Friday, August 23, 2013

Sweet Saturday

Welcome back! I've got another snippet from Love's Refrain, my summer regency from Astraea Press. One of the ways regency couples got to know each other was to go for rides. A chaperone was always present, of course. Lady Laura Montgomery is chaperone for her stepsister's first outing with Andrew, Earl of Covington.
Andrew sat back in his seat and allowed Lady Juliet to chatter. The barouche he'd hired had a seat wide enough for himself, Lady Juliet, and Lady Laura to sit comfortably. He would have preferred to discuss topics other than the weather and fashion, but Lady Juliet kept a steady stream of commentary. And she was quite lovely.
He'd been furious with his mother for tricking him into this outing, and he'd told her as much when they'd left the Montgomery home that morning. She'd blithely informed him she'd decided since he'd been reluctant to choose a bride she would help him find one.
He had enjoyed his conversation with Lady Laura. She was pleasant enough in appearance, though she was no beauty like her sister. But Lady Laura shared a passion for the theater and knowledge about classical literature, music and art. She still looked familiar, but he couldn't remember where he had seen her. Perhaps she'd been a friend of Priscilla's. He'd have to ask her one day.
"What do you think, my lord?"
He'd done it again. He had no idea what Juliet had said. "Er, I'm not sure." He leaned forward and made eye contact with her sister. "What is your opinion, Lady Laura?"
Lady Laura's eyes twinkled, and her mouth curved into a wide grin. Had she guessed his dilemma? "My lord, I believe it is of utmost importance, indeed," she replied.
Blast. I still don't know what Lady Juliet was talking about.
Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to leave a comment, and look for other excerpts by visiting the links posted at Sweet Saturday Samples.

Love's Refrain can be purchased at Astraea Press, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other ebook outlets.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Lavender Fields

JP Hokkaido Furano lavender
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Lately, I've been thinking a lot about a return trip to Japan. My mother is almost eighty years old, and she would like to see her sisters and brother once more. She can't travel by herself, so I usually travel with her. Mom is from the main island of Honshu, not far from Yokohama and Mt. Fuji. The few times I've gone to Japan, we stayed with my mother's family.
We've never had any contact with my father's side. Dad's father came from Sendai, which was ravaged by an earthquake, a tsunami, and a nuclear disaster in 2011. Since we don't even know any of dad's relatives' names, I have no way to find out if they even survived. Dad's mother came from the island of Hokkaido, to the far north. Though it's roughly on the same latitude as New York, its terrain and lack of metropolitan areas are reminiscent of Alaska.
Hiro, my main character in The Samurai's Garden, is from Tokyo, but when his time as a samurai is done he travels north, to the island of Hokkaido. There are some large flower farms on the island like the one above, and this inspired my samurai hero's passion for flowers. My father's mother came from that Hokkaido, and she used to tell me stories about what it was like when she grew up in rural Japan during the early part of the twentieth century.
I've never been to Hokkaido, but I hope to visit one day. Maybe I can see a farm like this. And maybe I'll find a connection to my dad's side of the family.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Sweet Saturday: Love's Refrain #6

Welcome back! I took a long break from Sweet Saturday Samples to concentrate on some projects. None of them are quite finished yet, so I'm sharing another sample from Love's Refrain, my latest release from Astraea Press. This is a regency romance, featuring Andrew Bradford, Earl of Covington, and Lady Laura Montgomery. Laura is acting as chaperone for her younger stepsister, Lady Miranda. She receives a visitor, one she remembers from her own season ten years ago. (Note: in the first sentence, "the sisters" refers to Laura and Miranda.)

The sisters, Cousin Reginald, and Cousin Augusta had just completed a rather late breakfast when Jones entered with a calling card on a silver tray. "Sir, a caller."
Reginald Montgomery took the card and glanced at it. He handed it to Laura. "Lord Covington," he explained. "I have no business with him. Do you suppose he's come to call on Juliet?"
 Both girls stared. "Lord Covington?" Laura recovered first. "Er — will you allow her to see him?"
"Mmm? I suppose. Laura, why don't you take care of it—after all, you are her chaperone. I have business to attend to. If he's come for me, you can send him to my study." Having settled the matter in his mind, he rose and left the table.
So, I am to grant permission for Andrew, Lord Covington, to call on my sister. With a sigh, she turned to Jones. "Please tell the earl I will receive him in the morning room." At the butler's nod, she made her way to the appointed place, smoothing her dress and hair as she walked. Reaching the morning room, she stepped to the center of the floor, turned, and took a deep, fortifying breath just before Jones opened the door to usher in her guest. She opened her mouth to greet the earl but paused when she realized he wasn't alone.
"Lord Covington, how delightful to see you," Laura said as she curtseyed. "And Lady Covington, what a wonderful surprise."
Lord Covington nodded, though she detected a bit of anger behind his polite mask.
"I asked my son to bring me here this morning," the countess informed her, "because I was so enchanted with your sister, and I wanted to see her again."
Laura's brows rose. "I am pleased my sister made a favorable impression, my lady."
"Indeed she did, but she is far too pale. She needs to get outdoors more. My son will be available to take her for a ride this afternoon, if you allow it."
Thanks for stopping by! I appreciate your feedback. Please check out excerpts from other authors by going to the links at Sweet Saturday Samples.

Love's Refrain can be purchased at Astraea Press, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other ebook outlets.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Grand Rapids Quilt Show

Today I spent a few hours at the DeVos Place in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan. Each year, the American Quilt Society hosts a major event in seven cities: Phoenix (AZ), Lancaster (PA), Chattanooga (TN), Paducah (KY), DesMoines (IA), Charlotte (NC), and Grand Rapids. I had never been to a national quilt show before, so I talked my writing partner Stephanie Michels into going with me. We're finishing up the second in our Stitching Post romance series, set in a quilt shop in suburban Grand Rapids, so we thought we'd go and get inspiration for future books in the series.
We were totally awed by the sheer talent displayed in the quilts, sent in from around the world! My phone camera got a workout, and it was difficult to choose my favorites. I put several up on my facebook page, so if you've seen these pictures there, I hope you don't mind seeing them again.
These two were award winners. I love the workmanship in both, but the one on the left, "Capturing Brittany" really impressed me with the intricate and realistic detail.

There were quilts that used variations of traditional patterns:

And other quilts that were quite whimsical.

There were some that were so realistic they reminded me of photographs,

And others that made me smile for other reasons.

But what they all had in common was that each one was a testament to the dedication and hard work of the person who created it.  I think it's the same kind of dedication an author has when he or she spends hours upon hours crafting a single work. I only hope my books show a fraction of the same dedication as these wonderful creations.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

So How Do You Like My Book?

Two weeks ago I celebrated the release of my latest novella, Love's Refrain. It's my seventh published title, and I'm very happy with how the story turned out. It's another regency romance, and some of the characters from The Partridge and the Peartree, my most successful book to date, appear in Love's Refrain.
But my opinion of the book isn't as important as yours. If you've read it, did you like it? Did you see problems with it? No matter what your opinion is, the way to thank an author is to leave a review. Amazon is the place most people leave them. Just go to the book's Amazon page (click HERE) and then scroll down to Customer Reviews and then click on the button that says "Write a customer review." If you don't want to leave your own name, make one up. The important thing is to let others know that this book has been read and either a. you liked it, or b. it wasn't worth your time.
Truthfully, I'm hoping you're in the first category. But I'll endure a bad review, especially if it backs up the low rating with constructive criticism. Either way, you're helping me to grow as an author. If it's a good review, I can use it to help market my book. If it's a bad one, I will learn from it.

So if you're in the mood for a quick read, I've got the perfect story for you! (psst - if you click on the book cover above, it will take you to the Amazon page so you can either get the book, or leave a review!)   

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Please Welcome Author Liz Botts

Today I'd like to welcome fellow Astraea Press author Liz Botts. She's here with a brand new release called A Family Name. Here's the beautiful book cover:

And here's the blurb:
Will Wright is a paleontologist and part time cowboy on his family's ranch outside of Mountain View, South Dakota.
Charlotte Miller is a social worker who has always dreamed of a family of her own, and who would do anything for her foster daughter.
Lexi, Sierra, and Shane are the three children entrusted to their care.
Fate brought them together. Life threatens to tear them apart. Do Will and Charlotte have what it takes to fight for love and the fledgling family they have created?

You can find Liz at her website and on Facebook.

A Family Name is available at Astraea Press, Amazon, and several other ebook outlets.

Check out Liz's book trailer

Friday, August 2, 2013

Please Welcome Author Lynn Spangler

Today I am pleased to introduce Lynn Spangler, a relatively new author at Astraea Press. Lynn is here to share her brand new release (as of yesterday!) called From Tragedy Comes Love. Lynn is a little camera shy, but she sent a picture of her awesome book cover:

About the story:

This story was written in memory of my mother. She influenced parts of the story. I hope after you read the story, that you appreciate the ending. I know my Mom is in Heaven looking down on me now. I love you, Mom!


Sometimes light and love extinguish the darkness of tragedy…

The heartache of loss weighed heavy on Blythe Kenner. Blythe’s mother had been her best friend, her confidant, her mentor. Now, she is alone. Or is she?

In steps ex-boyfriend Garrett Richmond. Blythe dumped him with little explanation. His feelings for her were so complete that they made her feel unworthy. She was unsure if she’d ever be able to love someone so intently.

From the tragedy of death, Garrett feels the need to help, comfort, and shelter the woman who still held his heart captive. He knows she needs space after the loss of her mother but he won’t stay away for long.

Will Garrett’s daily check-ins rekindle feelings for him she thought had long since passed or will his strength and kindness ignite the spark threatening to light the fire again?


With a wistful sigh, she opened the door and froze in place.
Garrett Richmond stood in all his handsome glory.
“What are you doing here?” she asked, her voice barely a whisper.
He seemed to study her, his gaze resting on her face. Oh, how she wished she’d never answered the door. She looked like a train wreck and felt the same. Garrett, on the other hand, looked impeccable in his three-piece suit.
“Your mother, whom I liked immensely, just passed away. I couldn’t ignore that or you. I had to see how you were.”
“I’m…,” she stammered. A lump formed in her throat and she swallowed hard. “I’m okay. Just dealing with funeral arrangements.”
“Are you sure? No offense, but you look beat.”
She leaned her head against the door. “I am tired. It’s hard to take care of all the arrangements and what-not by yourself.”
“You’re not, you know.”
Though his stance was casual, hands in pockets, jingling change, his face was serious. Garrett’s eyes were blue pools of emotions. His words echoed in her mind and she found herself confused by their meaning.
“I’m not what?”
“Alone.” That one word held so much promise and she almost believed it.

Buy Link: Astraea Press

Author Bio:

I live in South Central Pennsylvania with my wonderful, loving husband and my beautiful daughter. I also have a son who is currently serving in the U.S. Navy. I have a cat named Kolzig and a dog named Cede who allow us to live with them.
I love to write and read. I also make jewelry when the mood strikes. I'm a huge sports fan. I love football, NASCAR, and hockey. I'm also a bit of a game show freak. I love old game shows from the 70's and 80's like Match Game and $25,000 Pyramid. Television shows like Criminal Minds and Rizzoli and Isles are also favorites of mine.