Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Please Welcome Author Jo Grafford

I am so honored to introduce an author new to Astraea Press. Jo Grafford's recent release, Breaking Ties, is a historical romance set in the earliest years of colonial America. Having spent many years studying our nation's history, I've often wondered about the inhabitants of the Roanoke Island. Where did they go? What happened to them? Jo has a great answer for those questions. Here she is to tell us about it!

A cursed island, a chilling conspiracy, and an unforgettable love story. The 115 colonists on Roanoke Island couldn’t GPS, skype or twitter their ultimate destination back to their families and friends in 16th Century England. But modern laser technology has finally uncovered a clue - hidden beneath a patch on an ancient map at the British museum - that leads us to their whereabouts. Considered “lost” for centuries, these brave pioneers finally reveal the rest of their story in...THE LOST COLONY SERIES.

Rose Payne’s world is left in tatters after a disastrous betrothal, making her an easy target for recruiters to the Colonies. Using every cent she has, Rose sails for the New World and a fresh start, vowing to never again fall for a wealthy man.
Returning from a diplomatic tour in London, Chief Manteo is bewitched by the fiery-haired ship’s clerk and determined to overcome her distrust. He contrives a daring plan to win her heart – one that forces her, honor bound, to serve as a slave to his tribe – a plan he prays will protect her from a chilling conspiracy involving murder, blood money, and a betrayal of their fledgling colony so terrifying it can only be revealed in BREAKING TIES.


Ever since I was a kid, it made me sad to learn about the Lost Colonists in history class. It seemed to me that historians were too quick to write them off as "most likely slaughtered by hostile natives." At least give them a little more credit than that. From my perspective, they were one of the most amazing and heroic groups of people of all time. For one thing, they were the first group of English colonists to travel with their wives and children. They planned to build a glorious new colony called the City of Raleigh. Two of these courageous ladies were pregnant. One was nursing. How long was your last road trip? Their trans-Atlantic journey lasted nearly three months! During those three months of scorching heat, they suffered the loss of their flyboat in a storm (carrying most of their supplies), came close to starving, and were eventually escorted off ship at gunpoint during a mutiny when they finally reached the New World. This is just the beginning of their story, and they've already endured enough excitement to fill an entire season of their own TV series!

Oh by the way...their pilot was a Portuguese man named Simon Fernandez who was slotted to hang for piracy. He was rescued and hired by a man known as the Chief Spymaster of England who really wanted to get his hands on the land patents which authorized the Lost Colonists to colonize Virginia. If anything happened to these brave men and women and they failed to build their city and turn a profit for their investors back in England, well...these land patents would expire and the Queen would have to grant them to someone him. Interesting how the City of Raleigh colonists turned up missing shortly after their arrival to the New World. And there's the first episode of season two for the Lost Colony Series!


BREAKING TIES took a life of its own during the research phase. As I read through the list of names on the ship manifest and pieced together their backgrounds from sailing journals and church registries, Rose and Manteo became very real to me. Rose would have most likely bunked with the other unmarried young women - Jane, Agnes, Margaret, and Emme. At least one of them would have sighed and swooned over the handsome Sheriff of Huntington, Lord Anthony Cage, in his military jacket and leather riding boots shined to a high polish. Wouldn't they?!

And how could they fail to admire their only Native American passenger. Manteo was returning from a year-long diplomatic tour to the British Crown. Men of his tribe were described as taller and more built than the average Englishman back in the day. He would have learned some of their language by then. He would have known how to bow like and English gentleman, kiss their hands, and converse with them with the style and manners of the socially elite. No doubt, he was an exotic addition to their circle of friends. For all of you Twihards out there, go Team Jacob, right?

And suddenly these colonists were more than just a legend to me. They were people who really lived and really sailed to Roanoke Island in 1587. They laughed and cried and argued and dreamed and fell in love and even gave birth to two infants just days after they dropped anchor near the Outer Banks. Now those are some gutsy ladies! Nowadays our family doctors advise us against air travel close to our due dates. How about traveling more than ten weeks at sea, ladies, and delivering on the beach?

The single most exciting thing that happened during the writing of BREAKING TIES, however, was the discovery of a fort sketched beneath a patch on an original Lost Colony map held at the British Museum. The news was released in October, 2012 (while I was in the middle of writing the novel), and historians started claiming that - at long last - there was credible proof of survivors. Located fifty miles inland from Roanoke Island, the location of this new fort currently lies beneath a golf course and is still waiting to be excavated. I hope the publication of BREAKING TIES renews interest in our Lost Colonists and helps generate the resources necessary to explore this latest clue to their fate.

And here is the book trailer for Breaking Ties:

Breaking Ties can be purchased at Astraea Press, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and several other ebook outlets.

Jo Grafford can be found on facebook and twitter @jografford

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Please Welcome Author Alison F. Prince

Today I am thrilled to introduce another fellow Astraea Press author, Alison F. Prince! She's here today to tell us about her new release, Shadows of Magic.  

In Shadows of Magic is a newly released Young Adult Paranormal novel. 

Mandy McKinney lives the charmed life. She is beautiful, athletic, popular, dating the hottest jock in school, and certainly doesn't have any time for her loser twin sister. But Mandy also has a secret. When the truth is unveiled, her world is twisted upside down, and her very life is at stake.

Mandy's twin sister, Brianna, has never had any success in the dating department. When Brianna finally meets the guy of her dreams, it turns out that he has secrets of his own. Dangerous secrets. Just her luck.

The twins are about to be swept away into a world of beauty and power beyond their wildest imaginations where nothing is what is seems, danger is lurking in the shadows, and their only chance of survival is finding themselves, and each other, once again.

Alison F. Prince is a school psychologist in northern New Jersey.  In Shadows of Magic is her debut release.
We all make mistakes, especially as teenagers.  Sometimes mistakes can cost us our friends.  Sometimes mistakes can cause others to look at us in a negative light.  There's nothing wrong with making mistakes, as long as we can admit to and learn from them.  When we are able to learn from our mistakes, we grow as people and develop real confidence.
 Brianna McKinney makes a lot of mistakes throughout the course of the novel, In Shadows of Magic.  She is envious of her own twin sister.  She desires her sister's boyfriend.  Every boy uses her to get closer to her sister, and then dumps her.  Her jealousy drives her to take action.  

After Brianna makes some bad choices, she loses all of her friends.  She realizes the error of her ways, and wants to make things right.  In the midst of all this, Brianna finally meets an amazing guy and falls in love.  

Then, she realizes that her mistakes have even greater consequences than she thought.  Her own and her sister's lives may be at stake.  Her new boyfriend is the only one who may be able to help her when facing dark and powerful forces.  But in order to help her, she must tell him everything.  Will she be able to admit all of her mistakes to her new love?  If she does, will he still want to be with her?

Read my novel, In Shadows of Magic to find out!  

Join witches Brianna and Mandy on their magical journey of self discovery in the new Young Adult Paranormal novel by Alison F. Prince, In Shadows of Magic.
To learn more about Alison F. Prince and In Shadows of Magic, check out these links!
In Shadows of Magic Facebook:

Thursday, October 10, 2013

What Does Art Look Like?

This past month, the city of Grand Rapids became a canvas for artists all around the world. For the fifth year, hundreds of artists came to display their brand of art for the public to see, enjoy and react to by voting. And vote we did. We registered by the thousands at one of several locations, and then got on our computers or smart phones to give a "thumbs up" to whatever entries stuck our fancy. Entire families made a day of it, walking or taking shuttle buses to area venues. Some were indoors, some outside, one street corners, on the walls of buildings, and even in the Grand River.
This year, the top prize of $20,000 went to a quilt. I was thrilled. I'd seen it and voted for it, not just because I appreciate the workmanship that went into it, but because I knew how much time she must have spent on the four huge panels that made up the scene of the Sleeping Bear Dunes. I'd also seen the second place winner and had given that a thumbs up because the polar bear pictures were so lifelike I at first thought they were photographs!
Photo by Chris Allen-Riley. Used with permission.
This past weekend, with the voting finished, the art pieces came down. Some of them were sold, some were taken back to wherever the artists took them, and some were simply dismantled. One news reporter commented on how colorless the city looked without all the special displays. I disagree. While the artwork was lovely, nature provided an even more awesome spectacle. It's fall, my favorite time of year. Part of the reason is because of the magnificent rich colors in the foliage all around. I haven't spent a lot of time outdoors this week, but a few of my friends have, and I got their permission to share their photos with you. Look, enjoy, and appreciate God's handiwork.

Photo by Erin Gant Photography. Used with permission.