Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Wild at Heart

Elle James's writing group Diamond State Romance Authors has produced two volumes of short stories that would make great Christmas gifts.
Titled WILD AT HEART the books are an attempt to raise money for Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge a large cat rescue (Tigers, Lions, Puma) here in North West Arkansas.

Meet Loretta the model for Volume II. She lives at the refuge, along with Missy the model for Volume I.


The refuge is currently involved in their largest rescue yet of over 30 big cats. And they need money to help these cats!

Profits from the sales of WILD AT HEART  volumes go to the TURPENTINE CREEK WILDLIFE REFUGE. Help the big cats by clicking on the book covers and buying your own copies for a gift that gives in more than one way.


....escape with elle
THUNDER HORSE REDEMPTION - Harlequin Intrigue - Oct 2012
THE WITCH'S INITIATION - Harlequin Nocturne - Nov 2012
DEMON'S EMBRACE - Harlequin Nocturne Cravings - Dec 2012
THE WITCH'S SEDUCTION - Harlequin Nocturne - Nov 2013

Monday, October 01, 2012

A Killer’s Field by Susan Elizabeth Alvis

I’m stopping by today to share an excerpt from A Killer’s Field, a new fictional novella motivated by the senseless I-45 Texas killings, most of which have remained unsolved.

A few years ago, I became aware of the overwhelming number of unsolved crimes along the I-45 corridor located south of Houston. In an area known as the Texas killing fields, this property has become a dumping ground for some of the country’s most horrific crimes.

Since the early 70s, bodies have been abandoned in these Texas swamps. Many young lives ended too soon and families were devastated as bodies were recovered but never truly laid to rest. Killers seemingly committed the perfect crimes and thanks to the mysteries surrounding so many of the murders, questions were forever left unanswered.

A Killer’s Field is a short young adult Halloween story available in e-format. Published by Devine Destinies, the novella is fictional but the inspiration behind the story was developed over time by researching some of the true, and quite brutal, unsolved Texas killings.

A Killer’s Field isn’t a true story. However, when I wrote the novella, I tried to write a short story that would appeal to young people and in some small way let the victims’ families know their loved one hasn’t been forgotten. At the same time, this short story includes a warning for all readers with an    underlying message in regards to social networks, a tool often used when criminals make their first connection with their future victims.

I’d like to invite your readers to check out A Killer’s Field, on sale now at Devine Destinies. Readers, please leave your comments about the cover, short story, or any aspect of A Killer’s Field. I’ll stop by again today and choose one random winner for one free e-gift. If you’re posting a comment, please include an email address or check back to see how you can claim your prize.

Thank you for sharing your blog with me, Janice. :)

A Killer’s Field by Susan Elizabeth Alvis

“A deadly event turns participants into victims as a Texas killing field becomes ground zero for a Halloween hunt….” A Killer’s Field, Susan Smith Alvis

Kristen McMurray is flabbergasted when her boyfriend decides to take her to the Texas Killing Fields for Halloween.  She’s not at all impressed with his plans for a romantic evening, let alone the idea of frolicking on the very grounds known to harbor the deadliest of secrets.
Picturing a moonlit sky high above them and a murderer lurking in the shadows, Kristen is convinced her boyfriend has either lost his mind or worse. Perhaps he’s become a quiet lunatic waiting to emerge.

Reluctantly, Kristen agrees to spend Halloween in the fields. Unbeknownst to her, they enter the heart of a huge Halloween hunt, an organized event and obvious trap used to entice unsuspecting victims to the very place where dozens of bodies have been previously dumped.
One brush with death leads to another, but Kristen keeps her wits about her as her boyfriend turns their Halloween night into an evening she’ll never forget. While the fields live up to their harrowing name, Kristen faces the horrors of the past. Somewhere along the way, she discovers an inner strength and a will to survive, realizing determination and the desire to live are the only elements ensuring she’ll leave the fields alive!
Excerpt for A Killer’s Field by Susan Smith Alvis
I’m about as flabbergasted as my Dobermans were when I went outside to feed them prime rib and a vulture swept down and stole the raw meat straight from the pan. The event occurred last week but I can still picture their wide eyes as they stretched their necks upward and barked at the heavens. They were in terrible shock, poor things. After the clever bird escaped, all they could do was stand there and pant, foam forming in the corners of their mouths.

Okay, so I’m not panting or wiping drool from my chin. I am, however, stunned.

“Well, what do you think?” Dennison asks, backing away from his pickup. “Say yes, Kristen. It’ll be a lifetime experience. One you’ll remember forever.”

“What makes you think we’ll live to later share our experiences?”

“You’re so dramatic,” he says, returning to work on his truck. “Most women would see this trip for what it is—an overnight getaway.”

“Visiting the Texas Killing Fields, on Halloween no less, is not my idea of a romantic weekend.” I stare at his back. “Where will we stay?”

“I’ll pack a tent and a sleeping bag.”

Wonderful. For a minute, I consider his idea of snuggling inside confined spaces. That is, until a body bag comes to mind. After all, those fields symbolize decades of horror.
Copyright © 2012

A Killer’s Field by Susan Elizabeth Alvis is available at Devine Destinies. Cover art for A Killer’s Field was created by Carmen Waters.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

On Ice J.D. Faver

On IceOn Ice by J.D. Faver
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I just finished On Ice by J.D. Faver, about a woman, Rene, who runs from her abusive husband with her two children up to a tiny town in Alaska called Sad Horse.

Rene is hired as a teacher by a tall, bearded, Grizzly Adams type man who’s the love interest. The people there are warm and welcoming. Each one is a true character, which reminded me of Northern Exposure.

As Rene struggles to assist her children in adapting to this sleepy town, she can't help looking over her shoulder for her abuser. At the same time, the town's people seem to fold her into their arms.

Sad Horse seems to be made for Rene. This is where she is needed and accepted. She can't help comparing this life that she is making for herself with the isolated home her husband forced on her.

Unknown to Rene, her sister and her family are being harassed by her abusive husband, Mark. The sister can’t step a toe outside without coming face to face with the smirking Mark.

J.D. Faver does a great job of ramping up the tension. The husband eventually catches up to her, and the climax had my heart pounding.

The only negative about this book was the editing: Missing commas, dropped words, some telly phrases and slight POV shifts.

Even though the editing bothered me a bit, it still didn't take away from this engaging story and I found myself really rooting for the heroine.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Andre Norton's Forerunner

ForerunnerForerunner by Andre Norton

I just finished Forerunner last night and feel a little disappointed. I've read Andre Norton since I was in HS and I'm found of her work. I've always loved her strong female lead characters.

Forerunner is written from the POV of the main Character Simsa, who is raised among the Burrowers (simple people who live underground and dig for treasure in old part of the city).

Simsa's black skin and white hair marks her as different. With little to no education, and raised by an old woman who never told her anything about her history, Simsa has to make it on her own after the old woman dies.

When the Starmen come, Simsa sees an opportunity she's been waiting for.

After she sells some old broken trinkets to the Starman Thom, Simsa finds herself in trouble with a local crime boss. She then sets out on an adventure with Thom as he goes in search of a long lost city and his lost brother.

In the end, Simsa finds out who she is and discovers more power than she's ever dreamed of (which reads like God in the machine).

I found the dialogue stilted and the ending abrupt. After a long rambling speech by Simsa, it's as if Norton said that's it, and the book just ends with no real conclusion to the story.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Egyptian Heart by Kathryn Meyer Griffith

The Story of Egyptian Heart
A backstory and other tidbits from an old writer’s life

Digital ISBN: 978-1-61572-443-7 * Print ISBN: 978-1-61572-444-4

Let me start with this: I have always loved ancient Egyptian stories since I was a child. I remember I wrote one of my first school papers at around eleven years old in pencil on the ancient Egyptians after dragging home an armful of musty smelling books from the library. I don’t recall exactly why I loved this particular time period and the people that lived in it but it might have had something to do with the movies The Ten Commandments (I was raised a Catholic), the horror mummy movies of the 1960’s and the early TV shows on Nefertiti and Cleopatra. I just had this affinity for the period.

It was February 1994 (I noted it on the outside of the manila folder where I keep a running book history on each novel) when I began Egyptian Heart. Originally I called it The Cursed Scarab. Later, I retitled it Egyptian Heart because I wanted it to more reflect the romance tale it had become.

I still had my agent, Lori Perkins, who’d sold four earlier novels for me to Zebra Books (Vampire Blood, 1991; The Last Vampire, 1992; Witches, 1993 and The Calling, 1994…after I’d sold my first three novels on my own to Leisure Books: Evil Stalks the Night, 1984: The Heart of the Rose, 1985; Blood Forge,1989) and she’d told me about a new romantic horror line that Silhouette was starting called the Shadows Line.

They wanted to tap into the darker romantic paranormal market. Lori said they wanted the kind of story I wrote but with more romance. It was Silhouette after all. I’d been labeled as a horror writer from the get go, though all my novels blended genres; usually I wrote a romantic horror mixture with dashes of adventure, suspense and sometimes threw in a little history or mystery as well…but in those days the big publishers felt the need (and I think they still do) to squeeze a writer into one narrow slot.

So I was a horror writer.

But by 1994 I’d lost my sweet editor at Zebra and a new one took her place...and over the next year he didn't like anything I wrote for him and later that year Zebra unceremoniously dropped me and my latest book (Predator, a story about a dinosaur in Crater Lake…which never came out but still lingers like some weird ghost book in every computer on the global Internet) only six weeks away from going to the bookstore shelves.

I’d begged the new editor not to call it Predator, bad title since there was a popular movie out of that name and it was nothing about a dinosaur, and the cover was awful, an empty boat on a lake…what!!!

Having that book – my first ever – dumped like that was a crushing experience, let me tell you. I had a stack of finished, printed covers and had already done my final edits! I got to keep my advance but the book was officially dead.

The new editor-that-didn’t-like-my-writing explained: “No one wants to read a book about a dinosaur.” And six months later Jurassic Park came out! The book is still sitting in a drawer somewhere and perhaps one day I’ll resurrect and finish it as well).

At that point, my agent wanted me to branch out, so I wrote two manuscripts for the Silhouette Shadows Line or tried to.

 Egyptian Heart and Shadow Road (a romantic suspense about a woman truck driver driving a dangerous wintry route with a murderer on her tail, and a hitchhiker in her cab that she feels she’s falling in love with…and fears, at times, he’s the killer; which later I retitled and sold as Winter’s Journey).

To make a long story short, Silhouette Shadows turned both down. Seems I had too much horror in them; not enough sex. I didn’t follow the formula.

Sheesh. I’ve never liked depending too much on sex in any of my books or writing a book too predictable. The originality of the novel and the characters make the story for me.

After that my agent dropped me. Ah, the life of a writer.

So, then life (as it has many times in my 39 year writing career), family and job problems, and my other novels (I was into murder mysteries for years and sold two to Avalon Books), got in the way and Egyptian Heart and Shadow Road went into drawer hibernation until, oh, about 2004, when I rediscovered them, dug them out, rewrote them and began trying to sell them again. Sometimes, I’ve found, a book left alone in a dark cubbyhole ages like good wine. (Or sometimes it just turns to vinegar.)

Fast forward three years to 2007 and a new e-book (e-books still being considered a risky new-fangled craze at that time!) publisher called The Wild Rose Press contracted both and eventually a third called The Ice Bridge, a ghostly romantic murder mystery set on Mackinac Island, and published them.

Good publisher.

They treated me well. But in 2010 when I contracted my two newest novels, Before the End: A Time of Demons and The Woman in Crimson (both romantic horror) my new publisher, Kim Richards Gilchrist at Damnation Books wanted to bring out all my old out-of-print novels again (going back to those early Leisure Books from the 1980’s) in print – and e-books for the first time ever. Seven old paperbacks. I’d rewrite them all, get new covers and they’d all live again.

I was thrilled.

And grateful. It would take a lot of work on both our parts but when we were done ALL my old novels would be in print again and in electronic form out in the world. I jumped right in.

Then when my two year contract (I was lucky, e-books still being new, it was only for two years; now most e-book publishers contract for five years or longer) ran out with The Wild Rose Press. I happily switched Egyptian Heart, Winter’s Journey, The Ice Bridge and a novella Don’t Look Back, Agnes to Eternal Press (Damnation Books sister company). Kim Richards, and her husband William, had just brought Realms of Fantasy Magazine into the fold, as well.


Egyptian Heart has had a very long history. Simply put, it’s a time travel paranormal romance set in the ancient times of Nefertiti and her heretic Pharaoh Akhenaton. It’s more romance than history, though I did a lot of research in 1994… originally for my 1994 Zebra horror paperback The Calling. I thought: why waste all this hard worked for research on just one novel? So I also used it for Egyptian Heart and an erotic short story, The Nameless One, one that Zebra had placed in their 1994 horror anthology Dark Seductions and now it’s available from Damnation Books.

The new cover for Egyptian Heart by Dawne Dominique is amazingly beautiful and Kim Richards herself was my editor. Thank you both.

So from a child’s love of ancient Egypt to the finished book, it’s been a long journey and goes to show all you writer’s out there that, yes, persistence does sometimes win out. And a good book never dies. It just ages like wine in a dark drawer.

I hope you’ll give Egyptian Heart a look and a read. The best way to describe it is through its blurb and so here it is:

Maggie Owen is a beautiful, spirited Egyptologist, but lonely. Even being in Egypt on a grant from the college she teaches at to search for an undiscovered necropolis she’s certain lies below the sands beyond the pyramids of Gizah doesn’t give her the happiness she’d hoped it would.

There’s always been and is something missing. Love.

Then her workmen uncover Ramose Nakh-Min’s ancient tomb and an amulet from his sarcophagus hurls her back to 1340 B.C – where she falls hopelessly in love with the man she was destined to be with, noble Ramose, who faithfully serves the heretic Pharaoh Akhenaton and his queen Nefertiti.

She’s fallen into perilous times with civil war threatening Egypt. She’s been mistaken for one of Ramose’s runaway slaves and with her light hair, jinn green eyes and fair skin she doesn’t fit in. Some say she’s magical and evil. Ramose’s favorite, Makere, tries to kill her.

The people, angry the Pharaoh has set his Queen aside and forced them to worship one god are rising up against him.

Maggie’s caught dangerously in the middle.

In the end, desperately in love, will she find a way to stay alive and with Ramose in ancient Egypt–and to make a difference in his world and history?

Because Maggie has finally found love. ***

And thank you for having me on your blog! Kathryn Meyer Griffith

Eternal Press buy link: http://www.eternalpress.biz/book.php?isbn=9781615724437
You Tube Video Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cogCNYKzPqc

A word about Kathryn Meyer Griffith, August 2011...

Since childhood I’ve always been an artist and worked as a graphic designer in the corporate world and for newspapers for twenty-three years before I quit to write full time. I began writing novels at 21 and have had fourteen (nine romantic horror, one historical romance and two mysteries) previous novels published from Zebra Books, Leisure Books, Avalon Books, The Wild Rose Press, Damnation Books and Eternal Press.

I’ve been married to Russell for thirty-three years; have a son, James, and two grandchildren, Joshua and Caitlyn, and I live in a small quaint town in Illinois called Columbia, which is right across the JB Bridge from St. Louis, Mo. We have two quirky cats, Sasha and Cleo, and the four of us live happily in an old house in the heart of town. Though I’ve been an artist, and a folk singer in my youth with my brother Jim, writing has always been my greatest passion, my butterfly stage, and I’ll probably write stories until the day I die.

Novels and short stories from Kathryn Meyer Griffith:
Evil Stalks the Night (Leisure, 1984; Damnation Books, July 2012)
The Heart of the Rose (Leisure, 1985; Eternal Press Author’s Revised Edition out Nov.7, 2010)
Blood Forge (Leisure, 1989; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition out February 2012)
Vampire Blood (Zebra, 1991; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition out July 2011)
The Last Vampire (Zebra, 1992; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition out October 2010)
Witches (Zebra, 1993; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition out April 2011)
The Nameless One (short story in 1993 Zebra Anthology Dark Seductions;
Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition out February 2011)
The Calling (Zebra, 1994; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition out October 2011)
Scraps of Paper (Avalon Books Murder Mystery, 2003)
All Things Slip Away (Avalon Books Murder Mystery, 2006)
Egyptian Heart (The Wild Rose Press, 2007; Author’s Revised Edition out again from Eternal Press in August 2011)
Winter’s Journey (The Wild Rose Press, 2008; Author’s Revised Edition out again from Eternal Press in September 2011)
The Ice Bridge (The Wild Rose Press, 2008; Author’s Revised Edition out again from Eternal Press in November 2011)
Don’t Look Back, Agnes novella and bonus short story: In This House (2008; ghostly romantic short story out again from Eternal Press in January 2012)
BEFORE THE END: A Time of Demons (Out from Damnation Books June 2010)
The Woman in Crimson (Out from Damnation Books September 2010)

Her Websites:
http://www.myspace.com/kathrynmeyergriffith (to see all my book trailers with original music by my singer/songwriter brother JS Meyer)
http:// www.bebo.com/kathrynmeyerG

E-mail me at rdgriff(at)htc.net I love to hear from my readers.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Elaine Cantrell in the Hot Seat

Hi, I have Elaine Cantrell in the Hot Seat.

Janice: Tell us about yourself?

Elaine: I’d be delighted to! I’m a Southern girl, born and raised in upstate South Carolina. I say ya’ll, which is always plural, and I like grits. I graduated from Clemson University with a BA in secondary education and went back for a Master’s degree in personnel services. I’m a member of Alpha Delta, Kappa, an international honorary sorority for women educators, Romance Writer’s of America, and EPIC Authors. My second novel A New Leaf was the 2003 winner of the Timeless Love Contest and was published by Oak Tree Books in 2004. I’m still teaching social studies at our local high school, and in my spare time, if there is any, I like to read, play with my grandchildren, and collect vintage Christmas ornaments. You can see my vintage collection in my Facebook photos at http://www.facebook.com/#!/profile.php?id=10000015304148

Janice: When did you start writing?

Elaine: LOL. That’s an interesting question. I started writing because of my son. He came home one day in late 2001and told me he had written a book. Who can describe the pleasure and pride in a mother’s heart at that moment? He told me he had always made up stories in his head to amuse himself, so he thought he might as well write them down. After I picked myself up off the floor, I told him that I had always done the same thing, so I sat myself down at my computer to see if I could write. I bet I stared at that blank screen for ten minutes before I remembered that I had a delete key, and if I didn’t like what I wrote I could start over. Since that time I’ve never looked back. I write now because it’s a compulsion. I’ve even been known to take my computer with me on vacation.

Janice: Who was the biggest influence on your writing?

Elaine: People who’ve read my books compare my style to Danielle Steele and Elizabeth Peters, but I started reading when I was just a little girl, and I’m sure all the authors I read as a child left their mark on me. Louisa May Alcott was one of my favorites, and I think I picked up some wisdom about life there. I was crazy about horses so I read Walter Farley’s Black Stallion books. From them I picked up some ideas for action/adventure plots. I also loved the Anne of Green Gables books. They’re so well done!

Janice: How do you go about your writing? Do your prefer pencils to pens or is it all straight computer work?

Elaine: Gotta have my computer. I have written things out by hand, but the minute I started typing on the computer I changed almost everything I had written. Maybe it’s the backspace key. That’s a really useful thing!

Janice: What influences you in your writing?

Elaine: Music, movies, reading, or straight research? I’d have to say that the biggest influence is probably reading. I’ve often read a book and started to wonder how things would have been different if the author had changed this or that. I once read a book on secret codes in World War II, and while I was taking a shower that evening I started to think about the code, and before you know I had the plot for a sequel to Return Engagement.

Janice: When do you write morning or evening, or are you a late into the wee hours of the morning person?

Elaine: My very best work is done in the morning before my mind gets stressed and cluttered with routine things. Ideas pop into my head with ease, but not so much so later on in the day.

Janice: Who in charge you or your muse?

Elaine: My Muse! I try to make her behave, but she won’t have any of it. She pushes me around and makes me change things all the time. She’s fickle too. At the times I need her the most she deserts me and leaves me to blunder around on my own.

Janice: Use only one word to describe your writing style? Or at least what you want your readers to take away from your writing.

Elaine: Thrilling is a good word to describe it. I want readers to be so thrilled with my work that they’re sorry they’ve finished the book. I want them to sigh and send me an email telling me to hurry up with the next book.

Janice: What other books have you written?

Elaine: Return Engagement
Genre: contemporary romance
Title: Return Engagement
Author: Elaine Cantrell
Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press
Buy Link: http://www.whiskeycreekpress.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=819
Author Website: www.elainecantrell.com
Format: print and ebook

A New Leaf
Genre: contemporary romance
Heat rating: PG13
Title: A New Leaf
Author: Elaine Cantrell
Publisher: Oak Tree Press
Buy link: http://www.oaktreebooks.com
Author website: http://www.elainecantrell.com
ISBN: 1-892343-36-3
Format: print and ebook

Grandfather’s Legacy
Genre: Contemporary romance
Heat Rating: PG13
Title: Grandfather’s Legacy
Author: Elaine Cantrell
Publisher: All Romance Books
Buy Link: due to the death of the publisher the book is only available from the author at elainecsc@aol.com
Author Website: http://www.elainecantrell.com
ISBN: 1-933548-02-9
Format: ebook PDF

Purple Heart
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Heat rating: G
Title Purple Heart
Author: Elaine Cantrell
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Buy Link: http://www.thewildrosepress.com/purple-heart-p-404.html
Author Web site: http://www.elainecantrell.com
ISBN: print 1-60154-133-3
Format: print and ebook-Adobe, MS Reader, Web Html

The Welcome Inn
Genre: Romantic suspense
Heat Rating: R
Title: The Welcome Inn
Author: Elaine Cantrell
Publisher: Wings ePress
Buy link: http://www.wingsepress.com/Bookstore/The%20Welcome%20Inn.htm
Author website: http://www.elainecantrell.com
ISBN: print ISBN 978-1-59705-776-9; ebook ISBN 978-1-59705-252-8
Book format: print and ebook-PDF, HTML, MSR, Mobipocket

Janice: What influenced your recent book, the one you are promoting here today?

Elaine: My latest release is Return Engagement, and the book was written to showcase my ideal hero. I noticed that most of my heroes had certain traits in common, so I compiled all of them and came up with Richard Lovinggood. Besides showcasing my ideal hero, Return Engagement explores the topic of ‘what if’. I bet there isn’t a person alive who hasn’t wondered how their life would be different if they had made different choices. In Return Engagement my characters fall in love when they’re both pretty young, but his father is a powerful senator who doesn’t think Elizabeth is good enough for his son. He breaks them up. Ten years later they meet by accident on a California beach, and man do the fireworks begin! Richard and Elizabeth won’t waste a second chance to find happiness. Here’s a blurb and excerpt from Return Engagement.

Return Engagement by Elaine Cantrell


Elizabeth Lane has it all, but an actress isn’t the kind of woman Senator Henry Lovinggood wants for his son, Richard. Ten years ago he broke Richard and Elizabeth up, but this time Elizabeth’s fighting back, a decision that leads to kidnapping and attempted murder and alienates her from the man of her dreams.

Excerpt: In this excerpt, Richard and Elizabeth have just spend the night together. Richard is totally blissed out, but Elizabeth is conflicted to say the least because Alex, the man she’s thinking about, is her fiancĂ©.

A trace of fear briefly contorted her face. He seems as
headstrong and stubborn today as he was ten years ago. Frankly, I
have no idea if I’ll be able to handle him or not. I wish we’d clarified
his position on my acting before we said I do.

When he held her and kissed her as he had done last
night, all doubts flew from her mind, but it was morning
now, and she had to start a new life, a life without Alex, the
man who’d supported her emotionally for three years now.
Searing pain stabbed her. Surely this betrayal said something
bad about her character!

Resolutely, she squared her shoulders. Today they’d
have that conversation Richard wanted. Today she’d make
him talk about what they should have talked about the night
before. Hopefully, they’d have similar expectations of marriage
which would minimize the conflicts between them.

She decided to shower and start breakfast for him. She
couldn’t help smiling as thoughts of Alex faded. She was acting
very much like a new bride who wanted to take care of
her man. She eased out of bed and took her robe from the
closet but paused before leaving the bedroom.

Yes, she’d acted impulsively and so had he, but she loved
him to distraction! The fates had given her a second chance to
get her heart’s desire; why worry about things that would
probably never be an issue anyway? They’d work things out.
We’ll have to because in the space of one evening I’ve found my missing

She tossed her robe across a delicate gilded bench and
stared at herself in the full length mirror on the wall behind
the tub. He had held her naked body against his and plunged
himself inside her with an abandon that took her breath away!
She still didn’t see why he thought she was so beautiful. But
it’s enough that he does.

Return Engagement by Elaine Cantrell

If you like the sound of Return Engagement, you can read the entire first chapter at http://www.whiskeycreekpress.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=819
You can also buy a copy at this address.

Elaine: Janice, thank you so much for having me.

Janice: Your very welcome. It was great having you here.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Author interview: Chynna Laird

Hi I have Author, Chynna T. Laird, on the Hot Seat

Janice: Tell us about yourself?

Chynna: Wow, let’s see…I’m a very busy mom of four children: three girls Jaimie (eight), Jordhan (six) and Sophie (two) and a beautiful little boy Xander (four). All of us live crowded together, along with my life partner Steve, in our tiny townhouse in Edmonton, Alberta (Canada).

When I’m not running around with my kiddos, I’m studying to complete my degree in psychology with a focus on special needs children and families.

Janice: Sounds like a lot of work. When did you start writing?

Chynna: I’ve always loved reading and books. Rumor has it that I started reading when I was two. My uncle was a distributor with Golden Books at that time so I used to get tons of his sample books and I eagerly devoured every one of them. I think that’s where my interest began in wanting to write stories like the ones I read.

Then in Grade Four a publisher came to our class to teach us all about the world of writing, editing and printing books. We even got to write our own books, with illustrations, and have them bound. My book was called, ‘The Tales of Super Bug’ a brave crime-fighting bug whose only fear was a size thirteen sneaker (sadly, that’s what caused his sudden demise).

Okay, so the cover was laminated construction paper and the ‘binding’ was staples but STILL! To me, that was the coolest thing in the world. After we’d ‘published’ our books, our class got to put them in the school library to be borrowed by fellow students. We were supposed to have taken them home at the end of the school year but I’d completely forgotten poor Super Bug on the last day of school.

Several years later, my younger sister came home from school waving a book she’d taken out of the library. She was SO excited to show me her book had MY name on it! It was SUPER BUG!! And there had been so many names listed inside of who’d taken it out over the years. That was my sign that writing was what I was meant to do.

Janice: That’s wonderful. What a thrill it must have been for you. Who was the biggest influence on your writing?

Chynna: I’d have to say my grandparents were my biggest influences. They believed so much in me and encouraged me to go as far as I could on whatever path I chose. I even named my writing business after them: Lily Wolf Words (Grandma’s name was Lillian and Grandpa’s was Wilfred.)

Janice: A very nice homage to your grandparents. How do you go about your writing? Do your prefer pencils to pens or is it all straight computer work?

Chynna: I do most of my work on the computer. It’s just a lot faster. But I do enjoy journaling. I have a notebook with me everywhere I go so I can jot down ideas for stories or articles wherever I am.

Janice: What influences you in your writing? Music, movies, reading, or straight research?

Chynna: Every day people and experience influence me the most in my writing. Especially those who have had to face tremendous adversity in their lives and show us how we can overcome the tough times thrown on our life’s journey. I’m also tremendously influenced and inspired by my children.

Two of my children, Jaimie and Xander, have special needs. They often struggle with the simple things the rest of us take for granted. They each inspire me every day as they teach me new ways of seeing the world, of doing things and learning about things. They are a wealth of writing ideas, let me tell you.

Janice: When do you write morning or evening, or are you a late into the wee hours of the morning person?

Chynna: I have to fit writing in around my children’s schedules (eg: picking up/taking them to school, homework, Jaimie and Xander’s sensory games and therapy, etc.). I have sprinklings of time throughout the day but I get most of my writing done in the evening after we (finally) get the kids in bed. I’m not really either a morning or night owl…I’m just a ‘Write until I’m so tired I’m not making sense anymore’ person. HA!

Janice: Who in charge you or your muse?

Chynna: Definitely my muse. I don’t seem to be able to shut the thoughts and ideas off! Hence the notebook. A good writer friend of mine told me she gets tons of story ideas and creates a separate folder for each as they come to her, complete with title and brief plot. She’s told me she has many, many folders to go back to! I’ve actually started doing the same thing as I go through notebooks like crazy!

Janice: Use only one word to describe your writing style? Or at least what you want your readers to take away from your writing.

Chynna: Emotionally-charged. (Is that two?) I’ve been told I elicit deep emotions from my writing. I often write about some tough issues in my work based on personal experiences. I’ve always thought this is the way to get people talking about these issues, especially those considered ‘taboo’ so we can learn about them, understand them and accept them.

Janice: What other books have you written?

Chynna: In addition to my YA book, ‘Blackbird Flies’, I’ve also authored an award-winning children’s book (I’m Not Weird, I Have SPD), two memoirs (the multi award-winning, Not Just Spirited: A Mom’s Sensational Journey With SPD and White Elephants), and an adult Suspense/Thriller (The Gift to be released late 2011).

Janice: What influenced your recent book, the one you are promoting here today?

Chynna: Payton, the main character in my book, is loosely based on a few experiences I’ve had, only he’s a lot younger than I was during those experiences and he made better choices. I grew up with a mother who lived with bipolar that she refused to acknowledge or treat and she died due to maladaptive ways she chose to cope with her issues. Blackbird Flies is my way of discussing issues like mental illness, peer pressure, drug abuse, etc. in a non-threatening sort of way. People seem to be more wiling to talk about and learn about these issues when presented in a ficitional sense…at least that’s what I’ve found.

I’d love to see these issues become less ‘taboo’ so those going through them will feel better about needing, and seeking, the help they need to live their lives more effectively. I always say, “Through knowledge comes understanding.” If we’re willing to take in the information and absorb the knowledge, the understanding will follow.

The most important part about this book is that Payton shows us that kids can go through tremendous adversity and still come out okay. All they need is a positive distraction just that one person who believes in them. Payton’s distraction was his music and his grandparents believed in him.

Every one of us has the power to fly. We just need to allow ourselves to be carried.

Buy link: http://www.astraeapress.com/#ecwid:category=662245&mode=product&product=3028835

Blurb: Fifteen year-old Payton MacGregor is a musical prodigy. To him, though, his music is merely a way for him to escape from the chaos that surrounds him. All of his life, he’s had to care for his mother, who copes with her bipolar disorder with booze instead of turning to her own musical talents. He refuses to become a statistic. Then he’s thrown a curve ball.

His mother suddenly dies, leaving him to be cared for by his aging grandparents. As much as they love him, they decide to send him halfway across Canada to live with his father, Liam—the man Payton always believed abandoned him and his mother. Payton isn’t making the relocation easy on anyone until he finds out he's going to attend the prestigious School of the Arts for musically gifted youth. Any second thoughts he has about his new life are erased when he meets Lily Joplin. Their connection is instantaneous.

Lily is a talented singer, but her struggles with drugs and bipolar disorder hit too close to home for Payton’s comfort. And when her issues become all-consuming, he wonders if his music will be enough to carry him through.

Excerpt: The following excerpt is taken from the part in the book where Payton begins to understand why he was really packed up and shipped off to Edmonton to live with his Dad—the man he’d believed had abandoned him as a child. This scene shows the anguish Payton is in and the love-hate emotions he carries around with him about his mother. It also shows his passion for his music—what he’s always turned to when times were toughest. We also feel his initial attraction to Lily, his romantic interest:

The Dean led Payton into the opera hall. “Your Dad told me you are a bit of a pianist.”

Payton resisted the urge to roll his eyes. “I guess you could say that.”

“Well, we haven’t moved the piano back to the music room yet since our recital last night,” the Dean said, nodding toward the stage. “Would you like to have a go?”

Payton’s gaze switched to the stage where a full black lacquered grand piano sat. Its lid opened towards him, exposing its gorgeous strings…beckoning him. It had been days since his fingers last caressed the keys of a piano. There was nothing that would have made him happier or given him more inner peace at that moment than to play his music.

He didn’t answer the dean . He just walked down the stairs to the stage. A spotlight still shone on the piano. It didn’t even matter to him that the leather seat was hot from the lights. He sat down, pushed the seat back to account for his long legs and positioned his hands over the keys. He closed his eyes.

He played Chopin’s Nocturne—one of his favorites. He’d learned it completely by ear, listening to his mother play it. She’d played the piece with such emotion, it pained his heart. He wished the music flowed half as beautifully from his own fingers as it had
through hers.

As a young boy, he liked lying under the piano bench while his Mom practiced. When she’d gotten really into her playing, the bench shook in time with her hands flying across the keyboard and her tiny feet pumping the pedals. Being only five feet tall, she’d often had to sit right on the edge of the piano seat so the pedals wouldn’t snap back up.

When Payton struck the last chord, the notes lingered high above the auditorium stage, echoing for several seconds. Then silence. Payton removed his glasses and wiped his eyes on his sleeve then heard…applause? It wasn’t just his dad and the dean.

He put his glasses back on and squinted, trying to block the glare from the lights with his hand. A small group of students had sat down in the first couple of rows while he’d been playing. He was embarrassed at first, but when he stood, the students rose, cheering, “Bravo! Awesome!”

He fidgeted for a few seconds then shot a peace sign and walked off the stage. Walking back up to where his dad and the dean stood, he saw that girl again…the one that looked like Alicia Silverstone. He got a closer look at her. Even in the dim light, he saw her face perfectly. Her hair was all one length and ebony. It draped around her shoulders, hugging her gorgeous oval-­shaped face. Her dark emerald eyes were highlighted with perfectly sculpted eyebrows and long eyelashes—the same darkness as her hair. Her creamy skin looked like the sun had never touched it. Her pink, plump lips stretched into a half-­smile when she noticed him staring at her. She gave him a thumbs-­up.

He just hoped his mouth wasn’t open.

“Son, that was incredible,” Dean Fenehey said. “You’ll definitely be an inspiration to other people here. And you can almost bet if you keep up your practicing you’ll get that

Practicing? Scholarship? What the…?