Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Historical “Sweet” Romance Excerpt!

Have you ever wondered how "kissing under the mistletoe" got started… Well, mistletoe has been part of European folklore as far back as the ancient Celtic Druids. It was known for its mystical powers. In the Middle Ages, mistletoe was hung from ceilings and over doorways to ward off evil spirits. In Greece, kissing under the mistletoe became part of the marriage rites. In Scandinavia, mistletoe meant "peace" where enemies would declare a truce. Therefore, married couples that were arguing would kiss and make up beneath the mistletoe. During the eighteenth-century in England, they created a “Kissing Ball” made of mistletoe with ribbons and ornaments, which was hung from the ceiling at Christmas time. A young lady who stood under it could not refuse to be kissed. A kiss beneath the mistletoe meant friendship, goodwill, or romance. If a couple in love kissed beneath the mistletoe, it was interpreted as his promise to marry her.

Melinda and the Wild West: A Family Saga in Bear Lake, Idaho
Awards: Finalist for Reader Views “Reviewers Choice Award 2007”

Debra Gaynor, Reader Views: “From the first page I was captivated by this book. I had to continue reading, rushing to turn the page, I had to see what next adventure would catch up with Melinda. The plot is interesting: mixing history with fiction, adventure with romance. Melinda is an endearing character and you can’t help but see things through her eyes. This is good Christian fiction. It is a great honor to highly recommend this book to readers of historical fictions and romance. Ms Clarke, this is a piece to be proud of, well done!”


Melinda sat at the piano and played Christmas carols while everyone lounged in chairs. As they felt the spirit of Christmas, they began to sing one carol after another. After a while, Gilbert stood and walked over to the piano and watched Melinda’s hands dance gracefully across the keys as he sang. His deep, rich baritone voice rang through the room and Melinda was very surprised that this rugged rancher had such a lovely voice. She was learning more about him each time he came over for Sunday dinner, which was nearly every week. For some reason, Aunt Martha had taken him under her wing and he was becoming a regular guest in the home.

When the song came to an end, she turned in her seat and looked up into his face. “You have a lovely voice.”

Gilbert could see the surprise in her eyes and hear it in her voice. He raised his eyebrows and said jokingly, “Thanks. I sing to my cows so they’ll give me more milk.”

Melinda laughed softly at the thought of Gilbert singing to his cows. “Now that’s something I would like to see.”

Gilbert enjoyed her delightful laughter and noticed that her eyes seemed to glow with happiness. Her charm was like a fairy gift from angels. And she had an ethereal beauty about her that made it difficult to stop gazing at her. Was it because it was Christmas that made her seem more beautiful to him? Was it his imagination that she seemed more at ease around him or were they just getting to know one another better? He had noticed his attraction toward her was growing with each visit and he looked forward to every Sunday meal at Martha’s home.

“Mr. Roberts, have you heard of ‘Far, Far Away on Judea’s Plains’?”

“Yes, I have.”

“Did you know that it was composed by a Mormon pioneer from St. George, Utah?”

“Yes, I did.”

Gilbert was amused that Melinda would underestimate his knowledge of music. He did not know the classical composers and music like Melinda did, but when it came to Christmas music he had no competition. Christmas was one of his favorite times of the year. He did know one classical composer, though, and that was Handel because he had written “Joy to the World.”

“In fact, Melinda, I heard that John Macfarlane woke up in the middle of the night with the tune and words in his head. It was so strong that he couldn’t go back to sleep, so he woke his wife up and asked her to help him. He lit a lantern and then began playing and singing the song that came from his heart while his sweet wife helped him write each note and word down on paper. They stayed up all night until they finished the song.”

Melinda’s eyes lit up. “I didn’t know that.”

“He died four years ago in 1892.”

“I didn’t know that, either.” She smiled. “Do you want to sing it with me?”

Gilbert nodded and she turned back to the piano, flipped the page over, and began playing. Gilbert’s rich baritone voice blended beautifully with Melinda’s mellow alto voice. The blend of harmony was so beautiful and each word was sung with such feeling that a hush came over the room as they sang.

Far, far away on Judea’s plains,
Shepherds of old heard the joyous strains:
Glory to God, Glory to God,
Glory to God in the highest;
Peace on Earth, good-will to men;
Peace on Earth, good-will to men!

After they finished the song, the room was still and no one said a word. Melinda could feel the sweet spirit in the room and she turned to look at Gilbert. He had an air of joy and contentment about him and she wondered if he could feel the peaceful atmosphere in the room as she did. When their eyes met, Melinda felt warmth creep into her cheeks. His eyes seemed to be searching hers. But why? Feeling uncomfortable, she quickly averted her eyes and stood.

“Jenny, I have a gift for you because I won’t be here for Christmas to give it to you,” Melinda said.

She walked over to the Christmas tree, picked up a small gift, and handed it to Jenny and then sat down. Jenny’s eyes sparkled with delight as she ripped the paper open. Before her eyes was a lovely blue ribbon.

“It’s for your hair, Jenny. And it’s your favorite color, too.”

Jenny ran to Melinda and wrapped her arms around her neck, hugging her tightly. Melinda sighed and wrapped her arms around Jenny.

Jenny’s voice sounded constricted as she spoke, “Thank you, Miss Gamble.” She looked up into Melinda’s eyes and said lovingly, “I love you.”

Melinda was touched. She had not expected this. In fact, she had not been ready for this sudden display of affection. She had never had a student tell her that before and her eyes moistened; her chest was tight with emotion. These were such simple words, yet they seemed to have an intense effect upon her.

Gilbert watched his daughter and Melinda. He saw how touched Melinda was by his daughter’s affection and he saw his daughter’s love for her teacher. No other teacher had ever affected his daughter like this. In fact, no other teacher had ever cared enough to help his daughter in school before. Melinda, he knew, had done some good in his daughter’s life. In fact, he felt that she had made a difference in his own life, too. He felt alive again, as he had never felt before.

Aunt Martha had watched Gilbert at Thanksgiving and noticed that he seemed to be quite interested in Melinda, so she had made sure he was invited over every Sunday evening for supper. The town called Martha “Cupid” because she enjoyed pairing people up. And that was true. Martha wanted others to have the joy and happiness she had in marriage. So, when she noticed Gilbert’s interest in Melinda, she had decided on a plan.

While everyone had been singing, Martha had put a coffee table just inside the kitchen door, next to the doorway where the mistletoe hung. Then she carefully placed the dessert and plates upon it. When Melinda or Gilbert would get a cookie or brownie, they would be positioned perfectly under the mistletoe. Martha thought her idea was very clever. Uncle William watched Martha studiously and he chuckled. He knew his wife and he knew what she was doing. He sat comfortably on the sofa as Martha came with a plate of cookies for him and for Jenny.

As she handed Jenny her plate, she said, “Sit by the fire and enjoy the warmth while you eat your dessert.”

Then she sat down beside William and handed him his plate with a smile. William whispered in her ear, “Thanks, Cupid.”

Aunt Martha acted innocent. “What do you mean?”

Uncle William whispered, “I’ve been living with you for over fifty years now and I believe I know you inside and out.” He grinned at her as she tried to act innocent and then he kissed her cheek lovingly.

Ignoring his astuteness, Aunt Martha called out, “Dessert everyone! There’s cookies, brownies, and tarts on the coffee table.”

Melinda headed for the dessert table and began filling a plate. As she stood in the doorway of the kitchen, it had not dawned on her why Aunt Martha had put the table there instead of the living room. Gilbert walked up to the coffee table, waiting for his turn. He had noticed the mistletoe, but was not sure if he should say anything or if he should take advantage of the situation.

Martha grinned and said, “Oh, oh. Look at that. Melinda is under the mistletoe. Well, what are you going to do about it, Gilbert? You can’t let her get away without a kiss, especially when it’s tradition. No one can avoid the mistletoe, you know.”

Melinda quickly looked up at the mistletoe in surprise and then jerked her head toward Aunt Martha with a shocked, knowing expression. When she turned to face Gilbert, his soft eyes seemed to glow as he stood before her. Melinda quickly touched her cheek with the tips of her fingers when she felt the warmth creep into her face. She felt so embarrassed. She was nervous and felt uneasy as he gazed into her eyes. She was not sure what to expect.

Gilbert smiled with amusement when he saw her blush a rosy color, and he said in a low and soft tone, “Melinda?”

His eyes held hers as he searched them for an answer. Then Melinda lowered her eyelids and looked down at her hands that were nervously playing with the red satin ribbon at her waist. Gilbert could see that she felt apprehensive and uneasy and he did not want to embarrass her more than she already was. So, as his eyes stayed glued to her expression, he gently took her slender hand into his and lifted it toward his lips. Then he pressed them tenderly against the back of her hand, lingering a bit.

Melinda was surprised at this chivalrous gesture and raised her eyes to meet his. The tenderness of his kiss and the softness in his eyes touched Melinda and a warm glow filled her soul. She was sure he could feel her pulse race as he held her hand and her fingers seemed to tingle from the touch of his lips. It did not take much to turn her face a rosy glow once again. Then, instantly, a strange sensation of joy came over her that she had not expected.

Gilbert let go of her hand as he turned to Aunt Martha and said, “We had better go, Martha. It’s getting late.”

The softness of Melinda’s hand in his and her many blushes seemed to have their effects on Gilbert. His heart had skipped a beat that night and he felt it was time to leave. He was not ready for what his heart was trying to tell him. He had concerns that he was not yet ready to face.

Aunt Martha grabbed their coats and a bag with cookies and roast beef inside and handed them to Gilbert. As she walked them to the door, she whispered, “Don’t worry. She’ll soften towards you. It will just take time.”

After they left, Melinda felt as if she were in a daze as she walked upstairs to her bedroom. Her heart was full and she didn’t know why. For the life of her, she could not figure out why she had reacted in such a way to his tenderness. Gilbert and she were as different as night and day, and yet she felt attracted to him. Why? She remembered his lingering kiss and how warm and tender it had been. The memory of it seemed to linger in her mind. Her heart had raced when he had touched her hand. And when he kissed it, a tingling sensation seemed to start at her knuckles and make its way to her heart.

She tried not to think about it because the following day she would be catching the train to Boston to visit her family for the holidays and she needed her sleep.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Interview with “Sweet” Romance Author Caroline Clemmons

Caroline Clemmons lives with her real-life Hero in rural North Central Texas with their menagerie of rescued pets. Her first made up adventures featured her riding with Roy Rogers to save the West from rustlers and bank robbers. Now she writes historical, contemporary, and time travel romances and contemporary mysteries. When she’s not writing, she loves spending time with family, reading, traveling, genealogy, and browsing antique malls and estate sales. She writes full-time, except when life interferes.

Hello, Caroline. I just love the book cover of this novel. Please tell us about it.

HOME, SWEET TEXAS HOME is a sweet contemporary romance and modern Cinderella story. Heroine Courtney Madison is a strong woman with high morals. When her mother became ill, Courtney became head of household. Now, six months after her mom’s death, Courtney is hanging on to her sanity by a few strands of an unraveling rope. Her mom’s death left a mountain of medical bills. Courtney is guardian of her formerly sweet 15-year-old brother who has become sullen and is hanging with decidedly unsavory pals, skipping classes, and letting his grades drop. Her latest blow is that, due to the huge new chain bookstore down the block from the independent Dallas bookstore where she’s manager, the store’s owner is coming out of retirement to manage his store. In two weeks, Courtney will be out of a job. No savings, no job, no prospects. She’s in a panic. Enter hero Derek Corrigan to tell Courtney she has inherited an estate in West Texas worth over two million dollars from the kind, elderly man she befriended when he and her mom were in the hospital. All her troubles are over. Or so she thinks. But Courtney learns that money solves her immediate problems, but new problems arise. Trouble she would never have imagined.

Derek Corrigan has been betrayed by every woman he’s ever loved. He’s learned the hard way that caring for a woman means he loses a chunk of his heart. He doesn’t need a woman’s interference. He has his two precious kids, Warren and Meg, and they’re the most important part of his life. Never again will he risk his heart by committing himself to a woman.

Where did you get your inspiration for this book?

I grew up in the area of West Texas where this book is set. My parents and I lived in a rural area for three years when we moved back from California, then we settled in Lubbock where I grew up. The weather there is dismal, but the place gets under your skin in spite of anything you can do. The town of Sweet Springs is fictional, but it’s a composite of the little towns in which my family lived before we moved into Lubbock. The sandstorm in the book is one of the things I remember from living there. When I was in junior high, I walked about a mile home from school and I remember walking in that wind and sand. Ugh. There are a lot of things I like about the area, though. The people are nice, on a clear day the sky is so blue, and the sunrises and sunsets are gorgeous.

Ooooh, I remember those good old sandstorms! I remember my very first one. I had to quickly pull over to the side of the road because I couldn’t see beyond my car. I never realized that a sandstorm was so much like a snowstorm. Really! Okay... a reviewer wrote, “Caroline wrote a story that had you laughing, crying, and caring about a group of people that were from different worlds...so many twists you couldn’t wait to see where she took you next.” Do all your books have humor and several twists in them?

Each of my books have twists, and each is about family members that support one another. I suppose the humor is subtle, and not everyone “gets” me. My intention is that each of my books has a combination of emotions from tension to humor, and that the situations are credible--whether the book is contemporary or historical. I do quite a bit of research, even for a contemporary.

I love your description of Derek: “He knows what women do to him--they always leave and take chunks of his heart with them. He's been there, done that, had the vaccination and is cured.” Hahaha! That was great. What do you like most about Derek’s personality?

Derek loves his kids so much that he often works from his home office so he can spend more time with them. He wants them to know they’re important to him and that he loves them. What better hero than a man who’s a great dad? He also does a lot to help others in his community, and that speaks well for him. He’s wealthy, but he remembers when he was struggling.

Derek sounds like a great character. Okay, now it’s time to tell us something about the real you that we’ll never forget.

One of the things I used to do each summer is can vegetables and fruits. Lots and lots of them! I supplied canned goods for both sets of parents and our daughters as well as for Hero and me. I also entered the State Fair and won blue ribbons for my grape jelly, peach jam, and green beans. Judging used to require two jars for each entry--one to taste and one to display. Due to the weirdness of people now, rules were changed so that judges didn’t taste the food and appearance is the only criteria. That’s when I quit entering. What’s the point of winning if taste doesn’t enter into the decision?

I think that's awesome. My mother used to enter her bottled fruit in the county fairs. I can’t believe they took tasting out of the contests. Do you remember the 1945 movie, State Fair? I’ll never forget the tasting contest when the judges tasted the mincemeat…over and over again. It was hilarious. Thank you so much for this wonderful interview Caroline. Below is an excerpt from Caroline’s book. I laughed so hard that I just had to include it.

When Jimmy saw his sister in bed, he rushed over. “Sis, what happened? What’s with the towel and the ice packs?” He frowned at Derek. “What’s going on?”

She opened her mouth to explain, but nothing came out.

Derek figured the bizarre situation defied description. He patted Jimmy on the shoulder. “Don’t worry, she’s okay now. We were at the cemetery putting flowers on Sam’s and Maggie’s graves and your sister got trapped in the bathroom.”

Jimmy shook his head. “I don’t understand. How could that hurt her?”

Courtney sighed. “The knob came off in my hand and I couldn’t open the door. So, I climbed out the window.”

Derek held out his hands to indicate the small rectangle. “A small, high window.”

Jimmy looked from his sister to Derek. “I still don’t understand what happened.”

Courtney snapped, “I got stuck, okay?”

Derek grimaced at Jimmy. “She, um…” He coughed to keep a straight face. “When she tried to go out the window, she got stuck with her head and one arm sticking outside and the rest of her inside.” He stood like a bird with a broken wing to imitate Courtney’s position. A grin spread across his face in spite of all his efforts not to smile.

Jimmy gaped at his sister. “Courtney? But she’s always so sensible. She’s never does anything stupid.” He began to smile also.

Both males burst into laughter.

“Listen, if you two are so amused, go into the other room to discuss my apparently hilarious antics and leave me to suffer in peace.” In spite of her strained muscles and injuries, she threw a box of tissues in their direction. “Go on, get out of here. Now.”

Monday, December 5, 2011

Interview with Christian Author Jessica Zondervan

In her early twenties, Jessica Zondervan experienced an unthinkable amount of pain and tragedy. During that time, she grieved the deaths of several loved ones, including her mom and dad, her college professor, both of her dogs, her grandpa and grandma, and a very close friend. After years of struggling with grief and depression, Jessica experienced complete healing and now dedicates her time and energy to helping others break free from depression.

I fell on my face and wept. I prayed for healing. I didn’t want to dwell in my misery any longer. I wanted to breathe again, feel again, live life again.” - Jessica Zondervan

Hello Jessica. I can tell this is going to be a very touching subject for this week. Please tell us about your new book.

Breathing on Purpose: Surviving the Death of a Loved One deals with death: its timing, its existence, and the magnitude of its life-altering impact. In my book, I share my grief-story and how I coped with losing both of my parents, my grandparents, my two dogs, my college professor, and a dear friend - all within a few years of each other. I walk the readers through the challenges that I faced - regardless of how painful, ugly, and unglamorous those challenges were. The beauty that flourished from my many grief-experiences/challenges, allowed me to re-establish my faith in Jesus and the outcome was beautiful healing and complete restoration. (Isaiah 43:1-3)

What inspired you to write this book?

Breathing on Purpose: Surviving the Death of a Loved One was written out of a longing to share my grief-experiences with others who were and who are grieving. I wanted to equip readers with a faith-filled hope that would resurrect their passion for life after surviving the loss of their loved one(s). I’m not necessarily trying to answer a particular question or give a remedy for grief—I’m trying to make a connection. I want to comfort those who read my book as they themselves question their experience with death and their belief in (or need) to find God. I want them to know that they are not alone. There is hope and healing for them in Jesus. Breathing on Purpose: Surviving the Death of a Loved One provides readers with an honest approach and a vulnerable perspective on what it means to walk through the grieving process with peace.

You have touched the lives of many people, Jessica. A Reviewer wrote, “I wish this book had been written when I lost my brother. It would have made my family’s loss a lot easier. I cried a lot of healing tears. Breathing on Purpose is from the heart! It’s a must read for anyone who has ever lost a loved one.” Do you receive letters concerning the way you’ve helped others through your book? If so, can you share any with us?

What a great question. I have received a variety of encouraging and inspirational letters that have moved me to tears. The most encouraging letters I receive are usually from strangers. I once received a letter from a woman – same age as me, who experienced the unexpected loss of her parents – just like I had. Our stories were so similar; God had brought us together to talk about what we had gone through. It’s humbling to know that my story touched the heart of someone else – someone I’ve never met. To this day, I still find myself being comforted by the letters I receive – from both strangers and familiar faces. I know that in the end, the precious Lord has a plan for everything. Losing my parents was part of that plan; my being able to help others deal with their grief has made my journey a lot easier. I know for certain that I am where God wants me to be, and I will forever be grateful for those experiences because they have led me to where I am today. (Jeremiah 29:11)

What does your family think about your writing?

I am extremely blessed to have such a supportive family. In fact, my husband is the one who encouraged me to write. He is my biggest supporter and has believed in me from day one. This book would not have happened without his unending support and encouragement. Before I wrote, Breathing on Purpose: Surviving the Death of a Loved One, my husband would tell me (on several occasions and numerous times each week), that I needed to write down my feelings and put my grief-experiences into a book. After a year or more of listening to his pleas, I gave in and wrote Breathing on Purpose.

Wow! What a wonderful, supportive husband! Yup! He’s a “Keeper”! Okay, it’s time to tell us something about the real you that we’ll never forget.

I love football – both college football (Iowa Hawkeyes) and the NFL (Philadelphia Eagles). There is nothing better than being with my family and friends, eating food and watching football. Family, friends, food, and football = the perfect day for me.

A female author who loves football? Well, how about that! And that’s right… food and family makes the perfect day. Thanks for this wonderful interview, Jessica. I hope you touch many lives with this book.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Interview with Children’s Author Mary Ruth Weaver

Mary Ruth has lived in Tennessee, Illinois, California, and finally settled down in sunny Arizona. With a degree in English, she has taught kindergarten in Christian schools. She and her husband share five children and 17 grandchildren. Mary Ruth works at Arizona Western College, coordinating and working with the winter visitor population; and her husband, who is a retired Marine, assists her with the activities. They are both active in church and the community. They love to travel and have visited all 50 states throughout the years; and, several of them many times.

Hello, Mary Ruth. I’m so glad that you’re on my blog. We met in Yuma a few years ago and I absolutely love that part of the country. It’s so beautiful in the fall, winter, and spring. Please tell us about your new book.

The Forgotten Trolley is not only a cute children’s story, but it appeals to adults as well. The lesson learned in this book is what to do when life disappoints you. You can either give up on life and be miserable, or do what Al did. He humbled himself, was reborn, and started a new phase of his life as a working cafĂ© instead of the former transporter of passengers. He learned that when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

What a wonderful lesson to teach our children… a lesson to remember ourselves! Where did you get your inspiration for this book?

My inspiration for The Forgotten Trolley was inspired by my husband, Gary. He grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and rode the trolleys with his parents during the 1940s. He remembers his mother putting him on the trolley at age five, and sending him across town, by himself, to visit his grandmother! Having heard many stories throughout our 34 years of marriage, and our family visiting and riding on several trolleys housed in trolley car museums, the idea of trolleys out of commission and rusting away in scrap yards prompted me to write a children’s story.

Wow! The inspiration behind a book is so interesting to me. Are there very many cities that still have trolleys?

Some of the trolleys of the past have been refurbished and are in trolley car museums. They are either on display or are working examples that transport passengers around the museum grounds on a limited route. Recently, some cities, such as Phoenix, Arizona, and San Diego, California, have built light-rail systems that are similar to trolleys that transport passengers throughout the city on scheduled routes.

What does your family think about your writing?

My family, especially my husband, has been very supportive of my writing throughout the years. My daughter, Vikki, has been my “go-to” person for any kind of support I have needed. When I finally decided to publish this book, I called her at work and said, “Vikki, I want to be immortalized!” She asked, “So, what do you want me to do?” I said, “Help me find an illustrator for my book.” “Okay,” she answered, “I’ll get back to you.” Forty-five minutes later she called back and said, “Here, talk to Jeff.” “Who’s Jeff?” I asked. “Your new illustrator,” she replied, and the rest is history.

Your daughter sounds like she was just as excited about your new future as you were. Okay, now it’s time to tell us something about the real you that we’ll never forget.

I am a lucid dreamer. My dreams consist of flying, tasting, smelling, vivid colors, and seeing words or sentences written on walls, blackboards, or anywhere throughout my dreams. I can change the way the dream is progressing by changing the storyline myself during the dream. I can make sure the outcome is to my liking by simply willing it so. One of my favorite reoccurring dreams is that of dancing. I will have the whole dance floor or hall to myself, and I will twirl and leap and spin to my heart’s content. My flying dreams allow me to either fly within an airplane, or fly solo, without a vehicle. I have dreamt that I flew alone, just my body, and as I was landing, slowed down my feet, so as to gently land on top of a bookcase! During college, I wrote a research paper on lucid dreaming and not only received an A+, but was asked by my psychology professor and my English professor for a copy for their files. So, I not only enjoy my lucid dreams, and they not only paid off for me during college, but I have written several stories based on ideas I have received in my dreams.

I would love to be in control of all my dreams. That would be great. When I was a kid, I used to have flying dreams and I remember how much I loved those dreams. But when I grew up, I stopped having them. Hmmm! Now I know the real you! A Dreamer, a Child at Heart, and an Author all rolled into one!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Interview with “Sweet” Romance Author Caroline Fyffe

I’m an equine photographer turned historical romance author. I have to say I think I’ve had two of the most enjoyable jobs a person can have. I’ve spent 20 years photographing horses and now I get to write about them. What could be better? I’m married and have two amazing sons, of whom I’m very proud. My oldest has just obtained his MBA and a good job. My youngest is part of the United States Army now serving overseas. A mother could not be prouder. Caroline's website: http://www.carolinefyffe.com/books.html

Montana Dawn has everything. Readers will taste the dust, smell the gunpowder and feel the passion.” --Cheryl St. John

Hello, Caroline! Your novels are considered “sweet romance” for all ages. Montana Dawn won the Best Western Romance 2010 Award by Love Western Romance. What a wonderful accomplishment! I absolutely love your book cover. In fact, this book is part of a series called "Home Fires of the West" and each book cover is absolutely beautiful. Please tell us about it.

Hi, Linda. I’m very happy to be here with you this week. Thank you for having me! MONTANA DAWN is set in Y Knot, Montana in the late 1800s. The McCutcheons, a cattle ranching family, have carved a dynasty from the wilderness by the sweat of their brow and honorable values. Luke McCutcheon, the third brother and hero of this story, is the only one who was sired by an American Indian, when his mother was taken captive. He’s the trail boss for the once-a-year cattle drive that the McCutcheons make. It’s during the drive that Luke stumbles upon a dilapidated wagon where he meets Faith Brown, in labor and needing his help. After the delivery, he offers to bring her along where one thing leads to another and soon all the trail hands are trying to catch the beautiful new mother’s attention, much to Luke’s dismay. I love stories about big families. I wanted to give Luke as much unconditional love as he needed to battle his own ghosts about his heritage. John McCutcheon, the youngest brother, is foreshadowed in MONTANA DAWN, but you don’t actually meet him until my next book, TEXAS TWILIGHT now available on-line.

I love Western Romances. Sigh! Where did you get your inspiration for this book?

It’s hard to know where the inspiration for my books come from…. It could be they are a result of my growing up around horses and living in El Dorado, California, a little town nestled in the foothills of the beautiful Sierra Nevada Mountains. The famous gold mining town of Placerville was only minutes away, and provided a plethora of fodder for writing westerns.

A Reviewer wrote, “Montana Dawn is not a soft, fluffy, romance. It’s a story of real people, hard times and harder choices. I enjoyed every minute of the book and that’s about as good as a book can get!” What kind of research do you do for your novels since they’re set during the Wild West?

Even as a child I loved everything western. Everything old. Taking road trips with my family I’d ask my parents to stop at the little cemeteries along the way so I could read the headstones. They used to squish a whole lot of interesting things on them in the 1800s. LOL. Also, I read history books about the taming of the west and I always check out museums from any historic place I visit. One little item can be the spark a story is built around.

Wow! So you were born to be curious ever since you were a child. What does your family think about your writing?

They’re all very proud of me for sticking to my guns, so to speak. Besides my husband and two sons, I have four sisters and their families who are all very helpful—if I need a plotting session, a pick me up, or day out shopping—they are there for me. I wrote for a lot of years before getting the call. I quit for about four years sandwiched in-between starting and getting published. But, I found I just wasn’t happy. So, I kept at it….

“Keeping at it” is the secret! Bravo! Now it’s time to tell us something about the real you that we’ll never forget. I love this question because I get to know something new about each author I interview.

Let’s see….I’m the baby, the youngest of five girls. My childhood nickname was Bowie, taken from the popular TV show, Jim Bowie, which ran from 1956-1958. It was set in the Louisiana Territory around 1830. I was glued to the set whenever it was on, and fancied myself the star. As I got older I had to fight to get my family and friends to call me Caroline. LOL. The real me loves cows, almost as much as horses. I’ll take frozen yogurt over ice cream any day… 

Hahaha! Now I know the real you! A cowgirl at heart! And by the way, I was a Jim Bowie fan, also. I loved that show when I was a kid. I couldn’t get enough of it. And frozen yogurt? It’s my favorite. Thanks so much for this awesome interview, Caroline.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Interview with “Sweet” Romance Author Ruth J. Hartman

Ruth is a published writer, as well as a licensed dental hygienist. She and her husband of 29 years, Garry, live in a 100-year-old farmhouse. Two spoiled fat cats, Maxwell and Roxy, grudgingly allow Ruth and Garry to live in the house with them. She has written her memoir about living with severe OCD. Her hope is that the memoir will help others with OCD and depression. Ruth is known for her sweet romances full of humor, hoping to make people laugh and give them warm fuzzy feelings.

Hello Ruth. Welcome back to my blog. Please tell us about your book, Purrfect Voyage.

Purrfect Voyage started out as an idea for a short story and evolved from there. Arthur, the cat in the story, gets stranded on a ocean-bound yacht for two weeks with his owner, Kitty, and a stranger named George. George and Kitty have a hard time getting along at first, never having met, and having such different interests, but as the story moves along, they get closer. Let’s face it, two people would have a lot of time to talk and get to know each other stranded together for two weeks. Oh, and by the way, George hates cats!

Where did you get your inspiration for this novel?

Arthur, a nosy black cat, was modeled after all the cats I’ve had, personality-wise. His appearance and body language were taken from my black cat, Roxy.

A Reviewer said, “I have read thousands of books, most of them romance. But this is one that I will keep in my very small reread section.” This is the greatest compliment an author can receive. If a book is worth rereading, it’s worth buying. Tell us what you think about this review.

I loved this review! I was honored that she liked my book so much. You’re right when you said that’s the greatest compliment for an author. It made my day. ☺

What kind of research did you do for this book?

The yacht voyage takes place on the ocean between Alaska and Hawaii. I did some online research for the logistics, for example, was it possible to do that trip on a small yacht in two week’s time. Also, I wasn’t very familiar with yachts, so I did some research for that. And my sister and her husband have lived in Alaska for twenty years, so they were wonderful sources of information, too.

I enjoy learning about an author’s research. Thanks. I love it when authors add real life situations to their stories. Do you usually put real experiences in your books?

A lot of times, yes. Most of the time the heroine is somewhat based on me. Klutzy, sappy romantic with a goofy sense of humor. The heroes are usually based on my husband. Although for “Grin and Barrett” which was just released in August, that hero, Victor, started out as being way different from my other heroes. But he ended up much more like them as the book progressed.

Thank you, Ruth, for this wonderful interview. I absolutely love the excerpt from your book. When Kitty’s wayward cat by the name of Arthur jumps into a yacht chasing a mouse, she runs after it. After climbing into the boat, she believes Arthur has gone below deck. Read and enjoy, everyone! Here is what happens: 

Taking it slow, Kitty inched her way down the stairs. She tried a switch, but nothing happened. Deciding the small lever must have been for a purpose other than turning on a light, she continued on in the semi-darkness. Third step from the bottom, her foot hit the edge of the slick metal step. Her feet flew up, her head swan-dived down. Pain lanced across the back of her head as she thwacked it on the last step. Kitty groaned and rolled into a cat-like ball. As her world faded to black, she whispered, “Arthur, are you even down here?”

Art Katz carried two large cardboard boxes and a red duffel bag slung over his shoulder on board the yacht. Two weeks sailing and fishing. Unbelievable. He’d waited all year. Hoped to have formed gills by the time he reached his destination. He chuckled, remembering his dream from the previous night. He, of course, had been a fish. Salmon or halibut? He couldn’t remember. Not that it mattered. But no doubt about it; he’d been a fish.

Deciding to unpack later, he set to prepare the yacht, checking gauges and levels. After a short time, he headed out to sea. He’d spent enough time on this particular yacht to know its quirks. No doubt he could make the journey safely. But not everything in his life was so predictable. Like his business. He worked like a dog. Every weekend. Most evenings. But he still wasn’t making the money he wanted. His employees often called him a slave driver. But hey, you didn’t make money just sitting around.

He flipped open his cell phone.

“Hey, it’s me.”

“Hi,” said John. “Thanks again for delivering my yacht. I still can’t believe your vacation coincided with my move. I owe ya, man.”

“You’d do the same for me. If I had a yacht. Or a place to put a yacht. Or money to buy a yacht.”

“Yeah, yeah. I hear ya.”

“I expect to be treated like a rock star when I get there.”

“You got it. See you when you get here, then.”

“Later.” Art closed his phone and put it in his jeans pocket.

John seemed to have it all. The lucrative medical practice. The beautiful wife and kids. Not that Art had time for the family part. He wasn’t like John. He didn’t have money stashed everywhere. He had to work. All the time. That’s why this trip was so special. He hardly ever left the office.

For the next several hours he sailed, admiring the whipping green waves and diving birds. Eagles and puffins splashed about, more often than not emerging with fishy treasures in their beaks. He envied them. He couldn’t wait to start fishing himself. Although, he’d be using a pole. He wasn’t crazy about biting into raw fish.

A soft sound floated up from below deck. He turned his head.


A meow?

Perfect. All he needed was a stowaway cat for the next two weeks. He’d never been a fan of felines. Far from it. With their tiny, impaling claws and creepy purring sound, he’d been able to avoid most of them.

So far.

Ever since the incident. Putting the yacht on autopilot, he walked to the stairs. His hand reached to the light switch. Nothing. And of course, the light bulbs were in a cabinet downstairs. He sighed and made his way back to his duffel bag. Flashlight in hand, he cautiously made his way down the dimly lit stairway.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Interview with Mystery & Sweet Romance Author Debra Brown

Debra Brown took up writing later in life after her education in other fields, and after raising her family. Over the years, she enjoyed studying homeopathy and the arts informally and has used them both to enrich her life. She has enjoyed oil painting, had a successful business making jewelry and worked as an assistant in the interior design field. She finds writing to be a satisfying career, and she looks forward to many more books in the English Historical Fiction genre.

A Mystery and Sweet Romance ~ Inspired by Jane Austen and Charles Dickens: “Companion of Lady Holmeshire is such a stimulating good read. It also has the most compelling kick, which can knock you sideways. And let it be known; the outcome could never have been predicted.” --Jann England"

Hello Debra. Your book is set in the early Victorian Era. Please tell us about your new book.

Hi Linda, thanks for inviting me to your blog! My book is the story of a foundling infant girl who grew up to become the companion of a countess after serving as a servant in her Northumbria household. The countess insisted on dragging poor Emma along into London’s snobbish aristocratic circles where she became the unhappy subject of rude remarks. Sweet romantic developments provide comic relief and sighs while mysterious events perplex. My readers report that the ending comes as a great surprise.

Where did you get your inspiration for this book? Do you get any ideas from real life experiences?

I had enjoyed reading English historical fiction as a teenager, and I watched many period movies while making jewelry. I simply wanted more! I decided to write a Jane Austen style book, throwing in some of Charles Dickens type of reality, and greatly enjoyed it. This book does not touch on my life, but my second book, though entirely fictional, does draw heavily on my personal experience with OCD. 

A Reviewer wrote, “Gracing the pages of this novel is a cleverly condensed portrayal of a Victorian way of life, inviting you to embark upon one journey after another whilst constantly whispering in your ear who, why, when, how? Reeling you in through the doors of British Aristocracy, legacies start to unfold, each time reminding you of your place in society.” What kind of research did you do to help us feel this time period?

The beginnings of my “research” was to simply enjoy watching many period movies. I watched the entire Upstairs, Downstairs TV series, which amazed me with its strictly structured rules between the late Victorian family and its servants. Being American, I was shocked at how the servants “knew their place” and would never consider themselves equal to the upper class family. I began to do research on the internet and in books from the library. And I truly do continue to rent movies specifically to observe the culture.

With romances, you know the outcome of the plot…that he and she are eventually going to get together. With mysteries, you don’t know what’s going to happen next. You have written a mystery/romance. Is it difficult coming up with a plot for a mystery, one your reader won’t be able to figure out?

I feel that I stumbled into it. I was developing the beginnings of a story based on the upstairs/downstairs arrangement, which does play a large part in the finished novel. However, I needed “something”, and suddenly, the whole story made a huge twist in my mind. From that moment on, it seemed that I could not type fast enough to get it all in print.

Your book sounds very intriguing. Now it’s time to tell us something about the real you that we’ll never forget.

I think that one of the best experiences of my life was studying homeopathy. I went to a homeopath at the insistence of a friend when I was deathly ill, not expecting much. I was shocked at the rapid healing response of my body, and was ravenous for information as to how this had worked. (It is a bit like an immunization, where the body reacts to a minute amount of substance or its electrical properties to promote healing.) At my next visit, the doctor gave me a book, and I devoured it. Before long, I went to work in his office, and he devoted a good deal of time to teaching me about the remedies and how to use them. If it had been formal training, I would now be practicing as a homeopath, but I am very thankful just to be able to help myself and my family with this great kind of medicine.

Of course, this leaves me free to write, and write I will! Thank you very much for the visit.

Thanks, Debbie, for this wonderful interview. I have learned something about you that I didn’t know. It sounds like you have had some trials in your life. I appreciate you sharing this part of your life with me and my readers.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Mayan Intrigue: Mystery and Adventure

Mayan Intrigue: The Adventures of John and Julia Evans


The jungles of the Yucatan, Mayan ruins, looters, a mysterious artifact, and a nosey reporter are focus of Mayan Intrigue. With a blend of mystery, suspense, and Julia's curiosity, John and Julia find themselves on the run once again. The discovery of a priceless artifact soon puts Julia’s life in great danger. From valuable artifacts to shady businessmen, the Yucatan Peninsula becomes a dangerous vacation spot for John and Julia Evans.

Suko’s Notebook Review: “Excitement prevails…this book is full of mystery and suspense… Linda's writing is lively and down-to-earth; she has the ability to make you feel as if you're in these stories, along with John and Julia, trying to decipher the truth and escape from harm.”

Socrates Book Review: "Ms. Clarke’s descriptions easily transports the reader to Mexico. You really feel as if you are part of the story. Her words flow beautifully through each page of the book. Readers learn more and more about the beautiful relationship shared by John and Julia. Their commitment to each other is stronger than ever. With each book, these two become more like friends of the readers instead of book characters. I enjoyed this very much and am looking forward to the third book in this thrilling series."

Chapter 1

Julia strode down the well-traveled path. Her heart was beating rapidly and she had a feeling of urgency as she hurried along. She stopped and looked around. The trees on both sides of the trail were so thick that she couldn't see beyond them, and a canopy of branches overhead was hiding the sun from view. Thick vines and vegetation had crept up the trunks of many trees and were hanging over the limbs. She heard the chatter of monkeys and a few tropical birds communicating with each other, but other than that, it was peaceful and serene. So why had her pulse rate accelerated?

Julia continued on for a ways until she came to a fork in the path. The trail on the right was trimmed and well-worn but the one on the left was less traveled and narrow. Not only that, a large fat snake was hanging from a branch. The snake's head lifted and followed her every movement. This sent a chill up her spine and Julia shivered involuntarily. Snakes had never bothered her before but this one was much larger than an ordinary garden snake. Whether or not it was poisonous, she didn't know.

Julia bit her lip, wondering which path to take. The one on the right seemed more inviting, but she was curious about the other and where it led. After a few seconds, she headed down the well-trimmed path. For some reason, she felt a deep foreboding with each step she took. Had she chosen wisely?

It did not take long until she came upon an opening in the thick forest. Julia's eyes widened at the beauty, so green and lush. A magnificent aqua-colored lake stood out from this forest and peacefulness seemed to rein over this area. As her eyes scanned the beauty of this land, she heard crunching of debris from behind her.

Instinctively, she knew that her life was in danger. Why, she did not know. Julia's heart pounded furiously. Beads of sweat formed on her brow and her chest tightened. Taking a deep breath, she slowly turned and found herself face to face with a large burly man that had an angular scar across his cheek. His piercing dark eyes were hard and cold as he glared at her. His contemptuous smile told her that he had been hunting her like prey.

Julia was helpless. She was in a remote area by herself. When the man saw her fear, he grinned, accentuating the scar along his cheekbone. As he slowly approached her, to her horror, she could not move an inch. She was frozen to the spot. So she did the only thing she could think of. She let out a blood-curdling scream that echoed in her ears.

Instantly, John bolted upright from his bed, his heart pounding erratically as he awoke from a deep sleep. He blinked his eyes a couple times, trying to come to his senses when he finally realized that Julia had awakened him, screaming at the top of her voice. He leaned toward the nightstand, switched on the light, and then turned toward his wife. When he saw how pale she was, John realized she had had a nightmare. Was it the same dream again? He took her hand and squeezed it lovingly as he watched her chest rise and fall in quick breaths. After a few moments, her eyes flickered open and met his. When he looked into her hazel eyes, he knew she was frightened.

"You had another one, didn't you?"

Julia nodded.

"The same one?"

She nodded again, her eyes wide with fear.

"It's been a month now and you've had this same dream once or twice a week. Does it ever vary or is every detail the same?"

"The same," she answered as she pushed her fingers through her rich auburn hair. "There's no variation."

John slid next to her and pulled her into his arms. How he loved this woman, his wife and companion! And it wrenched his heart that she had to endure such dreams. What had caused them in the first place? He wrapped his arms around her in a protective manner as she snuggled in his embrace. She gave a sigh of relief as he tightened his arms around her.

Julia was an investigative reporter for the Dixie Chronicle in St. George, Utah. She was a stubborn, determined woman but her pleasant smile was genuine, which warmed the soul of those she met. She, also, had a deep faith in God but she had her mischievous ways. For fun, she would introduce herself by using her first and middle name, just to see the surprised look on people's faces. What was her middle name? Roberts. That's right. Julia Roberts! In fact, she almost laughed out loud when someone actually asked for her autograph. She didn't even look like the movie star. Not wanting to embarrass the poor man, she gave him her autograph. Julia vowed that one day she would ask her father why she had been given such an unusual middle name.

She was stunningly beautiful, a farm girl at heart with a touch of grace and elegance, when needed. Her husband cherished everything about her, even her strong will and stubborn ways. She was completely opposite from John, which made his life with her even more intriguing. They had been married for twenty-one years. She was forty-one and he was forty-three.

Right now they were in a hotel in Merida on the Yucatan Peninsula on assignment for the Chronicle. Needless to say, they decided to make it a vacation and stay two weeks instead of one.

As Julia heard the deep breathing of her husband, she knew that he had fallen asleep again. She smiled. This vacation was a much-needed one for both of them. John had been working extra long hours lately and she had greatly missed his presence at home.

Julia had longed for his attention and loving ways, even his teasing, for the past six months. She longed for that affectionate kiss as he passed through the kitchen, holding hands during a movie, and words of communication while lying in bed. It sort of rekindled the fire that may have been forgotten from every day life in a busy world of responsibilities.

Julia knew how important it was to keep a romantic relationship with her husband. She liked a romantic evening best when it was spontaneous rather than planned. But who had time to even plan lately?

It had been quite a while since Julia felt her heart beat rapidly as she felt her husband's arms tighten around her waist and she desperately missed it. She felt a need to renew those special feelings as often as possible, to keep their love alive. So, here they were in Mexico, and finally taking time for one another.

The only thing that confused her was why she was having these dreams. They were the same exact dreams every time. As she lay staring at the ceiling, Julia knew that she could not fall back to sleep so she very quietly slid out of bed.

She walked to the dresser and slipped on some clothes, brushed her hair, and put on some makeup. Then she turned out the lamp beside the bed and slipped out the door to take a relaxing walk. It was six o'clock in the morning and not a soul was up and stirring on this Sabbath day. This was a perfect time to meditate and think of all her many blessings, for her husband and their three daughters.

Julia walked out into the cool morning air and breathed in the fresh fragrance. As she slowly strolled down the sidewalk, she thought about her assignment for the Dixie Chronicle. She was supposed to write about the ruins of the ancient people of Mesoamerica. What an exciting assignment! She was so thrilled when her boss had given her this important project, the first one he had ever given her since her promotion as an investigative reporter. She smiled with contentment as she walked toward a bunch of tall thick shrubs next to a park.

As Julia stepped around the shrubs, she saw a short pudgy man with wisps of grayish brown hair surrounding his balding head. He was smiling as he admired something in his hand. The man beside him was an unusually tall Latin. His short sleeves revealed his tanned arms and he had dark curly hair that touched the collar of his white shirt.

As the balding man pulled a large envelope from his jacket and handed it to his companion, he exclaimed, "Beautiful! It's simply..."

His words trailed off when his eyes met Julia's. As if startled by her presence, he froze, staring at her with widened eyes.

Instantly, his companion turned around and looked over his shoulder to see what he was staring at. But it did not take long for the Latin's dark eyes to quickly change from surprise to irritation. Julia noticed that his eyes were hard and cold and his jaw was rigid. A chill went down her spine as a feeling of apprehension crept inside her. Something told her to leave and to leave now. She was not about to question those feelings, so she instantly turned on her heels and strode toward the hotel.

Why had these men acted so strangely? If they had wanted privacy, why did they meet at a public park? But as she thought about it, it was only six o'clock on a Sunday morning. Why would they expect anyone to be wandering through the park at this time of day? What surprised her most was their attitude and the way the Latin had reacted to her presence, as if he were angry.

Feeling uneasy, Julia dared not turn around and see if she was followed but quickly picked up her pace.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Interview with Children’s Author JD Holiday

J.D. Holiday is the author and illustrator of two children’s books: Janoose the Goose and The Great Snowball Escapade. A chapbook of her short stories called, Trespasses was published in 1994 and she has had short stories printed in literary magazines and numerous articles about writing and publishing. JD is a co-host of The Writing Mama Show on Blog Talk Radio. She is a member of both The Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators, and Small Publishers of North America.
JD’s website: http://www.bookgardenpublishing.net
JD'S Blog: http://jdswritersblog.blogspot.com

A goose that wears glasses, a fox up to no good, and a barnyard of farm animals make for a story that will delight young readers. Parents, be prepared to read it over and over to your children.” - Author Beverly Stowe McClure

Hello JD. Please tell us about your picture book, Janoose the Goose.

Hi Linda! Thank you for having me on your blog. I'm so happy to be here. Janoose the Goose likes life in the barnyard very much. She is there visiting her cousin, Molly Duck and her baby, DeeDee. Her vacation is over and Janoose must go home because there are no job openings on the farm. When her flight home arrives, the fox has begun a crime spree. Though the farm animals had a farm watch program once, they were no good at it! Janoose is the only one who can stop him.

Your book sounds fascinating. Where did you get your inspiration for this book?

It comes right out of my childhood. My father gave me two nicknames. My first name is Janice and when I was very young, my father would tease me by calling me, Janoose the goose. I actually developed a life for the goose. That is what inspired my story! When I was in my teens my father began calling my JD. 

That is so funny. My husband uses rhyming names for our kids, also. I enjoyed the review by Jean S. Eisele. She wrote, “This could be the beginning of the Janoose the Goose detective stories - sort of like the Hercule Poirot sleuth of the barnyard.” Hercule Poirot? I love that series. Tell us your thoughts about this review.

I was surprised and pleased that it was clear that Janoose was a problem solver. In the story, Janoose is trying to figure out why the fox is coming to the farm and chasing her friends around. So she is somewhat of a sleuth herself. I had no intentions of having a series when I wrote Janoose but my 5 year old grandson has encouraged me to write a second Janoose book and I'm in the writing stages now. Janoose will be following the trail of her nemesis, the fox, in this one too.

I think a series like this would be fun. It would be something an adult would enjoy reading to her child or grandchild. You have another book called The Great Snowball Escapade. What is it about?

This story also comes out of my childhood. As a child, every winter day that snow was on the ground I would spend time on the hill in front of the high school near where I lived sledding. I loved sledding!

The Great Snowball Escapade is a chapter book for 6 to 8 year olds. The young girl in it is Wilhemena Brooks. Wil's, as she likes to be called, cousin Bud Dunphry comes to live with her family. Right around Christmas Wil finds her new pink pencil sharpener is missing. And Wil knows Bud has it! Who else would have taken it?

Bud has problems! He doesn’t like girls and in fact, Bud doesn’t like anybody. Wil tries to ignore him but he pulls her friends hair, takes over games at school, and when Bud is in trouble he makes his “you’re going to get it” face at her.

After a snowstorm closes school, Wil and her friends go sled riding. Bud shows up and starts a snowball fight, which lands Wil in her room for the rest of the day for fighting. When her pencil sharpener is found, right where she left it, on the piano, Wil decides she has to try harder to understand her cousin and stay out of trouble. Her mother told her to be nice to Bud and to treat him like she would like to be treated. Wil doesn't think this will work. And if she treats Bud nicely does that mean he'll be nice to her? Of course, you will have to read the book to find out! 

I like the message you’re giving your readers, that we should treat others the way we would like to be treated. Okay, now it’s time to tell us something about the real you that we’ll never forget.

I developed the plot line for the published version of Janoose The Goose while shopping for pillows! The original version of Janoose The Goose was a nursery rhyme, and in the 1990's I had begun to think that the old type of nursery rhyme with what the fox was really going to do to the members of the barnyard was not what I wanted children reading my books to have to think about. And while pillow shopping I realized the farm community, especially those who have feathers, had another reason to be afraid of the fox and it gives Janoose the perfect reason to chase the fox away. This might give you a good hint as to what goes on in the story.

I love it! Apparently pillow shopping relaxes you so much that you can think more clearly and come up with great plots. So if you’re ever stumped with another plot, just go pillow shopping! Hahaha! Thanks, Jan, for this fun interview.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Interview with Author Clint G Cox

Clint Cox owns his own plumbing company, which was voted “Best Plumbing Company in Sanpete County.” But that’s not all, he owns three to four businesses which keep him very busy, but he never forgets that family comes first. He also is very involved serving in numerous capacities for his church. Clint has overcome a few challenges in his life, one of them being Dyslexia, which he struggled with throughout his youth and even now plagues him in small ways. The second challenge was the tragic death of his father. This was a difficult and emotional time in his life. He now uses these emotions in all of his writings. Clint is a loving husband and father to a wonderful family.

"Christmas Notes is an emotional life-pondering story that teaches a grand Christmas message." --Merrill Osmond, Entertainer

Hello, Clint. Please tell us about your new book, Christmas Notes.

I wrote Christmas Notes for my children to save them from the “Holiday Numbness” as I describe through one of the characters of the book. It is a book that is meant to be read every year to help inspire the Christmas spirit. Even the cover was designed with a “present look”. This was to suggest it be placed where people can see it, as a gift to be noticed and read, not to be tucked away on a dusty shelf. This story, of a little orphan girl with her interesting way of communicating, and the young couple, will not only remind you of the things that are most important during Christmas but refresh in your mind the cherished, life necessities all year long.

Where did you get your inspiration for this book?

My inspiration for this book came during the holiday season in 2009. I was very busy worrying about the lack of success of one company and trying to keep up with the rush of another. My mood was anything but joyful like it should have been, given the time of year. I tried to hide my ailing mood from my family but was failing miserably. A couple of weeks before Christmas one of my daughters said, “I am just not very excited about Christmas this year!”

My heart tore into a million pieces, because I knew it was my fault. I was ruining Christmas for my family, and my child of 8 years old was not excited at all two weeks before the biggest day of the year for most children. I had to right my wrong. I wanted to write my feelings down to give them something they could read in future years when they were struggling with the same feelings as I was, that would pull them out of their despair. The Christmas Notes story line came as inspiration to me at two o’clock in the morning and continued till day-break. I had the story outline that night but most of the emotional scenes of this book were written on cut up 2X4’s and ripped up cardboard with a construction penciled. I would later put it onto my computer after everyone else had gone to bed. 

Clint uses dynamic, fun and sometimes tragic family experiences to make his story feel real. He told me this helps readers “to connect to the story with not only their minds but their hearts as well.” A Reviewer wrote, “This is not just a Christmas book! It is an emotional inspirational life story which teaches what we should be doing all year long.” Tell us your thoughts about this and what your message to the reader is.

My message for this book is twofold. First, true happiness in this life is centered around family and loved ones. Never ending joy comes from attributes such as, gratitude, forgiveness, hope, love, and knowledge of the Savior, Jesus Christ.

Second, acceptance of one’s faults and trials is key to overcoming them. Working for the solution, instead of dwelling on the problem, is pivotal to making changes in our lives. Enjoying the journey no matter what we had to overcome is a must.

I have lived these principles with my family, faith, and challenges, and what have I learned? First, this kind of happiness, centered around these principals, is lasting and not superficial. Second, I have learned the same thing my wife, editor now, and others reading my book are discovering. Dyslexic people can’t spell worth a darn, but they have a gift for putting together one heck of an emotional story.

I love it. That was a great answer. What does your family think about your writing?

My brothers, having grown up with me and my personal struggles, know that I am a terrible speller and horrible with most aspects of grammar. They are still in shock to the fact that I have written a book, let alone got it published. My mother is elated beyond all measures. My in-laws are very supportive and excited. My wife is so excited to see me overcome my barriers, that to most people would just look at and give up. My children, I say this with a tear in my eye, are so happy for me and want to share every part of this journey together as a family.

Wow! Thanks, Clint, for being a guest on my blog. Now it’s time to tell us something about the real you that we’ll never forget.

I mentioned a little of this earlier, but I am probably the only author that wrote the majority of his book on cut up 2X4’s and ripped up cardboard with a construction pencil. When unexpected inspiration hits on a plumber’s job site, in the middle of the winter with freezing temperatures, that’s about all you can find that gets the job done.

Ha! This is hilarious. Now we know the real you… the plumber who uses his pencil for a dual purpose… for construction use and for an author’s story. This is great! Below is my review of Clint's book. Also, watch his book trailer below.

Christmas Notes Will Touch Your Heart
Reviewed by Linda Weaver Clarke

Bah! Humbug! That is Max’s attitude toward everything, including Christmas. The reason for it is uncertain but it has been building up inside him for a long time. When his wife wants to take an orphan child for one month during the Christmas season, he reluctantly agrees. Feeling inadequate to be a father to an orphan child for a short time and his bad attitude toward the season, he isn’t in the best of moods. After picking up the five-year-old girl from the orphanage, something begins to happen to him. Day by day, his heart begins to soften and his relationship with his wife improves. His attitude begins to change for the better. Could this one small girl affect his life so much? But that’s not all. There’s much more! This precious darling changes everyone’s life.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story. I loved the relationship between Max and his wife. They are such a fun and cute couple. This story is filled with compassion, love, and humor. But make sure you have a hanky ready for those very tender moments. You’ll need it! “Christmas Notes” will touch your heart as it did mine.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Interview with Author Heather Justesen

Heather Justesen didn’t grow up knowing she would be an author—in fact, she only took one creative writing class in college. Even though she was studying English, she wasn’t going to be a writer. The joke was on her, as she started writing less than a year after she finished her BA. She is now the author of three books with two more on the way. Heather is a lazy gardener, volunteers with her husband for local ambulance service, and is a happy chicken mama. Not only that, she raises geese, ducks, guineas, a tom turkey, two cats and two dogs.

Hi, Heather. Please tell us about your new book, Blank Slate.

You’d think waking from an eleven-day coma with multiple injuries would be enough for anyone to deal with, but Adrianna also ends up with amnesia, the loss of her ability to play the piano—a big deal because she earned her living as a concert pianist—and a fiancĂ© she doesn’t remember and has nothing in common with anymore. When you add to that family members who are anxious for her to remember her past, and her growing attraction to her brother’s business partner, she has a lot to figure out. Just as she does, however, another trip to the ER puts everything she’d built back in the blender again.

Your book sounds fascinating. Where did you get your inspiration for this book?

Actually the nugget of inspiration came from a news report on TV, and I just twisted and played with it until I had something that interested me enough to build on. Also, some of the cooking catastrophes came from stories some neighbors told me. Oh, and when I was a realtor (about ten years ago), I had a client who had to prove he was still alive in order to get his home loan. (Because apparently banks don’t like to lend money to dead people. Go figure!)

That is awesome that you use so many real life experiences in your book. Since one of your characters ends up with amnesia, what kind of research did you have to do?

I did an internet search on amnesia, the causes and after effects, but probably spent more time researching her other injuries, the plastic surgery she went through to fix facial damage from the accident and other medical issues she faces. Though I have a medical background as an EMT, that really only helps me as far as the ER. Once my characters are actually admitted to the hospital, I’m out of my depth!

A Reviewer wrote, “A slow start from the beginning, but once the story starts to unfold it is one book that is beyond hard to put down.” I have read several books like this and found it hard to put down once I got into the story. Tell us your thoughts about this review.

The ‘slow start’ comment makes me shrug, not because I don’t care if my story starts too slow but because my first chapter actually won an award for being a great start to a story. It placed second behind the first chapter for my book Rebound—that was a fun contest for me! A review like this makes me think about how I could have written the first fifty pages differently; if there were things I should have tweaked or cut. And it helps me look at my current projects from a different perspective to try not to get that comment again. But really, how could I possibly not grin when I have someone say that the book is ‘beyond hard to put down’? That’s about the best comment anyone could get, so the review is A-1 awesome in my book because it’s constructive and positive!

I love your reaction to my question. You’re an awesome author. Now it’s time to tell us something about the real you that we’ll never forget.

My dad is one of the handiest people I’ve ever met considering he doesn’t work construction, and he’d passed a lot of that along to me. I’ve installed windows, tiled almost my whole basement, built pantry shelving, and a couple of years ago I needed another coop for my chickens, so I built an 8x8 A-frame coop completely by myself in a day (with the help of a handy nail gun).

Thanks, Heather, for a great interview. I enjoyed this very much. Now I know the real you… I can just picture it… an EMT who can build chicken coops with a nail gun in one hand and an author’s pen in the other.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Interview with Fantasy Author Evelyn Uslar-Pietri and Book Giveaway

Evelyn Uslar-Pietri descends from a long line of authors, including her mother, father, and uncle, Arturo Uslar-Pietri. The latter - recognized in Wikipedia as one of Latin America’s foremost intellectuals and writers - declared that Evelyn would follow in his footsteps. Pirates Gold: Treasure to Die For is her first novel.

Hello Evelyn. Please tell us about your new book.

Although primarily targeted at young readers ages twelve and up, I think all thrill seekers will enjoy this action packed adventure. It’s brimming with hideous monsters, evil wizards, ancient curses, enchanting nymphs, unimaginable riches, and of course, pirates! I love crafting tales that keep readers unrelentingly riveted and entertained. But for me, a good book should also impart fundamental life lessons, particularly for young people. In Pirate’s Gold: Treasure to Die For, the main character – Captain Johnny B. Wilde – comes to learn the importance of friendship, selflessness, compassion, and just plain doing the right thing!

This sounds like my kind of book. I love adventures. Where did you get your inspiration for this book?

I am an avid reader, a lover of adventure, and a hopeless daydreamer! I’m very much in my element in Disney, so a book that launches readers into exciting new worlds is right up my alley!

Warning: Pirate’s Gold is not for the faint of heart… It’s a roller coaster of a ride that will plunge you into a world of dizzying adventure.” I love this statement. What kind of adventure are we talking about? I want to know more.

You can read an excerpt at my website: www.piratesgoldtreasure.com! It’ll give you a taste of the adventure! Also please know that when you buy the book you also help those in need - 20% of my earnings go to Hand of Hope and other charitable organizations.

I love your website. It’s so creative and original. What does your family think about your writing?

Thanks, I also think the website is great fun – particularly the About Us section! My family is my great earthly treasure – I thank God for them daily. They’re also my greatest fan club!

Hey, you can’t ask for a better fan club. Now it’s time to tell us something about the real you that we’ll never forget.

Well, I don’t know that you’ll never forget this (lol), but my love of travel probably stems from my childhood. Due to Dad’s work we left Venezuela when I was three and traveled the world: from Taiwan to Turkey, India to Denmark, Romania to France…and beyond! It was wonderful. In Taiwan we went to restaurants where you could pick the snake you wanted in your stir-fry – much like Red Lobster has their trademark lobster tank in the entrance. (No, I never ate snake!) In India, we barely escaped with our lives when, lost in the countryside, we were pursued by a band of ruthless mercenaries – surely one of the longest, darkest nights of our lives. And in Romania we experienced a devastating earthquake but in the process gained life-long friends. These and many other such experiences have fueled my imagination and shaped my writing; I thank God for them all.

Wow! You have had many adventures. You could write about each one and have your readers on the edge of their seats. Some people claim that snake tastes like chicken. Just the thought of it makes me cringe. I bet your autobiography would be so interesting to read. Thank you so much for this interview, Evelyn. For a real adventure, you should visit "Pirates Gold Treasure" at www.piratesgoldtreasure.com.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Interview with Author Steve Miller

Steve and Cherie Miller love to write, publish, and help fellow authors. Cherie serves as president of the Georgia Writers Association. Steve writes educational resources through his site www.character-education.info and has written numerous books and articles.

Whether you’re traditionally published or self-published, the author must do the promotion. This book provides solid guidance and is full of valuable tips.” - Publishing authority Dan Poynter

Welcome back to my blog, Steve. Please tell us about your new book.

Great to be back, Linda! Cherie (my wife) and I love to write, but we often find ourselves battling a publishing industry and “buying public” that worship big names and big platforms. Publishers obviously prefer authors who are well known and already have huge followings, because it almost guarantees sales. But what about the ordinary, not famous authors like us, who love to write, but don't have huge platforms? We live in an obscure cul-de-sac in a little town in Georgia and we care for my 105-year-old grand mom. I can't even get out past the mailbox very often. How can people like us, considered nobodies by the world, publish marketable books and see regular, sustained sales?

We've found some creative solutions that we think can help other low profile authors. Back in 1993, I wrote a book called The Contemporary Christian Music Debate, to help church staff and parents navigate the confusing decisions about new musical styles and the church. Yet, I had no platform to write such a book. I didn't have a degree in music. I wasn't a professional musician. I worked as minister of youth at Flat Creek Baptist Church in Fayetteville, Georgia. That's worse than a platform – that's a hole in the ground! Yet, I snagged a first rate publisher – Tyndale House – and the book has gone through several printings and has been translated into Spanish, Dutch, German, Romanian and Russian. It still sells regularly today, over 17 years later.

We've self-published most of our subsequent books, on diverse subjects such as personal finance and writing and even a word game dictionary called BackWords. We're pleased with the sales. We'd like to help other low-profile authors learn what we've discovered about how to get our books out there in the marketplace, see daily sales, and ultimately see people impacted through our writing.

Is this book only for beginners just starting out or can this book help experienced authors?

It's for all authors who want to learn or update their book marketing skills. There are so many great ways to market books these days! The first part is about how to write a marketable book. We also discuss publishing options and how those can impact your marketing. The second half details how we and other low profile authors are successfully selling our books.

A Reviewer wrote, “…a comprehensive guide to marketing a book… that’s loaded with specific tips. Brimming with creative ideas, Sell More Books! should prove to be a low profile author’s best friend.” What are two “specific tips” for promoting your book?

First, we emphasize that each book and each author are unique. What works for one book may not work for another. So forget the five step formulas. Instead, think about where the audience for your book congregates. For my personal finance book, I found the 200 most popular personal finance blogs and e-mailed each of the blog authors, suggesting a timely post related to the book ("Financially Illiterate Graduates") and offering a free copy for review and another for a giveaway. About 50 (one out of four) requested a free copy and about 20 came through with reviews. Thus, 20 popular bloggers were recommending my book to their faithful followers. No wonder my sales tripled, more than paying for the books I sent out. I have an entire chapter telling specifically how I did this. This strategy can work for novels as well as nonfiction.

Second, we emphasize that the best ways to sell your book are often counterintuitive – not what you'd first expect. For example, when I studied low profile authors who sold a lot of books, I found many of them selling tons of books locally. Most advice today centers on reaching people via the Web and social networking, but we overlook the fact that if we get our book into the hands of our next door neighbor, she can tell the world through her social networks. One first-time novelist sold 200 copies of his book in six months through a locally owned restaurant. What if he got his book into 100 such restaurants? We detail exactly what this author did and how others can take advantage of local sales.

What kind of research did you do for this book?

We kept precise records of each of our own marketing initiatives, to learn what was working for us and, just as important, what wasn't working. For example, I was interviewed about my money book on two of the most popular Atlanta TV stations and as far as I could tell, sold no books at all as a result. I discuss what we learned from this. We kept in touch with other low profile authors (personally and in forums) and we told each other honestly what worked and what didn't. We read many stories of low profile authors who sold tons of books. Additionally, we read about 25 books on book marketing and other general marketing books as well. 

I've often heard that two heads together are better than one. What is it like to write a book together as husband and wife? Are there any interesting experiences you had while writing this book as a team?

Cherie and I think very much alike, so we seldom have a serious disagreement about content. We write together very well. We do have differences, which round us out as a team. I do deep research, question everything, and get into the technical details. But to have time to dig, I never read news. Cherie reads broadly - The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, etc. - so she keeps me up on cutting edge trends. The synergism between us gives us a much better perspective on things.

I was enthralled by contributing regularly to our blogs and Facebook - for about a month. I became doubtful about the value of certain aspects of social networking for the majority of authors. Then Cherie started a blog that took off and got publicity in major news. Also, she tweaked her use of Facebook in ways that I didn't, making it a much more useful tool. So we revised one of our main chapters on social networking several times based largely upon her experiences, to try to help authors see how some use these tools profitably and others waste tons of time.

I think it's wonderful that you two can work together like this. Do you have any closing remarks?

If you're a new or low profile author and your sales are either dismal or nonexistent, don't assume that you're a bad writer. Typically, books don't sell until you figure out how to market them. I challenge you to dedicate some time each day to learn the business side of writing. Cherie and I love checking (multiple times per day!) to see which of our books are selling on multiple platforms. It's both fun and deeply rewarding to see people buying and reading our books. We want more authors to experience this thrill.

Thank you, Steve, for this wonderful interview. I hope everyone learned something new today.