Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Road Trips with Diane Burton

I'm so pleased to have Diane Burton back to share her newest release from Wild Rose Press! She's here with some insight into the story behind One Red Shoe:

Thanks so much, Patty, for having me back on your blog.

I love to go for rides in the car. It may have started when I was a kid. My mom had a firm rule: no working on Sundays. After church, Mom would have a big dinner then Dad would load us up in the car—a red Ford station wagon—and just go for a drive. Sometimes we would cruise down Jefferson Avenue, just to look at the homes of the city’s finest that overlooked the Detroit River. Or we’d go to Belle Isle and watch the freighters heading downriver.

As a newly married, I couldn’t believe my husband also liked to go for drives. We make a good pair. He loves to drive; I’m a good navigator. (Actually, I just like telling him where to go.) Mostly, we just get in the car, pick a direction, and see where the road goes. Since we’ve moved around so much following his job, we’ve had many new places to check out. Just two weeks ago, we moved again, this time to our retirement house, one close to our grandkids. Now we have many, many different roads to “see where they go.”

When I started writing science fiction romance, I liked setting my stories on spaceships. Talk about a road trip! It’s no coincidence then that my new romantic suspense, One Red Shoe, is a road trip. Only instead of a leisurely Sunday drive, Sam and Daria are running for their lives. Two assassins are on their trail—one a cold-blooded killer and the other a total klutz. How did a wounded spy get mixed up with an Iowa tourist in New York City? They met in the ladies’ restroom.

Blurb for One Red Shoe:

Wannabe writer rescues wounded spy while risking her heart.

Daria Mason’s life is too predictable. Nothing ever happens in her small Iowa town where everybody knows everybody else. But when she travels to New York City looking for a little excitement, she never expects to bring home a wounded spy.

From the moment agent Sam Jozwiak steals intel vital to US security from a Russian Mafia kingpin, Murphy’s Law takes over. No matter how he covers his tracks, the kingpin’s assassins find him. What’s worse than getting shot in the butt? Accepting help from an Iowa tourist.

Sam and Daria flee cross country with the assassins right behind them. Sharing danger and excitement—and a few kisses—with Sam soon has Daria convinced he’s the man for her. He thinks she’ll be better off once he’s out of her life for good. With their lives on the line, can she convince him they belong together?

Diane is giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card to a lucky commenter. To enter, use the Rafflecopter below or

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks again, Patty, for helping me celebrate my brand new book.

One Red Shoe is available at Amazon for Kindle.

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. One Red Shoe is her first romantic suspense. 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

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Please Welcome Author Jennifer Rae Gravely

Today I am pleased to present fellow Astraea Press author Jennifer Rae Gravely, who is celebrating the release of her brand new book, Set to Love. I've read snippets of this story as she posted them on Sweet Saturday Samples, and it sounds like a great read! Jennifer refers to it as a volleyball romance — and since I'm far from knowledgeable about anything sports, I'll let her tell you about it.

The championship is her dearest desire, not love.
Recently appointed girls’ volleyball coach at Keowee High School, Randi Sly spends the night with rival coach Blake Steele after getting sick from drinking too much wine. Rumors swirl as the two battle for the State crown.

Excerpt from Set to Love:

Tip One

Be confident: The game of volleyball is not only physical but also psychological.
Directly in his path, he spotted Randi Sly fumbling in her purse, not paying attention to the curb in front of her. “Randi,” he called. “Watch out!” He lunged forward, catching her as she stumbled. For a brief moment as she filled his arms, he thought of Jenna.
“What are you doing?” she squealed, pulling away. “If you hadn’t called my name, I wouldn’t have tripped.” Randi narrowed her eyes as she ran her hands down her thighs, straightening the clingy cloth that outlined the shapeliness of her long legs.
“No, if I hadn’t called your name and caught you, you would’ve broken your ankle. Some thanks for a noble deed done.”
“I’m not a damsel you have to save.” She brushed her long, shiny brown hair from her shoulders. Even in high heels, she had to look up at him. Blake liked tall woman best and appreciated an athletic but shapely build. Randi obviously worked out on a regular basis, and she was every bit as tall as Jenna.
Blake laughed aloud as he mentally pushed the thought of Jenna out of his head. He needed to quit comparing everyone to her. “You’re one of those.”
“What does that mean?” She squared her shoulders, showing with her body language a complete dislike of him. No doubt she didn’t care for him calling her team out at the meeting. Her eyes blazed like a blue flame in the growing darkness of the night.
“Independent female, the kind that’s a bit self-righteous.” Blake liked a feisty girl. That’s what drew him to Jenna last year when she moved to the area.
Randi huffed, as he knew she would. He liked to play the game, but this one he suspected was pretty good at her job or else she wouldn’t have landed such a prestigious position. Keowee was a county and region rival of his school Saluda, the two volleyball powerhouses splitting the last decade’s state championships. He needed to gain an edge.
“Don’t underestimate me, Blake.”
He inclined his head in her direction. “Wouldn’t dream of it.” With that, he continued to his car thinking how he definitely needed to keep his eye on Randi Sly.

Jennifer shares some more about herself:
Born in Ohio but raised in Pickens, SC, I graduated from Converse College with a triple major in history, politics, and English before earning my master’s degree in education. Returning to my high school alma mater to teach English and to coach volleyball, my teams won four state championships and six upper state titles in ten years. I live with my husband, daughter, seven beagles, and one cat. Set to Love is the second romance published by Astraea Press featuring the fictional Southern town of Keowee.

I’m having a Facebook party on Monday, September 30th to celebrate the release of Set to Love. Stop in to say hello, eat virtual cake, and win some great prizes.

Where to find Jennifer:
Twitter: @JenniferRaeGrav

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Welcome Back, Kelly Martin!

I'm so pleased to have human dynamo Kelly Martin back with yet another new release from Astraea Press! I'm a little under the weather today, so I'll let her tell you all about it:

Why I wrote BIG is BEAUTIFUL... I think a lot of people can relate to Brittany... I know I can. I've never been the skinniest person in the world (well, unless you count Kindergarten). I've never been teased like Brittany, but I can understand wanting to do anything to lose weight. I think that in the world we live in, it is very important to have these types of books out there: fun reads, interesting characters, but talking about real issues and hopefully helping the readers. Those are my main goals with all of my books-- especially BIG.

The seven worst words ever spoken came out of Brittany Gregory's mom's mouth at breakfast, "I signed you up for math tutoring." Sure, she probably needs it (probably nothing, she'll fail without it), but the thought of having to stay in that school longer than she had to every day makes her sick. It's not the school's fault... just the few jerks inside.

Brittany's tutor is none other than Matt Taylor, senior quarterback-- all around hottie. At first, she's shy around him because, hello, Matt Taylor! But as he shows more and more unexpected kindness toward her, Brittany softens around him.

Unfortunately for Brittany, Matt's former girlfriend, the beautifully wicked Kendra Moses, has tormented Britt since eighth grade about her weight. In an unusual moment of brains, Kendra realizes Brittany's initials spell B.I.G.-- a hilarious (to the cheerleader) irony since Brittany isn't the smallest girl at school. 

With the Red Ball (Valentine's Dance) approaching, Brittany has to decide if her growing feelings for Matt are real, or if he's secretly been playing a part in Kendra's game all along.

After I stepped off of the bus, I slung my backpack over my shoulder. Feeling the cold morning chill pelting me, I zipped my new coat higher around my neck and tried to cover every bit of exposed skin I could. I must have slowed or shifted or done something to tick off the guy behind me because he decided to take it upon himself to yell loudly and with much annoyance,“Move it, Big. I know you have a lot of blubber to carry around. Give the rest of us a break, would ya?”
And there it was. The first use of my nickname today. It wouldn’t be the last. My name at school was Big like Jillian’s name was Jillian and Kendra’s name was Kendra… well, somepeople called Kendra other names besides Kendra, but never in front of her face, and never with a crowd around.
Of course, like always, snickers followed. You’d think my peers would get tired of it by now. It had been the same thing, the same taunting by the same jerks since I was in eighth grade and got a little bit on the chunky side. I’d never be a supermodel, but I wished they would give me a break! My entire life didn’t revolve around eating. I didn’t eat fast food every night and sit around like a log. Grandma Duke on my mom’s side had been big boned, and I supposed I inherited the dreaded gene from her. Having never seen my biological father nor his side of the family, I had no idea if I’d been doubly cursed.
Man, I sounded like a whiner.
“Big!” Caleb, the guy behind me, tapped me hard on the shoulder like I was deaf. Guess he thought was too fat to hear. Guess I’d start walking slower… guess it was on purpose. Oh, to have the control.
“Move it! I have a class to get to.” He pushed me out of the way so hard I slammed against the brick wall. It was enough force to scuff the top of my right hand. Little droplets of blood beaded out of the scrapes.
“Can you even fit through the door?” He laughed, not taking a second look back at the girl leaning against the building in shock. I’d been made fun of before, laughed at, shunned, but I’d never been pushed. Never had physical evidence.
A steady stream of my fellow students walked by me, some giggling and some just ignoring me. Others looked sad for me, which strangely was worse. I felt a hand on my shoulderwhich surprised me. My head shot up, and when I saw who it was, my mouth went instantly dry.
Matt Taylor.
The Matt Taylor!
“You okay?”
I couldn’t make my lips work. Matt Taylor, senior football star (star was too little of a word. Matt was a legend at Easton, leading the team to the first ever 2A championship in December) stared down at me. His pale blue eyes were soft. “Are you hurt?”
I still hadn’t spoken, just stared at him like I’d never seen a guy before in my life. I’d seen them before, had seen Matt before, but I’d never talked to him. Finally, blood ran back into my brain and I shook my head, forcing myself to stop acting like a stupid groupie. “Yeah, I’m fine. Sorry to block your way.”
“You’re not.”
Sure. “Anyway. Thanks for stopping.”
He smiled, showing his famous dimples. I was so gawking at him. “No problem. I’ll see you later.”
“Okay.” I watched him walk through the double doors and snapped out of my daydreaming when the ten minute bell rang. I started walking then hesitated. See me later? We didn’t have any classes together.
I didn’t dwell on that long. I had to get to my locker, get my books and to class before the bell rang again. Walking through the doors, I started mentally saying my mantra. Head high. Eyes up. Shoulders back. You are just as important as they are to God. Head high. Eyes up…
I walked through the halls which were filled to the gills with students. Easton High desperately needed to be rebuilt with more rooms, but so far it wasn’t in the budget. So, for now and probably for my entire high school career, I’d be cramped in these halls, teetering like some sort of Thanksgiving float.
Stop that! Suppressing my inner depressing monologue was another thing I had to do daily. If I let myself, I could go down the same path the others did and start calling myself names and getting myself down. Luckily, I had others to do that for me.


AUTHOR BIO: Kelly Martin a southern girl who writes... a lot. She is the author of the bestsellers SAINT SLOAN and THE DECEPTION OF DEVIN MILLER. Her first novel, CROSSING THE DEEP, won the Grace Award for best Young adult novel. By day, she is a teacher. By night, she has her hair in a bun and her fingers on a keyboard. She loves God, is addicted to chocolate, and would rather write than sleep. Kelly loves a good mystery and believes in Sherlock Holmes. 

You can find her at

She's also on twitter:

And on facebook:

Saturday, September 7, 2013

News from a Newsworthy Quilter

          Quilts have been on my mind a lot lately. Last April I blogged about a very special quilter, Diane Rose. If you missed the original post, you can read it HERE. Diane is a very prolific and talented quilter, as well as a sought out motivational speaker. What makes her unique is that she creates all her masterpieces entirely by feel – Diane has been totally blind since she was very young.
          Recently, Diane had surgery and had to curtail her speaking appearances. This caused her a lot of concern – her speaking is an important part of her income, and once she regained her health she was eager to restart her career – but the invitations weren’t coming in. But now she has a wonderful opportunity – I’ll let her tell you about it in her own words, from her most recent newsletter:
          There is an International Quilt Show, in Houston, Texas, at the end of October and beginning of November. I went to this show only once (last year) it is HUGE!!! I visited with all the vendors and met Rickey Tims (thank you Rickey for what you have done). I have been asked to be an attendee in the special events arena as well as to display, speak, sew, and have my merchandise and quilts. You have to have a special invitation to be a part of this event. I am especially honored and blessed to be a part of this. My friend Faye, from Granny B Quilt Shop in Tennessee, is coming to spend the week with me as well as my friend Cheryl and other volunteers who will be helping me at the booth. This event will be high energy for several hours each day. We will be staying at the hotel with the Convention Center, which is quite expensive.
          A lot of people have asked, "What can I do to help you..." and to be quite honest, I need financial help with my stay in Houston. Lodging and food will be $2000 so to assist in the process, a secure account has been set up for me on this PayPal link:

If you prefer to bless me via check, my mailing address is:
Diane Rose
721 Petty Place
Waco, TX 76705

          I truly want you to know how much it means to me to have your support and love. I could not do this without you. As most of you know, I do pour out my heart and soul. Yes I have a relationship with God and as of right now, my faith is at its strongest. I am happy, I am stronger, and I am BACK IN ACTION! Nonetheless, before I end this newsletter, I just want to give you all a little advice: When/if you get to a point where you don’t see an end to all your troubles, lean on God. He will and He can get you through it. Thank you so much!
So Diane is ready to hit the big time! I am so proud of her and her accomplishments, and I wanted to share her continuing story and ask you to consider helping her out. I plan to send a donation so that others can see and hear her inspiring story, and I hope you will too.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Please Welcome Author MJ Schiller

Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to author MJ Schiller. She lives in the heart of central Illinois where she is a lunch lady My gosh, can you get more folksy than that? She met her husband at the University of Missouri-Columbia and now she has an eighteen-year-old (how did that happen?) and sixteen year old triplets! She loves to read, karaoke (where she can pretend she is a rock star) and spends WAY too much time on Facebook. She grew up in St. Louis and still has family there.

Welcome, MJ! What do you do when you're not writing?

I have this whole day job thing that won’t seem to go away. Actually, I love my job as a lunch lady. I get to work with friends, talk to kids, and take a nap when I’m done for the day. What’s not to like? When I’m not doing that, I daily attempt to make our little corner of the earth less chaotic by doing laundry, and dishes and settling arguments between my four teens. (I have an eighteen-year-old and sixteen-year-old triplets!) My husband and I play a few games of Text Twist every night, and when I sneak away from home I like to see live music and sing karaoke.

Four kids within two years! I can't imagine how busy you were sixteen years ago. What would your fans be surprised to know about you?

I once was a synchronized swimmer at the Junior Olympic level, which was the highest level at the time. I’ve got medals and everything to prove it!

Fascinating! I suppose that helped to prepare you for the busy lifestyle you have now! What life experiences helped you become an author?

All of them. But I think I had two big influences on my writing. One, my dad was a fantastic storyteller. My favorite part of his story telling was when he’d start laughing so hard you couldn’t understand what he was saying. He could tell you the same story a hundred times and it wouldn’t matter. It would be as wonderful as the first time. The second thing that I think influenced my writing was being a social outcast. No, really! We moved to Iowa when I was in fifth grade and the kids weren’t very welcoming. They all had their friends already and didn’t need me. So I used to read like CRAZY! I loved Nancy Drew, the Bobbsey Twins (does anyone even know who they are anymore?), and more. I read all of the classics and loved them.

How sad for you. But yes, I remember Nancy Drew and the Bobbsey Twins! In An Uncommon Love, what was your favorite chapter (or scene) to write and why?

I really liked writing the opening scene in An Uncommon Love. Adriana sees Seth for the first time when he is brought before the king to be punished. When their eyes meet, there is that instant attraction. I love describing that initial magic between couples. In general I enjoy writing scenes about family, cutesy scenes, and the emotional scenes.

Those kinds of scenes are the best. How did you come up with the title?

It just seemed to work. Seth was considered a commoner and it would be unusual for someone like him to mingle with a royal, let alone have a relationship with one. Oddly, he has more of a problem with this than Adriana does. There love truly is uncommon, as is Seth, in Adi’s eyes.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Usually I don’t like readers taking messages away from my writing. I just want them to lose themselves, leave their everyday world for a while, with all of its trials and turmoils and tedium, and escape to a place where love rules the day and happily ever afters are guaranteed! This story, though, has a lot to say about self-sacrifice and looking beyond one’s prejudices.

That's a powerful theme. Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Ahem. Yes.

Oh, you want me to tell you?! Okay. I have a problem staying in one head. I like to view scenes from every angle but have been working to achieve a deeper point of view so that readers can really connect with my characters.

Thanks for having me today! I appreciate the opportunity to share a little bit about AN UNCOMMON LOVE.

~ Blurb ~
Princess Adriana had her life all figured out.  Or, to be more precise, she had her life all figured out for her.  Before she was even born she was betrothed to Garin, and that was perfectly acceptable as he became her childhood friend, and then, eventually, the person she would swap kisses with inside the palace gardens.  She never questioned it, never had a reason to, until the day a commoner was brought before her father, the King, to be punished.
As soon as Adriana’s eyes connect with Seth’s across the stone courtyard, she begins to question everything in her life.  For his part, Seth Hobbes is confused about his feelings for the beautiful princess who refuses to match any of his preconceived notions of what a princess should be like, starting when Adriana begs her father to release him.  When Seth creeps into the castle at night to thank her, they begin to build a relationship with one another that is often as explosive as it is endearing.  When fate ends up separating the two, they must undertake a long and arduous journey to be reunited and then overcome the objections Adriana’s father has to their relationship.  Will Adriana be able to make Seth see her for herself and not as the princess that he imagines?  And if she does, will she ever be able to convince her father that, despite his objections, there is nothing “common” about Seth at all?

Note from MJ: I decided to do something a little different on this tour. The excerpts have been taken in order. So if you read each day you should have the whole scene at the end of the week. 

Excerpt #1
Adriana lifted her head, straining to see through the thorny bramble of the bush she lay behind with Garin. Her father’s Royal Commander plucked a leaf from her golden hair. 
            “What is it, love?” Garin asked, still wearing the silly grin she put on his face. He plucked a leaf from her golden hair.
            She could barely make out the sounds of jeers and cries coming from the outer courtyard of her father’s palace, the Castle Ramport. “What is that? What is happening?”
            “Oh. It must have something to do with the commoner who struck Derrick.”
            She gasped. “Somebody struck Derrick?” Even though he worked for her father, she was terrified of the hulking beast of a man.
            “Aye,” he answered with a chuckle.  He looked over to where the crowd was entering the grounds, too. “But he is probably sorry for it now, the poor fool.”
She frowned, noting there was little pity in his voice. In fact, his words sounded mocking. The princess tugged at the gold laces which held her bodice together, trying to thread them hastily through their looped cording. When she attempted to struggle to her feet, he sought to press her back down to the ground. 
“Adi, honey.”  He pressed his lips to the skin still accessible above the low cut of her neckline, but she was no longer in the mood.
            The noise of the crowd surged and she again tried to make out what was happening, but saw only snatches of color and movement through the branches surrounding her. Her heart was racing.
“What will they do to him?”
            “Oh, I do not know,” he said, shrugging. “Whip him or beat him or …”
            “What?” Incensed, she succeeded in scrambling to her feet.
MJ is giving away two copies of each of her four ebooks. That's eight chances to win! Enter using the rafflecopter below. Good luck!
You can find AN UNCOMMON LOVE at Amazon and