Monday, April 30, 2012

The Fellowship of Authors

I am writing a 6-book series with a woman I've only met briefly a couple of times. She is, however, a very dear friend because we share a passion for writing, and have grown to know each other through the things writers share. Our Time After Time Saga, with the first book out in August, is a fun collaboration.

Tami Dee and I have been on-line friends for years, members of the same fellowship of authors that is evident in my friend list on Facebook, the "likes" on my author page,  on Goodreads, Twitter and viewing, joining and providing guest interest on this blog.

The current wisdom is that authors today do much of their book promotion through these electronic media. That we are all selling to each other is not typically discussed.
It is true that authors are typically readers. This may be even more true of authors of romance than of other genres. I know it is possible for me to read one or two books a day when my schedule allows the time. Perhaps it is a good thing to market to other authors.

On the other hand, I know that my Kindle downloads today exceed what I have actually had time to read by almost 40 books. I love to read, but I also love to write and right now I need to somehow balance the two.

I am not yet making the kind of money as an author that would allow me to buy all the titles that catch my eye as I puruse the titles at my publisher's website http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/StoreFront.bok

I am, however, buying and reading all I can because I enjoy this fellowship and I know that there is support, advice and friendship growing between us as we go about our work as authors. I enjoy all genres and sub-genres of work, so reading the science fiction, speculative fiction, young adult, suspense and Christian books of romance is very satisfying. Getting to know the authors of these works is even more satisfying.

And best of all, I have discovered some very fine authors right in my own publishing house whose work makes me proud for them and for all of us.

Thanks, new friends!


Saturday, April 28, 2012

If she didn't write, what would Maria do?

If you weren't writing, what would you be doing?

I would play the bass. I used to play in three rock bands, and it was a lot of fun. I miss it sometimes, but I don’t have the time for it right now.
If money were not an object, where would you most like to live?
Right here, in Florida, but in a bigger house with a back door, closer to the beach. I wouldn’t mind if it had a pool too. J I really want a back door – we’re renting a little house now and it has a perfectly fine back yard, but there’s no way to get to it without going out close to the road.
If you were a tool, what would people use you to do?
I would be a Swiss Army knife able to do all sorts of things.
Ocean or mountains? Ocean
City life or country life?
Country, but for some reason I live in the city.
Dogs or cats?
Both.
Do readers ever contact you?
Yes, I’m pretty easily accessible and enjoy e-mailing with people. I sometimes get messages on Goodreads and on Facebook, and I try to answer everyone. If I miss someone it’s not on purpose. Comments, questions, likes, dislikes, I love to hear it.
Do you have a favorite comment or question from a reader?
A couple of people have told me they never liked science fiction until they read my books. Comments like that make me really happy; it means I have succeeded. I want to entertain people, and tickle their imagination.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mariahammarblad
Blog: http://www.scifiromance.info
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/mariahammarblad

Friday, April 27, 2012

Immaginary friends, pets and family from Maria Hammarblad

Lynette: Which book was the easiest for you to write? The hardest? The most fun?
Maria: I think the third book in The Goddess’s Saga – “Return of the Goddess” – was the easiest. It almost wrote itself, and it was ready long before the second one, “Wrath of the Goddess.” Wrath really fought me. I don’t know why; I knew what would happen in it, but I still needed almost three years to finish it.
The most fun? “Brand New World.” It’s a science fiction spoof and I chuckled all the way through it. The main character wakes up in the future, accompanied by a hologram of a rock star and a humanoid cat. It sort of gets worse from there…
Lynette: How about the people and/or animals you share space with. Do they know not to bother you when you are writing, or are there constant interruptions?
Maria: Haha, no, there are constant interruptions. I always have dogs climbing on me. My youngest doggie tries to stand on the keyboard, and he very helpfully types things like, “lk;i0i0ko;k;l.” If Mike is home, he always has the TV on and is usually talking. He’s a good sport though – he never gets mad if I don’t answer, or if I answer something that’s evidently wrong. Still, I’d much rather have company and be interrupted than be more efficient and all alone. J
Lynette: What do family members think of your writing? Do you ever ask him/her/them for advice? Editing?
Maria: I have tried to make Mike read my books. ”Kidnapped” is even dedicated to him, but he refuses. I think he’s worried he won’t like them. He’s an optimist though; he says, “Naah, I’ll watch the movie when someone makes one.” His mom reads all my books though, and she has valuable input.
Lynette:
Are you a member of any author group and how does that help your writing?
Maria: Yes, I am a member of Florida Writer’s Association, but I don’t have time to go to the meetings, so it doesn’t help all that much. I have promised myself that once life settles down a little I’ll start going. Input from other writers is invaluable.
Lynette: Are you in control of your characters or do they control you?
Maria: My characters take on lives of their own. I sometimes say I have to go play with my imaginary friends so I can write their stories… They pop up out of nowhere and insist on getting attention. Okay, that doesn’t sound entirely sane, hahaha!
Lynette: Any words of encouragement for unpublished writers.
Maria: There are times when everything is easy and happy joy joy. When it’s not easy, just keep writing, and don’t be discouraged if it feels up-hill and you get rejection letters from agents and publishers. Try again. Sometimes you need to re-write and try again, but don’t give up. Same thing if you get a bad review; if people hates what you’ve written, you’ve somehow reached them and created an emotion. Remember, a reader might hate your story line for other reasons than it being bad.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mariahammarblad
Blog: http://www.scifiromance.info
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/mariahammarblad

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Maria Hammarblad on how she wrote a book on an iPod

Lynette: Kidnapped is a very creative book, with lots of scenes we've never seen or thought of before. Where do your ideas come from?
Maria: My ideas come from all sorts of places. Many come to me when I dream, and I wake up and need to start writing. Some come when I’m doing things in everyday life – I’m writing on a story right now about an undercover cop in a motorcycle gang, and that one struck me when I was driving to the store one day. The most mundane things can make me start thinking, “What if…” and off it goes.
Lynette: How long did it take you to write this book? Edit it?
Maria: That’s a funny story. A few years ago, my husband bought me an iPod for my birthday. I started transferring all my music to it and stumbled over an old song, “Misguided Angel” by Cowboy Junkies. It triggered a memory of a story I scribbled on as a teenager. (I listened to that song the first time I wrote it, back in the 80’s.) I sat there in bed in the middle of the night, trying not to wake my husband, and thought, “Hey, that was a pretty cool story idea. I should write this down.” So, I started writing on the iPod, and wrote most of the night – I thought it was so cool with the touch screen and the tiny little keyboard. I wrote almost the entire book on the iPod, e-mailed it to the computer, and put all the pieces together. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve re-written it since.
Lynette: Wow, and I have trouble typing fast enough to be productive on the iPad. You must have limber hands! How many books have your written? And how many of those have been published?

Maria: I have written eight novels and a short story collection. I have self-published a few of them, but “Kidnapped” is the first to find a home with a publishing house. My second book with Desert Breeze Publishing will be released September 11, it’s called “Undercover” and is a spy/thriller romance.
I can't wait to read that one, too. I promised my readers I would give a short review of Kidnapped for them.

Kidnapped is a well-written Science Fiction story of a woman kidnapped from earth and taken on a whirlwind tour of the universe with a captor whose heart is thawed by her innocence. This does not please his commander, who persues, captures and loses both characters.  In the process there is fun, adventure, sizzle and an introduction to different worlds and their impact, one day, on our own. Be sure to pick up Kidnapped by Maria Hammarblad available May 11 at http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/-strse-292/Kidnapped-Maria-Hammarblad/Detail.bok - Lynette Endicott

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mariahammarblad
Blog: http://www.scifiromance.info
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/mariahammarblad

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Excerpt from More Than a Job - about cats

He reached out his hands and pulled her to her feet. "Now let's go get those flowers in the ground."
"Okay. Let me get the trowel. Do you mind a little company while we work?" She didn't give him time to answer, but propped open the door to her room, then the screened in back porch, and picked up a hand trowel and some gloves. She called, made little kissing noises, and then said, "Here, kit, kit. Come on, babies."
A small cat edged out her bedroom, his black nose first, then a white paw. She scooped up Pepper from the hall and deposited him by the back door.
Sprite was not as cautious as her brother. She raced by Josh and dashed up a tree before Pepper had cleared the threshold.
Josh laughed, dropped to one knee, and held out his arms. Pepper approached him, stretched lazily, and then jumped into those outstretched arms and nudged Josh's chin. Josh's whole face shone with joy. Did guys like cats? What a revelation.
He nuzzled their faces and pulled Pepper's ears. "What are they, maybe eight weeks old?"
"We don't know for sure. They were deposited here by their mom after Grandma left and before I moved in. There were four in the litter. I told the neighbor who owns the mom that I'd keep these two."
Paige knelt and cut a few clumps of plants from the flat and set them along the edge of the bed where she'd decided they would go. "Here in the shade look okay?"
Josh released Dr. Pepper to follow his sister up the tree and knelt to help. "It looks great. So are the cats indoor or outdoor cats? Or both?"
"Both. I only let them all the way out with me, but they spend nice days on the screened in porch."
            "Where were they yesterday?"
            "I left them with my neighbor, Linda, so our work day wouldn't scare them to death." She leaned back on her heels. "Joshua, it is so weird. I've never owned cats before. They're another one of those gifts I was telling you about. I didn't know I would get attached so quickly."
"You're in for a treat. Won't be long before they're stalking each other and pouncing and chasing butterflies."
"They already chase each other. They're so much fun to watch." The two of them developed a rhythm to their work as they talked. Paige dug a hole, Josh put the plant in place, and together they patted dirt around it and moved on. By the time they finished, darkness had fallen. Josh helped her to her feet and put the flats into the recycling bin. The temperature had dropped with the sun and an autumn chill filled the air.
"Let's call the kitties in and get out of the cold."
"They come when you call?" He sounded skeptical.
"Oh, yeah." She unlatched the back door and held it open with one toe. "They love their food more than their freedom. Watch." She called, "Here, kit, kit, kit" and gave a plastic food container a few sharp shakes.
"I'm sure it's the sound of the food and not my voice," she admitted, "but hopefully they'll come when I call before long." Both kittens raced to their food dish, and she latched the door and poured food into their bowls.
She looked up to find Josh watching her intently. She grinned and caught his hand. "Come on in. We can leave them out here. I've been wanting to get you alone all day."


Can't write without Animals sneaking in...

I am one of those unusal people who really didn't grow up with a pet of my own. There were some attempts - some kittens that had distemper and disappeared, a big german shepherd who loved us but stayed in the yard and Dad gave him back to the breader when it became obvious that we didn't know how to train him and incorporate him into the family. My mom took care of my piano teacher's chijuajua for a few months before she gave it back. My sister's siamese cat died after being stepped on and almost throwing one of us down the basement stairs, and the dogs and horses the family had when they moved to the country were never mine.

So I had a very cautious relationship with animals during the first 50 years of my life.

Then one day, when a mama-cat had kittens in our woodpile, my teenaged daughter  wanted to keep two of them. I said, no, her dad didn't really want pets. She asked the fateful questions, "Why do we let him decide." Three cats (one that went with the same daughter when she married) a dog and a bird later, all rescues, I am without question a committed pet owner.

Now the animals are finding their way into my books. The found kittens are a part of Paige's recovery in More Than A Job. My little Calico is a key character in Animal Instinct. The bird has just found itself in the draft of the sequel, Survival Insttinct. My dog has a cameo in my third release this year, Return of Joy.

Oliver, my dog, is amazing. I really had no idea a person could love an animal so much, and always thought it was a bit odd. Then I walked into a local pet store to get cat food and walked out with an animal who has changed my life. He is also a certified therapy dog, one who visits people in hospitals and rehab and is a Tail Waggin' Tutor at a local library.

I have been careful to not include people I know in my books, for the most part. Now and then there may be a flash of some characteristic, but I attempt to steer clear. Animals, on the other hand, can't complain if you portray them differently than how they perceive themselves. And they have so many interesting behaviors that I can't resist...

So, authors, what is your animal story and do your pets find their way into your books?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Review (sorta): More Than a Job

by Patty Froese Ntihemuka

I’ve been taking more time to read, which is blissful. I don’t have to tell you how much less work it is to read a book than to write it. So after finishing up my manuscript, I decided to read for a while. It’s a luxury.
I picked up More Than a Job because I’ve worked with disabled people, as well. It’s a very rewarding occupation, and you definitely know that you’re making a difference in someone’s life. I volunteered with a disabled woman for years and we became good friends. I moved away when I got married, and then she passed away. She’s still in my heart, though, and my photo albums. So this book was one I wanted to read.
This is the book blurb:
Paige Hamilton is a survivor, forced into seeking a new life when her job and ten-year career end at the hands of a new company owner. When the handsome stranger is the first to help her through that transition, she falls fast and hard for Joshua Robinson.
Then she discovers that he is the cruel owner, and that the company she’d loved — the company that cared so much about the adults with disabilities she’d worked with — is in a downward spiral that puts the life of one of her friends at risk.
Lynette Endicott is a good writer. She draws you right into the setting, part of which is a personal fantasy of mine–a gorgeous old house filled with family antiques. The plot is a good one, revolving around the heroine’s job loss, her attempt to put her life back together and a story rooted in her family’s past about an uncle no one will speak of, a shadow of a boy in the background of old family pictures.
Now, to the romance. This is the part I wanted to talk about. This is a Christian romance, but Ms. Endicott ups the heat in this one! Now, the books I write are a sweet rating which means that there is no hanky-panky and I focus on the romance and tenderness and don’t mention the physical desire. This book, while there is no love making until after marriage (or that is at least implied in the book), the author does look at relationships a lot more realistically when it comes to physical yearning for each other. Paige and Joshua are drawn to each other and it’s a very physical attraction. They can’t keep their hands off each other, but that passion is part of their growing love, and you can’t help but feel that without a passion like that, why get married? There are some sensual scenes that had me catching my breath and thinking, “Oh my my… where is that husband of mine?”
I thoroughly enjoyed this book! I have to warn you NOT to give it to young ladies you are trying to shelter, but it’s great for those of us mature enough to appreciate a sensual love story rooted in faith.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Photobucket

In Memory of Jane Bierce and a note about Community

I did not have the privelege of meeting Jane Bierce in person. The authors of Desert Breeze Publishing are spread not just across the North American continent (yes, that includes Canada) but also around the world.

However, we lost one of our own today and it is only right that we pay tribute to her work, honor her as a person, and express our sadness to those who loved her.

When our editor let us know about this, her words were, "She went home to be with her heavenly Father."

I was touched by the fact that the family kept in touch with the publishing house during her illness, and that the editor and fellow authors prayer for her, and cared for her and her family, even though most have never spoken with her face to face. That is community, is it not? We are a community at DBP.

From Jane's family: Stephen R. Bierce here. Jessica Treece and I were with her when she took her last look at this life and went on to the next. The love of the Bierce family is with all of Jane Bierce's many internet friends and fans around the world. Thank you for all the comfort and support she enjoyed these many years. She appreciated every smile and chuckle and prayer.


Romance author Jane Bierce has been published in print, audio, and electronic format. Coming from a family of story-tellers, Ms. Bierce was an original member of Electronically Published Internet Connection (EPIC), and served as President of the organization. She lived in Tennessee in an old haunted farmhouse, where she enjoyed flower and herb gardening, quilting with friends and occasionally traveling in the Smokey Mountains, the Appalachians and to her hometown of Titusville, PA. Ms. Bierce held a BS in Education (English) from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania and often taught and lectured about creative writing.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Is travel necessary for authors?

I've just returned home from a few days in British Columbia, and I have to say yes, I think travel is necessary. I see new things. I hear new viewpoints. I try new foods. I look up and pay attention to beauty. And then the ideas start flying and I have to take notes on the things I want to write.

Here is a photo taken from my hotel room last night near the airport in Richmond. The bay in the foreground, mountains in the distance, close to . Suddenly scenes about living on a boat, being held on a boat or going somewhere romantic on a boat pop into my mind.
What do you think, authors? How does travel inform what you write? Do you set scenes, watch people, or relax and let the ideas bubble up from the experiences?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Cuffe Sisters on Writing and a little about them

Where do you write? Describe your writing space. Anything that helps in the background? (Tea, music, pets etc.)

Sophie:  We have a small office in our daylight basement with our desks situated so our chairs are back-to-back.  Sadie's always got a cat sleeping on her desk (when it's not busying taking over her keyboard and adding lines in cat-speak).  Our mostly-Australian shepherd, Henry, makes the rounds from sleeping on my feet, to sleeping on her feet, to sleeping in front of the bookcase... you get the idea.  Sometimes we have music going, but now that we're *ahem* older, we find relative silence is a nice thing.
Do you have a schedule (daily or book-long) for writing, or do you just go with the flow?

Sadie: I prefer to write in the mornings (when I’m at my least brain dead), but real-life schedules demand I go with the flow. I never used to be a night owl, but now I do quite a bit of work in the midnight hour (when I’m sometimes severely challenged with no viable brain activity to draw upon).
A biography has been written about you. What do you think the title would be in six words or less?

Sadie: The Other Sophie

Sophie:  That would make me "the other Sadie" - we get that a lot. People can't tell us apart, even though I'm six years older (that's good, right?).  But I think I'd like mine to read, "She made people happy."
If money were not an object, where would you most like to live?

Sadie: Right here on Inherit the Wind Farm, but with the money-is-no-object part, I’d build a new barn, buy a walk-behind tractor and attachments, and take a trip to New Zealand, coming home via Scotland and Ireland.

Sophie: I've lived in Germany and California and, like Dorothy, there's no place like home for me.  I visit my son in Tennessee, and my daughter in Vermont, and I'm homesick after three days.  Which keeps me from wearing out my welcome anywhere!  We're so blessed to live here in Unorganized Territory! But I wouldn't mind accompanying Sadie on that trip to New Zealand!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Blood Brothers in Christ

EXCERPT, Warrior's Journey
Sean's eyes flicked to the watch on his wrist, then rose and met hers. "Going to the top of the falls is the best way to the summit. We can bushwhack to the peak and hit the marked trail. I've got it covered, Mom. I got us here, didn't I?"

Wherever here is. The words looped through her brain while they rested. Sean's eager chatter and contentment battled her common sense. She had this moment reconnecting with her son, but what good was it if they never made it back home?

As they picked their way up the ledges, the water's roar fueled her anxiety. The misty droplets spiraling off the falls no longer held a rainbow's promise. In the afternoon shadows, their chill seeped into her. Sean rocketed ahead, swinging from boulder to root like a monkey. Molly grasped a root mostly fastened to a rock and leaned back, arching her neck, stretching the knotted muscles. She closed her eyes. The sun glinted off the head of the falls and pooled golden behind her lids. A few more feet to the top and they'd see the peak and find the trail. Maybe.

A sound bounced over her, garbled by the falling stream. She opened her eyes and blinked into the glare of light. The shine eclipsed as the dark shadow of a man stood above her. The silhouette moved and the sun blinded her once more. She squinted and pulled her eyes down to the rocks directly ahead of her. Sean scrabbled up the remaining ledge to the top. The dazzling beams haloed both outlines. The figures wavered in the brightness and were gone.

"Wait!" she screamed, her fingers and knees tearing at the rocks.


EXCERPT, Arrow that Flies

Rand sprinted after him and spotted a flicker of movement far ahead before it disappeared in the forest gloom. "It's a whitetail, Brad," he called. "Probably the beggar deer."

He turned and trudged back to Jackie. Tree spiking -- an old trick but still effective against Brad's small chainsaw-driven outfit. The bark would eventually slough off at the wound, grow back and cover the gash. Encapsulated within the rings of growth, the tree would carry the spike as a souvenir of war for a lifetime. Jackie bent over to retrieve her dropped paint can. A whine vibrated in his ears and he caught the wink of yellow in his peripheral vision. The fiberglass missile thwacked into the tree inches from Jackie's head, spraying bark shrapnel over her cheek.

Jackie snapped her head up just as RJ crashed toward her. "Stay down!" he shouted. He grabbed her arm and forced her into a crouch, molding his body against hers.

She angled her head and pushed her jaw against his protective shoulder. "It's an arrow," she said.

"Be still," he muttered and looked up at the quivering shaft of a hunter's arrow embedded in the tree bole just above her. "Are you alright?" he asked. He gently touched her cheek.

Jackie flinched and he released her and stood. He put the tree between them as she wiped her knuckles across the wound, smearing blood across her cheek. "I'm fine," she croaked, and turned away, but not before he spotted tears welling up in her eyes. He held his arms stiff at his sides and fought the urge to comfort her.

Brad strode up, tweaked Jackie's chin up, stared her in the face, and let her go. The action lasted only an instant.

"Did you see who it was?" RJ asked, angry at Brad for putting his thoughts into action.

"Naw," Brad returned. "Probably some weasel out-of-stater thinking he knows how to bow hunt and using us for target practice before the season starts. They give any fool a license and turn them loose up here." He tweaked on the arrow. "High powered, nice and sharp."

"You shouldn't touch that," Jackie cautioned. "The sheriff ought to have a look at it."

"Oh, no. You're not getting the law involved in this," Brad exploded. He turned on RJ. "This is your doing, isn't it?"

"I don't know what you're talking about," RJ spluttered.

"Sure you don't! I wouldn't be surprised if you set up this little stunt just so you could tie up my operation in a bunch of red tape," Brad accused. "We're not saying anything about this incident."

"It doesn't matter," Jackie interrupted. "We've got spikers. We don't know how many trees they hit."

"Don't matter. I can get my hands on equipment that'll handle it," Brad said.

"No," Jackie said. "I ought to talk to the office before we get in over our heads."

"One thing's for sure, I'll find out who did this, mark my words." The lumberman flung his gear together and glared at Rand. "Far as I know only three people knew we were coming here today. You, me, and Jackie. That makes one of us a traitor or a spiker, both the same in my book." In typical Brad Stanley style, he strode through the pines, muttering, "No sense marking any more trees. It'd just give them a bull's eye to ram the spike into."

RJ tuned out the rant and watched his friend stomp away and disappear where the trail curved around the pond.

Jackie tapped him on the shoulder. "What do you know about this?" she asked. He turned and faced her. The blood still oozed from her cheek and her dark brows crinkled over accusing brown eyes.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Sadie and Sophie Cuff talk about their new release and other books

Lynn: Tell us a little about WARRIOR'S JOURNEY, released April 1st, 2012. What is the genre? What is it about?

S&S: WARRIOR'S JOURNEY is the second in the Blood Brothers in Christ series. It’s inspirational romantic suspense and features bad-boy identical twin, Rand Adams, a recent Christian who's trying to walk the walk, but frienimies from his past have other plans for him. Plagued by guilt for his part in his best friend’s death, Rand’s determined to help the widow and her son, but she fights him at every turn, and so does a stalker known as Warrior. Rand is running out of time as he tries to find a deadly foe and protect the woman he secretly loves.

Lynn: Is this completely out of imagination, or are there elements of your real life experience in the plot/characters?

S&S: Most of what we write is pure imagination, but a part of the settings and everyday circumstances of rural life come from our experience of living in Unorganized Territory.

Lynn: So you have written thirteen books and part of another. How many of those are currently published?

S&S: 3 adult, 1 young adult

Lynn: If I was a first-time reader of your books, which one would you recommend I start with and why?

Sophie: ARROW THAT FLIES is our first-pubbed book (yay! thank you, Desert Breeze! http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/-strse-191/S-%26-S-Cuffe/Detail.bok), and WARRIOR'S JOURNEY is the 2nd in the series, so that would be the natural flow.  Our hope, though, is that they both do well as stand-alone books.  We'll have to rely on readers to let us know if that's true or not.  But if suspense doesn't work for you, we have FAITH IN THE SHADOWS, the first in the Wainwright Trilogy, set in Civil War time.  So far, it's our mother's favorite. http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/-strse-225/The-Wainright-Trilogy-Book/Detail.bok Book 2 in that series, THE SEEKERS, releases in July.

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Cuffe Sisters about their Readers

What do you hope readers take away with them after reading your work?
S&S: We hope they take away a sense of joy and adventure that comes from the adventure of appreciating the gift of each day; a sense of escape into a different world, and, most of all, the reality of the difference faith in Christ makes in an individual’s relationships, decisions, and confidence.
 
Do you have a favorite comment or question from a reader?
Sadie: It's not really a comment, more of an experience. When our first book came out (YA), the original had a series of pages printed in there twice, so the first printing was donated to the Salvation Army. At a book signing two boys came in with their books. They knew all the characters and treated the story as if it was a real life adventure they had lived. I’ll always remember how they just yapped to me as if we were old friends. I don’t remember their exact words, but their genuine excitement and their total connection were such a gift and something we strive for in reaching our readers. Those boys got their books from the Salvation Army. We want to make a difference like that every time we write.
Do your fans comments or questions influence you in any way?
Sophie: We love hearing from readers, especially their take on our books.  We're so close to the stories, we sometimes forget that not everyone is as intimately connected to them, or to country life, as we are.  For example, one reader said she thought Stellars Ford was a car dealership (it's the name of a town). Another one made reference to fog horns not existing on farms, but if you live near the ocean near a lighthouse, the fog horn is a very real part of everyday life. We write what we know and try to convey small-town life the way it really is, not the stereotypical scenes portrayed on TV or in the movies.

Check it out - Blood Brothers in Christ Book Two is out!

Molly Stuart knows there's danger lurking nearby, waiting to take her son away from her. But her twelve-year-old refuses to talk about the stranger stalking them, and the only one who can help her is a man she doesn't trust. Rand Adams may not have been directly responsible for her husband's death, but he acts guilty. He cut out in the middle of the funeral and she hasn't seen him in the three years since. Now he's back pretending to care about her and her son, but he's hiding something. Rand and her son share a deadly secret that will shatter Molly's world and change their lives forever.
http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/-strse-281/Blood-Brothers-in-Christ/Detail.bok

Check out this incredible reader review for WARRIOR'S JOURNEY (we're humbled):
I haven't read the first book in the Blood Brothers in Christ series yet, but after reading Warrior's Journey, you'd better believe I'm going to. Those Cuffe sisters have not only come up with a great story, they've populated it with people I quickly learned to care about. Having a pre-teen as one of the important characters helped to give the cast an especially well balanced feel.
Despite being a genuine suspense novel, this book is definitely about relationships. Friends. Brothers. Father and son. Man and boy. Husband and wife. Man and woman.
While it's not unusual for the romantic part of a suspense story to have conflict of its own, Warrior's Journey kept me wondering whether things would ever work out--and how. The resolution was quite satisfying.
And although I'd had some suspicions about someone who turned out to be a "bad guy," the Cuffes kept me guessing until the very end, and even then the revelation caught me off guard.
I don't normally pay much attention to details about the setting, but the Cuffes are so good at describing the areas where the story takes place that I couldn't help but admire their attention to relevant detail--and to better feel that I could see, hear, and smell it. If they aren't describing areas they're already familiar with, they have done a fantastic job of researching those places.
Warrior's Journey should be an equally good read for men and women. It has suspense and adventure--lots of it. But the tender moments are many, and they're tastefully done. I was pleasantly surprised that this book doesn't scream out, "Women wrote me."
Don't take my word for how engrossing Warrior's Journey is. Find out for yourself.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Released today: A Special Blessing for Sara

Sara Wilson lives alone with her cat in a small town in central Pennsylvania. She counsels women from a Christian perspective, but her own life is in turmoil. Sara is still suffering from a broken relationship as she begins dating a fellow counselor and teacher by the name of Ken.

Then a new youth pastor, who she assists at her church, makes it obvious he is interested in her. A third man shows up from her past. Her sisters tease her about her suitors, but only one will win her heart.

Sara becomes close to one of her clients, a young woman named Fran, who has had addiction problems. Sara helps her to lean on God and return to her family.

A medical emergency and a disclosed secret turn Sara's life upside down. Who will be the one she will share her life with?

EXCERPT
After the children were tucked in for the night, the men gathered in the living room to watch an NFL playoff game. They joked and made predictions about which teams would go to the Super Bowl.

The women cleaned up the kitchen after dinner and then went into the dining room. They sat around sipping coffee, visiting, and nibbling on homemade cookies.

"Sara, you've lost a lot of weight. Was it intentional?" Tina, who had just turned twenty-six, spoke with concern in her voice.

"No, not really, although I don't mind being thinner. I've just lost my appetite."

"Since you and Jeremy broke up?" Leslie, the middle sister, asked.

"I guess. It hasn't been easy." Sara felt her throat tighten, and she made every effort to look nonchalant.

"He's such a jerk. You're the best thing that ever happened to him," Tina remarked, tossing her long black braid behind her shoulder.

"Well now, girls, Sara might not want to talk about this now. Maybe it was for the best," Joan suggested. "I'm sure there will be another man for her. God will send the right one."

"I thought he was the right one, Mom," Sara admitted, finally allowing her tears to escape.

"Oh, honey, I'm sorry we upset you." Her mother came over and sat in the empty chair next to her and patted her arm. "You don't have to talk about it."

"Mom, let her talk. She needs to get it out," Leslie said.

Bob's wife, Lori, nodded in agreement. "We're here for you, if you want to talk."

"I know you are, and I appreciate all of you. I don't know what happened. I mean we were getting along so well, talking about a wedding date, until he started getting picky about everything. I couldn't do anything right. He claimed I was too wrapped up in my work. Maybe I was, but I tried not to discuss my job. Then he said I was getting heavy--"

"You? Heavy? Give me a break." Tina let out a moan.

"Let her talk, Tina," Leslie chided.

"Sorry. Go on, Sara. I'll be quiet."

Sara smiled at her sister. "That's okay, I needed to hear it wasn't true. I was beginning to feel pretty low about myself. He also corrected my grammar sometimes, as if--"

"Now I know you're kidding. You have perfect grammar," Ginny, her other sister-in-law, exclaimed.

"Well, it's not perfect, but neither was he. At least I didn't scold him every time his breath smelled like garlic."

The five women laughed. "Way to go, girl," Ginny encouraged.

"Anyway, we started arguing about everything. I mean everything. My clothes, his haircuts, our meals, and especially about... " Sara hesitated and looked around her.

"Sex?" Tina filled in.

"Yeah, or lack thereof," Sara admitted, embarrassed this conversation was taking place in front of her mother.

"Sara. You didn't... " Her mother looked close to tears.

"No, Mom. That was the problem. He kept pushing me, and I kept resisting."

"He's a Christian man. He knows better," her mother proclaimed.

"Hate to tell you this, Mom," Tina interjected, "but even some Christian guys want sex."

Saturday, April 14, 2012

June Bryan Belfie on Writing and Encouragement to Budding Authors

Where do you write? Describe your writing space.
Right now I’m in my living room, but most of the time I work on my dining room table. Using a laptop makes it easy to change my setting. Since my husband works on his computer in the dining room also, if I need to really concentrate without interruption, I move to another area. In the summer I like to work on my covered patio. I do start with orange juice and around ten my hubby and I break for coffee and/or tea.
Do you have a schedule (daily or book-long) for writing or do you just go with the flow?
I write something nearly everyday, though I've been formatting and editing for the past month. My favorite writing is the first draft of a book.
What is your writing routine once you start a book?
Since I have a lousy memory, once I commit to writing a book, I write consistently and several hours a day until it's complete. I become totally absorbed and housework is put on hold. I do manage to feed my family, but nothing very elaborate, I'm afraid. One book, 72,000 + words, I wrote in three weeks.
How about the people and/or animals you share space with. Do they know not to bother you when you are writing, or are there constant interruptions?
My single daughter was injured in July last year and has been living here with my husband and me since. Her future is unknown, but she still maintains an apartment an hour away. We take life a day at a time.
What do family members think of your writing? Do you ever ask for advice? Editing?
My husband is my main reader and critic. He's good and keeps me from making my males wimpy! He actually likes to re-read my books on the Kindle. One daughter, Jill, reads every word I write and is an excellent critic. (In return I critique her art - she's a professional watercolorist) My granddaughters read my books and encourage me. We have five adult children, but they are so busy raising kids and working that my sons have only read sections of my books. My eldest, who travels in his work, likes the book series that hasn't seen the light of day yet.
What kind of research do you do?
Most is on the internet. If I have someone living in Paris, I go into the neighborhoods, (plus I've been there) and check out apartment rentals, parks in the area - anything that will help fill in the dots in my mind about the setting.
In one book, I needed information on orphanages in India. I spent nearly a whole day researching that. It brought tears to my eyes, to read how many children were living without their families.
Any words of encouragement for unpublished writers.
Just keep plugging away. My first published book was about the fifth book I'd written. You do get better as you read and write. I have several books I read for educating me in the process of writing.

My readers can find me at http://www.junesecondcup.blogspot.com
http://www.freshview.weebly.com or on Facebook. I love to add writer and reader friends!

June Bryan Belfie on Writing and which book to read first...

How long did it take you to write this book? Edit it?

My first draft of a novel usually takes about two months. Then I begin the edits, which can take another two to three months. I'm never totally satisfied, but when I hit a deadline for submission, I say a prayer and hit "send."

How many books have your written? How many have been published?

I think I've completed twelve or thirteen novels. Some are on my hard drive to work on when I have a chance. The first novel, my favorite, became three books. They are set in the US, Italy, France, and England. I love my protagonist and my readers agree the plot is good, but I haven't submitted them since they need revision and I've been too busy preparing the three books that have been published, plus one scheduled for September. Besides, I do have a life beyond writing!

If I was a first-time reader of your books, which one would you recommend I start with and why?

It depends. If the reader just wants a fun, quick read? Start with "The Landlord."

"Moving On" is a more serious book, dealing with divorce. The new book, "A Special Blessing for Sara" is also a quick read, humorous in part, and yet has serious moments. I guess it depends upon the reader's interest.

Which book was the easiest for you to write? The hardest? The most fun?

They have all been easy to write. The book coming out in September took the most time, because it is set in a historical setting, which required considerable research. "A Long Way to Go" is about a young widow with three children who emigrates to Oregon with the first major wagon train in 1843. Her inner struggle is greater than facing the dangers of the trek across the country.

What are the elements of a great romance for you?

First, I have to identify in some way with the protagonist. She must be someone I could respect and like as a friend. Of course, my hero should be strong and honorable. Since I'm a Christian, I prefer my hero to be one also. Sometimes, I'm willing to wait awhile, but I want someone I can admire. Keep the sex in the bedroom, out of my sight, but give me enough romance so I can fill in the blanks.

My readers can find me at http://www.junesecondcup.blogspot.com
http://www.freshview.weebly.com or on facebook. I love to add writer and reader friends!