Monday, August 26, 2013

Interview with Christian Romance Author Regina Andrews

Award-winning author Regina Andrews, a resident of Providence, Rhode Island, grew up in the nearby seaside village of Barrington. After graduating from Providence College she attended the University of Delaware, eventually earning her Master's Degree in American Civilization from Brown University. Her hobbies include travel, museums, theater, music, singing and gardening as well as reading.

Welcome back to my blog, Regina. Sterling Lakes Series, Book 3: Praise of the Heart is an Inspirational Romance. Please tell us about your new book.

Thank you so much for inviting me to return, Linda. It is a joy to be here. Sterling Lakes Series, Book 3, Praise of the Heart, opens at St. Luke’s Church Vacation Bible School in Sterling Lakes. Former resident and pro baseball star Cliff Markham returns to town to help with fundraising for the church renovation project. As he approaches the church, he sees the children and adults outside and notices one child who appears to be an outcast from the others. What is going on?

Then there is one adult in particular who piques his interest – a beautiful woman in a blue dress. She is introduced to him as the Town Librarian, Laura Matthewson, who is also helping with the vacation Bible school. Although Laura is quite shy, they become acquainted.

Through a series of events, Cliff quickly recognizes that Sterling Lakes is not the idyllic town he remembered from his past. Instead, it is a town filled with good people dealing with heavy issues. So much lies beneath the surface of what is going on in the town; will he be able to help? And despite his interest in Laura, she seems determined to keep her distance from him. Could this be due to her own shadowy past?

Praise of the Heart is an inspirational romance novel where both the hero and heroine grow in their relationships with God as well as in their romantic relationship with each other. Though many conflicts occur, and both main characters undergo personal and spiritual growing pains, there is a happy, satisfying and believable ending that readers in today’s world can relate to. 

This sounds like a wonderful romance. Can each book be read separately or do we have to read them in order?

Each book in the Sterling Lakes series is easily read separately, Linda. They are written as stand-alones for that very reason, in case someone wants to try one and then decides to skip around. That said, there is not too much backstory in each book for the readers who are familiar with the series to go through (I hope!). Since I truly value everyone’s time – especially my readers - and I don’t want them to have to go skipping through a lot of extraneous pages - I carefully crafted the pertinent details and wove the relevant background information through the story so it would flow. So the reader gets the information they need while keeping the tone of the book. An interesting challenge for a writer! Hopefully, I have created a cohesive work that is very readable. A stand-alone book that maintains its integrity. Great question. There’s always room for improvement. I hope readers will let me know how successful they think I have been in my efforts. J

Where did you get your inspiration for this novel?

My husband asked me: “Why don’t you do something about sports?” After that, I was on my way J There’s something about team players that I find so appealing. Perhaps because they are focused on a matter larger than themselves. A greater good, if you will. That character trait translated very well, I think to the situation in Sterling Lakes. Cliff also makes a good contrast to Laura, who is a fashion model and a loner.

You love to write Inspirational sweet romances. What intrigues you most about writing love stories?

Discovering how my characters grow in the emotional, spiritual and practical dimensions of their personalities as individuals, first, and then how they mesh together as a couple. This, to me, is fascinating! But I really love the Inspirational romances because there are actually 3 main characters – the hero, the heroine and God. All the levels of growth and development become more intricate and complicated when God is the true source of all motivation, plus the joy is deeper and more meaningful when the spiritual aspect is a main part of the story.

I totally agree. I feel it a blessing to have inspirational romances to enjoy. Too many times the world cuts into our lives and we can forget the spiritual things of life. Books like this can remind us to have faith in a loving Heavenly Father.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Interview with Sweet Romance Author Karey White

Karey grew up in Utah, Idaho, Oregon and Missouri. She attended Ricks College and Brigham Young University. Her first novel, Gifted, was a Whitney Award Finalist. Karey enjoys a good love story, so her second novel, For What It's Worth, is a wonderful read. She loves to travel, read, cook, and spend time with family and friends. She and her husband are the parents of four talented and wonderful children. Find out more about Karey at

Welcome back to my blog, Karey. Please tell us about your new sweet romance.

After being dragged to the 2005 movie Pride and Prejudice by her mother, sixteen-year-old Elizabeth’s life changes when Matthew Macfadyen’s Mr. Darcy appears on the screen. Lizzie falls hard and makes a promise to herself that she will settle for nothing less than her own Mr. Darcy. This ill-advised pledge threatens to ruin any chance of finding true love. During the six intervening years, she has refused to give any interested suitors a chance. They weren’t Mr. Darcy enough.

Coerced by her roommate, Elizabeth agrees to give the next interested guy ten dates before she dumps him. That guy is Chad, a kind and thoughtful science teacher and swim coach. While she’s dating Chad, her dream comes true in the form of a wealthy bookstore owner named Matt Dawson, who looks and acts like her Mr. Darcy. Of course she has to follow her dream. But as Elizabeth simultaneously dates a regular guy and the dazzling Mr. Dawson, she’s forced to re-evaluate what it was she loved about Mr. Darcy in the first place.

Wow! I love this concept of “re-evaluating” what she loved about Darcy. Where did you get your inspiration for this novel?

The best inspiration there is--Mr. Darcy. My daughters and I love watching Pride and Prejudice. Sometimes we’ll watch the whole thing. Sometimes we may forward through to our favorite parts. And of course, sometimes we just fast forward to the meadow scene and watch Mr. Darcy walk across the meadow and profess his love.

I know exactly what you’re talking about. I have six daughters and we just love watching that movie with Colin Firth. And yes! That meadow scene is awesome. What kind of research did you do for this book?

First of all, I watched the movie a few times as I was writing. I wanted to use allusions to the movie whenever I could. Second, I visited Portland, the city where Lizzie, Matt and Chad live. We ate at Pok Pok and Salt and Straw and found inspiration for Meg’s high-rise apartment and the Pink Salamander. There was also a fair amount of research online.

You love to write clean sweet romances. What intrigues you most about writing love stories?

In the book, Lizzie has to defend her love of romance books and movies in this conversation:

“I love classics like old Audrey Hepburn movies and I like period pieces like Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice.”
“Ah, romances.” Did he have to sound so patronizing?
“There’s nothing wrong with romances.”
Matt held up his hands in surrender. “I didn’t say there was,” he said, but his mouth was pulling into that little smirk I was starting to recognize as condescending.
“But you think there is, don’t you?”
“I just think there are more important things to think about than whether a man and woman are going to end up together.”
“I happen to think it’s one of the most important questions in the world.”
“Do you mean that?” Matt asked.
“If men and women don’t end up together, it will mean the end of civilization.”

I agree with her. And honestly, love and romance are interesting and exciting.

Very true! Love and romance are part of life. And it's very exciting to read a clean romantic love story. Thank you, Karey, for this great interview.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Interview with Sweet Romance Author Larry Hammersley

Larry has been married to Sue for fifty years and they have two children, Eric and Lisa, and five grandchildren. He graduated from Purdue with a B.S. in chemistry and from Indiana University with an M.S. in chemistry. He has five short romance stories, a contemporary short story. Due out in October is a science fiction novel. He is still trying to find a home for some of his many short science fiction stories.

Hello, Larry. Please tell us about your romance, A Change of Heart.

Leroy and Jody have had unhappy experiences in grade and high school. They both resolve to avoid further relationships when they get to college. Leroy scraps that idea when he meets Jody but she refuses to let him into her life as he wants. She insists that her college and work career leave no room for a man in her life. Leroy pursues her for four years in college and two years in the work place where Jody is his supervisor. As the cover shows, Jody’s heart is iced over. She finally wakes up, but is it in time? Leroy has quit his job and left.

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

The novel is based on my first accepted short story on the Internet entitled Lab Partners. I used the characters Leroy and Jody from that story and expanded it into a novel. Although I had no lasting romances in college, I used experiences from my chemistry major studies at Purdue to write some of the lab and study scenes. I did actually hook up with three guys to study physical chemistry such as in the novel but we didn’t discuss women. The ice skating rink incident where Leroy was hurt actually happened to me at the ice rink at Purdue. A girl helped me off the rink and checked on my well-being a time or two but no romance occurred as a result. Sigh! I have a free-read short story called Ice Rink Romance on the Internet.

What kind of research did you have to do for this novel?

The chemistry end of the novel I already knew. I had to check the internet to see if Purdue students had a place to go for milk shakes and it turns out they do. I use the actual name for that Sweet Shop. I had to do that because editors have given me a hard time and insisted its Starbucks now and going for a milk shake isn’t done anymore. I learned the intricacies of the Lutz maneuver in ice skating from the internet. Jody does a double Lutz near the end of the novel.

You write science fiction. Was it hard to change genres and begin writing romance?

Actually, I still write science fiction (SF please and not sci-fi) and have my first accepted SF novel coming out this October called The Higher Mission. The transition, if there was one, was easy for writing romance stories because I almost always had romance in my SF novels and short stories.

That’s awesome. In other words, it just came naturally for you. Now it’s time to tell us something about the real you that we’ll never forget.

I enjoy listening to classical music, mainly Beethoven’s piano sonatas. Youtubes are great for that. Ten years ago I competed an International Foxhunting Championship which was based in Ohio. Mind you this isn’t the furry creature but refers to hidden transmitter hunting, in this case in the deep woods of Ohio and Indiana. The rules were strict and walking through the woods netted me two falls. The briars were vicious. For one of the frequencies I borrowed a Russian receiver to carry. I earned four bronze medals, which included International and U.S.

I enjoy amateur radio and use Morse Code to talk to foreign countries. I’ve been jogging since 1975 and compete in weekend road races although I’ve slowed so much at age 75 that a couple of competitive men walkers beat me now. I am active in church as a song leader (vocal music) and teacher. On rare occasions I may preach.

Wow! Now that’s really a fun list of things. Thanks, Larry, for this wonderful interview. I hope my followers will check out your books.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Interview with Fantasy Author Sean Walton

Sean Walton has published ten books of fiction including Linux Socket Programming. “I really wrote these for my children,” Walton said. “At times I pick up what they're reading to see what they are putting in their heads; I concluded that there was too little 'good stuff' out there, so I wrote these books to show that you have great stories with solid plots without all the 'yuck.'” Walton is happily married and has six children, which he dedicates his books to. When asked about what “clean fiction” means to him, he said, “My goal is to produce something that you're not embarrassed to read aloud to your children.”

Hello, Sean. I love what you said in your bio, that your goal is to produce something that you’re not embarrassed to read aloud to your children. That is so awesome. Please tell us about your fantasy, Elixir Quest.

It started really with the Split between Worlds series, which a boy, Sam Westecher, gets entangled in the world of dragons. He eventually becomes their king. The question was: “How did Sam gain the power, authority, and bloodline to merit such an honor?” That's when Elixir Quest materialized (note that each series is distinct).

Imagine a fictional island southwest of the British Isles which is home to humans and dragons. The island is literally divided in half with a very deep ravine to keep the two races apart, and the human kingdom sends knights to monitor the border, slaying dragons that attempt to encroach to quench their lust for human flesh. Sir Joseph of Tredin is the one knight of King Paol III's court who has successfully taken out almost three times as many “worms” (another name for “dragon”) as any other knight. However, everything changed when three metallic dragons appear demanding sworn fealty from King Paol.

Dragons in my series come in two compatible races, chromatic with a skin of various colors and metallic with skins of finely burnished metal. Chromatic are considered barbaric, whereas metallic are more peaceful. However, a dragon is dragon; leaving us humans trying to understand their culture. This is what happens to Sir Joseph.

King Paol III becomes deathly ill. Joseph has to go to the dragons' lands and recover an elixir to heal the king, but the metallics had ulterior motives, for there was a prophecy declaring that Joseph would be able to save the metallic dragon line and give Sam Westecher the power, authority, and bloodline he needed. The metallic dragons turned Joseph into the very thing he hated and frequently killed: a dragon.

Unlike many other stories that mentions some magic potion that would cure all ills, this one does not actually center on the elixir; instead, it focuses on Joseph's transformation from human to dragon...and all that goes with it! I recommend this book to more mature audiences, because children would struggle with understanding the depth of transformation Joseph faced. Nonetheless, all my children say that they loved it.

True to the staging of the story, this was a very religious time, so the reader will find many religious references. Naturally, Joseph, a devout christian, believes that dragons are cursed of God for tempting the First Parents. At one point he laments:

“God,” his eyes pricked with tears, “I have always been a good believer in thee. I ne'er once complained in thine ears, though trials so many times before have crossed my path. But, my Lord, my God, I struggle now with my vow of patience. Behold me: I am a beast, a monster, an ally to the evil one. Please forgive my impertinence, but why hast thou dealt me so? Was it because I let my friends die or neglected my Jane? Forgive me; please, forgive me.”
The skies remained silent.
“I am alone; even my God has forsaken me, a being accursed from the Fall,” he turned his muzzle to the side and moaned. “Please, God, don't forget me.” He howled, roared, and moaned, while the mountains echoed their own voices with each mournful cry.

Joseph's transformation is at the very core of everyone seeking to understand themselves. And a necessary part of understanding oneself is understanding one's heritage. So I did a lot of research into 11th century England and added notes to the end of each book to put events in historical context. For added measure, nearly every name, both dragon and human, has a significance and was fun to research as well.

Where did you get your inspiration for this book?

My spiritual journey is reflected in many of Joseph's. I've felt the feelings of being forlorn and abandoned, only to discover that God was there all along. Kstluan, Joseph's dragon-mate, stated it best in the second book:

“Nay,” he replied looking down. “I desire to reach the heavens more, but I feel further away.” He leaned his head against her flank. “I know that my God has not forgotten me, but I don't know how to reach Him.”
She chuckled.
“What, my mate?” He asked perplexed.
“Typical human thought,” she purred. “You believe that there is a cause to this. Perhaps, my beloved knight, the Light is letting you grow a bit, like a sire allows his hatchling to wander out of the weir.” She turned her muzzle and looked at him slyly. “You need to explore, feel the rock under your pads, stretch and flap your wings, hear the clicking of your talons on the stone. If the sire were to interfere, the hatchling would be robbed of the experiences it needs to become a full dragon.”
As I wrote and developed the stories, I felt myself be part of Joseph, and in fact, Kstluan is much like my beloved wife, Susan. All of my books reflect some aspect of my life making them, in part, the best gift I could give to my kids.

Joseph, an eleventh century dragon-slaying English knight, “discovers he must become what he hates.” Is there a lesson your readers will learn from this novel?

I'm glad you asked that question. Every story I've written, after finishing the work, I reread and try to glean some truth to it, because I feel that a story is worth nothing unless it has some eternal truth to it. I summarize such truth in the dedication to my children. Elixir Quest's is: May you remember that a destiny is something you choose, not something that's imposed. The message simply is: changes will happen, and we must be willing to face them and own them, because the Lord really guides the lives of those who love Him.

What a wonderful message. I love it. What does your family think about your writing?

At times, my wife dislikes it, because I get grumpy when the plot is not quite right or when I get interrupted too frequently, but she knows that I'm doing this mostly for my sanity and as a gift of legacy. My children really love it, but each has their own desires, naturally. Rachel loves romance (yuck!), and Elizabeth gravitates towards Manga (double yuck!), but all in all they are encouraging.

Now it’s time to tell us something about the real you that we’ll never forget.

I am a man... a man who's trying to do what's right and right for the family. God has blessed me with so very much that I struggle even to begin a top-10 list. I try to encourage others, serve where and when I can, and be a good example despite all the flaws I carry. I take comfort in what a beloved friend once told me, “Like lenses that conduct and focus Light, each of us will have our own hue. But as long as our lens is clear and unoccluded, the transversed Light will still flare in others true and bright, because it never was our light, it's His.”

Thank you so much for this awesome interview. I know those who read your books will be entertained and learn from your bits of wisdom.