Friday, May 31, 2013

Sweet Saturday: Love's Refrain

Image credit: glopphy / 123RF Stock Photo

Welcome back! Since we're starting a new month, I thought I'd change things up and share an excerpt from my new regency romance novella, Love's Refrain, which is slated for release sometime this summer. Here's the opening scene:
Andrew Bradford, Earl of Covington, took a deep breath and let it out slowly. He needed to calm himself before speaking, lest he invoke the wrath of the person perched gracefully on the settee before him. His mother, the dowager countess, inspected the lace on her new gown.
"Come now, Andrew," she chided. "Your wife has been gone nine years. Certainly long enough for a proper mourning period. It's past time you remarried."
"I've no interest in remarrying, Mother."
"So you've said. But the fact is, you need an heir. Andrew —" She reached out a hand to stop him when he turned away from her. "I know Priscilla's death hurt you. But you are still here. Brentwood Manor needs an heir. And you need someone to help you go on living." She paused to let her words sink in.
"Andrew, I only want to see you happy. You need a companion, someone to be your champion, someone to listen to you and help you achieve your goals."
"I could get a dog," observed Andrew.
Ignoring her son's sarcasm, the countess continued. "Andrew, dear, I know you blame yourself for leaving Priscilla alone so soon after you married. But you were doing your duty to your country, fighting on the Continent. No one can say you abandoned your wife. She was always —delicate. You did your best, and the household staff took good care of her. It was not your fault."
Andrew shook his head in disbelief, but the countess carried on.
"The season is just beginning, and there are hundreds of lovely young women just looking for a dashing earl," she reminded him. "Tonight, Lord and Lady Kentridge are hosting a ball. Go and dance, make some young chit happy."
"Mother, I have better things to do than attend a ball."
"Of course you do. But I've already accepted on your behalf."
Thanks for stopping by! Please let me know what you think, and then check out other excerpts from authors listed at the Sweet Saturday Samples site.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Please Welcome Author Joselyn Vaughn

Today I have the privilege of hosting yet another Astraea Press author! Joselyn Vaughn amazes all of us who know her with her ability to write wonderful stories, run marathons, and create clever clothing items by repurposing or mending. And she does all of this while raising three active preschoolers! She's also a fellow member of the Grand Rapids Region Writers Group.
Joselyn is here to tell us about her new release, Climbing Heartbreak Hill. It's a wonderful story about two people who are chasing their dreams and how they help each other. I downloaded the book as soon as it was available and loved it! I'll let Joselyn tell you more:

When you train for a marathon, someone always asks if you are trying to qualify for Boston. Being able to achieve the times needed and run in the historic event is one of the most sought after experiences in a runner’s career.
When I trained for the Seattle Marathon, someone asked and I shrugged it off. I hadn’t run one marathon and didn’t know if I’d want to do another one after I finished. During training I was tantalizingly close to the qualifying times, but an injury before the race changed that. Ten years later, twenty pounds and three kids haven’t made the times any easier to achieve.
Since my kids were born, I’ve gotten back into regular running (those twenty pounds weren’t from them). Some days, it’s to work out frustration with our never-ending potty training struggle; others, it’s for some time to get a complete thought. But other times, it’s for something larger than myself. My whole family—brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, everyone—participated in a 5k, even my kids in strollers, to celebrate our family and my sister’s recovery from open heart surgery. My sisters and I run or walk in a Race for the Cure to celebrate my other sister’s recover from breast cancer. (Try running that one without choking up as people run with the names of mothers, sisters, aunts, and daughters written on their shirts. Impossible.)
When I wrote Climbing Heartbreak Hill, I imagined the worst thing for a runner—to leave a dream unachieved. Ryan, an elite marathoner, suffers a career-ending injury the year he was going to run at the Boston Marathon. He struggles with losing his ability to run throughout the book because his career will have this open spot that he will never be able to fill.
After I heard about the bombings I decided to donate a portion of my proceeds for Climbing Heartbreak Hill to the One Fund for Boston, so that those injured will have a chance for whatever dream lies at the edge of their grasp. 
Run on!

Professional runner, Ryan Grant, blows out his knee training for another attempt at the Boston marathon and the dreaded Heartbreak Hill. Ryan retreats home, not looking for anything more than a fast recovery, but he finds solace in the arms of his tax preparer, Tara Mansfield.
Tara’s cheerleading career ended abruptly and she faces an upward climb beating the stereotype as dumb blonde in her new calling as an accountant. Framed with defrauding the IRS during the last weeks of the tax season, Tara’s tentative confidence is shaken, but Ryan coaches her in ensnaring the true perpetrator. She cheers him on in discovering his identity as a coach rather than an athlete.
With the help of the junkyard king and a mechanical bull, can Tara and Ryan find the courage to climb Heartbreak Hill together?
Joselyn's bio:
I live in the Great Lakes state with my husband, three rambunctious children and two barking Beagles (I suppose that is redundant.) When not suffering the woes of potty training three toddler/preschoolers, I enjoy reading, running (sometimes it’s fleeing the craziness at home), reconstructing clothing, thrift store shopping and surfing (I spend way too much time there and am getting all kinds of exciting ideas for projects for my husband to do. He is less than thrilled by this.)
I love writing romance because I enjoy stories where everything works out all right in the end and the main characters have a happily ever after. My stories are set in small towns with quirky characters that take on a life of their own.

Climbing Heartbreak Hill is available at Astraea Press, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and several other ebook outlets. Download the book now to help the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing!

You can find Joselyn at her website or blog, and on Amazon, Facebook, Goodreads, and Twitter @JoselynVaughn. You can contact her by email.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Please Welcome Author Heather Gray

Today I'm excited to introduce you to fellow Astraea Press author Heather Gray. She's a little camera shy, so you can't see her, but this is her lovely book cover. Heather tells us " Aside from her long-standing love affair with coffee, Heather’s greatest joys in life are her relationship with her Savior, her family, and writing. Years ago, she decided it would be better to laugh than yell. Heather carries that theme over into her writing where she strives to create characters that experience both the highs and lows of life and, through it all, find a way to love God, embrace each day, and laugh out loud right along with her."
Heather's new release at Astraea Press is a wonderful story called Mail Order Man, an inspirational historical romance. Here's the blurb:
A well-meaning friend places an ad to find a mail order husband for Sarah, the proprietress of Larkspur’s stage and mail office. Sarah, who is generally quiet and reserved, doesn't know about the ad and has no idea what to do with all the people that are showing up in her community. Before long, the town is overrun with men and mail alike. Sarah is trying to avoid some men who have accosted her on the street when she stumbles into Samuel. Through long days spent together at the stage office, some very adventurous pots of coffee and a shared faith, the two become friends. 
Sarah knows that Samuel is hiding something from her, something important, but that doesn't stop her heart from leaping wildly into love. Lacking the confidence to trust her heart, Sarah wars with herself over the feelings she can no longer deny. When some of the men who have come to town show their true intentions, a shootout follows. Sarah finally gets answers to many of the questions circling through her mind. One question remains, though. Where will her mail order man go when the dust settles?

And here's an excerpt:
Right then Claudio and Cesar came through the door. Both boys chimed a “Good morning!” in Sarah’s direction as they headed straight for the coffee on the stove. Sarah saw their intent and inwardly cringed. Not only was she not sure about how many scoops of grounds she’d put in, but the coffee had been percolating much longer than normal because she got distracted with the letters.
Samuel had his back to the stove and did not see the boys as they each poured a cup of coffee. Sarah was about to warn them as Claudio, the middle boy at age sixteen, took a big swig of the hot brew while Cesar, the youngest, opted to blow on his first. Claudio’s eyes grew wide as he swallowed. “Miss Sarah, I do believe that’s the best coffee you've ever made. That’s the kind of coffee vaqueros drink!”
Samuel visibly perked up at the mention of coffee. Sarah was sure he couldn't know a vaquero was a Mexican cowboy and that they drink their camp coffee strong. If he understood what the boys were saying, he definitely wouldn't be in a hurry to get a cup of his own. Cesar finally took a drink of his coffee. Sarah could see him trying not to make a face as he swallowed the brew. “Vaquero coffee for sure, Miss Sarah. Papa would be proud.”
Sarah had barely started to warn, “Uh, Samuel…” when he took a big gulp of the coffee Claudio had poured for him. She watched the shock on his face as he first paled and then grew red. His eyes flew wide as he tried desperately to swallow the coffee. He finally ran out the front door and spit the coffee out over the edge of the stage platform.
The boys could not contain their howling laughter as Samuel walked back into the stage office, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand.

Interested? I sure am! You can get your copy of Mail Order Man  at AmazonBarnes & Noble, and Kobo Books as well as several other ebook outlets.

You can find Heather at her Website, on Twitter, or on Facebook.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Sweet Saturday: Plum Blossom Covenant #5

Welcome back! I'm sorry I missed the Sweet Saturday hop last week, but a killer cold knocked me out for several days. I've got a short scene from The Plum Blossom Covenant (my current work-in-progress set in Japan at the turn of the twentieth century)
in which Yasa has an interesting conversation with his father, Hiro Tanaka:

“It is time you married.”
Yasa nearly dropped his chopsticks at his father’s pronouncement.  The hand holding his rice bowl went limp, and he felt some of his dinner fall into his lap. 
“Married?” he croaked.
Hiro, having finished his meal, took a long draw on his pipe, and leisurely blew the smoke out.  “I am getting older, and you will be taking over soon.  We need to start the next generation.  It is the way of things.”
Yasa’s mind whirled. Had his father found out about what had happened five years ago? Why would Hiro want him to marry and take over the farm? He was only twenty-five, younger than his father was when he married. Why would his father force the issue now, unless -
Otousan, are you ill?”
Hiro’s brows rose.  “Ill?  No, I am healthy. But we must make arrangements so that your mother and I will not have to worry.  Besides, one never knows when the unexpected will happen.  There are many suitable young women in the area.  The Yoshimori family has three girls, all of whom would make good farm wives.”
Yasa’s jaw dropped. Next to him, his younger brother shook with silent laughter. The eldest Yoshimori sister was nearly twice his age, and twice his weight as well. The second sister, at least ten years his senior, was well-known for her cooking, as well as her sharp tongue. The youngest sister, only a few years older than Yasa, had a sweet disposition, but she’d already made a match with a farmer from the western part of the island.
Hiro continued.  “And then there is the Inoue family. They have a lovely young daughter.”
Yasa nearly choked. “Junko would be about twelve years old now, wouldn’t she?”
“Nearly fourteen, but she is intelligent, and will soon be of marriageable age.”
Yasa set his bowl down. “Otousan, what is going on?”
Hiro smiled. “Let’s go for a walk.”
Thanks for stopping! Please leave a comment, and be sure to check out the excerpts offered by other authors by going to the links at Sweet Saturday Samples.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

It's All About the Log Line

Image credit: inspirestock / 123RF Stock Photo
Sometimes when I write, certain things trip me up and I get stuck. Sometimes it's how to get the heroine out of a tricky situation. Other times it's the hero's motivation in doing something. Several times I've written the entire book and not known what to call it! Fortunately, I've now got Facebook friends to help me with that.
A week ago, I got a contract for my latest novella, a regency romance about a couple who both enjoy making music. A Facebook plea resulted in a mavelous title: Love's Refrain. Along with the contract was a lot of other paperwork, and in one, I had to provide a tagline, sometimes known as a logline. It's basically a one or two sentence summary of the book's essence. For some reason, that's where I got stuck. It took two days to come up with a short (25 words or less) description of what the story is about.
Author Lynn Cahoon runs several blogs, and among them is one called The Log Line Blog. Each day she features a different book and its log line. Authors are invited to submit their books to be included in her lineup, and today she's featuring my latest release, The Calico Heart, written with my awesome writing partner Stephanie Michels.  I'd like to encourage you to look at the books she has featured and leave a comment or two. Each comment puts you in the drawing for a monthly prize: a $20 Amazon gift certificate! You can get an awful lot of ebooks for $20, so go on over and leave several comments on the books featured in May.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Please Welcome Author Felicia Rogers

        Today it is my pleasure to introduce a fellow Astraea Press author, Felicia Rogers. Felicia is the author of six novels and three novellas. She tells me that when she's not writing, Felicia volunteers with the Girls Scouts of America, teaches at a local homeschooling group, and spends time with her family. She's here to announce the release of the final book in her Renaissance Hearts series. Since I love anything historical, I had to find out more:

        The final chapter has been written for The Renaissance Hearts Series. What began with Sarra and Cedric in There Your Heart Will Be Also concludes with Bryce and Lucy in Beyond A Doubt. Set in the turbulent times of Mary I of England, or Bloody Mary, and Henry II of France, the fight for religious freedom abounds. Intrigue, loss of property, and loss of life rule the day. Follow the epic ending of a family’s struggle.

Bryce Cameron is finally going home. Years spent away have him longing for the craggy landscapes from his childhood.

Lucy Lombard is on a mission. The mantel she carries was never meant for her possession yet it has been passed to her anyway. Alone and in danger, Lucy stumbles onto her greatest find.

Rescuing Bryce is either a blessing or a curse but regardless time is running out. With Bryce's help can Lucy fulfill her mission or will she be too late?

The Renaissance Hearts series has received lots of great reviews since There Will Your Heart Be Also was released in October of 2011. Here are some comments from reviews:
“I really enjoyed this book. I do not typically favor historical romance, but the romance was not too mushy, and the historical was not too heavy! This was an enjoyable, delightful read!!!.” Taken from Rachel’s Amazon review on There Your Heart Will Be Also, Book One.

“If you are in for a good mystery with plenty of adventure, suspense & romance, you have come to the right place for this recommended novel because "By God's Grace" will give it all to you.” Taken from Arlena’s Amazon review of By God’s Grace, Book Two.

“Okay have to say this is my fav book so far in The Renaissance Heart Series! Felicia Rogers just gets better!” Taken from Danielle William’s Amazon review of Labor of Love, Book Three.

Beyond a Doubt can be purchased at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other ebook outlets.

And don’t forget the other books in the series. Available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Astraea Press.
~There Your Heart Will Be Also, Book One
~By God’s Grace, Book Two
~Labor of Love, Book Three

Felicia can be found at her website, on Facebook, and Goodreads. You can contact her by email at

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Please Welcome Author Anne Ashby

       Today I'm pleased to introduce Author Anne Ashby. Anne and I live on opposite sides of the world, but we're able to connect thanks to author support groups on the internet. I've enjoyed reading about her latest release, The CEO Gets Her Man and asked her to answer a few questions about herself and her writing. She's led a very interesting life!

       Thanks so much for inviting me to visit with you. I look forward to interacting with your readers. Please be aware our time zones differ so my responses may be a while after comments are posted. But be assured, I will respond to every comment.

Thanks for visiting, Anne. What do you do when you're not writing?
You mean other than dreaming about writing or what my characters might want to do next? I'm sure I'm allergic to housework so I do my level best to keep that to a minimum. My husband has very recently retired from the Royal NZ Navy so spending relaxing time with him is still a novelty. He loves to cook and has offered to "take over the kitchen" - am I complaining? You'd better believe I'm still jumping with joy.

But on a more serious note, we have four toddler grandchildren living close by so I spend a certain amount of my down time with them and their parents. I'm also embarking on speaking/facilitating new writers side of my career which takes time. My interest in genealogy has taken a back seat for a few years but family history still remains high interest for me. Other than that, I enjoy reading (obviously) and watching TV (when there is something worth watching), and rugby - at the moment the rugby championship between South African, Australian and New Zealand teams (called the Super Fifteen) is well underway and with four or five matches every weekend, well I get to watch a lot of rugby right now.

Sounds like fun. What's your idea of an ideal vacation?
Any vacation (our term is a holiday) is a great one. I love to travel and see new places and meet new people. Of course that leads to problems because I then want to return to visit those new friends I've made instead of experiencing something new and different. We hope to be able to travel, both within New Zealand and overseas, more frequently now my husband has retired. I guess my ideal holiday would incorporate both visiting friends and going somewhere new. Living so far away from Europe/North America initial travel costs are expensive, so the theory is to try and spend as much time as possible if heading to the Northern Hemisphere. Currently on my wish list is a return to Shetland Islands to stay with cousins (5x removed) and soak up the home my ancestors left many, many years ago. Next year we hope to pay a return visit to Rocky Mount NC to visit friends (who have become more like family). Because we haven't seen much of the southern USA, we are currently talking about flying into Dallas, getting a car and meandering across and around to NC. I'm going to throw the idea of a Caribbean cruise into the mix at some stage in the near future. Not sure how that will go down with my sailor husband but it'll be worth a try.

Good luck! What life experiences helped you become an author?
I'm not sure what things have helped me become an author. First I must give credit to my mother who is a great reader. She instilled in me a love of the written word and the certainty that you can never be alone or lonely if you have a book beside you. Being fortunate enough to encounter and attend a romance writing course conducted by Loree Lough was a huge boost for me. Prior to this writing had been a dream which I was sure would remain just that, a dream. Her ongoing encouragement enabled me to turn that dream into reality. The writers group I became involved with until I returned to NZ also helped me tremendously.

I also pay tribute to my time serving in the Royal NZ Navy which definitely contributed to my perseverance and determination to succeed. Serving in any military corps instills enormous self discipline which has been invaluable. The routines I set early in my second (writing) career continue although my life has changed dramatically. I no longer need to fit writing around the needs of my children or household duties but my routine is firmly entrenched and ensures I have plenty of hours each day to devote in some form to my writing.

I too enjoy the flexibility that retirement brings. How did you choose the genre you write in?
At the beginning of the writing course, Loree Lough very quickly solicited our ideas and then told the class only one of her 20 odd students knew exactly what she would write. Me. I write sweet/clean/traditional contemporary romance because this is what I read. I very rarely read anything else. I guess you could say that this being the case, then my expertise lies within the sweet contemporary genre.

That's great that you found your niche right away. What inspired you to write your first book?
Apart from the scribbling future writers do as children, my first real story (Worlds Apart) was about a New Zealander visiting America. I got the idea of sharing some of the odd and unusual experiences we had adapting to a foreign culture and language when we shifted to Maryland for two years. Incorporating these into a romance between a kiwi and her US hero was a lot of fun. 

Those "fish out of water" stories are often fun. What books/authors have influenced your writing?
There was a prolific New Zealand romance writer in 1960-1980's called Essie Summers. I loved her stories. She wrote sweet (as most writers did back then), set many of her stories in locations near my childhood home, and often touched on genealogy sub-plots. Looking back now, I realise her books sent me into reading heaven. She showed that New Zealand could be used as a setting, that stories didn't need to be in more recognizable location to be popular and successful. This suits me as I like writing about my beautiful country. Not only am I trying to be an ambassador but I can also write about what I know, rather than relying on the Internet or memories to help make my stories locations sound authentic. 

Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
I have been one of the most fortunate writers because my first book "Worlds Apart" was published. But it was a struggle and I only continued to persevere because Loree had suggested to me years before that it would get published. Remembering that this era was before emailed submissions were accepted by most publishers and that I live on the opposite side of the world from the publishing houses. My book was finished in 2001. I spent over 4 years submitting proposals, 3 chapters, then full ms to publishers via snail mail, taking up to about 12-15 months each time. Mills & Boon in London suggested I send it to Superromance in Toronto, then Superromance suggested I send it to M&B in London. M&B then suggested they would consider it if I cut 15-20,000 words - very annoying as I'd just attended a conference where M&B representatives stressed word counts no longer governed acceptance. I decided to keep trying elsewhere rather than butcher what I thought was a great story. Treble Heart Books was at the Romance Writers of NZ conference (I think in 2006) and after a pitch I received a contract. After almost two years of nothing happening I was offered a release from that contract because the editor/owner had suffered a heart attack and had got so far behind in honouring all the contracts. At our conference in 2008 I pitched to a representative from The Wild Rose Press who contracted my story. After months of working with my lovely editor - who made the courageous suggestion to change spelling and idioms when we changed POV characters (a suggestion she has never repeated I might add) "Worlds Apart" finally hit the world in May 2010. Highlighting some of what happened during this road to publication now, I can hardly believe how long it took. 
I'd like to share with you my latest release which is initially set in the southern region of New Zealand before shifting to our capital city, Wellington. 

Back Blurb of The CEO Gets Her Man: 
       Ensuring her company's success is Debra Laurie’s life. But when she goes undercover to investigate a failing hotel in southern New Zealand, she finds her confidence crumbling. Masquerading as a waitress is a disaster—especially when the hotel’s assistant manager is a former rugby star she once had a crush on.

       Jase McEwan is struggling to keep the hotel afloat. An unpredictable manager, ridiculous demands from the head office, and employee unrest are problems enough. Now a haughty new waitress is causing mayhem in the restaurant—and in his heart.
       Determined to be impartial, Debra sets out to discover if Jase is responsible for the hotel’s drastic situation. But the more she investigates, the more she likes his work—and the more their attraction sizzles. Before long, Jase has turned Debra’s world upside-down. But what happens when he learns the new waitress is really his CEO?

       Jase had been surprised at the improvement in the new waitress’s service when he was in the dining room earlier chatting to guests. He dismissed his earlier concern about her employment. However now she caught his eye again. Not because she’s doing anything wrong. 
       Jase swallowed. His attention had little to do with anything except hormones. She was so very attractive. And the dark uniform, possibly a little on the tight side, accentuated her curves very nicely thank you. He didn't even try to look away when she glanced in his direction and their gazes locked. Time ceased as his pulse rate quickened.
       Her smirk as she hoisted a tray of wine flutes up to her shoulder irritated him. Clearly she found his regard amusing. His lips tightened. 
       He kept his narrowed gaze on her as, after what seemed like an intense but short conversation with George’s head waitress, she headed across the floor toward Karin Laurie’s table.
       Within a couple of paces Jase detected movement on Debra’s tray. A faint wobble that experience had taught him would soon increase and cause a debacle. The breath caught in Jase’s throat. Disaster loomed.
       Well before his sprinting legs could take him anywhere near close enough to prevent the shambles, as if in slow motion, the tray tipped first one way and then the other. The flutes took on lives of their own and acting like lemmings they fell to their death on and around the table of the hotel’s owner. 
       Karin Laurie’s guests both leapt to avoid the cascade of red wine and orange juice but she stayed remarkably still after an initial shocked jolt. Sliding to a stop beside her, Jase was horrified to see her clutching her leg, red of an alarmingly different hue from the wine slowly oozed between her fingers.

You can find Anne at her website, and blog, or on facebook, Goodreads, Wild Rose Publishing, and on Twitter.

Buy Links for The CEO Gets Her Man:
Book is available in both print and digital from:

Monday, May 13, 2013

Please Welcome Author Diane Burton, World Builder

Today, I'm happy to once again have Diane Burton as my guest. Last July, Diane was celebrating the release of Switched, Too, the second in her intergalactic romance series about two sets of twins who had been separated at birth. And now she's here because the series finale, Switched Resolution is now available! I asked Diane how she writes about imaginary worlds, and she was gracious enough to share her thoughts with us:

Many people think that “world building” only applies to fantasy and science fiction, but every writer “builds” the world her characters inhabit. Sometimes we call it setting. In Patty’s The Samurai’s Garden, she had to develop the Japanese village where Hiro and Hanako live. Just as she had to reveal the remote location in Northern Michigan, site of The Christmas Phoenix, in such a way that readers feel as if they’re actually there.
Whether the location is feudal Japan or present day Michigan, the writer can research fairly easily—either by visiting the locale, museums, libraries or reading online or books. Researching alien planets or starship interiors is a little harder. (I would give anything to be able to do that research in person. LOL) Still, each writer must know the social customs of the era, the government, the land surface, weather, clothing, economics, politics, even religion of the locale.
In the case of science fiction romance, which I write, I make it up—basing my descriptions on what we have here on earth. In fact, to keep things straight, I have digital files (easy to check, easy to add to) for characters and for details, including setting. Some writers call it their “bible”. I call my files “characters” and “details”—real original, that’s me.
Now the reader doesn’t need to know everything, but the writer does. In Patty’s The Christmas Phoenix, the heroine Jess is struggling to make her landscape and snowplowing business a success on top of working a day job. That tells the reader about the weather (seasons) and economics. In my Switched series, The Elders (a group of wise ones) determine a Serenian’s career. This custom is a real problem for Marcus who desperately wants to be a farmer more than a starship captain.
Switched, the first book in the series, has three locales: a farm in present day Ann Arbor: Serenia, a planet similar to Earth in the Andromeda Galaxy; and a Serenian starship. I can drive over to Ann Arbor and check out the town, which I did to make sure of a certain detail. Since I based Serenia on Earth, I used San Francisco as the basis for the Serenian capital, with the ocean on one side and mountains beyond. But I also made up other details—fields of purple grain, for instance. While Serenia has temperate climate now, it didn’t always. Scientists can control the formerly violent weather. A little tweak that I’m sure most of us wish our scientists could do, especially in light of all the flooding we’ve had recently in West Michigan.
Most writers move from the known to the setting in their imagination. We use familiar sounds, sights, smells and tastes to bring authenticity to our locations. By using the senses, we pull the reader right into the story. I’ve read that smells evoke memories of where we were when we first smelled the scent. Or we associate the scent with a person. Smells can also make us shudder—a dumpster behind a restaurant on a hot summer day, for example. Foods can evoke good and bad memories. Hopefully, we don’t evoke bad memories unless we mean to.
But the best world building, the greatest, most evocative descriptions mean nothing if the people who inhabit the world are flat. The setting is background. It’s there because that’s where the characters are. Although it’s essential to ground the reader, the setting shouldn’t over shine the characters. While the reader recognizes certain aspects of the setting, it should be the characters with whom the reader identifies . . . and loves.

What is your favorite setting?

Diane Burton combines her love of mystery, adventure, science fiction and romance into writing science fiction romance. Besides the Switched series, she is the author of The Pilot, a series about strong women on the frontier of space. She is also a contributor to the anthology How I Met My Husband. Diane and her husband live in Michigan. They have two children and two grandchildren.
For more info and excerpts from her books, visit Diane’s website:

Connect with Diane Burton online

Here’s a glimpse into Diane’s latest book, Switched Resolution.


Actions have consequences as Space Fleet Captain Marcus Viator and NASA reject Scott Cherella discover when they switch places. Switched Resolution, which wraps up the Switched series, takes the reader from Earth—where Marcus adjusts to a pregnant Jessie—to the starship Freedom commandeered by rebels, to the chase ship with Scott and Veronese aboard.


When Jessie began to work on a lamp, her fingers caught Marcus’ attention, as they usually did. Her long, tapered fingers as well as her hands bore evidence of her work. Scratches and scabs along with grease and graphite. Tonight after closing her shop, she would spend several minutes with a stiff-bristled brush removing the dirt from under her short-clipped nails until they became an angry but clean red. Later she would use those long fingers to bring him pleasure, as she had each night since he arrived three weeks ago. His body reacted in its usual manner when thinking about their mating. Lovemaking, he corrected. The Terran term was lovemaking.
Totally engrossed in her work, she opened the base of the lamp to repair its frayed cord, oblivious to his thoughts. She didn’t even look up as she spoke. “Come to think of it, even before her trip your mother wasn’t coming around as often. She’s been acting a little strange with me ever since it was obvious that I’m pregnant. Scott said she talked to him about doing the right thing. By the way, that’s Terran for marry the girl.” She chuckled.
“If I had not returned when I did, would you have committed to him?”
Something in his tone must have alerted her because she looked up. “Hey, are you still worried about that? Why didn’t you say something?” She hopped off her stool and came around the end of the workbench.
Marcus regretted expressing his uncertainty. Insecurity, a foreign concept to him, occurred only around her. As she approached, he straightened away from the doorframe. “It is nothing.”
“It is too something. Don’t go all Serenian on me, buster.” She looped her arms around his neck. “I will tell you again what I’ve told you before. You, Marcus Viator, starship captain extraordinaire, you are my one and only love.”
Marcus felt a surprising surge of relief. Despite her assurances, insecurity—an aberration in his logic—still plagued him after seeing her in his twin’s arms. Jessie was completely open with her feelings. Although he strived to be the same, ridding himself of the constraints of Serenian culture proved more difficult than he expected.
“Besides, it wouldn’t have been fair to Scott to marry him while I’m in love with you.”
Then she smiled. As always, her face lit up. Her smile touched his heart, his very soul. For that smile—no, for this woman—he would do anything, even give up his ship, his home world, his entire way of life.
She gave him a quick kiss and flashed a saucy grin before stepping away. “I always knew you’d come back for me.”
“That isn’t what I heard.” He pulled her back into his arms. He hated that war had prevented him from returning for her. More, he hated that she feared he would never come back, despite her protests to the contrary.
“Ugly rumors.” She laughed.
He speared his fingers into her fiery tresses, dislodging the broad clip holding her long hair away from her face. As she tipped her head to meet his lips, her incredibly blue eyes dilated. Desire sparked between them, as it always did. Right from the beginning. Around her, he had no defenses. He intended his kiss to be gentle, teasing, like hers. It wasn’t. Passion, always simmering between them, made him forget being gentle or teasing. She returned his hunger with that of her own. Until he was kicked low in the stomach.
Jessie broke away first. “Junior Number One is not happy to be squished.” She laughed and nipped his chin. “No making out in broad daylight. Not when a customer could interrupt.”
“My sincerest apologies. I—”
“You’re doing that Serenian thing again, going all stiff and formal. Chill. Relax. The kiddies will have to get used to us smooching.”
“Smooching?” He had never heard that term before. Bending over, he picked up the fallen hair clip that resembled interlocking claws. “Ah, you mean kissing. Perhaps we could smooch again?” he asked, trying unsuccessfully not to appear too eager.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Sweet Saturday: Plum Blossom Covenant #5

Image credit: deepspacedave / 123RF Stock Photo

Welcome back! I have been sharing scenes from one of my current works-in-progress, a Japanese historical I'm calling The Plum Blossom Covenant. It is the beginning of the twentieth century, and Yasahiro Tanaka has returned to his native Japan after having spent four years in America. His parents have met him at the harbor. And by a twist of fate, a woman who broke his heart is now living in Tokyo. He finally has a chance to speak with her about what happened:

Yasa held back as the women went ahead. He noticed Yumiko doing the same, and took the opportunity to talk to her again.
"Do you plan to work for these ladies? Will you stay with them, or will they return to America?"
Yumi was slow to answer. "I don’t work for them, exactly. I work for the WTCU."
"And after the conference?  What will you do then?"
"I—don't know."
Yasa sighed. "I searched for you, you know. I looked everywhere. No one would tell me where you had gone."
"No one knew."
He stared at her. "You didn’t tell your parents where you went?"
"No. I—couldn't. I didn’t tell anyone."
"It was better that way. I had to get away and I didn’t want you or anyone else to become involved. It’s better this way. I have built a life here. You can move on with yours."
"My life was supposed to include you."
She bowed her head. "I know. I’m—sorry."
They walked in silence for a few minutes, heedless of the excited chatter ahead of them.  Suddenly, Yasa stopped.
"I could stay here."
Yumiko stopped, too. Not because he stopped, but because she was so startled her feet refused to move. "No!"
"You don’t want me here?"
"No, it’s not that, but — you would do that for me?"
"I might, if I understood what it is about Furano that keeps you so far away."
Yumi hesitated.  Could she tell him?  It would be so nice to get this out, to share the burden of her knowledge. But she couldn’t.  If he knew, it could hurt him. She had to keep it to herself.
"Were you that impatient? You knew I had only one more term to finish at the college. I promised I would come back to you, and I did — but you were gone," Yasa persisted.
"I—I know. I’m sorry." She knew her apology was so inadequate, but it was all she could do. She walked on, hanging her head in misery.
Yasa’s next words to her made the pain worse. "I am sorry, too. I must have done something, or not been the man you wanted me to be, if you cannot abide even living on the same island as me. There is nothing left for me to do but return to Hokkaido and work with my father." He walked ahead then, joining his family.
If only you knew, she thought. You are everything I ever wanted, but can never have.
Thanks for stopping by! Several other authors are sharing excerpts from their works today, and their links can be found at Sweet Saturday Samples. Be sure to check them out!

If you want to read the story of Yasa's parents, please check out The Samurai's Garden. Only $2.99 at your favorite ebook outlet – Astraea Press, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, and others.