Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Don’t you love Hallowe’en? When we lived in a neighborhood with lots of kids coming by for trick or treat, I loved seeing the children's costumes--especially the young ones. They're so excited to be masquerading and getting treats. Now we live in a rural area and the only trick or treaters we see are those at our church’s Trunk or Treat carnival. Lovely idea, that. Fortunately, now that it’s not so safe for kids to troll neighborhoods alone for candy, many churches host events to allow kids the opportunity to dress up and have a safe and fun evening. Other neighborhoods have events with lots of parents visible in a family atmosphere. My friend's cul de sac neighborhood makes it an annual party.

But I’m here to talk about a fun way to get your spook on. How about reading a suspense-filled time travel? A book with murder, mayhem, dire warnings, and lots of action. MY book, of course, OUT OF THE BLUE. ☺ 

How weird would it be to leap off a cliff in 1845 and land in a lake in modern times? Now, don’t pooh pooh the experience. Strange things happen every day. You have only to watch the evening news to be reassured of that. And Hallowe'en is the night when the veil between life and the other world supposedly separates. Are you frightened yet? Bwahahaha!

Neighbors think
Deirdre is a witch.
In OUT OF THE BLUE, poor Deirdre Dougherty has grown up the subject of ridicule because she has prophetic visions, a gift to the women in her Irish family. Another gift is the ability to grow and use healing herbs. Tending to a family suffering from influenza is what tragically ended the life of Deirdre’s beloved mom. Worn down by nursing the family day and night, she succumbed to the flu and later died. That was a week before the book begins.

Now to the backstory. Deirdre’s mom was courted by the swaggering braggart, Eoghan Baylor. She chose to marry Deirdre’s father, and Eoghan never forgot nor forgave the supposed slight. He worked alongside Deirdre’s father at the marble quarry near Connemarra. All knew somehow he managed the “accident” that killed Deirdre’s father, but none could prove the charge. Eoghan and his son continually harassed Deirdre and her mother, and incited the community against them.

Isn’t it like common folk that they dislike those who are different, yet turn to them in times of need? The Irish potato crop failed for the third year and people are hungry and scared. In this isolated community, people don't realize it's a nationwide blight. Eoghan the Younger, rebuffed by Deirdre as his father was by her mom, convinces the neighbors that Deirdre has put  a curse on the crops. In spite of the fact that she's nursed many sick people, some turn against her. I believe most people are decent, but it only takes a few rotten apples to make a mob.

Cathbad and
a pumpkin
So, after the death of Deirdre’s mom, the harassment reached a dangerous conclusion. Eoghan the Younger, gathered a mob to burn Deirdre's cottage--with her inside! Fortunately, decades before, Deirdre’s Gran had a vision that foresaw the need for an escape tunnel leading from inside the cottage to a group of rocks and brush behind the building and close to the road to Galway City. Deirdre had already planned to leave the tiny community of Ballymish and travel to Galway City where her family had kin. She had her cat Cathbad and her small carryall packed when Eoghan and his mob descended on the cottage bearing torches.

Deirdre scooped Cathbad in her carryall, slipped the handles over her head and arm, and slipped through the tunnel. When she emerged, smoke already billowed from the thatched roof, but she hoped to escape undetected. Someone in the mob spotted her and cried out a warning. Runners blocked her escape. Soon only the cliff was left. She ran to the cliff’s edge. Eoghan almost captured her, but she pulled free and leaped.

Don't think because she prays for deliverance that this is an inspirational novel. Nope, it's rated sensual. Expecting to be dashed into the rocks below, she prayed for Saints Brendan and Brigit to deliver her, and her prayer is answered, Well, I believe all prayers are answered, but hers garners an affirmative.

Deirdre plops down, out of the blue, in modern times into Possum Kingdom Lake, North Central Texas, beside a police detective’s bass boat. Why was she sent to our time? Aha! Read the book to learn how she helps Detective Brendan Hunter solve several murders and prevent others.

Brendan and Deirdre with Possum Kingdom 
Lake Texas's Hell's Gate cliff formation
in the background

One of my favorite characters in this book is Brendan's mom, Blossom Hunter. While Brendan is a by-the-book, squeaky-clean officer, his mom is...well, laid back. Way back, and doesn't mind bending rules when common sense dictates. She is the child of a California commune turned cooperative farm. Her interest in health foods began there, but now--thanks to her son--she owns her own health food store. She's a good
Blossom Hunter and Dave Roan
 businesswoman, but that hasn't changed her nature. She sees the best in everyone and they usually live up to her expectations. She lives on the shores of Possum Kingdom Lake and is in love with a neighbor, Dr. David Roan, and he loves her. They're waiting for Brendan to heal from his near death shooting injuries before the two mature lovebirds marry. I think you'll love Blossom, too. Her optimism and good heart make me smile. And she loves animals, and they love her.  Cooperative farm aside, I'm sure you know people like Blossom who bring joy wherever they go. I know quite a few, thank goodness. Everyone needs lots of friends like Blossom.

Here are the buy links for OUT OF THE BLUE:

E-book from Smashwords:

Print and E-book from Amazon:

NOTE: I've recently changed the cover for OUT OF THE BLUE, and will be interested in your opinion of this new version. Does this cover entice you to buy? Please let me know

This is me wishing you a fun and safe Hallowe'en!
What? You didn't recognize me?  It must be the
glasses. I'm not wearing them here.
Um, and my eyes are blue.
Oh, and there's that tiny problem with my hair color.

Otherwise this looks just like me. Sure it does. ☺
Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, October 29, 2012


Today please welcome my friend from a Western authors Facebook group, Peggy Henderson, to the blog. Peggy writes books set in glorious Yellowstone National Park, a place I’ve always wanted to visit. Her books have stirred the longing from a “hankering” to a “must see” category.

Peggy Henderson, Author

Caroline: Peggy, Tell us about your self.

Peggy: I grew up in southern Germany, in a little farming community about an hour from Stuttgart. When I was twelve, my parents (my dad was Canadian) moved to the US. Specifically, California. Talk about culture shock! It was either sink or swim at school. I spoke just a tad bit of English at the time that I learned from my dad.

I have a brother and a sister, who are both much older than I am. My brother lives in Germany with his family, and my sister lives just a few miles from me. In school, I was definitely a bookworm, and hung out with the “smart” kids, which made me a pretty decent student due to peer pressure. While most of my friends seemed to come about their grades with ease, I had to work extra hard to keep up with them, but it was worth it. I am not a jock. I’m rather klutzy, actually.

I’m married to my high school sweetheart, and we have two teenage sons.

Caroline: What an interesting life you’ve had, Peggy. Who are your favorite authors and favorite genres?

Peggy: Historical romance set in colonial America, the frontier, and the old west are my favorite genres. My favorite romance author is Dorothy Garlock. I am also a huge fan of German author Karl May, who wrote many books about the American West, with over-the-top and larger-than-life heroes.

Caroline: Oh, I’ll have to look up Karl May. What’s your favorite way to relax and recharge? Hobbies?

Peggy: I like to spend time with my critters. Sitting and watching my two ponies (a welsh pony and a miniature horse) do what horses do is very peaceful and relaxing. And I love to read.

Caroline: I also love to read. Do you have a favorite quote that sums up how you feel about life?

Peggy: Wag more. Bark less.

Caroline: What a fun quote! How long have you been writing?

Peggy: I started writing my first book almost four years ago. I spent over two years on it. It was finally published in January, 2012. Since then, I’ve written five more full-length novels. I’ve always loved to write, though. In second grade, I wrote a story about a water droplet, and it’s journey from being a raindrop all the way to the ocean, and its adventures along the way. My teacher singled it out to read to the class.

To entertain myself in junior high, I wrote a full-length novel about a racehorse that came from outer space.

 Caroline: A racehorse from outer space, huh? Quite a departure from Yellowstone, isn’t it? Where do you prefer to write? Do you need quiet, music, solitude? PC or laptop?

Paggy: I need absolute quiet from people when I write. I can’t stand distractions. Even worse is when people hover behind me. My laptop pretty much goes with me everywhere, but I don’t get a lot of writing done most of the time. For serious writing sessions, I hide out in my bedroom, on my bed, with my laptop. I do enjoy listening to country music sometimes when I write, to set the mood for certain scenes.

 Caroline: I listen to classical music or have quiet when I write. Don Campbell suggests that classical music adds rhythm to your writing. Are you a plotter or a panzer?

Peggy: I am absolutely a panster. I try and come up with a basic outline for a story, but rarely do I follow it. My stories usually begin with a single blip of an idea, and I expand that into a full-length book. For example, the idea for the hero in my latest book that just released last week came from a line in a country music song. By the time I actually start writing the book, about one-third of the story is solid in my mind. I then plow through the second third, and hope that by then, I have my ending figured out. Rarely does a story end the way I originally thought it might. I let my characters lead the way, and I’m just a follower. Very often, the ending comes as a complete surprise to me. In two of my books, the title as I originally intended it took on a completely different meaning.

Caroline: Do you use real events or persons in your stories or as an inspiration for stories?

Peggy: I love using actual historical events, and twisting them to suit my stories and characters. My favorite one was when I used a modified version of mountain man John Colter’s famous escape from a war party of Blackfoot Indians in one of my books (Yellowstone Redemption). It became a defining moment for my hero, Chase Russell.

Caroline: Do you set daily writing goals? Word count? Number of chapters? Do you get a chance to write every day?

Peggy: When I sit down to write, I sit down to write an entire chapter. It doesn’t always happen, but I usually stick to it until at least a first draft of a chapter emerges (that’s roughly 3000 words). Due to my work schedule, I can’t write every single day, but I think about my stories every day, and I do jot down ideas or little snippets of dialogue as they pop into my head. If I don’t do that, I usually can’t remember it when I do get a chance to sit at the computer. I’ve lost so much great dialogue in the past by not writing it down when I think about it.

Caroline: I think also about my stories when I’m not writing. What do you hope your writing brings to readers?

Peggy: For starters, I hope I can entertain my readers for a few hours with an engaging story that will draw on their emotions. The initial uncertainty of meeting someone you’re attracted to, to the excitement of falling in love, the pain of potentially losing that love, and then the HEA. I try to send my readers on an emotional roller coaster ride, while putting my characters through the emotional wringer. Also, since I love writing time travels, I hope to bring a somewhat new and unique spin on the genre.

Caroline: What long-term plans do you have for your career?

Peggy: I just hope to continue writing, and hopefully come up with somewhat unique and original story ideas.

Caroline: Would you like to tell us what you’re working on now?

Peggy: I’m getting ready to write the first book in a trilogy called the Teton Romance Trilogy. Book 1 will be titled TETON SUNRISE. It’s sort of a spin-off of my Yellowstone Romance Series. I’ve had so many people ask me to continue that series, but I think it’s run its course. With this trilogy, I can bring in some of the familiar characters for “guest” appearances.

Caroline: What advice would you give to unpublished authors?

Peggy: Absolutely get yourself a critique partner. Not someone you know personally, or a friend. A critique partnership often develops into a friendship, as it did with mine, but it is crucial to have someone look at your writing with an unbiased eye, someone who isn’t afraid to tell you the truth, and point out things that may be flawed in your writing.

Caroline: So, true, Peggy. And it has to be someone who is trustworthy and matches strengths to your weaknesses. What’s a fun fact readers wouldn’t know about you?

Peggy: English is my second language.

Caroline: I admire anyone who can write great books in her second language! What’s something about you that would surprise or shock readers?

Peggy: I live in southern California, about ten minutes from the beach. I haven’t been to the beach in almost twenty years. I prefer mountains and rivers and streams. I can’t stand the sand at the beach.

Caroline: I love the beach in the evening when most of the crowd is gone and the air is cool. But I also love the mountains. Are all your books part of a series?

Peggy: My new release, COME HOME TO ME, is the first in a series called the Second Chances Time Travel Romance Series. I’m not sure how many books I’ll write in this series. It’s pretty open-ended.  The idea is for a set of stand-alone stories, with one mysterious old man as the common link between all the books, granting second chances to a select few who have wandered from their destined path.

My last series, the Yellowstone Romance Series, was a family saga that spanned two hundred years.

Caroline: Can you give readers a blurb about COME HOME TO ME?

Peggy: Jake Owens is tired of life on his parents’ Montana ranch, catering to city folk who want a taste of old-fashioned country living. He enjoys life in the fast lane, with fast cars and even faster women. When he falls in with the wrong crowd and is accused of murder, a stranger’s bizarre offer at a second chance might be his only hope to clear his name.

Rachel Parker is highly devoted to her family. A tragedy prompts a daring move to the Oregon Territory for a fresh start in a new land. After meeting the wagon train’s scout, the meaning of a fresh start may be more than she ever imagined.

Jake can’t believe he’s been sent back in time to act as scout for a wagon train headed for Oregon, and given the added burden of keeping one emigrant woman safe during the journey. He and Rachel are confused by their attraction to each other. Jake’s ill-mannered, unconventional ways are overshadowed only by his notorious reputation. Rachel’s traditional values and quiet, responsible character are the complete opposite of what attracts Jake to a woman. When their forbidden attraction turns to love, what will happen at the end of the trail?

Caroline: Fascinating and a beautiful cover. How about an excerpt of COME HOME TO ME?

Peggy: Here it is:

“Yup, that’s him. Fits the description all right.”

“Sober him up, Jeb.”

Strange voices echoed in Jake’s mind, even as the blood pounded in his ears. His head felt as if his skull would split in two, and the only other times he could recollect such a feeling were the mornings after Sandra’s all night drinking parties. Damn! He never wanted to touch another drop of liquor in his life. How did he end up hung over this time? He groaned and rolled onto his back, and something jabbed him between the shoulder blades. He forced his eyes open, just as a wave of cold liquid washed over his face and chest.

Jake sputtered and coughed, and leapt to his feet.
“What the hell,” he yelled, and swiped his hands across his face, then shook his head as water streamed off his hair.

“Sober up, son, you got a job to do.” One of the voices rang in his ear. Jake blinked the water from his eyes, and stared into the face of a man who looked like he walked right out of an episode of Little House on the Prairie. His tan trousers, the bottoms of which were stuffed inside a worn pair of leather boots, were held up by leather suspenders over a blue flannel shirt. A weathered-looking cowboy hat sat on the man’s head. His face betrayed no emotion under his walrus mustache.

“You sure this is the fella what’s gonna scout for us? He still looks wet behind the ears. I thought he’d be a mite older.”  A second man stood alongside the first. He was dressed in a similar getup. A bushy black beard covered his entire face, and his huge belly protruded out and over his trousers. He hooked his thumbs through the straps of his suspenders.

“He came highly recommended by Reverend Johnson,” the man with the walrus mustache said. “Told us he was the best scout the other side of the Missouri. The only thing we need to be watchful of is our women and our liquor.” They both chuckled.

Jake stared from one man to the other. A horse neighed behind him, and shuffled through the thick straw bedding. His eyes narrowed. Where the hell was he? He’d fallen asleep on the uncomfortable mattress in his jail cell last night, thinking about his strange encounter with his new lawyer. He glanced around. He stood inside an old wooden barn, in a horse stall to be precise. The familiar pungent smell of horse sweat, manure, and hay permeated the air. The equine occupant of the stall chose that moment to blow hot air down Jake’s neck. He swatted an impatient hand at the horse’s nose to make the animal move away from him. He thought he’d seen the last of horses since leaving Montana. How did he get here?

“Where the hell am I?” Jake managed to say. His voice sounded hoarse and raspy, and he coughed to clear his throat. His fingers rubbed at his throbbing temples.

“Did you hear that, Jeb? He’s so dang hung over, he don’t even remember where he passed out last night.” The man with the mountain man beard said.

Jake stepped forward, and happened to glance down at his feet. He wore what looked like leather moccasins. His eyes traveled higher. To his amazement, he was no longer dressed in his orange jail suit. Instead, he had on leather britches, and his loosely fitting shirt was an off-white cotton material just a shade lighter than the buckskin. A leather belt was draped around his waist, and a knife hung in a leather sheath off one hip, a tomahawk off the other side. A revolver that looked like it came straight out of the 1800’s stuck in the belt just next to the buckle. Jake did a double take when he glanced closer at the gun. He was pretty sure it was a Colt Paterson, one of the earliest ever revolvers made.

“Will someone please tell me what the hell is going on here?” Jake growled, and swiped an impatient hand across his forehead as water continued to drip down his face.

“You’re Jake Owens, ain’t ya?” The black-bearded man asked, pointing a finger at him.


“Sober up, son. You need to attend the meetin’ before we head out. The wagon master wants to lay down the law before we hit the trail in the mornin’.”

The other man stuck his hand toward him, and Jake eyed it for a moment before he offered his own hand for a shake. “I’m Jeb Miller, and this here is Elijah Edwards.” He jutted his chin out toward Blackbeard.  “Us and our families are heading this outfit, and there’s twelve other families goin’ with us.”

“They says you shoot and ride better’n any man, and can read trail and talk to the Injuns. We’s lucky you agreed to sign on with us and guide our wagons to the Oregon country,” Blackbeard chimed in.

Jake stared blankly from one man to the other. Comprehension began to dawn on him. This was some sort of re-enactment troupe, retracing the Oregon Trail. He’d heard of such groups. Some of them went all out to make it as authentic as possible. What he still didn’t understand was how he ended up here without his knowledge. If he was truly in Iowa, how did he get here?

Caroline: Love western timer travels. Where can readers find your books?

Peggy: My Amazon author page:

Caroline: How can readers learn more about you?

Peggy: My blog:
My facebook author page:

And here's Peggy's bio:

I never thought I'd be a writer, much less publish a book some day. I always wanted to be a veterinarian. I guess life just had other plans for me. When my husband and I decided to start a family, vet school pretty much went out the window. I used to work with a vet who had three children while going through vet school. To this day, she is my hero.

I live with my husband and two teenage sons in southern California. I have a Welsh pony and a miniature horse (down-sized from a barn of six horses). A crazy Labrador retriever who is a food vacuum, three cats, a Holland Lop bunny, two parakeets, three bearded dragons (my compromise with my sons when they wanted a snake), and a small flock of chickens complete our menagerie of critters. I can’t imagine my life without my animals. My dream is to live in Montana some day.

Three years ago, I began writing a story that, for whatever reason, was stuck in my head for almost a year. I have been an avid romance reader for a long time, and the idea took hold to - why not? - write my own! What a simple idea, right? It has been a long and difficult journey from my first sentence to a completed, and hopefully polished, manuscript. After entering a couple of contests to get some feedback on my writing (I finaled in one, to my utter amazement), I took the advice of one of my harshest judges, and found a critique partner. She spent weeks going through my manuscript with a fine tooth comb and loaded red pen. The end result is my debut novel, YELLOWSTONE HEART SONG (Book 1 in a series called the Yellowstone Romance Series).

I spent the next six months writing Book 2 and 3, until my critique partner stopped me and said, "no more writing until you publish the first one!" I admit, I was scared to death. Still am. After many conversations with her about traditional publishing - she was getting more and more frustrated with her own publisher - I decided to go the independent route. On January 3rd, 2012,  I published YELLOWSTONE HEART SONG on Amazon.

Caroline; Thanks, Peggy for sharing with readers today.

Readers, thanks for stopping by!

Friday, October 26, 2012


Welcome to fellow author Alethea Williams today. Alethea Williams grew up in boom-and-bust southwest Wyoming, with her nose perpetually in a book while living in a world of robust railroad workers and trona miners. She attended every writing class available, from poetry to creative nonfiction, absorbing her teachers’ knowledge of mastering the writing craft and their experience of publishing. Williams has contributed a monthly newspaper column, won writing awards, and published short stories. Willow Vale is her first novel. A past president of Wyoming Writers, she presently lives in the Northwest with her husband and her longtime friend, Amazon parrot Bob.

Alethea Williams and her dog
Caroline: Alethea, please tell us more about yourself.

Alethea:  I grew up in a small town in southern Wyoming.  There were two industries in town: the prison and the railroad.  My dad worked for the railroad.  I have two younger sisters, but spent a lot of time at my cousin’s; she was an only child and I suspect the purpose of my frequent sojourns at her house was to keep her from getting too spoiled!  I was, and still am, a bookworm.  I might be the single person alive who had a teaching nun tell her mother to make her stop reading so much after I had to get glasses in the second grade.  I stopped at the library on my way home from school almost every day to check out more books.  If anyone wanted to give me a gift, the most appreciated was a book.  In the 9th grade, I had Forever Amber confiscated in class after I thought the paperback was so well hidden inside my English book.  My eyes got progressively worse until about the age of fifteen and my prescription has been about the same since despite continuing to be a voracious reader, so I strongly suspect reading was never the problem.

Caroline: My mom used to believe reading was why I needed glasses. Who are your favorite authors and favorite genres?

Alethea: For romance, nobody has ever beaten LaVyrle Spencer in my estimation.  There was a place in each of her books where the reader went “Ohhhh” while reaching for the tissues.  I try for that same emotional hook in my writing.  For detective and murder mystery, absolute escape literature for me because I don’t write it, I really like James Lee Burke and Greg Iles, just because they’re such good writers and not necessarily because they write about Louisiana.  For historical, I like Jane Kirkpatrick.  She writes about strong women protagonists in the 19th century, and I try to incorporate into my own writing the lessons she teaches about writing engaging fiction without graphic encounters.

Caroline: What’s your favorite way to relax and recharge?

Alethea: I’m a book addict.  There is no better way to relax and recharge than reading.  I work in the yard a bit, much less than I used to, and my hobby is – guess? – reading!

Caroline: Reading is one of my favorite pastimes, too. Do you have a favorite quote that sums up how you feel about life?

Alethea: I ran across this quote from President Calvin Coolidge many years ago and it helps me when I get stuck, in writing or in life, and has proven to be absolute truth over the years:  “Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'Press On' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.

Caroline: I keep that quotation in my favorite quotes, too. How long have you been writing?

Alethea: Twenty years.  I wanted so much to be published when I was younger, and the rejections just kept rolling in.  Perhaps a book just has its own time to be published, or perhaps an author has.  Maybe important things just shouldn’t be rushed, I don’t know -- twenty years writing and I still don’t know for sure if it would have been better earlier.

Caroline: Where do you prefer to write?

Alethea: I have great power of concentration.  I can write anywhere, with or without radio or TV on, as long as it’s not NASCAR or ads.  Those things, with all the shrieking, are meant to distract.  The keyboard on a PC is handy to avoid carpal tunnel syndrome, but I can write just as well on the flat keyboard of a laptop.  I used to write longhand and then transfer to computer, but for anyone except poets that can lead to severe writers’ cramp.

Caroline:  I know some authors write in longhand still, then transfer to the computer. Seems like wasted time to me. Are you a plotter or a panzer?

Alethea: Panzer, definitely.  Back in the old days, I really dreaded it when an editor required a 30-page outline with a manuscript submission.  I don’t write from an outline, the characters just show up in my head and won’t stop talking until I write their story.  Sometimes they leave pieces out, though, go in another room or something where I can’t hear them.  Then I have to wait and let the story simmer for a while before I can get back to the familiar white-hot heat of writing.

Caroline: Do you use real events or persons in your stories or as an inspiration for stories?

Alethea: I think everyone who writes uses real events or people as the basis for plot and characters, despite the disclaimer in the fronts of novels that they’re purely fictional and any resemblance to a real person is coincidental.  WILLOW VALE is loosely based on my immigrant grandmother’s experience of coming to America after WWI, but the story veers quickly from anything resembling Nona’s history into pure fiction.

Caroline: Most of my characters are purely imaginary and not based on real people. The exception is the aunts in my current series. Do you set daily writing goals?

Alethea: I don’t set writing goals because I feel bad if I don’t meet them.  I don’t write every day, in fact years have gone by sometimes between novel attempts.

Caroline: What do you hope your writing brings to readers?

Alethea: The message in my books is the same as President Coolidge’s: Persevere!  Nobody’s going to prop up your writing career for you or live your life for you.  You’re as unique as your life’s tears and joys; how you handle it is up to you.

Caroline: True words. What long-term plans do you have for your career?

Alethea: I would like to see the rest of my novels in print.  The question these days is whether to seek a traditional publisher or go it alone.  I still haven’t decided.  Either way, much more is expected from an author these days in terms of getting a book out and then Internet networking and marketing.  The last year has been a real education for me.  If WILLOW VALE had never seen publication, I probably wouldn’t be on Facebook or Twitter or Goodreads or Shelfari.  I have four email accounts, five with the new one from Facebook.  It’s overwhelming sometimes.

Caroline: Social media is a must. What advice would you give to unpublished authors?

Alethea: Learn the craft.  It’s hard enough to distinguish yourself by writing a novel these days so write the best that you can.

Caroline: Tell us something you learned researching your book that surprised/interested you.

Alethea: I never understood when I was a kid how my grandmother’s parents could own land and still be so poor. Val di Non, high in the Dolomite Mountains of Italy, was once a silkworm capital.  Then the silkworms all died.  That high in the mountains, there was only a small amount of land to farm and feed cattle, so most people there were poor.  After the war when the valley changed from Austrian hands to Italian, all the customers for the valley’s produce as well as the supply routes were cut off as well as cheap food flooding into Europe to compete.  It was a tough situation.  In many cases, young peoples’ answer was to emigrate to America.

Caroline: Can you give readers a blurb about your book?

Alethea: From opposite sides of an ocean, two people wounded by the Great War are fated to meet and try to rebuild their lives.  Francesca Sittoni was brought against her will to America by the husband she never loved.  Now she finds herself alone — widowed, pregnant, and with a small daughter to support.  Terrified of being deported back to the impoverished country of her birth, Francesca answers an ad placed by Wyoming rancher and former doughboy Kent Reed.
As their contracted year together passes, Francesca begins to ask if she is cook and housekeeper to Kent…or a secretly sought mail-order bride as the neighbors insist?  Only Kent Reed, burned by mustard gas and his spoiled former wife’s desertion, knows his heart’s true desire when it comes to the beautiful Tyrolean immigrant woman now living in the uncomfortably close quarters of his small ranch house.

Caroline: How about an excerpt?

“Aw, boy. We already done talked about it —you want eggs, right? Francesca, you want eggs?”
She looked uncertainly to Kent again, who shrugged without giving her a clue what had preceded this conversation. He looked disgusted. With her? Was she embarrassing him? Her English, perhaps. She knew it wasn’t flawless, but she’d thought she could make herself understood. Harv seemed to understand her. Maybe Kent suspected, maybe both men knew, that she wasn’t telling the whole truth.
“Sure, I like the eggs,” she said uncertainly. Her brows lowered as she concentrated on folding and re-folding a crimp in the tablecloth.
“Agnes—that’s my wife—has more eggs than she knows what to do with. You come on over, and she’ll give you some of those eggs. Old Kent here is cravin’ eggs.”
“Harv,” Kent said. He nearly dumped his coffee, catching it as it started to spill. “That’s enough.”
“I want eggs,” Elena contributed brightly, unmindful that in her mother’s hurry she hadn’t changed clothes or had her hair combed. Francesca tenderly brushed a strand from her daughter’s face. She said quietly, “Tsst, Elena. The men talk, not you.”
Harv sucked his teeth as he studied the woman and the little girl. At last he said, looking toward Kent, “As I see it, it’s the best way, boy. There will be no rest until that woman sets eyes on this here housekeeper of yours for herself. Saddle up a horse for Francesca, and she can come with me right now to meet Agnes.”
Saddle up? Francesca looked in a panic to Kent. His thick russet brows lowered, he glared across the table at Harv Broadbent. He wouldn’t even look at her. Why was he so set against her meeting Harv’s wife? Because she would embarrass him? That was it, she knew it. Kent Reed was ashamed of her.
Flustered, she said, “I don’t know the horses.”
“What’s that mean? You can’t ride?” Harv studied her closely.
She shook her head. Her eyelids felt stretched wide in a stiff, terrified face. Surely they wouldn’t make her get on a horse and ride off right now to accompany this old man to meet his wife, when she’d never been on a horse in her life.
Broadbent shook his head sadly. “Kent’s been neglecting your education, Francesca.”

Caroline: That sounds intriguing. Where can readers find your books?

Alethea: WILLOW VALE is available in paper at Amazon:

In paper at Barnes and Noble: http://ww 

From the publisher:

On Kindle:
On Nook:

Caroline: How can readers learn more about you?
Alethea: I blog on writing, writers, and historical Wyoming at
Visit my Facebook pages at:
and  Twitter: @actuallyalethea

Thank for sharing with us today, Alethea.

Readers, thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Marianne Evans is an award-winning author of Christian romance and fiction. Her hope is to spread the faith-affirming message of God’s love through the stories He prompts her to create.

Evans’s novel, HEARTS COMMUNION, earned Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year honors in the Romance category and readers have lauded her work as: ‘Riveting.’ ‘Realistic and true to heart.’ ‘Compelling.’ Evans has also won acclaim in such RWA contests as The Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence where she has been a finalist twice, and the Colorado Romance Writers Award of Excellence.

A lifelong resident of Michigan, Evans is active in a number of a number of Romance Writers of America chapters, most notably the Greater Detroit Chapter where she served two terms as President. She’s also active in American Christian Fiction Writers and the Michigan Literary Network.

Marianne will award 4 autographed print editions of HEARTS CROSSING, her award-winning novella and book one of her Christian inspirational Woodland Series (US/Canada only) to four commenters from this tour and her review tour, and a $25 Amazon gift card as a grand prize to one commentator from both this tour and her review tour.

Blurb for DEVOTION:

From This Day Forward
Christian Music agent Kellen Rossiter has everything he ever wanted: A-list clients from coast to coast, a loving wife who honors and respects him, and a faith life that’s never wavered—until now.

Juliet Rossiter has the perfect life: a rewarding schedule serving the underprivileged, a husband who loves her as Christ loved the church, and a blessed future as a mother—at least that's what she thinks.

For Better or Worse
But what happens when their rock-solid marriage begins to crumble under the weight of an unexpected and powerful temptation? How does love survive when its foundation is shaken?

'Til Death Do Us Part
When human frailty and the allure of sin deal a harsh blow to their relationship, it will take more than love to mend the shattered trust and heartbreak. It will take a lifetime of devotion.

Excerpt for DEVOTION:

“I can’t find a way to ask you to stay put and listen to me. There’s so much I want to say, but you won’t hear a word of it. I’m trapped. I wish I could help you see, and understand that I know I’ve made the biggest mistake of my life. I know all of this in my heart, but I can’t make you see it.” 

The words were spoken in a tender way. She sensed his regret, but his tone held a layer of challenge as well. She retained just enough strength to answer him back. “Let me ask you something. Do you regret betraying our marriage, or do you regret getting caught in the act?”

Kellen’s shoulders bent and his eyes flickered when he paused and shook his head. “No matter what I say, you won’t believe me. No matter what I do, it’ll be wrong.” 

He had aged a decade in mere minutes. Lifting her chin, refusing to feel even the slightest degree of empathy, Juliet gathered herself once again. She tried to brush past him but for a second time Kellen stood in the way. She watched him start to reach out again, this time as if wanting to take hold of her arm. When she stepped back, he gritted his teeth and dropped his hand to his side. 

“I’m going to ask you—with all that I am—please don’t leave our home.”

Weighted by firm conviction, Kellen’s words fell through her heart but found no room to settle.

Connect with Marianne:


Follow Marianne's tour:

October 15:  K. Victoria Chase
October 16:  MeganJohnsInvites
October 17:  Sugarbeat's Books
October 18:  Rachel Brimble Romance
October 19:  Long and Short Reviews: Romance Guests
October 22:  Book Reviews By Dee
October 23:  Rogues Angels
October 24:  A Writer's Life - You're here!
October 25:  Book 'Em North Carolina
October 26:  MK McClintock Blog

Remember to comment here to be eligible to be drawn for one of four autographed copies of HEARTS CROSSING plus the $25 Amazon gift card grand prize! Please include your email if you wish to be in the drawing for the prizes.

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, October 22, 2012


Readers, please help me welcome author Shirley Jump to the blog today.

Shirley Jump, Author

Caroline: Please share with readers something about yourself.

Shirley: I grew up in Massachusetts, but live in the Midwest now with my husband and two kids. I miss the East Coast a lot, especially the seafood! And I was always a reader, so much so that my parents would make me have no books allowed days so I would go outside or go swimming or enjoy a trip on the boat, LOL. I still read everything I come across and have a million books in my To Be Read pile!

Caroline: Our TBR books must number about the same. ☺Who are your favorite authors and favorite genres?

Shirley: I tend not to read romance when I’m writing romance, so I don’t get to read as much of that genre as I would like. I love Virginia Kantra, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Kristan Higgins. I also read a ton of suspense, and love Lee Child, Harlan Coben and Dennis Lehane. But I’m also apt to try a new author a friend recommends and get hooked on their books too!

Caroline: I agree in that I don’t read the type romance I’m writing. If I’m writing historical, I read contemporary. Also love all the authors you mentioned except Virginia Kantra, who is new to me. I’ll be certain to look up her books now. What’s your favorite way to relax and recharge? Hobbies?

Shirley: I love to cook, so sometimes just spending a few hours in the kitchen creating something relaxes me. I also run several days a week, and it’s nice to just get outside. And I’ll shop—there’s just something about taking a day to pamper yourself with a new hand cream or a new pair of shoes that feels fabulous!

Caroline: No longer do I enjoy cooking, but I enjoy the pampered feeling of having a manicure and having my hair done. Do you have a favorite quote that sums up how you feel about life?

Shirley: I love motivational quotes and have new ones I pin up all the time. Right now, my favorite is “Strive for progress, not perfection.” I don’t know who said it, but it keeps me from fretting about getting everything just right.

Caroline: That quote sounds like something my husband is always telling me. He says we never reach perfection, so eventually we have to agree a work is completed. How long have you been writing?

Shirley: Honestly, my whole life. I started when I was a little girl, sold my first article to a newspaper when I was eleven, then got a job at a weekly paper the following year. When I got into college, I started writing fiction more seriously, and after I got married started pursuing that dream.

Caroline: Wow, sold an article at age eleven! I am impressed. Where do you prefer to write? Do you need quiet, music, solitude? PC or laptop?

Shirley: I’m a mom to two kids who rarely understand quiet time, LOL. So I write wherever. When the kids are at school, I’m writing in my favorite chair, on my laptop.

Caroline: I prefer my pink cave, but am glad I have a laptop. Are you a plotter or a panzer?

Shirley: Definitely a pantser! I don’t like to know how a book is going to end. For me, the fun goes out of it then. I start with a “what if” situation, and about all the planning I do is figuring out WHO would be in that situation and WHY. Then I start writing and let my characters get themselves into trouble.

Caroline: Can’t fault your method because your results are terrific. Do you use real events or persons in your stories or as an inspiration for stories?

Shirley: Nope. I have enough pretend people in my head to write thousands of stories, LOL.

Caroline: Isn’t that the truth? Do you set daily writing goals? Word count? Number of chapters? Do you get a chance to write every day?

Shirley: I generally divide up my big goal (say book due November 15, here’s where I need to be by Nov. 1) and figure out my daily word count goal. Some days I don’t make it, some days I exceed it. I used to write all 7 days a week but now I take one day off a week.

Caroline: Doesn’t that sound horrible for any other profession--6 or 7 days a week? What do you hope your writing brings to readers?

Shirley: I hope it touches their hearts and restores their faith in love and happily ever after. That’s why I chose romance—because every time I write a romance, it reminds me of why I fell in love in the first place.

Caroline: Perfect answer. What long-term plans do you have for your career?

Shirley: I think just to keep writing as many books as I can. I truly love my job and feel blessed and lucky to have readers who buy my books.

Caroline: Would you like to tell us what you’re working on now?

Shirley: Right now, I’m working on the first book in a new series I’m writing for Berkley, called The Sweetheart Club. The first book, THE SWEETHEART BARGAIN, will be out in August 2013. I’ve been pinning images for the book on Pinterest, if readers are interested in following the progress!

Caroline: I’m still learning Pinterest. What advice would you give to unpublished authors?

Shirley: Read, read, read and write, write, write. You have to read everything you can get your hands on to learn how to recognize both good and bad writing, to have the “ear” for both the writing and for the flow of a story. Stories have a natural flow, a natural pace, and only reading constantly and thoroughly, and analyzing what you read, will you learn that. Then you have to write A LOT. You can read all the books on how to write that you want but until you actually write, you won’t learn how to do it. It’s like playing basketball--you can’t learn how to play unless you actually start shooting.

Believe in yourself and your writing. Too often, self-doubt and rejection tear at a writer’s belief in herself and she abandons her gift because she’s afraid it will never work out. Sue-Ellen Welfonder once said something about what a dreadful shame it is when someone gives up their dream too soon. It’s a quote I had over my desk for all those years I was being rejected, and one I refer back to on those days when the writing journey is hard.y family and I was hooked. A few months later, I lied about my age and applied for a job as a freelancer at the local weekly paper. I’ve been a writer ever since.

Caroline: Terrific advice. What’s a fun fact readers wouldn’t know about you?

Shirley: I am totally afraid of heights and roller coasters. I’m that wimpy mom at the water park who won’t go on any of the rides, LOL.

Caroline: We can sit on the sidelines together. ☺ What is something about you that would surprise or shock readers:

Shirley: I’m a terrible procrastinator. Even though I write 4-6 books a year, I will find ten thousand other things to do before I get to work each day. But once I’m working, I buckle down and get the pages written.

Caroline: Is your book a series? If so, how long? Family saga, other?

Shirley: This book, THE GROOM WANTED SECONDS, is a prequel to the Sweet and Savory Romances series. When the series was first released in print several years ago, I received a lot of reader mail about Rebecca and Jeremy, who were already married in the first book, THE BRIDE WORE CHOCOLATE. So I went back in time and wrote Jeremy and Rebecca’s story, which takes place a few years before BRIDE.

This entire series is one that combines my two biggest loves—romance writing and cooking. Each chapter has a recipe written by one of the characters. My mom and grandma used to give me recipes, always wrapped with advice and life lessons, and that was the kind of thing I wanted to capture in this series.

Caroline: Oh, no, you wrote the word chocolate. Now I’m thinking about it. ☺ Can you give readers a blurb about your book?

Shirley: Here is a blurb of THE GROOM WANTED SECONDS:

Nothing like a little breakup to remind a man why he loves a woman and what an idiot he’s been. After a clunky marriage proposal, Rebecca Wilson breaks up with Jeremy Hamilton, an engineer lacking a romance chromosome. She goes away for the summer and thinks she has found true love. When she returns with a broken heart, Jeremy seizes the opportunity to convince her to give him a second chance.

But it isn’t until he brings out his wild and fun side that Jeremy sees a dim flicker of hope for a future with Rebecca. His determination drives Rebecca to break into her secret cookie stash, hoping Thin Mints can make her forget Mr. Wrong. She’s already been burned twice before—is she ready to take a second chance on love?

The Sweet and Savory Romances will make you laugh, cry, and rev up your appetite with their hunky heroes. As a special addition, satiate your hunger—for food that is— with tried-and-true recipes written by the characters inside.

Caroline: They do that, all right. How about an excerpt?

Shirley: Certainly, here’s an excerpt from THE GROOM WANTED SECONDS:

A pair of familiar Nikes appeared in her peripheral vision. Rebecca jerked her head up. Jeremy stood beside her, his dark hair lit by the sun behind him. He had on shorts and a T-shirt, baring the muscles in his legs and arms. God, he was a sexy man. No doubt about that. She’d been attracted to him since the first day.

“Hey, what are you doing here?” she asked.

“Same thing as you, I bet. Running off some stress.”

“You still run this path?” she asked. Like she hadn’t been looking for him. Like she didn’t care.

He nodded. “Several times a week.”

She wanted to ask if he did it because he loved the Esplanade or because he missed running it with her. She could have chosen one of a million routes in Boston, but today, she had chosen the one that had been their favorite. A subconscious move? Or just a need to be near the water? Or because she secretly hoped to run into him?

“Mind if I sit down?” He gestured toward the grassy space beside her. She nodded, and he sat down, not too close, but not too far away either. For a long moment, the two of them just watched the water ripple, the boats pass.

If she didn’t think about it too much, it was like they were still together, sitting in comfortable silence. But she didn’t want comfortable anymore. She didn’t want predictable. She wanted—


There’d been moments when she’d been with Jeremy where she thought they had that, then he would retreat into work or his lists, and the sparks would get lost in his insistence on logical order, the romantic moment
swept away before it even really began.

She cursed the fact that she still felt that same rush of sexual tension when he was near, that craving for his kiss, his touch, the way he knew her body like no one else. But that wasn’t enough to build a future on, and she needed to remember that, even as a part of her ached to reach out, to touch him.

“We, ah, got our first order,” she said, focusing on the impersonal, asexual. Not on how close he sat, how it wouldn’t take much effort at all to brush against his skin, to be curled under his arm and pressed into his chest. How tempting the thick grass seemed, how it urged her to lay down with Jeremy and soak up the last rays of sun for the day. She cleared her throat. “So I guess that means we’re in business now.”

A smile filled his face. “That’s great, Rebecca. Really great. I’m proud of you.”

She shrugged. “I owe it to you. You’re the one who introduced me to your cousin’s wife, you know, the one
who’s a realtor? She ordered twenty baskets to give to her top clients.” “I’m glad that worked out.”
“Me too. It’s a start.” She fiddled with the grass by her ankles, wanting to stay, but knowing it would only lead them down a path she didn’t want to take. Hadn’t she learned her lesson this summer? Acting without thinking caused her to make very, very bad decisions, as did forming a relationship that was never going to have real love at its core. The logical side of her knew that Jeremy was never going to change, and hoping for more just because of the way he kissed her or because she craved his touch, wouldn’t make it so.

She spent a year hoping he’d become a man who would put their relationship first. Jeremy had been a nice guy, caring, sweet, but…distracted, his mind never fully there when they were together. Even when she’d broken up with him, she’d hoped he’d come to his senses and come after her. But he hadn’t.

He’d let her go. Hadn’t even fought for their relationship. If anything had told her where she stood in his life and how he really felt, that was it.

How could she date, or worse, marry a man who wouldn’t stand up for “them”? Who didn’t love her?

She started to get to her feet. “Well, I should let you get back to your run. And finish my own, before it gets

Jeremy laid a hand on her arm. “Stay. Please. Just for a little while.”

When he touched her, desire rushed through Rebecca. A part of her wanted to forget they’d ever broken up, forget the reasons why she’d left him, and go back to that comfortable connection. Burrow deep inside it, like thick blankets on a cold winter’s night.

“I should go,” she insisted. “And keep avoiding me?”
“I’m not avoiding you, Jeremy. It’s just…we’re over and we should stay that way.” Except she had yet to shrug off his touch or to leave.

“Why?” he asked. “Why should we stay that way?”

She sighed. “We aren’t going to work, Jeremy. So just save your money, and quit sending roses.” “I thought you’d like them.”
“I do, they’re gorgeous.” Her gaze met his, and for a second, she wished he got it, but damn it, he still
didn’t. “But they’re not me. And that’s the problem. You never really knew me. And no matter what I feel when I look at you or touch you—and damn it all to hell, I still feel something when we touch,” the words jerked out of her, caught on a sob, but she shook her head and chased the tears back, “none of that is enough to change the truth.”

He got to his feet and took both her hands in his. He had closed the gap between them, and she had to look
up to see into his deep blue eyes. “Then give me the chance to get to know you.” She shook her head. “You had a year, Jeremy. It’s too late.”
“I don’t understand. I know where you live, where you work, what you’re trying to build with Candace and
Maria. How is that not knowing you?”

She ran her thumbs over the backs of his hands, wanting to let go and at the same time, holding on. “I know everything about you. I know that your eyes look green on cloudy days. That you got that scar on your eyebrow when you were five and ran into a picnic table at the family reunion. I know you hate Brussel sprouts and love broccoli, and always wear green on Celtics game days. I know you played the clarinet in high school, but taught yourself guitar on the side. I know you are one of the smartest men I’ve ever met, and also,” her voice broke,
her words lodged against the lump in her throat, “one of the dumbest.”

Then she broke away and turned back to the path, her vision blurry, her stomach churning with hurt, disappointment. She’d taken four steps before Jeremy was there again, blocking her way. “I agree,” he said. “I am one of the dumbest men alive, because I let you get away. I don’t want to do that again, Rebecca.”

She shook her head again. “Jeremy, I—”
Then his mouth was on hers, and her objections disappeared in a bittersweet, tempting kiss that awakened feelings she thought had died. Feelings that had her curving into him, her arms sliding around his back. She tipped her head to allow him more access, to return the kiss, matching him with her lips, her tongue, her hands, wanting, desiring, needing, feeling everything through the thin fabric of their running shorts, the slickness of their damp skin. It was like coming home again, stepping into a room she knew well, but a room that engulfed her senses with a fire that overwhelmed her. Chased away logic, common sense, reality.

And that was the whole problem. She stumbled back, out of his arms. “Don’t. Please, just don’t.” “I want you back, Rebecca. I’m not the same without you.”
How she wanted to agree. To say yes would be easy—and be the worst thing she could do. She’d already made the mistake twice of letting sex overpower her better judgment, and settling for less than she deserved. Never again.

“Even now, you can’t say it,” she said softly, shaking her head. “Jeremy, I can’t. If I do, we’ll end up where we were before, and that means in six months, or a year, or two, or worse, after we’ve gotten married and had two kids, I’ll get that same feeling I got at the beginning of the summer. That being in this relationship means I’m missing something, that I could have more of, if only I’d go after it. And thinking that only leads to…” she shook her head, willing away the tears that burned at the back of her eyes, “choices I should never make.”

Then she started running again. The pavement was hard and real under her shoes, the hot early September sun merciless against her skin, and the path a way back home—and far away from another mistake.

Caroline: Great excerpt. Where can readers find THE GROOM WANTED SECONDS?

Shirley: Here’s the Amazon link:

Caroline: How can readers learn more about you?

Shirley: Here are some links:

Caroline: Is there anything else you’d like readers to know about you?

Shirley: I love to chat with readers and connect with them on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. I’m definitely more on Facebook than Twitter—I like the interaction and personal touch that Facebook brings as opposed to Twitter. And I love sharing/finding recipes on Pinterest, so if you’re there and you’re a great home cook, let me know!

Caroline: Thanks for visiting and sharing with us today, Shirley. Wishing you continued success in your writing career.

Readers, thanks for stopping by!

Friday, October 19, 2012


Today I’m hosting Roxy Boroughs, who is speaking for herself and for her coauthor, Brenda M. Collins. Wait until you see what a great thing these two women have come up with to help those with breast cancer with their book STORIES OF CHANCE ROMANCE. But first, here’s Roxy.

Roxy Buroughs, author and coauthor

Roxy: Thanks for inviting us to visit with you and your readers today, Caroline.

I have to say, these questions really got me thinking and, even though I’ve known my co-author for more than fourteen years, I’ve learned a lot more about her through this blog.

Brenda M. Collins, author and coauthor

Caroline: Where did you grow up? Siblings? Locale? Were you considered a “bookworm” or a jock?  Married, single? Children?

I was born and raised in Newmarket, Ontario (Canada). My dad moved there with his folks when he was a kid and played ball hockey on a dirt road that is now a busy four lane highway. So the place sure has grown. I have one, much older brother – by 13 years! He taught me to tie my shoes, ride a bike, how to Twist to the Beatles, and helped me with my homework. I couldn’t have asked for a better big brother.

Roxy Buroughs and her big brother

My pal and coauthor, Brenda M. Collins, grew up on the east coast of Canada in Newfoundland. And if you don’t have a Newfie friend, you need one. Talk about loyal. She’s one of 6 children. Obviously, her parents were much better Catholics than mine. Brenda was a total jock. Roxy soooo wasn’t.

Brenda Collins, age nine
I met the man of my dreams at university. We’re coming up on our 26th anniversary in December. Brenda found her guy later in life. They’ve been married for 17 years now.

Neither of us have children. Brenda exercises all her maternal urges spoiling her two dogs, Kipper and Benny.

Brenda Collins's dogs Kipper and Benny

Caroline: Love those dogs and cats. Who are your favorite authors and favorite genres?

Roxy: My all-time favorite book is TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD by Harper Lee. Love the movie, too, which I just watched again for the umpteenth time. Other than that, my tastes are fairly eclectic. I enjoy the Brontes, Wilkie Collins, Joy Fielding, Emma Donoghue, EC Sheedy, Lee Child, J. R. Ward and Alyssa Linn Palmer, to name just a few.

Brenda has three or four pages of authors she follows, most recently Lacey Weatherford, Madelyn Alt, Annette Blair, Arlene Blakely and Laura Anne Gilman. All write paranormal romance/ mysteries, much like Brenda’s book WITCH IN THE WIND.

Caroline: What’s your favorite way to relax and recharge? Hobbies?

Roxy: Needless to say, we both read. I enjoy a trip to the mountains with my man. We live close to the Rockies and the scenery is spectacular. We might do some hiking, have a little lunch—that’s heaven to me.

Brenda’s very crafty and paints, makes pottery and gorgeous jewelry. (And yes, I have a few of her creations.)

Brenda's jewelry designs
Caroline: I’m jealous, Roxy. Do you have a favorite quote that sums up how you feel about life?

Roxy: Mine comes from George Sand, the French female novelist and one-time lover of Chopin. “There is only one happiness in life, to love and be loved.”

Brenda’s favorite is from that much quoted guy Anonymous. “Everything you want in life is just one step away; all you have to do is decide in which direction to step.”

Caroline: And how difficult is that decision? How long have you been writing?

Roxy: My background is in theater, so I was writing plays long before I started writing novels. But we got the idea to write commercial fiction around the same time, first meeting when we joined the Alberta Romance Writers’ Association in 1998.

Caroline: Where do you prefer to write? Do you need quiet, music, solitude? PC or laptop?

Roxy: We both have home offices.

Classical music is usually playing in the background when I write. Mozart, at the moment. Though, if I’m working on an action scene, I’ll put on some hard rock. Generally, I prefer solitude, but I have been known to take my laptop to the mall and type in the food court. I put on my earphones and tune out the world.

Brenda, on the other hand, is very much an extrovert, energized by the people around her. She gets a ton of work done during girls’ road trips and writing retreats.

Caroline: I have to admit to being more like you. Are you a plotter or a panzer?

Roxy: We’re both plotters. Staring at an empty page with no idea about what’s going to happen next fills me with dread.

Caroline: Do you use real events or persons in your stories or as an inspiration for stories?

Roxy: Absolutely. Though always fictionalized.

For example, in STORIES OF CHANCE ROMANCE, the forth tale, NEVER A BRIDE, draws from one of my past jobs as a bridal consultant in a department store. The idea for PICKING UP THE PIECES sprang from my less than stellar driving skills after being diagnosed with breast cancer.

Brenda incorporated her visit to the San Diego Zoo in TIME AND TIME AGAIN. Also, on her website, she recalls some astonishing incidents she’s lived through and used in her fiction.

Brenda Collins and her husband with baby jaguar

Caroline: I can imagine driving alone after learning you had breast cancer. My daughter did that. Do you set daily writing goals? Word count? Number of chapters? Do you get a chance to write every day?

Roxy: No. And I’m thinking I should. I’m sure I’d get more accomplished. Right now, I bounce between writing interactive murder mystery scripts and working on a couple of novels. I prefer to concentrate on one project, finish it, then move on to the next. Shifting gears, doing three or four things at once, isn’t optimal for me. But in this new world of publishing, where the author is the writer, publicist, etc., multi-tasking is the name of the game.

Caroline: Multi-tasking it is! What do you hope your writing brings to readers?

Roxy: For STORIES OF CHANCE ROMANCE, we want to give our readers a smile. And the hope that, no matter where you are in life, love is always possible.

Caroline: I love that idea. What long-term plans do you have for your career?

Roxy: To keep writing!

Caroline: Would you like to tell us what you’re working on now?

Roxy: Brenda is writing a sequel to her WITCH IN THE WIND novella, which is part of the Bandit Creek series. She’s also working on a diamond laundering story.

I’m doing the final edits on a 100,000-word novel that’s been described as “Terminator meets werewolves.” After that, I have another shorter romance with the same light tone as CRAZY FOR COWBOY. It’s a twist on the secret baby storyline and incorporates a mischievous ghost that helps bring the couple together.

Caroline: What advice would you give to unpublished authors?

Roxy: Read everything you can, and never give up.

Caroline: So true. What’s a fun fact readers wouldn’t know about you?

Roxy: Brenda claims to speak three languages – French, English and Newfie. For those of you who’ve never heard an old timer from Newfoundland talk with their thick accent, English can seem like a completely different language.

As I mentioned, I was a performer before I became a writer. I once had a bit part on the short-lived series CAITLYN’S WAY. I spent the morning playing an eccentric sales clerk. That evening, I went to my part-time job in a teddy bear shop—being an eccentric sales clerk. You see, art really does reflect life.

Caroline: How funny. What’s something about you that would surprise or shock readers?

Roxy: In a previous career, Brenda once sat in a meeting with the CIA on one side of her and the KGB on the other.

As for me, I appeared topless on the TV series DEGRASSI JUNIOR HIGH. No body double for this girl. But don’t worry. It’s totally PG.
You can check it out on YouTube at

Caroline: My critique partner would love to talk to Brenda. Is your book a series? If so, how long? Family saga, other?

Roxy: STORIES OF CHANCE ROMANCE is, for now, all on its own.

Caroline: Tell us something you learned researching your book that surprised/interested you.

Not a surprise. A fact. And that’s the sheer volume of people who’ve been touched by breast cancer. Is there anyone reading this who hasn’t known someone who’s battled the disease?

Can you give readers a blurb about your book?

Roxy: Here’s a Blurb:

This collection of eleven short stories of chance romance reflect the hope that comes with the first bloom of romance, whether you find it in your youth, midlife, or the twilight years.

We dedicate STORIES OF CHANCE ROMANCE to all the women who face breast cancer and to the teams of family, friends and medical professionals who support them on their journey. All authors’ profits from the sale of this anthology are being donated to advance the research, education, diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer.

Here’s to finding love in any place, at any time.

Caroline: What a great thing for you to do. How about an excerpt?

Roxy: Here’s the entire first story…

                                                      A CLASS OF HIS OWN

Gina headed to the Big Ridge High gymnasium, thrilled to find herself back in Montana, and at her old alma mater, ten years after graduating. Amidst the bobbing helium balloons and dim lighting, she could still make out the sign welcoming everyone to the reunion.

Anticipation tickled her insides. Thanks to email, she’d kept in touch with many of her old buddies and couldn’t wait to see them again. Luanne, Conner, and Kirstin—the four of them had stuck together like honey on bread—done projects, endured gym class, and dreamed of a future when they’d grow out of their awkwardness.

And Gina had. Braces off, she’d opted for laser surgery and pitched the glasses, and her beanpole body finally had some curves. She’d been on her share of dates—even had a marriage proposal—but hadn’t found Mr. Right. In spite of all the years that had passed, she still measured men by her high school crush.

Adam Reinheart.

He sure had her heart.

Two years older, he’d been unobtainable at the time—tall and tanned, with curly brown hair, and boyish dimples that made him irresistible to the girls.

And he had a bright future. His father, who owned one of the local gas stations, hoped Adam would attend a prominent university.

Would she still feel the same magic when she saw him?

Someone tapped Gina’s shoulder and she twirled around. Ten years hadn’t changed Kirstin one bit. She still had the same mischievous eyes, and let go with the same contagious laugh as the two hugged.

Quickly, they caught up on the intervening years—Kirstin’s two children and Gina’s small catering business.

“Who’s all here?”

“The whole gang,” Kirstin told her. “Luanne...and Conner. You should see him now—just back from a tour of duty as a medic.”

“How about...Adam?”


Gina’s shoulders slumped when Kirstin frowned. “He didn’t come?”

“Oh, he’s here all right. Follow me.” Kirstin led her across the dance floor, as Say My Name by Destiny’s Child segued into Breathe by Faith Hill.

Through the parting crowd, she saw him—looking about as scrumptious as a man could. Maybe he had a little less hair on top but the sight of him still made Gina’s heart do a flip.

“Adam,” Kirstin yelled over the music. “Do you remember Gina?”

“I sure don’t.” Adam’s gaze wandered over Gina’s orchid-colored halter dress. A slow smile spread across his lips.

Having made the introductions, Kirstin turned to leave. Gina reached for her, nervous to be left alone with her teenage idol.

But Kirstin just winked. “Three’s a crowd,” she said, before disappearing into the dancing throng.

Squelching her nerves, Gina looked up at Adam and willed herself to speak. “The last time we met, you were heading off to university.”

“I did a year.” He gave a lazy shrug. “Why sweat it? I’ll inherit the gas station one day.” His eyes made another sweep of her dress.

Gina was starting to wish she’d worn a sweater. She crossed her arms over her chest. “So, you’re working there now?”

He laughed as though the idea was absurd.

“How do you spend your days then?”

Another shrug. “I hang out. Watch TV.”

Gina’s lips quivered, her smile cracked. She was proud of her achievements, her work ethic. What had Adam accomplished? Was this the man she’d wasted so much time dreaming about?

“So, Jenny,” he said, grabbing her arm with a clammy hand. “Wanna dance?”

She shook him off with a quick backward step. “The name’s Gina. And no thanks.”

Desperate for air, she fought her way to the exit. One moment, she was weaving through bodies.
The next, she was spun around, locked in a man’s embrace.

About to protest, she looked up, and into, the kindest eyes she’d ever known.


He laughed. “You recognized me.”

“Hardly,” she admitted. Connor had always seemed frail as a teen. Not anymore. This man was solid, his biceps firm. When he smiled, it lit up the room.

“How are you enjoying the reunion?”

Gina shook her head. “It’s...”

What could she say? Different than I expected?

“It’s been an eye-opener,” she told him, finally. “How about you?”

He took her hands in his. “Seeing you again has made my evening.”

Her cheeks heated. Was her old pal flirting with her? “You were always a good friend, Conner.”

“I wanted to be more than that.”

How had she overlooked him in high school? He was smart, caring and, through the passing years, had acquired the kind of confidence that made a man truly attractive.

“Gina, would you like to dance?”

“I’d love to.”

Three songs later, he held her tight and whispered in her ear. “Great reunion, don’t you think?”

“The best,” she murmured, right before he kissed her.

Caroline: What a sweet story, but it packs a moral. Where can readers find your books?

Roxy: STORIES OF CHANCE ROMANCE is available through Amazon at

To find out about our other titles, visit our Author Pages.



Caroline: How can readers learn more about you?

Brenda’s website is at:

You can find Roxy at: and

Caroline: Is there anything else you’d like readers to know about you?

Roxy: We’re very happy you visited with us today. Thank you so much for hosting us, Caroline.

Caroline: Thank you, Roxy, for sharing with us today. And thank you for the compassion you and Brenda have shown for those with breast cancer.

Thanks for stopping by!