Tag Archives: romance

Interview with the Lovely and Talented Author Sandra Byrd: Mist of Midnight and Writing Victorian Gothic Literature

Linger on my site a little today and read through this interview if you are a fan of Victorian Gothic literature! I’ll be chatting right now with Sandra Byrd over tea and shortbread about her book, Mist of Midnight (AVAILABLE NOW-March 10, 2015) and her thoughts on constructing Gothic literature. If you missed my review last week, check it out HERE.

And after our chat below, you can ENTER TO WIN a lace bookmark featured here, keeping with the theme of her book detailing Rebecca, the main character’s, mother making Honiton Lace.

Hi Sandra, Thank you for coming by to chat with me today on Oh, for the Hook of a Book! Come in and have a seat. Tell me how 2015 has been for you so far while I make us drinks as we get ready to have a seat in the comfy chairs in my library.

Sandra: Thank you for having me to your library, and for introducing me to your friends.  The friend of my friend is my friend, right? Especially friends who read! 2015 has been crazy and busy, so I’m glad for a chance to sit with you for a bit.

Erin: You’re welcome anytime! It’s still pretty cold with snow in Ohio, so I’ll put on the teapot, or I can make coffee? What is your pleasure? I’ll be having some Earl Grey tea, with sugar and cream.

Sandra: One favorite is a London Fog, Earl Grey tea, lightly sweetened, with warm cream.  Would that do?

Erin: It would be my pleasure, and I’ll bring out a few shortbread cookies too. Then we’ll get started with some questions!

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Sandra: Shortbread – yes, please.  It showed up in my book, so of course I had to bake a few batches to eat while writing!

Q: Mist of Midnight is your first Gothic romance mystery, which in my opinion was a huge success. What made you decide to write in this beloved, yet sometimes obscure sub-genre?

A:Thank you, Erin! That means so much. I simply loved reading them as a girl, teen, and awoman. Then they seemed to fall out of favor, and I had a hard time finding ones I loved, ones that echoed the traditional novels and their expected tropes but have been updated for our time.  I spend so many hours researching and writing that I always try to choose genres, eras, and people who deeply interest me.

Q: Were there authors or books of similar taste that you studied or enjoyed that gave you ideas for when you created your own novel?

A: I read quite a few Gothic authors “back in the day” but the one I loved best, and who stuck with me the most, was Victoria Holt.  She wrote Gothic Romances under that name, and English historicals as Jean Plaidy, and I loved all of her books. So she influenced quite a bit of my writing, the Tudors, too.

I did want to update the concept a little for modern readers.  I like more of the hero on the page than was present in quite a few of the gothic romance novel of years past, and I like my heroines to be a little bit less waifish and a little strongerminded than was popular then.   I wanted to include just a wee bit more hard history, and I like weaving in an element of faith.  But I tried my best to stick with the “ingredients” that people expect when the read a Gothic Romance:

  1. A large property, in need of attention and affection, already in disrepair. In some ways, the house represents the heroine.
  2. A Byronic hero.
  3. Characters around that are trustworthy… or not.
  4. Psychological underpinnings, perhaps including madness or a suspicion of it.
  5. A supernatural element, whether naturally explained or not.

There are many other “ingredients” one may choose from when writing a Gothic novel: a woman in a nightgown, medications that help or harm, secret passageways, etc.  The trick is to include many of the elements that are desirable and expected but craft a story that stands on its own.  I don’t read any other books in a genre just before I write in, or while I’m writing in it.

Q: Your sense of foreboding and suspense was crafted perfectly, what techniques or descriptions did you do in order to create a Gothic feel?

A:  I thought of what frightens me, of what frightens most people.  Sometimes those are things like darkness and being lost, and being alone with no help.  More often they are internal, thinking you’re losing your mind, or knowing that no one is there to help.  In Gothic Romances, the heroine very often has no parents present because she’s completely on her own, which is risky and isolating, and must puzzle her way out.  That isolation is anxiety producing, too.  Who to trust? Who not to trust? The decrepit or uneasy setting adds to this, too. 

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Q: Your descriptions that you had character Rebecca speaking of in regards to India were phenomenal and so authentic. Have you been to India? How did you delve into such precise feelings of 19th century India?

A: I have not been to India! I read many books written by the English, in India, in the 19th Century, and then by Indian people in the past hundred years who experienced the good and bad that had come from colonialism.  I watched movies and television set in India and interviewed Indian people.  I had an Indian author read my manuscript for authenticity.  How I would love to go myself, however!

Erin: I was certain you had been there!! You really articulated a true feeling of missionary work as well.

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Q: You had many interesting characters in your book, especially among the estate staff. Who was your favorite to create and why?

A: Rebecca and Luke, for sure.  But among the secondary characters, Michelene was the most fun to create because I find we women are so much more multifaceted in our emotional manipulation and complexities than are men.  French lady’s maids were highly sought after, and I enjoy French culture, too, so that was a delight.  Even though none of us wants to be like her, all of us can understand her envy, I think.

Mrs. Ross was a delight to create because she captured an element of Gothics for me that I wanted to do in a fresh manner.  And she likes shortbread. 🙂

Erin: Yes, Mrs. Ross was amazing. I enjoyed the intertwining of the French culture, and of course, I always like shortbread. Reading your book reminded me to make some again!

Q: Speaking of characters, how do you create them with such depth? How do you intertwine them in such a way when formulating a suspenseful mystery so that you are never sure which one to be suspicious of?

A:  I think the trick is to remember that none of us are completely good or bad and to plumb the motivations for why each person does what they do.  At the heart of it we all struggle with insecurities and desires and pure motives and tainted ones.  We each come to that Y in the road; one person turns left and another right.  At the end of the book, I hope it’s clear to my readers why each character did what he or she did.  I spend a lot of time thinking through the lives of all of my characters, primary and secondary before I write.  And I observe people in real life.  That kind of sounds gothically creepy!

Q: How do you feel about balancing Gothic fiction with Christian fiction? Do you feel that most Gothic readers can accept the Christian undertones? How do they complement each other in regards to underlying themes or allegory?

A:  Honestly, it would be anachronistic to write about 19th Century England and not have any mention of or interaction with faith; it was completely integrated into daily and weekly life.  I don’t seek to write “Christian fiction” so much as it interests me how a strong Christian woman approaches a situation in her era and setting.   I don’t set out, ever, in fiction, to teach, only to show and reveal and understand through the heroine’s eyes.  So hopefully that makes a good story whether a person is a Christian or not.  I certainly profit from and enjoy books that have no or other religious underpinning, or take place in situations and cultures other than my own.  I hope that both Christians and those who are not Christian can be transported by the story and let it entertain and speak to them individually.

Supernatural elements, whether naturally explained or not, are an integral part of Gothic Romance.  I find them completely complimentary in a book if organically done with an understanding of the genre.  We can’t understand everything, we cannot control everything, but when we are courageous and take action, things happen, and we are helped.  That’s the supernatural and the natural working hand in hand.

Erin comments: That’s wonderful. I felt the same and I was explaining that to Tim when talking about you and your book. He asked me about the religious element and how you presented in the novel. I, too, feel like anyone can read this wonderful book.

Q: Victorian England is the perfect setting not only for Gothic literature but for classic, clean romance. What do you like most about using this era when writing a novel?

A:  The Victorian Era is easier than the Tudor Era to write about because there is much more source material! I can go online and read the newspaper printed in Hampshire, in the year my books are set in, which is marvelous.  What is difficult is that there are many more expected elements in a Gothic Romance, so it’s a little more restrictive because you have to make sure they are all, or mostly, in there but a way unique to the story.

The clean part is truly enjoyable to me.  It allows the emotional and intellectual portion of the relationship to develop before the physical, which is then so much more satisfying when it occurs.  It doesn’t happen on the page, of course, but I let the reader know that it will and she can imagine the rest!

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Q: Many people come to my site when trying to answer this question: “What is gothic literature?” Therefore, tell us how you define it?

A:  I had researched this very thing before I set out to write, so I’ll share a bit of wisdom that I learned from the experts with a few of my own thoughts, too!

Ann B. Tracy, author of the romance chapter in the compilation, The Journal of The Gothic, tells us that, “The jocular description of modern Gothic Romances like Victoria Holt’s The Mistress of Mellyn as ‘Girl Gets House’ is not altogether off the mark. The home for which they long, their happy ending, is not to be bought with moral compromise.”  She continues, “The heroines of Gothic Romance are not the vaporous, swooning creatures of caricature, undone by over-sensitivity; their troubles are real… they lift the black veil, go to the attic, confront the possible spectres— attempt, in short, to shed some factual light on their mysterious surroundings and find their ways out of the Gothic dilemmas.”

Gothic romance heroes are called Byronic heroes, after Lord Byron, he dubbed “mad, bad, and dangerous to know”.  We women love to know whether or not we can tame a man who seems untamable and gothic romances are rich with just that sort of challenge.  Tracy says that our gothic heroines have the challenge of figuring out whether the “difficult or possibly villainous men around her will turn out to be the one she can trust and marry.” Victoria Holt named one of her best novels “The Devil on Horseback.” Was he?

To sum up, Inez Ashley Ross, in the April/May, 1995 edition of the Gothic Journal says there are, “The openings of classic gothics reveal three keys that unlock the reader’s fascination:

            *An imposing house that is linked to an ancient family       

            *An outsider of lesser status with whom the reader can identify and

            *Attention to sensory details that entice the reader into a mysterious past

Q: Have you researched Hampshire, England? What more can you tell us about it that might be of interest? I noticed the book was subtitled “Daughters of Hampshire.” Does that mean there will be more in this series?

A:  There will be two more books in this series: Bride of Poseidon, Book 2, which I am just finishing up, and Angels of Light, Book 3.  They’ll publish in 2016 and 2017 respectively, and will include many of the traditional Gothic elements, of course, but with new characters in each book.

I liked  Hampshire because Cornwall and Devon seemed a bit overdone for Gothics, and Hampshire is relatively easy to access from London and the sea.  It has forest, ruins, seaports, cliffs, cities and villages, and Winchester Cathedral.  Lots of good stuff with which to work! I did visit Hampshire while researching, including the County Records Office, and many lovely crumbling and restored houses.  I have friends who live there who read my rough drafts and make sure it’s sound as to the era and the place.

Erin: Wonderful news, I can’t wait to read them!

Q: What is your favorite Indian food? B: What is your favorite British food? If you don’t have favorites, maybe something you’d love to try.

A: I adore Indian food.  I love Butter Paneer; I love Onion bhaji, sliced onions dipped in chickpea flour and spices, kind of like onion rings.  I love papadums, and my favorite snack is Khatta Meetha, which you can buy online if you don’t have an Indian grocer nearby (I do).  Favorite English food is Sticky Toffee Pudding, which we enjoy each Christmas. 

Q: What else have you written and then, what else do you plan to write in the future?

A:  I’ve written quite a bit – mainly I stick with something till my interest is exhausted and then move on. I’m very happy writing English Gothic Romance for now, so I’ll be sticking there for a few years, and I hope readers will stick with me!

Erin: I’ll be here! (P.S. to readers, see all of Sandra’s work here:  www.sandrabyrd.com)

Q: I know you’ve been a mentor to other authors. What is a simple piece of advice you might give that would apply to many new writers?

A: Do not be dismayed.  The road is difficult from the start to finish and beyond, but there is nothing, perhaps short of birthing and raising a child, which is so satisfying as completing your book.  And the book obeys you all the time – unlike the child!

Erin: Thank you so much, Sandra, for taking time with me today! You are welcome back for tea anytime you wish, and I look forward to many more of your books in the future.

Sandra:Thank you, Erin.  I’m so happy to have come to chat with you.  Can I take the leftover shortbread home with me? 🙂

Erin: haha! A lady after my own heart!

GIVEAWAY!!!!

One (1) lace bookmark, open to US & Canada residents only. Aren’t they beautiful??

Lace Book Marks Book Tour

Rules

Enter by leaving a comment in the section below. Leave also your name and email in which to contact you, or email hookofabook@hotmail.com with subject line lace.

– Must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US & Canada residents only.
– Only one entry per household.

– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.

Also, Sandra has this giveaway going and you can enter to win on her website below!

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01_Mist of MidnightMists of Midnight, Synopsis~

Publication Date: March 10, 2015
Howard Books
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Pages: 384

Series: Daughters of Hampshire
Genre: Historical/Christian/Romance

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22609434-mist-of-midnight

In the first of a brand-new series set in Victorian England, a young woman returns home from India after the death of her family to discover her identity and inheritance are challenged by the man who holds her future in his hands.

Rebecca Ravenshaw, daughter of missionaries, spent most of her life in India. Following the death of her family in the Indian Mutiny, Rebecca returns to claim her family estate in Hampshire, England. Upon her return, people are surprised to see her…and highly suspicious. Less than a year earlier, an imposter had arrived with an Indian servant and assumed not only Rebecca’s name, but her home and incomes.

That pretender died within months of her arrival; the servant fled to London as the young woman was hastily buried at midnight. The locals believe that perhaps she, Rebecca, is the real imposter. Her home and her father’s investments reverted to a distant relative, the darkly charming Captain Luke Whitfield, who quickly took over. Against her best intentions, Rebecca begins to fall in love with Luke, but she is forced to question his motives—does he love her or does he just want Headbourne House? If Luke is simply after the property, as everyone suspects, will she suffer a similar fate as the first “Rebecca”?

A captivating Gothic love story set against a backdrop of intrigue and danger, Mist of Midnight will leave you breathless.

Praise for Mist of Midnight~

“Intriguing secondary characters and lush scenery contribute to the often sinister, even creepy, moments readers will come to anticipate. Infusing her story with mystery, tension, and emotion, Byrd (To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn) strikes a fine balance between the darkness of a Gothic mystery and the sweetness of a captivating love story. Byrd—and Brontë—fans will enjoy this first of the new Daughters of Hampshire series.” – Publishers Weekly

“A marvelous mingling of mystery and deeply moving family and romantic love, Mist of Midnight kept me guessing until the very end. A house on a cliff, a Victorian-Gothic atmosphere, a cast of suspicious characters including a dark, brooding hero and a strong heroine: shades (or mists) of Jane Eyre and Rebecca! I look forward to the next novel in this compelling new series.” (Karen Harper, New York Times bestselling author of Mistress of Mourning)

“Mist of Midnight is wonderfully atmospheric, with all the right elements for a true Gothic novel, from sounds that go bump in the night to characters who are not at all what they seem. The spiritual underpinning is solid, comforting, even as we’re trapped in the author’s finely spun web of mystery, romance, and a sense of foreboding that doesn’t lift until the final page. Charlotte Brontë? Victoria Holt? Meet Sandra Byrd, the modern mistress of Gothic romance!” (Liz Curtis Higgs, New York Times bestselling author of Mine Is the Night)

“Among the many things I love about reading a Sandra Byrd novel is knowing that her words will transport me to another place and time, that she will win me over with intriguing and complex characters, and that I’ll savor every word. Mist of Midnight is no exception. I loved this book! Sandra Byrd could belong to the writing group of the Bronte sisters if they’d had one. Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre along with crumbling mansions, mysterious distant cousins, and one woman’s journey to prove who she really is are just few layers that ripple through the mists. Bravo, Sandra! Another winner.” (Jane Kirkpatrick, award-winning author of A Light in the Wilderness)

“Richly written and multi-layered, Mist of Midnight blends traditional England and exotic India in a historical feat worthy of Victoria Holt. Breathless danger, romance, and intrigue made this series opener by the ultra-talented Sandra Byrd a compelling must-read!” (Laura Frantz, author of Love’s Reckoning)

“Once again, Sandra Byrd delivers a richly layered story that will leave you eagerly awaiting the next book in this brand-new series. Mist of Midnight has it all: intriguing and memorable characters—including a central female protagonist who is both complex and inspiring—a plot chock-full of mystery and suspense, and a Victorian gothic setting, impeccably researched and artfully and evocatively relayed. Prepare to be transported!” (Karen Halvorsen Schreck, author of Sing For Me)

“Mist of Midnight is a beautiful, haunting tale. Sandra Byrd masterfully weaves together both romance and suspense among a cast of mysterious characters. I was immediately swept into the wonder of this story, and I loved unraveling all the secrets and discovering exactly what happened at the old Headbourne House.” (Melanie Dobson, author of Chateau of Secrets and The Courier of Caswell Hall)

“Sandra Byrd’s trademark attention to historical accuracy combines with an eerily building intrigue to envelope readers in a sense of dark foreboding that hinges precariously between hope and desperation. Mist of Midnight is a subtly haunting, beautifully atmospheric, and decadently romantic Victorian tale that will find a comfortable home among the best Gothic romances of days gone by.” (Serena Chase, author of The Ryn and contributor to USA Today’s Happy Ever After blog)

“Not since Jane Eyre have I read a Gothic romance that has captured my heart so completely. From the exotic India to an English estate shrouded in mystery, Byrd’s eye for detail shines through on every page. Romance lovers are sure to devour the tale of Rebecca Ravenshaw and her search for the truth behind the mysteries of Headbourne House and the handsome young captain who lives on the estate.” (Renee Chaw, reviewer at Black ‘n Gold Girl’s Book Spot)

“From the first word to the last, Mist of Midnight is a completely absorbing romantic, and mysterious, novel. Ms. Byrd’s writing is splendid, and her characters are so complex and endearing that they leap off the pages. I couldn’t put it down. An absolutely irresistible read!” (Anne Girard, author of Madame Picasso)

Pre-Order/Buy the Book~

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Author Sandra Byrd, Biography~

03_Sandra Byrd AuthorAfter earning her first rejection at the age of thirteen, bestselling author Sandra Byrd has now published more than forty books. Her adult fiction debut, Let Them Eat Cake, was a Christy Award finalist, as was her first historical novel, To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn. To Die For was also named by Library Journal as a Best Books Pick for 2011 and The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr, was named a Library Journal Best Books Pick for 2012. Roses Have Thorns: A Novel of Elizabeth I published in April, 2013.

Sandra has also published dozens of books for tweens and teens including the Secret Sisters Series, London Confidential Series and a devotional for tweens.

A former textbook acquisitions editor, Sandra has published many nonfiction articles and books. She is passionate about helping new writers develop their talent and their work toward traditional or self publication. As such, she has mentored and coached hundreds of new writers and continues to coach dozens to success each year.

Please visit www.sandrabyrd.com to learn more, or to invite Sandra to your bookclub via Skype. You can also connect with Sandra onFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Goodreads.

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Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/mistofmidnightblogtour/

Hashtags: #MistofMidnightBlogTour #HistoricalRomance #HistFic #Victorian #ChristianHistorical

Twitter Tags: @hfvbt @sandrabyrd @Howard_Books

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The Crystal Cage Time Slips Not Only to The Great Exhibition of Victorian London, but to High Marks by Me!

Today, I am reviewing The Crystal Cage, a historical romance by Merryn Allingham. You’ll find this review and a *giveaway* link, below the synopsis. On the post today you’ll also find two extracts from her novel, one from the modern day setting and then under the author bio, the Victorian era excerpt. Reading both will give you an idea of what you might expect from this lovely book. And isn’t this a beautiful cover!!??

02_The Crystal Cage

The Crystal Cage, Synopsis~    
by Merryn Allingham

Publication Date: August 4, 2014
eHarlequin
eBook; ASIN: B00JTPU72S

Genre: Historical Romance

GOODREADS LINK

Captivated…or captured?

Appearances don’t always reveal the truth. Grace Latimer knows this better than most. Illusions of commitment and comfort have her trapped—until bohemian adventurer Nick Heysham charms his way into her world. Commissioned to recover a Great Exhibition architect’s missing designs, he persuades her to assist in his research. The mystery of the Crystal Palace seduces Grace, and once she discovers clues about a forbidden Victorian love affair, she’s lured into the deep secrets of the past…secrets that resemble her own.

As Grace and Nick dig into the elusive architect’s illicit, long-untold story, the ghosts of guilt and forbidden passion slip free. And history is bound to repeat itself, unless Grace finds the courage to break free and find a new definition of love…

Review~

I absolutely loved this book! I love historical romances in which either the characters time travel, or the book time travels. The Crystal Cage juxtaposes between modern and the Victorian Era. The author does this very well, leaving me grappling to go forth between the times to discover the mysteries presented. As historical fiction is my favorite genre, I also enjoyed the historical details that she weaved throughout the story in the past and how much research she put into mid-1800s Victorian London, during the time of The Great Exhibition, which is sometimes referred to as The Crystal Palace Exhibition (hence the book title, I think).

This was totally enthralling for me, as I have a real obsession with anything World’s Fair circa 19th or early 20th century! The Great Exhibition was an international exhibition that was held inside a great pavilion in London in 1851. It was first in a series of World’s Fairs, organized in part by Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria, monarch of England at the time.

Grace, the women serving as sleuth in the modern day, taking on the mystery of a past 150 years before her, is a well-developed character. I admire her talent and motivation and feel connected to her due to her relationship issues with Nick, and even within herself. She’s had to put up a wall around herself, and I relished in watching her unfurl out of her shell.

After Nick asks her to help him work through the mystery of some missing historical pieces, she is intrigued by Lucas Royde, an architect of the past who designed the Pavilion at the Exhibition, and Alessia, of whom he has a relationship. Grace, who begins to unravel Royde’s ghosts of the past, sees situations mirroring her own relationship. The pages of this book turned quickly as I watched visually in my head the intertwining and unfolding of these two relationships.

As a female reader who likes reading novels that show women of the past overcoming circumstances, and even modern day women who do, I enjoyed how the author dealt with the elements of these couples and presented to us that though sometimes times change, they also DON’T change when it comes to love and gender roles in romance and work. Fears are still real, no matter what the century and the past can’t seal the future. Which is where the cage part of the title comes into the mix!

I believe the book was elegantly written, flowed nicely between the time periods and within the time periods, had excellent character development, and kept me intrigued and interested. I don’t read much romance overall, but this one with its blend of history and mystery, really had me captivated for a few day’s time.

Giveaway~

To win an eBook of The Crystal Cage please complete the Rafflecopter giveaway HERE. Two copies are up for grabs tour wide by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours! Giveaway is open internationally. It ends at 11:59 p.m. on October 15th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

EXCERPT FROM MODERN DAY SETTING:

I reached Silver Street before the Merricks, and the tarpaulins flapping in the wind led me straight to the schoolroom. Apart from an ineffectual attempt to shelter a part of the roof that had been opened to the sky, it was obvious that the builders had abandoned the site without securing it. I was able to open the heavy front door and wander into the narrow vestibule. This was where the girls would have hung their coats and capes and left their galoshes on inclement days. I should have waited for the Merricks here, but I didn’t. I was being nudged to explore. Another door faced me; I pushed it ajar and was drawn into a wide, open space. The schoolroom had remained much the same as it had when the last child had closed the lid of her desk.

I walked across the scratched tiled floor towards the dais that stood at the very end of the room. Remarkably it still boasted a desk, placed in a position of authority. This was where the teacher would have sat, cane no doubt by his or her side. It was as I approached the raised wooden structure that I first felt the prickling. A definite prickling of the skin that started at my scalp and inched downward to my feet. Then my chest began to feel tight and my breath to come less easily. This is absurd, I thought. I was in an empty room, a space that was entirely innocuous. Was I allowing Leo Merrick’s tale of unquiet spirits to get to me?

I was at the dais and starting up the steps to the desk when I stumbled. My legs felt suddenly heavy, so heavy that I could hardly drag one foot in front of the other. It was as though an invisible force was manipulating me, a force I wasn’t able to control. Somehow I managed to clamber onto the dais and collapse into a seat. The prickling had ceased but my chest was still tight, encased in a steel band. I sat staring down at the desk top for what seemed an age, until its grimy ridges began to flow one into another in a mad crisscross dance. When my pulse gradually steadied, I dared to look around. I’d been fearful at what I might see, but all I gazed on was emptiness. Light from the tall, arched windows fell crookedly across the floor, casting the corners of the room into shadow. But nothing moved, nothing breathed.

I should have walked back to the vestibule then, but instead I lifted the desk lid. What made me do that, I have no idea; I just knew in that instant that I had to. The desk was empty, of course. Except for the scent. It was a scent that was very familiar and for a moment it caught in my throat. Then common sense returned, and I lifted the lid a little farther and glimpsed a patch of white. Scrabbling in the deep well of the desk I brought out a linen handkerchief and put it to my nose. The perfume was unmistakeable—jasmine. I shook the handkerchief out and looked at it closely. Patched with a century’s dirt, it must have been tucked at the very back of the desk for years. One corner held a small, embroidered initial. When I saw what it was, my heart gave a sharp jolt. It was the letter A.

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About Merryn Allingham~

03_Merryn AllinghamMy father was a soldier and most of my childhood was spent moving from place to place, school to school, including several years living in Egypt and Germany. I loved some of the schools I attended, but hated others, so it wasn’t too surprising that I left half way through the sixth form with ‘A’ Levels unfinished.

I became a secretary, as many girls did at the time, only to realise that the role of handmaiden wasn’t for me. Escape beckoned when I landed a job with an airline. I was determined to see as much of the world as possible, and working as cabin crew I met a good many interesting people and enjoyed some great experiences – riding in the foothills of the Andes, walking by the shores of Lake Victoria, flying pilgrims from Kandahar to Mecca to mention just a few.

I still love to travel and visit new places, especially those with an interesting history, but the arrival of marriage and children meant a more settled existence on the south coast of England, where I’ve lived ever since. It also gave me the opportunity to go back to ‘school’ and eventually gain a PhD from the University of Sussex. For many years I taught university literature and loved every minute of it. What could be better than spending my life reading and talking about books? Well, perhaps writing them.

I’ve always had a desire to write but there never seemed time to do more than dabble with the occasional short story. And my day job ensured that I never lost the critical voice in my head telling me that I really shouldn’t bother. But gradually the voice started growing fainter and at the same time the idea that I might actually write a whole book began to take hold. My cats – two stunning cream and lilac shorthairs – gave their approval, since it meant my spending a good deal more time at home with them!

The 19th century is my special period of literature and I grew up reading Georgette Heyer, so when I finally found the courage to try writing for myself, the books had to be Regency romances. Over the last four years, writing as Isabelle Goddard, I’ve published six novels set in the Regency period.

Since then, I’ve moved on a few years to Victorian England, and I’ve changed genre too. The Crystal Cage is my first novel under the name of Merryn Allingham. The book is a mystery/romantic suspense and tells the story of a long-lost tragedy, and the way echoes from the past can powerfully influence the life of a modern day heroine. The next few Allingham books will see yet another move timewise. I’ve been writing a suspense trilogy set in India and wartime London during the 1930s and 1940s, and hope soon to have news of publication.

Whatever period, whatever genre, creating new worlds and sharing them with readers gives me huge pleasure and I can’t think of a better job.

Connect with Merryn Allingham on Facebook and Goodreads.

EXCERPT FROM VICTORIAN PERIOD:

‘You are very quiet, my love,’ he remarked as they strolled down the South Walk. ‘Does this place perturb you? Vauxhall is hardly the Crystal Palace, I grant.’

She looked vaguely around as though she hardly registered her surroundings. ‘I am well, Lucas, thank you.’ Her voice had lost its rich music.

‘Are you sure?’

‘Yes, it is really nothing.’

‘Which means that you are bothered by something. Tell me,’ he urged.

She hesitated for some minutes before saying diffidently, ‘I thought that I recognised someone as I approached the gates. But I must have been mistaken.’

‘Who?’

‘A woman. She looked like a visitor who once came to tea with my mother-in-law. But I must be mistaken,’ she repeated.

‘I think you must. I cannot imagine a friend of the elder Mrs Renville frequenting Vauxhall!’

He was cajoling her, quite sure that her nervous state had precipitated these qualms. ‘But just in case, we will hide ourselves completely,’ and he steered her towards one of the small paths that led away from the main promenade towards what he knew was the Dark Walk. Here the lamps were absent and the company very thin. It was not long before he found a small wooden shelter half way up the Walk where they could be entirely alone amid thick darkness.

‘I have news,’ he said, trying to not to betray his excitement. ‘The plans I have been pursuing are now almost certain. I hope to be designing the Carlyon chapel as an architect in my own right.’

She looked at him blankly. Her mind still seemed far away and he had to reiterate, ‘I will be leaving de Vere’s.’

This startled her into words. ‘But without a salary, how will you manage? How will you afford your lodgings?’

‘Once I am working for the earl, I will be able to afford far superior lodgings. So superior they will be good enough to accommodate you.’

‘I will be able to visit you there?’

He clasped her hands tightly between his. ‘You will be able to live with me there.’

‘You are suggesting that I leave my home?’

He could not understand her reluctance but said patiently, ‘We cannot continue to meet like this, Alessia. You must know that. We must have a place to call our own.’

‘But I cannot leave Edward. I am his wife.’

Why did she cling so tenaciously to a life that she despised? ‘Are you not more my wife than his?’ he asked urgently.

‘But in the eyes of the church…’ Her voice trailed off, disappearing into the night mist.

‘What matters most—our eyes or those of a distant church?’ He was almost fierce in his denunciation.

‘Ours,’ she agreed unhappily.

‘So?’

‘But you cannot have thought—my daughters—’

‘The proceeds of the Carlyon commission will allow me to rent a substantial house. We will have them to live with us.’

‘Edward would never agree.’

‘But surely he would not separate them from their mother.’

‘They are his children and he will wish to keep them. The law is on his side.’

‘I accept that, but if he knows what it means to you to have them?’

‘Can you not understand? They are his children, I am his wife. We belong to him. If I should dare to leave, he will do everything in his power to hurt me.’

The eagerness slowly drained from Lucas and he slumped back against the shelter’s rough wooden wall. She turned to him in anguish, desperately gripping his shoulders. ‘I cannot relinquish my daughters, Lucas. You cannot ask it of me.’

When he responded, his voice held the note of defeat. ‘What you are saying is that you will never come to me.’

A long and painful silence descended between them while Alessia slowly twisted into mangled leather the gloves she held. At length, in a voice hardly above a whisper, she said, ‘I did not say that.’

The words appeared wrenched from her, but they galvanised Lucas. He leant forward again, all his eagerness returned. ‘Then say you will come. Say that you love me enough to do this.’

‘Sometimes,’ she said slowly, ‘I think you do not know just how much I love you.’

‘Then come to me, my darling.’

‘When?’

‘As soon as the Great Exhibition has opened, I will be free to work for Lord Carlyon. I will make all the necessary plans.’

‘And my children?’

‘Once we are settled in our new home, I will request an interview with your husband. I will tell him your need for your daughters and say that everything will be done discreetly. You are not a part of his social world, so who is to know that you no longer live at Wisteria Lodge?’

She shook her head and a look of near despair flooded her lovely face.

‘Alessia!’ he said urgently. ‘It cannot truly matter to Edward Renville whether you live with him or not. It is only his business that he cares for. And as for the children, he will see them whenever he wishes.’

Her continued silence moved him to desperation. ‘If you love me, you will come.’

‘I do, I do,’ she said sobbing into his shoulder.

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I was given a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

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Happy Valentine’s Day: A poem and photo from my archive!

Happy  Valentine’s Day everyone! Though mainly for lovers, since I’ve had kids we always celebrate with them too. To me, it just becomes a day to celebrate those you love, no matter who that might be. There is always plenty to do the week of Valentine’s Day in my household. I’ve made Valentine M&M cookies for 2 elementary classes, helped Emma with 30 Minion Valentines for her 4th grade class, Addie with 22 hearts with hand-braided friendship bracelets for her first grade class, and we made “Suitcases to Paris” out of recycled cereal boxes for their Valentine boxes. We had a blast, but I’m tuckered out and so don’t have a long blog for you today.

What I will leave you with for Valentine’s Day is a poem I wrote back in 2011 over Valentine’s Day and a photo I took and made into a card. I hope you enjoy!! Have a beautiful day and spread some love around!!

LOVE MOST IMPORTANT

Love is intertwined emotion,
balanced by the sands of time,
ever increasing in meaning,
forever grasping life and soul.

Love is the reality for living,
it guides us like ebb and flow,
it is the only thing to save us
when the whole world seems to
leave us alone.

Love is the ageless friend,
always churning newness and hope,
our best asset for peace and giving,
our only real reason for living.
~by Erin Al-Mehairi, 02/11/11

rose-tolstoy-quote-with-tag

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Guest Article from Suzie Tullett: Living Outside Your Box as a Woman Writer

Taking on Individual Roles in Life: Living Outside the Box
by Suzie Tullett, author of Little White Lies and Butterflies

In my experience, when it comes to certain relationships we’re very often put in boxes. We’re expected to behave and think in a certain way according to our role.

Of course over time expectations change, alongside the societies we live in.

Take us women, for example. Once of a day we were simply expected to manage the home, support our men and raise our children. Not that any of these tasks were, indeed are, ever all that simple! However, thanks to changing times being the perfect homemaker is no longer our sole responsibility. We’re now expected to bring home at least some of the bacon on top of everything else; apparently multi-tasking is something we’re good at.

Naturally, I don’t think this is a bad thing. The contributions we women make are just as valid outside of the home as they are inside. And women have fought hard for us to gain the rights we enjoy today.

But wouldn’t it be fun to be able to fly in the face of what’s expected of us just once in a while? I mean, imagine our colleagues’ faces if we turned up at the office wearing a onesie; Or if we decided to give up the day job completely as well as the household chores, in favour of setting up a new world religion.

That’s why it’s fun to be a fiction writer. If we so choose, we can write characters who for whatever reason feel able to do and say many of the things we, in reality, probably wouldn’t. Our characters can disregard all things conventional – albeit, in a way that’s completely understandable considering their histories and personalities.

But when it comes to penning our stories, we as writers can blur the lines of who our relationships dictate we be too.

Take me as a mother of two sons. One of them waits until my novels are a bone fide book before he opens the first page; the other gets a little more involved in the writing process. He tells me what’s working, what’s not quite on the page in the way I might think it is and I have to say he’s an excellent spell checker. But whatever role my children do or don’t take, in reading my work at whatever stage they have the opportunity to see me outside of the box that our relationship puts me in. It enables them to learn a bit more about the way I tick not just as their mother, but as an individual in my own right.

 Little White Lies and Butterflies, Synopsis~                  

9781908208194_covA child of the nineties, Lydia Livingston is different. The last thing she’s ever wanted is to be superwoman; she knows first-hand that ‘having it all’ isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be. As far as she’s concerned, when it comes to job versus family, it’s a definite case of one or the other. And whilst most women her age have spent years climbing the corporate ladder, she’s made a career out of bagging her perfect man. At almost thirty and still single, Lydia wonders if she’d made the right choice all those years ago. And realising the time has come to take stock, she goes against her family’s wishes and banishes herself off to a distant land- all in the hope of finding a new direction.

 
At least that’s the plan.
 
But Lydia Livingston isn’t just different, she’s misunderstood. A fact she knows all too well. So when the totally unsuitable Sam comes along, she decides to tell a little white lie, re-inventing herself as a professional chef- not exactly the best new identity to come up with for a woman who can’t even cook. Of course, the last thing she expects is for him to find out the truth and start blackmailing her. Let alone find herself roped into catering for a local wedding. But with things going from bad to worse, her madder than mad family also turn up in something of a surprise visit, intent on celebrating a birthday she’s no intentions of celebrating!
 
 

Suzie Tullett, Biography~

Born and raised in Lancashire, Suzie Tullett has worn many hats in life: from office work to teaching, from managing an advice center to being an outreach worker for Women’s Aid. She’s achieved a Bachelor’s and a Master’s and works with the BBC as a scriptwriter—all while raising her family. Ultimately, she wants to leave scriptwriting behind and write full-time. She says “it’s fair to say my working life has given me the chance to get to know all kinds of people, from all kinds of backgrounds; a definite asset for anyone looking to write for a living.”

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Romance Written in the Stars! Read Linn Halton’s The Quintessential Gemini!

The Quintessential Gemini, by Linn B. Halton, was a refreshing and original romance tale like none other I’ve read in a very long time! Linn has an amazing writing voice, so much so you’ll feel as if you are taking part in the book yourself.  I was totally invested in the story right from the start.  I fell in love with all her characters and felt their emotions right along with them at each stage in the novel.  It’s such a heartfelt tale where everything is crafted perfectly. It reminded me of a good British drama that always has a little bit of humor attached to it in just the right way (my favorite kind and I love anything British!).

The novel is of a single woman reinventing her life after losing her job, which was her whole world for many years. Now, stuck at home with her cat No. 4 (a cat with a great personality by the way and man of the house), she continues to read her horoscope brought to her by celebrity UK and US astrologer Mark Ainsley-Thomas (such a cool name, right?), which she has followed for over 20 years.  Becoming increasingly frantic as to what the stars say about her life considering her drastic change, when her horoscope begins to sound somewhat off kilter, she grows impatient. Finding out that Mark Ainsley-Thomas has hired someone to assist him, she feels embarrassed by her correspondence, but with the new reader James Kingman being patient and forgiving, something else begins to unfold she also didn’t see coming.

So to sum it up, this is the perfect fun read for a lazy summer day in a hammock, but if you have kids you better get a sitter because you won’t put this book down! I read it in one evening (far into the night without sleeping!), because I wanted to find out what the stars had in mind for Katherine, Mark, James, and hey, even No. 4.

I loved how Linn wrote this funny, quirky, amazing romance surrounded by the topic of horoscopes and astrology. Since that topic is always something that has interested me, I really liked seeing how it was used to play out Katherine’s life in this novel. I love how she interspersed the Gemini horoscopes into chapters within the novel and used them to set the stage for what was happening.

Linn and I talk further about horoscopes, astrology, Christianity AND astrology, writing, and more in our interview, which is up next right after the book synopsis. She even tells me what she thinks of me being a VIRGO. Keep reading, you’ll not want to miss this interview. Linn and I are a great working pair! Even the stars might say!

Book Synopsis~

The Quintessential Gemini a fun, romantic story about Katherine Dale and the three men in her life! Two astrologers and a cat named No. 4. Who would have thought that this rather reserved lady would end up caught in a mystic love triangle…. if only!

For twenty-one years the main focus of Katherine Dale’s life has been her work. Love interests and hobbies came and went; but always there for her, her only constant – other than her cat delightfully named No. 4 – was her nine to five habit. Until she’s replaced.

Her confidence is dented and she’s angry; at life and at herself. She’s failed to grasp the office politics that were going on around her and ignored hints of ‘changes to come’ in her horoscope forecasts. Forover twenty years she has followed Mark Ainsley-Thomas, a renowned Astrologer in the UK and USA. His daily forecasts direct the way she lives her life as a typically complex Gemini. Mark is now an ‘A’ list celebrity and his new Agent is determined to raise his profile in America, so he has to take on James Kingman to help him run his website.

Katherine is totally confused by James’ forecasts. After a couple of Email exchanges, James admits he’s writing the daily forecasts now instead of Mark and advises her ‘it’s probably best not to get too bogged down with the minute detail’. Katherine explodes and drafts a reply, letting out all of the hurt and anger she’s been bottling up. She feels better afterwards and instead sends James a much friendlier Email, acknowledging Mark has a unique style and wishing him luck. To her horror she receives a tirade back from James and realises she sent the wrong Email !

The story is told through the eyes of Katherine, Mark and James. Gossip results in all three being named in a national newspaper headline ‘Mystic Love Triangle Surprise’.

The problem is, what will Mark’s wife say when she hears this shattering news – especially as it isn’t true? What will Katherine’s family think now she’s a scarlet woman? And as for James, well – can it possibly get any worse?

Interview with Author Linn B. Halton~

WELCOME, Linn, to Oh, for the Hook of a Book! I am so very happy to have you join my readers and I for an exclusive interview. How’s your blog tour going?

It’s been amazing Erin and very diverse.  So many people are interested in the subject of astrology and because this fun chick lit romance also features a cat called No. 4, the features have bounced around between the two topics!  In real-life I read Jonathan Cainer’s horoscopes every day and find him to be amazingly and spookily accurate.  It’s often better to look at forecasts retrospectively, particularly if they are hard to interpret or understand when you first read them.  Many is the time I’ve said ‘no, I just can’t see that happening…’ and then a little way down the road it’s ‘how did he know that?’  I think most people are guilty of reading their horoscopes and trying to make what they want to happen fit with the message being given.  It doesn’t work that way I’m afraid!  

Q:  Let’s start with a fun question surrounding the topic of astrology. My birthday is August 27 and I’m a Virgo. What do you know about me? (*Smile*)

A: I tend only to know and understand the traits of star signs for people very close to me.  That’s the bit that fascinates me, comparing what the heavens say to the individual.  I do know a Virgo and I’d say she is quite a complex person.  Sometimes misunderstood and her head often rules her heart.  However, she is a very sensitive person, shy and reserved.  Generous at heart, loyal as a friend and smart!  It’s known to be a sign of intellect and love of detail too.  So many Virgos become doctors, engineers and scientists.  As well as writers, editors, surgeons … anything where detail is important in some way, shape or form.

It’s often recognised that Virgos can be perfectionists who then want to share what they have learned/developed with others.  Neat, disciplined, organized, punctual and tireless are also words I’ve seen connected to this star sign.  It’s a great birth date to have!

I believe that 2012 is going to be a great year for you, so I hope you have a wonderful time!

Q: I just couldn’t resist asking that question first. I love looking at a person and their sign and seeing what fits. I’m also really like to read horoscopes and see my outline or see what is happening in the world based on the stars, but many times I am chastised for it because I am also a Christian. What are your feelings on that topic? Do you think we can be Christians and still believe in the stars?

A: Absolutely, although I know many will have differing opinions, but each to their own. I write about psychic things too because I have had many personal (and uplifting) experiences.  However, I have believed in the existence of God since a child and what I have learnt on my life path about life after death has only served to strengthen my beliefs.  I no longer attend Church on a regular basis, as I feel my belief is always here with me, and prefer visiting Churches when they are empty. I like to sit quietly, say a big ‘thank you’ for all the good things in life and for the strength I’ve been given to get through the bad things.  I then spend a while contemplating and feeling close to loved ones that are no longer this side of life.  It’s comforting and reassuring.

I believe that everything in the heavens is a part of creation.  In the same way that the tides are influenced by the Moon’s gravitational field, we are influenced by the components of our individual star charts.  I see no conflict at all, it is all a part of the same thing. 

Q: What gave you the idea to use astrology within your new book, The Quintessential Gemini?

A:  The last thing I do at night is read my forecast for the following day on my Blackberry.  One night it wasn’t quite the forecast I was hoping for, it indicated a day of problems rather than solutions and I must admit I was disappointed. As always, I face problems only as and when they arise, I’m very pro-active so I know that anything that could be avoided, I will have covered.  Then it’s up to fate to be kind or maybe teach me one of those valuable life lessons, so I don’t make the same mistake again (I always do …..it’s inherent in my genes, a family trait – laugh!).

That night the thought popped into my head ‘what if someone really did live their life according to their daily horoscope?’ I thought about waking up knowing that the day wasn’t going to be smooth and my imagination took over.  As the story developed it took me in the direction of a romcom-style situation, with Katherine’s life falling apart professionally and love remaining elusive.  All she had left was a cat called No. 4.

Q:  The book was so fun to read. Was it as much fun for you to write as it was for me to read? Why or why not?

A:  That’s so kind of you to say, a writer can only hope that readers enjoy their stories and this is a fun, summer read.  I was aiming for a book to read whilst waiting at the airport, lying on the beach or on a wet afternoon curled up in a chair.  Something fun, reflecting the trials of real life ups and downs, but with a happy ending.

It was amazing fun developing the characters; Katherine really is crazy and James is unusual.  Mark Ainsley-Thomas, the astrologer, was my interpretation of a talented, wise and worldly astrologer. All three became my best friends and it was a little tearful when I penned the last word on the last page.

Q:  Why do you love writing romance books? Do you have a favorite type of romance novel?

A:  I will always write stories with either a psychic or astrological connection, simply because those are two of my lifelong interests.  I began early in life reading historical romances and some of the literary classics – Woman In White by Wilkie Collins and Jane Austen, etc.  Then in my teens I turned to the Angelique series by Sergeanne Golon.  My lifelong love of romance was born.

When I finally hit the point in my life where I could devote my time to writing, I was as surprised as anyone that my first book was a psychic romance!  I spend a lot of time developing the characters to make them real.  What is interesting in life is that two people witnessing something will often go away with two completely different interpretations.  That’s why I write from the perspectives of several of the characters in each of my novels, I feel it allows the reader to understand the emotions going on and why things often go wrong.  However, I also believe that life is really about the pursuit of happiness with someone you love and who loves you equally as passionately in return.  It isn’t easy, it’s often sad – but there will be highs and lows on the way, plus lots of laughter!

Q: What kinds of other books have you written?

A: My debut novel Touched By The Light is about a young woman who finds herself following the light and suddenly involved in the lives of two strangers whose relationship is falling apart.  The next book I wrote is the true story of why I now believe in life after death, it’s called Being A Sceptic Is Oh So Easy.  It is a diary really of incidents that have happened to me since early childhood and my thoughts on luck, coincidences, déjà vu and intuition.  I was a sceptic despite everything I’d witnessed, but one series of incidents meant I had to face up to the reality of what it all meant.  It really is a case of being a sceptic is easy, it’s coming out that’s hard…

Q: As an author, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve had?

A: I only began writing in 2009. I wrote for about sixteen months without a break, working long days and completed five manuscripts.  However I had no idea what to do with them.  I dabbled with self-publishing and then earlier this year signed a contract with Sapphire Star Publishing.  With The Quintessential Gemini having released on Jun 7, 2012 and The Restaurant coming out on Aug 2, 2012 it’s been quite intensive, but amazing fun!  So I’d say the whole of 2012 is my biggest challenge so far, but my stars say I’m up to it!

Q:  What are some of the most positive times you’ve had creating or marketing your books?

The most recen

A: The support from readers has been amazing. I’ve received Emails from people I don’t know from around the world and some have identified with psychic elements I’ve included in my books. They often go on to tell me about their own experiences and that really touches my heart, as it’s always really personal.

The most recent comment I received was for The Quintessential Gemini, someone who had read my debut novel and wasn’t expecting the second to be chick lit.  She said I’d caused her to get sunburnt, ignoring calls from her boyfriend to go inside ‘I’ll just read to the end of this chapter…..’ but ended up finishing off the entire book.  Comments like that truly are the greatest compliment any writer could ask for.  However, I hope it’s a one off as I’d hate to think of anyone getting sunburnt!

Q: Describe your road to publishing, please. Any advice for aspiring writers or authors?

It was sheer fluke that I submitted to Sapphire Star Publishing when I saw one of their Tweets calling for submissions.  So I would say to anyone, write the best manuscript you can (you will know in your heart if it’s right), believe in it and submit to publishers you feel are a good fit for you.  I cannot explain how supportive the Sapphire Star team are, or how much I’ve learnt since I’ve been with them.  It really is a partnership and I know my work will be better because of that fact.

Q: What can we expect from you in the future? What are you currently working on?

A:  The Restaurant @ The Mill is coming out on August 2, 2012 and is the story of a couple who run a restaurant, which is set in an old flour mill.  It is six stories interwoven as the reader is introduced to some of the customers and the ghost of Sarah, who wanders around in search of her husband.

My current work in progress is The Glass Wall and is a psychic romance with a twist.

Q: What is the BEST thing about living in the UK??

A:  We’ve moved around quite a bit and many of the homes we’ve had have been picture-book cottages, including one stone hunting lodge over 250 years old.  We currently live in a converted cow shed and hayloft, in a small village called Arlingham on the edge of the River Severn.

What it has given me is a wealth of psychic experiences linked to the history of some of the properties we’ve lived in, in addition to other experiences that were more personal.  However, we did have a quite freaky experience when we visited Boston and stayed in the White Mountains.  Fortunately it occurred on the last night of a three-week stay, as it was so unsettling I’m not sure what we would have done if it had happened on the first night.  It was really quite frightening at the time and fortunately I’ve had very few experiences that I would class as ‘bad’.

What we love about where we live now is the peace, quiet and the beautiful green Gloucestershire countryside.

Q: How can readers get in touch with you? Blog? Website? Social Networking? Please name as many as you wish.

A:  Readers can find me here:

Linn’s Website: http://linnbhalton.co.uk/
Twitter Account @LinnBHalton: http://bit.ly/ksXMDS
Loveahappyending.com
Author Page: http://loveahappyending.com/linn-b-halton/
Facebook Pages:
 Linn B Halton and Author Linn B Halton
Sapphire Star Publishing:
  http://sapphirestarpublishing.com/ssp/linnbhalton/

Q: Where can your books be purchased?

A: Buy online via Amazon, order at bookstores using the ISBN numbers, or contact me via my website (above) if you would like signed copies.

Amazon.co.uk (buy) – ebook: http://ow.ly/bpQ5R  paperback: http://ow.ly/boyTk

Amazon.com (buy) –  ebook: http://ow.ly/bpQtb paperback: http://ow.ly/boz06

Erin:  Thank you Linn, for stopping by my blog and I hope you’ll come back again soon!

Linn:  It’s been a thrill and a delight Erin, you’ve been amazing!  For a new author like myself, it is a great honour to be featured and I would like to take this opportunity to say a huge ‘thank you’.  This Gemini (yes, I’m one too….) would like to say to this Virgo, we share some common traits and if I hadn’t been born under the sign of the Twins, then my next choice would have been Virgo.  Both of our star signs indicated that we don’t always make our own lives easy.  We tend to work too hard, be perfectionists and are tireless at times, so even people simply watching us often feel exhausted, but it’s a fun way to live one’s life.

Erin comments: Thanks Linn! I am so glad we are somewhat kindred spirits. I can tell that both of us also have big hearts, smile alot, and love to live life

***********************************************************************************************************

Author Linn B. Halton, Bio~

Linn B Halton lives in theUK, in the small GloucestershirevillageofArlingham, on the banks of the River Severn with her adorable husband and cat with attitude – Mr Tiggs! She writes romantic fiction with a psychic or astrological theme and many of the paranormal events that feature in her books are real life experiences.

Linn is also a featured new Author on http://loveahappyending.com/ and Editor of the feature ‘Author & Associate Catch-Ups’ including ‘Reader/Author Team Reports’ on the website’s magazine-style blog.

Linn’s Website: http://linnbhalton.co.uk/
Twitter Account @LinnBHalton: http://bit.ly/ksXMDS
Facebook Pages: Linn B Halton and Author Linn B Halton

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Sara’s Smile Novella a Romantic Happy Read for a Day at the Lake

Sara’s Smile, a novella by the romance writer Sandra Bunino, was such a fun read. Having no idea at first that it was a novella, I began reading it one night when I couldn’t quite sleep thinking I’d just start on it. I couldn’t stop reading it (it was very good) and sure enough, I completed it before I knew it. I was looking for more to happen, like maybe a crisis or something.  But it was just a good happy ending, which was so refreshing. And here I am wishing and hoping to read more on this couple, because I wasn’t ready for it to end.

The characters were so engaging and well-drawn out even with it being such a short novella. It’s totally worth buying if you want a something romantic to read one day while your kids are building a sand castle at the lake. For anyone that had young love and dreams of one day being reunited, this read is about you. I am not wishing for that myself, but it still made my heart feel good to read about a little happiness and love when we are so surrounded by chaos in our lives. Sometimes our decisions lead us to bad choices and we misinterpret people or miscommunicate, but when it comes to love you’ve almost always got to lay your heart on the line for happiness to pay off, right?

I loved how the author features her main character as a restorer of older homes, as the author presents to us a “restored” love. Very light, romantic, soft and fun novella that anyone can enjoy.

Here is the Synopsis for Sara’s Smile:

As an architect who specializes in restorations, Sara Wiley is a genius at returning neglected structures to their former glory. But when it comes to her own life, she has no idea how to reclaim the ruins, which are all that remain of her first true love.

When the biggest opportunity of her career and a sexy contractor comes her way, she’s thrilled…until she learns that the client is the long-ago boy who captured her heart and continues to invade her dreams. Is it a bittersweet coincidence or might there be a chance, after all, for Sara to revisit the mistakes of her past and build the future she has wanted for so long?

Author Sandra Bunino, Bio

Sandra Bunino began a love of romance stories while penning a creative writing assignment in high school. The story ended with the heroine receiving a long stem red rose in her locker on Valentine’s Day. Since then, all of her stories feature the hero presenting the heroine with roses. Sandra is constantly searching for different ways to achieve a heart-pumping, stomach-flipping, breath-catching reaction from her readers.

These days, Sandra lives on a wooded mountaintop not far from New York City with her family. She always looks forward to hearing from her readers and she may be contacted at sbunino@gmail.com. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter (@sandrabunino).

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Mandy Baggot Offers Romance Fit for Summer Reading with Novel Taking Charge!

If you’re a fan of contemporary romance of the light variety, then Mandy Baggot’s books might make a great summer read for you while you’re relaxing with the kids by the pool. Her current book, Taking Charge, was just published by Sapphire Star Publishing, but she has at least four other books under her pen (instead of belt. Ha!).

Mandy Baggot’s writing is fun, simple, and clear. The characters in Taking Charge, especially the main romantic couple of Robyn and Cole, struggle with everyday crazy life issues, regrets, and emotions that make us laugh, shake our head, cry, and relate.

Robyn may seem a little over the top to some readers, but really…many of us know the type. High-strung, talk a lot, controlling, managerial, stubborn, and ironically, quite hilarious when you roll it into one young woman trying to understand her life and where she fits. She’s dealing with past hurts that harden you to people and make you not able to bond, especially to men. However, through all her toughness, she becomes quite endearing as well.

When she meets Cole for the first time at the airport, she is immediately drawn to him like she’s never been drawn to anyone. The immediate romance (woah, her timing on the first kiss made me say “what?”) that ignites as they end up in the same town, and in three days in the same house, may seem quick to some. However, for those that truly understand love at first sight, or wish to have it, it will seem amazing and you’ll be pulling for them to overcome their past emotional baggage.

The book is light romance and by that I mean it’s not over sexual or erotic in nature as many romances can be. It is sweet and endearing with focus on the romance of the heart, instead of in the pants. Myself, I prefer that. Maybe some won’t, but I like reading their story without feeling as if I’m spying on them in the bedroom. I don’t need the heat.

It was a quick read for me and one I’d recommend to anyone who likes contemporary romance full of emotional romance and drama. Also, since a lot of the book focuses on Robyn’s rebuilding her dad’s ice hockey team and roadhouse, it’s a plus if you like sports like me. Robyn is a bit of a tomboy. Cole is just the sweetest man on the face of the Earth and a wish for any woman.  I really felt the characters emotions through the writing. A few annoyed me, but most connected to me.

A few mishaps with British versus American English, but most of them they pre-edited into Robyn’s character as her own struggle with coming back to her hometown in Michigan from England.

If you are looking for a light, simple romance for the beach or poolside, then this one is for you! It deals with some heavy life issues, but Mandy Baggot does a great job of keeping the book’s tone airy and focuses on her characters overcoming anything that life throws their way. You’ll never feel heavy reading this book, you’ll just root for the characters (and the hockey team)!

Taking Charge Synopsis:

Is going back Robyn’s only way forward?

American-born Robyn Matthers is going home. With her dad in hospital, his roadhouse in ruins and the ice hockey team slipping down the league, she needs to take charge. But does she have the strength to do it?

Cole Ryan is a hockey player on a personal mission. He’s tall, dark, hot and Robyn’s noticed! But can she trust her feelings – or his? And what will Cole do when he finds out the truth about her?

Robyn returns to Michigan and things aren’t quite the same. Her best friend has grown up and is thinking about marriage and babies, the ice hockey team is no longer the life blood of the community and her father is engaged!

When Robyn’s twin cousins drag up past events that hold painful memories for her, she and Cole are forced together. But are either of them ready to start something new?

 With an ill father, a trailer trash almost step-mom and ex-boyfriend Brad desperate for another chance, does Robyn have time to contemplate a relationship? Does she really want one? And is it physically possible for two people to fall in love in just three days?

 Interview with Author Mandy Baggot

Hi Mandy, it’s so nice to meet you! Thank you for stopping by Oh, for the Hook of a Book! I hope we can chat a little bit about you and your books.

Thank you so much for having me on your website, Erin!

Erin:  You’ve written several novels in the romance genre. How would you describe your books to prospective readers? What type of romance do you write?

Mandy: Well, I always tell people I write strong contemporary romance and characters you’ll fall in love with and I think my readers will agree with that. I write romance set in the present day with characters usually in their twenties or thirties who live quite ordinary lives until something happens to shake that up a bit. It might be an urgent situation they’re thrown into or it might just be the two lead characters meeting that makes them question the way their life is heading.

Erin:  What is the best thing you like about writing romantic literature?

Mandy: I love creating that chemistry between the lead male and the lead female. I love writing their dialogue, showing the readers who they are by what they say and hopefully creating a bit of magic.

Erin:  Do you think you’ll always write romance or do you hope to try out other genres?

Mandy: I will always write romance, it is what I’m passionate about. I like to write about things that could happen to any one of us. We all know what it feels like to fall in love and be in love and I adore writing about that. Having said that, the latest project I am working on could probably be classed as a romantic thriller. There are guns, secrets and lies and kidnappings.

Erin:  How did you start writing?

Mandy: I’ve written since I was at school – all romance! Then in 2008 I took part in a scheme supported by the Arts Council of England to produce books and get new writers into the marketplace.  Excess All Areas was my first novel and I self-produced three other books after this, Breaking the Ice, Knowing Me Knowing You and Strings Attached.

Erin: What are some positive experiences you’ve had during your writing career?

Mandy: I try and treat every experience as a positive one – having great reviews from readers is one of the things I like best about being a writer. But two great things that have happened to me this year are signing my contract with Sapphire Star Publishing and being named one of the Rising Stars of UK Romantic Fiction for 2012.

Erin: What are some of the challenges you’ve faced while writing and marketing your books? What about with publishing?

Mandy: Writing, editing and marketing all take time and you have to make time to ensure the success of your books. I’ve had lots of rejections from agents and publishers but I’m passionate about what I do and I know it isn’t just luck that makes you succeed, it’s hard work, determination and persistence!

Erin: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Mandy: Just keep writing! I have lots of aspiring writers talking to me in bookstores and emailing me telling me how much they admire what I’ve done and asking my advice. Just keep your love of writing going, realize that the road to publication can be a long and hard one, but never give up.

Erin:  I know you are from theUK. Have you always lived in theUK? What do you like best about it?

Mandy: Yes, I’ve always lived in theUK. I’m lucky to live in the countryside too and that’s where I’m most at home. I like the quiet and the space. It’s nice to be able to come home to a haven but know you’re not too far away from the town. I mean I would miss those karaoke bars!

Erin: In your newest book, Taking Charge, your main character comes back the U.S. after living abroad. How difficult was it to infuse American culture and language into your novel?

Mandy: Well of course I thought this was easy and I had it all down – until I met the lovely people at Sapphire Star Publishing! My dad lives in theUS, in fact he lives in Portage, MI, where the novel is set. When I went out to visit him I stayed a month and really embraced everything about it. There are many language and cultural differences and I have to say I had so much fun learning US English and teaching UK English to Sapphire Star.

Erin:  How do you formulate your characters for your novels? What gives you inspiration?

Mandy: My novels always start with the lead male and lead female and they just evolve as the story takes shape. I get to know them while I am writing and often they write traits into their characters that I hadn’t even considered. Of course the lead male always has to be hot – that’s a given!

Erin: What’s next on the writing horizon for you, Mandy?

Mandy: Well I am about 35,000 words into my latest manuscript and it’s called ‘Security’. It’s about a pop star called Autumn Raine and her bodyguard and ex-Special Forces soldier Nathan Regan. Autumn is due to perform at the International Music Awards but she’s received kidnap threats. Who’s behind it? Who do you trust?

Erin: How can fans get in touch with you? Please list as many outlets as you’d like.

Mandy: You can follow me on Twitter @mandybaggot or friend me on Facebook or join as a member on my website www.mandybaggot.webs.com. I also have a profile on Goodreads.

Erin: Where can interested readers find your books?

Mandy: All my books are available on Amazon!

Thank you, Mandy, for stopping by my blog to chat today! I hope you have amazing success in the future.

Thank you for having me, Erin – they were great questions!

***********************************************************************************************************

Mandy Baggot, Author Bio

Mandy Baggot is a self-confessed Twitter addict who likes to sing on YouTube. She regularly guests on book blogs and is a featured author on the innovative website loveahappyending.com. Taking Charge is her fifth novel. Mandy lives near Salisbury,Wiltshire,UK, with her husband and two daughters.

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In His Eyes Anthology a Great Valentine Present: A Collection of Short Stories

Looking for a fun new read for you or a young adult in your life? I wanted to tell you about a new anthology called IN HIS EYES that is just perfect.  You can buy it TODAY for Valentine’s day!! It’s the perfect read to snuggle up to with a box of chocolates, a blanket, and tea. Read on in the blog for information about the collection and authors involved, as well as an exclusive interview about how the anthology came about from one of the authors you won’t want to miss!

A wonderful group of writers (they call themselves *The Indelibles* and write young adult fiction–check them out on FB) have put together a fun book of short stories based on either male characters in their already published books or new ones they’ve dreamed up just for your enjoyment. They told me they just want to give back to all the fabulous readers out there!!

I’ve read THE VEIL by Cory Putman Oakes and loved it and just recently also posted about author S.R. Johannes, who wrote Untraceable and On the Bright Side. Both of their short stories are fabulous as well as many of the others. If you’ve read their books, you’ll love some of the new perspective from favorite male characters. If you haven’t read their books, as with many of these for me, you’ll definitely want to go grab their books soon too because they’ll leave you wanting more, either from the characters you’ve met or from liking their writing style. This is a great collection for any lover of YA fiction.

The anthology is a FREE e-book from Smashwords.com!!! No strings attached (Note: .99 cents on Amazon and Barnes and Noble).

Promotional Blurb

*The Indelibles*bring you a one-of-a-kind young adult anthology! Sixteen original short stories, all from the point of view of our favorite male characters – some are old flames from our novels and some were dreamed up especially for this anthology.  Let these imminently crushable, swoon-worthy guys show you what romance looks like – IN HIS EYES.

Contributing Authors

The contributors to IN HIS EYES include award winners, frequent “Top 100” placers, and hot 2011 debut authors:

Surprise, Surprise by Stacey Wallace Benefiel, author of Glimpse: Half the women in Melody’s family can see the future, which makes it nearly impossible for Raleigh to surprise her. What’s a guy to do for Valentine’s Day when his girlfriend is always one step ahead of him?

First Kiss or First Kill? by C.K. Bryant, author of Bound: Love isn’t always rainbows and kittens, sometimes it can be downright deadly. (A deleted chapter from Bound.)

Shattered by Ali Cross, author of Become: James and Desi use each other in an effort to cling to the darkness in each of them, but in the end they discover that love changes you. (A chapter of Become from James’ POV.)

Before by Jessie Harrell, author of Destined: When a younger Eros is exiled to a land that doesn’t believe in the Greek gods, he finds the first love of his immortal life. Read Eros’ first person account of his romance, and heartbreak, in the time before he met Psyche.

The Qualm Before the Storm by Karen Amanda Hooper, author of Tangled Tides. Yara Jones doesn’t want to be a mermaid. Treygan doesn’t want to be the monster who turns her. You can’t always get what you want. (A short prequel to Tangled Tides.)

Unspeakable by S.R. Johannes, author of Untraceable: When Mo sees a strange girl in the woods, he follows her. He soon realizes they are both in a dangerous position and might not get out alive.

In the Beginning by Katie Klein, author of Cross My Heart: Seth is falling hard for Genesis Green, but the guardian angel is determined not to interfere, until an accident changes the course of their lives forever. (A short prequel to The Guardian.)

A Chance Encounter by Cheri Lasota, author of Artemis Rising: Finnian’s eyes hide a terrible secret. But a girl on the train home, the girl in tears with a secret of her own…She sees right through him. A scene from the upcoming novel, Echoes in the Glass.

Family Bonds by Heather McCorkle, author of The Secret of Spruce Knoll: A Halloween party filled with teens who can channel energy and use it to kill, what could go wrong? For Spruce Knoll fans who are dying to read more about Fane.

Getting Closer by Lisa Nowak, author of Running Wide Open: Megan is smart, hot, and an upperclassman—in other words, way out of Cody’s league. So why did she choose him? (An excerpt of Getting Sideways.)

Precalculus by Cory Putman Oakes, author of The Veil: a re-telling of the fateful class period that changed Addison Russell’s life, from Luc’s point of view (a.k.a. Chapter 2 of The Veil from Luc’s perspective)

The Almost Assassin by Laura Pauling, author of A Spy Like Me, releasing Spring 2012: Malcolm tries his hand at the family business but his conscience and a beautiful “spy” may be his downfall.

Mind Games by Susan Kaye Quinn, author of Open Minds: Raf wants to take Kira—the only girl in school who doesn’t read minds—to the mindware Games, but his friends have other plans. (A short prequel to Open Minds.)

By The Firelight by Elle Strauss, author of Clockwise: When Nate McKenzie asks an unpopular girl to dance on a dare, he’s in for the time of his life.

A Very Alien Valentine’s Day by Magan Vernon, author of How To Date An Alien: After surviving confinement and an intergalactic war for his human half, Alex, now he has to live through the biggest challenge of them all: Valentine’s Day.

Aligned by RaShelle Workman, author of Exiled: A half-Eternal boy and an Eternal girl must free millions of tortured souls from a creature whose been feasting on their pain and suffering.

Interview

We nabbed an exclusive interview with author Cory P. Oakes of THE VEIL. She is a contributor to the short story collection and we asked her a few simple questions about the IN HIS EYES Anthology. Check it out!

Q:  Where did this anthology come from?

A:  IN HIS EYES is a group effort of sixteen members of *The Indelibles*. We are a group of indie and small-press published authors. We host a blog (LINK: http://indeliblewriters.blogspot.com/) where we discuss a variety of fun, fierce and fabulous topics, all relating to Middle Grade and Young Adult writing. We thought it would be really fun to come out with a Valentines Day offering for our readers – something really cool and just a little bit different (kind of like us!).

Q:  What was the idea behind the anthology?

A:  We wanted to introduce people to us and to our books – and we thought a unique way to do that would be to display our writing-worlds (and our writing styles) from the point of view of our male characters. What’s more romantic than getting the guy’s side of the story?

All of the short stories from IN HIS EYES are told from a male point of view. Some of them are original shorts we made up just for this book, others are reworkings of previous writings from a new point of view (for example, my short story is called Precalculus and it’s a re-telling of Chapter 2 of THE VEIL, from the point of view of the love interest). And since it’s Valentines Day, all of the stories have a romantic angle to them.

Q:  How challenging was it to write from the male perspective?

A:  I think the members of the Indelibles who were more used to writing from a male point of view found it pretty straight-forward . . . but I for one found it very challenging! I tend to write almost exclusively from the female point of view – I had only done male characters in third-person, so jumping right into a male character’s head and writing in first-person was totally new to me.

I actually wrote a blog post about my struggles to “write like a dude” (LINK: http://www.corypoakes.com/news-and-events/writing-dude-grunt-grunt-scratch-scratch/): the gist of it was that my first attempt was absolutely horrendous! It wasn’t until I was able to remember that my character had qualities other than just being “a dude” that I was able to get inside his head. I am ultimately very proud of “Precalculus” and how much the voice in it really does sound like the “Lucas Stratton” I have had floating around inside my head for years. It took a long while to get there, but it was worth it. It actually really helped motivate me to get cracking on the sequel to THE VEIL – getting some new insight into Luc really helped to give me some fresh perspective on the series in general.

 Q:  What do *The Indelibles* hope to accomplish with this anthology?

 A:  Well, we’ve put it up for free on Smashwords and for just .99 cents on Amazon and Barnes and Noble – so we’re not trying to make a killing here, moneywise. Really, this is our Valentines Day gift to our readers. And of course we hope that if people really enjoy our short stories, they will be motivated to check out our books as well. (It worked for me! I now have a whole list of books I want to read, just from the various shorts I got to proof-read during the course of doing this anthology!)

 Q:  Where can one get a copy of the anthology?

A:  IN HIS EYES was released as an ebook for free on Smashwords at:
(LINK: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/129467)

and for just .99 cents on Amazon:
(LINK: http://www.amazon.com/In-His-Eyes-Anthology-ebook/dp/B00760G5CE/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1329243075&sr=1-1)

and Barnes&Noble.com:
(LINK: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/in-his-eyes-anthology-sr-johannes/1108613162).

You can also add it to your shelves on Goodreads by going to:
(LINK: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13331838-in-his-eyes-anthology)

Thanks Cory, the book is a fabulous idea! Happy Valentine’s Day!!

 

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Romance Time with Rhiannon Ellis: Bonded in Brazil and Dark Wolf Protector Reviewed

Bonded in Brazil, Contemporary Romance

Bonded in Brazil, by Rhiannon Ellis, looked so good I could hardly wait to whittle away a sleepless night with it. Normally, I’m not the romance book type, unless it is historical and/or paranormal first and foremost but Ellis’ book called out to me.  Its voice certainly didn’t disappoint, as the cross-culture and society romance found a place in my heart as quickly as I could turn the pages. This was one romance I couldn’t put down as the clock ticked later into the night.

I loved the emotions emitted by both the main characters, Eliana Menino and Hale Forester. I loved how Eliana helped to heal Hale from his loss and loneliness with her vibrant personality and love of life. You could just picture what a gorgeous couple they would make, even as they fought through their attraction, sometimes giving in to desire and sometimes putting up walls. I loved how this book didn’t throw cheesy sex scenes at me that made me feel like I was intruding, but yet revealed their passion for each other slowly.

While reading it, I was reminded of one of my favorite romantic movies, A Walk in the Clouds (the romantic movie with Keanu Reeves). It was probably the strong female character, the hot male character, the lure of a beautiful vineyard of grapes, and the dance of would be lovers.  It wasn’t until later that I found out that the movie was partly Ellis’ inspiration for the book.

In Bonded by Brazil, Eliana’s family owns a vineyard in Brazil which is having financial difficulties and unable to pay back a loan secured by her father through Hale’s business. They are in fear of losing their heritage, the grape fields and Eliana goes to work as a maid for Hale in order to pay it back so her family can keep their vineyard. 

As they both struggle with deep emotions, each is too proud to let the other know how they truly feel.  Their love grows amid a backdrop of a beautiful Napa Valley estate and is surrounded by a cast of characters that assist in taking the story through a puzzle of deceit, drama, confusion, hurt, passion, and stubbornness. All of her characters are so vividly detailed and you’ll feel so intwined with them.

As the story ended as a happily ever after, I still hoped for a sequel to not only see what happens in the lives of Eliana and Hale, but of Eliana’s brother and the new love he also finds during his visit to the estate. My wish has been granted as Ellis has a sequel that is due to come out next year tentatively called Harvesting the Heart.

I love Ellis’ play on the theme of a vineyard and the caring of grapes, tying it to how we can nurture and tend love in our hearts. Her romance is one that melted my senses and I can’t wait to read the sequel. I recommend reading Bonded in Brazil on one of the upcoming chilly Autumn or Winter evening and definitely while enjoying a glass of wine by the fireplace or candlelight.

Buy this book:  http://www.amazon.com/Bonded-Brazil-Rhiannon-Ellis/dp/1603818464/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1301592162&sr=8-1

Dark Wolf Protector, Paranormal Romance

If you’re in the mood for a hot and sexy paranormal romance novella with handsome men, aka werewolves, then Ellis also has another romance you might like called Dark Wolf Protector. It has a strong-minded beautiful native american heroine, a handsome werewolf hero and set in the sultry South. 

But you gotta like it HOT, because this romance is much more steamy than Bonded in Brazil. Maybe it is the animal magnatism (hehe), but the scenes in this book are much more detailed. I don’t prefer these kind of scenes in my romance novels which are always so quick to arouse women right off the bat, but Ellis’ creation of characters and plot far outweigh these instances. I liked how real and strong-willed  Jaci Waters, the main character, is and her emotional journey from normal life into the paranormal.

Jaci is Tall Oak’s resident animal protector and rescuer, but when the people of the trailer park community cry out against the animal that is frightening them, she works even harder with the Sheriff to persuade them not to kill the wolf. Only she knows she dhas even more of a motive than animal rights.  She is allured by tall, dark and handsome Tall Oaks visitor Dolton Freye.  Dolton has come to Tall Oaks to protect Jaci, but someone else is hanging around too….and in the meantime, she finds out a mystery from her past as well as a secret of her own.

It’s an entertaining, deep south type of romance. It does contain explicit language and detailed sex scenes, but some of you love that (wink). It was a fun read; a paranormal escape with hot sex scenes–a steamy romance for a day at the beach or a rainy day where you want to curl up and be entertained.

Buy this book at: http://www.cobblestone-press.com/catalog/books/darkwolfprotector.htm

Rhiannon Ellis, author

I’ve got to know Rhiannon a little bit and I just LOVE her! She is such young, vibrant, hilarious lady who is a busy mom fitting in her writing as she can. I hope you enjoy her writing and connect with her. From my observation, she loves her children, her husband, writing, and football!!

Rhiannon Ellis turned a hobby into a career in 2008 when she wrote her first novel. Less than three years later, this stay-at-home mom has had two romance books published and there are more in the works.

She is a writer of romance, paranormal romance and mainstream fiction. She is a voracious reader and researcher. Her debut novel–Bonded in Brazil–was released in March of 2011 from Camel Press. She is represented by literary agent Dawn Dowdle of the Blue Ridge Literary Agency.  Rhiannon’s paranormal romance–Dark Wolf Protector–was published shortly after from Cobblestone Press.

Rhiannon says, “WhenI tell people that I’m a writer, they envision me sitting at a computer all day and late into the night, typing away as my muse has my full attention. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. I’m a mom and my days are for my children. Time to write is sparse and comes sporadically, so I’m constantly throwing my writer’s hat on and off throughout the day.”

Rhiannon resides in Columbia County, Wisconsin, with her husband of eight years, Chad, and their two young children, Cameron and Dane. She is also the proud stepmom of thirteen-year-old Taylor.

Catch the interview below and connect with her on her website or online–those contacts are also below.

Interview

Q: What is your day job?

A:  I’m a stay at home mom to my 3-year-old son and 5 (almost 6 in a few weeks)-year-old daughter. I spend my days like most moms with young kids—cleaning, cooking, battling an endless pile of laundry—and cherish every second of it. Well, except for the laundry. I could without that. I love being at home with my kids and feel very blessed that I’m able to do so when so many moms cannot. My “day job” is something I don’t take for granted.  I’m now homeschooling too, so that throws another interesting element into the mix.

Q: What is the most challenging part of the writing process?

A:  Finding time that is quiet and uninterrupted–and I think most moms can relate to that. When I’m working on a story, I try to write every day, though it usually comes in spurts as I revolve writing around my sometimes-hectic household.

Q:  Did you experience writer’s block?

A:  When I wrote simply for fun, yes I did. Now that I write for fun and career purposes, I don’t. My mindset is this is something that has to get done—like laundry, ugh—so just do it. This works for me.

Q:  What is the biggest misconception about writing a book?

A:  The biggest misconception is that writing is the hardest part. Yes, writing is work and takes skill as well as creativity, but landing an agent and/or publisher is the toughest part. I’ve read dozens of self-published books and have been shocked that these books were overlooked by publishers. There’s a lot of talent out there, but a novel gets turned down if it’s not marketable enough for publishing standards. I feel very blessed to have had agent and publisher interest—sometimes humbled because I wonder why I deserved it more than some other authors I’ve run across.

Q:  Oprah has famously said that there is no such thing as luck, without preparation and a moment of opportunity. Would you agree or disagree with regard to your own success as a writer?

A:  I’m leaning toward agreeing, based on my own experience. I have to wonder if the “opportunity” part is mostly luck, though. I feel like I’ve been given many great opportunities throughout my life in general, whereas others have not. Is this luck? Have I created these opportunities for myself? I truly don’t know. But I’m grateful, whatever the cause.

Q: What do you pledge to your readers?

A:  With every book, I promise to create dynamic, genuine characters and heroic women. I will also place these characters in exciting locations that will take you–the reader–away from the everyday of your own life and offer escape into a world with exotic fragrances and flavors–a metaphorical room with a view.

Thank you so much for sharing a little of yourself with my readers, Rhiannon. It has been great getting to know you. You are a very real example of a young mother with a writing dream, making her vision come true! Keep on the look out, readers, as Rhiannon will be back soon guest blogging here about the life of being a writer/full-time mom!

Contacting Rhiannon Ellis

Website: www.rhiannonellis.com

Facebook page: (Click Here)

Twitter page: (Click Here)

Blog: http://rhiannonellis.blogspot.com/

FOR MOMS: Rhiannon contributes regularly to MomsEveryday.com–a great place for moms!


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