Sharon's INSPIRATIONAL Short stories of Faith and Romance can be found HERE or visit her
Facebook Page, which also has the links in the comments.)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Wednesday Spotlight with E.A. West

Hello and welcome to Wednesday Spotlight! My special guest today is friend and author
E.A. is here today to chat with us about her newest release from Sea Crest eBooks
But first, here is a little about E.A.--followed by a blurb and excerpt.

E.A. West is a lifelong lover of books and storytelling. In high school, she discovered
the wonders of sharing her stories with others through writing. She picked up her
pen in a creative writing class and hasn’t laid it down yet. Her love of writing
encompasses a variety of fiction genres, including romance and women's fiction.
Born and raised in Indiana, she still resides there today with her family and a small
zoo of pets that includes cats, dogs, and African water frogs. When she's not writing
or reading, you're likely to find her working on her current crochet project or enjoying
the outdoors.

Blurb for Light in the Darkness:
Kennedy Drake loves exploring dark places, which makes his job as a graveyard shift
security guard ideal. While checking out strange noises
in his elderly neighbor’s basement, he discovers a hidden room with a woman trapped
inside. Chastity Mooreland has more to fear than her time trapped
in darkness. Will Kennedy believe her bizarre tale of a stalker no one thinks is guilty—and
will he help free her from a life of despair? Can Chastity look past her suspicion
of mankind to accept his offer of friendship?

Kennedy went back the way he’d come and passed through
the last doorway, stopping in amazement. The huge room was lined with cobwebby wooden shelves, some of which held a few dust-covered canning jars. A pair of wooden bins with sloping lids and three old wooden barrels with age-darkened metal rings stood in the middle of the floor. He couldn’t help wondering if the room had held a year’s worth of food in the days of horse-drawn carriages. It looked large enough.

He found a switch on the wall and turned on the lights. Two of the three bulbs hanging from the
ceiling flashed bright then went out, and he made a mental note to come back later to change them. Louise likely wouldn’t ever come in her basement again, but it would give her peace of mind to know the lights worked. He set the flashlight on one of the shelves near the door and walked over to the bins and barrels. Empty. He glanced around the room one more time, not seeing anything that would make any kind of noise without human help, and there weren’t any tracks to indicate anyone had been down there in the last six months. He retrieved his flashlight and reached for the light switch. A tapping sound from the far side of the
room stilled his hand. He turned around, but all he saw were empty shelves and a
spider busily spinning a web in the corner. The tapping grew more frantic as he slowly approached the shelves.

“Hello? Is somebody there?”

The tapping stopped. “Help me! Please, get me out of here!” a hysterical female voice
called, muffled by the wood-backed shelves.

It took Kennedy a moment to recover from the
shock of actually getting a reply. “Keep tapping so I can figure out where you are.”

The tapping continued and so did the voice, though it now sounded like the
woman was crying. “Please hurry! I have to get out of here! Please...”

Sharon: Sounds like a compelling mystery to me, folks. Let’s have a warm welcome for my guest. E.A. West—come on out!

The tapping grows louder and louder, closer and closer. With a jarring creak, a trap door opens and E.A. stumbles out, her hair shrouded in a spider web. With a smile, she dusts herself off and waves madly to her gasping fans.

Sharon: What a grand entrance! Thunderous applause explodes through cyberspace as Sharon and E.A. exchange hugs. Well, grab a seat and I’ll call Oliver for refreshments. I’ll bet you’re thirsty after all that frantic tapping.

Oliver struts out, dressed as a graveyard shift security guard. With the silver tray balanced above his head, he flashes his most beguiling smile to E.A. He hands her an icy cold Dr. Pepper and a heaping basket of honey wheat pretzels and a dish of sliced carrot sticks. He clears his throat, pumps his biceps with a wicked wink and flashes his pearly whites. “If I might be so bold as to ask for your autograph, Ms. West?”

E.A.: My autograph? Why, Oliver, I’m flattered! Of course I’ll sign something for you. Will this lovely napkin do?

Sharon: Oliver, did you forget about my drink? I wouldn’t mind a diet coke. Oliver? And about my favorite snack? Potato chips? But Oliver runs off, clutching his heart.

Sharon: Sigh. Oh, he of fickle heart! So let’s talk about Light in the Darkness. That excerpt drew me right in. Tell us about the setting, the characters, the research.

E.A.: The story is set in the fictional town of Vesper, Indiana. In this excerpt, Kennedy is in his elderly neighbor’s basement. His neighbor, a sweet old lady named Louise, called him over to investigate a noise. Kennedy Drake is a nice guy who loves dark places, particularly caves, and he enjoys exploring old houses as well. The heroine of the story, Chastity Mooreland, is running scared thanks to her stalker and she thinks Kennedy doesn’t believe her story any more than the police department. Then there’s Louise Gilbert, Kennedy’s elderly neighbor. She may be tiny and old, but she’s sharp and isn’t afraid to speak her mind.

I really didn’t need to do anything in the way of research for this story. Thanks to a voracious reading habit, I had all the necessary tidbits of trivia stored away in my brain. Who knew I could use my interest in geology, history lessons on the Underground Railroad, and an addiction to mystery novels in the same story?

Sharon: What genre would you classify Light in the Darkness as?

E.A.: It’s contemporary fiction with some mystery mixed in. There’s also a tiny bit of romance hinted at, but I didn’t develop that theme.

Sharon: You know, as I’m sitting here, drawing mental images in my mind about this book, I can’t help but think about Halloween in just a few short weeks. What perfect timing! Picture it—a chilly night, a graveyard shift security guard, exploring dark places, mysterious tapping, a woman’s cries and a hot mug of apple cider. Hmmmm. How about it, folks, sound good?

A shutter bangs in the wind, a bat eeks, and a woman cries out from inside the walls….

Sharon: I must have a copy of this book. I just love a good mystery, especially around Halloween. How did you get inspired to write this story, E.A.?

E.A.: Actually, the inspiration came from an online contest a couple of years ago. The only requirements were that the story be less than ten thousand words and involve a basement. The basement part intrigued me, so I let my imagination run with it.

Sharon: I love the names of your characters. Kennedy and Chastity. Did they just come to you—or did you have to think about them long and hard?

E.A.: Surprisingly, they just came to me. Sometimes I’ll go through two or three, or more, names until I find one I like for a character, but with Kennedy and Chastity, I knew those were the perfect names for the characters right away.

Sharon: Now this book is an eBook. Do you have a preference to print or eBooks and if so, why?

E.A.: I like both of them for different reasons. Ebooks are great for short stories and for instant gratification, not to mention the tiny amount of space needed to store dozens of them. I love the feel of a print book, plus it’s nice to get away from a screen for a while to read.

Sharon: Now let’s…what is that noise? It sounds like an eerie whistle snaking through the corridor. Or like the wind hurling through the trees before a storm. Oh, dear! Is a tornado coming? Let’s make a run for it down to the basement. Quick, E.A. But the eerie humming gets louder and louder, reaching an ear-splitting crescendo. Then Oliver appears, belting out a Bob Dylan song in a scratchy, nasally monotone. He plants himself in front of E.A.
“How many roads must a man walk down…before you call him a man? The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind…the answer is blowin’ in the wind.”

With a sweeping bow, Oliver presents E.A. with a huge slice of Molten Lava cake. Using the culinary skills he was trained with, he forks up a piece and feeds E.A.

E.A.: Mm...this is excellent! Oliver, how much is Sharon paying you? I’ll double it if you’ll make Molten Lava cake (minus the calories, of course) and serenade me with your wonderful singing. Might I have another taste of that delicious treat?

Sharon: (sighs as Oliver readily obliges) That will be quite enough, Oliver. Go away so I can continue my interview with Ms. West. Oliver winks and leaves, blowing E.A. kisses.

Sharon: One of these days…So back to our questions before we were so rudely interrupted. Tell us a little about your hobbies when not reading or writing. What kind of things do you like to knit and crochet?

E.A.: Well, for knitting, I’m currently working on an entrelac scarf. Probably not the best project for a beginner, but I’m enjoying it and learning a lot. As for crochet, I’ve fallen in love with adorable crocheted toys called amigurumi.

Sharon: And you love animals. What kind of cats and dogs do you have? And exactly what is an African water frog?

E.A.: I have two cats, a beautiful gray tabby girl named Annie and an adorable black tabby kitten boy named Sergei. One of my dogs is a sweet female shar-pei cross named Sashimi. The other is Mocha, a male shih tzu who loves squeaky toys. An African water frog is a species of frog that lives solely in water. They have to come to the surface to breathe, but they can hold their breath for an amazingly long time. I have two in my house: a regular one named Kermit and a dwarf named Hoppy. Both are male and have the most soothing croak! It’s reminiscent of a rusty gate creaking in the breeze.

Sharon: (stops as her black cat Freddie leaps from her lap and into E.A.’s) And I must ask. I adore superstitions, legends and lore and traditions. Can you share one of yours with me for my collection?

E.A.: A legend I recently came across is the Apache story of why bats hang upside down.

Long ago, Coyote wanted a wife, but he didn't know who to choose. Bat suggested he take the wife of Hawk Chief, who had not been seen for many days. Hawk Chief returned and was angry with Bat for giving bad advice. He slung Bat into a juniper bush. Bat's long, pointy-toed moccasins got caught and he hung upside down, unable to get free no matter how much he struggled. From that time on, bats have hung upside down, even when asleep.

Sharon: I love it and will add it to my collection. Thank you! And sadly, that brings us to the end of another Wednesday Spotlight. But before I let you go, I have my three questions. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why? If you could star in any literary fiction, which would it be and why? And last but not least, who would you want playing your romantic hero and why?

E.A.: If I could live anywhere, it would probably be a Midwestern farm with some woods and plenty of pastureland. Not exciting or exotic, I know, but I’m a farm girl at heart and would love to own some horses and ducks. Hm, literary fiction...that’s a tough one. Maybe The Three Musketeers. I love that story and the loyalty the characters show each other, not to mention the action and adventure. Who would I want for my romantic hero? There are so many to choose from! I think I’d have to go with Ben Barnes. He was awesome as Prince Caspian. Or maybe Philip Winchester. He did a marvelous job playing Robinson Crusoe.

Sharon: Thank you, E.A. It has indeed been a pleasure. I hope you come back again. Good luck with Light in the Darkness. I can’t wait to pick up my copy. Where can readers buy this book and where can they read about your other books and get in touch with you?

E.A.: Readers can purchase Light in the Darkness here:

For more information about my writing or to contact me, visit my website at:

Thank you, Sharon, for having me! I’ve had a wonderful time. And, Oliver, you’ve provided such marvelous service. Should you ever decide to leave Sharon’s employ, you can always come work for me.

Oliver grins a wicked grin and winks!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Wednesday Spotlight with Jane Richardson

Hello and welcome to Wednesday Spotlight! Today’s special guest is friend and fellow Wild Rose author Jane Richardson. Jane is here to chat with us about
A Different Kind of Honesty. But first, here’s a little about Jane, followed by a blurb and excerpt.

I’m a Scots-born girl currently residing on the
usually sunny south-coast of England
with my husband and two children, several felines and a pooch.
You’ll have guessed that chaos is the natural order of things around the
Richardson household. ;-)
I’ve been lucky enough to have a couple of great careers in my life before I became
a mum – the first as a management trainer, totally people-oriented and very rewarding,
and the second as a deputy stage manager in the theatre, my first love.
I worked mostly in the world of opera, and loved every single minute of it.
Between stage management jobs I worked with a costumier, and also did a bit of wardrobe
work and ‘dressing’ - I can whip an actor down to his undies before you can say ‘to
be, or not to be,’ or possibly, ‘has the fat lady sung yet?’
Sadly – or possibly happily?? – I can also dress them just as fast – ha!
A few years ago I also trained and qualified as a holistic therapist, so it’s fair
to say I’ve Been About A Bit!

A Different Kind of Honesty, contemporary romance published by The Wild Rose Press
in paperback or e-book, ISBN 1-60154-218-6.
Link -
Always the one who ends relationships before they’ve barely begun, it’s way out of
character for Maggie Lawless to take a risk with a man she hardly knows. But when
she meets a man in a seedy
New York City
diner, she senses a truth about him, a sincerity like no-one she’s ever met before.
Tony Valentino is an FBI agent fresh from a long-term undercover operation that’s
left his life in tatters. His marriage over, separated from his children and with
nowhere to call home, he’s frustrated and angry. All that keeps him going is the
sweet memory of a brief encounter with a beautiful woman, though it wakes him from
crazy dreams that leave his mouth dry and his sheets soaked with sweat. When he meets
her again, it’s obvious the fire that burned so briefly between them never really
went out...but as their affair rekindles, both Tony and Maggie find the very people
they thought they could trust are the first to turn against them.

Maggie had a secret, a naughty, naughty secret....thought she got away with it six
months ago, but she’s been caught out.
Now it’s time to confess all to best friend Danny.
‘Leaning her chin on her hand, Maggie looked at him a moment before she decided to
take the plunge.
“Danny, when I was in New York
, I, um...had a fling. A brief thing, a one-nighter.”
“What?” He looked incredulous. “You told me you were only actually
in New York for one night! Bloody hell, you didn’t hang about, did you?” He started to laugh.
“I thought you gave up one night stands after the college days.”
“I did,” she squirmed. “But this was different. Sort of.”
“Ah.” He nodded in an annoyingly superior, knowing way. “A head over heels, caution
to the wind, never to be repeated special offer, eh?”
She gave a short, embarrassed laugh. “Something like that. Actually, a lot like that.”
“Aw, so sweet, my little chicky!” He reached out a hand and patted hers. “But it’s
not as if it was your first time, or your last, let’s hope. So why all the panting
ingénue stuff?”
She sighed, a mix of wistfulness and longing that surprised her. “Because here’s
the thing,” she said, her thumbnail between her teeth. “And you are not going to
believe this.”
“Try me, girlfriend.” He took a swig of Bud. “There’s something hot about this one,
I can tell.”
“It was him.”
Danny creased his brow as he pretended to think hard. “Nope. I’m going to need a
little more than ‘him’, I’m afraid.”
Maggie cleared her throat, suddenly feeling nervous. “ was the guy we met
today. Valentino. Tony Valentino.”
Danny’s lips wiggled around an ooo. “You are kidding me! Absolutely no way!”
“Yes, way,” she said miserably.
“I don’t believe it! Are you sure?”
“Well, of course
I’m bloody sure! It’s not like I do it every day!”
He opened and closed his mouth in delight. “Why the hell didn’t you tell me? You
spend one night in
New York, sleep with the FBI, and you keep that to yourself? You selfish cow! I may never speak to you again!”
She shook her head and kept her voice low. “No, Danny, listen. The reason I didn’t
tell you is because I shouldn’t have done it.”
Danny’s elbows slipped off the table in mock astonishment. “What are you talking
about, you shouldn’t have done it? What, with that hunk?” He curled his lip in disbelief.
“Hell, I’d shag him and I’m straight.”
Picking up her water, she paused with the bottle at her lips. “Somehow, I suspect
you’re not his type. What with not being a girlie and all.”
“For a guy like that, I’d change. And I’ll pump you for the sordid details in a minute,
Lawless. What the hell do you mean you shouldn’t have done it?” He pulled a face.
“C’mon, he’s gorgeous, even more gorgeous than me, if that’s possible. I don’t see
the problem.”
Maggie flopped against her seat and heaved a sigh that came right up from her boots.
“Think about it. I meet this guy called Joey Pescolloni. He won’t tell me what he
does for a living, says he has bits of business here and there. The guys he knows
all have shiny suits and signet rings.”
She peered at him to see if any of this was sinking in. It wasn’t. She tried again.
“Look. He takes me to a place called, oh, I don’t remember, La Speranza or La Gondola
or something. Everybody in the place is flashing big bundles of cash.” She tipped
her head to one side. “Is this waving any flags at you yet?”
Danny did his worst Robert de Niro impression, lifting his shoulders right up to
his ears, his hands open in front of him in supplication. “So whaddya know, he’s
Italian, he likes pasta? Badda boom, badda bing!”
“Exactly! Badda...whatever. That thing you said.”
Danny’s jaw dropped halfway to the table. “Oh, my giddy aunt,” he said, leaning on
each word as realization began to dawn. “You thought he was Mafia! Some wise-assed wiseguy!”
She covered her face with her hands. “Yes, I did, I did...”
”So why the hell didn’t you just walk?” He couldn’t contain his laughter now. “You
know, ‘excuse me while I powder my nose’ and just leg it through the bathroom window?”
Maggie squeaked. She opened her hands a tiny gap and peeked out. “Danny, you know
why, you said it yourself! He’s gorgeous!”
“Ah.” He folded his arms and looked down at her in smug satisfaction. “I get it.
You were already too far gone in lust and Lambrusco. Lawless, you total trollop!”
She slumped onto the table, her head on her arms. “I’m not,” she said in a small
voice. “I’m female and breathing, any woman would have done the same.” She looked
up, trying to retain what little dignity she had left. “And it was a rather nice
pinot grigio, thank you. Not Lambrusco.”
“Whatever. He plied you with booze and had his wicked way. Or you plied him. Stop
kicking me under the table.”
“You deserve it. Anyway, it wasn’t like that. I just fancied him like mad and when
I realized he felt the same, well, you know…”
“There was no stopping you.”
“There was no stopping either of us.” A sudden pang of sweet memory made her gasp.
“Oh, Danny, it was quite a night.”
The waitress arrived with their order and an enthusiasm that had by now tipped over
into dementia. Maggie wondered if she would tell them to be sure and eat up all their
vegetables because it would make them nice and strong. She fired a look at Danny,
telling him in no uncertain terms to shut up until they were done. She smiled her
thanks at the waitress, who beamed beatifically at them one more time and went off
to bestow her blessings on some other lucky customers.
Danny attempted to lift up a burger as big as the plate it sat on without losing
any of it. “So, am I getting the gory details? Coz I want to be sitting somewhere
cozy with another beer in one hand and a ciggie in the other.”
“I’m not telling you anything else, you dirty sod.” She pushed her salad around the
plate with her fork, then stabbed a chunk of tuna and peered at it before she dropped
“Are you going to eat that or just torture it?” he asked, chewing happily. “Anyway,
there is one thing you absolutely do have to tell me.”
She looked at him, eyebrows raised. ”And that would be what?”
“That would be, what are you going to do about it now?”
“What do you mean, now?” She stared at him in horror. “Nothing!”
“Aw, do me a favour.” He licked mayonnaise from the side of his hand. “I twigged
the way he was looking at you when the lights went back on in that room. I thought
it was coz he was looking forward to an introduction. I didn’t know he’d already
had the pleasure.”
Maggie dropped her fork on her plate with a clatter. “You’re making that up.”
“I bloody am not. You think I don’t know how a bloke looks when he’s thinking about
rampant sex? I see it every time I look in a mirror. Trust me, he’s got the same
fond memories of your sordid little adventure as you.” He dipped a French fry the
size of a house brick in some ketchup and munched, speaking with his mouth full.
“Possibly even fonder.”

Sharon: Well, if that’s not enough to get your blood pumping! Let’s give a warm welcome to Jane Richardson!

Jane struts on stage, dancing and snapping her fingers to “I’m on Fire” by Bruce Springsteen. Shrouded in a kaleidoscope of neon lights, she grabs the microphone and belts it out for all she’s worth at the top of her lungs.

The song ends and Jane takes a sweeping bow as thunderous applause explodes through cyber space.

Sharon: Still clapping, races to hug Jane. Girl, you weren’t kidding when you said you could belt it out! Welcome. Have a seat. You’re just in time for Happy Hour! How about it, Jane. Bet your pipes are dry after that singing, huh?

Jane: Parched! All that breathing from the diaphragm does a girl no good, you know!

Sharon: Oh, Oliver, do bring us our cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, please.

Oliver struts out, balancing a sterling silver tray above his head. With a wicked wink, he presents a perfectly chilled glass of white wine to Jane, leaving the other on the tray. With great finesse, he unveils his culinary delight, warm crusty bread dribbling with Bleu cheese. Scooping up a piece, he feeds it to Jane. His eyes glaze over. Snatching a crisp white linen napkin, he dabs the crumbs from Jane’s lips. With a sigh, he brings the napkin to his mouth and kisses it. His eyes roll to the back of his head. He clears is throat. Might I be so bold as to request your autograph, Ms. Richardson?

Jane: Oliver, it would be my pleasure. Now, left bicep or right? Left! Okay, there you go!

Sharon: (reaches for her own wine and bread) Ah, that will be all, Oliver. I’ll call when we’re ready for dessert.

Oliver swaggers off, belting out his own version of “I’m on Fire!”

Sharon: Sigh. So Jane, let’s chat a bit about A Different Kind of Honesty. Your excerpt drew me right in. I felt as if I were really there, sharing a secret with a friend while hanging out while having a bite to eat. This is what I consider good writing, the ability to draw the reader in. Does this come natural to you?

Jane: I don’t think that it does, you know! I find it very difficult to hit ‘the groove’ in writing, but when it happens, it’s wonderful. Maggie was a character I had from a while before I began ‘Honesty’ in its final version, but when her best friend Danny (in the excerpt above) came along, the whole thing took off. Danny appeared fully-formed, right there on the page in front of me – a real gift. The relationship between him and Maggie really got ‘the groove’ going for me.
So many people have said how much they love the patter between them, their obvious affection for each other. I think I was writing down some of the ‘best friend’ friendships I’ve had in my life, especially with blokes, where there’s no element of romance, but you love each other to bits. So yes, maybe writing what I know well maybe helps to draw the reader in, because I felt utterly confident with that element of the book.

Sharon: Oh, I couldn’t agree more. Putting bits and pieces of our own lives into a story brings it to life. And I love the name of your hero, Tony Valentino. It conjures up such romantic fantasies. Ooh la la! For me, it makes me think of the Hollywood legend Rudolph Valentino, and his legendary tango dancing. Can you share with us the reason why you chose the name Tony Valentino as your hero?

Jane: Believe it or not, a friend of a friend actually worked with a guy with that name years ago. When I first heard it, I thought it was the most wonderful, evocative name, and I guess it just stuck with me. When I needed an Italian/American hero, a guy who completely swept my heroine off her feet maybe just like the Valentino of the movies would have done, then that name suited him perfectly.

Sharon: I love it! And Tony is an FBI agent. How or where do you do your research?

Jane: The research for this story actually began a long time before the story began to form. I’ve always been interested in the concept of anyone who ‘acts’ for a living – and by that I mean not just actors or singers, but people who have to adopt a persona to the extreme. Undercover police or agents of any kind must be right at the top of that category. The concept of two people in the same skin fascinates me – as Tony says of his time as his alias, Joey Pescolloni,, ‘it was like being both of us, him on the outside, me on the inside.’ I read lots of biographies of those real-life guys, watched a lot of movies, listened to many interviews, to find out how they viewed themselves and the job they did. The internet is invaluable for basic facts, like the training Maggie would have gone through as an officer in the Metropolitan police in London, for example.
I long ago lost any aversion to simply asking people for help, too! For a story I’m working on now, I met some amazingly well-informed people through the internet who’ve given me masses of technical, factual information, coupled with little details the layman might not find out any other way other than actually talking to an expert. I’ve also spent a lot of time getting to know the local history of my own area here in Sussex in the UK, and what happened during WWII. I’ve been visiting volunteer-run museums, where you can actually meet people with direct experience of the thing you’re researching - you just can’t beat first-hand accounts. I’ve talked to guys who re-build WWII fighter planes, and again, I get factual stuff as well as snippets or little gems of info I wouldn’t have got just by reading a book. I’m constantly awed and often humbled by the personal experiences I’ve been privileged to hear.

Sharon: Now that’s what I’d call doing your research and going the extra mile to make it real. Sound advice to all authors. I love the name Maggie Lawless, very original. How did you come up with this name? Also, can you tell us a bit about Maggie?

Jane: Maggie is one of my many middle names, and it started off as a sort of default name until I ‘got’ her better – but it stuck. Lawless – I ran a finger along the spines of the books on my bookshelf hoping for inspiration, and found it! It works nicely with her first name, and I thought there was something quite neat about a police officer with the name ‘Lawless!’
About Maggie….well, professionally, she’s up there with the boys. She’s a Detective Sergeant with the Metropolitan Police, and they have a reputation for, em, shall we say, not messing around! She’s tipped to go all the way to the top – but she’s having second thoughts. Is this what she really wants out of life? Is there something else, maybe something more? I think she goes through what many ‘career women’ go through at different points in their lives, and while the idea of meeting someone, settling down and having kids is the last thing on her conscious mind, I think there’s a part of her just wondering…..’what if I never do?’ When she meets Tony in his undercover role, even though she suspects he’s pretty shady, there’s something about him that awakens a part of her she never knew before. And that kicks off all these ‘what am I doing with my life’ thoughts she’s having when we first meet her.
Maggie’s had a lot of losses in her life, too. Her parents are long dead, and though she has a sister, she lives abroad and Maggie rarely sees her. She sees a lot of hard stuff in her job, and then when she finds out the truth about Tony’s FBI background, his part in breaking up a massive organized crime syndicate and the subsequent fall-out that threatens his safety – well, once upon a time, her first instinct would have been self-preservation. But with this man….things are different. He’s ‘The One.’ He’s the impetus she needed to face the changes she needs to make - as she says, stopping her pattern, the same wheel turning over and over. She takes complete control of her life for the first time ever. Unfortunately, at one point, that means having to forget about Tony….but read the book, and you’ll find out what happens!

Sharon: Again, Jane, you have touched on something so many women battle with. This is why your book draws us in. It’s like reading about ourselves and our dearest friends. A Different Kind of Honesty is contemporary. Is this your favorite kind of genre to read and write in?

Jane: For writing, yes, pretty much, though I’m working on something now with an element of mid- 20th century history. That’s far enough away for me - I don’t think I could go back further than a couple of generations. Reading, yes, it’s usually contemporary or 20th century at a push. I’ll sometimes read historicals, if they’re about time periods that interest me particularly. Having said that, some writers could write any period they liked and I’d still pick them up regardless. One that springs to mind is Tracey Chevalier, of ‘Girl With A Pearl Earring’ fame. She’s covered a whole range of historical periods, but her own voice is so strong and perfectly developed that you don’t notice the period she’s writing, in a way. I don’t want to be thinking about the details, I just want to believe the writer has done all that for me! And if their voice is convincing enough, then I’m happy.

Sharon: Now on a different note, I’d like to mention a subject that as you know, is quite near and dear to my heart. Juvenile diabetes. The JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) is fighting hard for a cure. You are donating proceeds of this book to JDRF. As a type 1 diabetic, I would like to take this opportunity to commend you. Thank you, Jane. Thank you for supporting this cause.

Jane: Well, as you know, Sharon, my 11-year old son is also Type 1 diabetic, so this is something I live with through him, every day. I know people do have their own special causes that they support, and I know how hard it is when there are so many causes that desperately need funding for research all the time. But I’d just say to anyone who’s read any of my writing and enjoyed it, or read any of yours too, Sharon – if they’re ever thinking of making a charitable donation, please think of JDRF first.

Sharon: Thank you, Jane. Well said. Now let’s talk about your former career as a deputy stage manager in the theatre. I find this absolutely fascinating! And this was mostly with the opera. Now, Jane, surely you must have met some interesting people along the way. And I’ll just bet you have a ton of exciting stories from these days in theatre. Can you share a favorite or two, something that has special momentum for you?

Jane: Well, it WAS fascinating - though it was also ridiculously hard work, with very silly hours and not much pay! The thing is, none of that matters, because at the end of the day, you’re completely immersed in a world you love, and what on earth could be more wonderful than that?
I was incredibly lucky to work with so many fantastic people, both on the artistic and technical sides. As well as wonderful singers, I’ve worked with some major designers and directors, people who are hugely respected in their fields, and that was something I always loved.
I was also fortunate to work with several companies who existed solely for the purpose of developing young but truly exciting singers, by giving them access to the best guest directors, teachers and coaches, and making sure that they’d been seen by agents from many of the world’s top opera companies. You can imagine what a THRILL it is for me when I see a name I know listed in a production at Glyndebourne or the Royal Opera House, or an international house. And it also makes me giggle when I think of how I ‘shush’d!’ them in the wings, or had to fix awkward bits of costume in equally awkward places, very often in the dark, while trying not to turn a baritone’s burgeoning career into that of a falsetto with one mistimed thrust of a safety pin. Ouch!

I’ve worked in many amazing places, but the most magical would be a whole summer in Umbria in Italy, the venue being an ancient, restored monastery. What an experience that was. We had barely any electricity except what we were able to hook into for the final rehearsals and performances.

All our clothes and dishes were washed by hand, and everyone was expected to pile in and help with food preparation, dishing up, and washing up afterwards – this for around eighty people. Everything and everyone was brought in for the productions – artists, crew, equipment, costume, the orchestras and their instruments, and everyone lived on-site for the summer. The showers were the type with a just a spray head poking out of the wall and nothing but a grating in the floor to drain the water away, but you could shower with the window shutters wide open and look out onto a magical landscape of olives and cypress trees – and if that wasn’t good enough for you, you could go and shower in the garden, as long as you could whistle loud!

We drew our wine and our olive oil from great steel containers lodged in cool cellars, and the man who grew both lunched with us every day. All the food was local, and despite eating breakfast and two huge, cooked meals a day, I don’t think I’ve ever been so healthy – or so slim!

One of the pieces I worked on was a world premier. It was rehearsed with just piano accompaniment, until the first full rehearsal with the singers and the orchestra. It was quite magical to be standing in the silence of the monastery courtyard, then hear the first notes strike up, knowing that you were amongst the first people anywhere, ever, to hear what had been in the composer’s mind when he wrote it. Not even the composer had truly heard what he’d written till that moment, and that was very special.

Opera is intensive – to say it’s a passion is no exaggeration. Everyone who works in opera, from the most emotional singer to the most hardened stagehand gets touched by it, somehow. It’s like no other part of theatre I’ve ever worked in, and it certainly bears no resemblance to any other job I’ve ever done.

Sharon: Bravo! You amaze me, Jane! What life experiences you have to reminisce over and share with others. Let’s hear it for Jane Richardson! Sharon stands up to applaud Jane and the audience follows in glorious exultation!

Sharon: Oh, here comes Oliver with dessert.

Oliver, costumed in his Phantom of the Opera attire, wheels the caddy out, his deep baritone echoing off the walls. In grand continental flair, he presents a decadent tiramisu, rich in cocoa, espresso and a generous dollop of booze. Still singing, his untrained opera voice rises to an ear-splitting crescendo that shatters the wine glasses. Pumping his biceps, Oliver slices the tiramisu, pours the coffee and serves Jane with a sweeping bow.

Jane: Coffee and Tiramisu! Oliver, you buttle beautifully - I can honestly say I’ve never seen such exquisite buttling!

Oliver blushes and passes out, still grinning.

Sharon: That’s enough, Oliver! No need to demonstrate your theatrics for Jane. She’s on to you, I fear. Now go away!! So Jane, you love to cook. Just don’t tell Oliver or he’ll be at your door. LOL Do you have a favorite recipe or cuisine you enjoy cooking?

Jane: I know! His cutsey little nose pressed up against the kitchen window, sniffing away. I don’t know what the neighbors will think! I love to cook pretty much anything. I was 100% vegetarian for years, though now I eat fish but no red meat or poultry. Vegetarian cooking is my favourite because I guess it’s what I’m most familiar with. And yes, I am that odd breed of person who can actually cook with weird stuff like bean curd and lentils and actually enjoy it! I’ll invent things, or substitute veggie or fish options for any recipe that takes my fancy.
Italian food is of course my favourite, and no-one but NO-ONE does desserts like the Italians do!

You want recipes? You want easy-peasy? Okay – for our fish eaters, Smoked Fish Pie is a weeknight staple in the Richardson household. Slice a couple of big tomatoes and make one layer on the bottom of a dish. Season with pepper, but no salt – you don’t want the juices coming out too much. Scatter over a handful of frozen peas. Add a layer of smoked white fish like cod or haddock cut up into one-inch chunks, and use the loin cut if you can get it – fillets are too thin. Top the lot with a layer of mashed potatoes, and bake till you see the fish is cooked when you stick a fork in it, about 30 minutes or so. I serve this up was lovely leafy greens, and it’s a hit every time.

Another one, veggie this time, is called Rosie Red Soup, as it’s my daughter’s favourite! Cook off a chopped onion and as much garlic as you like, three or four cloves wouldn’t be too much, in a little olive oil. Then add any combination of finely diced veg that you like – I go for carrots, celery, leek, peas, and courgette – that’s zucchini to my US friends. Then add a couple of the dark leaves of a Savoy cabbage, finely sliced. Let the veggies soften a while, adding a little water if you need to, then add the chopped celery leaves and a good tablespoon of chopped parsley. Then tip in one 14ox can (or thereabouts!) of drained and rinsed borlotti beans, and the same size can of chopped tomatoes. If you have any good, ripe fresh tomatoes that need using up, chop those and tip ‘em in as well. Add water or vegetable stock – this soup shouldn’t be thick like a stew, but thin like a really fresh summer soup. Simmer the lot gently till the vegetables are tender, then drop in a good amount of chopped fresh basil leaves – a more-than-generous handful. You serve this up in individual bowls, and hand round freshly grated Parmesan cheese for everyone to sprinkle over the soup, together with a drizzle of your very best extra virgin olive oil. Italy in a bowl!

Sharon: Yum! My mouth is watering. Thanks, Jane. I’ll copy those and look forward to trying them. I love to cook, too! Okay then. Just a few more questions. I adore superstitions and traditions. Can you share one or two with me? I love collecting them. Ah, go on, blame it on my romantic heart or Irish heritage. But I’m shamelessly superstitious. Do you have a favorite?

Jane: Well, I’m not at all superstitious on a personal level, but working in the theatre, superstitions abound, and woe betide you if you pooh-pooh them!

Let’s think – one must never mention Shakespeare’s ‘Scottish Play’ in a dressing room if it’s not the play being performed – or some people say you can mention it, but never quote from it. Either way, if you make that dreadful blunder, you must leave the dressing room, close the door, turn around three times and say ‘Angels and ministers of grace defend us!’ then knock to be let back in. Why, I’m not sure exactly, except that there are stories of terrible disasters happening during performances of said play.
What else – oh, you must never whistle in the wings – that brings down an awful wrath on your head! Actually, it’s thought to come from the days when signals were given from backstage to the guys in ‘the flies,’ in other words, the guys who worked on those hidden platforms way above the stage whose job it is to drop those big pieces of scenery and backdrop by means of long ropes. If you whistled and accidentally gave a signal to them, and they let a piece go…..ewwww. You can imagine the possible consequences for the people on stage! Nowadays it’s all done by means of radio headsets, but still – you never, ever whistle in the wings.
Oh, and never wish an actor ‘good luck!’ The malevolent spirits you’d invite…..! It’s ‘break a leg,’ always. With singers, it’s ‘toi-toi,’ but I’ve never had that one explained to me, ever. In theatre, you don’t ask – you just do it!

Sharon: Oh, awesome! So many more to add to my list! And that brings us to my final three questions. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why? If you could star in any literary fiction, which would it be and why? And last but not least, who would you want playing your romantic hero?

Jane: Where would I live? Oh, so many places come to mind, the most obvious to anyone who knows me being a northern Italian hill town. I love Assisi, and think I could live there quite happily.
Literary fiction, now, oh my gosh, that’s difficult. I’d choose Charlotte Grey, from Sebastian Faulks’ novel and the movie. Charlotte was so in love, she set off to find her missing lover, a British airman, in worn-torn France, and of course, she – well, I won’t spoil the movie or the book for you if you don’t know it yet, but it’s a superb story.
My romantic hero – Oliver, cover your ears - Johnny Depp, no question. No matter what period, no matter what character, he could play it no problem, he has such a great talent. He also seems to take on projects simply because he believes in them, and not just because they’re what’s expected of him or because they bring in the bucks. I respect that so much, so he’d be my guy, every time..

Sharon: Well, Jane, dear friend, that brings us to the end of our interview. It’s been a pleasure and I hope you’ll come back. Thank you for being my guest today. Can you tell readers where they can get in touch with you and where they can purchase your books:

Jane: Sharon, I have LOVED being your guest! It’s such a pleasure to know you, and it means a lot to me to be able to call you a friend. Lots of love and luck to you!
I can be contacted any time at My book A Different Kind of Honesty, and my short story Perfect Strangers are both available from The Wild Rose Press. Oh, and my video trailer for Perfect Strangers is up at You Gotta Read Videos right now too – go to, and if you like it best, you might decide to vote for it! Oops, hang on, who’s this? Oh, my - I think Oliver is after me! Byeeee!

Oliver appears, costumed as Valentino. As I’m on Fire blasts through cyber space, he takes Jane by the hand, doing his most dazzling tango!

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Hello Friends and Bloggers!
Today is a red letter day in my writing world. As you know, I wrote Echo of a Raven to inspire those facing a vision loss to never give up on a dream. My goal is to prevent the children affected with this horrendous disease to have a happy and healthy future. Diagnosed as a type 1 diabetic at the age of six, diabetic retinopathy was my greatest fear, my worst nightmare and my eventual nemesis.

I struggled with the silent enemy for twenty years, never speaking my fear aloud for fear it might come true. But the word Blindness echoed in my head again and again to the point of obsession. And even though I became a legal secretary, preparing cases for judges in the Family Division of the Court of Common Pleas, my passion was painting. No more pain. No more heartache. Through my picturesque landscapes and ruins of the Roman forum, I could escape and find peace and serenity. Then it happened one day while painting a Tuscan countryside, the initial bout of progressive blindness. And for the next twenty years, my life became an emotional roller coaster. Now you see you don't. And after one devastating operation, I lost all remaining hope and all remaining vision.

It was then I enrolled in a sixteen week program for the blind and visually impaired where I was forced to accept my fate. Through mobility training with the dreaded white cane, group therapy where I was forced to confront my fears and inhibitions and the use of a computer with adaptive software, I found the courage to face a sighted world I was once part of. And alas, a new dream resurrected. Today, instead of painting my pictures on canvas, I paint my pictures with words.

I wrote Echo of a Raven with great apprehension. A writing instructor encouraged me to get it out there to teach, to inspire and to raise awareness of diabetes and its complications. I am shy by nature and do not relish sharing my fears with the world. But if I can help JDRF Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation fight for a cure by donating a portion of proceeds and preventing one child from living in fear of losing his or her vision, Echo of a Raven will be a smashing success.

Cherokee from Coffee Time Romance and More has reviewed Echo of a Raven and has bestowed the greatest gift one could hope for in writing. Humbled and thrilled beyond words, I thank Cherokee from the bottom of my heart. She just got it. Here's what was in my in box this morning.

Wishing you all good things and the luck of the Irish,

Sharon Donovan
Romantic Suspense with a Twist of Faith

Hello Sharon, (hope you are doing well today)Per my recommendation, your book has received a CTRR (Coffee Time Reviewer's RecommendAward) from Coffee Time Romance & More. This award recognizes outstanding writing styles in all book types and genres. Your book has received this award because I feel it is above and beyond a 5 Cup Rating.You can see this here: have attached a graphic that we encourage you to use on your site, your newsletter,MySpace, and any other place you use to promote you and/or your books.We have announced this in our weekly newsletter, on our blog, and put the CTRR Awardon your actual review on our site. It will stay there permanently.hugs, Cherokee

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wednesday Spotlight with Skhye Moncrief

Hello and welcome to Wednesday Spotlight! My special guest today is friend and fellow Wild Rose author Skhye Moncrief. Skhye is here with us to chat about He of the Fiery Sword. Here is a blurb and excerpt. But first, a little about Skhye Moncrief:

I have 5 books in paperback. Four are in my Celtic Time-Guardian Series. I'm a Texan that believes men do look best in kilts. Unfortunately, my husband disagrees. I blog about reference books. I hold a BS in geology. Writing lured me away from finishing my thesis in (bioarchaeology) anthropology. Archaeology just dislikes the way we authors misconstrue fact. But the sacriledge is so enjoyable. Still, there's nothing like scratching around in the dirt looking for fossils or potsherds. I'm so detail-oriented that I suffer from an adrenaline rush when told to make a map. I guess the easiest way to describe myself is as a person who finds nature incredibly pleasing and intriguing. The same about reconstructing human prehistory and history. Yes, I am certifiably geek. I have been a member of Romance Writers of America over 5 years. I have a 4-yeqr old who runs my schedule. Good thing I've got a few manuscripts socked away. My husband dotes on me. I've always been able to do whatever I wanted. Hence, my history of being on permanent vacation in graduate school. I guess I should say what writers/authors always say: I wrote in junior high and high school. It's funny how I forgot I wrote fiction back then. But when I remembered in 2001, I jumped back on the wagon and it's California or Bust ever since. I love to write. I can write for 14 hrs 7 days a week. I forget everything and sit with a laptop. I worried I had lost my mind. But the baby took care of the worst part of the addiction.

He, Arthur, is a reflection of luck, an abomination. He can feel the love, the pain, the sorrow, and the joy of all the ages. If he doesn't save the Druid he is sent to find, all known history could change. Some things are worth dying for. But first a man must live.

Arthur didn't count on becoming human. And now the fairies want him to break dragon law... He never expected his charge to push him to the edge of reason. But a man must live before becoming king.

Fear not. The fairies have a plan.

Trust not the fairies.

Druids wed one soul for eternity to protect the integrity of the timeline. Druid
Solas’s soul mate was taken from her. Now, an 11th Century Irish bishop stalks her to serve as his mistress. She has nothing left yet everything to live for in creating the historical maps she was sent through time to make. She will break time-travel Code if she submits to another man by allowing even one paradoxical child to muddy history. Then Arthur arrives to save her. He is anything but a time guardian. And a fairy tells her to help him. To ignore a god’s instruction could prove detrimental. Yet, every time guardian knows believing the Gods is wielding a double-edged sword. Since it is forbidden for Druids to wield weapons, her future relies on He of the Fiery Sword.

King Arthur is born...

"Arthur is a masterpiece..." He of the Fiery Sword's King Arthur ~Diane Mason; The Romance Studio

Once upon a time, King Arthur was a time-traveling shape-shifting dragon...

Lust. Only lust . Arthur held his breath to stifle the craving.

“Do you know how agonizing your presence has been?” Crystalline tears bridged her eyelids, rolling down her cheeks like rivers. “How can the one outweigh the other?”

Her piteous mask was too much for any man to gaze upon. Snaking an arm behind her lower back, he drew her into the circle of his arms, pushing her nose into the shirt covering his heart. He wanted to apologize for the torment. Needed to say something. He caused her tears to flow. His responsibility lay in correcting the situation. And holding her felt right. Eased his angst . He patted her trembling shoulders.

“I don’t care if they’re taking you away from me in a few days,” she sobbed, her palms sliding over his shoulders, around his neck, drawing his face toward the biggest doleful blue eyes he ever saw.

And there were many to be seen among the emotional Druidesses. He couldn’t let his dragon form torture her later. “You’re mine and I’ll not lose a moment I have with you,” she exclaimed.

The mystic Holy Light of Union flared in the room.

What could be said?

Silk pressed against his lips.

His heart sank into his gut and wallowed there in agony.

He couldn’t recoil. He knew he should. Falling into Solas’s intoxicating mouth was like diving off Ring-Master Tor, the highest frozen peak on Scotia Major’s northernmost continent. Sunlight reflected from every solid or liquid surface in the bitter howling wind. He remembered counting out the free-fall distance within the temporary blindness. The planet’s ultimate challenge was unsurpassed by any experience. Until now.

Between plummeting through the freezing air and drawing oneself out of the dive just before impacting into the frigid face of Scotia Major at her worst, naught else compared to the emotional rush of Solas’ kiss. And she wasn’t Scotia Major, the planet that nurtured three homeless dragon pups, his surrogate mother. Solas filled his chest with life’s breath while reaching inside him, by cradling his heart with her gentle hands. Scotia Major only pretended to do so, only offered a crying pup a sanctuary from the evils of humanity.

Her hands yanked at the shirt on his back. Her palms slid across his bare skin, caressing him with beatitude.

He didn’t care to stop her.

Sliding his palms along the hourglass curve of her body, for once, he wanted to experience the promise of life. Rapture... derived from the sharing of love between two people. A pricelessly indefinable moment. What everyone expected from the tales of human life and love.

His heart drummed a poetic warning.

In a handful of days, he would shape-shift back into his true form, massive, incapable of holy unification with a human female. His Solas would cry for want of something she could never have again in her lifetime. Tears would haunt him. The very Druid tears he ran from in the future. He grabbed her arms and pushed her away.

“What, Arthur?”

He couldn’t see her even if he tried to peer through the cloaking Light. His eyes knew better than to open. Better than to see what The Knowing told him. She didn’t care about deadlines. Human need, no matter how the experience had changed his opinion, made reasoning impossibly egocentric.

To hurt her was selfish.

To take what he offered was selfish.

To be human was to accept. To be dragon would be to refuse. He fell back against the hard wall, relinquished his grip on her arms, and inhaled deeply.

The whiteness of the Holy Light of Union faded in the dark void behind his eyes.

“Why?” Her exasperated whisper thundered around the room.

Why he opened his eyes, he didn’t know. She sat on her knees, nose torqued toward the floor, blue eyes peering at him as if she were a beaten cur.

“I can’t live the remainder of my days knowing my wanton desire drove your life’s loneliness.” Truth was Truth. He deserved sainthood for confessing.

Sharon: Wow! Let’s give a warm welcome to Skhye Moncrief. Welcome, Skhye!

Thunderous applause explodes across the fiery skies of Scotia Majors as three homeless dragon pups appears in a mist of brilliant jeweled light. And with a roaring snarl, she opens her mouth and produces Skhye. Skhye waves madly to her adoring fans, gives Sharon a warm embrace and takes a seat.

Sharon: Well, Skhye, you certainly know how to make a dramatic entrance. How’s it going, girlfriend?

Skhye: Hi, Sharon. Thanks for having me over for a visit.

Sharon: Oh, Oliver, we’re ready for refreshments. Please bring them out.

Oliver struts out, dressed like King Arthur, winking wildly at Skhye. Passing Sharon, he wheels his sterling silver caddy smack dab in front of Skhye, pours her a cup of decaf sweet coconut Chai. With a sweeping bow, he unveils his culinary treats, a basket of Fridos and a bowl of jelly belly beans in assorted flavors of pink grapefruit, juicy pear, juicy peach, popcorn, roasted marshmallow and candy corn.

Oliver: Your vitamins, Ms. Skhye. He plucks a juicy pear and pops it into her mouth, his eyes glazing over. May I be so bold as to ask for your autograph, please?

Skhye: I only autograph kilts. *wink* *cants toward Sharon and whispers* Oh, he’s good. Did he go to acting school?

Sharon: Oh, he’s an actor all right. That will be all, Oliver. Any time you are through flirting shamelessly with my guest, you can run along. And did we or did we not have a chat about your uniform?

Oliver heaves a heavy sigh, strutss off with an exaggerated swagger, but not before flexing his grapefruit-size biceps at Skhye with a wicked wink.

Sharon: Rolls her eyes. Good help is so hard to find. Now, let’s get to the interview, shall we? Tell me, Skhye, how do you do it? How do you spin such an incredible tale of mystic Medieval Gothic and romance with words that would make a poet weep? I am in awe of your play of words. Do dish, girlfriend. What is the dirt? Do the words come to you via a magic spell?

Skhye: I can’t answer that. I just write. I’ve been told I have a poetic voice. But who knows where it came from. I try to limit my description and find playing with words saves the reader.

Sharon: Amazing. Your reviews linger in my mind, leaving me with a wistful feeling. How does it feel to receive such accalades ?

Skhye: Well, it was a shock to have a reviewer label my King Arthur as a masterpiece.
I literally fell on the floor with that comment. But there are just as many reviewers who disliked my writing. I find it’s all based on what they want. And that I have a strong voice. An agent has told me that.

Sharon: I agree. Your words blow me away. He of the Fiery Sword is set in Medieval Ireland. As you know, I am Irish and very superstitious by nature. So naturally, anything having to do with Celtic legends, spells and ancient druids grab my attention. Tell me about the research for He of the Fiery Sword?

Skhye: HOTFS was book 4 in my series and the first published… But I wanted a dragon. A dragon would make my work medieval. The problem was finding one who fit into my story world. And my dragon had to fly along the timeline, in and out of history, affecting the course of mythological evolution.

My series is all about history being wrong—a slant on the academic slant that history is filtered through the person who wrote it, biased. So, Arthur became a dragon from the future. I made him an empath and immortal to protect him from what would happen in history. After all, he had no way of knowing what life would be like in medieval times. And he had no idea what life was like as a man. Arthur needed some super powers. The story is about him becoming a man. Because a man must live before becoming king. To send him off through time, he must break time-travel law. The only way to do so was to make him suicidal. The rest is history.

Sharon: What do you suppose it is about castles and fantasy and time travel that intrigues readers so?

Skhye: Who wouldn’t want to be the big shot with all the money who could afford a castle and tell folks what to do? Who wouldn’t want to be the fairy with the super powers? Who wouldn’t want to be the woman wed to the big powerful warlord? This type of fiction is about empowerment, living vicariously through the POV characters. Now, writing it for me is about creating something believable for the reader. Wait. I hear Andean music!

With a dramatic entrance, Oliver appears playing the panpipes and balancing a plate of freshly baked scones. Bowing gracefully, he winks wildly at Skhye. Vitamin enriched. More tea?

Skhye: Of course. *lifts cup*

Sharon: Holds up her empty cup. Ah…Oliver…I wouldn’t mind another. But Oliver struts off, his head in a cloud. Sharon shakes her head. Now you have a daughter. Do you read her stories about castles and dragons? And if so, does she have a favorite tale?

Skhye: Oh yes. She likes everything from the castle to the dragon. What is one of those tales without princesses and princes? Heck, she calls me the Queen Mother. I have no idea why. I guess she put Queen and mother together. I can’t even begin to pick a favorite for her. And for the record, she used to put a plastic tub laced with holes over her head and call herself an ogre, Shrek. So, I bought her a plastic helm. ;)

Sharon: Too funny! Now tell us about your background in anthropology?

Skhye: I studied physical anthropology with an archaeology slant, bioarchaeology. That’s skeletal remains, interments, and artifacts. Essentially, it’s studying anthropological demography (population studies) via burials. Loads of fun. Although, some folks call it grave robbing and dull.

Sharon: Oh, here comes Oliver again…and what is he doing?

To the accompaniment of bagpipes echoing off the cavernous walls, Oliver darts out, costumed in a Celtic kilt, wielding a sword through the air. He flings himself at Skhye’s feet, staring up at her with a mischievous wink. “Did I win your heart?”

Skhye: Of course. *cants toward Sharon and whispers* Do you pay him to do this?

Sharon: Ah…Oliver…about dessert? I really am going to sell him to the highest bidder. One of these days, Oliver…one of these days.

Oliver returns with a freshly baked platter of dark chocolate fudge and blonde brownies, dripping with melted chocolate chips. Choosing the largest, he hands it to Skhye.

Skhye: I’m really not supposed to eat sugar, caffeine, or wheat. *grabs the largest

Sharon: That will be all, Oliver. Now Skhye, let’s talk about one of your other talents. When you have the time, you like to dabble with silver wire jewelry. Do tell.

Skhye: It was just a hobby. It’s cheaper to make beaded wire jewelry. And it’s better
to make it exactly the way you envision it.

Sharon: I love silver and turquoise, my favorite. Well Skhye, you know what’s coming. Let’s talk about my favorite subject—superstitions. I ask all my guests to share with me a favorite legend, tradition or superstition. And don’t limit to one. I am all ears, girlfriend?

Skhye: Mine would have to be astrology. I’m a scientist and don’t buy into superstition. To prove it, I recently acquire two kittens. I wanted black ones but settled on tabbies. They had good dispositions. A superstitious person wouldn’t want black cats. Maybe I’m really a witch. Bwa ha haaa. But astrology seems more like a science now that I’ve used it to create time travelers who operate on numerology. Numerology pegs me to a “t” with master numbers of which is a bit scary.

Sharon: Well I must be a superstitious witch then. I am very superstitious and have had two black cats that I duly worshiped. LOL Stops in mid sentence as Oliver struts out, playing the Norse fiddle, sarranading Skhye in his barotone voice. Dropping his fiddle, he grabs Skhye for a spin around the room, singing in her ear.

Sharon: Oliver, that will be quite enough. Let her be. Oliver?

Skhye: Oh, psh, Fabio can lead me around the room anytime. ;) Not to mention, you don’t hear Norse fiddle often! I highly recommend the dark tones to anyone looking for something new.

Sharon: Well, my dear, that brings us to the end of our interview. Thank you so very much for being such an entertaining guest. But before you go, I must ask you my three questions. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why? If you could play the leading lady in any literary fiction, which would it be and why? And last but not least, who would you want playing your romantic hero?

Skhye: I’d definitely be in Scotland with the Scottish burr, garb, and castles. Although, my husband doesn’t want to live in a Socialist country and refuses to don a kilt… I’d be Elizabeth in PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. Colin Firth please. If he’s stuck in bed with strep throat, Gerard Butler would do. But if the role called for a Native American, Jay Tavare please. ;)

Sharon: And finally, where can readers buy your books and get in touch with you:

Skhye: My books are in print and e-formats at The Wild Rose Press.

Skhye's website
Skhye's Myspace
Skhye's Ramblings

The Spell of the Killing Moon offers the best of spine-tingling suspense. The setting is perfect... Moncrief’s ability to wield magic and emotion are without compare. Her words twist together emotions and visuals until you experience this tale as if the trap were set for you. Some lines blend a kind of poetic magic: “Moonlight wove a special kind of magic, a spell so vacillating that a person never knew if reality were anything other than a dream.” Darkness and premonitions and deadly intent fill these pages... a unique blend of mystic Medieval Gothic and romance…and a true blood-curdling thriller. 5 books" ~Snapdragon, LASR

"Intense, original, suspenseful, and dramatic... an unpredictable topsy-turvy romance... the suspense builds with every page in SACRIFICIAL HEARTS. In a world where symbols mean everything, magic is the way..." ~Snapdragon; LASR

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Wednesday Spotlight with Mary Ricksen

Hello and welcome to Wednesday Spotlight! Today my special guest is friend and fellow Wild Rose author Mary Ricksen. Mary is here today to chat with us about her book
Tripping Through Time

But first, here is a blurb and excerpt:

In the waters of Lake Champlain there is magic, and a Celtic Ring with a mystic spell
proves that love is truly timeless.
For years Keealyn McCalley has been under her father's commanding thumb. After a
young child dies in her arms, Keealyn leaves nursing school despite his disapproval.
She ends up staying at a camp on Lake Champlain, in Vermont.
Depressed and overwhelmed she takes her first drink and before she knows it she is
stoned. Hungover and not thinking clearly she jumps into the lake. Her misguided
act leads her to find an ancient Celtic ring with a spell on it. Putting it on sends
her back to the year 1869. Found on the shore by Ryan Wolf, she is immediately attracted
to his misty green eyes, hard body, and compassionate nature.
She must learn to trust him not to abuse her, save her heart, and teach her the powerful
healing power of unconditional love.

Finally, her father left, furious and disgusted
with her. He gave her a non-refundable bus ticket
and his last words echoed in her mind.
“Take your choice, either come home with this
ticket, or go back to school immediately. I’m finished,
do whatever you want, I really don’t care. The only
reason I came is your mother made me. As far as I
am concerned you were our biggest mistake.”
“To you I am a mistake, but I am a mistake that
has a mind, feelings, and the right to choose how I
want to spend my life. You can’t make me into what
you want me to be.”
“That’s for sure, you can’t even come close. Try
living without any money, let’s see if you dare to
speak to me like that when you are begging for my
“Dad, I will never beg for your help, I’d rather be
dead. You will not hear from this mistake ever
“Good.” Her father shook his head, the look of
disgust on his face apparent. He turned and walked
out of her life forever.
After she left the police station, she ripped the
ticket into small pieces and watched wistfully as the
small pieces blew away in the wind. Finally
emancipated, it was over—bittersweet because now
she could never go home again.
Slowly her thinking became less coherent and
her lungs screamed for air.
The longer she held her breath underwater, the
slower her thoughts came, her mind now numb,
jumbled. She saw fish dart by above her and
followed them with hazy eyes. One seemed to stare
into her face, before swimming to the bottom. It
circled below her, as if trying to get her attention.
She saw something on the bottom. Bright gold,
it glowed, its radiance attracted her and she realized
it was a ring. At that point, she felt indifferent, so it
must have been reflex, or providence, that coerced
her to reach down, pick it up, put it on and then
open her mouth to end it all.
Before the water could fill her lungs she felt a
shock, her body tingled and her blood burned
through her veins. A bright flash of light surrounded
her for a moment and she passed out with a last
thought. I hope I don’t go to hell for this. That
Catholic rhetoric they’d drilled into her head still
made her question her actions.

Sharon: Let’s have a warm welcome for Mary Ricksen. But as Mary waves madly to her fans, her Celtic ring flies off her finger and into the icy waters of Lake Champlain. The audience gasps in horror and screams in unison, “Mary! Don’t jump!”

Oliver dashes out in his red hot speedos, executing a graceful swan dive into the water to rescue Mary. He scoops her up in his arms, biceps pumping, and places her on the cement. She gurgles once, then twice. Then the gold ring spouts forth from her lips before she passes out cold. Oliver revives her by delivering mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Mary bolts upright, a big smile on her face. Thunderous applause explodes once the crowd is assured Mary Ricksen is out of harm’s way and will live to write her next best seller.

Sharon rushes out with a plush towel and a big hug for her friend. Well Mary, that was some entrance, I’d say! Have a seat and Oliver will bring you your favorite drink. Oliver is at the ready, strawberry frutista in hand. He places it on a Duncan Donut napkin along with a huge plate of pistachio nuts. He stares at Mary, awe struck, hoping to be the romantic hero of all her dreams.

Sharon reaches for her coffee with trembling fingers. She salutes Oliver for his heroics. Relieved that Mary has stopped shivering, Sharon raises her coffee mug. Here’s to drama on the high sea! So let’s talk about this book. I love the sound of it. The Celtic Ring had me hooked and anything with magic and legend gets my full attention. Tell us how you came up with the plot for this spellbinding tale?

Mary: Thanks for saving me Oliver. I don’t swim well and I was getting tired. Phew.
The idea came to me while I was having a conversation with a friend. We were talking about when my DH lost his wedding ring in the Long Island Sound. His hand was greasy from working on the motor. And when he went in to look at the prop. Plop that was it, gone! Well we both freaked and I gave him the devil for it and eventually I forgot. It was a year later when my DH and his brother were snorkeling and he decided to look for the ring. Never in a million years did I think he would find it. He couldn’t see his hand in front of his face the water was that murky. But with his face right on the bottom he saw a glint on the bottom. He reached for it and bingo, the ring.

Sharon: Wow, and what are the chances? You know, there are so many legends associated with the Celtic folk, aren’t there? And I’m a real sucker for them all. You have Celtic blood running through your veins. Can you share a favorite legend with us?

Mary: My Irish red headed mom always told us about the banshee, she heard it before someone would die. She is a bit fey.

Sharon: Is there a reason why you chose the waters of Lake champlain as the place where the Celtic ring is found?

Mary: I grew up spending my summers there, it’s a wonderful place.

Sharon: How long did it take you to write this book?

Mary: It took me four years to get it right. And now when I look back, I see things I should and would have done a lot differently. I’m much quicker and I’ve learned so much since then. I think I have improved!

Sharon: Isn’t it the truth, girlfriend! Let’s talk about reviews. While it’s an awesome feeling to get a fabulous one, especially a five star rating, there is a certain phobia associated with seeing your name out there before you know what a reviewer wrote about the book you poured your heart into. Tell us what went through your mind when you read your very first review.

Mary: Ahhhhhhhh! Help me I almost passed out! I had to grab something so I wouldn’t fall on the floor. My first reviewer trashed me! It was awful, and she actually apologized, she was having a horrible day. The blurb was incorrect so she was expecting a totally different book. And it really annoyed her. I think she thought I was trying to trick people, when I had nothing to do with her getting the wrong blurb. I’ll never forget it as long as I live. Be careful when you do a review, there is someone that can be very hurt by careless words. My second review was a whole lot better, which made me, feel better. Those are the only two I have had. I wonder why, although I know some people never get any reviews.

Sharon: Oh and here comes Oliver with dessert. Oliver strolls out with a cut glass plate of cannolies. Then he picks up a bronze statue and presents it to Mary with a sweeping bow and a wink.

Sharon: Thank you, Oliver. Mary tears up when she reads it. She holds it up to her adoring fans. Inscribed in beautiful handwriting, it says, To Mary Ricksen, The Wild Rose Press Resident Blogger.

Sharon: As I once told Mary in an email, she has to be our designated resident blogger. Every time I’ve been to a blog, Mary is one of the first if not the first to leave a comment. She told me that it makes her feel good to promote fellow authors. Let’s hear it for Mary Ricksen!

Thunderous applause as Mary gets a standing ovation from her fans.

Mary: Wait I can’t talk with the cannoli stuffed in my mouth. My goodness these are great. Thanks everyone. Let me put it this way. Don’t you feel great when people comment on your blog? I do. That’s why I do it. How else will a blogger know you liked it?

Sharon: All right. Perhaps your statue can have a place of honor in your garden. Tell us about your garden of statues. What is your most unique and why?

Mary: The most unique one is called the Weeper. The Weeper does your crying for you so you don’t have to cry. I have a set of statues on the Alice in Wonderland theme. The Queen of hearts is so sassy. Amongst my stepping-stones, but not too near the Weeper is where I’ll place it. I am so glad it’s weatherproof!

Sharon: I love it! The Weeper. I’ll have to run out and get one of those. So what’s next for Mary Ricksen? What is your current wip and why?

Mary: I just finished my second in the series called, Time Can Heal Your Heart. It’s called Burned Into Time. Yep, my heroine is in a horrific car fire in the beginning. My friend, Linda Nightingale, said she was afraid to get in her car for a week after reading it. I hope it will be contracted. The waiting is horrible isn’t it?

Sharon: You know it, girl. I’m doing the waiting game right now as a matter of fact, so I can relate. Unfortunately, I’m afraid that brings us to the end of our interview. But before we go, just a few more questions. How would you like to be remembered when you leave this earth? What footprint would you like to leave as your mark?

Mary: I’d like to be remembered as a good, kind, person, who was an author. I’d like people to say, “That Mary Ricksen was so nice. Did you read her books? I’m going to miss her.”

Sharon: And if you could live any where in the world where would it be and why? If you could be the starring lady in any literary fiction, which would it be and why? And last but not least, who would you like playing your romantic hero?

Mary: Am I rich or poor.
I have never left this continent so I have nothing to use except my imagination. But I think Ireland or Scotland would feel like home. Here it’s North Carolina in the smokies, the winters on Lake Champlain are hard to take. We own a piece of property between Bryson City and Cherokee which we would like to build on.
I’d like to be Clare in Diana Gabaldon’s Voyager series. Jamie is perfect as the main man.
As for my hero, Helen Hardt has a picture on him on her blog. Gerard looks exactly like Jamie should look.

Oliver stands in the corner blubbering.

Sharon: Ah, pipe down, Oliver. You can’t be everyone’s romantic hero! Sharon rolls her eyes. And there you have it folks, a close up and personal with Mary Ricksen. Mary, it’s been a blast and I hope you come back again. Where can readers buy your books and get in touch with you?

Mary: My books can be purchased at all the usual places; Amazon, Fictionwise, B&N, Kindle etc. But it is a print on demand and will have to be ordered if one wants the book in hand. E print can be downloaded right away. I can be reached on my email address
Thank you Sharon for the privilege of inviting me to be interviewed for your blog. I so enjoyed it and I hope that people enjoy my books. Reading is such a gift to us, for me it’s the greatest gift of all!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Wednesday Spotlight with Toni Sweeney

Hello and welcome to Wednesday Spotlight! My special guest today is author Toni Sweeney. Toni writes science fiction/fantasy/horror. Today, Toni is here to chat with us about Spacedog’s Best Friend, a young adult fiction that debuted as her opening novel.

But before we meet this interesting and versatile woman, here is a little about Toni, followed by a blurb and excerpt from her book.

Toni Sweeney was born in the state of Georgia (afterward called the state of Confusion) after the War between the States but before the Gulf War and her arrival was more devastating to the countryside than the War had been. Though an accident-prone klutz, she has managed to survive into her second century. Being a child on the cusp of
the Seventies, she did her best to become a Southern Belle a la Scarlett O’Hara but instead evolved into a modern Alice chasing after the White Rabbit with more than one run-in with the Cheshire Cat and Wonderland’s other slighty-mad inhabitants along the way. After a period of minor trauma centering around marriage, motherhood, and divorce, she was involved in an automobile accident which began her writing career during an extended convalescence. Since her recovery, she can’t seem to stay in place for more than a couple of decades, and has survived hurricanes in the South, tornados and snow-covered winters in the Midwest, and earthquakes, forest fires, and Santa Ana winds in California. A dare from a co-worker attributed to her
becoming published.

In her Southern youth, Toni was a member of the Children of the Confederacy and as
an adult has been associated with the South Coast Writer's Association of Orange
County, California, the Pink Fuzzy Slipper Writers website, myspace, Facebook, and
YouTube. She presently has numerous novels in publication, as well as several short
stories featured in magazines, online, and on A few years ago,
Toni suffered a split of literary personalities and now writes science fiction/fantasy/horror
under her own name, and romances using the pseudonym Icy Snow Blackstone. This name
originally belonged to her great-great-great-great-grandmother until it was appropriated
for a greater cause. So far, the original Icy Snow hasn’t objected.

This year, at the insistence of her family, Toni returned to Nebraska. She has a
son who is a math teacher, and a 7-year-old granddaughter and a 16-year-old grandson.

Though she loves animals, especially the small, fuzzy kind, and once owned five minia ture poodles at once as well as a cat who survived by convincing the dogs he w as one of them, this is the first time she’s been without a companion animal to keep her company.

Before her auto accident, she was an accomplished horsewoman and owned her own horses, as well as being a dancer, having studied with a pupil of the famous dancer Isadora Duncan. She was also active in college and local theatrical groups and was awarded a membership in Alpha Psi Omega, the national honorary drama fraternity, for her work while attending Mercer University.

All in all—as difficult as it is to believe--Toni is a very shy person, and getting this biography out of her was the equivalent of pulling the proverbial eyeteeth.

Spacedog’s Best Friend

For a graduation gift, teenager Jenny Halpen is given a space cruise by her indulgent uncle. Everything is going smoothly until the ship sails into an asteroid shower and the passengers have to abandon ship. Jenny finds herself in an escape pod with three miniature poodles owned by one of the other passengers.

When they land on an uninhabited planet, the automatic distress signal goes off and Jenny settles down with the three furry castaways to wait for a rescue ship. She falls asleep, and...


A Jenny awoke, she couldn’t remember where she was, and she looked around the cabin with puzzlement.Slowly, as her memory returned, she sighed and closed her eyes again.

The night noises had stopped. Everything was so peaceful and...quiet....


Her eyes came open again and she sat up quickly, spilling the little dog in her lap onto the floor, where he landed with a thump and an indignant yelp.

“Omigosh! The signal! It stopped! What happened?”

She knelt by the machine, studying it frantically. Surely, there was some button...knob...switch...which would restart the signal. Her eyes swept over the smooth metal surface. Nothing--not even a word of print marred its gray veneer. She tapped the front and sides with one knuckle. “Come on, come on! Beep! Buzz! Do something! You can’t be broken! Why did you break down? Why?”

Something touched her arm. Something cold. The little white dog was pushing at her arm with his nose, looking up at her with anxious brown eyes. She pushed him away.

“Quit that! Can’t you see this is serious? No, of course you don’t! Oh, why couldn’t I have been marooned with a ‘droid or something? At least, it would be able to talk to me! Why did it have to be a bunch of dogs?”

Stranded. No clothes. No company. A tear trickled down her cheek. Here lies Jenny Halpen, Castaway.

A second tear followed the first, then another, and another.The dam burst.Face against her arms, she leaned against the seat of the nearest passenger chair, shoulders shaking. For a few minutes, only the sound of Jenny’s sobs broke the silence in the pod.

Don’t cry, Jenny.

The tears continued, wracking and heart-breaking.



Startled, Jenny stopped in mid-cry. Had she really heard someone call her name?

Don’t cry.

Stifling the last sob into a hiccough, she forced herself to be quiet. She had heard someone.

We’ll talk to you, Jenny--if that’s what you want.

“Wh-where are you?” She looked around quickly, as if expecting to see someone emerge from one of the other seats.

Right here. Where we’ve always been.

“Where? I can’t see you. Come out!”

We’re already out!

Quickly, she stood up. “But-- Where?”

Outside. That’s it. Another escape pod.

The little white dog immediately threw himself into her path, and when she dodged, jumped in front of her again so she nearly tripped over him in her haste to get to the door of the pod.

“Move, you stupid animal! Can’t you hear! There’s someone outside!”

Desperately, she picked him and tossed him out of the way. He landed against the signal box with a thud. She was at the door fumbling with the wheel-lock when the voice spoke again.

Stupid animal? Well, I like that! If that’s the way you feel, we’ll just leave you alone!

Hand on the wheel, she stopped, turning slowly to look back into the pod. The three little animals were sitting in the center of the aisle, the little white dog rubbed its head with the back of one paw.

That hurt!

Staring at the three of them, Jenny took a hesitant step forward.“If I didn’t know better, I’d swear that you just told me your head hurt,” she said to the white dog.

I did.

Jenny laughed, a nervous disbelieving laugh, with more than a twinge of hysteria in it. “Oh, no--that does it! My mind’s winged out! Dogs...talking...marooned...the shock of it all....”

What’s she talking about? a new voice asked.

The little white dog wiggled its shoulders in something resembling a shrug.

Something about her mind flying away.

“I’m losing my, I’ve lost it...zoom...gone!”

See? She says she’s lost it

We’ll help you find it, Jenny. What does it look like?

You know, all pink and squishy.

“Hold it! Hold it!” Jenny shouted. Three pairs of eyes turned toward her.


“Is this really true? Can you dogs, er--people--can you talk?” She stopped, threw her hands into the air. “What am I doing, asking these animals if they can talk?”

Well, began a new voice, more mature and calmer than the others. We call it mind-talk. We don’t have to use our mouths. It’s a lot less strenuous that way.

Helps when you’ve got a mouthful, too, the little white dog chimed in. At least, she guessed it was he.

We were afraid-- that escape flight was pretty nerve-wracking, you must admit, and then-- Well, how did you react when Coni spoke to you?

“Wait a minute!” Jenny interrupted. “I’ve got to sit down.” And she did so. She had to. Her legs wouldn’t hold her up any longer. “They talk!” she said to herself. “They really talk!”

Sharon: Let’s have a warm welcome for Toni Sweeney!

The sky turns as dark as midnight. Then in the distance, a spaceship appears, flashing like a beacon in the night. It comes closer, neon lights flashing, making a smoo
th descent on stage. With a slight thud, the door opens and Toni pops out, followed by three miniature poodles.

Thunderous applause explodes through cyber space as Sharon greets her guest with a warm embrace. Talk about a smooth landing! Sharon leans down to pet t
he pooches. So how are you, Toni? And how about these little darlings?

Toni: The landing may have been smooth but there were a few close calls with asteroids along the way. Luckily th
ey were the peas-sized kind. The pups got a little anxious, though. (leans down to pet a fuzzy cream-color mop who just happens to be wearing a spike-studded color and an armored doggy-sweater.) Didn’t you, Conan? (he yips indignantly) Sorry, he says the girls did, but not he. Warriors aren’t afraid of peas.

Sharon: Grins broadly at Conan’s response. But of course! Well, after that l
ong trip through space, I’ll bet you’re ready for refreshments. Oh, Oliver, do bring us cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, please.

Oliver struts out singing and swooning, balancing a sterling silv
er tray a top his head. With eyes for Toni, he places down the tray and hands her a Fuzzy Navel. Taking her hand in his, he sings the words, “Georgia on my Mind.” With a wicked wink, he kisses her hand and presents a dish of roasted and salted peanuts, pecans and cashew mix. He feeds doggy biscuits to the hovering poodles. He clears his throat. If I might be so bold as to ask for your autograph, Ms. Sweeney…and a ride in your spaceship?

Toni: Oliver, after that song, you can ride with me anywhere! (Digs in her backpack for a pen and signs a napkin for him with a flourish) But do me a favor—and don’t sing it again or you’ll have me crying into my navel! My Fuzzy Navel, that is. And do you have a hankie I can borrow? I think your crooning’s activated my tear ducts just a tad. (Sniffles loudly)

Oliver produces a crisp white hanky and presents it to Toni with a smile.

Sharon: Oliver, did you forget about my glass of perfectly chilled white wine? But Oliver ignores her and races off to the spaceship, a gleam in his eye.

Sharon: Good help is so hard to find. Now, Toni, let’s chat about these little darlings. Sharon pats each of the miniature poodles’ heads. Your own poodles planted the seed in your brain to write this novel. It isn’t often when a rejection letter leads to a contract in two
weeks. I love the story you told me. Can you share with readers how Spacedog’s Best Friend came to be?

Toni: At the time the st
ory was written, I had three poodles. Conan the Barbarian, Amber (aka PrincessNAmber), and Crissy (aka Dark Crystal). As some sci-fi readers will notice, they’re all named for f airly well-known science fiction tales. I used to make up stories about them to tell my son, and when the call came from Blue Bird Book asking if I had a YA novel, I fibbed a little and told them I did and sent them a synopsis of the tales I had told JL about the doggies. Actually I didn’t have a story in sight but they called my bluff and asked for the entire manuscript. You never saw such scrambling around in your life! I wrote it in two weeks on my electric typewriter (this was pre-computer) and sent it in and received an acceptance letter a week later.

Sharon: Now that’s what I call thinking on your feet. Sharon gives the tr
io the high five and more treats as they grin their doggy grins. I love it. Let’s have a nice round of applause for the hero and heroine, Conan, Amber and Crissy. The poodles puff out their chests and take a bow. Then they smile as one.

Sharon: Did they just say what I think they said? They can really speak?

Toni: Actually, they’re telepathic. It’s easier than speaking and they can do it with their mouths full and not be rude.

Sharon: Ah, the wonderful world of fiction. I’ve never tried my hand at children’s novels. Have you written any other books in this genre?

Toni: Not a one. I have another fragment about the pups but it’s told fro
m an adult point of view and was a bit of therapy after Amber went to that Great Playground in the Sky so I wrote it and just left it. Later, I wrote a couple of fairy tales for my grandson and I have another fragment called the Search for Prince Sandy which I may some day get around to finishing. It involves two young people who share an adventure in another dimension while both are comatose in a hospital in this dimension.

Sharon: Oh, I hope so. I’m sure they will be best-sellers. So how did you feel when you got your first contract? Did you bathe in the after glow for a while or did
you get right back in the saddle and start on your next novel?

Toni: Oh I ran around telling everyone I could think of…the media…my
friends…relatives…strangers on the street. I worked that phrase into every conversation I had. surprisingly, the media wasn’t impressed and neither were my relatives…though my friends and even a few strangers were.

Sharon: LOL I know the feeling! You must have an incredible imagination to have come up with such a heart-warming story for kids. Tell us about your imagination. Does it work overtime or do you have to prompt your creative muse to come and play?

Toni: Up until 2000, I was a “writin’ fool.” Between 1975 and 1994, I turned out thirty novels, one right after the other and a good many of those have already been published or contracted. Then, in 2000, someth
ing terrible happened in my life and my writing abruptly stopped. I read somewhere that people with severe mental problems have these periods of almost violent creativity, so I can only conclude that I was in such a period and that one event brought me back to sanity. Compared to before, my output can now be compared to a leaky water faucet where before it was a raging river. (smiles slightly and sadly) Sorry didn’t mean to get so morbid.

Sharon: I think you are simply remarkable! Now Toni, you have done so much with your life I stand in awe of you. Tell us about your days as a dancer and your
days in the theater.

Toni: First let me say, I stand in awe of you, Sharon. I have cataracts and my sight is limited but I’m assured some day it can be repaired, while you… Well, I applaud your courage. As to my dancing… Tere’s not so much to tell. My teacher was a wonderful lady named Gertrude Kelley who had studied under Eleanora Duse and Isadora Duncan. I know a lot of people today won’t recognize those names but believe me, they were innovators of dance in their day—which was in the early years of the 20th Century. Rfeal Free Spirits. There was even a movie called Isadora which I believed starred Vanessa Redgrave. Anyway, I studied ballet, tap, and acrobatic dancing. You may not believe it but I was once so limber it took me six months to learn to stand on my head. I used to be able to be able to lie on my stomach on the floor, raise my legs and put my toes under my chin—Warning! Do not try this at home! I was a dancer in two separate productions of Oklahoma! and as well as being in Kiss Me Kate. I was also in some non-musical plays such as The Crucible, the Cave Dwellers, and JB. In fact, I met my ex-husband in the theater. He was starring in Inherit the Wind at the time, and it was a typical two-actors-in-the-same-household-type marriage…a disaster from the words “I do.”

Sharon: First of all, thank you for the complment, Toni. We all have our personal demons to conquer and do wha t we can to keep on going. But today is all about you and allow me to say I am indeed honored to have such a star sitting with me today. You are amazing! Believe you me, I was never what you would call coordinated and the thought of doing half the things you did leave me speechless! Standing on your head?And do what with your feet and chin ?Wow and double wow! And you were awarded a membership to Alpha Psi Omega. Congratulations. Tell us about that.

Toni: Membership is awarded for outstanding work done in drama. To be considered, one has to participate in all areas. My contributions were in acting, costume design, make-up, and stage managing. I also took several courses in drama and music as part of my major. (looks nostalgic) Ah, I remember it well… (looks off into the distance) I was stage-managing a double-bill—the World of Carl Sandburg and No Exit, for which I designed the programs, by the way—and afterward as the cast was taking their curtain calls, they called me onto the stage, presented me with a bouquet of red roses, and announced to the audience I’d been tapped for membership. I got a certificate and lots of congratulations. Still have it somewhere.

Thunderous applause explodes from the audience and Tonie stands and takes a sweeping bow. The telepathic poodles appear with the certificate and hand it to their mistress. Toni tears up and the wee ones take equally gracious bows.

Sharon: Clasps her hands together in adoration. What troopers! (leans over and bestows a crown on Conan’s head and a jeweled tiera on both Amber and Crissy) More applause crackles through cyberspace.

Sharon: And like me, along with dogs, you love cats and horses. You owned your own horses and were once an accomplished horsewoman. I would love to hear about your riding days.

Toni: I got my first horse when I was 9 and several months later was stricken with appendicitis and couldn’t ride for six months. That was torture! I also have that first horse (he was a S
hetland-Morgan cross named Nipper because he had a tendency to bite) partly to thank for my back problems. The first time I got on him, he threw me! (grimaces) He wasn’t wearing a saddle, hadn’t ever been ridden before in fact, and tossed me right on my rear! My other horse, a strawberry roan, was a little more gentle. I got her when she was less than a year old. I used to saddle a horse, put a lunch in my saddlebag and disappear for the entire day, riding the hills, pastures, and swamps of my grandfather’s farm, spinning adventure stories in my head as I went. My faithful ol’ horse and I had more Old West adventures in those Georgia backwoods.

Sharon: How I can relate. Dancer threw me for a loop and I got right back on. Unfortunately, I’ve had other horses make me look the fool, but that’s another

story. Now let’s talk about your pen name. I love the name Icy Snow Blackstone, the pseudonym you write under. Now this name belonged to your great-great-great-great grandmother. Tell us about that.

Toni: Icy Snow was born in north Georgia where her father, the Reverend John Blackstone was active in local politics. He was an English émigré and I believe she was born around 1802. She married a minister and one of her children, my great-great-great-grandfather, was also a minister. The minute I heard her name I thought it sounded as if it should belong to a romance writer so when I started writing romances, I decided to use it. Icy Snow had seven or eight children and there’s even a website about her. One of her other descendants got in touch with me after seeing her name online and we discovered we lived in the same town in Georgia and never knew it. We’re something like fourth or fifth cousins, I think.

Sharon: I love it and find that entire history so fascinating! Oh here comes Oliver with dessert. With a sweeping bow, Oliver presents his culinary delight, a sinfully rich black cherry devil’s food cake with a hue dollop of peach ice cream on top. He feeds Toni a bite and waits. And while he’s waiting for her eyes to stop glazing over in ecstasy, he feeds more treats to the pooches.

Sharon: Oliver, did you forget about me, your boss, the woman who pays you? But Oliver turns his gaze to Toni.

Toni: Thank you, Oliver. You’re a man after my own heart—or any other body part, too. If you ever decide to leave Sharon’s employ, I imagine I can find a spot for you in my kitchen…or den…or some other room in the house.

Oliver dances with delight, blushes a deep crimson red and passes out cold. The pooches circle him and Conan tells him to wise up and take it like a man. Oliver struts off, his heart all a flutter.

Sharon: Well, now it’s time for my favorite question. Irish and superstitious, I love to collect legends and lore and traditions from my guests. Can you share a favorite with me?

Toni: Oh, I have quite a few. From the theatre: one never speaks of a role one wants until the casting list has been announced, and the title of one of Shakespeare’s plays is never spoken backstage. It’s always called the Scottish Play. (I imagine you can figure out which one I mean)

My own particular stage custom was on opening night to wear a ring my dance teacher gave me. There are plenty of Southern superstitions, of course…right hand itches, you’ll get money, left hand itches, you’ll spend it; if your tongue is sore, you’ve been telling lies; see a cardinal, make a wish. I have a rather morbid little superstition of my own: Always say goodbye. Several times in my life, I’ve left someone and not told them goodbye and I’ve never seen them again, so whenever I leave anyone, I always tell them goodbye, even though I may only be gone for a few minutes. If I don’t get to say it for some reason, I will worry until I actually see them again.

Sharon: Oh, Toni, you are a woman after my own heart! I adore all superstitions and those are some I will certainly add to my favorites. And that brings us to the end of our interview. And to my final three questions. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why? If you could star in any literary fiction, which would it be and why? And last but not least, who would you want playing your romantic hero?

Toni: Now you’ve given me questions I’ll have a most difficult time answering. I have a lot ofplaces I’d like to visit…London…Honolulu…and live…for a while, but I’d really like to have a permanent home either on one of the Golden Isles off the coast of Georgia or in the writers’ colony at Laguna Beach, CA. If I could be any literary heroine, I’d like to be my own Andrea Talltrees from the Sinbad series. I put a lot of myself into Andi and I’d totally love to have a man like Sinbad! As for who would star as my “hero”…Travis Fimmel would be okay…or Brad Pitt in Achilles-mode…or…Oliver…he’s a good contender, too! (blows a kiss at him)

Sharon: Thank you for being such a wonderful guest. It’s been a pleasure. I wish you and the little darlings a pleasant voyage through space. Sharon gives them each a parting biscuit and a pat on the head. Come back again, Toni.

Toni: Thank you for having me, Sharon, and tell Oliver goodbye, also!

Spacedog’s Best Friend
Available at: To read about Toni Sweeney and her other books available, visit her at:;;