Monday, October 25, 2010

Edith and the Mysterious Stranger - Historical Romance and Halloween!

Have you ever wondered how Halloween got started? Did you know that the Irish immigrants brought the tradition to America in the 1800s? All my books are “sweet” romances for teens and adults. Listen to the video and read the sample chapter below and list one thing that grabs your attention. By the way, the excerpt doesn’t reveal who the mysterious stranger is. Happy Reading!

Edith and the Mysterious Stranger
A Family Saga in Bear Lake, Idaho

With mysterious letters, cattle rustlers, a spunky woman, the liar's fire, Halloween, and young love, there is always something happening. Edith has wonderful qualities but never gives a man a second chance because her expectations are so high. However, all that changes when a mysterious stranger begins to write to her. For the first time, she gets to know a man's inner soul before making any harsh judgments. Whoever he is, this man is a mystery and the best thing that has ever happened to her.
Halloween Day

Edith finished brushing her wavy black tresses and allowed them to fall gracefully down to her shoulders. She would dress up as a Spanish señorita for Halloween. She grabbed a red flowered skirt and pulled it on. It had three gathered tiers with a wide ruffle at the bottom. Then she pulled on a simple white peasant blouse that tied at the neck. Next she hung a dangling gold earring from each ear and slipped on her black shoes.

Halloween was one of Edith's favorite times of the year because family and neighbors would get together and dress up in festive costumes, eat foods of the season, and play games. The custom of Halloween started in Europe during the harvest season. The Europeans would celebrate the end of summer by having a harvest feast the last day of October. They would build bonfires to cook the feast and also to keep the ghosts away. They were a superstitious people and believed that ghosts roamed about on the last day of October. Hallow meant holy and e’en was short for evening. Because this celebration was the evening before All Hallows Day or All Saints Day, they decided to call it Halloween.

Smiling in the mirror, she pinched her cheeks for color and then carefully placed a red silk flower in her dark tresses just above her ear for decoration and color. The red flower and skirt brought out the beauty in her olive complexion. She truly looked like a lovely Spanish señorita.
Edith felt pleased with her costume. Her heart beat a little faster this afternoon and her spirits were high. She was not sure if her mysterious stranger would appear, but she had high hopes.

As she walked into the kitchen, her mother turned to look at her. Martha’s eyes widened, and then she smiled. “Oh my! Edith, you look radiant. I’ve never seen you look more beautiful.”

“Why, thank you, Mama. I appreciate that.”

“This young man is going to be knocked out of his shoes. I know that, for sure. He’d better be holding onto something when he sees you.”

Edith laughed. Her laughter was light and cheerful, and Martha laughed along with her.

“Mama, what if he doesn’t come?”

“Don’t worry. I know he’s coming.”

“How do you know?”

“Just a feeling.” Martha smiled and then held up an envelope for her to see. “I have a letter for you that was dropped by today.”

She grabbed the envelope, tore it open, and pulled out the note. As she unfolded it, Edith held her breath. Staring at the words on the paper, she slowly let her breath out, and read, “Seven-thirty tonight.” Those were the only words on the note.

Edith swallowed and then looked up at her mother. Martha already knew that he was coming, but she asked, just the same. “Well? Is he coming?”

Edith nodded, not able to say a word. When it was seven o‘clock, she realized that her excitement had turned to nervousness. And then she became pale as she started to question herself and her feelings for this man. Doubts were coming in all forms and directions. She was getting cold feet. The old feelings were coming back. When she doubted the man’s ability to rise to her expectations, she would not give the man another chance.

As she paced the floor, questions gradually invaded her mind. What if he was not what she expected? What if he was dull in person and exciting only in his letters? What if he had a long nose and bulging eyes? What if he was way shorter than she? Heaven forbid! That would be awful. Most men she met were shorter than she was, and this dismayed her. Oh my, this was not going well!

Edith shook her head. “No, if he had a long nose, I would love it. If he had bulging eyes, I wouldn’t care. The person in those letters is whom I care about, not his looks. Besides, we’re only friends.” Then her eyes widened as she asked herself, “But what if he doesn't like me in person?”

A knock sounded at the door, and Edith’s eyes widened as she gasped. She stood frozen to the spot. Another knock came from the door and she tried to move, but her feet were not obedient. Nervousness had taken over, and she tried to overcome it by taking a few deep breaths. Her hands were trembling with anticipation, and her heart pounded furiously. When she noticed that her deep breaths were making her faint, she decided that deep breathing was not such a good idea after all. After a third knock, she let out a puff of air and then walked toward the door and opened it.

Standing before her was a Spanish bandido. He looked just like a desperado, and he fit the part perfectly. He was dressed all in black. He had on black boots, pants, shirt and hat. His black mask covered part of his nose and eyebrows, and all she could see were his soft blue eyes gazing at her. Between her uneasiness and her delight in seeing him, she was not sure how to greet him. Should she extend her hand for a handshake or what?

The bandido walked in with a grin on his face. He shut the door behind him and then stood where he was as his eyes swept over her. She was a vision of loveliness—breathtaking with her rich, black hair hanging softly to her shoulders and a red flower next to her cheek. Her dark eyes sparkled with happiness and her olive complexion glowed. He couldn’t help but notice how her dress enhanced the gentle curves of her figure.

When Edith saw how he was looking at her, she blushed and lowered her eyes. The way he was gazing at her made her feel beautiful.

Seeing that he had embarrassed her, he quickly spoke with a Spanish accent, “Señorita, como estas?”

Just hearing his voice sent her spirits soaring. It was low and gentle. Edith raised her eyes and smiled. She knew just a little Spanish and replied, “I’m fine. And you?”

Afraid that she would recognize his voice, he tried to avoid speaking English. If he really needed to, then he planned to whisper. He took her hand in his and said, “Señorita Bonita.” Then he bowed, tenderly lifted her hand, and pressed his lips intimately against the back of her hand, sending a tingling up her arm and to her heart.

Edith’s eyes widened as she blushed. “Señor, do you kiss the hand of every señorita you meet?”

Solamente tu.”

“Only me?” Edith’s eyes lowered once again and she blushed a second time.
The bandido smiled as if amused by her shy mannerisms. Still holding her hand in his, not wanting to let go, he whispered, “Señorita, you surprise me. Why are you so reserved with me? We have written to one another for several months now.”

Edith shook her head and took a deep breath. “I don’t know.”

The bandido smiled. His blue eyes studied her intently, searching for an answer. Edith’s attitude was enchanting and she looked so appealing to him. Not only that, her coy manner was refreshing. As he gazed warmly upon her, he realized this woman was very special—special to him. A strong desire to kiss her rose within him as his eyes trailed to her rosy lips. With an impulse of tenderness, he took her by the shoulders and placed a gentle kiss on her luscious lips. He was surprised at the depth of his emotions. Her closeness and tender kiss had their effects on him, causing his heart to pick up speed and turning his senses to mush. He had not planned to be so forward, but he could not help himself. He had fallen in love with Edith.

For Edith, this was completely unexpected. She was not only unprepared for what was happening at this very moment, but she was surprised at the emotions spreading through her. She felt happier than she had ever been in her entire life. And she knew this was what it felt like to be in love and to be cherished by another. This man had magnetic charm, and she instantly responded to it. His hands were strong, and his gentle touch made her heart sing. Her spirits rose, and a warm glow filled her heart as he squeezed her shoulders tenderly. His lingering kiss had made her heart skip several beats and she realized she was falling in love.

When the bandido released her lips and gazed into her eyes, delicious warmth filled his inner soul. A rush of love spread through him. He was smitten and he knew it. He ran his hand down the softness of her dark tresses, feeling the thick curls beneath his fingers. The scent of it smelled like rose water. She smelled so delicious. He gently touched her face longingly, feeling the smoothness of her skin beneath his palm. Unable to help himself, he cupped her face in his hand and slightly lifted her chin, and then gently pressed his warm lips to hers once again. He slowly enfolded her in his arms and held her close, feeling the softness of her in his embrace, caressing her back, and falling deeper in love than ever before. Warmth began to envelop him as he realized his true feelings for her. It was definitely time to go. He had lost his heart and had overstayed his visit.

He slowly stepped backwards as he gradually slid his hands down her arms, took her hands in his and squeezed them lovingly. When he gazed into her eyes, he noticed that his touch had taken her breath away. This made the bandido grin. He quickly backed up, bowed, and then turned on his heels and walked toward the door.
He gave a wink over his shoulder and said with a charming smile, “Adios, Señorita. Vaya con Dios.” Then he closed the door behind him.

Edith was dazed and her breathing was shallow. She swallowed and then drew in a breath, feeling a little lightheaded. What had just happened? She knew what had happened. That kiss had not only sent her a message of his adoring love, but it completely changed their relationship. He had actually sealed his love with one simple kiss. That was what had happened. In fact, it was more than just a simple kiss. That kiss definitely had its effects on her, causing her heart to beat erratically.

From now on, she would not think of him as just a friend. She knew that much. Not after that kiss. Not after it had made her feel wanted and needed. Their friendship had instantly changed with that one delectable kiss. Edith collapsed upon the sofa. As she tried to relive what had just happened, she realized that his voice was low and pleasant sounding. She liked it a lot. She was not disappointed in him at all.

Vaya con Dios,” she thought to herself. She knew what that meant. She smiled to herself. He had told her, “May God be with you.”

That was such a nice thought. She relaxed into the comfort of the sofa with a smile playing at the corners of her mouth. Her eyes closed as she recalled the evening and the softness of his lips once again…and again…and again.
(To find out why this mysterious stranger is writing to her in the first place, click on the book cover on the right side bar and read the excerpt from the book.)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Interview with Historical Romance Author Sarah M. Eden

A true romantic at heart, Sarah has a weakness for the Regency era in English history. It’s not just historical romance, but it’s romantic comedy. Comedy is second nature to her. She loves research and researches her time period with zeal. Sarah has published ten novels, has won an award for Best Romance category as a finalist, was 1st Place in the Arizona Chapter of American Mothers for the Short Story category, and has two children.

Hello Sarah. I absolutely love romantic comedy because I love to laugh. Please tell us about your new book, Courting Miss Lancaster.

Courting Miss Lancaster is an historical romance set in the era of Jane Austen, Napoleon, Mad King George. It will make readers laugh and sigh, but probably mostly laugh. And, of course, it has a very happy ending.

From the back cover: Harry Windover adores blonde, green-eyed Athena Lancaster, but alas, a penniless man like himself has no hope of winning a young noblewoman's hand. To add insult to injury, Athena's brother-in-law and guardian, the Duke of Kielder, has asked Harry to assist Athena in finding the gentleman of her dreams. But the lovesick Harry is cunning as well: as the weeks pass, he introduces Athena to suitors who are horrifically boring, alarmingly attached to their mothers, downright rude, astoundingly self-absorbed, and utterly ridiculous. Athena can't comprehend why she is having so little success meeting eligible and acceptable gentlemen. Indeed, her circle of admirers couldn't be less admirable--nothing like the loyal, gentle friend she's found in Harry. But how long can Harry's scheme be hidden before it is discovered? And what will Athena do when she uncovers Harry's deception? Escape into a charming regency world in this delightfully romantic comedy of manners that will entertain you to the very last word.

I love historical romance. You can learn a bit of history and be entertained at the same time. Where did you get your inspiration for your novel? Do you get your ideas from real life experiences?

Any character in my novel who is doing or saying something embarrassing was most likely inspired by real life experiences. Personal real life experiences. My life could likely be summed up as A Series of Embarrassing Events. There was the time in college I fell down half a flight of stairs and landed right at the feet of a totally hunky guy. Yea. That's gonna end up in a book somewhere. A great many of Miss Lancaster's suitors in Courting Miss Lancaster are exaggerated versions of guys I have actually known at some point in my life. Having said that, a lot of my writing is purely the work of my overactive imagination. I just sit back, think of the absolute craziest thing that could happen to a character and still fit in the context of the story, and just go with it.

I’m impressed. I wish I had a lot of hilarious experiences to use from my life. You wrote: “I'm not normal. I'm an author. I spend enormous amounts of time avoiding responsible things like cooking dinner and doing laundry and making vital phone calls. Instead, I fill my days with making up stories, talking to voices in my head, and laughing hysterically at my own wit.” This is hilarious. What does your husband say about your unconventional habits?

We will be celebrating our 11th wedding anniversary in August (hint, hint, honey--because I know you're reading this). After 11 years of wedded bliss, I think he's gotten used to me. I've never been "normal" so he knew, at least to a degree, what he was getting himself into.

My husband is also my Ultra Alpha Reader. He hears everything I write before anyone else--sometimes within a few minutes of me writing it. His job is to let me know if I've pushed things a little too far down the crazy trail, if my guys sound like girls and if I am "even making any sense at all." It's a tough job, but someone's got to do it.

Your husband sounds great. What does your family think about your writing style?

Probably anyone who knows me would never have pegged me as a romance writer before I delved into the genre. My romantic sensibilities are kept very tightly under wraps. When I first started letting my family know I was writing romances, I think they were a little skeptical. However, after reading my work and realizing that my style is "Romantic Comedy, With an Extra Helping of Comedy" it made a little more sense. The style definitely fits me.

It sounds like comedy comes easy for you. Since you write comedy, I’m sure you can tell us something about the real you that we’ll never forget.

Never forget, huh? I'd really prefer this be a "never forget" in a good way. Sadly, that narrows down the field a whole lot.
Does this something have to be true? Probably.
I know all the words to "Ice, Ice Baby." No. That's lame.
I had braces for 4 years. No. Too boring.
I lied on my drivers license--I put 5'0" but I am actually only 4'11". No. That's too "True Confessions"-y.
I have no idea. Maybe the real me is really, really forgettable. Maybe I need to go out and do something with my life. Nah. I'll just write another book.

Reading your unforgettable ideas was hilarious. That alone was worth asking the question! This was fun getting to know the unforgettable singing author who is 4’11”. Oh my gosh! I don’t believe I’ve ever met anyone that tall before, but then I come from a background of tall people. My dad was six feet and I take after him.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Interview with Romance Author Danielle Thorne

Danielle lives south of Atlanta, Georgia. In 2006, she won Honorable Mention in Writer’s Digest’s Annual Writing Competition and won the 2008 Awe-Struck Short Novel Contest. She was Co-Chair for the New Voices Competition for young writers and reviews books for online review sites. Her husband is an air traffic controller, she has four sons, is involved with BSA Scouting, and is the author of four books.

Hello Danielle. Tell us about your new book, By Heart and Compass.

By Heart and Compass is a sweet romance novel about letting go of your fears and moving forward in life with courage to take on new adventures. It's set in a small town in central Georgia and then moves to sea off the coast of Antigua. Here's the cover blurb:  
When Lacey Whitman buys a restored Victorian home, she never dreams discovering an antique diary will lead her back to sea and into the arms of the dive bum she’d rather forget. Her habit of living in the past comes to a screeching halt as diver Max Bertrand and the diary of his ancestor take Lacey on the quest of a lifetime: To discover and raise the privateer ship, Specter, and bring the treasure and legacy of a true hero home again. But will finding it cost her heart?

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

I'm quite the daydreamer, but when stories pop into my imagination I do everything I can to research anything I haven't experienced. Since writing sea-themed fiction, I've received my scuba certification and spent some time traveling to different places in the Caribbean. I also like to choose interests for my characters that I am already familiar with—for example, in my sweet romance, Turtle Soup, I made my heroine a caterer and deli owner, because I love to cook and know my Southern cuisine. In By Heart and Compass, I chose genealogy for my bookish main character, because I am in fact, a genealogist. It's a wonderful way to share my passions with other people. I try to not just write what I know, but to write what I care about. And writing has given me the opportunity to care about a lot of new things.

I love the idea of writing what you care about. A reviewer wrote, "I especially like the sayings before each chapter. Read as a pirate would say it.” You must have done a lot of research. Tell me your thoughts about this.

In doing some research on Antigua, I came across a clever saying, "Spider and fly can't make bargain." I started researching West Indies proverbs (which have African roots) and found so many thoughtful ones, I decided to collect them and use them for chapter headings. Trying to decide which ones fit with the action in each chapter was a challenge, but they all worked out wonderfully. Actually, each chapter's proverb should be read with a Caribbean accent. But a pirate's voice would work just as well. They're very close!

Wow! That must have been a lot of work to find all the right quotes, but very rewarding at the end. What does your family think?

My family is very supportive of the long hours I put into writing. They haven't actually read all my books, but having four sons, that's understandable. Nothing makes me happier than when someone mentions they heard from one of my boys that I'm an author. I suppose the idea that I'm a romance writer must be a bit embarrassing for them but they've never questioned it and they are all very good listeners when Mom needs to vent.

That’s wonderful your boys care so much. Can you tell us something about the real you that we’ll never forget.

Wow, that's a tough one. How about the first saltwater dive I ever did after getting my scuba certification? I'd only been exposed to lakes and rock quarries, so when I made my first descent off the coast of Destin, Florida, and was surrounded by a school of barracuda, I had one of the most intense conversations with God I've ever had. The fish were all around me (very curious fellows), and they followed me all the way down the ninety foot descent. Then later they returned and followed me back up! I'm not scared of them anymore, but it's not a comfortable situation to be in if you've seen the teeth on those bad boys.

Oh my gosh! I can’t even imagine the fear I’d have being face to face with just one. I can just imagine your prayers and how wide your eyes must have been at the sight of them. Now we know the real you, the author who swims with barracudas!!!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Interview with Mystery Writer Linda Faulkner

Author Linda M. Faulkner loves a good mystery. She says her middle initial stands for Mystery, with a capital M. In addition to writing mystery novels, Linda does freelance writing and teaches writing workshops. Second Time Around was an Award Finalist for best Mystery/Suspense fiction 2010 EPIC.

Hello, Linda. It’s so nice to have you on my blog. Please tell us about your new book, Second Time Around.

Second Time Around is a mystery set in the Rocky Mountains of western Montana. Timmie Campbell asks herself what she’s going to do when the dead body she stumbles across winds up belonging to her father, the father she thought abandoned her in infancy. Turns out her mother has been lying for years: about her father’s abandonment, about him not contacting them, about a lot of things. Unfortunately, Timmie can’t dwell on her mother’s deception because bodies begin piling up and she needs to stop the killer before he wipes out her entire family.

Whoa! This book sounds like a “page-turn.” Where did you get your inspiration for your novel? Do you get your ideas from real life experiences?

The opening scene of STA was inspired by a real-life event. My husband and I, who live in the Rocky Mountains of western Montana, were walking our dogs down the driveway. We heard a rustling in the trees alongside the driveway and my imagination went into overdrive as the dogs went on alert. “Wouldn’t it be neat if a dead body rolled down the hillside?” I asked my husband and the pooches. Stephen thought I was nuts. The dogs were used to such hypothetical questions: they knew I was imagining all sorts of murder and mayhem. In MY life, I much preferred the whitetail doe who pranced into view. In my fiction, the dead body worked out better.

As far as other ideas go, they come to me in a variety of ways: in dreams, when I’m driving or taking a shower, listening to the news, reading a newspaper or magazine article, and—here’s the best one: when eavesdropping in public places. I suppose it’s not eavesdropping when you’re in a restaurant and the couple in the booth next to you is talking loud enough to wake the dead, but you know what I mean, right?

That’s hilarious! Some authors I’ve interviewed have said they get a lot of good stuff by listening to people talk while standing in a line at the grocery store…but in your case, sitting in a booth. A reviewer wrote that your book was "a wild and complicated tale of revenge, years of lies, romance, and, of course murder. More than one!" Your book sounds like an intriguing mystery. Tell me your thoughts about this review.

Aha! That sound like Carl Brookins’ review. It was the first I’d ever received and I was thrilled. As far as I’m concerned, if the reader/reviewer likes the book and couldn’t put it down, that’s far more important than any flaws they might have noted or the number of “stars” they give it. (Isn’t that why we write—for the reader?) If I recall, Carl rated the book 4 of 5 stars and said he’d be willing to read more of my fiction. The review worked for me!

How about your family? What do they think about your writing?

My family is terrific. Before she died twelve years ago—well before I’d ever published anything—my mother was my biggest supporter. She encouraged me to keep submitting my work, to switch genres, to try something new. All her advice panned out, too! My father, who is 80, passes out marketing post cards all over the place: at the casino, at the doctor’s office, wherever he goes. He’s more impressed with my non-fiction and technical writing, but read STA from cover to cover in one setting and really enjoyed it—terrific praise from him. My sister and my three kids have always believed in me, always knew I’d be published, and are also a great help in the marketing department. And my husband good-naturedly takes a back seat to my writing—especially now that I’m published and earning money. All kidding aside, he thinks it’s terrific that I can work at something I love and have it not feel like work. Oh, and the puppies and kitties think it’s terrific—because I do most of it from home, rather than at the office. 

Hey, it sounds like you have some great support and you’re spoiling the cats and dogs, too. Now it’s time to tell us something about the real you that we’ll never forget.

Although I currently have two dogs, one of whom is a German Shepherd, and used to have two Rottweilers (they’ve both passed on), I’m afraid of dogs. I was so scared of them when I was a kid that a barking dog—even on a chain, inside a fenced yard—terrified me to the point I’d wet my pants. If I’m out and about and a dog I don’t know (regardless of breed or size) comes running at me, I hide behind the closest person—even if it’s my own kid. Which is incredibly embarrassing. Mothers are supposed to protect their kids—even if they are adults. There. My secret’s out. 

This is hilarious. I can’t stop laughing for the life of me. What a great story! Now we know the real you, an author who is afraid of dogs and owns several of her own. Don’t worry about hiding behind your kids. Since they were raised with dogs, they have no fears. In fact, most kids usually aren’t afraid of anything. That’s what scares us mothers!