Saturday, June 29, 2013

Sweet Saturday: Love's Refrain #5

       Welcome back! I've got yet another short excerpt from Love's Refrain. Lady Laura and her sister, whose name has recently been changed to Lady Miranda (long story), have arrived at the ball:

       "Laura!" Miranda's wail wasn't particularly loud but came at a piercingly high pitch. Several heads turned at her demand.
       "Yes, dear?"
       "I need your help. Francesca must have done something awful to my hair. The pins started to fall out as I was dancing with Mr. Davis. He's such a handsome man, and a wonderful dancer, but my hair started falling down. I was mortified!"
       Only one small lock of hair had fallen loose, but of course Miranda would fret if she didn't feel she looked her best. 
       "Let's go to the ladies' room, and I'll try to fix it," Laura suggested. She rose to go with her sister but stopped when an imperious voice called to out to her.
       "May I know this young lady's name?" Lady Covington's question took them both by surprise. 
       Quickly recovering, Laura made the introductions. "Yes, my lady. Allow me to present my sister, Lady Miranda, daughter of the Earl and Countess of Norwood."  She glanced at her sister, who curtseyed to the dowager.
       "Miranda, is it? Your parents were wise to name you for a beautiful literary heroine. Lady Miranda, I would like you to meet my son, Lord Covington."
       Miranda dipped into another curtsey. Andrew bowed deeply, murmuring an appropriate response.
       "Lady Miranda, my son is somewhat out of practice on the dance floor. Perhaps you could help him recall the steps to the quadrille that is about to start?"
       Lady Covington's request was totally unexpected and unusual, but other than the widening of Miranda's eyes and a blink from Andrew, neither party reacted, other than to accept the situation. With a nod, he led her to the dance floor.
       And that is how it is done, thought Laura.  She settled back to watch yet another woman live the life she could only experience in her dreams.
As always, I'd love to read your comments! Find other excerpts at Sweet Saturday Samples



Friday, June 21, 2013

Sweet Saturday: Love's Refrain #4

Welcome back! I've got yet another excerpt from Love's Refrain, which is currently in edits and will hopefully be released soon!

Laura and Juliet handed their shawls to the young servant tending the door and entered the brightly lit ballroom as their names were announced. They greeted their hosts and then separated when Juliet spied a group of friends. Making her way to the group of chaperones seated in the corner, Laura took a pastry from a passing waiter’s tray. She’d eventually have to make her way to the buffet since her own dinner had been quite sparse. True to form, Juliet had at the last moment decreed her dress unfit to wear, and the entire household had been turned upside down searching for a solution to her wardrobe difficulty.
Juliet looked lovely in her pale yellow gown, and the garland of flowers the maid had fashioned set off her dark hair perfectly. Already heads turned among the young men congregating on the other side. As she settled in her seat, Laura’s thoughts went back ten years to her own season. She’d been so young and naive then, full of hopes, dreams, and romantic notions.
There was one who figured prominently in her memories. One gentleman had stood out among all the others — a tall, handsome, elegant young man. He had been stylish yet not vain. His hazel eyes shone with intelligence, but he listened politely to what others had to say, those expressive eyes indicating genuine interest. Through experience, she knew he was a graceful dancer, yet he seemed content to spend time discussing the weather with the chaperones. There had been no one else like him.
And then, as if she had magically recalled him from her memory, he was there. Andrew Bradford had considerately brought a plate of treats for his mother, the dowager Countess Covington, whose regal presence held court in a seat to Laura's right. The man was as handsome as she remembered. His voice as sonorous and soothing as it had been when he'd held her in his arms for one magical dance. Ten years ago, she'd fallen in love with Andrew, but he'd fallen in love with her friend, Lady Priscilla. And so she'd had to watch as he'd courted and then wed another.
Thanks for stopping by! I'd love to hear your thoughts. Be sure to check out other excerpts by authors whose links are at Sweet Saturday Samples.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Kindle Fire for your Summer Reading

A very energetic pair of young authors at Astraea Press has organized a wonderful Fan Fest event on Facebook. Over 40 authors are participating in a virtual party and mass giveaway on Wednesday July 16 from 9 am to 9 pm. Most of us have donated our books, and we'll be available throughout the day for author chats and to answer any questions you might have for us about our books, our writing lives and whatever else you want to ask us. Astraea Press is giving away a Kindle Fire!
To be a part of this fabulous summer celebration, just go to and indicate that you're "going" to the party. The more you stop in that day, the more chances you'll have to win some of the prizes donated by the AP authors.

To enter the drawing for the Kindle Fire, scroll down to the Rafflecopter (the white rectangle below) and sign in either using your facebook account or your email.  I'd be thrilled if one of you would win it!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Kelly Martin Does it Again!

Today, author Kelly Martin is here to share with us her newest publication. She's bravely entering the world of self-publishing with her New Adult novel, The Deception of Devin Miller. About herself, she says: 

I'm a southern mama who writes... a lot. I have two books out through Astraea Press: SAINT SLOAN and Grace Award winning, CROSSING THE DEEP. My fourth book, B.I.G. IS BEAUTIFUL will be out Sept. 3rd, 2013. By day, I am a special education preschool teacher. By night, you can find me with my hair in a bun and my fingers on a keyboard. I loves God, am addicted to chocolate, and would rather write than sleep. I loves a good mystery and believe in Sherlock Holmes.

Here's the blurb:
         One month ago, seventeen year old Devin Miller wrecked while intoxicated—or so she’s told by the very aggravated blue-eyed boy when she wakes up from a coma. The only thing Devin remembers is the darkness holding her down and the voices-- some happy, some upset, and one very agitated. She can't remember her name, her age, where she lives, or who in the world the blue-eyed boy is. But he knows who she is, and against her better judgment, she offers to pay him for his memories so she can trick the ones closest to her into thinking she's fine. That is her first mistake.
         When Devin gets home, things start to spin out of control. People she doesn't know keep talking to her. Trey--the blue -eyed boy-- doesn't show up like he's supposed too. And the police want to talk to her about her involvement in car accident. Plus she keeps seeing flashes of the crash, but none of them make sense. What would a red plastic cup have to do with anything? And why doesn't she have any feelings for her 'boyfriend', Cooper? 
         Facing DUI charges for a wreck she can't recall, Devin struggles to remember exactly what happened the night of the crash: something the real driver wants her to keep buried. 
Kelly is giving away 5 free ARCs (PDF) on July 1! 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Kelly can be found on Twitter, Facebook, Amazon, and Goodreads.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Sweet Saturday: Love's Refrain #3

Welcome back! I have another excerpt from my summer regency, Love's Refrain. This time we meet the Montgomery sisters, Lady Laura and her stepsister, Lady Juliet:

Lady Laura Montgomery, eldest daughter of the Earl of Norwood, hurried up the staircase to answer her stepsister's frantic calls for help. She truly loved Juliet, but she knew the young lady often found a crisis where none existed. As she hurried toward Juliet’s room, the wails became louder and more insistent.
"Laura! Where are you? I need you desperately!"
Before opening the door, Laura braced herself for what she might find. Past experience told her it was probably something trivial. But if Juliet was truly injured and she didn’t come, she’d never forgive herself. Her father and stepmother had entrusted her with Juliet’s care, and though it was often a trial, she’d vowed to do her duty. Juliet was beautiful and witty, and hopefully someone would offer for her quickly, putting an end to her responsibility. Cousin Reginald Montgomery, Lord Norwood's relative, had graciously invited them into his home and with his widowed elder sister Augusta, lent a measure of respectability for the two women.
Lady Juliet Montgomery sat at her dressing table, a vision of loveliness in her new day dress. But upon closer inspection, Laura observed the vision was somewhat marred by the messy state of her stepsister's coiffure, and the fact that her right hand lay atop her head.
"What took you so long? I called and called," the younger girl whined. Laura supposed some might construe Juliet's pouting lips as adorable, but to her they were an indication of her pettiness and incessant pampering as the youngest in the family.
"Forgive me, Juliet. I was in the study. What do you need?"
"Can’t you see? I’m stuck! I tried to fix my hair, and my bracelet caught."
Laura took Juliet’s hand and stilled it. "Juliet, please stop wiggling so I can untangle it. What happened to Francesca?" The ladies’ maid had come highly recommended and Laura was quite happy with her, but Juliet could be stubborn.
"She disappeared somewhere after making a mess of my hair. Oh, Laura, help me!" She tried again to pull her hand away, only to tighten the strands of hair around the beaded bracelet.
"Juliet, if you don’t stop struggling, I’ll never get this untangled. Your hair is wrapped around the bracelet. Now be still." She concentrated on releasing her sister’s fine tresses from the jewelry then set about finding Francesca.

Thanks for stopping! Please leave a comment, and be sure to go to Sweet Saturday Samples to find more excerpts! Happy Father's Day to all the dads, grandpas, and father figures.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Please Welcome Author Margo Hoornstra

Today, fellow Michigander Margo Hoornstra is here with her brand-new release from The Wild Rose Press. Night Stars and Mourning Doves is available today! For those of you who haven't yet met Margo, she says, "I’m a wife to one; mother to four—seven if you count in-law children which I do—and grandmother to four so far. My work experience includes public relations specialist, magazine editor, television producer, and script and speech writer. I’m also a founding member of Mid-Michigan Romance Writers of America."
I am eternally grateful for Margo's efforts with the Mid-Michigan Romance Writers of America (MMRWA). Belonging to a group of supportive authors is what really helped me finish and submit my writing!
Now, let's find out about Margo's latest release:

Elyse Monroe may be her sister's maid of honor, but that doesn't mean she has to follow the bride's example and fall in love. Battle-scarred and weary from previous relationships, she has no desire to take a chance on another--no matter how many hints her little sister drops about the best man.
Devastating life events have taken a toll on Eric Matthews. After losing his wife and unborn daughter, he's come home to heal. Serving as best man at his kid brother's wedding is the only relationship he cares to contemplate--no matter how attractive the maid of honor.
Thrown together again and again by wedding duties, Elyse and Eric reluctantly agree to explore a possible relationship--only to have their casual date turn into a glorious night of passion. Can two hearts, convinced a happily ever after will never happen, recognize love when it finds them?

“Remodeling your home to accommodate Jay and me. Isn’t that a little extreme?”
Lips pursed, he shook his head. “Your mother and I have talked about adding on for years. Anyway, whatever we put into this house should increase its value eventually.” Setting aside the paper once and for all, his expression mellowed as he regarded his son. “Helping you out is helping us out.”
“It’s nice to hear you say that. And I want you to know I do appreciate what you’re doing for us. Especially Jay.”
“Losing your mother at any age is tough,” he replied as he stood. “It’s gotta be especially devastating when you’re as young as my grandson. He still needs someone to care for him like a mother, and Iris is more than up to the task.”
“She is that,” Eric began, then made himself quit talking.
Hard to admit, but he wanted someone to care for him, or at least listen when he needed them to. It wasn’t easy to look for a woman when you’re mortally injured and still require time to heal. Right now, it seemed all the time in the world would never make him whole again.

Night Stars and Mourning Doves is available at Amazon and through Wild Rose Press.

Margo can be found at her Website, her Blog, on TwitterFacebook, or Goodreads. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Please Welcome Author Sheryl Letzgus McGinnis

          Today I am pleased to welcome author Sheryl Letzgus McGinnis. Sheryl's sweet romance, The Purrfect Romance, is a recent release from Topaz Publishing. She was kind enough to answer some questions for us about herself, her writing, and her book.

PK: Thanks so much for being a guest at Creative Hodgepodge! What do you do when you're not writing?

SLM: I’m reading. Sometimes I manage to get a little gardening in and if I have any spare time I look at the vacuum cleaner and try to figure out what it is. Okay, so it’s not quite that bad but reading and writing do take up an inordinate amount of my time, along with spending quality time with my husband and our two spoiled rotten cats.

PK: Housekeeping is definitely not high on my list of priorities, either! What would your fans be surprised to know about you?

SLM: I was born in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia to an Australian mother and an American GI father and have lived most of my life in the US with occasional visits back to my homeland.

PK: Fascinating! We have the same sort of background, except that I was born farther north than you. What life experiences helped you become an author?

SLM: Unfortunately it was the devastating loss of our youngest son at the age of 31 to a drug overdose. He was a paramedic and an RN. I was still in shock I think four years after his death when I decided I had to do something to try to help others who were suffering the same loss. So I wrote my first book “I Am Your Disease (The Many Faces of Addiction) and included true stories from other bereaved parents who were desperate to have their stories told too.

PK: What a traumatic time for you! But I'm so glad you found writing to be therapeutic. How did you choose the genre you write in?

SLM: I write in two genres. My first 4 books are on drugs and addiction because of the untimely death of my youngest son. His death inspired me to reach out to others. Now, ten years after his death I’ve decided to tackle lighthearted topics and write romance novels. I self-published my first 4 books and then received a contract from a traditional publisher to write romance, which I love!

PK: Wonderful! What has been the best compliment?

SM: My best compliments are the ones from people whose lives have been shattered by addiction and the stigma of addiction. They’ve reached out to me thanking me for writing the books and for giving them hope that there can be life after addiction if they will dedicate themselves to their recovery.

PK: It's always wonderful to know people have been touched by your writing. Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?

SM: The best advice I can give to aspiring writers is to write! Don’t just talk about it or dream about it, actually write something, anything just to get your ideas down on paper. Then be prepared to rewrite!. Even if you have to throw out a favorite sentence or thought because it doesn’t fit in the final draft, it’s just something that writers have to do. I often joke that I’m not a writer but I’m a rewriter.

PK: I think we can all agree with that description. Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

SLM: My favorite author is Nelson DeMille. Although he would really be considered a “man’s” author his books are full of humor and have me laughing out loud.

PK: Do you work with an outline, or just write?

SLM: I start with the outline of the plot and quite often by the time I’ve finished the story, it may have only a resemblance to my original thoughts. The characters seem to take on a life of their own and while writing their stories I find they have changed direction, just like what happens in real life.

Here's Sheryl's description of The Purrfect Romance:

          The Purrfect Romance is about a beautiful southern gal who meets and falls in love with a handsome Australian man who is living in Vermont with his uncle.
 It’s a delightful love story about two people from different cultures. But it’s the Tuxedo cat, named Jingles by his companion, who will steal your heart. Jingles seems to have magical properties, helping people heal from illness or injuries.
          Everyone in the small hamlet of Ascot Vale, Vermont is crazy about him and they all have their own pet name for him. Lacey, the heroine of the story calls him TC, short for Tuxedo Cat. But Jake, the taciturn hero, calls him Boofhead, a not so nice name in the Australian slang known as Strine.
          Readers will learn a lot of Strine as there is a glossary of popular Aussie words in the book. Cat lovers and lovers of romance will fall in love with this charming story and will wonder if Jingles can work his magic on Lacey and Jake and bring them together.

Interested? Sheryl can be found at her website and on the Facebook pages for her books: I am Your Disease and The Purrfect Romance.

The Purrfect Romance is available at Topaz Publishing and Amazon.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Sweet Saturday: Love's Refrain #2

Welcome back! I'm continuing to share from my next release, Love's Refrain. Lord Covington's mother, eager for her son to remarry, has just revealed that she has accepted an invitation to that evening's ball on his behalf:

Expelling a groan, Andrew excused himself and stalked from the room. He knew he'd eventually give in and accompany his mother to the ball. There would be no peace for him if he didn’t. But he would need several hours to himself before he'd be able to face the carnival he'd find at the ball. Finding solace in his office, he sat, rested his elbows on the surface of his father’s carved mahogany desk, and cradled his aching head in his hands.
He was so weary of his mother's constant harping about heirs. If he should die without an heir, the estate would go to his young cousin, Nelson Something-or-other. That was good enough for him. Why couldn’t it be enough for her?
He had nothing against the state of matrimony. His first marriage had been pleasant, and he'd enjoyed coming home each day to someone who waited there for him. And he would have loved children, too, if there had been any. But his poor wife had not survived even a year of marriage to him, and he wasn’t in any hurry to subject someone else to it.
He took a deep breath, willing his nerves to relax. Fresh air, that's what he needed. Getting up, he fumbled with the latch and opened the windows. The hinges creaked in protest, having sat unused for the winter.
Andrew had just settled back in his chair when the most beautiful music floated through the open window. At first, he thought it was his imagination. But the uplifting of his soul was not imagined. The smile on his face was real, as was the voice he heard.
Quiet at first, as if the singer tried to hide it, the smooth soprano melody was barely discernible. But gradually, the singer gained confidence, and the volume grew, to Andrew’s delight. The song was one familiar to him — a Scottish air his nanny had sung to him when he was small — and he absently hummed the melody along with the singer. He leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes. Suddenly, the weight of his worries drained away. The dull ache in his forehead eased, and he breathed more easily.
Who was the mystery singer? The voice was cultured, and had the maturity of a woman, but without the force of one trained for the stage. Still, the music was pleasing to his ears, and to his world-weary soul. He settled back to enjoy the performance.
But as soon as it had begun, the singing stopped. An undistinguishable voice called out a command, the singer responded, and footsteps receded away from him. And as the volume of her footsteps decreased, so did his state of euphoria.
Silently, he thanked the singer for providing a welcome respite from his daily drudgery. It had been a pleasant interlude, but now it was time to return to his life and responsibilities. With a rueful twist of his mouth, he sorted through the day’s correspondence.
Thanks for stopping by! Please leave a comment, and check out other excerpts by checking out the links at Sweet Saturday Samples.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Please Welcome Author Brenda Maxfield

I've got fellow Astraea Press author Brenda Maxfield here for a return visit. It's only been a few months since she was here with her New Adult novel The Lance Temptation. Brenda is back with another release, a semi-autobiographical story called Someday You'll Laugh. Here's her explanation of how the book came to be:

When I heard that Astraea was looking for true love stories, I jumped at the chance. Traveling back to the 1970’s was a ball! Or should I say “groovy!” The more I wrote, the more I remembered. It was like being courted all over again. What fun.
Until I really got to thinking about it:
The angst of having to dump one guy for another, dealing with a jealous stand-by, recovering from a crushed heart — whoa, I think I’m glad to be in the present!
Yet, it was fun writing about it.

Stunned when her boyfriend announces they should be free to see others when he leaves for college, Brenda pastes a smile on her face and walks away. Far away. Only to find herself irresistibly drawn into the arms of another guy. 
Brenda’s previous boyfriend finds out, claims he made a huge mistake, and wants her back. She will receive a marriage proposal, but from which one?
Later, on her wedding day, Brenda awakens knowing something is wrong. Will she make it through the ceremony?

By Friday, all arrangements had been made. I was to fly out on Sunday afternoon and audition for the girls’ ensemble on Tuesday morning. I had set up a practice session with Paul for three o’clock on Friday, which was perfect timing. I had two songs chosen — both of them from high school choir the previous year.
When I arrived to practice, Paul was waiting at the entrance of the rehearsal room. He leaned against the doorframe and watched me approach. His eyes roamed up and down my outfit. At first, I worried I’d spilled a blob of food down my shirt, but then my cheeks grew warm as realization dawned. He was admiring me. No matter. Soon I wouldn’t be around, and he’d never see me flush hot again. I’d be tucked safely away in California with Greg.
“Hey, Greg’s girlfriend, how’s it going?” His voice was smooth, yet I could sense an underlying excitement.
“The name is Brenda.”
“Okay then, Greg’s Girlfriend Brenda. How’s it going?”
He was teasing me now, and I was surprised to find I wanted to join him.
“Maybe I should be calling you So-and-so’s Boyfriend Paul? Seems only fair.”
He took a step forward and his blue eyes were playful. “Nope. Nobody’s boyfriend.” He ushered me into the rehearsal room with a gallant sweep of his hand.
“You were fishing, I assume?” he asked, sitting on the bench and scooting himself up to the piano.
He twisted around, looked at me over his shoulder, and winked. “Trying to find out if I have a girlfriend.”
I stepped back. “Hardly! Whoa, you’re conceited.” But of course, he was right — I had been fishing. I did want to know if he was attached — a senseless move because I’d be leaving soon, probably for good.
Paul looked at the music. “These aren’t songs from your lesson.”
“I know. I’m trying out for an ensemble in California, and these are my audition pieces.”
Paul shifted on the bench and stared at me. “An ensemble in California? That’s quite a commute isn’t it?”
I smiled, but for some reason my heart didn’t join in. “If I make it, I’ll be moving.”
He nodded with slow deliberation. “Moving, huh? Well, that is news.”
“Greg attends there, so it makes sense. Getting into this ensemble means a sizable scholarship.”
Paul’s eyes narrowed. “Ah, I see. It’s the money.”
The way he said it, I felt like I needed to defend myself. “It’s not the money. I want to be with my boyfriend. As I said, it makes perfect sense.”
As the words came out of my mouth, I knew I was lying. It was the money. Being with Greg was part of it, but I hadn’t made any big effort to follow him south before the scholarship came along.
We glared at each other in silence. Then Paul scooted over on the bench to make room for me. “Sit here. You’ll be able to see the music better.”
I sat down, and his closeness made my heart quiver. Our faces were only inches apart. He gazed at me with such intimacy I involuntarily scooted backward and nearly fell off the bench.

“Maybe I shouldn’t sit since I’ll be standing for the audition.” I scrambled to get up. My legs shook and for a brief second, I thought I was going to fall right on top of him.
“Whatever you say.” Paul turned to the music and his hands slid over the keyboard with smooth grace. He was the best pianist I’d ever heard, and I became mesmerized as I watched his strong fingers play over the keys like a caress.
I botched my entrance and Paul stopped and swiveled around to me. “You missed your cue.”
“I know, sorry. Can you start again?” A shudder passed through me. Why was I so flustered? I’d already sung in front of him. I was being ridiculous.

Someday You'll Laugh is available at Amazon.

Brenda Maxfield can be found at her website, her blog, on Facebook and on Twitter (@BrendaMaxfield). You can contact her by Email.