Category Archives: Young Adult

Exclusive Interview with author Angela Ford, plus a look at new adult sweet western romance series, THE HEALING HEARTS RANCH!

Hi, readers! I am pleased to announce a very special post today on ILRB. We’re doing something a little different. This is our nineteenth official author interview on this romance blog! I know in the past, we did character interviews then switched over to the author’s take on it, but this approach is a bit unusual.

We have a real treat for you, readers. Today we get to speak one-on-one with a talented author. Please join me in welcoming Angela Ford to ILRB! 😀

Marie Lavender:  Hello, Angela. Please have a seat.

Author Angela Ford:  Hi, Marie!

Marie:  Hey, such a pleasure to have you here!

I’m going to throw in some standard questions first.

Obviously, we know your occupation as an author, but some writers have other jobs as well. Do you have another occupation? Do you believe you’re any good at it? Do you like what you do?

I know I’m overloading you with questions, but we’re really interested in finding out more about you…

Angela:  Numbers by day…Words by night! I work in Accounting during the day and when evening sets in, words come from my heart. I write romance – happily-ever-afters – sometimes sweet…sometimes spicy…sometimes suspenseful.

Great! 😀

So, tell us…what is your family like?

Angela:  Loving…supportive and big…strength in numbers! I have six siblings. I’m the second youngest.

Marie:  Wow, so many!

Let’s try something else, okay?

If it doesn’t bother you at all, can you let us know what your childhood home looked like?

Angela:  Warm and welcoming. A modest three-bedroom bungalow until Dad finished the basement, with an extra bedroom! But back then it felt bigger…must have been all the love in it!

Marie:  Nice… 😉

Do you have any hobbies, Angela? What do you enjoy doing?

Angela:  Reading…walking…and chasing that sunset! I love crafts, but it’s not one of my better talents. (Laughs.) I do collect seashells while walking the beach and chasing that sunset! Lately I’ve been autographing those seashells and sending them to my readers as a keepsake…remind me to send you one!

Marie:  Oh, that would be fantastic! Love the beach! 😀

So, what is your greatest dream?

Angela:  I’m living it! Writing from the heart and sharing with my readers 🙂

Marie:  Sounds like a plan. ♥

Let’s try another question.

What kind of person do you wish you could be? What is stopping you?

Angela:  I like who I am…a kind soul. My mom taught me to treat others the way I want to be treated. Live simply…love generously.

Marie:  All right.

Who was your first love?

Angela:  My mom. The first to give me warmth and love…the first voice I heard…and the first to show me what love really means.

Marie:  Aww! ♥

With the next question, I hope I’m not prying too much, but we are curious…

What’s the most terrible thing that ever happened to you?

Angela:  I focus on the positives in life…they keep me a strong and kind soul.

Marie:  Okay.

Let’s move on to another topic, shall we?

[Maggie nods.]

What was your dream growing up? Did you achieve that dream? If so, in what ways was it not what you expected? If you never achieved the dream, why not?

Angela:  I’ve always wanted to write…it’s always been in my heart. I have achieved this with over 50 published works and my readers make my heart smile every time we connect.

Marie:  Awesome! 😀

Who is your role model, Angela?

Angela:  I have two! My parents. They’ve loved, taught, guided and supported me through the years. They’re also my ‘fairytale’ couple and inspire the true love in my romance writing.

Marie:  I know what you mean. My parents are a good match, too. 😉

Well, let’s try something else.

Is there someone you pretend to like but really dislike?

Angela:  No, not one soul. There may be some whose behaviors I don’t agree with, but that’s what makes us all individuals and unique.

Marie:  True!

What is your deepest desire?

Angela:  I hope to meet my soul mate in this universe someday and have my own happily-ever-after.

Marie:  (Nods.) And, of course, you deserve it! ♥

Let’s go for a different approach now.

Just curious here, but what is your greatest fear?

Angela:  The time that will, unfortunately, come without my parents.

Marie:  I know. Mine are getting on in age. It is odd sometimes to realize how very short life is.😕

Let’s switch gears for a second.

If you were trapped on a deserted island, what five essentials would you need with you? They don’t have to be practical.

Angela:  Well…if there’s basic food, shelter, safety, and those I love are okay…then I’d pick my laptop (so I can write!), wine, chocolate, music…and Kenny Chesney…a girl can dream!

Marie:  (Chuckles.) 😀

Okay, readers, let’s get the author’s perspective on one of her characters.

We’ve heard rumors about the heroine of your story, Raine Willows. Quite an interesting character. Can you tell us a little about her?

Angela:  Raine is in her mid-twenties as the story begins. She’s a social worker, living the city-life until she receives news of her grandfather’s passing and returns to the farm she lived on with her Gramps. Coming home brings her peace and helps her find the love in her heart, through the wise words left by her Gramp’s letter.

Marie:  All right.

And what are Raine’s greatest strengths?

Angela:  She’s a strong, caring, gentle soul with self-driven, hard-working ethics.

Marie:  Nice!

Any weaknesses of which we should be aware?

Angela:  Forgetting who she was and the love she has to offer.

Marie:  (Nods.) It is tough to open your heart again once it’s been bruised.

Let’s try something fun, shall we?

What are Raine’s favorite foods?

Angela:  She loves and lives for bacon! Also loves pancakes and the dinners Luke makes…he’s the boy-next-door, her childhood best friend and the one who her heart belongs to. At the end of each book, I share a recipe of one of Raine’s favorites..

Marie:  Cool!

And bacon with pancakes…yes, please! 😉

How about another question?

What’s a positive quality that your character is unaware that he or she has?

Angela:  Once she’s returned home to the farm and reads her Gramps’s letter…she begins to realize the love in her heart is plenty to share and help other’s hearts heal.

Marie:  How admirable!

Will readers like or dislike this character, and why?

Angela:  They’ll love Raine…she’s a good soul, down-to-earth, caring individual. She’s had her struggles and heartaches to which we can relate to; and her giving, kind heart that keeps us loving her.

Marie:  Happy to hear it! 😀

Now that we have a real taste of Raine, we have a few questions for you as well as the author, about the writing process of your book.

What first gave you the idea for The Letter Left?

Angela:  My daughter requested a YA series…one for her age group. One of the sweet romance genre, and most important…a story based around the love of horses and healing hearts.

Marie:  It’s fascinating how the muse works, huh? 😀

Let’s try something else.

What is your writing style like, Angela? Are you a pantster or a plotter?

Angela:  I consider myself a planster! I plot to a certain point…then I just write!

Marie:  Me too! 😉

So, I’m throwing this one in for our aspiring writers. Did you come across any specific challenges in writing The Letter Left or publishing it? What would you do differently the next time?

Angela:  The Letter Left was my 25th published single title and even with the experience I’ve gained along the way, I continue to challenge myself to improve my writing and my research to make it realistic. A story, we as readers, can relate to as we enjoy the journey. And I will continue to do so with the next story! And to continue to write from my heart, loving what I do!

Marie:  Sounds like a plan! 

Well, it was a total pleasure having you here on the I Love Romance Blog! And how apropos is that, considering what a great story The Letter Left appears to be… ♥

Let’s learn more about this series.

Title: The Letter Left (book one of The Healing Hearts Ranch)

Genre: Contemporary Romance, Western, New Adult, Sweet Romance, Family Saga

Publication date: July 29, 2019

Here is the blurb:

A story of remembrance, a gift, and a love rediscovered through healing hearts.
Angela Ford takes a different direction this time to bring you a new adult series. A story centered around family, horses, true love, and finding your way from the wise words left to you.
Jack Willows was a great man. He always put others first. He’d taught his granddaughter to do the same. Raine Willows left her grandfather’s farm at eighteen to find her way in life. Seven years later, his death brings her back to the farm and her first love–the boy next door.
An empowering story of healing through horses. A farm that introduced her to the boy next door–Luke Daniels. The one she could never forget, no matter how many years and miles came between them. Grief reunites them, horses help heal their hearts, and gives them an idea to help others. An idea that had been her grandfather’s dream for her. The letter he left, changed the direction of her life and her heart.

Angela is giving us a peek at the story…

Raine found Luke in the kitchen cleaning up the breakfast he’d prepared for her. A slight touch of guilt for his gesture crossed her. “Hey.”

​Luke kept washing the dishes in the sink. “Just wanted to clean up my mess before I left.”

​His tone pulled at her heartstrings. Guilt set in a little deeper. “I’m sorry, too. I didn’t mean to be unappreciative of your nice gesture of breakfast. I was just – shocked to find you here.”

Luke reached for the dishtowel and turned to face her as he dried his hands. “But making light of the situation only came across as me being an ass.” He chuckled. “For that, I’m really sorry.” He walked closer to her. “Jack didn’t want you to know about the farm because he knew you’d keep him here, give up your job in the city and take care of him.”

Raine nodded. “And that, he clearly didn’t want.” She would have done it. She would have done anything for Jack Willows.

Luke leaned against the counter. “He loved you, Raine. More than anything. He knew you loved him and would have taken care of him.”

Raine stood quiet for a moment. She knew Luke was right. She was as stubborn as her grandfather. “But why didn’t he mention you were here? Why are you here, Luke?”

Luke took a deep breath. “Jack is”—he corrected himself—“was a great man. After my father passed, I came back to save the farm, but my dad had let it go along with himself. Jack heard about it and asked if I’d do him a favor.” Luke smiled at Raine.“Who wouldn’t do a favor for Jack Willows?”

Raine nodded in agreement and Luke continued with the reason he’d been there. “Jack wanted to leave the farm to you, Raine; but he didn’t want you to turn down the offer at the hospital to care for him. He told me he always wanted you to find your own way in life.” Luke paused with a smile, “But he also said the farm was a big part of you, and when the day came, you’d know what to do.”

Luke turned and opened a drawer. He pulled out two envelopes. One he opened and showed it to Raine. A letter in her grandfather’s handwriting, dated almost two years ago. It was an agreement signed by him and it reiterated what Luke had just told her. Raine looked at Luke and then pointed to the other envelope in his hand. “What’s that?”

Luke moved closer and handed her the envelope. “Jack wanted me to give this to you after his death.”

Raine felt the moisture build in her eyes. With trembling fingers, she took it from Luke’s hand. She stood for a moment in silence. She didn’t know if she could read the last words from her grandfather.

Luke pulled a chair out from the table and motioned for Raine to take a seat. “I’ll give you some time to read that in private.”

Raine smiled. “Thank you.”  She appreciated the respect he offered while she read her grandfather’s letter. He nodded and placed the letter opener on the table and made his way up the back staircase.

Raine reached for the opener and let it slide across the sealed letter. Slowly, she opened the neatly folder paper to find her grandfather’s writing. As she read the words he’d left her with, a solemn tear fell down her cheek. The lump in her throat gave her the sensation it would not be a single tear, but she fought hard against the urge to cry. She needed to relax her tangled thoughts to read his words to her.

Intense! Can’t wait to find out what happens next. 😀

Purchase Links:

Universal Reader link:  https://books2read.com/u/b6kq6p

Publisher link:  http://bookstogonow.com/books/the-letter-left/

Add it to Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/46643279-the-letter-left

What are people saying about The Letter Left?

 

 

What a beautiful second chance romance, a story with mixed emotions of memories, loss, and new beginnings. It is a story of dreams, healing, and renewed sweet romance. The story is a sweet, clean, heartfelt romance with a great cast of characters and interaction. It is the first of several in this new series, The Healing Hearts Ranch. ‘One day at a time.’” – Redrabbit, Amazon

Family love. Separation. Death. Patience. Dreams. This story has everything, absolutely loved it. Sweet, thoughtful and also a tear jerker. Can’t wait for the next book in the series!” – Melissa, Amazon

I REALLY LOVE THE LETTER LEFT. IT IS A VERY EMOTIONAL AND POWERFUL READ WHICH WILL MAKE YOU CRY AND LAUGH. THIS IS A WELL WRITTEN STORY WITH CHARACTERS THAT FELT VERY REAL IN EXPRESSING THEIR EMOTIONS AND GRIEF. THE STORYLINE IS VERY BELIEVABLE AND SO ARE ALL THE CHARACTERS. I THINK THIS IS SOME OF ANGELA FORD’S BEST WRITING. I ENJOYed THE STORY OF HORSES HELPING PEOPLE HEAL I THINK ALL ANIMALS CAN BRING COMFORT TO PEOPLE WHEN THEY NEED IT. THE LETTER LEFT IS A MUST READ. AUTHOR ANGELA FORD NEVER DISAPPOINTS WITH HER WRITING AND STORIES. SHE IS A MUST READ AUTHOR AND IS ONE OF MY FAVORITES.” – Victoria Zumbrum, Amazon

Looks fantastic! 😉

Let’s switch to the sequel…

Title: Harvest Homecoming (book two of The Healing Hearts Ranch)

Genre: Contemporary Romance, Western, New Adult, Sweet Romance, Family Saga

Publication date: September 29, 2019

Here is the blurb:

An empowering story centered around family, horses, love and loss, friendship and betrayal, and finding your way from the wise words left to you. The wholesome family saga continues on a ranch in the Montana mountains in the small town of Crystal Creek.

The lazy-hazy days of summer give way to shorter days and endless views of vibrant colors during the town’s harvest festivities. Crystal Creek High kicks off the season’s opening game while seniors, Cassidy and Kaitlyn prepare for the horse show, a cheating boyfriend, and saddle up for a promposal to the homecoming dance.

Love is in the air as the festivities begin. Equine therapist, Dr. Pam Whitfield, arrives at the ranch on the day of Raine and Luke’s engagement party and meets a local farmer in attendance. Jackson Knox makes an impact and she remembers his name like its been engraved on her heart. With the first guests arriving shortly after the festivities, Trainer Kelly Brannan must deal with a past romantic issue which may affect the opening of the Healing Hearts Ranch and her job.

Angela is giving us a peek at this story as well…

Purchase Links:

Universal Reader link:  https://books2read.com/u/mKxqgB

Publisher link:  http://bookstogonow.com/books/harvest-homecoming/

Add it to Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/48152900-harvest-a-homecoming

What are people saying about Harvest Homecoming?

 

 

“Crystal Creek felt like home. The Healing Hearts Ranch book series are sweet, wholesome stories that could be read by teenagers as well as adults. The story is a sweet, clean, heartfelt romance with a great cast of characters and interaction. They are full of real-life emotions, young love, new beginnings, old friends, town traditions, and friendships. While this is a saga, the story is well-written and could be read as a stand-alone, but I highly recommend that you read the first book, The Letter Left, that sets up this series.” – Redrabbit, Amazon

“Sweet, clean and delightful! I really enjoyed Angela Ford’s Harvest Homecoming, her second story in ‘The Healing Hearts Ranch’ series. We get to meet new characters that are charming and lovable. It’s a captivating story focused around family, horses, hope and second chance. It’s also sweet, clean and refreshing! If you love horses, you will easily connect with this new series!” – Nicole Laverdure, Amazon

This was a cute fall read that continues from one of this author’s other books. It has a homey, family feel to it and brings all the loves of fall together!” – Cara C., Amazon

Wow, love these book covers!

We’ll be sure to get a copy of this sweet, new adult modern western romance series, with an occasional YA twist! ♥♥♥

Healing Hearts Ranch – An empowering series centered around family, horses, love and loss, friendship and betrayal, and finding your way from the wise words left.

About Angela Ford

Angela resides in Nova Scotia – Canada’s Ocean Playground. Inspired by sunsets, the ocean, her family, and books! She is never without a book, whether she’s reading or writing. Angela is a bestselling and award-winning author who has been in the Amazon top fifty, Readers’ Choice Awards and ScreenCraft. She has over 50 published works in paperback, eBook, audiobook, and foreign translation. An Award of Distinction sparked the idea for her first book Closure, which hit Bestselling Action & Adventure, Women’s fiction. In between mysteries, Angela writes short contemporary romance. She loves to connect with her readers!

Books:

And, if you want to know how to connect with the fascinating Angela Ford, here are some author links…

 

Once again, I want to thank Angela Ford, the brilliant author of this new adult, sweet contemporary western romance series, with the backdrop of a family saga, for stopping by! It was a pleasure to have you here! Readers, check out her work! ♥

 

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Filed under Authors, Blogging, Book News, Books, characters, Contemporary, Drama, Event, Faith, family, feature, Hope, Interview, Love, New Adult, Readers, Romance, sweet romance, western, Writers, Writing, Young Adult

Romance Novel Memories, Plus a Reader Poll!

Check out this romance reader poll, and join in on the fun!

Marie Lavender- Multigenre Author

Romance Novel Memories, Plus a Reader Poll!

 

Do you remember the first romance novel you ever read, or even which romance story in a film, that made you ‘swoon’?

As a child I’d always been swept away by the tales of Snow White, Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty. And romantic comedy movies were wonderful! While I was growing up, I savored the Mary Anne/Logan couple dynamics in The Baby-Sitters Club book series.

https://books2read.com/u/mBQLpk

Being a writer and a bookworm at heart, however, I must be true to my passion. The first romance novel I remember being simply thrilled with was Annette Curtis Klause’s The Silver Kiss. I was browsing my library at school. I think was about twelve or thirteen. I had just finished two other reads, The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle (YA historical), and Say Goodnight, Gracie (YA fiction/drama).

https://books2read.com/u/mY1VJw

https://books2read.com/u/bQ61Q0

I needed a change, something altogether…

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Filed under Blogging, Book News, Books, Contemporary, contest, Event, Fiction, Historical Romance, Message, Readers, Romance, Young Adult

Book Review: The Key of F by Jennifer Haskin

This week’s I Love Romance Blog review selection is The Key of F By Jennifer Haskin. With paranormal and sci-fi elements, this full-length novel is a great read.

Fale, who is as down-to-Earth as she is incredible, begins a journey to find out exactly who she is. When she starts having visions of the future and trying to do something about it, will she change it for the better or worse?

Really, I cannot say enough good things about this book – the storyline is well thought through, the dialogue is believable and relatable, and the interactions between the main characters keep you reading.

This book is extremely well-written and thought out and I look forward to reading the next one in the series – I give The Key of F By Jennifer Haskin 5 HEARTS!

Only $.99 on Kindle.

Recommended Read

Book Info:

Fale, Takanori warrior-in-training, begins having visions on her eighteenth birthday. When she realizes the visions are coming true, she intervenes and changes one to save the life of her crush. Soon after, thugs climb out of the woodwork chasing them with the intent to kill. Their only clue lies in the key Fale wears, given to her by her father on his deathbed. Could the key have something to do with her destiny? Can they live long enough to find the answers?

Universal Reader link: https://books2read.com/u/bW9G0D

Here’s a peek at the book…

AUTHOR: Jennifer Haskin

TITLE: The Key of F (book one of the Freedom Fight Trilogy)

GENRE: paranormal romance, urban fantasy, some YA elements

RELEASE DATE: May 8, 2018

PUBLISHER: Rogue Phoenix Press

ISBN/ASIN: B079P7DMQ4

OUR RATING: ♥♥♥♥♥

REVIEWED BY: Kevin Ethan

Up Next Week: Undercover Siren by Ellen Mint

Thanks for reading our weekly book review on ILRB!

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Filed under Blogging, book reviews, Books, Contemporary, Dark Fantasy, Event, Fantasy, Paranormal/Urban Fantasy, rating, Readers, Reviews, Science Fiction, score, Writing, Young Adult

Pre-order Release Feature: Lara’s Story by author Diane Merrill Wigginton

I am pleased to announce a great new release by Diane Merrill Wigginton, an author I met during my journey! Her young adult sweet historical romance, Lara’s Story, officially went up for pre-order and will be released on January 4th!

That’s awesome! Congrats on your new release!:)

When a new book comes out, it is always an exciting time for an author!

Diane is giving us a look at her sweet YA historical romance, Lara’s Story, today.Great cover!

This is the blurb for Lara’s Story:

SHATTERED BY HEARTBREAK
“When a heart breaks, it does not break evenly, cleaving in half exactly down the middle.”

Surrounded by her large, boisterous family in 1840s Ireland, Lara Flannigan has never known anything but love and belonging—until the day tragedy strikes, leaving her abandoned and forced into indentured servitude.

REMADE IN A NEW WORLD.

Just when all hope seems lost, Lara is discovered by a childless American couple, visiting Ireland to aid in the famine-relief effort. With barely a chance to look back, she’s swept away to a bustling new continent—and a dizzying new reality. One of petticoats, opulent townhouses, and the cold reaches of Philadelphia high society. Desperate for a future, Lara works tirelessly to fit into her new life… while still haunted by a past that won’t let her go.

Set in a fascinating historical period, Lara’s Story is a gripping young adult novel that explores the strength of the human spirit and the power of forgiveness to heal a broken heart.

And here is an excerpt to entice you with.

April 27, 1854

Philadelphia Wharf

 

EVERY QUESTION BEGINS WITH a quest for answers, and every testimony of what is true begins with a test of our resolve. I am reminded of this simple formula as I stand here on this boardwalk, looking out to sea. Each life is a journey, defined by turns we take or the roads we choose or those which fate chooses for us. Some of us move from one place to another, along a well-worn path or the path less taken; it really doesn’t matter much as long as it leads you home again.

Memories of my home involuntarily flash through my mind as Mama’s words come back to me like a sounding board that has followed me my entire life. She would often tell my sisters and me, “Don’t ever make yerself smaller to satisfy the needs of another.” Mama was always insightful and perceptive when it came to her children.

Oh, how I still miss her so, even to this day. I smile to myself, wishing my ears could hear that beautiful, rhythmic sound of Mama’s voice again, just one more time as a terrible memory of the last day I saw her alive flashes through my mind and I vigorously shake my head to dispel the thought.

When a heart breaks it does not break evenly – cleaving in half exactly down the middle. It breaks, jagged and rough, cutting one to the very core of their soul. And while things may appear perfectly normal to the naked eye, beneath the surface lies the real tragedy, fragmented and splintered beyond reconciliation. Heartbreak is not an innocuous pain, easily excused like a stomach ache. It is more insidious, spreading throughout ones’ system, like an infection. Merely closing my eyes to the pain does not eliminate it in the least.

Just breathe in, then breathe out and move forward, I remind myself. This simple little mantra is something I taught myself so many years ago, and it has gotten me through more than a few dire situations.

I was born Lara Flannigan, on the twenty-first day of April, in the year of our Lord, eighteen hundred and thirty-three. Mama liked to tell me it was a beautiful spring morn, the day I was born, which would have been an unusual occurrence for that time of year.

Mama also said, “I knew ye were special and destined for greatness the moment ye took yer first breath, don’t ye know. Cause the sun poked out from behind the clouds with yer first breath of life. Why twere’ like the Heavens above truly recognized that an angel had been born to me,” she teased.

If truth be told, I believe mama told this exact story to each of her six children. But I loved hearing it nonetheless.

I was the sixth child of the seven children born to Rory and Laurel Flannigan, and I was named for my Da’s mother. Our days were long and our lives were hard, but our nights belonged to us. I never knew life could be anything other than what I had experienced. My world was very small in those days, so I never missed the things I didn’t have.

I am an Irish immigrant and I came to America at the tender age of thirteen, a disillusioned child, harshly mistreated by the very people entrusted with my care. I tell you this not to solicit your sympathies but to impart knowledge and gain your understanding, for I was a pitiful, angry child who was unaware of how many things in my life were about to change. People meeting me today might say that I was more fortunate than most. Yet they would never have heard my story nor known that I suffered in silence. I did not wear my pain, like a badge of honor, but kept it deep inside of me, hidden away from the prying eyes of others.

Fear has made me keep my story to myself. I was afraid of the repercussions from the actions I took in the name of survival, when my whole world fell apart. Furthermore, I feared the behavior of peers, those who would use the circumstance of my birthplace and subsequent difficulties to hold me back or bludgeon me with my story like a weapon.

For many years I have pushed from my thoughts memories of home and all that happened there. And yet, every now and again I indulge myself with less painful memories of the past, that push their way to the surface, and I give myself permission to embrace them, loving, bold, nostalgic memories that are impossible to forget. This is especially true today as I find myself waiting, yet another day, for a ship to come in, one that I thought would never arrive upon these great American shores.

Oh, I have everything a person could ever desire. Enough food to ward off hunger for a lifetime. Good health, a beautiful home, fashionable clothes, and the love of my family. I truly have every comfort one could want at my disposal, yet still, I long to recover the missing pieces of myself torn from me the day I left my native land of Ireland. A loss that can still be keenly felt whenever I lay my head down upon my pillow at night. And even though I am far from familiar old haunts, I swear I hear the land beckoning to me in my dreams, calling from across the ocean, summoning me home to the cliffs of Dunmore Head on the westernmost shores of Ireland. Closing my eyes now, I can still recall the smell and taste of the breeze on my tongue and the tangy feel of her salty sea air as it mixes with the sweet scents of wildflowers growing on her craggy cliffs.

The memories grab hold of my soul, leaving me longing for home, even more this day.

“Ireland,” I whisper, as it all comes flooding back to me — the green grassy moors waving in the gentle breeze like waves on the ocean. I can still feel the way the grass tickled my bare feet when I walked upon it.

In my mind’s eye I can see the ancient moss-covered rocks and hills that seem to roll on forever, and the overwhelmingly familiar smells of home assault my senses and kindle even more longing inside me. Peat moss burning in the hearth, the earthy smells of fresh mud coming from our simple thatched roofed dwelling, built from wattle and daub that plastered the rocks and boulders in place to form walls. The rain that often leaked upon my head in the middle of the night whenever a storm blew in just right. The way the sweet earthy tones mingled with the bitter as they played across my tongue whenever I chewed on a blade of grass.

Vivid, sweet memories wash over me, transporting me back in time as I see myself as a little girl, sitting in the middle of a field of tall grass, watching with fascination as the wind blew the grass to-and-fro. Then I see myself laughing and playing among the cliffs again with my best friend, Jamie. There are so many precious and sweet memories that I had denied myself for so long.

I swallow hard to push down the lump that forms in my throat. I can recall every ridge, crag, twig, and moss-covered rock that littered our unyielding plot of land.

There were so many afternoons spent upon those cliffs, basking in the glorious sun after bathing in the ocean with Mama and my two sisters. Alana loved tickling me just to hear me laugh while I lay upon the warm cliffs, soaking up the last glorious rays of sunlight. A cool breeze would kick up, washing over my skin, and chilling my flesh with her gentle touch. Those were the days I thought would never end, and it is those same sweet memories that now make me mourn the loss of them all the more.

I shake my head quickly, dispelling any more memories of the past as I hold back more tears, attempting to keep them from escaping. Swiping at the unfortunate few that trickle down my cheeks, I feel anxious and frustrated all at the same time.

Please do not mistake my tears for weakness, for they convey more than mere words are able and can express so many different emotions.

One should never assume that there is only one reason to shed them. There are tears caused by overwhelming grief and pain and tears of contrition. There are tears of joy and love, or tears of annoyance caused by situations that are beyond your control. Yet my tears today are a culmination of so many different emotions that are simply hard for me to put into words.

Book Info:

Genre:  Historical Romance, Young Adult, Sweet Historical

Release Date:  January 4, 2019

Pre-order Purchase Link:

Universal Reader link:  https://books2read.com/u/bMQjzV

Wow! ♥♥♥ This looks like quite an emotional read!😉

The story should appeal to Christians, young adults, and any readers who enjoy sweet romance tales…

Thank you for telling us about your new book, Diane! I know we all can’t wait to read this YA romance! 🙂

 

Readers, don’t forget to pre-order a copy of this sweet historical tale!

Author Bio

Diane Merrill Wigginton was born in Riverside, California in 1963. Her family moved to San Diego near the end of 1970, where she grew up in the newly developed community of Mira Mesa. Spending portions of her summers each year in Burly, Idaho with her mother’s parents, Florence and Orval Merrill, Diane developed a love of animals and a respect for the land. It was during this time on the farm riding horses, herding cattle and taming wild kittens that Diane also developed a love of storytelling. She dreamed that one day she would become a published author and tell her stories to the world. Having spent her entire life in California, Diane and her husband made the move from Sacramento, California to Kalispell, Montana to retire in February 2018. Now she is able to pursue her passion of writing books full-time.

“I am thrilled and elated to be doing what I love.”

 

Thanks again, Diane! We hope to see you back on ILRB sometime. 

Happy reading, everyone!🙂

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Filed under Book Release, Books, coming soon, Event, Fiction, Historical, Historical Romance, new release, Readers, Romance, sweet romance, Young Adult

63 FREE Romance Books!!

Hi, readers! I wanted to pop in here today to let you know about a very cool, mega giveaway going on over at the Writing in the Modern Age blog this week. Among other genres, 63 romance novels are available.All you have to do to enter the contest is comment on the thread with all your genre preferences as well as a contact email, and you’ll have 164 chances to win books! Awesome, right?

Here is a list of some of the books offered. They’re in no particular order, but I’ve included the subgenres so you know how varied the giveaway is.

Sports Romance

Paranormal Thriller with Romantic Elements

 

Mystery Romance with Horror

Multicultural Romance

Historical Romance

Paranormal Romance

Science Fiction Romance

Erotic Romance

Romantic Comedy

Holiday Romance

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Romantic Suspense

Contemporary Romance

Romantic Thriller

 

Western Romance

 

LGBT Romance

Time Travel Romance

YA Romance

Inspirational Romance

Fantasy Romance

This contest is exciting! There are swag prizes too! 🙂 If you’d like to participate, please jump on Writing in the Modern Age to put in your entry (you can also email me directly at marieannlavender@gmail.com with the subject heading ‘Early Autumn Giveaway entry’, in case you’re a little shy about including your personal info).

The giveaway will run until Friday at midnight EST, but winners won’t be chosen until the weekend.

http://marielavender.blogspot.com/2017/09/400th-anniversary-post-early-autumn-mega-book-giveaway.html

So, why not go for it? These are FREE books! You won’t be sorry! 😉

As always, happy reading, everyone! 😀

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Filed under Authors, Blogging, Book Giveaways, Books, Contemporary, Erotica, Fantasy, Fiction, Historical, Historical Romance, inspirational romance, LGBT, Marie Lavender, Mystery, New Adult, Readers, Romance, romantic comedy, Romantic Suspense, sports romance, Thriller/Suspense, Time Travel, western, Writing, Young Adult

A to Z Reflections

As some of you may already know, I put myself to the A to Z Challenge for blogging during the month of April.

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Basically, it required participating bloggers to do a post every day focusing on each letter of the alphabet. Sundays were the only excluded days. As you can imagine, this was a lot of work.

So, what really compelled me to take on this challenge? Well, I have to give my talented author friend, Devika Fernando, some credit here. Last year, she took on the challenge with her blog and absolutely nailed it. Check out one of her posts here!

Therefore, this year it was with courage and a bit of fear that I said, sure, what the hell…I’ll try it too. I decided to use a rating system for each book I covered, almost like a book review but not quite the same.

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To make a long story short, the experience was actually fun! 🙂 I not only got to revisit some titles on my shelf I hadn’t looked at for awhile, I also found some new books I wanted to try.

I hope you found some interesting reads as well. If you missed my A to Z Challenge posts, here they are in order:

 

–  Awakening the Fire by Ally Shields

Blood Brothers by Nora Roberts

– Courting the Countess by Barbara Pierce

Devil’s Embrace and Devil’s Daughter by Catherine Coulter

– Elsewhere by Linda Lee Williams

Face the Fire by Nora Roberts

Goddess of the Hunt by Tessa Dare

Heart of Gold by J.R. Ward

Identity by Cleo Scornavacca

Jewels of the Sun by Nora Roberts

The Key Trilogy by Nora Roberts

Lover Unleashed by J.R. Ward

Martha’s Way Series by Mika Jolie

No Longer A Stranger by Joan Johnston

One Illicit Night by Sophia James

– Playing with Fire by Devika Fernando

Queen of Babble by Meg Cabot

Raising Landry by Andee Michelle

Sisters of the Night by Linda Lee Williams

To Tempt A Scotsman by Victoria Dahl

Unhallowed Ground by Heather Graham

Victory Lane by Shelly Davis

Weather the Storm by Jean Ferris

X-Treme Dating by Cathy McDavid

You Make Me Feel Brand New by Chicki Brown

Zenith Rising by Marilyn Campbell

 

Perhaps you’ll find some interesting romance books in there, ranging from contemporary to historical, paranormal to fantasy, comedy to multicultural, even a time travel/science fiction. It was so much fun to participate in the A to Z Blogging Challenge, to see your comments and interact with you (many thanks for the shares and reblogging!), and to check out other bloggers’ sites who were part of the challenge. Here is a full list of the 1,348 participants this year. And to do my part, here are some links to a few other blogs from the April A to Z Challenge:

 

Thanks again for sticking it out with me during the challenge. I’m always happy to see some friendly faces around here. Please stay tuned for future posts on any random thoughts about love, articles or advice on romantic relationships…

Unsplash, Pixabay, 2016.

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and, as always – our favorite topic – learning about new romance authors and their book releases!

Have a wonderful May, everyone! 😀

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Filed under Authors, Blogging, Books, Contemporary, Erotica, Event, Fantasy, Fiction, Historical, Historical Romance, Love, Message, Multicultural/Interracial, Mystery, Paranormal/Urban Fantasy, Readers, Reviews, Romance, romantic comedy, Science Fiction, Time Travel, western, Young Adult

A to Z Challenge: Weather the Storm by Jean Ferris

As you know, I’m putting myself to the A to Z Challenge for blogging for the month of April.

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For these posts, I’ll be giving an I Love Romance Blog score, not an official review, for books currently on my shelf at home (I know readers must wonder what books inspires us as authors) or ones that are on my TBR list (what I want to read so bad I can’t stand it!). For each book, I will give the blurb, a few lines from the text, then why I liked the book or why I’d want to read it. And for fun, I’ll give a heart rating! ♥

This is my scoring system:

scoring-heart-rating

I hope these A to Z Challenge suggestions will help you find a new favorite author, or further cement your love for one, if that’s the case.

Let’s jump into our next book, shall we?

Weather the Storm by Jean Ferris

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Genre: YA Historical Romance

Blurb:

When Raider takes Rosie to England she finds no living kin-and long buried family secrets. When Raider offers to take Rosie to New Orleans, she sees no other option. But it is a journey that brings her closer than ever to the daring buccaneer who has captured her heart yet farther from the romantic dream that torments her. As the war rages at sea, Rosie once again watches Raider sail into battle, driven by the obsession that consumes him, and taking with him the love that has become the very soul of Rosie’s life.

Also in the trilogy:
Into the Wind
and
Song of the Sea

 

A few choice lines from the book:

“The most extraordinary thing has happened,” she blurted. “I’ve just discovered I might have been a countess.”

The expression on his face remained impassive. It didn’t surprise her that he didn’t believe her. She could hardly believe it herself.

“There was a letter from my mother in Aunt Polly’s Bible,” she went on, in spite of his face. “Maybe that’s why the Bible was locked up; to keep the letter safe. My mother was a countess before she married my father, a Portuguese countess. I know it sounds unbelievable, but I believe it. My locket has her family crest. They disowned her when she married my father and she lost her title, but if they hadn’t done that, I would’ve been a countess!”

Why was she bothering him with this? He clearly thought it was preposterous. She did herself. And it didn’t make the slightest bit of difference in what her life would be like now. But she’d had to tell someone, and who else was there? And once, he might have cared.

Finally he spoke, his face unchanged, but his voice hollow. “I thought it might be something like that.”

“You…what?” She felt almost as if he’d struck her. “What are you talking about?”

“I don’t quite know how to…” He seemed unsure, almost embarrassed. He turned away from her and leaned his shoulder against a stable post, his hands in his pockets. The cloth of his jacket stretched across his wide shoulders. She stayed where she was because she was shaking too much to move.

“What are you talking about?” she asked again, somehow frightened.

“I have a jewel cask,” he said, not turning around. “I’ve had it for five years. My brother and I took it from a pirate ship that had taken it from a Portuguese barkentine on its way to Brazil. You may not be aware that the entire Portuguese court fled Portugal for Brazil, its colony in the New World, in November of 1807 when General Junot invaded. The capital of Portugal has been in Rio since January of 1808. When the nobility fled, they took everything with them: their books, jewels, archives, everything. Rich pickings for pirates, and many of the Portuguese ships were captured, looted and sunk. The cask I have once held a treasure in jewels of some highborn Portuguese family, all of whom are probably lying at the bottom of the sea now.”

“I don’t understand,” Rosie said when he was silent.

“I sold all the jewels long ago. They brought a great deal of money. A great deal. But I kept the cask. I’m not sure even why. I liked the look of it.” He paused again. When he spoke, his voice was so low she could hardly hear him. “It has a design on the lid. A silver hind with a golden apple around her neck.”

“A silver…? The same as on my locket?”

“Exactly the same. The same as in the story you told me when I was ill. Those jewels must have belonged to your mother’s family. You could have had a countess’s fortune if not her title.”

With the idea of a title not fully assimilated, the notion of a fortune seemed simply impossible. Rosie shook her head, as if to dislodge a swarm of gnats.

Finally Raider turned to face her. “I seem to have spent my life ruining yours. Even before I knew you.”

He looked so genuinely stricken her heart contracted. This lost fortune was too abstract for her to take seriously; in fact, it seemed to be causing him more pain than it did her. The notion that her mother had loved her enough to make the deathbed effort to speak to her across all these years meant far more to her than any kind of fortune.

She put her hand out to him. “It doesn’t matter. How could you know? And if you hadn’t told me, I’d never have known either. It will make no difference in what I do.”

“I should repay you. The jewels were yours.” He ignored her hand, which she withdrew into the folds of her skirt.

She was rather taken aback by such evidence of probity in his character, and at the same time, pleased. Perhaps the man she imagined to be hidden behind Raider’s alternately cool and hot facade actually existed.

“You can repay me by taking me to New Orleans,” she said, without knowing in advance that she was going to say it. “I’ve decided to accept your offer. Fowey isn’t a place where I could feel at home, if only because of the weather.” As she spoke, she recognized within herself the truth of what she said. And congratulated herself for finding the strength to say it, knowing what the price would be: more unrequited time with him, more anticipation of the painful farewell. “In New Orleans,” she went on, sound surer and more adult than she felt, “with its mix of people, I think I’m more likely to find a place for myself. That will be enough.”

“It’s not enough to satisfy me.” He stood looking at her through the gloom of the stable, his eyes catching what light there was. “My debt to you is greater than that.”

“Then I cancel your debt. You owe me nothing now other than passage away from here.” His insistence mystified her. Still, how unaccountable it was that he was the one to find her family jewels. It was as if their lives were fated to intersect, if only for an interval, if only glancingly.

“You can sell the land your aunt owned,” he said, as if he hadn’t heard her. “That will give you a stake. We should try to take care of that before we leave. That means this afternoon or tomorrow. If there’s anything from her trunk you want to take with you, you should arrange for that, too.” He had the inward look of someone preoccupied with plans. And what he was planning was her life. Again.

“Stop doing that,” she said, exasperated. “You keep taking over and making all the plans without ever asking me. This is my life, not yours.”

She was right. He couldn’t seem to stop trying to make them the same. “Do forgive me,” he said, willing mischief into his voice and his eyes, protecting his emotions once again by teasing. “Just what is it you think we should be doing in order to get on with this enterprise?”

“Well…of course I should see about selling that land. And there are a few things I’d like to have from the trunk. Oh, don’t look so pleased with yourself. I could have thought of those things without your help. You’re not going to be around forever to do my thinking for me, so you’d better let me have some practice.”

She was right; of course she was. “Very well,” he said.

My Score:

This book, along with the others in the series, has been on my shelf for a long time. I read it many years ago, probably when I was a teenager. I take it out now and then to remind myself of those rampant emotions in one’s youth, the heartaches and how simple, yet complicated, love could be somehow in the past. This series is the perfect example of how a good romance should be. It’s not without danger or conflict between the hero and heroine, though.

This series is also set in the Regency era, one of my favorite time periods. 😉

But seriously, this book is excellent. Rosie and Raider’s journey is one you’ll fall for over and over again. I’d recommend reading the series together to get the full effect!

seriesYAhistrom

I’d give this one five hearts!

five hearts

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Filed under Authors, Blogging, Books, Event, Fiction, Historical, Historical Romance, Readers, Reviews, Romance, Young Adult

A Character Interview with Amy Pearson from THE LIE plus a conversation with author K.C. Sprayberry!

Today, we’re doing something a little different. If you remember, we interviewed Aurora Zahni’s character on December 29th and it was so fun that I thought we may as well make an occasional habit of it. I had the pleasure of meeting K.C. Sprayberry, the author of The Lie, on my author journey and I asked if I could borrow a character, Amy Pearson, from the book. We’ll get a chance to talk to K.C. in a bit, but now we have on the stage…Amy!

Marie Lavender:  Hello, Amy.  Please have a seat.

Character Amy Pearson: Thanks for having me here.

Marie:  Sure!

We’re going to start out with some simple questions, all right?

Amy: Okay.

Marie:  Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Also, what is your occupation?  Are you any good at it?  Do you like it?

Amy:  Hi, everyone. My name is Amy Pearson. I’m a senior at Landry High School in Georgia, a band geek, and a musician. My brother, Bryce, is always telling me that I have to believe in what I can do, so I have to say I’m a great student with a 4.0 GPA. As a musician, I play the keyboard, flute, clarinet, oboe, and guitar. I also sing. And if my YouTube page can be believed, people actually like what I do.

Marie:  (Laughs.) Great!

So, tell us…what is your family like?

Amy:  Well… I have a brother, Bryce. He’s two years younger than me, plays football, always gives me grief about the stupidest stuff, but he’s a good person to talk to. My dad does reno on houses that my uncle sells. Dad’s kind of cool. He’s a volunteer fire fighter in his spare time. And then there’s my mom. Her and me—we don’t get along well. It’s because of my bestie, Jane.

Mom thinks Jane is a horrible influence on me, but she… Jane… doesn’t have any other friends. And she was so nice to me when I had asthma as a kid and couldn’t go outside much.

Marie:  All right. Sorry to hear that.

The mother-daughter relationship can be complicated sometimes.

If it doesn’t bother you too much, can you let us know what your childhood home looked like?

Amy:  Just like everyone else’s around us. A typical middle class southern home. Nothing spectacular. Until we moved into the old home place, a gift from my grandparents after our house sold and we needed a place fast. It was right after that happened. Don’t ask me about that. It was really awful.

Marie:  Okay, sorry. I sense it’s a touchy subject. I know there’s a story there, but I won’t pry.

Do you have any hobbies, Amy?  What do you enjoy doing?

Amy:  My music is my life. I love recording tracks with my instruments. Sometimes just one, or I might do a few tracks with two or three instruments. Then I write songs and my brother sets up videos on our YouTube page.

Marie:  Sounds like fun!

So…what is your greatest dream?

Amy:  Graduate high school, go to Jacksonville State University in Alabama. Be a Marching Southerner. And get a general music degree. I don’t know after that. It’s too far away to think about.

Marie:  That’s understandable. It’s hard to see that far ahead. It was for me too.

Let’s try another question.

What kind of person do you wish you could be?  What is stopping you?

Amy:  I want to be a person my mom can love without getting all mad because of my only close friend. I want to be able to just hug her and not have her ask what Jane did now. And I want to have more friends than Jane. It gets really weird only being able to do things with her all the time, but she says everyone else makes fun of her, so I can’t do stuff with them.

Marie:  Wow, sorry to hear that! 😦

Okay, so I’m going to throw another random question at you now. 

Who was your first love?

Amy:  Trey Melton.

He’s a hunk, kind of like that actor, Brant Daughtery from Pretty Little Liars. Was the quarterback for the Landry Wildcats, until he blew out his knee. And he’s pretty sweet. We’ve just started seeing each other seriously, now that I kicked Jane out of my life.

Marie:  Good to hear! (Sighs.) I love romance…

The Lie

All right. So, let’s try something else.

What’s the most terrible thing that ever happened to you?

Amy:  That. It’s really hard to explain, kind of complicated. See, the school board took away the band’s funding. And we got very upset. That’s when Jane came to me with this plan, but she couldn’t tell the other kids in band about it. I had to do that, or they wouldn’t have gone along. So, I did, but it didn’t feel right. And then it happened. We didn’t mean for it to happen. It was only supposed to be stink and smoke. The school wasn’t supposed to burn down.

Marie:  Yikes! Okay, I can see this is difficult for you.

[Briefly touches her guest’s hand.]

Let’s move on to something a bit lighter now, shall we?

[Amy nods.]

What was your dream growing up? Did you achieve that dream? If so, in what ways was it not what you expected? If you never achieved the dream, why not?

Amy:  To be a musician. To go professional. Maybe. I’m not really sure I can do that, though. The kind of music I do isn’t really popular, but it’s what I like. But the people that like my YouTube page are always telling me I’m good enough to be on The Voice or American Idol. I mean really? Me? That’s so crazy.

Marie:  Well, it sounds like you have the talent! What I’ve learned is it’s easier to try something and then decide it’s not for you rather than regret you never did it. 😉

Okay. Let’s try something else.

So, who is your role model, Amy?

Amy:  To be honest, my younger brother. Bryce is so cool. He’s really smart too. And he never lets anyone put him down. He’s hot too (don’t tell him I said that!). Not only is he great in the classroom, but he’s a gunner on Special Teams for football, and he’s stellar at that. The biggest thing I admire about Bryce? Even though I get irritated with him about the silly stuff, he’s always there for me when something Jane talks me into blows up.

Theo James (Bryce)

Marie:  Good to hear! I’m glad you have a close relationship with your brother.

Well…you’ll probably think I’m digging for dirt on the next question. 

Is there someone you pretend to like but really dislike?

Amy:  It took me a long time to figure it out, but I really don’t like Jane. Probably never have. But she’s so needy. And kind of mean. She always puts down my family, but I can’t tell her to go away. I don’t know why, just that I can’t. Maybe it’s because she doesn’t have any other friends.

Marie:  All right. I can see how pity might have led you into a rough situation.

So, can you tell us something? What is your deepest desire, Amy?

Amy:  To have a normal life. Not to have to put up with Jane’s games, her constant innuendos that people hate her for no reason, or are down on her. She’s so harsh. Never gives anyone a chance. She even makes me feel stupid for wanting to do things without her. Jane smothers me, but I don’t know how to make her go away.

Marie:  Okay. How about another question…

What is your greatest fear?

Amy:  Losing the music in my head. I think I’d die if that happened. That music has always been there. I think I’d go crazy and fade away if it stopped.

Marie:  Funny, that’s exactly the way I feel about writing! 😉

Well, it looks like we’re out of time. Thank you for visiting us today, Amy. It was so interesting getting to know you! 🙂

Amy:  Thank you for having me, Marie!

Marie:  My pleasure!

(Waves goodbye to her guest.)

Marie:  Now, let’s shift over and get the author’s perspective.  We have author K.C. Sprayberry on the stage today. It’s such a pleasure to have you here again! Hello, K.C.!

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Author K.C. Sprayberry:  Hi, Marie!  A pleasure to be here.

Marie:  The honor is mine.  🙂

So, we just got to talk to a female character of your story, Amy Pearson. Quite an interesting character.  Can you tell us a little about her?

K.C.:  Amy is a typical teen. She works hard for approval from her parents, but is also pulling away as she starts her senior year of high school. Amy has an inner core of strength but she doesn’t realize that because of her bestie, Jane. But Amy is starting to pull free of Jane’s toxic influence, to spread her wings by making new friends, getting involved with her classmates, and getting ready for college.

Marie:  Okay.

So, what are your character’s greatest strengths?

K.C.:  She’s a loyal friend. Amy is willing to do what’s needed to help out when necessary. She also loves to cook and bake. Amy makes a killer pumpkin cheesecake and some really great sweet potato tarts.

Marie:  Nice! But seriously, she sounds like a great person.

And what are her greatest weaknesses?

K.C.:  Amy’s greatest weakness is that she likes to believe the best about people. She won’t give up on a friend, no matter how badly that friend treats her.

Marie:  An admirable trait, but I can see how that could get her into some trouble…

Let’s try something else.

What are some of her favorite foods?

K.C.:  She loves pretty much everything. The spicier the better. Her favorite burger is from Fuddruckers, the Southwestern.

Marie:  All right.

How about another question?

What’s a positive quality that your character is unaware that he or she has?

K.C.:  That’s she’s a sweet, loyal person who can do so much better than she thinks she can.

Marie:  Will readers like or dislike this character, and why?

K.C.:  They’ll hate how she won’t stand up against Jane, instead leaning on her brother heavily. But when things get tough and Bryce isn’t around, Amy will discover she’s a really strong person who can take care of herself.

Marie:  Great! 🙂

Now that we have a real taste of Amy, we have a few questions for you as well as the author.

What first gave you the idea for The Lie?

K.C.:  My editor and I were kicking around ideas one night on Facebook PM. And somehow the conversation got around to lying. How a lie is like the ripples in a pond and you never know how far those ripples go. Then I told her that I’d be right back, knocked out an opening to the first chapter, and showed it to her. She read it, suggested a couple of things, and told me to run with it. Boy, did I run with it. The Lie finished at a little over 102,000 words, the longest and most difficult book I’ve ever written.

Marie:  Impressive!

Let’s try something else.

What is your writing style like, K.C.? Are you a pantster or a plotter?

K.C.:  I do like to plan, plot out my books, but honestly, after chapter three, all planning flies out the window once the characters take over. They will direct from the background, often screeching out, “I would not do that!” until I fix the problem. Some stories have just been “panster” from beginning to end. I’ve tried being a plotter, but it never works out.

Marie:  (Laughs.) Sometimes those characters just don’t listen to us…

Now, I’m throwing this one in for our aspiring writers. Did you come across any specific challenges in writing The Lie or publishing it?  What would you do differently the next time?

K.C.:  The getting published part wasn’t hard at all, but I have a fabulous publisher in Solstice Publishing. The real challenge lay in writing this book. Originally, it started out as single viewpoint, Amy. Then younger but definitely louder brother Bryce started screaming in my head that he was not going to let his sis go through this alone. So, sigh, I went back to the beginning and began inserting his viewpoint into the chapters. And he’s good. So’s Amy. Anytime I tried to shortcut on the story line, they were after me to get it together and do it right. The end result was not just the most powerful story I’ve done to date, but also the longest one.

Marie:  Awesome!

Well, it was a such a pleasure having you here on the I Love Romance Blog!  And how apropos is that, considering what a great story The Lie appears to be.

Readers, you will just have to pick up a copy of this awesome book by K.C. Sprayberry, a very talented author! 🙂 The book comes out on March 4th!

Here is the blurb for The Lie:

For high school siblings, Amy and Bryce, the night began with a football game. Bryce was stuck at home with a cold, brought on by an uncaring coach. Amy was in the stands, playing with the band whose funding had been taken away and given to the football team.

Her best friend, Jane, brought the band together to play a prank on the team in protest.

The prank went wrong. Horribly, tragically wrong.

And the lie that started it all would not stop.

K.C. is also offering us a great excerpt from the book!

Amy:

The sun is peeping over the mountains all around us. The members of the Landry High School Band fill in the last of the holes where we placed our planned revenge to go off tonight. None of us has had any sleep since we woke up yesterday, yet we’re charged up and ready for the rest of today and well into tonight.

“Where are your friends?” I ask.

Jane Preston, my bestie, the true mastermind of this prank, smirks at me.

Her light brown hair flies around her face in the early morning breeze. She swipes a few strands away from her pinched mouth and grimaces. Jane is always angry, always ready to take revenge for what she sees as a slight against her. Her slender body hunches forward, what she calls a protection method against all of her enemies. A lot of people don’t like her. I’m her only real friend. That’s because I feel sorry for her. Honesty turned on… a trait I value not only in myself but everyone close to me… I sometimes wish that Jane will stop being so weird and mean, and learn to be part of the group.

And she won’t let me alone whenever I try to get away from her. Jane would make more friends if she tried a little harder. It’s like she enjoys scaring people, so they don’t get close to her. But she’s always complaining about how everyone hates her.

Bryce:

I hear Amy coming home. She doesn’t know that I’ve been awake all night, waiting on her. Not that she sneaks out much—she never does stuff like this, unless it’s a Jane plan. I pretty much figured that from what I caught of the muffled phone conversations going on until eight last night. That’s when I heard the window going up, a box being hidden behind the bush, and Amy sneaking away.

She’s lucky that Mom and Dad didn’t catch her. Thanks to me. If I hadn’t gone into the kitchen, faking that cough, Amy would have been in major trouble.

That fake coughing will have earned me another day off school, once Mom sees me this morning. She’s a total overprotective mom when it comes to our health. Big deal that I had asthma as a kid, even had to carry an inhaler that I lost whenever I could. I’m way past that now. The cough is what’s left of the cold I got doing sprints in a driving cold rain last Friday night, after we once again lost a football game.

At least I won’t have to do that tonight. Someone has to deal with Coach Williams. He’s totally out of control lately.

Interesting!

Pre-order Purchase Link:

Universal Amazon link:  http://bookgoodies.com/a/B01BX85XSG

About K.C. Sprayberry

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Born and raised in Southern California’s Los Angeles basin, K.C. Sprayberry spent years traveling the United States and Europe while in the Air Force before settling in Northwest Georgia. A new empty nester with her husband of more than twenty years, she spends her days figuring out new ways to torment her characters and coming up with innovated tales from the South and beyond.

She’s a multi-genre author who comes up with ideas from the strangest sources. Some of her short stories have appeared in anthologies, others in magazines. Three of her books (Softly Say Goodbye, Who Am I?, and Mama’s Advice) are Amazon bestsellers. Her other books are: Take Chances, Where U @, The Wrong One, Pony Dreams, Evil Eyes, Inits, Canoples Investigations Tackles Space Pirates, The Call Chronicles 1: The Griswold Gang, The Curse of Grungy Gulley, Paradox Lost: Their Path, Canoples Investigations Versus Spacers Rule and Starlight. Additionally, she has shorts available on Amazon: Grace, Secret From the Flames, Family Curse … Times Two, Right Wrong Nothing In Between, and The Ghost Catcher.

K.C.’s Books:
Coming Soon:

 

The Lie

Available:

 

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FamilyCurse

 WhoAmI

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And, if you want to know how to connect with the amazing K.C. Sprayberry, here are some author links:

Website:  http://www.kcsprayberry.com/

Blog:  http://outofcontrolcharacters.blogspot.com/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/KC-Sprayberry/331150236901202

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/kcsowriter

Amazon Author Page:  http://www.amazon.com/KC%20Sprayberry/e/B005DI1YOU/

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5011219.K_C_Sprayberry

Pinterest:  https://www.pinterest.com/kcsprayberry/

Authorgraph:  http://www.authorgraph.com/authors/kcsowriter

Publisher:  http://solsticepublishing.com/kc-sprayberry/

Once again, I want to thank both of our guests, Amy Pearson, a female character from The Lie, and K.C. Sprayberry, the brilliant author of the novel, for stopping by!  It was so much fun to have you here! 🙂

2 Comments

Filed under Authors, Books, Character Interview, Contemporary, Event, Fiction, Interview, Readers, Relationships, Romance, Writing, Writing Tips, Young Adult

A Character Interview with Angela from THE HEALER plus a conversation with author C.J. Anaya!

Today, we’re doing something a little different. If you remember, we interviewed Emily A. Lawrence’s character on December 8th and it was so fun that I thought we may as well make an occasional habit of it. I had the pleasure of meeting C.J. Anaya, the author of The Healer, on my author journey and I asked her if she’d let me borrow one of her  characters, Angela Beaumont, from the book. We’ll get a chance to talk to C.J. in a bit, but now we have on the stage…Angie!

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Marie Lavender:  Hello, Angela.  Please have a seat.

Character Angela Beaumont: Thank you for having me here.

Marie:  Of course!

We’re going to start out with some simple questions, all right?

Angela: Okay.

Marie:  What is your occupation?  Are you any good at it?  Do you like it?

Angela:  Occupation? I’m currently maneuvering my way through the drudgery of what we all call high school. Gag. I’m extremely good at annoying my teachers, dating as many boys as I possibly can, and belittling freshman whenever I get the chance. So, yes. I’m very good at what I do.

Marie:  (Laughs.) All right.

So, tell us. What is your family like?

Angela:  Dad split when I was two. Good riddance. It’s just me and mom, but she’s MIA quite a bit due to her single mom status. I rely on my best friend Hope and her father Dr. James Fairmont to get me through the week.

Marie:  Sorry to hear about your father. 😦

Let’s try something else, shall we?

What did your childhood home look like?

Angela:  It’s a home, I guess. Four walls, a roof, and a huge Jacuzzi tub in the bathroom. Thank the good Lord for that unexpected addition.

Marie:  Okay.

So, do you have any hobbies?  What do you enjoy doing?

Angela:  My hobby is more like a life calling that was thrust upon me at birth, and I fully intend to chew out the higher powers that be who assumed I would appreciate the ability to view a person’s death upon physical contact. Usually has to be skin-to-skin, though. There went my social life. Do you have any idea how annoying it is to be making out in the back seat of some hot football player’s car only to see that in exactly seven days, six hours, and fourteen minutes he’s going to break his neck on the football field after a particularly nasty tackle? Mood killer. Then I’m scrambling to find ways to prevent him from playing which usually involves getting him suspended from the team in some sneaky, underhanded way. He’ll thank me later.

Marie:  Wow! That’s tough.

So, tell us…what is your greatest dream, Angie?

Angela:  I’d just like to be normal, to be honest. It’s a bit demoralizing to run into strangers, see their deaths, and then have no way of finding them to prevent the accidents or even murders that are about to happen. It’s even worse when I do know the person, but misread the situation. I lost an owner of a really tasty restaurant because I thought the kitchen fire she died in was at her eatery. Apparently, it was in her own house. Survivor’s guilt is a way of life for me, and watching people burn to death in visions without being able to actually save them sends me to a dark place that not even Hope can immediately pull me out of. So, yeah. Order me up a side of normal please.

Marie:  Sorry. 😦

Let’s try a different question.

What kind of person do you wish you could be?  What is stopping you?

Angela:  Well, if we’re picking anyone in the world, I’d like to be a celebrity with loads of money, buy myself an island to rival that of any island Johnny Depp owns, and surround myself with animals instead of humans.

Okay, fine. I’d like to be someone like Hope. She’s kind, caring, patient, and sees the good in everyone. I wish I could be as optimistic as she is, but I’ve seen too many things to make me believe that the human race is really worth all of the effort she puts into caring. Which is a bit ironic when you consider how often I try to save every single stinking human I see expiring from preventable deaths.

Marie:  I see.

All right, so I’m going to throw another random question at you now. 

Who was your first love?

Angela:  Never had one. I only date a guy if I’ve seen his death and I’m trying to figure out a way around it. Or if I’m due to let off some steam in the back of their car. Relationships are a no go for me. I can’t imagine loving someone and being witness to the various ways they’re going to die. I’d spend my life in constant contact with that person and never have a moment’s peace. Hope is the only person I can be around who doesn’t have that effect on me. When I touch her, I see nothing but light. It’s odd. I have no idea why I can’t see her death, but I’m not complaining. I consider it the one thing going right for me.

Although, recently Hope and I have run into two guys who are exactly like she is. Tie, blond, tan and gorgeous is all light as well. I can’t pick up anything with him, and it’s obvious he’s smitten with Hope. Victor is the hottest Asian dude I’ve ever laid my eyes on, and he falls under the light category as well. I must admit that every once in a while, I have fantasies that Victor and I will go live on our own secluded island where I’ll never have to see another person’s death ever again. Of course, he’s completely into Hope as well. I’m not jealous because Hope is amazing, but I am sad that the only two people I could possibly have a normal relationship with are so obviously infatuated with Hope. Ah, well. Guess I’m just meant to be lonely…and a total lip whore while I’m at it.

Marie:  That is rough. Sorry.

Let’s try something else.

What’s the most terrible thing that ever happened to you, Angie?

Angela:  The first time I had a vision of another person’s death was when I was seven, right after a really bad fall from Hope’s tree house. I could have sworn I died and saw my grandma on the other side, but when I woke up, I was in a hospital with only a few bumps and bruises. My mom came in to check on me, grabbed my hand, and wham…I saw her getting into a car wreck that very night. I generally see things from the person’s point of view and experience the pain as they do. It was awful. I thought I was losing it and began screaming like a crazy person. Of course, my mom stayed with me after that. Crisis averted in that respect, but after telling her what I was seeing, my mom thought I really was crazy and that’s when the therapists came into play. I learned very quickly that sharing the details of another person’s eventual death gave people cause to lock you up. Not to mention the fact that it makes them fear you and the possibility that you could be right. No one wants the frailties of their human existence broadcast to them through a detailed description of their death. Best to keep that stuff to myself. I’ve never even discussed it with Hope, and since I never have to worry about her death, it works out for us.

Marie:  Wow. 😦

Let’s move on to something a bit lighter now, shall we?

[Angela nods.]

What was your dream growing up? Did you achieve that dream? If so, in what ways was it not what you expected? If you never achieved the dream, why not?

Angela:  My dream is to find someone I can have a normal relationship with. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I can see and prevent unnecessary suffering and death. It took me a while to get on board with that, but if my role in life is to save people then so be it. I just wish I didn’t have to feel so lonely while doing it.

The Healer

Marie:  Well, I don’t think it’s too much to ask really. And I have faith that you’ll find what you’re looking for. 😉

So, can you tell us…who is your role model, Angie?

Angela:  Every fabulously dressed celebrity ever. I love fashion and generally follow all of the celebrities with voracious interest. My appearance is the one thing I can control in my otherwise abnormal existence so I pay attention to the details. If you were looking for something inspiring or empowering…I got nothing. I’ll always want to be like my best buddy Hope, but I think our differences work for us.

Marie:  Okay.

Well, you’ll probably think I’m digging for dirt on the next question. 

Is there someone you pretend to like but really dislike?

Angela:  Nope. If I don’t like you, you’ll be the first to know about it. I’m not one for brown nosing, and I don’t suffer fools well. Life’s too short for that crap.

Marie:  Very true.

Let’s try another question.

So, what is your deepest desire?

Angela:  I would like to see where things go with Victor. So, yeah, I really don’t want to be alone anymore.

Marie:  You have plenty of time. And I bet Mr. Right is just around the corner…

How about something else?

What is your greatest fear, Angie?

Angela:  Someone finding out what I can do and locking me up for the rest of my life, or people believing I’m crazy…and locking me up for the rest of my life.

Marie:  Aww…well, I suppose that’s a reasonable fear. But I think things will work out for you. (Pats her guest’s hand.)

Well, it looks like we’re out of time. Thank you for visiting us today, Angie. It was so interesting getting to know you! 🙂

Angela:  Thank you for having me, Marie!

Marie:  My pleasure!

(Waves goodbye to her guest.)

Marie:  Now, let’s shift over and get the author’s perspective.  We have author C.J. Anaya on the stage today. It’s such a pleasure to meet you! Hello, C.J.!

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Author C.J. Anaya:  Hello, Marie!

Marie:  It’s good to see you again!  The last time I saw you was during your interview on the Writing in the Modern Age blog.

So, we just got to talk to the heroine of your story, Angela. Quite an interesting character.  Can you tell us a little about her?

C.J.:  Angie is an exact carbon copy of my best friend, Jennifer Earl. Snarky, sarcastic, tough, compassionate, and fiercely loyal. You definitely want Angie on your side in a fight.

Well, yeah!  🙂

So, what are your character’s greatest strengths? Weaknesses?

C.J.:  Angie comes across as a bit abrasive at times, but her erratic, sometimes self-destructive behavior is something she does to cope with the visions of death she constantly sees. She craves companionship, but that physical contact comes with serious strings attached. She is trustworthy and loyal, but she doesn’t believe that she is worth much of anything when it comes right down to it.

Marie:  That’s very sad. Having that kind of gift must be extremely hard. 😦

So…let’s try something else.

What are some of her favorite foods?

C.J.:  Angie is all about double cheeseburgers and chocolate shakes.

Marie:  Can’t blame her there!  😉

How about another question?

What’s a positive quality that your character is unaware that he or she has?

C.J.:  Angie doesn’t realize how selfless she is. She puts her life on the line to save other people, but always berates herself if she isn’t able to prevent a death in time. She’ll spend more time focusing on that than on all of the good she has accomplished.

Marie:  Okay.

Will readers like or dislike this character, and why?

C.J.:  Readers will love Angie. She’s that type of friend who is wild and crazy. The life of the party, a bit irreverent at times and honest to the point where a little diplomacy and tact would be useful, but she’s so ready and willing to get in a fight for you. Her sarcasm and snarky attitude covers a multitude of pain and heartache. Her tough exterior covers a softer side of Angie that makes her a very likable, complex character.

Marie:  All right.

So, now that we have a real taste of Angie, we have a few questions for you as well as the author.

What first gave you the idea for The Healer?

C.J.:  I had a really amazing dream involving a spirit trapped in a Japanese statue. Then I developed the main character, Hope and her best friend Angie, from that dream. Even though this series focuses mainly on Hope, we see a lot of Angie in it, and fans of the series have loved her so much that I have decided to write a follow up series telling Angie’s story.

Marie:  Oh, that’s great!

Let’s try a different question.

What is your writing style like, C.J.? Are you a pantster or a plotter?

C.J.:  I’m a little of both, actually. I do a lot of discovery writing, and I certainly outline, but I find that I have to be willing to break away from that outline when the story and characters carry me in a different direction.

Marie:  I hear that!  Characters can certainly have a mind of their own.

Now, I’m throwing this one in for our aspiring writers. Did you come across any specific challenges in writing The Healer or publishing it?  What would you do differently the next time?

C.J.:  I had to learn my own writing process and realize that it was okay and necessary to write a crappy rough draft. The important thing is to get it out there so you can go back and edit everything. Flesh out the scenes, the characters and the plot and structure once you’ve knocked out that first rough draft. Don’t edit yourself in the creation process. Wait to edit later. I think that for me, the next time I write a series, I will get all the books written and then release one every month or so just so people don’t have to wait so long for the next book, and I don’t have to feel the pressure of finishing a series that people are frustrated they have to wait for.

Marie:  Sounds like a plan! Thank you for the great advice. And I have to agree. As writers, we have to allow ourselves to make mistakes during the writing process, and still enjoy the arduous journey involved in it. The editing can come later.

Well, it was a such a pleasure having you here on the I Love Romance Blog!  And how apropos is that, considering what a great story The Healer appears to be.

Readers, you will just have to pick up a copy of this awesome book by C.J. Anaya, a very talented author! 🙂

The Healer

Here is the blurb for The Healer:

A girl, a prophecy and two warring gods equals destiny!

Seventeen-year-old Hope Fairmont longs for a normal teenage life, but with a gift like hers, normal equals healing illnesses and injuries instantly. Keeping a secret like that isn’t easy, but a small town is the perfect place for her to heal those who can’t heal themselves, and an even better place for her father, James Fairmont, to hide his daughter from the rest of the world.

Life takes an unexpected turn when two handsome strangers move into town and begin unearthing other secrets concerning Hope’s future and past, revealing to Hope that her gift for healing may be the fulfillment of an ancient, Japanese prophecy gone wrong.

Staying away from these mysterious newcomers would be the smart thing to do, but Victor’s gentle, easy manner, and Tie’s mixed signals and strange mood swings draw her hopelessly closer to revealing the secret she and her father have been so desperate to hide.

Hope’s life is complicated further with visions of a previous life and the arrival of an unknown enemy sent to assassinate her before she learns what she is truly capable of.

With the support of her father, the fiery loyalty of her best friend Angie, and the child-like love of Kirby, a ten-year-old patient, Hope must fight against the forces of a relentless demon god while unwinding the tangled pieces of her past, proving to herself and those she loves that destiny isn’t determined by some cosmic reading of the stars, but by the individual choices one makes.

Embark upon a journey of heart-stopping adventure in this contemporary young adult paranormal romance filled with mythological creatures, Japanese gods, divine healing powers and a romantic love triangle. A romantic story of love, loss and second chances, this clean teen paranormal romance infuses traditional mythology, fantasy and contemporary themes to create a thrilling story readers are sure to enjoy.

C.J. is also offering us a great excerpt from the book!

Sandy nodded and gave Victor a flirtatious wink. He smiled bashfully. He didn’t seem to realize how attractive he was. It made me like him more. Sandy moved her attention back to me.

“So, what have you got for us this visit?”

“Huh?” was my dumb response.

“Your song for tonight. Are you entertaining us with something bluesy or maybe a nice up tempo rock song?” she pressed.

Realization came crashing down around me. “Oh, no. I’m not doing anything tonight. I’ve been a little busy, and I don’t really have anything ready.” I kept my eyes locked on Sandy’s and silently begged her to read the panic in them.

“That’s not true, Hope,” I heard Angie say.

My head flipped around, and I watched her hold up a folded piece of paper.

“What’s that?” asked Victor.

“The song Hope wrote today. At least I think you wrote it today.”

“Where in the world did you get that?” It was the song I’d written in my car before I’d left to see Kirby. The one helping me release all of Tie’s emotions from my system.

“I found it in your pants pocket at the hospital. The lyrics are pretty good. I can’t wait to hear you sing it.”

Her comment was given innocently enough, but her eyes gleamed wickedly, and full comprehension of her intentions for tonight became crystal clear. She’d set me up. She’d found the song and orchestrated this little date to Expresso to get me to showcase my singing capabilities in front of our dates. I was going to kill her.

“I didn’t know you wrote music, Hope,” Tie commented. “You seem to be endowed with several amazing talents.”

My discomfort was growing, as was his infuriating smile.

“Are you going to sing for us tonight?” asked Victor who seemed genuinely interested.

“Not a chance.” My reply was sharper than I’d intended. “That song isn’t finished yet, and I haven’t run the music by the band. They’d need a couple of practice runs before getting it right.”

“Oh, come on, Hope. You’ve done a lot of impromptu performances without practicing beforehand, and the band is always able to follow you,” Sandy argued.

“No worries. I made copies of Hope’s song at the hospital and already passed them out to the band. They should be good to go,” Angie said giving me a triumphant grin.

Sandy’s eyes lit with happiness. “I’ll go tell Jackson you’ll be singing next,” she said, jumping up quickly and heading toward the lead guitarist.

I wanted to leap up and run out the door. This date had been a mistake. Beads of sweat began forming along my hairline. I could hear Tie chuckling softly. I gave him an icy glare and then turned the full force of it onto Angie. “You are by far the worst best friend I’ve ever had,” I said.

“You’ll thank me later.” She reached across the table and gave me my lyrics. I ripped them from her hand and did my very best to hold back the biting remarks floating in my head.

There was some tapping on the microphone and a bit of feedback as Jackson cleared his throat. “Excuse me, everyone. Our next performance will be by one of our most popular musicians tonight. Please give it up for Hope Fairmont.”

Ooh…love it! I definitely want to know what happens next!

Purchase Links:

Universal Amazon link:  http://bookgoodies.com/a/B00KPI7HX0

Barnes & Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-healer-c-j-anaya/1117444169

CreateSpace:  https://www.createspace.com/4900935

About C.J. Anaya

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C.J. Anaya began writing short stories for family and friends when she was thirteen years old. This soon morphed into an extensive project every year during Christmas as a way to create a fun and inexpensive Christmas gift.

Her passion for reading and writing led her to following her own dreams of becoming a published author. She was born in Utah and raised everywhere else. She even lived a few years in Brazil, enjoying the people, the culture and learning the beautiful language of Portuguese.

As a mother of four children she can be found at any given time changing diapers, playing dress-ups with her daughters, getting her fanny kicked in Mario Kart by her snarky little son, and escaping into a corner of the house with her kindle for a nice, quiet (LOL, in her dreams) read. She is also married to the most deliciously, handsome looking Latino. As always, she has plenty to write about.

C.J.’s Books:

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The Healer

And, if you want to know how to connect with the amazing C.J. Anaya, here are some of her author links:

Website:  http://www.authorcjanaya.com/

Blog:  http://www.authorcjanaya.com/blog

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

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/cjanaya21

Amazon Author Page:  http://www.amazon.com/C.J.-Anaya/e/B00IC5M3RI/

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7803964.C_J_Anaya

Google+:  https://plus.google.com/u/0/116158733482155810639/posts

Pinterest:  https://www.pinterest.com/authorcjanaya/author-c-j-anaya/

Publisher:  http://www.beaucoupllcpublishing.com/cj-anaya/

Once again, I want to thank both of our guests, Angela Beaumont, a female character from The Healer, and C.J. Anaya, the brilliant author of the novel, for stopping by!  It was so much fun to have you here! 🙂

3 Comments

Filed under Authors, Books, Character Interview, Event, Fiction, Interview, Paranormal/Urban Fantasy, Readers, Romance, Writing, Writing Tips, Young Adult

A Character Interview with Keri Sunderland from LOST & SCARED plus a conversation with author K.C. Sprayberry!

Today, we’re doing something a little different. It’s also our 200th post so it’s even more exciting! Yay!

If you remember, we interviewed Celia Kennedy’s character on February 24th and it was so fun that I thought we may as well make an occasional habit of it.  I had the pleasure of meeting K.C. Sprayberry, the author of Lost & Scared, on my author journey and I asked her if she’d let me borrow one of her main characters, Keri Sunderland, from the book.  We’ll get a chance to talk to K.C. in a bit, but now we have on the stage…Keri Sunderland!

Keri

Marie Lavender:  Hello, Keri.  Please have a seat.

Keri Sunderland:  Hello.  Thank you.  It’s a pleasure to be here.

Marie:  We’re going to start out with some simple questions, okay?

Character Keri:  Sure.

Marie:  What is your occupation?  Are you any good at it?  Do you like it?

Keri: I’m a junior at Landry High School in Landry, Georgia, and like my twin, Shane (I call him big bro, cause he’s like ten minutes older than me), I get stellar grades. School is the best place in the world, and if I don’t get good grades El Creepo (AKA my dad) will give me grief.

Marie:  Okay. So, what is your family like?

Keri: Wow. Tough one. My family is complicated, and I mean really complicated. There’s Shane and me, Kenny, Stacy, Jimmy, and baby Krissy, but there are two other kids. Something bad happened a long time ago, but I don’t like talking about it, or even thinking about it. Not even Mom talks about it. She’s cool now but for years she put up with El Creepo smacking her around. Shane and I finally did a “come to Jesus” meeting with Mom, and now the jerk is out of the house. We’re learning to get along without him, which means a lot more laughter and fun.

Marie:  What did your childhood home look like?

Keri: Our house is this sweet Craftsman style with two floors. The bottom one is normal—a couple of bedrooms (one’s a computer place for Big Bro and I), bathroom, living room, a great eat in kitchen where I love, love, love to experiment with recipes, and a playroom for the little ones. The upstairs is two huge bedrooms, one for the girls and one for the boys, and a bathroom the six of us have to share. The boys always leave that bathroom so nasty, and I have to clean it. But that’s part of being in a big family. What I love most about our house is the rest of the lot. It’s absolutely huge! Like we can invite the all the cheerleaders over for a barbecue, and the whole football team, and there’s still room for the marching band and a bunch of our friends. Oh, and the little ones can still play without getting bumped around. And there are huge, old trees back there, some tables and chairs. It’s the most totally cool place to hang out in the summer!

Marie:  That’s great!  🙂

Do you have any hobbies?  What do you enjoy doing?

Keri:  I love cooking. Did I already mention that? Well, I do, and I love experimenting, to find great new dishes. There’s cheerleading, and I’m hoping with all my heart to be the head cheerleader next fall, when my senior year starts. Big Bro and I also do this thing at Christmas every year, to pay back all the people who have helped us in the past. We get local merchants to donate gifts, a local tree farm gives Christmas trees, and then most of the high school and some adults give this stuff to needy families on Christmas Eve.

Marie:  How nice!

So, what is your greatest dream, Keri?

Keri:  So much bad has happened in our house, but I wouldn’t leave that willingly for the world, because good has also happened there. My greatest dream is to have our dad out of our lives. He used to be a good person, but he’s not now and he hasn’t been in a long time. He hurts Mom all the time, physically and emotionally by bringing his girlfriends around while she’s at work. He’s always screaming at us or making the little ones cry. Then he disappears, usually taking all of our money, but then it’s good. We’re happy for a while, until he comes back.

So, yeah, getting El Creepo out of our lives is my greatest dream right now. Oh, please don’t tell Mom that I’m calling him El Creepo. She doesn’t think that’s right, but the name fits.

Marie:  So sorry to hear about your dad. That must be hard.

Let’s try a different question.

What kind of person do you wish you could be?  What is stopping you?

Keri: I want to be a normal teenager, with a normal home, and no worries other than what I’ll wear to school, or if the guy I’m crushing on thinks I’m cute, or if my bestie wants to go shopping with me. But I can’t be that now. I have to help my mom after I get out of school and before she comes home from work. Shane tries to help too, but he has a job, to save for college.

Marie:  I see.

Okay, so I’m going to throw another random question at you now.  Who was your first love?

Keri: Axe Markson. His first name is really Gerald, but only his grandma calls him that. He’s Axe to everyone else. Sigh! He’s so cute, and sweet, and I think he more than likes me but… this is so awkward… his dad is a cop, one of the cops who always show up when El Creepo acts like a total jerk. I mean, how can a girl get a guy to like her when he knows all her horrible secrets, and his dad is always at her house? But I hope one day that Axe will get past all that and actually ask me on a date!

Marie:  Oh, I hope so too!  I love romance…;)

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So, Keri, what’s the most terrible thing that ever happened to you?

Keri: The night Cindy and Sam died. Shane and I know the truth, but we can’t ever tell. We just can’t. El Creepo promised to do the same thing to us if we did, and that would totally destroy Mom. But that secret is getting so hard to hold onto anymore. I think Big Bro and I might tell soon, before we absolutely bust from this horrific secret.

Marie:  How terrible! 😦

Well, let’s move on to something a bit lighter, shall we?

[Keri nods.]

What was your dream growing up? Did you achieve that dream? If so, in what ways was it not what you expected? If you never achieved the dream, why not?

Keri: My dream is to have a house where I don’t have to worry about my dad screaming at everyone, or hitting them for messing up. All I want is a place where I don’t have to worry, where I can think about the rest of my life without being afraid of doing something wrong and having to pay his price. ‘Cause his price is always too high.

Marie:  That makes sense. Everyone wants to feel safe in their own home.

So, who is your role model?

Keri:  My bestie, Carly Jameson. She’s totally cute, adores Shane, and I can’t think of anyone better for him. She is always there when things are bad or good. Carly is the best thing in my life, unless Axe decides to ask me out, and then she’s second best, but only ‘cause she’s probably going to be hanging out with Shane.

Marie:  (Laughs.)

Well…you’ll probably think I’m digging for dirt on the next question. 

Is there someone you pretend to like but really dislike?

Keri: Not really. People know that what they see is what they get with me. Except for the big secret, I’m probably the most open person in the world. If something bugs me, I blurt it out. Well, except for my other girlfriends, who dumped me fast once they figured out my dad was a total jerk. That hurt, but I couldn’t tell anyone how I felt. That would mean opening up about other things, and I don’t think I’m ready to do that yet.

Marie:  So, what is your deepest desire?

Keri: To go on a date with Axe, to have a happy family, and to go to college. The college thing might a bit hard, since I can’t get a job, but Shane told me that he’d give me part of his money from the savings.

For the future, I’m not sure. I plan on getting a business degree and finding a job after college, but I’m kind of scared of getting married. Seeing what my dad did to my mom for so many years makes me afraid of commitment, but then there’s Axe. He’s always made me feel safe, but what if he turns out to be like El Creepo? I couldn’t handle that.

Marie: Yeah, I can understand that. I had a bad experience with my ex, and it was hard to trust again after that. Luckily, I found a very patient man and we are so happy now.

Let’s switch to another question.  What is your greatest fear?

Keri: Losing someone else from my family. I still have nightmares about the night Cindy and Sam died, and my cowardice afterward. Yeah, I was seven when it happened, but still… it’s not like I’ve ever really held back from telling people what’s on my mind about anything else. I don’t get why I’m so scared of telling now, well, I kind of know why. Thinking about what he could do to me if I ever did tell shuts my mouth on the subject forever.

Marie:  So sorry to hear about the situation you’re in, Keri. That’s tough. (Pats her hand.)

Well, I hate to say it, but we’ve run out of time. Thank you for visiting us today, Keri.  (Waves goodbye to her guest.)

Now, let’s shift over and get the author’s perspective.  We have K.C. Sprayberry on the stage today. Hi, K.C.!

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Author K.C. Sprayberry:  Hi.  Thank you for having me here.

Marie:  My pleasure! 

We just got to talk to the heroine of your story, Keri. Quite an interesting character.  Can you tell us a little about her?

K.C.: Keri is a teenager, just completing her junior year of high school. In a lot of ways, she’s an overachiever, always ready to volunteer to help out, giving more than her fair share to her community, and studying hard to get the best grades. All of this hinges on an event when she was seven that has marked her, driven Keri to fight back, but she also is still very much the frightened child, terrified that her boogeyman will hurt her too.

Marie:  I see.

So, what are your character’s greatest strengths?

K.C.:  She’s loyal to those she knows won’t abandon her, a talented cook, and is willing to help out anyone in need. She also won’t quit, refuses to give up on someone she loves. These last two traits will serve her well when she’s faced with a situation she knew could happen, but never believed it would until it did.

Marie:  Okay.  Now let’s take the opposition on that. 

What, do you feel, are her greatest weaknesses?

K.C.:  She can’t bring herself to tell the truth about the night Cindy and Sam, twins two years younger than Keri and Shane, died. A great believer in going to church and her religion, she loses her faith during a very tough time, and almost loses the heart to keep fighting back.

Marie:  So, what are some of her favorite foods?

K.C.:  Keri loves Sonic’s Chicago Dogs and Pineapple Upside Down Master Blast, McDonald’s Quarter Pounder with Cheese, extra pickles, no onions, and hot chocolate with tons of whipped cream.

Marie:  (Laughs.) All healthy choices, of course.

So, what’s a positive quality that your character is unaware that he or she has?

K.C.: Keri has never been called on to stand up to her abusive Dad directly or to go against him when she knows that he will lash out with his fists. She’s avoided that since he started using drugs and drinking. But she’s faced with a situation where she knows that she has to do the impossible, take on things she’s never done before, or possibly lose another sibling. No spoilers, but I can say that when faced with a life or death situation, she discovers an inner core of steel that allows her to do what is right instead of cowering in a corner.

Marie: Will readers like or dislike this character, and why?

K.C.:  Readers will like her plucky attitude, her resilience despite the tragic situation she finds herself in, and how she doesn’t ever really give up. They might dislike how she loses faith in her abilities or leans on Shane’s perceived strength, discounting her own inner strength. She points out that he’s better with the physical stuff without even thinking about what she’s capable of doing.

Marie:  Great!  Well, now that we have a real taste of Keri Sunderland, we have a few questions for you as well as the author.

What first gave you the idea for Lost & Scared?

K.C.:  I had two names, Keri and Shane; they actually came to me at the same time, and they had to be twins. Then I saw a story about a child who had been taken by their non-custodial parent and I began to research the subject. Some of the information I discovered chilled me to the bone. Finally, I discovered this website for survivors of non-custodial parental kidnapping and couldn’t stop reading the stories on it.

That’s when a pivotal scene exploded into my head, of seven-year-old Shane and Keri hearing what’s happening to their younger twins, Cindy and Sam. The story evolved from there during the 2014 NaNoWriMo competition. I “finished” the book, about 51,000 words, during November and spent the next six weeks immersed in this book, as more and more information about them came out.

Marie:  That’s great! It’s interesting how research can spark more ideas.

So, K.C., what is your writing style like? Are you a pantster or a plotter?

K.C.:  More of a panster. Stories come to me. Sometimes as a whole, other times in bits and pieces. I have stacks of paper lying around my office with ideas on them and files in my computer with half-finished stories just waiting on me to get to them.

Marie:  (Laughs.) That sounds a lot like me!

So, I’m throwing this one in for our aspiring writers. Did you come across any specific challenges in writing Lost & Scared or publishing it?  What would you do differently the next time?

K.C.:  The biggest challenge in writing Lost & Scared was in keeping it real. That can be difficult to do while also paying attention to the plot lines and crafting believable characters. Also, some of the scenes were so intense that I couldn’t stop working on them until I had finished, so that they didn’t kick me out of a sound night’s sleep.

What would I do next time? Honestly, I don’t think I’d do anything differently. All of my books are like this. They reach a point where I have to continue working, ignoring the dust bunnies, my husband and son screaming for food, even the dog whimpering at me to play with her. I’ll become immersed in the story, to the point where nothing else matters, and that’s when the layers start to come together, to make the characters three dimensional, the action intense and real, and the outcome believable.

Marie:  I hear you. I am just as determined when I am focused on a project.

Well, it was a such a pleasure having you here on the I Love Romance Blog.  And how apropos is that, considering what a great story Lost & Scared appears to be.  Readers, you will just have to pick up a copy of this awesome new book by K.C. Sprayberry, a very talented author!

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Here is the blurb for Lost & Scared.

When their younger twin siblings were murdered by their cold-blooded father, Shane and Keri’s own twin connection deepened. Their father shamed Shane and Keri into silence, and then went on to bring four more children into a house shuddering under the weight of his unpredictable temper.

Ten years later, what should have been a regular visitation turns into a horrific nightmare. Trapped in the Superstition Mountains with an addicted and dangerous father, Keri’s faith and determination wavers, but she knows she must save her brothers and sisters and return all of them to the home they love.

She now faces one insurmountable obstacle. He can’t afford to let her go.

Purchase Links:

Universal Amazon link:  http://bookgoodies.com/a/B00TXJ48FC

Publisher:  http://solsticepublishing.com/lost-scared/

About K.C. Sprayberry

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Born and raised in Southern California’s Los Angeles basin, K.C. Sprayberry spent years traveling the United States and Europe while in the Air Force before settling in Northwest Georgia. A new empty nester with her husband of more than twenty years, she spends her days figuring out new ways to torment her characters and coming up with innovative tales from the South and beyond.

She’s a multi-genre author who comes up with ideas from the strangest sources. Some of her short stories have appeared in anthologies, others in magazines. Three of her books (Softly Say Goodbye, Who Am I?, and Mama’s Advice) are Amazon best sellers. Her other books are: Take Chances, Where U @, The Wrong One, Pony Dreams, Evil Eyes, Inits, Canoples Investigations Tackles Space Pirates, The Call Chronicles 1: The Griswold Gang, The Curse of Grungy Gulley, Paradox Lost: Their Path, Starlight, and the soon to be released Lost & Scared. Additionally, she has shorts available on Amazon: Grace, Secret From the Flames, Family Curse … Times Two, Right Wrong Nothing In Between, and The Ghost Catcher.

K.C.’s Books:

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And, if you want to know how to connect with the amazing K.C. Sprayberry, here are some of her author links:

Website:  www.kcsprayberry.com

Blog:  http://outofcontrolcharacters.blogspot.com/

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/pages/KC-Sprayberry/331150236901202

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/kcsowriter

Amazon Author Central:  http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B005DI1YOU

Pinterest:  http://pinterest.com/kcsprayberry/boards/

Google+:   https://plus.google.com/u/0/+KcSprayberry/posts

Goodreads:  http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5011219.K_C_Sprayberry

Authorgraph:  http://www.authorgraph.com/authors/kcsowriter

Manic Readers:  http://www.manicreaders.com/KCSprayberry/

Once again, I want to thank both of our guests, Keri Sunderland, the female main character of Lost & Scared, and K.C. Sprayberry, the brilliant author of the novel, for stopping by!  It was so fun to have you here! Readers, don’t forget to check out this awesome new release!  🙂

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