Making a Cornhusk Doll

If you don’t know that my upcoming release, SCATTERED SEEDS, is set in 18th century Pennsylvania, you’ve been hiding under a rock. For about the past two years, I’ve driven friends and family crazy with my hands-on research. My tomahawk collection has grown, a longrifle is taking shape in my basement, and I even wear a shift to bed. I’ve sailed on an 18th century brig, made fire with a striker, and harvested pine knots for light.

Two weeks ago, I made cornhusk dolls. Why? I don’t know, except I’m weird. And maybe because in SCATTERED SEEDS, this happens:

         The man’s name was Lemuel Tanner, and he was a proud second-generation American whose grandsire had been sent to the Colonies aboard a prison ship. His house was tidy, though sparsely furnished, and his barn had a loft bursting with fodder and bushels of corn. He distilled spirits in a shed beside the corral, and it was this enterprise, he said, that bought him peace with the Indians.

        “They can’t get enough of it.” Lemuel lit two pipes and handed one to Edward, who’d been offered the only chair. It was lopsided, made of twigs, and placed next to the hearth. On the floor beside Edward, a naked boy played with cornhusk dolls and eyed him doubtfully.

Cornhusk dolls have their roots in all cultures where corn is grown. In America, they were first popular among Native Americans, and later, Colonial children.

Like Amish dolls, cornhusk dolls have no facial features. Evidence suggests this stems from a Native American legend that says that when the Corn Spirit created the doll, everyone kept telling the doll how beautiful she was. When the doll refused to stop admiring her beauty in pools of water, the Great Spirit punished her by taking away her face.

Cornhusk dolls are not difficult to make, and even if you don’t live in a corn-producing state, odds are good you can find free cornhusks in the trash bin next to the corn for sale in your local grocery store. They won’t charge you for it, but they might raise an eyebrow when they see you dumpster diving.

I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to use green husks or dried ones. The answer is: dried ones. If you use green ones like I did, they will shrink when dried, and the doll will fall apart. So, ignore the fact that mine are green. You should be using dried ones. And you should totally plan to attend the online launch party for Scattered Seeds because I’ll be giving away two cornhusk doll kits! Details will be posted on Ye Olde Facebook author page, so if you haven’t already liked me (and I’m totally likable), now is a good time to do it: Julie’s Freakin’ Facebook Page

On to the cornhusk dolls!

This is a fun project for kids.

Soak a few husks in warm water to soften them.

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Take a husk, roll it up tightly, secure and snip the ends. This will be the “arms” of your doll.

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Take a few of the soaked husks and tie their ends together (You can slip some dried corn silk between them, which will become the “hair” of the doll.).

Flip the husks down one by one and tie to form a “head.” Shove the “arms” all the way up to the head and secure with twine. This forms the “waist” of the doll. If you want to get creative, you can cut one of the outer husks to make an apron overlay.

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Use a strip of husk for the shawl.

And that’s it! You’ll get ideas for improvements as you go. These are the dolls I made. They got better as I made more.

Cornhusk Dolls

 

Posted in Hands-On Research, Scattered Seeds Tagged with: ,

Could You Live In The Past?

My father was especially fond of painting scenes from the past. The unveiling of a new painting in our home was always magical, but it was the naming of the piece that I enjoyed most. We gathered for the task in the living room, where Dad sat in his recliner like a laird in a great hall.

All of us offered suggestions. Despite my youth, mine often made the cut. I had a gift for lyrical phrases, and I shared my dad’s dreamy view of history.

If we are to be honest, though, history was less than romantic. As a writer, I “clean up” yesteryear. When my hero rips my heroine’s shift open in a fit of passion, you don’t want me to describe the grimy skin he exposes, do you? Or the sooty hands with manure under the nails? How about the stench of their unwashed, hard-used bodies? The lice crawling away as he plunges his fingers into her golden tresses?

Um, no.

Because I write historical fiction, people often tell me they long to go back in time. The idea crosses my mind, too. I mean, you’ve seen my tomahawk collection, right?

So, what do you think? Given your skills and knowledge, how do you think you’d fare if the modern world disappeared and left you stranded in the past?

This question came up recently in a forum I frequent. Matthew F piped up about his own three-year exercise in experiential history. Naturally, I was fascinated, and I asked him if he’d submit to an interview. He agreed, and I am delighted to share his experiences with you.

Matthew was 20 years old when he decided to leave modern living for the woods, and 23 when he returned to semi-regular life. During those three years, he lived in the rough, mostly in Missouri, although he and his girlfriend (Now wife. Yes, you marry a woman who follows you into the wilderness!) moved around a lot, spending some time in Wyoming, Utah, California, Arizona, and even Hawaii.

JD: Thank you so much for being here, Matthew. What led you to want to abandon civilization in the first place?

Matthew: That’s a tough question I’m not really sure I have a good answer to. I grew up fascinated with Native Americana, primitive skills, and history.  Also, books about folks going off and doing it such as My Side of the Mountain were a huge influence on my childhood.  When I was 16, I ran away from home with two friends to go live off the beach. We didn’t quite make it and got picked up in New Mexico by a police officer. After high school, I went to college, and the realization struck me that there was no better time to do it than then.  So, I dropped out and managed to talk my girlfriend into doing it with me. None of that is really the why I guess, hopefully it gives a little insight as to why though.

JD: What was the longest stretch of time you spent away from civilization?

Matthew: 4 months was probably the longest spell away from any real “civilization.”  The idea wasn’t really to shun all civilization but more to see what life would be like living out in the woods full time and trying to live off the land.  I was also really intrigued by the idea of living a nomadic lifestyle and trying to live in different areas of the country.

We moved around fairly frequently.  Even when on the same chunk of land we’d move camp with regularity.

JD: What did you take with you?

Matthew: Way too much stuff at first!  We quickly learned that a lot of the things we brought were useless and nothing but extra weight.  I remember ditching about 100 lbs. of gear the first day on foot.  Not too sure what in the world we were thinking.  Anyways, back to the original question – a backpack, bed roll, tarp, a rifle and ammo, some rope, a belt knife, extra shirt, small cooking pot, sewing kit, some fishing gear, a water filter, a beat-to-heck copy of the book Naked Into the Wilderness, and some various knick knacks (cool rocks we’d find, a Chinese coin I found on the beach, etc.) were essentially what I carried after ditching the junk.

JD: Did it feel odd at all when you came back to civilization?

Matthew: The oddest thing I can think of is looking in a mirror after about a year of not having done that.  I’d seen my reflection in water obviously, but I do remember having the oddest feeling seeing my reflection clearly in a mirror.

JD: What did you use for shelter?

Matthew: We had a tarp and rigged up various shelters with that as well as building different primitive shelters.  It sort of changed pretty regularly with moving camp and just experimenting with what worked the best.  A simple lean-to was sort of the go-to shelter we used the most. A lot of nights we’d just sleep out on the ground and pull the tarp over us if it started to rain. The last shelter we were living in was a wigwam. Then we found out Maggie was pregnant. That was pretty high living, lots of room and pretty warm and dry. Smoky at times, though, when the wind wasn’t drafting the smoke out of the top.

JD: How did the two of you handle the isolation?

Matthew: My girlfriend Maggie and now wife was with me pretty well the whole time.  The longest I’ve spent by myself in the woods was about two weeks when she went to visit family.  I was really ok with the isolation during that time.  There were certainly periods of loneliness though, even when the two of us were together.  I think this is a condition that sort of transcends all situations and is part of the human condition.

JD: What did you eat/drink?

Matthew: Anything we could!  Clover, dandelions, cattail, mulberries, fish, squirrel, deer, roadkill, rabbit.  When we’d go through a town, we’d often get a bag of rice to help supplement. Not having much to eat was pretty common and something we got used to. I’ve got a pretty hilarious story involving no meat for about two months while living on the Gasconade River and Maggie trying to kill a duck with a stick. For water, we had a filter and would filter whatever water we could find. Still managed to get sick from bad water in the Sierra Nevadas once, though. Spent about a week pretty well convinced I was going to die.

JD: Did you experience any effects from detoxing from a modern diet?

Matthew: The change was tough. The worst part really for me was the cravings for a soda or candy or some sort of sugar more than the actual physical detoxing. It was a sort of mental game I had to deal with for pretty well the first year on a daily basis. There were a lot of times I just wanted to give up so I could go get a candy bar, which I know sounds silly but at the time it was a huge obstacle for me to overcome.

JD: I don’t think that sounds silly at all. I am a bit surprised the cravings lasted so long! Gives you a good sense of how addicted we are to sugar, doesn’t it?

What else did you miss?

Matthew: A hot shower, readily available food, meat, water that could be drank with no effort, a full night’s sleep with no bugs biting.

JD: Did you ever feel like you were in danger?

Matthew: I wouldn’t say I ever felt in danger. The experience of bad water in the mountains of California was probably the scariest for me. I was sure I was dying and there was no way to get any kind of help as remote as we were. We hitchhiked some to get around, and I do remember one ride that I felt was a little sketchy. We just asked to be let out at the next exit and all was fine, though.

JD: How did you manage hygiene, laundering clothes, etc?

Matthew: We were pretty dirty most of the time. We bathed in creeks every chance we had and tried to camp by them when possible. Our clothes didn’t get washed at all. I just had one pair plus an extra long sleeved shirt the whole time so you can imagine how dirty they were.

JD: Everyone is going to want to know how you managed to survive without things we now consider essential, such as . . . toilet paper.

Matthew: Haha, no toilet paper was really not an issue at all. Moss, leaves, grass, even a handful of sand and gravel work pretty good and it’s something I got used to pretty quick. One thing that was hard for us and a lot of folks take for granted is the lack of bugs living in a house vs. living in the woods in summer without a tent. It can be maddening trying to sleep while being swarmed by mosquitoes. Ticks were pretty bad too.

JD: Having lived as you did, do you think marriage would have been much different than it is today? It seems like a man and woman in the 18th century would have to rely upon each other, have defined roles, etc. in order to survive.

Matthew: I do think marriage would have been different in the 18th century. Living hand to mouth makes a system of what is expected of each other in a relationship vital to success. On a whole other level is the fact that societal norms were different then and gender roles were more defined.

JD: Civilization is about to disappear. What should we grab in order to survive?

Matthew: A method of getting drinking water is paramount, I think. It’s one of those things most of us take for granted, but if society suddenly crumpled, it is the most essential thing to life, and really, in this day of polluted streams and water, one of the harder things to come by. A strong mind and the ability to adapt and deal with stress is also something probably not too many think about in a survival situation, but every bit as important as some of the more physical challenges faced. Knowledge of what can be eaten and how to catch critters. Those three things I feel like are more important to survival than some sort of basement stockpiled with food and ammo or a back pack full of gear.

JD: Thank you very much for being here and for sharing your story. My blog is visited by many writers. Maybe your wilderness love story will prompt one of them to write an “off the grid” romance.

What do you think, readers?  Could you live in the past? If civilization disappeared, could you survive?

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Posted in Hands-On Research, Uncategorized Tagged with:

Introducing LD Rose and Releasing the Demons

RTD Rose

Release Date: 8/19/15

Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing

Genre: Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy

Blaze Knight has been through hell and back, but the nightmares aren’t over yet.

Five years after Blaze was maimed by Cyrus Chimola, a powerful vampire with a penchant for torture, he’s still trying to pick up the pieces of his shattered life. As a genetically engineered mercenary with the ability to bend fire to his will and to see in infrared, Blaze’s mission is to protect what’s left of humanity. When Chimola and his crew return to the Bronx gunning for Blaze’s blood, Blaze is forced to face the demons of his past. Hell-bent on revenge, he seeks the help of Valerie Medeiros, an NYPD detective who manages to steal his heart and save his life in more ways than one.

Motivated by her sister’s gruesome death, Valerie has made it her life’s goal to bury every vampire in the ground where they belong. When she brings in Blaze Knight for suspected murder, she discovers he’s not only innocent, he isn’t a man at all—he’s a half-vampire hybrid working with a band of brothers for the U.S. military. Valerie has a hard time trusting anything with fangs, yet she quickly falls headlong into Blaze’s life, a life full of darkness and horror she can’t even begin to fathom. The bodies are stacking up, but Valerie can’t seem to let go of this hybrid, a beautiful monster filled with pain, rage, and passion unlike anything she’s ever known.

In a world where the line between good and evil is blurred, Blaze and Valerie will find danger at every turn, risking everything they’ve come to know and love, including one another.

The Interview

JD: I’m excited to introduce LD Rose and Releasing the Demons. Welcome to the craziness that is my blog, LD. Your debut novel just released in August. What has been the biggest surprise in your journey to publication?

LD: Before I even thought about publishing RtD, I did some research into the industry. I was fully aware of the rapidly changing environment of eBooks and self-publishing and knew that even traditionally published authors needed to take on a bigger burden for marketing. The influx of books into Amazon has been tremendous and it’s hard to get your book to stand out (particularly if it’s in a saturated market, like vampires for instance!). Although I expected all of this, you don’t really know until you go through it, and I’m definitely going through it now, lol. Still though, I’m happy with the route I took and I’ve enjoyed seeing my book out there in the world. 🙂

JD: I sometimes wonder if readers realize how much time we spend trying to get their attention. Think of all the free time we’d have if we didn’t have to market ourselves. *daydreams* It can be pretty overwhelming, actually. How do you avoid becoming overburdened by marketing tasks?

LD: I’m obviously a newbie at this, so I’ve been trying to market RtD as much as possible since its release. I hope to get back to revisions on the second book by the end of October so I can submit it to my editor in November. I’ve been trying to keep some sort of schedule, but at this point, I’m pretty much flying by the seat of my pants and figuring out what works and what doesn’t. It’s been a learning process for sure.

JD: When you do manage to clear your schedule and get into your writing chair, do you require complete silence, or do you like white noise?

LD: Oh, I need total silence! I envy people who can write in coffee shops or with music on. I’m easily distracted, particularly if I’m writing a tough scene (which there are a lot of in this series) and I won’t get anything done. I even make my hubby plug in some earbuds so I can focus on what I’m doing. 😛

JD: I bought my husband wireless earphones. It saved our marriage.

Would you be willing to share a photo of your favorite writing spot?

LD: My sunroom is my favorite writing spot, but a tree has demolished it recently, so I don’t have a good pic of it!

JD: I hope you’re going to rebuild it!

How do you feel after a long bout of writing?

LD: Depends on what I’m writing. If it’s a particularly intense and emotional scene, I feel pretty drained and a little melancholy. If it’s an action scene, I’m usually pretty pumped afterwards. My mood usually aligns with the tone of what I wrote.

JD: Do you write full-time?

LD: Ha, no! I’m a doctor by day so I’m lucky if I can write on the weekend.

JD: Good grief, and I thought my schedule was hectic. How do you manage to squeeze your writing into a doctor’s relentless schedule?

LD: I’m definitely a weekend and vacation warrior. I try to steal a few hours during the week, but it doesn’t always work. I have to find time to study as well since I’m a resident physician, so it’s pretty much a juggling act. Not to mention the hubby needs attention too!

JD: You make me feel very, very lazy.

Who is your favorite character in the book you are showing us today, and why?

LD: Honestly, I love them all for different reasons. Blaze, because although he’s physically strong and powerful, he’s broken on the inside and vulnerable in his own way. Valerie, because she powers through even at the worst of times and is incredibly brave to live in such a dark and chaotic world. Of course, I love all the secondary characters too, but I won’t list the reasons, or this interview will never end! 😛

JD: I’ve got time. It’s not like I should be writing or anything. #procrastinatorsunite

When a reader reaches THE END of Releasing the Demons, what do you hope sticks with them in the days (or months) that follow?

LD: That no matter what you’ve been through—physically, emotionally, mentally—there’s a light at the end of that dark tunnel and you will eventually find happiness. You just got to keep your chin up and fight through those black days, but you’ll get there.

JD: Wonderful. Thanks so much for being here. And now, my faithful readers, LD has given us a little tasty taste:

Valerie kept her eyes locked on the glass windows covered with cigarette prices and beer ads, watching Tattoos pay up at the cash register. Once she reached the side of the building, she pressed her back against the warm brick wall. Sweat trickled down her spine and she wiped her clammy hands on her jeans before she drew her Beretta. She listened for the bell hanging above the store entrance, and when it jingled, she peered past the corner of the building.

There he is.

Holding a pack of Marlboros, he slipped it into his back pocket along with a silver money clip. He walked back toward the Chevelle, scanning the area one more time as he stepped off the concrete elevation.

This is it. Do it. Now!

With her gun pointed at the ground in a two-handed grip, Valerie pushed off the wall and turned the corner, staring at his back. Her voice was loud and clear as she called, “Blaze.”

He stopped and pivoted around. A fleeting expression of confusion filled his face, but it quickly turned into shock as she lifted her gun and shouted, “Freeze, NYPD!”

Gasps and shouts resounded as everyone turned their attention on her. Some people ducked while others gawked, and she wished they would just climb into their cars and get the hell out of here. She did her best to ignore them, keeping her focus solely on the man before her as she carefully approached him. He didn’t make any sudden movements, his brow furrowing as a muscle in his jaw ticked.

Valerie flashed her badge to prove she wasn’t bullshitting. “Get your hands in the air where I can see them.”

He slowly lifted his arms and spread his hands out wide. Then spoke with a voice like black gravel, matching his appearance all too well. “What’s going on here?”

She closed in on him, his presence becoming more and more overwhelming. Sirens resonated in the distance, sending a trickle of relief through her. He didn’t appear armed but that didn’t mean jack.

“Turn around and get down on the ground. Now!”

Anger consumed the confusion on his face but he surprisingly complied, giving her his back again before dropping to his knees with his hands above his head.

She kept her gun aimed and her mind submerged in the well of her calm. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d arrested someone; she usually shot to kill. “Cross your ankles,” she ordered, and he did so, crossing his booted ankles as if he’d done this before.

Valerie placed her foot in the space between his legs, so if he attempted to stand he would end up flat on his face. People finally backed away as she removed her tungsten carbide handcuffs from her utility belt, gripping the Beretta with knuckles white as chalk. Tungsten carbide was the only metal strong enough to hold a vampire, but she used it on everyone, regardless of species. Two New Rochelle cruisers whipped into the gas station, blocking off both exits before four officers leapt out of their respective vehicles. Valerie put the gun up and cuffed Blaze’s dominant hand, swinging his right arm around before latching onto the left.

He didn’t put up a fight. He didn’t even flinch. But he balled his big hands into fists at his back. She read him his Miranda rights as she cinched the cuffs around both of his thick wrists.

“You have the right to remain silent—”

“I have the right to know what’s going on,” he growled, showing her his savage profile.

“Anything you do or say can be used against you in a court of law.”

“What are you arresting me for?”

“You have the right to an attorney.”

“Fuck the attorney—”

She yanked the chain of his cuffs, bringing his solid body against her as the faint scent of cologne tickled her nose. She leaned into his ear, anger flashing through her as she thought of bloody grass and charred flesh.

“You’re under arrest for the murder of Elena Delgado. Now get the fuck up and move.”

Oh, hot dang! Excellent snippet.

Who is LD Rose?

L.D. Rose is a neurotic physician by day, crazed writer by night, and all around wannabe superhero. She writes paranormal romance and urban fantasy, but she’s been known to delve into horror, sci-fi, and medical suspense on occasion. L.D. Rose is a member of the RWA, FF&P, NEC-RWA and CoLoNY. She currently lives in Rhode Island with her studly hubby, her hyperactive boxer, and her two devious cats.

Website: writerldrose.com

Facebook: facebook.com/writerldrose

Author page: facebook.com/ldroseauthorpage

Twitter: twitter.com/ld_rose

Goodreads: goodreads.com/ldrose

Pinterest: pinterest.com/writerldrose

Tumblr: writerdoc.tumblr.com

Posted in Author Interviews Tagged with: , ,

Interview and Giveaway with Caroline Warfield

DANGEROUS WEAKNESS

Release Date: September 30 (on pre-order now)

Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing

Genre: Historical Romance

Heat Level:  R for implied and non-explicit sex

If women were as easily managed as the affairs of state—or the recalcitrant Ottoman Empire—Richard Hayden, Marquess of Glenaire, would be a happier man. As it was, the creatures—one woman in particular—made hash of his well-laid plans and bedeviled him on all sides.

Lily Thornton came home from Saint Petersburg in pursuit of marriage. She wants a husband and a partner, not an overbearing, managing man. She may be “the least likely candidate to be Marchioness of Glenaire,” but her problems are her own to fix, even if those problems include both a Russian villain and an interfering Ottoman official.

Given enough facts, Richard can fix anything. But protecting that impossible woman is proving almost as hard as protecting his heart, especially when Lily’s problems bring her dangerously close to an Ottoman revolution. As Lily’s personal problems entangle with Richard’s professional ones, and she pits her will against his, he chases her across the pirate-infested Mediterranean. Will she discover surrender isn’t defeat? That it might even have its own sweet reward.

What an amazing hook. And that cover! *drool* Welcome–WELCOME!–Caroline Warfield.

Thank you so much for having me Julie. Let me see how I can answer some of your questions. To thank people for joining us, I’ll give a Kindle copy of DANGEROUS WORKS to one lucky person who comments below, and one Kindle copy of DANGEROUS SECRETS to another.

WHAT? TWO giveaways? That’s so generous. Thank you! Let’s get started with THE INTERVIEW.

If this is not your first novel, what keeps you motivated?

I can mine days of energy from one kind word. Positive feedback from readers keeps me going enthusiastically. A good review drives me to write another book. I’m shameless that way.

Nothing shameless about that. I think we all know exactly what you’re talking about.

How do you avoid becoming overburdened by marketing tasks?

This is a good month to ask me that question. I’m not sure I manage it well. In the lead up to a release there aren’t enough hours in the day. Normally I set a goal of 1000-1500 words a day. When the writing is done I can look at marketing tasks and social networking.

Do you require complete silence for writing, or do you like white noise?

I like background music and I turn on a streaming radio site. For Dangerous Weakness I used movie scores. For Dangerous Secrets I used Traditional Italian music. For another I used bluegrass. When I edit I need something upbeat, like Jersey Boys.

Would you be willing to share a photo of your favorite writing spot?

Certainly!IMG_0210
Oh, my word. So jealous here.

Do you write full-time?

I’m not sure I know what full time looks like. Though I no longer have a day job, I can’t sit in the chair pounding out words for eight hours. Generally what works is write in the morning (1500 or so words) and do other things in the afternoon. I write for three blogs regularly. They are:

  • History Imagined – a blog about the intersection of history and fiction. I have a piece I particularly like on the Ottoman Seraglio that grew out of Dangerous Weakness.
  • The Teatime Tattler – a (fictional) Regency scandal sheet. Characters from all my books make appearances there.
  • And of course My own!

In addition there are over a dozen on my Dangerous Weakness Blog Tour. That is all afternoon work.

You are a busy lady.

Who is your favorite character in the book you are showing us today, and why?

The hero, Richard, Marquess of Glenaire, appeared in my first two books and I love him. However, the poor boy has been just too stiff with an elevated sense of responsibility and a need to take care of people. I needed to loosen him up a bit. If ever a man needed his hair mussed, it was Richard. While I was at it I decided to shred his suit, get him kidnapped and have him barefoot in rags begging friends for help. Yep. That’s better.

Brought him down a peg, did you? I can’t wait to learn how he gets himself out of that mess. Your books are wildly popular, and I’m sure this one will be no different. Best wishes for a successful launch.

And now, dear readers, if you’d like to find out more about Caroline, visit her at the links at the bottom of this post. And don’t forget to post a comment, since she’s giving away a Kindle copy of one of her eBooks to one lucky person who comments below (chosen randomly). We’ll let the contest open until September 16th. Good luck!

Visit Caroline’s Website and Blog

Meet Caroline on Facebook

Follow Caroline on Twitter

Email Caroline directly

Subscribe to Caroline’s newsletter

She can also be found on

LibraryThing

Amazon Author

Good Reads

Bluestocking Belles

Caroline’s Other Books

Dangerous Works   http://amzn.to/1DJj0Hi

Dangerous Secrets   http://tinyurl.com/ph56vnb

 

Posted in Author Interviews, Giveaways Tagged with: , ,

Angel in the Shadows – Amy Deason

angelintheshadows_800x1200

Release Date: Coming Soon!

Author: Amy Deason

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Seth Reynolds’ day began like any other, filled with secrets, lies, and murder. But when a headstrong young woman stumbles into his path, life begins to get a hell of a lot more complicated.

THE INTERVIEW:

What has been the biggest surprise in your journey to publication?

I am surprised about how many edits I had to do. Not saying that I thought my book was perfect but WOW. However, I am very grateful to my editors for helping me to make my book that much better.

Oh, man, if the reading public only knew… I completely understand. Getting edits back always leaves me a little stunned. They are a necessary evil, though, just like marketing. Speaking of marketing, how do you avoid becoming overburdened by marketing tasks?

I take it all with a grain of salt. My writing is important of course but my family helps to keep me grounded.

It would be difficult to do this without the support of loved ones, wouldn’t it? We ask a lot of them sometimes. In my case, that means a quiet house. Do you require complete silence for writing, or do you like white noise?

It depends on how deep into the scenes I am. Sometimes nothing can distract me and sometimes every little noise has me begging for silence.

How do you feel after a long stretch of writing?

If it goes well, I feel like I am the most triumphant person in the world. But it if goes badly, then I just want to throw my hands up and cry.

Yeah, that’s frustrating, isn’t it? For me, it feels like I just wasted time, and time is precious to all writers, especially those with day jobs. Do you write full-time?

I wish that I could say yes but with a full time job and a family (3 kids, 1 husband), I don’t have nearly as much time as I would like. Maybe one of these days….. *sighs hopefully*

I hope so, too. Here’s hoping ANGEL IN THE SHADOWS is the breakout novel that gets you there. Since you have a day job and a family, how on earth do you fit writing into your day?

Any time that I have a quiet moment, I am writing. It may not be anything specific like the next scene in my book but it is relevant to at least one of my books that are in the works.

We steal time when we can, don’t we?

Who is your favorite character in ANGEL IN THE SHADOWS?

This may sound strange but I like Seth the best. He has had a hard life and has completely given up on anything resembling a normal life. But when he least expects it, love comes and tackles him.

Oh, that sneaky love, finding us when we are least prepared for it. Seth sounds like the kind of guy we like to cheer for.

When a reader reaches THE END in ANGEL IN THE SHADOWS, what do you hope sticks with them in the days or months that follow?

I hope they feel a real connection to my characters. I hope they want to read more about this top secret organization filled with people that save the world while in a sense, get saved themselves.

Thank you for being here today. I wish you the best of luck with your release. Readers, Amy will be announcing her release date shortly. To get the latest news, please visit her at any of the following sites:

Amy

http://amydeason.wordpress.com

https://www.facebook.com/AmyGDeason

Posted in Author Interviews Tagged with: , , ,

The Fabulous Erin Bevan

CupidsAngels400-2Release Date: June 3, 2015
Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Ellie Childs isn’t looking for love. She’s looking for an AC technician for the Forest Wood Senior Center. But, when the repairman happens to be tall, dark, and handsome, he has the goods to make her change her mind. Unfortunately, he’s taken by a blonde Barbie.

David White moved to Cupid, Arkansas, to be closer to the woman he loves, his grandma, and away from his ex-fiancée. Believing his broken heart would never work again, he’s proven wrong. Ellie’s shimmering auburn curls and compassionate nature sends his heart thumping. His mind soars with thoughts of giving love another shot. But as luck would have it, she’s taken, and the guy she’s seeing is a real jerk.

When David’s grandmother sees how perfect Ellie would be for her grandson, she gathers the troops. She and her three friends form Cupid’s Angels. Their mission, to bring David and Ellie together. Despite their best efforts, the Angels’ plans backfire, pushing David and Ellie farther apart and into the arms of others. Or, so they think.

Will the Angels’ good intentions win out, or will their plots and schemes undermine what could have been the love of a lifetime for David and Ellie?

Who is Erin Bevan?

Erin2Erin Bevan was born and raised in Southwest Arkansas. She spent her teenage years working for her aunt at the local gas station flipping burgers and making milkshakes, dreaming of the day when something better would come her way, and it did in the form of a five foot six, one hundred and fifty pound engineer.

Fast forward ten years later, she found herself stuck inside an apartment in South Korea while her daughter went to preschool and her husband went to work. Alone and unable to speak the local language she turned to books for a friend. After reading a few hundred in such a short time, she decided to try her hand at writing one.

That first one sucked, but by the fifth and sixth book, Erin started to get the hang of this writing thing. Getting the first contract in the mail was a dream come true. Now, with three babies at home, she squeezes in stories one word at a time, one sentence at a time, one day at a time.

She’s a full time mom, a full time wife, with a little writer sprinkled in whenever she can get the chance. And the laundry? Well, it’s best not to open the washroom door!

www.erinbevan.com

www.facebook.com/erinbevanwrites

 

The Interview:

What has been the biggest surprise in your journey to publication?

How hard it was going to be. I’ve been writing for a few years now. I never realized how many revisions of the same story I was going to have to do to even get a revise and resubmit letter from an editor. If I knew when I started my writing journey how difficult it was going to be to get published, I don’t know if I would have followed through. Sometimes ignorance really is bliss. After you worked a year or two on a manuscript and you can taste that publishing contract, there is no going back. Ever! It’s a high like no other.

This is my first novel to get published. I also had a short story-The Ranch Hand published last year. What keeps me motivated-all the naysayers. You say I can’t do something, then I’m going to work my hardest to prove you wrong. And of course, lots and lots of coffee. Caffeine keeps the gears in this ol’ brain running!

How do you avoid becoming overburdened by marketing tasks?

That’s a good question. I try to market, but it gets very time consuming, and I only have few precious hours in my day to devote to writing anyway. I try to tweet and Facebook in between breaks of writing, and then blog post whenever I can. I don’t devote as much time to marketing as I should, so I guess that’s how I avoid becoming overburdened. I’m a full time mom, so I am pretty overburdened with real life things. I can’t worry myself too much on how many tweets a day I put out, or if anyone is reading my Facebook posts. I just throw it out there and hope and pray someone reads it.

Do you require complete silence for writing, or do you like white noise?

Silence. Whoever said silence was golden hit the nail on the head as far as I’m concerned. Silence is so precious to me. Unfortunately, in my home, it’s not silent often, and when it is, it’s only at night. I’m not a good night writer. I’m too sleepy to be any good. I have to write during the day when the kids are napping, or early in the morning around 5 am with a strong cup of coffee in hand.

How do you feel after a long bout of writing?

Depends. Sometimes exhilarated, like I’ve really accomplished something. Sometimes, lost, like I’ve written all of this info and now I have no idea where to go from where I’m at. Every day is different. Lately, unfortunately, it’s been the later. I’ve been a little overwhelmed and stressed about where to go from here in all of my stories. Maybe I just need a vacation!

Do you write full-time?

No. I wish I did. I fit it in anywhere I can. Sometimes an inspiration hits me right in the middle of a busy time (aka, lunch, snack time, or dinner. three very important times in this house 🙂 ) but I have to stop and write it down or I’ll forget. So even though I physically only write a couple of hours a day during naps or before everyone wakes up, I’m constantly thinking about what to write when I get the chance to place fingertips to keys.

Who is your favorite character in the book you are showing us today, and why?

Oh, wow, that’s a tough one. I think I like. . .umm. . . well, I like. . . I can’t choose. I like all four of my Cupid’s Angels because they are just so fun and funny. When I set out writing Cupid’s Angels, I knew I had to have funny little old people in my book. The entire time I wrote and edited the manuscript it was very important to me to make the senior citizens a huge part of the plot. As far as my hero and heroine, they are both wonderful people. They are nice and the type of people you’d want to have on your side in life. Everyone needs good friends like that.

When a reader reaches THE END in the book you are showing us today, what do you hope sticks with them in the days (or months) that follow?

I don’t hope so much for a phrase or a lifelong lesson to stick with anyone, I just hope they remember the feeling of reading something fun, cute, and happy. I hope it makes them smile.

Posted in Author Interviews Tagged with: ,

An Interview with MJ Compton

Summer Fling

Heads up! MJ Compton has a new novel out. Check out that cover. Sa-MOKIN! Oh, AND she granted me an interview that includes photos of her favorite writing spaces.

MJC_Summer FlingRelease Date: May 5, 2015

Publisher: Loose Id

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Caroline Maplethorpe spent a summer as plaything for a minor league baseball team…and oh, how Win Winston played. Seven years later, she’s respectable, and he’s in the big leagues. Now that he’s found her again, he still wants her in a major way. But their second-chance relationship attracts too much publicity, and the third member of their long-ago fling threatens to destroy the respectable life Caroline so carefully reconstructed after that crazy summer.

LOOSE ID http://www.loose-id.com/summer-fling.html

ALL ROMANCE EBOOKS http://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-summerfling-1797313-149.html

AMAZON http://www.amazon.com/Summer-Fling-MJ-Compton-ebook/dp/B00X6EDJ82

BARNES & NOBLE http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/summer-fling-m-j-compton/1121879015?ean=9781623009151

GOOGLE PLAY HtTps://play.google.com/store/books/details/MJ_Compton_Summer_Fling?id=MaH1CAAAQBAJ/

Ibooks https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/summer-fling/id992251460?mt=114

KOBO https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/summer-fling-8

 

The Interview

Thank you so much for being here, MJ.

If this is not your first novel, what keeps you motivated?

I’m a story teller, first and foremost. There are stories in my head longing to be told. I wish I had more time to get to them all.

Do you require complete silence for writing, or do you like white noise?

When I’m in my zone, it doesn’t matter. I was on a writing retreat in June, and two people next to me were talking—and I never heard a word they said because I was completely involved in my story. There are two things that disrupt me: direct interruptions, such as my husband wanting something or no one answering the ringing phone; and TV. I’m not a huge fan of TV (never have been) and when one is on around me, it is distracting, annoying, and disruptive.

Would you be willing to share a photo of your favorite writing spot?

I have a couple. (photo of woods is Erie, PA; photo of lake is Auburn, NY)

MJ spot

MJ Erie

Beautiful. My husband and I just visited Erie, PA. We loved it.

How do you feel after a long bout of writing?

Happy and excited. I do need a little downtime, but if I can get back into my zone, the next day can be as productive.

How do you fit writing into your schedule?

I get up “an hour earlier” and try to sneak in half-an-hour before day job, if not more. I will sneak in 20 minutes or so during my lunch hour; I write when I get home from work. Weekends. Writing retreats. Now that I’m published, I can justify more writing retreats. My children are grown and gone. And now that I’m published, my husband is more respectful of my writing time.

Who is your favorite character in the book you are showing us today, and why?

The heroine, Caroline. The story is told completely from her perspective. I like her evolution from someone who allows herself to be led into a woman who makes her own decisions about her life.

When a reader reaches THE END in the book you are showing us today, what do you hope sticks with them in the days (or months) that follow?

“This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.”

Hamlet, by William Shakespeare

Who is MJ Compton:

MJ Compton Author PhotoMJ Compton grew up near Cardiff, New York, a place best known for its giant, which inspired her to create her own fiction.

Although her 30-year career in local television included such highlights as being bitten by a lion, preempting a US President for a college basketball game, giving a three-time world champion boxer a few black eyes, a mention in the Drudge Report, and meeting her husband, MJ never lost her dream of writing her own stories.

MJ still lives in upstate New York with her husband. She’s a member of Romance Writers of America and Central New York Romance Writers. Music and cooking are two of her passions, and she enjoys baseball and college basketball, but she’s primarily focused on wine . . . and writing.

MJ’s Linkage:

Website & Blog www.comptonplations.com

Twitter https://twitter.com/Comptonplations

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/AuthorMJCompton

Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/compton4555/

Tsu http://www.tsu.co/mj_compton

Tumblr http://comptonplations.tumblr.com/

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8075221.M_J_Compton

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/MJ-Compton/e/B00J9DFFIG/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

 

Posted in Author Interviews Tagged with: ,

Maggie Mundy is Back

When we first visited with dark spec author Maggie Mundy, she’d just released UKNOWN PROTECTOR. I interviewed her character Ridge HERE. I’m thrilled to welcome Maggie back to my blog. She’s been busy, with two exceptional new titles for us to check out. Here they are, smokin’ hot and ready for download:

World Change COVER(2

Release Date: 26th June 2015

Publisher: Rogue Phoenix Press

Genre: Fantasy/ Paranormal

Clare gets transported from present day Florence to an alternate world, one that looks like fourteenth century Italy. The only way back is through a portal half a world away, plus the local High priestess wants her dead, and the only one she can trust is a vampire called Trevi. He is the only one who exits in this world, and she knows more about what he is than he does. He is hard to resist, especially when he saves her life. Trevi can take her home but he is keeping one big secret. She will have to be like him to survive the journey through the portal back to her world making a myth a reality

 

 

 

 

 

 

COVERworldApartFront 1

Release Date: 26th June 2015

Publisher: Rogue Phoenix Press

Genre: Fantasy/ Paranormal

Clare and Trevi made their way through a portal to get back to Earth. Instead, they find themselves on a dying world as a mysterious mist closes in. Trevi’s scarred twin brother, Celi, has accompanied them. He meets a female magician called Fane, who has been an outcast just like him. In this world only men are magicians and they believe her existence is the cause for the mist. Fane and Trevi learn to trust and eventually love each other as they fight to find a way to save the world. There are people who want Fane dead and to use her to get off the dying world, but Celi will use all his powers as a vampire to stop them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Interview

What has been the biggest surprise in your journey to publication?
Getting the call. I had so many rejections over the years and it was a big shock. The next surprise was getting reviews and see how people perceive your work.

What keeps you motivated?
My brain never stops coming up with new stories all the time. Sometimes it’s a song that gets me going or something on the news. I just wish I had more time to write.

How do you avoid becoming overburdened by marketing tasks?
I have tried everything from blog tours, takeovers, author chats etc. To be honest I still believe the best advice is to write the next book. There are so many books out there now you just have to keep plugging away.

Do you require complete silence for writing, or do you like white noise?
I get more done when it’s quiet. I’m not one for music playing or anything else.

How do you feel after a long bout of writing?
I love writing and this last month I tried to have a break to recharge batteries but have to say I couldn’t last the month and had to write.

Do you write full-time? No

If no, how do you fit writing into your schedule?
I try to fit in a few hours every day even if I’m working. Sometimes life gets in the way.

Who is your favourite character in the books you are showing us today, and why?
I love Fane. She is a magician in a world where women are not meant to have magical powers. If things go wrong she is blamed for it. She sees herself as an outcast so when she meets Celi, who is scared and crippled, she sees a kindred spirit.

When a reader reaches THE END in the books you are showing us today, what do you hope sticks with them in the days (or months) that follow?
I think it is that beauty is only skin deep. My hero and heroine had physical and mental flaws but are prepared to risk everything for love.

Thank you, Maggie, for being here. Best wishes for success with these hot new releases.

Maggie’s Linkage:

http://www.maggiemundy.com

https://twitter.com/MundyMaggie

http://maggiemundy.blogspot.com.au

Posted in Author Interviews Tagged with:

Katie Hamstead – Dancing in the Athenian Rain

Katie Hamstead is back, baby! You may recall I interviewed Allison King from Katie’s novel BRANDED HERE. And here’s Katie to tell us a little bit about her upcoming release, DANCING IN THE ATHENIAN RAIN.

Dancing in the Athenian RainPublisher: Soul Mate Publishing
Genre: New Adult Time Travel Romance

When Donna is sent back in time to Classical Athens, she’s furious at Dr. Stephens for sending her against her wishes. Then a Greek soldier purchases her to be his wife.

She’s forced to learn a new language and culture, and faces her fears of never returning to her own time. The society hates her, especially because they think she’s an Amazon, which forces her to confront her issues—being compared to her genius brother, borderline abusive friends, and a cheating boyfriend.

But her husband, Peleus, is kind and patient. Although against her best judgment, she allows him into her heart. He counters all the negative voices from her past, but those voices drive a wedge between them. She must let go of her fears, her inhibitions, and insecurities, and admit her feelings, or she could lose him and the life they’ve built.

 

Who is Katie Hamstead?

Born and raised in Australia, Katie’s early years of day dreaming in the “bush”, and having her father tell her wild bedtime stories, inspired her passion for writing.

After graduating High School, she became a foreign exchange student where she met a young man who several years later she married. Now she lives in Arizona with her husband, daughter and their dog.

She has a diploma in travel and tourism which helps inspire her writing. She currently works as an Acquisitions Editor with Curiosity Quills Press to help support her family.

Katie loves to out sing her friends and family, play sports and be a good wife and mother. She loves to write, and takes the few spare moments in her day to work on her novels.

The Interview:

How do you avoid becoming overburdened by marketing tasks?

I try to keep my marketing efforts structured. I organize blog posts on Mondays, keep promo on FB, Twitter etc, within two half hour periods, one in the morning, the other in the afternoon, unless it’s a release day or some other special circumstance. Getting out to do physical promotions is hard for me, but I do what I can when I can.

Do you require complete silence for writing, or do you like white noise?

Background music is best, not songs though, music without voice is best for me. I find it gives me a mood, without the distraction of another story with the lyrics.

How do you feel after a long bout of writing?

Pretty amazing! It rarely happens being a mother, so when I get the chance, I feel like heaven on earth.

Who is your favorite character in the book you are showing us today, and why?

Peleus, the love interest. He’s a man of his time, except better. He holds himself to a higher standard than those around him, and learned from his parents that marriage is more than a contract. Instead of being a chauvinist like men of his period and circumstance, he’s open minded and respectful, which is exactly what the C Donna, needs.

When a reader reaches THE END in the book you are showing us today, what do you hope sticks with them in the days (or months) that follow?

Athenian Rain is a lighthearted read, but does touch on things like Donna being abused by her friends and boyfriend, and how a little faith from someone can change all of that. It also touches on the fact that marriage requires more than just love to make it work as she and Peleus struggle to understand each other and find equal ground, even when the odds are stacked against them.


For the latest news on this exciting new release, visit Katie at:

Blog: http://kjhstories.blogspot.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KatieHamsteadNovels

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KatieTeller1

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6585259.Katie_Hamstead

Posted in Author Interviews Tagged with: , ,

Interview and Giveaway with Joanne Guidoccio

Joanne Guidoccio is joining me today and offering a FREE eBook of her new novel, A Season for Killing Blondes to one lucky person who comments below. She’s also giving away a $10 Starbucks gift card through Rafflecopter. You can enter using the thingie-ma-bob at the end of this post.

Welcome, Joanne, and good luck, readers! Here are the deets on the book that’s up for grabs today?

aseasonforkillingblondesRelease Date: June 12, 2015
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Cozy mystery

Hours before the opening of her career counseling practice, Gilda Greco discovers the dead body of golden girl Carrie Ann Godfrey, neatly arranged in the dumpster outside her office. Gilda’s life and budding career are stalled as Detective Carlo Fantin, her former high school crush, conducts the investigation.

When three more dead blondes turn up all brutally strangled and deposited near Gilda’s favorite haunts, she is pegged as a prime suspect for the murders. Frustrated by Carlo’s chilly detective persona and the mean girl antics of Carrie Ann’s meddling relatives, Gilda decides to launch her own investigation. She discovers a gaggle of suspects, among them a yoga instructor in need of anger management training, a lecherous photographer, and fourteen ex-boyfriends.

As the puzzle pieces fall into place, shocking revelations emerge, forcing Gilda to confront the envy and deceit she has long overlooked.

Trailer https://youtu.be/QURgFbybQVw

Buy Links

Amazon (Canada) – http://is.gd/t0g1KZ

Amazon (United States) – http://is.gd/jADjPp

Amazon (United Kingdom) – http://is.gd/8mknFJ

Amazon (Australia) – http://is.gd/r843iX

Kobo – http://is.gd/BpO9gY

 

The Interview:

What keeps you motivated?

For over three decades, I worked hard to motivate adolescents taking my mathematics and business education classes. Whenever I feel despondent, I apply the techniques I used with the youngsters:

  • Proper pacing. I set a goal of writing 1000 words a day. While I may write several hundred more words, I try to avoid sprints of 2000+ words a day. On “good” days, I reach my goal early and reward myself with a lunch or coffee date.
  • Success reminders. I have created two scrapbooks filled with copies of published articles and book reviews, Toastmaster certificates and awards, pictures and news releases of my novels. When I experience that dreaded writer’s block, I sit and browse through my scrapbooks.
  • Release (readjust) expectations. First novels are not usually breakthrough novels. On average, it takes three to six books to reach that level.

How do you avoid becoming overburdened by marketing tasks?

While some authors consider marketing a necessary evil, I like to think of it as a challenge. Discovering what does and does not work is part of the journey. And reminiscent of solving equations and word problems.

Do you require complete silence for writing, or do you like white noise?

I cannot write amid any chaos – auditory or otherwise. For that reason, I can only write at home.

What is your writing schedule like?

When I retired and started writing full-time, I expected to be inspired each day. Everything was in place —business cards, new computer, dreams of a runaway best-seller—but my underdeveloped writing muscles refused to budge. After some experimentation, I came up with a daily regimen. Nothing too dramatic, but it works for me. I like to sleep in each day and enjoy a leisurely breakfast. But after my second cup of coffee, I start writing. Once I reach that quota of 1000 words a day, I’m free to meet with friends for lunch or coffee and plan other outings.

Who is your favorite character in the book you are showing us today, and why?

I identify strongly with Gilda Greco, the protagonist of the novel. So much so, that I used the first-person POV. Our similarities…Italian Canadian, born and raised in Sudbury, relocated to Southern Ontario, mathematics teachers, career development practitioners, yoga enthusiasts, non-foodies.

One major difference—Gilda won a $19 million lottery. I’m still hoping.

When a reader reaches THE END in the book you are showing us today, what do you hope sticks with the in the days (or months) that follow?

Reinvention is a recurring theme in my novels, articles, and blog posts. I hope to inspire boomer women and their older sisters to experiment with their lives. And to encourage other authors to introduce older protagonists into their novels.

Who is Joanne Guidoccio?

Guidoccio 001In high school, Joanne dabbled in poetry, but it would be over three decades before she entertained the idea of writing as a career. She listened to her practical Italian side and earned degrees in mathematics and education. She experienced many fulfilling moments as she watched her students develop an appreciation (and sometimes, love) of mathematics. Later, she obtained a post-graduate diploma as a career development practitioner and put that skill set to use in the co-operative education classroom. She welcomed this opportunity to help her students experience personal growth and acquire career direction through their placements.

In 2008, she took advantage of early retirement and decided to launch a second career that would tap into her creative side and utilize her well-honed organizational skills. Slowly, a writing practice emerged. Her articles and book reviews were published in newspapers, magazines, and online. When she tried her hand at fiction, she made reinvention a recurring theme in her novels and short stories. A member of Sisters in Crime, Crime Writers of Canada, and Romance Writers of America, Joanne writes paranormal romance, cozy mysteries, and inspirational literature from her home base of Guelph, Ontario.

Where to find Joanne:

Website:   http://joanneguidoccio.com/

Twitter:   https://twitter.com/joanneguidoccio

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/authorjoanneguidoccio

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/joanneguidoccio

Pinterest:   http://pinterest.com/jguidoccio/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7277706.Joanne_Guidoccio

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Posted in Author Interviews, Giveaways Tagged with:
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