I wear such a gift from an aunt on a hayrack ride?!)

Wow, now that's a real situation of finding a needle in a haystack!!  

You can find more information at LoRee's website: www.loreepeery.com


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Can you tell us about Rainn on my Parade?  

After firefighter Rainn Harris rescues Geneva Carson from being stuck in a tree, she feels she owes him. Helping to care for his autistic niece comes easy, but her attraction to Rainn is a different story. Being drawn to a man twelve years her junior metes internal havoc as Geneva attempts to balance responsibility and personal fulfillment. And the prospect of becoming a middle-aged mom to a special -needs child sends Geneva into a tailspin of conflicting emotions.

As the custodial parent for his young niece, Rainn is determined to be a better parent than his absentee sister. When Geneva agrees to help care for Mia, Rainn is overjoyed. He admires Geneva ’s compassion and enthusiasm for life, and expects she’ll be a positive influence on Mia. What he doesn’t expect is to fall in love with the beautiful and vital woman. But Geneva ’s hung up on their age difference, and he must convince her of his sincerity before they will ever have a chance at happiness together.

As tension threatens to pull them apart, both must learn to rely on the Lord to direct their futures—whether that means two lives joined or paths in opposite directions.

That sounds like a great book.  I can't wait to read it.  Can you share an excerpt?  I know I'm excited to get a taste of your book.

Get a grip, woman, and act your age.

The sirens drew close. She soon heard activity below, but she kept her eyes clamped shut.

“Hold on, Ms. Carson. Don’t be scared,” a disembodied voice that didn’t belong to her future son-in-law spoke from below. “Just hold on.”

“I assure you, I’m too scared to let go.” Geneva ’s voice quivered. But she couldn’t help smiling at her predicament.

The extension ladder whirred softly and creaked as it reached for the top branches of the tree.

She squeezed her eyes tighter.

“I’m right behind you now.”

“Thank you, Lord.”

“Not God, just me.”

The firefighter chuckled.

Her eyes popped open when she felt him close behind. Thankful for the cropped-pajama bottoms she wore instead of a nightgown, Geneva frowned at the unexpected shiver as she attempted to place the voice.

“Whenever you’re ready, just let go.”

“Thought you told me to hold on.”

“Well, I’m here to catch you now.”

She caught the humor in his voice. And hated it.

“Oh, good grief. I’m too heavy for anybody to catch me.” She lowered her eyes to half mast.

“Spunky, most likely,” came from under his breath.

She doubted he meant for her to hear.

Is that professional behavior? Well, that’s pretty nervy of the guy. But then again, I am caught in a tree. She snickered, wondering if she was hysterical. She tried for a deep breath but it turned into a gulp around her sternum. “Are you sure I can let go?”

“Geneva, trust me.” That popped her eyes wide open.

The confident urging voice and the use of her first name drew enough courage to peer downward.

Rainn Harris.

And he was way too close for comfort.

Eric would never live this down at the firehouse. His future mother-in-law rescued from a tree, by his buddy.

She remembered her first look at him. Rainn was a few years older than Eric, but they became fast friends when they met at University. Geneva may have heard Rainn’s name a time or two before Eric started working on Moselle ’s loft, but she hadn’t any reason to pay attention. Since then, she’d seen him with Eric many times.

Rainn probably knew more about her than she did him.

Before she could fathom any further thought, Geneva let go and found herself wrapped in the strongest arms and pressed against the strongest chest imaginable.

I’d climb the tree again if this firefighter would come for me.


LoRee, I'm so glad you stopped by today and your book could be featured.  For anyone who is interested in entering to win a copy of Rainn on my Parade, please feel free to comment on this book feature.  You have two chances to win -- comment today and on Friday during the Romance Author Blog Party where LoRee will be one of the featured authors.  


 
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    In accordance with FTC Guidelines for blogging & endorsements, I want to post this disclaimer. From time to time, I do purchase and review some novels. However, most of the novels I review are given to me as a complimentary review copy by the author or publisher. I do not receive  monetary compensation for the reviews I complete.

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