Smart Girls Read Romance

Smart Girls Read Romance -- so do the bestselling and award-winning Authors who write this blog. Join them as they dish about Books, Romance, Love, and Life.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The End of the Pier

I know I’m not the first author to say I am madly in love with my book cover. When I first received the print copy of Souls Set Free in the mail I squealed like a school girl being asked to her first dance! All I wanted to do was love on it, pet it, and stare at it for hours on end. 


 Yes, I was that floored. It was really happening. I was a published author with the cover to prove it.



On top of being beautiful and haunting (yes, I’m still enamored with it), the cover for Souls Set Free is near and dear to my heart for another reason. This book was my debut novel. It was a story that had been with me for a long time and needed to be written before I could move on with new projects.

Before I even had the majority of the words down, I knew what I wanted for the cover. It had to be a pier, and not just any one either. It HAD to be the Ventura Pier in California. 




You’ll find mention of it in my book. It was important for me to have it on the cover and no other pier would do. As a child, in the midst of whatever chaos might be taking place in my life, my mom would take me to the pier. We would walk all the way to the end and back. Off to the side in the sand was an old metal playground. I played on that thing for hours!


It wasn’t glamorous. There were a lot of homeless people, litter, and other stuff I was probably too young to know about. But in my life, at that moment with my mother, it couldn’t get any better. When reading Souls Set Free you’ll get a little more insight on that relationship.

As I drew closer to publication I went on the hunt for the perfect picture. I knew I wanted the pier with the water, but I didn’t want a beautiful sunset or blue skies. I didn’t want something that gave the illusion to everything being sunshine and roses, which this book definitely is not.

I was blessed with having the fabulous Author Options find my cover designer (as well as some other much needed assistance) and my jaw dropped when I saw the final product. It was perfect. The pier wrapped completely around the cover, yet faded into the background. The colors gave a sense of tribulation and distress.

It spoke to me in ways I could only hope and pray the words on the pages would for others. 


BUY LINK: Pick up your copy of Souls Set Free here: Souls Set Free on Amazon

If you give it a read, I’d love to hear your thoughts on both the book and the cover. I love to chat with readers!

Happy Reading, 
Kimmie


Monday, October 28, 2013

The Inspiration Behind Historical Romance Novel Red Bird's Song (and a sale)

Red Bird's Song Cover
Red Bird’s Song is a 2012 EPIC eBook Finalist. The setting for this story is the same as the other novels in my Native American Warrior Series, Through the FireKira, Daughter of the Moon, and The Bearwalker's Daughter, the spectacular Allegheny Mountains, On a clear day, the ridges of the Alleghenies are visible from our farm in the Shenandoah Valley. Much of the history depicted in Red Bird's Song was inspired by accounts I came across while researching my early American English/Scots-Irish roots (among the first settlers in the valley) and the Border Wars. 
The French and Indian War is the most well-known, but there were others. Pontiac’s War followed on its heels, and is the war taking place in Red Bird’s SongDunmore’s War came after that one and so on it goes. Life in the frontier was unsettled even after The American Revolution had ended and warfare a reality. The boundaries of the frontier just keep shifting farther west.
(*Images of the Alleghenies by my mother, Pat Churchman)the Allegheny Mountains toward Reddish Knob
In the early to mid 18th century, the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and surrounding mountains were the colonial frontier. Only hardy souls dared to settle here. The bulk of these were the tough Scots-Irish. If the Indians had only had to fight regular British troops, they might ultimately have won because they scared the crap out of men trained for conventional warfare, but the long knives weren’t easily intimidated and soon learned from their cunning enemy. The famous rebel yell came from the Cherokee.
Last of the Mohicans 2Although Hawk Eye in The Last of the Mohicans is an adopted Mohican, his lifestyle is that of a colonial frontiersman. The more rugged of these men dressed as he did, much in the Indian way. They hunted and fought with muskets, tomahawks, and their famous knives. Skilled marksmen had long rifles. Indians soon acquired these weapons and blended traditional ways of living with the new-found tools and warfare of Western man. A highly adaptable people.
The attack at the opening of Red Bird’s Song is based on one that occurred to my ancestors in the Shenandoah Valley and is recorded by Historian Joseph A. Waddell in The Annals of Augusta CountyA renegade Englishman by the last name of Dickson led the war party that attacked them.  Initially I’d intended to make the Colin Dickson in Red Bird’s Song a villain but as soon as he galloped onto the scene I knew differently.
Wicomechee, the hero in Red Bird’s Song, is based on the Shawnee warrior by that name who lived early in the nineteenth century and to whom I have ties. The Moffett’s, an early Valley family I’m related to, include a reference to him in their genealogy. Wicomechee’s father, John Moffett, was captured in Kentucky by the Shawnee at the age of eight and adopted into the tribe. It’s said he was a boyhood companion to the great war Chief Tecumseh, a chief for whom I have enormous admiration. The accounts of John Moffett and Wicomechee are recorded by Waddell. It’s also noted that during the Black Hawk Wars Wicomechee recovered the captive daughters of a Dr. Hull and brought them safely into camp, which reminds me of Hawkeye in The Last of the Mohicans. I’ve included more on this amazing warrior at the end of the novel as a bonus for those who read it.
the-alleghenies-the-virginia-colonial-frontier.jpg“With “Red Bird’s Song”, Beth Trissel has painted an unforgettable portrait of a daring and defiant love brought to life in the wild and vivid era of Colonial America. Highly recommended for lovers of American history and romance lovers alike!” Amazon Reviewer Virginia Campbell
Blurb: Can a Scots-Irish woman terrified of warriors fall in love with her Shawnee captor?
Taken captive by a Shawnee war party wasn't how Charity Edmondson hoped to escape an unwanted marriage. Nor did Shawnee warrior Wicomechee expect to find the treasure promised by his grandfather's vision in the unpredictable red-headed girl.
George III's English Red-Coats, unprincipled colonial militia, prejudice and jealousy are not the only enemies Charity and Wicomechee will face before they can hope for a peaceful life. The greatest obstacle to happiness is in their own hearts.
As they struggle through bleak mountains and cold weather, facing wild nature and wilder men, Wicomechee and Charity must learn to trust each other.~
ReviewerTopPick-NOR"A beautifully written story filled with adventure and suspense...This book touched my soul even as it provided a thrilling fictional escape into a period of history I have always found fascinating." --Night Owl Book Review by Laurie-J
"I loved the descriptions...I felt I was there...Many mystical episodes are intermingled with the events...The ending is a real surprise, but I will let you have the pleasure of reading it for yourself."  --Seriously Reviewed
***Red Bird's Song is reduced from 2.99 to .99 in kindle and nookbook, and other online stores, through November 1st.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

I Need Four More of Me ~ by Vonnie Davis

Happy Saturday, my lovelies. Or it would be if this migraine that's plagued me for three days would go away. I suspect this one was brought on by stress. As is typical for me, I've over-extended myself. I need four more of me. Do you do that? If you're a typical woman, I'm betting you do. We're masters at multi-tasking and often "wienies" at saying no to more projects.

Over the years, we've been sold a bill of goods that women can do it all. Well, yes, that goes without saying. We have and do, but we also take on more little projects than any man would ever attempt...just to prove we can. Frankly, at sixty-five, I'm ready to weaken a little. I don't need to prove anything to anyone. Now if only I can convince myself to do what I'm saying.

My edits for my HarperCollins story are completed. Random House has still to send me theirs for book one of my Scottish paranormal series. I need to start book two, but my agent tells me to wait until I see how much Random House will change book one. I already know they want me to add more sex--something that doesn't come easy for this old broad. I struggle with writing every intimacy. Not that I'm a prude; it's just how many ways are there to write basically the same action so it feels fresh and emotionally right for this particular couple? In The Highlander's Beloved, I didn't get them to that point until nearly the end of the book. My editor at Random House claims that's too late. She wants them doing "the wild fandango" early on in the story. Gee, I was trying to develop their love for each other first--what an old-fashioned concept. Still, waiting so long to start book two is giving me a fair amount of angst. I want to work on Ronan's story. He's starting to complain that I'm ignoring him.

Armando is complaining, too. You see he's very attracted to a breast cancer survivor. He wants to show her how good life can be with a new man who will stand beside her. Oh, and he has such delightful things planned on how to romance her...or so he keeps telling me. It'll be my first middle-aged romance. When I can get around to working on it a little more.



For now, though, Lance is commanding my main focus. He's a shadow, a mercenary, and a piece of macho work, ladies. He insists on calling my heroine sweetheart, something she hates--well, kind of, although I think she's protesting too much. Lance, or Rambo-Romeo as she calls him, is protecting her while she's on the run from a vengeful senator and his lackeys. Lance is hero one in my Eagle's Shadow Series, romantic suspense for those of you who enjoy the rush of danger. Normally I finish book one before I begin the next one, but the heroine in book two just would not leave me alone until I wrote chapter one. I think she feared I'd forget her. As if I could the way she keeps pestering me. As for book three? Ohhhh, don't even get me started. ZQ, head of this band of ex-military covert ops dudes, started ordering me around two weeks ago and I caved. That's right, I wrote a couple chapters of book three before reaching the halfway point in book one. How ludicrous is that? Let me tell you ladies, if that bossy ZQ doesn't stop leaning on me, he's not getting any sex until the final chapter. "You hear that, ZQ? Don't make me put on my mother face..."

This weekend, however, I'm finishing a Christmas short story for another group blog I'm part of, something we do every year. We each post a chapter a day of our holiday reads during the month of December. Nine authors; nine different short stories, each starting with the same phrase.

I truly need four more of me to write each project. Wouldn't that be nice? My mind could take a break. Only one romantic couple could hound me at a time. My desk would be less cluttered with character descriptions, plotlines and research. I could breathe easier. And maybe this infernal migraine would fade away.

Have an awesome weekend. I'll be watching football and kissing the computer keys with my fingertips.

You can read more about Vonnie at www.vonniedavis.com

Thursday, October 24, 2013

AT WAR WITH THE AUTOMATED VOICE AND THE EVIL GEEKS WHO INVENTED HIM (IT?)

By Brenda Chitwood
I'm not, normally. a violent person. I'm not, normally, an impatient person.  Today I wanted to commit violent acts against the big mammoth communications company which I shall call Big Name Company. I'm sure you have all been there. You just want to talk to a real person.

The back up battery for my system has not worked for over a year. The Big Name Company service guy told me it was a bad battery and he would bring me a new one. That was last November. The silly thing has a beeping alarm that goes off every 10 hours. I have to get up in the early morning hours and reset it, then do it again later.

I called Big Name Company this morning and punched buttons, answered the dreaded automated voice which assured me my system was working fine. That wasn't the problem, but the options list didn't cover; "For stupid, broken, back up battery replacement, press 666 and pray".

After repeating that I wanted to talk to a service representative several times, Automated Voice cheerfully beeped and popped until a heavily accented male voice named Alvin, came on the line. He had a very cheerful voice, too. (I'm beginning to hate the word "cheerful.")

When I could understand his heavily accented questions, I dutifully picked up the five pound battery, turned it upside down, sideways and upright--three times to find a non-existent model number. Then he told me it was probably inside. Well, gee whiz. I don't happen to have a screw driver on me.

Final results, I have to call the battery company and beg for a real person to send me a real battery, if I can find the model and serial numbers.  Alvin cheerfully asked if there was anything else and to have a pleasant day. I hate Alvin, too.

No jury would convict me.  Remember the woman who got fed up with her cable company and went to their office and smashed the computer at the front desk? Well, I'm with you sister,  I'm getting my hammer.







Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Trick or Treat . . . All Hallows' Evening!

Trick or Treat . . . All Hallows’ Evening
by Tessa Gray


            I’m always fascinated by the lengths people go to when it comes to decorating their homes for Halloween. I must confess I’m a bit of a “Halloween Scrooge” about celebrating the event. My view is that Halloween is nothing more than a preamble to Thanksgiving, and we need to get it over with as quickly as possible. The decoration on this post is one my daughter, Megan, made us over twenty years ago. When you drop by our home for a visit, it’s the only sign of Halloween you’ll see.
            If you’re a fan of Halloween, you have the Scots and Brits to thank because when they immigrated to America, they brought this Gaelic tradition (dating back to the Middle Ages) with them. Legend has it that people of Gaelic descent believed that on October 31st of every year, the boundaries between the living and dead overlapped when those who had passed on came back to earth, damaging crops and causing illness.  I suspect people back then were as relieved to get Halloween over with as I am. I do have some Irish blood in me, so perhaps I’m channeling one of my ancestors.
            Halloween began gaining momentum in America during the twentieth century, but when World War II was being fought and sugar was rationed, much of the celebration was placed on hold from April of 1942 until June of 1947. Initially Halloween was called All Hallows’ Evening but eventually, it was dubbed Halloween.
            The first Halloween costume I recall wearing was a tattered, white bed sheet, as I pretended to be Casper the Friendly Ghost. As you can see, we Minnesotans didn’t plunk down a lot of money for costumes. Of course, it doesn’t always have to be about money. When I approached puberty and my foster mom wouldn’t allow me to wear make-up, I skirted around the issue by dressing up like a gypsy, piling on all the lipstick and rouge I could get my hands on! As the old saying goes, this ‘killed two birds with one stone’ because I didn’t have to spend much money, and I was allowed to wear a week’s worth of makeup in one night.
            The most innovative costume I’ve ever seen was in a Lawrenceville, New Jersey school parade where a little guy dressed as a Lipton teabag. His very creative mother stuffed gorgeous, brilliantly colored leaves into a clear, plastic bag and wrote the Lipton Tea logo at the top. I wish I’d taken a picture. We Americans can be innovative, can’t we?
            But as blasé’ as I am about Halloween, there is one that’s forever etched in my memory. My foster sister and I shared a bedroom and had just gone to bed and turned off the lights when we saw a large, gnarled shaped twig scraping against our window. Startled, we sat up in bed and stared at one another. The scraping continued, and before long, a low moan could be heard just outside our window. By now we were clinging to one another like passengers on a lifeboat. Within minutes, we saw my foster mother’s face appear in the window as she screamed, “Boo!”
            That incident, as silly as it was, provided me with an important life lesson. My foster mother had just enough ‘kid’ in her to remind me that life is to be enjoyed; a little playfulness is always a good thing. When she passed on several years ago, I shared that impactful moment at her memorial service and it brought smiles to those who knew her well.
            In the course of our lives, there are many reasons to celebrate, but in that celebration, we need to remind ourselves that as we live each day, we’re creating memories; memories that are powerful; memories that we’ll share with our loved ones. It’s important, even for me, a non-celebrator of Halloween, to remember to take time to “play.” I’m thankful for a foster mother who had enough ‘kid’ in her to teach me a valuable life lesson. As I share this memory, with you, my readers, I’ve made the decision to add a couple of decorations to the house and get into the spirit of Halloween.
            Happy All Hallows’ Evening, and if you see any ghosts out there, I hope they’re as friendly as Casper.
             


Sunday, October 20, 2013

What I Learned From Launching a Book

by Geri Foster
Hi all,

My dear readers, I want to start out by saying you've taught me so much about what to write and how to write better stories. Also, you showed me how to get your attention and keep it. The next thing this writer knew, she had FANS!

Yay, we all love FANS!

It's the reason writers write. We hope our books touch you in a very special way and you'll tell your friends, and the good news will be passed on and on. It's also important to point out that many of our fans wait patiently for our next release.

Writers get excited about that!

When I launched Out of the Night, I will be honest and tell you I didn't know what I was doing, but I'd been on 9 Ways to Fall in Love long enough to figure it out.

First off, readers want to know writers. They become our friends, and they work tirelessly to promote our books and us. But, they still want that little part of you that's usually keep hidden away for safe keeping. Writers are always afraid while you might love our books, you'll find us boring and unrecognizable. After all, we put up a picture that's twenty years old and don't bother to update. We're not trying to fool anyone, we just like the picture. :)

So, what I learned during a launch is that a reader will like you if you like, and respect them in return. They ask little and give a lot. We had a blast on my launch party and I made so many friends, I couldn't believe it. We joked, we laughed, we talked about everything. I didn't hold anything back. I was myself, and felt free because I was among friends. So, the most valuable thing taken away from the launch was friendship and love. The love of reading a good book, by someone they know and supported.

This blog is to my friends, Street Teams, and all those who read my books and left heart melting reviews.

Happy Endings!
Geri

Friday, October 18, 2013

GOBLINS, TURKEYS, SANTA, AND NEW YEARS





Hi, Everyone! I know it's early, but I can't help myself. The excitement is building within me for the Holidays. The last few years have been somewhat lack luster for whatever reason, but this fall I'm downright giddy. I think the reason has to do with the projects I've been working on are being completed, one by one and that's a great feeling.

 In July, I finished my first book, CODE OF HONOR, Texas Code Series, Book One, and published it on Amazon. This book has gone through many revisions and transformations to become a book of which I'm very proud. Here's a short blurb:

Graeme McAlister's determined to unearth the truth behind his brother's implausible suicide but, when he sees his widowed sister-in-law, will he be able to handle the biggest revelation of all? 

After the death of her husband, Maggie Benning resolves to establish a successful and independent life for herself and her son, Andy. Can she overcome past hurt and loss of trust to accept a new love in her life? 

Travel to McTiernan, Texas and fall in love under . . . Texas Skies.
 
 
In September, I was honored to be included in a nine book box set titled, 9 Ways To Fall In Love, including authors, Caroline Clemmons, GeriFoster, DeLaine Roberts, Paty Jager, Beth Trissel, Kathy Ivan, and Anna Jeffery. A wonderful experience.
Now, I'd like to give a sneak preview to two short stories coming to Amazon the first week of November 2013.
 
 
 
The first is, A Santa For Christmas. This little story of romance, hope and magic is about Merry Hernandez and her inability to participate in the Christmas Pageant on the Riverwalk at San Antonio, Texas. Due to circumstances beyond her control, she will be unable to provide the toys or a Santa for the pageant. Will Merry and her business, Very Merry Events, be able to save Christmas?
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The second short story romance takes place on New Years Eve in Mistletoe, Texas and it's titled, Lilah By Midnight. When Lilah Canfield's motor coach gets stuck in the snow outside her hometown of Mistletoe, will old flame, Jack McCommas, be able to get her to Billy Bob's in Fort Worth to save her career? Or will circumstances change her life forever?
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
There's a pumpkin patch near our house that I'll take my grandson to and get his picture in the middle of all those potential jack o' lanterns. We're planning a large gathering for Thanksgiving this year. I can almost taste the turkey and dressing now. Then, Christmas!
 
How do y'all feel about the upcoming holidays? Good, bad, or indifferent? Leave a comment to share your thoughts and one commenter will receive an early Christmas present from me. I'll gift a free download to one winner for Code of Honor. If you have that one already, then, A Santa For Christmas or Lilah By Midnight when they are published. Don't forget to leave your email in the comments so I can reach you!
Carra
 
CODE OF HONOR buy links Amazon for Kindle ebook and print:  http://tinyurl.com/muln4r9

and, Smashwords for nook, kobo and iTunes:  http://tinyurl.com/llshmbg
 

Find me on my website: http://carracopelin.com
Facebook: http://facebook/carracopelin
Twitter: http://twitter/CarraCopelin

Goodreads: http://tinyurl.com/mfynmj2

 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Sass is an Art Form by Joan Reeves

I had an unfortunate habit as a child of saying what was on my mind. Somehow, I looked at the world around me and always came up with a Dorothy Parker-type comment.

While this gained Ms. Parker the rep of being a biting sophisticated wit, it gained me the reputation of being a sassy little girl. Trust me, being sassy wasn't considered a praiseworthy attribute in my small southern town.

While a sassy assessment of people and events might be wonderful for a stand-up comedienne in training, it wasn't considered so wonderful by my parents or teachers. I remember a comment my third-grade teacher wrote on the back of my report card: "Joan talks too much in school."

That did not endear me to the teacher or my parents especially when they knew the kind of sarcastic, funny things I was wont to speak.

Childhood Disaster Makes For Writing Talent

Perhaps that's why I like to write heroines who are armed with an arsenal of sass and aren't afraid to use it. All my books have a lot of dialogue, and my romantic comedy Just One Look is no exception. It's full of romance and humor and sex.

Readers often tell me that they laugh out loud at some of the conversations between characters. In Just One Look, I really got into the dialogue. My heroine Psychologist Jennifer Monroe uses words, innuendo, and sexual tension to twist her hero Gynecologist Dr. Matthew Penrose into a pretzel.

I like writing dialogue, and I work hard to make it humorous. Sometimes it’s witty; sometimes snarky; and sometimes downright funny when my characters speak. A lot of the dialogue in my books is stuff I’d love to say, but never do – maybe because I still hear the voices of my teachers and my parents telling me to think before I speak so I don't sound like a sass mouth.

So that's what I do now. I think before I speak and usually come up with a good half-dozen of sarcastic, amusing retorts that I place in the mouths of my characters. I prize being a sass mouth now. In my opinion, sass is an art form.

I suppose it’s no surprise that I like to collect quotations that are equally sassy and amusing. I honor the smart – and smartass – women who uttered these quotations below. (I like sassy quotes so much that I used some to preface each chapter in another romantic comedy I wrote – Old Enough To Know Better.)

Perhaps you’ll find some of these inspire you in your work in progress or motivate you to succeed. Or maybe they’ll just put a smile on your face. Here are a baker’s dozen that are some of my favorites.

Favorite Sassy Quotations

“I'm not offended by all the dumb blonde jokes because I know I'm not dumb ... and I also know that I'm not blonde.” Dolly Parton

“You see a lot of smart guys with dumb women, but you hardly ever see a smart woman with a dumb guy.” Erica Jong

“I think I alternate between optimism and anxiety. I realize that should either of these get out of hand I would probably need a clever doctor.” Elizabeth Jolley

“A large income is the best recipe for happiness I ever heard of.” Jane Austen

“If high heels were so wonderful, men would be wearing them.” Sue Grafton

“I think; therefore, I'm single.” Lizz Winstead

“When women are depressed they either eat or go shopping. Men invade another country.” Elayne Boosler

“Behind every successful man is a surprised woman.” Maryon Pearson

“The secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age.” Lucille Ball

“I am a marvelous housekeeper. Every time I leave a man I keep his house.” Zsa Zsa Gabor

Last, but not least, a wooden sign hanging by my desk: “Put your big girl panties on and deal with it!”

That’s right, just face your challenges head on and deal with them rather than procrastinate, run, or hide – and don't forget to laugh.

Post Script

Today, I'm giving away a Smashwords coupon for a free copy of Just One Look AND 1 free copy of the Audio Book Edition of Old Enough To Know Better.

Anyone on the planet is eligible.
  • Make a comment.
  • Leave your email address with your comment (not as a hot link but as "address AT domain DOT whatever)
  • I'll email you with specifics on how to claim your prize.
Wishing you a very good day filled with lots of laughter!

Buy Just One Look From...

All Romance eBooks, iTunes, Kindle, Kobo, Nook, or Audio Book at Audible or iTunes Audio.

Joan Reeves is a mild-mannered reporter for the Daily Planet who – no, wait, that's someone else. Seriously? Oh. Joan is a multi-published author. Her books are available in ebook, audio, and print. Joan's Motto: "It's never too late to live happily ever after."

Find Joan Online: Blog * Website * Facebook * Google+ * Twitter * YouTube

Saturday, October 12, 2013

When should a series die? by Paty Jager

I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about the Halsey Clan who are the center of my Halsey Brothers Series.

Someone suggested that I put a family tree in the front of the trilogy, Halsey Homecoming. So I lay in bed, thinking about how to make the lines for the family tree. I figured I could use Publisher to draw the lines and put in names, marriages, births, and deaths.

After that problem was solved, I started thinking about the five books I've already written and how much of the family members of the women who married the Halsey brothers do I need to have on the tree. The Halsey Homecoming will have Darcy's brother, Jeremy; Aileen's son, Colin; and the blind boy, Donny, from Doctor in Petticoats. I could also do spin-offs for Kelda's brothers from Logger in Petticoats. But my heart isn't in writing Kelda's brothers' stories.

I have an idea for a family of six sisters growing up in the wheat country in Oregon. The idea for the oldest girl has been in my head and jotted down on paper for nearly ten years. That could make another series and I'm more interested in that than continuing the Halsey's after the Homecoming trilogy.

I've read several series over the years and you can tell when an author gets tired of writing about the same family. The stories aren't as interesting and the characters as dynamic.

When as an author do you know to quit a series and when as a reader have you had enough?

This month you can purchase the five book Halsey Brother Series as a box set for $.99.

                                 




Thursday, October 10, 2013

REMEMBERING JANE...AND HER CONTINUING LEGACY

By Ashley Kath-Bilsky
The life of Jane Austen has, to a great extent, been cloaked in secrecy. Whatever the family's circumstances, her health struggles or personal heartbreaks, one cannot help but wonder if -- at the end of her mortal life -- Jane wanted to be remembered (or discussed) through her literary accomplishments. And, for the most part, that is how we best know Jane Austen.

Still, there are some glimpses into her past that help to formulate an image of Jane. Born on 16 December 1775, the second daughter of George and Cassandra Austen, Jane had six brothers and one older sister named after their mother.

Cassandra and Jane (very much like Elizabeth and Jane Bennett in Pride & Prejudice) were devoted sisters as well as best friends and confidantes. In fact, it can be said that no one more staunchly protected the future legacy of Jane's literary works and the privacy of her personal life than her beloved sister. Their bonds of loyalty and love were forged in childhood and continued even after Jane's untimely death at the age of forty-one. As little girls they both contracted typhus and almost died. And years later when Jane demonstrated an interest in writing, Cassandra as well as the entire Austen family encouraged her pursuit. What began as poems and plays to entertain the family evolved into the creation of literary classics that continue to be read by millions throughout the world.

Without question, to the 21st century world, Jane Austen has become such a respected, beloved, and iconic literary figure that her books are published in 47 different languages throughout the world. Films, merchandise, museums, and organizations such as the Jane Austen Society of North America have been created to continue to study and support the work of this author. Her image can now be seen on the £10 note in the United Kingdom. Most recently, a turquoise and gold ring belonging to Jane created a storm of controversy when it was sold at auction to American singer Kelly Clarkson (who wanted to bring her prize back to the United States). Immediately, the United Kingdom Culture Minister placed an export ban on the piece.

The Jane Austen House then went to work and initiated a fundraising campaign to try and buy back the ring to keep it in the United Kingdom. Their actions were understandable since the ring remains one of only three pieces of surviving jewelry documented to have belonged to Miss Austen. And like a true-blue devout Austen fan, Ms. Clarkson acquiesced to the museum's wishes and agreed to sell the ring back. Ms. Clarkson stated, "The ring is a beautiful national treasure and I am happy to know that so many Jane Austen fans will get to see it at Jane Austen's House Museum."

Obviously, there is a fascination about the woman herself, but from a literary viewpoint, what is it about Jane Austen that continues to captivate readers, and has generated such a devoted following? One could simply say her novels stand apart -- and continue to thrive today in the marketplace -- because of her literary voice, her remarkably descriptive narrative, the crafting of her plots, and the unique and diverse characters she created -- some of whom have become iconic quintessential heroes and heroines in the 21st century.

Yet above and beyond all of the above, for me (and I believe many others), the novels of Jane Austen contain an intrinsic element upon which her novels not only succeed but have become unforgettable. Jane Austen takes the reader by the hand through a time portal into her world. One does not read a Jane Austen novel; one becomes immersed in it.

Jane Austen remains the unparalleled voice of an era. She encapsulated through her writing not just the beauty and elegance of the Regency period, but also provided a rapier-edged honesty and insightful commentary on society itself.

She showed us the strictures and customs imposed by early 19th century society -- the dynamics of family regarding such issues as financial security, inheritance, the rights (or lack thereof) of women, scandal, and even the political and military climate of the time period.

Her undeniable firsthand perspective as a woman living in the Regency era became, in itself, a wondrous magnifying glass into a world her readers could both see and understand. This attention to detail continues to inspire writers of historical fiction, and kindles within their hearts the importance of research and accuracy regarding the time period in which their book is set. For authors whose work takes place in the Regency period, there is an added burden to maintain the Austen standards of excellence, accuracy, and integrity that readers of this period not only love, but know so well.

Yet, it is important to remember that Jane Austen was not writing a historical work of fiction. She wrote about the time in which she lived and did so with such an attention to detail that she provided future generations, including scholars, with a wondrous glimpse into the Regency period.

And what I have learned from Jane Austen is that whether one is an author of historical or contemporary fiction, there is an obligation to provide readers with accurate information and details when possible. To paint a vivid picture that pulls them into a book, and to incorporate facts in fiction that will sustain over time. Readers are savvy and intelligent, especially readers of Regency Romances. They know the period, and nothing will prompt a Regency reader to put down a book faster than inaccurate information about the time period they love.

The same reaction would apply to any work of fiction where the reader is pulled out of the story either because the plot is not feasible or the author failed to do proper research. For example, in a contemporary suspense thriller, the type of equipment and/or forensic testing utilized to investigate a crime scene or solve a crime must be accurate; the plot not far-fetched or unrealistic that the reader will be pulled out of the story.

As an avid reader, Jane Austen has always been someone whose work I not only love but greatly admire. There is intelligence, wit, and elegance to her writing, as well as an exemplary integrity to the crafting of her stories that remains timeless. As a writer, she is one of the authors who continues to inspire my love of historical fiction. She is the reason why my first book, The Sense of Honor, was set in the Regency period. Although I will not achieve the pinnacle of success as an author that she accomplished, I am so grateful for the contributions she made to literature, and the stellar example and quality of storytelling she provided to which I aspire.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you enjoyed my tribute to Jane Austen and her legacy. ~ AKB

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

A Sneak Peak at Chasing Air by DeLaine Roberts

Chasing Air
New Release October 21, 2013
 
 
Here's the blurb:
 

Accidentally marrying into the mob, Dr. Judith Bellonte Donati staged her death with the help of the FBI before the hired hit-man could finish the job. With a new name as Dr. Makenzie Holder and a new life, she struggles daily with the loss of connection with her family and the constant lurking of old ghosts from her past.

Gorgeous millionaire developer, Jonathan Bain offers her everything she wants in the way family, but his demanding demeanor is a reminder of the life she left behind.

Can Makenzie overlook her jaded past and give Jonathan a chance at redemption or will a chance encounter in the ER with Detective Ryler Buchanan bring about the love for a lifetime?

Chasing Air: A hot romance with a side of turbulence!
 
The Book Trailer
video
 
 

CHAPTER ONE 
“Mmm, hello, Dr. Holder speaking.” Makenzie spoke in a sleep deprived fog because of a busy night in the ER. She finally had a chance during a calm spell to go lie down for a few minutes and had drifted off quickly. Sleep had been a luxury the past week while she worked double shifts to cover for a colleague on vacation.
“Doc, Metro is rolling this way in full trauma code with a kid shot in the chest. I’ve notified the trauma team.” Veronica’s normally calm manner was full of anxiety.
“Thanks, Veronica. Please let Dr. Trynn know. He’ll be pissy when you wake him up because he just left an hour or so ago, but he’ll get over it.” She quickly hung up the phone, grabbed her hairbrush and pulled her hair into a ponytail.
The night had finally quieted down in this busy little hospital just north of Dallas. Accepting the position over nine months ago, she thought that the small size and location of the facility might make for less activity so she opted for the night shift, hoping for a little trauma excitement from time to time, but having no idea  it was going to be all night excitement almost every night. But truthfully, she loved it.
When she approached the trauma room, Makenzie hadn’t expected the scene that faced her. The paramedics unloaded a young female patient, a victim of a drive by shooting on the freeway. 
“Doc, large caliber gunshot wound to the upper left chest. She hasn’t breathed on her own since we arrived on scene,” the paramedic said. He continued to give Makenzie the report while they moved the girl to the trauma bed. Makenzie looked at the girl and her heart caught. Blonde hair, creamy skin and clear blue eyes was surrounded by medical equipment. So young and innocent, practically angelic.
“We coded her twice on the way in,” the paramedic continued to report.
The team worked with the girl for quite some time trying to stabilize her enough for surgery.
“Can I help you,” Veronica asked the woman.
“Yes, my daughter. She’s here somewhere.”
“Ma’am, who’s your daughter?”

“I don’t know where she is.”
“Yes, I see. What’s your daughter’s name? Maybe I can help.” Veronica held the woman’s hand in an effort to console her.
“Serena. Serena Turner. Is she here?”
“Yes ma’am, come with me. Dr. Holder will talk to you in a few minutes.”
Once Serena was stabilized, the team took her up to surgery, leaving Makenzie to finish up the paperwork. She stood in the trauma room making notes from the monitor strips. Deep in thought, she didn’t realize that someone was standing in the room.
“Are you Dr. Holder?” the gentleman asked.
Makenzie turned around to find a man and woman staring at her. “Yes, I am. How can I help you?”
“Serena is our daughter. Can you tell us how she is? They asked us to sign papers for surgery, but we want to know how she really is.”
 Somehow in the midst of everything, the parents wandered out of the private family waiting room and found Serena’s trauma room without being noticed. They were completely unaware that they were walking into a bloody and cluttered trauma room.
“I can understand that you both have a million questions and I...,” she tried to find her compassion through her anger at such a horrible act, but she was rudely cut off.
“Mr. and Mrs. Turner, I need to ask you a few questions about the car that carried the people doing the shooting,” he rudely interrupted Makenzie as she spoke to them about their daughter’s life, barely hanging in the balance.
“Please excuse us just one moment,” Makenzie uttered under her breath as she squeezed the mother’s hands. She turned to the officer and grabbed him by the shoulder.
“Officer, please come with me.” She escorted him and his partner to a tiny private room behind the admissions desk. The room was tight even for one person, three people made it more than uncomfortable.
Makenzie slammed the door and spoke in a low, but very controlled, angry tone. “The next time you interrupt me with my patient or a family, you’ll need to seek treatment for yourself. They’re more than likely going to say good-bye to their daughter tonight. Any questions you have for them are less important at the moment. My ER, my rules. And stay out of the way of patient care. Are we clear?”
Ryler noticed everything about her. She stood with her hands on her hips, her chest protruding forward and fire blazing from her dark eyes, aimed right at him. Even with her svelte frame, she postured towards him like a linebacker ready to rumble.
“Whoa Rye, looks like there’s a new sheriff in town and she has your number,” Detective Christopher Maxwell teased his partner, but then quickly lost his smile when Makenzie cut her eyes at him and he realized she wasn’t playing.
“Excuse me, there’s no room for humor here,” Makenzie barked.
“Chris, shut up. I’m truly sorry, Dr. Holder. We’re just trying to get an adequate description of the car. We have varying accounts from witnesses and I need a clear understanding of the car and shooter.” He stopped to raise his hands in an act of surrender. “It won’t happen again. And, it’s ‘detective.’ Detective Ryler Buchanan and my partner, Detective Chris Maxwell.”
He softly smiled as he extended his hand to Makenzie. She wanted nothing to do with him however, and quickly turned her back to him so that she could exit the tiny room. When she moved, she felt his breath close to her neck, causing her senses to alert. She got a whiff of his clean, masculine scent. It was more than she wanted to think about at that very moment.
Makenzie shook her head and left the room without looking at or speaking to the detectives again. She joined the family of the young girl, completely dismissing Ryler and his partner.
“Wow, Rye, she’s a total babe. Did you see the way she looked at you? That gal is smokin’ hot and she obviously works out. I bet she could kick your ass.”
Ryler used his elbow to nudge his partner, who was enjoying a laugh at his expense. “Dude, cut it out. She was right, we were outta line. Shit. I’ll be lucky if the family doesn’t report me to the department.” He paused, showing remorse for his actions. He pulled out a chair and removed his suit jacket. “Grab some coffee. I have a feeling it’s gonna be a long night.”
They helped themselves to stale coffee from the break room and continued working the case.
Dr. Horton returned to the family upstairs, waiting outside the surgery department. She found them huddled together and praying silently, awaiting any news of the young girl, Serena. When she approached them, Mrs. Turner stood and rushed her, anxiously anticipating her words. Her face wet with tears. Her eyes swollen. Quiet sobs came from the crowd that had now gathered to support this precious family.
“Mr. and Mrs. Turner, I don’t have any news at the moment. I just came to check on you both and ask if there was anything that I could do for you or get you while you wait. It may be awhile, would you like some coffee? Can I call someone for you?”
The parents nodded, their faces wrought with fear. Mrs. Turner gripped the Bible in her hands. Mr. Turner had his arm tightly around his wife’s waist, supporting her small frame.
Makenzie phoned the nurses in the ER, letting them know her location should they need her. She also inquired about the rude detectives and confirmed that they were still perched in her temporary office.
 
Just great, I’d like to go rest, but my lounge is occupied by Detective Knowitall, she thought to herself.
She decided to remain with the family, avoiding the detectives and their inquiring minds.
Why is it that police officers are always so sexy? she thought to herself. She shook her head, trying to rid herself of such thoughts. Those two were both gorgeous, but they reeked of trouble and the last thing she needed was a detective nosing around in her business. There were too many skeletons to keep hidden. But Detective Buchanan’s breath on her skin, his scent... it stirred something in her.
After several hours, Dr. Trynn came out to speak with the family. “Sweet Serena is holding on at the moment,” he said.
He didn’t make any unreal promises to them, but the next twenty-four hours would be telling. “Give the nurses a few minutes to get her settled, then you both should go in together to see her.” He hugged the parents in an act of compassion. He turned, “Dr. Holder, can you join me in a walk to the ER?”
“Sure, Dr. Trynn.”
“Makenzie, you’re settling well in the ER. The teams love you and have given you a great deal of praise over the last nine months. The board met recently and decided that we would like to make you an offer of Chief of Emergency Medicine. I was saving this conversation for Monday’s staff meeting, but since we’re both awake, we might as well discuss it, if you have the time?”
Makenzie looked up at Dr. Trynn and smiled. Finally, a Chief position and a place to call her own. No more temporary doctoring. “Phillip, I’m thrilled. It’s an amazing offer and I’d love to accept.” She shook his hand and started to walk away.
“Makenzie, there are a couple of things that I need to clear up, maybe you can answer a few questions I have for you. And don’t you have some questions for me?” His tone made her stop dead in her tracks. Questions? What questions would he have? The thought of him having questions made her heart race and her breath quicken. Geez, it was amazing that she could start sweating so quickly.
“Sure, I have a question. When will I see my million-dollar pay raise?” she asked in a tease. Her intent was to divert his questions if she could.
“Well, I can’t say that there’s a million-dollar package,” he smiled humbly, “but you’ll see an increase in your salary for sure. Your schedule will change as well with most weekends off, one of the luxuries of being the Chief ER Physician. I’ll have Lola in administration contact you regarding your faculty headshot. But I’m most curious about your resume’.” He paused and raised an eyebrow to Makenzie. “You were Chief Surgery Resident and had a successful Surgery Fellowship at Columbia. Why are you not exploring your obvious talents?”
Makenzie took a deep breath and paused to construct a convincing answer. “Phillip, things have happened in my life that triggered a desire to work in the ER. I love what I do and I get to set the patients up for a great surgeon like yourself. Besides, I get to work my shift and go home. I love truly being able to treat patients, not being on call and dealing with all the healthcare reform stuff.” She smiled and walked away, back to her private quarters in the ER.
Makenzie realized that she wouldn’t be able to keep curious minds away forever. Lead ER Physician was a great position, but it meant that they would put her picture and information on the hospital website. This meant unprotected exposure. “Shit, how do I get out of this one,” she mumbled to herself aloud.
After a few minutes of thought, she began to doubt her decision to accept. A great opportunity offered an even greater risk. Her shift would end soon and she decided to mull over the idea with a hot bath when she got home.
Her thoughts about the hot bath interrupted by someone opening her door. “Sorry to bother you, Mak, but can you please come speak with the detectives so they will get away from my desk?” Veronica asked with a prickly attitude. For a charge nurse, she was usually very restrained, but the detectives must’ve gotten on her nerves and too much in her way.
“Sure Veronica, I’m right behind you.” Mak walked to the control desk and found herself face to face with the sexy law man.
“Officer, hmm, sorry, Detective Buchanan, the patient made it through surgery, but she’s barely hanging on by life support. She’s in ICU and her parents are with her now.” Taking a note pad from the counter, she scribbled a phone number down and handed it to Detective Chris Maxwell, avoiding contact with Ryler completely. “If you call the ICU desk, they’ll ask if the family wants to speak with you. Is there anything else that I can do for you?” Makenzie made eye contact with Veronica, then David, one of the other nurses on duty sitting just to her right behind the desk. She could tell by Veronica’s demeanor that she had something to say and was patiently waiting her turn.
“No ma’am. We’ve pieced together a description of the car and shooter. There was another incident on Central Expressway just moments ago. Fortunately, no one was injured at that scene. We need to move on our end, but if you hear anything about Serena, please call us.” Ryler spoke softly and she appreciated the change in his demeanor. She noticed his bright blue eyes twinkled when he looked at her.
Ryler handed Makenzie his business card. He noticed that she studied the card, while he took a good long look at her. His curiosity about her peaked, but he chose to walk away quietly.
When the officers were clearly safely beyond hearing range, Makenzie turned to Veronica and David, but she was verbally accosted before she was able to speak.
“Whew, that man has the hots for you, Mak. I know for a fact that he’s single. Um, hmm, single and gorgeous.” Veronica snickered as she picked up a chart.
“You called me back down here so that he could see me again, didn’t you?” Makenzie asked her with bantering tone.
Veronica didn’t answer, she simply snickered.
David motioned for her to come close. “Mak, Ryler is a good guy. He’s had a hard life and sometimes he gets pushy trying to do his job, but he’s really good at it. He felt really bad about interrupting you with the Turner family. Don’t judge him too harshly, give him a chance.”
“Guys, I just met him. But for the record, I’m not available and not looking to be, so drop it. I don’t want to hear any more about it, if you don’t mind.” Makenzie raised her hand to silence the personal exchange. “Now, do you have any patients for me to see?” She took on a commanding posture.
“Yep, I’ve got a gentleman who needs stitches in his foot in room five,” David cocked a grin and handed Makenzie the chart.
“Seriously, who needs stitches in their foot at not even five o’clock in the morning?”
“Some dad stepping on his daughter’s tea set in the dark before his morning coffee,” David uttered under his breath as he accompanied Makenzie into the next room.
They both tried hard to stifle their laughs.
 
DeLaine Roberts, Best Selling Author
Chasing Air, Launching October 21, 2013
 
 
One lucky commenter will receive an advanced copy eBook of Chasing Air as soon as it's ready at Amazon.