Monday, July 29, 2013

Friendship, The Footprints In Your Heart

Reflections of the Heart

“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.” – Anais Nin (1903-1977)

Friendship is a most precious gift that will endure the eternities. Cicero (106-43 BC) said, “Life is nothing without friendship.” To have a friend that you can share your innermost thoughts with is worth more than wealth or material objects. To have a friend that you can laugh and cry with, to have someone make us feel wanted and accepted for who we are…this makes life worth living.

Eleanor Roosevelt (1884 – 1962) expressed her feelings about friendship in a completely differently way when she said: “Many people will walk in and out of your life. But only true friends will leave footprints in your heart.”

Friends can cheer us on when we need encouragement and help us when we’re depressed. They can embrace us when we weep and laugh at a lame joke that we’ve told. We should uplift one another. We should be able to say, because of our association with one another, “I’m a better person having known you.”

Elizabeth Mauske told a story about an unusual and sweet friendship between her mother and an old native Indian woman from Central America. The Indian woman would visit their home often. With each visit, she would give her mother some partridge eggs and berries as a gift. The lovely colorful clothing and coin necklaces the woman wore fascinated Elizabeth. She noticed her copper bracelets as they softly jingled on her arm and her sweet sincere smile.

The Indian woman only spoke Araucanian and her mother only spoke Spanish. Their conversation was minimal, but they would sit at the table, drinking tea and eating cake together with a smile and a laugh. They enjoyed one another’s company.

Elizabeth noticed each time the Indian woman would rise to leave that she would say the exact same words. With great curiosity, Elizabeth and her sisters memorized the phrase and quickly found someone who could translate Araucanian for them. When she found out what the Indian woman had said, she was greatly touched and said it was one of the nicest compliments anyone could have given her mother.

The Indian woman would rise from the table with a smile and say: “I shall come again, for I like myself when I am near you.”

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could say this about our friendships? After spending the day with a dear friend, we could actually say, “I can’t wait until our next visit because you make me feel good about myself.”

Sydney Smith (1771-1845) said, “Life is to be fortified by many friendships. To love, and to be loved, is the greatest happiness of existence.”

Have you had a friend that made a difference in your life? Have you had a friend who left footprints in your heart?

Reflections of the Heart has 13 chapters of inspirational writings such as: The secret of Happiness, Laughter is the Best Medicine, Parenthood – A Great Responsibility, Equal Partners in Marriage, Developing Your Spirituality, and Music Soothes the Soul.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Interview with Christian/Romance Author Regina Andrews

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

Hello, Regina. Light of the Heart is the first book in The Sterling Lake Series. Please tell us about this Christian/Romance.

Sterling Lakes is a fictitious town in New England filled with natural beauty but also a cloudy past. In Book One, Light of the Heart, Cascade Preston, a successful stained-glass artist, returns to her hometown to work on the renovations at St. Luke's Church. However, she does so with a resentful heart, since this town pretended not to know that her mother was being abused by Cascade's father. She wonders how people can call themselves Christians and not reach out to help their brothers and sisters.

What a wonderful message! Where did you get your inspiration for this book?

I grew up in a beautiful small town that had its share of personalities! There was opportunity for character study around every corner. None of the characters in “Light” are based on folks from my childhood, though. The inspiration for the series grew from my growing understanding of human nature and my awe at God's love for us despite our imperfections as I matured.

Cascade is a stained-glass artist. Did you have to do much research about this subject for your novel?

Yes, I did, Linda. I fell in love with stained glass on my first trip to Paris, France, where I visited Sainte Chappelle in the center of the city and Chartres Cathedral outside of Paris. For this book, I read a lot and took a stained glass class. Let's just say I am a klutz! Fortunately, I live right near the Rhode Island School of Design, a great art University, and was able to do reference there.

What does your family think about your writing?

Another great question! My parents were really proud and happy and supportive, even though I was published after I lost them. Actually in the same year I was published, 2009, it was three different publishers who accepted four different manuscripts of mine and I felt like things were opening up. The first acceptance occurred on my parents wedding anniversary, I'll never forget it. It was like my parents were there with me. Now my husband, sister, in-laws and friends are really happy and proud. But they still can't understand why I have to work at my day job all week and then write on the weekends sometimes, instead of hanging out with them. lol!

Yes, authors tend to do that, huh. Now it’s time to tell us something about the real you that we’ll never forget.

Not to get heavy, because this has such a happy ending - but when I just started law school, my father suddenly became critically ill one day and he passed away the next day on the operating table. My mother at the time was gaining ground from a medical challenge 1 1/2 yrs earlier, and was not well. Now Dad was gone and she was alone. So of course I stayed home with my mother - for six years. I hope people remember this story as a parable for listening to what God wants for us in our lives, even if it might be really different from what we had planned. That trust is what I hope my books convey and reinforce.

What a wonderful lesson! Thank you so much for this lovely interview. I hope my followers will check out your book.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Interview with Suspense Romance Author Charissa Stastny

Charissa Stastny was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada...but she has never gambled and can’t shuffle cards to save her life. She is married, has four kids, and loves writing, reading, hiking, and imitating monkeys (although when she tried it at the zoo, one of the monkeys spit at her). She currently lives in Idaho, where she doesn’t have to be embarrassed by her poor card shuffling skills nor worry about being attacked by monkeys. Secret Keepers is her 2nd book available in the Eyes of Light trilogy.

Welcome back to my blog, Charissa. This book is the second in a series. Please tell us about your new book.

Secret Keepers has lots of suspense, clean romance, and gripping action as the past, with its powerful secrets, collides with the present, threatening to destroy all Suvi, James and Austan hold dear. Suvi flees to Israel, the land of her youth, to lure threatening forces away from James, and to seek help from her estranged father. James crosses an ocean to find her, but his discoveries may jeopardize his life and love. Austan returns as self-appointed guardian of Suvi when evil forces combine to destroy her. From Idaho to Israel, and with madmen, ruthless drug cartels, and Mossad assassins as key forces, the fight for light that began in Book 1, Eyes of Light, continues as perilous events lead Suvi to reevaluate her feelings and choose between the two men who love her.

My husband read your first book and loved it. He’s excited to read the second one now. Where did you get your inspiration for this novel?

My inspiration for this story started with a door-to-door salesperson. An Israeli girl named Suvi with a nose ring and a vivacious personality knocked, charmed me into buying one of her oil paintings, and then talked to my daughters and me for an hour. After she left, a story started to form around her in my mind. As I wrote my imagined story for Suvi, I wanted to help my own daughters be aware of hidden secrets people carry so that they would be more merciful in their judgment of others. We never know what awful circumstances and experiences have led someone to act in certain ways.

What a wonderful lesson! What kind of research did you do for this book?

I researched the NCS (National Clandestine Service—CIA), and the Mossad’s kidon (assassins). The workings of the Mossad (Israel’s version of the CIA) fascinate me. There are some great stories out there as I read up on it. I didn’t get to use much of the information in this book, but great books could be written about it, and I would love to read anything on this subject (although it would probably be quite brutal). 

You love to write suspenseful romances. What intrigues you most about writing these stories?

I love reading romance (if it’s clean), and writing it is even better. My Eyes of Light series is intense and drags my characters through some very rough waters to test their faith and resilience. The most intriguing aspect of writing these books has been to watch my characters grow. I am always wondering what I would do in the same situations, and I feel that helps me grow as well to have to make choices in my mind as my characters make them on the written pages.   

Thank you, Charissa, for this wonderful interview. My husband was so impressed with your first book. I know this one will be equally as good.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Interview with Romance/Suspense Author Jordan McCollum

An award-winning author, Jordan McCollum can’t resist a story where good defeats evil and true love conquers all. She holds a degree in American Studies and Linguistics from Brigham Young University. When she catches a spare minute, her hobbies include reading, knitting and music. She lives with her husband and four children in Utah.

I love how Jordan McCollum blends the best of both Canada and the U.S. in her debut novel. With plenty of polite humor, cloak and dagger mystery and fun romance, there are great characters from both sides of the border, and a case that had me turning pages quicker than I could say, ‘poutine.’ This Canadian author gives I, Spy two thumbs up!” — Author Julie Coulter Bellon

Hello, Jordan. I read your spy novel and absolutely loved it. It was great. Please tell my readers about your romantic suspense novel.

Canada is probably the last place you’d expect to find an American spy. But even idyllic Ottawa has its deadly secrets—and so does CIA operative Talia Reynolds. She can climb through ventilation shafts, blend in at the occasional diplomatic function, even scale buildings (small ones). But there’s one thing she can’t do: tell her aerospace engineer boyfriend Danny about her Top Secret occupation.

It worked for a year, keeping Danny in the dark, keeping him away from danger, keeping her secrets. And then Talia finally catches a hot case: Fyodor Timofeyev. Russian. Aerospace executive. Possible spy?

She can make this work, too--until Danny needs her at the same time her country does. And when Fyodor targets Danny? Suddenly her schedule isn’t the only thing suffering. Now to save her secrets and her country, Talia must sacrifice the man she loves.

Read an excerpt from the book:

You have written this book in first person. The woman acts like a spy, thinks like a spy, and is extra cautious like a spy. Since she knows Russian, the CIA decides to use her in that capacity. Where did you get your inspiration for this book?

The first idea sprang into my mind while shopping for valentines at Dollar Tree. True story. An old favorite came on the Muzak, and I started wondering about the story behind the song: a guy who should be with the girl he loves, but she’s somewhere else. And I wondered, what could keep her away?

Then I added my favorite what-if question when plotting: what if she were a spy?
Sadly, I can’t say I’m drawing on my vast experience as a spy for this novel. But in my day job, I coerce people to do things they don’t want to, elicit information and generally manipulate the people I love most—I’m a mom.

Hahaha! Yup! That’s about right. I’m a mom of six daughters and understand completely. What kind of research did you have to do for this novel?

I was lucky enough to go to Ottawa on a business trip with my father when I was 15. While he was in meetings, I had free rein of the capital. (Can you imagine letting a teenager wander the streets of DC in the late ’90s?!) I also read a dozen CIA memoirs and reference books to get an idea of the training and daily life of a spy, as well as the cool capers they’ve pulled in real life.

What does your family think about your writing?

They’re very supportive. My son, 7, constantly asks to read my books. My parents both helped with I, Spy: my dad as a beta reader & technical advisor and my mom as a proofreader (she has a BA in English & was an English teacher for years—and both my parents helped to refine my writing throughout my school years!). My husband is the most supportive of all: for years he’s done the dishes so I can have those few extra minutes to write. Now that’s love!

Oh my gosh! What a fantastic man you married. Okay, now it’s time to tell us something about the real you that we’ll never forget.

As a teenager, I went on a short crime spree with my best friend which included vandalizing our family members’ yards with plastic flower lawn ornaments, parking in a no parking zone, and whistling underwater, which is allegedly illegal in North Carolina.

Hahaha. Vandalization? Disobeying the laws? Underwater crimes? Wow! You were meant to write spy stories. Thanks for this awesome interview, Jordan.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Sweet Romance Novel: The Rebels of Cordovia

We celebrate Independence Day, remembering the freedom we fought for centuries ago. Many patriots had to pay for this freedom with their lives and we are grateful to those who fought for our liberty. In this new novel, you get a glimpse of what another country had to fight for, as well. The freedom of speech, the freedom of equality, and the freedom to worship as we please! No one could have a greater gift than this.

The Stories of Robin Hood is Inspiration for Sweet Romance: The Rebels of Cordovia

What a fun and interesting tale The Rebels of Cordovia is. A very good story to keep you glued all the way to the end. I really enjoyed the romance mingled with the fights. It is a well-paced tale to give you entertainment next to a warm fire in the rain. Linda writes a good, clean, and sweet romance, for young adults and adults alike. You will enjoy the story to the end.” –Author Anna Del C. Dye

Centuries after the legendary Robin Hood, a group of men and women find themselves fighting for the same cause: for their rights, for freedom of speech, and equality. Robin’s Rebels realize they must fight against the tyranny of a wicked king and help the people survive this oppression. In the small country of Cordovia, groups of rebels begin springing up, but its Robin’s Rebels who get the attention of the king.

In this battle for freedom, a tender love story begins to blossom. Daniel, a rogue and a leader of the Freemen, doesn’t realize that the sweet feminine woman he has met and is falling for happens to be the leader of Robin’s Rebels. Realizing the importance of uniting all the rebel groups, Daniel tries to recruit Robin’s Rebels but they refuse. Now he has to find a way to convince them. When he finds out the leader is actually a woman, what will his reaction be?

"This sweet romance set in the kingdom of Cordovia was a fun vacation read. This creative take on a Robin Hood-like story is charming and touching, and teaches some great morals about agency and choice. It reminded me of childhood fairytales of good versus evil, with a nice romance weaved into it. Yea!" --Author Charissa Stastny

"This book was a fun read with a strong plot and fast paced action, but gentle and happy characters. Linda Weaver Clarke has a storyteller's talent for enchanting and mesmerizing the audience. She weaves her key topics of love and respect through The Rebels of Cordovia as poverty and its devastating side effects are overcome by Robin and her band of merry men...and women. Robin is a strong female character with morals and an innocence that readers will appreciate. There are also some exciting surprises and twists that will delight the heart. A very timely subject set in a gilt frame, definitely a must read!" --Cindi Clubbs, Reviewer

Read a sample chapter here:
Price: $12.95, Ebook: $2.99