SPOTLIGHT & INTERVIEW: Author Tamar Sloan

Good day, friends, fellow writers, and readers! It’s time to peek in on another author. This week we are talking with author Tamar Sloan about her new release, Make It Count. So, let’s not have me ramble anymore and get right to it!

Welcome to my blog, Tamar! First, and you tell us a little about your novel.

Make it Count is a young adult contemporary romance, admittedly fueled by a touch of the impossible. It tells the story of impulsive, fun-loving Casey and the ability she was born with – if she touches another person she sees the number of days they have left to live. Casey fakes a phobia to avoid touch, and she convinces herself she’s happy in her isolated, safe little bubble. Until irresistible, motorcycle riding PJ comes along. The chemistry is hot, the sparks fly. And Casey is about to learn how to live a life that counts.

Interesting. I love a good twist in a novel like this character’s unique ability. I am always intrigued by other writers and where their ideas come from. What was the inspiration for Make it Count?

Make it Count, a young adult contemporary romance, is one of those books that comes to you at 4am and you just know it’s going to be a special story. It started with the seed – what if with one touch, a girl could see how many days a person has to live? Apart from all the heart-wrenching considerations like touching your loved ones, I knew she’s avoid touch at whatever cost. But then PJ arrived, and he was hot, and irresistible. I had to capture their chemistry, and their story.

I’m convinced that the best ideas come in the wee hours of the morning. Unfortunately, so do some of the worst ideas (when you’re sleep deprived) 🙂

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

Interestingly, I never considered I’d be a writer. As a child I loved to read (I devoured romance novels from the moment I discovered them), but it NEVER occurred to me that I could write one myself. My first book came to me in a dream (so cliché, right?). But it was an idea that wouldn’t go away, which meant I had to go learn how to write… Several months later, with a healthy dose of muttered curse words, my first book of the Prime Prophecy series, was born.

What a cool story! I think for most people the love of writing is birthed from the love of reading. Books, books, and more books, right? I wish I could hold on to the images in my dreams long enough to capture them on paper. I always ask: do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer?

Never stop growing.

Speaking of reading inspiring our writing…what are you currently reading?

About 20 books at once! I’m one of those nerdy people that love non-fiction just as much as fiction, so right now I’ve got a book going on human curiosity along with another one on chaos theory (I’m so fascinated by it and its intersection with fate – can you predict the future or not?, and its going to be the basis of a romance once day…). Fictionwise, I’ve got The Time Traveller’s Wife setting next to my bedside table (please don’t ask me to spell that authors name…), it’s really (and I mean, really) good!

I have actually read The Time Traveller’s Wife. You’re right, it is good! I try to alternate between fiction and non-fiction, but I can’t boast the same love of non-fiction. I…appreciate it.

I’m always pushing for that one more secret for my readers. Can you tell us something about your new release that is NOT in the blurb.

There are a host of fascinating characters that readers are going to fall in love with. Casey has a best-friend who’s kooky and loves to make up new words and into palmistry and iridology. Casey also one has three brothers. I have a soft spot for her youngest, Harry, he’s mango haired and freckled, and a vital key in Casey understanding how her fear controls her. Then again, her two older brother, Zach and Ethan, will have entire books dedicated to their stories in the Touched by Love series…

Wow. It sounds like you’ve paved the way for a great series. Do you have any current projects you’re working on? Care to share?

Book 2 of the Touched by Love series is Zach’s story. He has a gift that even his family don’t know about, that’s a little more subtle than Casey’s, but is going to pose a challenge for the girl he has his heart set on. The very same girl who’s been in love with him for a very long time…

Thank you so much, Tamar, for being on my blog today and sharing about your book! And so, readers, without further ado, let’s charge on and get a better look at the book. And, hint, hint, there may be an excerpt below!!!

Make It Count

He’s irresistible…but she’s the one person who knows his days are numbered.

Casey’s touch can reveal the one thing a person would never want to know — the number of days they have left to live.

By the time Casey turns seventeen she’s learnt to withdraw. But the phobia she fakes in order to avoid human contact is sorely tested by hot, persistent, motorcycle riding PJ. For a girl who craves contact, maple eyed PJ is impossible to resist. When the inevitable happens, when hands, bodies and lips collide, Casey sees PJ’s number, one that can only be seen as a cruel twist of fate.

Now she must decide. Will she continue counting the days of her life, or start living a life that counts?

With the memorable writing and humor of writers such as Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You the Sun blended with the attitude, chemistry and unexpected plot twists of Katie McGarry’s best sellers, Make it Count is a romance that will leave you swooning and smiling.

Enjoy an Excerpt

A few steps down the path I slip the brownie from my sleeve. There’s no way I can wait to get out of the front yard before I taste this square of temptation. I should be sainted right alongside Ari’s grandson for not wolfing down the whole platter.

There’s a mega-sized tree in the front yard, so I head around it, lean back against its bark watching the brownie’s slow approach to my mouth, savouring the moment. I smell the chocolate, the sugar, the awesomeness. I bite down and my eyes flutter closed. Oh. My. Heaven-loving-tastebuds. Galaxies of spun sugar dissolve in my mouth, symphonies drowned out by the roaring in my ears. My body mirrors what’s happening in my mouth; I’m slowly, deliciously melting into a gooey, thick puddle.

The roaring stops.

“If you like my cooking, you’d love how I make breakfast.”

Everything stops. Every cell goes from puddly and quivery to upright and alert. I know that chocolately voice. I’ll never forget that warm, rich timbre.

I open one eye, then two.

PJ is sitting on his motorbike, helmet on his lap, that grin glinting in the sun. He hangs the helmet on a handlebar, swings a long denim leg over and swaggers towards me. And I mean a hip swaying, shoulder swinging swagger that evokes images of yellow-striped, denim-clad butts.

The moment he’s close enough for me to focus on his eyes the brownie turns to bread in my mouth. It could never compete with the symphonies and stars in those molten maple pools.

“They’re a family recipe.”

My brain clicks out of brownie-PJ heaven and into gear. Hang on a sec. I look over my shoulder at the door, the door that was just closed by a woman the colour of brown sugar. I look back to the very white, hot guy in front of me.

“Family?”

The moment PJ stops I take a step back, out of arm’s length, and out of smell’s reach. His eyes narrow ever so slightly as he notes my movement. He crosses his arm. “Yeah, family.”

I wait, but it seems someone else in this town took the course on stubborn silence. Instead he grins again. Man, I wish he’d stop doing that. Here, in the sun, it’s blinding. “I’m flattered.”

I raise a brow.

PJ shrugs, and somehow the movement seems to bring him a millimetre closer. Moving again would be rude and weirdo-whacky so I stay put, choosing to breathe through my mouth.

“It takes some effort to find out where a guy lives.”

My jaw slackens. Ego much?

“Hmmm.” I step to the side and head to his motorbike. “I’m glad you brought a second helmet.”

PJ turns and follows me, I step around the bike, using it as a barrier.

He places a hand on the leather seat. “You wanted to come for a ride?”

Eyes wide with mock shock connect with molten maple. “Don’t you need it for your ego?”

Instead of looking insulted, PJ grins. A wide, teeth-glinting, eye-wrinkling grin. “I think I might; it just got one heck of a hit.”

I cross my arms, glad I can do it safely this time thanks to my Personal Protective Equipment.

PJ brings one hand up to stroke his chin. “So you’re not here to see me.”

“Difficult to imagine, isn’t it?”

“What else would bring you here?”

Those delicious lips twitch. He knows exactly why I’m here. I’m not much of a blusher, but being here, for a therapy group for a phobia I don’t have, wearing the freaky lengths I have to go to avoid touch seems like a pretty good time to blush.

But I didn’t wear a balaclava, so instead, I own it. “I have ablutophobia.”

PJ’s eyes stray to my lips. “Well, it’s not a fear of brownies.”

I resist the urge to lick their suddenly dry surface. “Or the repeated use of pick-up lines.”

PJ chuckles, and it’s a sound that reminds me of crème brûlée, smooth and moreish. “Maybe it’s a phobia of stepping up to a challenge.”

That has me straightening. Everything in my impulsive but necessarily inhibited personality loves a challenge. PJ quirks a brow, and leans forward, placing both hands on the seat. The position pushes his shoulders forward, focuses my attention on those biceps. Mr. Sexy-Comes-Naturally is waiting for me to pick up the gauntlet.

Sensations and sights sharpen. Those molten maple pools watching me. The heat pressing against my body. Those Adonis lips parting on an inhale. The bead of sweat raking down my spine.

I lean forward, and my eyes widen the moment my next sense registers something. A scent, the kind of scent that has your head tilting reflexively, your mouth opening just a touch to see if it will land on your tongue.

I don’t know what amber smells like, but I think this could be it. Woodsy, spicy…tempting…moreish. It’s the kind of smell that makes you wish you could spend more time breathing in than out. One hand reaches out to the red plastic fender rising from the back of the bike. The moment woven cotton presses into my fingertips, rather than smooth plastic warmed by the sun, I stop. It’s all I need to return me to reality.

I take a step back, having to mentally force my nose to follow. PJ was never meant to get close enough to smell, because exactly what I thought would happen just happened.

He smells as good as he looks, and I don’t need any more temptation to fight.

I take another step back. “You’ve got the wrong girl, PJ.”

PJ exhales, possibly because of the pent-up tension, but probably out of frustration. “It seems we have one thing in common, Casey.”

With another step back I decide it’s safe to ask. “What’s that?”

PJ straightens, his eyes twinkling. “We both love a challenge.”

I start to walk backwards, shaking my head. “The difference is I can pick a lost cause.”

I turn and start creating even more distance between us. I walk away from hot, sexy, available maple, knowing this is what I need to do. Telling PJ, with everything I can, he’s wasting his time.

“See you at mini motos.”

I keep walking. The tenacity is admirable and flattering, but wasted. “I’m not going.” I call over my shoulder.

“Don’t forget to bring your little brother.”

I shake my head, glad PJ can see that and not my smile. Sure, I love to look, I like the flirting, and I’d love to be someone that could go there.

But PJ is the last person I plan on touching.

Buy Links

Purchase Link: https://books2read.com/MakeitCount

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07647LY9W/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1507130281&sr=8-8&keywords=make+it+count

Bares & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/make-it-count-tamar-sloan/1127174208?ean=2940158563928

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/make-it-count/id1292155658?mt=11

About the Author

A school psychologist by day, Tamar channels her passion for books into creating young adult stories about discovering life and love beyond our comfort zones. She is the award-winning author of the Prime Prophecy and Touched by Love Series. Tamar is also the author of PsychWriter: where psychology meets writing, a blog that supports and extends writers.

When not reading, writing or working with teens, Tamar can be found with her ever-patient husband and two beautiful sons enjoying country life on their small acreage in the Australian bush.

Tamar finds it deeply rewarding to share her stories and she loves to hear from her readers and fellow lovers of all things book related.

Connect with Tamar Sloan and Her Books

Websitewww.tamarsloan.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com.au/tamarsloanwriter

Twitter: www.twitter.com/sloantamar

Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36284190-make-it-count

 

THE OVERCOMER IN ME: Depression – My Story

Hello, all. I told you my posts would take a different turn. Well, before I get too far into this OVERCOMER thing, I thought I should let you in on my story, my battle with depression.

It begins…like this:

Once upon a time…a miracle happened. The birth of my first child. And she was beautiful and perfect and everything she should have been.

And my thoughts about what I should be as a mother kicked in. I had always thought I would be a cross between Mother Theresa and Martha Stewart. I would be SUPERMOM!

But, as I came to find out…”Expectations are pre-meditated miseries”

I should have been happy! Right? I had this perfect little family. This wonderful life.

But I wasn’t. I was irritable, obsessive, compulsive, and anxious. Yet, I didn’t know what to do with these things. So, I suffered in silence.

Then, came another miracle – my second child. A beautiful baby boy. Just as perfect and wonderful as my daughter.

Still, something wasn’t right. I was sad, empty, and I began to withdraw.

I wondered what was happening to me?

It was actually when I was flipping through channels and stopped briefly on Dr. Phil that I had the lightbulb moment. He was listing the symptoms of depression and I knew. I KNEW.

I talked to my husband and we made an appointment with my OB-GYN. Then came the diagnosis, and with it medication. Eventually, a psychiatrist, and counselor.

I’d love to tell you everything started looking up. I mean, I did all the right things, right?

My symptoms became worse.

My whole world was my bedroom, my bed, and the occasional visit to my psychiatrist or my counselor.

I had intrusive suicidal thoughts. And if you’ve never been depressed, it’s difficult to explain these. If you, too, have been in this dark place, I don’t even need to tell you. They became more and more compulsive until one day I couldn’t overcome them.

It was time to get more help. And so, I landed in a Behavioral Health Hospital.

More story to come…

GUEST POST & GIVEAWAY: Author Rachel Magee

Don’t Give Up (Even When It Gets Hard)

by Rachel Magee

I love writing stories. I always have. My favorite part is writing the first draft, when the story comes together and the characters’ journeys arc toward growth. There’s nothing more satisfying or relaxing to me than letting the story that’s in my head flow out onto the paper. Or, you know, the computer screen.

But some days being a writer is just plain hard. There are days when the words don’t flow, when the edits seem endless and the rejections are relentless. Ever been there?

At one point, about a year into my adventure of trying to get published, I hit a particularly low point. All of the time and energy I had poured into my manuscripts seemed to be going nowhere. I felt lost and alone, and I was contemplating giving up. Maybe I just wasn’t cut out to be a writer.

That night I was reading with my son before bedtime. We finished the book and flipped to the jacket where the author had her acknowledgements. Among the people she thanked was her agent.

“What’s an agent?” my son asked.

“Someone who helps you get your book published,” I told him. He thought about it for a second.

“You should call her, Mom. I bet she would help you get your book published, too.”

It was at that moment that I knew I had to keep writing. My son was proud of what I was doing and believed that if I put in the hard work I would succeed. Who can give up with that kind of support behind them?

After I kissed my son goodnight, I went downstairs, flipped open my computer and got back to work.

The one thing I learned that night was that being a writer takes two things: a lot of hard work and a great support system. There is no fast track to the end of a book or short cut to success. Stories are written one – sometimes painful – word at a time. And, while you might spend a lot of time by yourself at a computer, it’s not a solitary profession. You have to find your people who believe in you, who will encourage you along with way. The people who won’t let you give up and will cheer the loudest at every, single success.

Some days being a writer is tough, but keep at it. There is a world out there that needs to read your story in a way that only you can tell it.

That is so true, Rachel! Thank you so much for those words and for being on my blog today! I hope you will tell us a little about your novel.

My debut novel was released last month. Here’s a bit about it.

Lainey Stratton does not fall in love with strangers she meets on vacation. It simply doesn’t make logical sense. So when Lainey meets Carter Thompson on the first day of her Caribbean vacation, she knows it could never amount to anything more than a crush. At the end of the vacation she will return to Dallas and he will return to DC, and that will be the end of it. Well, unless he wants to join her at a friend’s destination wedding, which would be considered vacation too, right?

But when an unexpected tragedy sends Lainey’s logical world spiraling out of control, she realizes her vacation crush might be the only one who can help her pick up the pieces of her shattered life. That is, as long as she can get out of the way of her own happiness. And as long as Carter’s past doesn’t catch up with him before she gets a chance.

I always have to be in the right mood to write. My music is key for me. What about you? What kind of music do you listen to while you write?

I love to listen to music when I write. What I listen to depends on my mood or the mood of what I’m writing, but usually I like modern love songs. Adele, Michael Buble, and Ed Sheeran are among my favorites right now.

Love me some Michael Buble! Okay, one last question… Tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.

Because this is a story about a long distance relationship, there are a lot of different settings. If you’re in the mood to travel, this book is a great getaway!

Thank you again, for coming on the blog today! I am all too eager to hear more about your book. As, I’m sure, are my readers. And Rachel has included a GIVEAWAY! Find details below.

Happily Ever Afters

It’s always a bit of a chance picking up a book by an author you don’t know and haven’t really heard anything about. I do believe this is Rachel Magee’s first book and if it isn’t, it’s MY first book by this author. I was hopeful going in, but unsure. Man, I am SO glad I joined in for this book tour because this book was fantastic. It’s more than just a sweet romance, it’s a journey filled with emotion and growth…     ~ Amazon Reviewer

Buy Links

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

iTunes

More About the Author

Rachel wrote her first novel when she was twelve and entered it into a contest for young author/illustrators. Unfortunately, the judges weren’t impressed with her stick figures. So she dropped the dream of becoming a world famous illustrator and stuck to spinning stories. When she’s not busy working on her latest book, she loves to travel with her family and friends. By far, her favorite destination is the beach, which tends to work its way into most of her stories. Between vacations, you can find her at home in The Woodlands, TX with her wonderful husband, their two adventurous kids and a couple of spirited pets, all of whom share Rachel’s love of the ocean. Well, except the cat and dog. They’re both afraid of water.

Connect with Rachel

Website: https://www.rachelmageebooks.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/rachelmageeauthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/rachell_magee

GIVEAWAY!!

Rachel is offering this beautiful coffee mug and tea. Here’s how it works. Comment on the post below. Share your thoughts with Rachel, ask her questions, let me know what you’d like to see on the blog, whatever. Or answer the question below. Every person who comments will be entered in to a drawing for the set. Entries will be accepted until Thursday evening, October 12, 2017, at 11:59 pm (CST).

Where is your favorite place to vacation?

Fiction Inspired by Life: Depression

Hello, all! I hope you are well and enjoying the changing of the colors in the trees and the weather (in some locales). Today, I wanted to broach the subject of depression in this “Overcomer” series.

I am a three time postpartum depression (PPD) survivor. That’s a pretty significant thing for me. My children are pretty close in age. And, as some of you already know, the recovery from depression can take a long time. So, from about mid-2009 until I would say 2015, I was either in the throes of depression or in recovery. And I would not say that I am completely recovered. I still have bad days here and there, days where I feel as if I’m on the edge of that darkness, where I have to fight to keep myself from drifting back in.

But I wanted to talk a little about my writing. I don’t know any author whose struggles, life, and hurt places don’t at least leak into their work. This is true of me.

The Lady Bornekova

My debut novel was The Lady Bornekova. And, when penning it, I had already had some experience with depression. Maybe I couldn’t help it, maybe it just seemed to fit what was happening to my character, perhaps a little of both…but some of what I went through seeped onto the page.

First, you should know that I am passionate about sharing my story. Why? Are you not a little embarrassed to share? Yes and no. I am not proud of that time in the darkness, of the intrusive thoughts, of my weakness…sharing certainly makes me vulnerable.

But, more important than that, is the fact that many suffer in silence. Many fear they are alone. I want to be the voice that says “you are not”. There is help. And I so badly want to fight the stigma that exists around mental illness in general, PPD specifically.

Karin

Back to “The Lady Bornekova”…the main character, Karin, goes through a devastating experience. This throws her into a state of depression. However, depression wasn’t known by that name (this is in the 1400s – think Medieval Period). In fact, little was known about mood disorders. But I wanted it to be clear that this is what she was experiencing. So, I did my best to be true to history while not sacrificing reader awareness.

Here is an excerpt from the book:

Karin woke each day with no desire to remove herself from the bed. Not even the dawn streaming through the window could brighten her mood. Her heart ached, yes, but it was more. The world no longer held promise; it was a dark place. Everything was bleak, as if the darkness were something physical that could smother her. Many days she wished it would so she would not have to feel the way she did.

She could not find the motivation or the strength to pray. This may have been the worst of it—to have no one to turn to. In the weeks prior, when she had been in such a hopeless situation, she always had prayer. When all else had seemed grim, she found solace in prayer. But there was no light to be found there now–nothing, it seemed, could penetrate this dreariness. And so it continued to envelop her, day after day.

~ Turnquist, Sara R. “The Lady Bornekova” (Clean Reads, 2015)

Could I have written this scene and those that followed without the personal experience of that darkness? I don’t know. Not everything I have written have I personally experienced. Nor has every author who has written about depression experienced it.

But I remember these things well: the lack of motivation/energy, the intense feeling that the outside world was not safe, that there was no point to getting out of bed, and, among other things, that my prayers returned void.

The worst of it…

As is true for Karin, the worst of it may very well have been: Where was my help from above? Had He not promised to be there for me without fail? And here I was in the darkest, most desperate moment, and I could not sense Him, could not find Him…

Why?

It wasn’t until I was in the Behavioral Hospital (you know, after rock bottom), and I had NOTHING but the clothes on my back and furniture, bolted to the floor. That night, I had nothing left but to cry for the pitiful state I found myself in. Then He whispered to me:

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
    Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you.
    I will hold you up with My victorious right hand

Isaiah 41:10

A process…

It was not that He wasn’t there. It was that my eyes were so blinded by my circumstance, by my own pain, that I couldn’t see Him. He never left me. It wasn’t that I found Him when I was “ready”…He broke through at the point of my greatest need.

I am not here to tell you that this meant I didn’t have a lot of work in front of me. I did. And Karin had a process too. Unfortunately there are no overnight cures. But there is help. There is hope.

SPOTLIGHT & INTERVIEW: Author Eve Culley

Hello, all! And welcome to my blog! Fridays, as some of you know, are Author spotlight/interview/guest post day. And today is no exception. I have author Eve Culley with me today, talking about her book, the second in a series, released earlier this month. It is a children’s book, most suited for ages 7-12, but the reviews say that children as young as 5 have enjoyed it. I am eager to nab a copy for my own youngsters. As you read more about the books below (and visit the reviews for yourself, you’ll surely see why. What an imaginative story! But I detract from the interview…so I’ll get to the good stuff:

Welcome, Eve! First, can you tell us a little about your novel.

Further Adventures in Barn Town is the second book in the Barn Town Series. It is a clever book of hilarious anecdotes, written in feline narrative by a life-long resident, Ol’ Stripe (Deputy of Barn Town) who shares with the reader the highlights of life in Barn Town – a barn situated on a large farm.

I know that authors can get inspiration from many places. What about you? What was the inspiration for Further Adventures in Barn Town?

The inspiration for the Barn Town Series are the animals that live in our barn and that visit with me every day. I watch and listen to them as they talk to one another and their stories emerge from there.

I can only imagine! I am an animal enthusiast – both domestic and exotic (I was an educator at a zoo for over 17 years!). And I know that’s true – animals have a sense of communication between them that is unique. Maybe it takes a writer’s imagination to see it. Did you always want to be a writer? If not, what did you want to be when you were a child?

I have always had a vivid imagination and loved to tell stories. I thought that because of this I would be a teacher and did teach for a while in private schools.

We are of the same heart. I have a passion for teaching. Though I have a science degree, I went into the field of zoo education before my passion for writing took over. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

In 1997 I self-published a book of poetry on my family history and gave copies to my mother and mother-in-law. I think that is when the writer bug got into my blood and I became a “writer”.

Poetry! Now that is an art I really do appreciate, but must admit I don’t truly “get”. But I admire those who do and can write it. Since you have been writing for a while, you must already know that there are things about the process that different writers don’t love so much. What about you? What part of the writing process do you dread?

The part of writing I dread is the editing process. The initial process of putting ideas on paper flow almost faster than I can type. Editing is like pulling teeth without Novocain.

I like that metaphor. Too funny. Around here, we say “like pulling teeth through a wall”. Doesn’t make much sense, does it? Focus, Sara, focus! I always take hold of every opportunity to learn. Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer?

I hesitant to suggest to any writer how he or she could be a better writer. I feel I am still very much in a learning mode and gleaning all I can from anyone willing to help me. However, I will share with you what works for me and that is jotting down everything that I find of interest. I write notes about anything and everything that catches my interest. I will also say that a lot of my notes end up in my writing and I religiously keep a notebook with me at all times.

That is interesting. I do carry a notebook with me with my “to do” list and to take notes if I need to, but never thought to jot down things that I notice or that inspire/interest me. I’m going to try that!

You’ve probably heard, as many of us have, that writing is somewhat intuitive. That we pick up a lot of what we know from reading. So, it is a good idea to keep reading…in your genre, out of your genre, etc. And it’s just fun! I have yet to meet a writer who wasn’t a reader first. What are you currently reading?

Morgan Le Fay Small Things and Great by Jo-Anne Blanco, Sense of Touch Love and Duty at Anne of Brittany’s Court by Rozsa Gaston, and When You Wish Upon A Fairy by Melody Delgado.

I have heard good things about Rozsa Gaston’s book. And it’s in my genre. You’ll have to let me know what you think.

Now let’s get a peek into your writing environment. I have to listen to music when I write. Do you? What kind of music, if any, do you listen to when you write?

I listen to Pandora – Christian and Country.

Here’s where we part ways, my friend. Though I grew up near Nashville, TN, I am NOT a Country fan. But I am alone among a sea of dedicated fans here. To each his (or her) own!

Do you have a favorite time of day to write? What about a favorite place?

I write any time of the day or night. I have a T.V. tray set up in the living room with my lap top that way my hubby and grandson can at least look at me and me at them. (grin)

Love that! I prefer to share space with hubby while I write too. I just have to bounce each scene and idea off someone. How long does it take you to write a book?

Somewhere around 9 months I guess but that includes my wanderings and talking to my animals and forming the stories in my head. I build back stories for all the characters in my book. This helps me to write about them more completely.

How intriguing! I’ve learned in my writing journey just how vital character development really is. Three dimensional characters makes them real, doesn’t it?

Just a couple more questions…and these may be prying questions, but I’d love a peek behind the curtain, as it were. Can you tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.

This book is longer than the first book; there are more pictures and they are all in color this time. I also had a hard time finding a good stopping point.

Ooohh… Do you have any current projects you’re working on? Care to share?

Since my third book has been submitted for contract, I am working on a stand-alone story that goes with the Barn Town series about Stripe’s (my main character) early life.

Sounds fascinating! Thank you so much for being on my blog today and answering all my crazy questions! Now, I’d like to introduce everyone to the book:

Further Adventures in Barn Town

Written in feline narrative by a life-long resident, Ol’ Stripe (Deputy of Barn Town) shares with the reader the highlights of life in Barn Town – a barn situated on a large farm. Deputy Stripe does all he can to keep his eyes and ears open in order to maintain peace and order, with a hilarious outcome.

AGE LEVEL: 7-12

Enjoy an Excerpt

Cogburn stayed just out of the staff’s reach and taunted the Sheriff with cat calls of crow while dancing across bales of hay. I stayed up in the loft after my search and burrowed back down into the hay. I was ready to go help the Sheriff again if he called, but I hoped he could manage without me. After all, it was very cold out there, out of the warmth of the hay. No need for both of us to be popsicles, I thought.

Then it happened. Rooster Cogburn made a mistake. He zigged when he should have zagged and was cornered behind an extra door leaning against the east wall. It had been put there for storage and made a great place for me to catch a snack. With no way out he was trapped like the “rat rooster” he was. The Sheriff yelled in triumph and grabbed that sorry excuse for a rooster and held him tight.

The Sheriff’s wife, Honey, who had earlier ventured out into Barn Town, adorned with a coat, hat, scarf, gloves, and shoes to watch and lend vocal encouragement to the Sheriff, was presented with Rooster Cogburn by a very triumphal but tired, cold and limping Sheriff. I peeked over the loft edge to watch. The Sheriff’s wife held the culprit tightly while the Sheriff applied the no crow collar to Cogburn’s neck according to the instructions. I watched as the collar was checked again to ensure that it fit properly. Cogburn was released to the ground and promptly fell over. I snickered.

“I can’t breathe,” Cogburn whispered. I could barely hear him. “I can’t move. My legs, I can’t feel my legs,” he gasped. I watched as he lay limp as a wet noodle. I saw the Sheriff pick him up gently. I could tell that all anger was forgotten as the Sheriff readjusted the collar making it a little bit looser and placed Cogburn back on the ground. Cogburn jerked, flopped, and jerked some more.

I started down from the loft as Cogburn gasped and muttered, “I’m dying,” and then dramatically flopped around on the ground, twitching, jerking until finally laying still and not moving. By this time I was beside the Sheriff as he picked him up and again checked the collar. I could tell that it was not tight.

“It is placed as the instructions indicated,” the Sheriff muttered, “but something is definitely wrong.” The Sheriff looked at me and shook his head. It seemed the rooster had died or was dying, unable to breathe or to walk.

Not knowing what else to do, the Sheriff very reluctantly removed the collar. Then the Sheriff placed Cogburn on the ground in hopes he would revive. The very instant Cogburn touched the ground, he was gone. The blur from that rooster would have done the Flash proud as he disappeared into the darkness. It had all been an act by a crafty and tricky villain.

The Sheriff stood there shaking his head. Turning toward Village House, he said, “I’m done.”

A Peek at the First in the Series: Adventures in Barn Town

Welcome to Barn Town where the residents are friendly and there is mischief and mystery around every corner. Things are changing in Barn Town and Ol’ Stripe is keeping his eye on the new arrivals and the current residents in an attempt to keep the peace.

Buy Links (Amazon)

Further Adventures in Barn Town – Book 2

Adventures in Barn Town – Book 1

 

More About the Author

In the middle of the 1970’s and 80’s, my husband and I were missionaries working in the United States. We worked in different church print shops where Bibles, New Testaments, and individual books of the Bible were printed in different languages and shipped to different countries around the world. We traveled across the U.S. to other churches and businesses to raise money for paper, ink and shipping cost for the Bibles. To gather the necessary money needed, a lot of travel was required and as we traveled I would tell stories to our two young sons of adventure, heroes, and villains.

As our sons grew into adulthood the stories to them became less and less until they stopped. When our grandchildren would visit, the stories were requested again until the stories, too, were a thing of the past. But the storytelling refused to die and go away. Instead, a hunger grew in me to put my stories on paper and books grew out of them. I write, of course, adventures for children to read, believe in and take life lessons from them.

Story-telling is as much a part of me as breathing is to my body. I have found that, as I tell stories, as I put them on paper, it makes room for the other stories that are building and will need to be told soon.

Connect with Eve and her books

Barn Town Children’s Books: https://wordpress.com/posts/barntown.wordpress.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/barntownculley

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BarnCulley

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Eve-Culley/e/B072FLGKP5

The Overcomer In Us All

Hello, everyone! I hope you are all well and having an excellent week. I have had the roughest and most exhilarating week. What? I know…I know…I frequently talk in circles. Two things hit me this past week that have left me joyful and thinking…

I went to one of my favorite writers conferences of the whole year – the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) Conference. I always enjoy it so much. I learn, network, and see some of my friends that I only ever see at this conference. But I had an interesting experience this year.

I started not feeling well the day we got to Texas. I progressively got worse. By the third day, we were looking for an urgent care. I figured it was strep, or allergies. The clinic was wonderfully thorough. Hear me when I say THOROUGH. They tested me for EVERYTHING. Strep, flu, UTI, ectopic pregnancy…everything was negative. But when they drew my blood, my white cell count was through the roof. My pulse was high. And my exam proved that my abdomen was tender. So, the doctor is thinking my appendix is inflamed…at the very least I have a couple of signs that point to SIRS (Systematic Inflammatory Response Syndrome). So, my body could become septic. Not good.

On to the ER.

Some tests later, they determine I’m in the safe zone, but I am definitely harboring some kind of serious infection. So, they dose me with an antibiotic there and send me home with prescription antibiotics and pain meds.

Why am I telling you all of this?

Because this kind of thing is soooo typical of me. I’m on a vacation of sorts, at my favorite conference, and I end up in the ER scaring my friends and family.

Not to mention all but ruining my time away.

But all is not lost.

If there’s something I’ve learned from my many, many…many experiences like this, it’s that I have to seek the good, the silver lining, if you will. Because it’s there.

God does not waste our hurts, our less worthwhile experiences…He is always reaching toward us, teaching, loving.

So, what did I walk away with?

I ended up being able to attend only two classes from the whole conference. That may seem like a reason to grumble. But, that allowed me to really focus on what I was being presented with in those two sessions. And the second facilitator said something that struck me. Though she was talking about craft and focusing our writing goals, she asked if we had a verse or word from the Lord we had been focusing on.

I have never been one to have a “word for the year”. I actually don’t care much for new year’s resolutions or anything to do with stuff set up during the new year. I am big on goal setting, but I do that throughout the year.

But, I was struck. Was I missing out on something important?

So, as I have been processing this, I have taken the time to quiet my heart and allow God to speak into my life. There is a verse that has been important to me since my battle with postpartum depression (the second round):

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” – 2 Timothy 1:7

Talk about overcoming! This verse totally spoke into those insecure places…and still does. He has given me confidence…a sound mind. He is at work in me.

This would be my over-arching verse. He also gave me a verse for this season of my life as I look into the ministries He has placed me in right now and the challenges I have before me:

“You didn’t choose Me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using My Name.” – John 15:16

So, when I am up against a barrier…when life rains on my parade…this verse reminds me that it’s not about me. It’s about Him. And Him in me, producing fruit. That, as I seek Him, He will answer my prayers. (Not always the way I want Him to, mind you.) But I can be confident that He hears me and that He works all things together for my good (Romans 8:28)).

Overcoming and persevering are not easy. Quite the opposite. And whoever said that “God will not give you more than you can bear” was crazy. But when He does give you an overwhelming burden, it’s because He intends to carry it with you.

SPOTLIGHT: Author Melody Delgado

Hello, all! I am pleased to introduce you to another clean Historical Romance author: Melody Delgado. I know Melody as we are both published through Clean Reads. I ran across her book, Royally Entitled, and found it to be a very delightful read. And I eagerly anticipate the next book in this series.

Welcome, Melody! As a fellow Historical Fiction/Romance writer, I am hoping to bend your ear about the more historically significant events behind your story. Care to share any of these details?

The merchant class had guilds in Europe during the early Renaissance and the aristocracy was powerful as well so I’ve featured both in Royally Entitled, as well as conflict between the two groups. The invention of the rifle or caliver came at that time also, and it also plays a significant role in the story.

Neat! I always like to ask authors about that nugget, that spark that started gears turning for what would become the novel. What about you? What was the inspiration for Royally Entitled?

As I was researching the customs of European royalty during this period I was shocked by the fact that some royals would pick their spouse based merely upon a miniature portrait of them. I knew this historical detail would have to play a major role in my story.

How interesting! I never miss an opportunity to grab some advice! Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer?

Start small and then go from there. My first publications were short stories in magazines, then picture books. Writing a 40,000 word middle-grade came next and then I was better able to write an 84,000 word novel.

Good advice. While I’ve got you here, would you mind telling us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb?

After turning in the galleys for Royally Entitled I realized that I had met an actual European prince years before. I did not purposely base Prince Valdemar’s personality on his, and I’d forgotten about this interaction. But then I wondered if I’d unconsciously done so because this prince was outgoing, friendly and approachable just like Prince Valdemar. At least Valdemar’s personality is realistic for a real-life prince, but it was formed entirely by accident, or subconscious. [ And no, I’ll never tell…. 😉 ]

Neither will we 🙂 Do you have any current projects your working on? Care to share?

The follow-up to Royally Entitled, book #2 in the Brides of Brevalia series, Royally Scheming.

Thanks, so much, Melody, for chatting with us! Now, let’s get into Melody’s wonderful book!

Royally Entitled

When her family’s cider business is ruined and other local businesses are vandalized, Anika Pembrie wonders if the recent bout of unrest is merely a result of rivalry between local merchants and noblemen or if something more sinister is at the root of the recent crimes. Along her journey Anika befriends Prince Valdemar, future king of Brevalia but their relationship hits many twists and turns along the way. Lady Winifred Paxel Flemming pursues the prince relentlessly. His grandmother, Queen Marguerite, expects him to wed whoever she thinks is suitable, even if it means marrying a foreign princess he’s never met. Anika’s mother, Lady Sarah, wants Anika to help ease the family’s financial burdens by marrying Erland Riccats, National Chairman of the Merchants’ Guild. Lady Sarah also harbors secrets regarding Prince Valdemar’s mother, Princess Karin, who met an untimely death years before. In the end, will both Anika and Prince Valdemar be forced into loveless mar-riages, or will they be able to outwit their enemies?

Enjoy an Excerpt

For a brief moment, it seemed as if every noise went silent. The sounds of the chickens clucking, the horses neighing, the geese honking in the pond … Only the crackling pops of the blaze echoed in her ears.

No. This cannot be happening.

Anika’s breath caught in her throat. She stared at the fire in disbelief until the putrid scent of burning leaves caused her to gather her wits.

She rushed to the barn and grabbed a milking pail. “Finn! Help me!” she shouted. No sign of him. Where was the dratted boy now?

Running to the pond in front of the house, she filled her pail. Back and forth from the water to the fire she trudged, with bucket after bucket, as fast as her arms and weighty petticoat would let her. The banks of the pond became so muddy she lost her balance, almost falling headlong into the murky waters. Growing tired, she mustered all her strength, filled another bucket, and lumbered back to the spiraling flames. But it was no use. The fire had spread too far for one person to manage.

How she wished the entire household hadn’t left for the day. If the orchard were destroyed … But no, she wouldn’t think of that now. Instead, she sent up a short silent prayer for help.

“Finn!” she shouted once more to no avail.

A moment later hooves pounded behind her. Half a dozen men had ridden up on horses. At the sight of them, relief washed over her like the bucket of water she’d just tossed on the flames. Help at last.

She hurried towards the men as they dismounted, recognizing Lord Karlsyn and several other noblemen she knew only by name. Then her eyes rested on the tallest gentleman. Prince Valdemar.

“More milking pails are in the barn!” she shouted.

The men ran to get the buckets then filled them in the pond and rushed to the orchard to douse the trees. They scrambled to and fro from the fire to the water for several minutes, almost bumping into each other in their efforts.

Though everyone worked like oxen, they all rushed about frenzied and haphazard. “Let us surround the fire and come at it from different directions,” Anika hollered out to them. “We must contain it before it spreads any further.”

Sir Ian jumped back from a burning leaf that was falling to the ground. “The fire isn’t dying down fast enough,” he shouted. “Do you have any rags or cloths to pound out the flames?”

“There are tablecloths in the dining room,” Anika said, trying to keep her balance amidst the mud forming at her feet.

Before she could rush off to the house to grab the linens, Finn ran towards them holding up her wet laundry for all to see. “Would these help?”

“Good work, lad.” Sir Ian grabbed a wet sheet, rolled it up, and began beating at the flames.

Lord Lindholm dropped his pail and reverted to attacking the blaze with one of Anika’s frilly nightgowns. Sir Fritzer began beating down the fire with her yellow bed coverlet.

Lord Karlsyn attempted to pour another bucket of water over the flames but slid on some mud, splashing most of the precious liquid over his boots. As he fell into the mire, a branch that had ignited fell towards him. Anika rushed up, placed a wet sheet over him then flicked the branch into the mud surrounding them. Once he was on firm footing again, he grabbed an item from the pile of wet laundry and began whacking at the flames.

The article of clothing he was using caught Anika’s attention. Her dress for the ball! Anika’s heart felt heavy as she glanced at her ruined gown, but it was too late to do anything about her loss.

Prince Valdemar, still dousing the fire with buckets of water, worked close to the remaining flames. Sir Ian snatched the last piece of wet laundry and draped it over the prince’s shoulders. The prince wrenched the item off then used it to help the others pound out what was left of the fire, since only a few flames remained.

When the blaze was extinguished Anika seized the opportunity to rest for a moment, stepping away from the gray smoke and placing her foot atop an overturned pail.

The men were so hot and exhausted, they dunked her laundry back into the pails of water, and used the wet items to cool themselves and wipe away the soot from their faces and hands.

As Anika stood near them, she noticed the item of laundry Prince Valdemar was using. It was edged with lace and pink ribbon. Goodness gracious, he was cooling himself with her freshly washed knickers!

Prince Valdemar caught Anika staring at them. He let out a laugh, before immersing the garment in a bucket of water and continuing to use it to wipe the soot off his hands.

Drat! If she thought having Una wash her personal items was uncomfortable, having a stranger touch them was mortifying. It was just her luck that none of the older married men with daughters had gotten stuck using them. No, an unmarried prince had to be the one to view her knickers up close.

Perhaps she could try to distract him. She grabbed her pail, and rushed over to him. “Thank you so much for all your help. Everything seems to be under control now. ”

“Not quite.” Prince Valdemar strode closer to some burning embers that still littered the ground. He tossed her knickers over them and poured the remaining water in his bucket right on top of her most private piece of clothing. Then he swept his blue velvet cap from his head and bowed. “Happy to be of service.” He stifled a giggle as he stole one last look at her charred and muddied knickers.

Buy Links

Amazon

More About the Author

Melody Delgado has been a published writer since 2000. Her novel, Royally Entitled, won a 2017 Readers’ Favorite award in the category of Historical Christian Romance. It is the first book in the Brides of Brevalia series. Her humorous novel for children 8-12 was also recently released by Clean Reads. She lives in Florida with her husband and children, where she enjoys taking long walks along the beach.

Connect with Melody and her books, including her new middle grade work Oops-A-Daisy!

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Melody_Delgado_

Website: http://www.melodydelgado.com/

Oops-A-Daisy

Who wants to be stuck wearing a shaggy dog outfit or a chicken suit on television? Twelve-year-old aspiring singer, actress, Daisy De la Cruz, that’s who. She’ll do and wear just about anything to get ahead in the entertainment industry. But will all her embarrassing moments pay off and land her a spot in her arts magnet school’s coveted master class where she’ll be rubbing shoulders with top professionals in the entertainment industry? Or will she be doomed to play the role of an animal, vegetable or mineral forever?

Platform: What are you aiming for?

Hello, readers! Today I want to touch on PLATFORM. It is a buzz-word that is all too familiar in the writing world. And some of you may know a lot about it and some of the newbie writers out there may know very little. And in between, there is a spectrum. So, I want to try to answer some of these questions to the best of my ability. What is it? How does it affect us as writers? How important is it? What can I do about it? And why am I blogging about it today?

Please understand that I am not an expert, nor am I ever intending to say that I am. I am simply an writer on this journey, trying to be transparent and share what I am learning as I go along.

What is PLATFORM?

Let’s look at what Merriam-Webster has to say:

1plan, design
2a declaration of the principles on which a group of persons stands; especially :a declaration of principles and policies adopted by a political party or a candidate
3(1) a usually raised horizontal flat surface; especially :a raised flooring 
(2) a device or structure incorporating or providing a platform; especially :such a structure on legs used for offshore drilling (as for oil)
b a place or opportunity for public discussion
4a a usually thick layer (as of cork) between the inner sole and outer sole of a shoe
b a shoe having such a sole
5a a vehicle (such as a satellite or aircraft) used for a particular purpose or to carry a usually specified kind of equipment
b operating system; also :the computer architecture and equipment using a particular operating system
No where does it talk about the kind of platform that an agent or a publisher refers to when they ask a writer about their platform. No wonder it is a confusing thing to newbie writers!
When you search for “writer’s platform”, the search engine yields a much more helpful answer. Like this one from Writer’s Digest:
Platform, simply put, is your visibility as an author.

The definition of platform, broken down, is your personal ability to sell books through:

Who you are

The personal and professional connections you have

Any media outlets (including blogs and social networks) that you can utilize to sell books

 

So, your reach socially through speaking, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and any other social media outlets, your e-mail list…that is your platform quantified into numbers. And agents and publishers like to be able to quantify your platform.

How does it affect us as writers?

The existence, non-existence, and size of your platform is becoming more and more important to publishers and, therefore, agents. They want to know that you are doing what you can to expand your reach, and therefore, increase your readership/audience/those who will buy your books. It all goes into marketing. How many people are you able to market to? How many loyal followers do you have in that market who are liable to buy your book? Your next book?

How important is it?

As you can imagine…if it is becoming more important to publishers and agents, if you want to be traditionally published, it should be important to you, too. Even publishing through a small press may depend on your platform numbers. It’s just becoming more competitive. The market is so saturated.

What can I do about it?

Start a website/blog today. If not yesterday. Even if you haven’t completed the book. You can start building your following now. And should. Post/tweet about your writing. Or about gardening. Or about whatever interests you. Blog about it. Start a newsletter and grow your e-mail list by encouraging people to sign up on your website. You can offer something of value to encourage them to sign up. A short story related to your hobby you are blogging/posting/tweeting about, recipes, something that they would find value in. And become more active on social media. Engage with your friends and followers. Comment, like, post/tweet regularly.

Why am I blogging about it today?

I have reached an impasse in my blog. As most of you who have followed my blog know, I have primarily blogged about writing, my journey, and the writing industry, falling back on my experience and sharing what I am learning. And I appreciate all of you who have been following along.

However, I have come to a place where I realize that the audience I am growing is an audience of WRITERS. But I need to take my own advice and seek more my TARGET READERSHIP of my books. Not in an underhanded way. Just to shine more light on that part of my personality and connect them with that side of me. So that they can see more ‘behind the curtain’ when they seek out my blog. And understand the author behind the books.

My books are primarily about women overcoming some real issues. Many of those are issues that I myself have dealt with. And I know that others have too. Some of these things I have blogged about in my “A LITTLE OFF TOPIC” series. So, I will be switching my focus to be more about those topics and less about writing. There will still be blogs about writing, but the frequency will be switched, if you will.

There is more in me to share and more to see about how my books will connect with these serious issues. So, I hope you will hang in there for this, the next part of my journey!

So, as always, Happy Writing!