Saturday, November 26, 2011

Sweet Saturday Sample

Eagle picture from Images in Ice
Welcome to my blog! I am so excited about my new release, The Christmas Phoenix, available now at Astraea Press! You can click on the book cover at the right for ordering information. But to give you a taste of the story, the scene below is the second meeting for my two main characters—Jess, an overworked mom, and Jake, a world-weary ice sculptor:

The huge, glass-covered building had to be the hotel. That was the only convention-sized building on the block. He pulled into the circular drive, where a shivering doorman directed him around to the service drive. Jake pulled around and found the correct entrance, and parked. He took out a sturdy collapsible cart and carefully loaded his sculpture onto it.
Now, he had to find the "Wolverine Room" and get this eagle to the Audubon Society Banquet before it started to melt. He entered the building and followed the signs to the banquet rooms.
His cart suddenly jerked to the right and he reached out a hand to keep his sculpture from falling off.
A red-haired sprite lay in a heap on the left side of his cart. White linen napkins covered the floor all around her.  She looked vaguely familiar.
"Are you okay?"
The sprite picked herself up, not making eye contact with him. "Yeah, I'm fine. I need to look where I'm going." She started picking up her napkins. I'll need to re-wash these and fold them again. Looking at his cart, she perked up. "Wow, this is fabulous! I hope I didn't break it."
Oh, drat. He'd been so worried about the sprite he'd nearly forgotten. A quick inspection revealed a feather broken off from one of the eagle's wings, but it was barely noticeable. "No harm done. I'd help you with those napkins, but I need to get this delivered. Which room is the Wolverine Room?"
"Huh? Oh, it's the next room down the hall on your right. The manager, Max, should be in there. He can help you."
Wheeling the cart toward the banquet room, Jake realized the sprite had the same husky voice as the snowplow operator. He turned around to get another look at her. She presented an enticing view as she bent over to pick up her napkins.
No, it couldn't be the same person.

Thanks for stopping by! Please leave a comment, and then visit other authors and read their samples by going to Sweet Saturday Samples.

To read more about The Christmas Phoenix, visit my "Release Party! Mini Blog Hop" page (click on the tab above). Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of this story!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Author Spotlight: Iris Blobel

Growing up, I loved reading about people in faraway places and wondered what they were like. In the movies, I watched actors like Paul Hogan and Olivia Newton-John, listened to singers like the BeeGees and Dame Joan Sutherland, and cheered on athletes like Evonne Goolagong Cawley. I devoured every article I could find about their fascinating country. I'd still love to visit Australia someday, but for now I'm thrilled to make the acquaintance of a real live Aussie, Iris Blobel. She's a fellow Astraea Press author, and she has a brand new novel called Journey to her Dreams. Iris is here today to share with us a little about how she creates her characters,
Thanks, Patty, for having me today on your blog.

Patty had a wonderful post on her blog a few weeks back called “What a Character” where she had asked fellow Astraea Press authors “If you could become any one of your characters, which one would it be, and why?". It was a great post and you should hop over and have a read ... not now though!
Anyway, the post made me think about how we/you/authors choose their characters, their personalities, faults, looks etc. Do they have a certain person in mind?  Or is it indeed all a “creation”?
I sat back and thought about how I “shape” my characters. I wondered whether they were part of me or whether they were something I’d like to be. After considering and thinking and head scratching – no, they’re not like me. Would I like to be like them? Probably a little bit. I suppose deep down inside I’m hoping for the readers to be able to relate to my characters because “they’re real”. They should have flaws, yet know the right from wrong. 
In my latest book “Hollie” is my main character. I really like her. She’s loving, loyal and strong inside, but she gets easily hurt and takes the safe road.  My male characters are usually (and hopefully) sexy and charming and the counterpart sexy as well, yet with a flaw I don’t like in a man at all. It usually is an interesting balance.
Thanks Iris!
         Here's the cover, blurb and order information:

Would you travel around the world to uncover the reason for your dreams? 
Hollie, a young woman from Tasmania does, and during her journey to Ireland, she is determined to find out what is behind those dreams about “the other woman”. Yet, during her quest for answers, Hollie finds more than just the reason for it.
Journey to Her Dreams is now available at every major online book store or here:

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Sweet Saturday Sample

Welcome! Thanks for coming to my corner of the blogging world. If you've been here before on Saturdays, you may have already met Jess, a widow with a snowplowing business, a waitressing job, and a teenager who doesn't help much. This week I'd like to show a little about Jake, her handsome, rugged neighbor:

           The snow in front of the house had no paw prints. Charlie was probably in the back. Jake went out the back door and whistled, and soon the little bundle of energy raced around the house to greet him.
            Jake had learned to come prepared with something to play fetch. He drew the neon green tennis ball from his pocket and tossed it as far as he could. Charlie raced after it and Jake laughed as the puppy bounced around in the deep snow, looking for the ball. After a quick search, Charlie brought it back. Like the well-trained animal he was, he set it gently down at Jake’s feet and stepped back. Jake picked up the ball and prepared to throw it again.
            Just as he raised his arm, a succession of cracking sounds pierced the air. Jake froze. For a moment he was transported back to Iraq. All around him, men fell, screaming from their wounds. He sank to the ground and started in surprise when his face hit the cold snow.
            Snow? In the desert?
            Slowly, he lifted his head. He wasn’t in the desert. There were no soldiers falling around him, but the cracking noise continued. Firecrackers.

Thanks for reading! The story now has a title: The Christmas Phoenix, and it's been accepted for publication at Astraea Press for this holiday season! As soon as it's available, I'll have a link above where you can order it.

Be sure to check out more great samples at Sweet Saturday Samples!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Author Spotlight: Jean Joachim

I'm learning that self-promotion takes up a lot of time I'd rather spend writing, or working on my crafting hobbies. For people who are self-publishing, promotion is even more important. So I'd like to introduce one of those self-motivated people who not only writes, but takes care of ALL the tasks that go into producing a book, as well as promoting it. Meet Joan Joachim, who is the author of two romance series as well as a brand new Thanksgiving novella. Since most of these books have been published in the past year, I asked her to tell me about herself and how she managed such a huge output.  Here's her answer:
"I live in New York City, am married, have two sons and a pug dog named Homer. My writing career started with non-fiction. My first book was “Beyond the Bake Sale, the Ultimate School Fund-Raising Book” published by St. Martin’s Press. I had two active boys and was heavily involved in their activities, running the PTA, fund-raising, coaching soccer, leaving little time or energy to write. I progress to writing a movie review column for parents, which I have been doing for the past 11 years. Once my youngest went off to college, I had the time to start writing fiction and all the stories that had been piling up in my head came tumbling out. So I’ve been prolific this year, four novels and there will be four novellas by the end of the year. But two of those books I wrote last year. I have two more from last year I am editing and another I wrote this year with a partner that is almost finished. I write fulltime and find it hard to stop to make dinner. Sometimes, I don’t!"

Her two newest books are Now and Forever 2, the Book of Danny and The Marriage List. Read on to find out what they're about:
Now and Forever 2, the Book of Danny is the second in the Now and Forever series. In the first book, Now and Forever 1, a Love Story, you met Callie Richards and Mac Caldwell and watched their love story evolve. This second book is the story of Danny Maine, brother to Callie’s fiancĂ© lost in Iraq as well as the continuing story of Callie and Mac.
Danny Maine leaves the Army after becoming an expert sharp shooter, killer and womanizer. He hopes a job teaching English at Kensington State University will propel him into a normal life.
On his first day, he meets Eliza Baines, a beautiful widow, and is smitten immediately. Danny works to overcome post-traumatic stress syndrome and make a new life when his drunken and abusive father is released from prison and seeks him out. Struggling to leave his horrific past behind, Danny attempts to forge a new path that includes love, success, friends and having his own family but dark forces and emotional obstacles block his way. The Book of Danny is a poignant story of love, loss and ultimate triumph that will touch your heart.


I asked Jean to tell me why this book was so special to her. She said:

"What's so special about The Book of Danny is that the main character is an ex-Army man, raised by his brother, Kyle, who was subsequently killed in Iraq. Kyle’s death filled Danny with rage, so he went there to get revenge but ended up losing some of his humanity.
"He came to me and told me his story of love and loss and I was compelled to write it. Danny is an imperfect man, sexy as hell, smart, educated, but stuck with the horrors of war messing up his life. With help from friends, family, a counselor and the people of a small town, he is able to break through and overcome the obstacles keeping happiness out of his reach. His return and search for the right woman, fulfilling work and a place to settle feels very real. I think Danny will grab your heart in a way no other hero will. He did mine."
In addition to The Book of Danny, Joan has a Thanksgiving novella out called The Marriage List. Here's the cover and blurb for that story:

Can happily ever after start with a list? Grey Andrews thinks so. After ten years of working, saving and investing, Grey finally achieved a level of wealth that allows him to do what he wants with his life. He needs a woman to share it with, but not any woman, the perfect woman. A woman who has the three essential qualities on his marriage list. But after three years of searching he isn’t any closer to finding her than he was when he started out.
 Carrie Tucker, an aspiring mystery writer and divorcĂ©e struggling to make it in the world of advertising, turned her focus from men to her career after dating too many creeps and losers. She’s finally earned her big break, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to become the first female creative director in a hot New York ad agency. So what if it means working nights and weekends? It’s not like she has a social life anyway.
Is the marriage list a failure or will a chance meeting at a fiction-writing conference prove the list to be the key to Grey’s happiness after all?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Sweet Saturday Sample

Welcome! Today I'm sharing a sample from The Legacy, a novella available at Astraea Press.

       She stepped into the motel office to find Jenna sprawled in her office chair, snoring. A tiny black and white television was tuned to the local nightly news.
       "Jenna, wake up."
       The snoring stopped, and Jenna's eyes blinked. A mop of shaggy, strawberry blonde hair shook as she woke up and tried to focus on her.
       "Leigh, it's you! Did you get bored and come to keep me company?"
       Leigh instantly felt guilty. She and Jenna had been good friends in high school, but after graduation they had gone in different directions. Jenna had married, and had two children in two years. Now divorced and living with her mother, she worked the third shift at the motel to make ends meet. The arrangement allowed her to be at home with her children during the day, when her mother worked.
       "I guess I can stay and talk a while, Jenna," she told her friend. "But I'm going to need a room for the night."
       Jenna frowned. "Again? Leigh, you've got to get out of there. One of these days your step-dad is going to force himself on you. You won't be able to get away. And it won't be pretty."
       Jenna was the only person who knew about her father's problem with alcohol and had first-hand knowledge of the way Frank took his troubles out on Leigh.
       "I'm working on it, Jenna. It's just that mom—"
       "—will be able to take care of herself," her friend insisted. "She's always gone, anyway. There are a couple of apartments open where mom and the kids and I live. They're affordable, too. It'll be fun, Leigh. Why don't you check it out? Tomorrow."

Thanks for stopping by! Please leave a comment, and be sure to find and read other samples by going to Sweet Saturday Samples.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Mozart Effect

Recently, a fellow author posted a request on facebook. She wanted us to compare our writing output when in silence to writing while listening to Mozart. A few people took it a step farther and recorded their results while listening to a different genre of music. The consensus? It was very inconclusive. Some people wrote more listening to Mozart, and a few found their results were poorer. I was one of those people.

Because I've spent so much time listening to and performing music, I feel it's difficult for me to relegate it to "background noise." Often, when I listen to instrumental music, I remember myself sitting in an orchestra, playing the notes. I rarely listen to music without really hearing it. It's worse when there are lyrics. As I'm typing this, my husband has his Pandora Station (set to Josh Groban) playing on our television. I just listened to Josh sing a wonderful melody from his latest album, and now I'm listening to "All I Ask of you" from Phantom of the Opera. I'm trying to type, but I find myself listening to the quality of his voice, and the words to the song. If this were suitable background music, I wouldn't be able to name the music, it would just be—there.

I downloaded an album called "Creativity" by Steven Halpern. It's instrumental music, but there are no recognizable melodies in it. That seems to work best as "white nose" for me. I'm not humming along with the vocals because there aren't any. I'm not "playing along" with the instruments, because I'm not familiar with the tune.

Does this make me a strange duck? I hope not. I think it just means I'm wired differently than a lot of people. I love to listen to Mozart - in a concert hall, or any time I can devote my attention to him. But when I write or do anything else that needs concentration, I need to listen to soft, dreamy stuff that blocks everything else out.

Sorry, Wolfgang.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Sweet Saturday Sample

Welcome! Once again, I'm sharing a scene from my work-in-progress, which I hope to have finished this weekend! Jess, a widowed mom, is struggling to make ends meet. Here, she finally finds a chance to rest—at least she thinks so!

            She grabbed a glass of water and went to her favorite recliner. Leaning back, she put her feet up, and closed her eyes. Ahh. All her thoughts blended into a pastel haze. Her hubby was back, taking care of her, massaging her feet, telling her not to worry. And then he dropped a rock. A rock? A whole bag of rocks, and they bounced across her floor. He kept picking them up and dropping them. Why did he keep doing that? Rory was there now. He was talking to someone. Someone with a deep voice. And then he yelled.
            She tried to open her eyes, but her lids wouldn't move.
            "Mom, there's a guy here."
            A guy?
            "Mom!" Rory sounded worried now. She felt his hand on her shoulder, shaking it.
            "Mister, I don't know what's wrong with her. I gotta call 911."
            "Has she been sick? Is she on medication?" Who did that deep voice belong to?
            "No, I don't think so. I don't know. She was okay when she took me to school this morning. She was mad because I forgot my books and stuff again. Mom, wake up! I promise I'll do my homework. Right now. Wake up!" His voice sounded frantic now.
            She tried to answer, she really did, but all that came out was a groan.
            A large, warm hand felt her forehead, and then her cheek. It was a rough hand, the thick callouses scratching her skin, but curiously it felt comforting, reassuring.
            "She's not feverish. That's a good sign."
            She finally pried one eye open. "Hmmm?" She still couldn't form any words.
            "She's waking up! Mom, what happened?"
            Two faces came into view. One a familiar dear face. Her son. Her baby boy. He looked worried. The other face was vaguely familiar. Rough and rugged. But equally concerned.
            She took a deep breath. "Who rr you?"
            "She said something! What did she say?"
            "She wanted to know who I am. I think.”
            "There’s a glass of water on the end table. Here, mom."
            The rugged one took the water from Rory. "Wait just a minute." He brought the glass to his nose, sniffed it, and tasted it. Then he held it to her face.
            "I'm not drinking that." Finally, her tongue started to work.
            "Why not?"
            "You drank out of my glass."
            "I had to make sure it was water, and not - something that would put you back to sleep."
            Rory's face looked less worried now. More stern. "Mom, have you been drinking?"

Thanks for stopping by! Please leave a comment, and find other great samples at Sweet Saturday Samples!

Friday, November 4, 2011

A Mother's Guilt

My daughter recently write a blog post about balance. She and her husband recently started a blog dedicated to recording their journey toward financial independence. Both of them work full time, and they own a cute little house (a nice little starter home in a well-kept urban area) and have a beautiful eight-month-old daughter (I suppose I'm a little biased, but grandmothers are allowed to be!).

Anyway, she wrote that one of the hardest things for her is being away from her daughter. She's experiencing the same feelings of guilt that plague working moms everywhere. Guilt at having days when she spends more time at her job than with her daughter. Guilt at enjoying her job. Guilt at making financial security a priority, taking away from quality time with her child.

Having been a working mom, I wanted to reassure her. I responded under my pseudonym and made no references that would identify myself as her mother. I empathized with her feelings, because I had felt them when I had left her with others. I tried to make her see that Little Miss B is happy and healthy because her mother took the time to choose the right person to care for her. And I reminded her that she and her sister have grown into happy, confident adults.

I'm not sure if my daughter has seen my response. I hope so. I'd like to think that I was able to a little bit toward assuaging her fears and concerns. Those concerns are valid, but she's making the choices she needs to make. If, someday, their circumstances change, she may re-evaluate and move in another direction. And I'll be there to cheer her on. Because I'm her mother.

But for now, hopefully, my words can make a difference.