Monday, January 30, 2012

Interview with Sweet Romance Author Marie Higgins

Marie Higgins is a multi-published author of romance; from refined bad-boy heroes who makes your heart melt, to the feisty heroines who somehow manage to love them regardless of their faults. Visit her website to discover more about her at

Hello Marie! A Walk in Heaven is a Christian Historical Romance. Please tell us about your novel.

Hi Linda, and thanks for having me on your blog! My story takes place in Montana, 1875 on a cattle ranch. This isn’t an ordinary Christian Historical Romance…this has a lot of action, suspense, and family drama. This story, as well as my others, can be found on Kindle and Nook. Soon they’ll be out in print, but I just don’t know when.

“All he wanted was to trust again.” Joshua Grayson is not happy about his new sister-in-law’s visit and he uses the term ‘sister-in-law’ loosely as Careen Kennedy Grayson was a complete stranger. Joshua’s brother, Matthew, left the family ranch in the dead of night to run away and wed a woman he’d never met. The fact Matthew was killed moments after walking out of the church with his new bride merely adds insult to injury. Joshua struggles with resentment and trying not to blame Careen for his brother’s death. But it is difficult not to harbor ill feelings when he knows she’s keeping secrets. Despite his suspicions, Joshua slowly grows attracted to Careen and even starts to like her. Unfortunately, Joshua knows all too well the folly of loving a woman he cannot trust.

Careen Kennedy Grayson was married and widowed within minutes of the other. When her obsessive cousin, Luther, arrives minutes after Matthew’s death, she knows deep down he’s the one who killed Matthew. Luther is arrested and held for trial while Careen takes her husband’s body back to his family. Soon after arriving at the loving Grayson ranch, Careen learns of her mother-in-law’s heart condition. Unwilling to cause undue stress, Careen decides to wait until after Luther’s trial to speak the full truth of their son’s death. Soon Careen grows embedded in family and ranch life, getting closer to the Grayson’s with each passing day. She finds herself unnaturally drawn to Joshua and she knows their budding attraction will only complicate matters… Especially when the family discovers her cousin did indeed kill Matthew.

This story sounds so intriguing to me. Where did you get your inspiration for this book? Do you get any ideas from real life experiences?

Since I never write from real life experiences (yeah, my life is boring!) I use my imagination. My inspiration for this book came after I’d read a few Inspirational stories and found the story lines flat. Because I love writing historicals, I picked a spot for my story – Montana. I’ve never been there, so I let my critique partner and friend help me out (since she lives there). After I plotted out my characters, the story fell into place. The only thing I can say that comes from real life experience is falling in love – or trying not to fall in love with someone.

Since this is historical fiction, what kind of research did you have to do for this novel?

I had to map out the towns in Montana. The bad guy in the story (heroine’s cousin) tries to track her down. So I had to first make sure that town existed in 1875, and if they had a telegraph office, jail, church, etc. I had previously researched clothing, so I was all right on that account. I had to research the weather since there is a blizzard in the middle of the story. But I really enjoy doing research! 

I know what you mean. My first 5 novels are historical romances and I had to research the clothing and a blizzard, as well. What does your family think about your writing?

They are very proud of me! Even my husband, if you can believe that. For years he never supported my writing. It hurt. But he was embarrassed to tell people his wife was a romance writer. But now that my books are in bookstores, and people in town are recognizing me as ‘that romance writer’, he has a different change of heart. My daughters, my mom, and my sister love bragging about me. I’m not sure if my brother does, but I know his wife and daughters do!

Thanks, Marie, for this awesome interview. Now it’s time to tell us something about the real you that we’ll never forget.

When I was young, I was extremely shy! There was a time my brother and I were with my parents on a train. I don’t exactly remember what kind of train, but it was for tourists. Anyway, there was a loud commotion and I fell to the floor and stuck my head between my father’s ankles and held on tight. I was so scared! As I grew up, I walked with my eyes to the floor and didn’t talk unless someone said something first. If I didn’t know that person, I mumbled my answer. My 16th year was my turning point. I came out of my shell and no longer was shy. It took my parents completely by surprise and they had a hard time handling that. From that point on, I wanted to be center of attention. I loved making people laugh – still do, in fact! I don’t mind giving writing workshops, or getting up in church to give a talk. Now if you see me on the street, I’m the one usually speaking first! lol

Wow! Who would have ever suspected that you were that shy? Now you’re teaching writing workshops and giving talks all over the place. Thanks for allowing us to get to know the real you!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Interview with Sweet Romance Author Don Carey

Don Carey was raised in the Hawaiian town of La’ie. He is a graduate of BYU-Hawaii, where he met his lovely wife, Kara. During college, he participated in a number of musical organizations, including the Polynesian Cultural Center Brass Band. Don currently lives in a small town outside Fort Worth, Texas with his wife and two daughters. His day job involves writing computer programs, which is almost the same as writing fiction, but with a lot more semicolons.

Ahhhh! A love story from a man's point of view! Hello Don! Please tell us about your new book.

Bumpy Landings is the story of Jordan MacDonald, a recently-returned missionary who has dreams of taking flight and soaring above the majestic mountains of his Hawaiian home. However, he doesn’t dare disobey his mother, who has absolutely forbidden him to fly. Suddenly everything changes when, spurred by the pain of a failed relationship, Jordan begins working toward the coveted pilot’s license. Just as he finds love again, Jordan’s lies start to close in around him, and he soon learns that a life full of dishonesty attracts more turbulence than he’s ever faced in the air. Set against the exotic backdrop of the Hawaiian islands, this tale of romance and self-discovery is a perfect vacation from the average love story.

Where did you get your inspiration for this book?

This story is a mix of real-life experiences and fictional scenarios. At its core, Bumpy Landings is about a young man, Jordan MacDonald, finding integrity, self confidence, and the joy of kissing pretty girls. These are all things that have become important to me in my life, but didn’t come without some serious effort. This book is partially the result of me exploring these areas as they relate to my own life.

Like Jordan, I’m also a student pilot (though still a long way from finishing), worked in a flower shop during college, and developed a number of crushes I was too shy to act upon, with several involving girls who worked at the Polynesian Cultural Center.

Unlike Jordan, however, I have a great relationship with my mother. We have always gotten along well, and both of my parents have been extremely supportive of my interests throughout my life.

What a great answer! This book is set at the Hawaiian Islands. Since you’re originally from Hawaii, did you have to do much research? If so, what kind of research did you do?

Even though the community of La’ie is my hometown I still had to do a lot of research. While the town and university are very much the same as they were when I left in ’92, there have also been many changes. The same is true for college students and the way they interact. (I really could have used social media and a cell phone back in the day.)

A while ago I read that for college and high school students, a relationship isn’t official until it’s a part of their Facebook profile. This was when Facebook was still new and only just opened up to non-students, so I decided to create my own account, just to see what it was all about. It helped me understand the role technology can play in a budding young romance.

I also found that reading personal blogs of students attending school at BYU-Hawaii gave me a treasure trove of information on the kind of things that they did in their spare time. While many of the activities turned out to be the same as in my day, some things—like LAN gaming parties—didn’t exist back then.

Do you consider this novel to be a “sweet” romance and what does your family think about your writing?

Bumpy Landings is really a coming of age novel. However, there is a very solid romantic subplot, since that’s what being twenty-something in college is all about, so it is often considered a romance. And the romance plot would certainly qualify as “sweet.”

My family was very excited about the book, and they all either loved it or were too kind to say otherwise. My sisters took great joy in trying to assign the behaviors and character traits of Jordan’s sisters to each other.

My next novel, currently titled Into The Wind, is a follow-up on Bumpy Landings and I have to admit that the story and plot fall solidly in the romance category.

I would love to read a man’s point of view on romance. It sounds so intriguing. Now it’s time to tell us something about the real you that we’ll never forget.

I don’t get to do this as often as I would like anymore, but I love making flavored applebutter. I have developed a number of recipes—Guavalicious and Wassailbutter being two of my favorites—and built a motorized stirring mechanism that sits on top of our crock pot. Each batch takes nearly 24 hours, but the end results are heavenly. I’ve looked seriously into selling this stuff, but the requirements for a commercial kitchen make that a financially impractical project at the moment. So for now I give away jars as unique and heartfelt gifts to family and friends.

Yum! Your apple butter sounds very delicious. It’s so much fun to learn about a man who loves to cook. I love it! Now we know the real you! Thank you for this interview, Don.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Interview with Historical Fiction Author Kevin C. Mills

Kevin C. Mills is an author and award-winning journalist. He has been a sportswriter for some of the top newspapers in New England over the last two decades. His book Sidelined is an offbeat look at the misadventures and experiences of a sports journalist. His other two books, Son and Daughters of the Ocean and Breakwater, are novels based on the extensive research he has done on his family history. A third book in that series will follow. It is based on the privateering age during the Revolutionary War.

Our path in life can be dictated by nature. We get caught in the current. We get tossed by the wind. We get swept up in the waves. Sometimes, we need a Breakwater.” –Kevin C. Mills

Hello, Kevin. Welcome back to my blog. What is a Breakwater and what does it do? I don’t live near the ocean, so this is a new word for me.

That’s so interesting Linda because a breakwater has always been part of my life. We have a number of them in Maine but this book is based on one that marks the entrance to Rockland Harbor, on the midcoast. It is pictured on the book cover. The Rockland Breakwater is a mile-long granite structure that extends into the harbor with a lighthouse at the end. The breakwater itself was built to help block the waves from the severe storms. In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, winter storms would ravage the interior harbor of Rockland and would subsequently cripple or at least hamper business and property. So the breakwater was built to make the harbor more secure and keep the violent seas as bay. It still serves that purpose today while also serving as a great attraction for people who like to walk the breakwater and get a great view of the harbor. This breakwater is also relevant to me and the book because my grandfather was an assistant lighthouse keeper there at one time. Of course, the word breakwater takes on a new meaning in this book, but you’ll have to read it to find out how.

The storms we face define a lifetime, but beneath the heartbreak lies a search for peace. When two characters, generations apart, seek their calm amidst the storms of life, they discover a truth they’ve longed to understand.” This is an intriguing description. What is your new book about?

Breakwater is based loosely on the life of my grandfather. He faced a great deal of adversity in his life but tried to persevere and maintain faithful to God. In this story, Hal Miller is trying to understand why his life has evolved the way it has. All this contemplation is sparked by a look back into his tragic past while he also deals with his wife’s decline in mental health. Hal’s story is paralleled with that of his grandson Clark, generations later. He’s frustrated with his life but reconnecting with a long lost love changes that. He struggles with his own insecurities while trying to navigate through a complicated relationship.

Breakwater is the follow-up novel to Sons and Daughters of the Ocean. Do you have to read book one to understand this book?

No. When I came up with this idea of writing historical novels based on my own family history, I saw a three-book series unfold. It was inspired by the Civil War trilogy by Michael and Jeff Shaara. Most of Breakwater is dated in the 1970’s and the mid-2000’s. Sons and Daughters of the Ocean was based in the 1870’s. Breakwater is based on the same family but generations later. Hal Miller is the son of Albert Miller, one of the main characters in Sons and Daughters of the Ocean. There are some characters that make a brief appearance from the first book. But Breakwater is not meant to be a sequel. It stands on its own. It is a very different book from the sea-faring tale of the one before it. I recently read the books back-to-back in order. It was nice to follow that family history in that way. But it is not a necessity. Many of the early readers and reviewers of Breakwater had not read the first book and it made little difference to them.

I love it when authors add real life situations to their stories, especially with historical fiction. Do you usually put real experiences in your books?

Absolutely. I say that I write historical fiction that is more like nonfiction. Sons and Daughters of the Ocean was based on family history and also utilized my experiences sailing each year on the three-masted schooner Victory Chimes. So much of that book had a realness to it. Almost all of it is based on real occurrences. Same with Breakwater. I have diaries and memoirs of my grandfather and father that gave me a great perspective on the life of my grandfather when this story was set. I was only five years old when he died. I think that realness brings truth to the story. And since this story is told in the first person, readers can get an in depth feel for who these characters are and how they live. I think being rooted in real life gives great credibility and power to the story. It isn’t something that was just made up. It was real. It happened. I think that makes the story that much stronger when the reader knows that and feels that.

Wow! As you know, I teach people how to write their family stories in workshops all over the U.S. called “Writing Your Family Legacy.” I firmly believe that we are the people we are because of our ancestors. Thank you so much for this wonderful interview, Kevin. Below is an excerpt from Kevin’s book. It will help you understand what a BREAKWATER really does to save a town! Read it! It’s awesome.

Prologue: A Mighty Fortress

A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
our helper He amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing.
—Martin Luther

With just one step, it hits you like a fist.

The wind’s roar and the crashing seas hint at the coming fury. I don’t truly absorb the full brunt of its rage until I step clear of the banking that shields me from the ferocious easterly gusts. The wind nearly knocks me backwards with the first potent blow. I solidify my balance and move forward cautiously, but it reaches in and steals my breath away. The rocks are slick and treacherous. By the time I actually reach the start of the granite Breakwater, the angry waves are crashing over, sending spray soaring into the air. I glance out over the stone barrier and watch the sea rumble like a cauldron. The waves rear back and lunge ahead to crash violently into the granite wall before me.

The wind screeches and howls at a frantic volume. Gulls that attempt to fly can only hover sideways and drift helplessly with the wind. The rain pours down, icy and stinging like liquid daggers on my near-frozen skin.

The other side of the Breakwater is nothing but calm. The sea is flat and peaceful. The tormented ocean and the turbulent walls of water are barred from disturbing the tranquility of the harbor. Nestled safely around this quiet haven, the city rests amidst the storm. The Breakwater is like a thousand angels poised to combat the evil intent, the furious force of wind and waves. The barrier breaks the spirit of the storm, one crashing wall of water at a time.

When the storm moves on, the valiant barrier stands proudly in its victory. It makes me wish my heart was as strong, as relentless, and as able to survive the potent powers that destroy. But it isn’t. It is battered and weary from the fight. With each storm, I simply hold on and brace for the next wave.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Interview with Historical Fiction Author April Gardner

April Gardner has been a military brat, missionary's kid, and military spouse. After 21 years in various countries overseas, April happily resides in Georgia with her USAF husband and two sweet kiddos. In her free time, she enjoys reading, organizing, and DIY. In no particular order, she dreams of owning a horse, visiting all the national parks, and speaking Italian.

Wounded Spirits is a powerful story of love, loyalty, the effects of war, and faith in God. The writing is vivid and compelling. The characters were so real I felt I knew them, and I was caught up in their lives and compelled to read on. The ending was sweet yet realistic. The story and its characters will stay with me for a long time.” --Author Melanie Dickerson

Hello, April. You have a new series called "Creek Country Saga." Please tell us about the first book, Wounded Spirits.

In 1813, Alabama is called Mississippi Territory and the furthest west Americans dare to go. Those who choose to live there do so at their own risk. Adela McGirth and her family are no exception. They are swept away by fervor of the Red Sticks as the warriors attempt to cleanse their land of encroaching whites.

A loyal warrior, Totka takes scalps with little compunction. When beautiful and courageous Adela is placed in his charge, his hands are already bloody with guilt. He’s certain she could never love him. He’s the enemy, after all, and the source of her grief.

Wow! I love historical fiction. Where did you get your inspiration for this book?

I grew up hearing that my many times great-grandfather was Chief Red Eagle/William Weatherford. Turns out, he’s probably not, but I still cherish the stories of his bravery in the face of Jackson’s overpowering army. It was the story of his extraordinary leap from the bluff that made me wish I could read the account in novel-form. I’d never written more than a high school paper, but I figured that if this particular story was ever going to be written, why not do it myself? Eight years later, I held the book in my hands.

The second book is called Warring Spirits. What is it about?

I’m so glad you asked! Warring Spirits just released in November and is already getting some great reviews. It picks up two years after Wounded Spirits. Here’s the back cover blurb: In 1816 Georgia, escaped slaves control the land just beyond the American border in Las Floridas. Lost somewhere between white and black worlds, Milly follows hope to the only place that can offer her refuge—the place Georgians are calling Negro Fort. The first, sweet taste of freedom convinces Milly that surrender is not an option. Death would be more welcome.

Major Phillip Bailey has orders to subdue the uprising and return the runaways to their masters. Forced to fight alongside Creek warriors—the same who etched the scars into his mind and flesh—Phillip primes himself for battle. But inside, a war already rages—return for the woman he thought lost to him, or concede her to the enemy she loves; follow orders or follow his heart.

A Reviewer wrote, “The adventures are so smoothly crafted, the history so wonderfully woven, it's easy to forget that the story and the characters are fiction.” Another reviewer said, “In Wounded Spirits, author April W. Gardner, brings a little-known American historic period and native people to rich imaginative life. Not enough has been written about the noble Creek and their mighty Confederacy.” What kind of research did you have to do to create this story and keep it accurate?

Years and years of it! LOL! But it was so much fun. I have a huge stack of great books including Pickett’s “History of Alabama.” If there was ever an entertaining history book, this is it. Pickett has such a way of writing that his book reads like a story, and it was written during the lifetime of many of the figures he mentions, so he got his facts straight from the “horse’s” mouth. I have Pickett to thank for quite a few of the interesting accounts in Wounded Spirits.

That’s interesting. Thanks for an awesome interview. Okay, now it’s time to tell us something about the real you that we’ll never forget.

I can solve a Rubik’s cube. It takes me about ten minutes, but I can do it! It’s my only claim to braininess. 

Hahaha! That’s really something. My husband tried to figure it out several times and it was so hard. He loves a challenge. We both agreed that it must take a genius to figure that thing out. So now we know the real you! The Rubik’s Cube Genius!