Welcome back to another day at The Mustard Seed. Today, Ann Christine is here to visit and also share about her book, Safari Moon, which is being featured and there is a giveaway, so be sure to comment to enter to win. Let's meet Ann...

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?

Ever since I was a small child playing with dolls, I have loved to make up stories.  I guess you could say I was a storyteller, perhaps not a writer since I never put the words down on paper. I decided I wanted to write after I was introduced to romance novels. I read a few and thought maybe I could write a story, not understanding at the time how much knowledge, thought and skill goes into the creation of a work of fiction.

Writing as Ann Christine I penned my first contemporary Romance.

What was the inspiration for your latest work of fiction? 

Safari Moon was inspired by my parents and their love to travel. They always told me they really saw more of the country, experienced the people, and enjoyed the vacation in an entirely different way when they toured on their bicycles. In Safari Moon, Nyssa Harrington resigns from her Wall Street job, and settles in Bend, Oregon. She owns a bicycle shop and books bicycle tours around the world. Solo St. John is a wildlife photographer who is about to embark on an adventurous photo shoot in the Alaskan wilderness. In this case, Solo's career and destination were inspired by my love of photography, my love of wolves as well as my parents trip to Alaska.

Sounds like great inspiration for a story. Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

My characters are created from my imagination. I have wondered what my friends might say if they read one of my books and discovered they were a character in said book. It could possibly be a real shock to discover oneself portrayed in a work of fiction. Would they like the character? I think I would rather keep my friends.

What was the most interesting research you had to do for any of your books?

My Lakota/Pinkerton series, beginning with Dakota's Bride, was the most interesting. I thoroughly enjoyed researching the Lakota Sioux, the areas where they lived, their culture and even their language. I think I would like to go back and revisit this series of five books.

Where do you go to do your research? 

If I am unable to travel for my research, most of it is done on my computer. However, for My Angel, part of the Lakota/Pinkerton series, I did a lot of research through National Geographic magazine. I needed pictures of the Crimea and a better understanding of the terrain. In the nineties when I first began my writing career, the majority of my research was done at the public library.

How do you go from an idea for a book to the birth of the story?  Is the process the same for every book you write?  How long does it take you to write a book? 

I always start with the characters. I give them names, jot down important events in their life story then move on to profile them. A lot of times I will have the setting in mind as well as the main plot. After the profiles are finished, I work on the plot, including turning points and the black moment. Then I move on to the conflicts: internal, external and emotional.

Are you currently working on any new book projects?

Rebel Heart a futuristic is my next release. I am currently working on edits for this book. It will be released in June. But at the moment my major interest is in Safari Moon, my first contemporary romance. With contemporaries I am writing as Ann Christine instead of Christine Young. I am also working on a novella to be published in an anthology for next May.

What’s your writing schedule like?  When do you find time to write?

I really have no writing schedule. When I can I will write in the morning and edit in the afternoon. I still substitute teach so on days I have to work I will try and sit down in the evening. If not otherwise engaged, I work every day.

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

My first publisher and editor was Kate Duffy at Kensington. I love my villains, although Safari Moon doesn't have an antagonist per se. An author I liked to read had great villains and Kate was her editor. I sent my manuscript to her and was pleasantly surprised, no excited, to receive a phone call from her asking me if she could buy my manuscript. Kensington offered me a two-book contract. After that I went on to publish with Awe-struck then Rogue Phoenix Press.

I wrote for about six years before I published my first book, Dakota's Bride and my second book My Angel. After that I wrote the rest of the Lakota/Pinkerton series. Then I embarked on my Highland journey writing three books in that series. A couple of years ago I began a regency romance series which will eventually be a twelve book series. At the moment I have written and published two of these books, Allura and The Wager.

Do you have any writing idiosyncrasies? 

I think I have mentioned most of these in other interviews. When I'm at a stand-still I often lift weights or play computer games. This seems to free my mind and I can explore uncharted territories.

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit and chat today.

Born in Medford, Oregon, novelist Christine Young has lived in Oregon all of her life. After graduating from Oregon State University with a BS in science, she spent another year at Southern Oregon State University working on her teaching certificate, and a few years later received her Master's degree in secondary education and counseling. Now the long, hot days of summer provide the perfect setting for creating romance. She sold her first book, Dakota's Bride, the summer of 1998 and her second book, My Angel to Kensington. Her teaching and writing careers have intertwined with raising three children.  Christine's newest venture is the creation of Rogue Phoenix Press. Christine is the founder, editor and co-owner with her husband. They live in Salem, Oregon.

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Safari Moon by Ann Christine, is a contemporary romance available now from Rogue Phoenix Press.

Solo St. John, a wildlife photographer, is preparing for a trip to Alaska. Suddenly, Solo finds women of all sorts invading his privacy, his home and his office, all cooing nonsense words and blatantly throwing themselves at him. Solo doesn't know why, and he has no idea how to rid himself of the persistent women. He finally decides to beg a favor of his best buddy Nyssa Harrington.

In love with Solo for the past ten years and knowing he doesn't return her feelings Nyssa doesn't want to talk to Solo. She knows if she accepts his phone call, she will not be able to resist the temptation to hope again.

Purchase Link for Safari Moon  

Here's an excerpt from Safari Moon

Solo St. John you are a coward.

When he peeked into the room, she was asleep. Hallelujah, his prayers had been answered. Yet instead of turning and walking away he did the exact opposite.

He strode to the bed.

For several seconds, Solo stood over her. Her hair was spread out on the pillow, her hand tucked beneath her chin. Without his help, she’d taken her dress off and now she was clad in very little. Damn little.

Solo smiled to himself. He couldn’t decide if she looked prettier now or when he’d first seen her walk down the aisle in her wedding dress, his grandmother’s gown. The significance of his thoughts stunned him. His grandmother would not accept an annulment well. Hell.

The room was warm and she’d pushed the covers off. He could see the tops of her white silk stockings and the tiny pink roses that formed a perfect border. One strap of her chemise had fallen off her shoulder and he could watch her breasts rise and fall. She had a sexy shoulder. He wanted to touch her so damn bad he could barely restrain himself.

She purred, a soft sound, seductive and with that he smoothed a lock of her beautiful hair from her face. He was so close, so tempted, so needy. This was his wedding night.

A wedding night he had no claim over. Seemingly on their own volition, his fingers traced the contour of her jaw, down the slope of her neck across the creamy swell of a perfect breast.

She purred again and Solo smiled once more. At least in her sleep she was not indifferent to his touch, to the man she married. No, if he thought back on the last few days, Nyssa had been anything but indifferent.

He pulled his hand back and rested it on her hip. She rolled onto her back. With the movement, his hand slid across her hip until his fingers lay on her stomach. Her eyes still closed, she made a sleepy sound, her hand coming to settle on his own.

“Solo?” she asked in a soft sexy voice. “Wouldn’t you like to come to bed?

Loved the excerpt. Thank you for sharing that with us. I'm definitely adding your book to my TBR list!

If you would like to enter to win in Ann's giveaway, please feel free to comment on this blog feature post. The following are prizes to be awarded:

* A Safari Moon bookmark to one randomly drawn commenter at every stop.
* ebook copy of The Gift (part of A Valentine Anthology) and Star Crossed (part of St. Patricks Day anthology) to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour.
* One commenter during the tour will win the right to have a character named for them in her next release--either Ghost Dance (a western historical romance) or Rebel Heart (science-fiction romance)
* Two randomly drawn commenters during the tour will each win a $25.00 GC to Starbucks

I'm pleased to welcome author Jo Ramsey to my blog today for a guest blog on dealing with writer's block.    
When Writer’s Block Attacks

A week or so ago, I did a guest author appearance at my town’s middle school. I spent the entire day in the school library, doing presentations to the classes who have library this quarter, and one question that I was asked by nearly every group was, “Do you ever get writer’s block?”

Short answer: Yes. Frequently.

I don’t think there’s a writer alive who doesn’t deal with writer’s block at one time or another. If such a writer exists, I’d really love to meet him or her and find out the secret to not getting blocked! No matter what one is writing, there are always going to be times when the story isn’t going quite the way you want it to, or when you aren’t sure what way you want the story to go. Eventually the block gives way and the writing starts to flow again, but sometimes that can take a while.

So what does a writer do when writer’s block attacks? Personally, I’m usually working on more than one project at a time. I write romance (under a super top-secret pen name) as well as young adult, so I kind of have to have more than one project going or I wouldn’t be able to get everything written that I need to. Sometimes that pace is a little hectic, but it does give me a way to deal with writer’s block. If I get stuck on one story, I just work on another one for a while. Sometimes all I need to get past the block is to stop trying to figure out where the problem is.

That would be my advice to any writer. If you’re blocked, put the story aside for a little while. Work on something else, or go for a walk, or watch a brain-candy TV show. When you try too hard to push through the block, sometimes it backfires and you end up more stuck than you were before. Or you end up with a bunch of words that you have to delete because you only wrote them to get past the block and they don’t really work for the story.

If you step back from the story and focus your mind on other things, part of your brain will probably keep working on that story. At least, that’s what happens with me. As soon as I stop consciously thinking about the block and how I can work through it, part of my mind keeps processing and all of a sudden, the perfect solution pops into my head. I don’t know if everyone’s brain works that way, but if you’re fighting writer’s block, it might be worth a try.

And you might end up with something better than what you expected.

Thank you for sharing.  Great advice!

Please share what your book, Cutting Cords is about.  

When Shanna’s father moves out, leaving Shanna alone with her mother, her home life goes from bad to worse. At least she has Jonah to remind her that she deserves a good life, even if she doesn’t always believe him.

Stressed about her parents’ separation and worried about what it will mean for her, Shanna is glad for the distraction of her friend Tammi’s request for information about guides. 

Although Shanna is still learning, she knows how to answer Tammi’s questions. The problem is, the entity Tammi is asking about isn’t really a guide. It’s a dead spirit who wants to take over Tammi’s life. And Shanna discovers that another entity, one with the power to destroy our universe, wants to use Tammi as well.

Guided by Jonah and Tethys, and helped by another being of light, Shanna must send the dead spirit to the afterlife before it’s too late—for Tammi and for the entire Universe.

Sounds like a great book.  Can you share an excerpt?

Loud voices yanked me out of a dream. My parents’ voices. Angry, as usual, and growing louder by the second. I wouldn’t be able to go back to sleep until they finished.

My heart pounded as the argument continued. Dad’s voice faded, which meant he’d completely lost his temper. The angrier he became, the more quietly he spoke. Mom’s voice rose as if to make up for Dad’s low tone. I pulled my pillow over my head. Come on, people. I had school the next day. It would have been helpful if my parents had started fighting earlier, before I went to bed.

Or if they’d argued somewhere else. Like Antarctica.

Their voices drilled through the pillow. Loud, angry tones. They’d always argued a lot, and it seemed to be happening more often the past two or three weeks. My dad spent more time out of the house than in it, trying to escape from my mother. Unfortunately for me, his leaving all the time just made things worse. Mostly for me, since when he took off, I became Mom’s object of focus.

My chest tightened at the thought. I’d been seven when my doctor had told my mother I'd developed an anxiety disorder. My mother, of course, had called the doctor an idiot and informed him that a seven-year-old had nothing to be anxious about. I’d never seen that particular doctor again, and the symptoms that had led to the diagnosis continued. Stomach pains and nausea, chest pain and trouble breathing. I’d learned to control them somewhat, especially since my friend Jonah had taught me to meditate and focus. When something really stressful happened—pretty much every day at my house—I still had attacks.

Love it!  Jo, thank you for stopping by today.  

I just want to remind everyone that Jo will be giving away an autographed print ARC of the novel, Cutting Cords, to one randomly drawn commenter, so please feel free to comment on this blog post.  

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