Monday, April 29, 2013


Usually I ask about the same questions to my guest authors. Today I thought I would interview—ME. I know, you think you know quite a bit about me already, maybe all you ever wanted to know. Please don’t give up on me. Here I go:

Tell us about growing up:

Whew, glad no one asked whether I was sweet or horrid. My parents moved to the Bakersfield, CA area when I was a baby and then moved back to Texas the summer before third grade, when I was seven. We eventually settled in Lubbock when I was ten, a few months after the birth of my younger brother. (Then he was ten years younger than me, but now he’s passed me and is my older brother. Funny how age works, isn’t it?) 

Lubbock, Texas bills itself as the Hub of the Plains
We were our dad’s second family, and he was a lot older than our mom. Our half-siblings were near our mom’s age. In fact, our eldest half-brother was two years older than our mom.  Our half-siblings and their children live in California and look as beautiful as people who live there are supposed to. Many of them could pass for movie stars or models. I think I’m the only chubby one in the family.

As an adult, Hero and I lived in Oxnard CA one summer and loved it, in Cupertino CA a year and loved that, and in Windermere near Orlando FL for two-and-a-half years. The rest of the time, we've lived in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Although we currently live on a small acreage, we're selling that (hopefully soon!) and moving into Fort Worth.

When did you decide to write?

I loved reading as long as I can remember. My dad taught me to read when I was very young, four. I think his motive was he wouldn’t have to read me the funny papers every evening. I loved Bugs Bunny.  Yeah, I still do. 

But I didn’t write until I took journalism. Then I didn’t write books until my mother-in-law gave me a grocery bag of romances. That’s when I wanted to become Nora Roberts.  Yeah, I still do.

Nora Roberts
Writing is not quite as easy as reading, but I love both. To date, I’ve written three novellas and thirteen novels that include a time travel romantic suspense, a cozy mystery, a mystery, three contemporary romances, and the rest are western historical romances. All except one novella are set in Texas. Write what you know.

What is your favorite way to relax and recharge?

I love reading, family, getting together with friends, working on genealogy, research (yes, I get lost in it and love it), and travel.   

What’s a quote that sums up how you feel about life?

“Be the change you want to see in the world.” Ghandi

Where do you prefer to write?

Hot tea and a couple of cats for company

I write in what I call my pink cave, which is a lovely room that used to belong to Darling Daughter 2. She decorated it with prints and photos and I’ve added to them with family photos, knick knacks, a couple of plaques from my friend Geri Foster, and assorted clutter. I have all my research books here in my cave. I prefer my PC to a laptop and save the laptop for travel. I like classical music when I’m writing because I believe it adds rhythm to the words. For email, I like Ella Fitzgerald or Carol King or others. We have our house listed for sale, so I hope I'll have a nice cave after we move.

Are you a plotter or a panzer?

Definitely a plotter since I heard Laura Baker and Robin Perini give their “Story Magic” workshop years ago. They saved my life! 

My critique partners are terrific at helping me plot. Darling Daughter 1 recently helped me with a current plot problem. Whew! Nice to have talented friends and family members.

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

I do use some real events as secondary mentions, but not as main events. For instance, in the Men of Stone Mountain series, I mention Brit Johnson being murdered by Kiowas near the site of the book. That’s true, sadly. The closest I’ve come to using real people as characters is basing the aunts in that series on my mom and her sister. I love those two characters because of that connection and happy memories.

Do you set daily writing goals?

Sure I set page counts. Do I make them? Seldom, but then I have spurts where I amaze myself. Life often interferes.

What do you hope your writing brings to readers?

An escape from reality or whatever bugs them and a pleasant way to spend a few hours, that they end each book with a sigh of contentment wishing for my next book.

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

To keep writing as long as I can sit in my desk chair and prop my fingers on the keyboard. LOL I have too many characters in my head begging me to write them for me to give up now.

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

I’m finishing up a novella that is a spin off from the Men of Stone Mountain series. In the third book, there’s a character briefly mentioned named Bear Baldwin.  For some reason, he appeared in my head as a terrific guy who’d written away for a mail-order bride. This is an extension of a short story I wrote, but I’m having lots of fun with my heroine. She’s a substitute for her friend and the hero is a bit miffed he’s been passed off like a pair of old boots. There’s a bad guy—isn’t there always in my books?—after the heroine, so she’s eager to get wed before the cad shows up.  The title is TABITHA’S JOURNEY and it will be out the first week of June, 2013.
Tabitha Masterson

After that, I’ll be working on Storm Kincaid’s book, THE MOST UNSUITABLE COURTSHIP. I hope to have it released in mid September and resume the Kincaid series concurrently with the Stone Mountain series.I love both those series. I hope it's all right to say I like my books and characters. I do. I can't expect readers to love them unless I do, too.

Storm Kincaid

Next will be another spin off from Men of Stone Mountain about the first of November, CHRISTMAS ON STONE MOUNTAIN. I haven't narrowed down the cover for it yet. The hero is Buster Parish, the new sheriff of Radford Springs, Texas. 

What advice would you give to unpublished authors?

Don’t let anyone steal your dream! Hone your craft and persevere.

A fun fact readers wouldn’t know about you.

Darling Daughter 2 and I used to have three antique booths. We brought home the best stuff. It's not that we're such bad businesswomen, really, but we love antiques and hate to part with them. We have a new rule that we can't bring anything else home unless we get rid of something. If we won the lottery, though, we’d  each buy a bigger house and get back in the antique business. ☺

Something about you that would surprise or shock readers.

I am afraid of the water and am a lousy swimmer. Even though I'm chubby, I sink like a stone. In spite of that, I love watching water and also boating. Yes, I ALWAYS wear a life preserver.

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

Please sign up for my newsletter on the sidebar

Thanks for stopping by! 

Friday, April 26, 2013


This is like friends week for me, because today another good friend is sharing with us. Ashley Kath-Bilsky and I have known one another six or seven years or more. I've lost count. We have critiqued together in the past and are in the same RWA chapters, Yellow Rose and Dallas Area Romance Authors. Please welcome Ashley.

First, thank you, Caroline, for inviting me to be on your wonderful blog today. I’m delighted to be here and share a little bit about myself and what I write.

Caroline: I'll pretend I don't know this stuff and ask where you grew up?

Ashley Kath-Bilsky, Author
Ashley: I was born in Upstate New York, the third of six children.  I have to say ‘Upstate’ because if I say New York, people assume I mean New York City. Truth is -- I’ve never been to New York City and we lived closer to the Vermont border. I spend a lot of time in New England (long scenic drives over covered bridges and to apple orchards) and the big city we often visited was Boston. My home town is actually a ‘hamlet’ called Loudonville.  Although steeped with the history of patriots from the American Revolution, it was named after John Campbell, the 4th Earl of Loudon. A quiet, beautiful rural area, what I remember most are its huge, sheltering trees and gently rolling green countryside.  During the 19th century, it became a summer resort for the wealthy residents of Albany, who built some lovely homes, including white columned Jeffersonian mansions – which likely helped influence my love of architecture (not to mention Thomas Jefferson).   But I digress…

Bust of Thomas Jefferson,
one of Ashley's muses
Since, as Caroline knows, I love history – here is a tidbit about Loudonville that made quite an impression upon me as a little girl. One of its famous residents was Maj. Henry R. Rathbone (pictured) who, by a twist of fate, attended Ford’s Theatre with his then fiancĂ©e, Clara Harris, as guests of President and Mrs. Lincoln on the night Lincoln was assassinated.

Henry R. Rathbone
We all know what happened that night, but some may not be aware that after John Wilkes Booth shot President Lincoln, Major Rathbone tried to tackle and restrain Booth and got seriously stabbed by a dagger Wilkes also had on his person. When I was a little girl, I loved the story about Major Rathbone’s home being haunted.  But that’s another story to tell at a future date.  See how I get distracted talking about history???  LOL

Caroline: Were you considered a “bookworm” or a jock? 

Ashley: I was very shy; very much a ‘shrinking violet’.  I often escaped into books, beginning with Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series. I can still remember the day my mom gave me the book Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier to read. From there I became hooked on Victoria Holt and Jane Austen. I also escaped (sorta) into old classic black and white movies of the 30s and 40s, as well as those big MGM musicals (which is probably why I thought being an actress was my destiny).  Trivia:  The first old movie I remember seeing was Beau Geste with hunky Gary Cooper. I was about 11 years old; flipping through the TV channels, I came upon this old black and white movie with these kids staging a mock Viking funeral using model ships. That caught my attention, but when one of those little boys grew up to be Gary Cooper, I was like, “Wow, he’s handsome!”  Yep, my first ‘hero’ crush was Gary Cooper. 

Actor Gary Cooper
I have since seen ALL of his films.  I also have gorgeous photos of him in my writing loft, including this one right beside my desk.  Along with a bust of Thomas Jefferson (pictured above) and a statue of my animal muse (a white snowy owl named Hedwig, of course), Gary Cooper is my main muse.  Look at that handsome face. Such a wonderful muse.  J
Caroline: Married, single? Children?

Ashley: I am happily married to my personal hero, and have three wonderful sons.

Caroline: Who are your favorite authors and favorite genres?

Ashley: This is tough because there are so many authors I love – and wonderful new authors making their debut every day. However, the authors I love most are the ones who also influenced me as a writer: Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Charlotte Bronte, Victoria Holt, Daphne du Maurier, Kathleen Woodiwiss, and Johanna Lindsay.  I am partial to historical fiction and historical romance, so I tend to gravitate toward those titles. However, I also love detective stories, mainstream suspense, mysteries, and young adult fiction.  Some of my favorites are: Philippa Gregory, Shana Galen,  Elizabeth Essex, Carolly Erickson, Diane Kelly, James Rollins, Deborah Crombie, Ellie James, Geri Foster, Madeline Baker, and (my favorite western author), Caroline Clemmons.

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

Dunrobin Castle, Scotland
Most of all, I love to spend time with my family; that relaxes me.  I also enjoy traveling, especially to England and Scotland. Pictured is a photo I took of Dunrobin Castle in Scotland. I love to drive cross-country and visit historic places, especially Colonial Williamsburg.  And I enjoy doing historical research, too, including geneaology. 

Caroline: Do you have a favorite quote that sums up how you feel about life? 

Ashley: “Dare to live the life you have dreamed for yourself. Go forward and make your dreams come true.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Caroline: How long have you been writing?

Ashley: In retrospect, I have always been writing, although it took me years to realize why and where it would take me.  I honestly think most writers are born writers; it’s just inside them – some spark that is part of who they are.  As a parent, I see it in my own children. It could be a gift for math, science, music, drawing, athletics, desire to care for animals, etc. We may not pay much attention to it when we’re children, but these tendencies (when nurtured) become stepping stones toward realizing who and what we are meant to be.  For me, I started writing little poems and skits I acted out with my siblings. My first historical essay at age 8 was about Mary, Queen of Scots and my teacher liked it so much she asked if she could keep it.  I later won a Tri-County essay contest in Middle School, beating out thousands of other kids. My prize was a Certificate and cartridge pen.  Years later, as a Theatre major, when I thought being an actress was my destiny, I wrote a 3-act dramatic play for one of my classes and the professor liked it so much she asked if it could be staged at the school. Later, she staged it under her direction at Actors Studio. And it was that experience that made me realize how much I enjoyed the creative freedom of writing, and that perhaps writing might just be my calling.  

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

Ashley's long, narrow 3rd floor office
filled with some of her favorite things
I get distracted easily, so I need alone time. I am lucky to have a beautiful private space my husband built for me in the attic. No internet up there, and I use a PC.  Even though it’s three flights up, once I’m there (mug of coffee, some iced water, and maybe a few M&Ms) surrounded by my research books and listening to music (usually classical or movie soundtracks with no lyrics), it becomes the perfect place for me to write.

Caroline: Are you a plotter or a panzer?

Ashley: Definitely not a plotter! LOL Once I have the concept of the book in my head and the characters have taken shape, I open the door and go where the road leads me. Not the fastest way to write,
I admit. The story evolves as I write it. If I need to do research, I stop writing and do it at that point. *gasp* I know many writers put research off until the first draft is done then plug in the necessary research. But if I research something and realize I don’t like it or it won’t work for my vision of the story, I can then pursue another angle and build the story from there. I’m a linear writer, which means I cannot jump ahead and write a scene later in the book.  It has to build from beginning to end, like I’m weaving a blanket, thread by thread.   
Caroline: Do you use real events or persons in your stories or as an inspiration for stories?

Ashley: Research plays an important part in my historical novels. If the book is set in England during the Napoleonic War, it would be important to address that in the book, even if only in a minor way. As a rule, all of my characters (including secondary characters) are fictional. However, while doing research for my latest release, WHISPER IN THE WIND, I learned that Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson were in Fort Worth (visiting a local friend by the name of Luke Short), at the same time my heroine hits town.  The year is 1885, and so I couldn’t resist having her run into them.  I mean, how would you feel if you suddenly saw a historic figure of the Old West in person?  In addition, there is an important backstory between Jordan Blake and Allan Pinkerton, founder of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency.

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

Ashley: I don’t set a specific word count.  Remember, I’m not a fast writer so it isn’t about daily word count to me; it’s about making every word count.

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

Ashley: I want to take readers on a journey with stories that touch their hearts, and that are entertaining and compelling, with unexpected twists and turns along the way.  I also strive to write endearing (but not perfect) characters who will resonate with readers. For example, the heroine in my first novel, THE SENSE OF HONOR, sacrificed her dreams to help the people she loves. She is so busy taking care of them, and protecting them, that she gives up on her hopes and dreams. Women often do this. We are the caregivers, the nurturers, and often put everyone else’s needs ahead of our own. As admirable and necessary as that might be, it isn’t healthy.  We must remember to take care of ourselves, to nurture our dreams, and to still be US. 

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

Ashley: Hmm. Is this where I say I want to be an acclaimed New York Times Best-Selling author?  Sure, it would be nice but it isn’t what motivates me. Kinda like asking an actor if he wants to win an Oscar. Most actors would be honored to receive an Oscar, but will say their priority is to do good work.  My goal is to write good books that people really enjoy and, hopefully, remember.

Caroline: Would you like to tell us what you’re working on now?
Ashley: I just released my sensuous Historical Time Travel Romance titled WHISPER IN THE WIND. Set in 1885, this is my first Western Romance, and the first book in the Texas Windswept Romance Series.  Right now I am working on the second book in the Windswept Texas Romance series titled SPRIT OF THE WIND.  I also have a Gothic Historical Paranormal series set in Regency England and Scotland that I am super excited about. The first book in this series is titled BETWEEN THE SHADOWS and will be released in June 2013.

Caroline: What advice would you give to unpublished authors?

Ashley: Tell the story you want to tell.  Don’t follow trends; set a trend.

Caroline: Share a fun fact readers wouldn’t know about you.

Ashley: I love tea parties! Anytime you can combine tea, scones, and cakes, I’m there. I also collect china tea pots. I think I have reached my limit now. No more room. But here is one of my favorites that is on display in my writing loft.  It is a replica of the First Class china used on the Titanic. I love cobalt blue and this design is so pretty.  If you have a sharp eye, you may notice that’s Gary Cooper in the framed photograph. This photo is from one of my favorite films, Saratoga Trunk, which also starred the beautiful Ingrid Bergman.

Replica Titanic Tea Set

Caroline: Share something about you that would surprise or shock readers.

Ashley: Oh, dear.  Well, I once got in a car accident inside a car wash - the kind at the gas station where you drive in and out by yourself.  Try explaining that to your husband.  Truthfully, it was like something out of I LOVE LUCY.  Sounds crazy, but it was really scary at the time and earned me the name Ashley Smashley

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

Ashley: WHISPER IN THE WIND, a sensuous Time Travel Romance, is the first book in the Windswept Texas Romance Series.  At present, there are three books planned. Each book will focus on a different member of the Blake family. WHISPER IN THE WIND features Jordan Blake, a Pinkerton detective and former Texas Ranger, and Molly Magee, a 21st century young woman who finds herself suddenly swept back to 1885 Texas. The next book titled SPIRIT OF THE WIND is the compelling story of Ethan Blake (captured as a boy by the Comanche) and why his determined Pinkerton brother could never find him.

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

Ashley: Sure, here is the blurb for WHISPER IN THE WIND.

When 21st century Molly Magee is suddenly swept back in time, she finds herself in the Old West with gunslingers, high stakes gamblers, Victorian ideology toward women, and a Pinkerton detective named Jordan Blake. As she tries to understand what happened to her and find a way home, danger waits at every turn. Survival is a daily challenge, but it's a hundred times worse when--to avoid answering questions from a persistent and seductive Pinkerton--she fakes amnesia. She soon realizes the biggest threat of all is the one Jordan Blake poses to her heart.

Jordan Blake has lost everyone he's ever loved. As a Pinkerton detective and former Texas Ranger, he has become a cynic about people and justice. Ready to walk away from a life that has lost its meaning, Jordan never knew that a prayer whispered in the wind would bring him an angel of mercy, and a love he'd never hoped to find.

From the open splendor of 1885 Texas to dark decadence and murder in New Orleans, Molly and Jordan learn that when fate takes a hand, finding the love of your life is often just a matter of...Time.

Caroline: How about an excerpt:

Ashley: Certainly, here's an excerpt from WHISPER IN THE WIND.

Find a happy place. 
Despite repeating the tried and true mantra that always calmed her nerves before any singing performance, Molly felt as if her belly were being twisted into knots—and with good reason. After four anxious days, Jordan’s former client had finally agreed to grant her an audition.
Now, standing center stage in the Yellow Rose Hotel’s Garden Theatre, the harsh realities of her situation and concerns about survival were taking their toll, emotionally and physically. Much as she’d tried to be positive and not give into fear, nothing could stop all the ‘what ifs’ surfacing again and again in her thoughts. 
“What I wouldn’t give for a swig of Pepto-Bismol right now.” She raised a hand to her lips, hoping the clammy feeling and stress-induced nausea would soon subside. Knowing a new, large bottle of the soothing pink liquid waited in her refrigerator back home didn’t help.
“Back home”, she whispered and closed her eyes, picturing her world and all the people, beloved animals, places and things she might never see again. Turning about, she dabbed at her eyes, determined not to cry. 
It was then she noticed the canvas backdrop to the stage. A beautiful moonlit garden had been painted by some talented artist. Complete with a sparkling brook, footbridge, lush greenery and graceful weeping willow trees, the painting looked magical and altogether too idyllic a place to be found in this time and place. Ironically, the backdrop reinforced the fact her modern log cabin home—built from a kit by Uncle Brownie—was just as much a dream now, and one that seemed to become more unreachable each passing day.
With a sniffle, Molly turned her attention back to her present situation, and the sheet music she’d been studying—becoming more discouraged by the moment. She knew so many wonderful songs by heart; unfortunately, all of them were off limits now. One slip-up and God only knew how it might affect the natural course of history. She grew weary just thinking about it.
However, nothing proved as exhausting as dodging and diverting every question Jordan repeatedly asked about her past. In a way, she felt like a moon-crazed werewolf fearing a silver bullet. Even worse, her continued secrecy had done nothing but push the limits of his patience. She saw it in his eyes every time she changed the subject away from talk of her past.
What am I supposed to say? I know I owe you an explanation, but any moment I might fade before your eyes or be catapulted into the future. Truth is I’m waiting for the next tornado to drop.
Standing beside an elegant pianoforte on an otherwise barren stage, Molly picked up the last one of several music books provided by Quentin Quimbey, conductor of the hotel’s orchestra. ‘Kyle’s Scottish Lyric Gems, Songs of Scotland’ was now her last hope. 
“Please have something I can sing.”
Hearing a door open, she glanced up to see Jordan enter the theatre. His slow, long-legged approach toward the stage caused her breath to catch. The man had no idea how sexy he was, or how the sight of him warmed her heart.
“He’s on his way,” Jordan said.
With a nod, she turned her attention back to the music.
“Have you found something to sing?”
“He’ll be here any time now, Molly. For God’s sake, there must be something in that stack of music you can sing.”
She bristled at his peevish tone. “It isn’t that easy, Jordan.”
“Or, you’re just making it difficult.”
“Yeah, well...”  
“You’re being too picky,” he said, sounding surly as a grizzly bear.
“Would you like to know why I’m being so picky, Jordan?” She held up a loose sheet of music. “This song is about a grandfather clock built when a little boy was born, then it stops ticking when he grows old and dies. My, doesn’t that sound cheerful?”  When Jordan did not respond, she picked up another piece of music. “Here’s another one. It’s a beautiful melody with a great arrangement. But, oops, no lyrics.”
“Molly, just sing a song you remember.”
“I can’t,” she said.
He slapped his Stetson down on the edge of the stage. “Don’t tell me you can’t remember one damn song.”
Stunned by his angry outburst, she bit her tongue. To be honest, he had every right to be upset with her. 
“I don’t want to argue with you, Jordan.” 
“Then don’t,” he said. “Just tell me what the problem is, and what you’re keeping from me.”
“I’m sorry, Jordan, but I don’t think now is the right time for this.”
“I think it is. In fact, I think you owe me the truth.”
“Fine,” she said, snapping the song book closed. “You want the truth? That goes both ways, cowboy. You’re just as secretive as me. How about you tell me your past if I tell you mine. That was the ground rule for this particular discussion, wasn’t it?”
“Almost a week ago,” he replied.
“Well, I don’t have time for a long discussion right now. How about we make it one question each?”
 With a shake of his head, he said. “The ante is five questions.”
“Okay, five questions, but ladies first.”
Jordan looked over his shoulder at the back of the empty theatre. “Be quick about it.”
She walked to the edge of the stage then lost her train of thought. With muscular arms folded across his chest and those thick-lashed green eyes studying her intensely, Jordan Blake could snap his fingers and she’d not be able to resist him. He had the chiseled good looks of a movie star, the sculpted body of a super hero, and a sexy voice that felt like velvet sliding across bare skin. Feeling herself blush at the direction of her thoughts, Molly cleared her throat. A million questions filled her thoughts, but only one rose to her lips.
“How old are you?”
That’s your first question?”
She nodded in response.
“Thirty-one”, he said.
“And you’ve never been married?” she asked.
“No.” He arched a brow. “You have three questions left.”
She folded her arms and raised a brow, effectively mimicking his stance and expression. “Okay, here’s a tough one. How can a Pinkerton detective with a pronounced Texas drawl speak with a perfect English accent whenever he wants?”
A low, altogether too sexy chuckle lifted from his throat. “That’s really been a bee in your bonnet.”  With a shrug, he continued. “My parents were from England. They came to Texas shortly after their marriage and died when I was a young boy. My sister and I were shipped back to England to be raised by our grandfather. I was schooled there as well.”
“Why did you come back here?”
“I made a promise.”
“To whom?” she asked.
“Me,” he said succinctly. “And that, Miss Molly Magee, was your fifth and final question. Now, it’s my turn.” He narrowed his gaze. “You never lost your memory, did you?”
Molly cringed inside. God, she hated this, but she couldn’t very well tell him the truth. She looked toward the back of the theatre, willing Mr. Buchanan to appear at that crucial moment. He didn’t. Hearing Jordan clear his throat expectantly, she looked back at him. There must be a way to be truthful, but not necessarily explicit.
“No,” she said.
He snorted derisively. “Come now, you can do better than that. Try explaining to me why you’ve been lying about such a serious thing.”
“I didn’t lie...not exactly. Believe it or not, Jordan, I’ve told you a lot about myself and my past. It’s...complicated. I admit, I haven’t told you everything, but the truth is I thought it better for you not to know. In my own way, I’ve been trying to protect you.” 
“Well, that’s a helluva vote of confidence for me.” He rubbed his jaw and continued to study her. “Are you running away from a man?”
A bizarre urge to laugh came over Molly, but she restrained herself admirably. “As a matter of fact, I was running away from something, but it wasn’t a man.”
“I see.” With a heavy sigh, he added. “I’m guessing that means you were running away from the law.”
“Wrong, smarty pants; you know, you asked me this before. But, just to set the record straight, I have never—in my entire life—been in trouble with the law. Might I add you that your thinking I might be a criminal is a helluva vote of confidence from you about me, too.”
His green eyes cut up to hers, and the expression in them was far from friendly. “Well, if it isn’t a man and it isn’t the law, what is it?”
He picked up his Stetson and began to re-shape the crown, obviously trying to rein in his temper. “I doubt you’re running away from family. You’ve spoken so much about your Uncle Brownie, I feel as if I know the man.” He raised his gaze to hers again. “Just tell me this, Molly. Were you at least in danger…or just using me as a means to an end?”
Molly swallowed hard. She’d never seen him act so strange, so distant, and almost angry. “Yes, I truly was afraid for my life,” she answered in a quiet voice. “And right now, I’m in a different kind of danger, but it isn’t something that you can do anything about. I am not trying to upset you, Jordan, but there are things I have to handle on my own. And I’m sorry if you feel as if I’ve been using you. I promise I’ll pay you back once I get a job.”
The sound of a door opening startled them both. Mr. Buchanan entered the theatre, his gregarious presence as domineering as a bull in a china shop.
“Let’s get this over with then,” Buchanan said in a surly tone.
Jordan walked up the aisle to greet the owner of the Yellow Rose Hotel, murmuring something that actually seemed to appease Buchanan’s gruff mood. A moment later, he introduced her to the Scotsman. 
Not much taller than Molly and somewhat stocky in build, Angus Buchanan had a full head of white hair and dark eyes. Although he smiled in greeting, he did not engage in small talk of any kind. He did, however, make a point of checking his pocket watch—twice. Not a good sign.
“Anytime ye’re ready, lass,” Buchanan said.
Returning to the pianoforte, Molly retrieved the book of Scottish songs, this time quickly perusing the list of titles in the index. With a sigh of relief, she recognized one piece. Not only was it something she’d played before many times, it was a favorite of Uncle Brownie.
“Thank you, God,” she whispered.
Molly glanced at Jordan; she needed a reassuring smile. Instead, he sat in the row behind Buchanan, staring a hole through the crown of his Stetson.  
Mr. Buchanan gruffly cleared his throat.
Reminded once more of her dire time-travel circumstances, Molly took a steadying breath and sat down at the piano. She began with a lilting, airy introduction to the piece, more to gauge the tension of the keyboard than anything else. Once comfortable with the instrument, she began to sing.
“O, my love is like a red, red rose. That’s newly sprung in June…”
The acoustics of the room were such her voice carried well beyond the stage. Closing her eyes, she allowed the words and music to flow from her heart. It was not until she’d lifted her hands from the keyboard that Molly noticed Mr. Buchanan had left the audience and now stood beside the piano with tears in his brown eyes.
“Dinna fret lass,” he said. “Ye’ve a place here as long as ye like.” Pulling a handkerchief from his pocket, he wiped his face dry then blew his nose. “Room and board at the hotel in exchange fer a wee reduction in wages. I’ll provide a personal chambermaid tae tend yer needs. Ye’ll start tomorrow playin’ for the ladies in the conservatory durin’ tea. O’course, each evenin’ I’ll be wantin’ ye tae perform here in the theatre with the orchestra; two performances on Saturday. Sundays free.”
“Really?” Molly whispered then came to her feet. “Oh, thank you, Mr. Buchanan! Thank you so much. You’ll never know what this means to me.”
“Aye, I ken what it means lassie.” The gentle giant pocketed his handkerchief and smiled. “I’ll be tellin’ Mr. Stein, my hotel manager, a’boot our arrangement. He’ll see tae yer room and such with’oot delay.” 
Mr. Buchanan started to turn away then paused and pinned her with a thoughtful look. “Ye’ve a melancholy way a‘boot ye, lass. Ye sing with yer heart, ‘tis plain to see. But keep in mind I want the patrons happy, nae cryin’ in their beers.” 
Still stunned by the startling turn of events, Molly watched her new boss leave through the wings of the stage. Anxious for Jordan’s reaction, her joy quickly turned to confusion and disappointment.
Her stalwart guardian angel was gone.

Caroline: Where can readers find your books?

Ashley: WHISPER IN THE WIND made its debut on Kindle as a Top 100 Best-Selling Time Travel (link below), and is also available on Apple iPad/iBooks, Nook, Kobo, Sony Reader, and Smashwords. It will be available in print format the end of April 2013.
Caroline: How can readers learn more about you?

Ashley: They can visit my website and sign up for my newsletter . In addition, I have a personal blog and am a contributing member of the Sweethearts of the West blog. They can also find me on Facebook and Twitter. Here are the links:
Sweethearts of the West blog:

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

Ashley: I think there is an interesting bond between readers and writers, especially in the romance genre. We both read and love the genre. Most non-romance readers fail to appreciate how much romance novels resonate with readers on an emotional level. Yes, it’s fiction and provides a break from the stress and realities of our daily lives. Yes, there are love scenes and perhaps an idealistic view of romance itself. But these books also convey the power of dreams. They tell of struggles, adversity, undying hope, the day-to-day challenges of survival,  the losses we all face, the faith that sustains us, and the passionate desire we all have to not only find a deep and powerful love, but that elusive ‘happily ever after’. Romance novels touch the heart of readers, often in powerful, unforgettable ways.  Essentially, that’s what I’m trying to create with my books.  I truly hope the readers have enjoyed learning a little bit about me, and that I want to provide them with books that will take them on a compelling adventure and touch their hearts. 

Have a great day everyone, and thanks again for inviting me here today, dear Caroline.
((hugs)) Ashley 

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


Readers, please welcome my BFF and great author Geri Foster today to A Writer’s Life. Besides being a terrific writer and loyal friend, Geri is a bundle of energy that puts the Energizer Bunny to shame. She’s stopped preparations for her trip to the Romantic Times Convention long enough to share with us today.

Caroline: Geri, I love hearing tales about your life, especially with your dad’s mom. Tell readers something about your growing up.

Geri: I grew up in a very small, close-knit town called Picher, Oklahoma. I was the baby with two older brothers until my mother surprised us all by having my sister when I was thirteen. We moved to Kansas for about five years, finally landing in Buffalo, New York when I met and married my navy husband. Together we had two kids, both grown now and out on their own. I pray every day it stays that way. LOL!

Caroline: You left out your grandmother and the story of her using a broom to chase the bull.   Who are your favorite authors and favorite genres?

Geri: Growing up I was rarely without a book. My family liked that because when it came to presents, they knew just what to buy. Learning to read was almost magical to me. It opened a different and kinder world than I lived in growing up.

I have always loved romance. There is nothing happier than ever-after.

Caroline: True, which is why we write as well as read romance. What’s your favorite way to relax and recharge?

Geri: I’m pretty hyper, so I tend to crash and burn, put out the fire, and start all over again. I’m a chronic multi-tasker, and I love being in over my head…until, like I said, I crash and burn.
I find a nice glass of wine at the end of the day pretty much clears my head and puts me to sleep so I can wake up and start all over again.

Caroline: Do you have a favorite quote that sums up how you feel about life?

Geri: God blessed me with the best friends in the world, and I thank him every day for that. So my quote is: There is no problem that FRIENDS cannot confront, combat, plot against, ignore, make fun of, drown in chocolate sauce, or run over with a car!
Also: Life is Good!

Caroline: How long have you been writing?

Geri: I’ve been working at my craft for about fifteen years. I’ve been writing seriously for about five.

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

Geri: I’m one of those crazy people that can’t listen to anything when they write. If there is music, I want to sing or dance, if the TV is on, no matter what channel, I’ll stop and watch it. So, for me it’s being all alone with my laptop.

Caroline: I’m asking even though I know the answer: Are you a plotter or a panzer?

Geri: I Plot! I say that proudly because I write Action-Romantic Suspense. Without a plot it can get really scary. I need to know what’s going to happen and where I’m going. Also, it points out when and where I need to ratchet up the tension.

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

Geri: No. For some unknown reason the inciting incident comes to me first in a story. It just pops up. Then I plot from there.

Caroline: Do you set daily writing goals?

Geri: I shoot for ten pages a day, but consider five pages a good day.

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

Geri: Pure entertainment. I’m not a teacher, or a history buff or someone with a message. I do a lot of research because I have to keep my facts straight and know what I’m talking about, but I don’t try to educate anyone. I want my reader to feel my characters’ emotions, good and bad, and I want them to fear the goal won’t be reached, and I want them satisfied at the end. If I have that, then I’ve done a good job.

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

Geri: To write more books. I even have three comedies I plan to put out there. J

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

Geri: Right now I’m finishing up OUT OF THE NIGHT which is the third book in the Falcon Series. OUT OF THE DARK and OUT OF THE SHADOWS were just released.

Caroline: What advice would you give to unpublished authors?

Geri: Write until you reach the end. Don’t start another book and don’t put it off, just finish the damn book.

Caroline: Tell us a fun fact readers wouldn’t know about you.

Geri: I constantly talk to myself. I rarely read instructions. I’m into Feng-Shui

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

Geri: I’d love to skydive…just once.

Caroline: Is your book a series?
Geri: My books are a series called Falcon Securities. It’s about ex-military and ex- intelligence officers who become agents for Frank Hamilton who owns Falcon. They work exclusively for the President of the United States and the DOD

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

Geri: Here’s a blurb from OUT OF THE DARK:

After a Russian mission goes south, Falcon Securities agent John ‘Mac’ McKinsey is stranded with assassins on his trail. His boss arranges for him to hitch a ride with the corporate attorney Emily Richards, who is in Russia as a mediator for another company.

Emily Richards wants only to return home then on to a peaceful vacation with her best friend. When armed men invade her hotel room minutes after Mac arrives, Emily is forced to depend on Mac to stay alive. Anger that Mac has entangled her in a life or death struggle quickly turns to fear when the men pursuing them call her by name.

Together Mac and Emily engage in a tumultuous ride to escape with their lives and capture a crazed bomber and a vindictive drug lord. More difficult is tearing down their own emotional walls. Can they succeed and admit love is the most precious thing in life?

Caroline: How about an excerpt?

Geri: Here’s and excerpt of OUT OF THE DARK:

Emily Richards opened her hotel room, stepped inside, and secured the lock. From behind, a calloused hand clamped over her mouth, threatening to shut off vital oxygen. Her shocked scream crumbled into a muffled murmur.

Fear exploded in her brain.

The man’s arm wrapped around her chest and pulled her against a hard, muscular body.
Emily’s purse and briefcase dropped to the floor as she desperately tried to fight off her attacker. Her elbows jabbed his ribs, rewarding her with a grunt. She twisted frantically to break free.

“Be still,” a male voice hissed against her ear. The terse command shot her horror into a higher realm of terror. “Relax, it’s me, Mac. I’m not here to hurt you.”

Caroline: I know your books are available in both print and as ebooks. Where can readers find your books?


Caroline: How can readers learn more about you?

Twitter: @gerifoster

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

Geri: I love hearing from my readers!

Author Geri Foster
As long as she can remember, Geri Foster has been a lover of reading and the written words. In the seventh grade she wore out two library cards and had read every book in her age area of the library. After raising a family and saying good-bye to the corporate world, she tried her hand at writing.
To her surprise, she won a couple of contests, hooked up with a really great critique group and her writing career was well on its way. She spent several years studying her craft and developing her voice.
Action, intrigue, danger and sultry romance drew her like a magnet. That’s why she has no choice but to write action-romance suspense. While she reads every genre under the sun, she’s always been drawn to guns, bombs and fighting men. Secrecy and suspense move her to write edgy stories about daring and honorable heroes who manage against all odds to end up with their one true love.

Thanks for sharing with us today, Geri. 

Readers, thanks for stopping by!

Monday, April 22, 2013


davids tour

Blurb for DAVID'S SONG:

Annie only ever really loved two men in her life. One broke her heart, the other married her. Four children and fifteen years later, Annie’s marriage is in jeopardy. Money is tight and her husband questions the very foundation of their relationship. When Annie is unexpectedly given the opportunity to see the young man who broke her heart — a man who is now a megastar in the music industry — Annie is faced with choices. Choices that will determine what is of more value — a second chance at lost love and unfulfilled dreams or commitment, trust, and love built on years of experience.

A psychologically subtle, yet compelling tale about how the instinct and need for love overcomes self-doubt and personal inadequacy.

About the Author

Author April R. Talley

April R Talley was born and raised in the Rubber City, Akron, Ohio in 1959. She is the youngest of six children. She attended Brigham Young University for a time, but withdrew to work fulltime for Osmond Productions in Orem, Utah as a member of The Osmond production staff. After a brief stint working in television, she returned to Akron to finish her education. She graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Mass Media Communications in 1981. April later worked as vice president and part owner of a dance and sportswear boutique. Married in 1982, she is the proud mother of seven children and is deeply involved in volunteer work for her church. April spends her time working on future projects, caring for home and family, and traveling. DAVID'S SONG is her debut novel and the first of a trilogy.

Praise from reviews on

"Not just your typical romance novel" - Tracy Williams

"David's Song is great read that leaves you thinking about the story and pondering your own relationships". - Anna Pavkov

"Sucked me in from the 1st page" - Jill Walker

"Loved this book . . . could not put it down!" - Dana Vieira

Book Blast Giveaway

$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 5/12/13

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Thanks for stopping by!